So if you were a Kickstart backer then you should have your PDF by now. But for those of you didn’t, well, you’ll just have to buy it in a bit. The guys over at Troll Lord Games have put together a pretty darned selection of classic monsters.
So how many tomes of monsters do we really need? I’m of the opinion that you never have enough good ones and think this is pretty good one. All these beasts have already appeared somewhere before, hence CLASSIC monsters (Yes, even the mighty Flumph.) Plus you can never have too many versions of the Tarrasque just to keep the players honest. But what I do like is the slightly different twists to put monsters into the C&C framework. This isn’t a bad thing because it’s still pretty easy to translate stuff into your retro-clone of choice.
Like most monster books, each entry has its own bit of fluff text. Just that slightly different bit of perspective on creature is enough to give the inspiration to do some tweaking and then viola something the players won’t be expecting. Speaking of things players won’t expect the book has plenty of obscure creatures to challenge the players. There’s a good representation of monsters across levels and types. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a good outsider, evil fey, undead, abominations, elementals or whatever. Hell, there’s a great collection of lycanthropes to chose from (Were-Shark anybody?) There’s a damned good chance that there’s something that you use.
The only negative thing I have to say is that I wish there a few pieces of art here and there. Because my aged grognard brain may not always remember what a creature looks like (for example the Meazel) but that’s no biggie.
Overall, I’m really happy that I picked this up. Even more twists on familiar monsters are just a good spring board to create your own creature creations and besides not everybody has their old Fiend Folio laying around.
Yes, I know I promised more Crypts & Things goodness this week but real life just came along and crushed all my well laid plans. So as a consolation prize, I present you ZOMBIE GRUBS!
Through ancient and profane rituals, powerful necromancers are able to transform disgusting rot grubs into an even more vile creature with a variety of evil uses.
At first glance zombie grubs appear to just normal rot grubs until it is too late. Once a zombie grub hits with an attack it begins burrowing towards the victims brain and will reach it in 1d4 rounds. The grub then begins devouring the victim’s brain doing 1d4 Intelligence and Wisdom damage each round. Characters may attempt to kill the grubs before they reach the brain using fire which will damage the victim as well or amputation. Casting Cure Disease will kill rot grubs but not zombie grubs. A simple Bless spell will kill the zombie grubs. If a cleric successfully turns undead, the zombie grubs will forcibly leave the victim’s body doing 1d6 damage. And if this should happen in the middle of combat, oh well.
Atk 1 burrow
Special: Burrows to brain.
As luck would have it our DM for the Friday nigh game was taken ill so I threw out the idea for a Crypts & Things one shot and the group agreed. I quickly rolled up 8 third level pre-generated characters (two of each class) on Thursday night and was off.
We played it mostly by the rules as written but I did throw in a couple of my own crazy ideas. For rolling up the characters, I used the 6+d6+d6 Method. Basically, all scores start off at 6. Roll 6d6 and arrange to your liking. Then 1d6 for each stat in order. It pushed the probability towards making of a decent character of a particular class without diverging too much from the good old roll 3d6 and quit crying. Overall, I think the players really enjoyed the game. It was a fresh break from Pathfinder. And everyone picked up the rules quickly. We did make a couple observations during the game. The fighter actually seemed like the weakest class. He’s got a bad save and that made it difficult for him to do anything. Additionally, he wasn’t that much better at fighting than the Barbarian or Thief. It turned out that the Thief armed with a bow turned out to be the best damage dealer in the party. The group liked the damage system especially getting all their HP back after 8 hours of rest. Magic was useful and the magician started down that slippery slope to insanity after failing four saves during the session. Another interesting thing is that this is the first time in many years we ran a combat heavy session without using miniatures. And did I mention fast. Yeah, the combat was really quick compared to the endless cross referencing that we were used to. Personally, my biggest surprise was the amount of enjoyment, the players got out of the life events chart. (Hmm, maybe I should write up some longer ones.)
So yes. I definitely want run this again but with more preparation and few tweaks (more about those in later posts).
Here’s some random and crazy notes about what happened during the session.
I decided to go quickly tweak introductory adventure in the back of the book and throw in a couple more encounters to make things interesting. To give the players some ownership of the pregens, each of them rolled four times on the life events chart. After the dust settled this is how the characters knew each other.
The sorceress and the fighter were brother and sister (and not having an incestuous relationship) were in service to their father (who was not an evil sorcerer). Their father orders them to retrieve the lost spell book of Nizar-Thun for his collection or he’ll start charging his lazy kids rent. To help them in their quest Here’s a Thief and a Barbarian. And another Barbarian, Thudthack, who needs to go because Dad’s pet demon grew bored of him and he’s got to go. A little quick haggling with Igor the Castle Quartermaster for supplies and the little group was off.
Random Encounter the First: Group of three bounty hunters who stumble across party. They weren’t very bright. The bounty hunters were on the trail of this evil sorcerer and his crazy family who live somewhere in this area. The party convinces the bounty that they know nothing of evil sorcerers and that they should at that castle about a days walk back in that direction. Yes, they sent them back to dear old dad “who isn’t evil, just misunderstood”.
Random Encounter the Second: Moth Worms attack. A good fight but nothing special.
Enter the Town of Nor-Haven: A small little village at the edge of the swamp. The party starts complaining about the lack of Mouth Worm warning signs. One of the yokels explains to him that he is the local sign maker and there signs all over the place. The party quickly realizes that not only can was this guy illiterate, he might have still been the smartest guy in the village. The party spends an eventful evening and then overpays form some crappy canoes the next morning.
