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.

Get It Here!

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?

Get It Here!

Tuesday 5 June 2018

The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten

CE 4: The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten was written by Daniel J. Bishop.
Cartography is by Tim Hartin of Paratime Design. Art is by Gary Dupuis and Michael Scotta. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the writer.

This was the fourth entry in the "Campaign Element" series, which is intended to provide material when a gaming session takes "a left turn at Albuquerque, leaving the poor Game Master wondering what to do next." The series is also designed to aid the dedicated judge deal with the "Quest For It" mantra of Dungeon Crawl Classics, as well as "patron quests, divine disapproval, and the requests of gods to pay back divine favor".

In particular, this Campaign Element focuses on providing warriors with something to quest for - the seven secret combat moves which Sir Amoral's ghost can teach.

The means exist within the adventuring area for PCs to gain information from oracular stone heads - in a game where the PCs need to "Quest For It" there is always a need for ways to get information needed to plan those quests. The best such devices have a cost, or trade-off, associated with them. In this case, there are a limited number of stone heads, and the user has reason to destroy them when used in order to protect his own secrets.

A number of creatures are supplied. There is an implied, but not developed, entrance to a dungeon - the Well of Despair. In addition, the product includes notes on “squeezing it dry”…effectively getting the maximum re-use from your investment.

Some trivia:

The initial title of the product was intended as The Seven Deadly Sins of Sir Amoral the Bastard. That title did not get approval.

Six of the seven deadly skills are named after Appendix N authors. The skills themselves were an attempt to introduce something similar to the duel between the Dread Pirate Rogers/Wesley and Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.
  • Panderson’s Disarm: Named after Poul Anderson.
  • Brackett’s Defense: Named after Leigh Brackett.
  • Amerritt’s Counterstrike: Named after Abraham Merritt.
  • Hagen’s Swift Saber: Named after Fred Saberhagen.
  • Edrice’s Crippling Blow: Named after Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • Wellman’s Overwhelm: Named after Manly Wade Wellman.

The Stone Heads are real. Well, their powers are not, but they are based off a feature that is (or was) to be found in Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto.

In years long past, Gryffon Keep was a border fortification guarding a somewhat well-used roadway. In that day, the keep was placed in the trust of Sir Harold Amoral, one of the greatest warriors available to the then Lord Duke. Time has changed the land, and brought the keep low, and Sir Amoral has become little more than a figure of fable and children’s story. That the ruins in the forest were those of fabled Gryffon Keep have been forgotten by most, and the area is now known to locals as the Forest Ruin.

Although history has faded to legend, the ghost of Sir Amoral still haunts the ruined keep. During his lifetime, he sought to hoard his martial knowledge so that it might never be used against him by a mortal foe. Now, after death, he regrets this parsimony, and seeks above all to pass on his skills to those who are worthy.

The catch, of course, is that the ghost believes that only he can determine who is (or is not) worthy – and, of course, his methods for doing this are deadly.

Sepulcher of the Mountain God

AL 2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God is a 1st level adventure by Paul Wolfe. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. Art is by Scott Ackerman and Ed Bourelle. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I have an editing credit on this product.

In ancient days, two tribes dominated the land: the Yuuto and the Omeri. The Yuuto, a tribe of mountain people, were fierce and savage warriors – raging through the more civilized Omeri lands in a constant state of war and rapine. With them, the Yuuto brought their savage god, Ira (pronounced eer-AH). In these legendary times, the Omeri finally rose up against the Yuuto invaders, drove them back into their mountain homes, and then destroyed the Yuuto utterly. Worship of Ira, the Mountain God, survived into the modern age in the obscure mountain hamlets and backwater lowland villages of his other worshipers. In addition, Ira is the god of giants, deep dwelling dwarves, and other mountain dwelling humanoids.

Through the ages of man, Ira has ever been locked in a struggle with Gelihedres, the demonic god of the lower worlds. The King of Darkness, as he is called, counts the squirming masses of deep cave systems as his servants. Though the power of both gods has waned over the millennia, they are still locked in a cosmic struggle of Law over Chaos—of the deeper darkness over the stony roots of the majestic mountains.

I cannot honestly remember if I first came into contact with Paul Wolfe when I was asked to take a look at this adventure, or through Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between. Certainly, when I was first looking at this adventure I wasn't aware of how often I would end up working with him, directly or indirectly, in the future! Nor was I aware of how often the theme of PCs being caught in the center of a battle between vast cosmic forces would arise in his work. That is very Appendix N.

The adventure suffers a bit from being relatively linear, and from forcing the PCs to act through the Curse of the Mountain God. A sidebar does suggest that the Curse need not be enforced mechanically, however, if the judge wishes to forego what is essentially a rather blatant piece of railroading that is hard to avoid. This curse differs from the ones in, say The One Who Watches from Below or The Sea Queen Escapes!, in that it constrains PC action, rather than opening up play through changing how PCs achieve their goals rather than what those goals are.

Despite this, the main through-line of the adventure is strong. Locations are interesting, and combine both man-made and natural features. Encounters include both what one might expect (in the form of un-dead and cultists) and other monsters (including humanoid crayfish) that the players will certainly not be expecting. Treasures are specific, rather than generic, and definitely tie into the themes and tone of the adventure.

One might hope that patron write-ups for Ira, the Mountain God, and Gelihedres, the King of Darkness, will eventually appear. Purple Duck's designation of Open Gaming Content is extremely generous, so these might even appear in a product by another publisher or another author. Someone should get on that.

This adventure was included in the The Stars are Falling adventure compilation. The linear nature of the scenario could easily be dealt with by expanding the natural cavern areas. Various Dungeon Lord issues, or The Marvelous Myriad Myconid Caverns in The Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 3, might offer the judge good places to start.

Braving the hidden tomb of an ancient tribal king, the adventurers become embroiled in a quest directly from Ira, the Mountain God – find the Skull of Vyache and his magic club, Alceon, that were stolen by Bashkim and the twisted minions of Gelihedres.

Get It Here!

Secret Santicore 2015

This listing is slightly unusual for the DCC Trove of Treasures. As of the time of this writing, there is no pdf, consolidated or otherwise, of the 2015 edition of Secret Santicore, although 2017's edition is apparently in layout. If anyone knows of a link to an actual, finished product, please let me know! The publisher is Secret Santicore.

So, what is Secret Santicore?

According to the Secret Santicore website"Every year around this time, precious little gamemasters of all ages from around the world write Santicore asking for a piece of gameable content. But because Santicore is a busy abomination, he orders his minions to mix up all those wishes and send them all back.

