I recently heard from Canadian puzzlemaker Les Foeldessy, who wanted me to know about a new crossword variant called Gryptics. You can check out for yourself how they work, but here's the quick rundown: Twelve words, six each across and down, intersect each other to completely fill a 6x6 grid. Most of the words are longer than six letters; the letters that fall outside the grid are given, along with a few helpers inside the grid. There are no clues of the sort found in a normal crossword! The solver must think of the words that will fit the given letters and cross everything else.
I raced through Foeldessy's first book pretty quickly and enjoyed it. A 6x6 white patch is a rare thing in conventional crosswords, but because the outside letters in Gryptics aren't involved in more than one word, there's more leeway that allows these aesthetically pleasing chunks to be filled. I like solving words Wheel of Fortune-style (I dare say I'm pretty good at that and Hangman), so it was good to have a puzzle that relies on that.
I did notice a lot of prefixes and suffixes, which perhaps are the results of the exigencies of the construction. The vocabulary was very clean; I rarely ran into an unfamiliar word. As I implied, the puzzles could stand to be harder; I'm sure one could make a valid Gryptic with no helpers inside the grid. However, Foeldessy's goal seems to be to provide pleasant diversions rather than cranium crushers, and he accomplishes that. So check out his website and give Gryptics a try!