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7/14/2011

Crypts & Things Playtest Edition

At the beginning of June I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the playtest version of Crypts & Things, being published by D101 Games. It is way too early to give a complete review of the game, but today I would like to share an overview of some of the things Crypts & Things will offer, as well as a few personal observations along the way.

I have had a few weeks to peruse the playtest files Newt Newport was kind enough to send my way, and overall I have a very positive feeling about the game. Crypts & Things (C&T from here) is a variant of the Swords & Wizardry (S&W) rules, fine tuned for dark sword & sorcery action. Though I have not had an opportunity to actually run a game of C&T, I can say with confidence that this is my favorite variant of the S&W rules I have read so far.

Here are a few things C&T will offer that sets the game apart (my personal comments are in brackets):
  • First, the game dials back the standard Tolkien influence found in most fantasy games, and ramps up the Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber influences. [Love it!]
  • To bring a strong sword & sorcery flavor, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings have been omitted from the game. Humans only for player characters. [This is the type of game I prefer, so I highly approve.]
  • A Barbarian character class has been added, which was inspired by a version of the class first published in White Dwarf magazine in 1977. [White Dwarf!!! 'Nuff said...]
  • Fighting styles have been included, which adds a way to help differentiate one Fighter from another.* [Anyone who has been paying attention will know that I have implemented my own version of this into my game, so Newt and I are on the same page here.]
  • The Magician class has been added, which replaces the Magic-User and Cleric.*
  • Magic has three flavors, White, Grey and Black.* Magic-User and Cleric spells are combined into a single spell list. There are no spells in the game above level 6, except Restoration, which is a 6th level spell in C&T. [I think this is a very sensible approach that reflects the sword & sorcery setting.]
  • Damage characters suffer in combat is handled through Hit Point (exhaustion and fatigue) and Constitution (actual life points) loss.* [This has been a long standing house rule of mine, so two big thumbs up!]
  • Casting spells causes exhaustion, so a number of Hit Points are lost depending on the spell level. The spell Cure Light Wounds only restores Hit Points and not Constitution loss.* [Once again, great minds think alike.]
  • No Vancian magic system, and spells can be cast as many times as a Magician desires.*
  • A Thief variant has been added, inspired by the Grey Mouser, so they will lean heavier on their fighting skills than Thieves normally seen in other games.* [Love it!]
  • Speaking of thieves, the rules state that every character in the game is essentially a rogue, so everyone has the ability to back stab, which means two damage dice are rolled when a successful attack from behind is performed.* [I love this rule!]
  • The ability to Turn Undead has been removed from the game, making undead much more powerful in C&T than seen in other fantasy games.
  • During character creation the player can roll on the Life Events chart, which will randomly generates important events that have occurred in the character's past. [I like this... ALOT!]
  • A Saving Throw mechanic is used to handle class skills in the game.* [Very cool!]
  • Sanity rules have been included, which boil down to Wisdom loss when mental damage and deterioration is suffered.* [This is a very easy and sensible way to handle sanity loss. I approve.]
  • The "Compendium of Fiends" has around 120 creatures, with about 60 of those being designed specifically for C&T.
  • A fully fleshed out sword & sorcery setting will be included in the book, which is "the dying world of Zarth."
This is just a taste of what C&T has to offer. Taken all together, I would say this is a very complete package. It is really hard for me not to like C&T, mainly because I have implemented many of the same rules, or something remarkably close, in my own game. Newt has taken an approach that is very close to my own vision of what I think a dark sword & sorcery game should be. I know this is just the playtest version, but already the game is coming together nicely and one I suspect the old-school community will enthusiastically embrace.

Final note, Newt asked me to mention that 90% of the alternate rules found in C&T are from Akrasia's OGL Sword & Sorcery house rules. These rules are marked with an asterisk (*) above.

7/13/2011

[Poll] Facebook or Google+, Which Will You Use?

There seems to be a new mayor running for office in Social Network Town. Google+ has thrown its hat into the ring, and wants to give Facebook a run for the title "Big Kahuna." Now that we have a choice, which will you be choosing as your social network of choice? Please take a moment and cast your vote for Facebook, Google+, both or neither. If there is a particular reason you have chosen one over the other, please share your reasoning. Thanks!

7/11/2011

[Music Mondays] My Favorite Black Sabbath Album

Looking back, 1980 was a very big year for me. I was eleven, and in that year I began playing Dungeons & Dragons, read The Hobbit for the first time, and discovered the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, by first reading "Rats In the Walls." It was also the year I began listening to Black Sabbath, having acquired an eight-track tape of their self-titled first album from my uncle!

I can't stress enough how influential this album was on my young imagination. To me, D&D, Lovecraft, Tolkien and Black Sabbath will forever be hardwired into the nostalgia-space of my psyche.

In future "Music Mondays" posts I doubt I will link to entire albums, but this is a special case. Black Sabbath is, in my opinion, a perfect album and it would be a crime to not include all of it's songs in this post.


[Music Mondays] Intro

Since the birth of my daughter, I haven't had an opportunity to posts here on the Outer Dark as much as I would like. Even though I am a stay at home dad at the moment, I find that spare time is a hard thing to come by. When I do seem to find some extra time that can be spent working on game material or blogging, I am often just too drained to concentrate on getting anything done. It goes with the territory, I suppose...

One of the things I am able to do, even when tending to Ellie, is listen to some tunes. Music has become my main source of stress relief, and it helps me unwind. Not to mention, music has always been a source of never ending fuel for my imagination, just as gaming.

In an effort to jump start my blogging habits again, I am going to begin posting some of my musical picks each Monday, with posts aptly tagged "Music Mondays." My taste in music is very broad, but I have always gravitated toward progressive rock, as well as all the various sub-genres of doom music. I also have a penchant for instrumental music. In the end, it is hard to say what I will be inclined to post, but I hope you guys will find it entertaining.

The first post in this series to follow...