Tuesday 19 December 2017

The Nazhghad

The Nazhghad was written by Paul Wolfe. Illustration is by Chorazin3d. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

The Nazhghad was provided by Mystic Bull Games' Patron Monday feature. This is a full patron write-up, including two 3rd level patron spells (as opposed to the normal one each of 1sr, 2nd, and 3rd level).

The Nazghad was featured in The Nazhghad's Invocation in In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer. This patron is also included in Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between: Expanded, Otherworldly Edition. On his blog post, Paul Wolfe cites Aliens and Prometheus as inspirations.

On the banks of the eastern branch of the River Rgene, the mounds of the jeh, insect-men of alien intelligence and ingenuity, reach hundreds of feet into the sky. These mud and paper cities rival those of the greatest human kings and thousands of jeh build them ever higher.

The murmurings of the Nazhghad drive the jeh priest-kings to build and harvest and conquer, but the entity itself is an enigma. Said to lurk beneath the Thousand Foot Spire, a jeh mound that scrapes the tropical sky, escaped slaves speak of the power of the entity -- that its low buzzing “voice” pervades jeh colonies. Some murmur that other slaves, those specially chosen by the priest-kings, have entered into the entity’s service and left the colonies, presumably as agents in other regions of the Piretis that the jeh and their god covet.

Get It Here!

DCC RPG Quick Start Rules (Portuguese)

The Portuguese version of the DCC RPG Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure includes Salada de Ratos (Rat Salad), a 0-level funnel adventure written and illustrated by Diogo Nogueira. The Portuguese version is a joint venture by Goodman Games and New Order.

As with Caveira Velha, I am using a scanner and Google Translate to slowly build up an English-language version of this adventure. When I can provide reasonable coverage of the product, I will do so.

Mutant Crawl Classics Character & Creature Codex

Mutant Crawl Classics Character & Creature Codex is published by Goodman Games.

This product is "A booklet of character sheets for all classes, plus worksheets for mutated creatures, NPCs, and artificial intelligences". There are also notes on devising villainous NPCs, creating mutant creatures, and importing monsters from Dungeon Crawl Classics or other systems. Tables 1-1 (Ability Score Modifiers), 6-2 (Artificial Intelligences By Type), 3-2 (Mutations) and 3-3 (Mega Mutations) are also reproduced from the Mutant Crawl Classics core rules.

This product was part of the final stretch goal of the successful Mutant Crawl Classics kickstarter.

World-building is one of the great joys of role playing games, and that's exactly what this booklet is designed to help you do. For what good is a post-apocalyptic world without masses of murderous mutants, craven creatures, or insane AIs?

Filled with character sheets for every level and class, plus worksheets for your own custom monsters, NPCs, and artificial intellegences (all suitable for photocopying), consider this a guide book to creating your own unique sentients, savages, mutants, and monsters for the Terra A.D. setting of Mutant Crawl Classics!

I will provide a purchase link when one becomes available.

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck: Volume 2

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck: Volume 2 was written by Jobe Bittman, Mike Breault, Anne K. Brown, Timothy Brown, Stephen Chenault, Casey Christofferson, Chris Clark, Michael Curtis, Chris Doyle, Joseph Goodman, Allen Hammack, Jon Hook, Kevin Melka, Brendan J. LaSalle, Lloyd Metcalf, Bill Olmesdahl, Steve Peek, Jean Rabe, Merle M. Rasmussen, Lester Smith, Harley Stroh, Jim Wampler, James M. Ward, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter. Illustration is by Chuck Whelon (cartoons), Doug Kovacs (end sheets) and Tom Denmark (cartography). The publisher is Goodman Games.

I wrote about the previous volume of How to Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck here. Like the previous volume, the 2017 release is system-neutral (and/or covers more than one system). Unlike the earlier version, the 2017 release is a beautiful hardcover with a sewn-in ribbon bookmark and a very nice dust jacket. It also has Dungeon Crawl Classics content. You can also get it as a pdf.

As with every other "mixed content" product, I am focusing solely on the Dungeon Crawl Classics material. That doesn't mean that you won't want to look at the other content. First off, conversion to Dungeon Crawl Classics is fairly easy. Second, much of it is advice on adventure writing and presentation, and therefore is useful to the aspiring judge.

Unlike most of the items discussed in the DCC Trove of Treasures, this is mostly a book of advice. It contains advice for writing adventures, but it also contains a fair amount of advice for running adventures. I am not going to reproduce that advice here. I hope that the reasons for this are obvious.

Let's look inside.

Adventures in Context: This article, by Jobe Bittman, discusses contextual information as it relates to adventure design.

Encounter: "Dead Man's Chest": This is a short level 1 adventure by Jobe Bittman written for Dungeon Crawl Classics. The adventure pertains to a salvage operation underwater.

Players Make Your World Go 'Round: Author Mike Breault discusses keeping your players engaged.

Encounter: "The Doom of Riego": By Mike Breault, this is a short adventure which does not include any statistics.

Listen! Do you smell something?: Anne K. Brown discusses using details that evoke all five senses. There is an extended discussion of the "Show, don't tell" principle.

Encounter: "Follow Your Nose": This is a short, systemless encounter. Maybe. It actually reads more like fiction. Or the introduction to the actual adventure. Certainly, if run as written, there is little or no agency given to the players...this is more an example of description than anything else. The author is Anne K. Brown.

Logical First Contact: Inventing Intelligent Science Fiction Aliens: Author Timothy Brown reminds us that "A good science fiction alien is more than a guy in strange make-up." Worthwhile reading for the would-be writer or science fiction judge, and elements of true alieness will also help the judge of a more pulpy Mutant Crawl Classics, Umerica, or Crawljammer campaign.

Encounter: "Feeding Time": Timothy Brown offers a encounter/short adventure for a science fiction scenario. Statistics and system are not provided.

There Are No Empty Rooms in the Wilderness: Stephen Chenault wants you to keep all of your players engaged during wilderness adventures. Discussion of weather and terrain are provided.

Encounter: "Four Arrows And A River Running: A Castles & Crusades Adventure: This is a Castles & Crusades "adventure" by Stephen Chenault, which is really an extended encounter you could easily convert to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Making a Villain: Great games require great villains, and Casey W. Christofferson offers some tools to help you craft a great villain.

Encounter: "Honreed Duclaigh: A Dinner With Death": A short encounter/adventure written for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (or something very, very similar). By Casey W. Christofferson.

Raison d'etre - "Or Why Everything in Your Adventure Should Have a Reason for Being There": Christopher Clark offers an article describing how logical placement of elements in an adventure leads to verisimilitude, and thereby increases player enjoyment.

Encounter: "The Overlook": A systemless adventure by Christopher Clark for low-level PCs.

Know (and Love) What You Write: Anyone familiar with Dungeon Crawl Classics knows the name Michael Curtis, who herein writes about knowing your material, and using your passions to your advantage. Are you an armchair historian? Do you have a passion for antiques? Then use the details you know in your game!

