Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Myassari, Patron of Birth and Decay

Myassari: The Patron of Birth and Decay was written by Clint Bohaty and Julian Bernick, with art by Trevor Hartman. The publisher is Order of the Quill.

This is a complete patron writeup for Myassari, the stenographer of birth and decay, the silent observer, and the deity of midwifery and time, including three patron spells, patron taint, invoke patron results, and spellburn table.

When Myassari must converse with material beings, she takes on the appearance of a weatherworn harpy, whose heated feathers dance and flicker like flame driven by a bellows.  Those who wish to form a bond with Myassari must first be catalogued by the scrupulous patron.  After crying out her name upon a blazing pyre, the PC must survive the torment of a ceaseless cycle of life and death within her vacant dimension for a full week.  Having been beaten and tempered on the anvil of time, PCs bound to Myassari are requested to make offerings of rare and valuable materials to be studied by their patron, until she's documented the phases of each object and being within the multidimensional universe!

This patron is first mentioned in Cast Tower of the Blood Moon Rises! Considering that this patron is offered as a "Pay What You Want" pdf, there is no reason for anyone involved with the Dungeon Crawl Classics to not have gotten this!

Have you ever wanted to turn a treacherous demon-lord into a plump babe and raise him as your own son?  Have you ever wanted to shroud a fellow adventurer within the mucusy secretions of a healing membrane to lessen his pains?  Have you ever wanted to summon a phoenix built of boulders to smash in the brains of your foes (or allies)?

THEN KISS HER TALONS AND BEG FOR MYASSARI’S MERCY!

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Mutant Crawl Classics

Mutant Crawl Classics was written by Jim Wampler, with additional writing by Bob Brinkman and David Baity. Art is by Tom Galambos, Fritz Haas, Cliff Kurowski, Barrie James, Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Brad McDevitt, Jesse Mohn, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag, Chad Sergesketter, Jim Wampler, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is the first official adaptation of Dungeon Crawl Classics to another genre, specifically post-Apocalyptic fiction, and as such it has been widely covered elsewhere. Indeed, the Glowburn podcast is about Mutant Crawl Classics (and related games), and has two episodes at the time of this writing which are dedicated to taking a first look at the rules. You can listen to them here and here.

Episode 43 of Spellburn was likewise about Mutant Crawl Classics. Mutant Crawl Classics has also come up from time to time on the Sanctum Secorum podcast, and especially on Episode 15 (Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth).

As of this writing, the game has not yet been released into the wild, but backers of the Mutant Crawl Classics kickstarter have had a chance to delve into the book. Reviews of Mutant Crawl Classics can be found here, here, here, and here. There is an extensive review in Meanderings #2.

I was lucky enough to do some playtesting of MCC #3: Incursion of the Ultradimension by Michael Curtis, and therefore had some early access to the rules. Interestingly, the plantient (sentient and mobile mutated plant) that was one of the pregenerated characters was instantly named Yew-root (after Groot) because of his mutations. We were all a little sad to realize that raccoons were not listed among the baseline of manimals (mutant animals). That's easy enough to fix!

Both Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics allow for gonzo action, but Dungeon Crawl Classics seems more heroic to me, whereas Mutant Crawl Classics is tinged with survival horror. Certainly, the classes available to Pure Strain Humans seem weaker than the core classes in Dungeon Crawl Classics; the game relies upon interaction with artifacts and AIs as part of its balance mechanism.

One of the neatest rules in Mutant Crawl Classics may actually cause the most difficulty in actual play. Your mutant (or plantient, or manimal) has a fluctuating genetic sequence, meaning that you may gain or lose mutations over the course of play. When I sit down to play Dungeon Crawl Classics, I can use the Purple Sorcerer tools to create customized spellbooks, and can use The Crawler's Companion to roll spell results if I failed to plan ahead. These things, along with the Ready Reference Book, mean that I don't have to actually carry the core rulebook around with me. (I usually do; but I don't have to.)

When creating pregenerated characters, I will print out specific spells so that the players need not flip through the book. Again, Purple Sorcerer makes this easy. When I ran my first playtest, I did the same for mutations.

And then the mutations changed. Not just once during the session, either.

There will be reason, therefore, to make something like the Ready Reference Book for Mutant Crawl Classics. There is also good cause to create a Sorcerer's Grimoire-type tool for mutations, and an ap that can roll mutations you didn't realize you'd need (and therefore did not print out) before you sat down to play.

The artwork is, by the way, glorious.

Get It Here!




Mushroom Kingdom Classics

Mushroom Kingdom Classics was written by K.J. O'Brien. Map and character sheets are by K.J. O'Brien (heavily influenced by sheets available at Purple Sorcerer Games). All other art was “borrowed” from Google Images. For lore and image references, check out the Super Mario Wiki. The publisher is KJ O'Brien.

Imagine that you love role-playing games, and you love Dungeon Crawl Classics in particular. Now imagine that you have a 5-year-old child that you want to introduce to tabletop games in a friendly way. The result, for this author at least, is Mushroom Kingdom Classics, a reskinning of Dungeon Crawl Classics to allow adventures in the world of Super Mario and cohorts.

This also becomes a great example of how the rules can be bent to meet the needs of the game, rather than the game bending to the needs of the rules. So warriors become Tough Guys/Gals, clerics might be Mushroom Priests or Healers, and your zero-level PCs might be a Toad Instructor, a Human Plumber, or a Yoshi Star Gazer, among others.

Every race type has its own special abilities, from the Super Jump that humans can do to the sticky tongues of the yoshi. Race is not class in the Mushroom Kindom, and a character can be of any of the following races: Human, Koopa, Toad, or Yoshi.

The pdf comes with a zero-level funnel, The Old Mansion on Rubbleknot Hill, paper minis, and zero-level character sheets that look like the Purple Sorcerer sheets redone by 80s-era Atari. Even if you don't have children, this is a surprisingly playable version of the game! Doubly so if you know a gamer who is addicted to Mario Cart.

Get It Here!


Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom

DCC #93: Moon-Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom is a 2nd level adventure by Edgar Johnson. Art is by Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs (also cover and cartography), William McAusland, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

I thought that I was writing a love letter to Abraham Merritt when I penned Through the Dragonwall; Edgar Johnson has gone me one further. Well, if King Kong or Mighty Joe Young were also created by Abraham Merritt.

The general set-up of the adventure is that the PCs arrive on the Vainglorious Rat (a great name for a ship that would, probably, mean my players avoided it!), but that is not necessary to the adventure. The adventure itself is partly a hexcrawl, but it has important keyed locations that will influence any action that occurs therein. Maybe the best way to consider Moon Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom is as a mini-campaign setting loaded with both wonders and dangers.

This adventure is still relatively new, so I am not going to spoil it for anyone. I will say that there are complexities for the judge to pay attention to, especially in terms of time keeping, that the judge should be certain she fully understands before running the adventure. The adventure is worthy of the effort involved.

Edgar Johnson talks about the module on Spellburn, here.

Far to the west, beyond civilized lands, lie the Tolomak Islands— volcanic peaks covered in pestilential jungle and bestriding sunken ruins. The legends say the Tolomaks are home to treacherous witches, ferocious cannibals, moon demons, and worse! Wise are those who steer well away from these accursed jungle isles, but not everyone is wise… For the legends also speak of power unimaginable and treasures beyond the limits of mortal avarice. Now, under the light of the triple moons, a band of intrepid adventurers sails ever nearer the islands. With luck, they will escape with a fortune; without it, they may not keep their souls.

