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Dungeon Crawl Classics #82: Bride of the Black Manse
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2014 09:03:03
A gripping ghostly adventure, with player-characters coerced into taking on the roles of long-dead members of a demented noble family, the maddest of whom destroyed the rest in a foul demonic pact... which falls due, of course, this very evening. Something to set hearts a-stirring and to create legends that will be told and re-told for many a year - should anyone survive long enough to write them!

Designed to be run in one intense session of four hours or so, this adventure sends the party into the depths below a ruined manor house, the former seat of the Mad Prince. Hauntings and mysterious bells goad them on their way as they seek to unravel what is going on.

Several good hooks are provided to get the party there in the first place, which will enable you to embed the proceedings into an ongoing campaign. As soon as they arrive, however, things turn peculiar... and it gets weirder from then on. Timekeeping is quite important, to enable the adventure to proceed at a fast, oppressive pace - don't let it lag even if you have a more leisurely GMing style, but push on as indicated. This improves the atmosphere as events happen at almost bewildering pace, with set events and area-based encounters all provided complete with all necessary details to run them. Things change according to the point reached in the adventure in a most disturbing way. Oh, and of course there's a storm mounting outside the manor, reflecting the turmoil within.

Catacombs lie below the manor house itself, providing a wealth of places to explore and investigate. There are various hints and clues as to what is going on, and various ways to deal with it... some the party, or at least most of them, might even survive.

As a bonus, there's a second adventure in here as well - "Blood for the Serpent King" by Edgar D. Johnson. It's for 2nd-level characters, and sends them off to explore a jungle crypt in an adventure in which full-blown pulp action meets dungeon crawl. Plenty of action and excitement, strange artefacts and vast treasures to be gained here.

So, two classic adventures, well-plotted and clearly presented, to keep your players entertained. Enjoy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #82: Bride of the Black Manse
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Joel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/19/2014 21:19:07
This game is Dungeons and Dragons turned up to 11! This heavy-metal flavored fantasy game is what Gygax and Arneson would have written if they had 30 years of RPG game design under their belt in 1974.

The Third Edition of D&D (the same edition that Pathfinder is based on) is the underpinning to this thrill ride. Some of the awesome OSR flavor that this game oozes:

* 3d6 in order stat generation. No swaps, no rolling 4d6, no mulligans.
* High PC mortality. Everyone starts with 4 PCs, with the assumption a few will die during the 1st adventure.
* Each arcane magic spell is customized per wizard using the Mercurial Magic rules.
* Every spell has its own d20 based chart the spellcaster rolls on to determine effect, with higher spell rolls producing bigger, more powerful effects.
* Powerful demi-gods and demons that take a direct interest in the PCs. The PCs may choose to Bond with these Patrons.
* Charisma stat is replaced with Luck stat that PCs can (permanently!) burn to make important rolls.
* Amazing adventure support that keeps the PCs on their toes. No boring empty rooms, bland orc fights, or lame 2000 copper treasures.
* Righteous GM advice to run engaging and fantastic games.
* Classic style art all throughout the nearly 500 page tome. Each picture is a dozen adventures! :)
* Moar dice! Uses standard polyhedrals plus d3, d5, d7, d14. d16, d24, and d30 in a brilliant dice chain mechanic.

I chose this game over Pathfinder, DnD Next, and 13th Age. It gets to the core of what I love without giant skill lists or feat trees. Buy this game!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by David F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2014 14:17:00
DCC is one of those systems that'll primarily appeal to all the 40 something people who remember the early RPG games of old and crave for a concise system that takes what is embedded in their long term grey cells and stimulate them enough to start gaming again. Personally I've read many systems and played most of them over my 35 year gaming life and DCC has to rate as one of my all time favourite's.

