posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: Adventures in the Xtreme Dungeon Crawl League

I cannot believe I just typed that.

XCrawl is a setting for 3.x D&D published under the OGL by Pandahead Productions (currently published by Goodman Games, as far as I know) in 2002. It's an alternate Earth where magic and other D&D things are real, and the PCs participate in the tituar XCrawl, an extreme sport/gladiator combat/pro wrestling thing where they fight their way out of televised dungeons for the entertainment of the masses.

This game is 90s as shit.

The Stars

The cover up there depicts three of the "iconic" characters, members of an adventuring group called the Dunguun Gangstaas.



There are a few other characters who get referenced in the fluff sometimes and are used as sample characters in the back of the book. None of them are as interesting,

These characters, according to the credits, are PCs of some of the playtesters. Oni is the PC of one of the writers, which explains why she has more fluff and art than the others, and possibly also why her character sheet has the best stats, almost twice the wealth a normal character has at her level, and is basically better than that other rogue at everything.

The Opener

After the table of contents we get some opening fluff:


"Jupiter and Juno be praised, their glory be sung from each and every mountain. Good evening and thanks for tuning into Empire Sports 1. I'm Cliff Nelson."

It's a sports show about dungeon crawling!

As they give the latest XCrawl news and talk about the upcoming Uniter 4699 Xtreme Dungeoncrawl Spring Games, we learn the following facts:

It's followed by the Introduction. The Introduction, like everything else in this book, is Xtreme.


What you hold in your hands is a gateway. Oh sure, it looks like a book, but in the right hands this book has the power to turn the world outside your window into an amazing place. A setting filled with horrible monsters, dynamic heroes, and political intrigue of high drama. Come to think of it, that isn't any change from the world outside your window, it's just an escape. A chance to be something more than you are, and something that you might dream to be. It's a world unlike any other. It seems familiar at every turn, but wonderfully new wherever you look. It's the world of Xcrawl.

The concept of a role-playing game is nothing new. They've been around for decades, formally, and for far longer than that in a greater sense. And there is no point in putting out something that has already been done. There is no reason to have a game that is like every other game on the market just for the sake of saying that you can do it better. If you are going to do something, it had better be something original. And that's what Xcrawl is.

You can say that it is a little bit of fantasy adventure. You can say that it's just modern gladiator combat. You can say that it's extreme sports brought to gaming. You can even compare it to professional wrestling. And you won't get any arguments from us. We think that it's all of these things, but it's all of them blended together in a way that hasn't been seen in the pages of a roleplaying game. It's a world of re-imagined history, echoing the past and the present, and bringing a new concept to something that has been around for a very long time.

The important thing is that you bought this book. You want to know what's inside. You are intrigued by the ideas presented here. There was a reason that you picked up this book, and a reason that you want to read it. You can think whatever you want about this book before you read it, but we know that you will realize one important thing when you have finished:

There is something special here. Now, with all the appropriate apologies, let me see if I can get in the right voice... *ahem*

Laaaadieees and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages. It's time to joint he spectacle and splendor of life in the Crawl. It's time to join Pandahead in presenting the greatest show on Earth, the greatest challenge of our day, and the greatest thrill of them all. It's time... prepare for the Games. ...LEEETTT'S GET READY TO MELEEEEEE!!!

*ahem* Sorry about that. But it's all part of the show.

Welcome to Xcrawl.

Your next adventure WILL be televised...

So anyway.

After that is a quick glossary, and I have to give props to XCrawl here for putting this shit in the intro and not leaving it until the end of the book. I'll run down the important ones for later posts:

Next time: A history of alternate Earth and, because a lot of the art in this book is weird at best, a series of horrifying golem troll-men.

XTREME History, part 1

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: Xtreme History, Part 1

The next chapter outlines the history of the world, specifically humanity, from caveman to Reagan. That's a lot of , so I'm going to summarise it.

The chapter opens with a bit of fluff, more of sportscasters Cliff Nelson and Monica Silverstring. This time they're commentating as the Dunguun Gangstaas prepare to enter a dungeon room full of hobgoblins. The text ends just as they throw open the doors.

The Historic Age

So apparently, back when humans were cavemen, elves, dwarves and gnomes were already ancient races. They looked on humanity with contempt, along with orcs and goblins who I guess were also cavemen.

"This changed when the titan, Prometheus, who loved mankind more than his own place amongst the immortals, taught humans the use of fire, and began mankind's evolution into a civilized race." So yeah, Romans!

Afterward the elder races found humanity "curious" and thought we were pretty alright, for cavemen, especially compared to those kobold and goblin jerks. Eventually, when "mankind was clever enough to get themselves through winter without freezing to death or stealing from their neighbours", gnomes decided to make friends and teach them agriculture. The dwarves followed with metalworking, and the elves taught them archery and wizardry.

So wait, they sat around watching human cavemen die until they felt they were "civilised" enough? Dicks.

There's a sidebar here about "Castle Alashan", a mysterious ancient castle nobody knows the origin of, guarded by "the Order of Alashan, a group dedicated to the history and legends of the Shan empire". I am not sure what this dungeon has to do with anything on this page.

Eventually the humans spread across the land and this Persian guy, Alzad the Just, unites a bunch of tribes to fight a war with a bunch of aardvark-men called zeetha who live on flying islands and hate humanity for some reason. When he beats them, the tribes unite into the Kingdom of Shan and appoint Alzad as their king, and supposedly Castle Alashan sprang from the earth the next day for some reason. That explains the sidebar, I guess. (The sidebar suggests Castle Alashan was the zeetha's and that's why they hate humanity, except they fought the war before the castle came along. )

Shan lasts for thousands of years and becomes the first human civilisation, and then...

The War of Red Ice

It's time for a war! This one was against the orcs, led by Rukanga, "the greatest orc general who ever lived". His name means "None Left to Weep". He even has some art , which is alright even though apparently the artist can't do eyes. The art is mostly downhill from here.

The Red Ice orc tribes lived on the fringes of modern-day Russia and really hated elves. He would take over human forts in the winter, use them to attack elves, and bail out for the next conquest. This continued for a decade until Rukanga took on Castle Alashan and lost. Most people think he did it because he knew his days were numbered and he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. Orcs really dig him and think he'll be back some day.

Edwier's War

It's the humans' turn to be dicks! They expanded a lot and started to encroach on other races' lands, until in Wales they discovered Laressa, an old elf city and their homeland. Humans ignored it and started hunting and logging in the area until the elves, tired of warning them, just went ahead and killed everyone in the human outpost of Newwood. "This horrible event caused the city to become known as Bloodwood, much to the dismay of the humans trying to find a home in this new land." I am not sure how forced name changes work.

King Edwier of the Kingdom of Rachelov, who owned Newwood Bloodwood, wasn't about to take that kind of sass. He declared it an insult to his kingdom and declared holy war on the elves, dragging some nearby human kingdoms into it too. The elves got dwarf help, humans lost, and Edwier went and cried to some more humans. Eventually fifteen thousand humans invade Moonwood, Wales and start a war which lasts eighteen years until Edwier is assassinated by exasperated advisors and replaced with Terrance, who isn't retarded. He negotiates peace and backs off human lands.

There's a sidebar about halflings which makes no sense here. They kept to themselves in isolated farms and were basically hobbits, until they decided to make friends with humans. Unfortunately "by inviting the humans into their villages, they inadvertently invited in the enemies of humans", whatever that means, and they became homeless. Then it turned out humans were kind of jerks to them anyway. Later, it will turn out that halflings are basically black people. I have no idea why this is here.

Age of Wrack

On the next page is a sidebar about Laressa, and how elves still don't trust humans but invite them to hang out there anyway for the sake of peace, and some elves object and this has caused some civil unrest. Why this is here instead of where the halfling sidebar went I have no idea.

Anyway, this is around when evil started to grow in the lands of humans. Demon cults, dictators, sorcerer kings, the works! Even the King of Shan, which I guess is still around, began worshipping the demon Fosblyte, who had been whispering in his ear since he was a kid. Cheveline declared that he was replacing all temples with shrines to Fosblyte, used demon magic on anyone who sassed him and placed packs of demon dogs at the borders to keep people "safe" inside. Clerics had to convert or die, but most of them began an underground resistance instead. Fosblyte turned Cheveline into a vampire and he began to turn Shan into an undead kingdom.

Oh yeah, dark elves (called "alfar") are real. Surprised? So were humans, but it's cool because Cheveline allied with them! Armies of drow and undead marched on the other human lands, and the "elder races", still distrustful of the humans thanks to Edwier's War (despite negotiating a peace treaty), decided to do jack shit. Only the halflings helped humanity, and they were rewarded by the Vampire King's armies destroying their homeland forever and being absorbed into the lands of humans, who oppress the shit out of them.

So, to summarise,

Anyway, some paladin guy Cyral and his centaur companion Drake, who I can only assume was his special mount, arrived from Salsgorney (modern day Ireland) and gathered a bunch of companions to take down Cheveline, because no army can compare to the might of a band of PCs. They eventually slew him, but at a great cost - Cryal's companions were mostly slain in the fight, his family were murdered by Fosblyte's demons in revenge, and he himself was killed a year later by a curse the king put on him with his last breath. I guess nobody knows how to cast remove curse or raise dead .

There's some art here, which I think is supposed to be Cyral. There's a lot more... contrast here than the last art piece. It gets worse, and soon humans will be portrayed as a series of horrifying stone men.

Generations of peace followed, and humanity mostly made peace with the elder races - except halflings who they'll start being dicks to later for some reason, and the alfar which decided to hate humans forever. Fuck them though.

The Cataclysm

Five hundred years later, and no I don't know what year exactly, some major shit went down. In the wings, the titans were getting pissed - they created the gods and the world, and the gods got all the worship. That sounded like horseshit to them. This came to a head when Loki - I guess the Norse pantheon exists too - disguised himself as Chronos and incited them to attack the warrior-gods of other pantheons. He got the titan Adnir to attack Sif, and Adnir lost and fled. Odin wasn't going to take that kind of sass, though, and hunted Adnir down. This pissed off the deities enough to declare war on man.

This went on for years, and apparently it distracted the gods. This caused tides and seasons to come and go at random, floods and earthquakes to wrack the land, and the sun to forget to set a bunch of times. Man prayed to the gods to fix it, which pissed the titans off more, and they decided to flood the Earth. This in turn enraged the gods, who Hulked out on the titans, took their immortality away and smashed their hidden city.

Afterward, the Gods decided to take a more hands-off approach to humanity and use celestials, other outsiders and their clerics to interact with the world. A fraction of the Earth's population survived, and it lost most of its art, music and culture. Most records of history were lost.

The civilised races began to rebuild. Old boundaries and politics were gone, and for some reason a "new alphabet" had to be reforged because all written records were lost and I guess everyone forgot how to write. The "elder races" began to isolate themselves, with the dwarves blaming mankind's gods for the flood and burying their cities underground and the elves retreating even further into the forests and deciding to just outlive everyone. The gnomes decided to live with the other races, because they were bros, and the halflings were reduced to bands of wandering nomads and basically get fucked over every time they're mentioned.

Unfortunately I have a D&D game coming up, so I have to cut it here. Next time: Romans! Also, Hitler allied with hobgoblins!

XTREME History, part 2

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: Xtreme History Part 2, Also Caster Supremacy And Golem Faces

The rest of XCrawl's alternate history, presented for the benefit of alternate history buffs and also any Americans who can tell me who these Emperors are supposed to be so I stop confusing them with fast food mascots.

So, so far elves and dwarves were around before humans were even cavemen, everyone has been an insufferable douchebag to someone else by now, and most history up until now has been lost because the Titans were tricked by Loki into starting a fight with the gods and flooding the world. What a prick.

The Middle Ages

The Roman Empire springs up, and starts to take everything over, because when you're a Roman that's sort of your thing.

Also a human thing: Really fucking hating orcs. After they clash in the Alps and the Romans take out a bunch of them, the rest of the orcs combine forces and take them on everywhere, across Asia, Europe and Africa. Unable to fight a way on every front at once, the Romans began to lose, until the "Dog Foot" orc clan decided to assault an elf stronghold in the Black Forest.

Did I mention that the elves and dwarves, once again, sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing? Seriously, they hate orcs too, and they gain few benefits from letting an ancient enemy conquer neighbouring kingdoms. What is their deal? (On the other hand, if my neighbours were the Roman Empire...) Earlier the book mentioned that the dwarves blame the gods of mankind for the whole flood thing, and the elves became isolationist, but they were ignoring mankind's problems before then. These guys are shitty neighbours.

Anyway, the elves retaliated, and the dwarves joined them because I guess it suddenly counts as an issue if it's an elf, and the orcs were pushed back. The combined might of three races couldn't defeat them, though, so a dwarf called Stonefist took an elite team deep into orc territory and found out the orcish clans were actually manipulated by - gasp - the drow alfar!

The alfar were planning to take over the surface world, and the orcs were just the first wave. Kuo-toa, hobgoblins and deurgar were waiting to assault human lands behind them, and only the Dog Foot orcs attacking nonhumans too quickly had messed things up. Stonefist sacrificed himself to get the information out, and the war began to turn in the surface races' favour in the year 2407 with the signing of a treaty of mutual defense which also had the humans agree to not expand into the elder races' territory. Why didn't anyone think of this before?

Incidentally, this is the first year date we've received, and I don't know what year 0 is supposed to be.

Anyway, the alfar surrendered in 2711. They were forced to pay reparations (along with their allies) and forced to open their homeland, the Zura'ah'zura (all alfar names read like this) for constant inspection by specialty teams to make sure they weren't planning another attack. They also agreed to remain underground and "reign in the orcs and goblinoids". They then proceeded to ignore this rule. Apparently it became so costly that historians call the agreement the "Folly of Ceasar". So 2711 is somewhere just before 1 BC I guess.

Speaking of 1BC...

Suddenly, Jesus Terrorists!

Sometime in the years after the wall, a group of "bizarre cultists" who "follow The Messianic Gospels, the recorded letters and sermons of a group of twelve prophets united by a strange concept of one god" appear.

This is the setting where Loki tricks the Greek Titans into starting a war by punching Sif in the face.

