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Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised
by Brian C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2020 20:10:06

This minimalist game engine for running OSR and 5E adventures in your library is really, really fun. It's got just enough structure to make the game work mechanically, and the stuff you get to do in-game is flavorful and innovative. It's the opposite of a massive tome with a rule for every occasion. There's no bestiary. No rules for how much castles cost to build or how much it's going to cost to hire and outfit a band of retainers. But really, in all my years of gaming, we never get into that stuff. This game runs like Saturday morning cartoons...and I mean that in the best way. Just enjoy the color, the cool stuff your character can do, and be free from all the fiddly bits that take up brain space but don't really add to enjoyment at the table. It's a free offering, so what have you got to lose, checking it out? I'm so impressed with it that I've taken the trouble of printing it out in color, so we've got it right there at the table, and can spill soda and pizza crumbs on it. It's that kind of game: grab your friends, grab the pizza and soda (or beer, or what have you), and just take it out for a ride. You'll be glad you did. Characters go from level 1 to level 10, so there's plenty of space for campaigning and character growth...but again, without all the bookkeeping headaches of crunchier games. This is the good stuff!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised
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How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2020 02:29:57

It's good stuff. While this book has a little bit of rpg philosphy in it, the majority of the content is practical advice and inspirational random tables. Not all of the random tables suit my taste, but there are enough pieces I like that it's worth my time to take what I want for my own tables. The "Viridian" fantasy language section is something I was initially skeptical about but now appreciate as a convenient time-saver. Thinking of new words can be hard; this makes it easier. The art is overall high quality and varied in style. A previous reviewer claims that there are "naked boobs in every picture or so", but that isn't exactly true. I did a quick count- including the cover I think there are 30 artistic illustrations (perhaps representing the author's 30 years experience?) and three bonus maps. Of these 30 there are five illustrations with titties but four of those depict a female in an obvious position of power. The attitute of the art is imo feminist rather than sexist. One thing that would add value to this product for me would be if it came with an additional pdf of the book in a single-column big-text format for easier reading on a cell phone, but there's nothing wrong with it as-is. I could make the same request of practically every publisher here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss
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How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss
by Dorian M. A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/12/2020 05:16:36

There are some good ideas, but the overall content is so, so sexist. Naked boobs in every picture or so, girls just want "girlish" things, "Im sexist? Oh, well, who cares..." Well, I do. And I deeply regret my purchase.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2020 23:20:57

I finally got around to downloading and reading through The Revised edition of Crimson Dragon Slayer d20. The short version? This is my favorite "Rules Light" variant of D&D I've seen so far, and that's a list that includes both Knave and The Black Hack.

Not that I'm knocking either of those games, mind you. The Black Hack, in particular, is one of the most important games to come out in the last several years. And Knave is built around an innovative, classless character system that's unique in the OSR.

But Crimson Dragon Slayer d20 has them both beaten in its sheer simplicity. For one thing, there are no stats. Players only have to keep track of Level, HP, AC, whatever special abilities they're entitled to, and items. Never mind an Index Card. You could fit a Crimson Dragon Slayer character on a Post-It note.

The races in Crimson Dragon Slayer are a mix of the usual D&D fantasy races like Elves, Half-Orcs, and Dwarves, along with some of the more gonzo options from Venger's Crimson Dragon Slayer RPG, like Droids, Crystallines (sentient, humanoid crystals) and Pixie Fairies. Each race has one unique power or ability, like the Crystalline's resistance to energy weapons.

Classes are pretty standard: Fighters, Thieves, Clerics and Wizards. There's not much to say about the first two. They function about how you'd expect, with some minor tweaks. The biggest changes come to Clerics and Wizards.

Clerics have no spell list. Instead, they have a once-per-round healing ability with unlimited uses that gradually grows in strength (1d6 at Level 1, 1d8 at Level 3, etc). They also have a vastly expanded "turning" ability. Instead of merely turning undead, Clerics now have the ability to "Exercise Influence" over undead, demonic entities, and Lovecraftian abominations. Depending on how successful they are (or if the creature saves), they may be able to command and force the creature into servitude rather than simply turning it. Clerics also have the option to cast Eldritch Blast at the same categories of creatures, with four different tiers of damage.

Wizards do have a spell list, but it isn't restrcted by level. Or rather, an individual Wizard's access to spells isn't restricted by HIS level. Wizards in Crimson Dragon Slayer d20 begin the game with access to any spell they want, but spells cost HP. And the cost in HP is equal to the Spell's level. So sure, that 1st Level Wizard with 4 HP can cast a 3rd Level Fireball spell. He'd just better hope a stiff breeze doesn't come along before the Cleric gets around to healing him.

Game designer Venger Satanis advertises Crimson Dragon Slayer d20 as fantasy roleplaying on "Arcade Mode." It's a pick-up-and-play game where your characters have access to all the cool powers right off the bat. I think he 100% achieved that here. I can see his system working exceptionally well with one of my more sporadic groups, where we only meet up every few months or so for a few hours. Character generation literally takes minutes.

While the game was written and playtested with Venger's Cha'alt setting in mind, these rules are light and adaptable enough to drop into any Old School or OSR compatible module. Honestly, with the only stats that matter being HP, AC, and Level, just about any module for any edition should be easily convertible.

All in all, this game is an incredible value for the (FREE) price tag. I will 100% be running some games using this system in the near future, both in and out of Venger's Cha'alt setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Revised
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Cha'alt Ascended
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2020 05:11:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, we begin with an optional rule for sorcery: This is a variant spellcasting, where a sorcerer can cast as many spells per hour as their level without becoming fatigued, which is defined as moving at ½ speed, and rolling at disadvantage. Okay, this should account for spell-levels (since it does so for wizards); it also is conceivably much better than the wizard taking damage per spell cast. This is a bad optional rule.

The main meat of this supplement is devoted to Feat-like benefits that can be used as a guideline for special abilities gained at 5th and 10th level as per the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 rules.

To give you an example, let’s start at the beginning: Acrobat lets you tumble in and out of an area, avoiding hazards without incurring penalties or disadvantages, and also nets you perfect balance. Okay, what about hazards that cause damage? What about hazards that cause damage, save for half damage? Could you tumble through radiation? RAW, you can.