If you're used to the D&D and AD&D systems c.30 years ago, there is much here that is familiar, but all done in a refreshingly retro style. Goodman Games have created an atmosphere as well which comes through as you delve through the pages and I for one couldn't wait to try out the ideas presented in the book. I especially like the strict '3D6 in the order you've rolled them' character creation system. Indeed, my regular troop of player were very 'on edge' for their first 0 level session, which despite the 70% loss of characters, they all thoroughly enjoyed enough to make the investment in the system.

I cannot recommend this fun system enough for oldies like myself as well as making an excellent introductory system for newbies too.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #81: The One Who Watches From Below
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2014 06:27:30
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/03/21/tabletop-review-dungeon-
-crawl-classics-81-the-one-who-watches-from-below/

So, a little back story on this one before we begin. Back on Free RPG Day 2012, Goodman Games gave us an excellent set of two adventures if you were lucky enough to snatch one up. In the back was a partially done map and a contest. You could finish up the map, write an adventure and send your piece in to Goodman Games. The winner would get a cool thousand dollars and eventually see their adventure in print. Well, The One Who Watches From below was the winner. Generally contest adventures aren’t top tier releases because they are tied to a theme or something else that limits full-on creativity, but I’m happy to say that The One Who Watches From Below is an incredible adventure that is well worth investing in.

Frist up, let’s talk about that amazing cover art by Doug Kovacs. Man is it as gorgeous as sit is super creepy. That is one ominous piece and the art alone makes you want to purchase the adventure just to find out what it is about. Then the next page of the piece is a full piece of art. It’s a well drawn spooky dungeon, but your eyes will almost instantly go to the middle of the page where you will see a pair of eyes looking back at you. The eyes are surrounded by a set of dotted lines and instructions telling you to cut them out for use with the adventure. Curiouser and curiouser! This one two punch of a great art and cryptic instructions should be enough to convince any gamer to give this adventure a try. You look at the cover and this first page and any OSR gamer worth their salt just wants to know what ELSE waits them in this adventure. I will say that due to the cutting out aspect of these eyes, the PDF may be the better way to go. That way you can print out multiple copies of the eyes and not ruin your original purchase.

The One Who Watches From Below is designed for six to eight Level 1 characters. It’s a very Lovecraftian entry with names of otherworldly beings like Shigazilnizthrub (along with a cameo from old Wizard Whateleley) and other monsters that will drive a man insane as assuredly as it will rend their flesh. This is definitely a very challenging adventure for the neophyte characters and some PCs will definitely meet a gruesome end in this one. The adventure is also a very long one for a DCC affair. There are three full page maps in the back of the book, each one is a work of art. The text suggests that you can streamline this adventure to one four hour session, but more than likely it will play out over several meetings with your gaming troupe. That’s a great value for the price point when you think about it. The first map also contains Handout A, which is another reason to go PDF over dead tree for this adventure, as you can cut it out without ruining the gorgeous maps. I always say that DCC has the best maps in the industry and The One Who Watches From Below only adds to that sentiment. They’re almost worth the cover price of this adventure alone just so show how stylish a map can be while still retaining its function.

The PCs have made their way, for whatever reason (greed, curiosity, a need for fame, outright stupidity) to the Cave of Secrets. Beneath the cave lies the temple of a god long forgotten by the world, but still both active and malicious. Within the cave awaits a lot of treasure, some horrific monsters and a very strange curse that will stymie both players and their characters alike. The Judge is advised to be exceptionally strict with the rules of the curse, and I concur. It will be frustrating at first, but the curse (which without spoilers, involves those eyes I mentioned you needed to cut out earlier) can be a lot of fun to play out. It really tests a player’s role-playing ability and ensures that The One Who Watches From Below will be a highly memorable affair for all who play it. I can’t say too much more without some huge spoilers, but rest assured, as strange as the requests the DM will make of the PCs are, it is well worth it in the end. This also highlights how outside the box Dungeon Crawl Classics is compared to most other fantasy games, as you’d never see an adventure this weird in Pathfinder or for modern D&D.