Encounter: “Denkin’s Trading Post & Rarities Brokerage”: Michael Curtis gives an example of what he means, by completing an idea partially developed in his article. Based on the potential treasure in the Trading Post, the judge would have to do some rethinking if using this for the Dungeon Crawl Classics role-playing game.

How to Write Encounters That Don’t Suck: This effectively amounts to a basic tutorial by Chris Doyle, but it is worth reading nonetheless.

Encounter: “The Deadly Crevasse”: This is a higher-level encounter in a cavern, which appears to have been written for 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It is written by Chris Doyle.

A Publisher’s Perspective On Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck: If you want to break into the adventure writing field, it behooves you to pay attention to what publishers are looking for. In this case, Joseph Goodman offers some thoughts after 15 years in the business, with nearly 200 adventures published.

Encounter: “Eye of the Storm”: A Sample Encounter: An encounter by Joseph Goodman, written for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Keeping Encounters within the Capabilities of Your Players: Allen Hammack talks about encounter balance. Allen Hammack is one of the TSR luminaries from early days (in fact, he wrote The Ghost Tower of Inverness and Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords), and I can see what he is driving at here. I can. And yet...and yet...I cannot agree with his advice entirely.

When devising an adventure, I personally try to scale things based upon an imaginary average group of characters. If the actual players have a smaller group, can't open a door, or whatever, I most emphatically do not scale the adventure to the group. IMHO, superior play includes preparing for encounters that target your weaknesses as well as your strengths. And, if you should happen to all be charmed by harpies and eaten, well, that is what happens.

Dungeon Crawl Classics puts mechanisms like Luck and Spellburn into the player's hands. Might Deeds can help disengage from a foe. Patrons and gods can be called upon for aid. And, if there is a TPK, the action can always pick up in Hell.

So, I say, Yes, keep this stuff in mind when designing adventures if you must, but No, now when running them. What the judge anticipates happening does not need to happen at the table.

Encounter: “The Goblinoid Differential”: A system-neutral trap encounter by Allen Hammack.

Making Monsters Cooler: Jon Hook describes how to modify monsters to make them less mundane. His sample creature uses a 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons statblock. In addition to the excellent advice herein, I urge you to consider The Monster Alphabet and The Random Esoteric Creature Generator.

Encounter: “All That Glitters Is Not Gold”: Jon Hook provides an encounter written using 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons statistics.

An Adventure’s Story: Kevin W. Melka discusses crafting your adventure like a story. There are games whose adventures are written like this. I would encourage the prospective judge to instead consider the adventure's story as "What happened before the PCs got involved?" and "What is the current situation?" Even an adventure that follows a sort of story structure (like Prince Charming, Reanimator, or The Dread God Al-Khazadar) should follow only the likely course of events, ensuring that the players are free to chart their own character's destinies.

Encounter: “The Old Lair”: By Kevin Melka. That looks like a late 3.5 Edition statblock to me.

Unleashing Your Dungeon Creativity: Brendan J. LaSalle gives every prospective GM a course (or refresher course!) on how to keep your creativity flowing. And how to write better. And he reminds you to take good care of your playtesters.

Encounter: “The Chamber of 100 Axes”: Brendan J. LaSalle hits the random article finder three times on Wikipedia, reads the article, and then provides an encounter for Dungeon Crawl Classics based on the results.

Something Worth Fighting For: Author Lloyd Metcalf talks about PC motivations, and why the GM might want them to have a family and a hometown. Making this actually work in-game is discussed in a fair amount of detail.

Encounter: “Shock Spiders”: By Lloyd Metcalf, using a creature whose statistics are given in 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons format (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

Building Better Encounters: Monstrous Symbiosis and Environmental Factors: Bill Olmesdahl discusses how multiple monsters, as well as environmental factors, can be used to create better encounters.

Encounter: “The Swamp of Doom”: 3rd Edition example by Bill Olmesdahl of the principles in his article.

ATMOSFEAR: How do you create a feeling of unease among your players? Steve Peek supplies advice for building tension in your games, which is as applicable to horror-style games (such as Chill or Call of Cthulhu) as it is to the more traditional fantasy games the article focuses on.

Encounter: “Dark and Deep”: By Steve Peek. As much a piece of fiction as it is an encounter, this offering is systemless.

The Sense of Adventure: Jean Rabe discusses engaging all senses when creating or running RPG adventures.

Encounter: “Water’s Garden Shop”: A bit of fun that appears to be designed around Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, although statistics are not provided.

LEGO® Building Toy Maps: The legendary Merle M. Rasmussen discusses the use of Lego when running games and designing scenarios meant to engage the players creativity.

Encounter: “Shipwrecked on Lay-Goh Island”: "A dungeon without walls and a wilderness without beasts of burden" intended for use with Lego, by Merle M. Rasmussen. System neutral.

All Aboard for Adventure: Lester Smith describes the "train yard" method of adventure design, as well as the three-act outline. This is the only "How To" article that doesn't include an encounter by the same author.

Run Your Best Game Tonight: DCC luminary Harley Stroh offers some advice on running adventures that don't suck. Harley writes "Back to my doomed campaign. I had made a second, far more offensive mistake by planning the PCs’ story in advance. I had robbed the players of any agency, replacing it with an experience I thought would be cool." I strongly recommend that you keep those words in mind when reading some of the other advice in this volume.

Encounter: “The Oracle”: A system-neutral encounter by Harley Stroh.

The Risk vs. Reward Equation: Jim Wampler reminds you that big risks require big rewards, and vice versa. Big rewards here do not mean more gold pieces, but rather epic stories that players will love to tell years after the last die has dropped. Note that Jim Wampler is not talking about story as "what will happen", but rather what the PCs will overcome and/or accomplish and/or learn from the adventure...the stories they had a part in creating, rather than the story the GM tells them.

Encounter: “The Caprapod Nursery”: This is a short encounter by Jim Wampler, written for Mutant Crawl Classics.

Player Character Death: James M. Ward (of Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World fame) does not mind at all when a character dies during a game. He writes "Learning from the words of Gary Gygax, I feel the possibility of character death is necessary to promote the best in game play. The tension of worrying about the life of your character brings great joy to the game play." I could not agree more!

Encounter: “Smallish Chamber of Doom”: James M. Ward revisits Monty Haul from the early days of The Dragon and The Strategic Review. I'm not really sure which system the statistics are designed for.

Tell a Story: Author Skip Williams, thankfully, is discussing the stories in the adventure's background, rather than "What your PCs will do". Pitfalls as well as benefits are discussed.

Encounter: “Chogti’s Lair”: Skip Williams follows up the previous discussion with a concrete example using late 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons as his system.

How to Design Setbacks That Don’t Suck: In the fiction that inspires the game, the protagonists do not move from one narrow victory to another. Rather, they encounter setbacks and defeats on their way to final triumph. Steve Winter discusses how to do this in role-playing games, without the players feeling that they are being abused.

Encounter: “Lair of the Chokebats”: Steve Winter supplies a cavern encounter where things go from bad to worse. The adventure is largely system-neutral.

