Thursday 31 December 2020

The Shambling Un-dead

RC#3: The Shambling Un-dead is a 0-level tournament funnel written by the Dungeon Crawl Cabal (Jim Wampler, Bob Brinkman, David Baity, Stephen Newton, Jeffrey Tadlock, and Daniel J. Bishop). Art is by James V. West (including cover and cartography). The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the writers.

This was one of three tournament funnels produced by the Dungeon Crawl Cabal for Goodman Games. The other two were The Hypercube of Myt and Death By Nexus. As with the previous two entries, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of tournament funnels, you can listen to this Spellburn podcast, or read this article on the Spellburn website.

These tournament funnels were created by each of the writers creating a single area, which Jim Wampler then had to work into a cohesive whole. The basic premise is familiar to anyone who has ever watched Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead - a bunch of dead things start eating people, and regular folks have to find a way to deal with it!

While the previous two tournament funnels were restricted by their location, The Shambling Un-dead assumes that the PCs are peasants living in a large medieval port village, which meant that Jim Wampler had to devise rules for what happens when the PCs are not heading toward the major encounter areas. He also devised rules for improvised weapons, fully aware that 0-level peasants would look around for something - anything! - that might increase their damage potential!

The areas you get to explore are:
  • You Only Moved the Headstones: The New Market in the central part of town, which borders  the New Cemetery.
  • Wormtooth Abbey
  • The Bloated Dead: The waterfront is, if anything, more dangerous than the village streets!
  • A Walk in the Park
  • The Sinking Sewers
I am responsible for the sewers, so if your PCs died or found glory there, you can blame me! The real reason I chose the sewers was that it is easy to connect sewers to anywhere you like. I hoped that this would make Jim Wampler's job a little easier!

Of all the tournament funnels, I think that this one would work best in regular game play, with challenges appropriate for 1st or even 2nd-level characters. It would be fun to set a campaign in Cowlinsport, beginning with some other funnel, and allowing the players to become somewhat familiar with the layout, the places, and even some of the (now un-dead) people that they are going to meet. Perhaps they even ship with Captain Fulton to explore the mysteries of The Haunting of Larvik Island?

If you go this route, you may wish to include some means to end the plague of un-dead. Or you may wish to transit into the Age of Undying before the PCs can finally resolve the problem with Death!

After a night of fitful sleep and fevered dreams, you awaken and step outside your thatched cottage to greet the coming day, an apocalypse greets you eyes instead. You quickly discover that the dirt streets and back alleyways of your village are now overrun with hordes of the shambling un-dead. Quickly glancing to the scattered few friends that you see standing about equally shocked, you grab the nearest crude implement that you can find and form a circle standing back-to-back — desperately hoping that there is somewhere to run and hide, and that things don’t get even worse. Is that a vampire out in broad daylight?

The Shambling Un-Dead is a Level 0 tournament funnel, and includes rules and advice on how to conduct a DCC RPG tournament funnel for a nigh-unlimited number of players.

It's free.

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