Friday, 28 July 2017

Adventurer's Almanac (Honorary)

The Adventurer's Almanac was written by Michael Curtis. Art was provided by Tom Galambos, Fritz Haas, Jim Holloway, Cliff Kurowski, William McAusland (who also did the cover), Jesse Mohn, Stefan Poag, Chad Sergesketter, and Mike Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is a hardcover, system-neutral book with a sewn-in ribbon bookmark (presumably to keep your place in the Grand Course of Days, a calendar of 13 lunar months. Although the product is system-neutral (and therefore an honorary Treasure in the Trove), the themes and flavor would work well for a Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign milieu. The product provides astrological information, moon phases, holidays, and events that can take place over the course of each month.

Whether used as backdrop, or used to spawn adventures, these things help to build up the verisimilitude of a campaign milieu. Besides, keeping track of the phases of the moon helps when the judge wants to introduce a werewolf or three to the PCs....

Readers as old as I am (or older) may fondly remember the appearance, in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Oriental Adventures tome, of a system to plan events on a persistent calendar. Michael Curtis takes the idea a good step farther than did Gary Gygax, David Cook, and Francois Marcela-Froideval, but the spirit seems to be very much the same.

The back cover text says, in part:

An entire year's worth of adventure awaits you inside its pages, complete with magical items, interesting personalities, strange festivals, and dangerous sites to explore, all presented in a system-neutral format suitable for any fantasy campaign.

Be aware that these are seeds, for the most part. You will have to do some work to turn them into adventures. You will have to determine how to convert the system-neutral format to Dungeon Crawl Classics statistics - but you will be inspired, and the work will not be that difficult.

Also, unless your gaming months are crowded with events, you are likely to get a lot more than a single year's use out of this book. With over 20 possible events for each month, including recurrent events such as festivals and holidays, I would be surprised if you were unable to get a good (game time) decade out of this book before its events were exhausted. And, then, the annual events, the astrology, and the phases of the moon would continue to be useful. There are, after all, over 300 adventure seeds herein,

The utility of most of these pieces is undiminished if you carve the book up and use it as inspiration to plan your own fantasy calendar. Indeed, the author has foreseen this use and made it easier for you by providing you with a calendar blank. Copying the blank will also allow you to use Michael Curtis' calendar as written - either for taking notes or extending the years beyond that which is provided.

Goodman Games has provided a free, 17-page preview of the content.

Get It Here!

Monday, 17 July 2017

DCC & MCC Dice Sets

Goodman Games has come out with several dice tubes, which are named after iconic Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics characters painted by the talented Doug Kovacs. Each of these dice sets comes with a little "extra" printed on the reverse of the label. Dice sets include: D3, D4, D5, D6, D7, D8, D10, D%10, D12, D14, D16, D20, D24, and D30.

The sets are:

Hugh's Weird Dice: This set contains the very dice that Hugh the Barbarian used to defeat a host of terrible adversaries and acquire his legendary magical bell-bottoms. Using these dice in your game is guaranteed to bring good fortune, especially if you rub them on a moustache prior to each session.

Dice are white with red numerals. DCC extra is the "blue gowl".

Shanna's Weird Dice: This set contains the very dice that Shanna Dahaka used to invoke Azi Dahaka and enchant her magical afro. 

Dice are black with gold numerals. DCC extra is the "violet gowl".

Chuck's Lucky Dice: These are the very dice used by Chuck Plimpton in his tavern games. He is reputed to be quite lucky, and if you doubt that, you should know that Chuck made it back from the land of the dead! He had a set of these dice on his person at the time, and while the dice probably had nothing to do with it, can you afford to take that chance?

Dice are green with gold numerals. DCC extra is "Chuck's Little Table of Big Trouble".

Alamanter's Extraspacial Angularities: These dice were created by Alamanter the Violet during his studies in the city of Ciz. Each die draws upon the power of extra-dimensional space to randomly determine numbers. It is said that under the right conditions they can roll numbers that don’t even exist!

Dice are violet with silver numerals. DCC extra is "The Brined Finger of Alamanter".

Sezrekan's Sanguivorous Solids: These are the most dangerous dice ever created. The evil Sezrekan trapped in each the soul of a creature from the depths of the infernal realms, and these creatures crave blood! Whether it be your blood or the blood of your enemies, they care not! Beware fumbling with these dice!

These dice are many-colored. DCC extra is "Sezrekan's Sanguivorous Sliver".

Dice of Lost Lemuria: The Dice of Lost Lemuria have an icy color to them, matching the elven legend of the frozen lost continent. 

Dice are blue with white numerals. DCC extra is the "Ice Stones of Mu".

Ming's Infernal Bones: Ming’s Infernal Bones bear a resemblance to the fiery baubles that follow his legend, thanks to his love of flames.

Dice are red with white numerals. DCC extra is "The Devil's Bauble".

Grakk's Rad Dice: Seasoned veteran of many a melee, Grakk knows how to bring the maximum pain to any hand-to-hand battle. This set of radioactive green dice has been blessed by the War AIs themselves to ensure maximum damage when rolled in any combat on Terra A.D.

Dice are green with black numerals. MCC extra is "Grakk's Artifacts".

Kilra's Glow Dice: This set of dice glow-in-the-dark! Savage raider of the wastelands, Kilra knows when to push her luck and when to burn it. This set of glow-in-the-dark dice has already been exposed to the radiation and luck- enhancing quantum fields of Terra A.D.

Dice are that off-white/green color of glow-in-the-dark plastic with black numerals. MCC extra is "Kilra's Artifacts"

Available Goodman Games dice sets can be obtained here. The Dice of Lost Lemuria and Ming's Infernal Bones were only available at the Goodman Games booth at North Texas RPG Con and Origins in 2017. MCC-based dice sets were announced in 2017.

This listing was put together with the help of the Dungeon Crawl Classics community, and especially Impact Miniatures. Thank you for all the help!







Dread on Demon Crown Hill

DCC #92.5 Dread on Demon Crown Hill is a level 2 adventure by Michael Curtis. It was illustrated by Doug Kovacs (who also did the cartography) and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is a relatively new adventure, and one that could easily be fit into a convention or road crew game slot, so I am going to avoid spoilers as much as I can. Like many Appendix N stories, this adventure thrusts the PCs neatly into the story of other beings, but it is the PCs' actions that resolve the story in one way or another. This is such a constant theme of Appendix N literature - occurring in stories by Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, A. Merritt, and others - that it is difficult to pinpoint influences here.

The area that the adventure takes place in is reminiscent of the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland (which the author calls out), or Fingal's Cave in Scotland. This offers a cool backdrop the the adventure's action.

The adventure itself is fairly linear, with only one possible side digression. That's great for convention play, but the prospective judge of a home campaign may wish to increase the options somewhat. Likewise, there are creatures in this adventure that should have a marked footprint on the land around Demon Crown Hill; the prospective judge will probably wish to consider this for campaign play.

Area 1-8 is singularly wonderful, and worth the price of admission by itself.

Long ago, Frygorix of the Thousand Lies, a foul demon, ruled with fear from atop a lonely tor, spreading death and plague across the land. Two brave siblings, one bearing an enchanted shield of great power, challenged the demon, vowing to slay it and free the land. In their climactic battle, black towers of six-sided stone arose from the hilltop, an eerie outcropping called the Demon Crown by some. Stories hold that the shield lied untouched within the Demon Crown, but who knows what else might dwell within those weird, dark pillages of unearthly rock?