You’ll have four levels of locations to traverse. The first is the Cave of Secrets itself. The second is simply known as The Temple. The third is called The Brood Pit and the final is simply the Under-Temple. Now you won’t find a lot of combat in the first two levels, but what battles there are can be quite intense. Death by angry books is a distinct possibility, for example. The further into the adventure you get, the more powerful (and frequently occuring) the monsters are, with the final battle being SNK End Boss bad, to put things in video game terms. It’s far more powerful than the players and expect a pretty high death toll, even for a DCC adventure. While fans of other games might be a bit put off by this climactic encounter, longtime DCC gamers are pretty used to characters dying in horrific ways and this will just be part of the fun for them. Still, because of how overpowered the end battle is, The One Who Watches From Below probably isn’t the best choice for someone’s first ever DCC adventure. A little too much culture shock, you know. For people like myself who play through a lot of published DCC adventures (both first and third party), I really loved the final fateful showdown and I think the same will go for other diehard fans of the system. The Primordial Titan with haunt your nightmares. That’s all I can really say because I want you to experience the sheer horror for yourself.

Overall, Goodman Games has released another fantastic must-buy adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Between this and Intrigue at the Court of Chaos, the first party DCC releases have been extremely impressive. It’s going to be hard to keep up this level of quality but by all means I’m excited to see Goodman Games try. Usually adventure contest winners can be pretty terrible like Chaosium’s recent Horror Stories From the Red Room. The One Who Watches From Below however is one of the better adventures I’ve reviewed this year and hopefully we’ll see more DCC pieces penned by Mr. Jobe Bittman in the future. Congratulations not just to Job for winning, but for DCC fans everywhere for getting the chance to add this adventure to their collection!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #81: The One Who Watches From Below
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Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra
by Ray D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2014 10:07:12
Quite handy. Akin to free writing with dice. Provides interesting starting points for a variety of 'strange' critters. Helps in keeping that feeling of the 'unknown and unfamiliar' at hand. 'Undiscovered country' is a good hook for engaging folks. Keeps them thinking.

Were I to criticize constructively, I'd say the lean towards the 6 stat gaming system is a small hinderance. Makes for a small stumbling block when in the rush to create while using another system. Not a deal breaker though.

I've drawn up about 20 or so exotic beasties and fleshed them out. They will be fun to spring on the group or even just provide some color while traveling between chapters.

I've found this item to be a solid utility.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and their Modern Simulacra
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2014 02:05:01
http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/03/03/kampagnen-und-abente-
uer-neues-zu-dungeon-crawl-classics/

DCC trifft Para­noia – das beschreibt den Neu­ling ganz gut. Die SC besu­chen unfrei­wil­lig die Schalt­zen­trale des Chaos und tref­fen dort auf die mäch­ti­gen Wesen­hei­ten, die diese zer­stö­re­ri­sche Kraft reprä­sen­tie­ren. Die Auf­trags­ver­gabe wird zum Intri­gen­spiel, den jede die­ser Gestal­ten will ihre Glied­ma­ßen auf das­selbe mäch­tige Arte­fakt legen: das Dot­ter­lose Ei. Und so ver­su­chen die Intri­gan­ten zu Hofe die Spie­ler gegen­ein­an­der aufzuhetzen …


Das Errin­gen des Arte­fakts erfor­dert eine Reise auf die Ebene der Ord­nung (Plane of Law), um sich dort in meh­re­ren Prü­fun­gen Zugang zum Dot­ter­lo­sen Ei zu ver­schaf­fen. Mit einer Aus­nahme sind die fünf Prü­fun­gen schaff­bar und zugleich gut gestal­tet. Eine Lösung der Lösun­gen erscheint mir hier­bei zu will­kür­lich und kann zu Pro­ble­men füh­ren. Ein paar Kämpfe gibt es auch, wobei man­che optio­nal sind. Nicht immer wird den Spie­lern klar sein, wie die Kon­fron­ta­tio­nen umgan­gen wer­den kön­nen, so dass ein eher will­kür­li­cher Ein­druck blei­ben wird.