Get It Here!


Monday, 27 November 2017

Monster Mod Cards

Monster Mod Cards were written by Chris Stenger, with art by Deborah Stenger, J. M. Woiak, and Heather Shin. The publisher is Fatbelly Press.

These cards are not usable only for Dungeon Crawl Classics, but can be used for any role-playing game where monsters might be encountered. They are very much system neutral. There are 42 cards in the deck, and each card has an entry for "Head", "Body", and "Extra", each of which has an entry that may be cosmetic, or may prompt the judge to change the statistics of a creature.

One of the advantages of the Monster Mod Cards method is that a number of cosmetic changes can be applied as quickly as drawing a card...which is faster than consulting a table, and allows the judge to differentiate individuals in a horde of beastmen.

Examples include:

Head:

"A wispy beard"

"Glowing eyes: (1d8): 1) violet; 2) blue; 3) aqua; 4) green; 5) yellow; 6) orange; 6) red; 7) white; 8) only visible with darkvision"

(Note the two entries for #6. You could dice-off, or roll 1d10 and reroll 10s. The product is not perfect.)

Body:

"Hungry-looking, razor teeth-filled mouths at the end of each limb"

"Skin appears to be stitched together with thick black thread"

Extra:

"Splits into two creatures when slashed"

"Intent on stealing internal organs from its targets"

It should be noted that, if you order the physical cards, you can now get it with a pdf of the cards that you can print out on your own. This pdf would be more valuable to the harried judge if it was OCRed, which it is not at this time.

The author writes:

Long ago, when you were a kid (longer ago for some than others), you didn't know the stats of a kobold. Heck, you didn’t even know what a kobold was, aside from whatever description you had been given. And if you faced a group of kobolds, you probably didn’t know – at least that first time – that all of them would fight and die after a set number of hits were taken. You were creating a scene in your mind that you’d never seen before. What a wonderful thing that is. It’s one of the reasons many of us love these games. It’s a thread back to childhood. 

If that sense of wonder that we all had as a kid is missing from your tabletop games, then you and your fellow players might benefit greatly from mixing things up a bit. Inspired by the OSR, and made to be used with RPGs old and new, our deck of Monster Mod Cards will help change things up, just enough to keep your players in that sweet spot of imagination and wonder, requiring them to create brand new scenes in their minds.

Each 42 card deck features no fewer than 126 new attributes to add to each creature your players face. To use them, simply draw a card for each encounter, and use any of the attributes or tables presented to add flavor and mystery to your creatures. Don’t like what you drew? Draw another one, or use them only for inspiration. 

So bring the weird. Bring the gonzo. Make it rain air-swimming robot lobsters. Most importantly, craft those new experiences, and make memories out of them. It’s your game, after all.

Get It Here!


Monster Extractor III: Giants & Giant Creatures, for DCC

Monster Extractor III: Giants & Giant Creatures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

As with the Monster Extractor I and Monster Extractor II, this product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. This Extractor is focused on creatures considerably larger than your average orc. The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 6th level party with 4 PCs:

Init -2; Atk tail smash +9 melee (1d20) or tar spit +9 (1d24 plus adhesion); AC 36; HD 4d24+8; hp 53; MV 70'; Act 5d20; SP tail smash, tar spit, leap; SV Fort +17, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

It was randomly determined that this is creature is 75' tall or long, apearing as a big cat with an exoskeleton, that walks or runs on 3 limbs and can make mighty leaps up to 8 miles. It has the attack forms of Tail Smash (3 damage dice in a big line or 1 damage die to everything in an arc) and Breath Weapon [Sap/Tar -like Goo (1die + adhesive qualities)] with a 60' range.

Behold!

The Lion of the Necropolis: Init -2; Atk tail smash +9 melee (3d20) or tail sweep +9 melee (1d20) or icy spit +9 (1d24 plus frozen in place); AC 36; HD 4d24+8; hp 53; MV 70'; Act 5d20; SP tail smash, tail sweep, freezing spit, leap; SV Fort +17, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

On the world of Hubris, in the Frozen Wastes "the gargantuan city palace and grand necropolis of the Dread Lord Glish Mal lies covered in massive snow drifts and forgotten with time." The Lion of the Necropolis is a hidden guardian, mounded beneath the snow and ice, and waiting patiently for thousands of years to prevent the "horrific undead army and unimaginably powerful sorcery" of Lord Glish Mal from returning.

The Lion of the Necropolis appears to be an enormous lion, fully 75' long, not including its tail. Its exterior is covered in a stone exoskeleton that makes it appear like a statue when not moving. although its hind legs are fused into a single member, it can make prodigious leaps of up to 8 miles and can move at extraordinary speed.

The enormous cat's tail reaches a full 60' behind it. It can strike at three targets within a this range in a line, doing 3d20 damage to each target, or sweep all targets in a 40' arc for 1d20 damage. Further, it can spit icy water up to 60' away, doing 1d24 damage and instantly freezing targets in place (DC 20 Reflex prevents freezing). If the target misses the save by 5 or more, it cannot get itself free. Otherwise, a DC 15 Strength check may be attempted each round to do so. A creature frozen in this manner takes 1d5 damage each round it fails a DC 15 Fort save.

In ancient times, the Lion of the Necropolis was immune to the powers of all un-dead, and could transform magical energies used against it to its own benefit. These powers are no more, and their failure may one day release again the might of Lord Glish Mal upon a cowering world.

Monster Extractor III is designed to help jump-start your brain when you need something that reaches the sky and stomps on buildings, but can’t dredge up anything from the Monstrous Island of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new monster, and a page of 4-up monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

NOTE: This product has no actual relationship to Hubris. I just used that as a demonstration.

Get It Here!


Monster Extractor II, The Un-Dead, for DCC

Monster Extractor II: The Un-Dead for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

As with the Monster Extractor I, this product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. This Extractor is focused on un-dead creatures, which are a staple not only of Appendix N fiction, but also of role-playing games. The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 3rd level party with 4 PCs:

Init +8; Atk +4 ; AC 14; HD 8d8; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SP possession, bend attacker's will (must succeed in a DC 15 Will save to attack it), immune to effects requiring a Fort save; SV Fort n/a, Ref +10, Will +10; AL C.

It was randomly determined that this is creature died 352 years ago, and which has above average intelligence. It was a normal peasant (gong farmer, etc.) that is obsessivelly seeking to see its familiar remains consecrated. It appears as it did in life.

Behold!

Tarquin Fossor: Init +8; Atk shovel +4 melee (1d4 plus possssion); AC 14; HD 8d8; hp 38; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SP possession (Will DC 14 avoids), bend attacker's will (must succeed in a DC 15 Will save to attack it), immune to effects requiring a Fort save, ; SV Fort n/a, Ref +10, Will +10; AL C.

Tarquin Fossor is the revenenant of a gravedigger who dies three and a half centuries ago in Ur-Hadad. He appears just as he did in life - a gaunt but muscular man dressed in soiled antique clothes and carrying an old shovel.

The misfortunate gravedigger fell an early victim to the Yellow Death, and when his wife and three children followed him, their bodies were tossed into a mass grave beyond Ur-Hadad's walls. The gravedigger's rage at this injustice consumed him in death, animating his body and defining his very existence. Now, each night, he seeks the remains of his family - not only their physical remains, but also the jewelry his wife once wore - to see that they are buried properly. Until this is done, or his un-dead form is destroyed, he cannot rest.

