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GM Gems
by Joel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2014 15:47:01
Lots of great ideas to get your juices flowing. I can't wait to drop these into my game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM Gems
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea
by Dan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/30/2014 22:46:29
Possibly the coolest low-level modules I've read. The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG has each player create a few 0-level PCs a piece and the few characters that survive the first module become classed characters; 'Starless Sea' really captures that desperation, with a mob of villagers besieging a ruinous keep purely to prevent its inhabitants from further preying upon their families. There are no heroes in town--the villagers must make due themselves. And by the end of the module, after losing a few peasants in striking and memorable ways, each player may be lucky enough to emerge with true hero to call his own.

The opponents and the general feel of the module is VERY Appendix N / Michael Moorcock / Warhammer Chaos / Lovecraft. The enemy has its own motiviations and is working towards certain goals, so if the peasants fail, the world will be worse off for it. 'Starless' is a dungeon crawl, and for those who are quick to dismiss crawls as boring or too straightforward (which was me until recently!), it's great to see how such a relatively simple RPG style can have so much depth and flavor. 'Starless' is no railroad, either: the players can approach the problems at the keep in whichever way they can imagine. The module rewards clever decisions and otherwise chews through peasants without mercy.

The writing and layout are excellent, and the artwork really captures the mood and excitement of the story. Would, I'd imagine, convert with relative ease to other systems.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea
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Fifth Edition Fantasy #1: Glitterdoom
by Charles C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2014 20:11:48
Pretty solid to me! Interesting monsters (e.g. dwarf skeletons with petrifying touches), an interesting nomadic dwarf sub-race, and an interesting new background (refugee). Worth the buy!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Fantasy #1: Glitterdoom
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DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2014
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/05/2014 09:45:43
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/22/tabletop-review-dungeon-
-crawl-classicsmaximum-xcrawl-free-rpg-day-2014/

This year, Goodman Games’ Free RPG Day offering consists of not one, but TWO adventures for lucky gamers. Dungeon Crawl Classics fans get Elzemon and the Blood Drinking Box while Xcrawl fans get Dungeons Detonation 2014. This is my first exposure to Xcrawl, so I can’t speak to what the game was like before it moved over to Pathfinder mechanics, but it does mean that fans of 3.5 style gaming get two different adventures for their gaming group this year.

Our DCC adventure is only five pages long plus a full page piece of art and the usual (awesome) Doug Kovacs map. This means the adventure is a quick one that can be played in only a single session and also that Xcrawl is the main draw in this year’s twofer. Elzemon and the Blood Drinking Box is for seven to nine 1st Level characters and consists of a seven piece dungeon crawl. This particular adventure sees the PCs hired by the wizard, Rhalabhast of Many Eyes, to steal an artifact known as Yarafad’s Box. The box requires the regular feeding (5 HP per day) of Lawful aligned blood or it will lose a horrific monster upon the world. Of course the mission isn’t THAT straightforward, and there are some definite complications along the way, both physically and mentally. The adventure lasts roughly five days and besides the usual horrors that come from a hack and slash dungeon, there is a more cerebral element to the entire affair that the PCs may never become wise to. Players will also have to solve puzzles, fight off strange and sinister creatures that should not be and, of course, obtain Yarafad’s box. It’s a pretty straightforward adventure, save for the climatic plot twist, and as such it’s a great way to introduce gamers to the mechanics and atmosphere of Dungeon Crawl Classics. You also have two possible endings, one of which may spur the GM on to do several follow up adventures based off of revenge attempts upon the PCs. Not a bad little affair in all.

As Xcrawl takes up two thirds of the Free RPG Day offering, we will spend most of our time with that. Again, this is my first exposure to Xcrawl so I can’t comment on what it was like before the conversion over to Pathfinder, but I know Pathfinder pretty well, I feel comfortable commenting on the adventure even whilst admitting my ignorance of the overall setting.

