Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taking a Peek at Crypts & Things

It's all the rage these days.  Well. maybe not all the rage, but it's been making it's appearance on a bunch of blogs these days.  So what is Crypts & Things?

On it's simplest level, it's a reworking of the Swords & Wizardry Core rules to be more Swords & Sorcery in nature.

On a publishing level, it's the latest game from D101 Games, the fine folks that brought us OpenQuest, the open version of the MRQ rules.

One a purely gamiest level, it gives us the first true Swords & Sorcery set of rules to the OSR that I can think of.  There have been a couple of S&S rulesets for Savage Worlds recently, the latest being Beasts & Barbarians: Golden Edition.   It's becoming popular in the gaming circles, so the timing is right.

I jumped on the $40 level of the preorder / fundraiser earlier this week and have just started looking thru my PDF copy.  I like what I see so far, but that's no surprise, and Swords & Wizardry has become my go to OSR ruleset these days.

I'm going to quote from the PDF as to what makes Crypts & Things different from the rest.

How is Crypts & Things
different from Swords &
Wizardry Core?


The Fighter has optional fighting styles, to add more
options and fun and to differentiate between fighter

Adds the Barbarian character class based off the version
of the class originally published in White Dwarf 2 in

Adds the Thief class. This is a more martially-inclined
version of the Thief, inspired by the Grey Mouser from
Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories.

Adds the Magician class, which combines the spell lists
of the Magic-User and Cleric, and then separates them
into White/Grey and Black magic spell lists.

Higher Abilitiy bonuses (+1 to +3) to highlight
exceptional characters.

Removes the Cleric and Magic-user Class

No Elves, Dwarfs or Halflings..

No Turning the Undead either as a class ability or spell.
Life events. This takes the form of a simple table where
characters roll a single D20 three times for starting
characters to learn some of the events that occurred
before they started adventuring and the benefits that
they caused.

Rules systems

A simple skill system based off the Saving Throw
number. Used for class skills (such as the Thieves’
skills and Barbarian’s abilities) and other skills that the
character may have picked up along the way.

Sanity rules. Wisdom is used as a measure of mental
stability. This system is used for both taking mental
damage for witnessing horror and for magicians casting
Black Magic.

Altered damage rules. Hit points become a measure
of exhaustion and fatigue – and are lost as a Magician
casts spells. Constitution is used as a measure of
physical health, and is lost once Hit points have been

Back ground and Setting

Crypts & Things is based more upon the Sword and
Sorcery works of Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber
and Robert E Howard, than the more traditional
Tolkiensque fantasy.


  1. I love it because it's simple and flexible enough to be easily adapted to any person's individual view of swords & sorcery. All the new rules are very compact and elegant, almost in a toolkit/take-it-or-leave-it kind of way. This is definitely now my game of choice.

  2. Yo Tenk! Go my copy and can't wait to really sit down and read it! I've been looking through the second version of the PDF that was released very shortly after the first one. The first was pretty rife with typos, and it seems some carried over into the second PDF. If Newt doesn't mind, then I will probably send him some edits and he might release another version. Or he'll tell me to sod off or something similar ;-)

  3. I saw the typos in the first iteration but haven't really had the chance to thru on the second. S&W is my clone of choice and C&T is fun tweak to hit.
    Some of the monsters are just neat. I really like the re-do on the vampires.

  4. Beyond the typos (sorry if I seemed to focus on those too much in my earlier comment!) I think the game is really cool, evident even on a quick skimming. It's really made me excited to use it.

  5. Just one quick note: the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules do include thieves. The other differences you listed are spot-on and give an excellent view of how the sorcery side of Swords & Wizardry can be tweaked to get a stronger influence from the swords & sorcery flavors. I think the Core Swords & Wizardry rules are into the Leiber region of s&s, but not as far into the spectrum as Conan, Smith, Lovecraft, Vance's Dying Earth short stories, and many other of the weirder or the "unusual character" approaches to s&s.

    I think it's an awesome approach!

  6. Send the typos in, cos while some some good folk have already been going through it with a fine tooth comb and sending what they've found, the more the merrier. Its getting to the point the obvious Trolls have been found and its polish and gremlin stomping time now.

    So there will be an updated version of the pdf before it goes to the printers, but better you guys (the AWESOME pre-orderers) get the value of this 'community-based' error checking than the late-adopters in a years time :)

  7. @Sir Tim "All the new rules are very compact and elegant, almost in a toolkit/take-it-or-leave-it kind of way."

    That's the voice of Matt Finch talking there. I made a consious choice to channel the simple cut and dried modular approach he took in Core S&W when I wrote C&T :) A few folk wanted me to make C&T more its own game or questioned the way certain things where writen or presented, I simply told them "no its like that because its a S&W varient". Kudos to Matt ;)


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