This religion spreads from the Middle East amongst war-torn, poverty-stricken areas of the Roman Empire. It denounces other deities, the "magical arts", and promises a "savior" will show up to wipe out evil creatures, other deities, and even the elder races. Naturally, all "reasonable and civilised" people are offended by this. Emperor Tiberius Ceasar starts taking them seriously when a group of Jesus Terrorists tried to murder him, and by that I mean "charged him wildly". Remember, kids: magical terrorists get to Scry-and-Die their targets.

The "wise Emperor" realised they were a threat to basically everyone, declared the Messianic Gospels treasonous, and had anyone caught with them executed. The Messianic Peoples/One God Cult/ were hard to put down, though, and their "so-called Missionaries" travelled the world, "bringing with them strife and conflict, tearing apart villages and towns which had stood for hundreds of years", and basically fuck Jesus.

The Romans weren't about to put up with that kind of sass, and they hunted the down and forcing them to go underground. Probably not really. They moved around a lot, and in fact many early human explorers were . They had a lot of success, at least everywhere but Asia (who were "resolute in their traditional beliefs" and "fought back the invading infidels"), even in Africa, which is ruled by "dragons, ancient sorcerer kings, and the indomitable Zulu Nation". You know what? Fuck Jesus. I want to hear about Africa.

The discovered a lot of new lands, but never held onto them for long, because they shunned magic and were no match for opposing wizards and clerics. Caster supremacy! Faced with magic, dragons and orcs trying to kill them basically everywhere, they turned to technology and pioneered many important fields. Then most of their technology was co-opted by the Romans. In this way, the helped to shape history.

The Fall of Rome

The Romans continued to expand, but in a "classical historic blunder" ( ) they ddecided to expand into Asia before they were ready and were promptly punched in the face by both the Mongols and the Ming dynasty armies. Rome, being stubborn douchebags, piled more soldiers into Asia, at which point the alfar queen Malinjah sent 10,000 goblins to attack Athens while flipping off the treaty with both hands.

Greece wasn't about to put up with that horseshit, though, and beat the goblins down before declaring independence. Then the Germanic tribes and the Britons realised they could declare independence and the Romans had too many men in Asia to do shit about it. The North American Empire followed suit, and the Roman Empire basically crumbled.

Civilisations flourished and newly independent nations became more tolerant and "multi-pantheonic", building temples of non-Roman gods beside their Roman temples and turning to "pre-cataclysm deities", whichever those are (Norse?). I wonder if, in this setting, the Roman and Greek deities are seperate or if, say, Juno is Hera in a silly hat. (Actually, though Juno was mentioned earlier, this section mentions Hera when name-dropping Roman gods. )

Renaissance and Some Other Things

The Roman Emperor Medici I decided he wanted Rome to be awesome again and funded artists to design temples (fuck architects) and tried to grow Rome into the cultural center of the world. They had some competition in his cousin Victor Borgia of Florence, who funded Leonardo DaVinci, and then suddenly all the other nearby cities are waving their art-dicks and improving their cultures!

Meanwhile, science surpassed advances and scientists began to "understand the forces that moved the universe" (so what happened with that flood? Does science stop working if the gods aren't looking?). Telescopes, printing presses, blah blah...

Then there's some stuff about how Asian cultures began to influence things, but I don't care because the next part mentions that the Renaissance "began to interest the elder races", and prompted them to finally open proper relations with humans (you know, the ones they taught basic technology to and then left to die for centuries). Dwarves began trading goods, elves and gnomes travelled to France and Rome to study art and science, and...

All of these races were already ancient when humans came into being. What the hell were they doing? If you find the microscope such an interesting invention how the shit did you not invent it by now? You knew blacksmithing when humans were cavemen! If this were a game of Civilisation, the dwarves should be researching "Future History" over and over for minor bonuses! By now the elves should be downloading pictures of horse dick from the Internet on fucking Mars!

But fine, whatever. Anyway, half-elves became a respected thing thanks to Shakespeare's play Trokio and Juliet, which I guess ends with Juliet dying of old age while an elf looks sad, and meanwhile Japan breaks free from the Vietnamese Empire and the Great Dragon Emperor Chang Fe Hung, who is a gold dragon, takes over the Pacific nations for like a thousand years and starts the Great Eastern War between China and Japan, which involves a lot of dragons. Asian bitches love dragons. The Ming dynasty is toppled and replaced with the Ch'ing Dynasty, which rules China to this day. Also meanwhile, Briton sends out brave explorers to create colonies across the world, and most of them are . Whoops!

And that's when the find America.


s flock to America to find a bunch of "barbaric" humans fighting the local goblins, and side with the barbarians Native Americans against the goblins before just screwing the humans over, forcing them to convert or die. The Native Americans were also not going to take this kind of sassy horseshit, and their shamans and spirits began a war with the s which lasted until Columbus, hired by the Romans, showed up. The Romans started a colony in Columbia, and soon everyone in Europe was here to get a piece of the America pie. The s were kicked the fuck out and assimilated again.

In response, the s stirred up anti-British sentiment (I guess the Britonnians controlled most of America by this point?) and managed to start a revolution which "began with the burning of the Massachusetts Institute of Magic in Boston on Dec 16, 4470". (So 4470 is about the mid-1770s?) Using technology, French and Spanish aid and under the leadership of George Washington, the Britons surrendered on July 4, 4473. The s were poised to have him assume the leadership of America in their name, and by the way I started this sentence you probably worked out what happened instead.

See, Washington was banging a half-elf.

He knew the s hated the elder races, and he couldn't support them and keep boning his half-elf mistress. (Was he tickling her Elmo behind Martha's back?) Also, if North America didn't have wizards they were screwed, because caster supremacy. Washington assumed control of the North American Empire on September 9, 4473, immediately executed the leaders for being counter-revolutionaries, and became Emperor George Augustus I. The North American Empire adopted the Roman gods, took Latin as the official state language (though everyone just uses English unless they're an aristocrat), and freed all slaves in 4474. Take that, Lincoln!

Here's some Washington art, by the way.


So, a bunch of other races immigrate here, decades of peace, then it's time for some Manifest Destiny! The fourth Emperor, John I, goes ahead and captured Canada, and then his successor John II goes ahead and helps the French fight the Spanish and English in Europe through resources in exchange for all their American territories, then beats the Spanish out of Texas with General James Bowie (who has rage as a class ability, apparently). Later, Bowie is killed fighting some Messianics, and a dozen years later the NAE wipe out the secret Messianic stronghold in Mexico to assume control of the continent.

In 4559, the dwarves discover caverns underneath Oregon which turn out to be the American Zura'ah'zura (I guess that means Underdark), full of alfar and orcs. The alfar are kind of pissed about people in their underground American lands and declare war in 4559 because they're douchebags, and a six year war begins. Emperor James II nationalises the economy to aid the war effort, General Ulysses Grant chugs magic potions to stay at peak efficiency, and the alfar General Tzan pitted his troops against General Lee.

This is what happens when you replace America with magic Romans who abolish slavery. You turn your Civil War into a War of Subterranean Aggression instead. I'd :eng101: but the Messianics wasted my emoticons.

Anyway, Tzan eventually lost because his orcs were too stupid to carry his orders out in a professional manner. Since he was literally surrounded by retards, the alfar were foreved to sign the Treaty of Montreal on December 12, 4558, pay huge war reparations, recognise the NAE, and police all underground territories to keep orcs and goblins in check. Because that worked so well last time. They got to stay seperate to the NAE if they promised to open trade relations and not interfere, though.

Suddenly, Hitler!

The war starts the Industrial Revolution. Nothing interesting here. Blah blah blah industry, economics, we mention Edison when great inventors come up and not Tesla, gnomish airplanes...

And then in 4636 Xcrawl skips World War 1 and goes directly to Hitler.

Adolph Hitler declares war on the neighbouring Kingdoms of France and Poland, says a bunch of shit about Aryans, and annexes the shit out of Poland. Rome sides with Germany and helps them conquer France, and suddenly they're most of Europe. Hitler goes on to ally with Japan and provided economic support for their conflict with China in exchange for military aid, and then he picks up a few dozen hobgoblin tribes, because why not.

Hitler goblins. They're the Green Aryans.

In this picture, a blank-faced German golem recreates the Hitler-goblin alliance with giant ventriloquist's dummies.

There's also a sidebar which mentions dragons! See, Japan had dragon allies, but the half-dragon Emperor Tojo (grandson of Chang Fe Hung) "disrespectfully demanded" they fight for the Axis. The dragons turned their back on him, because asking them to side with Japan and help a genocidal maniac take over Europe and being a dick about it isn't cool. Briton and the NAE ally against Hitler, and then did fuck-all except defend their allies Hitler hadn't already taken over.

Then Tojo went ahead and launched aerial strikes and hobgoblin stormtroopers at the NAE like a moron, sparking the Great War. Way to go, champ!

Elves and dwarves joined in (not on the side of Hitler, who was exterminating "Messianics, halflings, homosexuals, gypsies and fairies"), and eventually the war ends in 4641 "with the assassination of Hitler by the eminent elvish sorcerer Serendalah", who I can only assume did a scry-and-die on him while he was in his bunker. And that is why you train wizards, Messianics.

On the bright side, it doesn't say anything about the NAE inventing atomic bombs and using them to massacre Japanese civilian populations in this timeline! On the downside, that means no Godzilla movies. CoDzilla movies?

It hints that there might be Hitlergoblins out there somewhere, still, which I can only assume is an excuse to have the party fight Nazi goblins.


Apparently, the spread of technology and the changing of the world economy it brought meant people turned away from magic a little. They began to use electric lights instead of arcane illumination, and instead of paying attention to stories and bards the people watched TV instead. Naturally, a lot of Emperors complained about it. Too bad for them.

It goes on to talk about the Depression of the early 4600s, during the reign of Emperor Howard I. It was caused by over-speculation in the exchange markets leading to a devaluation of American currency, and also Howard emptying the nation's coffers to launch an "ill-fated campaign to rid North America of dragons". It tells me to turn fifty pages ahead to find out about that though. Fuck the Depression, I want to read about dragons!

Apparently this possed off a lot of people, and in 4619 a full movement sprang up campaigning for a different system of government and wait, why is this after the Hitler section if it was twenty years ago? Anyway, Howard I managed to hold on to power, then he was followed by James III, and he was assassinated by "agents of his cousin, Henry Turber". Afterward, the Oracles were consulted to decide who would be Emperor, because fuck elections.

They picked Ronald Reagan I, and he took power in 4678. He remains there to the present time of XCrawl, 4699.

He's established the sport of Xcrawl in order to boost his popularity with the masses and distract them from how shitty their lives under the Emperor really are, and "some dare call him the greatest Emperor since the days of George Augustus, now considered a deity who walked amongst men." I wonder what domains Washington gives?

For now, Ronald waits. He's constantly watching his empire for signs of revolt, and there are even worrying rumours the promised Messianic Savior will return and overthrow the empire soon.

Or, you know, the PCs, if they feel like douchebags.

Next time: I cover the twice-as-long section on The World Today in a series of bullet points, prompting some to ask why I typed this fucking thing.

The World Today

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: This America Is So 90s It Shits Seinfelds

Chapter 2: The World Today opens like all chapters do, with some shitty art.

Seriously, I like XCrawl's silly extreme sports setting, but DeviantArt could force better art through its anus.

Anyway, afterward comes some more commentator fluff about the Dunguun Gangstaas progressing through the same dungeon from last time, and this is where I realise I didn't mention the fluff at the start of the last chapter. Whoops! Basically the Dunguun Gangstaas are in a dungeon and were about to fight some hobgoblins. We didn't find out how that turned out though.

So anyway, Oni fights some zombies and starts setting herself up for some special move, The Messenger turns all of them, and a referee appears and declares the counter over. Casters! The Dunguun Gangstaas celebrate by "spray-painting their logo on a fallen corpse" and move on.

There's a bit of fluff in there I like - state-sanctioned necromancers raise undead for XCrawl, and apparently they've had to mask them since they were hit with a class-action lawsuit by traumatised family members who just saw their deceased loved ones being smashed in the face by the party cleric. They are wearing smiley-face masks, because necromancers are dicks.

So anyway, the world. A lot of this chapter is on America.

North American Empire

The NAE is basically the superpower of the world right now, and for various reasons everyone hates them. Especially Rome, though I imagine most arguments with them end with "You sided with Hitler!"

The NAE has impressive, clean cities, with Greek and Roman designs and immense towers because Americans like dick-waving, and acres and acres of farmland. Much of the country is undeveloped. Emperor Ronald I is basically the president, is "ancient, kept alive through magic and twenty-four hour medical attention", and may or may not look like this.


His chief advisor is Lord Byford, head of the mage's guild and a high-level wizard based in Columbia. He spends his time scrying on people to try and find traitors.

The NAE kind of sucks to live in, if you're a commoner. Education, libraries, transport and health care are all free, but as you've probably guessed, you have no privacy or rights and you can pay up to 70% of your income in taxes. Also, permenent polymorping apparently counts as a punishment. You also get the bare minimum of education (with mandatory Citizenship classes, where you learn about how great the NAE is!) and immigration in and out of the country is currently illegal. XCrawl was invented to distract you from this state of affairs.

But if you're a nobleman , you get private education, you probably know Latin (the best literature is still in Latin), you're actually allowed to leave the country,, and you've probably participated in an honor duel even though they're illegal. Most nobles can be found owning XCrawl teams or watching the game in expensive private boxes; to be a noble PC, you have to take a level in the Aristocrat class. pfffft

The state religion is the Roman pantheon. Clerics get more respect than commoners and free housing from their temple, and can take other jobs too (teachers, librarians, lawyers I guess, crawler); a lot of commoners join the clergy for a shot at the good life. Holy days are the solstices, Remembrance Day (May 18), Veterans Day (April 19), Independence Day (July 4), technically the Emperor's Cup (the end of the XCrawl season in Spring), and the Day of the Dead (third Sunday in October, mostly an excuse to drink).

Apparently, commoners are "amazingly superstitious". "If the family car breaks down, it might be a curse from an evil sorcerer, and if an honest mechanic comes along and fixes it cheaply, that mechanic was sent by the blessing of Mercury". I would totally play that campaign. The temples encourage superstition to keep people fearful. America!

