Sunday, 20 June 2021

Demon Cult Classics

Demon Cult Classics was written by James MacGeorge. Art is by (with apologies) Giovanni Canavesio, Caravaggio, Louis Le Breton, Carlo Dolci, Gustav Dore, Hugues Merle, Guido Reni, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Agostino Musi. Thoughts and Prayers were provided by Doug Kovacs, Wayne Snyder, Ian Walker, Daryl Austin, and Christian Kessler. No publisher is listed.

Disclosure: I was provided with a pdf copy by James Pozenel Jr., without which this listing would not exist. Thank you, James!

There are a lot of these small-run items put together, which get played at one or more conventions, and then become extremely hard to find. Most of them push the bounds of the game in some extreme direction, and offer a fun diversion, but then become difficult to work into a long-term campaign.

Demon Cult Classics does not follow that model, but rather offers an elegant system for handling demonic cults that should be usable in almost any campaign. 

At its core, Demon Cult Classics uses the four-PC funnel character sheet as a way to model a sect of a demonic cult. Instead of Luck, the sect has Favor. If your Favor falls below your Personality, you receive disapproval. If your Favor ever reaches 3, you are dragged down to hell. Simple, elegant, and easy to understand. There is more to it than that, of course, but the system is clear, and is neither so under- or over-powered as not to be usable with levelled characters as well as with Zeroes. You could have a party of PCs, each run by a different player, who were part of the same sect, and this system would work.

Specific rules for Cultists of Astaroth and Cultists of Paimon are provided. The aspiring judge could easily create more. Likewise, the aspiring judge could create patron write-ups for Astaroth and Paimon (or other demons of their choice), which would help when using this material with higher-level characters.

The author makes a great point of saying 

THIS SHIT IS NOT REAL.

If there's anything about this that confuses you, if you're unclear about any of this, if you disagree with me on this point, anything you find herein in no way justifies, validates or in any way provides you with anything you would need in order to do anything illegal, immoral, or otherwise.

For the rest of us, what an amazing product! I would gladly shell out cash for an expanded version of this. Sadly, I know of no place where it is currently available.

 

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Flammable Hospital (Honorary)

Flammable Hospital was written and/or inspired by Jason Kielbasa, Acep Hale, Debbie Deaver, Chris Thomas, Richie Cyngler, Dan Domme, Reece Carter, Brenda Wolfe, Paul Wolfe, Terra Frank, Wayne Snyder, Gabriel Perez Gallardi, Anthony Fournier, Michael Raston, Nik Wolfe, Christian Kessler, Ashley Mensinger, Harald Wagener, Kathryn Muszkiewicz, Michael, Noah Stevens, James McGeorge, Alex Roberts, Harley Stroh, Soriah Esquivel, Doug Kovaks, and Jarrett Crader. Art is by Terra Frank, Michael Raston, Doug Kovacs, Christian Kessler, and Chris Thomas (logo). Jarrett Crader also supplied pictures. There is no publisher listed.

Disclosure: James Pozenel Jr. sent me a copy of this zine so that I could create this listing. While he is not credited with this product, he has done other writing which appears, or will appear, in the DCC Trove of Treasures. I am told that the copy he sent me was an extra. Was it though? Or was he just trying to exorcise his games collection?

This listing is honorary because Flammable Hospital is more of a "DCC-adjacent" product than something directly tied into Dungeon Crawl Classics. For one thing, your level is random, and you might be "Star Jackson" level. Abilities are taken from a combination of D&D and DCC (although "Sexy/Charmisma" is a bit different), but they are percentiles, apparently generated by rolling 10d10 x 10. Or perhaps not. There are no clear rules. There is no clear indication of how to use the material provided. This is not an accident.

Flammable Hospital does not take itself seriously. At best, it is a way to roll dice and role-play without much of an actual "game" involved, which may be perfect if you want to get the silliness out of the way at the beginning of a convention or if you don't feel like anything more serious one night.

Usually, I try to figure out some way to use an unusual product within a regular Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. Here, I could see some of the background as a setting for a Country Crawl Classics or even an Umerica adventure where the Flammable Hospital is inhabited by the kind of insane beings who created it. Just be aware that you will have to build it yourself; you will only be getting the skeleton of a skeleton here!

You can find another review on Flammable Hospital here.

I am not sure where you can find a copy of this. My best advice is to start cataloguing every DCC and MCC product in existence, and perhaps someone will take pity upon you. It worked for me!


 

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Terror of the Stratosfiend #1.5

Terror of the Stratosfiend #1.5 Preamble to the Melancholic Terminal Ascent was written by Sean Richer. Art is by James Everett Jackson (including cover), Krzysztof Bieniawski, and Shane O'Neil. The publisher is Orbital Intelligence.

As packed as it was with material, Terror of the Stratosfiend #1 apparently didn't cover everything that the author wanted it to, because a #1.5 issue came out before #2! Like the first issue, it is pretty impressive, so we might as well jump right in!

An Introduction to Elevators: An introduction And, of course, notice that there is a god of elevators. And, yes, that is her on the cover.

Classes: Human Comm-Artist: "The Comm-Artist is a rogue engineer that excels at setting up information relays, turrets, and long distance networks. Most communities would collapse without them, and even the most basic of trade would fall through. Radio waves course through their veins, and exposure to data in all forms amplifies their nervous systems. Through deals they have brokered with the Orbital Intelligences, they've been gifted the ability to channel this data and bring life to machinery; specifically traps."

Adding this class to the ones we had in Issue #1, I am again struck by both the creativity of the author and the logistics of devising adventures for these characters. The adventure would be awesome, mind you, but it would require some serious calculations to work for the main classes in this milieu.

Spells and Patrons: We gain the animate trap familiar spell, which is necessary for the Comm-Artist, but which could potentially be used by other classes. The judge may wish to impose size limits as to what traps can be animated enough to move around.

The issue then provides two full patron entries, complete with invoke patron results, spellburn, patron taint, and patron spells. There are:

Acceptance, The Root Organ-Fractal: This is "a patron that is best described as a headless body of bodies of bodies of bodies. Its patron magic will mutate the casters' bodies and gift them with all the auxiliary limbs they could hope or dream for." Acceptance started out as the body of the decapitated Razor-Worn (see below). 

"Acceptance was once the shed body of Razor-Worn, and served as her most devoted follower. Even though she had lost her body, Acceptance made sure it would still be there for her. Without a head, the body was dying, and an Organ-Fractal cluster was applied to save it. Organ-Fractals are biological machines that heal and then replicate themselves, mostly. As the body healed, it's limbs became bodies, and those bodies' limbs became bodies."

Razor-Worn, Henceforth the Shaft: The god of elevators, who "lashes at all that oppose her with the fury of 1000elevators."  So, yes, these patrons are a headless body made up of more bodies, and a bodiless head who controls elevators. And, yes, this head once went with that body. 

"Before she was a God, she was human. Abandoned at the Cosmic Dispatch as a child, she was raised by the Cosmic Gantry. Its girders span all of space itself and allow her to reach even the furthest corners of the stars beyond the stars. The Gantry is the framework of the universe, as well as a sentient elevator network. She drank of the Network's omniscience, and paid the price. Razor-Worn is the mind of the Gantry, and the Network is her body. All who move, do so by her will. All who rise, only do when the network allows. Under the watch of the Elevator God, no one will be abandoned. All who do not bow, will have their heads removed… in her image."

There are a great many patrons available for Dungeon Crawl Classics at this time. Some of them are utilitarian. Some of them are reproductions of things encountered in Appendix N literature or popular culture. Many of them are very creative. I cannot think of anything quite so unique as this. 

In the depths of space no one can hear you scream... unless you're trapped in an elevator hurtling through time and space. Propelled by the cabling of the Cosmic Gantry, and at the behest of the Elevator God herself... Razor-Worn, Henceforth The Shaft!

