Thursday 15 February 2018

PM 1: Temple of the Locust Lord

Purple Mountain Level One: Temple of the Locust Lord is a 1st level adventure written by Mark Gedak. Art is by Jacob Blackmon (cover) and Matt Morrow. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. DCC conversion is by Daniel J. Bishop. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I did the DCC conversion on this product, and am a Patreon on this project.

Purple Mountain was originally written for the Pathfinder role-playing game, and is nominally within the Purple Duck Games open setting world, Porphyra. Each level was written by a different author (although some authors may have written more than one level), using cartography by Kristian Richards.

Some of this cartography was later used to inspire Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures: for instance, Level 1 shares a map with Through the Cotillion of Hours, and Level 3 shares maps with Stars in the Darkness.

Each level also has a theme, and the theme of Level One is insects, arthropods, and similar squicky things - what are called "vermin" in the original system. It is important in doing a conversion to try to be true to the overall vision of the original author, while ensuring that the aesthetic of Dungeon Crawl Classics shines through. This means, in part, making monsters mysterious, even to those who are old hands at Pathfinder. Luckily, Mark Gedak's original work made this fairly easy to do.

Notes are given for using this product as a stand-alone adventure, or as part of the larger Purple Mountain series. An Appendix describes the Locust Lord as a deity for clerics and provides invoke patron results for wizards and elves.

The first level of Purple Mountain is the current home to a cult of the Locust Lord, a demonic entity dedicated to vermin, chasms, and infestations. Twenty years ago, the wizard Iraksed came to the Purple Mountain to discover secrets of transformation into an immortal invertebrate form. His destructive tendencies and ability to manipulate the manamites present in the first level of Purple Mountain earned him the grace of the Locust Lord and Iraksed began the painful process of shedding his mortal form into his current squirming one.

Recently Iraksed and his manamite followers have grown in power and potential for destruction. The manamites have captured and trained a number of vermin, including a throach. The throach, known to the manamites as the Instrument of the Locust Lord, has the ability to implant hosts with its verminous offspring. These offspring eventually tear themselves free of their host. The manamites love both the birth of throach grubs from within the bodies of other sentient races and the screams of their hosts as the larval throach burst free. To supply the throach with a constant supply of hosts, the manamites occasionally venture out of Purple Mountain to capture travellers or nearby villagers.

Get It Here!

Pulp Weird Encounters #1: The Tomb of the Squonk and the Silent Army

Pulp Weird Encounters #1: The Tomb of the Squonk and the Silent Army was written by Daniel J. Bishop and Charlie Scott, with art by Nik Wolfe (including cover) and Rick Hershey. Cartographer is by Joshua Burnett. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the authors.

As the name implies, this product was meant to be the first in a series of Pulp Weird Encounters published by Mystic Bull Games. While I cannot say for certain about The Silent Army, I know that Tomb of the Squonk was originally written for In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer, but didn't fit within the space of the book.

Pulp Weird Encounters #1 contains two adventures: Tomb of the Squonk by Daniel J. Bishop and The Silent Army by Charlie Scott. Interestingly enough, both include alien technology as significant elements.

Tomb of the Squonk (Low to Mid-Level, by Daniel J. Bishop)

A hideous creature asks your help to regain his rightful body.

This adventure is heavily influenced by the World of Tiers series by Philip José Farmer. So much so that there are rules for creating Patricians - a group of human-appearing interdimensional beings that fight in an endless internecine conflict that they term “games.” The point of these games is to humiliate, and eventually to kill, the other Patricians through a “board” that consists of multiple universes, on a playground that includes other times as well as other spaces.

The cover illustration predates the adventure, which was designed to make use of it. If you are familiar with North American lumberjack mythology, you will recognize where the squonk comes from.

The titular Tomb is actually a death-trap designed to slay all who enter. It includes a white-furred temporal serpent that predates a similar occurance in Glipkerio's Gambit (and which is itself a nod both to Philip José Farmer and Fritz Leiber's Nehwon). Despite being a death trap, a clever party can survive with minimal (or no) loss.

The adventure also includes a number of gates, so the prospective judge should have other locations to hand in case the PCs pass through one or more of them. When I first ran the adventure, as a home game playtest, the PCs entered into the world of Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess (converted from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. When I ran this at Gary Con IX, characters ended up first in the Saturn of The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn and The Vault of Ash, and then in The Giggling Deep.

I strongly recommend that the judge throw the players into the new location in media res, rather than at the normal adventure start. Adventure conversions from almost any system would be appropriate.

The Silent Army (Low-Level, by Charlie Scott)

Help a village defeat an alien menace.

The working title of this adventure was The Cyber-Satyr, and you will find it referenced as such in Tomb of the Squonk. This adventure is really written as a fairly linear side quest, but one that foreshadows an alien invasion. Note that the actual invasion can be generations hence if the judge doesn't want to address it, or next week if she does.

Note that "the entirety of this work is designated as Open Gaming Content" except the Product Identity, which are mostly terms so designated by Goodman Games. This means that, if you wish, you can create and publish an adventure that follows up on either The Silent Army or Tomb of the Squonk. I would buy it. Neither the Patricians nor the alien Tsinchin are Product Identity.

Get It Here!

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Prince Charming, Reanimator

FT0: Prince Charming, Reanimator is a 0-level funnel adventure written by Daniel J. Bishop. Art is by Luigi Catellani, and cartography is by Kristian Richards. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

This product comes about due to the confluence of several factors.

First, I had planned to do a series of fairy tale-based adventures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, titled Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores. The idea was to combine classic fairy tales with one or more strong Appendix N influences, to create something that accentuated the folkloric (and often dark) fey elements of the original tale and the adventurous energy of Appendix N fiction.

Second, my good friend Raechel Henderson, who was the first person to ever pay me for a piece of writing, had a Kickstarter project that was moving slowly. I asked my readers to help spread the word about Raechel’s project, in return for which I would write a free adventure. Her project, Spellbound and Spindles, was related to fairy tales too, making this a perfect tribute to those who contributed either with dollars or links. Although Spellbound is no more, it pleases me to no end that Raechel Henderson not only achieved her goal, but fulfilled her commitments, releasing seven issues before Spellbound closed its doors. Perhaps, like Sleeping Beauty herself, Spellbound will reawaken at some future date? Our community should all wish for a strong introduction to fantasy specifically made for children.

Finally, Mark Gedak of Purple Duck Games not only agreed to publish the follow up series of fairy tale-based adventures, but also to publish the free adventure professionally.

The result was Prince Charming, Reanimator, with the pdf version being Pay What You Want. Prince Charming, Reanimator, is based off of the observation that Prince Charming's brides were found (in the original fairy tales) at the bottom of a well, in a glass casket, and after being "asleep" for a century. This struck me as being more than a little akin to something a medieval Herbert West, Reanimator might be into. And et voila! Here we are.

