Monday, February 11, 2013

Purple Sorcerer Games' Crawler's Companion Review

A whole slew of Kickstarter projects were announced immediately following the release of DCC RPG last year. Purple Sorcerer Games delivered their goods last week, offering a hybrid of a dice roller app and rules reference guide. The best part? The app is 100% free regardless of whether you backed the Kickstarter project.

One of the most common complaints I've read about DCC RPG is the "need" to purchase funky, expensive Zocchi dice. I've never given this complaint much validity because the rulebook outlines very simple methods of generating these results and really, what gamer doesn't love dice? Assuming you have a smartphone, this app remedies that "need". Well, sort of. 

To be honest, the main dice roller interface is a little bit clunky. You roll by swiping your finger over the die towards the center of the screen. One of the features is a die-lock, which allows you to roll multiple types of dice at the same time. The problem is that dice often get locked unintentionally, meaning you'll sometimes be rolling extras. It would be better if I just had to tap the screen instead of swipe. 

Another issue is that dice don't automatically disappear from the table after they've been rolled; each one is removed manually by tapping it. In a game where every class uses numerous types of dice, not having a clear-all function to remove clutter quickly can certainly be frustrating. 

The main dice roller portion of the app isn't a total loss, though. When you roll multiple dice of the same type, it displays the total on a single die. Critical hits and fumbles initiates are announced via a "Natural 20" graphic and a laughing skull, respectively. The sound of rolling dice sounds like the real thing. All of these features distinguish it from being just a random number generator. 

The reference portions of the app are what really shine. Spells, critical hits, and critical failures all have a mini-dice roller function with none of the aforementioned issues. Simply click on the appropriate option and displays the total of your roll and the appropriate result. You can program your modifications into these sections to account for the relevant bonuses which makes pulling the results from one of DCC's hundreds of pages of tables as simple as pressing a button. 

There is also general reference section of the app that is equally useful for both new players and veterans alike. This is broken down into three sections, one for classes, combat, and general reference. One of the issues with the first printing of DCC is the lack of an index. While the second printing has remedied this, finding rules, which are still spread out over several sections, is now much faster and convenient. 

Despite its flaws, Purple Sorcerer Games has given us a tool that is as essential as the rulebook itself. The issues I have with the dice roller function are certainly forgivable considering the price and nothing an update can't fix. 

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