Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Crimson Dragon Slayer RPG

Venger of Kort'thalis publishing asked me to review his newest product Crimson Dragon Slayer. For the uninitiated CDS is an OSR style role playing game with a retro and very gonzo foundation. The premise of the game takes us back to the wonderful era of the 1980s. The players start out enjoying a game of Crimson Dragon Slayer on their Commodore 64 and are inexplicably pulled into the realm of Thule.

I must admit when I was a daydreaming ten year old in 1983 I often wished something like this would happen. Much like the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon my friends and I would spend hours musing over living through a similar situation. It is that feeling of both nostalgia and old school RPGs that Venger has wrapped into CDS.

The name of the game is tied to one of the adversaries the players have to contend with in the land of Thule. I actually like the name as it reminds me of a cheesy 80s metal band. That being said, I would love to see a future release with an alternate cover. As it stands if I saw the game on a shelf I would instantly think it was some sort of regular fantasy RPG. This unfortunately carries over into much of the interior art as well.

The book numbers 42 pages some of which are dedicated to an easy to follow d6 system. If I had any complaint it would be the small size of the book.
The ideas prepared within were so fun I just kept wanting more. For my review I admittedly glossed over the ruleset as with most games I simply don’t use them. Rather I look for inspiration and system neutral material to mash-up with whatever system I’m currently using. 

Instead I concentrated on content and flavor to see if Venger captured the vibe the game proclaims to have. The caveat being the d6 rule set is indeed part of that flavor. In the 1980s RPGs were not riddled with voluminous texts of mechanics so the d6 system captures some of that nostalgia. I will say that the material presented in CDS can be easily converted and used in other RPGs.

The first thing I liked was random tables to generate things like your job before you were transported to Thule. In a future release of the CDS I would like to see more random tables. A fun duo of tables  in the current version of the game gives the characters a new name. I rolled and ended up with Emerald Slime which immediately made me think of Slimer from the Ghostbusters. Or maybe my character is addicted to Hi-C Ecto-Cooler???

In terms of races a player can choose from all the standard fantasy types which are represented. In addition we have the Infernal Elf, Robots, Crystalline and my favorite the Pixie Fairy Princess. Their entry cracked me up and is as follows: pixie fairies flutter here and there, initiating tea parties, shopping for sparkly dresses, sharing secrets, and obsessively hording magic. Pixie fairies are female and for some inexplicable reason they are all princesses.

In terms of equipment Venger included a starter list of miscellaneous items available for purchase. A few standouts include the Mel Gibson interceptor, Commodore 128 or even an Air-Wolf chopper! Let’s face it the 1980s are loaded with items you could add to this list. I can already envision Trapper Keepers, Reebok Pumps, and the dreaded Cabbage Patch kids for sale. The former could even be giant monsters to encounter with their crazed minions being shoppers trying to obtain them.

One of the areas where Venger has included his style the most I believe is the spell section. Always one to push the limits spells like Cube of Coitus and Ice Cream Phantom Servant are included. I personally find these both amusing and fitting for a theme such as CDS. My friends and I would always butcher or poke fun at published spell names as teenagers in the 1980s. There are a few other gems in the spell section but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

The last thing I read through was the included adventure called the Cavern of Carnage. Right away I smiled looking at the wandering monster table which included Psychotic Candy-Colored Bears. Ironically I had a pack of Gummy Bears on my desk as I read CDS…and I think I saw one move. All jokes aside the adventure has many such fun encounters which incorporate well known and sometimes iconic persons, places or things from the 1980s.

There is clever material and genuine gonzo goodness in Crimson Dragon Slayer. If you always dreamed of fighting hordes of Laser Raptors, jumping on rocket propelled Pogo Balls or having an Excellent Adventure then look no further. Grab a couple friends, some dice and head back to the future with Crimson Dragon Slayer!