Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More from Crypts & Things

To wrap up my look at Crypts & Things, I want to post two quotes from the book. These two quotes probably do a better job, in a few words, of summarizing the ambience of C&T than all my meanderings from the previous post.

The first pull is from the section on magic items:
Magic items in Crypts and Things are rare and special items. They are artefacts of ancient wars and demonic summonings, and as a result their purpose is always malign. At most only one is found in a particular Crypt or adventure and they are the stuff of legend and renown. A figurative double-edged sword, magic treasures always endow at least one curse for each blessing they bestow. Often their long-term use is hazardous to the mental and physical well being of the character that possesses them.
Only 20 magic items are described in the book, and all of them bear out that dire prophecy.

The second quote is from Appendix A, "The Features of Crypt* & Things."
The gods have deserted mankind in the dim past and the only magicians left are of the self-serving, amoral or simply just plain bad variety. There is an absence of powerful Wizard Guilds/Schools who police magicians in the field and instil upon their students a code of good ethical behaviour toward their fellow man. Instead you are left with the choice of serving an apprenticeship with evil and manipulative Sorcerers or joining a cult to grab crumbs of magical power thrown down from the table by the Sorcerer/Ranking Priest. Students who rise in power under this system are likely to end up disposed of in some gruesome but useful manner so they never challenge their master’s power.
Exactly right.

* I'd just like to point out that that's D101's typo, not mine. I know the name of the game is Crypts & Things.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Crypts & Things

  • 150-pages
  • By Newt Newport, with Akrasia
  • published 2011 by D101 Games
  • $40.44 in hardcover, $23.59 in softcover, $12 PDF.

Crypts & Things bills itself as a Swords & Wizardry variant. It would be truer to call it a S&W alternative, since you don't need the S&W rules to play Crypts & Things. It's a complete game by itself; the Crypts & Things rulebook contains all the S&W rules needed to play.

Where S&W is a straight-up adaptation of OD&D that stays true to the original game's non-setting, C&T packages those rules with a very particular approach to campaigning. What you get in C&T is an S&W-esque game in the world of Zarth, a setting heavily flavored with great dollops of the Hyborian Age, Melnibone, Nehwon, Zothique, and Xiccarph

Right there I've listed the works of four of my five favorite authors, so it should come as no surprise that I like C&T.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another Shipment from Lulu.com

A new round of books from Lulu.com arrived on my doorstep last week. Ordering those Swords & Wizardry books a month ago was so much fun that when Lulu sent me a great coupon, I was hooked and reeled in. I don’t know why ordering a book from Lulu is more exciting than ordering one from, say, Amazon, but it is. I suspect it’s because these books weren’t just pulled off a shelf in a warehouse, they were printed just for me. They are mine in a way that other books can’t be.

Like the S&W titles, I’ve had PDFs of these titles for a long time. The fact that I ordered physical books is proof that I have more than a professional curiosity about these games: they’ve already impressed me and I’d like to actually run them around a table sometime.

I’m enough of a realist to know that, even with the books living on my shelf, the odds of an actual game happening are less than 50/50. If I get to run even two of these for friends or at conventions, I’ll be pleased. (Maybe next year’s NTRPGCon should be an all-Print On Demand show for me.)

Over the next few weeks, I intend to write actual reviews of these games. Only two of them are D&D/S&W/L&L/LotFP variants, which makes them more interesting (to me, anyway) than titles about which little more can be said than “it’s yet another version of OD&D.” Not that I have anything against those, but they’ve been piling up rapidly over the last few years and I’m nearing my saturation point.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brood Pit of the Frog God

I've been itching to do more Adventure Notebooks for a while, and what better way to mark its return than with a small tribute to the outstanding Swords & Wizardry adventure I played at PaizoCon last weekend, run by Frog God Games' Bill Webb. Regardless of whether you're a fan of S&W or even of the OSR, you should grab the PDF of the S&W Monster Book from Lulu.com or wherever else it's available. If you play S&W, Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, or any of the seemingly endless other OD&D/BX-derived old-school variants, then you absolutely want this book. If you play with rules that don't trace their lineage to OD&D, you'll find that while the Monster Book contains a lot of exactly what you expect, it also includes enough oddball entities and familiar creatures twisted into the unfamiliar to make the PDF well worth its $5 pricetag. This Adventure Notebook pretty much leaped full-grown into my head the moment I read the entry for the froglum, and the froglum isn't the only monster that's had that effect.