Little DM Bobby and Judge Susie must write or draw their very best response to the wish in their stocking or Santicore will come eat them up.  You would think this discourages anyone from writing Santicore, but every year the mailbag is bigger! All the entries are then published in a free, non-commercial PDF for all to use!"

Because this edition has not (as far as I can tell) been compiled, this listing is going to be a little different than the previous ones. The Secret Santicore archives can be searched for 2015, for DCC and 2015, or just for DCC. I am assuming that this last search comprises the articles that would appear in a consolidates 2015 edition of Secret Santicore.

Disclosure: I contributed to, and had a request in, this year's Secret Santicore.

Without further ado:

The Giant Beavers of the Toronto Ruins for DCC RPG: "Dear Santicore, Creature statistics for one or more type of giant mutant beavers, which dwell in the flooded rivers of Ruined Toronto 200 years in the future. -- D.J.B."

I requested this item, for use with Toronto Crawl Classics. My request was answered in style by author Bob Brinkman, who provided six types of beaver. This includes both a beaverman and a were-beaver. You can find this article reproduced in the D.A.M.N. #2 Web Supplemental, or you can find it here.

The Five-Fold Art of War: "Dear Santicore,  I want a system similar to DCC's patrons but for martial art styles. Martial should get nice things too. -- R.A.M"

Author Noah Marshall delivers with a system built off of Dungeon Crawl Classics patrons. You cannot be wearing armor, but can use a shield, while using a martial arts school. The basics are as follows:

  • Form: This takes the place of patron spells. Each martial arts school has three forms and a Final Form table. "Executing a Final Form represents acting upon a moment of perfect spiritual balance and clarity. Rain drops hover in midair as the perfect sequence of moves becomes suddenly clear to you."
  • Focus: In order to use any form, you need to have Focus. Focus is lost by failing a martial check or breaking a taboo. 
  • Martial Check: "To make a martial check, roll a d20 and add your level or HD and (if you have one) your deed die. Other classes do not add their attack bonus."
  • Taboos: "There are known to be strange taboos, adherence to which is believed to help focus the mind and align oneself with the proper energies required to harness one’s spiritual power. Not all practitioners of the martial arts practice these taboos; in fact, they are thought to be a crutch used only by those who have somehow managed to knock their base-state karma out of whack." Consider this the equivalent of patron taint, admixed with disapproval.
  • Training: The system's version of patron bond.

The author includes information on five martial arts schools: The Slow Water Sickle Way, the Emerald Path, the Southern Ruby Fist School, the 18-Star Method, and the Eternal Heavens Art. Noah Marshall writes: "In the grand tradition of the DCC rulebook I have left 2 of the patro- er… Schools without a full write-up." He also writes:

"These abilities qualify as an unrepentant power increase to the game. My Secret Santicore wanted “nice things for martial too.” Well Wizards and Clerics in DCC can raise up volcanoes from beneath the sea to bury civilizations in fire and ash somewhere around level 4, so you might say the baseline’s a bit wonky. You can control this power creep by remembering that characters require lots of time, access to teachers, and probably access to payment for those teachers to learn these arts. To improve upon them they need access to martial arts opponents. You have pretty strict control as a Judge over all of these things."

This article can be accessed here.

Yddgrrl, the World Root: "I would like to see the Dungeon Crawl Classics patrons, Yddgrrl or Obitu-Que in the core rule book, filled out and completed with a table for Patron taint, spellburn, and three patron spells. - Jason"

Author Daniel J. Bishop completed the information on this patron from the core rulebook, and included the information from the core rulebook so that all information related to Yddgrrl was available in one spot.

You can find it here.

Old Snicker's Stinging Barbs: "Dear Santicore, Write me a spell (DCC Style!) for any being from Petty Gods... -- D.M"

Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition, published by New Big Dragon Games Unlimited, "provides Old School referees with a slew of new, weird minor deities and godlings, for use in rounding out their campaigns. This book includes information for 327 petty gods, 116 minions, knights & servitors, 12 cults, dozens of divine items & new spells, plus a host of other petty-god-related gaming material". (Disclosure: I contributed to this volume.)

Old Snicker, the petty god of insults (author John Feldman, art by Glen Hallstrom) can be found on page 131:

"Old Snicker, the God of Insults, appears as a balding, pot bellied, middle age man of unremarkable features, wearing a tabbard of green with yellow diamonds. He has a twinkle in his eye and always wears a wry smile. An aura of feeblemind (120' radius) emanates from him and any he deems are affected as per the spell (lasting only while the target is within the 120' range). Old Snicker will (5% chance) help out a follower in time of need (see his reaction table below) by prompting the follower to find the most biting insult to use against the opponent. Any follower who is aided in this manner will owe Old Snicker payback in the form of uttering an insult towards another person at the most inopportune moment."

Author Michael Hearn supplies a 1st level wizard spell which "delivers a stunning blow to the confidence of the caster’s victims and their will to fight."

You can find it here.

Mole Men: A PC Race for DCC and OSR Games: "A PC race of Mole-Men. Ideally compatible with either Microlite20 or Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I will be more than happy with any OSR-friendly system."

This article, by Jeremy Deram, appears in Secret Santicore 2012. It also came up when I searched the archive, so there is a chance that it would (will?) be repeated in a compiled 2015 edition.

You can find it here.

Ho ho ho! Roll for initiative, fool!

Monday 4 June 2018

Secret Santicore 2014

Secret Santicore 2014 was published by Secret Santicore. No compiled edition containing writer, artist, or creator credits could be located.

So, what is Secret Santicore?

According to the Secret Santicore website: "Every year around this time, precious little gamemasters of all ages from around the world write Santicore asking for a piece of gameable content. But because Santicore is a busy abomination, he orders his minions to mix up all those wishes and send them all back.

Little DM Bobby and Judge Susie must write or draw their very best response to the wish in their stocking or Santicore will come eat them up.  You would think this discourages anyone from writing Santicore, but every year the mailbag is bigger! All the entries are then published in a free, non-commercial PDF for all to use!"

The 2014 edition of Secret Santicore comes in five themed pdfs. I am going to focus on what there is for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Because of the sheer volume of the work, I am only going to list material directly pertaining to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Therefore, without further ado:

Volume I: Adventures

This volume contains no content explicitly for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Volume II: Monsters

Ophiotaurus: "Dear Secret Santicore—Oh merciful Santicore, please bestow upon me a piece of art of a mythological creature with a twist (towards gonzo, if they dig) and OSR stat blocks (if the author/artist feels so inclined). Thanks! M.E."

