I bought this book largely on the strength of its high-concept premise: urban fantasy in Thatcher's Britain. This is an interesting idea for a setting, with great potential (the Battle of the Beanfield, the Poll Tax riots, the miners' strike, etc).
However, Faeries Wear Boots! is not a product that I can recommend in any way; while it has a few high points (notably the art), it's a poor piece of work overall.
FWB! uses the authors' Dark Stars system. This has a percentile task resolution system in the tradition of BRP or Rolemaster, and while otherwise reasonable, it seems overly complex for a background that's likely to be more narrative-driven. I should stress that this is my personal preference: chacun à son goût.
The character generation system is rather bland; the main effect that the different fae races have on characters is on their base attributes and perks, with little effect on their skills. FWB! has no provision for things like professions. Given that fae characters may have been raised in human society, or may be trying to pass in human society, there's no thought given as to how the fae actually interact with human society; some consideration of professions would have been useful. The lifepath aspect of the character generation system seems to have been influenced by that of R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk (in a company blog post, the author notes that the Dark Stars system and background originated in a Cyberpunk 2020 game), but is rather trite.
The equipment lists are a curious mixture of the banal and the overly-specific; the authors give over six pages to detailed descriptions of electronic goods which have been taken verbatim (complete with extraneous linebreaks) from the 1980/81 Tandy Catalogue.
This highlights a more general issue with the setting information (about which I'll say more below): the authors seem to believe that time stood still during the 1980s. For example. the equipment lists state that the Commodore PET is "Britain's No.1 Computer". Perhaps this was true in 1980, but by the time Sinclair (note: not "Sinclare" as the authors have spelled it) launched the Spectrum in the early 80s this was no longer true (also: whither the BBC Micro?). Similarly, the prices given for firearms are most definitely from before the Hungerford Massacre of 1987, after which significant controls on the sale and ownership of firearms weapons were introduced. As an aside, the pejorative adjective "chavvy" (p. 65) is an anachronism; it didn't come into use until the late 1990s.
The majority of my gripes with this book lie with the setting information. This takes up 12 pages (of 122 total), of which 5 are images - this is thin at best. For a game that's set in 1980s Britain, I was disappointed to find that the setting information was a poorly-researched mess that consisted largely of material taken verbatim from Wikipedia, and that was frequently of questionable relevance. The original setting information (perhaps two and a half pages) was generally cliched and ill-considered. The authors appear to be unfamiliar with both the 1980s and with the UK, and there doesn't appear to have been any attempt to Britpick the text (i.e. check the validity of the text with someone British).
As a result, the setting information contains some absolute howlers:
- "Detailed within this book is a section of the city of greater London but other settings like Brixton, Liverpool would work just as well and perhaps better." (p. 76) Brixton is a district in London, you utter numpties. Also: it's spelled "Chelsea" and not "Chealsea". (p. 79)
- "Both [Catholic and Anglican] Churches have been practicing their religion for a Millenia in the British isles." (p.76) First, the singular is "millennium". Secondly, Christianity has been in the British Isles since the 3rd century, and the Anglican church only dates back to the 16th century.
- "The right to buy is a continuous issue." (p. 78) Possibly even also a contentious one.
- The Church of England (conventionally abbreviated as C of E and not C.O.E. as the authors have it) operates in Ireland? (p. 84) That'll be news to the Church of Ireland (i.e. the Anglican church in Ireland).
- "Ireland has a very charged history, essentially Catholics hold sway over most of Ireland and in Ulster Protestant (sic) are in control"? (p. 84) That's an offensively simplistic characterisation. I note that the authors don't seem to be able to distinguish Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland (let alone Ulster from Northern Ireland), and also that their celtophile mythologising of Ireland as "The Emerald Isle" is likely to irritate Irish readers, regardless of which side of the border they're from.
- "The Welsh people at this time are part of the United Kingdom, like the rest of Britain." (p. 85) At this time? Wales has been part of Great Britain since the 16th century (and effectively so since the 13th century.
Yes: I'm British and I grew up in the 80s, so I'm taking this lazy, slipshod writing personally.
In terms of presentation, FWB! is a sloppy mess. The text contains frequent grammatical and typographical errors, and has chunks of repeated text. I very much doubt that it was proofread.
In short: this book is an embarrassment. The authors should feel ashamed to be asking people to pay for work that's this shoddy.