Das Modul ent­hält meh­rere Wege, wie sich die Spie­ler unum­kehr­bare Nach­teile ein­fan­gen kön­nen. Das Poten­tial für Kon­flikt und Betrug in der Party ist auch gege­ben, wes­we­gen es sich eher als Oneshot-Abenteuer zu eig­nen scheint. Das Aben­teuer macht sicher jedem Spaß, der auch eine Runde Para­noia zu schät­zen weiß, kann aber eine Kam­pa­gnen­gruppe als Zwi­schen­spiel ganz schnell mal gegen­ein­an­der auf­brin­gen. Ins­ge­samt finde ich Intri­gue at the Court of Chaos gelun­gen und gut präsentiert.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Patrick D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/01/2014 03:35:54
This game really hit a nerve with me; I found the balance of light mechanics and ingenious mods to a very stripped down 3rd Ed base the perfect balance of old and new.

Yes, there are a good number of tables that you might need to reference for spells, fumbles, crits and deeds...I actually like this...print them off and make each player responsible for one each and you're sorted!

On another note, the philosophy of character death has already changed my group's attitude and style of play so that they now respect the consequences of their actions far more.
The philosophy is that death should be a real risk to PCs; for too long I have watched parties act stupidly and get away with it...no longer!!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Rat King
by Richard K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2014 18:19:45
I see that there's already an outstanding review written by Megan R. and I completely agree with all her observations. I'll just add a few quick additional notes identifying things I look for in top quality modules that I intend to use at a gaming convention at some point.

Beginning with the maps, they are sort of a mixed bag. The final adventure, Revenge of the Rat King has the nice "inside cover" style map I expect to see so I'm very happy with that one, even more so if it was "module blue" instead of black. Level 3 of the silver mine is really creative, as is the map for the Scourge of Silverton, complete with ore cart rail tracks. Unfortunately, the other 3 levels are pretty bland, forcing many DMs, including myself to redraw them or look elsewhere for alternatives.

The module includes sufficient wandering monster tables and the text is DM friendly, with each description containing an italicized section to be read to the players. There's nice B/W artwork throughout as well as several handouts for the PCs. There are no pre-generated characters, but being a low-level module I imagine most players would prefer to quickly roll their own. Having pre-generated characters though would be helpful to hand to latecomers.

Its priced a bit more than some PDF adventures, but since you're getting 3 quality adventures in this module, the decision to purchase and download should be fairly easy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Saga of the Rat King
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/29/2014 06:17:12
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/01/29/tabletop-review-dungeon-
s-crawl-classics-80-intrigue-at-the-court-of-chaos/

Generally when you pick up a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, you are expecting a piece that is low on plot and high on combat with well designed dungeons and challenges for your characters. Well, Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is a very different adventure from what Goodman Games puts our for its core product. As the title suggests, this is a very intrigue heavy adventure with a lot of talking, politics and betrayal. It’s almost as if an old Vampire: The Masquerade adventure mated with a first edition AD&D adventure spawning the product that we are looking at today. The end result is a piece that will really test your characters and players, but in ways you normally don’t expect a DCC adventure to do so.

Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is an adventure for six first level characters. The adventure assumes the characters all know each other and have gone from 0-level to first level together – perhaps in a previous adventure. The fact the characters all know and accept each other is key to the adventure for as a party they shall be thrust in to the literal court of chaos, where the gods of this particular alignment all dwell. Here they shall be asked to undertake a task of great importance –recovering a stolen piece of Chaos that Law has sealed away. Now obviously Chaotically aligned PCs won’t have a problem with this. Even Neutral characters might be okay with it. Lawful ones however….might not enjoy being the chosen of Chaos. That’s part of what makes the adventure so fun. Characters will really be tested on what alignment means to them and it’s such a rarity these days. You see parties where Paladins hack and slash as if they were Chaotic Evil and DMs turn a blind eye. You see True Neutral characters championing the causes of good left and right. So it’s wonderful to see an adventure that really focuses on the idea of alignment and what it means to the character. What do you do when a god of a specific alignment chooses you to do a task for them?