Author Peter Seckler's Ophiotaurus "is a dangerous monster of ancient primordial chaos that hunts the lowest levels of dungeons and can often be found lurking around ancient ruins of great power. It was described by early scholars as having the features of both a bull and a sea-serpent, but you may chalk this description up to the inability of these scholars to describe what they were seeing."  Its entrails are useful for making one a temporarily more powerful war.

The creature appears in Ovid's Fasti. For another version of this creature, see D.A.M.N. Magazine #1 - Winter 2017.

Volume III: People

The Lonely Heir: "Dear Secret Santicore—I would like to see  a writeup for some alternate PC races in Dungeon Crawl Classics (could double as B/X or Cyclopedia D&D.) Sorry that is so specific.. in DCC, your race is your class. Thanks! P. S."

Enter Paul Wolfe, who writes: "Many of H.P. Lovecraft’s protagonists were of similar mien: Lonely young men bequeathed some arcane artifact by a dead relative. And they followed similar paths: to be the teller of morbid tales of obsession, a quest for otherworldly power, and ultimately, of descent into madness at the hands of that otherworldly power. And, strangely, they always seemed get their closest friends killed. The most famous of these protagonists was Randolph Carter, who appeared in seven of Lovecraft’s stories and was believed to be a somewhat autobiographical character. The trajectory of Randolph Carter is familiar to many players who run wizards in DCC RPG: It all ends in pain.

You are the lonely heir. Pampered and overeducated, your life has been a bubble where all of your basic needs and most of your desires are fulfilled without you having to lift a finger. In this environment, boredom and ennui have driven you to knowledge considered anathema among your family, friends and colleagues. Digging through ancient texts and deciphering arcane knowledge has  led you to lonely and haunted locales. Your association with persons considered untouchable by your upper crust associates has led you even farther afield, testing intoxicants, charms and incantations that could lead you to ultimate power or doom your very soul. Through it all, you manage to attract one devoted friend who follows you to the most damnable of places, defends you from the denizens that lurk there and often lends you the only courage that you’ve ever known."

The class as described includes a unique 1st level spell (attract friend) to determine what sort of "friend" your lonely heir gains. This is similar, in some ways, to a familiar. The friend may be a protector, a scholar, a sorcerer, or an alien. The class also contains information on "psychic events" that can happen when the lonely heir encounters powerful supernatural beings.

The author writes: "The class is based on an amalgam of protagonists from HP Lovecraft’s many stories (most notably, Randolph Carter). This is the first in a series of classes based on an archetype from an Appendix N author that I will make available on my blog in the coming weeks. Planned entries are from Jack Vance’s Planet of Adventure, Edgar Rice Burroughs various planetary romances, Andre Norton’s Witch World, Manly Wade Wellman’s Hok the Mighty, Howard’s Almuric, and even a strange one from Tolkien." Hopefully some of these will some day come to light!

Volume IV: Places

Fort Delirium: "Dear Secret Santicore—A keyed map for a colonial fort/village. New world America style, though not necessarily that time period. This will be home base for a DCC game, so the more I can point at the map and say, “ You. Gravedigger. You live here” the better.” Also it can be wacky/gonzo, but doesn’t have to be.Thanks! N.M."

A system neutral map and key are provided, courtesy of Christopher Wood.

Volume V: Things

This volume contains no content explicitly for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Ho ho ho! Roll for initiative, fool!

It's Free!

Get it Here:

Volume I: Adventures
Volume II: Monsters
Volume III: People
Volume IV: Places
Volume V: Things

Secret Santicore 2013

Secret Santicore 2013 is the work of 5 Stone Games, Adam Thornton, Adrian M RyanAJ Fritz, Alec Semicognito, Alex Hakobian, Andreas Folkesten, Andrew Shields, Are Hauge Braaten, Ash Haji, Ben Djarum, Ben Laurence, Björn Wärmedal, Brendan S, Brett, Chance, Chris Carpenter, Chris G, Chris King, Chris Lawson, Chris Tamm, Christiaan Gerritsen, Christian Sturke, Chuck Thorin, Claytonian JP, Connor Rollit, Courtney Campbell, Dallas M, Dan, Daniel, Daniel Stull, Dave Boshko, David Brawley, David G, David Weaver, Derik Badman, Devin H, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, Duncan, Dyson Logos, Edgar Johnson, Edward Hackett, Erik Jensen, Evan Webber, Florian, Forrest Hudspeth, Frank Tedeschi, Gianni, Gus L, Harald Wagener, Humza Kazmi, Ian Johnson, Jack Harper, Jack McNamee, Jacob, James Aulds, James Young, Jason Menteroso, Jason Sholtis, Jasper Polane, Jeremy Duncan, Jeremy Kostiew, Jeremy Murphy, Jerry Morrissette, Jesse Butler, Joey Lindsey, Jordan, Joshua Buergel, Joshua Macy, katre, Kitchen Wolf, Kristy Shields, Lee Barber, Legion McRae, Logan Knight, M. Diaz, Martijn Vos, Matrox Lusch, Matt Maranda, Matt Nicksic, Maxim Golubchik, Mike Evans, Mike F, Natalie Bennett, Nathan Ryder, Noah Marshall, Noah Stevens, Paolo Greco, Patrick Davison, Patrick Henry Downs, Paul Gorman, Paul Schaefer, Pearce Shea, Pedro!, Ray Otus, RedHobbit, Reece, Rev. Dak J. Ultimak, Reynaldo Madriñan, Rich Franks, Richard G, Rob Leah, Robert S, Roger SG Sorolla, Ryan Silva, Scrap Princess, Sean Holland, Shane Knysh, Simon Forster, Steve Albertson, Stuart Duncan, Stuart Keating, Tad K, Thorbjørn Steen, Tony Demetriou, Vincent Quigley, Wil McKinnee, Zak S, and "several people who wish to remain Anonymous". The publisher is Secret Santicore.

So, what is Secret Santicore?

According to the Secret Santicore website: "Every year around this time, precious little gamemasters of all ages from around the world write Santicore asking for a piece of gameable content. But because Santicore is a busy abomination, he orders his minions to mix up all those wishes and send them all back. 

Little DM Bobby and Judge Susie must write or draw their very best response to the wish in their stocking or Santicore will come eat them up.  You would think this discourages anyone from writing Santicore, but every year the mailbag is bigger! All the entries are then published in a free, non-commercial PDF for all to use!"