"Second only to religion in keeping the populace pacified is television." If you didn't spot the hints, the NAE are oppressive. All public networks are owned by the government and heavily censored. Sports are popular, especially XCrawl, which gets to pre-empt hours of normal programming every season and has its own news and gossip shows. If you're a noble, you can afford ultra-expensive pay TV which has a wider range of programs, except no pornography because that's illegal. There's also --

Pornography is illegal in the North American Empire?!

Anyway, XCrawl pay-per view stations broadcast every single second of the events, and since they cover several days and the dungeons have rest stops, that means you get to watch the players "resting, eating and bathing". Is it wrong that I thought of nobles watching the party elf priestess taking a shower after nobles watching a half-orc ranger taking a vicious dump?


There are other forms of media, but none are as popular as TV, and internet isn't mentioned (because pornography is illegal). Everything is censored, but it's okay to make a children's show starring someone called Orcslayer.

Culture-wise, the country is split between the nobility (who like Roman opera, theater, ballet and XCrawl) and the commoners (who love rock, football, cool things, and XCrawl). It's a very multicultural place with a lot of music. The blues were invented by halflings to tell tales of their hardship, and a lot of commoners like the music, but halflings are still discriminated against. Halflings are the new black.

Military-wise, the NAE has the best technology, the best fighters, and the best magic, because America. They have wizards because you can't win a war without them. Sorry fighters, this is 3.5!

! The s are responsible for firearms, the telegraph and steam engines, among other things, and America is the most advanced because America. Medical technology is still backward, though, with the commoners seeking herbalists, acupuncturists and "wise folk", and the rich just paying off a cleric. What was that about free health care, XCrawl?

Other things they don't have: Space programs, nuclear power, cell phones, digital photography, satellites, computers that don't suck, planes that can break the speed of sound, organ transplants, prosthetic limbs, radiation treatments. But they have magic! On the bright side, cars are powered by alcohol and the world is a lot cleaner, but society still relies on magic for a lot of things because caster supremacy.

Speaking of, magic! You need to join the Guild of Magi to be an official Wizard or to use sorcerer spells legally, but Bards don't have to because fuck bards. Non-guild sorcerers are considered treasonous, but if you learned to play the lute, would they know? The Guild has ranks (thirty-one, not based on character level), and Xcrawl wizards can't progress far unless they retire. Forbidden magic: Scrying, some enchantments, things that make the Guild look bad, contacting extra-planar beings (no immigration!), casting reality-altering spells like Wish, and travelling to other planes or the Astral (NO IMMIGRATION!). The last three are okay if you're a very high rank, have permission and are supervised. Naturally, they use scrying spells to keep tabs on their wizards. I'm not sure what they can do about it if you Plane Shift out of there though. Also, there are well over a million wizards to scry on.

Incidentally, it's cute that the NAE thinks they could stop a wizard who knows Wish.

There's also a Necromancer's Guild, who are very secretive. A lot of their business is in raising undead for the Games, and if it weren't for XCrawl they'd probably be illegal. Necromancers are not allowed to participate in XCrawl because of conflicts of interest.

Economy! 1 gold piece is $3, allowing the GM to use real-world prices for most available tech. Main exports are technology, except for the really cutting-edge stuff so the NAE can retain their might, and use gold/silver/copper pieces as well as paper bills.

Crime! There's not much, but it's there, and the media tends to ignore it until it becomes a big deal, at which point everyone is rounded up and probably executed. Organised crime is almost entirely ignored, though, and there's a big market for porn, gambling, hookers, porn, narcotics and porn. A lot of their customers (and, sometimes, sponsors) are nobles, which is probably why they're ignored. There are a lot, but mostly small gangs, and since firearms, crossbows and two-handed swords (for some reason) are illegal unless you're in the Adventurer's Guild or law enforcement, they mostly use knives and daggers. Because, you know, criminals are law-abiding. Since gambling is illegal you have to use Mob bookies to do it, and often they try to fix matches by convincing players to disqualify their group. Cheating is Not Cool, though:


Such players might find themeslves the targets of such DJ grudge monster favourites as the invisible undead tyrannosaurus or the ever-popular ogre magi ninja.

Finally, Messianics! The s are still around, but operate in secret, and have split into dozens of smaller groups with their own agenda and take on the End Next Times. Some think the Savior is already here, some are terrorists and some are just simple monks. The One God Cult is outlawed across most of the world, though, and just having their holy book will net you a fine and "re-education".

The most powerful cult are the Hidden Disciples, who even have members in the nobility and military. They have "secret techniques to confound scrying and mind-reading", form cells to make the whole harder to shut down, and are dedicated to spreading the Gospels as much as they can. They like breaking into hotel rooms and leaving copies of the book. They have the latest technology, are great at evading security, and mostly just wait until the Messianics are cool again. It doesn't say the Messianics are psionic, but there is no way I would pass up psychic Jesus monks.

The Oracles in the Southern Keys have warned Ronald of "one who will usurp the Empire", so he thinks Jesus the Savior is totally coming back. For now, he's had agents infiltrate the Hidden Disciples and other cults, and just waits for the guy to show up so Ronald can take care of him before it's too late.

But is he ready for...

Psionic Cyborg Jesus?!

Next time: Nonhumans and bullet points of less interesting places, like the Zulu Nation and the Kingdom of Australia.

Fuck Everywhere That Isn't America, Especially Russia

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Speaking of stupid things for dumb babies...

XCrawl: Fuck Everywhere That Isn't America, Especially Russia

Seriously, each single section on America's economy, crime etc. was longer than several of the other major powers combined.

First, though!


The book goes over the core 3.5 races and their place in the world here. Most of it is the standard blah blah elder races are being displaced stuff, with a bit about how humans are "almost obsessively greedy and territorial" and thus the elder races look down on them. Maybe you guys wouldn't be displaced if you didn't sit on your hands and watch every major event in world history roll by before retreating to your isolated habitats, guys.

It does mention that they have as much regional diversity as humans, so there are Japanese elves and German dwarves and whatever. That's nice, I guess!

Dwarves live in the mountains and are getting kind of screwed over by the NAE. They are kind of generic. Their NAE capital is in Colorade somewhere and most of them think XCRawl is a stupid game for dumb babies, except for the ones who are drawn to the fame and fortune.

Elves live in the forests and aren't as screwed over because aristocrats have an elf fetish. Living long lives makes them kind of snooty. Most elf PCs are young teenage rebels. Orcs like to target elf crawlers because elves are part of a conspiracy to keep them oppressed and control the world's banks .

Gnomes are gnomes. The NAE is pretty chill with them. Gnome crawlers are rare because they're too busy inventing things and screwing around with magic. One particular crawler, and illusionist, was called "The Infuriator" and "still holds the distinction of being the only player to ever make a DJ cry".

The half-elf section opens with an elf talking about how, human or elf, chicks dig him. Humans think they are special snowflakes. Other than that, half-elves.

Half-orcs are only legal immigrants if they're in XCrawl. Nobody likes them, but half-orc crawlers are popular.

Halflings are the token minority group and a stand-in for African-Americans. Everyone thinks they are thieves and liars (because favoured class: rogue) and the police pick on them constantly. Halflings avoid organised crime because groups of halflings get too much police attention, but authorities are convinced that "there is a huge halfling criminal conspiracy led by some unknown untraceable mastermind". They play XCrawl for the respect.

Seriously, Fuck Non-America

The rest of this section is on the west of the world. Even half-orcs get a longer writeup than some of these, so in brief:

Europe is still (as a collective) a powerful force, and is divided into kingdoms. Elves and dwarves and such come from here. Europe has totally caught onto XCrawl and have produced their own versions.

Asia is full of dragons and has their own XCrawl, which starts after the NAE's finishes so your PCs can go to them, and has some illegal crawls that let people use firearms, explosives and chainsaws.
Africa is mostly divided into five kingdoms and has dinosaurs. It has no XCrawl league. The kingdoms are:
South America wasn't taken over by the Spanish or the French because of Inca sorcerers. They let the Messianics in until they tried to convert everyone, then killed them all. Then Quetzalcoatl told them the Spanish were chill and mysteriously went silent, allowing Spain to take over and the writers to not have to think about what would happen if they didn't. The NAE helped them out so they would have an ally. South America loves non-lethal XCrawl and pit fights.

Russia was not mentioned.

The Underdark

After giving us a handful of paragraphs on each major country in the world, the next ten pages are on the Underdark Zura'ah'zura and the drow alfar. Most of it is standard stuff, really. (Zura'ah'zura means "land beneath the land".)

There's a sidebar titled "What the World Doesn't Know..." which reveals that - gasp - Hitler tried to ally with the drow alfar. (When you live in a fantasy setting you have to extend your definition of "Aryan" a bit.) They didn't help directly, but they did hook him up with the hobgoblins and - wait for it - sit around watching to see if Hitler won. Seriously, what is it with the "elder races" and just watching humans do their thing? Also, they are working on expanding the Underdark Zura'ah'zura to make it harder for inspectors to keep an eye on what the drow alfar are doing, and digging huge tunnels to link distant regions.

There's a bit about Underdark Zura'ah'zura under each area of the world, and it's mostly boring. One thing I liked, though: Under Europe it's called the Eurodark. The surface elves called it that, and the drow alfar "refuse to even state the true name of their kingdom until a formal apology has been issued and all instances of the name are stricken from record". It has been the Eurodark for over a thousand years.

Here is a list of every drow alfar name (place and person) in the section, so you can see the kind of shit I have to read:

Lathonicha'ah (place), Zo'zha'na (person), Kulotat'el (place), Rotzamor'el (place), Da'zinga (person), Tazol-tazol (place), Loki (their patron deity, heh), Arekeen'te (place), A'xala'de'xala (very unfortunate person).

This section also mentions Siberia. Where the fuck was it earlier?

Oh, also, despite the surface-dwellers sending inspectors to keep an eye on the drow alfar, they barely pay attention to Africa besides "there might be a kingdom under there I guess", and the drow alfar have a secret sealed-off land under Australia where they prepare their armies to strike at the surface world. Ten people in the entire world are surprised.

Fluff! The drow alfar worship Loki, who basically tricked a bunch of elves into living underground and kidnapping their kin until they were cursed with blackface. He did this for shits and giggles. His highest clergy know this and worship him anyway because you have to give a guy who can pull off a prank like that some respect.

Also in the Underdark Zura'ah'zura are orcs, who overthrow their own rulers so often everyone else just calls their cities Orc City 1 and Orc City 2. The orcs are technically fine with this, because it is "almost impossible to make orcs hate humans any more or less than they already do". They are at maximum hateitude. Orc City 1 is under Mexico and 2 is under Montana, and both are basically ghettoes. Most orcs in XCrawl are either there because their chieftan sold them to repay a debt or because they are "paid performers" earning wealth and respect. The Great American Dream for an orc is to work for a DJ and help manage their monsters, clean the floors and brutalise other orcs.

Murder and "brutality" aren't illegal in orc society because it happens too often for them to care. On the other hand, they execute thieves, rapists, and "haters".

Goblins are goblins. They are mostly in XCrawl because their hobgoblin masters forced them, but they are "masters of prison craft", which means they can smuggle contraband, escape more often than any other XCrawl creature, and can make prison shivs.

Bugbears are usually recruited against their will, then realise the bedroom they get is better than the one at home and they get free food and the chance to hit people and decide to stay.

(knights of the scarlet bugbear )

Hobgoblins volunteer for XCrawl to practice fighting and because they like murdering people. They are proud warrior nomads (the nomads part is new) and, on a related note, really hate orcs for stealing their strongholds.

Monster Ecology

The last part of this section is on Monster Ecology, or Where XCrawl Gets Monsters From. It is two pages long, and one page is dedicated to dragons.

It tells the tale of Emperor Howard I who, around 4610, decided to go to war against the dragons because they claimed way too much of the NAE for themselves. He thought having guns and electricity meant he would win. What happened was a red and a silver dragon teamed up to massacre Atlanta, dragons destroyed telegraph wires, and Asia threatened to kill them. Then America gave up. Apparently, dragons don't let humans near their territory and humans leave them alone, because nobody has invented the cruise missile.

Oh yeah, and it also includes "Siberia" in the list of Asian lands, even though Russia got so little writeup the section on Asia did not mention it .

The rest of it:

The chapter closes with this:

Next time: A drawing of Indiana Jones as a pig ghost and the actual details of how XCrawl works. Also, the history of XCrawl is pants-on-head retarded.

LARPers With Swords

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: LARPers With Swords

It's time to get into the meat of the setting and the nitty-gritty of how a game of XCrawl works!

By the way, this is what the chapter headings look like.

The opening fluff text about the Dunguun Gangstaas returns! They are deeper in the dungeon now, battling with goblins in an arena; apparently the goblins are vying for a position with "the famous Cudgel Up! Dancers", which are some kind of elite goblin encounter/dance troupe. They are accomplishing this by shooting the party fighter repeatedly with a ballista. He goes down at the end to set up another cliffhanger the next fluff text will resolve by skipping ahead.

Oh yeah, and there's this.

oh god.

This section begins with the history behind XCrawl. It runs like this:

See, the Cataclysm erased thousands of years of history. There aren't that many historical records from back then, and apparently dragons have been going around looting magical treasures from ancient ruins to add to their hoard like douchebags. In 4664, some American archaeological team was digging through an ancient ruin in Sicily and one of their interns, who I assume is human despite the pigface he received in the art, discovered a short sword. Not just any short sword, mind you:

An intelligent +4 keen dancing short sword .

Warsong the talking Persian elf-sword was a relic of the pre-Cataclysm era, an ancient weapon which had been wielded by dozens of warriors - including a half-elf bard. It wasn't just a piece of ancient history - it had first-hand experience. Warsong was all too happy to share his stories if it meant not sitting in an Italian ruin for centuries, and his amazing insights completely rewrote the history books.

Oh, and he wouldn't shut up about dungeons.

Warsong had been in the hands of many adventurers, and many of his tales ended in groups of adventurers in underground tunnels facing monsters and disarming traps. These stories captivated the world - novels about adventurers in the Heroic Age hit the bestseller list, movies and TV shows were made, and:


a company in North America created a hugely popular strategy game, called Dungeonbattle, which used miniatures and dice to simulate underground combat. The game was huge on college campuses, and soon it became an entire industry - dozens of imitators sprung up with endless variations on the same theme. There were even conventions where players would get together and hold huge Dungeonbattle tournaments for prizes.

