Electric Bastionland is an OSR (or Old School Renaissance) RPG set in a bizarre dystopian alternate universe that mirrors our early 20th century. The players are the flotsam of society, impoverished desperados and hapless heroes. They failed at whatever career they had before and now they are forced to find their fortunes in the most dangerous and ignoble way: Adventuring. Your party of treasure hunters start out thousands of pounds in debt. With barely any petty cash on hand, a few assorted weapons of varying quality, some basic adventuring provisions, and whatever odd knickknacks you managed to take from your tragic past, your expedition begins.
The rules are stripped down to the bone (2 pages cover everything the players need to know), combat is quick and deadly, and I’m confident I could teach anyone how to play in 10 minutes. Character creation is incredibly quick, a few quick die rolls and your loveable loser of an adventurer springs to life with more personality than any starting OSR D&D character can hope to have. You can have this game up and running in less than thirty minutes. Look for "Prison of the Worm Queen" on the bastionland dot com site for an excellent starting adventure.
The majority of this book’s page count is dedicated to the Failed Careers your characters could have. At first GMs may think this highly idiosyncratic setting has very little actual information about its world. But then you realize that the Failed Career section contains vast inspiration for the people, places, treasures and terrors your players will find in the world of Electric Bastionland. The art is evocative and engrossing, the career descriptions and backgrounds are irresistible. The author has a clear design philosophy and plainly explains what it is and what he hopes to accomplish with it. It may not be for everyone (fans of intricate game systems and complex meta-builds may balk at its simplicity) but it is a game that anyone can learn and play, which I think is awesome. I don’t consider myself an OSR hipster or an old school grognard, but I fell in love with the setting and the super easy teach.
5 Stars. Check out the free version if you are not sure; it contains the rules of play and a sampling of the Failed Careers.