After getting a play session in, I had some additional insights into what would make this game better. It has come a long way from its humble roots. I give you the May 20 update for the Crumbling Epoch system, designed to be compatible with B/X Dungeons and Dragons and retroclones.
Crumbling Epoch 5.20
Crumbling Epoch, Devilmount 5.20.13
Crumbling Epoch Wampus Spells 5.20.13
Crumbling Epoch Character Sheet and Reference 5.20
Why play Crumbling Epoch? Well, here are the reasons I would play it instead of B/X or another system based on the original. You can decide what you think for yourself.
- Combat is a struggle where foes may tie, or one may dominate another, or they may whittle each other down, or they may strike at each other with disregard for their own safety. The fiction is represented mechanically, rather than feeling like two pinatas trading hits until one bursts with experience candy.
- Armor is damage reduction. Combat skill helps you not get hit.
- You can have an attack or defense stance, and you can protect people.
- Multiple combat feels like one against many, and there is an advantage to ganging up on tougher foes. Also, many less significant foes can be folded into a single roll, speeding combat greatly.
- I never liked “cast and forget” magic. If you have the slot, you can casually toss a fireball with no physical engagement beyond hand gestures. This magic is fueled by hit points. Also, wands and staves for wizards become important.
- Classes get simple scalable abilities. Higher level characters do not necessarily get more complex to play, but they do get cooler.
- The thief is democratized; the skills can be spread around the party. Anyone can backstab if they attack someone who has already acted in the round. Since characters can take a new skill instead of hit points when they level, a lower-hit-point fighter or martial artist (or whatever) with more skills becomes thief-like.
- A simple skill system is bolted on and accessible to everyone.
- Simple paired weapon rules that do not involve multiple attacks.
- Fresh new spells.
- A movement system that allows characters to decide how fast or how slow they will move–decide to be cautious or stealthy or mapping, instead of having a single movement rate that assumes they will be.
- Simple unified experience for all classes, at a less brutally punishing rate than the slow experience awards assumed in the basic books.
- Everybody can use weapons and armor. Fighters are just better at it.
- I enjoy the lightbringer and thirster concepts. Also, I like having martial artists that don’t have to be monks.
I think there is a lot to love here. If anybody uses this, I’d love to hear how it works for your group.
I have one player who will be GMing his own Fictive Hack game in the Breathing World, flavored Grayhawk style. I will be working him into the rotation maybe next month. And I still have Shaun running Awesome Isles; I’m looking forward to the 5th session.
What am I running? Let’s see. Right now, we’re doing Axes & Anvils. It is a system I’m working on, and seeing how actual play unfolds is very helpful to the process, so I’ve press ganged them on my dwarven expedition.
In the background, we have:
- Setine in the World Between, which has a place for everyone but may not rule anyone’s heart. (To be fair, we haven’t played there as much as I expected, with other things emerging.)
- Lottery Dungeon in the World Between. Those who have played love it! It is an environment, always ready to go for those short notice games, something for cancellations rather than planned in to the schedule.
- Fictive Avengers, which about half the group adores and the rest are okay with. It is a game I pulled in as a birthday present for a couple of the gamers, so it will likely emerge again as a present later.
Then there are other games that are not scheduled or anything, but I want to do.
- Strip D&D. No one in my group wants to play this. Nobody. But I do. And at some point I’ll stamp my foot and cry until they play with me.
- Mega Dungeon. I am the only person that wants to do this. But I do want to do it. And I need players. I’m still not sure if I want to use Strip D&D, or Fictive Hack, or something else. But I want to try out the open table dungeon bashing. I have a tool to randomly generate barrows with Barrowmaze II. I have Devilmount. I have Caverns of Thracia. I can pick one! And I am sure if they tried it they’d like it…
- Edge City. I don’t know how I’m going to rig things so I don’t run into the catastrophic failure that I hit last time. I don’t know how this will work with scheduling. But this is pretty close to a masterpiece game for me for a lot of reasons, and some of my group are determined to return and reclaim the game table’s honor. And meet their NPCs again, they miss them.