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Terror of the Stratosfiend #1

Terror of the Stratosfiend #1 : 1-555-Tentacle was written by Sean Richer. Art is by James Everett Jackson (including cover), 2 headed giant, Skullthug, and Graz. The publisher is Orbital Intelligence.

The very fabric of the world bent and broke, as portals from stars beyond the stars started to open at random in an event known as “The Drop”. Cruel psionic tentacled giants, and a menagerie of entities both cthonic and cosmic erupted forth. Mankind was doomed as they knew it, until humans began pouring out of the portals. Humans that spoke the same language, and breathed the same air, but were from distant stars beyond the stars.

Something was different though, both Stratosfiend and Humans from both sides began to defect. The Half-Stratosfiend were born (honestly, don’t ask) and offered their services to the highest bidder. It was no longer Chaos vs Law.

Confession time: I absolutely love this zine, but I could really use a primer on the setting. There is a lot of implied background, and regardless of what flavor of DCC you play, a lot of useful material. But there is a massive tome on the setting, full of wicked illustrations, just waiting to be written. The setting isn't just confined to a single world, either, as we shall see once we get to later issues. I feel as though I am being given the merest glimpse of something worth fully exploring.

The new species and classes are open to any level 0 character, once they gain enough experience to reach the first level. In some cases this means that character may change species when they hit level 1. Not only is this allowed, but it’s encouraged. The Drop is a strange event, and it only makes sense that rampant mutation and infiltration would occur.

This issue has four new classes. 

The Human Sat-Casters "call down hell from the skies above. They’ve learned to tame the wild intelligences that inhabit rogue space stations, and weapons satellites. They serve as the eyes and ears of what they call Orbital Intelligences (patrons), and will stop at nothing to spread their word." If this sounds like something that belongs in your Mutant Crawl Classics game, you are not alone! Because of their link to the Orbital Intelligences, sat-casters take a penalty to their spell checks when they don't have direct access to the sky. On the other hand, they can use satellites to track targets, and can attempt an uplink to boost their spells. Attempting an uplink is, of course, hazardous, and may result in patron taint. I rather like this, as patron taint is more interesting than corruption, arising as it does from a direct connection the PC has made.

I see no reason that Patron AIs from Mutant Crawl Classics could not act as Orbital Intelligences, and vice versa. Likewise, this class could fit very easily into an Umerica game.

The Half-Stratosfiend Street Whisperer is, as the name implies, half-human and half-Stratosfiend. They are constantly evolving, and may sacrifice hit points permanently to evolve immediately. Evolution gives them additional powers, in general, but rolling an activated power turns it off until it is rolled again. They also have tentacles that they can use to attack. They are also sneaky. They are also all dedicated to slaying one Orbital Intelligence or another, gaining bonuses when opposing their chosen target and its agents. 

When a 0-level PC reaches 1st level, remember, any class may be chosen. In other words, the cheesemaker just sprouted tentacles and is babbling about killing the Earth-Mother....

Don't worry. Things get stranger. Meet the Stratosfiend Delver. "The Stratosfiend are a terrifying race from beyond the stars. They are bipedal humanoids with tentacles that protrude from their spines. They tower over humans and bear many of their features, which begs the consideration that they share an ancestor. Delvers are relentlessly curious and will regularly halt their plans to inspect every detail that seems out of place. Their spells derive from inside of their massive brains, and they rarely if ever will bond with a patron."

That's right. While the cheesemaker is sprouting tentacles, the butcher just turned into a giant psychic tentacle monster. 

Don't worry. Things get stranger still. The Stratosfiend Magistrate Gladiatrix are still waiting in the wings. "All races have natural born leaders and in the case of the Stratosfiend, the magistrates are hatched from the will of the hive-mind. While Stratosfiends tower over humans, the magistrate sub-race towers over its brethren. Most have devoted themselves to infiltrating large population centers and crushing resistance leaders to their own will. The rest seem just fine battling anything to the death. The Gladiatrix in particular are brutal killing machines. They delight in ripping their prey to pieces with axes and their tentacles. They even charm their prey to draw them closer."

Again, the cheesemaker sprouted tentacles, the butcher is now a 10' tall psychic monster....and the orphan? She's just turned into a 20' tall killing machine.

Now imagine how an adventure could cater to the human sat-caster, the 10'-tall psionic tentacle wizard, and the 20' tall killing machine. The half-Stratosfiend street whisperer and the sat-caster can both fit into dungeons and normal-sized buildings, but the sat-caster is hampered by being cut off from the sky. And, let's face it, there is a good chance that the street whisperer lured the sat-caster there just to kill him as part of her quest to oppose the sat-caster's patron!

The whole thing is a glorious muddle. One can assume that normal classes are also allowed, so that if in your world the Drop took place after the Apocalypse, there are mutants and/or robots thrown into the mix (depending upon your choice of post-Apocalyptic game). Perhaps you would rather have warriors, thieves, and elves try to deal with this strange new world? A dwarf could easily keep his 0-level dwarf abilities and become a street whisperer or a gladiatrix, right? 

You would think that this alone would be enough for any zine, but we are only a little less than a third of the way through!

Weapons: Stats are given for 12 weapons, from a fighting stick to an assault carbine. Crawl #8 might be of particular use to judges wishing to expand on what is provided here. 

Upgrades: This section provides 20 upgrades to weapons, some of which may be of use in any campaign milieu, and all of which demand to be used. Your bow may fire homing arrows. Your bullets may burrow into their target. Your shotgun may be sentient, and your sword may be incubating a dreaming horror. 

Armor: Some strange types of armor are available after the Drop: Psionic War Focus, Blade Harness, Twitching Carapace, Explorer Exo-Suit, Siege Preparation Matrix, and even Beach Gear (which makes you easier to hit, but you are faster, and you look good!).

Equipment: "Here we have a strange collection of parasites, hormonal cocktails, and scanning equipment. I for one wouldn’t want to be caught dead without a Micro-Evolution Syringe… then again, maybe death would be better than tempting evolutionary fate.. There are no prices listed... but i’m sure we could work something out."

Spells and Patrons: In this section, we are treated to a single 1st-level spell that can be cast by Stratosfiends. Polyphemean rage causes a plasma beam to shoot from the user’s single giant eye and seer the target in plasma. We are also treated to two patrons, which are given full write-ups, including invoke patron results, spellburn, patron taint, and patron spells. 

Sky-Lasher the Everlasting, Trident of the Sun: "The manifestations of Sky-Lasher are many, ranging from a bat-winged flaming demon, to a sentient defense satellite. The only thing that’s for certain, is that solar panels are soldered into its skin. Its desire is to bring the cleansing fire that only the sun can offer, as well as render illumination and introspection that turns a soul to ash. Offer it something it has not yet judged, and it may do you a solid. Offer yourself as a burnt offering, and it very well will start listening to you. When you see beams of fire pouring from the heavens, Sky-Lasher is smiling. It should also be noted that it has its own personal fleet of bombers, fighter craft, drones, and zealots."

Terror-Eater, The Earth-Mother: "What’s more beautiful than a visceral, hungry, destructive, and all powerful monstrosity? Nothing. Nothing at all. She values her cosmic hunger above all else; if you can feed her, you keep her happy. She’s more than willing to make you more like her, if being a tentacled monstrosity is what you want. She lives beneath the Earth, but rumour has it that she IS the Earth."

Finally, this issue rounds out with a Bestiary. The creatures introduced are divided into two groups: Children of Space (Seeker of the Scourge, Skulker of the Harbinger, Goliath of the Horror, and Goliath Birth-Engine) and Children of Earth (Cloud-Thirst Null, Ogress of the Earthen Chimes, and Earth Howler). 

Beasts, horrors, and humans from stars beyond stars, pour through portals and reduce the land to ash. What more could you want? A talking shotgun? We've got that. A staff that hatches into a living breathing creature? We've got that too.