So powerful is the un-dead gravedigger's that anyone struck by his shovel must succeed in a Will save (DC 14) or join him in his quest for the next 1d12 hours. Worse, if Tarquin Fossor's body is destroyed during this time, a second Will save (DC 14) must be made by each affected creature (determine order randomly), or the gravedigger's spirit inhabits the body, driving it to seek its family's remains each night....potentially preventing the benefits of rest. A successful exorcise spell may drive the spirit out, or divine intervention, but little else short of finding the spirit's wife and children, and seeing that they are properly buried.

Monster Extractor II is designed to help jump-start your brain when you become weary of the garden-variety un-dead out there already staggering through the world, but can’t dig up anything from the mist-covered loam of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new un-dead monster, and a page of monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

NOTE: This product has no actual relationship to Ur-Hadad. I just used that as a demonstration.

Get It Here!

Monster Extractor I, for DCC

Monster Extractor I for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game was created and illustrated by bygrinstow. The publisher is Inner Ham.

This product is, literally, two pages long. The first page is the extractor proper, and the second page is a worksheet to record your creations. Unlike The Monster Alphabet, the Monster Extractor is designed to help you create a usable, fully statted-out creature with minimum fuss. Roll a few dice, and you have a completely new monster.

The following creature was made using the Extractor to face a 1st level party:

Init +1; Atk standard ranged weapon +3 (1d4); AC 14; HD 1d5; MV 20’ or fly; Act 1d20; SP phase through solid objects; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

It was randomly determined that this is a big biped of some elemental substance with a "pirate"/"highwayman" flavor. So there is some work to be done. Since it can fly and phase through solid objects, I will say that it is made of elemental air (or is gaseous). Since it is pirate themed, I will say that its weapon resembles a pistol, but is also gaseous (hence the low damage).

Behold!

Phantom pirate of Yotz: Init +1; Atk gaseous pistol +3 ranged (1d4); AC 14; HD 1d5; MV 20’ or fly 20'; Act 1d20; SP phase through solid objects, half damage from non-magical attacks; SV Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

The phantom pirates of Yotz can alter their molecular form to be able to pass though solid objects as though they were ethereal, or to hold objects (such as the treasure they plunder or the rigging of the ships they steer). If defeated, their gaseous pistols cease to exist (unless the judge's campaign uses firearms normally, in which case they manifest in the world as solid weapons). Because they are somewhat solid when fighting, their weapons can harm others, and they take half damage from mundane, non-magical weapons. These pirates are fully 7' tall each. if using weapons apart from their gaseous pistols, those weapons do half normal damage (i.e., a gaseous longsword would do 1d4 instead of 1d8).

The Monster Extractor is meant to help jump-start your brain when you need a new monster, but can't dredge up anything from the murky depths of your creative centers.

A single page of charts to aid in finding that new monster, and a page of monster "character sheets" for recording your creations.

This product also acts as the "tip jar" for the Appendix M blog.

Get It Here!


The Monster Alphabet

The Monster Alphabet was written by Jobe Bittman and Michael Curtis, with a Foreword by Frank Mentzer and additional writing by Steven Bean, Daniel J. Bishop, Jon Hook, Edgar Johnson, Terry Olson, and James Edward Raggi IV. Art is by Jeff Easley, Fritz Haas, Jim Holloway (including cover art for the color edition), Doug Kovacs, Diesel LaForce, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Erol Otus, Russ Nicholson, Stefan Poag (including cover art for the gold foil edition), Chad Sergesketter, Chuck Whelon, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I did some additional writing for this product. Specifically, I wrote "C is for Celestial".

"Make Monsters Mysterious", said Joseph Goodman in the Dungeon Crawl Classics core rulebook. But did he provide the resources for doing so?

Yes. Yes he did.

Not only does the core rulebook contain excellent tables for making creatures like humanoids, un-dead, demons, giants, and dragons unique, but it points you towards The Random Esoteric Creature Generator, also published by Goodman Games. The Monster Alphabet is more of the same - a bunch of tables to help make your monsters different.

This book is similar to The Dungeon Alphabet, and is largely system-neutral. However, where rules are referenced, they are the rules for Dungeon Crawl Classics. For instance, under "N is for Noxious", spell checks are mentioned. People wanting to use this resource with other game systems will not generally find these references difficult; those hoping for complete statblocks, however, will also find nothing of the kind. This book is more of a resource to spur your creativity, and certainly to create unique monsters, but you will have to put the descriptions into game terms (where necessary) in the vast majority of cases.

Herein you get:


  • A is for Aquatic
  • A is also for Android
  • A is also for Armor
  • B is for Blood
  • B is for Breath Weapon
  • C is for Celestial
  • C is also for Construct
  • C is also for Crossbreed
  • D is for Dragon
  • E is for Eyeball
  • E is also for Extraplanar 
  • F is for Flame
  • F is also for Frost
  • G is for Geas
  • G is also for Giant
  • H is for Hoard
  • I is for Infernal
  • I is also for Insectoid
  • J is for Jurassic
  • K is for Kryptonite
  • L is for Lair
  • L is also for Lycanthrope
  • L is also for Lore
  • M is for Minions
  • N is for Noxious
  • O is for Ongoing Damage 
  • O is also for Ooze Lords
  • O is also for Ordinary
  • P is for Psionic
  • P is also for Plant
  • P is also for Possessions 
  • Q is for Quill
  • R is for Reaction 
  • R is also for Revenge
  • R is also for Resistance
  • S is for Sorcery
  • S is also for Sonic
  • T is for Tail
  • U is for Unexpected
  • V is for Vampire
  • W is for Weird
  • W is also for Wings
  • X is for Xenotransplantation
  • Y is for Yuck
  • Z is for Zombie
  • Z is also for Zoomorphic


The book also contains a Random Monster Drop Table to help you generate unknown critters (or modify those which would otherwise be known).

It should also be noted that, at the time of this writing, The Monster Alphabet is an add-on to a kickstarter for a revised printing of The Dungeon Alphabet. You can check that out here. In fact, since some of the interior pages of The Dungeon Alphabet are reproduced, you can get a pretty good idea of how glorious the artwork is in both volumes. I assure you, The Monster Alphabet is just as good!

Get It Here!



Friday, 24 November 2017

Monk

Monk was written by James M. Spahn, with art by Ryan Sumo. The publisher is Barrel Rider Games.

There are some who wander the world seeking perfection in both body and mind. Forgoing the fetters of the world, they seek to reach the absolute apex of human potential. By mastering flesh and spirit they can harness all the potential locked inside themselves. They need no weapon to win gold and glory. They kneel before no gods and they beg patronage from no inhuman forces. Instead, they gaze ever inward and in balance and contemplation, they find power.

When the monk appeared as a character class in Blackmoor, it was starting a journey that still hasn't ended. Often, the problem was how to fit an essentially Eastern archetype into a nominally Western setting. One solution to this was the original Oriental Adventures tome. Another was to point out that, with a Monster Manual containing rocs, rakshasas, ki-rin, djinn, shedu, and efreeti, the basic setting of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons wasn't nearly as European as some might think.

Monks are also not entirely unknown in Appendix N fiction. In The Hour of the Dragon, four characters best described as monks are secondary antagonists.