Animal Companion nets you what it says on the tin. No stats are provided for the companion, and there is no information for what happens if the companion dies. THIS DOES NOT WORK.

Animal Rapport, on the other hand, makes animals reluctant to attack you – see, this is rules lite without ambiguity.

Arcane Initiate has the following text: “Due to either innate ability or time spent among magic-users, you’re able to cast minor cantrips as a sorcerer’s apprentice.” There are no cantrips in Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. There is no “sorcerer’s apprentice” as a baseline, as classes have no titles.

Augmented Critical works – it lets you crit on a 19-20. Berserker is inconsistent with the sucky new sorcery optional rule: Sorcery specified that being fatigued and exhausted makes you move at half speed and imposes disadvantage on all rolls. Berserker causes the same condition, but fails to mention that it slows you down.

Fast Healer nets you 1d6 HP per hour, making the cleric’s infinite healing exploit per the base rules even more of an obvious oversight. Speaking of death and dying, First Responder is so badly-phrased, I have no idea what it’s supposed to do. I reread it multiple times.

“If a companion has fallen due to mortal wounds, you may stop the bleeding and keep them from death’s door. You have as many rounds to respond to the dying as your level. As the dying gets closer to death your level allows you time to bring them back.”

The level of the responder is irrelevant per the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 rules – if the dying target exceeds their level in negative HP, they’re dead. Does this heal the target? Do they instead use your level? No idea.

Internal balancing of the “feats” is, in case you haven’t noticed, all over the place.

Want an example?

“You have expertise regarding trap construction, building structures, general contracting, and safety precautions.” Vs. Getting exploding dice on ALL damage rolls!! (Funnily enough, this is pretty dumb, as it is better, at least more rewarding, for weapon attacks of wizards than for fighters, since they more often roll a 4 on their d4 than the fighter will get a 10 on his d10…)

For another comparison: “Due to all the crazy shit you’ve seen, you don’t scare easily. You’re resistant to ordinary and magical fear. Additionally, you pass sanity checks with flying colors.“

„Resistant“ is not a codified term in Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. And there are no mechanics for sanity checks….which makes this option utterly and totally USELESS. Vs. Automatically succeeding one roll per session.

Or what about getting a last action before falling unconscious or dying? Does this happen after taking the damage, directly before it? Does it allow you to cancel the attack that would knock you out/kill you? No idea.

Does Moving Target, which nets +2 to AC, allow you to bypass the AC 20-cap of the system? There are a couple of cool ideas here, like e.g. being a master of psychoanalysis, but most of the time when the rules become more than roleplaying-centric "GM, interpret them as you will", they fall apart. And..,you know, we don't need a pdf for saying: "GM makes up how stuff works on the fly." Pyromania lets flames erupt when you cast spells – cool! “Endangered companions have advantage on the saving throws” versus these – but what is the area affected? Damage ranges from “2d6 – 6d6” – the more powerful the spell, the more potent the damage. Okay, why not use the frickin’ spell levels as damage-deducing metric? Can the flame-bursts be targeted? What if the caster is flying/swimming?

…yeah, the rules here need some SERIOUS reworking, even if you enjoy the rules-lite side of games. They are, at best, barely functional and sloppy.

The pdf also provides a 20-entry table for past deeds of heroism and cowardice – these are flavorful, fun, and easily the highlight of the book.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting is good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, this is a barely coherent, inconsistent mess that fails even the most cursory standards of rules-writing. And no, “rules lite” is no excuse; there are PLENTY of precise, rules-lite systems out there! Into the Odd, B/X, TinyD6, VsM, etc. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and I really chuckled about a well-drawn comic of the author as a psychoanalyst diagnosing ole’ Lovecraft. That was my highlight of this book Apart from this, interior artwork is full-color and features a one-page, gorgeous cosplay photograph. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this length, doesn’t suffer unduly due to their absence.

Venger As’Nas Satanis can do better. These “feats” for Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 are broken, badly codified, not properly balanced internally, and more often than not, simply do not work. In some instances, they reference concepts not present in the game. They do not help you judge appropriate power-levels for abilities; if anything, they make the game WORSE. A more apt name would have been “Cha’alt Descended” – I strongly suggest not using these with Cha’alt!

This is easily the worst book Venger has put out…pretty much ever. Apart from the comic-artwork, which got a chuckle out of me, and the dressing-table at the end, this has no saving graces for me. This had the chance to elevate Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, and instead, makes the system fall apart. Were it not for the table in the end, this wouldn’t even make my final verdict of 1.5 stars; however, I can’t round up. I just can’t. One table does not suffice to salvage this mess up to 2 stars. There is one good thing about this mess of a pdf: Venger is currently revising Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. Here’s to hoping that this also means that this stain of a pdf is revised and cleaned up as well.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt Ascended
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Creator Reply:
I'd like to take the opportunity to politely and civilly disagree with the reviewer. Cha'alt Ascended is old school and rules-light, as is Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 and many other D&D retro-clones, but I'm not using that as a crutch. I'll concede that Cha'alt Ascended may be a little rough around the edges. On the other hand, it's by no means "a barely coherent, inconsistent mess". That's going way too far. Occasionally, Endzeitgeist and I have antithetical design goals. Perhaps this is one of those times...
Cha'alt Pre-Generated
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2020 06:32:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters, and to supplement the review of the Cha’alt tome, which’ll hit sites soon.

So, first thing you need to know – these pregens work not only for Cha’alt, but also for other games using the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20-rules; there are 27 such pregens provided, and all are made for first level. Some background information does tie the characters to specific locations in Cha’alt.

The pregens state the class-dependent HP, the name, race, class and alignment. As a minor nitpick: The class refers to “Sorcerer”, when Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 called the class “Wizard.” The more detailed paragraphs for each pregen notes something “Noteworthy”, which may be speaking in infernal tongues, never forgetting a face or the like. There are also races beyond the standard mentioned in Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 (no surprise there, since Cha’alt sports a TON of weird elven races!), including lesser demons, which are immune to heat, fire and poison, but take double damage from cold attacks and need to consume blood and flesh for nourishment. The pdf also features classes like barbarian (12 HP) and Monk (6 HP) – these are kinda problematic, in that they include rules for these “classes” in the pregens – that’s not per se bad, but I think the like should be in the rules-pdf, and balanced versus those.

