Friday, January 28, 2011

Realms of Crawling Chaos: a Review Part II

After introducing the mix of new “monster” race classes, Realms of Crawling Chaos then turns to an assortment of other supplemental goodies. Again the dark fantasy flavoring and rigor in holding true to the source material continued hitting a sweet spot for me.

Take the five pages of well-described, setting-appropriate magic. While noting that LL spells hand-wave away material components, the entries make explicit use of them—especially appropriate since some of the new magic is not just the usual fire-and-forget Vanican spells but reflect the dark-magic-like effects of such things as alchemical formulae.

Admittedly, like many raised on the high crunch of AD&D, I tended more often that not to gloss right over components at the table,  but still I loved having that particular, arcane bit of flavoring. Knowing that whipping up a batch of the Fluid of Reanimation requires extract of eels and snake venom, salt pewter, and powdered iron adds something for sure. (It also feels like it provides some interesting motivation to create the basis for an interesting Alchemist class homebrew.)

Cthulhiod beasties are next, a big-ticket item in many old school games. Between a number of entries that recalled reading through the verboten section of the first printing of Deities and Demigods Guide (famously dropped in the later printings due to supposed trademark infringements), there are great statted-out, well-researched renditions of the Beings of Ib, the Colour out of Space, the Hound of Tindalos, Jellyfish from Beyond, etc. There also some interesting spins on old stand-bys like the Ghoul, Ghast, and Lamia.

The section on the Old Ones is again top-notch, much better and more expansive than the above-mentioned chapter in the DDG. Perhaps my one complaint is that a few of the ostensibly heavyweight entries look a little on the wimpy side combat-stat wise. Tsathoggua has a mere 80 hitpoints, for instance,  putting him in the potential ass-whoop range of a high-level party. But then again, I tend to be of the school of thought that is incredulous that any character of any level should be allowed a smack-down of celestial personages.

The artifacts section is a great mix of eldritch items like Cthulhu idols and strange alien technology, a nice addition to those looking to introduce more weird science into their games.

I was surprised to see a chapter on psionics—and appreciative of the honest note stating that these powers do not appear in Lovecraft's writing. Still it's a great, streamlined little system that I can see being a great boon for those who want to have this option for their campaign but are (justifiably) turned off about its presentations in D&D to date.

The last 20-odd pages are devoted to four appendices. The first two, “Reading Eldritch Tomes” and “Random Artifacts”, are both some of the strongest in the booklet and sure to be lifted in many campaigns. The third is a somewhat odd-placed list of psionic effects for Mutant Future and the final a nice, extensive list of suggested readings.

Your cosmic significance pictured here.