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Chromatic Dungeons RPG
by Brandon A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2021 17:11:59

Where do I start? I've been playing D&D since 1983, and my kids have started to ask about playing, and after a few lackluster sessions with other OSR rulesets, this one seems to have stuck. My players (old and young) like the diversity that's been built into this game, along with the tweaks to some common rules, and just the layout and way this is presented, and it's like a breath of fresh air for my kids, and my gaming crew.

I've seen some of the stupid negative comments here and there about the inclusive nature of this game, and seriously, don't let that detract from what this is - a great OSR option that's been thoughtfully compiled and with some nice tweaks added for good measure.

I was a kickstarter backer, and I got the hardcover printed rules and pdf. The print copy was great quality, the binding seems very sturdy, and the content is well-organized and with some great OSR-inspired art.

There's enough new stuff here to make this worth the purchase. It's a fresh take with enough "old bones" underneath to make it fun and workable.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons RPG
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:54

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #5 This issue is the last of the Kickstarter issues and also the largest so far at 42 pages. This issue covers the Ecology of the Orc and sets out to challenge our notions, or at least stereotypes of orcs. This is introduced in the starting fiction with Fleabag challenging the party to think about what sorts of orcs they might be dealing with. What follows is a very long Ecology Of and details of seven very different Orc clans.

In the Ecology Of we learn the basic structure of an orc clan including numbers, leadership, and organization. What follows are descriptions of seven example clans. They are, briefly: Small Clans are the various orc clans represented in pretty much all other RPGs. The Iron Shield Clan, a group of orcs more interested in making weapons, and selling them, than using them. Yellow Fang, a group of plains orcs that wear the skins of their enemies as clothing. Chaka Plains orcs are not pacifists per see, but understand the value of life and death and respect it. Meet them peacefully and you will be respected, meet them with violence and they will happily escort you to your next life. There are the sea-faring orc pirates and privateers of the Red Sails, but they only attack the wealthiest of ships. There are the imperialistic and arrogant orcs of the Baildan Daguulalt (Empire) that combine the best, and worst, characteristics of Imperialisy Britain and the Roman Empire. They are brilliant and utterly convinced of their own superiority, in fact they made the cover. Finally the orcs of the Silver Glacier might be the most dangerous of all these clans.

That is a lot! There are still a couple of magic items, some comics, new spells, and some hints about the next issue and a new class The Commander.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 4: Psionist
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:51

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #4 Now here is one I was quite excited for. This issue introduces us to the Psionist class for Chromatic Dungeons or any other clone. We start with some fluff with Fleabag and the aftermath of the Mushropod attack from the last issue. Fleabag describes a unique "spellcaster" they had met who what not a spellcaster at all. We then get into the class proper. Now I am very particular about my psychic and psionic using classes. Even to the point where I have a preferred term (it's "psychic" btw) and I need them to be very different than my spell-using classes. Also if their powers can be built up over time with disciplines, then all the better. This class satisfies two of those three. The class is flexible to use just about anywhere and easy to introduce. In fact, with the most minor of tweaks, a 5th Edition class can be found here. The psionist can choose one of three disciplines; Psychometabolism, Telekinesis, and Telepathy. There are powers with each one and they grow as the character levels up.

We also get an ersatz Mind Flayer in the Mind Eater and some comics. In the State of the Business, we learn this was the last issue of the original four set, with issue #5 coming as a stretch goal.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 4: Psionist
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 3: Mushropod
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:48

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #3 The third issue of The Gnoll Sage gives us the ecology of a monster introduced in the Chromatic Dungeons hardcover, the Mushropod. In the Ecology Of article, we get more details from our Gnoll on the Scene, Fleabag as they let us know what they have uncovered about the sentient mushrooms. Again the stat block reminds me of a 5e one, but everything here lends itself well to use of any 20th century D&D or clone.

There is a very brief adventure featuring these guys, some humor, three new magic items, some new NPCs, and a new spell. We end with the State of the Business note from Waibel where he mentions his Rise of Authur project. If you follow him at all online now (late Fall 2021) you have seen the characters he has been working on.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 3: Mushropod
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 2: Animist
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:44

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #2 In this second issue we are given the Animist class which is designed to replace classes like "the Witch doctor" or Shaman or even "Spirit Guide." This is a good thing since the term Animist encapsulates all of these ideas. It is a divine spellcaster in Chromatic Dungeons terms, but can easily be ported over to any other D&D/Clone. It could also be tweaked and added to D&D 5 if you like. The class and all it's powers take up 18 of the zine's 28 pages. I have not played it yet but it looks pretty solid.