Ever wanted to take command of a 15 foot tentacled horror? Maybe you would rather find out what it's like to unleash unbridled psionic energy? Perhaps you'd rather sneak through the streets and sell your skills to the highest bidder? Or maybe you just wanted to call down the aid of a maniacal weapons satellite?

Tengu

The Tengu is an "Eastern Adventures" character class written by Mark Tasaka (who presumably did the art) and published by Old School Adventures.

You are a trickster, a mischief-maker, and at times a trouble-maker. You are the teller of tall tales; the singer of strange songs. You call the mountains, the forests and the open skies your home. You would rather gamble than do an honest day’s work. Most consider you lazy; but, you consider yourself resourceful, as you always find ways to reap the greatest benefits from the least amount of work.

If you are unaware of what a tengu is, here is a quick description. In this case, we are looking at a mischievous bird-man, rather than a celestial dog-man, a near god, or a master swordsman. Like elves, tengu went through numerous incarnations before the role-playing game industry appeared! 

Essentially, this character is a thief with a mimicry ability and limited flight. There is no disadvantage given to offset these extra abilities, but, unlike a human thief, it is pretty easy to determine just what an (undisguised) tengu is. That alone may be enough to "balance" the class for DCC purposes.

In any event, the class is clearly understandable, playable, and describes exactly what it intends to. Trickster crows/ravens are found in other mythologies, so that with a simple name change, the tengu could fit into a North American milieu in particular. This might be appropriate for a Black Powder. Black Magic or Weird Frontiers game. If the game is set after largescale Japanese immigration occurred, there might be both native and Japanese versions of this class operating in the campaign milieu. Tengu might also appear in settings like Nowhere City Nights or Bronx Beasts without any difficulty at all.

Of course, a fully developed Asian setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics would also be welcome! Paul Wolfe did some work along this line in D.A.M.N. Magazine #2 and elsewhere. (And, thanks to Ariel Churi, I have learned that Old School Adventures does have a 14-page DCC Eastern Adventures Campaign Guide).

There is a tengu character generator available here (scroll down).

Tengu are a demi-human race of ‘crow-men’. A fully grown tengu stands just over 5’ tall. Like birds, tengu have hollow bones, which allows them to fly; thus, it is rare for an adult tengu to weigh more than 80 lbs. Tengu usually live in isolated locations, with their dwellings hidden within ancient trees, on mountain sides or in abandoned temples. Tengu spend much of their time near roads frequented by travellers; there, they wait for unsuspecting travellers, where they use their talent of stealth and thievery to steal food and goods from their unsuspecting victims. Often their victims do not realize that the theft has occurred until after they have reached their destinations, many miles away. ....

It's free.

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The Temple of the Onyx Cat

The Temple of the Onyx Cat is a 0-level funnel, written by Mark Tasaka. Art is by Mark Tasaka. The publisher is Old School Adventures.

This adventure has two parts: travel and exploring the temple. The hook is that you get 250 gp if you succeed. This introduces a bit of the world, but it assumes that the PCs already want to be adventurers. I have a tendency to believe that funnels are, largely, the story of why these particular people had to become adventurers. I.e., it answers the question "Why couldn't these particular people just go back to farming and stonemasonry?"

Of course, this is (in effect) the same setup as The Portal Under the Stars, and it works. It just doesn't feel like the Hand of Fate selecting the few survivors for extraordinary things in the same way that the final encounter in Portal does - whether the PCs defeat it or just stand back as it issues forth!

The travel portion of the adventure supplies the judge with five encounters to use. These might occur on the way to the temple, or on the return journey, as the judge decides. There is no need to use them all. There is no map to indicate where each encounter would naturally occur, and, by extension, the players have no control over events here. I would strongly consider creating a hex map, placing the encounters, adding some more encounters, and then provide clues for the players about what the PCs might encounter if they choose one route over another. This has the added advantage of leaving the unused encounters intact as the PCs continue to explore the world surrounding their village.

The second section is the temple itself, which has enough things to interact with to be satisfying. The adventure again takes its lead from Portal, in that, if you run into something that might be able to speak to you, it attacks you as soon as it has delivered its pre-written lines. This is a great shame, and the discerning judge should feel free to ignore that aspect of both adventures. 

In order to run this adventure, I encourage the judge to read it thoroughly and make changes to your liking. There are problems with the language used in the read-aloud text. The first room on the temple is called the "foray" for instance (I assume that "forecourt" or something similar was intended), and "thy is used as "the". Some of the language in the descriptive text is just clunky, and will be better if you give it a good tune-up.

There is also a fairly generic vibe to the setting. I don't know where I am. On one hand, parts of the writing make it seem as though I might be in Feudal Japan. On the other hand, there are dire raccoons...and there is nothing explicitly Japanese in the set-up. This speaks to the larger issue of theme, and the judge would be well advised to decide where exactly this adventure is going to take place (within their own personal milieu) and adjust the encounters to take this into account.

The author also misses the prime opportunity to explain why the merchant (in the adventure hook) wanted the Onyx Cat in the first place. Is it magical? Is it worth considerably more than 250 gp? Is the merchant a demon, a god, or a magician in disguise? The Onyx Cat in particular was pretty well guarded, after all. It would be nice if it had echoes throughout the PCs' adventuring careers, beyond its guardian's promises of revenge.

To sum up, this is a usable adventure, fairly generic, but having potential to be crafted by the judge into something more. And it has demonic squirrels, which is a plus. It was also free, and one should not criticize things people make for love too deeply. Just be aware that this one will require a degree of effort to make it sing.

You are no Adventurer. But, the life of adventure has always appealed to you; a life on the road, seeking treasure and fortune. There has always been a deep yearning in your heart to break free from your mundane existence as a villager.

“How can I break free from this boring life that I am destined to live?” You have asked yourself a number of times.

Then, one day, the answer to your question arrives in the form of a travelling merchant to your village.

“There is a ruined temple three days travel from here,” the Merchant say, “within the temple is an artefact that I am very interested in obtaining. The object that I seek is a figurine of black onyx cat sitting on top of a turtle. Whoever shall bring me the figurine shall receive a reward of 250 gold pieces.”

The free pdf is no longer available.

Friday, 14 May 2021

The Temple of the Hamster

The Temple of the Hamster is a 3rd level adventure by Daniel Vance. Art is by Carmin Vance, Kevin Vecchi, and Daniel Vance (including cartography). The publisher is Vance Games.

Daniel Vance has a gift for mixing absurdity with serious content, creating adventures that are, on one hand, as silly as you could want, and on the other hand filled with blood and frankly disturbing images. While this is all sort of a laugh, and you are probably using the supplied pregenerated characters, there is something awful about the basic premise: oversized rodents have infiltrated the town, are pretending to be human, and their Hamster God is starting to flex his furry muscles again.

I wouldn't run this as part of a grindingly serious campaign modeled off of the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard or The Lord of the Rings, but in my home game, where Mutant Crawl Classics characters and Dungeon Crawl Classics characters rub elbows? Very much so. And I wouldn't even bother making the PCs go to Narcosa first. Obviously, The Temple of the Hamster would be a very fun (and memorable) convention game!

What I am trying to get across here (without spoilers) is that this adventure is absolutely absurd in its basic premise and some of its content. But, given that you accept that premise (and the content that goes with it), it is not written as a joke adventure. The cover actually does a good job of getting across the tone - very funny until you get to the severed head and the pool of blood. And, okay, yes, it is still funny then, but you might not want that to be your character!

The town of Kamis lies in a panic. Townsfolk are missing and city watchmen lie dead; their sides split open from being over stuffed with grain. A stalwart cadre of adventurers must explore the town of Kamis and uncover the terrible mysteries of the Temple of the Hamster. These adventurers must brave terrible traps and minions before facing the dread peril at the heart of the temple. The Temple of the Hamster is packed with hamster style adventure and has been redesigned to have 100% more hamster wheels and mayhem.

