Monthly Archives: October 2014

Maximum XCrawl

Remember that pretty, albeit chunky little cutie we discussed last time? Well, maybe you’ve decided not to see her on the regs anymore. That’s ok. But that doesn’t mean you should kick her to the curb entirely. It’s ok to see her every now and then. And maybe when you do, maybe she wears a little something special for you…something new and exciting…shit, I seem to have given myself a boner with this metaphor.

GMGP2000CoverLarge

Ok, so the plump lass in question was Pathfinder. Well, the naughty podiatrist (of whatever your occupational kink is) outfit just happens to be a new edition of XCrawl!

XCrawl has been around for a while, but if you’re not familiar with it, here’s the long and veiny of it. Imagine a world similar to ours, the catch being that all the crap from your D&D books is real. A world where the phrase “Honey, I stepped in gremlin poop on the way to Taco Bell.” is not unheard of. Ok, so in a world like this, what does one do for fun? Well, they watch televised dungeon crawls, naturally. That’s where the game begins. Your party plays the role of a team of adventurers for sport. You compete in public spectacles for cash and prizes…and groupies.

It was love at first sight for me with XCrawl, that was way back in 2007 or so, and I’ve been hooked from the word go. I got my game group enamored with it too, and we even helped playtest this new edition, landing the Bluegrass Brawlers a mention in the credits page. Since then, I’ve actually gotten to know the game’s creator, Brendan Lasalle, pretty well, and even colloabo’ed on other projects. That being said, I still feel capable of giving an unbiased review. So…here goes nothing…

This thing fucking rules! Ahem, sorry. Seriously though, a lot of work and love went into this book, and it shows. And it should, since it was supposed to be released sometime roughly around the Carter administration. (Take that, Brendan, ha!) It was worth the wait though, as it pretty much fixes every issue I had with the old version. Let’s talk about that.

The previous edition of XCrawl was a fantastic exercise in concept and world building. It went into a great amount of detail about the setting of the game, it’s history and culture, but it was a bit rules-light. Aside from a few feats and spells, the mojo system, and one new class; the Athlete, there was a lot of fluff compared to crunch. This time around, the script is flipped, giving us a lot of new crunchy bits to sink our teeth into. There are six, fully fleshed out classes, including a vastly overhauled and improved version of the Athlete, a more streamlined mojo system, great detail into building a crawl by the numbers, a revised fame system, and much, much more! If you’re looking for a full-fledged rulebook, Maximum XCrawl does not disappoint. That being said, with so much crunch, there’s naturally not as much room left for fluff. There’s still a fair amount of space dedicated to the setting, definitely enough for you to understand and enjoy, but it felt like the old book went into more detail about it. For that reason, I think that there’s still plenty of reason to pick up the old edition, as it’s still mostly relevant information. There’s a lot of subtle depth and commentary that Lasalle put into this setting that many (myself included for a time) overlook due to the in your face action of the games themselves. both editions together make for a perfect set for rules and setting.

All in all, this is a great new edition of an already great game. There aren’t a lot of alternate settings for D20 style games hitting the shelf anymore, and this is the most original one I’ve seen, and a great reason to keep playing Pathfinder.

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How one fat nerd equates D&D to marital infidelity

Imagine if you will; you and your squeeze are together for a while now, and you have a great time together. But over the years she changes. It’s ok, everyone changes, and it happens slowly at first, but over time she becomes someone you don’t exactly enjoy anymore. It’s not that she got super fat, or got her face and tits mangled in some kind of industrial accident, she’s just…different. Perfectly capable in her own right, you suppose, but not quite the same. And it’s not just you that notices, your friends notice too, they may be afraid to mention it until you bring it up, because your friends always liked her too, that was another point in her favor. Now imagine you meet someone else. You weren’t really looking, you’re a faithful kind of guy, but you just kind of ran into her along the way and, to your horror and guilty delight, she stirs something in you. It feels fun again. You get that same feeling you had with your first love. It’s not that she’s some kind of supermodel, though she’s certainly attractive, if maybe a bit thick around the middle, but in that good way that Sir Mix-A-Lot would approve of. No, she’s just fun to be around. It’s like old times. So you make the hardest choice of your life, and you and your old lady part ways, and this new cutie embark on a whirlwind of fun times. Your friends like her, you have fun together, all is great. Then, one fateful day, your run into your ex. You engage in awkward small talk for a bit, give her the old scrutinizing eyeball, and you realize that she’s different again. She’s fun again. In new ways, but ways that remind you of why you fell in love with her in the first place. You agree to hang out casually, and you find yourself falling back in love with her. Now you have another painful choice to make. Do you rekindle this old flame, or do you stick it out with the chubby cutie that you left her for?

More of you to love...

More of you to love…

Friends, thus is the conundrum with Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition. And for clarity’s sake, Pathfinder is the fun, big-hipped lass you ran off with. Yes, a new edition is here, and it reads like an apology for everything D&D related since 2007.

Baby, is that you?

Baby, is that you?

5E, formerly known as D&D Next, trims so much of the fat that’s been heaped on in the past two editions that it feels like a breath of fresh air. Gone are the gratuitous modifiers for every little thing, and the overactive skill system, replacing it with simple over-the-board proficiency bonuses and advantage/disadvantage systems. Gone is most of the creepy shit added in 4E, that it feels like D&D again…although the Dragonborn are still oddly present. It reminds me a lot of Second Edition, but in all the right ways. The Player’s Handbook’s cover is even done in the same color scheme, which makes me wonder if that was in any way intentional. The power gamer elements are all but stripped clean, making a game that seems fast to learn, and legitimately streamlined, as much as that word gets thrown around.

My gaming group and I have had pretty much the same sentiment when looking over this new thing; deep personal conflict. We made the jump to Pathfinder years ago and haven’t looked back, and now D&D is looking like a very attractive option again. If only there was ┬ásome reason to keep those Pathfinder books on the shelf, and not dump and run. If only.

Stay tuned…

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