Yes, I backed the original Kickstarter and backed the Remastered Edition. So I got my grubby little hands on a hard copy already. Last week I stumbled across a discussion of Crypts & Things in the G+ OSR Community, so I figured I’d do a little rant about it.
At it’s core, Crypts & Things is a Swords & Wizardry variant. It uses extensively the house rules from Akratic’s blog (with permission). So there’s a modified wound/HP system. Skills as Saves and so on. Pretty straight forward. The Remastered edition makes some further changes. First Saving Throws are gone. That’s right no saves. Player characters have a Luck score (which starts out at 6+1d6). Roll two 2d6 under to get lucky. The catch is if you are Lucky, your score goes down. Yes, it come back with rest and leveling. But that’s pretty much it. Monsters don’t have saves. This may sound like the players are going to be overpowered but a lot of the tougher monsters are just immune to magic and casting spells has its own risks. The Saving Throw may be gone but its legacy lives on as a Skill Throw which is modified by class or ability scores.
Character classes are what you would expect but there some variations/additions. Fighters have specialized fighting styles. Thieves are much more martial. And there are no clerics. And there’s nifty little life path system, that give characters some bonuses and a little bit of a history. The Remastered Edition adds some extra exotic classes beyond the normal( Fighter, Barbarian, Thief, Sorcerer). There’s the Beast Hybrid, a result of obscene arcane experiments, sort of like a Shifter from Ebberon. The Disciple. OK. They’re monks. Elementalist is like a shaman that worships/gains power for the Elemental Lords. Lizard People (pretty much what you would think but more intelligent) and Serpent Nobles (think Kull of Atlantis.)
As I said earlier, magic is dangerous. It’s broken down into Black, Gray, and White. Black magic is the really bad stuff (Note: Magic Missile is considered Black Magic). It required a blood sacrifice to even memorize a spell plus Sanity loss(Yes, there’s a sanity system based of Wisdom) and even corruption. But you think you’d be safe staying to White Magic. Nope. Each time a White Magic spell is cast, there’s a chance that you’ll draw every evil baddie in the neighborhood to you.
That’s the basics of the system. Now let me talk about monsters. There’s a good chapter on unique monsters. Sure there’s some of the standards like ghouls, dragons, and harpies. But there’s Chreker (a weird pixie like creature with a paralyzying shriek), the Head Hand, and of course the Zunder Cat. (zunder, Zunder, Zunder CAT!) And there’s a good take on Vampires. They aren’t undead. They aren’t hurt by sunlight. They’re aliens.
Then there’s the setting. Zarth. It’s a dying corrupted world. This is one of my favorite sections of the book. Heck, this section you could use no matter what rules you use. Not only for the content but for the way it is presented. It’s not overly detailed. There are adventure hooks, and random encounters for each major area. The gem is the “What the Elder Told Me” chapter. It’s basically a set of questions as answered by the more experienced of a culture. It’s simple and conveys a lot of information about the world. And for the curious, here’s the questions. Who are you? Who are we? What makes us great? Where do we live? What is important in my life? What makes one great? Who are our enemies and what is evil? Who are my gods? What is magic? Can you tell me the truth about the other people of the world?
My opinion overall is that it offers some good variations on a stock elves-and-dwarves style game. Don’t expect it to be a Conan RPG either. It hits a a sweet spot of a weird fantasy, alien dying world. It’s not totally in your face like Carcosa. It’s uses a well tested and supported rules system in Swords & Wizardry which also makes it easily hackable with other OSR games. For me, it goes on the “I really want to run this some time” list.
And you can grab it up on RPGNow, of course.