After much angst and worry on my part, the inaugural issue of Delve! 'zine finally reached my mailbox this past week.
Go ahead, ask John. I really WAS angsting about it.
Anyway, this little packet of loveliness was a joy to dive into. It gave me something to read last weekend. I spent a good amount of time savoring the adventure, the critters, and all the fresh stuff that John Bingham packed inside. All in all, I really enjoyed it.
However, in the interest of an honest review, there were a few things that detracted from the experience for me.
I am, at heart, a reader. I come from a genetically-good speller on one side and a line of English teachers on the other. I was an English major in college. I've worked at times in my early career as a proofreader, editor, and writer for the Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court. Heck, I'll admit it: I'm anal retentive. Especially when it comes to proofreading...just ask Dylan Hartwell or Jez Gordon about that.
The things that detracted from the Delve! experience for me were, probably, little things that others wouldn't notice. For me, it pulled me out of the Delve! world for a moment as the proofreader in my head went "Whoa!" There were some spelling errors, some punctuation errors, and some formatting problems. They didn't really affect the content in any way, except for--as I said--pulling my own proofreader out of the moment.
The content is statted for OSRIC, but I'm sure it's easily converted to any old-school or retro-clone. I've already started doing some conversion for use in my 3.x sandbox game. Even more amazing: all of this was done by one man...the content, the artwork, everything. The content is compelling and the art is amazing. I have no complaints about the content whatsoever.
Overall, I probably would give the 'zine a 3 out of 4 stars (I'd say 4 out of 4, but I want to give him the benefit of the doubt for future, greater content!) For myself, it probably rates 2.5 out of 4 just for the formatting and other issues. As I said, that's ONLY for myself, because the issues I found probably wouldn't bother other readers.
In any case I'd still highly recommend picking up a copy: the .pdf is available for $3.99 from RPGNow while the hand-assembled print copy is available from John's blog for $5.00. I'd say splurge and get yourself the hard copy, simply because (1) the quantity is limited and (2) I love holding the 'zine in my hands, knowing how much love, sweat, tears, and work has gone into producing it. I'm just old fashioned that way.
Whichever you choose, GET IT NOW.