Even better, since this is chaos we are talking about, each god of the court of chaos has a specific agenda on hand and will pick a specific PC or two to do it for them, promising them some pretty amazing rewards for working with them. This means, the PCs might be pitted against each other as they now have very different goals of their own. Can this lead to PvP battles? It definitely can. Even if all the players end up being aligned with the same goal, there will still be that festering bit of doubt squirming around in the back of their head wondering when someone will reveal they are working for a different member of the court and betray everyone. There are so many ways this can go, many of which involve player on player conflict (either through words or violence). While this can be exceptionally fun to run with a party of reasonable mature individuals who realize this is just a game and not SERIOUS BUSINESS, if you have a player or two (or more, Cthulhu forbid) that get whiny at the drop of a hat, this probably isn’t the best adventure to play with them. Of course, there is a chance that all the players are aligned in the member of the court they choose to work with (or perhaps they choose not to work with them at all or even betray the court to Law or Neutrality), things will run extremely smooth and without drama. However, this is very unlikely. Be prepared for some sort of player on player conflict, or even a full on pier six rumble.

Once the intrigue at the court is done, it’s time for the combat excursion side of the adventure. Still defying the usual Dungeon Crawl Classics tropes, this adventure does not have a dungeon. Rather it has a location with a series of trials. The trials can be done in any order. There are six of them plus a potential bit of violence preceding the trials. These puzzles range from brain teasing puzzles to facing extreme Lawful duplicates of themselves. The wide variety of these challenges just makes the adventure a lot of fun – so much more than if it had been a standard hack and slash affair. If the players succeed in vanquishing the trials, which again, are not necessarily combat in the usual sense, they can claim the stolen artifact of chaos and return it to the court where the inevitable chaos ensues. Depending on who the players side with and who gets the artifact, the adventure can have dramatically different results. Anything from the players uniting as a solid well oiled team to only one PC still breathing can happen at the end of this. The sheer openness of the adventure just adds to how fantastic it is.

I should also add a note about how fantastic the art is in this adventure. All the artists involved really outdid themselves here. Each of the Chaos gods gets a highly detailed full body portrait and they are all awesome to look at. They’re meant to be handouts and they really help the adventure to come alive. As well, instead of the usual dungeon maps that DCC are renowned for, we get a map of the Court of Chaos instead (oddly shaped like a Star of David). It is no less fantastic than the usual maps and I was happy to see a map of some kind included in this otherwise dungeon free adventure, because they are such a hallmark of DCC’s adventures.

While Intrigue at the Court of Chaos is far from the usual Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, it is a fantastic one and one of my favorites produced for the system. This adventure offers more role-playing opportunities than anything else for the system so far and you could easily spend several sessions just on the wheeling and dealing in the court. The crazy cast of Chaotic Gods will give the GM a wonderful array of characters to interact with the PCs and the combined experience will be a highly memorable (and hopefully entertaining) affair for everyone, even if their character is stabbed in the back (literally or figuratively) by another player before the adventure is done. I really loved this adventure and I do think it might be the best Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure yet. Of course, your mileage might vary. If you want something that is just wandering around a dungeon with more dice rolling than acting out your character, this probably isn’t for you. Still, it’s a fabulous adventure I can’t recommend enough. If you’re a DCC fan at all, you’re going to want to add this to your collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #80: Intrigue at the Court of Chaos
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #51: Castle Whiterock
by Robert M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2014 15:41:31
I was very happy with this item. I have the boxed set but this pdf file makes DMing much easier.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #51: Castle Whiterock
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2014 01:55:09
As a .5 product, Tower of the Black Pearl was originally written for the pre-DCC Dungeon Crawl Classic line of adventures, for D&D/d20/OGL/whatever gameplay. Not surprisingly, then, it's more of a generic FRPG module, than an epic-swilling Harley Stroh DCC adventure. Unfortunately, while it's a good generic module, it's not as vivid as the Michael Curtis DCC adventures, either.

