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|
- 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: * / *****