Nov 102011

So Crypts & Things from D101 Games is out if you’ve pre-ordered and it’s pretty darned good. And if you’re not into OSR games, it’s still worth a look. The game stands on its own as a flexible rules lite Sword & Sorcery game.
At the heart of the game is Swords & Wizardry (I have to say this is my favorite of the retro-clones.). It’s simple, flexible and easy to learn. Just what I like in a game. Crypts & Things tweaks Swords & Wizardry to a Sword & Sorcery bent. Think Robert E. Howard with a good dose of H.P. Lovecraft. No snooty elves, drunk dwarves or sneaky hobbites but plenty of mighty thews, flashing swords and evil serpent men. How could lose with a combination like that?
Classes are pretty straight forward and there are only four. The Barbarian is pretty darned cool. A savage who can deal out some damage and take a pounding. He’s got some of the skills that most folks expect to see in the Ranger but this is still a kick ass Barbarian. The Fighter. There’s a nice twist here. Fighting Styles. These allow you to customize your character a little more like Swashbuckler or Berserker. The Styles fold into the class nicely and give that bit of customization so every fighter doesn’t look the same. Then we have the Thief. He’s your skill monkey. Sneaking, locks and traps the usual. They are a little a bit better at combat than your normal Thief types (a bonus to AC and better at 2 weapon fighting). But there’s a little twist here too. Everybody is a rogue. That’s one of the philosophies. What that means is that the infamous Sneak Attack is not a Thief ability. It’s something everybody can do. This really doesn’t detract from the Thief. He still his own dude. But this does make things a little more interesting.
I saved the Magician for last for a really good reason because there’s a big change here. First: NO clerics. NO Druids. Just Magician. Alright don’t panic. The spells are rolled into one list. So yeah, your Magician can heal. But once again we have Sword & Sorcery twist here. The spells are boken down into White, Gray and Black. Actual casting is standard (but personally I might tweak it a bit to be more like the Conjurer from Dwellers in the Dark for Castles and Crusades.) White magic is basically your hippy magic (healing and nice nature stuff), grey is charm and gentler stuff and black is mostly what you would expect and the direct damage spells. White magic is cast normally, Casting gray magic causes a little Hit Point damage. While black causes some Sanity loss (remember I mentioned Lovecraft) or possibly Wisdom damage.
The rest of the game is pretty sweet too. The Life Path chart adds a little bonus to the character and some history. This one thing that screams for folks to start creating their own. I know that’s on my To-Do list. The game has a nice wound system. Hit points are basically superficial damage and heal quickly. Serious wounds cause Constitution damage. The tweak here is that Cure Spells heal that Constitution and not Hit Points. Trust me it works.
Where else does this game hit me straight in OMG-I-Want-To-Play-This bone? Magic Items and Monsters. Since this a Sword & Sorcery game, character’s won’t be walking around with the infamous Christmas Tree Syndrome. Magic items are unique and with every blessing there comes a price or curse. And the bestiary is pretty sweet. Of course, there’s some of your standard monsters but the original monsters to the setting are just the right mix of fantasy and unspeakable horrors. And the vampires. These are great. No level drain but still pretty nasty and a good new take on these classic monsters.
Crypts & Things has its own setting too. The world of Zarth. It’s covered in just enough detail to know what’s happening but still leaves enough room for GM’s to interject their adventures or idea or just use that world for inspiration and head off with own bit of creativity.
Like I said before Crypts & Things does have a lot of common with Lamentations of the Flame Princess when it comes to mood and feel. Overall, it’s a solid game and I’m glad I got it.

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 Posted by at 9:23 am

  5 Responses to “Crypts & Things: Some Good Old School Sword & Sorcery”

  1. Thanks for the review. I pre-ordered too and need to dig into the PDF. Looks great.

  2. Thanks. I was excited when I first heard about C&T and now that’s its in my grubby little hands I’m even more excited.

  3. Definitely on my to get list 🙂 See what I can nab from it (that I already haven’t) for my game.

  4. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    Re; Spell casting. I orginallly used Arkasia’s system of Hit Points as spell points (in short White cost Level of Spell in HP while Grey/Black is twice level in HP) but it was found to make certain spells such as Sleep and Charm unbalanced because you could cast them multiple times a day, almost at will. Therefore I moved back to the original D&D system.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Newt. I kept close track on Crypts & Things and I realize the spell casting tweaks were a last minute change. C&T is still way cool and hope to see a lott more stuff come out for it.

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