The adventure includes Dr. Chapman as a patron, using the abbreviated format from the core rulebook (invoke patron results only). For a more complete write-up, see FT 1: Creeping Beauties of the Wood.

Get It Here, or Get the PWYW Pdf Here!

Sunday 11 February 2018

Prayers of the Forgotten

Prayers of the Forgotten was written by Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman. The cover illustration is not credited (or, at least, it is not in my copy, which has a different cover illustration). Cartography is by Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman. The publisher is Stormlord Publishing.

I previously reviewed this item here (and that is the cover I have!).  My opinion on the product has not changed.

“There is no such thing as a dead god. Only dead followers.” - Sir Baylin the Last

Get It Here!

Thursday 8 February 2018

The Portsmouth Mermaid

FT 2: The Portsmouth Mermaid is a 2nd level adventure written by Daniel J. Bishop, with art by Matt Morrow (cover) and Luigi Castellani. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. Additional writing by Godric McKellan and Bobby Ree. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

An invitation to a wedding, and a patron's desire for a mermaid's tears, bring the PCs to Portsmouth, an amalgamated not to H.P. Lovecraft's fictional towns of Kingsport and Innsmouth. In particular, judges would be well advised to read The Festival, Dagon, and The Shadow over Innsmouth if they are interested in direct influences.

The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen, is another obvious inspiration. So much so that I am left wondering whether or not Lovecraft had considered this tale when penning Dagon.

There are a great many other fairy tale and nursery rhyme references in the adventure. The Golden River, it may be noted, relates to The King of the Golden River (by John Ruskin), and is also connected to Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror through the "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" encounter in Appendix C: Additional Encounters.

The adventure includes five appendixes.

Appendix A is compiled statblocks for everything referenced in the adventure. There are a lot of elements that can be in play, so this is worth printing out and keeping handy.

Appendix B is New Magic Items. In August of 2014 I ran The Scrimshaw Rod contest on my blog, and decided to split the difference, declaring both contestants (Godric McKellan and Bobby Ree) winners. These items were created by them, and they should have been credited in the text.

Appendix C contains Additional Encounters that can be used to liven up adventuring in Portsmouth, either during this adventure or later in a campaign. They are The Dancing Shoes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Match Girl, I Do Not Like Thee Doctor Fell, The Sky is Falling, The King of the Cats, and Simple Simon's Catch.

Appendix D: The Esoteric Order of Dagon contains a complete patron write-up for Dagon, which can also be found reprinted in  Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between: Extended, Otherworldly Edition. (In fact, there is a Dagon cover.)

Appendix E: Faerie Animal Types for Portsmouth supplies a table for faerie animal characters, using the rules in Creeping Beauties of the Wood, but which are more suitable for the Portsmouth area.

This is the third item in the Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores series. Additional supporting materials can be found in Crawl! fanzine #11 (The Deep Elders) and Three Nights in Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth Mermaid takes place over the twelve days of a Yuletide Celebration in the town of Portsmouth, north of Westlake. The adventure is largely political, with several factions, all of which have a different optimal outcome. The PCs have to figure out what is going on, decide what to do about it, and then live with the consequences.

Get It Here!

Playing the Game

AL 6: Playing the Game is a 0-level funnel adventure by Perry Fehr, with art by Gary Dupuis (including cover and game board design) and Jacob Blackmon. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I have a playtest credit in this product.

Playing the Game relates to the Zenik Order, and is therefore linked to the author's The Elemental Lords Awaken! In this adventure, characters are given the chance to play a board game called Arbakampsi, with stakes that are far greater than most game players experience.

Arbakampsi is a board game common to the Lands of Porphyra. It was first described in Purple Duck Storeroom: Arbakampsi, for the Pathfinder system.

In many ways, this adventure reminded me of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Move Along Home. Essentially, our hapless characters become part of the game, and, unlike in Deep Space Nine, failure has real consequences.

Of course, success has consequences, too, and Arbakampsi players are given the opportunity to bond with one of four elemental patrons - Grom, Prince of Elemental Stone; Splaasha, Princess of Elemental Water; Krakaal, Prince of Elemental Flame; or Ithha, Prince of Elemental Winds, described in the core rulebook. The new Elemental Lords are all given invoke patron tables; full patron write-ups rely upon the judge or a later product.

There is some discussion of using this adventure not as a funnel, but as part of a "larger adventure location for higher level characters". Four specific scenario ideas are provided.

The adventure also includes complete rules for Arbakampsi, including a printable game board, so that the game can become an artifact of your campaign milieu.

This adventure was a lot of fun to playtest. Because of its "game" nature, there are several points at which player intelligence, rather than character abilities, determine success or failure.

What dirty peasant hasn't wanted to turn his grubby copper into a shiny gold coin? The oddly-dressed stranger offered a friendly game, a tempting wager, what was the harm? But harm is definitely in the air when a pack of rubes stumble upon an extradimensional test of elemental loyalty!  Can you make it through the tests of skill, arms and wits to achieve the Ultimate Prize?  

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The Pillar of Anuul

The Pillar of Anuul is a 0-level funnel adventure published by Reckoning of the Dead. Writing and art credits are not listed, but are presumably the work of Matt Ryan and Noah Lloyd.

This is a one-page adventure, so it uses monsters from the core rulebook, and you will need to refer to that volume for statistics. Except the vampire, if it comes up. You're on your own with that. You'll also have to decide why all of these different monster types are within such close proximity to each other...or why some of the monsters are there at all. Why are there Deep Ones in the Pillar? Etc.

There is a table to determine what monsters you encounter in the Pillar, and a table to determine what treasures you might find.

The adventure assumes that the PCs will all be goblins, created as though humans with infravision. The adventure suggests that the players "approach the goblins as they would any other race-as-class characters", but, of course, in a single page no goblin class is (or possibly could be) offered. Except for flavor, there is no reason that the judge cannot switch the humans and goblins in this adventure, so that the PCs are human. Or, these goblins could simply level as humans.

But then, really, how much do you expect from a free one-page adventure?

At the very least, this is a good starting point for a judge's creativity. Perhaps there are caverns and tunnels connected to the Pillar, which extend under the Colophon badlands? Perhaps the river is wide, deep, and not far from the sea?

Far north of the Holomart Plains, the Sinteror River carves a great chasm, dividing the Colophon badlands, a place of broken rocks and once-living trees, in two. In the badlands, a massive stone bridge built by a dead civilization stretches over the yawning valley, and it is there that the prisoner exchange will occur.

Get It Here

Wednesday 7 February 2018

The Phlogiston Books Vol 1

The Phlogiston Books Volume 1: A Compilation of Arcane Material for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG includes the writing of Gabriel García-Soto, José Manuel Sánchez García, Gabriel
Ciprés, Nacho Sevilla, Chris Fazio, Sergio Martínez, and Rodrigo García Carmona. Art is by Manu Sáez and  Valentí Ponsa (including cover and cartography). The publisher is Other Selves.