Get It Here!

Tales From the Smoking Wyrm #2

Tales From the Smoking Wyrm #2 was written by Trevor StamperBrian GilkisonJohn Olszewski, and Jacob Harmon. Art is by Joel PhillipsCarmin VanceAlex MayoBradley McDevittBrian Maikisch, and Trevor Stamper. The publisher is Blind Visionary Publications.

Disclaimer: I backed the successful kickstarter for this product.

This is the second issue of Tales From the Smoking Wyrm. Let's dive right in!

King of Beasts: This is a full patron write-up by Jake Harmon, including three patron spells: speak with animalsbloodsense, and awaken. This third spell allows the caster or another willing creature to bond with one or more spirit animals. 18 such animal spirits are provided; judges may easily come up with others, or allow their players to suggest them. 

The King of Beasts doesn't represent any one specific kind of animal, but is all beasts at once...although his domain does not include insects, mollusks, or similar creatures.

Dwarven Jäger: This is an alternative class for dwarves, written by Brian Gilkison. It focuses on two-weapon fighting, as opposed to the "Sword & Board" ability of standard dwarves. I am not sure that loss of being able to smell gold makes up for the combat advantages the class gets, but Dungeon Crawl Classics is not overly concerned with balance in any case. 

The class also includes details for throwing hammers and hand crossbows.

Rites & Rituals pt. II: Church Rituals picks up from Issue #1 with rituals designed for clerics and similar purveyors of idol magic in your campaigns. The sample rituals are blessings of the graveliturgy of blessing, and rite of consecration. Examples of each ritual is provided for followers of Cthulhu and Osiris. The results of church rituals might include miracles, and a table of 30 is provided. In addition, Pious Deeds make their first appearance, but hopefully not their last. The authors are John Olszewski and Trevor Stamper.

Culpepper's Herbal: Author Trevor Stamper describes agrimony and bastard agrimony, with all the information required to use them in a game. Of equal, or even superior, interest is the discussion of decoctions. What you need to do to process, keep, and use herbs is something that most people in the modern era have little or no experience with.

Shoggoth: This is not the first time shoggoths have appeared in Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it is probably the most complete treatment that they have received, Trevor Stamper and Brian Gilkison provide everything you need to build a shoggoth for your home game, using a method similar to that used to create dragons in the core rulebook. But that's not all! The authors also provide details for using the find familiar spell to bond oneself with something a bit more Lovecraftian. On top of that, a critical hit table just for shoggoths is supplied.

All in all, this article was worth the price of the zine all by itself. And it is not, as we have seen, by itself!

The issue ends with Onward Retainer (a cartoon created by Joel Philips), an Editor's Note by the same, and Wyrm Words (a word search by Trevor Stamper and the answers to the crossword puzzle from the last issue). 

Tales from the Smoking Wyrm is a fanzine inspired not just by the roleplaying game Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC), but also by the wondrous fanzines of the past 40 years! While we focus on DCC, the material produced can be easily translated into any Old School Renaissance (OSR) system.

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Zuppie’s tavern name etc. table (Honorary)

Zuppie’s tavern name etc. table was created by Markus Marjomaa and Antti Oikarinen. The publisher is Knights in the North.

This is a tavern name generator, which uses two rolls from a d160 to name your newest watering hole. Don't own a d160? Well, neither do I, but you can use 1d16 and 1d10 to simulate a d160, or you can roll one here

(The largest die I own is a d120, although I own 10-sided dice designed to roll a d10,000. Doing this blog post made me search for a d160, and I could not find a die like this I could purchase or even look at. The article reads as though the authors might have access to such a die, though, and if anyone can send me a link to where I could purchase a d160, I would appreciate it!)

This listing is honorary because it pertains to fantasy role-playing games in general, and is not specific to Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it comes from the Knights in the North, who have created many fine articles for DCC.

It is free.

Get It Here!

Tales From the Smoking Wyrm 2020 Cyclops Con Special

Tales From the Smoking Wyrm 2020 Cyclops Con Special was written by Trevor Stamper, John Olszewski, and Brian Gilkison. Art is by Joel Phillips, Carmin Vance, Alex Mayo, Bradley McDevitt, Caitlin Stamper, and Trevor Stamper. The publisher is Blind Visionary Publications.

In-person conventions were cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Goodman Games responded by creating a series of online conventions, starting with Cyclops Con. This generated a wave of goodwill in the community, and resulted in a number of swag items being created, including the 2020 Cyclops Con Special of Tales From the Smoking Wyrm.

This special reprints The Silver Ball and Telepathic Rats Expanded from Issue #1, as well as What is the Smoking Wyrm? The material is excellent, and if this gets you to pick up the actual issue, all the more power to you and Blind Visionary Publications both. At the time of this writing, the pdf is available for free, but I have no idea how long that will last.

Tales from the Smoking Wyrm is a fanzine inspired not just by the roleplaying game Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC), but also by the wondrous fanzines of the past 40 years! While we focus on DCC, the material produced can be easily translated into any Old School Renaissance (OSR) system.

Get It Here!

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Tales of the Shudder Mountains

DCC 83.1: Tales of the Shudder Mountains was written by Michael Curtis. Art is by Doug Kovacs (cover), S.S. Crompton (cartography), Stefan Poag, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This product is three short adventures (or "Tales") which take place in the Shudder Mountains (first introduced in The Chained Coffin).

This product continues the practice of re-using cover art to indicate that something is part of the same setting, similar to Harley Stroh's Peril on the Purple Planet and Journey to the Center of Aereth. It is a good system to indicate that a new produce belongs with a particular setting, along with the module numbering and the digest-sized format.

The "Tale" format in this product has each adventure starting with a short bit of folklore that the PCs might be told around the fire when visiting the Shudfolk. This is fantastic, as it feeds directly into the setting itself. and is reminiscent of the source material. A clever judge could seed these "Tales" (and similar) early in a Shudder Mountains campaign, so that when the PCs encountered the reality behind the tale there would be a wonderful sense of frisson.

Tale 1: The Grave Pool (level 4): Sooner or later a PC is going to die, and what if your party is brave foolhardy enough to try to bring them back? Adventures like Blades Against Death and The Revelation of Mulmo aren't appropriate for the Shudder Mountains, but this one is. There is a nice reference to Manly Wade Wellman's The Little Black Train.

Tale 2: Moonricket Bridge (level 1): This one is a ghost story. And, while there is something to fight, like the best ghost stories understanding and compassion lead to the best possible outcome. Too often, ghost stories are not really about understanding the past. This one is. It plays to the strengths of the setting, and it plays to the strengths of Dungeon Crawl Classics. It is thoroughly Appendix N of the Who Fears the Devil? type.

Tale 3: The WitchMan of Darkweather Mountain (level 5): Here is another example of an adventure where the PCs may Quest For It and get something other than what they bargained for. Or they may get exactly what they are after, if they can both overcome the opposition and are reasonably lucky. Neither this tale nor The Grave Pool simply messes with player hopes...but PCs do take risks to gain the benefits they hope for!

If you needed any more proof of Michael Curtis' firm mastery of folkloric Appalachian-style Dungeon Crawl Classics, this product delivers. Much of the Shudder Mountains material (if not all!) would rock mightily in a Weird Frontiers game as well, and a judge could easily use the Shudder Mountains as a conduit between worlds, like the "thinnies" in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Honestly, as tied as these adventures are into the feel of the Shudder Mountains, nothing would prevent a judge from making slight modifications and placing them in another campaign milieu.

This digest-sized adventure module presents three short encounters in the Shudder Mountains. All are compatible with the setting presented in DCC #83: The Chained Coffin, and this module is the perfect size to be stored in your boxed set! The adventures are inspired by the works of Manly Wade Wellman and continue the “backwoods fantasy” theme established in DCC #83: The Chained Coffin.