From what I can tell, Xcrawl is a comedy-adventure, almost American Gladiators or The Running Man sort of affair, where player characters are celebrity entertainers of sorts. Smash T.V. is a nother good example for you old school video game fans. That doesn’t make the dangers or threat of death any less real though. The adventure, Dungeon Detonation 2014 is for characters between Levels 6-8, but there is no mention of a suggested party size. The idea of the adventure is that the PCs have agreed to take part in an Xcrawl for charity, giving them some nice public exposure and raise money for a good cause.

The dungeon in this adventure is a single level, but as Xcrawl is an entertainment/sport type of deal, the PCs won’t be the only party taking part. There will be five teams in all trying to make it through the dungeon, but it will be successively, not all at once. That’s too much chaos for all but the best GMs to deal with. For each piece of treasure the PCs collect, an equal piece will be donated to the “Jose Villalobos House for War Widows and Orphans. ” PCs will have to collect the most treasure and survive the most encounters to win.

What I found interesting is that Xcrawl takes place is a fantasy version of our real world, similar to how Shadowrun does, although Xcrawl has a fantasy bent instead of a Sci-Fi one. I think players will either really like or really hate this, depending on how serious they take their gaming. Me? I like to laugh personally, so I enjoyed the somewhat farcial nature of this piece.

Xcrawl isn’t the most well known gaming setting, so it was a wise idea to pare it with Pathfinder since that’s one of the most popular tabletop RPGs right now. You also get a half page of glossary and vernacular specific to Xcrawl to help new players and GMs alike become comfortable with the setting. The adventure also gives you a sidebar a few pages in (it probably should have been right up front) explaining a quick overview on how Xcrawl works, setting and mechanics wise. So even though this is a bit of an obscure game compared to a lot of Free RPG Day 2014 offerings, it should be an easy adventure to figure out and have fun with.

The dungeon itself is actually pretty long, with over a dozen rooms. Of course not every room has traps or monsters to best. Aside from the specific Xcrawl trappings, it’s a pretty standard hack and slash affair. Truly though, it’s the uniqueness of the Xcrawl experience that makes this adventure both fun and memorable. Of course, that could just be because I’m viewing this as a one-shot. I’m not sure that I’d enjoy a full length campaign of this nature. It’s like HoL – this type of adventure is best served as small treats rather than something you play regularly. Overall, I though Dungeon Detonation was very well done. I laughed at the absurd nature of the piece and I also enjoyed this variant on the usual Pathfinder style hack and slash experience. It’s definitely an adventure to try, but the overall campaign setting will definitely be for a niche audience.

All in all, another Free RPG Day gives us another quality offering from Goodman Games. If you missed out on this year’s release, it will probably make it out as a PDF to the general public at some point, so don’t feel too bad if you live far away from a brick and mortar store. Packaging both pieces as a “twofer” ensures gamers who pick this get two adventures for two different systems and thus gives Goodman Games a better chance of gaining a new fan. After all, someone might be a diehard Pathfinder fan and thus will be able to play (and hopefully enjoy) Xcrawl thus giving them impetus to pick up Maximum Xcrawl (The Pathfinder variant) core rulebook once it is released. Same with DCC. That still may appeal to a gamer like myself, who generally doesn’t care for Pathfinder or D&D 3.0/3.5. Both adventures are very different in tone and mechanics, so there should be something for everyone but the devout sci-fi gamer to enjoy with this release.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2014
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/28/2014 11:43:28
Demonstrating the trademark player-character 'funnel' of Dungeon Crawl Classics, this adventure is for 6-12 first-level characters, not all of whom will make it out alive. Hopefully a few will survive to tell the tale...

Set in and around the village of Hirot, the party will first gather information and rumours concerning a dire beast, the legendary Hound of Hirot, and be persuaded to deal with this menace. There are clues to gather as to various artefacts that might help, then off to actually find them (the dungeon crawl bit) and finally to the Sunken Fens to face off against the Hound. Ought to be simple, right?