Right now, Dread on Demon Crown Hill is only available through retailers. I picked mine up at 401 Games in Toronto.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Curse of Mistwood

Curse of Mistwood is a level 4-6 adventure, written by Daniel J. Bishop and David W. Fisher. Illustrations are by David W. Fisher. Cartography is by David W. Fisher, Brian Van Hunsel and Del Teigeler. The publisher is Shinobi27 Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the writers, and have an editing credit as well.

Curse of Mistwood is the sequel to The Trolls of Mistwood. It is a massive adventure, beginning in the swamp-side town of Mistwood, and crossing over to Barg'herzarag, the Hagworld. Mistwood has changed, and there are dark portents that the end of the world may itself be nigh.

This was an enormously fun adventure to work on. Hags have been a staple of gaming since the 1st Edition AD&D Monster Manual, at least. Over the years, "gaming" hags have made departures from, and callbacks to, "folklore" hags. This offered a chance to create a mythology of hags which enables them to be recognizable to longterm gamers, strikes the itch of folklore, and incorporates Appendix N.

As an example, we provided rules for being hag-ridden in the "real" world of Mistwood, which can have a rather nasty side effect when characters transit to the Hagworld. We also supply a sort of ecology of hags, which can be used to personalize randomly encountered hags in this (or other) adventures. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in Curse of Mistwood an attempt was made to simultaneously define hags for Dungeon Crawl Classics while following the "Make Monsters Mysterious" advice of the core rulebook. Others will have to determine how successful (or not) we were in that task.

Events in the adventure take place five years after those of The Trolls of Mistwood, and the town has changed...from the events of the earlier adventure, from the passage of time, and from what is now spurring the PCs toward a crisis. Mistwood is described well enough in this adventure, and in Trolls, that a judge could easily use it as part of the backdrop to a campaign, starting right from the 0-level funnel until the characters retire or die.

Barg'herzarag is detailed so that the aspiring judge could set his own adventures in the Hagworld as well as merely frighten his players with this adventure. Of course, the Hagworld is an unpleasant place, with complete details on how magic is different and some rather unpleasant encounters to be had. Dungeon Crawl Classics completists will note some crossover with The Arwich Grinder and Creeping Beauties of the Wood. Carproaches made an appearance in The Gong Farmer's Almanac. The demo-grues, of course, take their inspiration from Jack Vance...indeed, one hopes that a sense of Jack Vance colors the whole of Barg'herzarag, although his is not the only Appendix N inspiration.

Travel through the Hagworld is a means to an end, though, and that end is Wartaren, the Living Castle. As one of the authors, I hope you find the castle suitably horrific. There are a number of ways that the PCs can deal with Wartaren and its occupants. The adventure describes the factions and politics of the Hagworld, so that the PCs can gain allies or take sides. Wartaren is large enough, and detailed enough, for two or three sessions of play.

As the commercial goes: But wait! There's more!

Curse of Mistwood has five appendixes, detailing Foes and Allies, Demons of Barg'Herzarag, Patrons of Mistwood, the Scrying spell, and the magic sword, Clawreaver. How useful some of these appendixes are to you wil depend upon what other materials you own. The patrons described herein can all be found in the Extended, Otherworldly Edition of Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between, for instance, while the Scrying spell is from The Revelation of Mulmo.

A bunch of demons that visit Barg'herzarag, and might be found as guests in Wartaren? Those could be used anywhere. In fact, the cunning judge could take a page from The Fallible Fiend and have one of these demons encountered in a non-combative capacity early on in the PCs' careers. The PCs might even discover a strange allegiance forming!

Curse of Mistwood is the second adventure in the Mistwood Series. It can be played as a continuation of The Trolls of Mistwood or as a standalone adventure. With 70 pages of adventure and over 20 pages of patrons, spells and magic items, Curse of Mistwood has enough material to be its own campaign setting.

A dark power has stirred in Mistwood. An evil so great that not only is the quiet waterside village at risk but perhaps the world itself. Once more adventurers must heed the call to arms, risking everything to thwart the plans of a much greater foe. Will the adventurers have the courage to seek the source of Mistwood's woes, or will they be consumed trying?

Get It Here!





Thursday, 29 June 2017

DCC RPG Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure

The Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure was published by Goodman Games.

Starter rules edit and design was by Jim Wampler, based on original game design by Joseph Goodman. Art is by Jeff Dee, Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Diesel Laforce, Doug Kovacs, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, Jim Roslof, and Chad Sergesketter. Cartography is by Doug Kovacs. Cartoons are by Chuck Whelon.

The Portal Under the Stars was written by Joseph Goodman. This section of the book is "Dedicated with great affection to J. Eric Holmes."

Flip the thing over and you have Gnole House, a level 1 adventure written by Michael Curtis, with art by Stefan Poag and cartography by Doug Kovacs.

Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure

These are nicely laid out, although perforce there are a limit to the number of spells or Mercurial Magic results that can be included. The Portal Under the Stars has appeared in all printings (thus far) of the core rulebook, as well as the DCC RPG Free RPG Day Adventure Starter in 2011.

Gnole House

I ran this adventure at 401 Games on Free RPG Day 2017. You can read my summary of the event here.

Gnole House is based on two short stories by Appendix N authors. These are Lord Dunsany's How Nuth Would Practise His Art Upon the Gnoles, and Margaret St. Clair's The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles. Both stories are fairly short, easily read, and have delightful nods to them within Michael Curtis' adventure. A third story, The Hoard of the Gibbelins, is also well used. It gives me hope that a sequel to this adventure, perhaps called Gibbelin Tower, may one day appear!


Demonland

Demonland: Supplemental Rules for Sword & Sorcery Adventures was written by Jeremy Deram. Writing and art are not credited on the pdf. It was made available through the People Them With Monsters blog.

The Demonland supplement uses the basic Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, with an alternate XP and level progression, to allow Dungeon Crawl Classics to be easily used with (an alternative version ?) of Tékumel: The World of the Petal Throne. I've never been invested in Tékumel, so this is not a product that I can easily comment on.

The Demonland supplement was mentioned on Spellburn here.

This post in People Them With Monsters discusses the supplement.

Scattered over Tekumel are innumerable half-buried, half-forgotten ruins. There are fragments dating back to the prehuman ages, when the Ssu and the Hlyss vied with one another for control; there are tunnels of melted rock and steel constructed during the days of man's first glory; there are jumbled heaps destroyed by the cataclysms which rent Tekumel when the planet was cast into outer dimensional darkness; there are catacombs and subterranean labyrinths dating from more recent empires, cities, temples, pyramids, and fortresses dedicated to the lost and unremembered gods of half a hundred kingdoms.

Get It Here!





Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Blood for the Serpent King

Blood for the Serpent King is a 2nd level adventure written by Edgar Johnson. It is illustrated by Stefan Poag, Fritz Haas, and Cliff Kurowski. Cartography is by Doug Kovacs. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This product was the 2017 Convention Module only available at conventions. I am fairly certain that this product was not available at Gary Con, as I attended that convention and didn't see it for sale...it is possible that I missed it, though! In any event, I was able to get another convention-goer to pick up a copy on my behalf. The back cover indicates that it was available at Origins and Gamehole Con, at the very least.

