DriveThru RPG Reviews: Nights of the Crusades

Who says you need a book thick enough to stop a bullet to have a heavy simulationist game?  Nights of…

Who says you need a book thick enough to stop a bullet to have a heavy simulationist game?  Nights of the Crusades proves that it can be done in only 106 pages.

As may be inferred by the title, Nights of the Crusades is set in the Middle East during Medieval Times.  It is a time of conflict and bigotry of all sorts from racism to sexism to religious intolerance.  But the historical crusades are not the only inspiration for Nights of the Crusades.  The famous 1001 Nights also plays a role in the game, with the mythical creatures and supernatural dangers from those stories added to the already dark themes of war and conquest.  This is not the Disney version of these stories and the djinn in the game are malicious, massively powerful creatures that delight in tricking and tormenting mortals.

Obviously, given these source materials, Nights of the Crusades is a very dark game.  Even if a player does not particularly want his character to dislike another character, whether player or game master controlled, there is a system of allegiances which insure that it is much easier to be aggressive against people of opposing allegiances than it is to assist them.  Of course, whether or not the character acts on these hatreds is up to the player.  The ranks of these allegiances can change so clever players can manipulate their ranks to make it easier or harder to attack or negotiate with a particular group depending on the groups the player wants his character to be allied with.

DriveThruRPG Review: Savage Worlds Horror Companion

It embarrasses me a little to admit that it took me three of the Savage Worlds genre companions before I…

It embarrasses me a little to admit that it took me three of the Savage Worlds genre companions before I realized that the same woman was presented on each cover. She is simply changed to fit the genre contained within the book. The red-headed Amazon on the cover of the Fantasy Companion is the red-headed flying heroine on the cover of the Super Powers Companion and the red-headed vampire on the cover of the Horror Companion, simply adapted to each genre. The cover art is not the only thing the companions share, though. Each of them also includes extensive rules to modify the simple core Savage Worlds mechanics to make them an appropriate gaming system for each genre.

As in the other companion books, these genre mechanics begin with edges and hindrances in the Horror Companion. These edges and hindrances alone do a great deal to help foster the feel of a horror game. Horror Companion hindrances include things like Bleeder and Screamer while the edges are things like Necromancer and Monster Hunter. It should not be hard to guess the purpose of those hindrances and edges given the names and all of the edges and hindrances presented in the book reproduce classic features displayed by characters in horror stories.

The player section of the book also includes a number of new character races. This is one place where the Horror Companion noticeably diverges from its sister books. The Fantasy Companion has a short section of fantasy appropriate races which are carefully balanced and rules about how to create additional balanced races specific to each group’s campaign. The bulk of the rules in the Super Powers Companion consists of balanced character creation, with the idea that alien and unusual races are simply created by generating them using the character creation rules.