Serpent Men Ambush: The party gets ambushed. Poor Thudthack will forever be known as the barbarian who could stand up in waist high water and got sliced and diced by a pair of serpent men.
The actual dungeon: I won’t go into because it’d be spoiler filled. But I think the highlight was at the very end when party goes to cross a bottomless pit using some rope and really didn’t pause to think about that a demon that still on the loose until said demon showed up and started cutting the rope.
Since Fighters and Barbarians are having fun with specializations, why not the Thieves too. So here you go kids!
Theives gain one specialization at 4th, 8th and 12th levels.
Weapon Master: As the Fighter but a Thief may only take this once and only for a light weapon.
Rapier Wit: The Thief has learned to distract his opponents with witty banter and distractions. The Thief’s AC is improved by 1 each time he takes this specialization. Note: This ability generally does not affect unthinking targets or animals.
Pickpocket: The Thief gains a +1 bonus to Legerdemain checks. He may take this specialization more than once.
Burglar: The Thief gains a +1 bonus to Locking Picking or Finding & Disabling Traps. He may take this specialization more than once.
Acrobat: The Thief gains a +1 bonus to perform acrobatic maneuvers. He may take this specialization more than once.
Poisoner: The Thief gains a +3 bonus to identify and brew poisons. Also he may poison his weapons without fear of poisoning himself.
Assassin: The Thief inflicts +1 to damage.
Death Attack: If the Thief has both the Poisoner and the Assassin specializations, he may take the Death Attack. The Thief must observe his target for at least three rounds and then strike from surprise. If the Thief succeeds on a Saving Throw and his attack roll then he is struck with the Death Attack. The target must succeed on a Saving Throw or die. The target still takes damage normally from the attack.
Next it’s all magic!
Those of us who pre-ordered Crypts & Things are getting our hard copies and it’s available for public consumption over at Lulu and Drivethrurpg. And like I said before I gots some ideas for some tweaks and the first thing I’m going to hit are classes. The fighter specializations originally from Akratic Wizardry‘s Sword & Sorcery rules are pretty neat but why should fighters have all the fun. As my first shot, here’s the Barbarian:
Barbarians gain one specialization at 1st, 4th, 8th and 12th levels. Some specializations may be taken more than once and is noted in that specialization.
Weapon Master: As the Fighter specialization but Barbarians may take this only once.
Berserker: As the Fighter specialization.
“Barbarian” Armor: Be it a loin cloth and bracers or a chain mail bikini, somehow the Barbarian avoids damage. When wearing no or the equivalent of leather armor, the Barbarian gains gains a bonus to his AC based on the sum of his CHA and WIS scores:
Less than 20: No adjustment
21 to 27: AC improves by 1
28 to 35: AC improves by 2
36: AC improves by 3
The Barbarian may take this specialization multiple times. After the first time, his AC is improved by 1 when wearing “Barbarian Armor”.
Beastmaster: The Barbarian can communicate with normal animals. Instead of normal henchmen, the Barbarian attracts a number of animal companions.
Die Hard: The Barbarian gains +1 bonus to his Saving Throw to stay conscious when he starts taking Constitution damage in combat. The Barbarian may take this specialization more than once.
Horse Lord: The Barbarian was born in the saddle. He gains +3 bonus to riding rolls. Additionally, he starts the game with a quality mount (Maximum HP and unusually intelligent).
Tough: The Barbarian gains 3 HP. This specialization may be taken more than once.
And there you go. The Barbarian. Don’t worry, I got plans for the Thief and the Magician too.
Some of the Kickstarter backers have gotten their hard copies of Crypts & Things and I’m still shaking my fist at the US Postal Service. But you’re going to start hearing more about this one from this little blogger. So yeah. I really like it. So here’s some more gaming material to use an inspiration for a Swords & Sorcery game. Not all these sources are OSR material and some them aren’t even d20 but there’s material there to fuel your imagination and it isn’t that hard to convert any crunchy bits that strike your fancy.
Conan: The barbarian’s barbarian. If you’re lucky you can still lay your hands on some of the Mongoose Books but the good news is that Steve Jackson Games is re-releasing the PDF’s of the GURPS Conan. Say what you want about GURPS but the books are well organized and stuffed full of resource material.
Barbarians of Lemuria: This pretty much a class rules lite Swords and Sorcery RPG. You can get the free version over at here or the updated nifty version at Drivethrurpg.
Legends of Steel from Evil DM Productions: This is a fun one. There’s plenty of little bits of inspiration through out. The original version was for Savage Worlds. Plus there’s a version for ZeFrs and Barbarians of Lemuria.
Beasts & Barbarians: Yes, this is another Savage Worlds product. If you’ve read my other blog you know I’m a Savage Worlds fan. Now this one is a bit pricey but there’s some damned fine artwork and nice world that you can convert over.
Lankhmar: City of Adventure: If you can lay your hands one and do a little kit bashing with Vornheim you got the makings of some urban Swords & Sorcery adventures.
So there you go. Some seeming non-related gaming stuff to twist and bend for your own Sword & Sorcery home brew.
Digital Orc has a really sweet series going on how to gonzo your game. I have to admit that I’m really liking his stuff. It has the right amount of weird insanity that lingers in my own little brain during those caffeine filled all night game sessions.
Fighters, clerics and magic-users have taken their turn in the grinder and hopefully soon there will be more and he’s complied his work so far. This is really neat twist so go check it out. And I hope that does more gonzo’ing of the rest of the classes or even attacks the monsters. It’s little projects like this that brought back to warm folds of earlier editions. Just taking some bits then twisting them without breaking the whole damned game.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.-Hunter S Thompson