It should also be noted that the monk-class makes use of Cha’alt’s basic psionics engine (pg 50 of said book); without this engine, you’ll need to do some handwaving there. There is also e.g. an assassin pregen, who gets a fighter’s class level bonus to atk and damage AND a thief’s backstab (which has still not been properly codified). Sure, the assassin only gets 6 HP/level, but yeah – these rules should imho be in the rules-pdf, not in the pregen.

The second thing that the pdf includes in slightly more detail, would be the character’s belongings – these are generally sufficiently varied, but I did notice an instant of a thief sans thieves’ tools and a cleric sans holy symbol – two basic components of gear that the other characters of the classes do have.

The pdf then presents rules for divine favor: One point of divine favor may be gained per session, up to a maximum of 3. This replaces the default Inspiration-rules, and the pdf states how you gain these points by alignment. The agencies of Cha’alt’s old gods (and new gods) are explained – the old gods adhere to Crowley’s famous axiom “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” – these individuals seek to become deities, while the new gods attempt to return and form a unio mystica with the omnipotence of the universe – somewhat akin to how many New Age shamanism-like beliefs champion a mystic union and death of the “I”. Essentially a question of fierce individualism vs. fierce collectivism – I think this is an interesting angle.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, good on as rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the pdf presents pregen-stats in card-like form; print a page, cut it up, viola, several pregens to hand out. As for artworks, we get aesthetically-pleasing cosplay photos of both females and males, as well as a one-page, pretty nightmarish demon-thing. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort-detriment, but okay at this length.

I like Venger As’Nas Satanis’ pregens, and they’re FREE, which definitely adds to their appeal. Personally, I think that the primary shortcoming here is, that it jams class information that should be in the core pdf instead right into the pregens. These classes can also be significantly better than the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 core classes: Barbarians can e.g. rage class level times per day, doubling damage and hit points until the combat ends. This makes no sense, since “combat ends” is not a viable time metric – beat a goblin to pulp in a minute? Rage ends. Fight for 2 hours against endless demonic legions? Rage ends. Same resource-expenditure. Per-encounter mechanics make no sense in game without being grounded in time. The barbarian’s downside is that they need to save to use magic or tech, or be unable to do so “until the next scene.” You get the idea. The new classes need some finetuning to bring either their rules-language, or their power-level in line with the core classes.

Oh, and the divine favor rules? They should be in the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 pdf, not herein!

As a whole, I’d consider this to be a solid, if not perfect example of a pregen book, mainly because it jams material into the file that simply doesn’t belong here. While this would usually make me settle for rounding down, my final verdict will instead round up due to this being FREE, resulting in a verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt Pre-Generated
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Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/13/2020 12:57:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content – oh, and it is FREE.

Which is also why I’ll diverge from my usual reviewing-template a bit: If you’re interested, check it out. It costs you literally nothing, and isn’t even PWYW.

What is this, and why did I tag it as “system neutral” instead of as “OSR”? Well, in short, this can be considered to be Venger’s 37-rule (+rule 0) manifesto for running games, a distilled array of pieces of GM-advice, aesthetics and tricks, and it genuinely is SUEFUL. It is not a book that will blow away veterans, but it is a great little pdf to flip open once in a while to refocus. When you read “Your NPC sucks” as a rule title to make you recall that you shouldn’t get too attached or hog the PC’s spotlight, the impact is immediate and efficient. Keeping the foreshadowing high, running with themes, milking what works and the PC’s idea, retaining of mysteries, etc. – this is not world-shaking, but the collection of these rules is indeed helpful.

And it is helpful, as a whole, beyond the confines of the OSR. Sure, rolling just ONCE is not always possible in more rules-heavy games, and abstract combat or getting slain PCs back in? Also not always feasible in a speedy manner. However, letting the player of a slain PC play an NPC for a while? Totally possible. That’s why you have those NPCs stats, right? In short: The vast majority of the rules apply beyond the confines of the OSR and its aesthetics.

That being said, there is one instance here I have to poke fun at: The trouble-shooting section for too long combats notes to keep healing, both natural and magical, in check, when ridiculous infinite healing exploits that break the attrition and resource management tenets is exactly the main issue I’ve had with the last couple of installments of Venger’s Crimson Dragon Slayer systems- Sir, please listen to your own advice, it is sound. ;)

That aside, this is a neat little booklet, and it won’t hurt to read it as a refresher, regardless how experienced a GM you are. And for FREE? Heck yeah. 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
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Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
by Ron R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2020 10:46:38

This could easily be retitled "37 Great Tips For GMs" and the ideas contained within its few pages are very solid advice for general gamesmastering. That said, for referees wanting to inject an old school feel into their 5e games, or those wrestling with running the many retroclones out there, this short and sweet document will set you on the path to creating the sort of "high trust" table that's needed for successful OSR play. One caveat...the advice is good and well expressed and for some it will be like music to the earholes, but if you're a seasoned veteran of the DM Wars don't expect to find anything that'll level you up to Super-Saiyan or beyond. Still, it's worth a read for us old fogeys too, just to make sure we're still ticking along like we should.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/02/2020 06:27:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 218 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages editorial, 3 pages of ToC, 1 page list of backer names, 3 pages of index, 1 page coded message (if you do decode it, contact me – I want to know if I was right!), 3 pages denouement-artworks/kort’thalis glyphs, leaving us with 203 pages of content.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters. The book contains some mature themes, but these are less prevalent than in e.g. Alpha Blue, and may be ignored with relative ease.

It should be noted that the book comes with jpg-versions of the maps for the 3 “small” locations, which comes not only in full-color, but also in a version that is player-friendly! Extra-kudos there! The cartography also encompasses a pergament-like, blood-spattered overview map, suitable as a handout. Maps note a scale and designate North properly.

It should be noted that I was a backer of this project’s kickstarter – I own the offset-printed limited edition hardcover, which arrived in a suitably panic-inducing PINK package. The book was printed by Friesens in Canada, and it shows – it is a super-sturdy tome, with thick, high-quality, glossy paper, smyth-sewn binding, proper dust jacket, etc. – if you’re reading this review on my homepage, you can see a couple of pictures of the tome below. It is a serious prestige-book that oozes (haha) quality, with top-tier production values.