The plotline is that once every 100 years (or whatever), The Tower of the Black Pearl surfaces for only eight hours. However, a group of pirates arrive first, and the PCs have to deal with them as well as the Tower. The adventure has twelve areas, and is a standalone adventure. If you're looking for a longer more developed pirate-y adventure, I highly recommend the TSR / WotC Underwater Saltmarsh series, starting with U1: Secret of Saltmarsh.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2014 23:56:52
So what were your characters doing at second level? Killing orcs? Hacking at zombies? Running away from lizardmen? Well, if you're playing a Harley Stroh Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, you're doing nothing of the above. You're probably playing another of his fantastic epic-swilling insanely brilliant how-do-we-top-this adventure.

And fantastic this one is. A magical demi-plane in another dimension is slowly succumbing to chaos-plasm, and it's up to the characters to save it. No, wait. The characters just want to get out, and it won't be easy with three not-so-friendly wizards in an age-old power balance, each expecting the player characters to swear fealty and assist them. Add to this some jaded petty and powerful NPCs, a demon manipulating the game hiding in plain sight, and several mindless hideous creatures lurking at the edges of the world.

The game? Every day, the demon, in the guise of The Fool, deals the cards from a deck and the NPC associated with each card returns back to life and swears fealty to the the wizard who received it. Every day, the wizards scheme and attempt to use their minions to capture the plaques of the other wizards to escape the plane. None have succeeded, and for as long as the other NPCs have remembered, they have died, resurrected, and are well-aware of this endless cycle of eternal stalemate.

Except it's not going to be eternal much longer. With the arrival of the PC's comes the corruption of chaos. The demi-plane is embedded in chaos, and has been able to resist it dissolution into the chaos-plasm. But the PCs arrival has caused the chaos to slowly reclaim and consume the plane, and everyone has only so much time left.

The adventure is well-crafted, with the Harley Stroh elements we've come to expect from his previous scenarios: dangerous mad NPCs with strong personalities, detailed devious dungeons, and epic dimension-spanning plotlines. And did I mention that the PCs can become part of the deck? Yes, that does mean players may find themselves swearing fealty to opposing wizards each day!

Not suprisingly, there's more of an emphasis on the wizards and their minions-of-the-day (perhaps including the PCs!) than your average dungeon crawler. While this is an exciting diversion from the usual generic FRPG adventure, it's probably best for experienced GMs and players willing to roleplay out their unusual situation. Unfortunately, other than some GM tips, there's almost no information in the adventure bridging the power struggle plot with the dungeon lairs of the wizards. For example, while we have a detailed layout of the dungeons and the personal agendas of NPCs that live there, we don't have examples of how the wizards even communicate with the characters. Do they appear as ghostly images? Do their minions speak for them? Do they invade the character's dreams? Of course, wizards being wizards, any of these ways of contacting the player characters would work. It's pretty much the GM's responsibility to negotiate and roleplay out the relationships the characters have with the wizards. I really would have liked to have read some examples of how the adventure played out in playtest groups to get an idea of how to run it.

So if you have the players up for this sort of adventure, and have the GM ability to run it, enjoy the adventure. Much more interesting than killing orcs.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by James L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2014 08:21:38
Even for the artwork alone, DCC is worth purchasing. I had extremely high hopes for this game, and for many items it hits the sweet spot (ascending AC, 3-save system, etc.). I think the magic system could be toned down a bit, and I'm not a huge fan of the funky dice. We already have plenty of dice to use.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/30/2013 06:20:05
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/12/30/tabletop-review-the-old-
-gods-return-dungeon-crawl-classics-2013-holiday-module/

Tabletop companies really like to release items as close to Christmas as possible. Goodman Games is no exception. This 2013 Holiday Module, entitled The Old Gods Return is full of homages and nods to Christmas. The main antagonist has a reindeer’s head. The tontuu resemble Santa’s elves. There are some seriously screwed up evergreen trees and the joulbok is reminiscent of the Krampus in design if not personality. This is a cute little idea for an adventure, and it’s well done enough that you don’t have to play it around the holidays to get the full effect.

