On the Review and the Quest for Sorrow

This Cover is Beautiful
So I'm going to talk about Crumbling Epoch and Adventure Fantasy Game, but not really.

Andrew Shields (G+) and Paolo Greco (G+) are unsung heroes.


To what acclaim do they work? Did you know about these products? If you've heard of them, have you looked?

Quickly then:

Crumbling Epoch:

  • Is a B/X reskin
  • Has 5 classes (Fighter, Lightbringer, Martial Artist, Thirster, and Wizard)
  • Has races from Jack Shear's Devilmount (Blooded, Grey Men, Lumpen-Ones) (Available only for Dwimmermount backers)
  • Has an random region generator
  • Has a new style of random dungeon generation using 5d6 of different colors with 2 different examples
  • Has a selection of spells from Wampus Country
  • Contains Pocket mod sheets
  • Uses the 5MORE system
  • "Superior patron/Divinity" interactions, with strange cults
  • Mana magic system with flexible and creative spells organized into schools (Goetia, Moon Hunters, Dendromancy etc.)
  • Tiers, accomplishments and the EXPERT improvement system
Are they both worth what the authors are charging for them? Yes, they are worth more, in consideration of the effort required to produce such documents. The total target market for such a work is perhaps 2000 people -- a miniscule fraction of the total people playing games. If you're not producing a supplement for Pathfinder, then your audience is very limited.

It isn't the money. Let me tell you a story:

A great man once wrote a game, and people played in that game. Some people played so much, that they had certain items or spells named after them. This man wrote a spell named after a certain person that when cast, would cause a normal item to glow, as if it were magical. The original item remained a broke-ass piece of shit, but that magic aura could make it seem like a golden treasure to grant you magical power.

Later, the person who had this spell named after him, wrote about some of his ideas. Many people gave him money. That money was spent on things other than making those ideas happen. Many people were sad.

Does this story have a bad end?

Andrew Shields said, "Oh, you know what? I can make that happen!" And he did.

Why? There was no money in it.

Paolo Greco writes:

"Gaming related stuff is making me sore. . . I’ve been doing too much gaming-related stuff recently, both writing and playing. Much effort. But results, especially writing, are extremely disappointing. In bad ways."

What kind of time went into AFG? In a personal message to me, Paolo said that he uses AFG for all his campaigns, several of which have run for years. It is a very flat power curve, quickly bringing you to the point of competence and then staying there. 

It is, in a very real sense, a system for Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks that is not the fighting fantasy gamebook system. 

I spent more on drinks today than either of these products cost (CE: Free /AFG: 5.99$).

That's not really the barrier. The real cost is time. Where will you spend your time. When Paolo says "Results. . . are extremely disappointing." What he is saying is a universal human lament: "Who will see the beauty of my labor! Why does no one speak of what I have done, in my limited time up on this plane" How painful is it to have all that extra work you do, on top of whatever job you do normally, ignored.

But that's the question isn't it. Is it worth the time? I am likely never going to have the time to run Crumbling Epoch or AFG. Is that because they aren't worth running? No. It's simply that we have an embarrassment of riches. 

This is a hard lesson.

You should download Crumbling Epoch:
  • If you are running B/X. The modifications are extremely interesting. 
  • If you are looking for Wampus county spells, Devilmount races and you aren't a backer of Dwimmermount, or you are looking for an excellent region generator.
  • If you are interested in some modern permutations of random dungeon generation for solo play. 
You should purchase AFG:
  • If you are interested in a fast, easy to run system that contains the flavor of the old fighting fantasy gamebooks. 
  • If you are interested in a game that is complete in one book and compatible with D&D style supplements.
  • If you are interested in a unique and yet not overpowered magic system based on mana.
Also: These might be of interest

By Andrew Shields
Right. Did you see where I wrote 'total system conversion for old school hack' 'totally metal death dwarves' and 'hand-bound book of spells'? This is from people who just produce usable content and never open their mouths to bitch about who sells panties where or what monsters people are wrong for publishing.

That is all I can do.


  1. I am proud to say that I am a patron of Paolo Greco's really cool Adventure Fantasy Game! I bought my copy a while back, and I've enjoyed reading through it. Now, being an old dog, it is sometimes hard these days for me to grok a new system that isn't built from the D&D chassis. I am hoping this is just because I'm a busy adult. The alternative-that my ability to learn has begun to calcify-is horrific! My other issue at the moment is that my primary gaming locale is at a game store. The owners, rightly so, ask that I run games that they can display on the shelves. I'm not sure if AFG is at that point yet, but I'm checking into that. If AFG can sit on a store shelf to tempt purchasers, then perhaps I can persuade said owners to let me use those rules to run games.

  2. You've basically summed up precisely how I feel about this in the body of the post itself:

    A universal human lament: "Who will see the beauty of my labor! Why does no one speak of what I have done, in my limited time up on this plane" How painful is it to have all that extra work you do, on top of whatever job you do normally, ignored.

    That's the shit that haunts me.

  3. All the more reason to remember to let the folks that do stuff you like know that you like it.

  4. Thank you! A great post, a great boost, and I appreciate your words.


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