Item description for The Canting Crew (Counter Pack Series, 1) by Gary Gygax...
In The Canting Crew, volume I of the Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds, Gygax explores the underworld of city life. Theives, their guilds, organization, a complete dictionary of the language they speak, the signs they use, everything a player or DM may want or need to know about the underclasses, new weapons and more this book is a must have.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 10.6" Width: 8.6" Height: 0.7" Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Release Date Apr 29, 2002
Publisher Troll Lord Games
ISBN 1931275084 ISBN13 9781931275088
Reviews - What do customers think about The Canting Crew (Counter Pack Series, 1)?
A useful resource with some flaws Oct 21, 2002
I was very excited when I saw this book was becomming available, because it seemed to be exactly the type of hard-core historical reference - resource that I'm always looking for and rarely finding for my D20 campagins. In addition, it's based in a subject (the medeival underworld) which I find fascinating, partially because of the insight provided into it by the first, original DnD game.
Gary Gygax is obviously pursuing a subject here that he was interested in from those old days. Overall he succeeded but this book could have been better. The first thing I noticed was the type and the paper used. The type was large and funny looking and the paper is cream colored, I'm not sure if it's really cheap paper or not, I've had the book for a while now and it hasn't ripped nor has the binding fallen apart or anything, but it kind of looks cheap and unprofessional. It seemed like the type was big to fill up space, maybe. The illustrations didn't help either. Some were ok, and many of the ideas in them were interesting, but the execution was poor and looked crude.
The basic source material here though is quite interesting. Basically the core of the book is an itemized breakdown of all the very many various vocations available to the criminal underworld in a large mediaval urban center (scalable to country and small town locations as well) The "canting crew" is the entire criminal underworld, with the various types of assasins forming the elite, the beggars on the bottom, and the thieves in the middle. There is also a complete Cant-to-english and english-to-cant dictionary, and even a list of hobo signs and sign language used by the underworld, which I found particularly useful.
For his source, mr Gygax seems to have borrowed liberally from the non gamers (historical) book of the same name, also available on this site. To be honest, I'm not sure which would ultimately be the better resource, since I haven't seen that book, but certainly Gygax doesn't have a whole lot of D20 information here.
The majority of the book, the short descriptions of the various underworld vocations, and the fairly complete overview of the social and policial order of a large medieval town, all contain little if any D20 rules. In the end there are two gamers sections, a D20 section with a few prestige classes (pretty good ones, especially the urban ranger) and a few spells (also good, kind of subtle spells, though not many) followed by a section for Gygaxes own "Lejendary Adventures" which I haven't ever played.
Overall, I liked the information here but I felt the book was disapointing in the way it was printed, the illustrations were bad, and there wasn't enough D20 material here. Maybe Gygax is leery of second guessing the Wizards of the coast people but I think he could probably have helped a lot in tightening things up a bit for Rogues in particular.
I wish they would redo this book as a soft cover with small, dense type, a little more D20 translation on each of the Assasin, thief and NPC type entries, better illustrations, and a lower cover price. Some new thief and Asssasin feats and skills would have been nice, a few more prestige classes, and a little discussion of how some of the existing thief and assasin related prestige classes fit in here to the canting crew would have been appreciated. But I do like the book and it will help me in my next campaign.