Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chill out, man! (games I'd like to play, Pt2.)

Meet the new boss...
...same as the old boss

"Chill" is an RPG I never had a chance to play back in the day, nor have I ever met anyone else who had. It's odd, considering I was in full bloom as a budding horror fan back then. If I had seen the awesome cover of the 1st edition (far right) I probably would have remedied that.

Instead, the first I became aware of "Chill" was the 2nd edition from Mayfair...

Horrible, but not in a good way... seen above. Very uninspiring, to put it mildly. I picked it up a few times and leafed through it. The art and layout inside were of similar quality, and equally off putting to me.

It's a shame, as I probably would have had a lot of fun with it. "Chill" is a perfect, classic horror toolbox for emulating pretty much any pre-70's horror. Emphasis on the CLASSIC in classic horror. As far as I know, "Chill" was pretty much the ONLY option one had for NON-Lovecraftian horror.

But between cover, art, layout, and so on, it just didn't do a good job of communicating to me what it was all about.

Fast forward to the present. Goblinoid Games, the same company responsible for helping bring back the love for B/X D&D with their Moldvay/Cook retroclone Labyrinth Lord acquires the back catalog of Pacesetter Games titles, including "Chill", with one slight catch: the rights to the NAME "Chill" had been sold off long ago. Hence the title change. "Cryptworld" (above left) IS "Chill" with a new name and a slightly broadened set of sensibilities. 

The range of horror beasties has been widened out to encompass more contemporary horror sub-genres (such as the Slasher or Alien Body Snatchers) alongside all the old classics.

Still longing for a generic horror RPG I decided to pick up the PDF. It's a far cry from the impenetrable 2nd edition. Very cleanly laid out, almost spartan in its presentation, it is all lean meat and no filler, with simple, thematic art. Look at that cover above. "Cryptworld" gets what it's about and does a good job of conveying that to the player.

Now, history lesson aside, "Cryptworld"/"Chill"/The Pacesetter system is a decent, solid, old school system, EXCEPT for the Pacesetter Chart. It gives me fits every time. I sit down and look at it, read through, whatever, and understand it well, then walk away and ask myself "how does that work again?"

It's not really complicated, just hard (for me) to absorb. I couldn't explain to you how to play without referring to the book if I tried. So that is a bit of a problem. It could be my advancing age, deficits in attention span, etc, or it could just be that it's a system that I just don't grock as easily as others.

So great was my desire to get  SOMETHING off the ground in this genre that I ran a quick series of sessions over the course of a week or two using the D6 system instead, specifically one of the greatest "lite" versions of it.

the greatest universal RPG ever IMO...
...and the greatest "lite" version of the same
I had a blast with it, and am tempted to continue. But I'm also torn, in that I really like "Cryptworld"("Chill") too. Decisions, decisions, decisions...

  • Does what I want right out of the box
  • Fantastic "beastiary"and lots of material available

  • System isn't as intuitive/familiar as I'd like

  • Lot's of FREE support material available, most of it of useful in this style of game
  • Know the system well. Easy to improvise/make stuff up on the fly

  • Would need to convert over a number of CW monsters and such.

(PS, FWIW there IS a 3rd edition of "Chill" out, but it is NOT the same system as the classic version, and TBH I'm not sure I like the looks of it. In any case, old school cross compatibility with previously released materials WAS a consideration, so there is that...)
3rd Edition, not the same as old OR new boss...

NEXT TIME: To Boldly Go, Yadda Yadda...

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