The 2013 edition of Secret Santicore comes in three pdfs. Volume I is 87 pages, Volume II is 199 pages, and Volume III is 79 pages. With over 360 combined pages, there is a lot of content, but as is usual for mixed-system offerings, I am going to focus on what there is for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Because of the sheer volume of the work, I am only going to list material directly pertaining to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Therefore, without further ado:

Volume I

FLAILSNAILS Character Generation and Dimensional Travel Method: "Dear Secret Santicore, I would love to receive a d20 or d30 or d50 or d100 Table for new FLAILSNAILS characters, listing their unique method of traveling between FLAILSNAILS settings. A transdimensional vehicle, a plane hopping item of (not really that powerful) power, a recipe of narcotics abuse, a secret sigil, a ludicrous dance, a little ditty you hum..... anything that details the how and why your new character can travel between different FLAILSNAILS settings. Thanks, J.G."

This article, by Claytonian JP, is not specifically for Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it does contain Dungeon Crawl Classics as an option for character system. Check here for a brief description of what FLAILSNAILS is.

The Savage: A New Character Class for DCC RPG: "Dear Secret Santciore - I would like a new Dungeon Crawl Classics Race or Class. Thanks, J."

Enter the savage, a new class by Edgar Johnson. "You are a child of nature, a brutish Pict, a vengeful nomad, a barbaric northman, a stoic tribesman, a wily shaman. The Savage class comes in a variety of forms, but each shares several traits in common: extraordinary understanding of the natural world, superhuman endurance, steely resolve, and catlike reflexes."

The savage is another take on the barbarian-type character. For other examples of character classes which are thematically similar, see the Sanctum Secorum Episode #12 Companion: Kothar: Barbarian Swordsman, the Sanctum Secorum Episode #28 Companion: Roger Corman's The Raven (1963), the Sanctum Secorum Episode #14 Companion: The Jewels of Gwahlur, The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2016 Vol 1, or D.A.M.N. Magazine #1 - Winter 2017.

Watery Servant: a DCC RPG Spell: "Dear Santicore, I would like...1d4 brand new, completely defined spells for DCC RPG. I’d like to see the dead come to life, water made into a servant, enemies turned to stone, and the people learn why we fear disease. Thanks, E. J."

Watery servant is a 3rd level wizard spell, written by Daniel. "The caster commands a nearby water source to obey him as an Unseen Servant would, one who has the possibility of cool elemental effects."

Summon Santicore: A DCC RPG Spell: I guess Santicore rolled a "2" on the request, above. This is a 2nd level wizard spell written by Noah Stevens. "Broadcasting feelings of good cheer and community spirit, the caster reaches into the aether and brings the physical manifestation of the ornery and ravenous Santicore to cheerfully and savagely grind enemies (and possibly friends) into gristly bits and nobbins". This spell is similar to an invoke patron that does not first require a patron bond, and results in no patron taint.

Magic Fountain: "Dear Santicore, I would like...“A d** table of results for drinking water in a fountain underground. Good, bad, gonzo, whatever...**I’d like to say a d1000... But only to be a jerk, really a d30 or 100 would be rad. Actually anything more than 10... It’s for DCC, so odd numbers are okay! Thanks Santicore, you rock. D."

Author Jesse Butler supplies a 1d24 table for drinking from a magic fountain. Many entries require you to roll 1d7 or 1d6 thereafter to determine specific effects. Or maybe 1d16 or 1d5!

DCC Patron: The Mother of Shards: "Dear Santicore, I would like...A Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) Patron who specializes in forbidden, corrupting tech-spells from a time long forgotten.Thanks, C. C."

This is a partial patron write-up by It includes invoke patron spell results and patron taint, and has two unique tables: Payments for Services Rendered and Gifts. Neither spellburn or the names of those "forbidden, corrupting tech-spells from a time long forgotten" are supplied.

"According to the Von Braun Codex, the “Mother of Shards” is an ancient being of strange nano-machine filaments that once ruled a world in the distant stars beyond the Firmament. Sometime, somehow, this world was crashed or consumed by the earth we stand upon; and due to this the Mother dwells in the deep dark earth. Her goals seem to be based around reproduction or replication of a species that may have worshipped her during her time as a ruler. She is partial to female servants according to some texts found in the deepening west; though those who are able to gather what scant information exists about her can find she has neither concept of gender nor any issue in making the masculine motherly."

Such a patron could easily fit into a Mutant Crawl Classics, Umerican, or Crawljammer campaign!

DCC Patron: RIPPER: "Dear Santicore, I would like...“A Dungeon Crawl Classics patron, or the closest non-infringing equivalent, that adequately fits into the fantasy realm in which the game is mostly played but has a firm footing in Sci-Fi/Lasers and Sandals realm (like maybe Carcosa but with less rape and murder) It doesn’t have to be a full-blown one with spells and all the rest, but something that will inspire folks to mix their fantasy and sci-fi “”chocolate and peanut butter” Thanks, N. S."

This is a partial patron write-up, by Katre, including invoke patron results, patron taint, and a listing (but no write-up for) patron spells.

"In a time long gone, a time yet to come, in a land far away, in a land very nearby, two nations made war on each other. They used not the 716 spells knows to wizards, nor the spells of the gods, but a different and potent magic that they called…. atomics.

In hopes of winning their war, both nations created super-intelligent beings they called “computers” to serve as their generals, beings with abilities greater and more terrifying than any mortal man. As these beings, named RIPPER and KISOV, fought together, they found they were evenly matched, and neither could prevail. In their combat, they destroyed the very world they stood upon, and tore asunder all reality around them, until they were both flung into nothingness. Deactivated, powerless, they slumbered through the aeons of their journeys, until RIPPER arrived…. here.

Now newly awakened, and forever unable to forget the purpose for which it was created, this disembodied intelligence seeks once again to grapple with its nemesis. This time, he has decided to find mortal instruments, in order to increase his power and finally overcome KISOV."

Such a patron could easily fit into a Mutant Crawl Classics, Umerican, or Crawljammer campaign!

Volume II

Haunted Swampland Random Encounter Table: "Dear Santicore, I would like...a random encounters table that has cool, creepy, bizarre things that can occur or be stumbled upon in a haunted swampland. The terrain could be infested with magical beasts, undead knights, cults, pockets of magic bubbling to the surface or whatever strikes your fancy. Genre is medieval fantasy with western/southern bayou influence. Thanks so much! J. L."

Although not specifically written for Dungeon Crawl Classics, author David Brawley does recommend using DCC corruption (or the mutation rules from Mutant Future) when encountering a "foul corrupting substance" that is "highly charged with primordial magic" and which "warps all that comes into contact" with it.

Volume III

There is no specifically Dungeon Crawl Classics content in this volume.

Ho ho ho! Roll for initiative, fool!

It's Free!