Get It Here!


Tales From the Magician's Skull #5

Tales From the Magician's Skull #5 was written by Howard Andrew Jones, Adrian Cole, James Enge, John C. Hocking, Violette Malan, Adrian Simmons, C.L. Werner, and Terry Olson (DCC statistics). Art is by Sanjulian (cover), Chris Arneson, Randy Broecker, Samuel Dillon, Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Peter Mullen, and Russ Nicholson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I backed the successful kickstarter for a four-issue subscription beginning with issue #2, and ending with this issue.

As with all entries in the Tales From the Magician's Skull series, I will again be focusing on the gaming material provided. This should not be taken as a criticism of the issue's excellent fictional content; it is simply a consequence of the blog's focus on treasures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics game system! 

It should be noted that statting out materials from fiction is as much an art as it is a science. Sometimes the game material is inspired by the source material more than it is a faithful reproduction thereof. The same is the case here.

In a blog post about creating monsters for Dungeon Crawl Classics, i wrote "when you are reading some fantasy or science fiction novel (in Appendix N or otherwise), keep a notebook by your side. Jot down quick stats for the creatures you encounter. Some of these you might want to revise later for your own adventures. If you encounter an interesting idea, write it down! The very act of doing so will make it more likely to come to mind when you are stuck for ideas." Really, Terry Olson's The Monster Pit columns are really a Master Class in doing the same thing.

Pool of Memory: Two monsters are statted out: the memory crystal and the related mouth-plants. These are good examples of monsters that attack more than just hit points. 

Guardian of Nalsir-fel: The ventriloserpent is a big snake with the ability to throw other people's voices.

In the Corridors of the Crow: We are supplied statistics for the carapaced mauler. 

Dreams of a Sunken Realm: We are treated to water demons (another un-dead swarm, see issue #4).

Demons of the Depths: Terry Olson stats out Samebito (a summoned shark-demon).

This issue only had two pages for The Monster Pit, which did provide some useful monsters. Although this is the least interesting issue so far from a game content perspective, that does not make it uninteresting. Given the constraints of the inspirational material (some stories provide more new things to give statistics to than others) and presumably the space constraints (I assume Goodman Games provides a word count/space consideration based on the length of the tales in a given issue), I am happy with what is here. If I had to choose just a single issue for game content, though, this would not be my first choice.

Experience the sword and sorcery adventure that is Tales From The Magician’s Skull #5!

Behold! I have fashioned a magazine like those from fabled days of yore. It overflows with thrilling adventures. There are swords, and there is sorcery. There are dark deeds and daring rescues. There are lands where heroes fear to tread. Dare you imagine it? Picture this as well — maps to wondrous and terrible places. Electrifying art for every tale. Guides to bring the terrors within to your own game table. All I lack are a few paltry shekels. Grant them to me, and I shall fling open a new portal to a world of ancient wonders! Join me, mortal dogs! Together we shall storm the gates of Valhalla!

Tales From The Magician’s Skull is a magazine of all-new swords & sorcery fiction. Issue #5 features cover art by Sanjulian, and stories by Adrian Cole, James Enge, John C. Hocking, Violette Malan, Adrian Simmons, and C.L. Werner. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games. Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #5 features art by Chris Arneson, Randy Broecker, Samuel Dillon, Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Peter Mullen, and Russ Nicholson.

Finally, issue #5 includes a short appendix presenting DCC RPG stats for all the new material contained inside!

Get It Here!

Tales From the Magician's Skull #4

Tales From the Magician's Skull #4 was written by John C. Hocking, Adrian Cole, James Enge, James Stoddard, C. L. Werner, Ryan Harvey, Tom Doyle, Milton Davis, and Terry Olson (DCC statistics). Art is by Chris Arneson, Randy Broecker, Samuel Dillon, Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs (including cover), Brad McDevitt, Russ Nicholson, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I backed the successful kickstarter for a four-issue subscription beginning with issue #2.

As with all entries in the Tales From the Magician's Skull series, I will again be focusing on the gaming material provided. This should not be taken as a criticism of the issue's excellent fictional content; it is simply a consequence of the blog's focus on treasures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics game system! 

It should be noted that statting out materials from fiction is as much an art as it is a science. Sometimes the game material is inspired by the source material more than it is a faithful reproduction thereof. The same is the case here.

Guardian of the Broken Gem: Yet another nobleman’s comfort (see issue #1) and the scimitar nemesis (a telekinetic un-dead creature).

On Death Seed Island: We get stats for the Xumatoq wraith swarm, which is interesting as it is both a swarm and un-dead. This isn't the first time we've seen an un-dead swarm in Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it is a good example of how the two monster concepts work together to make a potentially terrifying encounter!

Masks of Silence: We get statistics for the fetch (a projection of oneself rarely visible outside of dreams, but useful to some sorcerers).

The Witch’s Hound: Terry Olson describes the ritual of vengeance, which creates a vengeance ghost. A spell check is required, spellburn is not allowed, and the ritual has no spell results table. It either works, or it does not. Needless to say, statistics for vengeance ghosts are also supplied! The more targets the ghost kills, the more powerful it becomes!

Thieves of the Fallen World: The demonic dream idol is crafter by demons to lure potential human hosts.

Apedamak’s Army: Statistics are provided for jackal “demons” (which might be bestial humanoids are humanoid-like beasts), ad well as the amulet of Apedamak, which warns the wearer of nearby enemies and extends the wearer's critical range and effects...for a price.

Tales From the Magician’s Skull is a fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. These stories are the real thing, crammed with sword-swinging action, dark sorceries, dread, and ferocious monsters — and they hurtle forward at a headlong pace.

Issue #4 features fiction by John C. Hocking, Adrian Cole, James Enge, James Stoddard, C. L. Werner, Ryan Harvey, Tom Doyle, and Milton Davis. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, with layout by Lester B. Portly.

Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #4 continues the amazing high standards of art from the first issue.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Tales From the Magician's Skull #3

Tales From the Magician's Skull #3
was written by William King, Joseph McCullough, John C. Hocking, James Enge, Violette Malan, Howard Andrew Jones, Sarah Newton, and Terry Olson (DCC stats). Art is by Samuel Dillon, Justine Jones, Doug Kovacs, Brad McDevitt, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, Matthew Ray, Chuck Whelon, and Sanjulian (cover). The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I backed the successful kickstarter for a four-issue subscription beginning with issue #2.

Although there is no Vizier's Views article for this issue, I will again be focusing on the gaming material provided. This should not be taken as a criticism of the issue's excellent fictional content; it is simply a consequence of the blog's focus on treasures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics game system! 

At with the first and second issues, it should be noted that statting out materials from fiction is as much an art as it is a science. Sometimes the game material is inspired by the source material more than it is a faithful reproduction thereof. The same is the case here.

The Face That Fits His Mask: Herein you gain statistics for the sunstone which is a magical light in the darkness. As a brief aside on the fictional end of things, this is the third "light bringer" object we've gotten in three issues. Personally, I would love to see more modern sword & sorcery writers let their characters grope in the Stygian gloom of a Cimmerian darkness! More interesting are the ratkin, which are not your standard wererats and which require four sets of stats based upon their age.

By That Much: We are presented with The Gravedigger’s Ritual, a level 1 ritual spell "designed to summon a victim, kill them, and lay them to rest in a recently shoveled grave."

Tyrant ’s Bane: We are treated to the level 1 spell, blindsight, which "affects sighted individuals by narrowing their field of view to see only the caster or her conduit". We also gain a new type of nobleman’s comfort (see Issue #1), statistics for the rather nasty silver risen un-dead, and the tyrantsbane dagger, which allows its wielder to store memories (or misery) of death and use this to kill others.