The village is well-described, it's easy to get the flavour of the place and the people who dwell there. The rumours flying around are many and varied, and it is made clear which ones are true and which false (well, to the GM anyway, the party will have to draw their own conclusions!). Interestingly, from the outset the party needs to make moral choices as to their actions, embedding them into the ongoing events rather than leaving them as spectators. NPCs and encounter locations are provided in abundance: it's hard to realise that all this is packed into a mere 16 pages (yet it doesn't seem cluttered, cramped or overcrowded either).

Maps are plentiful as well: the village, the surrounding area and of course the integral dungeon crawl segment (couldn't be without that, what?). Everything you need to run the adventure - detailed locations, believeable NPCs and a few hideous monsters to bash - is provided. All in all, a good introduction to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

And this being a revision? I'm afraid I never saw the original version, so cannot comment on how it's been improved. Suffice to say, this rendition is excellent fun!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage King
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #82: Bride of the Black Manse
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2014 06:41:34
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/24/tabletop-review-dungeon-
-crawl-classics-82-bride-of-the-black-manse/

As a big fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I love it when Goodman Games gives us an adventure that is actually two in one. Similar to the Free RPG Day 2012, The 13th Skull, and a few other adventures, you’re actually getting two adventures in this release for the price of one. How can you not love that? The first is Bride of the Black Manse, as you could surmise from the title. The second is Blood For the Serpent King. Black Manse takes up the majority of the booklet, with Blood For the Serpent King taking up the last eight. Both adventures come with fantastic art, maps by Doug Kovacs (The best in the industry) and are fully fleshed out so that gamers will really get their money’s worth. Of course with two DCC adventures, it just means more opportunities for PCs to die horribly. Let’s take a look at each adventure in this piece.

Bride of the Black Manse is designed for four to eight 3rd Level Characters, and the party should include one priest and one thief. Unlike most Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures which are heavy on well, dungeon crawling and light on nuanced in-depth story-telling, Bride of the Black Manse is sort of the mirror opposite. It is primarily story-telling and mystery solving, while being very light on the combat. Don’t worry hack and slash fans, there is combat, and even though it is sparse, expect to see at least one PC eviscerated. Hey, this is Dungeon Crawl Classics after all. You play this game expecting characters to have a short life span, Call of Cthulhu style. Speaking of Call of Cthulhu, Bride of the Black Manse at times feels more like an adventure for that setting due to the amount of talking, discovery and otherworldly horror involved. Now if you’re a DCC fan that wants more roll-playing than role-playing, Bride of the Black Manse is probably not for you For everyone else though, you’ve got a great adventure that should appeal to longtime fans of the system., while also appealing to those who have eschewed DCC for being too combat heavy.

It’s also worth noting that Bride of the Black Manse is designed to be played in a single four hour session. This makes the adventure a fun one shot as well as a great choice to run at a convention. However the time constraint does mean that players have no chance of running through the entire Manse. Huge portions will be left undiscovered. This is okay. It’s part of the adventure. Some GMs may want to ignore that the adventure was designed for a single four hour session and let players go hog wild, exploring every nook and cranny. Whether that actually adds or detracts from the overall experience will depending on the GM and their troupe’s playing style, so mileage may vary. My suggestion is to play the adventure as is first. We’ll see why below.

So what is Bride of the Black Manse about? Well, it’s a tale about the fall of House Liis and how one person offered their soul to the devil Mammon in exchange for unholy power and the chance to rule. Well, they got their wish and like any good weasely antagonist, they found a way to protect their soul from Mammon’s clutches even if they couldn’t outright void the contract. Still, if there is one thing an immortal being has, it is time and so Mammon has waited many years to claim his prize and on the anniversary of the original deal being struck and the last of the wards losing their power, the PCs enter the picture. It’s up to the GM as to WHY the players have gone to the Manse, but that’s not too hard. The key thing is getting them there. Once inside the Manse, players discover they are all either reincarnations of members of House Liis or that the ghosts of Liis family members each chooses a PC as their champion. This is a key part of the adventure, so if you are the GM, make sure you know which path you are going to choose and which House Liis member corresponds to which character. Not keeping close track of this subtle but highly important detail can destroy the adventure.