- Fantasy Masks. Not everyone gets to go back to Edge City. But there was also a much-beloved fantasy cadre with the same rules, and there is some itch to play with them again. It is not a rules light system. There are complexities. But this too is some of my better work, and I’d like to get back to it. I’m just not sure I want that more than I want the other things that compete with it.
The only player at my table that embraces switching systems and settings also tends to play weirdo sociopath characters. Of those who resist change, several just don’t like new systems, and others long to spend more time with the settings, rules, characters, and NPCs they already love. As a whole, my table is not good at learning new systems.
This actually turns into a plug for Axes and Anvils. They picked it up, and ran with it, and found it easy to play and very satisfying. So that is good–I am not imposing on them overly by showing them a new game they like.
Back in March, Joe Wetzel announced that I am working on some of the system neutral background cards. It has been a charming process, and I’m pleased with the results so far. These creature and encounter cards are going to be pretty awesome.
My game table does not do much in the way of “pick-up dungeons” (and when we do, we go to Simon Forster’s excellent Lottery Dungeon.) I still have an ongoing design goal of getting to the point where geomorphs are easy to use and I can quickly stock and play a dungeon in minutes.
Also, for over a year I’ve been working on the Fictive Hack geomorph stocker, and when it is done it will be an amazing innovation that may change the way people do dungeons. But I digress.
When working on innovative design, it is clever to see what other people are doing, and incorporate your favorite parts. I look forward to getting these decks, whipping out some lairs and monsters, and getting stuck in.
It is tragic that Fictive Hack is not popular enough for me to even consider submitting it for one of the systems to be included on the back of the cards–that would be super-neat. Still, I look forward to getting these, and I plan to use them in various ways for my encounter designs.
Man. Joe Wetzel does good work.
I am now working with Mike Nystul on getting a draft of Axes and Anvils done for the project backers. The project has run into significant problems, and I’m fast with the game design, and… well, I want the backers to have a great dwarf game.
I’ve slowed down on posting as I’ve worked on this. By the end of the week I’ll be ready to play-test with my home group, and by the end of next week this thing should have a draft. That’s very good news to me.
Here is Mike’s update on the Kickstarter site.
Here are the banners that tell the tale of my blog’s shifting focus over the last 500 posts, from July 2010 to March 2013. I started trying to do an OSR blog like the cool kids, then I found a different focus with the Old School Hack adaptations and such. (That’s when a few people started reading it, thanks to Matt Jackson pointing me out on his blog.)
My thanks go out to those who keep my interest in this blogging thing. To those who create, to those who consume, to those who adapt, to those who share.
If you lurk on a blog, remember that the blogger there is human and subject to varying tides of motivation and inspiration. I think most bloggers are really buoyed up by encouragement and interest in what they are doing. In honor of my 500th post, feel free to go to a blog you frequent and find something nice to say in the comments.
Thanks for coming to my blog, folks. I have not yet run out of things to talk about. =)
According to WordPress, here are the top 10 downloads from my blog. Numbers are as of 2/20/13. I have been blogging since July 4, 2011.
- Fictive’s Talents and Templates (2012 Edition) (555) Posted 12/25/11
- My massive foray into taking full advantage of the framework Old School Hack offered.
- It’s hopelessly out of date for what I’m doing now, and there are a lot of refinements it needs, but the enthusiasm shows through. I plan to take this down when I finish the Breathing World book.
- As far as I know, this has never been reviewed.
- The Road to Baffram (319) Posted 8/31/11
- The first scenario ever written for Old School Hack!
- It is modular, so you can use the pieces in any order you want or even independently. Each map/encounter fits on one page, and there are full-page maps at the back.
- World Between for Fictive Hack (316) Posted November 15, 2012
- Combines Jack Shear’s World Between with Kirin Robinson’s Old School Hack, both profoundly altered by my own creative take on the subject. Free .pdf, hardback and paperback available for sale. I am super proud of this. I did the cover art and some interior art. Kirin Robinson contributed interior art, Kristy Shields collaborated on the cartography, and I even got forewords from Jack and Kirin.