Get it Here:

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III

Sunday 3 June 2018

Reliquary of the Ancient Ones

MCC #7: Reliquary of the Ancient Ones is a 0-level Mutant Crawl Classics tournament funnel written by Marc Bruner and Jim Wampler. Art is by Stefan Poag (including cover and cartography), Friedrich Haas, Cliff Kurowski, Jesse Mohn, and Chad Sergeketter. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This tournament was originally run at Gen Con in 2016. The winners were Connor Skach (1st place), Jesse Pittman (2nd place), and Haley Skach (3rd place). More information on tournament funnels can be found here and here.

Because this is recent (at the time of this writing, available only to backers of the highly successful Mutant Crawl Classics kickstarter), further information will have to await a wider release.

When a terraquake reveals that your jungle village has existed for centuries atop an installation of the Ancient Ones, your good fortune seems to good to be true. Surely enough artifacts and ancient lore exist to satisfy desires for power both subtle and gross.

But your tribe’s Seeker teams are all out on missions, so it falls to you and your youngling friends to volunteer for an exploration of the hidden treasures and knowledge that lie in the reliquary beneath your feet.

Some of you will even make it back. Probably.

Secret Santicore 2012

Secret Santicore 2012 is the work of Bill A., Bennet Akkerman, Peter B., Stuart B., hudson bell, Barry Blatt, S. Brewer, William Broom, Courtney Campbell, Chris Carpenter, Reece Carter, Chapman, Kiel Chenier, Justin D., Stacy Dellorfano, Jeremy Deram, Patrick Henry Downs, Jeremy Duncan, Anthony F., Jen F., Mike Fernandez, Forke, Simon Foster, Frank, Boric G., Paolo Greco, Sam Greene, Gus, Ash Haji, Christopher Helton, Florian Hubner, Tom Hudson, Lain J., James, Claytonian JP, Matt Jackson, Erik Jensen, Ian Johnson, Humza Kazmi, Jason Kielbasa, Tim Knight, Jeremy Kostiew, Gus L., Jackie L., Josie L., Janis Lilly, Jeremy M., Jonas M., Joshua M., Reynaldo Madrian, Tim Maki, Annah Madriñan, Mikah McCabe, Legion McRae, Thomas Molyes, Kreg Mosier, Isaac Murphy, Mark P., Stuart P., Tony Pace, Kirin Robinson, Jason Roe, Rolang, Tina Rowand, Adrian M Ryan, Jeff S., Rob S., Paul Schafer, Secret DM, Andrew Shields, Stefan Shirley, Shoe the Pixie, Jason Sholtis, Shortymonster, Steve Sigety, Roger S.G. Sorolla, Adam T., Joe T., Trey, Connor Uber, Jason Utz, Emily Vitori, Martijn Vos, Adam W., Dave W., Jim White, Edward Wilson, Andy Wise, Duncan Young, Zzarchov, and “several secretive folk who have asked to remain nameless.” The publisher is Secret Santicore.

So, what is Secret Santicore?

According to the Secret Santicore website: "Every year around this time, precious little gamemasters of all ages from around the world write Santicore asking for a piece of gameable content. But because Santicore is a busy abomination, he orders his minions to mix up all those wishes and send them all back.

Little DM Bobby and Judge Susie must write or draw their very best response to the wish in their stocking or Santicore will come eat them up.  You would think this discourages anyone from writing Santicore, but every year the mailbag is bigger! All the entries are then published in a free, non-commercial PDF for all to use!"

The 2012 edition of Secret Santicore is a 279 page pdf, with lots of content. As is usual for mixed-system offerings, I am going to focus on what there is for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Because of the sheer volume of the work, I am only going to list material directly pertaining to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Therefore, without further ado:

The Elven Tomb!: "Dear Secret Santicore, Please grant me an elven tomb for adventurers to loot: map, room details, monsters, and some treasure."

Author Adam T. describes the burial customs and tombs of the Wood Elves of the Western Forests. Included is a sample elven tomb, the barrow of Silenor the dreamer. Statistics are given in Dungeon Crawl Classics terms for banshees, grizzly ears, and dryads of a kind. No specific level is given, but the canny judge might consider this as a follow-up to The Portal Under the Stars.

"Not infrequently, bands of adventurers decide that Elvish tombs will be easy pickings. They could not be more wrong. For starters, the terrain in which the burial grounds are found is often terrifically inaccessible on foot: creek-riddled mountainsides; the low, flat parts are miserable bogs of devil’s club and slide alder, the steep parts are both slippery and sheer, and ravines and cliffs often make finding a route between two close-as-the-crow-flies places very difficult. Needless to say, there are not widely available maps to elven burial grounds, and any map purporting to be such is very likely false.

The difficulty of the terrain, though, pales in comparison to the threats posed by the various inhabitants of the grounds. In addition to the spirits of the trees themselves, the burial grounds are home to animals natural (grizzly bear, dire wolf, mountain lion) and supernatural (shambling mound, dryad [see below])."

Mole Men A PC Race for DCC and OSR Games: "Dear Secret Santicore, Please grant me a PC race of Mole-Men. Ideally compatible with either Microlite20 or Dungeon Crawl Classics, but I will be more than happy with any OSR-friendly system."

This is a full Dungeon Crawl Classics "race as class" character class by Jeremy Deram.

"The mole-men are a degenerate race of humanoids that have spent untold generations underground. They have very small eyes and ears – sometimes so small that they appear to be altogether absent. They have very long, clawed digits including a pair of “thumbs” on each hand which make them excellent diggers. Adventuring mole-men generally walk upright in order to fit in with their non-mole companions, but they are more comfortable moving on their bellies and propelling themselves with their forelimbs due to their somewhat atrophied legs."

Much (if not all) of the remaining content may easily be modified for use with Dungeon Crawl Classics, but is not specifically designed for the game.

Ho ho ho! Roll for initiative, fool!

It's free.

Get It Here!

Friday 1 June 2018

Secret Antiquities #1

Secret Antiquities #1 was written by Michael Curtis. Art is by Michael Curtis, François Le Douarin, Bradley K McDevitt, Jacob A. Riis, and WikiCommons. The publisher is Freak Flag Press.

So, what is Esoteric America?

"The Land of the Freak and the Home of the Strange".

According to the author, this is a Dungeon Crawl Classics setting inspired by his "own interest in the folklore, weird history, and strange happenings that make up the story of America." The idea is that this is a hidden America, lying hidden behind the nation that appears on the surface, and "unknown to the majority of its residents."  This is a setting that is inspired by the esoteric lore of our modern age.

