Thursday 31 December 2020

Shears of the Stitcher Queen

Shears of the Stitcher Queen
is an adventure by Terry Olson for use with the Age of Undying. Layout is by D. Jarrod Shaw. The publisher is Mythoard.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this product by the author. The author also made a better image available at my request! (The original had been taken on my cell phone of the physical product.)
This is an extra bit related to Age of Undying, and created for Mythoard in 2016. It is just two pages long, does not have a PC level listed, and doesn't actually tell me who did the art and cartography. The basis of the adventure is that, due to a number of possible complications from Age of Undying, the PCs leap aboard a soulnado ("a spinning mass of phlogiston-bound corpses powered by soul plasma") to present their case to the Stitcher Queen.

Certainly a Quest For It moment, and an awesome play session or two in a campaign where the Age of Undying is occurring. No one who plays it will ever forget the experience of crawling though a whirling mass of corpses 40 feet deep or the dangerous center of this particular phenomenon.

"Shears of the Stitcher Queen,
Look for the sky that's green.
Home of the corpses that blow,
Wear all the blades and you'll know."

Sadly, there is nowhere to obtain this gem that I am aware of.

The Shambling Un-dead

RC#3: The Shambling Un-dead is a 0-level tournament funnel written by the Dungeon Crawl Cabal (Jim Wampler, Bob Brinkman, David Baity, Stephen Newton, Jeffrey Tadlock, and Daniel J. Bishop). Art is by James V. West (including cover and cartography). The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the writers.

This was one of three tournament funnels produced by the Dungeon Crawl Cabal for Goodman Games. The other two were The Hypercube of Myt and Death By Nexus. As with the previous two entries, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of tournament funnels, you can listen to this Spellburn podcast, or read this article on the Spellburn website.

These tournament funnels were created by each of the writers creating a single area, which Jim Wampler then had to work into a cohesive whole. The basic premise is familiar to anyone who has ever watched Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead - a bunch of dead things start eating people, and regular folks have to find a way to deal with it!

While the previous two tournament funnels were restricted by their location, The Shambling Un-dead assumes that the PCs are peasants living in a large medieval port village, which meant that Jim Wampler had to devise rules for what happens when the PCs are not heading toward the major encounter areas. He also devised rules for improvised weapons, fully aware that 0-level peasants would look around for something - anything! - that might increase their damage potential!

The areas you get to explore are:
  • You Only Moved the Headstones: The New Market in the central part of town, which borders  the New Cemetery.
  • Wormtooth Abbey
  • The Bloated Dead: The waterfront is, if anything, more dangerous than the village streets!
  • A Walk in the Park
  • The Sinking Sewers
I am responsible for the sewers, so if your PCs died or found glory there, you can blame me! The real reason I chose the sewers was that it is easy to connect sewers to anywhere you like. I hoped that this would make Jim Wampler's job a little easier!

Of all the tournament funnels, I think that this one would work best in regular game play, with challenges appropriate for 1st or even 2nd-level characters. It would be fun to set a campaign in Cowlinsport, beginning with some other funnel, and allowing the players to become somewhat familiar with the layout, the places, and even some of the (now un-dead) people that they are going to meet. Perhaps they even ship with Captain Fulton to explore the mysteries of The Haunting of Larvik Island?

If you go this route, you may wish to include some means to end the plague of un-dead. Or you may wish to transit into the Age of Undying before the PCs can finally resolve the problem with Death!

After a night of fitful sleep and fevered dreams, you awaken and step outside your thatched cottage to greet the coming day, an apocalypse greets you eyes instead. You quickly discover that the dirt streets and back alleyways of your village are now overrun with hordes of the shambling un-dead. Quickly glancing to the scattered few friends that you see standing about equally shocked, you grab the nearest crude implement that you can find and form a circle standing back-to-back — desperately hoping that there is somewhere to run and hide, and that things don’t get even worse. Is that a vampire out in broad daylight?

The Shambling Un-Dead is a Level 0 tournament funnel, and includes rules and advice on how to conduct a DCC RPG tournament funnel for a nigh-unlimited number of players.

It's free.

Monday 28 December 2020

Cyclops Con Virtual Swag Monsters

Cyclops Con Virtual Swag Monsters was written by Daniel J. Bishop with art by Elias Scorsone. The publisher is Crowking Press.

Disclaimer: I am the author and publisher.

For Cyclops Con, I was able to commission four illustrations of cyclopean creatures from Elias Scorsone, who is a regular player in my games. As a point of fact, the descriptions proceed from the illustrations, not the other way around! If it were not for the artist, no PC would ever have been plagued by Floating-Eye Phil, which I sincerely hope has happened in your games.

The four beings are:

Vecnoid: These horrid creatures seems to be all hands and teeth, with a single burning eye and a pulsating, partially exposed green‐grey brain. It stands 12’ high and is roughly 20’ in diameter.  They are rare even in the Terra A.D. of Mutant Crawl Classics, but have ranged into the depths of space and into more fantastic worlds.  

Whether they are the creation of the mad science of the Ancients of the flesh‐vats of immortality‐seeking wizards, they are intelligent and dangerous.

Floating-Eye Phil: Monsters don’t follow the rules in Dungeon Crawl Classics, and neither do NPC spellcasters. Floating‐Eye Phil is an alien wizard hailing from a distant star, who travels the planes in search of something he calls “the transdimensional box of azure hue,” and the chirurgeon who travels within it, to treat his contra‐temporal rash.

Slugclops: This disgusting creature is something like a massive quadruped slug with a single eye on a long stalk. Its mouth opens up on its back, unfolding like a flower...and then the tentacles lash out!

Mordant: The primal cyclops known as Mordant traffics with ghosts primarily when he creates them. Truly, Mordant follows the philosophy of “slay first and question later”. Like other cyclopses, his eyesight extends onto multiple planes of existence, but his sight includes seeing into potential futures, which is represented by a higher initiative and Reflex save bonus than a creature of his size could usually obtain.

Mordant can also see into the astral and ethereal planes, invisible creatures, and the true nature of illusions, as do his lesser kin. Mordant needs no sack of variegated eyeballs to perform these tricks!

Although a known man‐eater of legendary hunger equal to his vast proportions, Mordant’s island keep is still sought out by adventurous wayfarers. Some of these seek the answers to questions, or lost spell knowledge. Still others wish to have lost vitality returned to them.  

It's free!

Get It Here!

Illuminael, Angel of Light


Illuminael, Angel of Light was written by Daniel J. Bishop, with public domain illustrations by J. M. W. Turner, William Blake, and Giusto de' Menabuoi. The publisher is Crowking Press.

Disclaimer: I am the author and publisher.

Most years, the limitations of travel prevent me from going to little more than Gary Con, with the occasional convention in Ontario or abroad if I am travelling. In 2020, however, every convention was perforce a virtual convention, and I ended up running games are far more of them than usual. This was produced as a virtual swag item for the first DCC Days Online convention.

When Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between was first being outlined, I had intended to create three angels for the product. Lavarial, Angel of the Temple, was the first of these, and she made it into the book. The other two I had intended to create were Michuval, Angel of War, and Illuminael, Angel of Light. In both of thee later cases, a full patron is provided with the exception of detailed patron spells. And, in both cases, when I was looking for material I could quickly turn into virtual swag, they were at hand. The original idea, of course, was to show that the forces of Law could be as varied and interesting as the forces of Chaos!

In any event, these three angels are now available for your campaigns.

Sometimes known as the Dancer at Dawn, Illuminael appears as a genderless being of softly glowing bluish-red light, not unlike the colours of a soft sunrise. The angel is humanoid in form, with soft features only the hint of wings that seem to be made of faded sunlight. This angel is a staunch ally of those of good will, and a foe of the un-dead. Illuminael favours peaceful resolutions to problems whenever possible, and this is reflected in the angel’s invoke patron results, patron taint, and spellburn.

It's free.

Get It Here!


Lichenthrope was written by Daniel J. Bishop with modified Creative Commons art by Björn S. The publisher is Crowking Press.

Disclaimer: I am the author and publisher.

This was a virtual swag item created for Gary Con XII. Like many others, I had been planning on going to a physical convention. My plans had included giving away several duplicated DCC products I had acquired as well some Appendix N fiction I had managed to buy additional copies of through the regressing memory of the aged.

As with so many others, the advent of Covid-19 forced me to alter my plans. Suddenly, the physical swag I thought I would be giving away would have to wait. So I quickly wrote this critter up, inspired by a pun my brother-in-law, James Ripley, had made. He really deserves the credit for the name, not I!

