Review: Aaron A. Reed – Skycrawl

Skycrawl is an epic fantasy, system agnostic supplement written and published by Aaron A. Reed.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Skycrawl here
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Skycrawl is something of a unique product. It’s not a standalone RPG but it’s also not a sourcebook containing nothing but fluff. It is a unique fantasy setting with a set of mechanics powering the ins and outs of the setting (as opposed to mechanics powering character creation and conflict resolution). Some of these mechanics are actually keyword based allowing you to translate those keywords to die results in your favorite game systems; it even includes a chart for making that translation in games such as D&D. The keywords are quite simple, such as “Success” and “Failure”. I will not divulge the details as this is an original feature that mark’s the book’s design.

So how does it work? It’s all in the design of the setting! To me, Skycrawl is like what the universe would be like shortly after the “Big Bang” when all the celestial bodies are still somewhat close but the area between them can be traversed as if they were filled with oxygen. This universe would thus still be forming in a bit of a chaotic way… so you never know where places will actually be located. Wrap that up in a fantasy realm with standard trappings (elves, dwarves, goblins, etc.). The key is “forming in a bit of a chaotic way”. The mechanics are there to aid you in traversing this miasma of fantasy craziness like a skyship passing along ethereal winds to travel to the moon. There are many random things that can happen and the mechanics empower the GM to create that setting as the game is being played. Yeah, you don’t create your own setting upfront as it’s… well basically fluid. In fact, you could place this multiple times and never end up with the exact same experience. It reminds me a bit of Sundered Skies from Triple Ace Games, but with a whole lot more potential places to travel that are loosely defined. It even includes tools for random encounters, local folk, locales, and a whole lot more. It’s a complete book that you can layer atop your favorite system!

As for the book… it looks good. The writing is excellent, the flow of content is perfect, and the layout looks great. The artwork is a complete letdown though. The artwork is apparently 100% public domain altered by the author/artist. There is not a single piece of original artwork. I’m all for using public domain artwork and stock art, but when you have something truly unique to represent, you really need at least a couple pieces of original artwork to help visualize what you have locked in your head (or some really good stock art that totally matches what you envision). Otherwise the GM and players are left wanting. However, the quality of the content makes the book worth a second look!

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