- Random Adventure Generator (by OFTHEHILLPEOPLE) (303) Posted July 13, 2012
- How is this for humbling? Someone on a forum asks if they can get a host and some editing/formatting for a document, I agree, and it’s 4th most popular on my blog.
- Old School Hack Monsters (271) Posted September 5, 2011
- Early fumbling at monsters, but I needed something to work with. Apparently I’m not the only one.
- Now I’ve got my monster builder, in the “World Between for Fictive Hack” book. Also demon builder, beastman builder, etc. etc. I even put in a bunch of sample warbands for plug-and-play use. So, I’m past needing this now. For those still playing the original, it may help.
- Fictive Hack of Old School Hack (269) Posted August 1, 2012
- This was on my 1 year anniversary of discovering OSH.
- I wanted to show that Fictive Hack is not so much more complicated than Old School Hack; I can share roughly the same game in roughly the same pagecount. Of course, mine is built to my taste. It needs some updating, but it’s alright.
- Fictive’s Portable Pantheon (255) Posted March 5, 2012
- Oh, I’m proud of this one. A unique take on fantasy religion, complete with a pantheon of gods and an epochal history. I have used it quite a lot, and the updated version will be in my Breathing World book; then I’ll likely pull the talents out and make a generic resource out of what the book is now.
- Lopelia Alchemal Fortress Ruin (253) Posted October 2, 2011
- Another scenario makes an appearance! That warms my heart. This was the first scenario I built using the Dungeonmorph Dice fonts and geomorphs.
- The Tireless Archer (233) Posted September 26, 2011
- I wanted to demonstrate that Old School Hack could serve quite well for a dungeon adventure, especially one built for it. Free of the maps of others, I tackled the project of making something “awesome” that fit right in with Old School Hack. Dude! Goblin army led by a crippled elf woman! An elf with a dirigible allied with winged baboons! Poison beaked crows! Frost giant with a magic axe! Carnivorous snow apes! Come ON! Custom OSH style maps, too.
- Old School Hack Monsters (188) (Barsoomcore did this.) Posted October 2011
Rulebooks, scenarios, linked resources, and monsters. That’s the most popular material on my blog.
Hm. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m looking forward to the new year, and looking back at the year gone by. Last year I played in 33 games, 5 run by other people.
Though it was under construction all year, I’ll lump Fictive Hack games together as 1 game; I had 20 sessions of that. Masks had 2 strains, but together there were 11 games in that system family. Then, 2 experiments.
- Breathing World
- Awesome Isles. 5
- Widow Dragon. 6
- New World. 1
- World Between. 7
- Fictive Avengers. 1
Rules Light Fantasy Experiments
- Narvin’s Reach. 1
- Into the Grinder. 1
I do not know for sure what is coming this year. If I had to predict right now, I’d say heavy strains of World Between for Fictive Hack, with Shaun’s Awesome Isles backing that up, and possibly Kristy’s Ravensgate setting making a few appearances.
Will I get Edge City back in the rotation? Or Fantasy Masks? Will I develop Fictive Hack along Avenger lines and Warhammer 40K lines? Will I dig in and make that Harrowfaust sourcebook for TWB:FH?
We’ll just have to see which way the crazy squirrels dart.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present “The World Between for Fictive Hack.
Here is the free .pdf, the paperback, and the hardback.
I would appreciate it if you would spread the word. For those who may not want to take a chance buying a book, the .pdf is free. For those who plan to play this, getting hard copy is a wonderful help. I hope you will review this book, and even more, I hope you enjoy it.
Here are the first two issues of the Dragonslayer Pantheon, a series of religious groups to spice up your existing campaign. The first one is free (so you can check out the format), and the second one costs $1.
Please take a look. These support my creative efforts, and those of Matt Jackson (who runs Chubby Monster Games.)
So! Issue One and Issue Two.
Cover by Kristy Shields. Game by Andrew Shields. Please check it out.