Another source of inspiration came from the many volumes of lumberjack tall tales and lore I had devoured as a child. The Lichenthrope could, therefore, fit easily into a Shudder Mountains campaign!

In any event, may this creature plague your players whenever their characters venture into the deep woods!

In deep forests, where moss and lichen lies thick upon trees and standing stones – there lurks the lichenthrope. This is a large creature, perhaps a denizen of Elfland, which takes the form of an ogre-sized flattened humanoid shape made entirely of moss and lichen, its eyes mere wells of darkness. Lichenthropes protect old growth forests and ancient menhirs. They are difficult to spot against moss or lichen, preferring to attack targets with surprise from behind. 

It's free!

Get It Here!

Silent Nightfall

CE 5: Silent Nightfall is a part of the Campaign Elements series designed to challenge 2nd level or higher characters. It was written by Daniel J. Bishop with art by Jacob Blackmon and Tim Hartin (cartography). The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

Before there was Mutant Crawl Classics, Silent Nightfall provided a quick way to create mutant critters. Before there was Blessings of the Vile Brotherhood, Silent Nightfall provided details on the Radiant Brotherhood. Before there was DCC Empire of the East, Silent Nightfall introduced a demon who was the result of a contained nuclear explosion.

All this and more because Silent Nightfall is, in part, an homage to The Changeling Earth and Hiero's Journey

Those quick mutation rules, by the way, are still usable in games such as Mutant Crawl Classics. In addition, you gain rules for demi-patrons and learning new languages through game play. Did I mention that statistics for tetanus are also included?

Silent Nightfall has come up on the Sanctum Secorum podcast several times - most notably when it was chosen as the featured product when discussing Changeling Earth. It also came up in Episodes 2 (The Last Castle), 9 (H.P. Lovecraft), 10 (The Maker of Gargoyles), and 20 (The Dying Earth). It was discussed on Spellburn in Episodes 55 (DCC Fan Favorites) and 87 (Upon Further Reviews).

I have discussed this adventure several times in Raven Crowking's Nest, including a run through with 8th level PCs. For examples, see this post, or this post, or this series of three posts. I have also run this adventure at a variety of cons, both online and in person. Overall, I think that it has aged well, and I am always surprised by how the adventure ends - explosively or otherwise - and what steps PCs are able to take to avoid their own destruction. 

When I proposed the CE Series, I asked Tim Hartin to draw a number of small maps with which to spark ideas. The purpose of the CE Series is to provide the judge with world-building materials, small areas that can potentially be explored in a single session (when all the regulars are unavailable) and materials that can continue to be of use throughout a campaign. By those measures, I believe Silent Nightfall succeeds. 

There are often periods of greater or lesser magical influence in the world. Millennia ago, during a period of reduced magical activity, there was a nuclear power station at this location. When magical influences began to spread once more, the nuclear core became unstable, and began to develop a form of malevolent sentience. The ancients placed the core in a shaft three miles deep, the last 500 feet of which were filled with heavy water. This shaft, and its attendant control center, were given the codename “Silent Nightfall”.

In the ages since, much of the complex has collapsed or ceased to function, but the main shaft still remains, going three miles deep into the ground. The rooms that remain have undergone great changes, having been used for many different purposes and by many different creatures over the centuries. As a result, the original purpose of the shaft, rooms, and corridors has become obscured.

One of those who used the area was the wizard Mortmallion the Pale, who stole the Whispering Stone from Elfland. He hid himself and the stone in the Silent Nightfall complex, but the weird energies coming up from below changed him. Mortmallion can still be found, deep below, as the shaft crawler. Over time, the Whispering Stone became confused with the area where it is now found, and some texts refer to it as “Silent Nightfall” without making it clear why the stone has this name.

Currently, they are used as the nesting ground of owl-like humanoids that call themselves the grallistrix. Incubating their eggs in the Silent Nightfall complex has changed them, and they have become dangerous nocturnal predators in the region. The grallistrix hunt in triads, and locate prey by an extraordinary sense of hearing. As a result, communities nearby observe unexpected quiet at night – there are no late night gatherings. Inns and taverns close their doors with the fall of night.

Finally, the nuclear core itself has gained sentience and a malevolent, demonic intelligence. Imprisoned at the bottom of the shaft, it knows no other name than Silent Nightfall. So long as the demon remains bound, it is no great threat to the PCs or their world. In fact, they may be able to deal with it in order to gain magical aid.

In this way, the term “Silent Nightfall” has come to mean the following within the context of this location – the remains of the nuclear complex, the practice of avoiding loud noises after dark, the Whispering Stone, and the great demon imprisoned at the bottom of the shaft. This gives the judge many ways to lead the PCs into this material. It also allows the judge to make finding information difficult, as the many uses of “Silent Nightfall” spill into each other.

Sunday 27 December 2020

The Class Alphabet for DCC RPG

The Class Alphabet for DCC RPG was written by James V. West, Stephen Murrish, Anne Hunter, Victor Garrison, Jarrett Crader, David Baity, Julian Bernick, R.S. Tilton, Wayne Snyder, Claytonian, Diogo Nogueira, Noah Stevens, Jose SeldanaDavid Coppoletti, Jeff Goad, Jon Wilson, Reid San Filippo, Justin IsaacForrest Aguirre, Terra Fox, Anna Costa, and Rick Kammer. Art is by Danny Prescott, James V. West, Davey Parrott, Jane Elisabeth Thomas, David Coppoletti, Evlyn Moreau, Jon Wilson, R.S. Tilton, Claytonian, Diogo Nogueria, KJ O'Brien, David Lewis Johnson, Ray Otus, Karl Stjernberg, Anna Costa, and Rick Kammer. The publisher is Dungeon Remixer.

Disclaimer: I was given a free pdf from the publisher, in hopes that I would write about this product (which I would have anyway). As a result I noticed a few small edits prior to publication, which resulted in my being given a credit as an editor. My blog, Raven Crowking's Nest, is listed in Appendix III of this work.

This book, not surprisingly, contains an Introduction and a "How to use this book" section. Each is a single page long. Not all of the classes herein are going to fit well into every campaign. With 26 classes to choose from, the odds are that something will fit into any given milieu. None of these classes, however, is simply a Ranger or Paladin variant. Well, there is the Zealot....

For some reason, the publisher decided to make the pdf not only automatically default to a two-page spread, but treated those spreads as single pages. This is not ideal. Obviously, the two-page spread looks good - most pages are designed to take advantage of how one would see the pages in print - but it does make reading the pdf harder than it needs to be. At the point of this writing, a print version is not available.

Let's take closer a look at each of these classes, shall we?

A is for APE ASCENDANT: You are an ape. You are a very smart ape. You are a smart ape with primal strength and rage. You are a very smart ape with primal strength and rage that can deliver powerful psionic blasts. If you wanted to play an analogue of Gorilla Grodd, this is your chance. This is a relatively simple class to understand, taking only a single page of the book.

This class would fit into any tropical milieu with a bit of gonzo, but the PC might have a harder time visiting a tavern. This could also stand in for a yeti-type character, or a subset of Ith’n Ya’roo.

B is for BLACK CAT: Literally a magical black cat, this is nonetheless a fairly complex class which takes a full 12 pages to describe fully. The Black Cat gains spells, its own unique critical hit table, and a full patron write-up for Shammat, Lady of Cats. 

Most campaign milieus will include cats, and most societies are not at all surprised to see cats hanging around where people are. This class could gain wide usage as a result. Shammat might be an interesting patron for wizards and elves.

C is for CYBER-ZOMBIE: This class represents a dead body reanimated and upgraded with technology. Characters have to die in order to become Cyber Zombies, and not every dead character can be revived as such.

This is a complex character class that requires 7 pages to describe, including upgrades that the character might gain. In a milieu similar to Umerica or Mutant Crawl Classics, this class could fit right in. The class might be the result of PC action, or the result of technological processes beyond the characters' control - in this way, an adventure location could create Cyber Zombies as unique PCs even in a nominally medieval setting.

D is for DRUG USER: I am still amazed that Joseph Goodman let this one into the book.

A complex class taking 10 pages to describe, "You sacrifice your sanity to forces from beyond the cosmic veil in exchange for powers unknown in your birth universe. You walk a tightrope between controlling your environment and controlling yourself. If you let your guard down for just one unwary moment, or pursue an ecstatic experience just a little too far, you risk being invaded and ultimately consumed by Transdimensional Cognitive Parasites who skitter around the periphery of your reality, looking for a portal into a host consciousness in your dimension".