Joseph Goodman has done a fantastic job of bringing voices from the Good Old Days of the hobby together with more recent authors of equally excellent work. This volume is far more likely to inspire the prospective Dungeon Crawl Classics judge than is Volume 1 (at least, in my opinion), but if you pick this up in pdf format, you'll get both volumes. You can compare them yourself. Let me know in the comments if you think I am wrong!

Get It Here!

Friday 8 December 2017

Camazotz the Death Bat

Camazotz the Death Bat was written by Carl Bussler and published by Stormlord Publishing.

This is a partial write-up of a new patron, based off of Mayan mythology. This patron would not only fit into the Brimstone setting of Black Powder, Black Magic, but might be useful for Dark Trails Weird Frontiers, an Umerican campaign utilizing The Children of the Sun, or any other Dungeon Crawl Classics milieu with a Meso-American element to it. Patron spells are not included.

Camazotz, the bat god of death, fear, and blood was shackled in the House of Bats in the Underworld, and in the centuries since, evidence of his existence has almost entirely disappeared.

The statues and frescoes recovered through exploration depict Camazotz as a large man with a vampire bat’s head and bat wings. He wields a jagged dagger in one hand, and the severed head of a person in the other.

He survives on blood, thrives on fear, and demands his followers to supply him with both. These offerings slowly revive Camazotz’ strength, and he waits patiently for his chance to escape and take revenge on the world.

Get It Here!

Both Foul and Deep

CE 9: Both Foul and Deep was written by Daniel J. Bishop, with art by Brett Neufeld (including the cover) and Mark Hyzer, and cartography by Tim Hartin of Paratime Design. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

This is the ninth volume in the Campaign Elements series, which began as an attempt (by me) to ensure that I had the materials necessary to run a great Dungeon Crawl Classics game when the unexpected occurred, when players wanted to Quest For It, or when I needed to run filler because some players could not make it to a game. I have a tendency to think that these things are absolutely necessary for the Dungeon Crawl Classics judge.

In addition, when I first conceived of this project, I had recently written Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror and Through the Cotillion of Hours for Purple Duck Games. Filling someone else's map spurs creativity...you have to answer "What does this map suggest?" and "How do I use this space?" I commissioned Tim Hartin of Paratime Design to devise 15 maps with a small number of encounter areas for this purpose. When I described my plans to Mark Gedak at Purple Duck, he instantly offered to pay for the maps and publish the results.

At the time of this writing, we are now 6 volumes away from completion for this series. When it is done, judges will have a hell of a lot of material to help take their campaigns in whatever direction the players desire.

Writing and art for Both Foul and Deep is being funded through a Go Fund Me campaign, with an eye towards releasing the pdf version as a Pay What You Want product. At the time of this writing, it is only available through this campaign.

So what's inside it?

Both Foul and Deep focuses on sewer systems, those places where Player Characters seem likely to go sooner or later in milieu with an urban setting. The main part of the Campaign Element discusses diseases (you get six) and the hazards of fire in the sewers (including potential collapses) before jumping into the scenario that "fills in" Tim Hartin's map. There is also a section on random encounters, which uses a different die depending upon average party level, if you want "balanced" encounters.

As with all Campaign Elements, there is a "Squeezing it Dry" section to help you reuse the material. One of the design goals of the series is to give you more bang for your buck.

Three Appendixes are included.

Appendix 1: People of the Sewers describes folks you might run into in the fetid areas beneath the city, what they are doing there, how they are likely to react to adventurers, and what statistics the harried judge can use to represent them. Fourteen entries are included, some of which have multiple statblocks.

Appendix 2: Monsters of the Nether Dark describes 30 different creatures that might be encountered in the sewers, from those a judge might easily include in a zero-level funnel adventure to monsters that can challenge even high-level adventurers.

Admitedly, some of these monsters are quite disgusting: the fecal ooze, for instance, is "a huge, pulsating mass of fecal matter and raw sewage" that can spew "a narrow stream of nearly-liquid feces with great force". Some, like the giant black widow spider or the chaos ooze, can easily be used in other settings. Other, like the globlins, are even potential allies. There are even some, like the guttersnake, that have turned out to be all too real!

I have even managed to include a dragon that is appropriate for the cesspools and rivers below your campaign's most ancient city!

Appendix 3: Squallas, Mistress of the Night Soil Rivers, is an abbreviated write-up of a new patron, containing the invoke patron spell check results for the Lady of the Sewers.

As is generally the case with these releases, "All text is considered Open Game Content, except that already identified as Product Identity under the DCC RPG open license declaration." This means that, yes, you can include a cesscaeda swarm in your own adventures, have a place where characters can become infected by brownlung, and include Squallas, and then publish the thing yourself. It's not just allowed. It's encouraged.

Get It Here!

Thursday 7 December 2017

Grimtooth's Ultimate Traps Collection (Honorary)

Grimtooth's Ultimate Traps Collection was written, according to the credits, by Grimtooth the Troll. Personally, I suspect Grimtina wrote much of it, and Grimtooth took the credit. The foreword is by Harley Stroh. There are interviews by Jim Wampler, Rick Loomis, Paul Ryan O’Connor, and Bear Peters. Additional material is by Steven S. Crompton. Art is by Steven S. Crompton, Liz Danforth, Michael Von Glahn, Scott Jackson, Steve Jackson, Jim Wampler, and Jeff Dee. The publisher is Goodman Games. The original publisher of the Grimtooth's Traps series was Flying Buffalo Inc.

This product was produced following a successful kickstarter campaign, and is given an honorary listing because of the (at the time of this writing) upcoming Grimtooth's Trapsylvania for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Two Grimtooth's adventures have already been published for DCC: Grimtooth's Museum of Death and Grimtooth's Tomb of the Warhammer.

This product contains the full text and contents of the original Grimtooth's Traps, Grimtooth's Traps Too, Grimtooth's Traps Fore, Grimtooth's Traps Ate!, Grimtooth's Traps Lite, Grim Buck, Grimtooth's Traps Comic, Grimtooth's Traps Bazaar, and Grimtooth's Dungeon of Doom. New material includes interviews, the Grimtooth's Traps Boardgame, illustrations, and a new bonus traps chapter.

Essentially, this book is a hell of a lot of traps, many of them exceedingly cruel and/or devious in nature, and a system-neutral dungeon which utilizes many horrific traps. Let extreme paranoia be your watchword, for it will surely be that of your players once you spring these on them!

Five classic Traps books collected in one volume, giving you over 500 engines of destruction, delver dicers and player character crushers. Now remastered and with new art by original Traps artist Steven S. Crompton. This collection also includes an entirely new section of never-before-seen traps from Grimtooth's archives, along with behind the scenes articles on the origins of Grimtooth and the Traps phenomenon. Plus rare art, Grimtooth comics, Trap puzzles, and more!

Get It Here!