Then one night in October 4678, magical college dropout Will Fleeman and his buddies had a great idea - why not make some fake weapons and invent LARP?

And so, Will and co. ventured forth and snuck into an unfinished underground parking garage. The game was "more fun than ever". Then a pack of ghouls tunneled into the garage and tried to murder them.

Fleeman and the LARPers somehow defeated the ghouls with their LARPing skills, escaped and contacted the authorities. Their story appeared all over the news.


The media ate up this amazing story. Kids pretending to be adventurers getting involved in a real-life dungeon crawl, and saving the day to boot! A wave of Dungeonbattle mania swept the nation. Rule books flew off the shelves, and all the old Heroic Age movies were re-released theatrically. And in a startling turn of events, Fleeman and his group were invited to the imperial palace in Washington DC to be personally congratulated by Emperor Ronald I.

Ronald had been worried. Thanks to Zimbabwe he knew people would demand democratic reforms and less shitty lives pretty soon, and thanks to the Oracles he knew someone (he assumed the savior) was coming to usurp him. Then he saw Fleeman on the news, and thought about ancient Roman gladiators, and had an idea: a new sport to keep the masses occupied, and maintain the status quo! Fleeman was invited to help invent a real-life Dungeonbattle sport and soon became DJ Herobane, the first Dungeon Judge of XCrawl.

So basically, XCrawl is an extreme sports LARP of a Dungeons & Dragons game inspired by an ancient talking sword.


XCrawl Setup

XCrawl is divided into divisions.

Division Four is a non-lethal "boffer league", mostly for levels 1-3.
Division Three is a beginner's (but still potentially lethal) league for levels 4-6.
Division Two is an medium-strength league for levels 7-10.
Division One is for levels 11-15.
Division Zero Unlimited Class for levels 16+, a rare event currently restricted to the Texarcanacrawl. I wonder what stops these guys just killing the Emperor.

Besides that there are some special events, like the Infantry Vs. Cavalry Crawl (three teams from each army division compete for the top score, and yes they train cavalry in an era of guns).

There's also a Games Commissioner, who directs XCrawl and has the final say over any disputes. He approves dungeon designs and regulates the game. The current Commissioner is Duke Bradley Leibrock, who is a pussy and too scared to rule against the DJs when they make dungeons too lethal. Whoops!

Most games are timed events where the adventurers are trying to accomplish certain objectives and racing other teams. There are generally three levels - in the first, several teams all compete at once (or in heats, if there are too many teams), then the best teams compete on level two, and level three is for the best team only. If the winning team loses on level 3, the second best team gets to attempt it.


This section opens with a fluff quote of a TV executive suggesting they find a way to get permission to film the "warrior chicks" taking a shower.

Anyway, XCrawl plays a little differently to most sports - entire "crawls" can take weeks to complete, and individual heats can last for days. Nightly TV shows generally play just the highlights, and true XCrawl fans order the pay-per view to follow the entire crawl all the way through. Including eating and sleeping. A few months later the crawl is released on DVD and VHS (oh, 90s ). The tapes come in sets of 4-5 and show the best parts with the boring bits cut out, and the DVD can play the highlights or the entire thing, with multi-angle viewing, "making of" bits, player interviews and sometimes a commentary track by the DJ. Suck it, VHS.

American events have an opening ceremony hours long which includes prayers to the gods, salutes to the Emperor, the national anthem ("America Super Potens Maximum") and pre-game dungeon tours and interviews.

The book takes a detour here to mention that sometimes dungeons have beautiful ladies (called "princesses" or "damsels") who pretend to be prisoners in the dungeon and have to be rescued by the players. Unless something goes wrong, they are safe. Since crawls can go for a while, I imagine they spend their time playing poker with the goblins before the adventurers get there.

This is an art thing.


Anyway, DJs and seasoned crawlers also get "clips", video shorts set to music which play a montage of their greatest hits. DJs play these every chance they get. The players get one, too, if they've been around for a while, or they can pay 500-3000GP (depending) to get professionals to do it for them. (If this was set ten years later we'd have Rebecca Blackleaf here!)

Once they're in the dungeon, they are always in range of Arcane Video Screens. The AVS is basically a magitech TV that films everything it sees and plays what the DJ wants simultaneoulsy. Usually DJs turn them off or play single-image advertisements, but can use it to talk to players, narrate the dungeon and generally be a pest. Personally, I'm imagining a neckbearded DM in a 4chan shirt trying to impersonate GlaDOS while his players go "lol xD".

DJs also have little skits they sometimes play to amuse the audience and mess with the players. The two examples that are given are "DJ Outrageous Fortune" playing a long segment of him paying bribes to get massively unfair traps and monsters installed in his dungeon, and "Japanese DJ Pepper Tomato" running around doing a dungeon in her underwear or something. Oh, Japan! Also, sometimes they have production teams slap together a montage of the group's worst moments to screw with them, because DJs are assholes.

There are also "sideshows", which as far as I can tell are like half-time shows while the players are resting. There are short situation comedies, dungeon parodies, advertisements, etc.

Other than that, DJs get to choose the dungeon soundtrack. Only the audience can hear it normally, but sometimes they play in-dungeon for effect. Apparently one "DJ Neon Valkyrie" uses children's music for high-carnage scenes.

The Audience

Last for now, the live audience. Usually only noblemen, celebrities and businessmen can afford tickets, and seats consist of stadium box seating at all the major dungeon rooms. The nobility move from room to room as required, and some people think XCrawl deliberately uses traps to waste enough time to let them go to the bathroom on the way.

The exception is the non-deathsport Division Four, which has full-stadium seating, the lower-class boffer crowd, screaming and yelling, beer and hot dogs and generally the usual sports feel.

Those guys are clearly pussies though.

Anyway, this chapter is getting long, so: Next time! Beholder DJ and some other things that aren't as cool.

Beholder DJs And Less Important Things

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: Beholder DJs And Less Important Things

Continuing this chapter (no fluff text about the Dunguun Gangstaas this time), we have more details about XCrawl rules!

Equipment: XCrawl events have a banned equipment list to keep things simple, apparently thanks to adventurers in earlier games using power tools, bags of marbles etc. to find ways to make things easier. (I like to imagine these adventurers were the playtesters.)

Banned items: "Power tools, hand tools other than thieves' tools and multi-purpose knives, siege equipment, incendiary devices other than standard alchemist's fire, floor hazards (such as caltrops), poison or tranquilizers of any kind, firearms or propulsion weapons other than bows and crossbows, and electronic devices other than watches or flashlights".

Gear is checked by a ref before every level and any uncertainties are up to the DJ, who will probably rule against the players.

Henchmen: Players are allowed to hire henchmen, retro-style! They are part caddy and part cheer squad, lugging around equipment for the PCs and looking good for the camera. Henchmen are often "show business wannabes" who are willing to risk their lives to be on TV, and a lot of them spend their time hamming it up for the camera or trying to MST fights. The useful ones cheer the PCs on.

The downside to being a henchman is that while you have to stick with the players, you can't attack unless your life is directly threatened. Monsters can still target you, too. Some have nom-com badges (an escape device that comes up later and we're not told where to find it), but if they take that option the PCs have to wait until they meet up again on the next level to get their stuff back.

Referees: Referees check with the PCs before the crawl to vet weapons, and hopefully that is it. They don't normally follow the PCs around the dungeon, but one can appear from backstage to make rulings if necessary. Referees have to deal with the monsters, cheating PCs and occasionally the DJs themselves, so they are pretty tough, and all wear nomcom badges and pack firearms.

Breakrooms: DJs are required to provide at least one of these on each dungeon level. Found behind otherwise normal dungeon doors, break rooms generally contain bathrooms with showers, meals and bedding. There are usually paramedics here too - flipping ahead, it looks like they mostly just have ranks in Heal, which isn't that great when you have cure spells. The break room is also off-limits for traps and monsters. Breakrooms are often sponsored by corporations (the Nintendo Breakroom!) and sometimes the PCs can find reporters or noble sponsors waiting to talk to them. Breakrooms in larger crawls are much harder to get into for NPCs. Also, timed crawls don't stop the clock for breakroom time, and DJs can be dicks and try to make breakrooms really comfy to make PCs late.

Disqualification: No specifics, but "attacking non-combatants, excessive brutality or mutilation of enemies, ignoring officials or other inappropriate behaviour in front of the camera" will get you a verbal warning first, followed by a DQ if it continues. Parties can continue without DQed players if they like. "Inappropriate behaviour" is a contextual thing, meaning you can shout "FUCK!" if a trap hits you but can't whip your dick out and teabag orcs.

Non-Combatants: Princesses, referees, some henchmen, live cameramen (who usually only appear before major rooms) and paramedics have non-combatant (nom-com) badges. These magic items are basically contingency teleports s which take them to an emergency room if they take any damage. Attacking anyone with a nom-com badge is a DQ.

You can activate your own nom-com badge by punching yourself in the face.

NoGo: Some objects and areas in the dungeon are designated "NoGo" to prevent players from messing with them, generally props like pyrotechnics or ballista. If you mess with a NoGo object, nearby AVS will flash "NoGo" warnings, and you get a DQ for continuing. I gather this is so the DM can have a dramatic smoke generator in one room without the PCs trying to take it with them to provide cover, and so on.

Sometimes there are NoGo doors (like nomcom badges, they were brought up earlier in the book but not explained), safety doors leading backstage. Players in a tight spot can escape the dungeon through them, though you get a DQ and everyone thinks you're a pussy. Division One events rarely have NoGo doors, and Unlimited Class doors are often trapped because fuck you.

Surrender: XCrawl monsters are allowed to surrender if they're smart enough to do so. If players accept, a referee leads the monster backstage. Players who repeatedly "brutalize" surrendering monsters are disqualified. The catch is that most monsters are heavily rewarded if they manage to defeat the party after they surrender and the party turns their back on them - but if they don't, the party doesn't have to respect a second surrender request.

Winning: Winning conditions are up to the DJ. Some require rescuing princesses or finding items, many have scoring systems, and anything else the Games Commissioner approves is in. Generally at least one party member has to be alive to finish.

Most dungeons are timed. If they're competing against other teams, the fastest time wins. Also, the players don't know how much time they have left - if the clock runs out, they don't find out until they beat the dungeon and the GM informs them that they failed. Guess you should have thought about that, players.

Dungeon Judges, Fuck Yeah

This section opens with not one but three DJ quotes. See if you can spot the badass!


"Children, listen hard - I love it when you live. And I love it when you die. Xcrawl is my world and you are about to earn your honor. Keep your chins up and your eyes open - there ain't no second chances in my world - and if you die, you die."
- DJ Grandjo Dean's traditional Xcrawl invocation to her players.


"Once again this year I promise only this: the most honest portrayal of small scale genocide that I can muster. With all my black heart I promise no mercy save that which your gods deem fit to deem you with. And as always, I invite all the families of the adventurers to share my box with me during the game. I'll even supply the tissues."
- DJ Devastator, before the TexarcanaCrawl.


"Have fun."
- The only words DJ Bonedaddy Terminus ever speaks to his players.

(It's the one who isn't trying hard )

The DJs are the DMs of this extreme sports LARP. Once he is chosen to run a crawl, he can do what he likes. Only the Commissioner can overrule him.

DJs are rich. They get huge fees for managing crawls, they get extra money from sponsors in exchange for advertising and good seats (The Games are loved by nobles because blah blah distracting the lower class), and they are basically nobility. It's the "most coveted position in XCrawl", and some players aspire to be one when they retire. Becoming one and living the life of luxury requires "ambition, ruthlessness, connections, wealth and charisma".

You can tell this game was written by a career GM.

There are three "well known DJs" here. The first two are Julie Klugman ("DJ Cudgel Up!" from earlier), a Dungeonbattle player and amateur actor who worked her way up the ranks summoning monsters for Division Four events) and Anthony Rico ("DJ Outrageous Fortune", a special effects expert who produced a Dungeonbattle movie and has never played the game), and both of them are boring.

The other one is T'Kow Ny'Kyladar, aka DJ Devastator.

He is a beholder who started off as a captured monster. Known simply as Devastator, he got the high score in player kills (apparently that's a thing) and "once freed himself from his room and killed all the other monsters in the Crawl just to ruin the game for DJ Herobane, who offended him by putting him on level two instead of level three". He had his own fan club.

Devastator hatched a plan to escape the dungeon once and for all, and used his charm eyestalks and some hostage trickery to get the Emperor to agree to let him run his own dungeon on national television. He turned out to be a hit, and DJ Devastator is now too popular to be killed.

He is also an asshole! The Commissioner keeps having to talk to him about being too rough, taking grudges out of the crawl, and generally being a killer DM. He is also DJ Herobane's archenemy, probably because of the whole game-ruining thing.

DJ Herobane is not described here. He wouldn't be as cool though.

I'm going to wrap up this chapter later because Deus Ex is calling me.

Real Heroes, French Ogres And Also Chinese Are Assholes

posted by Ettin Original SA post

XCrawl: Real Heroes, French Ogres And Also Chinese Are Assholes

Now for the last part of the XCrawl fluff before we move on to the rules!

The Adventurer's Guild: "Adventurer" in this context means "XCrawl player". You need to be in the guild to play, and they need membership cards to buy armour and weapons (except short swords and shortbows, for some reason.) In exchange they can't "use their powers or skills to coerce others or commit crimes, and they must hold themselves up as a positive example to the Empire".

Seriously, this game has a dungeon league for high-level players. What's stopping them from casting plane shift or teleport or something to leave the Empire and then scry-and-die the Emperor? After hearing that raise dead got shafted with a 500,000gp fee in an Xcrawl splat book I kind of want to know how they get out of that one.

Anyway, the head of the Guild is the Games Commissioner appointed by the Emperor. The current one is a pussy and everybody hates him. Each city has a "guildhall", even if it's just a couple of rooms, and they have alcohol-fuelled parties "meetings" every Tuesday. They only have influence outside the NAE, but they can ban international players from NAE games if their leagues don't comply with their regulations, and everyone wants to play in America, so... The guild also offers insurance that covers all Xcrawl injuries for 1,250 a year. If you have a cleric, this insurance is worthless.

