Game: The Crypt Keeper – Volume 2
Publisher: UKG Publishing
Review Dated: 17th, October 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
“Greetings mortal!” not many RPG supplements begin like that. UKG Publishing’s Crypt Keeper 2 actually booms this loudly as it starts. This is if you click the autorun file in the download folder. It’s most likely you’ll download Crypt Keeper 2 than actually buy it on the CD which is why you don’t get to enjoy the naturally occurring “Greetings mortal!” of a loaded CD.
Crypt Keeper 2, like Crypt Keeper, is a collection of electronic material. Most downloads these days for d20 are wallpapers from Wizards of the Coast or PDF material. Crypt Keeper 2 is a collection of web pages combined with PDFs. You don’t need to be online to use Crypt Keeper 2; your computer is more than capable of showing the web pages while it’s disconnected from the internet. Though the blurb for the product might be misleading as it says, “Each adventure can be used online or printed.” There’s a whole bunch of adventures here; three small d20 adventures and four mini adventures which are essentially d20 encounters. They are lairs full of monsters. What else? There’s Fairvale Market which is a cunning excuse to show more floor plans and NPCs.
I like the way Crypt Keeper 2 works. In about half my gaming sessions these days the GMs use a laptop. Crypt Keeper 2 (if you ignore or skip the shouty beginning) is the sort of product which can be whisked up in a second, which you can click straight to a “Help me!” adventure idea for when the players do (as always) something unexpected. If you’re running with a laptop then this format is super fast and highly accessible. If you prefer to print things in advance then there’s a printer friendly alternative layout for everything in the download. Under Service Pack 2 your Windows XP system is likely to complain that you might be doing something dangerous as you navigate through Crypt Keeper 2. This is because of a floating navigation bar (a mini index which follows you around) and the way this has been programmed.
If you’re worried about spoilers then turn away now.
The Ice Warrior is suited for about 4 characters of about 7th level. The carrot is a +3 broadsword is three frosty powers. It’s the usual tomb crawl. Find the tomb. Find the hidden areas. Find the treasure. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your view point) then you’ll find the treasure almost straight away and not find any of the ice golems. Fighting the ice trolls is harder to avoid.
The Elfenstein adventure introduces three new monsters. I struggle with disbelief at times, appreciate monster illustrations as a result and grumble when they’re missing. I’d like to see an artist’s impression of a Shroll (a shark/troll). I pretty much need to see a visual clue for an Octodisplace (Large displacer beast/Octopus). Illustrations of Squiddies (small stirge/squid) would have been handy. These new monsters are the creation of the mad aquatic elf which the adventure is centred around. Hence the title “Elfenstein” (at least the mad elf isn’t called Frank or Victor). Elfenstein is suited for about 4 characters at about 7th level. This is a bug hunt. Go to the problem area and deal with the monsters.
Castle Fethlon is suited to 4 or so characters with about 7th level. Notice a trend there? Crypt Keeper 2 is best suited to a group is about 4 characters of about 7th level. A bunch of orcs have taken over the dilapidated remains of Castle Fethlon. They’re using this as base from which to pester traders and essentially cut off a small town. The players must go in and solve. The maps here are of the inside of the castle with one overview shot. I’ve found that in adventures like this the really tricky part is sneaking into the castle. I’d really have gone for a more complex surrounding area.
All three adventures are really that straight forward. You’ll find adventures old especially packaged under the “old style shtick”. The adventures in Crypt Keeper 2 are of the same flavour but given the ultra-modern presentation you’ve no hope of calling them old fashioned.
The mini-adventures remind me of old RPG magazine articles. You’re given a situation – there’s a nest of monsters. You’re given some flavour so you can run with it. Of course, you’re given the stats for the critters and the customary twist that aims to impress the players. We’ve a medusa lair, a rats lair, giant ants lair and problems with a shield guardian.
For me, the greatest asset in Crypt Keeper 2 is Fairvale Market. Here we have a collection of shops, with associated maps and NPCs. They’re bundled together in one marketplace and that works well. Better still, is that each location has enough flesh to stand up as an interesting location in its own right. Well, okay, these aren’t adventure spawning locations or NPCs, these are locations which GMs have handy to use in adventures. Similarly with the NPCs, these guys won’t inspire any heroic plots but they’re there to keep the suspension of disbelief by ensuring the busy GM has interesting NPCs on hand.
There’s nothing really wow in Crypt Keeper 2. The product is much better as a whole than it is as an examination of its parts. The adventures are simply basic ideas boosted by computer generated tile cartography. It’s just handy having them all together. And it’s handy being able to click on them and jump to the next room. It is handy having notes on the page. That’s the summary version of why Fairvale Market is such a winner to – it’s especially handy.
Handy is good.