The title of the piece is a bit misleading. The Old Gods do not in fact “return.” There is only one god, a fraction of its former self and near the end of its existence due to a lack of worship in this piece. That said, it IS the principal antagonist of the adventure, and even weakened, a god is a pretty powerful enemy for Level 1 characters to be taking on. Even with a party of six characters, expect some, if not all, to fall as you strive to complete this. Even if you beat the god, there is still a very large chance of a Total Party Kill after the fact (no spoilers as to why), so GMs might want to run this as a one-shot rather than risk beloved characters.

The plot of the adventure is pretty straight forward. Villages around the area are seeing their children struck with a strange illness for which there seems to be no recovery – magical or otherwise. The children fall comatose and appear to be suffering from symptoms akin to frostbite. Thankfully it has not affected the village of the PCs – until the adventure is underway. Attacked by strange gnome-like creatures with a perchance for murder, the PCs and their home village repel these invaders, only to discover at least one child has been struck by the malady. The PCs are chosen by the High Priest of Lopitar (god of fire) to smite the menace plaguing the land. In a sense, the conflict becomes more than PCs Vs. antagonists, but that of fire Vs. ice and old gods Vs. the new régime. Characters participating in the conflict will receive a special bless from Lopitar that allows them a wide range of fire based abilities. These powers are not permanent and will almost certainly exhaust themselves during the adventure, but they will be a lot of fun to mess around with while the players have them.

From there, the players will have to deal with a flying iceberg, three levels of dungeons, figuring out the mystery of the evergreen grove and do battle with an ancient god itself. It’s a pretty daunting adventure, and as mentioned previous, it’s not a question of IF a PC will die, but how many. Hey, if you’re reading this, you’re more than used to the DCC death toll by now, and this shouldn’t surprise you in the least, right?

There isn’t a lot more to the plot here. After the players leave there village, The Old Gods Return is fundamentally a straight forward hack and slash dungeon crawl experience. The emphasis is on roll-playing over role-playing, but again, you kind of expect that going into a DCC adventure. The adventure is quite short, able to be played in a single session. Although the dungeon is three levels deep, there are only three real combat encounters to be had, four if you count the one that sets up the adventure, and a fifth optional one that most players won’t run into unless they are poking their heads into everything.

As always, the art in the first party Dungeon Crawl Classics pieces are fantastic. Doug Kovacs does an amazing job, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the map for this adventure was a two page spread. DCC has the best maps in the industry, so you’re getting twice as much of the thing they do best. That’s a holiday present in and of itself! The other drawings are also a lot of fun, as they really help to showcase how much of this is an homage to various Christmas characters and themes. Without the visuals, a good portion of the piece may be lost on gamers, to the point where they might not realize this has an undercurrent of a holiday theme going for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Old Gods Return. Although I’m not a person who celebrates any of the assorted December holidays, this adventure really blends the season with Dungeon Crawl Classics tropes, and the end result is a very memorable adventure you and your friends will no doubt talk about for some time after. Is it the best DCC adventure I’ve ever played? No it’s not. The Old Gods Return is a lot of fun, though, makes for a great addition to any DCC fan’s library and is well worth playing through. This is a great way for Dungeon Crawl Classics to end 2013, and if you have a DCC playing friend, this would make a great late Christmas present for them – plus you’ll be able to share in the experience as well!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
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Critter Cache 6: Lovecraftian Bestiary
by Billy L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2013 14:39:48
This is an excellent resource for bringing Cthulhu entities into an existing D&D campaign. The monsters are tough and the players are unfamiliar with the D&D versions of these monsters. The art is creepy and it captures the feel of Lovecraftian horrors well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Critter Cache 6: Lovecraftian Bestiary
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