Friday, 6 September 2019

Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet

DCC 84.2 Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet is a 5th level adventure by Jim Wampler. Art is by Doug Kovacs (cover), Mark Allen (cartography), Stefan Poag, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is the second of several supplemental adventures supporting Peril on the Purple Planet. As with the Barsoom stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, each additional "tale" adds new elements to the complexity of the Purple Planet without undoing what has gone before.

This is a relatively short, digest-sized adventure, but it packs a lot in for its size. Those familiar with Barsoom will certainly recognize an homage to the Atmosphere Plant which John Carter restores at the end of A Princess of Mars, as well as the polar excursion of Warlord of Mars.

When even the native lifeforms of the Purple Planet begin to wither and die under the weirdling sun’s punishing rays, you and your party of interplanetary freebooters quickly conclude that something is going wrong with the very sky above your heads. What ancient mysteries lie in wait for you at the planet’s northern pole, as you explore the timeworn and failing biosphere plant found sprawling there amongst the ice peaks? Will you save your harsh but adopted home, or hasten its eventual doom?

This adventure features new background material that expands the campaign setting, including a new House of Ascended Masters, new weapons and ancient technology to plunder, and a surprising new species of Kith warriors.

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Grimtooth's Trapsylvania

Grimtooth's Trapsylvania is "A Sourcebook for Grimtooth's Traps Locations", written by Grimtooth the Troll (the DriveThru RPG page identifies Steve Crompton), with DCC stats by Joseph Goodman and Terry Olson. Art is by SS Crompton, Liz Danforth, Micheal Von Glahn, Scott Jackson, Jeff Dee, and Phil Longmeier. The publisher is Goodman Games, under license by Flying Buffalo Inc.

So what is this thing? A tongue-in-cheek setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures, which might be part of a normal campaign setting (although that would seem strange), the basis of a gonzo campaign setting, or a place which might be visited as a result of a planar step gone awry. Each area described contains maps, encounters, adventure hooks, and more. Not surprisingly, there are new traps. There is enough material in this book, if used as a campaign setting, to keep the average group busy for years.

Being Grimtooth's, building up replacement characters will be part of what keeps them busy! The Grimtooth's books hail from the early days of gaming, and have a slant mixing humor with slaughtering PCs, so nothing herein should be considered safe or fair. Nor is it necessarily politically correct by modern standards (the minor succubus found herein, for instance, can force a Will save that, if failed, causes her victim to disrobe and stand helpless for 1d3 turns). If this is what you are looking for, you will not be disappointed.

You get descriptions of a Seaport & Abandoned Village, Grimtina’s Petting Zoo, the Fetid Swamp, Warthog’s School for Wayward Trolls, the Death Maze Testing Center, Grimtooth’s Airship and its Hangar, the Lighthouse & Dragon Grotto, the Forest of Doom, the Hallway of Infinite Corridors, Grimtooth’s Inner Sanctum, and more. You can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Restrooms in Trapsylvania, and why you might wish to avoid them!

The DCC Trapsylvania Appendices supply game-specific statistics for the creatures, personalities, and objects found herein:

Appendix 1: Creatures contains full statistics for 87 entries (by my count), and offers a Snake Poison Table for some of the venomous serpents found in Trapsylvania. Yes, some of these monsters are a bit silly, such as the Kiwi Time Snitcher, "Merv" Griffin, or the Giant Killer Dodo - but a lot of them are surprisingly solid monsters that could be used in any DCC RPG campaign.

Appendix 2: NPCs gives stats for over 20 named beings in the Trapsylvania setting. This includes gods (Shub-Niggurath and Yidhra the Dream Witch Goddess), Grimtooth and his sister Grimtina, and more.

Appendix 3: Items contains over 20 items, and statistics for the minor (Type I) succubus. The author notes that "Many items listed below have magical powers that can significantly impact a campaign. The judge may decide that certain items’ enchantments only function in Trapsylvania." This is probably good advice.

For the first time ever: the Legendary locations of Grimtooth’s Traps revealed! And fully compatible with DCC RPG!

For over 30 years Grimtooth’s numerous Traps books have horrified players and inspired gamemasters with hundreds of dangerous devices, deadly deathtraps and hilarious hijinx! Now Grimtooth (with a little help from kid sister Grimtina) will take you on a personally guided tour of his realm and the central hub of his vast Traps empire.