Returning to his palace chamber, Valerius summoned before him four men of curious and alien aspect. They were tall, gaunt, of yellowish skin, and immobile countenances. They were very similar in appearance, clad alike in long black robes beneath which their sandaled feet were just visible. Their features were shadowed by their hoods. They stood before Valerius with their hands in their wide sleeves; their arms folded. Valerius looked at them without pleasure. In his far journeyings he had encountered many strange races.
"When I found you starving in the Khitan jungles," he said abruptly, "exiles from your kingdom, you swore to serve me. You have served me well enough, in your abominable way. One more service I require, and then I set you free of your oath."

Monks with strange, sorcererous weapons, certainly, but monks nonetheless.

How well the monk as a class fits into your setting depends very much on what your setting is. Although monks were not included in the core rulebook for Dungeon Crawl Classics, if you want monks in your setting, James M. Spahn has you covered with a playable version matching the Dungeon Crawl Classics aesthetic.

When a product is a single character class, it is important to ensure that any discussion of the class doesn't give so much away that the product itself becomes useless. This perforce limits what I can describe.

The three hooks for the class are a "Zen die" (which allows certain Mighty Deeds when unarmed, or "feats of extraordinary physicality" such as those seen in Wuxia films), the ability to avoid attacks when not wearing armor, better healing, and limited thieves' skills. Monks also have a Zen critical die, allowing them to do better criticals when unarmed than when armed, which is a nice touch, and uses Dungeon Crawl Classics specific rules to promote playing the class as intended, rather than forcing specific styles of play.

Monks follow the Path of the Samurai, of the Sensei, or of the Shinobi depending upon alignment. Alignment also determins if a monk practices kendo (Art of the Sword), kyudo (Art of the Bow), or anatsuken (Art of Assassination), allowing them to use their Zen die (and Zen critical die) as though unarmed with a longsword, longbow, or garotte.

An adventuring monk is a wandering ascetic who likely spent some time in a monastery before setting out into the world. There he learned the ways of unarmed combat, stealth and what it means to tap into his true potential. He has set out from the hidden temple where he learned but a fragment of wisdom from the ancient masters of old and now seeks the company of other exceptional individuals so that they might together rise above the mundane limits of the mortal form to true perfection.

Overall, this is a flexible class with flavor evoking both the Kung Fu television series that gave rise to the original monk, and wuxia films (such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). My own familiarity with wuxia is limited, but I did watch Kung Fu back in the 70s, as well as Bruce Lee films. I would be interested in seeing the author's "Appendix W" that inspired this version of the monk.

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Mind Games

UX02: Mind Games was written by Reid San Filippo, with additional material by Jon Carnes, Gilbert Isla, Sean Ellis,  and David Baity. Art is by Claytonian, David Coppoletti, Diogo Nogueira, Matt Hildebrand, and Nate Marcel (who also did the cover). The publisher is Shield of Faith Studios.

Upfront, I have to admit that this is my favorite psionics system to date, certainly for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and perhaps for any game. It is usable and appropriate not only for games where your PCs are crawling under a broken moon, but anywhere psychic powers might "fit".

Alternative psionics systems can be found in Crawljammer #3 and Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdom. The Wizardarium of Calabraxis also includes a nascent prionics system. Likewise, some mutations in Mutant Crawl Classics, Hubris, or The Umerican Survival Guide might be considered psionic. My general view is that these can be mixed and matched - nothing requires that all mind powers work in the same way!

Options are good. But if you have to choose one consistent way to run psionics, my money is on this book. Let's crack it open.

Introduction 

This is a product which grew in the making, from a simple set of rules for Umerican campaigns to a guide which took the whole of Dungeon Crawl Classics into account. In the introduction, Reid San Filippo supplies the design goals for the product. I think that Mind Games reached these goals admirably:


  • Psionics had to capture the old school feeling of the original psionics presented in the 1st and 2nd editions of the first fantasy RPG without being tied to their cryptic complexity.
  • Psionics had to function differently than Wizard and Clerical magics without being any more complex.  
  • Psionics had to be set firmly in DCC’s original Science Fantasy stylings so it would be adaptable to any of the current and future DCC settings available. 
  • Psionics had to be awesome but, not so awesome that it did not [un]balance the other established DCC rules and content.

The Psion character class

Obviously, a psionics system requires a class with the ability to use psionics. In Mind Games, this is the psion. There are a number of options for powers your psion can have, but each discipline must be learned separately, with your level determining the number of powers, and the max tier for those powers. You also gain focus points, which can be used to gain a Focus die for a specific discipline, in a manner similar to the Deed Die or the Luck Die for warriors and thieves.

Psions can use psi burn. This is similar to spellburn or glowburn, but psi burn increases the Focus die, up to a maximum of 5 steps, by taking temporary Intelligence or Personality damage.

Failure can cause Psychic Dissonance, and every failure increases the chance of this occurring, similar to the way Disapproval works for clerics. Moreover, a natural 1 on the Focus die when a roll falls within the Psychic Dissonance range increases that range by 2, rather than 1.

How Psionics Work

This section explains the four disciplines of Psychometabolism, Clairsentience, Psychokinesis, and Telepathy. It explains power tiers (which are essentially like spell level, going from 1 to 4), psionic actions (which sorts how a power can be used). How to use psionics, either through Power Invocation or Psi Assist.

Psychic Duels 

This is not a rehash of the wizard's spell duel system. Instead, the basic outline seems more like the psionic combat rules in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide, ending in the potential death or concession of the loser. Concession is an interesting mechanic, allowing the victor to force the loser to abide by one command (within certain restrictions).

Psionic duellists may also experience subjugation, which is the effect of a successful attack (or unsuccessful defense, depending upon how you look at it). The result of subjugation depends upon the discipline the attacker is using, the degree of success for the attack, and whether or not the attacker chooses to spend any reserved Advantage.

There is a two page sample duel, between the young psion Vouna and the evil tyrant Lord Mentac, which does a great job of illustrating the concept. In fact, I think that you would do yourself a favor by reading this sample duel both before and after reading the psychic duel rules.

Psychic Dissonance Table 

Unlike clerical Disapproval, dissonance is always resolved with 1d10. However, you add the amount you missed the target DC by, and if the Focus die also came up "1", you roll it, and add the result to the total.

Results range from "A  minor  bout  of  psychogenic  fugue settles  into  the  psion’s  mind  causing  -1  to  all power initiation rolls for 1d4 turns." to "The psion’s entire persona is lost to the universal metaconsciousness for 4d30 days. During this time a completely different persona inhabits the body. They will be of the same character level but of a randomly determined class and alignment. When the psion’s original persona eventually reconnects with their body, it will have to fight the current inhabiting persona for possession of it."

Psionic Powers 

Mind Games has a total of 13 powers for each of four disciplines. The write-ups are similar enough to those from the 1st Edition AD&D Player's Handbook or the 2nd Edition AD&D The Complete Psionics Handbook that conversion to or from those sources should be possible. (I have not actually attempted this yet, but it is the strong impression that I get.)

Powers have an effect for base success, and using a Focus die can increase what is possible.

Psionic items 

Living crystals (including a fair-sized section on living crystal weapons, comparable to the sword magic tables in the core rulebook), psychogenic baubles (ioun stones), brow jewels, and memory tomes are discussed.

Psychic Menagerie 

If the book had not shone before now, it would certainly shine here. The judge is supplied with five psionic creatures to challenge his PCs with. Because of the way psionics works in this system, the PCs need not be psions to enjoy the encounters!

