This slim hardbacked book provides a realm for the game Troika!, it introduces the reader to the Thousand Sultanates and the Wastes that surround them. It's a post-apocalyptic science fantasy setting that leans more to the science fiction end of the spectrum. The bulk of the book is taken up with new character classes and creatures with a few pages of descriptions and a few tables and bullet points about what you might do with the content.
It's a beautiful book. I'm not sure I've seen something as striking since Mork Borg. As a teenager I loved the worlds that were conjured up by the artists in magazines like White Dwarf. I think the art direction here has the same potential to do the same for someone reading this now. It's coherent in terms of style, palette and feeling. It illustrates and amplifies the text and it feels necessary. It opens a door onto a strange world of possibility.
It is the most coherent and interesting realm I've read for Troika!. I'm not sure whether this is purely because its well written and designed or simply because I found the ideas and tropes of the setting interesting on a personal level.
One common feature of Troika material is pitching the tone from a starting point of the gonzo and surreal into the defiantly obscure and then sometimes further still into deliberate alienation beyond a tiny insider core audience. Acid Death Fantasy instead uses the character outlines in the archetypes and creatures to sketch a sense of the wider world being described.
Take the following examples from the background options, a Dune Rider:
You were an outrider of your fleet ..., guiding the fleet away from danger and towards vulnerable targets. Something happened and you left, perhaps by choice. You still have your single-rider craft but you've lost your purpose.
And this from the Warflock Outcast
Exiled from the Warflock you wander aimlessly, or is there some other purpose to your travels?
In both cases there is a suggestion of the character belonging to a wider society and world with its own views and morals. An emotional conflict for the character is suggested but is open enough to interpretation to allow each character created to the template to be different. It's a subtle but important quality.
Sadly the book ends with a whimper not a bang. Having introduced all kinds of strange and alluring ideas one of the tongue in cheek suggestions for problems the adventurers might tackle is a mysterious disappearing of shoes.
I would have loved to see a more compelling set of idea generation tables or may be a few pages of sketched situations to serve as jumping off points for a game. Situations that might both embody the world and beg the question of players: what do you do?