Other Selves is a Madrid-based role-playing game publisher, which has translated several Dungeon Crawl Classics to the Spanish language. The Phlogiston Books is sort of like their "house zine", except it is perfect bound and 62 pages as a pdf, so a bit more than a zine!

Let's look inside.

Appendix Ñ: The editors explain that this issue deals largely with rural themes. We learn that Ñ is the 15th letter of the Spanish alphabet (sounding like gn, and used in words like España - or Spain in English). (And, obviously, if you speak Spanish you did not just learn this!) Either way, this is nice because it reminds you that, while the roots of The Phlogiston Books is the literary inheritance of Appendix N, it is not completely the Appendix N of North American authors.

We also learn of an upcoming adventure, The Wandering Vaudeville of Earthly Pleasures, which I hope one day to see in print.

The Gallows Tree: Author Gabriel García-Soto offers a rather unique an interesting patron, complete including one 3rd level spell and notes for 1st and 2nd level spells (which are slight modifications to materials found in the core rulebook).

"As time passes and more executions take place, some of these trees become infected by death, adopting grim features and swaying their branches in the wind as if they were the limp fingers of those punished there."

This is really nice stuff, well realized, that could fit into almost any campaign world.

The Cultist: A new character class by José Manuel Sánchez García, something like a fanatical cleric, but whose power comes from a patron. Because of the hidden nature of cults, some thief-type skills apply. And there is a mechanic to force you to convert others.

This can easily fit in a game with clerics, and neither will step on the other's toes. The example patron used is Azi Dahaka, and the player or judge will have to do some work to determine specifics for other patrons.

Magic Object: “The” Magic Sword: Gabriel García-Soto supplies a non-standard DCC magical weapon that one could easily see appearing in an Appendix N novel or story.

Magic Object: Lamprey Scabbard: Author José Manuel Sánchez García provides a sort of cursed item that is really a creature from a parallel plane of existence.

Magic Object: The Scarezombie: "In the most remote and isolated rural communities, where saint men are rare and every stranger is looked upon with suspicion, peasants turn to desperate measures in order to avoid the most horrible of plagues: the undead." Written by Rodrigo García Carmona.

Animals: If there were no other articles in The Phlogiston Books Volume 1, this article would still be well worth buying it for. It looks at a method for detailing wild animals using deed dice to represent the special attacks normally associated with that animal type. Frankly, it is a brilliant idea. It also differentiates between normal animals and the "sole and extraordinary animal that terrorizes the region".

Superstition: An article by José Manuel Sánchez García (with Sergio Martínez contributing wrote St. Hermenegildo’s knuckle), discussing the use of superstition in Dungeon Crawl Classics. Examples of Amulets, Relics, and Images and writings are supplied. I found it hard to grasp the author's intent initially, which may be because of the translation, or may be because I am thick, but once you get it, it is elegant.

Transplanar Climatology: This is a d24 chart of strange events that can take place when travelling between the planes. The author is Gabriel Ciprés. Some are actually arcane cosmic weather; some are not. Seven "Available destinations for a planar trip" are also included, in case your planar travelers get lost.

Disturbing Rural Encounters: Author Nacho Sevilla provides 14 things that may happen in a rural setting, which the players may find somewhat disquieting.

Names for Cults! Or Other Weird Organizations: This is a d24 table with four columns, offering more potential cult names than you will probably need. Author Chris Fazio's work can be used to supply a cult name in a pinch, or for inspiration!

Beaten copper: Finally, this volume ends with a 0-level adventure by Gabriel García-Soto.

Aniceto, the coppersmith, should have returned by now from his trip to Shadypass, the village where he usually travels to sell his wares and restock on copper, the same copper he uses to craft his pots and pans. Sadly, there’s been an accident in the mine, and there’s a shortage of copper. Desperate, Aniceto decided to get his copper from an alternate source. On his way back to Humiliatown, the coppersmith recalled a childhood memory about a wishing well said to be cursed.

Guess who gets to go look for him?

So sharpen your sword and memorize your spells, 'cause otherwise you could end up dead, or even worse: hanging from the gallows tree.

Get It Here!

Or Get It Here in Spanish!

Perils of the Sunken City

Perils of the Sunken City is a 0 to 1st level adventure written by Jon Marr, with art by Jon Marr (including cover and cartography) and Benjamin Marr, It is published by Purple Sorcerer Games.

Consider for a moment that, when Dungeon Crawl Classics first appeared in 2012, this adventure was ready and waiting for players and judges. If there was nothing else noteworthy about this product, that would be a feat earning it a worthy place in the history of the game.

But that is not all.

This is the first of four (at the time of this writing) adventures that take place in and around the Sunken City, and as such is included in The Sunken City Omnibus. It introduces the Great City as almost a shadow that is barely described. To the south is a vast swamp with over 30 miles of ruins, within which can be found whatever adventures the judge desires.

"A powerful teleportation device, The Sending Stone, stands at the northern end of the ruins, connected to many other stones scattered throughout the city’s rubble. The fearsome demon that powers the stone – Sender –transports adventuring parties for his own dark purposes between the stones… usually without incident. Bands of desperate adventurers known as Free Companies use the Sending Stone to explore the deepest parts of the sunken ruins, hoping for treasure and glory, but often finding horrible, muddy deaths instead."

Thus is a campaign setting born.

The author considered "the inevitable need for replacement characters" and created a setting conducive to their creation: "almost any isolated low-level adventure could be placed somewhere in the vastness of the Sunken City, with Sender providing expedient means of travel. Energetic judges could run numerous 0-level funnel adventures in preparation for campaigning, all in an environment where characters, even of differing Free Companies, would be aware of each others activities and capable of forming more experienced bands."

The setting materials include a description of Mustertown - the area outside the walls of the Great City that leads into the swamps - with locations, rituals around new companies going into the ruins, and key figures. One of which, the Warden, protects the Sending Stone from experienced adventurers for mysterious reasons of his own. There is another stone for veterans, which may send them to The Shriven Tower where the mumbling necromancer Xax makes his home in the darkest heart of the ruins.

The author also includes a "Mustertown Lexicon" to help the judge bring the setting alive, and to make heading out to the funnel adventure more fun while giving it a greater feeling of verisimilitude. As the players grow to understand the lexicon, they will begin to feel more like locals.

Madazkan’s Court

This is the actual adventure, which begins on the surface, but includes an interesting dungeon. One of the most interesting things the author did here was, right from the first adventure, make the setting the result of the interplay between patron-level entities. This is a profoundly good choice, as the idea of these beings and their rivalries is pivotal to Appendix N fiction as well as the Dungeon Crawl Classics game. Malloc the Creeper is introduced in this adventure; a full patron write-up, however, does not appear until The Sunken City Omnibus.

The creatures encountered outside the dungeon - crocodillos and opossumen - made me envision the Sunken City as a post-Apocalyptic version of New Orleans...appropriate for anyone playing an Umerican campaign! That the entrance to the dungeon, and the dungeon itself, is the ruins of an old sports stadium (of sorts) only heightened this impression for me.