The creatures are:

  • Braingineer: Projected from the distant future of a collapsed timeline,  these  eerie  beings  are  supposedly  the remnants  of  a  highly  evolved  human  society. They appear to be living human brains floating inside  impressively  technological  transparent cylinders  with  many  robotic  limbs  attached  to the  base  of  the  cylinder.  Tiny,  colorful  lights blink randomly at all times on the cylinder bases. 
  • Cerebear: This abomination appears like a grizzly bear with odd colored tufts of hair all over its body but its head is its most horrific feature. The top of its skull, including its ocular cavities and ears, has been replaced with a massive, exposed cerebrum that pulses with an eerie green luminescence.  Orbiting the naked, leathery brain like tiny gruesome satellites are at least a dozen mismatched eyes, each trailing a few inches of dangling optic nerve behind them. 
  • Edacious Encephalon: Floating  just  out  of  phase  with  our  reality,  Edacious  Encephalons  (also  know  as Hungry Brain Devils  stalk intelligent beings in search of tasty emotions. They tend to  be  found  not  in  remote  ruins  but  populated  areas  currently  experiencing  high amounts of turmoil and stress. Settlements on the brink of war, political debates, and grand musical performances are some of their favorite feeding grounds. Should the situation need assistance to reach a palatable emotional state, they will employ psychic whispers to heighten the emotive tempo to levels near madness.
  • Hive Mind: Not all people born with psionic abilities are predisposed to become Psions. Some, like the Crystal Shepherds, have a specialized psychic gift. Unfortunately for Hive Minds this “gift” always comes with a price. From an early age,  a hive mind will begin  to  hear  the  simple  thoughts  of  a  particular  type  of  insect.  Those  that  do not  quickly  go  mad  find  they  can  manipulate  these  thoughts,  eventually  gaining complete control over that type of insect. The price for this is the influence of the multitudes  of  tiny  alien  minds  pulling  away  the  person’s  humanity  and  creating a being that only looks human. This is not to say that hive minds cannot function in human society. In fact, they can be quite social and love the thrill of intrigue as they feed their insatiable desire for control. They are true sociopaths as their moral compass and values are almost completely alien.  
  • Lobstrosityrant: This  dreadful  crustacean  is  a  much  larger  and  more  dangerous  cousin  of  the Lobstrosity (CUaBM issue #1, pg 22). Half again the size of its lesser relatives, its mighty shell is pearlescent white with tinges of every color of the rainbow reflected throughout. 

Great stuff!

Psi-Beast Critical Hit Table

Like everything else in Dungeon Crawl Classics, psychic creatures have critical hits to be feared. In this case, a normal attack has a psionic element.

Get It Here!


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Meanderings #2

Meanderings #2 was written by R.S. Tilton, with art by Mario Torres and R.S. Tilton. The publisher is Epic Meanderings.

Meanderings is not simply about Dungeon Crawl Classics (although this issue mostly is, and all content is applicable to the game), but also games such as Savage Words, Paranoia, etc. This listing, and future listings, will focus on material for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

This issue is themed as options, or "Outside the Box". There is a brief editorial, and then the author jumps into the zine proper.

Let's take a look.

Review Corner: Review of Mutant Crawl Classics: This is exactly what it says on the tin. R.S. Tilton provides a three-page review that includes a run-down on the contents of the Mutant Crawl Classics pdf. (As a backer of the kickstarter, the author has early access.)

Off the Charts!: Mighty Deeds Beyobd the 7+ for Warriors & Dwarves: Let's say that your warrior's attack bonus is listed as 1d10+4. You might argue that this means that the warrior has a Deed range of 5-14, as the author does, or you might argue that the warrior has a Deed range of 1-10 and also gets a +4 bonus to his attack roll, as I do.

Which of these two interpretations you use will determine how useful this article is to you, which extends the example Deeds in the rulebook to a result of 14+.

Let the Dice do the Talking: A Narrative Skill System for DCC RPG: This is a simple system to introduce misadventures, missteps, and coups to the skill system. This allows you to create results which are more than simply binary success or failure. There is an example on page 8 which I have find somewhat problematical: in the example, a "coup" when tracking affects not what the PC in question learns, but what the tracks actually come from.

Tides of Battle - Momentum in RPGs: Not necessarily DCC specific, this is a simple system that allows things that happen within a combat to affect the attack, damage, and morale rolls of the side with advantage. Although not specific to Dungeon Crawl Classics, this article would mesh well with those rules. The judge would, of course, have to rule on how various Mighty Deeds affected momentum.

No Man's Land: A non-system specific article offering 12 doors that can encourage PCs to explore elsewhere when a section of dungeon is not yet ready.

Occupations of Bastion: Occupations for the City of Bastion, "the last true city in a sea of suffering". Includes a random equipment table with "graft" as an option. While not fully explicated (more to come next issue), grafts seem to be a form of supernatural cyborg enhancement.

Classes of Bastion: The Bulwark against the Tides of the Waste: Class information for the Entombed, effectively brains in jars hooked into a golem chassis. An interesting class that one might easily envision finding a place in Umerica, Hubris, or Mutant Crawl Classics. Because, really, who doesn't want to play a brain in a jar operating a murderous construct?

Dungeon Crawl Classics Weapon Styles: Weapon Tables for Two -weapon Styles: As Issue #1 finished filling out specific Deeds for each basic weapon type, this article considers two weapons used to make a single attack. This is also intended to be a living document.

18 (Jek Touryk): The back cover has the full statistics for an "iconic" DCC character from Bastion. In this case, we are looking at a level 2 Neutral Entombed.

Paperminis: Finally, there is a loose insert on card stock of paper minis for zero-level games, plus an Entombed. According to the back cover, "Issue #2 marks the beginning of the ongoing Paperminis series with 15 occupational paper minis series". The opening editorial also indicates that this will be ongoing.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Meanderings #1

Meanderings #1 was written by R.S. Tilton, with art by Mario Torres and R.S. Tilton. The publisher is Epic Meanderings.

Meanderings is not simply about Dungeon Crawl Classics (although this first issue is), but also games such as Savage Words, Paranoia, etc. This listing, and future listings, will focus on material for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

This issue is specifically "about Weapons & Deeds".

The Dungeon Crawl Classics Weapons Project: Expanding the Weapon Tables: This article expands weapon-specific deeds to those weapons not specifically covered by the core rulebook. The author writes:

"A Special mention of Marzio Muscedere and the Steel and Fury book produced by Purple Duck Games for his excellent idea of Deed fumbles and criticals. If you can only afford ONE 3rd party supplement, I heartily recommend Steel and Fury! Thanks for letting me run with that idea Marzio."

The article is intended to be a "living document", updated from time to time. How this will work with the zine format, I am uncertain...it could mean follow-up articles. It could mean updates to the pdf version of the zine.

Lesser Deeds of Daring: R.S. Tilton wrote an article in Crawl! #12 that allows non-warriors and non-dwarves to burn Luck in order to access Deeds. Herein, he crafts a system wherein a character can reduce his attack bonuses to gain a Deed Die. In this particular case, the Deed Die does not add to damage.

Lucky Strikes of Derring-do: This article is revised and expanded from the aforementioned article in Crawl! #12. This includes "Dastardly Deeds of Deceit" suitable for thieves and less-honorable warriors. These are Hamstring ("You strike for the tendons and muscles of the leg, to hamstring your opponent.") and Hindering Strike, or Strap Cutter ("You strike at your opponent with the intent of hindering their ability to attack and defend to the best of their ability by either cutting straps on armor or accessories, maybe tripping them with their own scabbard.")

