Flakes with Special Syndrome
I’m putting finishing touches on a review of a new Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons product titled Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I happen to think it’s pretty swell, but I thought it would be a good idea to see what other reviewers have written about the text, to make sure there’s not some glaring problem I missed.
It turns out that no, there isn’t, unless I’m a special snowflake. Hence the ranting hat. While there were a number of intelligent, rational reviews that seemed to have found what I did, there were also several that called it out for perceived weaknesses — i.e. the book didn’t address their special field of interest. While the monster guide has a big selection of new player classes, someone faulted it because it didn’t have another, different kind. While it had hundreds of monsters, someone else faulted it because it didn’t have a certain KIND of monster.
I’m reminded of those Conan fans who complained so mightily about the art in the Roy Thomas run on the new Dark Horse comics that they didn’t happen to notice how good the STORY was — how clever Conan was and how much he was acting, you know, like Conan would in a Robert E. Howard story.
I get incredibly frustrated sometimes by people who either can’t appreciate the worth of what they’re holding or don’t understand its purpose. I know I’ve ranted before about people who complain that there’s not enough focus on environmental plight in the spy novel, or that gender politics aren’t the focus of an adventure story, and this kind of thing offends me in a similar way. If those issues are what you’re looking for, go somewhere else and read about them there, okay? But don’t judge this work faulty because it doesn’t have the features it wasn’t really designed to hold.
Likewise, a comment John C. Hocking made has been percolating regarding elves in special hats. I’ll paraphrase. There’s a certain kind of reader who is only there to make sure the elf is wearing the right hat. You could write the grandest damned adventure story in the world, stuffed with nothing but action, adventure, deep characters, and surprising twists, but there’s a contingent out there who won’t notice ANY of that. Instead they’ll write paragraphs or pages or posts in ALL CAPS when they see that your elf is wearing a green hat and is supposed to be wearing a blue one. For shame!
Speaking of hats, I’m going to take mine off and get to work.