Five Deaths: Terry Olson provides statistics for the harthrang, a type II demon. He also provides the level 2 spell, aether bolt, which "continues to feed on a target for a duration of time until it dissipates."

The Forger’s Art: The hidden sanctum is a magical item which creates an interdimensional sanctum. There one can heal quickly in comfort and safety, with some small risk and limitations on how often it can be used.

The Second Death of Hanuvar: We are provided with the 1st level ritual spell, Entice She of the Dark, which calls upon the dark mistress, who may be a goddess of love, god of protection, patron of supernatural darkness, protective mother, seductress, or manifestation of the death-rebirth cycle.

Wizard of Remembrance: Statistics are provided for the memnovore. I would tell you more about this, but I forget. We also get the wand of ebon vitriol, which "fires a lambent black missile that automatically hits a visible target within 100’ and does corrosive damage to its target as well as splashing those nearby." A spell check is required, and on a "1" the wielder finds themselves the target!\

Tales From the Magician’s Skull is a fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. These stories are the real thing, crammed with sword-swinging action, dark sorceries, dread, and ferocious monsters — and they hurtle forward at a headlong pace.

Issue #3 features fiction by William King, Joseph McCullough, John C. Hocking, James Enge, Violette Malan, Howard Andrew Jones, Sarah Newton, Terry Olson. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, with layout by Lester B. Portly.

Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #3 continues the amazing high standards of art from the first issue.

Tales From the Magician's Skull #2

Tales From the Magician's Skull #2 was written by John Hocking, James Stoddard, James Enge, Nathan Long, Sets Uzume, Violette Malan, Dave Gross, and Terry Olson (DCC game statistics). Art is by Samuel Dillon, Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Cliff Kurowski, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, Chuck Whelon, and Diesel LaForce (cover). The publisher is Goodman Games.

The Martian Vizier talked about this issue here. If you are interested in Tales From the Magician's Skull primarily as a conduit for fiction, the Vizier's Views will supply that information. As happy as I am that an outlet for new sword & sorcery fiction in exists, in this blog post I am focusing on the issue's gaming material.

Disclosure: I backed the successful kickstarter for a four-issue subscription beginning with this issue. I am also the writer of the afore-linked Vizier's Views article.

At with the first issue, it should be noted that statting out materials from fiction is as much an art as it is a science. Sometimes the game material is inspired by the source material more than it is a faithful reproduction thereof. The same is the case here.

Trial by Scarab: Stats are provided for the great mud scarab, knock-out powder, and the magical message vial.

Day of the Shark: Stats are provided for the tegula (a nasty marine lifeform like a cross between a manta ray and an octopus, with a paralyzing sting). The Dread Ones, which can be bonded with via patron bond, live in the Abyssal depths of the ocean. Invoke patron results are provided, but the enterprising judge is left to develop the rest.

Stolen Witness: Described is the Witness Stone. Imbued with the powers of Law, it compels you to tell the truth. If you are a wizard, it might do more....

Blood of the Forest-Born: To the courses in Appendix C of the core rulebook, you can now add the Curse of Frenzy. You also get potion information for Atseska’s Kiss to envenom your blade.

Break Them on the Drowning Stones: Terry Olson provides the 3rd level ritual spell, create arcane  twins. "This ritual spell requires three arcane casters: the moderator and the two to be twinned. Because it permanently alters two willing subjects, the casting time is a grueling 24 hours during which there can be no interruptions for any of the participants."

A Soul’s Second Skin: Here, Terry Olson provides the 2nd level spell, soul transference. It does pretty much what you would expect, with the added bonus that a soul can be transferred to (and animate) a recently dead body.

Shuhalla’s Sword: Heaven’s Tears are spore-releasing pink meteors that can create spore singers. Statistics for spore singers and sport corpses are also provided. Infection is likely. If you live near the impact of one of these meteors, your village is a DCC funnel adventure waiting to happen, and the wait will not be long. Terry Olson also supplies DCC stats for the flying sword, which has "the intelligence and personality of the soul willfully given to it."

Tales From the Magician’s Skull is a fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. These stories are the real thing, crammed with sword-swinging action, dark sorceries, dread, and ferocious monsters — and they hurtle forward at a headlong pace.

Issue #2 features fiction by John Hocking, James Stoddard, James Enge, Nathan Long, Sets Uzume, Violette Malan, and Dave Gross. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, with layout by Lester B. Portly.

Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #2 continues the amazing high standards of art from the first issue.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Tales From the Magician's Skull #1

Tales From the Magician's Skull #1 was written by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, Aeryn Rudel, Bill Ward, C. L. Werner, Chris Willrich, and Terry Olson (DCC stats). Art is by Jim Pavelec (cover), Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Willam McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Ian Miller, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, and Chuck Whelon (cartoons). The publisher is Goodman Games.

The Martian Vizier talked about this issue here. If you are interested in Tales From the Magician's Skull primarily as a conduit for fiction, the Vizier's Views will supply that information. As happy as I am that an outlet for new sword & sorcery fiction in exists, in this blog post I am focusing on the issue's gaming material.

Disclosure: I backed the successful kickstarter for this issue, and am included in the Chapters of the Skull on page 4 (Order of the Crowking) and am listed in The Legion of the Skull. I am also the writer of the afore-linked Vizier's Views article.

A long time ago, I came across Translating  Skitterbuggers Into Traveller by Steve Winter in Dragon Magazine #59. That was May 1982, and I was 15 years old. I had statted out a lot of creatures from books I had read, from TV, and from movies, but this was the first time I had seen the format: Here is a story; here are the stats. In Tales From the Magician's Skull, you have to flip a few more pages, but the idea is the same.

It should be noted that statting out materials from fiction is as much an art as it is a science. Sometimes the game material is inspired by the source material more than it is a faithful reproduction thereof. The same is the case here.

Beneath the Bay of Black Waters: For this story we have the dragon's egg (magic item: a sort of light source and grenade) and the guai (a creature reminiscent of the Deep Ones).

Beyond the Block: Terry Olson provides us with the potion of un-death, a sort of last resort for vengeance.

Crypt of Stars: Statistics for the gatzi (dangerous flying creatures who become frenzied by the smell of blood and leave rotting wounds), divine familiars, and Palhecoc, which serves as a sample divine familiar.

The Crystal Sickle’s Harvest: Statistics are given for the crystal-sickle wraith (armed with a crystal sickle) and a class of magic wands known as Nobleman’s Comforts (3 examples are given).

The Guild of Silent Men: The coldlight (which may, or may not, be magical, but which is another non-torch/lantern light source, the talisman against illusions, and a 3rd level spell (illusion) are described. With this spell, the caster creates the illusion that his body has another form. Unlike the phantasm spell, this illusion has aural and tactile elements in addition to its visual deception....

There Was an Old Fat Spider: Naturally, the spider itself is described. Also the spiderling swarm, the magical sylvan cloak that makes its wearer invisible, and the level 1 wizard spell, witchfyre. Witchfyre is a fusion of raw phlogiston and glowing elemental energy. Casting it is unpredictable, as it can have both offensive and defensive results....

What Lies In Ice: Stats are given for the hands of the sea (a swarm), the imperishable hand with the gemmed phylactery, the colossal brain-poxed squid, the monstrous iron head, and the mutomorphic flyer (complete with a "Muto-Attack Table" with 12 results). In addition, you get the gyrekin race/class:

You are a creature birthed between the planes of elemental water and prime material. Your natural form is that of a shining liquid vortex (see below), though you can transform into a form similar to a human’s to walk on land and breathe the air. However, there is always some not-so-human feature, such as gills, webbed fingers, second pair of eyelids, a dorsal fin, etc., that betrays your true origins. While the less adventurous of your kind stay in the water, teasing mariners with visions of fish-tailed women, unattainable gold in the shallows, land on the horizon that never gets any closer, and other such illusions, you prefer the company of the land-based races. Consequently, you divide your time between land and water, changing from your humanoid to vortex form as needed. Water is your element; you can manipulate it, summon creatures from it, and outperform any other class within it. Indeed, you can even cast spells completely submerged!  On land, however, you have a limited time to perform your best. Eventually you must return to water, or perish.