The adventure is a sequel, of sorts, to DCC #16: Curse of the Emerald Cobra, which was written for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons. This adventure was a bonus adventure in the original printing of Bride of the Black Manse, by Harley Stroh. Curse of the Emerald Cobra is also referenced in The 998th Conclave of Wizards by Jobe Bittman.

There is a strong Mesosmerican Aztec/Toltec/Mayan feel to the adventure, which would make it fit very well into a campaign using the Memories of the Toad God series by Cut to the Chase Games. Since that series starts at 3rd level, Blood for the Serpent King may be part of a series of adventures leading into it.

Role-playing games have always been a hodgepodge of mixed cultures, mythologies, and creatures, but writing this entry, it struck me for the first time that cobras are native to Africa, India, and Asia, and don't really fit into Mesoamerica at all. This is unlikely to cause your players any consternation, though, as they try to loot the Crypt of the Emerald Cobra.

Deep in the jungles, amidst the ruins of an unimaginably ancient civilization, dangers lurk: feral tribes and predatory beasts, and darker things that civilized folk prefer to forget. You've heard rumors of the treasure horses of one of those great evils: the legendary serpent-man, Xiuhcoatl. They say that Xiucoatl is worshipped by feral tribes of degenerate serpent-men who call him The Emerald Cobra. Do you dare face their rites of blood and sacrifice?

Friday, 16 June 2017

Lost Temple of Ibholtheg

TG1: Lost Temple of Ibholtheg is a 3rd level adventure written by "Weird Dave" Coulson. Art is by Matt Morrow and Johnathan L. Bingham. Cartography is by Glynn Seal. The publisher is Cut to the Chase Games.

This adventure is the second part of the Memories of the Toad God series, following Depths of the Croaking Grotto. As with other adventures in this series, Lost Temple of Ibholtheg is simultaneously available for Swords & Wizardry, Pathfinder, Castles & Crusades, and 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

This adventure, like its predecessor, could be worked into the mythos of Bobugbubilz, Schaphiroadaz, and  Tsathoggua, allowing the judge to link it to The Croaking Fane, The 
Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn, and The Vault of Ash, if desired. The Toadlock, from Spellburn's Dungeon Denizens, is another good potential fit.

One interesting feature is the use of shadow orcs not as opponents, but as guides and sources of information. It is unfortunate that the text refers to "a series of Personality checks" to avoid gaining faux pas point, reducing interplay to a series of rolls, but the judge can easily ignore that. That the only exampled check is in the nature of a saving throw to avoid making a social blunder could also guide the judge into considering the checks to be second chances.

Weird Dave’s Notebook continues to be a good feature of these modules, as it is always interesting to read the thoughts of another game designer and/or judge.

The adventure does suffer slightly from being written and released for multiple formats, and specifically because most of the other formats are far more codified than Dungeon Crawl Classics. As a result, you'll find references to falling under the effects of a Confusion spell, for instance. The magical scimitar, Toad Caller, is not a generic magic sword, which is nice, but the judge will have to determine the base damage for a scimitar (I suggest 1d7). Overall, though, these lapses are pretty rare.

Most importantly, there are plenty of non-generic monsters here, as befits Appendix N gaming. Yes, you are in the jungle, so you are going to get snakes and big apes. I really liked the description of the Idol of the Squamous Toad, and the ending of the adventure is appropriately dramatic. Also, of course, giant toads and choruses of batrachian critters have a long standing not only in the game itself, but in the literature that inspired it as well.

There is plenty of room for expansion on the jungle trek to and from the Lost Temple. Several appropriate encounters are described for this journey, but there is no map provided, and the judge could sprinkle his own campaign milieu with mini-sites and lairs to increase the options and mysteries of the Great Jungle.

The next two adventures, Tongues of the Screaming Toad and Shadow out of Sapphire Lake, are both designed for 3rd level characters, so the author has taken into account the rate of progression in Dungeon Crawl Classics. You can easily go from one to the next without requiring additional material, but you may wish to explore and customize the setting anyway.The ruined civilization of the Xilonoc, at the very least, deserves more detail! Indeed, a mini-gazetteer of Kraden’s Hill and the area around it would be welcome.

If these adventures are ever compiled into a single volume, I would love to see monster statistics printed in the text. Having to flip back and forth may make sense for games where there are very large statblocks, but should not be a requirement for Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures. The idea of a compiled index is, nevertheless, a good one. A full patron write-up for Ibholtheg, the Squamous Toad, would be a definite bonus in a compiled version.

On the borders of the uncivilized Great Jungle lies the outpost of Kraden’s Hill. Brave adventurers are needed to lead expeditions into the perilous jungle, facing cannibal monsters, dangerous flora, and worse, all in search of wealth and power hidden deep inside the jungle. Find this and more in the LOST TEMPLE OF IBHOLTHEG!

Get It Here!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Lost City of Barako

DCC #91.1: The Lost City of Barako is a 6th level adventure written by Harley Stroh, Steven Bean, Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, and Terry Olson. Art is by Doug Kovacs, Peter Mullen, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I did some supplemental writing for this product. Specifically, I wrote the Drippling, Head Hunter, and Underbelly Stalker, so if any of your PCs fall to these menaces, you have me to blame.

Although described as a 6th level adventure, this "city at the center of Áereth" is more of a stakes-raising supplement to DCC #91: Journey to the Center of Áereth than anything else. It describes the lost pleasure palace of Barako, complete with tables to describe areas where game play might occur, creatures that might be found there, and information on the extremely creepy and potentially dangerous Akashic Library of Barako.

The product is new enough, and cool enough, that I don't want to spoil any of the surprises the lost city has in store. Suffice it to say that my contributions are far from the best material you will find herein.

That said, I was already considering how the Builders and the Adamantine Mole from The Imperishable Sorceress might fit into Áereth's inner world. If you notice a potential link between the Head Hunters, the No-Men in Lairs of Lost Agharta, and the Builders, I would encourage you to expand upon it!

It strikes me that the lost city is named after a certain former President of the United States. This might be coincidence...after all, I am told that Punjar wasn't named after a collection of money at the center of the gaming table, filled with the ill-gotten loot of numerous groaners. Nonetheless, once you see it, you cannot un-see it.

The pleasure palace of Barako rises above the Bleak Shores atop enormous stone pylons. The palace arches towards the cavernous gloom, lit by a thousand lanterns fueled by the rendered flesh of a thousand lamenting souls. Within the city, hellish figures dart and whirl in the flickering light, prostrating themselves before their Aghartan masters, all to the cacophonic beat of a thousand alien instruments. What adventures will you find here?

Get It Here!


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Liber Arcanum

Liber Arcanum was written by Jeffrey A Rhodes-Gloor, with additional material (Daelin’s Journals) by Rhomi van Ekorn, Art is by Laura Bost, Chris Parillo, Jon Willson, and J. Rhodes-Gloor. The publisher is Cognition Pressworks.

This product uses the same monster entry format as Creatures, Critters, & Denizens, which is either a plus or a minus, depending upon your viewpoint. It also uses the term "Storyteller" instead of judge, which I find irksome, but which has no real effect on the content.

This is a large, dense volume with a lot of material to cover. Let's dive right in!

Optional rules

This section covers optional rules for spellcasting. These optional rules are:

Optional Counter-Spell rule: Because sometimes you want to counter a spell without jumping into a full-fledged spell duel.

