Xcrawl Classics Role-Playing Game Beta Rules
Author: Brendan J. LaSalle
Publisher: Goodman Games
Page Count: 42
Available Formats: PDF – Free
Bungee jumping, Freeskiing, Mountain biking, Skateboarding, Street luge, Wingsuit flying are all forms of extreme sports; athletic activities involving a high degree of danger, injury, or death. In the late twenty century and early twenty-first, these extreme sports gained popularity leading to the first incarnation of the Xcrawl RPG. Using the D20 system, Xcrawl: Adventures in the Xtreme Dungeon League premiered in 2002 by Pandahead Publishing, which morphed dungeon crawling into an extreme sport. Set in an alternate modern-day world where magic and demihumans exist, athletic superstars compete live on pay-per-view in lethal artificial dungeons strategically filled with monsters, traps, and treasures, all for fame, prizes, and the roar of the crowd.
Xcrawl: Adventures in the Xtreme Dungeon League did well in the RPG market but got lost in the shuffle of D20 games. Though its concept was rock solid, it’s D20 mechanics didn’t thrill its audience; it went out of print after a good run. Five years after it published its last book, Xcrawl was reborn thanks to Goodman Games. This rebirthed version was called Maximum Xcrawl and used the game mechanics of Pathfinder. It did well in the market, but it still wasn’t the blockbuster it could have been in the three years it was actively published. In the last years of Maximum Xcrawl, Goodman Games revamped the game again. This time they paired it with their highly successful Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-playing Game in 2015. Though no formal rulesets were put forth, several adventures using the Xcrawl world emerged. These few adventures caught on with players of DCC, and Goodman Games began developing a compatible ruleset. Five years later and we are now at the beginning of Xcrawls second reincarnation with the release of Xcrawl Classics Role-playing Game Beta Rules.
Free to download at the Goodman Games’ Website, the Beta Rules for Xcrawl Classics highlights a portion of things to come. New character classes, a skill called grandstanding, an unconscious power called Mojo, new weapons and armor, combat wrestling technique, Fame, new spells, and two new monsters make up the Beta rules. The beta rules are not complete and can not be played without using the Dungeon Crawl Classics Core Book. No date has been announced for the rulebook’s release or Kickstarter as of yet. As we wait for the core book, we can look at the new things on the horizon like the new classes. There are six new classes in the beta rules.
The Athlete is proficient in physical exercise and activities. These highly trained athletes gain a special Training Die when grappling in combat, similar to the Deed Die of a warrior. Athletes are quite nimble and can Scamble, a bonus to AC, out of dangerous combat situations. Their physical prowess with a special grappling attack and quickness are their principal feature among their other warrior-like abilities.
Blasters use unseen forces that surround all of us and focus those energies to manifest magical effects. They don’t memorize their spells like wizards but harness the forces around them, which can vary. A Blaster die along with the normal dice rolled for a spell check represents the uncertainty of harnessing magical forces. Blasters are inline with wizards and can Spellburn to increase their magical potency and align themselves with supernatural patrons to increase their power. Blasters don’t have the training that wizards receive and are limited in some of their magical abilities best suited for scholarly types. In the beta rules, six new specific Blaster spells are provided.
Jammers specialize in exciting the crowd and get them fired up. They are performers and show pleaser. By performing, Jammers invigorate their teammates with Lionization. Similar to mercurial magic, the amount of advantage gained is determined by the Jammers’ performance roll when utilizing their Lionization ability. The higher the result, the greater the advantage. Jammers are also great at disrespecting their enemy, giving them penalties across the board. Jammers gain a special bonus die in combat to opponents they have disrespected as well as special Mojo abilities. When a disrespected opponent fumbles their rolls, Jammers gains Mojo. Similar in a way to a lucky halfling in DCC, a Jammer may provide Mojo points of others, with permission, to another team member at an increased cost, 2 for 1.
