Monday, March 8, 2010

[My Collection] The 23rd Letter, Part 1

Back in 1996, Crucible Design published a game about psychics and psychic powers called The 23rd Letter. I was looking through my collection recently and came across it (in fact, the second revised edition, from 1997, is the one I have).

Crucible Design was the first and only RPG game company from Northern Ireland that I had ever heard of and their games have now transitioned to author Matt Johnston's blog Late Gaming.

Looking around the net, has a sole review on it and a few other bits (1, 2, 3) and there is precious little elsewhere. Looking through Matt's Blog, there are about 10 posts (from 25 Feb 2008 to 8 Nov 2008) that include some really good content for the game. His blog has a bunch of other stuff, including a pretty cool Narnia/WWII crossover blurb.

(I wrote several questions to Matt about his games and Crucible Design, it's past and present, and he was kind enough to answer. I will post our discussion in Part 2.)

The 23rd Letter was available from Key20 before they blew up in 2009 but you can still get it from Late Gaming (over 100 in stock) at the bargain price of £9.99 (+ £2.50 shipping ~ about $19 US). There's also a download page (including a PC sheet and the unfinished but still useful Projects Sourcebook) and two other games to buy (Zombi and SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO).

If I recall correctly, I heard about it sometime around 1998 (probably by reading that sole review on and managed to find a copy at a game shop when I visited by sister in D.C. around 2001. At $16.99 (I think it was in the sale bin so I probably paid much less than that) and 72 pages, it wasn't a big purchase. I believe I looked through it briefly and stuck it in my miscellaneous games box.

Now, nearly a decade later, I found it and decided to take a read. Maybe I'll even run a game.

Who knows? You can't read my mind.


  1. Do you know anything about the Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO game from the same guys? I've been trying to find out about it but found a similar lack of info online as you mentioned about 23rd Letter.

  2. I ordered both Zombi and Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO from Matt today because the price was so good. At the very least, I can let you know when I get it but if you don't want to wait....

    I did a search on Matt's blog on ninja (http://www.lategaming.comsome/?s=ninja) and came up with a review from Feb 2009 (

    You should leave a comment and Matt will probably get back to you as soon as he got back to me (in hours, actually).

    Ask him about his games. He's very personable.

  3. I bought my 1st edition of The 23rd Letter at a Conpulsion, I think. I believe the stall that sold it was manned by Wasteland Games - the other RPG company from Northern Ireland that I have heard of. :-) They also sold me some of their stuff, such as Stocs Lite and some of its supplements. They were even cheaper than The 23rd Letter and were in a natty A5 booklet format.

    I was pretty impressed with The 23rd Letter. I've always been better at reading games than playing them but I did run The 23rd Letter a couple of times and it was good fun. I put an adventure onto the website I had at university and Matt has said nice things about me for helping publicise the game in a small way. :-)

    I later bought Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO but I don't remember much about it. I also got the second edition of The 2rd Letter at some point. As a game I liked the focus of The 23rd Letter. The rules are not heavy but they do what the game needs them to do well. It knows what it wants to do and the setting and the rules work well to achieve it.


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