My favorite part of the dungeon is Area D-3, and it saddens me that most characters cannot "understand the alignment language of Slimes, Molds, and Edible Tubers"! If you know that a 0-level PC is likely to be a wizard (or is an elf), you may wish to grant that character unexpected understanding of just what the purple slimes are humming!

The original release was black and white, but it has since been released in color. The RPG Now download includes both versions, as well as a pdf version for mobile devices, paper miniatures, printable battlemats (both greyscale and color), and a pdf of relevant charts and character sheets.

Battlemats can also be downloaded off the Purple Sorcerer site here, and paper miniatures can be downloaded here. Purple Sorcerer also offers Tips for playing Perils of the Sunken City at a Convention.

It is hard to imagine a publisher who invests more in your success as a judge.

Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance! 

The massive crumbling ruins of the swamp-ravaged Sunken City await! The way is filled with peril, but those who survive will be ready to face even more dangerous fare!

Get It Here!

Tuesday 6 February 2018

The Perils of Cinder Claws

HT 1 - The Perils of Cinder Claws was written by Daniel J. Bishop, with art by Jacob Blackmon and Christina Stiles. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. The forward, "A Tale of Madness", was written by Mark Gedak. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

This product contains two holiday-themed adventures, The Thing in the Chimney (1st level) and The Nexus of Yule (3rd level), as well as the Cinder Claws himself as a potential patron (complete except spells).

The Thing in the Chimney

Originally published as an unofficial free holiday adventure with art by bygrinstow, The Thing in the Chimney is suitable for 16,1st level characters, 6-8 2nd level characters, 3-6 3rd level characters, or 1-2 4th level characters. The adventure allows the PCs to explore the polar workshop of the Cinder Claws, encounter an ancient petrified fruitcake, discover whether they have been naughty or nice, and eventually defeat the Cinder Claws to discover what it has left in their stockings.

"The fruitcake lies dreaming about distant planes, and is at first not aware of the characters. However, as it slowly becomes aware of them, it begins to exert a strong, alcohol-soaked odour of candied cherries and rum. Creatures who are within 10 feet of the fruitcake are enticed to eat it, and must roll a Will save (DC 10) to avoid cutting off, and consuming, a slice."

What could go wrong?

My initial run of this adventure saw one PC have his arm broken (and die!) when a snowman made a critical hit with an icy snowball. One player ended up with tinsel spider goop around his sword and hand, rendering it useless, but was able to find paint thinner to use as a solvent in the workshop. Another player ended up with a goblin servant in their stocking...I used the material on "Variety in Humanoids" and "Familiar Personality" in the core rulebook to make this fellow a memorable character.

The most recent time I ran it, the players were mostly concerned with the mistreatment of the elves and reindeer. They were delighted to recognize that a Tyrannosaurus Rex was being roasted in the kitchen - a detail most players in my experience gloss over.

I have run the adventure several other times as a public game to good effect. Finding out what's in your stocking at the end is always a highlight. I strongly recommend letting the players roll at the end, and allowing them to spend Luck if they so desire. Note that the possiblity of getting a hat that makes you look stupid is an intentional nod to Firefly.

The Nexus of Yule

This adventure is a follow-up to The Thing in the Chimney, and is suitable for 3rd level PCs. Another Yuletide approaches. Although his powers ebb during the warmer months, with the colder days and longer nights, the Cinder Claws now has the arcane energies required to draw his victims into a tiny portion of the Nexus of Yule, an inter-dimensional web which allows the Cinder Claws to reach into an uncounted number of homes, all on a single night.

Now, I can't find the post, but I swear it was something Zak Smith wrote on Playing D&D With Porn Stars that inspired me to reprise the Cinder Claws. The post was a list of messed up things the author would like to see in a Christmas adventure, except that he was sure no one would ever do it. I followed that list as closely as I could when writing this adventure. Maybe it was someone else.

(If anyone knows the post to which I am referring, please link to it in the comments!)

In any event, here is a Yuletide adventure that offers essentially unlimited access to people's homes one night a year (if you make a bargain with the Cinder Claws), cannibalism, the Little Drummer Boy having been eaten by carnivorous livestock, rats fighting the Nutcracker people in all-out war, golden angels that might kill you, Grendel, and more.

Because, this time, the Cinder Claws wants the PCs to become his agents.

Why not you? Ho ho ho! It is within My power to see the sleeping, and know the waking, to look into the hearts of all people and know the good and evil that they have done, Ho ho ho! And even that they have thought to do. Your actions have impressed Me. Your desire to better yourselves makes you juicy and sweet. Ho ho ho! You would do well for yourselves as My agents.

Doors shall open for you that would otherwise remain forever closed. Ho ho ho! You shall keep the Yuletide in your hearts all the year round. More than that I will not say. Ho ho ho! I despise those who wish to peek beneath the wrapping, and, if you become My agents, you will discover what gifts I bring soon enough! And if you do not, Ho ho ho!, it is my wish that you forever wonder what you have given away. For I am a generous Master, but not a kindly one!

While I was working on this adventure, Goodman Games announced their first holiday adventure, the excellent The Old God's Return. The climactic encounter of The Nexus of Yule is firmly tongue-in-cheek, but also recognized that coming of new holiday adventures by others:

“Mortal children, I have allowed you entry into the Nexus of Yule, that you may come before Me in the center of My web. Is it not delightful? Ho ho ho! It intersects worlds beyond count, and snares people beyond number, and all their celebrations bring power to Me!” The creature frowns. “Yet not to Me alone, for others now traverse the Nexus, who would remake Yule into their own image, and who would steal My food from My web.”

Conceivably, The Nexus of Yule could thus be used as the linchpin around which other holiday modules are secured. The PCs have a reason to interact with these adventures - but their motives might not be the same as the adventure writers had imagined!

The Cinder Claws

A patron write-up for the Cinder Claws was necessary because of the ending of The Nexus of Yule.

"The Cinder Claws is a Yuletide Spirit. He claims to be the oldest and most powerful of such spirits, but who is to know for certain? From his dwelling in a frozen wasteland in the far north (or on another plane) he comes forth each year at the winter solstice to bring questionable gifts to worry an already troubled world. What the Cinder Claws’ goals are is difficult to discern. His gifts, even to those who oppose him, are not always bad. Sometimes they are wonderful. He is a force for Chaos though, an old evil spider who crouches in the center of a frozen web."

Everything is included but the patron spells:

Level 1: Summon the Scions of Yule
Level 2: Create Fortified Eggnog
Level 3: Travel the Nexus of Yule

These may be part of a third Cinder Claws adventure at some point, written by myself or by another!

At the waning of every year, as the sun grows closer to the horizon, and spends less time in the sky, there comes a time of terrible cold and deep snow to the lands of the north.   The world waits with hushed breath for this, the longest night of the year, to be over.  Soon, the sun will begin to climb higher each day, and the days grow longer.  Although long stretches of cold weather are yet to come, this is the night in which winter’s back is broken.  After tonight, the world turns slowly back to warmth and light.