Wednesday 6 December 2017

D.A.M.N. #2 Web Supplemental

The D.A.M.N. #2 Web Supplemental was written by Paul Wolfe, David Persinger, and Bob Brinkman. Art is by Thomas Novosel (cover), David Fisher, David Persinger, and Doug Kovacs. Beaver art is Public Domain. Cartography is by Matthew Ray and Paul Wolfe. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I am responsible for Bob Brinkman having to write up a bunch of beavers, as I made that request in Secret Santicore.

D.A.M.N. #2 overflowed its page count. Let's look inside.

Duel at Midora Temple: Characters: Character creation, weapons, armor, and class information for Paul Wolfe's adventure in D.A.M.N. #2. Maps are included.

Nalfeshnee’s Spells: The spells for David Persinger's patron in D.A.M.N. #2.

Maps for Attack of the Frozen Führer: Exactly what it says on the tin. Maps for Julian Bernick's adventure in D.A.M.N. #2.

While the Gods’ Laugh...extra stuff!: To use with Marc Bruner’s 10th level funnel, you get a Build-Your-Own Rod of Karma, character sheet masks that hide characters abilities until revealed through game play, and the maps for ease of use or printing.

Giant Beavers of the Toronto Ruins: Bob Brinkman provides six critters that can be used in your Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics games. He does a good job of it, too!

Flammable Hospital Crowdfunding Preview: This appears to be reproduced from D.A.M.N. #2.

Get It Here!

Blog Post Here (with more content)!

D.A.M.N. Magazine #2 - Autumn 2017

D.A.M.N. #2 - Autumn 2017 was written by Marc Bruner, Paul Wolfe, David Persinger, James Spahn, Julian Bernick, Jason Sholtis, and James Pozenel. Art is by Thomas Novosel (cover), David Fisher, Dave Persinger, Jordan G, Doug Kovacs, Jason Sholtis, Stefan Poag, and Marc Bruner. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I helped nursemaid the first issue of D.A.M.N. into existence, and helped to move the publication to Mystic Bull so that it could continue to thrive. I am also mentioned on pages 4 and 5. Finally, I have a finger in Angels, Daemons, & Beings Beyond: Elfland Edition (I wrote a forward and backed the kickstarter) and more than a finger in Dark Trails Weird Frontiers (I wrote some critters and elixirs and suchlike...indeed, I am still doing writing for David Baity on this project). You can safely assume that I am biased when discussing this product.

Let's look inside.

From the DAMNed Pit: "Emergent Play and Long Delays" is an editorial by Paul Wolfe. The editorial has an addendum for "Late September", and the issue hit the virtual shelves on November 29th, so it is clear that there were a few delays. Perhaps there was some wait on content, but it is not apparent that this is so from the issue, which is so chock-full that it spills over into a free web supplement.

These items of "News in Third Party Publishing" include some things which have now been out for a bit, but it is definitely worthwhile to have a feature like this in D.A.M.N.!

d14 Rumors and Reports: Mostly fun.

Underworld Ranger: This is a character class designed for the Dungeon Crawl Classics version of Operation Unfathomable, which in turn gives a bit of a preview of the tone and art for Jason Sholtis' megadungeon setting. Writing and art are by Jason Sholtis, with Paul Wolfe supplying the DCC conversions and Stefan Poag supplying additional art.

Some parts of this article, like the Underworld Foraging Success Table, are quite fun and flavorful (pun intended). Strap on your ZR1 Dissuader, check your Chaosometer, and leap....er, carefully and stealthily creep....into the fray!

Third Party Spotlight: Dark Trails: Dark Trails Weird Frontiers is David Baity's Lovecraftian Weird West setting for/adaptation of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Third Party Spotlight: AD&BB Elfland Edition: James Pozenel provides a preview of the upcoming patron supplement:

Queen amongst the sea-faeries, Dahudmorgan inhabits the rocky shores of Menegond, Thousand Rocks. During the day, she hides within a magnificent golden city under the sea or in one of the natural caves or grottoes in the sea-cliffs surrounding her home. At night she sings from her perch on one of the rocky islands that stretch along the coastline, combing her long golden tresses.

Invoke patron results, patron taint, and spellburn are supplied.

Duel at Midora Temple: This is a 0-level funnel, written by Paul Wolfe, which brings Oriental Adventures to Dungeon Crawl Classics in the form of the Ketsuin Empire. This is a complex adventure, taking place in a complex setting. You will need to download the web supplement to make characters. There is more than a small chance that PCs will oppose other PCs. There is more than a small chance that a player will be running two or more PCs which oppose each other. Good stuff!

(See also: Monk.)

Dashing Deeds Abound!: The Swashbuckler Class: Author James Spahn provides a class somewhere between the warrior and the thief, capable of Dashing Deeds of Daring, possessing a luck die, and having the ability to add both Personality and Agility modifiers to AC when unarmored.

Nalfeshnee: Lord of Pigs: A complete patron (except for the spell write-ups, which can be found in the web enhancement), by David Persinger. This includes statistics for wereboars and gore golems.

Lord Nalfeshnee, King Nalfeshnee, the God of Gluttony, or the Master of Butchers. Knowledgeable in vivisection, consumption and hoarding, he is the progenitor and namesake of all Nalfeshnee demons. When the most gluttonous of mortals die, Lord Nalfeshnee inserts their souls into his own mutilated horrors, forming the lesser Nalfeshnee who guard hoarded masses of treasure and relics of chaotic power. He frequently makes deals with rapacious mortals, granting them a short life filled with worldly delights, fattening their souls for future servitude. Secret guilds of butchers who desire customers with an endless hunger serve him. Wizards may make pacts with Lord Nalfeshnee, exchanging access to chaotic forces, in exchange for shepherding wild chaos magic back for their master’s consumption.

Attack of the Frozen Führer: This is a 3rd level adventure, by Julian Bernick, written for Nowhere City Nights. The mainstay of Nowhere City Nights in 21st Century technomagic pulp noir, but this adventure takes place in 1940. It revolves around Hitler's attempt to recover the Spear of Destiny from a museum in Nowhere City during World War II.

While the Gods Laugh: Author Marc Bruner offers a 10th level funnel adventure for your enjoyment. Yes, a 10th level funnel. Yes, I know that sounds ludicrous, but yes, Marc Bruner pulls it off in a way that is very Appendix N. Once more, you will want to grab the web enhancement before running this.

Submissions: Guidelines for submissions.

Flammable Hospital Crowdfunding Preview: This preview, by "the Mongrels" is....actually, I'm not sure what it is. It appears to be a LARP funnel based of Dungeon Crawl Classics? But there is a map? Perhaps someone will enlighten me in the comments...?

Those with the DAMNed Pen: Author bios.

Get It Here!

Friday 1 December 2017

The Children of the Sun

The Children of the Sun: An Umerican Gazetteer was written by Sean Ellis, with art by Nate Marcel. The publisher is Shield of Faith Studios.

Disclosure: I backed the Umerican Survival Guide kickstarter.