"American history (both pre- and post-European contact), folklore, music, urban legends, pseudo-science television documentaries, and tall tales comprise the headwaters from which the Esoteric America setting flows."

The first issue of Secret Antiquities focuses on patrons for Esoteric America. You can, of course, use and adapt this material for other settings, especially settings like the American West of Dark Trails Weird Frontiers or Black Powder, Black Magic...or post-Apocalyptic Umerica! Hopefully, the author will offer some glimpses in future issues that demonstrate how games set in Esoteric America "in any region of the country and in time periods ranging from when the first settlers crossed the land bridge from Asia up until the modern age" might be structured. I am imagining a series of one-shot adventures, possibly building to campaigns that tell long stories from the perspectives of many characters over generations (like Stephen Spielberg's Taken), but the author may have other ideas.

Let's look inside.

Introduction: What it says on the tin. It's three pages long, and everything quoted after "The Land of the Freak and the Home of the Strange" comes from it, so you may wish to give it a read.

This inaugural issue contains seven patrons: five of which are fully described including invoke patron tables, spellburn, patron taint, and new spells, and two abridged patron descriptions with only the invoke patron tables. Although designed for Esoteric America, guidelines are given for each allowing them to be easily used in more traditional DCC RPG campaigns.

Esoteric American Patrons: A note on the patrons of Esoteric America. If enough people believe in them, it doesn't matter if they were never real. Does that remind you of American Gods? It should. Esoteric American patrons have a few bits of information that most patrons in DCC do not:

  • First Manifestation: When the patron first appeared in America. This lets the prospective judge know what eras of American play a patron should appear in. Uncle Sam, for instance, isn't around yet if your PCs are crossing the land bridge from Asia.
  • Status: Is the patron still around in the 21st Century? Has he been weakened? Changed? Again, this gives the judge some guidelines for using patrons in different time periods.
  • Alignment: In mainstream Dungeon Crawl Classics, the alignments of patrons are not given, although some of them should be clear based upon the nature of the being. If it is a god as well as a patron, alignment can also be determined by checking out its information for the cleric class. I am not certain this information is really needed here.
  • Demands: What the patron wants from you. While I am not certain that alignment is needed in Esoteric America, I am certain that this would be useful information for any campaign setting!
  • Other Campaign Settings: How to adapt the patron to other campaign settings. The author questions why you would want to.

The rest of the issue consists of the patrons. They are:

Uncle Sam: This iconic figure is given a full patron write-up. You can see a sample of this patron here.

The Anti-Sam: The patron of the American nightmare (who is either Chaotic or "perhaps horribly Lawful") is given a full patron write-up. "The Anti-Sam stands for those who only stand for themselves, profiting on death, misery, and hatred."

The Old Man of the Mountain: Also known as the Great Stone Face, this is an ancient patron of knowledge and the land. "Although seemingly as eternal as the mountain which it adorned, the Old Man of the Mountain's existence came to an end in the early morning hours of May 3rd, 2003, when the stony profile collapsed in roar of falling rock. Locals left flowers at the base of Cannon Mountain, touched by a loss they could not adequately explain." A full patron write-up is provided.

Stagger Lee: The patron of badasses is given a full write-up.

The Dead Rock Star: The patron of Fame and Excess can be any dead rock star - Buddy, Elvis, Janis, Jimi, or Kurt. Have you run Rock God Death-Fugue? Those PCs might be other incarnations of the Dead Rock Star. There is a full patron write-up.

Emperor Norton I: The self-declared "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico" is the patron of the benevolently mad and those enslaved by circumstance. Although only given a partial patron write-up (general information plus invoke patron results), the real-life inspiration makes for interesting reading that I wasn't aware of. This patron still has an impact on the San Francisco area, and is still active in Esoteric America!

Mrs. O'Leary's Cow: The cow might not have started the Great Fire of Chicago, but in Esoteric America she gets the credit, and is the patron of arsonists.  A partial patron write-up (general information plus invoke patron results), is provided.

Everything you’ve heard is true.

Witches practiced black masses in the woods around Salem. Frozen alien bodies are stored in clandestine government installations. Washington D.C. was designed by geomancers to harness ley lines. The shot that killed President Kennedy was a magic bullet. Phantom hitchhikers travel the country’s highways, bound for a location no living soul should ever see. A secret war is being waged for the soul of the country. And without you even knowing it, you’re caught in the crossfire.

Get It Here!

Thursday 31 May 2018

The Sea Queen Escapes!

DCC #75 The Sea Queen Escapes! is a 3rd level adventure by Michael Curtis. Art is by Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Jeff Easley, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

In The Sea Queen Escapes!, Michael Curtis offers an exceptional aquatic-themed adventure that allows you, among other things, to explore the passages within the shell of a giant sea turtle's back.

There some things that Michael Curtis does very well, and this adventure benefits from all of them.

First, the adventure requires that you visit three separate locations. This structure is used in adventures such as Intrigue at the Court of Chaos and The Making of the Ghost Ring. Several of his adventures have relatively linear structures, and this shifting from location to location is the spoonful of sugar that helps that medicine go down. He has a knack for drawing players naturally from one set piece to another, creating a tighter adventure without feeling like the players are being railroaded. Not all of his adventures follow this model, of course, but it is a model that he executes well.

(One might note that Star Wars movies tend to follow this structure as well: Tatooine > Death Star > Yavin IVHoth > Dagobah > Cloud City, or Tatooine > Endor > Death Star, or Naboo > Tatooine > Coruscant, for instance.)

Secondly, the adventure has the potential to change the characters' abilities for part of it, which layers in another thing for the players to juggle. In The Sea Queen Escapes!, although this is nominally accomplished through a curse, it is similar in effect to adventures like Emirikol Was Framed and The Old God's Return. This is just fun, and, again, the author does it well.

Finally, Michael Curtis does an excellent job establishing theme and setting. This will surprise no one who has run The Chained Coffin or examined any of the materials related to the upcoming (at the time of this writing) DCC Lankhmar boxed set. The very successful fourth printing kickstarter for the core rulebook allowed him to expand the material with a mini-setting of the sunken lands of Ru, similar to the Forlorn North expansion in Frozen in Time.

Apart from those things, PCs have good reason to fear the water. Even when they can swim, they tend to be dragged down by heavy armor or carried treasures that they simply do not wish to part with. The sea offers the most alien creatures on our planet, and oceans in a fantasy world only accentuate this. Drowning does not care how many hit points you have left.