Okay, so what exactly is this? Cha’alt was designated as Venger’s magnum opus, and as such, it contains a lot of material – it is, obviously, a campaign setting; it also contains a massive mega-dungeon, as well as three smaller dungeons/adventure locations, and the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20-rules in an appendix – I have covered these rules in detail in its stand-alone review, so if you want more details regarding them, please consult that review. Similarly, I strongly encourage you reading the entirety of this review before you make a final judgment on whether or not to get this book.

Okay, in all brevity regarding the rules of this book: Cha’alt’s Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 is essentially an ultra-lite rules-hack of D&D boiled down to the barest of minimums. It is not necessarily a smooth system, and should be considered more of a hack than a proper system, with its mechanical complexity being pretty much limited to advantage and disadvantage, a very basic saving throw system, etc. – the system RAW doesn’t even have ability scores any more. In many ways, the rules, while suitable for beer-and-pretzels games, don’t have much in the way of staying power, and character advancement is a very free-form affair that leaves the GM alone in the dark with handling special abilities. In many ways, I think the smartest thing you can do as a GM when using this book, is to disregard all rules presented within. Why? Cha’alt is designed to be lethal as all hell, with a LOT of save-or-suck/die, many of which are simply cheap-shots. In contrast, the Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 Rules, as per the writing of this review, are pretty broken, including infinite healing being hard-coded into clerics, which eliminate the threat of anything but the current encounter or these save or die saving throws.

Also odd: While Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 eschews ability score, Cha’alt DOES have table to quickly determine ability scores, and there e.g. are infections, such as the purple rot, which reference these scores. The reason is evident – Cha’alt has tables of ability score modifiers by ability score for anything from 5e to 0e – it WANTS you to hack it, to adapt it to your preferred system. It’s weird – I can’t discern whether Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 was the intended system or not….but I certainly do think that e.g. 5e does not work as written here; I you want to use that system, you will have as much work on your hand as if you’re using e.g. PFRPG to run this – regardless of system used, including Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, you WILL need to adapt this and put in some work. So yeah, the rules are frankly one of the weaker aspects of this book – they are better than Venger’s old VSD6 dice pool engine, in that they allow for a modicum of more complexity, but in many instances, I found myself thinking that the simple rules are holding this book back regarding what its concepts could mechanically realize – the lack of complexity assumed also ultimately mean that there isn’t as much variation on the rules-end, as this could easily have covered.

That being said, the rules have always been the weakest aspects of Venger’s offerings – he is more of an author than a game designer, so, how does Cha’alt stand up regarding the content-side of things?

It should be noted that the following information includes SPOILERS for the setting and modules, so potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

Only GMs around? Great!

OH BOY. Let us first examine the basic premise of this world: After the fantastic Age of Legend, an Age of Technology dawned on the planet, one that came to an end with the Apocalypse. Essentially, the Great Old Ones did rise – and they fought with ultra-highly developed high-tech civilizations…and lost. The carnage was titanic, but they were bested, with some of them even dying. The price, though, was horrible – this is the Obsidian Age, and it is a harsh age indeed. The game contains rules to withstand radiation and notes on desert survival; these are not bad, but are another example where I wished this used a system capable of doing a bit more. A d30-table of random mutations is included, fyi.

Under Cha’alt’s twin suns (alas, no information on day/night cycle included), the planet is a wasteland, with seas of chartreuse slime, known as “zoth”, the ichor of the Old Ones – here, in a less potent version. Pure zoth can enhance the potency of spells, can be used as a weapon oil, or be used as a weapon on its own, for contact with it is not advisable, etc.

As far as themes are concerned, we thus essentially have a post-apocalyptic setting that is defined by the contrast between cultists and beings who worship the very real Old Ones as gods, and those that seek to ascend themselves, that seek to inherit the marvels of the tech age – these New Gods are not any better than the Old Ones, but more on that later. Cha’alt is also a gonzo setting – as a world with a thin planar fabric, it is pretty easy to justify elements from other worlds, including our own. The setting has a distinct gonzo-theme, but it’s a lower-case gonzo as far as the setting is concerned. There are a couple of elven sub-species as “unique” races, such as beautiful sun-elves that need to sacrifice someone every month, blood elves, winged sky elves, etc.

Indeed, I genuinely consider the overall setting information for Cha’alt to be easily among the best things Venger has ever written: From cities where new cults seek to reawaken the tech of yesteryear, including gigantic spider droids (Horizon: Zero Dawn’s Eclipse, anyone?) to an organization who seeks to alter time to undo the cataclysm, to pirates, to a city of people with full the access? What about a kingdom of really nasty amazons? And did I mention the spice fracking going on?

Yep, if you choose, you can add a science-fantasy angle/Alpha Blue crossover here – one of the adventure-locations is the Gamma Incel Cantina, a place hidden from the eyes of the locals by potent tech…and it is here that the scum of the universe oversees the spice-fracking operation, which will eventually kill off the planet. You see, the spice harvested is another potent substance, and indeed can be refined into the potent drug mela’anj. The cantina is fully mapped, and comes with a TON of NPCs in tables, color-coded by group. Oddly, this is btw. also where the massive table of sample ability scores are provided. Don’t like sleaze or the Space Quest-y angle in your gritty, tentacle-ridden post-apocalypse? No problem, this place and the entire angle is easy enough to ignore. This location mirrors Venger’s style for Alpha Blue supplements best.

As for the other adventure locations, we don’t generally have more than an introductory paragraph of read-aloud text per area; we do get wandering monsters where applicable, and the description of the rooms generally starts off with the thing you’ll notice first, and then proceeds to go into details. A slightly missed chance here: The book’s layout e.g. always writes “The Black Pyramid” in big, bold, black letters; “Purple Prizm” in purple, etc. – but such formatting decisions are generally more on the cute, rather than on the useful side – bolding character names and numbers, putting magic items in italics or the like, formatting that makes running the book easier? The like, unfortunately, has not been implemented here.