This is an add-on for the successful Umerican Survival Guide kickstarter, a sourcebook for characters and adventures from and in the Kingdom of the Sun, a warped future version of Mexico that exists Under a Broken Moon. As such, it has potential use not only in an Umerican campaign, but as a sourcebook for any Western-themed game (such as Dark Trails Weird Frontiers or Black Powder, Black Magic) or post-Apocalyptic game (such as Mutant Crawl Classics). 

In fact, if you want to add a little Meso-American flavor to your regular Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, there is a lot of material here you can use. If you are running the Memories of the Toad God series of adventures, this supplement can help you flesh out the Xilonoc people of that series' jungle setting.

Let's look inside:

The People: A rundown on the history of Mexico, which acknowledges not only the Forgotten Wars of the Un Men as a factor in Mexico's descent, but goes back to the Spanish invasion and the American drug wars.

The people of the Kingdom of the Sun are well described, with both cultural differences that are certain to come up in play. Enough information is given to handle PCs from the Kingdom, or to describe the area to outsiders seeking (probably fatally) to despoil the region.

New Classes: In addition to Thieves, Warriors, and Wizards from the core rulebook, the People of the Sun may be Barbarians (as described in D.A.M.N. #1), Psions (as described in Mind Games), Mutants (from the Umerican Survival Guide), of one of two new classes:

  • Half-Bloods are strange, almost-fey creatures with human parents. They have a random group of special abilities, including some otherwise restricted to Clerics of the Wasteland, as befits spirit-creatures sent by the Plumed Dragon,
  • Jaguar Knights are stealthy warriors capable of taking the form of jaguars.

Goods of Atlan: Weapons, armor, and coinage of the Kingdom.

Magic and Psionics: Includes rules for running Ulli matches, "a game played between two teams with an equal number of players who attempt to throw a psychically charged ball through a vertically hanging hoop."

The Kingdom of the Sun: Describes the difficulties facing life in the Valley of Mexico's polluted environs. Includes rules for spontaneously having your DNA unravel (becoming a mutant), starvation and dehydration, and carnivorous flora.

Patrons and Religion: Everything you need to know, as a judge or player, about worship in the Kingdom of the Sun.

The People of the Sun believe in daily offerings of blood and pain to their gods as payment for continued life. They sacrifice a captured warrior or volunteer at complex ceremonies that occur monthly, and use knives or plant spines to draw blood from their tongue, earlobes, or genitals and sprinkle the resulting “Wine of Life” as a daily offering, sometimes even hourly!

Enjoy your visit!

New Patron: Huitzilopochtli: Imagine the Aztec God of War (and the Sun) given new life through a famous drug kingpin from before the Apocalypse. Complete patron information is provided, including three new patron spells.

Monsters Under the Sun: According to the author:

The monsters native to the Valley of the Sun are generally one of three types. Tech creatures are the result of high technology: artifacts that have survived 21st century man or the Un Men of the Forgotten Wars. Mystic monsters have their origin in the redirected soul energy from Hernan’s overloaded mystic web. His memories and imagination were suddenly given life: most are remnants of Mexica folklore… the gods and monsters of the so-called Aztecs. The polluted environment has created its own share of monsters: Mutations have sprung up from the original denizens of the area.

These three types of beasts are not strict delineations. In fact, it is actually possible for a monster to be all three. But these guidelines may help in the brainstorming and creations of your own Monsters of the Sun.

Sean Ellis provides you with a dozen monsters to get you started. They are: Armor Goblin (Tzipitio), Blood Golem (Ezzo Atlacatl), Bonelord (Omiteuctli), Famished Beheader (Pistaku), Filth Eater (Tlahēlcuāni), Giant Rubber Grasshopper (Olchapoli), Hairy Skull (Cucuy), Itzpapalotl (Clawed Butterfly), Monstrous Caiman (Cipactli), Night Axe (Ceyo Itztopilli), Scaled Man (Xincayotli), and the Spiny Water Thing (Ahuitzotl).

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Myassari, Patron of Birth and Decay

Myassari: The Patron of Birth and Decay was written by Clint Bohaty and Julian Bernick, with art by Trevor Hartman. The publisher is Order of the Quill.

This is a complete patron writeup for Myassari, the stenographer of birth and decay, the silent observer, and the deity of midwifery and time, including three patron spells, patron taint, invoke patron results, and spellburn table.

When Myassari must converse with material beings, she takes on the appearance of a weatherworn harpy, whose heated feathers dance and flicker like flame driven by a bellows.  Those who wish to form a bond with Myassari must first be catalogued by the scrupulous patron.  After crying out her name upon a blazing pyre, the PC must survive the torment of a ceaseless cycle of life and death within her vacant dimension for a full week.  Having been beaten and tempered on the anvil of time, PCs bound to Myassari are requested to make offerings of rare and valuable materials to be studied by their patron, until she's documented the phases of each object and being within the multidimensional universe!

This patron is first mentioned in Cast Tower of the Blood Moon Rises! Considering that this patron is offered as a "Pay What You Want" pdf, there is no reason for anyone involved with the Dungeon Crawl Classics to not have gotten this!

Have you ever wanted to turn a treacherous demon-lord into a plump babe and raise him as your own son?  Have you ever wanted to shroud a fellow adventurer within the mucusy secretions of a healing membrane to lessen his pains?  Have you ever wanted to summon a phoenix built of boulders to smash in the brains of your foes (or allies)?


Get It Here!

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Mutant Crawl Classics

Mutant Crawl Classics was written by Jim Wampler, with additional writing by Bob Brinkman and David Baity. Art is by Tom Galambos, Fritz Haas, Cliff Kurowski, Barrie James, Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Brad McDevitt, Jesse Mohn, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, Chad Sergesketter, Jim Wampler, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is the first official adaptation of Dungeon Crawl Classics to another genre, specifically post-Apocalyptic fiction, and as such it has been widely covered elsewhere. Indeed, the Glowburn podcast is about Mutant Crawl Classics (and related games), and has two episodes at the time of this writing which are dedicated to taking a first look at the rules. You can listen to them here and here.

Episode 43 of Spellburn was likewise about Mutant Crawl Classics. Mutant Crawl Classics has also come up from time to time on the Sanctum Secorum podcast, and especially on Episode 15 (Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth).

As of this writing, the game has not yet been released into the wild, but backers of the Mutant Crawl Classics kickstarter have had a chance to delve into the book. Reviews of Mutant Crawl Classics can be found here, here, here, and here. There is an extensive review in Meanderings #2.

I was lucky enough to do some playtesting of MCC #3: Incursion of the Ultradimension by Michael Curtis, and therefore had some early access to the rules. Interestingly, the plantient (sentient and mobile mutated plant) that was one of the pregenerated characters was instantly named Yew-root (after Groot) because of his mutations. We were all a little sad to realize that raccoons were not listed among the baseline of manimals (mutant animals). That's easy enough to fix!

Both Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics allow for gonzo action, but Dungeon Crawl Classics seems more heroic to me, whereas Mutant Crawl Classics is tinged with survival horror. Certainly, the classes available to Pure Strain Humans seem weaker than the core classes in Dungeon Crawl Classics; the game relies upon interaction with artifacts and AIs as part of its balance mechanism.