But that is after tonight.

Get It Here!

Peril on the Purple Planet

DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet is a 4th level adventure written by Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography) and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet was published as a boxed set containing several other booklets and materials that could be used to bring the Purple Planet setting alive. These include:

#84A: Lost Tombs of the Ancients: More Purple Planet Adventures (Writers: Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, Edgar D. Johnson III, and Terry Olson. Art and cartography by Doug Kovacs.)

#84B: Purple Planet Companion: A Purple Planet Sourcebook (Writers: Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, Edgar Johnson, Terry Olson, and Harley Stroh. Art by Doug Kovacs [including cover], William McAusland, and Stefan Poag.)

#84C: Escape from the Purple Planet: A Level 0 Adventure (Writer: Harley Stroh. Art by Doug Kovacs [cover and cartography] and Michael Wilson.)

The Kith Critical Hit Chart

Peril on the Purple Planet Player's Guide

Purple Planet Book of Handouts

Purple Planet Judge Screen

In addition, “Author’s edition” boxed set came with a section of the Glossography of Ythoth, by Harley Stroh. You can read a discussion of it here on the Goodman Games forums.

Disclosure: I am the Daniel J. Bishop that wrote for #84A: Lost Tombs of the Ancients and #84B: Purple Planet Companion: A Purple Planet Sourcebook.

This adventure, and its additional contents, was the result of a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Author Harley Stroh discussed the campaign on Spellburn, which you can listen to here.

At the time of this writing, the Purple Planet is Goodman Games' best supported setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics. It has spawned three sequel adventures (The Rock Awakens, Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet, and Sky Masters of the Purple Planet) and has been linked to other adventures, such as Neon Knights. Given the amount of material in the box, and the level of support Goodman Games (and others) have given the setting, it should be no surprise that this will be a long listing.

In order to make the material more accessible, I am going to discuss each piece separately, below.

DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet

"In Peril on the Purple Planet, the characters are cast across the cosmos to a foreign world. Left to die beneath a weirdling sun, the PCs’ survival depends as much upon their quick wit as a quick blade, as even the finest chain hauberk must fail beneath the crush of an alien horde."

This is an epic adventure reminiscent of the Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, or any of the many imitators they spawned (including work by Robert E. Howard, Leigh Brackett, and Michael Moorcock!). PCs have to survive the conditions of their arrival, learn how to live upon a harsh world, and then find their way home...or attempt to master the Purple Planet itself!

The base adventure is part hexcrawl, part quest, and all learning how to survive. Harley Stroh came up with some incredible locations. Area C makes me wonder whether or not he is a Doctor Who fan. Like Gamma World before it, and Mutant Crawl Classics after, the adventure also deals with strange new devices, and PCs figuring out how to use them!

#84A: Lost Tombs of the Ancients: More Purple Planet Adventures

There are already suggestions in the basic adventure for creating ancient cairns and tombs on the Purple Planet (see pages 19-21). If you are going to run Peril on the Purple Planet in a campaign, though, or spend longer than a single adventure there, more is better. This booklet provides for this.

The adventures are:
  • The Tomb of Sotark the Destroyer: Awaken a sleeping bioweapon, and perhaps regret it. By Daniel J. Bishop. Notes: Sotark is named for Leigh Brackett's Eric John Stark, and the artifacts you may win are based on a well-known figure whose name is an anagram for Vance.
  • The Tomb of the Immortal Kahl: Speaking of John Eric Stark, this adventure shares some thematic ties with The Secret of Sinharat. Only the Immortal Kahl isn't Kynon, and this is no charade. By Terry Olson.
  • The Tomb of Dust: Solve a series of encounters to uncover a lost archive. This adventure can test the players as well as the characters, depending upon how you run the final test. By Edgar Johnson III.
  • The Bunker: Find a way to traverse two hexes while travelling underground. Notes are provided for creating other ancient Kith bunkers. By Daniel J. Bishop.
  • The Tomb of the Organon Magisteros: Explore an ancient air skiff platform, now overrun by insect-men. Discover an unexpected being trapped at its core. By Tim Callahan.

#84B: Purple Planet Companion: A Purple Planet Sourcebook

This supplement was written by Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, Edgar Johnson, Terry Olson, and Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs (including cover), William McAusland, and Stefan Poag.

Within you will find:
  • Mysteries of the Purple Planet: Seventy-four mysteries to be used "as random encounters, encounter seeds, or the start of a new adventure."
  • The Ecology of the Kith: Everything you wanted to know about the kith but were afraid to ask.
  • Kith as Player Characters: Full race-class, including a d24 Occupations table.
  • Additional Kith Resources: A Random Kith Warband Generator and Fumbles Against Kith Hordes (because when you fumble facing a Kith horde, things are just not the same!).
  • Bestiary of the Purple Planet: Twenty-four new entries for your Purple Planet encounters.
  • Magic on the Purple Planet: Page 358 of the DCC core rulebook has a section entitled "Magic Here and Magic There". The Purple Planet doubles down on this advice...everything changes! Notes are given for all the patrons in the core rulebook, for casting spells in different geographical areas, Mercurial Magic that affects all casters, Purple Planet-specific corruption, how specific spells are changed, how clerics connection to their gods are affected, and more. The section on Techno-Magic might be particularly useful when running Crawljammer, Umerican, or Mutant Crawl Classics/Dungeon Crawl Classics crossovers.
  • The Purple Under-Planet: "The weirdling sun is a persistent obstacle on the Purple Planet’s surface, and PCs, like generations of ancient kith before them, may seek shelter deep below ground. This is the Purple Underplanet. Here lie ancient civilizations, some altered unrecognizably from their origins, others cloned to perfection. Sentient beings continental in scope vie for dominance." This section includes everything you need to create new adventures in depths beneath the Purple Planet. The less said here the better, as this should be Terra incognita to those venturing below.

#84C: Escape from the Purple Planet: A Level 0 Adventure

Written by Harley Stroh. Art by Doug Kovacs (cover and cartography) and Michael Wilson.

A 0-level adventure that allows you to start a campaign on the Purple Planet. The possibility of an all-kith party, a party from a typical DCC campaign world, or a party from our world, are considered. Appendix I: Interplanetary Heroes considers the possibility of modern heroes a bit more, but doesn't supply an occupation chart.

Possible modern, near-modern, or similar type characters might be gleaned from 50 ‘80s Teens for “Old School” Adventuring (in 50 Fantastic Functions for the D50); Beyond the Silver Scream; Black Powder, Black Magic Vol. 1 (Western); Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine #3 (post-Apocalyptic); Dark Seas (in The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2017 Vol 4), The Devil's Chapbook (discusses punks and vikings); Dinosaur Crawl Classics (in the Goodman Games Gen Con 2017 Program Book); Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdoms; Not in Kansas Anymore (in the Goodman Games Gen Con 2016 Program Book); Null Singularity (because why not use Voidants?); Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill!; Rock God Death-Fugue (because, again, why not?); Transylvanian Adventures; Trench Crawl Classics (in  The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2017 Vol 7), or The Umerican Survival Guide (post-Apocalyptic).