Dungeon Population : So, each DJ has their own menagerie. Most monsters come from "breeders, trappers, volunteers and the Necromancer's Guild". Monster breeding actually pays pretty well, if you want to start a rust monster ranch.

Trappers explore the world (including the Underdark Zura'ah'zura) looking for valuable monsters to sell to DJs. They have to bring the monsters down non-lethally because corpses don't sell well. Honestly, these guys sound more hardcore than the "real" adventurers. Trappers don't get to flee and their fights aren't staged, either. Trapping is a sport for REAL MEN. (Also drow alfar, who are the best at getting monsters from the Underdark Zura'ah'zura and can command hundreds of thousands of gold in fees.)

Most volunteers are orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, gnolls, ogres and giants. They get special visas that let them live on the surface, free food, training and gear, and get special bonuses for killing adventurers. They don't give a shit about that, though, since most volunteers just want to kill adventurers. "Talent agents" can be found in every city in the Underdark Zura'ah'zura.

Undead are popular in Xcrawl and summoned exclusively by the Necromancer's Guild. It says here "every year there are protests initiated by shocked individuals who see their dead relatives destroyed on television, but the Guild seems to enjoy the added bit of abhorrence this creates". This contradicts the earlier fluff that says they're masked but whatever. It also says "DJ Derek "Demon" Darko" likes to reanimate ex-Xcrawlers and send them after their old teams, and once sent a dead adventurer at his own widow for kicks. So yeah, fuck that guy.

Humanoid monsters who have worked for a season or two can become "trustees" who help manage the others and get a salary. Also, popular monsters have their own fans, and better food and living quarters. If you can survive, life is good! Apparently a troll called Vrusk who has worked for DJ Cudgel Up! for eight years gets to make suggestions on encounters and receives his own fan mail. Since Vrusk is a douchebag, getting to legally murder people is all the reward he needs.

Prizes: Most Xcrawl prizes are donated, because it's good advertising, so your total haul from a dungeon might include gold, a new car and a year's supply of Owlbear Chow or something. Dungeons usually advertise "Over 400,000 GP in prizes!" or something similar, but that includes prizes for the runners-up and the PCs will probably only get some of that. On the upside, DJs who give out cursed items or shitty prizes are frowned on and grand prizes can be things like SUVs, vacation cruises, custom magic prizes etc., with high-division dungeons giving out massive prizes. Xcrawl winnings aren't taxed, either, but you can only spend your Xcrawl earnings on your equipment. Apparently this rule stops adventurers selling the family car and mortgaging the house to get a new magic sword.


Low-level newbie adventurers start in Division Four, the "boffer league", where the dungeon is a maze built into a stadium, everyone wears padded armour and human athletes pretend to be monsters and are beaten with padded weapons. This is 3.x, so that is probably to stop low-level adventurers being murdered by goblins, but a sidebar says that GMs should skip this league and make the PCs Division Three players unless they want to run a dungeon where you hit a guy in an orc mask with a prop sword. Oh, and mages are allowed to use "sleep, charm or hold spells", so they are still going to dominate.

Old retired adventurers sometimes sign up as "monsters" in the boffer league to get back in the game a bit, and apparently a Division One fighter with a bad knee "makes a great final "monster"". I am disappointed, because I thought the final boss was going to be a pissed-off housecat.

Commoners like the boffer leagues because they won't get to see "real Xcrawl" live, and though they don't usually appear on TV they do get advertisers and sponsors. Boffer league players are there because they don't have an agent or a sponsor and want to get invites to real events, and ones that don't make it just disband eventually.

Oh, and there are Junior Leagues! Because who doesn't want to watch 14-year-olds get shuffled into a maze by parents who just want them out of the house and solve logic problem "traps" and beat adults in monster suits with foam weapons for movie passes and shitty trophies? Then again, here in Australia some of that has been done before. (No monsters though, sadly.)

What you want is to be in Division One (levels 11-15). They get invites to the toughest dungeons, which pay ten times more than most people can make in a year. They become celebrities who get the best restaurant tables and respect even from the aristocracy. Adventurers with a few years under their belt are featured in dozens of Xcrawl media outlets and personality magazines, get their own fan clubs, advertising deals and sometimes even movies... if you can put up with the constant media attention, it is pretty alright!

For most adventurers, advertising deals are what pay the bills. So, I guess PCs are expected to appear in commercials endorsing Subway and cameo in shitty movies.

The International League: Awesome, more foreigner stuff! Because those thousands of words about the setting and history earlier were totally useful.

It has this though:


"Stupid American pig! You swing that thing like a little baby. Come little baby! I will twist your head until your brain comes out of your ears. I've got your paycheck!"
- Rubattard, French Ogre

Fuck yes.

Anyway, foreigners have their own Xcrawl events. They think NAE players are "privileged", restrict how many can fight in their dungeons and their reporters sass them, but fuck those guys, NAE has the best league. Actual adventurer teams get on well, though.

International events normally occur outside the NAE season, and Xcrawl professionals travel from country to country and work year-round. It's too hard to find cameramen who don't freak out about fireballs and Goblin-Swedish translators to not recruit from overseas.

Aside from what the GM makes up, international events include:

One of these DJs has art.

Can you guess who it is?

It's the Japanese chick

Illegal Crawls

Aw yeah.


"This is the greatest day of my life. All the training, all the injuries and pain have been worth it. Today I am the instrument of the great Lord Orc's vengeance and I will not fail him.

- Kroot, orcish warrior, being informed of his appointment to the Chainsaw Squad of the unsanctioned Rio De Janeiro crawl.

Xcrawl has a lot of rules stopping players and DJs pushing the limits of what is acceptable. Apparently, the last straw was when "every member of the Bronx Sidewinders tried to sponsor one another for membership in the Mages' Guild specifically to create a brigade of poisonous rattlesnake familiars". So, now that players and DJs have limitations, where do you go to see wizards with assault rifles? Illegal crawls of course!

Unsanctioned crawls are mostly held by gangsters to make bank on illegal gambling, and a lot of them originate from South America or China. South American gangsters host everything from one-on-one pit fights to full crawls with shanghaied creatures and undead, and there are no restrictions - everything from tigers and sharks to vampires, werewolves and demons can appear, if the DJ wants. Also, there are basically no gear restrictions, so you can have "a goblin with a sub-machinegun fighting a wizard in kevlar body armor". Wizard's still gonna win though. On the lower levels creatures tend to be immune to conventional firearms, though. Unless you have a +2 assault rifle , I guess?

Columbia and Brazil authorities are bribed to look the other way and they generate billions in gambling revenue holy shit.

"When the warlords of Brazil need a DJ, they ask for Hernesto Hernandez." Okay, this is off to a promising start. Hernandez is apparently a necromancer who is known to research players and build dungeons specifically to exploit their weaknesses, and claims dead bodies for his personal use.

China wanted to run legitimate crawls, but "with a twist". Apparently, the twist was that the competing teams would be in the same dungeon at the same time and have to kill each other to win. Everyone else said this Battle Royale bullshit was retarded and refused to sanction the event, so the Chinese decided to do it anyway. But in secret, because if you're caught participating you are banned pretty much everywhere else. It has the same restrictions are most crawls, but only one team can possibly complete the dungeon. Evil adventurers love it, and wear masks to hide their identity. There are huge prizes, bonuses for player-killing, and it is common to try and kill your teammates at the end so you don't have to split the reward.

The major Chinese event is the Black Diamond, an underground maze of Division One difficulty where four teams go in and only one comes out. It is run by DJ Jade Lion, a "mysterious masked figure who insists on training his creatures personally". (Now I am imagining a Chinese guy in a training ring teaching an umber hulk tai chi.) Survivors can become internationally famous despite technically being banned from all other events. Apparently Hong Kong's latest action star, Hannibal Cho, survived three Black Diamonds to start his career.

Old Age and Retirement

Okay, there is no way this section is as good.

Thankfully, it's short! Basically, old people are bad at risking their lives for a vacation to Hawaii, and most surviving adventurers retire well before 40. Wizards go for longer, because physical fitness is for people who can't fuck reality. Most surviving Xcrawlers who started out when the games did in 4680 have retired.

Retired adventurers can usually use their old reputation to land decent jobs elsewhere in the Xcrawl industry. Commentating and sports reporting are the most prestigious. Others can be trainers, monster handlers, spokespersons and dungeon consultants. Some become trappers and help track down monsters. Clerics go back to their temple, wizards teach in the Mage's Guild or become "some noble's personal wizard", some go into acting and sponsorship or open bars... it doesn't touch on becoming a DJ yourself, but I assume it's a possibility.

Next time: Crunch time! Da Breakdown is all new rules and new uses for old ones. How good are they? Here is a hint: This is 3.x.

Starting To Doubt Whether An Editor Read This Shit

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Xcrawl: Starting To Doubt Whether An Editor Read This Shit

So here we are at Chapter Four: Da Breakdown ! There's some art here and it's shitty.

What the fuck is wrong with his legs?

So there's some more commentary opening fluff text, with the PCs fighting Vrusk (that famous troll mentioned earlier nobody cares about). A sorceress blasts him with arcane fire because she's not a great caster, rogue tries to set up a sneak attack, etc. Apparently Vrusk has threaded barbed wire into his regenerative troll body and is in constant pain, "just the way he likes it". Anyway, somehow the party lets Vrusk melee their sorcerer, and the commentators note that most of Vrusk's fanclub has turned up to watch. Then the troll starts grinding a halfling against his wire just to be a douche, and the sorcerer lines up another spell. It ends here, which is great because I don't care.

Anyway, the rules chapter opens up with... rules! Specifically, it starts by saying you don't actually have to use any of this and XCrawl works just fine with "the existing d20 system", which is nice.

Character Creation: Players "should" start at level 3 with 3000 gp. It directs you to page 154 for a list of "permissible market magic items" to start with. Page 154 is the start of the Equipment section, which has a sidebar that says most purchaseable items are +1 weapons and armour, 1st level potions, wands and scrolls, and +1 rings of protection. This sidebar is on page 162.

Mojo: Mojo is teamwork. It is a rule designed to simulate teamwork.

To use Mojo, you have to be an "official team". That means a group of 3-8 people with a "team name" they identify with. One of the examples is "Whoopass, Inc.", in case you forgot this was the 90s. You also have to be in an official crawl.

Mojo is a pool of points, "represented by a number between zero and twelve", which the players can draw from to add as a bonus to "any d20 roll other than saving throws". To use Mojo, though, another player has to "offer" it to you. If you ask for it, you are denied and automatically banned from using Mojo for the rest of the encounter.

At the beginning of a dungeon, your starting Mojo is 1d6+ a bunch of modifiers from a table, because random numbers are great. You get +2 "for having an athlete class character in the group", I guess to encourage people to use the new class they put in. (SPOILERS: it's not a caster. ) Whatever mods you use, it can never exceed 12.

It re-treads the offering thing here, then adds some examples (like offering a rogue three points when he comes across a "particularly nasty lock"), but it doesn't actually say whether you offer the Mojo before or after the roll. The wording implies before. Also, this book could really use an editor. I heard there was a colour version with some new pictures and I hope they took the time to clean the writing up. I'll have to check!

Special Mojo situations: If you roll a natural 20 while using a Mojo bonus, it's called destiny . Destiny rolls return the Mojo you spent for free and add an extra point because that was great. A natural 1 is a choke , which makes the Mojo pool drop an extra two points (minimum 0). Since this can apply to skill checks (which don't auto-fail on a 1), I'm not sure what happens if they roll a 1 and succeed anyway.

Oh, and if the rest of your party is killed or knocked out and the last guy feels like carrying on, the Last Man Standing gets three points of Mojo he can spend on himself and the other players can still offer him remaining Mojo.

There's a list of Mojo bonuses during gameplay, which is out of order and weird.


-2 for "bad form" (beating up surrendered creatures, flipping off the crowd)
+1 per combat critical
+1 per room victory
+1 "for exceptional move"
+1 "any DQ"
-1 any fumble in combat
-3 party infighting

So, if you get a destiny or a choke in combat, you gain/lose more Mojo! Also, someone getting DQed earns you teamwork points?

Monster Mojo: Groups of monsters who work together in a dungeon room get their own Mojo points. It is up to the DM whether they get Mojo, how much and how they spend it. Great! I assign 12 Mojo to every group of monsters higher than 1.

Fame: Posting the opening quote here because it makes me laugh:


"Well, really, it's an honor just to be here. I just want to do my best, and help the team out as much as I can."
Doug Wagner, fame rating three, April 4699.

"That was a really pretty speech. Bravo. Now let me tell you how things are - I bring in the money. I am the reason we have a commercial, I am the reason we have the new equipment, and I am the only reasonw e received an invitation to this dungeon in the first place. You can dress the facts up any way you like, but that's the way it is. So, that's my magic shield, dibs or no dibs. Otherwise I walk, and this entire team goes into the dustbin of loser history. Capiche, babe?"
Doug "Flatline" Wagner, fame rating fifty-four, June 4699.

"Yeah, I took some time off after we lost in Arlington. You know, I did some training, started working on my book, that kind of thing. Anyway, I heard you guys are short a brawley and I thought, wow, I should give a call and see if maybe I could, you know, join you guys in Mexico City. Sure, I'll hold."
Doug "Flatline" Wagner, fame rating 17, October 4699.

"Hi, I'm Doug. Would you care to start with an appetizer tonight?"
Doug from the late shift, fame rating zero, December 4699.

So yeah, Fame is what it sounds like. Higher fame gets you "preferential treatment, better rates for personal appearances and endorsements, and a higher likelihood of being invited to the top events", among other things. On the flip side, high-fame celebrities might get attention from paparazzi and stalkers and such. It's a score between 1 and 100 (nice going Doug. ) and are earned for completing dungeon levels, "performing memorable actions", and when the GM feels like it.

First, you need to decide whether you're a face or a heel . For those who don't know pro wrestling, read TVTropes or browse the internet, a face is a good guy who works well in his team and shows good sportsmanship and a heel is a douchebag. Being a heel in Xcrawl is tricky, since you have to walk a line between being unsportsmanlike and actually getting DQed or arrested. That gives you fame, though. It doesn't say how much. Being a face gives you "up to one bonus fame point per dungeon" for doing something "truly heroic", with no more detail than that.

