Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Review: PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

This week I want to go back and revisit another favorite of mine from the Basic D&D line, but this isn't an oldie for me, but one I picked up just a few years ago.  I am reviewing the PDF and Print version.  There is no print on demand, so my copy was one I scored in a game auction a while back.

PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

The PC Creature Crucible series came at the end of the Gazeteer line for Basic D&D.  AD&D 2nd ed was my game of choice then, but reviewing this now I think I missed out on something fun.  The author of this book, John Nephew, who would later go on to found Atlas Games.  While reading this I was looking for any clues to what would be Ars Magica, but I think I was just projecting.

The book is 96 pages with color covers and black, white and green interior colors.  The PDF is 102 pages (for maps and covers).  It is divided into a 64-page DM's section and a 32-page Adventures section.  This book is something I would have loved back then, and really enjoy now.
The book covers playing several woodlands or faerie races.  The new race-classes you can play are Brownie, Centaur, Dryad, Faun, Hsiao, Leprechaun, Pixie, Pooka, Sidhe,  Sprite,  Treant, Wood Imp, and Woodrake.   One of the features of Basic-era D&D is Race-as-Class, so a Sprite and Halfling can feel like different things with similar levels of progression.

As per Basic D&D each creature gets it's own advancement table and ability minimums and maximums. All, save the Sidhe, have level limits. All of these creatures have a 0 level and in some cases, negative levels, they need to meet the XP requirements for. It all works rather well for Basic D&D really.  We know it can work since we used to do the same thing in Holmes D&D, only not with this much guidance.  It would not be difficult with these guidlines to adapt this to any other version of D&D in fact.   You can look to the 4th Edition Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild as an example.  Like PC1 Creature Crucible, you can play a dryad, satyr, or pixie.  They even have a similar spell-casting class (more on that later).

The book has a solid Lands of Faerie or even a Feywild feel to it.  A nice green character sheet (which is cool and all, but prints and copies poorly) only adds to that feeling.  The conceit of  the book is to present the information as if given to us from the mouths of four different woodland folk of renown; Olyrrhoe, a centaur prophetess (years before a centaur would teach divination at Hogwarts) tells us about centaurs, wood imps, ,  Lotis, the dryad, speaks for dryads and hamadryads as well as fauns, hsiao, and treants, Robin Goodfellow (yes, THAT Robin) for pixies, sprites and others, and finally Oberon (also THAT Oberon) for Pooka, Sidhe and wood drakes.

This book also deals with three different kinds of spell casters.  Shamans (like druids or clerics, but no turn undead ability), wicca (which you know has my attention! magic-users) and fairy spell casters.  There are some new spells here that very much feel like woodland/wicca/witchy/druid spells.

We get some new equipment, some woodland realms, some organizations and of course our NPCs and a few more besides. Though no Titania, which is odd given the obvious (and necessary) borrowing from Mid-Summer's Night Dream.

That gives us the first 64 pages.
The adventure book makes up the next 32 pages.  We also get an AD&D 2nd Edition conversion guide.  Using these guidelines would help in converting to other versions of D&D, in particular, 5e.

The adventures are short and all share a woodland theme.  They can all be run in a few sessions, usually one per session.

There is also a fun woodlands/faerie themed character sheet.

This is one of those products that I never gave enough attention too back when it came out, but I really wish I had.


The_Myth said...

One of my fave products too!

2 mistakes in your review:

Titania is there. She is a Sidhe


If you look again, you will see none of the race classes have a level limit; the only limits are on the Shaman and Wicca levels.

Caveat - I do not have a copy handy, but I have decades worth of reading the product to go by.

Nathan Irving said...

Titania is on page 59, and The_Myth is correct, no level limits. Where the charts stop there's a note like "+300,00 xp per level thereafter" or whatever. I didn't play Basic, but I bought most of the sourcebooks after a certain point in time, and this was a favorite.

faoladh said...

Definitely a favorite of mine, along with the book on lycanthropes that followed it, PC3 Night Howlers. Even just thinking about those, I am drawn back toward RC/BECMI D&D as a possibility for a future campaign.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Cool! Thanks for the heads up!

Sofinho - Alone in the Labyrinth said...

This is both surprising and refreshing to see! My cousin and I invested in all four of the creature crucible books, but if memory serves we only made characters from the lycanthropes one (number four?) and the undersea one, which is really a whole other gazetteer for the sunlit sea. Thanks for posting.

faoladh said...

@Sofinho in the Labyrinth (Alone): As I noted above, the lycanthropic one was PC3. The fourth one was the undersea races.

Nathan Irving said...

PC3 was Sea People; PC4 was the Night Howlers. PC2 was Top Ballista.

faoladh said...

@Nathan Irving: I'll be damned, you're right. The weird thing is that I looked at my copies before posting what I did, and I would swear that I saw the numbers in the order I reported. Looking at them now, of course, I see the numbers you report. Another timeline shift, I suppose, right under my nose.