The Kith Critical Hit Chart

Exactly what it says on the tin. This does not show up on the RPG Now link, but it is listed. I have sent an email to Joseph Goodman to see if it can be corrected.

Peril on the Purple Planet Player's Guide

A small booklet containing character sheets, a relic runes handout, a mostly-blank map handout, and places to keep notes on relics, mushrooms, creatures, and other things the PCs might encounter.

I am personally of two minds about this sort of thing. Blank maps (with high ground marked) and character sheets are fine. The other items - even the rune graphic - might be better to only make available as things are encountered. On the other hand, foreshadowing of some of the monster/relic images might be fun. Also, the Player's Guide might steer the PCs towards interacting with the mushrooms they encounter, which is fairly important.

Purple Planet Book of Handouts

A 12 page book containing 11 illustrations, one of which is of various kith, and another of which contains several kith standards. These, and an illustration of various relics the PCs might encounter, could be printed out (or copied) and then cut up to show the players only what they need to know. There is some duplication with the Player's Guide.

Purple Planet Judge Screen

Reproduces some charts you might want to keep handy. Having these printed out so that you can handle them as needed is actually more beneficial, in my opinion, then having them on a screen. If you have a physical copy, though, the screen can help to hide maps and notes.


In addition to the materials listed here:

  • The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2016 Vol 3 contains a big-mouthed alien who wanders the Purple Planet as the last of his kind as part of the Gazette-Fear (based on art by Doug Kovacs).
  • The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2016 Vol 4 contains The Orm Lies Down on Punjar. This is a Terry Olson adventure wherein the PCs somehow gain hold of a bottle of Purple Rhost (from Harley Stroh's Purple Planet).
  • The Goodman Games Gen Con 2015 Program Book contains Appendix F: The Ythoth Raider, an expansion of the Purple Planet Author’s Edition Glossography: This is the Ythoth Raider class by Harley Stroh, creator of the Purple Planet.
  • Neon Knights (by Brendan LaSalle) is also connected to the Purple Planet.

The Purple Planet: Where tribes of man-beasts wage an endless war beneath a dying sun. Where mighty death orms rule the wastes, befouled winds whistle through ancient crypts, and forests of fungi flourish in the weirdling light. Where ancient technologies offer life ... or a quick death.

Bereft of patron, friend or god, your survival depends on quick wits and a strong blade. Will you and your companions stand as conquerers atop this alien land? Or will you fall beneath the blast of an ink-black death rays, just another corpse left to litter the wastes of the Purple Planet?

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The People of the Pit

DCC# 68: The People of the Pit is a 1st level adventure by Joseph Goodman. Art is by Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Russ Nicholson, and Stephen Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games. The 2nd Printing includes Assassins of the Pit, by Daniel J. Bishop, with cartography by Steve Crompton.

Disclosure: I am the author of Assassins of the Pit.

People familiar with Appendix N may recognize the title, The People of the Pit, as coming from a short story by Abraham Merritt. This Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure has no relationship to the short story, but you can adapt Alphonso Warden's OSR adventure, The People of the Pit (Brave Halfling Publishing), to DCC easily enough, and that adventure is directly related to the A. Merritt story.

The A. Merritt story, and this adventure, were discussed on the Sanctum Secorum podcast.

This was the third adventure published specifically for the Dungeon Crawl Classics role-playing game, if one does not count those reprinted in the core rulebook. As such, it exemplifies what the early vision of DCC adventures looked like, through the game's author's lens...and it still holds up remarkably well today.

I am not sure if the standard cover of the core rulebook was based off this adventure, or if this adventure was inspired in part by Doug Kovacs' imagery, but it is hard not to see a connection. Your characters travel down a broken stairway into a misty pit to confront a terrible cult of once-human creatures.

This was a fun adventure to run. In preparation, I made several extra copies of the player handout maze. My group really enjoyed this aspect of the adventure, and I made them redraw their route each time they used it, until it was mastered. For those of you who have read The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny will get a nice moment of frisson here. There is also an encounter that may remind players and/or judge of L. Sprague De Camp's The Fallible Fiend and/or Michael Moorcock's The Vanishing Tower.

The climax is suitably climactic, on the scale of many stories in the Appendix N canon. When I ran this, one of my player's PCs was caught in the climactic event. The remaining PCs worked their way to the bottom of the Pit, where they managed to successfully recover the body. I was, perhaps, too lenient a judge in not having the fallen PC be covered by tons of rubble, but a great time was had by all.

One thing I had noted when running the adventure is that the octo-masses (produced as death throes by the cultists, in a manner similar to the death throes of the ghouls in Doom of the Savage Kings) seemed rather pointless after the initial shock of their appearance wore off. When I was contacted by Joseph Goodman to write a short addition for the 2nd printing of the adventure, I tried to rectify this. In Assassins of the Pit, the purpose of the octo-masses is explored.

It has been years since the last virgin was sacrificed: and now the pit beast awakens once more! Every generation it stumbles forth on undulating tentacles from its resting place deep below the great ravine, its towering blubbery mass ravaging the land before returning to slumber for decades. But this time is different. The Great Beast strikes with intelligence: bands of faceless gray-robed men emerge from the tenebrous depths, herding the beast’s roaming tentacles before them. The enigmatic people of the pit live despite the passage of ages! The earth shakes each night as they herd the primordial tentacles ever further, while the villagers ask: is any man brave enough to put the sword to this menace?

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Patrons Extraordinary: The Unpretty Preview

Patrons Extraordinary: The Unpretty Preview was written and illustrated by bygrinstow, whom some may know better as Jon Wilson of Appendix M fame. It is published by Inner Ham.

Patrons Extraordinary: The Unpretty Preview was intended as "an advance peek at a forthcoming set of Patrons for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG". It contains an excellent full patron write-up for The Man in the Green Velvet Coat, with a discussion of the Dark Side of Faerie, the Faerie Realm and Elfland, and even Encounters During Faerie Path Travel. The author considers what happens when you try to forsake this patron, and how using this patron can add to your campaign.

In short, this is one of the best patron write-ups I have seen, and it saddens me that a full Patrons Extraordinary did not turn up later in 2015...or at all, at the time of this writing. As this is available as a watermarked pdf for only $1.00, I encourage you to make the purchase in hopes that the author will return to this project! Other patrons we are still waiting to see include:

  • The defeated but raging diabolist queen, ready to resume her conquest of the world...
  • A silicon mind that sits alone, cut off, calculating and predicting and planning and revising -- and forcing his minions to sabotage governments big and small...
  • A trans-temporal being, who strives to deny other beings any sort of Patronage of their own...
  • An asteroid-dwelling demon who eats Law and spits Chaos, seeding the world’s destruction...