Tales From the Magician’s Skull is a fantasy magazine dedicated to presenting all-new sword-and-sorcery fiction by the finest modern crafters in the genre. These stories are the real thing, crammed with sword-swinging action, dark sorceries, dread, and ferocious monsters — and they hurtle forward at a headlong pace.

Issue #1 features fiction by James Enge, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, Aeryn Rudel, Bill Ward, C. L. Werner, and Chris Willrich. The magazine is edited by Howard Andrew Jones and published by Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games, with layout by Lester B. Portly.

Each story is lovingly illustrated by industry stalwarts, and issue #1 features art by Jennell Jaquays, Doug Kovacs, Willam McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Ian Miller, Russ Nicholson, and Stefan Poag.

Get It Here!

Tales From the Fallen Empire Judge's Screen

 

The Tales From the Fallen Empire Judge's Screen was written by James Carpio with art by Eric Quigley and Ben Morgan. The publisher is Chapter 13 Press.

This product is a zip file containing 5 different files: the cover, and multiple versions of the Judge's Screen, include a deluxe screen in both landscape and portrait format. I own several Judge's Screens for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and I am still sad that this is not available in print on heavy cardstock. I would buy it for the artwork alone. 

While most of the artwork on other Judge's Screens focuses on the gonzo, or the varied nature of Appendix N-type gaming, this one drips solid sword & sorcery. These are not just screens that would be useful as a judge - the Ready Reference Booklet has me covered there - but simply to sit across from while someone else judged. It would certainly set the tone.

Obviously, this product ties in directly with Tales From the Fallen Empire.

Tired of popping open your DCC Core rulebook to consult the Crit tables? The Tales from the Fallen Empire Judges Screen contains useful combat tables for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games and the Tales From the Fallen Empire Campaign Setting.  The screens feature the beautiful art of Eric Quigley depicting the fallen City-State of Y'Mataar on one side and useful tables on the inside. The download includes the original three panel screens in landscape and portrait and two new screens with more information for both DCC and tales.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Tales From the Fallen Empire

Tales From the Fallen Empire is a setting book written by James Carpio, with Michael Curtis, Chris Lites, Colin Chapman, Mary Lindholm, Michael R. Smith, and Walter Adam Rinehart with additional contributions by Matthew Millman. Art is by Eric Quigley, Doug Kovacs, Michael Lavoie, Scott Ackerman, Alyssa Faden, Ben Morgan, Bradley K McDevitt, Darkzel, Gary Dupuis, Lenka Simeckova, Veysel Kara, and Tsolmon.  Some artwork is copyright William McAusland and used with permission. Some artwork  is copyright Skirmisher Publishing, LLC and used with permission. The publisher is Chapter 13 Press.

This is the first setting book, to my knowledge, which was produced for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and as such it is a combination of brilliance and banality in a way that is in turns frustrating and glorious.  The Endzeitgeist review was particularly focused on where the product fell short, and it is worth reading as a counterbalance to this entry.

The review is not wrong in imagining that the concepts of the setting book are more ambitious than the actual implementation is.  This came out in the early days of Dungeon Crawl Classics. and that does show. The setting is intended to be gritty, but is a bit more Lin Carter than Robert E. Howard. Some of the mechanics and ideas may have clear d20 System lineage. But there are also some good ideas, and a lot of material worth stealing and/or reworking into your home campaign.

Tales From the Fallen Empire introduces seven character classes: the Barbarian, Man-Ape (Ooruk), Marauder, Sentinel, Draki, Sorcerer, and Witch. For my money, the Sorcerer and Witch classes are the best of the lot. Sadly, there is no occupation table to create 0-level Man-Apes or Draki...again, early days. The Draki is a kind of sentient dragon/velociraptor. 

The book also includes rules for sanity and the lack thereof (Lore and Lucidity) , sea faring and naval combat (which will require a great deal of judge ruling to work, but this is DCC, right?), ritual magic, and creating magic items. You may wish to take inspiration from the examples of magic item creation, but the system itself is a lot more d20 System and a lot less Appendix N than it could be. There is a lot of meat here for ideas, even if you do not want to take the material exactly as presented.

Tales From the Fallen Empire includes five patrons, but all are given very minimal write-ups. These are Naaz-Ibhax (The Elder Eye and the Shapeless One, Chaos Lord), Tsernobog (The Tongue of Hod), A'goth-Amon (Abyssal Prince), Aakaanksha (The Granter of Pleasures), and the Horse Goddess of Shesh. At the time the book came out, any new patron information was desireable. Now, however, there are many patrons available and these beings will take a lot of work to fully flesh out. Still, they are valuable for their flavor.

The Bestiary does include useful creatures like djinn, golems, and sidhe. There is advice (and statistics!) for dogs and falcons, which are useful. There is also an optional rule, Advancing Animal Companions, which seems somewhat familiar.

The book also contains two adventures, The Slave Pens of Maxus and The Horrors of Hod, which Endzeitgeist has covered in his review. Overall, this is a book that I am glad that I have in my collection, but it is not one that I refer to often. I have never actually run a game set in this milieu, or run either adventure from the book.

1OO years have passed since Mankind revolted and slew the Sorcerer Kings of old… Now, the survivors of seven kingdoms begin to start new lives and hopes on the ashes of old. However, even as life continues, an ancient and forgotten evil stirs awaiting its moment to strike against mankind.

 Join the struggle for survival in a war-torn land where new empires arise to impose their will upon the masses. Vicious warlords fight to control territories carved out of fallen kingdoms. Imposing magicians emerge claiming the legacy of the Sorcerer Kings. High Priests of long forgotten gods and goddesses amass wealth in the name of divine right while Warrior-priests, devoted to a banished god, patrol the lands bringing justice to people abandoned by their rulers.

Within these pages is a detailed post-apocalyptic fantasy setting taking you through an ancient realm that is fighting for its survival and its humanity. Seek your fortune or meet your fate in the burning deserts of the once lush and vibrant land of Vuul, or travel to the humid jungles of Najambi to face the tribes of the Man-Apes and their brutal sacrificial rituals.

Tales From the Fallen Empire is a post apocalyptic swords & sorcery setting created for use with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games.  It introduces new classes, setting inspired spells, new optional rules for swords & sorcery play and more.  Tighten the straps on your sandals, grab your weapon, and head forth into a land of trouble and turmoil. Adventure  awaits those foolhardy to enter the wastelands or for those who fear not the unknown. 

Setting Features

Within the campaign setting you will find:  6 new classes: Barbarian, Witch, Draki, Sentinel, Man-Ape, & Maurader.  Adding more choices for play in the setting and within the DCC RPG.

A revised Wizard Class (The Sorcerer) - A fiendish master of the arcane who draws energy from the living to perform powerful magics.

New Spells - Magic inspired by ancient Babylonian & Egyptian folklore and mythology

New Creatures - Monster befitting to classic swords and sorcery.  Battle savage dinosaurs,  ride into the unknown on a war trained moa, or match wits with the tribal man-apes of the southern jungles.

A detailed setting inspired by the works of Fritz Lieber, Robert E. Howard, Lynn Carter, H. P. Lovecraft, Roger Corman, and Michael Moorcock

Get It Here.


DCC Conversion Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera

DCC Conversion: Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera is a DCC conversion by George Holland of an OSR adventure (level 3 to 5) by Andrew Ervin. Art is by Justin Sirois in both products, with cartography by Niklas Wistedt/Paths Peculiar in the original product. The publisher in both cases is Severed Books.