Increased Spell Failure: The higher the level spell, the higher the chance of failure. The spells in this volume are formatted assuming that you will be using this rule, but there really is no difficulty in ignoring the formatting if not.

Spell-books: Hubris has some excellent rules for spellbooks. These rules are a bit more fiddly, mechanics-wise, but there is no reason that you cannot use them together.

Reversing Spells: Some more information on reversing spells, including canceling, destroying, or hiding spell effects.

5th Level Spells: An optional rule to make 5th level spells harder to cast, and one which is used in this book. This means that you will need to do a little work if you want to use the 5th level spells herein without using this rule, but (1) that isn't too horribly difficult to do, and (2) you could easily rule that the "5th Level Spells" rule only applies to spells from this tome!

Beyond 5th Level Spells: This is an expansion on the idea that greater (ritual) magic may exist than even 5th level spells would allow for. This includes Greater Rituals (essentially 6th level spells), Rites (7th level spells), Ceremonies (8th level spells), and Sacraments (9th level spells).

Thieves and Runes: An option that allows thieves to inscribe runes, including runes drawing runes in the air without the standard penalty.

Deeper Mysteries

In addition to optional rules, Liber Arcanum introduces "Deeper Mysteries" - things that wizards might learn to increase their occult lore and differentiate one from another. Arcane casters may learn a single Deeper Mystery, plus one per every three levels. Deeper Mysteries are not necessarily learned, either. There is a chance to learn one (if possible) at each level, and that chance never exceeds 50%, unless modified by Luck or Intelligence.

Obviously, the judge can also award a Deeper Mystery (either a roll on 1d24 or a specific choice) as a reward within a particular adventure. This is especially useful if the judge wants to see something in play, or if the player wants to Quest For It.

Not every Deeper Mystery requires special rules. You might gain the opportunity for a patron bond. You might gain a chance to learn one or more new spells. You might gain a point of Intelligence. Or you might gain one of these:


  • Mystery # 1: Lesser Spell Ritual
  • Mystery # 2: Harmonic and disharmonic casting
  • Mystery # 3: New Benefits for Rituals
  • Mystery # 4: Durable Scrolls (including a Scroll Mishaps Table)
  • Mystery # 5 Faerie Secrets
  • Mystery # 6 The Game of Antonyms


Magic and the Elements

This chapter describes elemental forces (using a five elemental system, with both positive and negative spiritual energy). This leads to a discussion of Animancers & Necromancers. The author writes:

In the paradigm of a sorcery & swords fantasy environment, the dualistic concept of Spirit can have other, more subtle, yet profound applications. Spells such as Breathe life, Eternal Champion, Stamina, and other such spell manifestations can then be a form of elemental magic, as would Animate Dead, and a host of the spells traditionally thought to be the purview of clerics like Restore Vitality, or any other type of curative/ restorative magic. Among the stranger manifestations found within this elemental model is the idea that both positive and negative energy can be used to animate items. In the case of negative energy this takes the form of the parade of undead creatures from skeletons all the way up to the mighty lich and other fell spirits. Any of these same types of creatures can be found in the benign realm of positive energy;mostly in non-physical forms like helpful Ghosts, Invisible Companions, Eternal Champions, or anything animated via the Breathe Life spell or involving magical force. In fact, under this model it is possible to do away with the entire concept of clerics and deities.

The cleric is then reskinned and transformed into the animancer and the necromancer, arcanists who deal with spiritual energies.

This chapter also offers diagrams of Celestial Geometry, a table of Random Planes, and "Random things & other useful charts" This last includes spotting distances, minor demons, a quick reference to spell success and mishaps using the optional rules in this book, and a table of random spells. There is also a one-page discussion of the "[m]eta-magical effects of arcane ingredients upon spell casting and item creation", which is limited to bone, ceramics, iron, mithril, and star-metal, but which might offer the judge some inspiration.

Patrons

The Liber Arcanum contains five fully developed patrons. These are:


  • The Queen of Battle
  • Gydrion the Wanderer
  • Avridar, King of Air
  • Brinae, Queen of Water
  • Hraalvid, King of Earth
  • Kandri-sek, Queen of Fire


Each of these patrons has one or more "extras". such as aquamancers for Brinae or "On the wizardly uses of gems and minerals" and geomancers for Hraalvid.

Spells

If you are looking for new spells for your Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, this book has them. Judges may use these spells as-is, may offer them as special treasures, or may even use them as patron spells for patrons of her own devising. Some may be powers unique to a magic item, or a cabal of wizards. They may be objects of quests by players keen for more arcane knowledge, or the judge can simply include them in the known spells that wizards and elves may have a chance to learn.

There are too many spells in the Liber Arcanum to describe them beyond their names. These spells are:


  • 1st level: Cloud of Fresh Air, Incomprehensible Babbling, Obscuring Mist, Pilfer Voice, Reduce, Rending, and Runic Alphabet, Mortal (Lost Runes).
  • 2nd level: Acid Resistance, Agility, Determined Locomotion, Electricity Resistance, First Aid, Mind Shield, Protection from (*), Silence, Sonic Resistance, and Wizard Lock.
  • 3rd level: Destroy Potion, Encrypt Magical Writing, Fynderlang’s Forceful Flinger, Lesser Devastation, Make Armor, Panoramic Projectile Protection, Paroxysm, Planar Isolation, Runic Alphabet, Fey (Lost Runes), Stamina, and Wizard Hovel.
  • 4th level: Adhibitis Ossa, Arcane Veil, Magic Hat, Telekinesis, Transmute Air, Transmute Earth (additional entries), Transmute Fire, Transmute Water, Wand Magic, and Weakening.
  • 5th level: Devastation, Resilience, Transmute Spirit, and Wizard’s Tower.


Greater Rituals

This describes the Tattooing ritual: "By means of this ritual a wizard or other caster of arcane magic can have one or more spells that they know bonded directly to their flesh." Includes statistics for feral tattoos!

Rites

This describes the Pocket Reality rite: "This powerful Rite allows the participants to create a number of permanent refuges of varying sizes and internal principles. All results are permanent and will have at least one entrance on the Ethereal Plane, which is always the first gate created by the spell. All else is subject to the whims of the participants in the rite, their funds available, and willingness to spellburn."

Appendix I

The appendix covers:


  • Miscellaneous Magic Items
  • Expanded Magic Weapons (new powers, banes, and bane effects)
  • Generic Magic Weapon & Armor Sheet
  • Pre-generated Magic Weapons (with numerous examples)
  • Blank rune tile sets (for mortal and fey runes)


Please note the following from the Legal and Advertising end pages (page 290; 295 in the pdf):

Cognition Pressworks is proud to support the Dungeon Crawl Classics role-playing game. To this purpose, the publisher and author hereby grant limited permission to use any 2 patrons and their attendant information including tables, and spells, but not artwork: or, up to 4 spells, their attendant information including tables and critters, but not their art work. Prospective publishers must include names of items used with the following copy: “{names of spells or patrons} are used with permission. Additional material from Liber Arcanum published by Cognition Pressworks, Jeffrey Rhodes-Gloor, copyright 2014" in a reasonably prominent location (such as the credits section of the book, or in the licensing section) to obtain this permission.