Bastion Campaign Setting Part 1: This is a three page primer (apparently initially intended to be two pages) of the author's Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign setting. Included are an alternate halfling (the Git), as well as minor variations on the Elf and Dwarf. Also included is an Ogre class.

Ahsra Bloodlorne: Finally, the back inside cover of the zine is the iconic character from the cover, with full DCC statistics.

Get It Here!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3 (spring 2015) was written by Rev. Dr. Edgar Johnson III, Adam Muszkiewicz, the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, and Wayne Snyder. Art is by Wayne Snyder. The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

The issue says, in the liner notes:

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad would like to thank Roy, Jim, at least three different Jameses, Katie, Harley, Hobbs, Doug, Diogo, Donn, Gabriel, two Phils, Ryan, Shane, several Tims, a Stephen, a Stefan, several Johns of various name-spellings and one Dark Master.

Let's look inside.

What's A d11?: A d12 mechanic invented by Adam Muszkiewicz, which was first described in Issue #2.

It is used again in this issue, so explanation is required.

Currency From Ur-Hadad: Author Adam Muszkiewicz describes the forms of coin you might find in Ur-Hadad, from the "vulgar currency", consisting of silver bits, copper chits, bronze bobs, and gold crowns, to the "high currency" of coinage carefully minted by five noble houses.

Atraz A'Zul, Mother of Spiders: The Rev. Dr. Edgar Johnson III offers a new patron. Patron spells for levels 2 and 3 are not provided; the patron is otherwise complete.

Atraz A’Zul is a spider demoness of ancient lineage whose intrigues are manifold, subtlety legendary, and cold calculation uncompromising. She is the demon spirit of dark and quiet places and the unseen things that creep there. To form a bond with Atraz A’Zul, one must go into the desert and ingest the hallucinogenic spider known as the Dream Stalker. Atraz A’Zul will appear to the dreamer who must pledge his troth to her and her alone. Those who serve the demoness are expected to protect spiders, scorpions, and other poisonous vermin.

The Heist! - An Adventure Toolkit: Written by Adam Muszkiewicz, this is similar to Street Kids of Ur-Hadad in Issue #1 and Secrets of the Serpent Moon in Issue #2, in that it offers not a single adventure, but the means to create a great number of adventures with a series of tables. I would imagine that these toolkits are relatively hard to write, given the level of creativity and re-usability involved. This one, in particular, is of great use to anyone running an urban-based campaign.

Half-Level PCs in DCC: An article by Adam Muszkiewicz, inspired by Doug Kovacs. This is for beefing up 0-level characters for funnel-type games. For another take on half-levels, aimed at providing a means for multiclassing, see Crawl! fanzine #10.

Street Foods of Ur-Hadad: Presented by "the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad", this is a single-page table using 3d30 to give you an idea as to what your PCs have just been offered by a street vendor. Is it poached tongue in a black bread sandwich? Perhaps chilled croctopossum suspended in jello? Ah, Ur-Hadad. So much on offer that I would never consider eating...

Dungeon Insert #3: The Marrow Web Bridge: Another great encounter, written by Wayne Snyder. I'm not going to spoil it, but it is excellent.

Get It Here!


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #2

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #2 (summer 2014) was written by Edgar Johnson, Adam Muszkiewicz, Donn Stroud, and Jason Hobbs. Art is by Wayne Snyder (except for an image of the Purple Sorcerer, by Jon Marr, which appears in an ad). The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

The issue says, in the liner notes:

The Metal Gods crew would like to thank: Joseph Goodman & Goodman Games for obvious, the Spellburn-outs (Jim Wampler, Jeffrey Tadlock, Jobe Bitman & Jen Brinkman) for kind words, Jon Marr & the Purple Sorcerer for all the delicious zeros, Harley Stroh for boundless enthusiasm, Doug Kovacs for the late night art criticism & tutorials, the Google+ DCCRPG community for badassery, Dak Ultimak for inspiration, Heide Trepanier for holding the torch while Wayne hustles art, Katie Muszkiewicz for editing, merch and sanity, James MacGeorge for the semi-official Metal Gods playlist, the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad online gaming group, Todd Bunn & Gateway Games & More (and his crew of miscreants) for saving the day.

Thank you indeed! Let's look inside.

What's A d11?: A d12 mechanic invented by Adam Muszkiewicz that just about anyone should be using.

Editorial: Adam Muszkiewicz muses on the idea of an Ur-Hadad canon. The short answer: There is none. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. "You will do precisely what you want with Metal Gods material, so why should we pretend it would be any other way?"

Really nice to have that put in writing. It is part of the heart of Dungeon Crawl Classics, after all! It also plays into the first real article in the issue, by Edgar Johnson.

Thoughts On Dice Notation: A discussion of "exploding dice", and how they are indicated. As with the d11, exploding dice are a tool that every judge should have available. In short, if a die roll is written 2d7! (with the exclamation point indicated that the die roll is exploding), and a natural "7" came up, you would reroll and add that the the original score. Keep doing so as long as natural "7"s are rolled.

(The author uses 2d5! in his example, but as the d7 is the coolest die on the dice chain, I substituted.)

Torgo Speaks: The Elder Races: Author Edgar Johnson channels Old Torgo Pegleg to talk about the Elder Races.

Long, long ago, before there were Men, there were two great races. One of them, usually just called the “Old Ones,” came from beyond the stars, through a place in the bottom of the world. They are gods, it is said, or demons, depending on who you’re askin’. But one thing’s for sure: They weren’t from around here, on Ore. They don’t bleed good red blood (or even green blood like the damned elves), and their ways are inexplicable, save for one thing: They wanted to rule this place. They almost did, too. Now, to look at them, they weren’t too different than one of them squids what wash up on the shingle sometimes, but bigger, very much bigger. When came the Old Ones from the place beyond the stars, they took to the deeps of the seas, and built there many great cities and, in them, works of great power, though their purposes were unintelligible to the likes of men. Mayhap the serpent-men know more, but they ain’t telling, those what still slither amid the wild places of Ore.

Some of this may contradict the background Adam Muszkiewicz provided in Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1, and this is part of the reason that there is an Editorial at the start of this issue.

Metal Magic Items: Every setting needs appropriate artifacts, and in this case a few are supplied by Jason Hobbs and Adam Muszkiewicz. In this case, they are the Rod of Robhal ("offered to the Priests of Joodahs by the Metal God Robhal, lord of law breakers, himself"), Magor’s Manacles, and the Sanguine Resonator (for some reason, Stamina is called Toughness in this entry).

Secrets of the Serpent Moon: Like Street Kids of Ur-Hadad in Issue #1, this is a kit for creating unique adventures. And it is a real thing of beauty. Of course, it gives you a lot more than you will need to create a single adventure, so you will want to refer to it again and again until you have squeezed it dry. Adam Muszkiewicz wrote this piece of inspired goodness.

Here's another interesting tidbit: When I wrote The Mysterious Valley for D.A.M.N. #1, I included troglodytes that allude to the Sleestaks from The Land of the Lost, but I didn't cut anywhere as near to the bone as the author has here. If you are looking for usable Sleestatistics, this adventure kit has you covered!

Bounty Hunters of Ur-Hadad: Adam Muszkiewicz provides a kit for dealing with PC bounty hunters in Ur-Hadad. It is easily used in other settings, and is a worthwhile part of any judge's toolkit.

Axes of the Metal Gods: The Rickenbastard: Adam Muszkiewicz provides the "great axe of a red-brown unknown metal" that belonged to the unstoppable, insatiable Lemm the Killmaster.