How most groups will start playing in Cha’alt, however, will be via the “Beneath Kra’adumek” adventure – a module set in a metropolis enslaved by a ginormous, psychic worm…only that something, like a solar flare, temporarily has eliminated the vise on the mind of the PCs – thus, you better escape while the Purple Priesthood is occupied! This dungeon includes a cat-headed, incredibly vain serpent-demon, and if the PCs are stealthy, they might catch high priests with their pants down, stumble into a singularity, or find out that the purple crystals throughout the complex can make magic rather volatile.

The second such smaller scenario can be pictured as a loose sequel – in the aftermath of the first scenario, the Purple priesthood will have been supplanted by the Violet heresy…but more importantly, the massive, psionic demon-worm-thing is frozen, but thawing – so why not explore the massive thing? The interior of the demon-worm is a surprisingly engaging dungeon, in spite of its actual layout/”floor”-plan being less compelling – we essentially have a massive open space, and small “rooms” in crevasses on the sides. The thing is, the module uses its global traits really well – the oxygen-rich environment can cause explosions, the worm’s digestive system may slowly start kicking in once more, etc., and the parasites, lobstra’ats (lobster-rats) are dangerous and hilarious. The module also highlights very well a classic strategy for dungeon-solving, namely that leading groups to engage into conflict with each other can be a valid means of solving an adventure. What some might consider to be massive battle royales, this one, by virtue of its design, elevates to the probably most likely outcome.

The respective entries also are at times funny, and this might be a good place to talk about the inevitable pop culture/RPG-references: the penultimate room contains Zeekah, who calls upon his servants, collectively known as “The Community” to engage in jiha’ads with people not fitting with his world-view. He is serving Nema’an Soka, the god of extinguished hope, inevitability, and foregone conclusions. If you do know about the drama in the online community, you will get this barb; if not, then this is still a perfectly serviceable encounter, with Zeekah have a unique and deadly ability. This is imho Venger doing such references at his best – they are there, but subtle enough to not break immersion unless desired. Did I mention e.g. the unique Cube that either makes you orange or blue, and forces you into a no-holds-barred death-match against the onlookers identifying as the other color? This is a simple and cool encounter, and it is a great item mirroring how constant radicalization and polarizing as a cultural phenomenon is dangerous. Or, you know, you can just not interpret the item as I just did and use it as written.

Cha’alt’s locations are not per se defined in an exhaustive manner; instead, the book focuses on the big ideas and lets you fill in the details – with the exception of these two mini-adventures, which are much more detailed. If anything, I consider Cha’alt’s general information and these modules to be the best thing Venger has written. I am not exaggerating. This is Venger at his very best; high-concept, but with STRUCTURE, with DETAIL, with the things he sometimes just glances over. These are fantastic, and had me clamor for more, for more such adventures/adventure-locations. This aspect of the book, as a whole, is absolutely amazing, and I think that most people will agree with me here.

The lion’s share of the book, however, is devoted to the massive black pyramid on the cover: It is a massive mega-dungeon, a powerful linchpin of Cha’alt, a dungeon with an inside that is spanning multiple dimensions and the like – as such, the pyramid’s rooms are concerned not with precise dimensions, but with a rough approximation of how they connect; the dungeon is very much a bit Tardis-like, in that its rooms are bigger on the inside. The mega-dungeon features prominently in rites of passage, cultic sacrifice, and all cities and factions of Cha’alt have multiple reasons to enter the place. Rumors, tables of what happened while you explored the place, effects for exiting the pyramid, random encounters (including crab raccoons oozes, NPCs, etc. – here, we have a massive amount of tables that focus on providing context and impulses. Sleeping in the pyramid will have your dreams haunted in a horrid manner; and there is the “black unicorn” – essentially a carte blanche (or noire, here…) for the GM to excuse inconsistencies – and there are factions, like the lich-king-led Ca’abal. Inside the pyramid, a single striped line of energy runs along the top of the rooms – and the pyramid sports multiple rooms that are color-coded by this line. With the exception of the entry-room and the blue rooms surrounding it, entering rooms with another color requires access crystals, so yeah, the PCs will have to explore A LOT of this place if they wish to dive further. (And yes, the PCs can harvest zoth from these stripes.) The sides of the pages do btw. feature color-indicators, which makes getting the right rooms when flipping through the book easier.

The Black Pyramid is an irreverent full-blown WTF gonzo dungeon-crawl of 111 rooms. Let me get that right out of the way: It does not necessarily read like a coherent mega-dungeon; it is a ginormous funhouse, and any other expectations will be disappointed: There are rooms where star-spawn are incubated, there is none other than good ole’ Zargon (Pardon: Zarga’an…!!!), there is a sorceress of Slaanesh (Sla’avesh), there is an insane clown posse. There is a Rick and Morty cameo, there is a room where you can kill off Rob Schneider, there is a pizza delivery service in the dungeon, there are arcade gamers that play a VR, pixilated version of Cha’alt. We have a Life of Brian joke, with several micro-factions mirroring the “People’s Front of Judea”-joke, a Spin the Wheel gameshow-like room, a “The Purge”-reference, Crimson Dragons, a band preparing to play for the Devil – just one guy is currently missing, perhaps chickening out on the deal made…there is a quasi-deity-level entity playing human chess, there are silver flying spheres out to kill you, subway cars, gelatinous urine. The most mechanically interesting ones here, for me, were the well-executed version of “The author is in the dungeon”-trope (yep, you can try to kill him…) and the room that is a “Waiting for Godot”-reference. Cha’alt, and the Black Pyramid, is btw. littered with Easter-eggs regarding Venger’s previous books – from fruities to a nod to his Escape from New York-homage to a villain returned from Liberation of the Demon Slayer, the book does contain lost of nods and references.

If anything, the “Hail Gonzo!” room perhaps best exemplifies the dungeon: There, a statue of the great Gonzo can be found; lingering here has a half-demon show up, and whisper essentially a quest-hook to the PCs. Fumbling around with the Gonzo statue will open a secret compartment in the crotch, which contains a damaged trumpet. Blowing this one manifests Buddhist monks, who proceed to set themselves on fire, in a macabre way of lighting the room.

