Tuesday 9 August 2016

Crawl! fanzine #9

Crawl! fanzine #9 is The Arwich Grinder, which I wrote, published by Straycouches Press. Sean Poppe turned my original maps into something suitably creepy, and Mario T. matched the tone of the adventure with truly disturbing artwork.

This is the darkest thing that I have ever written. When I finished the text, I had to get up and shake it off.

The adventure is largely inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, in particular The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Rats in the Walls, The Dunwich Horror, and The Picture in the House. I think I managed to create enough of the necessary horror - an actual pulling back from the ideas presented - to offer at least a dim echo of the Master's work here. I tried to create a sense of cosmic horror as well, though perhaps less successfully.

This is, after all, a 0-level funnel in which it is abundantly clear that your PCs hold no special place in the universe. This might cause some to carve out their own importance, but in my experience, many players simply have their PCs slink away in the night, unwilling to face Arwich village with the shared horror of what they have done.

On a brighter note, when I first ran this adventure in 2014 for my then-fifteen-year-old daughter and one of her friends, reports came back to me that I was "cool" because they told others about the adventure.

I have considered writing "The Reverse Grinder", in which the PCs slaughter an innocent family because they imagine that they are in a Lovecraft-inspired funnel. My sense of humor is appalling.

The Curwen Family have lived up among the pine woods on the outskirts of Arwich Village for as long as the oldest village gaffers can remember. The beautiful Bessie Curwen’s bonnet is found in a strange creature’s grasp. The village owes much to her family, so someone must go up into the dark pine-clad hills to make sure that the Curwens are all right. After all, the Curwens saved the village from starvation two winters ago. If you do not go, who will?

What in the name of heaven or hell could be happening up there?

Also included, But He Sure Had Guts!, a gruesome short encounter that I originally wrote targeting Crawl! fanzine #5 (The Monster Issue). There is another short encounter I wrote and submitted at the time, The Urchin Gambit, which has yet to appear in Crawl!

Buy It Here!


  1. Great adventure. Very unsettling. The thing that really sticks in your mind is how atrociously this family is and their living conditions. Play it right, and the players won't know what their deal is, but they'll be driven by that fear of what they think the family is.
    For my game, I thought it would add to the atmosphere if I got ham and sausage pizza for the table.

    1. You are an evil, evil judge, MT, and I thank you for your comments!

    2. This was my first time running an adventure! I ran it with my gaming group in place of the funnel provided with Hubris - I felt the brutal darkness of this crawl was a more appropriate entry point for that setting. Bonus was when one player rolled Pig Wrestler and Ox Herder as random occupations for two of her characters! They made great use of their backgrounds in rounding up pigs and the big fellas. Oh and that onyx cup that gives the cravings? That character totally just rolled with it and started snacking. They wound up taking out Ike mid-summon from 40ft below with thrown daggers. Crisis averted kinda? It was fun man, thoroughly creeped everyone out. Many thanks

    3. You are very welcome. I am glad you and yours had fun!

  2. Where is the buy here link? Or if I go to this blog then rpgnow, will you get your store credit?


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