Thursday, February 2, 2017

KickTracking: Dungeon Grappling



It's been a while since my last blog post, and I apologize for that. Truth be told January went past me like the blink of an eye, and I neglected some of my regular duties. But over the past few months more than a few RPG KickStarters I backed began delivering finished products to me. I've been fortunate to have most of them arrive around their estimated release schedule, and be more or less what I expected. I decided to share some of my thoughts on them, starting with Dungeon Grappling.

The Pitch: Dungeon Grappling is more or less a variant rules fix for not one, but three popular rules systems: Swords & Wizardry, Pathfinder, and 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. From the days of AD&D to the D20 era, grappling has always been a bit of a bother with baroque resolution to the point that most gamers did not bother with it. I cannot speak as to 4th edition, and 5th Edition's grappling rules don't seem very obtuse from what I've seen and heard, but it was a common enough trend that the creator of Dungeon Grappling sought to create an improvement to make this combat maneuver a viable option as well as being easily understood.

Communication: Douglas Cole was surprisingly active ever since the project first came to light, a rarity for many crowdfunded RPG projects. Updates occurred several times a week, and this did not change even after the project was fully funded. Cole was very active in the comments section as well,

Delivery: The estimated release date for the PDF was in February 2017, with several print copy tier rewards estimated around April. I backed at the PDF level, and the final version of the eBook came to me around mid-January. There are now Print-On-Demand options for the book on Drive-Thru RPG and RPGNow in a softcover color.

Delivered ahead of schedule, a rarity in the KickStarter world.

End Product: The book itself is 53 pages, full-color. The artwork is very good, and the meat of the mechanics can be summed up in the use of Control Points, a kind of pseudo-hit point system reflecting how "beaten into submission" a target is in regards to grappling. I can't help but feel that won't really cut down on "book-keeping clutter," for as it is another value to keep track of in regards to hit points, spell slots, etc. Even more so if multiple creatures are grappled or grappling in the same fight.

The book seems rules-heavier than I like, but in regards to individual systems it does seem to make fighters, monks, and martial types quite competent in grappling in Swords & Wizardry. However, in Pathfinder  the problem of huge monsters having extremely high CMD (Combat Maneuver Defense) values is still a problem as the CMD is substituted for a target's Grapple DC (or the overall defense value when people try to grapple you). As for 5th Edition, the Athletics skill is still important for various grappling moves and defenses, meaning that Bards and Rogues with Expertise and raging Barbarians are still the best class choices for this.

Although I was expecting a more quick and dirty rules-lite option in lieu of a gradient scale, the professionalism and early delivery of the KickStarter  helped earn trust from Gaming Ballistic and any future projects they might have in store.

Dungeon Grappling can be purchased on Drive-Thru RPG and RPGNow.