Ostensibly, this class could fit into almost any game setting, but including it will definitely change the tone of a campaign. Sadly, there is no mention of taduki.

E is for EDITOR: Taking up two pages, this class is designed with meta-gaming in mind. Serious meta-gaming. As in looking at the judge's notes and reporting back to the party meta-gaming. This might be fun in a one-shot, but I would have a hard time using it in an extended campaign. What else should one expect from "Jarrett Crader & accomplices"?

F is for FLESH-FORGED: This is a two-page re-imagining of Frankenstein's Monster, with an awareness that all of its parts might not actually be human. The class is relatively straight-forward and could fit into almost any milieu. With a little bit of disguise work, it might even be welcome in a tavern. I would limit the use of the class to prevent it from losing its impact.

G is for GOBLIN GANG: Another two-page class, you are literally a gang of small, imp- or gremlin-like goblins. Effectively, this is role-playing a swarm. Does it work? Well, the class is not difficult to understand, but it would have a hard time interacting with the mundane folk of your average village.

It would be easy to reskin this class to fit into almost any campaign milieu, although if the game is strongly human-centric it will not fit. They could be some form of collective intelligence in Star Crawl, Crawljammer, or Phantasmagoria. In Umerica or Mutant Crawl Classics, they would fit right in. In a game based around the Shudder MountainsDark Trails Weird Frontiers, or Transylvanian Adventures this class could represent an opponent, but probably will not be a comrade-in-arms.

H is for HELLFONT: Why allow wizards to have all the fun of demonic patrons and corruption? Now your Warrior-type character can have them too! Although not a complicated class, it does take 4 pages to also document the powers and corruptions you might have. I picture this class as being inspired by Venger from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, but I could certainly be wrong.

If there are demonic patrons in your milieu, this class will fit. You might have trouble mingling with other folk, however,

I is for INTELLIGENT WEAPON: Here is an interesting idea: your PC is an intelligent weapon. This also means that you need a thrall...some feckless would-be adventurer that you can control and act through. It is a neat idea, taking three pages to detail, and is not overly complicated. Although a magical sword, axe, or hammer might be the go-to ideas that come to the average player, it would be easy to use this class in Mutant Crawl Classics, Star Crawl, or Umerica with a more technological base. Not every magical ability is easily converted to a technological ability, but transition should go smoothly with a little judicious interpretation.

J is for JOCKEY: This is a one-page class for those who might wish to ride some form of critter. It isn't complicated and, for the most part, it should translate easily to almost any game milieu. If  the idea of a PC mounted on an umber hulk is too gonzo for you, use sparingly!

K is for KNAVE: This is possibly the most complex class created for Dungeon Crawl Classics at the time of this writing. It is not surprising, then, that it takes a full 30 pages to fully describe. 

"Knaves are selfish in the extreme. They take what they want, and live off other people’s labor. Knaves take the largest slice of pie; they drink the whole pail of water. Knaves want the biggest and the best, the first pick, the choicest cut. They demand service and servitude, and anyone who stands against them gets beaten down full sore. Knaves blackmail and ambush, they burgle and break, they wheedle, they scheme, and they’ll fight to the death – but never lift a finger to do an honest day’s work."

What sets them apart, though, is service to the Arcana. The Knave has a mystical relationship to the tarot deck, They have a suit chosen from those of standard playing cards - Clubs, Spades, Diamonds, and Hearts - that helps to define their powers. In short, once more, they are complicated. Flavorful, but complicated. You will want to have this section printed out at the table if you play a Knave or have one in your game. 

Depending upon how your magic is styled, this class may or may not fit into your milieu. It would be perfect in a game inspired by Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores, but might seem out of place on the Purple Planet. Or not. It's your game.

L is for LEMURIAN: Another ape-themed class, this one being a man-ape with ancient memories but no overt psionics. Well, the picture shows a man-ape, but this could just as easily describe Brule the Spear-Slayer from Robert E. Howard's Kull stories, or some of the heroes of Lin Carter's more tongue-in-cheek Lemurian Cycle. The class is not complicated, clocking in at three pages. If your milieu includes ancient peoples in a primordial world, the Lemurians may do nicely.

M is for MONSTER TRAINER: Clearly inspired by Pokémon, this somewhat complicated class only takes three pages to describe. Unfortunately, the sample monsters from the Working Class Alphabet are not reproduced (so you had better get that as well...) but, then, anyone travelling in a DCC milieu is bound to encounter something worth catching.

Because of the obvious source of inspiration, this class might not fit into all milieus. However, the writing is good, and the class could fit into almost any game. 

N is for NINJA VAMPIRE: You are a ninja. You are a vampire. It takes two pages to describe what this means, because, after all, "Ninja Vampire" is not a hard concept to grasp. Whether or not your character fits into a particular campaign milieu is another matter. This class is particularly appropriate appearing in the ruins of Seattle in an Umerican campaign.

O is for OGRE: You are an ogre. It isn't that complicated. Your class takes three pages to describe because you get your own special crit table. You get that table because you are big and you like to bite things. There are probably a lot of campaign milieus where you can't get seated in a tavern.

P is for PUPPET MASTER: This class casts spells and controls puppets, which makes it rather like the villain of A. Merritt's Burn, Witch, Burn! This is not very complicated, but takes 3 pages to describe because the puppets themselves must be described. This class could fit into most settings.

Q is for QUANTUM WANDERER: "You are misplaced in time and space — lost, marooned, or simply not where you started — but in any case, you come from a world very different to the primitive one you find yourself on now. Though it must be said these primitives do keep finding ways to surprise you with their inventiveness. You may be moving on as soon as your etheric beam emitter is working again and your towel is dry, or perhaps this is where you’ve decided to settle long term. Or you may be searching this world high and low, in hopes of finding a way back to where you belong..."

This class takes three pages to describe and assumes that the PC comes from an advanced future. Appendix N fiction is filled with modern people become embroiled in other worlds, be they the past of their own world, or other worlds such as Mars or Venus. Here we are more into Kang the Conqueror or Booster Gold territory.

R is for RO-BARD: This is a robot entertainer. Although the class uses standard DCC class metrics, this is clearly a class that would fit well into the Umerican setting. It might also fit well in Star Crawl, Phantasmagoria, or Crawljammer. Not overly complicated, the class takes 3 pages to describe.

S is for SLIMENOID: A simple, single-page class that is also not likely to be welcome in the average tavern. "Mucal invader, is there no end to your oozing?!" Strangely, though, I could see this class working in most campaign milieus. In some, the Slimenoid would be an anomaly, but in a Mutant Crawl Classics game? Slime on!

T is for TENACIOUS D-FENDER: This is a three-page class dedicated to Tenacious D - effectively a parody of a parody. Nonetheless, it is a playable class...although playing one will very likely affect the tone of the game.

U is for UBIQUARIAN: "Everyone has wished they could be in two places at once, but the ubiquarian actually can—and some can even be in up to sixteen places at once!" It's an interesting idea for a class, and one that could fit into a great many campaign milieus. The class is not overly complex, and takes up three pages including a table for Astral Mishaps. Probably more importantly, the rules allow the class to do some unique things - including providing advanced scouting - but it should not overwhelm the table.

V is for VELOCIRAPTOR: A two-page description of a Velociraptor class. For other takes on similar classes see The Goodman Games 2017 Gen Con Program Book, Crawling Under a Broken Moon #14, Hubris, and Tales of the Fallen Empire. DCC players seem to have a thing for playing saurians. They are even part of Primal Tales.

W is for WOLF GIRL: "Bristling with primal energy, finely tuned to her territory, thriving on self-governance—the Wolf Girl is an unapologetic autarch, motivated by razor sharp instincts and a ferocious drive to survive. Her prevailing ideology is essentially solipsistic: preservation of self, and of the environs that sustain her. Threats to this paradigm are dispatched with swift brutality. Depending on her natural empathy, a Wolf Girl’s sense of self can expand to include friends and causes, which she will defend with exceptional displays of courage and sacrifice.

Wolf Girl has an inner wolf; she is a shifter, dominated by mood swings, focused anger, and unresolved trauma. Residing in the wild, she and her lupine companion are self-possessed, meditative, and stunningly savage. 

A Wolf Girl might use her connection with the earth to craft potent medicines, bezoars, and alchemical components. She might also be a master of her physical reality: platforming buildings, deflecting gunfire, and lancing targets from hundreds of yards away. Wolf Girl’s origins and motivations differ as well. The Wolf Girl is a paragon of natural balance."

