Posted on March 1, 2007 by Flames
There is a lot to like about The Creep Chronicle — indeed, in many ways, it’s the PG-rated successor of Little Fears that several people were hungering for back in 2001. If you’re looking for a “kid friendly” horror RPG that still has some teeth, you need look no further than The Creep Chronicle.
An amazingly complete product, The Creep Chronicle provides an open ended campaign framework and a simple set of rules that will allow you to explore it — as long as you have prior experience with RPGs. This brings us to the game’s only overt pitfall — The Creep Chronicle contains no explanation of what roleplaying games are or what people do with them (i.e., the basic tenets of play), nor is there a lexicon of hobby jargon that would aid a hobby newcomer in their efforts to understand the game. For these reasons, I can’t recommend the product to hobby newcomers. That said, I wholeheartedly recommend it to everybody else.
At its core, The Creep Chronicle is about worlds colliding. The land of dreams and the realm of gods have both become intertwined with the mortal realm (for reasons unknown) to create a strange, new, reality. Adults have disappeared, forgotten gods and creatures of dream have filtered into our own world, and only children remain behind. You remain behind and it’s your job to figure out just what is going on. The Creep Chronicle is, as already mentioned, incredibly complete — all that you need to add are the gamers.
On a conceptual level, this is genius — The Creep Chronicle lays out what happened, when it happened, and how it happened — the why is entirely up to the players and the Game Master. As are the future “whats”, “whens” and “hows” — in The Creep Chronicle, you get the structure of a campaign without forced metaplot. The only real answers in The Creep Chronicle are those that the Game Master and the players create. This approach has its potential benefits and its potential flaws, though I believe that the positives far outweight the negatives.
One thing worth noting is that the open-ended campaign structure of The Creep Chronicle makes it possible to play many different kinds of games inside of the provided framework — the only end-game scenarios that exist are those that you devise, so you’re not locked into any pre-scripted grand finale. This can be good or bad, depending upon your personal preferences regarding styles of play, though the one thing that it undeniably does is increase the game’s replay value (i.e., you don’t have to worry about being spoon-fed the exact same campaign twice).
The actual rules of The Creep Chronicle are not, in and of themself, particularly noteworthy, though they are simple. In many ways, the rules remind me of those that accompanied many solo-quest adventure books in the early 1980s (e.g., Fighting Fantasy, et al). That said, this is a good thing — such simple rules get the job done without stealing the spotight from the main attraction (i.e., the product’s “pick up and play” structure). Indeed, such simple rules seem to be a natural compliment to the open-ended campaign framework.
As to the substance of the rules, the core mechanic consists of rolling Xd6 and attempting to achieve a result of 12 or better (doing so indicates a successful task attempt). The “X” part of the equation is governed by the rating of a character’s most relevant attribute (either Brains, Brawn, or Balderdash) and ranges from Miserable (1d6) to Supernatural (5d6). Further, a character’s talents (i.e., natural abilities) and skills (i.e., learned aptitudes) add static bonuses of +1 (for talents) or +2 (for skills) to the total die roll result. The system is, in a word, simple.
While the system may be overly simple for the tastes of some folks, it arguably facilitates a “pick up and play” dynamic when coupled with the open campaign structure. In this regard, I can’t help but feel that The Creep Chronicle missed its true calling as an introductory roleplaying game — the omission of a newcomer orientation largely trumps this dynamic, given that only somebody already familiar with roleplaying games can feasibly “pick up and play” The Creep Chronicle as-is. It’s not quite a wasted effort, though its impact is significantly diminished given the lack of aforementioned orientation, which is unfortunate.
Finally, if spelling errors drive you nuts, you may want to hold off on The Creep Chronicle until it sees a more thorough editing pass — there are a great many typos. I suspect that a computerized proofreader was the culprit given the number of improper word substitutions (e.g., “there” being incorrectly used in place of “their”, “change” being used in place of “chance”, etc). I’m tempted to pass off such poor editing as par for course these days, but I’ve reviewed enough games to know better. There simply is no good excuse for so many overt typos.
Overall, despite the numerous typos and the lack of orientation for hobby newcomers, I’m very impressed with The Creep Chronicle. As a “total package deal” it falls just short of the publishing model that I see as The Next Big Thing (e.g., a self-contained game, complete with a campaign, that can be picked up and played within an hour of purchase). That said, The Creep Chronicle is a step in right direction and, as a result, packs a lot of fun into one small package. If you like horror, are looking for a “kid friendly” RPG, or simply want to try something different, Timeless Games has you covered with The Creep Chronicle.
Check it out.
Reviwer: James D. Hargrove
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