This means that the Liber Arcanum, like Critters, Creatures, & Denizens before it, is of real use not only to the harried judge, but also to the harried judge who would like to one day see his frenzied creations in print.

Get It Here!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Into the Demon Idol

Into the Demon Idol was written by Jobe Bittman. Art is by Stefan Poag. The publisher is Bloody Hammer Games.

The original 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook had a cool cover illustration. A party of adventurers had just slain some lizard men and a couple of thieves were busy prying the gem eyes out of an enormous demon idol.

But what if the demon idol was far larger? What if it was large enough to get inside it, and drive it around like a magical steampunk mecha? What if those gems did more than look pretty? Well, thanks to Jobe Bittman, now you can learn the answers.

My understanding is that this adventure was originally a one-page dungeon in 2013, and then came out in an expanded format at GaryCon in 2015. Into the Demon Idol is not written for Dungeon Crawl Classics per se, but it does come with a sheet of statistics for use with DCC. Stats for Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry are also provided. In some cases, information on these stats is a bit sparse, and the prospective judge will have to make some calls, but this shouldn't offer any real difficulty.

The adventure offers a hex crawl area, the demon idol itself, and a situation where the demon idol may be used to resolve a crisis. There are even some brief mass-combat rules that can be used if the PCs do attempt to resolve that crisis. There is a mislabeling on the map that may cause the judge a bit of confusion, but the text should help resolve it easily enough.

Forgotten in a decrepit temple ruin, the demon idol holds a sinister secret. The giant statue was the superweapon of a depraved cult hellbent on ushering in a new age of chaos, but the cult fell to bitter infighting and their own lust for power decades ago. Their angry former patrons cursed them with hideous afflictions and sealed them within the idol for all eternity.

Today, bloodthirsty lizardfolk tribes united under a common banner are cutting a swathe of destruction across the countryside. The village elders have sent you to the ancient temple in hopes of finding magic artifacts to help defend the town.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Level Drain #1: The Pillars of Pang

Level Drain 1: The Pillars of Pang is written and illustrated by Level Drain. It is published by Death Machine Press.

The Pillars of Pang is described as a short adventure "about pain and madness equally suitable for zero level funnel play, a band of first level adventurers, or any mix thereof".

From RPG Now:

"The Pillars of Pang is the first in a series of releases from Level Drain, a collective of artists, writers, and creators who live with mental illness. This issue is dedicated to one of our friends and founding members, Corey Brin. This is a Pay What You Want product, with all proceeds donated to Corey to help him heal and grow and raise his son and continue to make beautiful art."

Pang is a sort of psychic demi-plane of anguish and despair. (The authors refer to it as a plane; I gain the impression that it is more of a demi-plane; expand it as seems reasonable.) The product is only two pages long, so I cannot go into detail about what you may find there, but there is a "road to Pang", and people do make pilgrimages to the plane, so this is a re-usable conceptual adventure. There are only four encounter areas, plus the road itself, so the adventure can be run within a single session.

No "hook" is given to lure your PCs into Pang, but the "Quest For It" nature of Dungeon Crawl Classics should actually make it relatively simple for the judge to devise some pretext. A wizard spell's final component could be located in Pang. Permanent damage to Personality might be resolved by a pilgrimage to the plane of anguish and despair. Some insight might be gained by looking in the face of the Creature that dwells there.

All-in-all, this is good stuff, and I hope that we may one day see further Level Drain materials!

Get It Here!


Lairs of Lost Agharta

DCC #91.2: Lairs of Lost Agharta: Creatures and Lairs in the Center of Aereth is a supplement to DCC #91: Journey to the Center of Áereth. It was written by Steven Bean, Daniel J. Bishop, Tim Callahan, Stephen Newton, and Terry Olson, with Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs (cover only), Steve Crompton, and Stefan Poag. Cartography is by Steve Crompton. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the authors on this project.Specifically, if your characters fall victim to the Maleves or the No-Men, you have me to blame.

This work is fairly new at the time of this writing, and is a compliation of creatures and beings you might encounter in the Center of the Áereth, along with random encounter tables and an appendix to generate "Marooned Mortals" on the dim shores of the inner world.

There are 13 creatures/lairs in this digest-sized book, but there are more than 50 pages of material, so nothing is given short shrift. Of course, anything can be reskinned to fit other campaign milieus, but everything you encounter herein has been designed with Lost Agharta in mind. While it should go without saying that combat may occur, not everything herein is necessarily a "combat encounter", either.

Sages will aver that the denizens of the underworld are, by necessity, alien to surface dwellers such as ourselves. Few will ever stand on the ink-black shores of the Lost Agharta, and even fewer will return to tell the tale. Those that do, report creatures transmuted by their deadly environs and the weird gloom. These creatures of legend owe no allegiance or kinship to the beasts of our lit-realms, and woe to the adventurer who mistakes them for a familiar foes.

Collected herein are thirteen of the stranger beings explorers may encounter upon their arrival at the very center of our hollow globe. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, if such a thing could even exist – for the underworld is vast, and our knowledge is slight.

Get It Here!


Friday, 2 June 2017

Lair of the Mist Men

SM-1: Lair of the Mist Men  is a level 1 adventure by Jon Marr. Art is by Jon Marr and Benjamin Marr. Cartography is by Jon Marr. The publisher is Purple Sorcerer Games.

This adventure explores the Mist Men, extra-dimensional aliens first encountered in The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk. Players and judges have a chance to learn a bit about the Greyfolk who dwell in the Sunken City's vast swamp. This is also a good example of seeding one adventure within another, and specifically of using an encounter in a 0-level funnel to generate movement into the wider-world of fully-fledged adventurers. This adventure is also intended to lead into Against the Vortex Temple, which has yet to be released at the time of this writing, eventually allowing for further connections between adventures.

The Mist Men are well described and interesting, but this is a strange place that the PCs have entered into, and not everyone is going to get out of it the way they walked in. Appendix A: The Path to Madness is likely to gain some use.

Like everything Purple Sorcerer does, there are extras. Appendix B reproduces the Mist Men encounter from The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk. A sheet of four 0-level characters is provided. Paper miniatures and battlemaps are available for download.

This adventure is also reproduced in The Sunken City Adventure Omnibus & Guide.

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

The day has come when you can finally confront an enemy previously cloaked in mist, hidden and impervious to retaliation. For the past 3 months, strange creatures known as Mist Men have plagued your village and roads, striking without warning or apparent purpose, only to vanish into the mists from whence they came. After their latest raid, however, they left something behind: a talisman found by a farm boy that will guide you to their hidden lair. Finally, questions will be answered, and revenge will be yours to savor!

Get It Here!


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Kobolds Stole My Cat!

Kobolds Stole My Cat! is a 1st level adventure written by Mark Tasaka and published by Old School Adventures. Cartography is also by Mark Tasaka.

The premise of this adventure is fairly simple: An old woman offers her family jewels if the PCs will rescue her cat from kobolds.

The adventure is split into two parts.In the first part, the PCs must locate and interview the old woman, Mrs. Wynworth. Along the way they learn about Oscar, a creature living in the village's outhouses, who features as a hook in The Gong Farmer's Revenge. Exactly what Oscar is, how she got the villagers to accept her (charm spells, pheromones, parasites?), and what happens when her "people" come looking for her, could make the basis of a great higher-level adventure.

