Review: Crawl! Issue #5

This issue of Crawl!, the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG fanzine wrangled by Reverend Dak was released in early November. I am running a little behind on getting my review of it posted! This issue is the monster themed issue and weighs in at the standard 24 pages in length. Crawl! is only available in paper form, though it is a welcome form of mail when my subscriber issue arrives!

What is Inside?

The issue opens with an article called Monsters with Class by Reverend Dak himself. This article covers adding class abilities to NPC monsters. These are guidelines to quickly apply class abilities to monsters that do not otherwise have them. They include boosts to Hit Dice, Saves and some additional abilities depending on how many Hit Dice the monster has. This is another example of keeping things simple and manageable with a minimum amount of prep time for an upcoming session.

Next up we have an Orc class. With a brief background on the orc culture the article moves into the mechanics of hit dice, weapon training, rage abilities. The article is complete with orc titles and a level progression chart.

Jeremy Deram’s DCC Monser Helper is included as the center spread in this issue. A series of charts that allow one to generate monster stats quite quickly based on type of monster (animal, dragon, fey, giant, undead, etc). Hit die values, attack bonuses, and which saves are good and which are bad are all noted. An additional chart helps calculate the saves and attack bonuses based on the initial table. I have used the web version of this table before and it is quite handy.

Consider the Greenskins is an article that puts a twist to classic D&D monsters – goblins, hobgoblins, and orks. This is just one example of how standard monsters can be “tweaked” a bit to make them unique to your DCC RPG campaign. Efforts such as these keep the players guessing and offers built-in plot points on how these creatures came to be.

Wandering Monster tables are included for levels 1 through 5, an article previously published by Jeff Rients on his blog. Certainly handy to have and a starting point for a judge wishing to tailor some wandering monster tables for their own campaign.

The final pages include four new monsters from two authors, Brad Littman and Colin Chapman. We get one page write-ups on the Fung-Eye (I will leave the visualization up to you!), the Stonecrawler, and a pair of monstrous canines.

The Standouts

As usual there are several standout articles in this issue of Crawl!. Monsters with Class is a good article that will help those who might be uncomfortable adjusting things on the fly. Just enough guidelines to let people know you don’t need pages and pages of complex rules to give short-lived monsters or NPCs class levels.

Wandering monster tables and the Quick Monster Stat articles are also useful articles, though both have been published on the web via blogs in the past. For those that have not discovered them previously they will prove quite useful.

I really enjoyed the monstrous canines which include the blood hound and gloom hound. Both are well-described and interesting monsters. Each includes a possible seed for a judge to use to introduce them to their game as well.

Several new art pieces were sprinkled about the issue. I really enjoyed Daniel Bishop’s piece Jason Adam’s artwork.

I was not a huge fan of the orc class for PCs. I should note that I think the write-up was good, I am simply not a fan of classes that stray too far from traditional classes. Perhaps simply naming it half-orc would have helped me clear that mental hurdle! I am sure some will be fans of the article and appreciate the new class.

The stonecrawler monster struck me as a little unusual and of questionable use. With its very slow movement rate and little inclination to attack, much less defend itself I am not sure it has a lot of value. Interesting concept, just not sure it merited more than an environmental hazard.

Overall, another fun issue of Crawl!. Looking forward to Issue #6!

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