Run your own Grimtooth campaign or pick and choose locations you can use in your own single location adventures.  Explore Grimtooth’s caverns, visit his Inner Sanctum, escape the Deathmaze Testing Center, attend Warthog’s School for Trolls, take a ride on Grimtooth’s Airship, tour Grimtina’s Petting Zoo or get lost in the Infinite Corridor of Hallways and many more gigantic places of doom. Each of these infamous locations include maps, descriptions, Non-player character details, scenarios, all with in-depth DCC stats and lots of art by Traps artist SS Crompton.

And can you uncover the horrendous secret that lies deep beneath Grimtooth’s caverns and back into his family’s history? It’s a great read and a useful campaign setting all in one book.  What are you waiting for? Get yours today!

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Shadow Under Devil's Reef

Shadow Under Devil's Reef is a 1st level adventure by Jon Hook. Art is by Peter Mullen (cover), Chris Arneson, Tom Galambos, Cliff Kurowski, Jesse Mohn, and Chad Sergesketter. Cartography is by Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

We all knew that, sooner or later, Goodman Games was going to release a module closely inspired by the writing of H.P. Lovecraft, and Halloween of 2017 was the time to do it. Jon Hook, who supplied statistics for 22 Lovercraftian Monsters for Dungeon Crawl Classics in the Goodman Games Gen Con 2017 Program Book was clearly the person to do it. His adventure in that same guide, The Thing That Should Not Be, is also solidly Lovecraftian, and would be a good follow up adventure to this one when the PCs reach 3rd level.

As the cover painting makes clear, Deep Ones are involved...but they are not all that is involved. Structurally, because both adventures pay homage to The Shadow over Innsmouth, there are similarities to The Portsmouth Mermaid. These do not, in any way, hurt either adventure, and it would be perfectly feasible to run both in the same campaign. Likewise, although this was released as a Halloween module, there is no reason to wait until then to play it. It is a good adventure with solid Cthulhu mythos elements.

The perfect October release! A raging storm has made the waters around Devil’s Reef impossible to navigate safely. The noble galleon, The Royal Dawn, has run aground and Princess Kaeko from faraway Fu-Lamia is now missing! Untold riches and glory await those who successfully find the princess and safely deliver her to Black Sand Port. As the greedy and ambitious adventurers set out to find the princess, their thoughts linger on the few Royal Dawn survivors that washed up on the beach with bodies that were corrupted by strange frog-like mutations. What kind of evil awaits the adventurers on that forbidden island?

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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Trumphammer 2K

Trumphammer 2K was written by Author X and has no credit for illustrations. It is published by Author X.

Essentially, this is an unofficial mini-setting for DCC RPG games, wherein Donald Trump not only won the election in 2016, but in which there will never be another American election again, Canada has been nuked (for some unknown reason), and Mexico has united with a South American alliance to declare war on the United States under the God Emperor Trump. Players are part of the Resistance, with classes such as the Abortionist, Anon (members of a terrorist hacktivist collective), Embezzler, Euro (mystical European immigrant who has overstayed their visa), Grunt (illegal immigrant worker), Punk, or Thug.

For reasons which should be obvious, this is not an officially licensed DCC product. Author X’s sociopolitical views are the basis of this product, but whether this is a good thing or a bad thing must be determined by the individual reader.

So long as you don't take yourself too seriously, you might find some useful gaming material here. At the same time, it is impossible to describe this product adequately without some political discussion creeping in.

Trumphammer 2K was written in the months prior to the 2016 election, and the author hoped that it would have a “short shelf-life” because the political situation would change. There is satirical criticism of Republicans (in general and individually), the Green Party, the continued militarization of American law enforcement, far Right media figures, and so on. There is no mention of the corporate-leaning Democrats, the Sanders campaign, or the rigging of the 2016 primaries that was exposed by Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Russia doesn’t come up, and one imagines that is largely because RussiaGate wasn’t a thing at the time.

Trumphammer 2K offers a glimpse into a future (and present) which is far more dystopian than our current reality, but which echoes the fears and experiences of real people. It could be used as the backdrop of a Cyber Sprawl Classics or DCC XCrawl campaign. It could be treated as an alternate plane of existence that our normal PCs somehow find themselves within (illegally, no doubt).  It is also surprisingly robust as a setting for messed-up one shot adventures. I could easily see a luchador from the 2015 Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 1 crossing the Great Wall of Trump on behalf of the UniĆ³n de Naciones Suramericanas.