The adventure raises more questions than it answers. What exactly is Mr. Mu (the cat)? Why was he stolen? Was it just for food? Why do the Wynworths have an entrance to the kobold caverns in their basement? What does all this have to do with the lost civilization whose remnants are found in the caves?

The adventure considers three outcomes: (1) Returning with the cat, (2) Returning without the cat, and (3) Not returning at all. The outcome that the adventure does not consider is, what happens if the PCs decide taking the family jewels from the Wynworths is easier than going down those tunnels?

Get It Here!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Journey to the Center of Áereth

DCC #91: Journey to the Center of Áereth is a 4th level adventure written by Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, Russ Nicholson, and Stefan Poag. Cartography is by Mark Allen and Doug Kovacs. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I have writing credits on two supplemental products to this adventure.

This adventure is, in part, explicitly inspired by Robert E. Howard’s Tower of the Elephant and Worms of the Earth, Edgar Rice BurroughsPellucidar, and H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.

I would think that it was also inspired by Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as modules D 1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth and D3 Vault of the Drow by Gary Gygax for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. As one approaches the depths of the planet, gravity is reduced, making your PCs stronger in a way that is reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter/Barsoom novels.

Lin Carter's Zanthodon novels, while not explicitly mentioned, could also be used as a source for expanding this adventure...and there is definitely room for expansion! In effect, the aspiring judge is given a whole new world to play with - one that is as strange and compelling as the Purple Planet.

The basic conceit of the adventure is pretty simple: your PCs discover a way into passages leading to the Center of Áereth. The adventure is roughly divided into getting access to the passages, traversing the passages, and what you find once you reach the end. What you may discover in the Center of Áereth is further expanded upon in DCC #91.1: The Lost City of Barako and DCC #91.2: Lairs of Lost Agharta. One could also use the Adamantine Mole from The Imperishable Sorceress to reach the Center of Áereth...which implies that the Builders may make some appearance in your home-brewed adventures there, or some later adventure(s) published by Goodman Games.

It should come as no surprise that the long journey has to be glossed over to some degree. There is no way that an adventure of any reasonable size could lay out all of the potential routes and sidetracks of such an exploration on a 10' x 10' square scale. As a result, the judge may make any number of expansions on this section, adding whatever degree of granularity is desired. Just be careful to finally get to the main event. The adventure does include a table of random encounters and events that can occur during the journey, as well as tables for various sections of the destination.

The destination itself is painted in broad strokes....which it must be, because it represents a whole new campaign "world" that could easily be as large as a surface continent...or larger. This could easily have been a boxed set.

The stories have reached you: A world beneath our own, lit by a brilliant sun and ruled by sages beyond reproach, where magic has replaced the spoken word, the weakest slave is like unto a superman, and the domes gleam with hammered gold.

You’ve spilled enough blood to know better.

Your trek to discover the truth will take you through endless caverns, ancient causeways and along unknown rivers. An expedition worthy of true explorers, Journey to the Center of Áereth offers characters the adventure of a lifetime – or the means to a quick doom.

The Journey awaits!

Get It Here!


Jewels of the Carnifex

DCC #70 Jewels of the Carnifex is a 3rd level adventure by Harley Stroh. Art is by Doug Kovacs (also cover and cartography), Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Russ Nicholson, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

At the end of a forgotten back alley, in the weird and otherworldly marketplace of faiths known as the Bazaar of the Gods, stand the ruins of a forgotten chapel. All that remains are a fallen staircase, a mound of toppled stones, and a sickly, leafless tree placed squarely in the center of the ruins.

If you were uncertain that Harley Stroh's Punjar, the City of a Thousand Gates, is at least partially modeled off of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar, the above paragraph should answer all doubts. Although this adventure is nominally set in Punjar, it is easily transplanted to any Dungeon Crawl Classics milieu. When I ran the adventure, I set the action in Denethix, the main city of Patrick Wetmore's excellent Anomalous Subsurface Environment (written for Labyrinth Lord, but easily converted).

Within this adventure, the PCs explore the ruins of a chthonic cult's temple, which is not completely abandoned, seeking the fabled and titular Jewels of the Carnifex. The Carnifex herself may be encountered, and, while the upcoming expansion, Lost in the Briars by Brendan LaSalle, is something to look forward to, a full patron write-up for the Carnifex would be rather keen.

The adventure was fun and challenging, and the mutated spider-thing in the outer sewer region worked extremely well in conjunction with Denethix's somewhat polluted waterways. The frog demon also worked extremely well, and it is only by dint of Mighty Deed and burnt Luck that the party cleric was not lost forever in the sewers beneath the city. Luthold the Mad was great fun to play, and dealing with Azazel and the Pious was interesting all around. The entire set-up could not help but create a dynamic, ever-shifting play experience.

My players also ran afoul of the descendants of the Swords of the Pious, who still watch over the ruins of the Carnifex's temple. This was another nice touch to the module, and again brought to mind the City of a Thousand Smokes.

Set amid the sprawling decadence of Punjar, Jewels of the Carnifex offers low-level adventurers a chance to plumb the mysteries beneath the city’s soiled streets, explore forgotten crypts lavished with weird artifacts, and – for the quick and daring – claim the lost Jewels of the Carnifex!

Get It Here!


Friday, 26 May 2017

Intrigue at the Court of Chaos

DCC #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is a level 1 adventure written by Michael Curtis. Art is by Doug Kovacs (also cover and maps), Jim Holloway, and Stefan Poag. The publisher is Goodman Games.

This is an adventure that I have written about before, and my opinion has not changed. So long as you are willing to accept that there may be a little bit of conflict within the party, this is an adventure that you should have in your bag of judge's tricks.

This adventure is almost impossible to discuss properly without giving too much away. The adventure itself is conceptually quite simple, but it is written in a way that will encourage truly memorable play one the players add their own complexities. And it is almost inevitable that they will.

The very concept of this adventure is something that, in another system, might have occurred near the end of a party's adventuring career. Not here. Michael Curtis drops newly-minted PCs, fresh out of the funnel, into the very center of the conflict between Law and Chaos.

If you are planning to run this adventure as part of a campaign, the Yokeless Egg may be linked to the Egg of Creation in The Falcate Idol. There are also a number of entities in this adventure which would make excellent patrons, and the adventure gives PCs reason to consider that possibility. It would be very cool to see these written up, possibly in an expanded version of Intrigue at the Court of Chaos, or possible elsewhere (The long-awaited Annual? A Gen Con program guide?).

At the mercy of Chaos! Abducted by the Court of Chaos, the adventurers face hard choices if they want to return home. The Host of Chaos desires a legendary artifact held by the Scions of Law and need pawns to retrieve it. Faced with an eternity of servitude, the party must sneak into the Plane of Law and steal the Yokeless Egg from under its guardians’ watch. But not all is what it appears when the Court of Chaos is concerned and serving the Host may destroy the party from within. Can they survive the Intrigue At the Court of Chaos?

Get It Here!


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

In the Wake of the Zorkul

In the Wake of the Zorkul: No Art Version was written by Oliver Korpilla. The publisher is Mount Parnassus Games.

This adventure is a 0-level funnel, which could be adapted for use with higher-level characters (an alternate hook and adventure start are given in this case).

If you have ever played The Inn at Five Points with Brendan LaSalle, the beginning should seem sort of familiar to you - you are in an inn that falls into a sinkhole, and must then deal with what you find in the caverns. There the similarity ends.

