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(TFT) First impressions on Dark City Games and The Crown of Kings

Earlier this week I received The Crown of Kings, the first release of
a TFT-compatible programmed adventure from Dark City Games.

I've got to congratulate these folks on a job very well done!  Upon 
opening the envelope it shipped in, I was immediately struck with a 
wave of nostalgia as I saw the cover of the rulebook with the title
in that familiar Gothic lettering, maps with megahexes on them, and
(joy!) a thin cardboard sheet with the character markers.  This marker
sheet in particular is so much in the old TFT style that any of us
old enough to remember the original games (all of us?) will instantly
harken back to opening an old Metagaming MicroQuest.

Except...  except that thanks to the changes in technology in the past
25 years, there's a level of slickness brought to this that Metagaming
did not always achieve.  The components of the game include the afore-
mentioned 4.5" x 8" marker sheet, 2 5.5" x 8" rulebooks, and 2 11" x 17"
color map sheets.  These map sheets cover all the different types of
rooms that you can encounter in the game, and are a nice addition that
probably wouldn't have made it into a Metagaming publication, since one
could simply have given the layout and said to use regular megahexes to
build the room.

There are 2 rulebooks, the first being a twelve-page set of the "Legends
of the Ancient World" rules.  This is a fantastic rewrite/distillation of
TFT/ITL, though it's light on spells and skills.  It's certainly enough
to get oneself into the game, and facilitate fast playing rather than a
realistic simulation.  That's fine by me, as I always liked TFT for its
fast playing abstraction of combat and magic rather than D&D's slower
play based on its sometimes dogged attempt at realistic simulation.

These rules are also freely downloadable from Dark City Games at 
http://www.darkcitygames.com/docs/Legends.pdf  It's a nice gesture on the
part of DCG that they made these available with no apparent restrictions.

The second rulebook is the adventure itself, presented in a clear, well-
written format that will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a
MicroQuest.  There are hundreds of numbered paragraphs, giving a description
of a location and a list of options, with a number of the paragraph to be
turned to if that option is chosen.  I noticed one small "bug" here; in
the very first paragraph, there's an option "S" which is not defined in the
rules anywhere.  It turns out that this is for Search.

This second book is a 20 page booklet with a full color cover, apparently
done on a high-quality laser printer using good quality paper.  This book
is very nicely illustrated throughout, with an easily readable layout.

I've not yet delved into the game itself, so a review of the game play
will come at a later time.  I'm told that this adventure was originally
written in 1980 for the original TFT, so there's been plenty of time for
playtesting and tweaking!

At $12.95, which included the cost of mailing, the price fits right into 
what the original Microgames and MicroQuests would have cost, adjusted 
for inflation.

I think that these folks have a winner on their hands with this game,
and I hope there's a large enough market to sustain the effort.  I'm
looking forward to the next release! 

       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - jh@brainiac.com
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa
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