Stat It: The Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children

I never got the idea of “Races as classes” in OSR games. In other games, your character is often a race plus a class. Because what’s stopping an Elf from being a barbarian or a warlock as opposed to being the classical ranger or wizard? With some OSR games, your character is just… an Elf. That’s it.

One thing that is less weird (but still weird) is the level tables for some OSR games. One class has about 20 levels, like a basic class, but then suddenly another class has only 13 or 17. Granted, the system I’m using allows for going beyond these levels with small additions and they don’t have a ton to offer for each level anyways, but I just had to stop and think for a minute about this.

Oh, right, I should explain what I’m doing. Well, as you may have noticed, I put the brakes on the 2018 SGAM climax due to time constraints. Don’t worry, it’ll come soon. In the meantime, I might as well get my feet wet with the game I’ll be using for said climax: Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The name itself is what interested me the most out of it, as well as it being an OSR-style game, but it wasn’t the sole reason.

I remembered attending my first Free RPG Day game session at a Friendly Local Game Store that were offering people to play the one-shot adventures they had. Among the ones they offered, I was interested in one in particular: The Doom-Cave of the Crystal Headed Children. I’m not making that title up. We never actually played it, but the idea of playing such an interesting looking game with an out-there premise lingered, even as I look at the cover in my bag of assorted goodies I obtained that day.

Originally, I was intending to play Better Than Any Man, but that game ended up being a full-blown campaign setting, with the foreword pretty much saying that it wasn’t an ordinary Free RPG Day adventure that introduces you to the game.

This Stat It is going to be different from the others. Usually, I’d create the characters, then the story, but because I’m using a preestablished story, I need to introduce you to the story then the characters I’ll play. Be warned that there will be spoilers. So be advised and maybe pick up a copy to read along.

There is a small town that has a strange mystery. Namely, dozens if not hundreds of women, all of varying classes, recall giving birth to a child named Andrew four years prior to this adventure, but no one else can remember him, nor are there any records of an Andrew. Weirder still, the women all remember each other’s Andrews and that they have suddenly gone missing. Normally, a lost child, especially one mostly nobody remembers, gets easily forgotten if not found. But in this case? With the sheer magnitude of women demanding the return of “their Andrew”, the town decreed that the next adventurers be tasked with finding them.

Lo and behold, an adventuring team arrives. My adventuring team. And that’s how the story begins.

I haven’t read the rest of the book, but just from the forewords from both this Adventure and Better Than Any Man alone, I feel as though this is a deconstruction of the “find my son” quest. A cookie cutter, run of the mill introductory mission for people starting out. As it is super generic and run-of-the-mill, the natural conclusion is for this missing child case to be multiplicated tenfold. After all, why bother remembering the kid when he’s just the same cliché as the one you saved before? And the one you saved before that? And the one you saved before that?

It doesn’t help that the very introduction of the Adventure mentioned how Better Than Any Man was not in a lot of stores because of its mature content, with one complaint being that it involves killing children. They basically took that one comment and turned it on its head, all while possibly kicking a trope in the nards.

If this book does indeed go for something related to what I theorized, I will instantly fall in love with this game, as this would be something I’d think of if someone told me “hey, just do a generic quest, like… I dunno, save someone’s son?”.

Alright, enough gushing, let’s discuss our heroes. As I alluded to in the beginning, I will be playing a trio of characters based off the three race-based classes of the game, a Dwarf, an Elf, and a Halfling. Let’s start with our Dwarf, Baldurn Naborbis. He’s the one who kickstarted the party in the first place, wanting to get out of his dirty little Dwarf home and wanting to go explore the great outdoors. What he brings to the table is architecture from his olden days and a healthy body.

Next up is Anaeg Adedel, our Elf. Whereas Baldurn was bored with life, Anaeg believes his life’s purpose is to guide mankind to a prosperous future. He has the magic to do so and is described by the book as a cross between a fighter and a magic-user. He is also able to search more effectively and is unsurprised. He only starts with Read Magic, so he’s not too OP… yet. So he’ll make up for it with two short swords.

Finally, there’s Adblanc Milalda and his trusty sidekick Lithim the Falcon. He’s just along for the ride, yet he’s pretty scrappy when it comes to surviving a lot of stuff. He’s also an expert in Bushcraft, namely the skill to forage for food. Among his journey, he came across a falcon named Lithim who he added to the team to act as the eyes and ears.

As far as character creation goes, this is one of the more mindless systems. You roll 3d6 six times, in order, then pick a class, then jot down the stuff you get at that level, then roll 3d6, times that by 10, use the resulting number of silver coins to buy your starting gear, and there. You have yourself a character. I was able to create my characters from the word go and after five minutes, I was able to get my party going and pretty much begin the game. Statting up characters has never been easy.

While some of the creation’s left up to chance, your character does have some bits and pieces to customize, such as their equipment, spells, and skills. Of course, there’s also their character. Though, coming from RPGs that offer a whole slew of customization options has definitely impacted my view of this sort of creation system. However, given how I went through FATAL’s character creation system, I’d much rather go through this than spend 3 grueling days rolling the same dice over and over again.

At least with Flame Princess, all the necessary information is present for you on the class page.

So, the characters are basically numbers with personality. If you played a basic D&D-style RPG, you’ve seen them all. The only two unique things worth noting are the Saves and Skills. Rather than rolling a certain attribute to save like in 5E or one of three kinds of saves like 3.5, you instead have five different situations to roll a save for: Paralysis, Poisoning, Breath, Magic Devices, and Magic itself. Most are self-explanatory save for Breath. It is used for area-based attacks, though the reason it’s called Breath is probably because it’s mostly used for Dragon’s breath.

Then there’s Skills. You are ranked in a skill from 1 to 6, depending on how good you are. For instance, Adblanc has a 3 in Bushcheck. When rolling a die, he needs to roll a 3 or lower to succeed. Simple enough.

And now comes the question… What Engine will I use? Well, CRGE-Kai, of course… Though… with one slight modification…

More on that when we play the game.

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