A petite, jolly figure, full of humor and mirth, The Man in The Green Velvet Coat (or for simplicity, merely “The Man”) is looking for a new pet. Any mortal will suit him, but he prefers Wizards since they make play more fun. 

The Man can offer the Wizard access to the strangeness and power of The Faerie Realm. In exchange, he expects his pet to be obedient and loyal, and accompany him every night to events and on travels in the bizarre Faerie Realm. But these events are punishing upon the mortal pet, threatening death by persistent physical exhaustion. 

The Man In The Green Velvet Coat at first seems to be whimsical and flighty, and continues to seem that way to those who catch glimpses of him or cross paths with him for brief encounters. But for those who are attached to him, The Man quickly becomes a most wicked and twisted form of cruel and unusual punishment suffered in exchange for personal power.

Get It Here!

Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill!

Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill! is a 0-level funnel adventure written by Julian Bernick. Art is by Spencer Amundsen and Jack Kotz. The publisher is Order of the Quill.

This is the first stand-alone published adventure for Nowhere City Nights. The irony of the first adventure for this setting being a funnel came up on Spellburn, where Julian Bernick is one of the hosts.

Remember the good old days? Nah… Nowhere City never had any good old days, no matter what the politicians say. It’s always been a hellish cult-infested battleground contested by the power-mad forces of Chaos and the few, desperate defenders of Law. And this conflict comes with bloodshed, heroics, vile sorcery and plenty of NPCs who are meant to be killed. We hope you enjoy your stay. After all, we heard the roads and the airport just closed down due to a mysterious state of emergency.

This is a new adventure, so I want to be careful about spoilers beyond those supplied by the publisher. Suffice it to say that if you are looking for a dark, noir version of DCC Xcrawl to play as a 0-level funnel, you have come to the right place.

It is not a spoiler to say that the section entitled Ending the Adventure gives options for both "...and Starting a Campaign" and " a Convention or Short-term Game". The ending of Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill! supplies a good starting point if you are moving into a campaign, or a good ending point if not. A funnel adventure has to answer the question "Why did these people stop farming turnips?" (or, in this case, doing paperwork!), and Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill! certainly does that.

Appendix A provides a table of 100 quirks that you can use to help define your Nowhere City Nights 0-level characters. Some of these would be quite fun to use in a game session; others might actually change the nature of play. It would actually be more interesting to have a Strength 5 character roll "60: Weightlifter" than a character with a 16+ Strength. And if you roll 100? Let's save that for as a surprise, but the judge and player will probably need a private consultation.

Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill! is a mad parody of today's cynical reality TV world. You want sadism, isolation and high stakes betrayal? In Nowhere City, you can take it all the way. The elite sorcerers of Scutigera have abducted a random assortment of civilians and forced them to compete in this lethal contest... while they watch. There's no fame and money at stake and there's no second place. In this contest, the winner gets to join the Sorcerer Cult-- and everyone else DIES!

Get It Here!

Monday 5 February 2018

OSR Character Sheets Demonic Edition

OSR Character Sheets Demonic Edition are the creation of James V. West. The publisher is Random Order Creations.

Anyone familiar with The Gong Farmer's Almanac has seen character sheets created by James V. West. Here, you get a Pay-What-You-Want pdf file that includes six different half-sheet Dungeon Crawl Classics character sheets and one full-page DCC character sheet. One of the half-page sheets would definitely suit a Crawling Under a Broken Moon (or similar) character.

Be aware that you can crop an adobe acrobat page in order to force a half-page sheet to automatically scale to a full page when you print it.

There are also some character sheets for other OSR games. The author writes:

This is a collection of character sheets for OSR games, such as Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry and whatever else you like to play. It also includes some DCC RPG sheets. Most of these have been posted online and/or appeared in my zine Black Pudding.

These are hand-drawn in a mix of traditional and digital media.

There are about 9 or so OSR sheets with the classic five saving throws and usually an AC to-hit table.

There are a handful of repeats of those sheets converted to modern gaming traditions such as to hit bonuses and a single saving throw.

There are a few DCC RPG style zero level sheets.

There are a couple of campaign notes sheets. These are useful to hand out to players so they can write things down instead of constantly asking you "What was that one guy's name again?"

Get It Here!

The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk

The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk is a 0-level funnel adventure by Jon Marr. Art is by Jon Marr (including cover and cartography) and Benjamin Marr. The publisher is Purple Sorcerer Games.

Note that this adventure is included in The Sunken City Omnibus. It uses the same backdrop of the Great City and the swamp-covered Sunken City that was introduced in Perils of the Sunken City:

"The Great City is old and faded, a pale reflection of its former glory. Life is a challenge for most, but for the weak and unconnected, the city is a place of unrelenting hardship harboring neither hope nor promise of escape.

With one exception: the Sunken City.

Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists southward; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate few, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance!"

It is, therefore, highly recommended (but not entirely necessary) that you have Perils of the Sunken City available when running this adventure. Perils of the Sunken City is also included in The Sunken City Omnibus.

This is, I have to admit, my favorite Sunken City adventure. It has a small village to explore, a wilderness region, and not one but two semi-ruined castles to explore. The encounters run the gamut from the whimsical to the rather serious, with things both mundane and extraordinary to deal with. The titular Ooze Pits are actually Lovecraftian - although one might also be reminded of Spirited Away.

This funnel also introduces the Mist Men, which are reprised in Lair of the Mist Men. When I ran this adventure, the Mist Men encounter was so compelling that the players wanted to immediately follow up on it! This adventure also introduces the snake-god Salissak, which I would love to see fully developed in future Purple Sorcerer Games products. There are even magical fezzes.

Purple Sorcerer Games adventures are notable for the extras they provide. In this case, you get a pdf document so that you can print out Appendix A: Rumors, Appendix B: Clues, Appendix C: Slither’s End on 5 Smiles a Day!, Appendix D: Tollybogs!, Appendix E: Villagers at the Fair, Appendix F: The Mist Men, and four pages of pregenerated 0-level characters from Slither's End, which are suitable as replacement PCs. But that's not all, because Purple Sorcerer Games also supplies free printable battle mats and paper miniatures!

Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance! 

Do you dare re-enter the deadly swamps of the Sunken City? The hamlet of Slither's End needs your aid, but after meeting the bizarre locals, you might wonder if you need someone to protect you from Slither's End! Can you unravel the mysterious abductions plaguing the town? Do you chance trekking through the open swamp seeking answers when death lurks around every bend? And who is this Jonas Gralk that everyone mentions with grave suspicion?  Answers await in The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk!

Get It Here!

The One Who Watches From Below

DCC #81: The One Who Watches From Below is a 1st level adventure by Jobe Bittman. Art is by Fritz Haas, Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Stefan Poag, and Tom Galambos. The publisher is Goodman Games.