Another potential scenario would see a patron send the party into the world of Trumphammer 2K to recover some item needed…or perhaps some portion of spell knowledge needed by the party wizard can only be found among the glowing radioactive ruins of Canada? Mutant Crawl Classics might offer several ideas here, as might the various Umerican publications….

While I am willing to talk politics with almost anyone, please, please, please keep politics out of the comments section here as much as possible. Thank you. Consider this request as part of my projected Zone of Equality, 50’ Radius.
It is the year 2100…

and God-Emperor Trump is the undisputed ruler of the USA. Elected in the election of 2016, he ascended, consolidating the financial, military-industrial and religious complexes into a single force that has forever changed the face of this nation, for the better…

At least that’s what the Talking Heads would have you believe. You’re one of the few that knows the truth, that sticks their neck out to ensure that your children can live in a better world, a world free of Trump’s Tyranny.

There is no peace in this nation, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of a mad god…

Will you submit, or will you fight?

Monday, 12 August 2019

Mundane Monster Generator

Every judge needs creatures for their players to face. Julio's RPG Cove presents to you the Mundane Monster Generator for that very reason. According to the site:

The purpose of this page is to quickly generate general purpose wandering encounters. You won't find any epic dragons here or an Ogre King for the grand finale. For unique, special monsters, refer to the core books on how to build them as it is always more fun and personal to roll your own.

Feel free to print a few of these and keep them in your Judge's Bag of Death Stuff for when your players go off-script and you need to kill them.

Judges can select Type of Encounter, number of Hit Dice, number of creatures, and details. When selecting the number of creatures, you are selecting standard troublemakers, leaders, defenders, skirmishers, and snipers. When selecting details, you can select Hit Die type, damage bonus, Armor Class bonus, and to hit (attack roll) bonus.

For instance, here is a 5 HD Golem, with d12 Hit Dice, designed as a sniper with a +4 bonus to hit:

Two feet tall humanoid creatures made out of pebble. Made of a variety of pebbles cobbled together. Their eyes are an empty void and sparks come out of their joints. They have swords made out of stone.
They move fast and with deadly precision.
+1 AC for material. Smaller Hit Die due to size. Agile: +2AC.
Immune to Charm & Mind Control spells. Immune to Color Spray, Blind, and other visual effects.
Weapon has normal stats on players.
Quick Reflexes: When golem is hit, PC must do a DC 15 Reflex Save or weapon is grabbed
CRIT TABLE: M / d10 | INIT: +0
HD: 5d3
AC: 14 (18) | HP: 9
ATK: Sword +7(1d10+1) | Projectile Fist (ranged) +11(1d10)
ACT: 1d20, 1d14
SV F:4, R:-1, W:6 | AL N
SP Extra AC if defended.
Attack Priority:
(1) Non-Humans
(2) Closest
It should go without saying (but does not) that, if you create a more complex group of troublemakers, you will get more complex results.

Yes, the site will generate PDFs of your creatures on demand.

Access it here.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Crypt of Morgrath

Crypt of Morgrath is a 1st level adventure written and illustrated by Joshua LH Burnett. It is published by JLHB Polytechnic.

This was originally written by the author as an OSR dungeon in 2011, which he converted to Dungeon Crawl Classics. It was posted to his blog, and you can find the Crypts & Things version here. In fact, if you are interested in doing conversions of your own material, or of published material for your own use, examining both versions of this relatively short adventure might be worth your while.

This is a short adventure, which was fun to read and should be fun to play. It is a bit on the linear side, but as it is not long this isn't much of a problem. The introduction could easily be modified, or even skipped, and the PCs would be none the worse for it.

I am not sure why the un-dead in Area 6 were not other members of the bandit crew; I would personally make this change when running the adventure. (Because this is new, I am trying to avoid spoilers, but if you get it you will understand this comment.)

Because the adventure is short, there is no likelihood of a print version any time soon. However, the introductory text suggests a funnel taking place before this adventure. If the author created that funnel, and then bundled the two together - possibly with a mini bar-brawl as the end of the funnel - that could be sweet.

You now stand before the Baron, a mountain of a man with a bristling blood-red beard. He stares you down with steely eyes. “You have caused a lot trouble and carnage in my town. By rights, I should have you in the pillory, ready for a flogging. But I remember your valor in the campaign against the savages, and I am in a forgiving mood. I’m going to pardon your crimes and even cover your bar tab, but I want you to do a simple task for me...”