The remainder of the book is given over to humor, the look forward, and a copy of the OGL.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 2: Animist
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 1
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2021 12:16:40

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-3-gnoll.html

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages. Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do. The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout. It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage. Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view. I personally rather like it. It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment. The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls. Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on. There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well. There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next.

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of D&D or any clone that emulates them. In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials.

The Gnoll Sage #1

The first issue details the Mrav Covjecka, a group of insectoid/humanoid hybrids that need humanoid blood to nurse their brood. We get an "Ecology of" article as told to us by Fleabag. A monster statblock that can be used by any d20 based game including D&D 5.

There is also a brief adventure featuring the new monsters. There is the humor section, some new magic items, some NPCs you can meet, a section of new spells and upcoming topics in future books.

There is also the OGL statement at the end.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination.

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 1
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Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Chromatic Dungeons RPG
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2021 09:36:20

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-2.html

Today I want to cover the big game in the Chromatic Dungeons line. I call it the "Advanced" game, but the name on the cover is just Chromatic Dungeons RPG.

Note. I do want to point out that nowhere in the game nor in any online conversation has Roderic Waibel or Izegrim Creations called these rules "Advanced." This is just what I am calling them to differentiate them from the Basic Rules.

Again for this review, I am considering the hardcover I got as a Kickstarter Backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Note 2: I'll make allusions to the Basic game here. This is only to describe how these rules go above and beyond the basic rules. At no point in these rules did I see something that had you refer to the Basic rules for more details. This rulebook is complete on its own.

Chromatic Dungeons RPG

330 pages, hardcover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

If the Basic Game was meant to invoke feelings of the 1981 Moldvay Basic set then this book is clearly influenced by the earlier AD&D 1st Edition core rules. It is a hardcover for starters, larger, and provides more details for playing a CD game.

The rules are largely in line with and much more compatible with each other than say Basic D&D was to AD&D. This is one of the biggest reasons I was excited about this particular game. Back in the day we played D&D and AD&D interchangeably and tried to deal with the rule contradictions the very best we could. Here those contradictions do not exist except in the way that specific rules override general ones. Characters are more detailed, as are spells, monsters, and a host of other options, but never in a way they feel contradictory to the Basic Rules. Characters can move fairly freely between the games.

Ability Scores are chosen the same way 4d6 and drop the lowest. Here the general modifiers of the Basic game give way to specific ones for each ability and subscores, ie. to hit and damage adjustment for Strength, number of spells for Intelligence, followers for Charisma, and so on. Ability Checks are handled in the same fashion. Scores still cap at 18 for rolls or 20 with bonuses, but the charts go to 25 for the use of exceptional characters and monsters.

Ancestry covers what species you were born into. Dwarves come in Hill, Mountain, and Deep varieties. Elves can be High, Wood, or Deep. Humans and Halflings are back and joined by Gnomes. A table of alternate Ancestries is also given so you could play Gnolls, Centaurs, Orcs, or Goblins to name but a few. The system is simple enough that almost any sort of ancestry can be used.

Heritage, like the Basic game, covers the character's upbringing. This chart is the same as the Basic game, but expanded with more types.

Character Classes. This is the first of the really big changes. Where the Basic game has only three basic character types, this one has four major class groups with many sub-classes underneath. The feeling is that of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or AD&D 2nd Edition to be honest, with maybe just a touch of 5th Edition D&D. Each group shares an advancement table for HD calculations and to hit bonus along with a shared Saving Throw table. All groups share the same single XP per level table as per D&D 3rd through 5th Editions.

The first group is the Divine, which gives us Clerics and Druids. Divine Spellcasters are limited to 7th level spells. Warriors include the fighter, berserker, ranger, and paladin. Rogues are the most diverse lot with thieves, assassins, bards, and monks. Magic-users are arcane spellcasters and they get spells to 9th level. They include the Wizard and the Sorcerer which is a spell-point-based spell caster. Like the sorcerers of 3rd to 5th edition, they have a bloodline and some examples are detailed.