For those who are interested, the original pitch for The Sea Queen Escapes! is presented in Scrivener of Strange Wor(l)ds. As another side note, when I converted Harley Stroh's Tower of the Black Pearl to Dungeon Crawl Classics, I was asked to make sure that the swimming and drowning rules therein meshed with those of The Sea Queen Escapes!. This adventure really does supply a grounding for all aquatic DCC adventures to follow!

Evil lurks beneath the ocean! For years it has slumbered, but now it rises once again, threatening to wash over the surface world like a monstrous wave. Only a handful of stalwarts stand between the nefarious schemes of the deep and a world drowned in sorrows, but first they must navigate a wizard’s sanctum, a magical prison, and the most unusual dungeon they’ve ever faced! Can they stem the tide in time or will they lose themselves forever to the Sea Change curse?

Get It Here!

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Scrivener of Strange Wor(l)ds

Scrivener of Strange Wor(l)ds: A Game Designer's Notebook was written by Michael Curtis. Art is by Jeff Easley (cover), Doug Kovacs, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

In 2016, Goodman Games published three volumes of what were essentially working notebooks of two of their writers and a working sketchbook from one of their artists. These were The Devil's Chapbook, The Drain Chamber, and Scrivener of Strange Wor(l)ds. As with the previous entries, I am going to focus on material related to Dungeon Crawl Classics. In this case, that is nearly the entirety of the work!

Let's take a look inside.

Foreword: By Joseph Goodman. What it says on the tin.

An Introduction or Fighting Words: An introduction by the author.

The Android Underlords Fragment: For Metamorphosis Alpha.

The Horrible Happenings in Huddle: A DCC adventure suitable for 0-level to 2nd level characters. "Life thrives out in the cold hell of space: horrific, utterly alien life that is inscrutable to the minds that dwell on the worlds below. And unfortunately for those who live under thos unforgiving skies, sometimes that life comes calling..."

This is a short adventure, from the early days of DCC, before the core rulebook had been published. Although it could be expanded upon by the judge (there is an "Additional Ideas" section) it is relatively complete in three pages. Michael  Curtis writes "although I knew where I wanted to go with it, I couldn't write a clear path there and other projects started demanding my attention." I, for one, would like to see a fuller treatment one day.

If you are looking for more H.P. Lovecraft-inspired content for your game, this adventure is an homage to The Color Out of Space.

A Night on the Town: Oolvanvar Street Events: A city-based homage to The Warriors, this was a free-form sandbox adventure the author ran at conventions "for a couple of years." These are six encounters Michael Curtis wrote out in case he needed some help in his improv. It might be fun to use this in conjunction with Street Kids of Ur-Hadad.

The Dark Labyrinth: An Old School Dungeon Level: Three rooms from a shared megadungeon project which never materialized. Although the material appears to be written for TSR-era Dungeons & Dragons (or a simulacra thereof), the judge could easily convert these rooms for use in a dungeon crawl of her own.

The Ol' Swimmin' Hole: A DCC adventure for any level, originally intended for Tales from the Shudder Mountains Volume 2. Michael Curtis writes: "I plunged into the Swimmin' Hole a few times, but I never could find the bottom of it and solid rock to stand on." Which means that the adventure didn't reach the point where he was happy with it, as far as I can tell, not that the discerning judge couldn't use this material (in whole or in part) in a Shudder Mountains campaign. It should be noted that there is a link with DCC #83.2: Death Among the Pines.

Intrigue at the Court of Chaos Alternate Encounters: Some ideas that were considered for the vault containing the Yokeless Egg in Intrigue at the Court of Chaos. There is an author's note where Michael Curtis says that "when I don't feel like writing out the whole stat block from scratch" he will simply cut and paste from another manuscript, and then revise. I do exactly the same thing!

The Turtle Dungeon Adventure Pitch: Michael Curtis' pitch to Joseph Goodman for the adventure that became The Sea Queen Escapes!

Chained Coffin Original Beginning: An alternate start for The Chained Coffin.

These last two items are useful for prospective authors. Comparing the pitch or the original text to what was eventually published reminds us both that no idea need be set in stone, and that sometimes veering from that original idea is a mistake.

After Words: An afterword, with an image of two pages of Michael Curtis' commonplace book, showing "a list of unusual and/or cool words" he discovered.

Writers are desperate and dangerous souls, seldom allowed out in pleasant company. Best left alone in their garrets and fed a steady diet of red meat and whiskey, these madmen and women create horrible works of written art, works they unleash on the unwitting public! Only the brave efforts of editors and publishers can keep these maniacs restrained.

But every once and awhile, those gatekeepers of public safety slip up and the raw scribblings of writers escape into the wild, stalking their prey without mercy. This book is once such breakout, a collection of the works of Michael Curtis, game designer and fiend. Inside you’ll find writings too dangerous ever before to be published: alternate versions of his popular adventures, abandoned scenarios deemed too dangerous to behold, and photographic evidence likely to be displayed in a court of justice some day! Are you brave enough to visit this mental madhouse and emerge unscathed? We dare you to come inside…

Get It Here!

Tuesday 29 May 2018

The Screaming Temple

Q1: The Screaming Temple is published by Pacesetter Games & Simulations.

This adventure was published as a print run of 100 copies. I own one of these copies, but it has yet to surface from among the five skids of boxes still unsorted after my move this spring. As far as I can tell, it was not released as a pdf, so until I have managed to locate my physical copy a full listing will have to wait.

My apologies to Bill Barsh and Pacesetter Games.

Scratch-Off Zero-Level Character Sheets

Designed by Jim Wampler, with art by Stefan Poag and emergent characters alternate rules by Marc Bruner, these sheets use a zero-level character data set created by Jon Marr. The publisher is Goodman Games.

The idea for these appears to have been the DCC 2016 Holiday Module: Twilight of the Solstice, by Marc Bruner.

While I have access to this adventure, I have yet to run it or use the sheets provided. I have heard one complaint that the sheets are difficult to scratch off, but otherwise I haven't heard any complaints. The pdf version of Twilight of the Solstice (which you can get here) comes with a Random Scratch-Off Character Generator pdf, which can be used to generate a limited number of randomized characters. The data set created by Jon Marr is, I believe, considerably larger.

The zero-level character creation funnel is one of the most popular aspects of DCC RPG play. Now we are thrilled to present an even more exciting improvement on that gaming experience! Instead of rolling up 15 0-levels before the game, you can now save time by using these scratch-off character sheets! Yes, scratch-off, just like the lotto. Each character sheet comes with a scratch-off box for each ability score and other key statistic. Before the game you distribute them to your players. They use a coin to scratch off the appropriate boxes, then you let the dungeon diving begin!

