March 7, 2012

[First Look] Crypts & Things

This is not a review. This preview can be based on prejudice and/or wrong information. Be warned.

I don't like Swords & Wizardry, so why take a second look to this S&W conversion called Crypts & Things?

Crypts & Things is based on Sword & Wizardry that is based on the original Dungeons & Dragons so it's an oversimplified hack & slash game created for people of the eighties. Until now, in my humble opinion, Retro-clones were good only for middle aged people, regretting their lives and wishing to come back to a more simple and streamlined way of living (and gaming)

But how is Crypts & Things different from Swords & Wizardry? The following text is taken from the free preview of the game (so I take it as accurate. Original text is in italic, my comments are in bold.

The Fighter has optional fighting styles, to add more options and fun and to differentiate between fighter characters. 
Sounds good, plays usually boring.
Adds the Barbarian character class based off the version of the class originally published in White Dwarf 2 in 1977. 
Ok, you can go Conan.Nothing wrong with that.
The Thief class is a more martially-inclined version of the Thief, inspired by the Grey Mouser from Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories.
Conan By John Buscema
Ok, you can go Gray Mouser. Nothing wrong with that.
Removes the Cleric and Magic-user Class. Adds the Magician class, which combines the spell lists of the Magic-User and Cleric, and then separates them into White/Grey and Black magic spell lists. 
Black magic? Really? This is telling me that this game is gritty, magic is dangerous and heroes are supposed to keep distance from "evil" black magic. On the other side Black Magic is available to players, so this could be just a cosmetic change.
Higher Ability bonuses (+1 to +3) to highlight exceptional characters. 
Totally not relevant.
No Elves, Dwarfs or Halflings.
So just humans. I like that.
No Turning the Undead either as a class ability or spell. 
Turning Undead was always broken anyway.
Life events. This takes the form of a simple table where characters roll a single D20 three times for starting characters to learn some of the events that occurred before they started adventuring and the benefits that they caused
Oooh. A boring table.
Rules systems A simple skill system based off the Saving Throw number. Used for class skills (such as the Thieves’ skills and Barbarian’s abilities) and other skills that the character may have picked up along the way. 
A little too unclear to have an opinion about.
Sanity rules. Wisdom is used as a measure of mental stability. This system is used for both taking mental damage for witnessing horror and for magicians casting Black Magic. 
This goes combo with the black magic part. Nice!
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
Altered damage rules. Hit points become a measure of exhaustion and fatigue – and are lost as a Magician casts spells. 
Constitution is used as a measure of physical health, and is lost once Hit points have been exhausted. 
Ok, this can work.
Crypts & Things is based more upon the Sword and Sorcery works of Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber and Robert E Howard, than the more traditional Tolkienesque fantasy.
I suppose that's the main point... 

Crypts & Things is an old school game made to create old school stories. It's interesting because it's not just a retro-clone of D&D but it actually tries to do something different within the strict self-imposed borders of that ruleset.

On the down side, if you know well the C.A.Smith/F.Leiber/R.E.Howard fiction you can easily understand why I'm not 100% into this game. Until now no one succeeded in capturing successfully the feeling of playing in a grim setting like the Hyborian Age or Lankhmar, mostly because lone heroes and deadly perils (as in No-adventurers-party and CallofCthulhu-like mortality) are against everything we know about fantasy adventures.

Someone already tried this game? Opinions?

Crypts and Things
Crypts and Things
Crypts and Things

1 comment:

  1. I ran a one hot of Crypts & Things using the intro adventure in the book. It was pretty darned fun. But at it's core, it's still Swords & Wizardry. I'm sure many of the concepts could be easily translated well into the rules version of your liking. I've started on some rules tweaks over at my own little OSR blog.