Saturday, June 30, 2012

I go down the well

OK, OK so I finally weakened and signed up for the Rappan Athuk Kickstarter. You can climb down the well too, but you better hurry because the Kickstarter ends Monday July 2nd 4:59pm EDT. I always swing hot and cold about these things. Giving money to strangers for things they haven't produced yet is risky buisiness. I am so glad that She-who-must-be-obeyed talked me out of funding Greg Stafford's "Hero Wars" as that game came out nothing like I wanted. I did sign on with Wolfgang Bauer for Halls of the Mountain King, but found the waiting for him to get it done torture, and found the concept of having to pay extra to comment on the procces a bit absurd. Although I like Wolfgang's stuff, I am happier buying it when it comes out instead of signing up in advance, besides bragging rights for collectable .pdfs is a bit limited (it's not like your friend are going to spot them on the virtual bookshelf and ask). I also signed up for Bill Webb's Slumbering Tsar. That was close to two years of waiting agrivated by having the installments show up for sale on Drivethrough RPG slightly before I got the e-mail to pick up my prepaid copy. However, he did actually send out the hardbound copy last month. So why did I sign up for this one?

1. I like Bill's stuff (I have been using the old Necromancer modules in my home game for several years)
2. Bill has a proven track of delevering on his promises (see Slumbering Tsar comments above)
3. There's too much cool swag added to the kickstarter to pass up
4. She-who-must-be-obeyed is still asleep and will never know...

So in my moment of weakness I have signed up to re-buy a dungeon I have purchased twice already. Am I signing up for your kickstarter? Not unless I have bought stuff from you before and liked it, you have a proven track record of finishing stuff and delivering it close to ontime, and 800 of my internet friends jump on first to drive the swag pile into a irristable heap.

P.S. was severly temped by the hand drawn maps, but it was a litte too much chedder for me to swing

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dungeon Crawl Classics the good, the bad, the funky

Just picked up my copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics. Although I did not find it at a booth at Origins, as I had hoped for (Origins was pretty much OSR deprived, I only found one booth with much OSR stuff), my local game store got it in the next week. My reaction is a bit bittersweet. I think it is a perfectly playable game, many people will have a great hoot with one-offs using this system. However it incorporates a large dose of random lethality that will inhibit long term character development, and leave many characters, not retired but so gimped up as to be no fun to play. The good is that it is a large book at a reasonable price, it is published under the open gaming license (yay!!! that's a big plus in my book) and play could be a hoot. The bad limited character classes and few options to make them unique (although this is typical OSR), your character could explode,  randomness instead of game balance (more on this below). The funky, using different size dice instead of changing target numbers, arcane check charts for casting spells. Both these ideas are definitely out-of-box thinking, but look like they'll work.

Thing that worries me the most is the randomness. Randomness in itself is not bad. However random tables with small but finite catastrophic occurrences tend to tilt out of balance quickly (subject to both the long tail and black swan events for you economic statistic junkies). Those players who always role well will prosper under this system, folk like with often sub-average luck are screwed.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I have marked this review with the chess symbol for gambit (!?). I picked up Carcosa the new hardback edition up at my local game store. It falls to me being employed and relatively well payed to buy stuff at the store to ensure that our Thursday night table does not given to the Magic players, so I am always on the lookout for small press stuff, the owner knows this and stocks things other than mainstream. I found the writing very inspiring for those interested running weird Lovecraftian game. I am not enough of an affectionatio of the Cthulhu mythos to know how much information is new to this book and how much comes from the novels, but this book exudes eerie creepiness. However, the Thursday night crowd was disappointed that the book was marked with an adult content sticker due to human sacrifice themes rather than actual sex. It is nicely illustrated with pen and ink drawings and different sections of the book are tinted with grayish green and purplish pink. I can  definitely use the monster list, and think the spacee alien weapons, and random robot tables may come in handy as well. I am less down with the Sorcerer class having to haul around a large quantity of different colored human sacrifices (there are 13 different colored human races including the new colors of jale and ulfire, as well as dolm which is a combination of ulfire and blue). There is also the problem that the Socorer has a significant risk of being eaten by whatever he conjurers and the monsters are going to bash his skull in long before he completes his 5 minute ritual. The random roll-up table for what sided dice to roll for your hit dice seemed overly chaotic, even though I did understand the authors statement that actually gives the party a shot against those 59 hit dice, because the monsters could be using 4 sided this time. I doubt I will be using the campaign map or the sample single hex sandbox, but some of the encounters from these may sneak their way in to other things I run. Luckily for me the author has given permission to use his book any way I see fit. In summary not a good pick for those on a limited budget, but filled with ideas to riff off of; "Old schoolly" in the way of the Ardiun Grimoire and the Book of Ebon bindings.
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