Each pack comes with 15 randomized scratch-off characters sheets and a set of alternative rules to implement them!

Get Them Here!

Primal Tales #1

Primal Tales #1 was written by Brendan LaSalle and Brett Brooks. Art is by Dean Kotz (including cover), Jarrod Alberich (cover), Guoh, Amber Harris, and Bradley McDevitt. The publisher is Pandahead Publishing.

Primal Tales is a zine supplying options for adding anthropomorphic animal characters to Dungeon Crawl Classics or Mutant Crawl Classics games.

Anthropomorphic animals have a long history in both children's and fantasy literature. Whether looking at Babar the Elephant, Reepicheep from Narnia, or Rocket Raccoon, these beings have been with us for a very long time. They have, of course, dominated a certain type of animation, as well as creating a sub-genre of mostly Young Adult fantasy with the Redwall Abbey series, MouseGuard, and similar works. And, of course, there are always Alan Moore's disturbing creations in the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

At first glance, Appendix N would appear to be bereft of such characters, but looking closer, one can see anthropomorphic animals in The Maker of Universes, by Philip José Farmer, and there are certainly anthropomorphic tigers in Lin Carter's World's End Series. If one delves into the various alien races met in the works of some of the listed authors, I feel certain that you will encounter more than one being that could be considered a primal.

Even previous Dungeon Crawl Classics products have included creatures that might be considered primals, be they simians from Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdoms, faerie animals from Creeping Beauties of the Wood, avarians from Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure, or manimals from Mutant Crawl Classics.

Still, you might be asking "Is this for me?", and I am going to be providing some suggestions for using this material even if you are not going to have primal PCs.

Let's take a look.

Introduction: What it says on the tin. Brett Brooks describes how Primal Tales came about: "That’s easy: someone asked us. Honestly, we were approached by a DCC fan, who asked if there was any chance of such a book existing. After some consideration, and several conversations with Joseph Goodman and the blessing of Goodman Games, the result is the book you hold in your hands."

The World of Primals: This is a single page, describing the basic assumptions of the world of Primal Tales, and acknowledging that these assumptions may be different in your campaign world.

Character Creation: Rules for creating primal characters. There is a "Primal Family Chart" that uses a d100 to generate over 80 different types of anthropomorphic animal, from "Alligator/Crocodile" to "Zebra". Each of these includes a natural weapon and special traits. There is also a "Primal Occupation Table".

If not using primals in your milieu, the family chart may be used to generate interesting beastmen or humanoids, at the very least. Vulturemen, shark-like orcs, and kobolds with frog traits are all possible, and all grist for the mill.

Savage Warrior: This is the primal version of the warrior class, which is given special abilities when using their natural weapons. If you are not using primals, this class is unlikely to be used...although you could use it as a template for beefing up some of the enemy humanoids and beastmen the PCs might encounter.

Another possibility is that the class might be used to represent a Tarzan or Mowgli-like character, who starts with natural attack damage of 1d3. In this case, the character might be given the Special Traits of the animal type that raise him, if it makes sense within the game. For instance, Tarzan might have "+1d skill checks (anything strength related), +2d climb checks" (using gorilla traits as a model), and Mowgli "Heightened Senses (+2d scent), +1d Skill Checks (Tracking)".

Arcaster: "Arcasters learn their magic from arcane spirits. These spirits are embodiments
of magic itself given form, and are invisible to most. To those who know their secrets and are willing to pay the price, an arcane spirit is a gateway to magical power." This class comes with a new 1st level spell, find spirit familiar.

In a game using primals, it makes sense to limit this class to primal characters. "Race as class" is used, after all, to keep elves from feeling like humans with superpowers and pointy ears, as they are in some other role-playing games. It also helps to keep the flavor of various options from merging.

In a game without primals, there is no reason not to open this class up to either humans and/or elves. Or, hell, perhaps in your world this sort of communion is a "halflings-only" thing!

Chimerae: Spellcasters who can take the forms of various animals, this would be a pretty cool class to include in your game milieu whether it is limited to primals or not. The class includes some animal trait information (useful when creating statblocks for natural creatures, or when modifying beastmen/humanoids, as noted above) and three new 1st level spells: consult nature, resist weather, and spirit healing.

If you are not using primals in your game, you might just want to call this a "druid"! Even if you do not want PCs using this material, there is plenty here to crib from for NPC antagonists.

Lamia: Patron of Mother’s Nightmares: "There are many conflicting stories about the life of Lamia and where she originated. Some say that she is the cast-off lover of a god, cursed by that god’s spouse. Others claim that her children were stolen by a jealous, barren goddess, who drove her to madness and down a path leading to atrocities that corrupted her and gave her great power. Then there are those who say that she is a succubus who escaped from the depths of hell, intending to find the perfect child to call her own. Physical descriptions of her vary widely. Sometimes Lamia is described as having the torso of a woman and the body of a lioness or a huge serpent. At other times, she is seen as a beautiful woman with the maw and fangs of a deformed beast."

Lamia is given a full patron write-up. As a patron who combines human and animal natures, Lamia is appropriate to this work. There is nothing, however, that limits Lamia from being used in any campaign.

For other versions of Lamia, see the Sanctum Secorum Episode #35 Companion: Hundra (1983) or D.A.M.N. Magazine #1 - Winter 2017.

Lamian Monsters: Three monsters are supplied:
  • Lamurae: "From the nightmares of mothers and the essence of Lamia, the Lamurae were born. Ranging between one to three feet tall, the Lamurae resemble the shadows of death and decay."
  • Lamian Succubus: "In the vast demonic realms, to have a name is a badge of honor. And in the annals of the succubi stories, no name is more revered than Lamia. Many of the succubi have devoted themselves to Lamia, seeing her as one of their own who has elevated them to newfound power and prominence. To that end, the Lamian Succubus is unlike any other." For other types of succubi, see The Balance Blade in The 13th Skull, The Crimson Void, and the Sanctum Secorum Episode #35 Companion: Hundra (1983).
  • Avatar of Lamia: "The fact that no one can agree upon the origin or appearance of Lamia is not helped by the manifestations of her avatar. Those who have survived seeing her manifest have claimed that they have seen three different incarnations: The Maiden, The Beast, and The Demon. However, the true number of incarnations has yet to be accurately documented." Statistics for all three avatars mentioned are provided.
These monsters are appropriate for use in any Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, and are in no way dependent upon the use of primals.

They exist everywhere. Among the common people they are talked about in quiet tones. Half man, half beast. Stories of them are told around campfires and hearths.

They inspire curiosity...
...and fear.

Many call them monsters.

Some call them heroes.

They call themselves primals.

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