(I would be interested to know if Brendan was running his adventure before In the Wake of the Zorkul, which was uploaded on August 06, 2014. Is this a coincidence, or is there a connection?)

In the Wake of the Zorkul is all about resource management (food, water, and light) while attempting to find a way to escape the cave system you find yourself in. Oliver Korpilla created an interesting and evocative setting, including descriptions of harmless wildlife that can sometimes freak your players out if you are lucky.

I ran this adventure two weekends ago, at the time of this writing. Although there are several potential ways to escape the cave system, none of them are necessarily obvious, and all of them require the players to be willing to risk the unknown. Some highlights of the game included:


  • Without food, the PCs consider returning to the inn and eating whatever bodies they can find. 
  • The Hunter Spiders were very effective, and the PCs were unable to loot one corpse as it was hauled into the darkness overhead.
  • Even with a halfling or two in the party, it didn't occur to the players to try to speak with the Warren Halflings after the were initially attacked. Nor did it occur to them to try to speak before entering the halfling warren, triggering that attack.
  • The Wizard Duel worked extremely well, with one PC being possessed. When that PC died, the Possessing Spirit jumped to another PC. Both players involved did a great job of not telling the third player what was happening.
  • One PC climbed the waterfall at Area 4-2, but then turned back.
  • The PCs found the Zorkul, and wisely decided to go nowhere near it.
  • The famished PCs found the Abandoned Dwarf Mine, and then exited through the Ogre Lair. By this time, I had them rolling d14s instead of d20s, and the battle with the ogre was certainly tense. Only by a combination of rolling well, and burning Luck, could they even hit the thing!


All in all, this was a fun adventure. The "No Art Version" is a free pdf, but I would gladly pay for a print copy with illustrations. There are a lot of points where it could be expanded, allowing the judge to use the exit location chosen by the PCs as an entry to the Underdark proper.

An inn. Usually a place to find entertainment or rest. Instead the earth opened beneath,
swallowed the place whole and now you're fighting for your survival in an underground world.

Get It Here!




Tuesday, 23 May 2017

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: Twelve Pulp Weird Encounters for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game was written by Ken Jelinek, Daniel J. Bishop, Jon Wilson, John Humphrey, and Paul Wolfe. Art is by Jon Gibbons, Daniel J. Bishop, David Fisher, Jason Sholtis, Carl Folmer, César Sebastián Díaz, Nik Wolfe, Rick Hershey, and Soriah Esquivel. Cartography is by John Humphrey. Introduction is by Harley Stroh and Michael Curtis. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I am a writer, illustrator, and editor on this project. If you are curious, my illustrations are on page 5 and the bottom corner of page 10.

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer offers a dozen small adventures or encounters, suitable to intersperse among a much larger campaign. I became involved with this project through Paul Wolfe, who had worked with me on Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between.

This was around the time problems were occurring with the patron book, and backers were getting antsy. Paul Wolfe attempted an Indiegogo campaign to fund In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer that raised a paltry $850 of a $3,500 fixed goal. And who knows? Being stung with the previous Indiegogo campaign might have turned some people off. Not only were two people from Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between major parts of the design team, but the failed project was actually referenced.

(David Fisher, who also supplied art for In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer, was the principle artist for Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between, and is largely responsible for the eventual appearance of the Expanded, Otherworldly Edition. Still, I don't think he was mentioned in the Mystic Bull Indiegogo campaign.)

Despite  this, Paul Wolfe decided he wished to go ahead, and, after a rocky start - the incident with the previous Indiegogo nearly split up a good team! - I went with him. This was actually entirely driven by Paul Wolfe, because I had been shaken pretty badly by our previous experience together. So, if you find that you are a fan of this work, serious praise should go to Paul Wolfe. He navigated a difficult time with grace and perseverance!

Let's Look Inside!

In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: "Driven ashore by a supernatural storm, the party competes with a pirate and his crew to find the brother of a local noble. They soon find that the brother was imprisoned by a god before he could fully bond himself in the service of Cthulhu!"

This is a low-level adventure written by Ken Jelinek. Unless memory fails me, this is the first published Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure that followed the core rulebook's lead and made use of Cthulhu himself!

Mermaids From Yuggoth: "Wintering in a small village, the characters encounter an ancient evil from beyond their world."

This adventure is a series of encounters designed for four to six 3rd level characters, and was intended to "extend over several sessions with other adventures interspersed; as a result, the PCs may be 2nd level at the beginning of the series if they gain a level by the climax." This is the first published Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure to use this format, although there is a second in this volume. I am the author.

The hedge mage, Eric Silverjohn, was named for Silver John, or John the Balladeer, created by Manly Wade Wellman. This is the first Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure to specifically reference those stories, marking it as a possible add-on to a Shudder Mountain campaign, if the judge so desires. The Face in the Frost, by John Bellairs, is also referenced. This is, in part, because Yuggoth, a planet invented by H.P. Lovecraft and sometimes identified with Pluto, is actually mentioned in The Face in the Frost.

The adventure was written based on an illustration by Soriah Esquivel, which appears on Page 14.

Shadows of Malagok: "At the behest of a god, patron, or other powerful entity, the party seeks a powerful artifact within a dismal swamp. They quickly discover that the swamp conceals a shrine to Malagok, the Creator Beast."

This is a mid-level adventure (average 5th level), written by Jon Wilson. It is primarily two encounters, and it ends with a host of questions. This is the sort of thing that a good judge could build a campaign around, if she so desired.

Swindled at the Laughing Harpy: "Seeking respite, perhaps at a tavern in a large town or
a roadside alehouse in the wilderness, the characters encounter two grifters, brothers, under the control of a strange entity. And it all starts with a simple request."

This is an adventure for any level, by Paul Wolfe. It deals with an entity, the Painted Woman (or the Countess of the Veil), who may appear only in a single evening's gaming, or who could potentially be fully developed as a patron. This entry is really a happenstance between adventures, and, depending upon their level, PCs should either flee or fight. Figuring out which applies is not the judge's job!

Slaves of the Visitants:  "The Slaves of the Visitants takes place in a cairn used as hideout for some unfortunate bandits. The place now contains a nexus to another dimension that is being exploited by evil forces from an unknown world."

This is a low-level encounter/adventure written by John Humphrey. I have run it at home, with the outcome that the players wanted to know more about the Visitants. I call that a win. As with the Mist Men's first appearance in The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, I would welcome a further adventure with the Visitants, which further develops who they are and where they came from.

Sails Aflame!: "A massive skarajian , or giant flint beetle, attacks the character’s ship. Alternatively, the characters could discover the creature’s grotesque courtship displays on a lonely stretch of beach. Even with the help of NPC sailors, the skarajian is a difficult creature to slay outright, though its single-minded behavior may save a lower-level party."

This is a low-level encounter by Jon Wilson, which really serves to introduce a monster.

Cave of the Ice Mistress: "Rescuing a maiden imprisoned by bizarre, other-worldly arachnids leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Ice Mistress. The characters must avoid her crystalline spider pets and her terrible gaze that will turn them into statues of ice!"

This is a mid-Level (4-8 5th-level characters) adventure/encounter by Ken Jelinek, designed to be used while the PCs are travelling through some cold region.