Multiclassing and Alignment are the same here as the Basic game. The unified XP chart makes multiclassing easier. Alignment is a three-point system of Law-Neutrality-Chaos.

Equipment is next. Very similar but expanded over the Basic game.

Spells is the next largest section of the book and also one of the three that gets the most changes. Spells are split out into classes with the Divine first (Cleric then Druid) then all the Arcane spells. The spells are all listed out alphabetically. Included now are staples like Area of Effect, Components, casting time, and saving throws. Each spell also has a school listed.

How to Play covers the game. This is roughly similar to the Basic Game, but it is expanded. Saving Throws are now added to the game. They are an interesting remix of Basic/AD&D and D&D3 style saves. More on traps, diseases, and hirelings are covered here.

Combat gets its own section. Here initiative is back to a d20 (not the d10 of the Basic game).

The Campaign deals with adventures, granting XP and what kinds of monsters can be found where. It ends with a sample play session.

The Bestiary is the last of the three big changes. Not only are all the monsters expanded on, but there are also more of them. The monsters are still sorted by categories or groups, but now there are more. There are Beasts, Demons, Devils, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Giants, Golems, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead. The stat blocks are expanded to give average scores for Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Special Attacks. Special Defenses and Magic Resistance are all now included.

As with the Basic game, many monsters do not have an alignment. Or rather their alignment is listed as n/a. In the case of animals (Beasts and Dinosaurs), it is because they lack intelligence or awareness. Others like humanoids it is because the Game Master can choose what they want. Notably, all Demons and Devils are Chaotic, Dragons are split between Lawful and Chaotic along the lines you think they are, Elementals are now properly Neutral, and Fey runs the spectrum. We get the usual suspects here, nothing jumping out at me as new save for the Mi-Go (not new, but not usual) and the mushropod (sorta new, but certainly NOT usual).

The Treasure section is also expanded. Included new are Sentient Weapons and rarity tables. There is a new section on crafting items including an ingredient listing with measures of rarity.

We end with appendices of tables, blank character sheets, indexes, and our OGL statement.

The PDF is fully bookmarked.

Like the Basic books, this book is filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it is from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it is clearly influenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and a variety of ethnicities, genders, and peoples are represented.

Again like the Basic books this is really directed at and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art, in this case, is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

The book "feels" like AD&D 1st Ed. Or maybe it is a 2nd Edition clone if that game had been produced later.

Because of how it is built it also feels like nearly anything can be used with it from nearly any area of D&D's history.

Who Should Buy This?

I said this yesterday about the Basic Chromatic Dungeons game, and it is true for this version as well. This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on its own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time and it is the perfect introduction to this "Advanced" game.

If you are like me and grew up on old-school games and now have a family that loves the newest version of the game then this is a good way to introduce them to old-school play. OR if you are new school player and want to try your hand at some old school play, but want to retain some of the options that make the new games so attractive, then this is a great game for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons RPG
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Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rulebook
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/02/2021 12:01:56

Orginally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-1-basic.html

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules Basic Rules, Player's Book. 86 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book. The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books. Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both. Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities. Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone." It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics. I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players. I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game. It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set. It is written for people that have never played before. This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.

Basic Rules, Player's Book We get an Introduction and Forward that helps explain the nature of this game, but also to set the stage for what we will see. The author wants to make it plain up front that this is an inclusive game and that everyone should feel welcome to it. This includes a brief overview of the game and a brief glosary of game terms to get everyone going.

Character Creation is first with the character concept and the rolling of ability scores. The method used here is 4d6, drop the lowest and arrange to suit your concept. This strikes a good balance between getting the character you want and old-school randomness. Want 3d6 in order? That game was already written and likely you already have it. After this you choose your Ancestry (and Heritage), Class and get equipment. Lets go into some detail here.

XP per Level is covered first. Each class uses the same XP value much like you see in 21st century D&D games (3rd Edition and beyond). This has a number of advantages of course. Multi-classing becomes easier and it helps keep level progression fairly even. Also it helps the intended audience, new gamers, become acclimated faster. (Editorial aside: I have taught many players whose first experiences were 3e, Pathfinder or 5e and they adapt to differing XP level charts fine; often with an occasional reminder that the thief is higher level because of it. But still this is easier.)

