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Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn (DCC RPG Edition)
by Jeffrey W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/01/2016 14:45:35

I am fairly new to DCC, but I've been a fan of XCrawl for a decade. I was a big fan of the Dream Park novels by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, the idea of LARP on camera wasn't new to me, but the surprising history of the North American Empire put a great twist on the idea. The "games" for for keeps - full-on lethal with live steel and live goblins. Oh, and I think I am contractually obligated to say if you die, YOU DIE. So XCrawl is televised dungeon crawling by competitive teams through wholly manufactured dungeon environments. A person known as a Dungeon Judge, or DJ, creates the dungeon layout, recruits, enslaves or purchases monsters, stocks with treasure... And then the crawlers run through the course. Teams are isolated from one another, and they're scored on various criteria, like party members surviving, treasure secured, total time elapsed, etc. Vegas-style statisticians even keep track of the action for wagering purposes.

So, televised X-Crawling meets Dungeon Crawl Classics. DCC is a rules set designed to "feel" like the 1970s are said to have felt. Now, here's my take on this. I've read things various old timers have said about gaming in the early days. I've sat down with a lot of the first generation authors, and rolled dice with Frank Mentzer and Zeb Cook, and eagerly questioned Ernie Gygax. I believe the truth lies in the following analogy: Dungeon Crawl Classics is to gaming in the 70s as John Boorman's Excalubur is to the actual Arthurian period. That is, it's an idealized, distilled, and purified concentration of all the awesome that is then turned up to eleven and served up on a Molly Hatchet album cover. DCC is made to feel like the side of a van decorated with Vallejo artwork, and that makes it a thing of beauty. The way in which arcane magic works, the ability of Clerics to anger their deity, the crit and fumble tables... All of it. It makes for a great gaming experience that is just like all those stories of 70s gaming.
So, put DCC and XCrawl together and what do you get? A Reese's Cup of awesome. You get the experience of a potentially super-lethal televised dungoeon run with all the bells and whistles that makes DCC unique from bog-standard D20 3.x mechanics. Things that set DCC apart are a perfect natural fit for XCrawl, such as the Deed Die, which allowes Warrior and Dwarf characters to declare special moves and attacks that are generally the stuff of Feats in 3.x. With the Deed Die, these characters can declare all sorts of showoff mayhem for the cameras. The variable nature of spellcasting means chances for high drama with the crowds. It's a natural fit.


OK, so the module itself. Bear in mind this is for 1st-level DCC characters and represents the finals of a non-lethal XCrawl division. In the case of Dungeonbattle Brooklyn, the finals have been made full-lethal to increase ratings. So this is the first foray into real steel and full-power magic for your PC team. The first part of the adventure is some pretty mundane obstacles, but it picks up a bit from there. There's a great homage to American Gladiators and then some interestingly designed rooms and traps. The one star I'm dropping from the rating of 4/5 is due to the repetitive nature of checking all doors for traps, removing traps... lather, rinse, repeat and for the swingy implementation of the mud room. Now, there may be nothing for the first issue- old school dungeons tended to have TONS of traps, and I do recall my early experiences in the 80s being meticulously checking every single door. This may be a necessary evil of the genre. The second issue I will caution DMs (DJs?) to use discretion on. The text says 0-3 enemies rise from the mud each round with a total of 14 baddies possible. Due to the die rolls, the players were able to get in, grab the treasure, and get out with little fuss because no more than 2 creatures were actively threatening them at any given time. The Cleric's "Holy Hadouken" of turning ability handled some, and the rest of the party handled others. I would highly recommend adjusting the appearance of the creatures to front-load the encounter beginning with the PCs reaching the middle of the room. The room is a GREAT addition to the dungeon, but using the random distribution with the possibility of zero new monsters in a turn (which happened three times due to a d4 that just didn't feel like killing PCs) meant my PCs never really had a sense of threat about this room, and given that there is only one way in and out, it's got the potential for some serious brown trousers time if played right.