This entry jumped the queue because the DCC Conversion (which is Pay What You Want) does not contain the actual adventure. You will need to buy the OSR version to make good use of the conversion. So, if you are thinking "A new DCC adventure is worth at least X dollars!" you will want to take into account the price of the original work.

The adventure itself is officially licensed by the Dead Milkmen, No DCC level range is given, but somewhere around 1-3 is probably appropriate. This was intended as a one-shot adventure. As with adventures like Rock God Death FugueNull Singularity, and Black Sun Deathcrawl, it is fun to imagine ways in which the product could be worked into a larger campaign. Really, this one is strange even by DCC standards, and your PCs will feel more like victims of a bad trip than protagonists of a sword & sorcery novel. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is something you should be aware of.

The adventure could easily be set in Narcosa by way of the Sandsea. There is even a Drug User class in The Class Alphabet which you could use. You might also be able to throw this one into an Umerica game without too much trouble. It will still seem like some sort of drug trip for the characters. If you read the description of the adventure, which is included below, you will understand what I mean. 

There is a Crystalline Tree that a clever judge could link to The Palace of Unquiet Repose in a rather nasty way. The contrast between the very serious and the very silly could be interesting, but the Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera dares you to even try to take it seriously.

This is also, let's face it, a pretty bare-bones conversion. If the adventure took itself seriously, I would be bringing up all sorts of problems the judge is likely to face based on the NPCs alone. Let alone the adventure's use of Charisma and Comeliness in a way that is not going to map perfectly (or even, in some cases, well) to DCC's Personality. But the adventure does not take itself seriously, and the odds are that, if you are running it, you will not be taking it seriously enough for the conversion problems to matter.

Severed Books is thrilled to announce Lost Tomb of the Bitchin' Chimera, an officially licensed Dead Milkmen roleplaying game module set in the weird world of Tiny Town. Written by Andrew Ervin and illustrated by Justin Sirois, this one-shot adventure blends fantasy and punk into a hilarious story your players will never forget. 

A monstrous seabird is terrorizing the hamlet of Tiny Town. The distraught Mistress Brownnose calls for aid. If our adventurers hope to placate the beast, they must cross the Swampland of Desire and find the Life-Is-Shit Boneyard. There, if they’re brave enough—or dumb enough—to enter the lair of the Burrow Owlbear, they might just find the Tomb of the Bitchin’ Chimera.

The adventure is ultimately system-agnostic, and can also be enjoyed using the rules of the world’s greatest roleplaying game. It has been designed for player characters of levels 3 to 5 and you can play it as a stand-alone game or easily fit it into your ongoing campaign.

Remember, the DCC Conversion is not sufficient alone. 

You can get the conversion here and the OSR version here.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Pamphlet Crawl Classics #1: The Black Wastes (Honorary)

Pamphlet Crawl Classics #1: The Black Wastes is a simplified version of the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules and a small adventure by James Smith and Jarrett Crader. No publisher is listed.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this in pdf form from James Smith.

This is a single page, double-sided, which would presumably be printed using a C-Fold or Z-Fold. It was, to my understanding, designed for quick pick-up games at Wayne Con. As such, it offers a greatly simplified system, which might be considered a cousin of Dungeon Crawl Classics. Mechanics, and even statistics, are different. As a result, I am giving this an Honorary listing. It is clearly based off of DCC, but it is its own animal.

The adventure itself is, quite literally, smaller than a one-page dungeon, being confined to less than a half panel of one of the three panels created by folding the page. Stats, plot, and information are minimal, befitting its use for pick-up games. 

I am not sure where you can get this, apart from asking one of the authors for a copy. If you have the ability to attend Wayne Con, you might even be lucky enough to have a chance to play it!

Saturday, 24 April 2021

DCC Lankhmar

DCC Lankhmar is a boxed campaign setting which includes three books, two maps, a judge's screen, and an adventure. Primary writing is by Michael Curtis with additional writing by Daniel J. Bishop, Bob Brinkman, Edgar Johnson, Brendan LaSalle, Terry Olson, and Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs (including cover art and cartography), Stefan Poag (including adventure cover art), Brad McDevitt, Chris Arneson, Cliff Kurowski, Jennell Jaquays, Tom Galambos, and Chad Sergesketter. The publisher is Goodman Games. This product was officially licensed from the estate of Fritz Leiber.

Disclosure: I did additional writing for this project.

This boxed set is packed. When additional materials came out for Peril on the Purple Planet and The Chained Coffin, I was able to keep those materials together in the box. That is not the case with DCC Lankhmar - the adventures will not easily fit at all! This is not a criticism; it as an observation of just how much material the prospective judge and players are getting here.

The two maps provided are by Doug Kovacs, and represent the lands of Nehwon and city of Lankhmar. The city map, in particular, is massive and detailed. Michael Curtis was able to travel to the Fritz Leiber Archive at the University of Houston (because the Kickstarter was a massive success), resulting in the most accurate map of Lankhmar (in terms of Leiber's vision) that has appeared in a role-playing game product to date.

The three booklets are The Judge’s Guide to Nehwon, the Compendium of Secret Knowledge, and Lankhmar: City of the Black Toga. Between them, they supply all the information judges and players need to bring their own vision of Lankhmar to life. This includes new rules (including fleeting Luck, new ways to use patrons, new patrons, and more), descriptions of the lands of Nehwon, advice for running urban campaigns, and so on. The adventure, Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #0: No Small Crimes in Lankhmar, was written by Michael Curtis, and will have its own entry in the DCC Trove of Treasures. You can find a preview pdf of these boxed set materials here.

Full patron write-ups are provided for Issek of the Jug, Kos (or Kos of the Dooms), Mog the Spider God, Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face. Incomplete patron entries (consisting of invoke patron and agent assistant effects) are provided for the Gods of Trouble, the Hates, and Winged Tyaa. Statistics are provided for Fafrhd and the Gray Mouser at various points of their careers as well as other important characters appearing in the original stories. Over 20 monsters are also supplied, which covers the majority of creatures mentioned by Fritz Leiber in the Nehwon stories.

For me, personally, the chance to contribute to this project was a fantastic opportunity. I became aware of the Lankhmar stories due to the "Nehwon Mythos" section of the original AD&D Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia. I was in high school when I found a few of the stories of the Twain in the school library. It was not until I started seriously delving into Appendix N following adopting Dungeon Crawl Classics that I read all of the Fritz Leiber stories of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Being able to become an actual part of this set, no matter how small a part, was almost like being able to contribute to the works that had helped to shape me as a game master so many years ago.

DCC Lankhmar has come up on Spellburn a few times. It is discussed on the Sanctum Secorum podcast here. The source material is discussed on the Appendix N podcast here. Lankhmar comes up elsewhere in the DCC Trove of Treasures as well.

The boxed set officially licensed from the estate of Fritz Leiber!

Enter the thrilling world of Fritz Leiber’s Nehwon, home to the legendary city of Lankhmar and the infamous heroes Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser! Prepare yourself to battle members of the city’s nefarious Thieves’ Guild in fog- shrouded alleys, to barter for cursed curios in the Plaza of Dark Delights, and to seek the wisdom of Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face! All this and more is possible with DCC Lankhmar.

This boxed set contains comprehensive rules options and new material for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG explicitly designed to capture the unique setting of Nehwon and Lankhmar, the City of the Black Toga. Inside, you’ll find new spells, monsters, magical items, patrons, and rules to make your DCC RPG campaign more like Leiber’s exiting stories—including the popular “Fleeting Luck” mechanic where good fortune blesses your characters one minute, only to dash their hopes the next.

This set also includes a detailed look at Lankhmar and provides the judge with an assortment of descriptions, tables, and adventure ideas to get their DCC Lankhmar campaign up and running with a minimum of effort, including the adventure No Small Crimes in Lankhmar and a beautiful city map illustrated by Doug Kovacs. A copy of the Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook is required to use this boxed set.