Wednesday 18 May 2022

[REVIEW] Crashmoon

Crashmoon (2022)

by David Kentaro Jackson

Published by Elk and Unicorn


Not actually a part of Zinemassacre 2021, but what the hell… if the glove fits, why not?

C  R      A                S                    H 





(glitchy font placement part of the $5 you pay for it) is dubbed “a psychedelic system agnostic weird fantasy archipelago crawl”, which is why I picked up at the asking price. I, too, love the Wilderlands, and derivatives like the excellent Sea of Vipers. Gaming needs more weird fantasy archipelago crawling, and what best to encourage such than a toolkit to help generate such campaigns. 

Crashmoon epitomises, in a severely overpriced 8-page PDF, why gentle, salt of the earth folk spit and reach for their gun when they see one of these glitch aesthetic ‘zines being peddled by some no-good zinester; it is why young mothers draw their crying infants closer so that they might not see what the bad man is selling. It is what Uncle Ted and the John Birch Society warned us about. It is why we cannot have good things. In these slim 8 pages, you have the cover; half a page of glitchy letters on a hideous cyan background, spelling out the title; one paragraph of introduction which sets up the tone by stating the blatantly obvious (“It is system neutral, so it is not designed for any specific tabletop role playing game system”), but admonishing you to use safety tools, followed by declaring that “Crashmoon is a #SwordDream.”; one and a half paragraphs describing the Crashmoon Archipelago, a zone of weirdness; and then 5 pages of tables.

Perhaps the cyan really needs a consent form

Let’s talk about the tables. Great tables establish procedures, help you develop ideas, or spice up play with unexpected extra ideas and challenges. When it comes to inspiration tables, the good ones poke your mind. The new edition of Tome of Adventure Design, PDF recently delivered, has gems like “obedience-ship”, “screaming vortex”, and “mummification-tower”, and that’s just three rolls from one table among a bazillion. Crashmoon takes a different approach. Its five d66 tables give you developed stuff. These results are often flat and banal, and even when they aren’t, they are specific stuff, lacking the subliminal quality of ToAD’s mashups, or the low-key surrealism of Judges Guild’s tables. You can roll for… location features (“evil twin villages”, “enormous vibro-hatchet embedded into a cosmic skull”, “tunnel with endlessly branching caverns”), objects (“a hover sled”, “a bundle of sleep incense”, “night vision goggles”), characters (“a bird person who has lost their wings”, “a giant talking goldfish in a giant tank”, “a rope golem”), causes (“sick grandmother needs a cure from a remote local”, “star-crossed lovers”, “village of cute trolls has lost their hearth flame”), and omens (“a great stag”, “a low mist”, “lightning sets tree on fire”). Sometimes it almost comes together into something… but mostly, it is just random noise. Max Ernst it ain’t. These are not good random tables, not even on an “I will use it this one time” basis.

Well worth that $0.625
For your five dollars, you also get a full-page recreation of the SWORD*DREAM manifesto, which none of the SWORD*DREAM guys seem to practice. Breaking down the zine price, this is what you pay for:

  • crappy cover: $0.625
  • pretentious glitch text plus intro: $0.625
  • five badly made lolrandom tables: $3.125
  • SWORD*DREAM manifesto, but in cyan: $0.625

On one hand, this will surely not be my ruin. On the second hand, it is also how much a nice cuppa doppio costs at the best café in my street, plus I contributed financially to the spread of SWORD*DREAM across the land. I should have picked the doppio.

No playtesters are credited in this publication. Perhaps there is a merciful God after all.

Rating: * / *****


  1. Crashmoon: 5 dollars
    Time spent reading vs time spent working: 3 dollars
    Platonic Sword*ream experience: Priceless

  2. Wait, you mean the Sword Dream movement did not die in its infancy and is actually producing... stuff? Does this mean we have two flavours of artpunk, or is it more like a sub-genre?

    1. It mostly died on the vine, but a few holdouts seem to exist as part of the whole NSR/artpunk community. The difference escapes me. Perhaps there isn't any.

  3. Don't forget the minus sign if you feel the need to be an extra special person.

    Or, you could just review 5/5 in depth and try to grow the genre.

    1. Already awarded three times this year, incl. reviews for Seven Voyages of Zylarthen, The Temple of Hypnos, Fractious Mayhem at Melonath Falls (and City of Bats was fairly close). 5/5s don't come often; three in a year is jolly good (and I am reading something that may merit another!)

  4. Melan, have you taken a look at Isle of Eldisor by James Mishler? It's amazing and it looks right up your alley.

    1. I have it, have printed it, and will look into it when time allows - which it doesn't, right now. Looks cool on first sight!

  5. Is this another #SwordDream adventure?

  6. Hy Melan, you mean the Sword Dream movement did not die in its infancy and is actually producing... stuff? Does this mean we have two flavours of artpunk, or is it more like a sub-genre?Diamond quest mod apk

    1. This was a surprise to me as well, since the Sworddream label didn't seem to stick. NSR seems to be the current term? Not sure its adherents use artpunk, but since I am not really following it too closely, this is just guessing. It looks like it all describes the same general scene, though.