Anyway, as an introduction to both XCrawl and DCC, this module was an insane amount of fun for a group just dipping their toes in both. The use of mundane challenges at the beginning can give the players a bit of eyerolling and thinking this whole televised dungeon crawling thing is just silly... then the REAL fun begins.

Four out of five d14s from me. Would definitely run this again for another set of players. Looking VERY forward to the DCC version of the XCrawl corebook.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn (DCC RPG Edition)
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Age of Cthulhu: Transatlantic Terror
by Eric B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2016 10:50:06

At 12 pages, including pre-generated characters and a map of the HMS Adriatic, this little gem makes a good investigative one-shot, suitable for convention play. I will try not to revieal spoilers other than to say that it really reminds me of the older Call of Cthulhu scenarios from the 80s and early 90s - a lot of investigation must be by character choice (very little railroading the players to following up on clues) with, if successful, a VERY deadly group of mythos creatures at the end. I have run this in a convention to completion in 3 1/2 hours. I did handicap the mythos creatures (no spells) and even then it was a close run thing.


Great for a single night of entertainment, either using the pregens for a one shot or for a transit of existing characters across the Atlantic.


Groups recommeneded/not recommended for:


I would recommend this without reservation to a group that enjoys the roleplaying, exploring of the luxury cruise liner, is interested in a investigation, and not put off at having to fight the super-bad mythos.


I would be concerned with a more action-oriented group or ones that need to be put on the trail, such as a group that enjoys Delta Green type scenarios.


Other notes from play:



  • One group was convinced that I had placed the characters on the Titanic and was going for a total party kill - gaurenteed.

  • Expanding the scenario into a campaign could be done. One player was convinced that the myhtos creatures encountered were now present everywhere; it would be simple to make this paranoia part of the game world for future investigations into the "hidden menace".



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Cthulhu: Transatlantic Terror
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Fifth Edition Fantasy #1: Glitterdoom
by Dan D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 11:21:05
I had posted this review in the discussion section, because I wasn't able to review it until I had purchased the PDF (I had purchased the physical copy at a local game store). The module includes a code to download a PDF, but the code was expired. Goodman Games sent a valid code to me, so I can now post my review here!

I read through this entire adventure tonight. It is fairly short. The book is 16 pages with 11 of those being the background + adventure, 1 page of monster stats (there are a few additional monster stats included in the adventure pages), 2 pages of "concluding the adventure," new sub-race, and a new background, then 1 page of maps.


There are a few things that I really like about this adventure. First, it is a mini dungeon crawl. However, not every room has an encounter. In fact, maybe only 1/3 of the rooms have encounters. However, all rooms have descriptions and elements of interest. I tire of crawls where every room has an encounter. Second, I like how the encounters include descriptions of how the creatures will approach the combat. The DM is obviously free to change this, but it is nice to have this included. Third, even though this is a mini adventure, it feels that the author(s) put quite a bit of thought into it.


I am most likely going to modify this a bit and include it as a side adventure in Out of the Abyss. I don't think it'll take much to adapt it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Fantasy #1: Glitterdoom
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Samuel H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/14/2016 15:19:14

Dungeon Crawl Classics is a brutal, meticulous, whip-smart, cross-grained, purposefully derivative and sublimely innovative achievement in fantasy rpgs. It is the Dwarf Fortress of fantasy tabletop game: it makes Losing Fun. I don't think it's the only fantasy rpg I'll ever need, but it is now, and may it forever be, the Heart of every rpg I ever Judge again.


NOTABLE QUOTES


Fear no rule. I know you will homebrew this game...such is as it should be...


Make your world mysterious by making it small...when a five mile journey becomes an adventure, you'll have succeeded in bringing life to your world...


If a magic item can be sold or bought for 5,000 gold pieces, where does the seller dispose of that kind of coinage? What local government is even minting such vast amounts of currency?..