This is a magical female Mowgli which takes two pages to describe. The Wolf Girl would fit into most campaign milieus, but would excel at outdoor adventuring away from the confines of both the city and the dungeon.  

X is for XENOCYTE: A two-page class that seems a bit Alien. There are game milieus into which this would fit (Star Crawl springs to mind), but I have a hard time imagining Xenocytes mingling in the tavern after an adventure, or carousing on the streets of Lankhmar.

Y is for YOUTHFUL MUSICIAN: "In every age, in every land, there have been those good souls who travel amongst the needy and who work to undo the machinations of evil. There is something about youth, exuberance, and transgressive music that stirs adolescence and young adults into travel and the championing of all that is good and right. Often, these foolhardy souls simply strive to right the wrongs caused by petty men and women against their neighbors, but every now and then they stymie the efforts of galaxy-spanning cults, supernatural beings, and weird entities from beyond the stars. They fight the good fight for the sheer reward of it, asking no recompense and wandering here and there living where the needs of Law might take them. They tend to attract weirdness of all kinds, and are frequently accompanied by talking animals, beneficent spirits, barmy obsolete robots, and all manner of other companions. Playing music is something of a side gig, or perhaps solving mysteries is the side gig - often there is no way to tell..."

This two-page class is inspired by Jeff Quick’s game Hijinx, appearing in Polyhedron #158. It is a joke class, like the Hot Dog Suit, which will definitely alter the tone of whatever game it appears in.

Z is for ZEALOT: The last class in the book is a two-page divine champion which is definitely promoting a single god. This should fit easily into most campaigns.

Appendices: The book also includes three appendixes. The first deals with esoteric rules and frequently asked questions. The second breaks down the classes into the in-game roles they fill. A discerning judge might reproduce the list from this chart to indicate which options are available in their game. An even more discerning judge might allow certain classes to become available as rewards for meeting certain Quest For It goals, or for playing through specific adventures. Finally, there is an appendix of resources, including an Alphabet of Game Worlds.

The Class Alphabet for DCC RPG introduces 26 NEW classes to your game. Each is fully playable from level 1 to 10, and there's a class for every letter of the alphabet! Within this book you will find a mythic proportion of options for any variety of game setting or playstyle. Every class has been lovingly handcrafted and lavishly illustrated by a team of gongfarming gamers from every corner of the globe. These classes will not only elevate your game to new heights of gonzo-infused frenzy, but will also inspire a multitude of ideas to help judges and players develop their own unique content.

Apes, robotic bards, quantum vagrants, shadow manipulators, monster trainers, puppet masters, ogres, dinosaurs, hellbound warriors, tenacious d-fenders, and gangs of goblins are JUST A FEW of the madcap character classes you'll discover inside. All completely illustrated with accompanying spells, crit tables, powers, and other bizarre tables of options.

Strap in, because your game is about to experience a paradigm shift and things may never again be the same!

Get It Here!

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Alba Con Monsters for DCC

Alba Con Monsters for DCC was written by Daniel J. Bishop. The publisher is Crowking Press.

This was another virtual swag item, in this case created for Scotland's Alba Con 2020, which I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in. All the proceeds from Alba Con 2020 went to to It’s Good 2 Give, a Scottish charity which provides incredible support to young cancer patients and their families. If you find this virtual swag useful at all, please consider making a small donation!

This item contains statistics for the Am Fear Liath Mòr (the Big Gray Man of the Cairngorms), the Loch Ness Monster, the Blue Men of the Minch, the Aos Sí, the Cat Sìth, the Oilliphéist (a horrible giant water worm), and the Nuckelavee. Games not taking place in Scotland (or a reasonable simulacrum thereof) can file off the serial numbers and make these beasties their own!

Here is some free swag for your DCC game! Yes, this is a guy in Canada writing up beings familiar to denizens dwelling in Scotland and the surrounding waters....If you find any of these to be the worst rendition of these creatures ever, feel free to ignore them!

Permission is granted to include these monsters in anything published for DCC, provided that the original author is acknowledged. Knock yourselves out!

Oh, and these specific monsters were chosen for a reason.

It's free!

Get It Here

Sunday 15 November 2020

Michuval, Angel of War

Michuval, Angel of War was written by Daniel J. Bishop. Art is by Gustave Doré. The publisher is Crowking Press.

Disclaimer: I am the writer and publisher.

This is a bit of "virtual swag" that I produced for Bride of Cyclops Con. This is a patron write-up for an angelic being, containing everything except full patron spells. 

Great Michuval, the Angel of War, appears as a tall, muscular man, with dark hair flowing in an inky mane. He wields a flaming sword in two of his four arms, and his four great wings are feathered with bronze. His skin, as supple as silk, nonetheless gleams as though made of metal. Michuval is a Champion on the Celestial Realms, and Knight Commander of a cohort of angels. He is a slayer of demons, dragons, and giants. He expects those who would seek him as a patron to exhibit valour in battle and cunning in the art of war.

This is absolutely free, and there is no reason you should not pick it up.

Get It Here.

Thursday 12 November 2020


2 WORM 2 FURIOUS is a 0-level funnel written by Sean Richer. Art is by Scrap Princess, Sean Richer (cover), Glynn Seal (cartography), Tharamust (cover), and Tomasz Grabowiecki (cover). The publisher is Orbital Intelligence LLC.

Disclaimer: I backed the successful Kickstarter for this product.

Yes, this is a 0-level funnel adventure. Or, in a way, a toolkit for creating such an adventure, because the judge will be rolling on many tables to determine just what happens. I am not surprised to learn that Doug Kovacs was a playtester, because this certainly reminds me of Country Crawl Classics and Inferno Road. An adventure that passes through the Kovacs test first is going to be interesting. That is not a criticism!

This is not just a 0-level adventure, though. It is described as being usable at any level, and is given a more specific description as being challenging to PCs of up to 5th level. Having read this adventure, I agree with the assessment...and sorrow that I didn't get a chance to be a player before reading it.

If you are a fan of Jack Vance, you know how he could draw a textured society through the creation of a few well-chosen details? Sean Richer has that same gift. And he is able to use it to infuse random tables with enough meat to give players and judges a good understanding of what is going on. At the same time, as with Vance, enough is left unspoken that the reader/judge/players are forced to color in the details themselves. The setting is intriguing enough that exploring it after (or before) the adventure is worthwhile. The participants will have to do some extrapolation and world-building, but the result is potentially spectacular.

Mechanically, the adventure used the dice chain in an interesting way, enabling the judge to openly track how large and how furious the Worm has become. One die tracks its growth, another tracks its rage, and a third tracks how successful attempts to calm it are. The size of these dice affect various rolls, including random events that can happen (in the same way that larger crit dice can result in more dire outcomes). This is a neat mechanic that should work to help ramp up tension at the table. Luckily there are plenty of new peasants to help bolster the legions of the dead....

This adventure also includes a complete patron, the Doombringer Moth, which is also given a full deity write-up (including Canticles).

Thematically, the product could also be tied into The Vile Worm, The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn, The Vault of AshFate's Fell Hand, Peril on the Purple Planet, The Undulating Corruption, Prison of the Mad Gods, and Temple of the Locust Lord. With a little bit of work, you could have an entire campaign centered around worms of various types!

A deadly funnel (Level 0+) adventure and mini-setting, for 4-6 players, revolving around an ever mutating and evolving moth grub. THE grub has escaped and you have been charged by the God-Queen to bring it back to the hatchery, but this is a funnel after all… so stuff will inevitably go wrong and will likely be fatal.

It’s a tiny worm, that grows and grows and grows, and rampages, and bursts into a colossal Doombringer Moth that’s a Patron, a Deity, and a raging behemoth. It grows and grows, its growth unlocks new abilities and reactions. It rarely acts the same way, and eventually it will rule. WORSHIP IT OR RUN FROM IT, IT DOESN’T MATTER!

A God-Queen, her throne-maidens, the legions of Sky-Knights (on their Worm-Hawks), Stilt-Walkers, and Knights that strike with the fury of a thousand hammers. In addition there’s a couple important NPCs stirring things up and causing problems. Ranging from a veteran sky-knight to turned bartender, to a Jester that loiters in the streets spreading whispers to those that live below.

What Else?