One of the neatest rules in Mutant Crawl Classics may actually cause the most difficulty in actual play. Your mutant (or plantient, or manimal) has a fluctuating genetic sequence, meaning that you may gain or lose mutations over the course of play. When I sit down to play Dungeon Crawl Classics, I can use the Purple Sorcerer tools to create customized spellbooks, and can use The Crawler's Companion to roll spell results if I failed to plan ahead. These things, along with the Ready Reference Book, mean that I don't have to actually carry the core rulebook around with me. (I usually do; but I don't have to.)

When creating pregenerated characters, I will print out specific spells so that the players need not flip through the book. Again, Purple Sorcerer makes this easy. When I ran my first playtest, I did the same for mutations.

And then the mutations changed. Not just once during the session, either.

There will be reason, therefore, to make something like the Ready Reference Book for Mutant Crawl Classics. There is also good cause to create a Sorcerer's Grimoire-type tool for mutations, and an ap that can roll mutations you didn't realize you'd need (and therefore did not print out) before you sat down to play.

The artwork is, by the way, glorious.

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Mushroom Kingdom Classics

Mushroom Kingdom Classics was written by K.J. O'Brien. Map and character sheets are by K.J. O'Brien (heavily influenced by sheets available at Purple Sorcerer Games). All other art was “borrowed” from Google Images. For lore and image references, check out the Super Mario Wiki. The publisher is KJ O'Brien.

Imagine that you love role-playing games, and you love Dungeon Crawl Classics in particular. Now imagine that you have a 5-year-old child that you want to introduce to tabletop games in a friendly way. The result, for this author at least, is Mushroom Kingdom Classics, a reskinning of Dungeon Crawl Classics to allow adventures in the world of Super Mario and cohorts.

This also becomes a great example of how the rules can be bent to meet the needs of the game, rather than the game bending to the needs of the rules. So warriors become Tough Guys/Gals, clerics might be Mushroom Priests or Healers, and your zero-level PCs might be a Toad Instructor, a Human Plumber, or a Yoshi Star Gazer, among others.

Every race type has its own special abilities, from the Super Jump that humans can do to the sticky tongues of the yoshi. Race is not class in the Mushroom Kindom, and a character can be of any of the following races: Human, Koopa, Toad, or Yoshi.

The pdf comes with a zero-level funnel, The Old Mansion on Rubbleknot Hill, paper minis, and zero-level character sheets that look like the Purple Sorcerer sheets redone by 80s-era Atari. Even if you don't have children, this is a surprisingly playable version of the game! Doubly so if you know a gamer who is addicted to Mario Cart.

Get It Here!

Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom

DCC #93: Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom is a 2nd level adventure by Edgar Johnson. Art is by Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs (also cover and cartography), William McAusland, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

I thought that I was writing a love letter to Abraham Merritt when I penned Through the Dragonwall; Edgar Johnson has gone me one further. Well, if King Kong or Mighty Joe Young were also created by Abraham Merritt.

The general set-up of the adventure is that the PCs arrive on the Vainglorious Rat (a great name for a ship that would, probably, mean my players avoided it!), but that is not necessary to the adventure. The adventure itself is partly a hexcrawl, but it has important keyed locations that will influence any action that occurs therein. Maybe the best way to consider Moon Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom is as a mini-campaign setting loaded with both wonders and dangers.

This adventure is still relatively new, so I am not going to spoil it for anyone. I will say that there are complexities for the judge to pay attention to, especially in terms of time keeping, that the judge should be certain she fully understands before running the adventure. The adventure is worthy of the effort involved.

Edgar Johnson talks about the module on Spellburn, here.

Far to the west, beyond civilized lands, lie the Tolomak Islands— volcanic peaks covered in pestilential jungle and bestriding sunken ruins. The legends say the Tolomaks are home to treacherous witches, ferocious cannibals, moon demons, and worse! Wise are those who steer well away from these accursed jungle isles, but not everyone is wise… For the legends also speak of power unimaginable and treasures beyond the limits of mortal avarice. Now, under the light of the triple moons, a band of intrepid adventurers sails ever nearer the islands. With luck, they will escape with a fortune; without it, they may not keep their souls.

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Monday 27 November 2017

Monster Mod Cards

Monster Mod Cards were written by Chris Stenger, with art by Deborah Stenger, J. M. Woiak, and Heather Shin. The publisher is Fatbelly Press.

These cards are not usable only for Dungeon Crawl Classics, but can be used for any role-playing game where monsters might be encountered. They are very much system neutral. There are 42 cards in the deck, and each card has an entry for "Head", "Body", and "Extra", each of which has an entry that may be cosmetic, or may prompt the judge to change the statistics of a creature.

One of the advantages of the Monster Mod Cards method is that a number of cosmetic changes can be applied as quickly as drawing a card...which is faster than consulting a table, and allows the judge to differentiate individuals in a horde of beastmen.

Examples include:


"A wispy beard"

"Glowing eyes: (1d8): 1) violet; 2) blue; 3) aqua; 4) green; 5) yellow; 6) orange; 6) red; 7) white; 8) only visible with darkvision"

(Note the two entries for #6. You could dice-off, or roll 1d10 and reroll 10s. The product is not perfect.)


"Hungry-looking, razor teeth-filled mouths at the end of each limb"

"Skin appears to be stitched together with thick black thread"


"Splits into two creatures when slashed"

"Intent on stealing internal organs from its targets"

It should be noted that, if you order the physical cards, you can now get it with a pdf of the cards that you can print out on your own. This pdf would be more valuable to the harried judge if it was OCRed, which it is not at this time.

The author writes:

Long ago, when you were a kid (longer ago for some than others), you didn't know the stats of a kobold. Heck, you didn’t even know what a kobold was, aside from whatever description you had been given. And if you faced a group of kobolds, you probably didn’t know – at least that first time – that all of them would fight and die after a set number of hits were taken. You were creating a scene in your mind that you’d never seen before. What a wonderful thing that is. It’s one of the reasons many of us love these games. It’s a thread back to childhood. 

If that sense of wonder that we all had as a kid is missing from your tabletop games, then you and your fellow players might benefit greatly from mixing things up a bit. Inspired by the OSR, and made to be used with RPGs old and new, our deck of Monster Mod Cards will help change things up, just enough to keep your players in that sweet spot of imagination and wonder, requiring them to create brand new scenes in their minds.

Each 42 card deck features no fewer than 126 new attributes to add to each creature your players face. To use them, simply draw a card for each encounter, and use any of the attributes or tables presented to add flavor and mystery to your creatures. Don’t like what you drew? Draw another one, or use them only for inspiration. 

So bring the weird. Bring the gonzo. Make it rain air-swimming robot lobsters. Most importantly, craft those new experiences, and make memories out of them. It’s your game, after all.

Get It Here!

