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.

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1 comment:

  1. I think I'll have to work this into my ASE game at some point (maybe scaled up in level a little bit).


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