New Locations, Encounters, Celebrations, Adventure Hooks, Complications, World Changing Effects, Level 0 Occupations, Bestiary Entries (including Worm-Hawks, Stilt-Walkers, and Knightly Orders), Some fancy villagers, A new Deity (or is it a Patron?), Portens, Rune Effects, A map of the Kingdom, Forms to track destruction of the Worm, and a Worm Tracker (for tracking it’s growth, and the Die Chain)

Get It Here!

Akashic Titan

Akashic Titan Volume 1: Starnheim & Related Locales was written and illustrated by Leighton Connor. The publisher is Spandangle Press.

Disclaimer: I supported the successful Kickstarter for this product.

Imagine magical steampunk mecha. Now imagine that they are used for travel, not across a single world, but from world to world through a rainbow of Bands that extends beyond the colors we know (and may not even include them), and which may in fact be inimical to life as we know it. Now imagine that this travel occurs far enough below the radar that the discerning judge can use it to transplant characters from Punjar to Lankhmar to Drongo to the Fallen Empire to Transylvania. Now imagine that, among all the other influences listed, the author includes Italo Calvino and Miguel de Cervantes.

Is it any wonder that I am in love?

Let's look inside!

Part 1: Journey to Starnheim: This section lays out some hooks that the judge may use to get the PCs interested in Starnheim, and some of the places they might encounter on the way there. Basically, this sets a scene that may be replayed, with countless variations on an infinity of worlds. You hear of a magnificent market - but what you find just leads you on farther. The PCs might be imagining that finding the "market town" is the adventure, but this is just the prelude.

Part 2: The Town of Starnheim: Describes the hidden market town of Starnheim in general terms. It is entirely possible that the PCs discover Starheim early in their careers, as a place to sell excess loot or buy rare goods. There are factions for the PCs to clash with or become involved with. Eventually, the PCs learn about the "Other Side" and the mysterious Gateway leading there.

Part 3: Mount Starnheim: Unless the players have peeked, this is a moment where their world is going to be turned upside down. Literally and metaphorically. The PCs have now found the port where the Akashic Titans dock, and it is not at all the same as the place they have left behind. Not only that, but there is an implication that such places exist in all worlds. 

Part 4: The Akashic Titans: If you are going to run a game with gigantic magical steampunk mecha, you will need rules for them. That is what this part supplies. Luckily, the writer realizes that this is not a one-player show, and when your akashic titan gets into combat everyone has things to do and ways to contribute.The rules are not at all convoluted, but there is serious chance of mishap (as there should be in Dungeon Crawl Classics. A sample titan is provided, but rules for statting up your own titans are fairly non-existent.

Part 5: The Bands: Imagine that the Bifrost was actually the phlogiston, and then imagine that the Bifrost extended beyond colors we know, to bands of dolm, ulfire, and jale...and perhaps farther. Now imagine that this is actually the akashic medium, and the color of the Band you are in affects what you might encounter and the rules of the universe around you. Not every Band is conducive to the living. Some Bands may be actively trying to kill you.

No one can tell you what is beyond the Jale Band. No information is given about passing from the Dolm Band away from the Ulfire Band back towards Blue. This is not really a problem. There are always things to worry about out there:

"Akashic titans are not alive, so it stands to reason that they could never be undead. Unfortunately, that is the best description of the akashic husk. Broken down akashic titans, usually with huge holes ripped in their hulls, their crews dead, yet their eyes still glowing, they are animated by some hideous force, and lurch their way through the Bands in search of functional akashic titans to destroy."

Part 6: The Elaborate Crystal Palace: This describes an interesting place in the Jale Band that the PCs are likely to come back to repeatedly. Chambers are randomly generated. There is more going on, and more for the PCs to get involved with, than this makes it sound like.

Appendix 1: Spells: Band Bubble is a 1st level wizard spell that "creates a mystical bubble that holds in oxygen and protects from the Bands’ toxic atmosphere and radiation." Don't leave home without it. Titan Bond is a 2nd level wizard spell that "enables the user to connect spiritually with an akashic titan, to feel what it is feeling, and to sense what is going on inside and out." Access Akashic Library is a 3rd level wizard spell that "enables the user to access the Akashic Library, a record of every sapient being’s every thought, word, and action." Compare with Walk the Akashic Record, a patron spell in The Revelation of Mulmo: Tentacled Edition and Angels, Daemons & Beings Between: Extended Otherworldly Edition.

Appendix 2: New Character Class: This describes the Akashic Pilot class. If travel through the Akashic Bands is the centerpiece of your campaign, this will make you a master of it. Of course, you will also be mutated.

Ellie O'Clock sits in her pilot's chair and gazes through the heavy glass, watching the aether of the Ulfire Band fizz and pop. Suddenly a nearby patch of void squirms, twists, and rips open, vomiting forth an obscene tentacled horror. A Stellar Squid! Ellie has no time to think--she grabs a lever, twists, and pulls. Instantaneously the metal behemoth she pilots reacts, swinging a giant metal fist . . .  

The akashic titans are giant, magically-powered metal constructs that soar across the endless Bands in their journey from world to world. Akashic Titan gives you the tools you need to incorporate these magical behemoths into Dungeon Crawl Classics games. In addition to giving an overview of the akashic titans and the Bands, this zine provides two settings: Starnheim, a port city for the titans that can be dropped into any fantasy world, and the Elaborate Crystal Palace of the Jale Band.

Also included are new monsters (such as the Stellar Squid, the Stowaway, and the Living Constellation), spells, NPCs, the Akashic Pilot character class, and random tables.

Get It Here!

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Shadow of the Beakmen

DCC Day #1: Shadow of the Beakmen is a level 1 adventure by Harley Stroh. Art is by Stefan Poag (including cover and cartography), Chris Arneson, Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Bradley McDevitt, and Chad Sergesketter. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Saturday, 16 May 2020 was the first ever DCC Day, marked with a generous outpouring of swag and stuff from Goodman Games. Like Free RPG Day, DCC Day was intended to generate interest in the hobby - and in this case, our little niche thereof. Then there was a pandemic, and things went a bit strange. 

The goal of this adventure was to provide something that could be played with minimum prep for the judge, and which could allow new players to experience the awesomeness that is Dungeon Crawl Classics. It does this very well, but, as written, it is extremely linear. It would easily be run in a 3- to 4-hour convention slot. 

As with all Harley Stroh adventures, the right details are present. The final encounter is very flavorful, but misses both enough context for the players to discover who the Master is, and misses the kind of truly cataclysmic ending that some DCC adventures do so well - what happens to the obelisk once the Master is destroyed?

If you intend on incorporating this module into an ongoing campaign, consider the following:

  • Instead of having the village be some nameless place on the road from A to B, make it a place that the PCs have a connection to. Perhaps it is their home village, or a place where they recovered from a previous adventure? In either case, this should be a place the players regard kindly...not the hive of scum and villainy that sold them fake healing potions!
  • The use of greenstones in the adventure suggests a connection to the Purple Planet. Strongly consider exploiting that connection as the campaign progresses.
  • When the Master is destroyed, what happens to the obelisk? Roll 1d6: (1) The obelisk sinks back into the lake; (2) The obelisk falls over, slowly at first, but it builds up speed as it topples; (3) The obelisk returns to its plane of origin; (4) The obelisk begins to vibrate, and then shatters; (5) The obelisk simply fades out of existence; or (6) The obelisk remains, a mute but permanent testimony to its Master. How long it takes for these effects to occur, and what they mean for the PCs, are up to the judge to determine.
  • If the obelisk remains, a rival Master may come looking for it one day. Likewise, as part of another adventure, the PCs may discover the shattered remains of a previous obelisk.

Towering obelisks stab the sky. Monstrous knights with blazing lances prowl the night. Huts burn, and entire villages are taken as slaves to be fed darksome pits. The cries of terror and panic give the horrors a name: the Beakmen have come.

But you are no mere peasant or serf, cowering the in the dark. You and your companions are reavers, with bloodied blades and spells wrenched from the dreams of demons. You stride through chaos while others flee, turning your steps towards the great stone obelisk, the source of the beakmen and their alien magics. 

Whether for the cause of justice or merely to acquire these strange blazing weapons for you own, tonight there shall be an accounting: a blazing brand thrust into The Shadow of the Beakmen.

Get It Here!

Get the VTT and Token Pack here!

Friday 26 June 2020

The House of the Red Doors

The House of the Red Doors is a 0 level funnel adventure by James A. Pozenel, Jr.. Art is by Stefan Poag (including cover), Doug Kovacs,
Del Teigeler, and Robert Cameron. The publisher is Horse Shark Games.