This product is Pay What You Want, so there is no reason you shouldn't check it out.

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Shadow Out of Sapphire Lake

TG3: Shadow Out of Sapphire Lake is a 3rd level adventure written by “Weird Dave” Coulson with art by Matt Morrow (cover) and Johnathan L Bingham. Cartography is by Glynn Seal. The publisher is Cut to the Chase Games.

This is the fourth (and final) module in the Memories of the Toad God series. It continues a story-line related to Ibholtheg, the Toad God the series is named after. What relation Ibholtheg has with other DCC-related amphibious deities (such as Bobugbubilz, Schaphiroadaz, and Tsathoggua), is left to the judge to determine - but the background of The Croaking Fane might offer some ideas here.

This adventure was written for conversion to a number of different rulesets, which offers its own challenges. These are issues I have written about before, and boil down to three potential complaints:

(1) Statblocks at the end of the adventure, rather than where required within the adventure. Because different systems use different statblock sizes, this makes formatting a lot easier for the publisher, but makes the end product a little harder to use for the judge.

(2) Generic content. Dungeon Crawl Classics has a great aesthetic, where monsters and treasures tend to be unique. This is a lot harder to include if you know that whatever you write will have to be translated into multiple systems.

(3) Minor formatting glitches, such as using Constitution rather than Stamina.

Regarding the placement of statblocks, they are still at the end of this adventure. C'est la vie. In terms of generic creatures, Shadow Out of Sapphire Lake is the most Lovecraftian (or perhaps Clark Ashton Smithian) of the Cut to the Chase modules that I have written about thus far. There are plenty of unique creatures here, and nothing that strikes me as generic. In terms of minor formatting glitches, I am not aware of any.

In short, this is an example of how to do a multi-system adventure well.

So, having acknowledged that this adventure avoids the pitfalls of being written for more than one system, let's examine some of the positives:

Weird Dave’s Notebook: I love getting insights into other Game Master's thought processes. As such, I really appreciate these sidebars.

Adaptability: The adventure, like all Cut to the Chase adventures, provides notes about what you might need to change to fit the adventure to another setting. The adventure "tries to use as many generic location names as possible to make it easy to port to nearly any fantasy campaign setting", but is not so generic as to be boring. (Humanoids and demi-humans still suffer somewhat from standard D&D-type tropes, but this is not a large problem in this adventure.)

The PCs are movers and shakers: The opening setup of the adventure is written to allow the PCs to be new to the area or old hands, a cemented group or newly formed. Throughout this is a thread that the PCs are important to the locals, and may be able to "bask in some well-deserved hero worship". There is an explicit note that "The scenes in Kraden’s Hill are going to have the most impact if the players see themselves as taking the leadership positions that no one seems to be filling." It is always good to be reminded that, not only are the PCs agents for change in the world, but they are also looke up to by others.

The orcs are friendly: Not only are the orcs friendly, but there is now a reason they are "shadow orcs".

An Aztec-themed ancient race: Called the Xilonoc, they provide a reason to convert The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan to Dungeon Crawl Classics, as well as use other Meso-American themed DCC content.

Strong CAS and HPL flavor: There is a lot of material in this adventure that may recall the work of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. These influences make it easy to include the Memories of the Toad God series in a Dungeon Crawl Classics game which makes use of the materials from Goodman Games.

Ibholtheg could use a patron write-up. If the publisher ever decides to make a compiled edition, I would strongly urge them to consider this as potential bonus material. Another possibility: An adventure written specifically for Dungeon Crawl Classics where a sorcerer is trying to reach out to the Squamous Toad, possibly from within Kraden's Hill. I have calculated that it takes an average of 4 adventures to reach 3rd level, and an average of three 3rd level adventures to reach 4th level. By this calculation, a 2nd or 3rd level adventure set between Tongues of the Screaming Toad and Shadow Out of Sapphire Lake would be perfect.

In a distant extraplanar prison, the outer power Ibholtheg thrashes and reels, sending tremors into the Prime Plane. Those tremors are causing a split to appear between the planes, and from that gulf Ibholtheg stretches its influence out, attempting to widen it. Shadows lengthen in the nearby frontier town of Kraden’s Hill, but is it too late to stop the return of the once-powerful Squamous Toad?

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