There's a list of ways to earn and lose Fame points, though it skips over any more detail on face/heel-specific Fame bonuses. You get 1 for completing a level, completing "five consecutive Grandstanding or Mugging checks" (it's a Perform skill mentioned much later) and/or winning an Xcrawl competition, and 2 for perfoming a Signature Move once per level. (more on that in a bit.) Meanwhile, faces lose 2 points for being DQed and 1 point for fighting with teammates on-camera, while heels lose "1 point/level for failing to live up to heel reputation" and "acting out of character on TV". So basically, heels are punished far more than faces.

You also get 1-2 points for any "exceptional memorable action during a crawl". What's that? It's open-ended, that's what! Still...


Players will likely as to be awarded fame points for cool moves, high damage rolls, and good strategy. Only truly memorable actions merit fame points. Fame points are not experience points.

You can also earn fame points outside of crawls for "extraordinary" actions. Rescuing a cat from a tree doesn't count, but a kid from a burning building does. Heels also get fame for assaulting reporters and getting arrested. So basically, you are Russell Crowe. People have to know you did it to receive or lose Fame, and while you usually can't get Fame for something you did a while ago that was just found out, "fame penalties are retroactively lost" if the media finds out you did something bad. So, if that happens, you lose any penalties you take to Fame. You didn't take any penalties, because the media didn't know. They know now, which means you lose the penalties you didn't have because they didn't know.


A table marked "Fame Table 1" (there is only one Fame Table) the "unofficial titles" you get every 10 Fame Rating as a guideline (1-10 is Nobody, 91-100 is Legend). Fame gives you a bonus (+1 at 1-10 Fame, +2 at 11-20, etc) to "grandstanding and mugging" rolls, a perform skill which still isn't explained for a while. (No other perform skills, though.) You also apply them outside Xcrawl to Charisma rolls "that involve manipulating fans, sycophants and anyone who feels they can profit from making a celebrity happy". This bonus is "always subject to GM approval" TOO LATE, I'M THE FUCKING MOON. Also "Fame bonuses may be added to appropriate bluff, diplomacy, intimidate, innuendo ( ) checks, as well as any other checks that the GM deems appropriate", because I guess it wasn't clear enough when it was explained in the first half of this goddamn paragraph about Charisma rolls. Whoever wrote this knows jack shit about editing.

Also, this doesn't work on people who aren't impressed by you/Xcrawl or hate you/your team. Also not impressed: "Dwarves and gnomes" (usually), high-caste nobility, media professionals, and "the extremely cynical". For the third time in two paragraphs, it mentions that when this applies is up to the GM.

More Fame! (Man, this is complex.) PCs can charge people money to make a personal appearance (commercials, movies, etc.). Usually, they command 250GP * Fame Rating. It deoesn't say how often this is supposed to happen, but it does proclaim that the GM can change the amount depending on the circumstances. The player's agent takes a cut of that ("usually ten percent, but sometimes as high as eighteen and a half"), and also the government takes 50% of that. Also , as stated before players can't use any remaining money to buy adventuring gear, magic items, or Xcrawl-related goods and services. The Adventurer's Guild will kick your ass out if you do. So basically, all of that was rules for appearing on TV to buy a new car.

Other uses! When a player appears in a public location, the GM is supposed to roll a d%, and they are recognised if the GM rolls under their Fame. It's up to them what that means, but there's a table of possibilities anyway. It's... a d12. Other than that, there's just some stuff about how players trying to avoid the spotlight can't add fame bonuses to anything or accept any endorsements and their rating is halved for that recognition role, and a paragraph about how the GM can ignore everything and "freeform" a character's fame for "a richer roleplaying experience".

Coming right after this, Signature Moves. I'm dedicating an entire post to them because they're so shit.

Signature Moves

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Xcrawl: Signature Moves


"Well, you're an adult, and you are going to do what you want, but I'm telling you, you aren't invincible anymore. If you insist on using the Kamikaze Slammahooch, eventually that tendong is going to give out."
Dr. Kim Sung Woo, White Monk, to a stubborn high-flying Xcrawler.

Signature Moves, like Fame, are exactly what they sound like. You get one, you perform it, and you get bonuses for pulling it off, including fame! Sound great? Well...

"Gaining" one costs 1000 XP , because you are putting effort and training into them. Then, you have to construct them. Each one must have a unique name and consist of these two parts: "The Call", where you spend a full-round action doing some action (like a gesture or a pose or something) which lets the audience know what you're about to do and "may or may not" provoke an AoO, and the "First and Second Actions", two rounds worth of actions. Any actions, as long as they're different (like a power attack then a trip, or a true strike and an orb of sound .

You receive a +2 competency bonus on any attacks or skill checks which are part of the move, and spells get +2 to their DC. You cannot make grandstanding or mugging checks (and no, they're not explained yet), but if you perform them the round after the signature move you get a +6 synergy bonus. Rogues can sneak attack, but The Call has to be seen by the audience and every part of the signature move has to be visible.

Also, the signature move has to work. All of its attacks and rolls have to succeed. Spells that do damage even if you save against them count, but attacks which do no damage due to damage resistance don't. Keep this in mind later.

If it does work, you get a fame point, or 3 fame points if you take out at least one opponent (multiples don't get you more). Failing to perform the move means you lose one fame point. Rolling a natural one at any point, including skill checks which don't automatically fail on a one I suppose, means you lose three fame points and a point of Mojo (it says this is on top of the point you lose for a "fumble" in combat, so I'm not even sure if skills apply any more).

As stated earlier, you get this bonus once per dungeon level, or once for each signature move if you have several. You can get another move by taking the Extra Signature Move feat, then spending more EXP.

So, for example, let's say we're a fighter. We spend 1000 XP to get the signature move "Van Eck Phreaking" (a name that has nothing to do with anything). The Call will be flipping off the opponent, the second move will be a charge (no power attack, just in case it causes us to miss), and the third move will be an Intimidation check against the dude we just flipped off, I guess.

Time to use it in combat!

Example 1 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Disintegrate.
GM: The orc fails his save and dies.
Fighter loses one Fame point.

Example 2 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Magic Missile.
GM: You score a hit! The orc moves over here, behind this other orc.
Fighter: Uh... I can't charge past that.
Fighter loses one Fame point.

Example 3 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Magic Missile.
GM: You score a hit! The orc stays where he is and shoots at the wizard with his bow.
Party Rogue: I sneak attack the orc.
GM: The orc dies.
Fighter loses one Fame point.

Example 4 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Magic Missile.
GM: You score a hit! The orc stays where he is and shoots at the wizard with his bow.
Party Rogue: I sneak attack the orc.
GM: Nice damage! The orc is still alive, though.
Party Cleric: I heal the wizard, because the last example already did that joke.
Fighter: Alright! For my next turn, I perform my charge attack, striking the orc with my axe!
GM: The orc dies.
Fighter loses one Fame point.

Example 5 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Magic Missile.
GM: You score a hit! The orc stays where he is and shoots at the wizard with his bow.
Party Rogue: I sneak attack the orc.
GM: Nice damage! The orc is still alive, though.
Party Cleric: I heal the wizard.
Fighter: Alright! For my next turn, I perform my charge attack, striking the orc with my axe! ... Crap!
GM: You miss!
Fighter loses one Fame point.

Example 6 posted:

Fighter: For my turn, I'm going to start my signature move. I begin The Call, flipping off the orc.
Party Wizard: I cast Magic Missile.
GM: You score a hit! The orc stays where he is and shoots at the wizard with his bow.
Party Rogue: I sneak attack the orc.
GM: Nice damage! The orc is still alive, though.
Party Cleric: I heal the wizard.
Fighter: Alright! For my next turn, I perform my charge attack, striking the orc with my axe!
GM: Hit! Nice one!
Party Wizard: I cast Disintegrate.
Fighter loses one Fame point. A single tear rolls down his cheek.

There's a list of example signature moves. Their main purpose is to make you realise even more things wrong with signature moves.


The Hey, How You Doin?
- The Call, a sneak attack, a defensive roll (tumbling check DC 18)

This one is actually not that bad, but it's the first hint of something seriously wrong with signature moves - nowhere does it say DCs scale with level, and once you buy it, the signature move doesn't change. If you pick a skill check, you can almost never lose and are basically just wasting a turn for a Fame point. (Also, if the GM allows it, if combat ends before you do the tumble you can just tumble anyway. So that's good, I guess!


Hot Time in the Old Town
- The Call, a Fireball spell, a flashy dance move (performance DC 15)

Same as above, except who the fuck can cast fireball and has Perform as a class skill? Not that it matters, since the DC is a piece of cake. Oh, and this as good a time as any to mention that if you took a low-level spell or another ability that works mostly at lower levels, your signature move and the XP you spent become worthless as you level up.


Nine Dragon Tails
- The Call, a flurry of hand to hand strikes, an Improved Trip attack

Flurry of Blows basically just adds an extra roll you need to pass for the signature move to even work, and a trip attack is more rolls than a standard attack too. Also, who the fuck writes "hand to hand strikes" instead of "blows"?


Good For What Ails Ye
- The Call, a Cure Serious Wounds spell, a thrown hammer attack

Even if your teammate needs a combat CSW, why are you spending a round standing around gesticulating?


Explode Off the Line
- The Call, an intimidation check (DC varies), a bull's rush

Intimidate immediately strikes off anything immune to fear or mindless, and a lot of monsters are going to get massive size or Hit Dice bonuses to the opposed check. In contrast, nearly every other skill is just a single roll against a flat DC. Congratulations, you have just picked the worst skill possible for a signature move. Hope you invested in a +Intimidate magic item on the off-chance that you manage to pull this move off.


Nothing Up My Sleeve
- The Call, a Slow spell, a Summon Monster spell (in this case the summoned monster would have to hit and damage its target in order for the move to be considered successful)

Summon Monster spells take two rounds - one for the cast, one for the attack. Without a specific build, this example move is literally impossible. If you do allow it, it is a four-round waste of fucking time.

Also, why not cast a save-or-die? A Slow spell is nice, but a Disintegrate will net you a sweet 3 fame points every time your signature move works. If you make your last action a Perform check or something else you can do out of combat, you can end the fight on your second turn and not have to worry about what happens afterward. Caster supremacy strikes again!


The Kitchen Sink
- The Call, a bow attack (player's maximum number of shots), a thrown axe

At higher levels, if you miss with any of those shots - and if you're, say, an 11th-level fighter, you're making three shots with the associated BAB loss on each - the move fails. Enjoy!


Ain't I A Stinker
- The Call, a taunting dance (performance DC 15), a hurled vial of Alchemist's Fire

Why? Why the sweet FUCK did you spend 1000 XP on a move that involves posing for two shitting turns and then throwing a vial of ALCHEMIST'S FIRE?

Halloween Jack posted:

I vaguely remember the "special moves" rules from XCrawl. I remember thinking, "Wow, if only these poor bastards had been able to implement this in a 4e game instead of 3.5."

Basically, this. Signature moves are a great idea, purer than a young virgin, but then 3.5 strolled into the room and rolled out a big steaming dump across her quivering, barely-legal chest.

Goddamn it.

Character Creation

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Xcrawl: Ugh, Homebrew

I'm back!

So, Character Creation. This section of Da Breakdown starts with a lot of about how Xcrawl is a bloodsport and kills people a lot, just to rub it in that you will allegedly lose characters often. (Especially if your DM gets a hold of the splatbook I've been hearing about that restricts raise dead because it ruins the death immersion. If I find a copy of it I'll look it over sometime!)

Then it describes how the core classes fit into Xcrawl!


"You dare insult me with such an offer? By the blood of my ancestors, Agar the Reaver will not stoop to shill for a lite beer!"
- Agar the Reaver, learning the finer points of contract negotiation.

Barbarians usually don't participate in Xcrawl, because barbarians don't do urban. As long as you can explain how your, say, "Native American warrior from a tribe still following the old ways" signed up for the crawl, you're good. Oh, and you can't actually level up as a barbarian without going back to your native land for a while and interacting with your people. One of the example barbarians is a half-orc "from the depths of the Underdark Zura'ah'zura, and presumably he would have to journey down to those depths and back every time. Verisimilitude! Oh, and they can't start with the Drive skill or firearm proficiency, so no motorcycle barbarian gangs for you.

Bards are... bards. Play music, look good for the cameras, play the audience, be a rock star! Bards aren't regulated by the government because they and the Mage's Guild think bards are a weak class for dumb babies, but bards tend to police each other anyway. Bards with 9+ ranks in "performance" can spend 5 rounds to work the crowd and give the party some Mojo (+1 for every 1 over the GM's arbitrary DC, +Cha bonus) once per dungeon level. They can also use their perform skill to counter of a DJ tries to distract someone at a critical moment.

Bards can learn the Drive skill but not Scry (3.0! ) because the Mage's Guild won't teach them, and are banned from using electronic instruments during crawls for some dumb reason.

Clerics are the "most sought-after teammates in Xcrawl". Also, while the bard got over a page of writeup, the cleric's writeup basically says "clerics are encouraged to participate in Xcrawl by their church, and Americans worship the Roman pantheon. Also, they are hostile to foreign gods. They get the Drive skill". It is like half a page.

Druids are "mysterious nature-cultists" hated by the government and loved by the common folk. Apparently they fly under the radar because most people think their powers are "relatively insignificant":


Modern man arrogantly considers himself the master of his environment. Individuals faced with a druid's awesome wrath have no choice but to rethink the notion of man's dominion over the earth.

Instead they think "Holy shit! Did you see that druid's dominion over the earth? Mankind IS awesome!"

There's a long paragraph giving possible reasons a druid could be in Xcrawl anyway, then a list of things druids aren't allowed to have (firearms, cars, modern technology, and animal companions.) They can learn to scry, but must do it in secret to avoid being caught.

Fighters are proficient in firearms. The book takes this opportunity to mention that those are banned in Xcrawl. They get Drive and Perform(ance) though. Also:


A fighter is an extremely specialized athlete concentrating on his martial skills to the exclusion of all else. Being so specialized, a fighter's options are very limited; fighters may work as bouncers, bodyguards, or trainers in the off season, but Xcrawl is the only opportunity they have to truly use their skills.

Apparently even in-universe, fighters are awful. Most "fighters" are multiclass fighter/something else. The book also says "a pure fighter is real treasure to an adventuring party" and not, say, a joke.