Monster Extractor III: Giants & Giant Creatures, for DCC

Monster Extractor III: Giants & Giant Creatures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

As with the Monster Extractor I and Monster Extractor II, this product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. This Extractor is focused on creatures considerably larger than your average orc. The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 6th level party with 4 PCs:

Init -2; Atk tail smash +9 melee (1d20) or tar spit +9 (1d24 plus adhesion); AC 36; HD 4d24+8; hp 53; MV 70'; Act 5d20; SP tail smash, tar spit, leap; SV Fort +17, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

It was randomly determined that this is creature is 75' tall or long, apearing as a big cat with an exoskeleton, that walks or runs on 3 limbs and can make mighty leaps up to 8 miles. It has the attack forms of Tail Smash (3 damage dice in a big line or 1 damage die to everything in an arc) and Breath Weapon [Sap/Tar -like Goo (1die + adhesive qualities)] with a 60' range.


The Lion of the Necropolis: Init -2; Atk tail smash +9 melee (3d20) or tail sweep +9 melee (1d20) or icy spit +9 (1d24 plus frozen in place); AC 36; HD 4d24+8; hp 53; MV 70'; Act 5d20; SP tail smash, tail sweep, freezing spit, leap; SV Fort +17, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

On the world of Hubris, in the Frozen Wastes "the gargantuan city palace and grand necropolis of the Dread Lord Glish Mal lies covered in massive snow drifts and forgotten with time." The Lion of the Necropolis is a hidden guardian, mounded beneath the snow and ice, and waiting patiently for thousands of years to prevent the "horrific undead army and unimaginably powerful sorcery" of Lord Glish Mal from returning.

The Lion of the Necropolis appears to be an enormous lion, fully 75' long, not including its tail. Its exterior is covered in a stone exoskeleton that makes it appear like a statue when not moving. although its hind legs are fused into a single member, it can make prodigious leaps of up to 8 miles and can move at extraordinary speed.

The enormous cat's tail reaches a full 60' behind it. It can strike at three targets within a this range in a line, doing 3d20 damage to each target, or sweep all targets in a 40' arc for 1d20 damage. Further, it can spit icy water up to 60' away, doing 1d24 damage and instantly freezing targets in place (DC 20 Reflex prevents freezing). If the target misses the save by 5 or more, it cannot get itself free. Otherwise, a DC 15 Strength check may be attempted each round to do so. A creature frozen in this manner takes 1d5 damage each round it fails a DC 15 Fort save.

In ancient times, the Lion of the Necropolis was immune to the powers of all un-dead, and could transform magical energies used against it to its own benefit. These powers are no more, and their failure may one day release again the might of Lord Glish Mal upon a cowering world.

Monster Extractor III is designed to help jump-start your brain when you need something that reaches the sky and stomps on buildings, but can’t dredge up anything from the Monstrous Island of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new monster, and a page of 4-up monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

NOTE: This product has no actual relationship to Hubris. I just used that as a demonstration.

Get It Here!

Monster Extractor II, The Un-Dead, for DCC

Monster Extractor II: The Un-Dead for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

As with the Monster Extractor I, this product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. This Extractor is focused on un-dead creatures, which are a staple not only of Appendix N fiction, but also of role-playing games. The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 3rd level party with 4 PCs:

Init +8; Atk +4 ; AC 14; HD 8d8; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SP possession, bend attacker's will (must succeed in a DC 15 Will save to attack it), immune to effects requiring a Fort save; SV Fort n/a, Ref +10, Will +10; AL C.

It was randomly determined that this is creature died 352 years ago, and which has above average intelligence. It was a normal peasant (gong farmer, etc.) that is obsessivelly seeking to see its familiar remains consecrated. It appears as it did in life.


Tarquin Fossor: Init +8; Atk shovel +4 melee (1d4 plus possssion); AC 14; HD 8d8; hp 38; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SP possession (Will DC 14 avoids), bend attacker's will (must succeed in a DC 15 Will save to attack it), immune to effects requiring a Fort save, ; SV Fort n/a, Ref +10, Will +10; AL C.

Tarquin Fossor is the revenenant of a gravedigger who dies three and a half centuries ago in Ur-Hadad. He appears just as he did in life - a gaunt but muscular man dressed in soiled antique clothes and carrying an old shovel.

The misfortunate gravedigger fell an early victim to the Yellow Death, and when his wife and three children followed him, their bodies were tossed into a mass grave beyond Ur-Hadad's walls. The gravedigger's rage at this injustice consumed him in death, animating his body and defining his very existence. Now, each night, he seeks the remains of his family - not only their physical remains, but also the jewelry his wife once wore - to see that they are buried properly. Until this is done, or his un-dead form is destroyed, he cannot rest.

So powerful is the un-dead gravedigger's that anyone struck by his shovel must succeed in a Will save (DC 14) or join him in his quest for the next 1d12 hours. Worse, if Tarquin Fossor's body is destroyed during this time, a second Will save (DC 14) must be made by each affected creature (determine order randomly), or the gravedigger's spirit inhabits the body, driving it to seek its family's remains each night....potentially preventing the benefits of rest. A successful exorcise spell may drive the spirit out, or divine intervention, but little else short of finding the spirit's wife and children, and seeing that they are properly buried.

Monster Extractor II is designed to help jump-start your brain when you become weary of the garden-variety un-dead out there already staggering through the world, but can’t dig up anything from the mist-covered loam of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new un-dead monster, and a page of monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

NOTE: This product has no actual relationship to Ur-Hadad. I just used that as a demonstration.

Get It Here!

Monster Extractor I, for DCC

Monster Extractor I for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

This product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. Unlike The Monster Alphabet, the Monster Extractor is designed to help you create a usable, fully statted-out creature with minimum fuss. Roll a few dice, and you have a completely new monster.

The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 1st level party:

Init +1; Atk standard ranged weapon +3 (1d4); AC 14; HD 1d5; MV 20’ or fly; Act 1d20; SP phase through solid objects; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

It was randomly determined that this is a big biped of some elemental substance with a "pirate"/"highwayman" flavor. So there is some work to be done. Since it can fly and phase through solid objects, I will say that it is made of elemental air (or is gaseous). Since it is pirate themed, I will say that its weapon resembles a pistol, but is also gaseous (hence the low damage).


Phantom pirate of Yotz: Init +1; Atk gaseous pistol +3 ranged (1d4); AC 14; HD 1d5; MV 20’ or fly 20'; Act 1d20; SP phase through solid objects, half damage from non-magical attacks; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

The phantom pirates of Yotz can alter their molecular form to be able to pass though solid objects as though they were ethereal, or to hold objects (such as the treasure they plunder or the rigging of the ships they steer). If defeated, their gaseous pistols cease to exist (unless the judge's campaign uses firearms normally, in which case they manifest in the world as solid weapons). Because they are somewhat solid when fighting, their weapons can harm others, and they take half damage from mundane, non-magical weapons. These pirates are fully 7' tall each. if using weapons apart from their gaseous pistols, those weapons do half normal damage (i.e., a gaseous longsword would do 1d4 instead of 1d8).