Gnomes are fey creatures with magical powers. They also have an uncanny ability for trickery and insults, making them the mascots of Xcrawl teams. Like their fey cousin the Elves, Gnomes can cast magical spells rooted in nature, though their real talent lies in their mastery of insults. Gnomes can taunt their opponents into making mistakes in the combat arena, granting attacks of opportunity. Being of small stature, Gnomes are adept at hiding in shadows, pickpocketing, and sneaking silently. They are the team’s heart and soul, the team mascot, which provides them with two special Mojo advantages on crits and fumbles. In the beta rules, four new trickster Gnome spells are provided.
Half-eleven, half-human, these charismatic magic-using characters have characteristics from both species. They are acrobatic, resistant to certain magics, proficient in climbing sheer surfaces, can backstabbing, hide in shadows, and sneak silently. Like elves, they are vulnerable to iron. Half-elves don’t fit into either human or elven societies making social interactions difficult for them. To overcome this deficiency, Half-elves have specially developed their interpersonal skills, represented with a bonus Charism die to use in social interactions.
Not as big as an orc and not as evenly temperated as a human, Half-Orcs are another mix of species. Born to fight, these brawlers utilize the Mightly Deeds of Arms Deed Die in combat like warriors. Their reckless fighting style can gain them additional attacks if they can trick their opponents into leaving their guard down. This, in turn, leaves Half-Orc open and vulnerable in combat and increases their chances of getting a critical hit. Their outward appearances cause uneasiness with the other races causing them to suffer a social disadvantage. Though with time, they do gain the respect of their peers and shed their stigma.
These are just a sampling of the new character class available for Xcrawl Classics. In the beta rules, character classes only reach 2nd level but will extend to 10th in the core book. On top of the Xcrawl specific character classes, new weapons like Nunchaku, Repeating Crossbow, Scythe, and Wrist Rockets extend the characters’ arsenal. In turn, new armor is introduced, Sexy Leather, Light Composite Sport, Titanium Chainmail, and Elfmake Chainmail MiniLynx, to name a few.
The beta rules provide new skills and features open to all the character classes. The first is a new skill called Grandstanding. This is the art of exciting a crowd, getting them on your side, and earning Fame points in the process. This is achieved during or just after combat. It’s a great roleplaying opportunity to imitate your favorite crowd-pleasing acts of showmanship from sports like wrestling. Do whatever you think will win over the crowd and get them to cheer as long as you make a successful Crowd Check.
Xcrawl is a team sport. To promote team unity, characters have a pool of Mojo points. Each character has their own Mojo pool to use, but there’s a catch—you can’t spend points on yourself. Mojo points must be spent on your teammates before they act unless you are a Jammer. Jammers can spend Mojo points after the dice have been rolled. To further promote team cohesion, characters cannot ask for points to be spent on them. If they do, they are ineligible to receive any more during that combat. They must be given freely by the holder without provocation. Mojo is gained when a teammate critical connects in combat or enacts a deed worthy by the Judge to warrant a special reward. In turn, any team member that fumbles on their roll sucks all the Mojo out of the team, leaving them with nothing to spend except the Gnome, which gains one.
Fame is the real reason anyone joins an Xcrawl team. Fame is the main motivator for all Xcrawl participants, being loved and adored by your fans while in the dungeon. As with any commercialized sport, Fame also means preferential treatment and wealth. The Beta rules don’t get into life outside of the dungeon, but Fame seems like it a big part of it. Characters may test their fame inside or outside the dungeon. They can make a Fame Roll or Fameburn. Fameburn is spending Fame points to gain instant special privileges. The extent of the privilege derives from the amount of Fame Points spent.
The beta rules are just 10% of what Xcrawl has to offer. It’s a snippet of what is to come. Though the world of Xcrawl is still somewhat of a mystery to me, I’ve not read or played through its past incantations, I can see little pieces of it in this release. I am personally looking forward to the full ruleset being published. I think the Dungeon Crawl Classics’ mechanics and excitement for the brand will finally give Xcrawl the fame that it rightfully deserves.
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