Ability Scores are the standard six we are all familiar with. Like the Moldvay Basic set the scores run 3-18 with simple modifiers they all share. Note. These mods are slightly different than what you might find in B/X, Labyrinth Lord, or Swords & Wizardry, so make sure you put them on your character sheet and don't go by memory. A simple ability check system that is compatible with, well, really all sorts of versions of D&D/Clones is presented.

Note in this version of the Chromatic Dragons game there are no "Saving Throws" but rather specialized ability checks. For example to "save" against some mind affecting magic you need to make a Wisdom check. This actually works rather well in my mind.

Ancestry and Heritage is the system used to replace the antiquated notions of "Race." Essentially this is a "Nature and Nurture" idea where Ancestry is your genetic or biologic make up and Heritage is how and under what conditions you were raised. For ancestry you can choose Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human. Each has details common to members of the same Ancestry. Dwarves are short, live to 300 years or so, and also something called "solid build" which gives them the ability to reduce damage by blunt object by 1 point. Humans get to add 1 point to any ability score, elves don't need to sleep and so on. Heritages are how you you were raised. So this helps give players a bit of character creation control to that backstory in their minds. You choose two heritages and the list can easily expanded. For example you can be born a halfling and have all the benefits of the halfling ancestry, but maybe you lived in a a Dwarf community, so you have the heritages of "Crafting" and "Subterranean."

This is a great concept and one I would wholesale adopt for all my games in the future. It just works too well for me. But I do have a couple of nitpicks with how it is done here. First under Ancestry everyone gets a language of their ancestry. This is something I feel better goes under Heritage. And there are some heritages that are better suited for ancestry. For example my Halfling who grew up in the Dwarven community knows how to speak Halfling due to their Ancestry and has Infravision due their "Subterranean" heritage. I can see "Dark Adapted" working, or even the ability to detect sloping corridors; but infravision feels like something you should be born with and languages are something that are learned later. Again, a minor nitpick, but one I will adjust when playing.

Character Classes cover the three basic classes; Fighter, Rogues, and Wizard. Other 3-class games call these Warriors, Rogue (or Expert) and Adept, but the names in the book are more suited to this genre and make translations to the "Advanced" game easier. Each class get an ability bonus, much like you see in newer games. So fighters get a +1 bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity. This can be easily rationalized as training. Each class also gets a set of abilities. Note, the Rogue abilities are presented using the same system as all other ability checks. They get bonuses for particular abilities; same name as the thief abilities of other games. Each level they gain 6 points to improve their 9 abilities as they choose (reminds me of 2nd Ed AD&D's Rogues). I do rather like this, yes it is different from the multiple subsystems that was either the curse or the charm of old-school games (depending on your point of view) but it also makes for a speedier game. Wizards for this game cover wizards, magic-users and clerics. Another small nitpick, since there is the Advanced game, I would have called this class a Magic-user, and then when the classes are separated out in the Advanced game called the Magic-users Wizards. But again, this is minor.

Alignment is a basic, or rather Basic, affair of just Law, Neutrality and Chaos.

Equipment covers everything you can buy. I remember running some friend through the Keep on the Borderlands years decades ago and they spent the entire adventure shopping in the Keep and trying to get deals.

How to Play covers all the Basic rules starting with movement. Movement scale is closer to that of newer, 21st century forms on D&D. We also get good coverage on time, vision, stealth and more. Discussions on what you can do on your turn are detailed. At this point we have read a little about about combat, but not all of it. That comes up now with initiative. Here we are using a hybrid of Basic and 2nd Edition inspired initiative sequence. We also get Morale another Basic/2nd Ed hybrid, but based on a max score of 10 as opposed to 12 (Basic) or 20 (2nd Ed).

Armor class is Ascending, not Descending. This is good since it gets rid of the need for attack tables. Characters have an attack bonus and they roll vs. AC.

Experience Points are pretty much the same as seen in earlier versions of D&D. A bit on creating adventures is given and a sample adventure is provided.

Wizard Spells follow. Since there is only one spell casting class, all the spells to 5th level are here.

We end with a blank character sheet, Appendices of tables, sample characters and a combat quick guide.

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented.

