Crypts & Things
- Solid art, layout, etc. It's very readable as a text. Sections are "right-sized" - not too long or short.
- The rules are definitely old school. They aren't complicated or crunchy, but they have old school style quirks and tables. I like the simplicity. I'm not sure about some of the choices (like descending AC, though that is easily fixed).
- There are a couple major changes to stats. Wisdom essentially doubles as Sanity (Cthulhu style). And there is a Luck score. Both of these are resources you can wear down. I see shades of DCC influence here.* I like representing Sanity; I'm unsure about tying it to the Wisdom score, but it feels like a solid choice to model sword-and-sorcery fiction.
- The core classes are Barbarian, Fighters, Thief, and Sorcerer. I find a little too much overlap in some of them. On the other hand, I kind of like that this is a VERY sword-and-sorcery style array. All magic-users are lumped into one group: sorcerers. Magic is broad and encompasses white, gray, and (especially) black magic. If you want to play a "cleric" or "druid," for instance, you will use the sorcerer class. It's almost dismissive/derisive of magic users in the way the REH's Conan fiction is. :)
- The "exotic classes" are Beast Hybrid, Disciple (Monk), Elementalist, Lizard Man, and Serpent Noble are added. These are essentially classes that make sense in the setting.
- The classes have some exception-based power lists to choose from that feel a bit like 3.x feats. For instance, fighters pick from a list of styles, disciples pick from paths, etc. It's not unwieldy though.
- Spells are generally "gray," but there are some white magic spells that may attract the attention of the Others (demons) and black magic spells that can cause corruption. The spells are mostly D&D wizard and cleric spells all smooshed into one list. Cool. I like it. You basically configure your magic-user class with your spell choice.
- The life events are cool. They not only give you some back story but they ground you in the world. Here's an example, "You saw your family sacrificed by the Priests of the Five Tent Camp and swore vengeance."
- Luck is a roll 2d6 < stat mechanic.
- Skills are a d20 +/- mods ≥ Skill Number (a character stat).
- Sanity is ... a little odd, but workable. You begin with points equal to your Wisdom. When you see something awful, you test your Luck. If you are unlucky, you lose d6 points of Sanity.
- NPCs and monsters die when their HP = 0. Characters start taking CON damage and test their Luck each time to stay conscious. CON heals more slowly and must be healed before HP. So get the hell out of a fight if you get below 0 HP!
- The world stuff is generally cool. I especially like the "What the elder told me" section, which gives you cool bits of info about the world based on what region you grew up in (determined by your life events).
* I was wrong on this count. Newt says: "The Sanity Rules were originally from Arkasia's S&W Swords & Sorcery House Rules Index, as were a few other bits and bobs, rather than DCC (akraticwizardry.blogspot.co.uk - ‘Swords & Sorcery’ House Rules Index). The whole Luck mechanic was adapted from the good old Fighting Fantasy gamebooks rules."