The Monster Extractor is meant to help jump-start your brain when you need a new monster, but can't dredge up anything from the murky depths of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new monster, and a page of monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

Get It Here!

The Monster Alphabet

The Monster Alphabet was written by Jobe Bittman and Michael Curtis, with a Foreword by Frank Mentzer and additional writing by Steven Bean, Daniel J. Bishop, Jon Hook, Edgar Johnson, Terry Olson, and James Edward Raggi IV. Art is by Jeff Easley, Fritz Haas, Jim Holloway (including cover art for the color edition), Doug Kovacs, Diesel LaForce, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Erol Otus, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag (including cover art for the gold foil edition), Chad Sergesketter, Chuck Whelon, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I did some additional writing for this product. Specifically, I wrote "C is for Celestial".

"Make Monsters Mysterious", said Joseph Goodman in the Dungeon Crawl Classics core rulebook. But did he provide the resources for doing so?

Yes. Yes he did.

Not only does the core rulebook contain excellent tables for making creatures like humanoids, un-dead, demons, giants, and dragons unique, but it points you towards The Random Esoteric Creature Generator, also published by Goodman Games. The Monster Alphabet is more of the same - a bunch of tables to help make your monsters different.

This book is similar to The Dungeon Alphabet, and is largely system-neutral. However, where rules are referenced, they are the rules for Dungeon Crawl Classics. For instance, under "N is for Noxious", spell checks are mentioned. People wanting to use this resource with other game systems will not generally find these references difficult; those hoping for complete statblocks, however, will also find nothing of the kind. This book is more of a resource to spur your creativity, and certainly to create unique monsters, but you will have to put the descriptions into game terms (where necessary) in the vast majority of cases.

Herein you get:

  • A is for Aquatic
  • A is also for Android
  • A is also for Armor
  • B is for Blood
  • B is for Breath Weapon
  • C is for Celestial
  • C is also for Construct
  • C is also for Crossbreed
  • D is for Dragon
  • E is for Eyeball
  • E is also for Extraplanar 
  • F is for Flame
  • F is also for Frost
  • G is for Geas
  • G is also for Giant
  • H is for Hoard
  • I is for Infernal
  • I is also for Insectoid
  • J is for Jurassic
  • K is for Kryptonite
  • L is for Lair
  • L is also for Lycanthrope
  • L is also for Lore
  • M is for Minions
  • N is for Noxious
  • O is for Ongoing Damage 
  • O is also for Ooze Lords
  • O is also for Ordinary
  • P is for Psionic
  • P is also for Plant
  • P is also for Possessions 
  • Q is for Quill
  • R is for Reaction 
  • R is also for Revenge
  • R is also for Resistance
  • S is for Sorcery
  • S is also for Sonic
  • T is for Tail
  • U is for Unexpected
  • V is for Vampire
  • W is for Weird
  • W is also for Wings
  • X is for Xenotransplantation
  • Y is for Yuck
  • Z is for Zombie
  • Z is also for Zoomorphic

The book also contains a Random Monster Drop Table to help you generate unknown critters (or modify those which would otherwise be known).

It should also be noted that, at the time of this writing, The Monster Alphabet is an add-on to a kickstarter for a revised printing of The Dungeon Alphabet. You can check that out here. In fact, since some of the interior pages of The Dungeon Alphabet are reproduced, you can get a pretty good idea of how glorious the artwork is in both volumes. I assure you, The Monster Alphabet is just as good!

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Friday 24 November 2017


Monk was written by James M. Spahn, with art by Ryan Sumo. The publisher is Barrel Rider Games.

There are some who wander the world seeking perfection in both body and mind. Forgoing the fetters of the world, they seek to reach the absolute apex of human potential. By mastering flesh and spirit they can harness all the potential locked inside themselves. They need no weapon to win gold and glory. They kneel before no gods and they beg patronage from no inhuman forces. Instead, they gaze ever inward and in balance and contemplation, they find power.

When the monk appeared as a character class in Blackmoor, it was starting a journey that still hasn't ended. Often, the problem was how to fit an essentially Eastern archetype into a nominally Western setting. One solution to this was the original Oriental Adventures tome. Another was to point out that, with a Monster Manual containing rocs, rakshasas, ki-rin, djinn, shedu, and efreeti, the basic setting of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons wasn't nearly as European as some might think.

Monks are also not entirely unknown in Appendix N fiction. In The Hour of the Dragon, four characters best described as monks are secondary antagonists.

Returning to his palace chamber, Valerius summoned before him four men of curious and alien aspect. They were tall, gaunt, of yellowish skin, and immobile countenances. They were very similar in appearance, clad alike in long black robes beneath which their sandaled feet were just visible. Their features were shadowed by their hoods. They stood before Valerius with their hands in their wide sleeves; their arms folded. Valerius looked at them without pleasure. In his far journeyings he had encountered many strange races.
"When I found you starving in the Khitan jungles," he said abruptly, "exiles from your kingdom, you swore to serve me. You have served me well enough, in your abominable way. One more service I require, and then I set you free of your oath."

Monks with strange, sorcererous weapons, certainly, but monks nonetheless.

How well the monk as a class fits into your setting depends very much on what your setting is. Although monks were not included in the core rulebook for Dungeon Crawl Classics, if you want monks in your setting, James M. Spahn has you covered with a playable version matching the Dungeon Crawl Classics aesthetic.

When a product is a single character class, it is important to ensure that any discussion of the class doesn't give so much away that the product itself becomes useless. This perforce limits what I can describe.

The three hooks for the class are a "Zen die" (which allows certain Mighty Deeds when unarmed, or "feats of extraordinary physicality" such as those seen in Wuxia films), the ability to avoid attacks when not wearing armor, better healing, and limited thieves' skills. Monks also have a Zen critical die, allowing them to do better criticals when unarmed than when armed, which is a nice touch, and uses Dungeon Crawl Classics specific rules to promote playing the class as intended, rather than forcing specific styles of play.

Monks follow the Path of the Samurai, of the Sensei, or of the Shinobi depending upon alignment. Alignment also determins if a monk practices kendo (Art of the Sword), kyudo (Art of the Bow), or anatsuken (Art of Assassination), allowing them to use their Zen die (and Zen critical die) as though unarmed with a longsword, longbow, or garotte.

An adventuring monk is a wandering ascetic who likely spent some time in a monastery before setting out into the world. There he learned the ways of unarmed combat, stealth and what it means to tap into his true potential. He has set out from the hidden temple where he learned but a fragment of wisdom from the ancient masters of old and now seeks the company of other exceptional individuals so that they might together rise above the mundane limits of the mortal form to true perfection.

Overall, this is a flexible class with flavor evoking both the Kung Fu television series that gave rise to the original monk, and wuxia films (such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). My own familiarity with wuxia is limited, but I did watch Kung Fu back in the 70s, as well as Bruce Lee films. I would be interested in seeing the author's "Appendix W" that inspired this version of the monk.

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