[DCC] is not an attempt to model an experience related to D&D but rather an attempt to model an experience that predated D&D... step back one era further... beyond the confines of genre assumptions... [emphasis mine]


Always describe a monster using physical characteristics. Let players learn the capabilities and characteristics of monsters through experience... they should name them, not you.


A key element of player experience in [DCC] is a sense of wonderment... that was so easy to achieve when we were children who did not know all the rules...


WEIRD DICE


Then there's the Weird Dice you just ordered, sitting on your kitchen table. Lumpy, futuristic d5 and d7, novelty-size d30, etc. You don't quite know what they're for. They're anachronistic; or they would be if you'd ever seen them before... just like the first time you ever played D&D. When you were a child and did not know all the rules.


DCC's stated aim (and it succeeds) is to replicate your very first experience of a fantasy roleplaying game. Then your second. Then your first campaign. Think about that for a second. Think about how much fun that was.


Remember learning to bring a thief next time? Remember learning what 'parley' meant? Remember learning to pit two hostile factions against one another? Remember learning these things by dying many, many times? DCC's got you covered, son! Holy crap will you die. Your characters will be written on index cards so as not to waste paper, scattered all around the table, dead PCs or raw recruits mustered to the wholesale slaughter of your evening's adventure. You will die and die, until you (re)learn to actually value your player's life, (or at least the one with OK stats) until you (re)learn the one thing this system respects: Creativity. This is as it should be.


The mechanics of the game and it's signature insistence on random tables for damn near everything are thoroughly covered in other reviews, so I'll skip describing them here, save to say they play fast and they ensure the sense of surprise and unpredictability that is baked into every part of this system. Ditto the generous amount of artwork that graces the book's pages.


The low-volume sexism I could do without. Describing difficulty check 10 as "a Man's Work", drawings of women entering combat in swimsuits is something that I'd prefer not to have to hide from women in my group so I don't have to watch their enthusiasm for this game wilt. I don't want to have to watch anyone I play with realize this game wasn't meant for them, it's too good a game, it should be inclusive on principle. Carrying the spirit of 1974 fantasy adventuring forward doesn't necessitate carrying the exclusivity of 1974 fantasy adventuring forward, and I prefer re-experiencing my first RPG than re-experiencing my first stirrings of puberty upon seeing a Frank Frazetta cover on a Conan story collection. Nothing wrong with cheesecake, but that's not why I'm here, and neither's my group, and jumping into medieval combat in a bikini is dumb and unworthy of a game that finds excessive medieval coinage unrealistic.


The two DCC modules I own (both written by DCC rockstar Harley Stroh) are fantastic: scary, mean, and full of surprises. They're so good at what they do that I have little to no inclination to come up with my own adventures. Smart move on Goodman's part. Another delightful thing about these modules is that they encourage player handouts, as do the excessive tables from the core book that spellcasters and clerics are obliged to use. Black and white handouts just ooze that graph paper and constantly snapping mechanical pencil feel. They help


I just want to add a little bit to the comment I made about using DCC RPG as the Heart of my fantasy gaming from here on out. I have added D&D style Wisdom ability scores to split DCC's Personality ability in two parts I find best separated. I'm using D&D's peerless 5e Monster Manual. I used the free Dungeon World supplement Funnel World (available on this website) to add player bonds, consensus about the area, and local color before shoving 15 PCs into Stroh's 0-level adventure Sailors on the Starless Sea (the guard tower in particular is memorably horrifying).


So other systems I know do things better, but nothing I know of gets the spirit of fantasy RPGing righter than DCC RPG, or can make it feel fresher or more alive. For me, it's a kick in the pants, gasoline on the fire, and a call to arms to carry forward the spirit of all that is best about the practice of tabletop fantasy gaming.