Disclosure: I was both a backer of the successful Kickstarter, and a playtester at Ragnarok Gaming Experience in Waterloo, Ontario. The author ran the game.

Dungeon Crawl Classics, as readers here know, is my go-to role-playing game. In some cases, though, you just don't have enough players to make a full party. I've blogged about dealing with this once characters have reached the exalted heights of 1st level, but how do you deal with a character's journey from gong farmer to adventurer?

The House of the Red Doors allows for a brief adventure in which a single player with a single character With a single 0-level character and only one player making decisions, this funnel can be run in 20-30 minutes per player, allowing a PC to rise to 1st level with an actual backstory. Because it can be played through so quickly, the judge is advised to be ready to jump into a follow-up adventure, or to place the newly-minted adventurer into a situation where adventure will occur! Of course, death is a real possibility here, and it might take more time and 0-level characters to exit The House of the Red Doors with a survivor.

The adventure can also be run as a unique sort of tournament, where each player plays through the funnel individually. The judge scores points based on the choices made and in-game events, and then declares the player with the most points the winner!

If you are a Road Crew judge looking for something to fit into a short time frame, using The House of the Red Doors as a short tournament will absolutely fit the bill. If you have only 1-2 players to get a campaign going, this adventure will also serve admirably. Finally, if you and your gaming friend have a 30-minute window for a break at work or school...well, you might get some converts in the lunch room!

Generations ago the House of the Red Doors visited your village. Now, so many years hence, could it be passing this way again? As the story goes, its mistress, Jassafae, still untouched by time’s ravages, is a powerful being of unknown origin. Through her, fates are altered and wishes granted, but only to those brave enough to cross her threshold. You toil unceasingly, suffer much, and to what end? Unrequited dreams and the hope of an early grave? You resolve to enter and change your destiny.

The House of the Red Doors is a challenging 0 level adventure for one player and one judge. Three rounds of puzzles with seven different endings await the brave souls that enter the movable mansionʼs threshold. A dreamland-like setting allows for ease of use in nearly any genre. This adventure can quickly create a 1st level adventurer for an ongoing campaign, test a playerʼs wits, or be run as a tournament.

EDITS: Adjusted to take comments into account.

Get It Here!

Thursday 18 June 2020

Skull & Crossbones Classics #1

Skull & Crossbones Classics #1 is a zine of high sea adventure written by Bob Brinkman. Art is by Bob Brinkman (front cover), Charles Ellms, George Cruikshank, Antonius Wierix II, William StrangOscar R. Gleason, Mansiliya Yury via Shutterstock, Gessner, a New York Times staff artist, IADA via Shutterstock, and that prolific individual known as Anonymous. The publisher is Sanctum Media.

Ever since it was first mentioned on Sanctum Secorum Podcast, I have been looking forward to this product. Those of you familiar with the author's nautical work in Crawl! Fanzine #11 will understand why.

Let's dive in!

Message in a Bottle: An opening note/introduction from the author/editor.

Character Basics: This section offers a brief discussion of cultural background, firearms, gender, sexuality, languages, and other aspects of a campaign centered around the Golden Age of Piracy.

Specific rules - short, sweet, and to the point - are also supplied for alignment, Armor Class (as sailors rarely wear armor), and skills (seamanship improves with level). This material is easy to understand, does its job, and then gets out of the way. In short, it is elegant.

Star Signs: Essentially birth augurs from DCC, but based on several real-world forms of astrology. The traditional Western, Chinese, and Polynesian zodiacs are presented. These star signs consider things important to sailors, and have both a Weal and a Woe column. Depending upon your Luck modifier, and what is rolled, you might get either or both.

The Jonah Class: Somewhat reworked from the Sanctum Secorum 2018 Free RPG Day Third Party Compendium, the Jonah is an ill-fated sailor, who brings bad luck to the ship and to their shipmates aboard her. Is this a playable class? That is hard to say, not yet having the chance to see it in action. I suspect that it would be fun to play in a one-shot adventure, at least, though a known Jonah would survive an extended campaign no better than suspected Jonahs survived the high seas in real life.

The Devil's Own Luck: The fortunes of a sailor ebb and flow like the tide, but pirates and cutthroats seem especially blessed. Indeed, it is said that they enjoy the "Devil' s Own Luck" - and fortune does seem to favor them in the hardest of times before abandoning them completely in the best of times.

This mechanic offers a modified form of Fleeting Luck, which is a bit more involved, but is also flavorful. You can get it (among other ways) by being unlucky or indulging in the seven deadly sins, but you can loose it by being too lucky or pious. Moreover, you can wager it, betting your own permanent Luck for a temporary boost against the cast of a die.

Sailing Superstitions: Material taken from real-world sailing superstitions, which can be used for inspiration by judge and players alike.

Ill-fortune Mechanic: Low luck, bad luck, curses, blaspheming aboard a ship - there are plenty of ways that a sailor can be down on her luck. Bob Brinkman provides a mechanic (in the form of a d100 table) to determine what happens as a result. This is good stuff, and I would encourage judges to consider similar effects/tables for other genres/environments.

Sea Beggar's Bestiary: DCC game statistics for the barracuda, sea devil (sadly not this one, but that wouldn't have really fit the tone, would it?), sea serpents, and tiger sharks.

Appendix S: Inspirational reading for swashbuckling and piracy.

Even if you are not setting your adventure in the Golden Age of Piracy, this material would offer flavor and options for games with a nautical element.

1650-1720: The Golden Age of Piracy,
a time where the seas were ruled by those with
the most powerful fleets – but those desperate (or greedy)
enough could live like kings.

You are no hero…

You’re a pirate: a corsair, a buccaneer, a sea-beggar,
a whipcord-tough cutthroat plying the
devil’s trade. You seek gold and glory,
taking it with sword and cannon fire,
awash in the blood of those who would oppose you,
and the tears of those too weak to stop you.

There are treasures to be won upon the seas, and you shall have them.

Get It Here!

Friday 12 June 2020

Pax Lexque Campaign Guide

Pax Lexque Campaign Guide was written by Ed Stanek and Xuân Stanek with contributions by Susan Stanek. Art is by GAOZ Artworks (cover), Xuân Stanek, and Ed Stanek (cartography), as well as public domain images (with references on page 185). The publisher is Raorgen Games.

This is a campaign setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics, which posits an alternate Earth in which the Roman Empire has to contend with the strange sentient races common to fantasy role-playing games, as well as dark magic.

Centuries ago, a "magical arms race culminating in the Wars of Darkness tore the empire apart and lay waste to much of the Great Sea region." The Great Sea being, of course, the Mediterranean. In the PC's time, a special military force, the Manus Legis ("Hand of the Law") is charged with dealing with "unexplained problems left over from the magical war cursed or haunted battlefields, horrific monsters summoned during the war, necromancers and diabolists who still try to delve into forbidden knowledge." It is likely, but not necessary, that the PCs will be a unit in the Manus Legis.

The discerning judge who wishes to include an element of time travel in their DCC campaign may decide that the world of Pax Lexque either leads directly into the world of "modern" DCC XCrawl or runs parallel to it. Either way, I could easily see a group of DCC XCrawl promoters "poaching" teams from the past, so that your Pax Lexque PCs could find themselves facing DungeonBattle Brooklyn....conversely, a diabolical cult might kidnap DCC XCrawl athletes to accomplish some task in the past/their parallel world.

After the Introduction and a historical timeline, the volume describes an Atlas of 26 separate regions:Aegypt, Aquitania, Arabia, Belgica, Betica, Britania, Cypria, Dacia, Druzix, Felicia, Germania, Hellena, Hispania, Macedonia, Mauretania, Meria, Nurdarim, Pamfilia, Roman Empire, Rome, Scythia, Semosiss, Stonarx, Syria, Talin, and Thracia. For each of these areas, geography, history, politics, religion, and daily life are described.

Regional maps are provided for each area as well, although these would be more useful with a hex overlay or at least a scale for distances. Cartography is done with Campaign Cartographer and is very clean, but it is not what DCC maps usually look like. Artwork is, similarly, not what one usually expects with a DCC product, being largely vector graphics and/or photographs with filters to make them appear painted. This isn't a serious criticism, but it is something the potential buyer should be aware of. Font and layout choices are such that this 189-page pdf could have easily fit into a more slender 100 pages - perhaps not a problem with the pdf, but something that might affect your decision to purchase in print.