…I have to admit to not nearly liking the black pyramid as much as I hoped I would. Unlike in e.g. Monkey Business, there is no rhyme or reason here. Where the main world stuff of Cha’alt manages to feel surprisingly consistent and cool, where it keeps the pop culture references down to a minimum, the Black Pyramid is all about no fucks given. There is, by design, no consistency or structure here – in a way, it perfectly encompasses Venger’s interests: High-concept stuff, never mind the connecting tissue or details, it’s about the wild ride.

This feels like a chaotic deluge of concepts, like an insane kaleidoscope that oscillates between horrific experiments, extinction clocks and pop culture references that range from being genuinely cool and funny (the People’s Front joke, for example, only slowly becomes evident as the PCs meet the other groups…) to being…there. Okay, Rob Schneider joke, got it. There are plenty of non-sequiturs here, and if you want your dungeons to make sense in an internal manner, you will quite probably end up hating this. However, the black pyramid does play better than it reads –you see, there is one thing you cannot ever claim about this place, and that would be that it’s boring. It’s not. Not ever. Even if you dislike the disjoined nature of the place, it is chock-fll with unique encounters, and while I’d wager that most groups won’t play this as written, the dungeon does contain a huge wealth of rooms I will gladly scavenge to add some doses of the weird to my game.

I thought long and hard about why the back pyramid doesn’t work for me, and I came to a conclusion that might help you as well: The small modules prior to it, and the world itself, are pretty serious – they have gonzo elements, but, as a whole, are more consistent, less vignette-like than Venger’s usual fare. Don’t get me wrong – I’d have loved to read more about the details of Cha’alt, about the day/night cycle, about food, more vehicle stats, etc.; there is a lot to add, to ask for here. But Cha’alt, as a whole, is his most disciplined writing. It is inspired, clever, does not drown in self-referential navel-gazing, and is more easy to use than Venger’s modules to date. If you disregard the rules-related need to adapt the book, you have modules you can pretty much play as written, without having to fill in blanks. The global effects, backdrops, variety – all there. I really, really like Cha’alt.

The Black Pyramid at the center is deadly, elicits awe and horror – and turns out to be this strange funhouse dungeon. The clash in themes from subdued gonzo elements to all-caps GONZO, where clowns may literally attempt to kill you evident here gave me whiplash, and undermined the plausibility of Cha’alt for me. I do like full-blown GONZO, but here, the book attempts to have its cake and eat it, too. You can’t have a relatively gritty and surprisingly consistent, alien world sketched out, and then maintain its sense of consistency with that as the central touchstone. Granted, the world does not have equipment sections or the like, and it’s strange – but the three smaller vignettes had me PRIMED for a great centerpiece that brings all together. Instead, I got a funhouse dungeon.

The color-coded access crystals serve to somewhat structure the place in play, even if the book does not specify the colors of the respective crystals and leaves that up to the GM; as a whole, this feels like something done after the dungeon was written, as an attempt to provide some sort of consistence, and it is successful in some way…but nonetheless, we have no consistent leitmotifs here. Even Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Venger’s freshman offering and perhaps closest analogue to the black pyramid, had more consistent themes per level. I’d take Anomalous Subsurface Environment (reviews forthcoming) over the Black Pyramid any day of the week.

…then again, the sheer randomness of the Black Pyramid may not be a bug for you; perhaps, it is a feature for you. Just because this dungeon did not work for me, does not mean that it won’t work for you.

Conclusion: Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting is very basic, and doesn’t really help running the book. Layout deserves special mention – Glynn Seal’s talents are on full display here: The book is gorgeous to behold, and from the color-coded markers to other details, the layout is not only gorgeous, it genuinely helps run the book. Kudos. Artwork ranges from impressive full-color two-page spread original pieces to plentiful thematically-fitting cosplayer-photographies of aesthetically-pleasing males and females. The cartography is full-color, and the presence of player-friendly maps is a big plus. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, and the hardcover is a genuine collector’s piece – an impressive tome, a great artifact. I love the physical book. (There are, as per the writing of this review, still copies available, so if you want one, better act fast!)

I’ve reviewed a lot of Venger’s writing at this point – and he is perhaps one of the most difficult authors to review. His own houserule systems sometimes get in the way of the cooler concepts. Ironically, Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 gets less in the way than his previous systems because Cha’alt does not implement it consistently. You still have to do the work, though – unless high risk, handwaving beer-and-pretzels-gaming is what you’re going for, you will want to do properly convert this to e.g. B/X, PFRPG; DCC (perfect fit for DCC, imho). Huh, come to think of it, this would have been awesome as a book using DCC-rules. Everything about it screams DCC.

Anyways, Venger’s focus on high-concept ideas can leave you with an amazing idea, hamstrung by a lack of connective tissue and details. This is less the case here, than in his previous works – with the exception of “The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence”, which, to this date, remains my favorite among his books when seen as a whole. I am not sure if Prince of Nothing’s consultation is the origin for that, but the color-code-angle paid huge dividends in actual play of the pyramid, changing pure chaos into something that plays much better.

However, for me, the biggest achievement here would be the first half of the book – where we learn about the lands of Cha’alt, where we escape the yoke of the Purple Priesthood, dive into the maw of the worm, and have a nice mela’anj-infused drink at the Gamma Incel Cantina afterwards. This section is genuine gold. It presents a view of a world that manages to blend seemingly inconsistent themes and tropes into a concise and inspiring whole. There is structure here, and it is evident that Venger genuinely paused and thought about the world, how it operates. I maintain that we’d be better off with more like that, and the Black Pyramid as its own book. But that may be me.

I can definitely see that, for some groups out there, the Black Pyramid may well be the ultimate mega-dungeon, namely because it doesn’t behave like one. It’s randomness and consistent weirdness and sheer audacity will be perfect for groups that are usually quickly bored by dungeons with consistent themes. Do your players tend to have shorter attention spans when not engaged by something far out/outrageous? Then the Black Pyramid was written just for you! Seriously!

What I’m trying to enunciate here, is simple – Cha’alt is a divisive beast, an iconoclastic potpourri of themes and design-styles; Venger shows that all of his design-styles, from the table-centric one to the more classic one, are deliberate choices. And he shows that, when he sets his mind to it, he can deliver truly awesome material.