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rulebook
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Chromatic Dungeons Monsters & Treasure Basic
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/02/2021 12:01:04

Orginally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2021/11/review-chromatic-dungeons-part-1-basic.html

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules Basic Rules, Monsters & Treasures. 58 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book. The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books. Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both. Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities. Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone." It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics. I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players. I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game. It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set. It is written for people that have never played before. This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.

Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure This book is primarily for Game Masters.

The bulk (2/3) of the book is about monsters. It starts off with what the descriptions of the monsters mean, how to read the stat blocks and so on. The stat block is pretty similar to what is found in *D&D circa 1981, so reading or even adapting to other games is easy. While XP values are listed Treasure type is not.

There is a section on special monsters, such as having the abilities of a character type or class. As well as assigning numbers for ability checks for monsters. Something that will be easier in the "Advanced" version of the game.

The monsters are grouped by category rather than all alphabetical. The Categories are Beasts, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, and Undead. Nearly all the usual suspects are here.

Some monsters are given the alignment of "n/a." This is typically true of creatures that are too unintelligent for alignment such as dinosaurs, or humanoids that can be any alignment. I do think for creatures like beasts, dinosaurs and elementals that "neutral" would have been fine and for humanoids "any" would have worked. Fiends are all Chaotic and so are most of the Dragons, Giants, and Undead.

The Treasure section covers not only magical treasures as expected, but gives us an alternate treasure type system based on the monster's HD. So not dissimilar to 3e or 5e.

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art. Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art. Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing. The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented.

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger. If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s. Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school. This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons. Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own. Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons Monsters & Treasure Basic
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Chromatic Dungeons RPG
by Tim S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2021 22:25:07

Disclosure: I Kickstarted this system and I built the Foundry module for playing it online.

This system is my introduction to OSR-style gaming, though not my first old school game; I've dabbled in AD&D 2e, but much of my gaming experience comes from games like D&D 5e, Call of Cthulhu, and Zweihander. I think I have a grasp of what a retroclone needs to do well to, and that is to present the a gaming style or aesthetic with updates for modern sensibilities. I feel that Chromatic Dungeons more than meets this bar.

Character creation is quick, easy, and expressive; a character is composed of, by default, the familiar six attributes of D&D-inspired games, an ancestry, two heritage options (things that make up your character's upbringing and background), an alignment (with options representing Law, Neutrality, and Chaos, rather than the good to evil spectrum), at least one class, and gear. This full process takes seven dice rolls, and forces players to make interesting decisions from the get-go.

Combat is no less quick; hewing close to its early D&D inspired roots, combat is fast and deadly, and necessitates planning and teamwork. There are minimal modifiers to crunch at the table, and what few occasions there are that require number crunching can be quickly resolved through the quick reference tables at the back of the book.

The game is mechanically very similar to older versions of D&D; you resolve actions (picking locks, tracking monsters, identifying creatures) by rolling a d20 and, after adding and/or subtracting relevant modifiers, aiming to roll under your attribute. Unless the GM has set a hidden modifier for a roll, you will know as soon as you've rolled your dice whether or not you are successful at your task. Attacks are similar to any d20 roll-over system; you roll a d20, add your attack modifiers, and if the attack meets or exceeds your target's armor class (this game uses ascending armor class, mind), you can roll damage. The last common type of roll is the saving throw, where you roll a d20 and hope to meet or exceed a value above a specific threshold, as determined by your character class and the type of effect you are saving against.

The game is quite hackable; ancestries and heritage options can be added with little fuss (the system even includes examples of monstrous ancestries like bugbears and goblins), and classes can be added by slotting your homebrewed class under one of the Class Groups (another concept brought over from AD&D), which will handle the allocation of saving throws and hit dice per level. I find this level of hackability quite elegant. The system even gives some examples of how to hack it, including multiple sets of optional rules for things like encumbrance, negative HP, and different methods of rolling for initiative.