Monks exist because DJ Herobane decided to spice a dungeon up by adding something foreign and the nation's kids got monk fever. So, basically, most Xcrawl moks are weeaboos. Drive is not a class skill for them.

Paladins are these guys:


"I'm going to do you a favor. I'm going to give you the chance to make things right. Take your wife home, love her, honor her, and treat her like she deserves - treat her with respect. Do this and I will consider you a friend, a friend who I would risk my life to defend. But if you insult me by throwing my friendship back in my face, if you take your hands to that woman again - then I come and visit you one last time. And your title and your rich friends and the .44 you keep in your trunk won't help you - nothing will help you ever again."

Apparently, paladins have problems with Xcrawl because "in the eyes of the paladin, morality is black and white." There's a lot of stuff about the paladin having so much trouble with "modern times" that most avoid them, because in this setting paladins are played by fucking idiots. They exist on the "fringes of society" as "urban vigilantes and soup kitchen volunteers, social activists and justice-bringers". Most worship the Romans but some aren't because fuck those guys. Often they will leave the "sewer of evil" that is America to go live in the wilderness for a while. Most of this writeup is reasons why paladins wouldn't be in Xcrawl, really. Did someone hate them or something?

Also, why not just make them s?

Rangers join Xcrawl to shoot at their favored enemies. Most trappers are rangers. The end.

Rogues are apparently "key to the ultimate success of the adventuring group", because traps and locks are everywhere, and the DJs like to harass them. Xcrawl rogues are registered with the Thieves Guild, who "regulates and defends the rogue as an upstanding and honest citizen".

Sorcerers are crowd favourites, because Charisma, and prefer Xcrawl to the stuffed libraries of the Mage's Guild. They have to register with those guys, though. Also, they get all Knowledge skills, Drive and Perform as class skills. As well as this increased skill freedom, they are start with "at least four ranks in spellcraft, four ranks in knowledge (arcane), two ranks in knowledge (astronomy) and two ranks in alchemy". If you are a human sorcerer with INT 10 or a non-human with INT 12, these requirements eat up every skill point you have at first level. Later in the same paragraph, it mentions they "automatically get knowledge (arcane) and knowledge (astronomy) as class skills, ignoring that a) it already said they get all Knowledge skills and b) they get Knowledge (arcane) anyway.

Wizards are what you should be choosing because this is 3.x. They have the exact same skill restriction as sorcerers, though honestly you were probably taking Knowledge and Spellcraft anyway, and know Drive and Performance. Apart from that, they're wizards.

It's time for a new class!

Athletes are basically sports players. This is a class for playing a professional basketballer, but you can't perform a Chaos Dunk. Here is an Athlete:

And here is what he gets!

And... that's about it.

Athletes are fighters with worse BAB, worse saves, fewer bonus feats and a +X to basketball.

I think I need to lie down. Next time: Prestige classes!

Prestige Classes

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Kayn Slamdyke posted:

Thank Apollo...

You know as soon as you finish this madness I'll be using it as a reference document for a 4E recruitment thread, right?

Great! This can only end well.

Speaking of...

Xcrawl: Did We Mention The Actual Crunch Is Bad Enough Times Yet?

So next up is prestige classes! There are only three.

First up is the Master Celebrity !


Superstar Athletes, high ranking nobility, high-profile captains of industry, notorious tabloid side-show freaks - they all have celebrity in common. Anyone can be thrust into the spotlight, either by hard work or accident. However, the master celebrity knows all the angles. Fame is a game to the master celebrity, and he has the deck stacked. Nobody is more at home in the spotlight. The master celebrity always looks cool and collected, his every action effortless and unrehearsed. He is in the right place at the right time in the right outfit - ten times out of ten.

This class has the weakest BAB progression, no spellcasting progression, and a mediocre 4 + int modifier skills, establishing them out of the gate as a prestige class nobody wants. Skill choices are Appraise, Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Disguise, Innuendo ( ), Intimidate, Perform, Profession and Sense Motive. Apparently, they are proficient in "pistols and daggers". Is there a class that can't use daggers or something?

This is stupid.

After that is the Trapper , which was basically already described in the fluff. They're the monster hunters who roam the world catching monsters and selling them to Xcrawl, which they don't participate in. So, this is either an NPC prestige class or the PC has two jobs.

This is basically a PrC for rangers, as the skills required are Handle Animal, Knowledge (monster lore), Move Silently and Wilderness Lore ( ). What the fuck is "monster lore"? In this section alone it mentions giants, yeti, purple words and dire sharks as monsters. Is there anything the PCs can fight that isn't covered by "monster lore", or is this a new catch-all skill that isn't mentioned anywhere else?

Anyway. It's got a 10-level progression, good BAB, good Fort/Ref, and at 1st, 5th and 10th level you can choose a favored prey. It's like favored enemy, but for one specific kind of creature, like "naga" or "owlbear" or "the guy who wrote this". At 2nd, 4th and 8th level they get proficiency in one exotic weapon of their choice. Besides that, they get...

So basically this is a prestige class for NPCs and idiots.

Finally there's the Guild DJ , which is literally a prestige class for NPCs. I am so glad this is in the player section!

You need Leadership, some Diplomacy, and "Knowledge: dungeon crawl". No, that skill isn't mentioned anywhere else either. Also, someone fucked up the progression table:

Anyway, Creature Language lets them learn a new language, as long as it's not elf, dwarf, halfling or "any of the human languages". Mastery is a bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Innuendo ( ), Intimidate and Sense Motive rolls when dealing with subordinates (including monsters) and fans. Skill Focus feats are handed out like candy, and Poker Face is a +10 bonus to "resisting sense motive, bluff, and innuendo" ( ) checks. DJ's Blessing lets the DJ give a monster (or a group of monsters in the same room) an inspiring speech that will give them "+2 to hit and +2 on all willpower saves for two rounds per guild DJ level", which activates when combat starts (surprise rounds don't count).

Also in the middle of that is a sidebar that has nothing to do with anything:

Even Pathfinder has better editors than this book had.


Bluff can be used to "receive preferential treatment" if they weren't going to already, against a DC set by the GM "based on the player's fame and the situation". A world famous Xcrawl mage getting past security is DC 20, and a "relatively unknown" halfling rogue doing it is DC 30.

Heal can, with access to "modern technology", make a DC 18 first aid check on someone to heal someone for 1+(character's level) points of damage. A "modern healers kit" gives a +4 circumstance bonus. It doesn't say you can't just do that over and over, but it doesn't work if the PC has received magical healing (lately, or ever? It doesn't say!). Did I mention all the breakroom paramedics in the sample dungeon use Heal instead of magic?

Knowledge (Xcrawl) is a thing now! It lets you learn things like a DJ's usual methods, "a superstar creature's favorite tactics", "the previous owner of a powerful magic item", and "any piece of information the player may have gained from watching Xcrawl" . The example is a knowledge check to identify a monster. So basically, Knowledge (Xcrawl) can work on almost literally every monster ever. Also, it can be used untrained.

Performance (and we're back to calling it that and not just Perform) is next, and it explains grandstanding and mugging finally. Perform (grandstanding) is just working the crowd, and I'm pretty sure this is what that table from two pages ago was talking about. The GM can assign a bonus or penalty depending on how appropriate grandstanding at this time is, and they get a +2 bonus if they have a "grandstanding move" the audience is familiar with (basically if they've used it in 3 crawls). Mugging is just grandstanding for the camera, and can be as simple as putting on your manly face and crying a single tear if you like. The DC for mugging is always 21, for some reason, and both can be performed untrained.

Scry ( ) is a "controlled activity" and it guides us to the Magic section a few pages after this for details.

New skill! Drive (dex) means you have a driver's license and the skill is mostly used to perform stunts, like a hard swerve in traffic (DC 15) or swerving into a 180 degree turn (DC 30) or swerving 180 degrees in rain (DC 40). Driving can be done untrained, but every single action from starting the car to making a turn is a DC 15 Dex check. Every. Single. Time. On the upside, a sidebar mentions that these are very simple rules and the GM should feel free to modify them, especially for combat situations.

By the way, this section was titled "New Skills" even though there's only one of them.


So, yeah. On the bright side, 3.x was such a mess it didn't matter if you were bad at homebrew. And at least it's not Prone Shooter.

Next time: Baseballs do 1d6 damage, x3 crit. So do bowling balls.

Magic & Items

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Xcrawl: Magic and Items

Pushin' on through the last of Da Breakdown!

The next section is Magic In 4699 , specifically how magic is regulated. The Emperor is also the "Master of Temple", which means he leads the church, and he works with the High Priests to decide what divine spells are cool and what aren't. Regulated divine spells are desecrate, undetectable alignment, lesser planar ally, animate dead, ethereal jaunt, unhallow, geas/quest, scrying and miracle . How do you stop a high-level cleric casting miracle?

Meanwhile, the Mage's Guild polices itself heavily to avoid the Emperor smacking them around with the banhammer. Committing a crime with magic almost always carries the death penalty. "Mesmerizing and abusing citizens, sexually or otherwise," gets you executed. (No Spartans of the Scarlet Woman, I guess.) But the big no-no is... ... scrying! Only the must trusted mages may learn to scry, and they may only use it "in the service of the government or the Guild itself". On the other hand, wizards "very often" learn it in secret anyway, but they have to be extremely careful not to be caught.


The traditional punishment for unauthorized scrying is permanent polymorphing into a tropical fish - or worse.

The Guild recognises that sorcerers can develop scrying powers on their own, and keeps an eye out for them. No word on what they do if they find one.

Banned arcane spells are detect thoughts, detect scrying, scrying, lesser geas, "lesser planer binding", animate dead, planar binding, geas/quest, sequester, greater scrying, control undead, ethereal jaunt, plane shift, mind blank, "greater planer binding", trap the soul, clone, screen, binding, etherealness, gate, wish, and astral projection . How does one stop a wizard with access to 9th-level spells casting what he likes?

Copyrighted Spells: Apparently, in 4682 some young mage called Melsenschlap researched a new defensive spell which took Xcrawl by storm! It was cast thousands of times in dungeons and in training, despite the material component: a "150 GP note".


Treasury investigators later discovered that the money did not simple disappear when the spell was cast, it was teleported to a magical collection tin Melsenschlap had developed. By the time he was caught he owned a yacht and a ten-story research tower near Burbank.

By the way, anyone else think the name "Melsenschlap" sounds Jewish?

There was no rule against it, but he was sentenced to two years' hard labor for being a dick. No word on whether he got to keep his scammed money. After that, though, the Guild started regulating "copyrighted spells", letting mages apply for spell patents as long as the Guild got a cut of the proceeds. A patent costs 400gp in fees total, plus a lot of weeks of meetings and discussions on whether to approve it, but hey, it worked out for Melsenschlap!

Technomagic: Technomagic is a new, experimental kind of magic that merges magic and technology. Arcane Video Screens are one kind. The end.

New Spells: Four new spells, three copyrighted!

Well, those were mediocre. Let's try Equipment!

Apparently you can purchase anything in the "Player's Guide", but the GM can declare some objects are unavailable - like "tindersticks or smokesticks" which are obsolete. Alchemist's fire is "the only acceptable pyrotechnic weapon". Afterwards, it goes into tables!

There are simple/martial weapon tables with stats for brass knuckles, shivs (it's a dagger with worse crit range), boffer clubs, boffer swords (identical to boffer clubs), pitchforks, machetes, and I stopped caring about these tables. Then there are stats for "Sports Weapons" - aluminium bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseballs, "flying discs", and bowling balls. Exotic weapons are chainsaw (3d8 x3, making them the best), double-headed mace, and tranquilizer arrows. There's also an "extremely basic" table of firearms which includes stats for .25 pistols, .35 pistols, .45 pistols, .55 pistols, .25 rifles, .45 rifles, 20GA scatterguns, 10GA scatterguns, and "bringdown launchers".

The next few pages are mostly just on weapons. Some highlights:


Opponents struck take 1d4+6 temporary constitution damage, fortitude save for half (DC 18). Any victim reduced to less than 0 points of constitution by a tranquilizer must make an additional fortitude save (DC = 15+ 1 per point of constitution damage less than zero) or fall into a coma.

They also die , because that's what happens when your Constitution reaches 0.

Afterwards is armour, or "armor" for Americans I guess. There's boffer (plastic padding), bonded (fiberglass plates strapped to the body), composite sports gear (football gear, basically), micromesh (artificial leather over titanium alloy chainmail, comes in a "clothing" version that looks like street clothes), MiniLynx© (micromesh with "microspring padding"), R


The skimpy configuration is popular with players wanting to show off their bodies - the armor has a sleek and sheer design exposing the midriff and thighs of women's armor, and the chest and thighs for men's. The skimpy configuration also substitutes a fashionable half-helm with the same built in eyewear.


Riot gear (riot cop, banned in Xcrawl but monster handlers can wear it), shield, large, plastic, riot (a large plastic riot shield), and shield, small, boffer (a small plastic-and-foam shield).


Boffer armour: Literally better than full plate. Also, riot gear - which includes a ceramic-plate vest - is worse than padded armour, and "skimpy"/"light" MiniLynx armour is tougher and harder to move in than "standard".

Moving on to adventuring gear...

Backpack (waterproof), compass, survival knife, multipurpose knife (swiss army knife), gnomish third hand knife (also has a clamp, eating utensil, hollow breathing tube and stud finder), flashlight (headset, light, heavy), goggles (protective, underwater), lighter, pen (good, no stats for bad), rope (modern), scope (bow or crossbow), sports watch.

Afterwards are class tools - a healer's kit, thieves' tools, a waterproof spellbook, and a puzzlelock spellbook. Ever wanted your book to be made of wood and force someone to solve a Rubik's cube before they can open it? now you can! Then clothing, which is mostly this:


Adventurer's outfit - Every adventurer has his own style - the cost and weight shown represents the average adventurer's outfit. Leather and spikes, surplus camouflague gear, spandex, artfully ripped T-shirts, embroidered flowing robes, and breathable athletic jerseys with football pants are all considered adventurer's outfits.

What else? Ah - hotel stays! Regular (25gp a night, checkout is at 10:30AM), four star (100+GP, checkout is noon, yes they noted this), resort (200+, checkout flexible), and motel (15, checkout 10:00AM).

