Mud & Blood Reviews • 9littlebees

Mud & Blood Reviews

As we review dark, grim and gritty tabletop RPGs on our podcast, we’ll compile our scores here, along with a summary of our thoughts on each. Jump to the bottom of the page for a definition of the categories and the Crunch Meter.

Game 1: Conan 2d20

We originally reviewed this game with slightly different criteria (review episode here), but have updated our score in line with the definitions set out at the bottom of the page.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 3.5 4
Setting 5 5
Visuals 4.5 4
Utility 3.5 4
Approachability 4 3.5
Individual Scores 4.1 4.1


Game 2: Degenesis Rebirth

We feel bad for giving this game such a low rating (it is one of Matt’s favourite systems now), but can’t avoid the issues it has with utility and approachability. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 3.5
Setting 5 4.5
Visuals 5 5
Utility 3 3
Approachability 2 2
Individual Scores 3.9 3.6


Game 3: Coriolis

If you like the sound of  “Arabian Nights in space” and “inspired by Firefly, Alien and Revelation Space”, then this game is for you. This dark sci-fi game is placed in mankind’s far future and has a unique feel to most other sci-fi settings out there. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4
Setting 5 4.5
Visuals 4 4
Utility 3.5 3.5
Approachability 4 4
Individual Scores 4.2 4.0


Game 4: Shadow of the Demon Lord

Rob Schwalb’s magnum opus deservedly receives our top rated review – it just gets so many things right. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4.5
Setting 3.5 3.5
Visuals 3.5 3.5
Utility 5 5
Approachability 4.75 4.75
Individual Scores 4.25 4.25


Game 5: KULT: Divinity Lost

Matt’s highest rated game to date, and coming in just behind Shadow of the Demon Lord overall. Kult is a truly excellent game, but isn’t for everyone. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.2 4
Setting 4 4
Visuals 4.7 4.6
Utility 4.5 4.5
Approachability 4 3.8
Individual Scores 4.28 4.18


Game 6: Forbidden Lands

Matt’s highest rated game in terms of mechanics, and a generally excellent game all around. Issues with Approachability are likely to be addressed in the months following the review. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.8 4
Setting 4 4
Visuals 4 4
Utility 4 4
Approachability 3 3
Individual Scores 3.96 3.8


Game 7: Alas for the Awful Sea

An excellent game, and one of our highest rated. Full review here.

Category Matt’s Score Liam’s Score
Mechanics 4.5 4
Setting 4.5 4.5
Visuals 3.2 3.5
Utility 5 5
Approachability 3.75 4
Individual Scores 4.19 4.2


The Categories

In order to know what the hell we’re talking about with some of these categories, we thought it best to define each one. All games are given a rating of 5 in each one.


This one should be obvious – how well does the ruleset fit the game? This is not a measure of how crunchy or narrative a system is, but simply how well it fits.

Golden example: Interestingly, neither Matt nor Liam have yet found a perfect 5…


How compelling is the setting and how well defined is it? If a game is setting-free (like FATE or Savage Worlds), how good are the tools given to create one for your own games?

Golden example: Conan 2d20, for being painstakingly faithful to Robert E Howard’s rich work.


This encompasses the quality of not just the artwork, but also the graphic design elements, layout, and physical qualities of a hard or softback book.

Golden example: Degenesis Rebirth, the most beautiful RPG in existence.


How easy is it to use the book at the table? Are there things like bookmarks in the PDF? A full index? Character sheets, GM tools, online tools, etc also fall in here.

Golden example: Shadow of the Demon LordBlades in the Dark, and Symbaroum.


A very important element in TTRPGs is approachability, and this category encompasses how accessible a game is to new players. Things like Quickstarts, cheap handouts (fiction, in-game lore, etc)

Golden example: Symbaroum is a clear winner here, with a free Quickstart, many free lore handouts and even free campaign primers for GMs, allowing people to be sure they really want this game before spending money on it.

The Crunch Meter

Another thing we are implementing (but not calculating in our final review score) is a crunch meter. Basically this lets our listeners know how “creamy” (rules-light) or “crunchy” (complex) a ruleset is. To help visualise just what this means, we’ve ranked some popular games from 1 to 5. In addition, we’ve shown a single game at both 0 and 6, for games which are so creamy or so complex that they break our meter.