In the time it took you to read this, you could've bought it already and be googling 'Zocchi Dice'.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.3: Sky Masters of the Purple Planet
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2016 08:49:34

The Purple Planet box set was probably the best RPG purchase I made last year. It is exactly what it claims to be, a fantastic, exotic, lengthy adventure that you can easily base an entire campaign around. If it looks interesting to you, then I'm fairly confident you won't be disappointed. It has all the weirdness, wonder and swords and sorcery action you've likely come to expect from DCC products.


Goodman Games has released three modules to date in further support of the setting, and this is my favorite. The party is immediately dropped into the action when a band of airship pirates ambush them with exotic weaponry. This leads the party to chase the survivors to their base, a sprawling affair which will require a great deal of cunning and resourcefulness on the party's part to overcome. Will they boldly storm the place (not recommended!), sneak in, use subterfuge or possibly even start a slave revolt? All of this and more is possible.


Furthermore, although the adventure is short and to the point, the existence of said pirates on the Purple Planet certainly creates a wonderful springboard for further adventures. I imagine most game masters who read this adventure will have no trouble coming up with numerous additional adventures to follow up on the party's actions, and given the evocative atmosphere the setting engenders such inspiration will not be hard to come by!


One final note: although I'm sure resourceful and creative game masters can find ways to use this adventure in existing campaign settings, I strongly recommend you pick up the Perils of the Purple Planet adventure to make the fullest use of it--I am confident you won't regret it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.3: Sky Masters of the Purple Planet
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Fifth Edition Fantasy #3: The Pillars of Pelagia
by Michael W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2016 11:32:18

This was a nice adventure, short but not railroad'y. Unique but easily adjusted to fit one's own setting. My group liked some of the thinking puzzles. We finished this in two four hour sessions playing with 3-5 people (three one session, five the other). Has great advice for scaling up the adventure but I actually scaled it down for level one characters.
I actually changed the setting to forgotten realms, made Umberlee the goddess, and put this on a small town along the sea of fallen stars. Worked perfectly (and am transitioning them to the curse of strahd from here....) I'm a fan of these goodman games modules, perfect for us working adults. Great price too. And I always buy the hardcopies at my local game shop (for some reason I prefer hard copies to downloads).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Fantasy #3: The Pillars of Pelagia
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.2: Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2016 14:24:40

Hmmmm... not as fun as the core campaign boxset or 84.1: The Rock Awakens, but this mini-expansion introduces a few interesting additions to the setting. Far more sci-fi in its basis than fantasy, the concept of the new kith clan is disapointingly similar to an existing clan... but the module itself is a simple, linear crawl (as befits the series). It doesn't add much to the setting itself, or present many paths for further development, but provides a decent enough one-off session. A couple of new items, but even these lack sufficient detail in possible outcomes from alt glyph entires, which could have been fun.


On the whole, fun enough, but I would much rather see more in the lines of 84.1.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.2: Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #84: Peril on the Purple Planet
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2016 11:28:56

A fantastic idea for a setting, that I am incredibly glad was so succesful (during its Kickstarter campaign) that it allowed the author and publisher to expand substantially on the material - from a one-off semi-sandbox adventure to a viable long-term campaign setting.


The Purple Planet is strange. It is completely alien. And that makes it a wonderful place to explore, for everything is exotic. It is the epitome of the planetary romance genre - a masterful blend of fantasty and sci-fi, on a world unlike anything else. Warring factions of very differet ideological/technological beliefs (in how their specific Ancients preserved knowledge), absolutely unique toponymy, and the hook for escaping/using items found strewn amongst the rubble of the crumbling planet. Everything works well, and fits together seamlessly.


I was a fan of the Wormwood campaign setting for RIFTS back in the day, but it was extremely convoluted (and an awful system) - this is the logical successor, even for adapting to other gaming systems. Everything is fun to explore, and piecing together fragments of history to work out what has happened makes for a riveting story arc. Common assumptions cannot be made for anything, everything requires experimentation - and the expanded sourcebooks have allowed for so many factors to be covered in great detail.