For me, had the book focused more on the world of Cha’alt, in the way that the first half of the book did, this’d have been a Top Ten candidate, my dissatisfaction with the rules notwithstanding. At the same time, the Black Pyramid was, to me, a let-down. Too random, too unfocused – even though it does work MUCH better in play than on paper…but that is my personal opinion. As a person, I’d rate this 3 stars for the rules (CDSD20’s limitations really show after a while), 5 stars + seal of approval for the world/small locations, 3.5 stars rounded up for the Black Pyramid (that was 2.5 stars prior to playing it, for context – it works much better in play than on paper; plus, you can dismantle it into a ridiculous amount of gonzo encounters). For me, as a person, this is a 4.5 stars book, rounded down – one that makes me seriously hope that the Cha’alt expansion Fuchsia Malaise further expands on the setting’s strengths, now that the gonzo-touchstone at its center is done; I think Venger is best when he exerts some restraint and thinks more about the big picture, and is less focused on individual encounters/vignettes.

When Cha’alt is good, it is better than anything Venger has written so far. If you don’t like pop culture references and are a stickler for consistency of theme and atmosphere, then you’ll probably think about the Black Pyramid as I do, and similarly feel that you’d have wanted more detail on Cha’alt.

If I enter review-bot mode, I arrive at a different outcome: The rules-rating would remain as is; however, when viewed neutrally, the world-information is missing context to establish rules for tech, equipment, etc., and I could list a series of niggles here. The setting information requires more detail, and that the GM extrapolates a series of realities about the world, which would cost this the seal, and reduce the rating to 4.5 stars. My personal taste has no bearing on the Black Pyramid in this scenario, and I’d be forced to admit that this might be the ultimate high-GONZO mega-dungeon, a glorious deluge of chaos turned to paper. When rated neutrally, the Black Pyramid may well be the biggest achievement of the book for some tables, and it does what it sets out to do exceedingly well. In this scenario, I’d give this component 5 stars + seal of approval.

I pride myself on trying to review books for what they are, and not for what I’d wish them to be – and as such, my review-bot verdict will be the final one: Cha’alt gets 4.5 stars, rounded up, and does get my seal of approval, as I will get a lot out of the Black Pyramid in terms of scavenged encounter ideas, with the caveat that this rating assumes, as noted above, that you’re going for this kind of high-concept, gonzo weirdness.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
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Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
by Bryan G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2019 11:16:06

Excellent Primer to OSR Gaming

The author, Venger As'Nas Satanis, has put together a list of 38 little rules (okay, 37 rules plus a rule 0) to help understand and run OSR games. I agree with pretty much all of the advice he gives in here and if someone ran a game using this as their guidance, it will be a great game to be in! Venger lays it out pretty well in short 'n' sweet rules that are easy to grasp and understand. A couple even caught me by surprise.

For example, "Rule #4: Milk It!" is something I have been doing and it's nice to see it written down. Don't be afraid to adjust something in the adventure if the players enjoy it. If they like the off-the-cuff, oddball NPC you made up on the spot, keep them around (until they are eaten by a troll or something)! If you jokingly suggest that a bag of holding can be worn like a fanny pack and the players laugh, GO WITH IT!

Also, this is not a system-specific book. This is applicable to any OSR system, this book is about principles, not "here's an easy way to use obscure/unique rule X from system Y in play". Highly recommend, worth looking at as a way to align your GM-in priorities when running an OSR game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
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Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
by Misha B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2019 11:02:28

This is not a book of gimmicks or bits to put into a game, there's no "one cool trick" to change the way you run your games. Instead it's a reminder to go back to the basics. It's full of practical advice on how to keep it simple, keep it moving, and keep it fun. Expereinced GMs won't think, oh, I never thought of that, but rather, yeah, I remember now...

For inexperienced GMs this would be a good antidote to the intimidating overcomplexity of rules systems that offer dozens of races, classes, prestigue classes, feats, ability, proficiancies, and so on and so forth. Play the game, don't let the game play you. Have fun, get silly and remember this isn't rocket science.

It would be a good document to stick in your gaming folder to review from time to when doing prep for running a game. OSR is a state of mind, not a collection of numbers, and this document is good way to get into that state of mind.

And I'll admit that reading it over made me want to get a campaign going again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Old School Renaissance Like A Fucking Boss
by Peter S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2019 08:34:04

Great advice for beginner DMs and also great reminders for veteran DMs of any game system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/19/2019 04:16:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, the latest iteration of Crimson Dragon Slayer clocks in at 7 pages – 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

I’ve been asked to cover this pdf on behalf of my patreon supporters, and since it’s part of the massive Cha’alt book anyways, was moved further up in my queue.

This review is based on version “_13.”

After a one-page introduction, we get the basic rules of this game, but before we dive in: This is kinda billed as an OSR-hack of 5e, and that is correct; however, it should be noted that this has almost nothing to do with 5e per se, and it’s better to consider this to be a rules-lite, minimalist take on RPGs, though one that is relatively open to scavenge material from d20-based games from. To a degree.

Most obvious 5e-concept: When circumstances are favorable, you roll Advantage, when they are unfavorable, you roll disadvantage – i.e. you roll 2d20 and use the higher or lower value, respectively. Combat is abstract, and assumes a round to be the equivalent of 1 minute. Assisting a fellow PC nets advantage on the check Initiative is based on GM fiat and logic – if it makes sense for the PCs to go first, they do. Ties go to the PCs.

At the start of every session, each PC gets an inspiration, i.e. a reroll of a d20. Levels cap at 10, and there are no XP – levels are gained every other session. At 5th and 10th level, the players get to pick a feature, special ability or feat pertaining to their class – these may be from some book, adapted, or made up.

Character creation works as follows: You choose a race – human, elf, halfling, gnome, dwarf, half-orc. You get a racial ability you can use once per session. These are not provided, and as such, subject to the group’s whims. Then, you choose a class: Fighters get 10 HP per level, and add level to to-hit rolls and damage. Wizards have 4 HP/level, and can cast EVERY spell in the PHB that has a spell level below their class level. HOWEVER, doing so hurts the wizard for HP equal to the spell’s level. This is e.g. an instance, where using this is a 5e hack stops working, considering how Concentration operates in that game. Clerics get 8 HP/level, and a single invocation that can be used at touch without penalty. At 1st level, they can use this to heal 1d6 HP at touch, or damage demons, undead, etc. – no save. 3rd level and every odd level increase that by +1d6. Clerics are broken and wreck the deadly theme that Venger’s books usually go for. Without a limit to how often they can cure, they can generate infinite healing. Which sucks and takes all the danger, save insta-death etc., out of adventuring. This needs to have some sort of limit.