Really guys? Checkout time. Fucking really?

Well, that's that chapter done, at least.

Next time: The Gamemaster's section! We check on how the Dunguun Gangstaas are going and learn how to run Xcrawl well. Also, when to "whack" player characters.

Super Psaiyan

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Kayn Slamdyke posted:

Also. Biggest error in the printing, aside from those weapons tables. They missed any information on the Roman Pantheon. Yknow... the state mandated religion everyone has to worship. Bugger if you're a cleric trying to work out what Domain spells you get

You May Have To Whack Some Guys

posted by Ettin Original SA post

Xcrawl: You May Have To Whack Some Guys

So, last time in Parts 13 and Kayn Slamdyke's Part 13.5: Super Psaiyan we learned that a) Xcrawl was nominated for an ENnie for production values once, despite the equipment section alone having more glaring errors than a list of Pathfinder rules Paizo didn't copy from the SRD and b) the book forgot to include any information on the goddamn Roman pantheon and c) Xcrawl's rules are a clusterfuck.

Well, put that shit behind you, because it's time for...

In what the book assures me is the Gamaster's Section we learn how to be an effective Xcrawl gamaster.

First, though we have some shitty art:

And then we see how the Dunguun Gangstaas are going!

This time the fluff text smash-cuts to after the first dungeon level as the commentators talk about how they did. Apparently they just scraped through, with Stud the athlete almost dead (and, with those stats, dead weight. Oh snap!), The Messenger almost out of spells and nursing a busted arm, sorceress The Sleeper nursing an injured ear, and nobody is wondering why Messenger isn't casting any heals if he's only "almost" out. Oh well, whatever.

Anyway, most of it is just generic rambling about how Xcrawl is the greatest sport ever and tune in this Wednesday at 1:00 for more coverage of this year's season opener, live from Memphis!

And so the Dunguun Gangstaas live to crawl another day. Also, I think I almost ran out of emoticons running that name into the ground.


Anyway, the chapter itself starts off with the generic "GAMASTERS ONLY" warning nobody actually listens to, then begins telling us how to run the world. It tells us you don't have to use anything in this book if you don't want to and can run Xcrawl how you like, from slapstick comedy to a socio-political game where the PCs eventually fight corrupt politicians, or maybe just a hack-and-slash game. It suggests games where the PCs are non-crawlers too, from government agents to pro-democracy rebels. Or I guess you could even allow firearms and recreate a videogame. No, wait, this isn't 4E. Oh, snap!

Or don't use the NAE at all! Xcrawl suggests trying a "modern version" of your personal setting, where I guess television and Xcrawl have been invented. The PCs could even be descendants of their original PCs, and find the same magic items their old PCs did, and fight descendants of their old enemies, and nostalgia, guys!

(This was before Eberron, so it doesn't say Eberron is awesome and should go with everything, but...)

Then there is an entire page on Showmanship, and by Showmanship it means Immersion. You need to develop visualization skills, and think about how to detail enemies and rooms alike! Use your voice, body and hands to describe characters! Gesture! Experiment with your voice!


Players best remember the small details of your game. The more memorable you make them, the better stories you will tell. "You stab the goblin - it falls over dead": that description tells the player everything they need to know. "The goblin misjudges your swing. His block is too high, and you are able to lunge under and run him through the chest. He croaks once through a mouthful of blood, slides off your sword and lands in a heap on the floor" - that description will stay with your players. Note that in the above description you don't even have to use the word dies - your players know that goblin is dead because you described the situation well enough. That's good storytelling.


Also, don't be afraid to describe violence! Think about TV shows you've seen "where cops struggle with suspects or innocent joggers struggle against pit bulls", and remember that "real world violence is messy and horrifying". Letting players "see the occasional glimpses of just how horrible combat truly is" will turn your Xcrawl game into "something special".

Sure, why not.

Tips For A Better Xcrawl

Next up we have a list of tips and tricks for Xcrawl gamasters.


"You take a left on 25th street - make a spot check to not miss your exit..."

Building An Event And Campaign

This is just a checklist of stuff you should sort out when you make a game. Setting (in the NAE the crawl will be named after its location, e.g. MemphisCrawl), Dungeon Judge (before the dungeon), physical environment (dungeon design, it mentions some DJs like "realistic" dungeons very similar to regular D&D dungeons and some DJs like artificial dungeons with scoreboards, music and pyrotechnics, it suggests re-running an old dungeon the players have already been through in another game again), scoring (whether the DJ scores by time or something else), and you're done.

There are two sidebars. One is about building the DJ. Apparently, longtime DJs should have a few levels in Expert (Dungeon Judge) and, if he isn't a wizard, have some on staff plus "lesser conjurers" to create AVD and noncom badges. Also, the gamaster should never use himself as a DJ, because that is just weird.

The other lists an alternate scoring system, the "Lord Stableford" system:


Lord Stableford is a noble in the Ohio District who found himself growing tired of teams built strictly for speed. He thought that many games weren't being won by the best team, but rather by the team that moved the quickest. So, he approached some local DJ's and constructed his own scoring system. Ironically, it was DJ Kachina, the designer of PhoenixCrawl, who first used the system.

No I don't know how that's ironic.

Anyway, there's a long list of point bonuses here. Clearing a room is +8 points, but if "a PC is wounded in the room" you lose a point. "An NPC is killed" is -15 points. Well, guess everyone loses every dungeon forever. Teammates getting DQed is -15 points, so I hope you didn't bring a heel! Points are won or lost as appropriate for traps, critical hits and misses, surrendering monsters (but not killing them, so I guess most surrender?), signature moves, etc. The highest-scoring teams advance and win!


Xcrawl does rewards differently. Here's how!

First, experience - since players have "easy access to extra equipment, breakrooms and paramedics", experience is tallied differently. In a standard Xcrawl game which allows breaks, the average party level (oh jesus, people play with a level disparity?) should be considered two levels higher than normal. The example is a party consisting of two 4th-level characters, one 5th-level and one 7th-level. What do you do? Here is what you do:

For a "difficult" dungeon with no breaks, the average party level should be considered one level higher. Also, sometimes you can have "haywire" encounters, which are encounters the DJ didn't intend (goblins looking for revenge jump the PCs in the party lot, hungry ogre sneaks out of pen and accidentally locks himself in the studio's walk-in freeze and starts devouring raw hamburger, etc). Those ones give regular experience.

The reason for all this, apparently, is to make the PCs have to do more crawls before they level up, otherwise they might be able to progress from Division Three to Division One in a single season. Stretching advancement out "gives the campaign a more "sports-like" feel - the players can have a career lasting for several seasons, retiring after perhaps twenty or thirty events". Well.

Next up is Treasure . Treasure is never found on monsters, because prime time audiences think looting dead bodies isn't cool. Instead it's presented with more ceremony - maybe a panel will slide open to reveal a treasure chest, or a model will walk in and present the prize, or something. I guess if a creature fights with a +2 sword you're not allowed to pick it up? Or maybe the party rogue can try to palm it, I don't know. There's some example dialogue of a DJ presenting treasure here and the only new things I learn are a) in Xcrawl, Disneyland is "Cartooneyland" and b) I am tired of "if you die - you die!"

Magic items! DJs are banned from distributing artifacts, as well as items that "work with extradimensional powers, teleportation or mind control". This is both to stop players getting an unfair advantage (or presumably leaving the NAE for somewhere not shitty?) and to stop monsters busting chests open when the camera isn't looking and teleport away. Most magic items are weapons and armour, protective items, potions, scrolls, wands, and minor wondrous items. Apparently rings that aren't rings of protection are generally only found in Division One events, and armour and weapons are +1 to +3. Also, every magic weapon has its own unique name, because "a +2 battleaxe" sounds boring. Finally, in low-level events, some DJs will give away items that "undo specific damage" after certain encounters. The example is a DJ giving out potions of stone to flesh after unleashing a basilisk on the party, which explains that I guess. The DJ might do this or he might not depending on what the crowd would be more entertained by, or more likely depending on the gamaster's whims.

Prizes! Xcrawl events advertise things like "250,000GP in prizes!" a lot, but that number is actually the total cost of every gold piece, magic item and prize handed out to every competing team, so individual parties get only a fraction of that. "Prizes" in this context are actually promotional items donated by companies for marketing reasons, and are often collected after the dungeon if dragging them through would be awkward or dangerous. The gamaster can make his own up, but the book suggests to make 1/3 useful to adventurers, 1/3 "glamorous and prestigious but not useful", and 1/3 "groaners". Examples!


Useful: Lifetime subscription to Xcrawl Monthly, a year's supply of crossbow bolts, masterwork tools and weapons, waterproof scroll cases and coupons for medical attention.
Glamorous of Prestigious: Vacation packages, luxury auto-mobiles, tattoo gift certificates, masterwork sports equipment, jewelry, and fine leather coats.
Groaners: A year's supply of car wax, donation to an obscure charity in the party's name, an invitation to a temple dedication, a case of Owlbear Chow.

Coupons for medical attention! Did I mention medical technology in Xcrawl is outdated, the rules suggest the Heal skill is intended to only be able to heal a handful of HP, and everyone should be rolling with a cleric who can heal everyone's wounds daily anyway? Give me the Owlbear Chow, please.

Oh, and you can liquidate prizes if you don't like them! Magic items can be sold to the Adventurer's Guild for "75% of their book value", and count as Xcrawl earnings which are untaxed and can be used to buy new Xcrawl stuff. Money from prizes sold to anyone besides the Guild doesn't count, is taxed and can't be used to buy adventuring shit. Some prizes (like vacation packages) can't be sold, though it doesn't say which or why not.

And.... oh boy! That's the whole Gamastering chapter!

Next (and last) time: The appendix! A sample dungeon, some monsters, the iconic characters (mostly the editor's rogue again) are shoved in our face, and I am so done with this.


posted by Ettin Original SA post


New chapter! More art!

They're fighting a troll, or perhaps some sort of crab man.

Anyway, the first part of the appendix is a sample Xcrawl dungeon, and I'm going to summarise it because fuck doing a room-by-room analysis. It's MemphisCrawl, the Division 3 season opener, run by DJ Cudgel UP! There's a list of other staff, including names for referees and the dude who made the traps (Lothar "The Real Prick" Silvergoat), a summary of rules (standard ones plus a few other things, like restrictions on how many potions, scrolls and arrows they can bring). There's a sidebar on abbreviations which explains that "DC x/y" on a trap description means the spot/disable device DC for it, despite the fact that traps are located with Search.

Then there's a bunch of pre-game stuff, including that time the PCs are expected to be in the green room, what time the pre-game interviews begin, and other details. Did you know: The two cameramen assigned to the PCs are a fourth level gnome expert (broadcast technology) and a third level gnome expert (photographer)!

During the ceremony the PCs are introduced to the "princesses" they have to rescue, who perform a dance routine and look like this:

Then they are listed and named in a different order to appearance in that picture. There's Princess Vogue (a "Beautiful Black girl with braids"), Keya, Felony (the punk), Success, Fire, Azura ("Sinewy Middle-eastern bodybuilder with a silver nose ring"), Passion, Mystery (the Asian one), Victory, Electra and Janet (apparently doesn't fit in and looks frightened, gee I wonder if something's up there! ). Then DJ Cudgel UP! teases the PCs a bit, trots out the goddamn "If you die... You die!" catchphrase and aware we go!

I'm just going to flip through it and condense everything into vaguely interesting bullet points.


So, yeah.


Some monster stats! There are Alfar here, Barkers (large predators that monstrous races use as mounts, earlier one was described as a horse-dog hybrid), hoogabungaroos (Australian poisonous insects), sand warders (some kind of Egyptian dust elemental), warheads (hovering war golems) and zeetha (jerkass aarvark-men from the Himalayas who think the Earth has been stolen from them by the other races). Most aren't particularly interesting, though the hoogabungaroo and warhead look pretty goofy:

Character Archetypes


It's the


For no particular reason, the book closes out on a fake interview between Xcrawl Monthly and these assholes. We get to meet The Messenger, The Sleeper, The Stud, Pecos Pete, Oni... Oni talks herself up as the best lock-pick, then we are "introduced" to Geronimo when he protests this and is ignored, and also Angus the dwarf. Here are things that Angus the dwarf says:

So basically he's a horrible Scottish stereotype I guess!

Then XCM goes back to asking Oni questions and we hear about how she's working on a book deal and thinking of becoming a DJ, then some questions to the Sleeper and the Messenger, Stud talks about how he was a footballer... the next page of interviews is a pain to read, because it shares page space with more fucking Oni art.

Just as a reminder: One of the playtesters of this game was "Brett "Oni" Brooks", who is also credited with a) contributing writing and b) being the motherfucking editor.

This whole time I've been complaining that this book needs an editor badly, and surprise! It had one. I guess he is the guy inserting art of this chick everywhere.

Anyway, the rest of this is just character sheets. Xcrawl sheets put Charisma before all other stats and spaces for commercial endorsements, prizes won, fame rating and face/heel. Oh, and we get sample sheets for all the iconics. Incidentally, here are some fun facts about the sheets for both iconic rogues!

Nick: CHA 14 STR 10 DEX 19 CON 13 INT 15 WIS 11, short sword
Oni: CHA 16 STR 14 DEX 18 CON 16 INT 14 WIS 13, +2 short sword, only iconic with listed endorsements, personality traits noted, blonde caucasian

Other fun facts: Angus' greataxe is just "keen" even though I thought you needed at least a +1 weapon for that, he has a golf bag and clubs (SCOTSMEN!), The Messenger is "brown" and also a "hit hip-hop recording star" according to his notes, Stud is "remarkably insecure" and the "butt of all the jokes on the team", nobody wants to play the Stud.

And that's it! The end.


So, Xcrawl is a good game. I really do like it. Sure, a lot of the fluff is unnecessary, the book looks and reads like a draft with placeholder art, the rules are a clusterfuck and Xcrawl is extreme LARPing in-universe, but the concept is awesome and the ideas are good enough that I can forgive the terrible presentation.

So, what happened to Xcrawl? Well, they updated it for 3.5 and put out a splat or two and some adventures, and there are plans to convert it to Pathfinder , or rather there have been plans for the last three years. I wouldn't hold your breath.

And, well, that's it. Good idea, presentation could use some work.

Next time: A different fucking game.