A couple things have been nagging me about Forbidden Lands since our first session. They are entirely tied up with the fiction, not the procedures.
First: the creators went through a lot of trouble to design a multi-faceted, robust, living setting. It’s like a mini-Glorantha in some ways. There are detailed demographic breakdowns on the map, lengthy writeups about the various kin, deep history (1200 years worth!), and religion. The GM’s Guide tells us that religion, for example, is super important to everyone in the Forbidden Lands. But then there’s no on-ramp for any of that for the players.
We have one character whose backstory, generated via the Legends & Adventurers booklet, includes a reference to one of the gods. So, sure, I went ahead and read the bit about Clay out loud from the GM’s Guide. There isn’t even, like, a quick little breakdown of the religions in the Player’s Book iirc. I should probably just designate who worships what, following the kin and history materials, and provide that stuff to the players.
That’s kind of a theme of this game, and it feels a lot like their other games (in particular Coriolis): lots of talk about how important culture is, but very little to actually make that happen in the game. Not even a player-friendly setting dump. So the characters feel like fish out of water, rather than deeply embedded into the setting. Combine this with the lack of family or kin ties, and you’re left with either lots of GM heavy lifting or just letting the players discover the world as they go.
Second issue, much smaller: I have no idea what fictional justification there is for the big pretty map they have. In Mutant: Year Zero, only the GM has the full map. The players need to draw out their map as they go. But the big pretty map in Forbidden Lands is explicitly a player tool. Where did it come from? How do they have it?
Dunno. It just bugs me. They could and probably should have made ’em map as they went, maybe providing some ranged scouting like the zone stalkers can do via tall buildings and radio towers in MYZ: climb a very tall tree on a hill, or a mountain, or the walls of a major structure. That would change the nature of the food/water/sleep/cold grind a whole lot, though, especially since they don’t really have a home base to operate from (other than The Hollows, if you’re following the official campaign).