Heirloom Weapons: Author Donn Stroud provides a means to describe heirloom weapons that your 0-level (or more potent) PC might be carrying. They will not all be magic, but some of them will be. Only the judge knows for sure. This is an article that is of value to any judge, using any campaign setting. Again, it belongs in any judge's toolkit.

Dungeon Insert #2: Starcophagus of the Crimson Prophet: The author for this Dungeon Insert is not listed, although Adam Muszkiewicz seems a likely candidate. This is solid stuff, but if you use it outside of its Ur-Hadad setting you'll have to create your own Prophesy of Zemuel Lek. Or just use #4.

Get It Here!






Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1 (winter 2014) was written by Adam Muszkiewicz, Edgar Johnson, and Wayne Snyder, with art by Wayne Snyder. The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

Ur-Hadad is a setting supported by Adam Muszkiewicz's blog, Dispatches From Kickassistan. Ur-Hadad is not all you will find on the blog, of course. Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a zine which puts material about the setting into print. See also Goblin Mini Mart and Edgar's Game Blog.

Let's look inside.

The Metal Gods: Author Adam Muszkiewicz provides a brief history of the setting, Ore, and man's quest to master it through Metal.

Ur-Hadad, The First City: There is something extraordinarily compelling about the idea of the first city, a dwelling place that predates human occupation. Author Adam Muszkiewicz herein gives a brief description of Ur-Hadad, the First City of Ore.

Men call her the “First City” not because it was the city that they built first, no. The hands of men took no part in raising her walls, burrowing warren and sewer beneath her streets. She was ancient before Man first learned to walk upright and older still when the Elder Races enslaved him and brought him here to serve them. Those who came before the Elder Races had faded into myth by the time those races had taken the city, as had those who came before them, and even those before them, and so on unto the dawn of time. Still, she is the First City.

Assassins Of Ur-Hadad: Again written by Adam Muszkiewicz.

It would be entirely inaccurate to suggest that flocks of assassins haunt the streets of Ur-Hadad, that guilds of shadowy killers flit across moonlit terraces and down darkened alleys stalking their prey. The Grand Vizier himself has decreed that all such institutions of organized murder are illegal within the city’s walls and, as such, they must not exist there. To suggest otherwise, to suggest that the Grand Vizier’s word was any less than inerrant perfection, would be treason as well as a base and treacherous lie.

The Mercenary’s Guide to Ur-Hadad: Adam Muszkiewicz channels Captain Chogrun Versk of the Brotherhood of the Blue Mark to give interested mercenaries some tips and information about how to survive and profit in Ur-Hadad. Of course, "interested mercenaries" means Player Characters!

Street Kids Of Ur-Hadad: A Zero-Level Funnel Adventure Tool Kit: Now, this is one of the Best Things Ever, and it is written by Edgar Johnson. I have written about it before, here and here, and it remains one of those things that I wish I had written. Essentially, it is a series of tables that creates a unique adventure, ostensibly a funnel, but which could be used easily enough as part of the generation of any city-based adventure.

Dungeon Insert #1: Cave of the Maggot Witch:  Finally, the issue is rounded out with a short encounter by Wayne Snyder, which is intended to be inserted into whatever dungeon or adventure that you wish.

Get It Here!

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Meat Grinder Too

The Meat Grinder Too is a 1st level adventure written and illustrated by Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane and published by Back to the Dungeon.

This is a sequel to The Meat Grinder. I would urge you to read that entry in order to understand this one, if you have not already.

You have survived the trials of death and chaos. Your families were killed by the GREAT PIG MAN BEAST and his demonic Baphamorian GOAT MEN! YOU SLEW THEM ALL!

A great transformation has came over you! You are FIRST level survivors of a terrible trial. Pick one character to play and the rest are reserves. Any new players can start out with four funnel characters. You don't get a first level character for free. YOU MUST HARD EARN WHAT YOU GET!

That is from the first page, and the energy is roughly the same throughout the adventure. The characters arrive at Porttown, "a horrid collection of 12 huge rotting buildings" built over the Arkham River. "Crossing the river is a huge cyclopean stone bridge with fould carving of hedonistic heather rites and practices from some ancient age." 

Just as with The Meat Grinder, The Meat Grinder Too channels the energy and tropes of the pulps, as well as of 70's-era role-playing games. This is like a metal version of some of the Judge's Guild material from gaming's Golden Age.

And, as in those days, the simple pleasures of the River Rat Tavern give way to adventure literally served on a platter! It's time to explore the Sea Cave of the Fish King if you don't want Chaos and Death to rule the world....

This is not a polished product. It is also a product that offers a Parental Advisory: "EXTREME VIOLENCE AND HEAVY METAL OCCULTIC CONTENT". It is also not politically correct in any sense of the term. But it is fun.

At this time, there is no link to get The Meat Grinder Too. It is my hope that both The Meat Grinder and The Meat Grinder Too become available again, either as products you pay for (I would be happy to do so!) or products you can download for free.

The townspeople point towards a foul and polluted coastal plain save for corral [sic] spires and hills covered in a dead forest littered with broken ships and trash. "That is the way you must go to get to the sea caves." says a towns person pointing east to the coast. Strange screeching black sea birds fly above. The sea behind crashes on a rock cliff face below. A storm is blowing in from the distance with thunder and lighting crashing blows a stinking sea in into the faces of the party. One large hill juts out of this area with huge double doors. Above the doors is pentagram with an eye in the center.

Fun stuff!

The Meat Grinder

The Meat Grinder is a 0-level funnel written and illustrated by Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane and published by Back to the Dungeon.

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in the winter of 1979,  with the Holmes Basic Blue Box set. Or, at least, I think it was 1979...I graduated High School in 1984, and started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 7th or 8th grade.

Old brain is old.

What is clear is just how exciting it was to discover this game, and the energy with which I crafted adventures. I filled a notebook with monster statistics, including a ton of dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, as well as miscellaneous mythological and fictional horrors that Dr. John Eric Holmes had not included in the Basic game.

Dungeon Crawl Classics brought that sense of creative energy back, in a way that I had not experienced since the halcyon days of High School (when I was playing the 1st Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons).

The Meat Grinder is like those old games...down to coding the map with letters instead of numbers! This is not a slick product by any means, but it is a fun one, and it perfectly captures the asthetic of weird fantasy. The illustrations are likewise energetic if not professional. Even the typed font screams the 1970s.

At this time, there is no link to get The Meat Grinder. It is my hope that both The Meat Grinder and The Meat Grinder Too become available again, either as products you pay for (I would be happy to do so!) or products you can download for free.

The Great Pig Beast and his Goat Men Soldiers born of demons and chaos, he is the enemy of everything! The Soldiers of the King's Army have all died in battle, at least that's what they dying soldier told us when he rode up bloody and babbling. We (A LARGE Group of "0" Level Characters) were sent as irregulars from our village to stop the goat men from circling around and coming through the west hills! There were no goat men coming through the west hills as they MUST have came through on the east river! OH NO! Right where our families were sent. BY THE GODS NO! Our families will be killed by ambush on the way to safety by the vile stinking goat men. We will have nothing left to live for except for blood and vengeance. It is as we feared ...

Blood, Chaos, and Death!

Damn, that's good stuff.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Making of the Ghost Ring

DCC #85: The Making of the Ghost Ring is a 4th level adventure by Michael Curtis, illustrated by Doug Kovacs (cover and cartography), Jim Holloway, Stefan Poag, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I was an uncredited playtester for this adventure.