Thieves get 6 HP/level, and thief abilities usually don’t require rolling (making thieves in an OSR game for once pretty competent!). Kinda problematic – backstabbing isn’t really explained.

At 0 HP, you become unconscious; if your negative HP exceed your character level (say -7 HP for a 6th level character), you die. PCs get one short rest (45-60 min) per day, which replenishes the character’s level times 1d6 HP. A long rest of 8 hours fully replenishes HP.

To attack, you roll a d20, and if you hit the opponent’s AC or above, you hit. On a crit, you deal double maximum damage, with additional bonuses due to magic etc. not doubled. On a natural 1, you fumble, end up prone, disarmed, etc. and have disadvantage on the next attack.

AC starts at 10, is ascending, and thieves get their level to AC if not wearing any; leather grants +2, chain mail +4, etc., with helms netting +1 and shields +2. Without magical aid, AC caps at 20. Damage inflicted with weapons is contingent on class – fighters deal d10, clerics d8, thieves d6, and wizards d4. This is a bit weird at first, since the critical hit rules reference weapon damage, which does not exist in the game.

After this, you choose your alignment from Law, Chaos, Neutral and Unaligned. You then determine something noteworthy about the character – an ability, an item, etc. – if you go overboard, the GM gets to impose a flaw to bring the chosen ability in line. There are no skill checks for mundane tasks, and Perception etc. is roleplayed (GOOD CALL!); when you do roll a check, you have a flat DC of 15, and you get your class level to the roll if the roll pertains to the tasks of the class.

Magic items require 15 minutes of attunement to know what they do (otherwise, you can experiment), and certain items, such as staves or rods may only be attuned by wizards. There seems to be no cap on the number of magic items you can have attuned at a given time.

Saving throws subtract the character’s level or monster’s HD from 20 – Roll that or higher, and you save; 20 is an automatic success. When you attempt an Epic Feat of Awesome, you subtract the character’s level from a d30, and roll that number or higher to succeed. Other than that, legitimate questions have a 1/3 chance of the answer being yes.

And that’s it!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to a nice full-color one-column standard, with blood splotches as visual elements. The pdf has no bookmarks, but seriously doesn’t need them at this length.

Whether or not this is for you depends on a few factors: Looking for a stripped-down, fast-play RPG that leaves all the options to become granular in details wide open? Then this delivers, big time. It does require that you balance spells and the like yourself, but as a hack, it is imho vastly superior to Venger’s previous dice-pool-based iteration of Crimson Dragon Slayer. Not just regarding the depth that it allows you to add, if desired, but because it represents the author’s iconoclastic perspective and writing style much better. This, in short, is a great step forward. It’s also an easy and (mostly) consistent way to teach newbies very quickly and without much hubbub about old-school roleplaying.

Does it allow you to engage in grand feats of tactics, does it have the same granular options as big OSR-systems? No, but that is pretty much the intent of the book. In many ways, it is an ultra-boiled down distillation of a few select 5e-concepts, which have then be applied to a super rules-lite OSR game. If that’s what you’re looking for, perfect - It works. Granted, it doesn’t have much to do with most d20-based, complex games, but it succeeds in what it tries to do. That being said, the pdf never says anything about movement standards, clerics are broken as written, and backstab needs some information. All of these are pretty crucial flaws, even if you go rules-lite. They are all easy to fix, which I certainly hope will happen, for without them, this is easily the best CDS so far. Considering that this is a FREE offering, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crimson Dragon Slayer D20
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Cha'alt
by Niels A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/25/2019 16:30:49

Cha'alt is both a mega dungeon and a gonzo mixed setting of fantasy and science fiction. This isn't you father's D&D/OSR setting. It is your crazy uncle's D&D/OSR setting. It is highly creative, highly imaginative and definitely goes outside the box for a typical D&D/OSR setting. It has everything from demons and elder gods to as spaceships and laser guns. It reminded me a lot of the Heavy Metal movie from the early 80's. If you like your fantasy mixed with some heavy doses of science fiction/fantasy, Cha'alt is right up your alley. It is a well of great ideas you can use with any system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt
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Cha'alt Ascended
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/27/2019 23:04:59

Cha’alt is a gonzo, post-apocalyptic science-fantasy setting for Old School style play. It is not tied to a particular system, but includes the slim and serviceable Crimson Dragon Slayer D20 in the back.

This product, Cha’alt Ascended, provides players with optional rules for those using Crimson Dragon Slayer D20, but that could easily be used in any OSR game with very little adaptation.

The first of these additions are a new way to track Sorcery in CDS20. In keeping with the design goals of the system, they are fairly simple and low on bookkeeping, but require a GM to narrate outcomes in keeping with the sorcerer’s level.

The second offering is the most exciting to me, and the bulk of the product. It lays out a simple method for adding abilities to OSR characters that are like feats from later editions of the D20 games. A character is unlikely to get more than two of these over their career, so the rules avoid the pitfalls of the “feat build” nonsense if other D20 games. The game lists a great deal of samples, but it wouldn’t be hard for a GM to write more of their own or to tailor those listed to their own setting.

The last offering is a set of random backgrounds for giving characters a heroic or interesting background before starting play. It features twenty possible pasts that tie your character to the world and the factions of Cha’alt.

The book is laid out well, in the same style as the main setting book. There is some attractive art, including two full page pieces. One of the full-page item is a very amusing comic style depiction of the author in a therapy session with H. P. Lovecraft with some amusing dialogue.

I have a minor nitpick. While the backgrounds and such are very nice for screen reading, I imagine they would not print very cleanly, so a screen and print version, or some layers to allow for clean printing would be nice.

Overall, the product adds some handy extras to those playing in the Cha’alt setting, and much of the material could be used easily with other OSR fantasy games. It is good value for money.

I was given a review copy of the PDF in return for an honest review as seen above.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cha'alt Ascended
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