The Cruel Issue is the third Dungeon Lord release, and the fourth Dungeon Crawl Classics product from Death Machine Press. Let's look inside!
Introduction by Terra Frank: A short, and heartfelt intro that notes both that it has been more than a year since The Wayne Con Issue, and that the humble publication has met its goal of inspiring others.
The Tavern at the End of Time: Poetry by Julian Bernick. I find myself appreciating the poetry in these issues more as time goes by. As judges, we want to evoke certain feelings, and language fills a large part of our toolbox. Some of the "greats" among the Appendix N authors - including Howard, Lovecraft, and Tolkien - were also poets. Including poetry in our gaming materials seems fitting.
Your Animal and You: Author Jeffrey Klingbeil discusses the animals you might gain with your 0-level occupation, including statistics and how you may wish to use them in-game. This is one of those articles that is extremely useful from both sides of the judge's screen. Two pages of usefulness that I would have bought the issue for even if the other pages were blank.
Bruno's Cruel Dungeon: The rest of the pages are not blank, of course. The next thing we get is this offering by Bruno Galan...a dungeon you might want to think twice before you enter. Note that the prospective judge will probably want to do some prep work before running this...DCs for checks and saves are not given, not every creature has statistics, and some of the mechanics mentioned in the dungeon or the accompanying bestiary are from other systems. There is also, as presented, no way to enter or leave the dungeon, as neither stairs nor passage leads into Room #1. None of these problems cannot be solved by the aspiring judge, but it is good to know of them ahead of time.
The author writes about this project, and addresses my comments in this post here.
Bruno's Cruel Dungeon Bestiary: Eight pages of monsters, by a variety of authors, which appear in Bruno's Cruel Dungeon. I will avoid naming them so as to preserve the integrity of the adventure, but I will note that there are some imaginative takes on old standbys here.
An Interview With Bruno Galan: What it says on the tin. It is always interesting reading how others got started, and what their take on the Game is. This is no exception.
Early to Bed, Early Demise: A table by Asia Pickle to determine how well you slept last night, with potential in-game repercussions both good and ill.
The Dimvale Dungeon: The back cover is a one-page dungeon by Matthew Lowes.
Dungeon Lord continues with a kick-ass issue that marks a new high for this zine (in my humble opinion, anyway). The Do-It-Yourself ethos, combined with great artwork, makes the issue a joy to read. The cover, by Charles "Vick" Duncan, is certainly evocative.
Get It Here!