The Long Sleep: "Seeking either the village undertaker or perhaps a lost item among the dead, the characters investigate a mausoleum only to discover that a would-be necromancer has very recently taken up residence during his year-long arcane sabbatical to achieve necromantic affinity."

This is a low-level adventure by Ken Jelinek, designed for 8-12 0-level characters or 4-6 1st-level ones. I have run this at home, while the PCs were travelling, and it was satisfying. I am not 100% certain, but I believe that the PCs were level 2 at the time.

The Cult of the Flickering Sign: "Discovering a grisly murder in a back alley, the characters are drawn into investigating a strange symbol that shifts and changes depending on the viewer."

A 3rd level encounter by Paul Wolfe. "Though it can be adapted to any level party, parties below 3rd may be overmatched if they stand and fight." An excellent mini-scenario for an urban-based game!

Another Man's Treasure: "Discovering an abandoned treasure hoard, the characters get more than free riches when their luck subtly changes. Finding the cursed coin amid the easy money is the first challenge; identifying the exact nature of the curse may be harder!"

I have written about this encounter before, and my high opinion of it has not changed. This encounter, by Ken Jelinek, is for any level. It makes excellent use of Luck, which is one of the things that differentiates Dungeon Crawl Classics from the versions of Dungeons & Dragons that are its immediate antecedents.

The Nazhghad's Invocation: "While traveling through the wilderness, the party discovers a savage wizard and his men-at-arms attempting to capture a vile creature. As they attempt to intervene, an enchantress arrives bent on releasing the creature and killing the wizard."

This is a mid-level encounter by Paul Wolfe, which deals with the rivalry between A’Kas and the Nazhghad, highlighting patrons and spell duels in the process.

Icon of the Blood Goddess: "Within the back alleys of a metropolitan area, an icon of an emaciated goddess has broken through ancient brickwork. As the Blood Goddess gains worshippers, she becomes more difficult to defeat. Worse, some of the PCs may inadvertently become worshippers, and what may have seemed benevolent at first becomes a curse…."

This is a mid-level adventure, which I wrote, "designed to span several gaming sessions. Judges may wish to insert these strange and horrific happenings into any adventure or as interludes when characters return to town. With this in mind, the early encounters are suitable for parties of level 0 or 1, and the encounters quickly become more difficult. Characters should be at least level 3 for the final encounter."

This adventure makes use of the "Magic Here and Magic There" advice from the core rulebook, having specific tables for spellcasting side effects and spellburn side effects. I believe that this is the first time these types of table were used in a published Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure.

I actually ran this adventure using two 6th level PCs as protagonists, interspersed with a murder investigation and other events. It was a lot of fun....especially when the cleric realized that lighting candles to the Blood Goddess wasn't a good move, despite the immediate benefit!

At the end, the PCs were happy to note that 50 gp rubies that remove 1 point of Luck were a perfect thing to sacrifice to lower disapproval. Not only is the value exactly what is needed, but your Luck goes up when you do it! I hadn't intended that, but I was pleased that they had the wit to gain what advantages they could....

Get It Here!


The Ifrit's Chosen

The Ifrit's Chosen is a short adventure/encounter written by Paul Wolfe and published by Mystic Bull Games.

There are an amazing array of free materials available for use with Dungeon Crawl Classics. Mystic Bull Games, and author Paul Wolfe, have created several of these. The Ifrit's Chosen in one of them, a short adventure location which may be uncovered by PCs traveling via caravan across a sandy desert.

As the name implies, there is a fantasy Arabian theme to the adventure, being a location from the now-lost Caliphate of the East Winds.

The adventure seems devised largely as a means to have a PC make a pact with the Ifrit, Afara, who can be taken as a patron. Unfortunately, no patron write-up is present...but then, how much can you expect for free?!?

There is a new 1st level wizard spell, runelight, which allows for the creation of some magical light. This spell is complete, and can be downloaded as an image file.

Get It Here!

The Hypercube of Myt

RC #1: The Hypercube of Myt was written by Jim Wampler, Daniel J. Bishop, Dak Ultimak, Stephen Newton, Adam Muszkiewicz, and Jeffrey Tadlock. Art is by James V. West. Cartography is by Jim Wampler. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I was one of the authors on this project, having written "The Endless Hallway".

I was lucky enough to be asked to join the "DCC Cabal" of writers to create a tournament funnel for Free RPG Day 2015. Jim Wampler was the project head of all three RC tournament funnel modules, including this one, Death by Nexus, and The Shambling Un-Dead.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of tournament funnels, you can listen to this Spellburn podcast, or read this article on the Spellburn website.

The sections of this adventure are:

  • The Endless Hallway
  • The Altar of Chaos
  • The Vault of Fools
  • The Metamorphic Menagerie
  • The Biblioteca Dementia
  • The Arcane Arsenal 

My original idea for the Endless Hallway was that it was the digestive tract of an interplanar creature, and that the doors within it could literally go anywhere if the PCs mastered the Hypercube. This idea was nixed as being both too gross and leading toward split parties, which was deemed undesireable for a tournament funnel. Nonetheless, you can read some ideas that didn't make it into the final project here.

I ran The Hypercube of Myt at Dueling Grounds in Toronto on Free RPG Day 2015. The game was fairly successful, despite occasional blunders and butchering of other author's work. I had obtained gift certificates (at my expense) from the store, so that the winner received a $50 store credit, and the two runners-up received incrementally less. There were many, many dead PCs that day!

The keep of the legendary wizard Mytus the Mad was razed, looted, and ransacked generations before your oldest ancestor was born. The only reason the chaotic sorcerer’s name is still whispered millennia after his death is because of what lies half-buried amid the scattered flagstones of his long-vanished keep: The Hypercube of Myt. This ageless cube is made of adamantite, is covered in filigreed rune circles, and even at a mere 10’ square is preternaturally heavy and cannot be moved. Centuries of tampering with the Cube have proven it to be too resistant to time’s travails or man’s meager efforts to be damaged or otherwise harmed.

Each year on the vernal equinox, the southern entrance unlocks itself from sundown to sunrise. And this is precisely why you are here now, at the annual Festival of the Fatted Calf. The festival is famous for drawing the curious, the foolhardy, and the uncautious from far and wide to ponder the mysteries of the Cube.

As the more sensible denizens of your village have begun to stagger home, you and your friends continue drinking grog-laced ale and speculating on the nature and contents of the immutable Cube. Is it a treasure vault guarded by extra-planar forces, or perhaps a gateway to another time and place? And with that, the first of you slams down your wooden mug and declares lustily, “I’m going in!” Not to be shamed by one so obviously dimwitted and undeserving, you too stand and prepare to enter the Cube.

Soon, there is a unruly drunken mob of you ready to leave your dull and dreary lives as dirt farmers and hemp weavers in exchange for a chance at immortality and glory. The first eight of you rush to the vine-tangled entrance of the Hypercube of Myt and enter, with more sure to follow behind you.

The Cube has two one-way doors on opposite sides: an entrance that becomes unlocked once each year, and the other which is believed to be an exit, though no one in living memory has ever exited the cube. Above the entrance, for those who can read the spiraling script of the ancient Kingdom of Morr, is an inscription that reads, “Whosever may be worthy, can become me.” Riches and power beyond measure are said to lie inside for the taking, if one can but enter, traverse to the other side, and exit the Cube of Myt.

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