First, some history. As part of the DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012 offering, Goodman Games introduced the Mystery Map Adventure Design Competition. The winner of that competition was Jobe Bittman, and The One Who Watches Below was developed from the winning entry. Of this submission, Goodman Games writes:

"There were many great submissions to the competition, but Jobe Bittman’s stood out above them all. This adventure has a strong Appendix N theme, unique encounters that your players will remember for a long time, many highly visual scenes that will stand out in your players’ minds, and some terrific twists and turns. It also features one of the most creative player handouts you have ever seen. Prepare for a very fun time. We think you’ll enjoy this adventure as much as we did."

They are not wrong.

Some observations:

  • You may have heard that Jobe Bittman invented a whole new way to role-play. While this observation is somewhat overblown, there is a high probability that your group will encounter something that makes role-playing very different and fun from what you are otherwise used to.
  • The monsters are cool, flavorful, and thematically appropriate. Jobe Bittman manages to walk that narrow edge of design without falling into the abyss of being too gonzo. There are laser harpies. There are eye slimes. "The only thing more fearsome than a cockatrice is a double cockatrice." 
  • The player handouts are reminiscent of old TSR-era Advanced Dungeons & Dragons handouts. This is a good thing, in my opinion, and is often the case with Goodman Games adventures.
  • The final encounter is one which you and your players will remember for a very long time to come. The author has done a great job of making a very complex scenario manageable at the table.

The rumors are true! The secret cave of the mystics holds a hoard of treasure vast enough to buy the kingdom seven times over. Gold coins piled as high as snow banks! Gleaming swords and jewel-encrusted wands crackling with arcane energy! Precious gems as large as your fist! The only thing standing between your present circumstances and a life of fabulous wealth is a pesky, slumbering elder god with a penchant for consuming entire worlds, an endless army of vat-grown hybrid monstrosities, a veritable tidal wave of disembodied eyes with awesome powers, giant acid worms, and a curse with the power to rip the still-living eyes from your skull. Do you have the mettle to stare down a god or will your eyes forever adorn the vault of The One Who Watches From Below?

Get It Here!

Thursday 1 February 2018

Children of the Fallen Sun

Children of the Fallen Sun is a 1st level Mutant Crawl Classics adventure by Stephen Newton. Additional writing by Daniel J. Bishop. Art is by FRK Pyron (including front cover), Mario Torres (cartography and back cover), Danny Prescott, Stefan Poag, and Kristin Rincon. The publisher is Thick Skull Adventures.

Disclosure: I wrote the ADEONA patron AI write-up for the successful Kickstarter for this adventure. Because of the thematic similarities with The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss, I encouraged the author to create subtle links between the adventures.

Children of the Fallen Sun is the first third-party release for Mutant Crawl Classics - or it will be, once Mutant Crawl Classics is fully released. With a little work, the adventure could be adapted for use with The Umerican Survival Guide.

The adventure includes plenty of new artifacts, a new mutation (AI thrall), and three new monsters. The adventure is open-ended, and the PCs are likely to spend as much time talking to representatives of the various factions as they are fighting. Not that there are insufficient opportunities for combat!

It also includes not one, but two, full AI Patron write-ups.

The star fell from the heavens, its long red tail ripping the sky like a bloody, dripping wound. All eyes of the tribe—mutant, manimal, and plantient alike—were transfixed by the resulting explosion seen far off in the horizon.  

Some proclaim this is the Second Death, foretold within the Ancient Prophecy. But one venerable sentient redwood recognizes it as the Sky Ark of the Ancients, whose mysteries must be explored before they can be exploited by the tribe’s enemies. What perils and mysteries will lay within the Sky Ark? Only the heartiest of your species have a chance of surviving the dangers that accompany the arcane ancient technology developed by the Children of the Fallen Sun.

When the Sky Ark of the Ancients falls from the sky, it's up to a small tribe of mutants and manimals to uncover its mysteries.

This product is not yet available, but I will update the entry when it is!

Killer of Giants

Killer of Giants is a 3rd level Umerican Survival Guide adventure by Forrest Aguirre, with artwork by Nate Marcel and cartography by Tomas Gile. The publisher is Shield of Faith Studios.

Disclosure: This was a stretch goal on the successful The Umerican Survival Guide Kickstarter, which I backed.

This is a new product at the time of this writing, so I want to avoid spoilers in this listing. What I can say, though, is this: There are so many ways to die. So many ways to die. Incautious, foolish, or just unlucky adventurers will end their Umerican existence here. You have been warned.

This adventure describes itself as a "point crawl", which, in this case means that it is what we older gamers used to refer to as an adventure location. There is no set plot, just a lot of things to interact with, and which can interact with each other. This somewhat ameliorates the lethalness of some of these encounters - the players do not need to tackle everything at once.

The other ameliorating point is that, well, those lethal encounters are dramatic and/or funny. Your beloved characters may die, but it will be crazy and enjoyable while it lasts.

Because this adventure makes use of an opportunity - everyone knows about the Base, but has been unable to breach its security before now - it behooves the prospective judge to purchase the adventure before he needs it, and make sure that the PCs do know about the location right from the start.

There are some issues with this adventure that you are going to have to deal with if you run it. These are not insurmountable, but it is important to be aware of them:

  • Not all monsters are described adequately. Perhaps when The Twisted Menagerie Manual appears this problem will be rectified. And, of course, you as the judge can use what is provided, combined with your towering intellect, to fill in the blanks, but it is going to come up.
  • In Dungeon Crawl Classics, "round" and "turn" do not mean the same thing. In Killer of Giants, the author uses "turn" in some cases where I think the term "round" is meant. You, as the judge, will have to parse out whether or not you intend to read "turn" as "round" or not. Be warned that, in some cases, not reading "turn" as "round" will result in a no-win situation for the PCs!
  • If you do not own Mind Games, you will be at a loss for running some of the encounters herein, as the adventure makes use of the excellent psionics system from that product. Shield of Faith Studios sent a download link to Kickstarter backers to ensure that they could run this adventure properly. If you are not a Kickstarter backer, make sure that you also get these rules. They are well worth the price.
  • There are some other, minor, formatting issues that you may discover. The one that might throw you is on page 16, where two bullet lists of items (the stuff in the desk and the stuff in the safe) are merged, so that information about the safe itself appears in the bullet point list.

If you were thinking to yourself, "Just how crazy can things get in post-Apocalyptic Umerica?", then Killer of Giants offers a fun answer. There are plenty of references to genre inspirations, be they literary, television, or film. As the author is a host on the Glowburn podcast, I cannot believe that these are accidental.

It should also be noted that, with a little work, this adventure could be converted to Mutant Crawl Classics.

The protections surrounding an ancient military base, home to the fabled “Killer of Giants”, are down! The denizens of Umerica have flocked to the base to grab what they can and establish dominance over this post-apocalyptic treasure trove. Why let everyone else have all the fun? 

Get It Here!