As an example of an area overview:
The land of Macedonia is beautifully scenic, but badly scarred. Though not without its share of virgin wilderness, large areas of Macedonia are still reeling from the Wars of Darkness. Macedonia struggles to heal from the mistakes of its past and that legacy won’t be shaken any time soon.
The Macedonian landscape is a study in contrasts. The rockiness of the terrain may be a constant, but it takes a variety of forms. Progressing from the central mountain range, through the rocky, uneven valleys of the inland hills to the crags of both coasts, the land of Macedonia is striking to behold.
In its earlier days, the central mountains were home to many small mining villages. Today, these places are ghost towns, in some cases literally. As the Macedonian economy fell apart as a consequence of the Wars of Darkness, internal commerce ground to a halt. With very little mechanism to bring ores to market, the mines fell silent.
The coastal cities are beginning to stabilize once again as trading ports, but their prosperous days of the centuries past are behind them. With little moving in the way of local resources coming to the ports, few traders have reason to stop there. Even the once thriving capital city, Thessaloniki, is only a shadow of its former self.
The inland hills are an untapped resource. For centuries a cash cow of olive, fig and date orchards, much of this land is now inaccessible because of magic blight or extraplanar creatures left over from the wars. Most of these once prosperous orchards have been wild and uncultivated for centuries.
The text then goes on to describe the history, politics, etc. of the region.

For obvious reasons, the setting book takes some extra time to describe the Roman Empire, the city of Rome, and Roman law. As the PCs might very well be applying that law to various necromancers, diabolists, and monstrous beings, this is important. As other PCs might run afoul of the law, it is also important - it is not legal to cast just any spell, and murder hobos cannot necessarily act with impunity.

Gods and Patrons

Pax Lexque has a unique (and interesting) take on gods and patrons. There is no difference between the two, and all clerics can cast patron bond. Patron bond is a little more powerful in this setting as well, and when a cleric casts it, the recipient might receive a modest boon in addition to the normal effects. Clerics also gain access to the patron spells of their gods.

One of the results of this is that the Pax Lexque Campaign Guide contains a number of new patrons for players and judges to play with. Spellburn functions differently. I.e., a "full patron write up" in this case includes notes on how Spellburn operates for the patron, but not an actual table indicating how Spellburn manifests.

The patrons are:

Celata -­ Whisperer of Secrets: Celata is the one who knows the unknowable, that which is hidden away from mortal eyes. She whispers in the dark places to her faithful, giving them visions and understanding. Caves, springs, and thermal vents are sacred to her as are the wombs of women, for what is more mysterious than the knitting together of life?

A full patron write-up is provided.

Doraga -­ Master of the Forge: Deep inside an unfathomably large mountain is the monstrous forge of Doraga, Lord of the Dwarves, Master of the Forge. Every volcano that erupts is the stoking of his bellows. Every earthquake echoes the beating of his hammer. Near the dawn of time, Doraga forged the first dwarves from iron and molten stone. As his craftsmanship, they reflect his very persona. When a dwarf works a forge and smiths a piece of metalwork, he is engaging in an act of piety, reflecting the spirit of Doraga.

Doraga does not normally have arcane patrons, so there is no Spellburn information. The patron write-up is otherwise complete.

Eliha -­ Father of the Wind: The father of all djinn, Eliha, has made his presence known in Arabia since before the recorded history of that land. Every dust devil that skirts along on the desert sand is said to be one of his messengers. Generally, Eliha’s influence is seen as helpful as his westwinds bring moisture off the Great Sea. However, his temper is known to flare as sandstorms that rage across the land. Just as the wind is unpredictable, so Eliha is enigmatic. This should not be confused with being chaotic however. By contrast to Labul, whose focus is seen solely in destructive, chaotic storms, Eliha is measured and balanced, sometimes wrathful, sometimes gentle. His unpredictability is seen more as a difficulty in mankind knowing the mind of the djinn than an indication of chaos.

Basic description only.

Elkev ­- Master of Flame: The brother of Eliha is Elkev, the father of all efreet (or ifrit). Elkev’s name inspires both reverence and fear. In Arabia and Syria, Elkev is seen as the source of the sun’s fire, which is recognized as necessary for life. As such, he is celebrated for providing light and warmth. On the other hand, those who invoked Elkev recklessly in Arabia’s war against Rome caused great damage to the land. On the balance, the people of Arabia fittingly approach Elkev the way one handles fire, with care and respect.

Basic description only.

Ellelliara -­ Light of Dawn: To the elves of Hellena, beauty is a way of life and a cornerstone of their culture. Nowhere is this more evident than in the person of their national patron, Ellelliara. According to Hellenic tradition, when the world was fresh and very young, Ellelliara gazed upon it and was pleased with its beauty. She rode a sunbeam down from the sky to walk among the forested shores of that land that would become Hellena. As she walked along the green fields, in each of her footsteps sprang up flowers orchids, hyacinth, crocus. Sweeping her hands through the grass as she walked, the taller grass stalks became seedlings, growing in the breeze behind her jacaranda, fig, pomegranate. Reaching an overlook of the rocky coast, she looked back on the new garden that had sprung up in her wake. Tears of joy dropped from her face as she was overcome by the beauty. As the teardrops hit the ground, they sprang forth into the first elves her children.

A full patron write-up is provided.

Fortruvius ­- Lord of Valor:  Integrity. Respect. Ritual. Discipline. Courage. Perseverance. Honor. Pursuits of these virtues lead to glory. Glory in battle. Glory over one’s enemies both internal and external. Glory everlasting. Those dedicated to Fortruvius commit themselves to a continual regimen of self-improvement and set themselves the task of becoming exemplary.

A full patron write-up is provided.

Gulyabani ­- The Hidden One:  Sometimes called the King of Guildmasters, Gulyabani is patron of goblins and thieves. Most of the humans who secretly follow Gulyabani do so seeking favor in their pursuit of larceny. To the goblin folk, following Gulyabani is far more than that. He is their master who drives them on in their war for survival against the big folk. It is he who inspires their ruthlessness and teaches them that anything they can take, they deserve to have. Every raid on a human caravan is an act of identity for them, and an unspoken act of worship to the one who taught them to strike from the shadows.

Basic description only.

Helet -­ Chief of the Hunt:  Helet the hunter is revered by the Celtic people. His teaching, “You must know your quarry before your quarry will know death” is learned well by rangers of the Great Gaulic Forest. Though his followers take great pride in a hunt well done, a hunt is never to be undertaken for sport. Legend has it that overzealous hunters will become the hunted, stalked by one of Helet’s wolves.

Basic description only.

Iber -­ Father of Peace:  The people of Hispania and Betica tell of a time in the unknown past when Iber pulled the Iberian peninsula out of the churning waters, with the specific purpose of creating a place of peace and harmony. He then sculpted the earliest Iberian people from the land and tasked them with maintaining the peace of this new land. Iber is generally thought to not be particularly involved in the events of the land now, leaving that task to his people. It is said though, that he does watch the realm from a distance, ready to nudge the scales should anything in the land tip too far towards chaos. His followers are ever watchful that the proper order of the world is maintained, including an eye towards a stewardship of the natural world. Things that are deemed unnatural, such as undead, are the greatest anathema to the Iberian outlook.

Basic description only.

Labul -­ Anger of the Storm:  Not simply a patron of the air or of rain, Labul is specifically the Master of Storms, violent raging destructive storms. While some who call on him do so in an attempt to appease the Anger of the Wind, many of those who seek his attention are seeking to cause destruction. Certainly during the Wars of Darkness, the Lord of Lightning was called upon by many to wreak havoc on enemy armies or even to lay waste to civilian populations. Labul is a wild and unpredictable patron, and those who wish to draw his gaze and channel his power do so at their own peril.

Basic description only.

Mordines -­ The Shadow of Death:  The Master of Darkness, the Dark Veil, the Stalker in
secret he is still worshiped in hidden places throughout the great sea. The reasons for his ongoing influence vary. For some, it is simply to seek a divine stamp of approval on the evil they wish to work, but others are true believers in his call. They believe he is the master of all, the highest of the immortal beings, because death eventually comes for every man. Even the long-lived elves eventually fall under his axe. It is said to be Mordines who gives power to the undead, that by his hatred of life the restless dead will not find peace. Those who follow Mordines consider it the ultimate blessing and sign that he has approvedtheir work if, upon their death, they continue to malevolently stalk the land of the living.

Basic description only.