I do have some minor quibbles about the game, however:

  • While the character sheet that comes with the game has a strong, evocative style, I did feel that it left little room to record things like equipment, accumulated spells, and class abilities. I would have liked to have seen a two-sided character sheet that you could add that additional information to.
  • A PDF form fillable character sheet option would have been cool.
  • I couldn't find anywhere in the book that states the base damage of a character's unarmed attack, or what, if any, modifiers are applied to the damage of a non-thrown ranged weapon.
  • Information about gear is somewhat sparse; the duration and amount of light cast by a lantern is quite far away from the page that tells you how much a lantern is worth, for example, and we're still not quite sure what, if any, mechanical difference there is between standard and iron rations. Also, does a breastplate count as plate armor for purposes of swimming and stealth penalties?
  • Finally, and perhaps most crucially for a dungeon crawling adventure, the system does not provide weight values for gear other than nonmagical weapons and armor; though no GM in their right mind would allow it, you could hypothetically carry an infinite number of torches. I would have liked to have seen this added, as the optional encumbrance rules are sure to steer players toward making interesting decisions about what they bring into a dungeon and when to leave the dungeon for the day.

All in all, I've enjoyed my time getting to know this system's rules, and look forward to running further old-school style games with them. The publisher is making an effort to support the system post-launch with multiple zines that include additional character classes, spells, magic items, and more (see the Gnoll Sage zines by the publisher). My players came, they saw, they got smashed by the first trap on the first door... and they're eager to come back for more. :D



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Chromatic Dungeons RPG
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The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
by Brandon H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2021 12:06:41

Love this issue, especially the cool, new depictions of orcs!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
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Reclaiming the Caves on the Borderlands
by patrick m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2020 10:50:19

While it has the old module feel. I think some of the rooms could be alittle more detailed.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Reclaiming the Caves on the Borderlands
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Depths of Felk Mor
by Chase P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2019 21:25:21

I'll keep this brief, there's a lot here contentwise in the book. The cover of the book is also nice, as well as the main story. What's holding this book back is some better, or just more, art work on the inside, formating the book so it flows or at least is organized like conventional 5e adventure products, and lastly, providing a hard cover full color option for the book. I PERSONALLY RECOMEND THIS BOOK, but it should be noted that you may not like how the book is formated if you like other modules by WotC or you don't like more of an old school feel to your modules, as this feels like a very old school book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Depths of Felk Mor
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Creator Reply:
Thank you Chase for both your business, and your positive feedback. I know it takes time to write a review, and your time is very important to you so I greatly appreciate any and all feedback. I'm sorry that you felt it didn't match up to current 5e adventure aesthetics. It's a valid criticism. I just wanted to let you know that this adventure was designed intentionally to be the way it is (an homage to 80s TSR era D&D dungeon crawls). There are also dozens of easter eggs that reference 80s pop culture. Even my selection of interior artists were intentional, as Brian Thomas has a style very similar to Jim Holloway from his work in the 80s. I wish I could say that I would re-do this in a modern 5e format with a full cover hardcover book, but that wouldn't be anywhere near financially feasible at this point, so I'm sorry for that as well. Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy it!
An (un)Deathly Storm
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2017 19:22:55

A nice little plug-in-and-play adventure for when you need one. Does what it says on the tin.

Well presented and laid out with a map. The only thing that I'd say is that it is an exceptionally straightforward adventure for my uses - a large focuse on the initial monster type and the dungeon is one concept, which is expected for the plug-in-and-play-style-map - so you might want to add a little oomph to the dungeon.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
An (un)Deathly Storm
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Depths of Felk Mor
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2016 17:12:06

This is a big, though unfortunately somewhat uneven megadungeon adventure. Many elements work quite well, but other sections fall flat.

The strength of this adventure is the use of Lovecraftian horror which adds a ton of character to what could otherwise feel like a generic megadungeon. The best section of the dungeon is a large open cavern with several competing factions for the players to interact with. However, this is the only part of the dungeon that feels like a real, dynamic place. Notably, the final (and largest) section of the dungeon comes off as a "fun house" which has no rhyme or reason other than providing challenges for the players to overcome on their way to fight the big bad. The lack of good overviews for the adventure or sections further makes it feel like this is just a bunch of rooms for players to explore with no larger plot or purpose behind it.

The production values are decent for a third party publication. In particular, the art is excellent. However, like many third party products it often reads like a first draft manuscript that no one ever got around to reviewing or editing.

All in all this is a mixed bag, but it is well worth the $10. I'd give it 3.5 stars, but will add a bonus half star because this may be the first work in the English language with express references to both H.P. Lovecraft and West Side Story.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Depths of Felk Mor
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