Once the characters are inside the Manse, they must unravel its mysteries, deal with the plethora of evil spirits that dwell within and so much more. Of chief importance is keeping track of the time. The adventure begins at 9pm as the players enter the Manse and discover what they are in for. From the tolling of the first bell, the adventure then begins to unfold IN REAL TIME, which is why I mentioned you should play the adventure as written. An hour into the adventure it will be 10pm and the bell well toll once more. When this happens, the Manse will change in certain ways. This is also true when the bell tolls 11 and 12. Midnight is of course when the devil himself comes for his due. This gives players one last hour to solve the mystery of the Black Manse. Running the adventure in real time, really gives Bride of the Black Manse a unique feel as players will be scrambling rather than slowly inching their way through a dungeon. Having to rush through the Manse means things will be overlooked or missed as PCs have to make some tough choices. Some players won’t like being forced to play in real time as they are used to spending minutes agonizing over actions that would take seconds. Others will love the feel of the adventure and be quickly able to adapt. Again, it’s all in who you have at your table.

Bride of the Black Manse is simply an incredible adventure from beginning to end. I loved the creepy atmosphere, the mystery to be solved and the overall feel of the adventure. There’s nothing quite like Bride of the Black Manse and it’s worth picking up for any fantasy RPG, be it Dungeons & Dragons or one of its many retro clones. It’s the best horror adventure of 2014 so if you like pieces reminiscent of Ravenloft, you should stop reading this review right now and download/order this. Of course we still have another adventure to go in this twofer, so let’s start looking at it now.

Blood for the Serpent King is a more traditional adventure, designed for six to eight 2nd Level characters. It is a quasi-sequel to both DCC #16 Curse of the Emerald CobraThe Known Realms. You don’t see a lot of sequel adventures for DCC, so that makes this one special in its own right. It is worth noting that knowledge and/or experience with the two aforementioned adventures are not necessary. It’s more an Easter Egg or sly nod than anything else.

Blood for the Serpent King is a pretty straightforward affair. A group of serpent-men are looking to make a sacrifice on a very (un)holy night which will revive the Emerald Cobra himself, Xiuhcoatl. At the same time, the PCs wander in. There is no real setup for the adventure save for “Hey, ancient crypt! Let’s check it out.” Some GMs will want to put more of a story behind the reason why the PCs are tomb robbing while some know greed and looting are the only motivations their PCs need. Once at the crypt, players will have a straight up dungeon crawl. There are seven locations, each with their own encounter designed to whittle down PC hit point totals, if not outright murder them dead. You have your final climatic encounter with Xiuhcoatl, and that’s it folks. As I’ve said this is a pretty paint by numbers adventure, ESPECIALLY compared to Bride of the Black Manse, but that doesn’t mean Blood for the Serpent King isn’t a fun short little one shot for DCC fans. It’s a more traditional hack and slash affair and it makes a fine juxtaposition to the many mysteries of Bride of the Black Manse. Would I purchase Blood for the Serpent King on its own? No, I wouldn’t. Is it a great extra to have bundled in with the feature presentation? Definitely!

I absolutely loved this adventure set and it continues the trend Dungeon Crawl Classics has had this year of just putting out top notch outside the box pieces. With each adventure release in 2014 I wonder how Dungeon Crawl Classics is going to top itself…and then it does. Goodman Games is really on fire this year and like Intrigue at the Court of Chaos and The One Who Watches From Below, I can’t recommend Bride of the Black Manse enough. Even if you’ve never played DCC before, you should pick up all three adventures because they are so good you’ll want to pick up the core rulebook immediately afterwards and start converting your friends to the game. So far, 2014 has shaped up to be the year of Dungeon Crawl Classics and I’ve yet to see anything come close to touching it. Again, with three straight adventures that have blown me away, there has never been a better time to get into Dungeon Crawl Classics – so get started already!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #82: Bride of the Black Manse
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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 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!]
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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