Magic is mysterious in Dungeon Crawl Classics, and creating a magic item can be an adventure in itself. Well, more than one adventure if the judge so decides. In this case, it takes one more adventure, even after the maker has crossed over into death. And, because she cannot complete her work alone (but must complete it!) the PCs are given a chance to help.

And, should you agree, you get teleported around the world to gather the things still needed to complete the magic. As a complication, there is a demon who wishes to collect the ghostly sorceress's soul. This means that the ghost, Lifthrasir, has a time limit to meet if she is going to finish crafting the ring, and by so doing save herself.

Yes, the adventure is rather linear. It is a series of sub-quests, and is fairly (although not exclusively) combat-oriented. Nonetheless, each of the set pieces is interesting, and each of the set pieces is substantially different from the others. The PCs definitely have agency in how they deal with the subquests, and creativity can definitely affect the outcome! My players, for instance, had the easiest time with what was (I believe) intended to the most difficult set piece.

Notably, the PCs will have to leave some major treasures behind if they wish to continue their quest. In my opinion, this is a feature rather than a bug. First off, it means that the players have to make interesting choices. Second, planar step is a 3rd level spell, and the PCs may have access to it by 5th level.

Overall, this adventure is reminiscent of Gary Gygax's advice about creating magic items in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. For instance:
Harvest the pumpkin in the dark of the moon and dry the seeds over a slow fire of sandalwood and horse dung. Select three perfect ones and grind them into a coarse meal, husks and all. Boil the basilisk eye and cockatrice feathers for exactly 5 minutes in a saline solution, drain, and place in a jar. Add the medusa’s snake venom and gem powders.Allow to stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Pour off liquid into bottle, add sepia and holy ,water, mixing contents with a silver rod, stirring widdershins. Makes ink sufficient for one scroll.
There is a great deal more flavor to this sort of process than there is to, say, a list of spells, feats, and a cost in gold pieces!

(For another take on creating magic items, see Tales From the Fallen Empire.)

To save a soul and forge a ring! A ghostly enchantress calls for aid, her salvation hanging in the balance. Brave heroes are needed to complete the creation of a magical ring, a process that will take them from gritty city streets to sun-scorched deserts to the ruins of an ancient fortress atop a windswept peak. Are the adventurers up to the task or shall a sinister demon claim the souls of not only the enchantress but the heroes as well? Only luck, courage, and wits will triumph against adversity and allow the adventurers to claim the Ghost Ring for themselves!

Get It Here!


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Goodman Games Gazette V1N8

Place holder.

I am trying to acquire a copy of this product for review. If you have one available, please contact me.

Goodman Games Gazette V1N1

Place holder.

I am trying to acquire a copy of this product for review. If you have one available, please contact me.

Maiden Voyage of the Colossus

Maiden Voyage of the Colossus was written by Perry Fehr. It is a "dual-game adventure for OGL adventures in Porphyra and Dungeon Crawl Classics" - 2nd level for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Artwork is by Gray Dupuis, Rick Hershey (cover), Malcolm McClinton, Matt Morrow, Brett Neufeld, Ryan Rhodes, and Michael Scotta. Cartography is by  Kristian Richards. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am listed as a DCC Playtester. I was involved with converting the original statistics to Dungeon Crawl Classics, more on which below.

The Colossus! Next wonder of this world, a grand ship of luxurious proportions, carrying goods and good people through the sky to exotic locales without the danger of stormy seas and pirates, or tedious land travel and bandits, and all in style and comfort! The Colossus, built by Gearswave, Inc., is completely safe, unreachable in the sky, moved by the power of controlled wind and gear power! Forget sea travel and grubby caravans, airship transport aboard the mighty Colossus is the only way to go!”

This adventure was written and playtested at the 2015 Iron GM competition at the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous, where it took Third Place. Contestant GMs get one hour to draft an adventure using three theme phrases (in this case, Airship, Hidden Agenda, and The Clockmaker). After a four-hour play session, the GMs are evaluated by their players.

This adventure is set in the Purple Duck setting, Porphyra, and is actually best if set in that world. When I ran it, I had the PCs summoned to the Gearswave complex on Porphyra, where they were awakened much as described in the adventure start. The major difference was that they were in a summoning circle, were considered "demons" from "a lower world", and had to verbally accept the terms of a contract before being let out.

The adventure then ran much as written. Once the Colossus had been saved, the PCs discovered that their initial contact had been assassinated. "And which lower world do you belong to, exactly?" This gave me a chance to drop them into another adventure setting before sending them home.

Although I did a thorough Dungeon Crawl Classics reskinning of the adventure - it is my opinion that Dungeon Crawl Classics allows for the unexpected and just plain weird far better than 3rd edition D&D-based games - some of these changes were not adopted for the dual-stat format. I suspect that, if you achieve Third Place in a difficult contest, you would prefer not to have your material altered too much. Another part of me suspects that it is difficult to put two or more sets of statistics together in one product, with one product having more bells and whistles than the other.

When I was working on this, I was under the impression that it would be like the tĂȘte-bĂȘche dual sci-fi novels or the old Traveller double adventures that were designed to mimic them. Not so!

By putting the material effectively side-by-side, you can see that, while Dungeon Crawl Classics information needs to be supplied for all fourteen creatures encountered in the adventure, and d20 statistics need to be supplied for only four, those d20 statistics take up more space. I can sort of understand not wanting to add insult to injury by giving the villain death throes only in one version.

The Endzeitgeist review of this product was particularly harsh:

Well, this may sound harsh, but the book is utterly delusional regarding its compatibility with DCC. I’m sorry to say it, but apart from DCC-rules being here, this pdf has NOTHING that even remotely pertains DCC’s aesthetics. DCC’s general assumption is that magic’s weird, uncontrollable and volatile; its whole premise is grittier, darker and the whole depiction is radically different, with the emphasis on patrons etc. On the other hand, Pathfinder features reliable magic and is geared significantly more towards high fantasy gameplay. 

I think that a lot of these problems go away if the judge adopts the framing that I used. Being called into a world with industry - whether magical industry or otherwise - is not unknown in Appendix N. The reliable magic in Maiden Voyage of the Colossus should not be construed as a problem if the players themselves are not able to rely on it. For this adventure, presentation is key.

I had a lot of fun running this adventure. Using the right framing narrative, you should be able to do the same. They key is to ensure that you are not implying that airships or magic-as-technology are going to be rife on your world. I could easily see the Colossus coming to a setting like Black Powder, Black Magic, Dark Trails, or Mutant Crawl Classics from another dimension. Sabotage does not need to occur on the actual maiden voyage. Likewise, a setting like Trench Crawl Classics, Drongo, Madkeen, or Pandemonium might be able to use the material with very few changes. In Trench Crawl Classics, for instance, the Colossus may be an American zeppelin that the PCs are trying to save from German spies.

While the adventure might seem like a strange fit for Dungeon Crawl Classics, the fact that it is a strange fit can be used as a strength.

The consortium that employs the PCs, Gearswave, Inc., is described as a patron with check results for invoke patron.

An urgent summons in the middle of the night, a hasty boarding in secret, a mysterious agenda… Brave adventurers find themselves on board the maiden voyage of a new flying wonder- the Colossus, a flying airship meant to revolutionize travel!  But not all are happy with this innovation, and it is up to the party to stop the sinister plans of The Clockmaster!

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