Mothir -­ King of Battle:  The Germanic tribes of the northern wilds have various patrons, but the most commonly revered is Mothir, the Father of Courage and Judge of the Battlefield. There have been those who erroneously have thought that Mothir is simply a Germanic name for Fortruvius, but the two patrons are actually quite different. While Fortruvius also promotes courage in battle, his focus is on valor, honor, and self discipline. Mothir, as reflected by Germanic culture, is focused on the ferocity of battle. He is well represented by the legendary berserker warriors of the Germanic tribes. All of this does not mean he is outright evil. He does not necessarily champion cruelty and bloodlust. However, once the battle is joined, he does expect his people to fight with all their heart and soul.

Basic description only.

Procella -­ Mistress of the Waves:  Almost everyone who sails the seas or lives on the coasts around the Great Sea gives at least token respect towards Procella. She is the embodiment and personification of the Great Sea, and her character reflects the range of what the sea means for those who live on it life-giving through its supply of fish and transportation, but occasionally treacherous with an unpredictable storm. There is debate among scholars and even among her clerics whether Procella is simply the patron of the Great Sea, or actually is the Great Sea. To most of her followers, the distinction is fuzzy. They tend  to see the relationship between Procella and the Great Sea as being one of those things that is too lofty for mortal minds to comprehend.

A full patron write-up is provided.

Ramasar - The Untamed One:  The centaurs who rule over the vast open plains of Scythia and their horse riding neighbors in Dacia, revere the paragon of equines, Ramasar the Swift. Said to be faster than any other being on the earth or in the heavens, Ramasar is the soul behind the way of life on the northeastern plains. Their shared reverence for Ramasar has created an ongoing bond of brotherhood between the humans in Dacia and the centaurs in Scythia. It is very common for the two to meet at each other’s annual festivals to come to each other’s aid in times of need. The Stallion is said to have only one herd on the earth, and all who look to him are considered part of that family. Ramasar promotes dedication to family, tribe and tradition as well as being at peace with the natural world. Speed in running is considered a mark of Ramasar’s approval.

Basic description only.

Reku ­- The Light Giver:  The people of Aegypt have a recorded history longer than any land other than Hellena. Throughout the 7000 years of their civilization, their primary patron has been Reku. Reku is the personification of the sun. His light is his blessing on all people. He withdraws that blessing at night so that mortals will understand the gift they have been given by the contrast of its absence. The people of Aegypt believe that the earth has always existed but that there was no life on it until Reku first shone forth upon the land. Suntanned skin tone is considered to be a sign of closeness to Reku. Legends tell that further south of Aegypt there are people born with skin far darker than any Aegyptian. These are spoken of as Reku’s first children. Reku calls upon his followers to live orderly lives, as his course across the sky is predictable, and to give generously to each other, as he gives generously to them.

Basic description only.

Savra -­ The Scaled One:  The generally recognized correct name of Savra is not pronounceable by humans, nor readily represented in any humanoid writing system outside the lands where she is worshiped. As an adaptation, the name “Savra” is derived from the elven word for lizard. Savra is revered in the lands of Druzix and Semosiss by the lizardfolk and serpentines respectively. Each of them represents Savra as a female of their own type and insists that the other group has misrepresented her. Some human scholars claim that Savra is actually a dragon. Regardless, Savra herself does not seem to have clarified the matter, so the debate will likely not be resolved. Savra is an advocate of order and structure and this is evidenced in the highly regimented, caste-based societies of both Drizix and Semosiss. Savra’s followers believe it is a living service to their patron to seek to fulfill their allotted role in society and not to seek to change the status that Savra has assigned to them. 

Basic description only.

Senet -­ The Eye that Sees:  He is the eye that sees the old things, the forbidden things, the things that man was not meant to see. The second pharaoh to rule over a united Aegypt, Senet II delved into the secret ways of the foundation of the world. He and his cabal of sorcerers researched and studied, testing ways to tap into the energies of the world by trial and error. How this got started is uncertain. Some records seem to indicate that a spirit of some kind, perhaps demonic, perhaps a ghost, whispered to Senet about power that could be his. For a decade, the pharaoh and his inner circle discovered new and more powerful magics and summoned progressively more powerful beings from outer realms. And then it ended somehow, suddenly it all just ended. The historical record of Aegypt gives no details. The record of Senet simply stops as though mid sentence to be followed by his successor with no mention of magic again. There is no record of how Senet died. His tomb, underneath a pyramid in the desert, many miles from any city, was avoided by all for 6000 years. The people of Aegypt never even spoke of it, except to tell foreigners to stay clear.

Basic description only.

Tanalis ­- Lord of the Forest:  While many patrons are believed by their followers to have created them or their homeland, with Tanalis, the opposite is true. The elves of Aquitania believe that the forest formed as the world was birthed, that it is the natural state of being for their land. It wasn’t Tanalis who produced the forest; it was the forest that produced Tanalis. In the earliest of days, when the trees had grown and the animals sprang forth from the land, the forest had a will and a consciousness of its own, a consciousness that is now asleep. Before she slumbered, sensing that her thoughts were fading, the forest knew that she would need protectors. Thus it was that she birthed the first wood elf, Tanalis, making him immortal to watch over her forever. Pleased with what she had produced, she brought forth 120 more, 60 male and 60 female. Her energy already fading, these were lesser than Tanalis. She could not make them immortal, but she gave them lives as long as her greatest trees, so they would understand what they were protecting. Since then, Tanalis has guarded over both her and her children.

A full patron write-up is provided.

Ubaste ­- Feline Mother:  Patron of the felids, the cat people of Felicia, Ubaste is represented by her people as a golden-furred female of their kind. The people of Aegypt also revere her and consider the felids to be Ubaste’s chosen people, a contention naturally echoed by the felids. Ubaste is also often looked to for blessing by merchants. She is seen as a mother figure, though a rather distant and aloof one, who brings wealth and prosperity to those who please her.

Basic description only.

Judges may wish to round out their campaign by using materials from Divinities & Cults Volume I and Volume II.


Four new 10-level classes are included in this tome. They are:

Dwarven Cleric: The culture of the dwarves is heavily invested in ritual, heritage and tradition, so it is of no surprise that the dwarves hold tightly to the faith of their fathers. The dwarven cleric is a key part of passing down the heritage for each generation. Also, the dwarves often find themselves in conflict with the darker denizens of the underground. In these cases, the dwarven cleric is integral to the ongoing durability of the dwarven armies.

For other takes on dwarven clerics or priests, see Crawl! Fanzine #10 and Gygax Magazine #3.

Elven Ranger: More combat-oriented elves from Aquitania.

Felid: The natives of Felicia are a bipedal feline race called the Felids. They are typically known as a people who live for the moment, with little concern for long term matters. The stereotype of the hedonist felid, focused only on enjoying the finer things in life, is an exaggeration, but does have some roots in reality.

For other takes on animal people, see Bronx Beasts, Mutant Crawl Classics, and Primal Tales #1.

Gnome: The small folk who dwell in Cypria and Pamfilia, the gnomes, are about the same height as halflings, but tend to be a bit slighter of build. Their diminutive size, however, can be misleading. Gnomes have more than a few tricks up their sleeves (sometimes literally) to dissuade would be enemies. Gnomes are quite skilled at a range of innate magic, especially illusions, automatically having access to some spells.

For another take on gnomes, see Crawl! fanzine #6 (reprinted with some expansion in Gnome Jambalaya).

New illusion spells are included to support the gnome, although they are not limited to that class. They are hallucination (level 1), greater illusion (level 3), and ethereal illusion (level 4).

Pax Lexque is a campaign setting based on an alternate reality historical earth in which the Roman Empire was co-mingled with conventional elements of fantasy - elves, dwarves, wizards, clerics, giants, dragons and everything else you’d expect.

After a magical war tore the Roman Empire apart, the empire is now rebuilding, with its eyes on its eternal motto, “Pax Lexque” or “Peace and Law”. The campaign's starter modules (The Hand of the Law) place PCs in a special forces arm of the imperial army. Their squad is sent on missions to deal with unexplained problems left over from the magical war - cursed or haunted battlefields, horrific monsters summoned during the war, necromancers and diabolists who still try to delve into forbidden knowledge.

This guide is meant as a sandbox environment. The world of the Great Sea region is presented with its history and geography broken down to twenty nations, ready for characters to explore. Nineteen new patrons particular to this world are described, six of which are presented in full detail, complete with patron spells. Also included are four new character classes: Dwarven Cleric, Elven Ranger, Felid (or catfolk) and Gnome.

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