It is extremely hard to review without giving examples, but I do not wish to post any spoilers here.


I cannot recommend this boxset highly enough - in my opinion, it is the pinnacle of Goodman Games art, and a true pleasure to run/plan more adventures in. Long may the modular mini-expansions for it continue.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84: Peril on the Purple Planet
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.1: The Rock Awakens
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2016 11:13:00

A fantastic little addition to the core Purple Planet campaign boxset, that really emphasises the exotic plantary romance theme. In keeping it short, however, the authors sadly missed a couple of opportunities for expanding the description and exploration possibilities of the city, and the integration of the Navigators within the world. For example, a lost tribe of kith whose ancestors worshipped them and passed down the tradition of marking their bodie with maps, translated to their own tribe and experiences, could have been a fantastic addition that had potential beyond the remit of this one adventure (saying that, such a development could well serve as the focus of another mini-expansion).


It is a rather compact and guided experience, but provides lots of stands for personal devlopment of a campaign on the planet - and serves as an ideal one-off piece. Very much worthy of a purchase for fans of the setting, and I think modular additions of this nature are a good development for the DCC line - really emphasise how much potential the setting has for a long-term campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #84.1: The Rock Awakens
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Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens
by Anthony B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2016 02:15:36

I am currently using this in a Pathfinder game. The creatures can be run as-is, but just add a CMB and CMD score to each monster's stat block. D&D 3.5 monsters are a little bit weaker, so for example if it says the monster is a CR 4, it might be more like a CR 3 in the Pathfinder world. But that's easy enough. No problem!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics Presents: Blackdirge's Dungeon Denizens
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #87: Against the Atomic Overlord
by Dan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2016 21:16:27

Wildest DCC yet. Fans of the third "Dark Tower" novel or the Metal Slug arcade games will love it. Mobile tank-fortresses, urban spelunking, respirator-sucking octopoids, amoebic nanoswarms--lots of cool ideas here. It's got a good, proper quest; one with meaning and weight, which will have widespread ramifications for both the player characters and the game world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #87: Against the Atomic Overlord
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky
by Jason D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2016 22:50:27

I ran this as my first 0-level funnel for four mostly new RPG players. Overall it was a very well received from the players who lamented being tossed two kilometers off an invisible bridge (among other things). As a judge, I found this very easy to follow and prepare - play took a total of ~6hrs over two sessions including 0 lvl character generation. This is my first foray into DCC RPG, and we had an awesome time with this module.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky
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Fifth Edition Fantasy #2: The Fey Sisters' Fate
by Michael W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/21/2016 21:44:54

Ran this with my wife who was playing several characters.
Straightforward introduction to dnd for newbies and was good to use with mini's (at the dam and the shooters from tree).
Might have taken more than one session had might wife not taken out a bunch of enemies (and half her party) with a fireball gone awry.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Fantasy #2: The Fey Sisters' Fate
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky
by Mark W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2016 14:47:51

Rather complex for a Level 0 adventure. I did like that the likelyhood of characters dying would be educational for new players.
"Hole in the Sky is designed for 16-24 zero-level DCC RPG
characters who should “funnel” down to a small group of
PCs that will rise to 1st-level and go on to fabulous adventures."
This is old school, kill 'em all off until only the best remain.
Not designed for a small group that expected to become a united, coordinated group that would meet on a regular basis.
I see another option for a 4-6 player group. When the character dies, player re-rolls a new character that has to have significant differences from the original. This would allow player to work with a range of characters to learn how to play diverse characters.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #86: The Hole In The Sky
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #0: Legends are Made, not Born
by Eric B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2016 18:54:33

This is the adventure that got me hooked on Goodman Games. I have game mastered this adventure five times and each one has been memorable and most led to a long term campaign - including one of which was the most epic that I ever ran and based on elements introduced in this adventure. For fans of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, I consider this the original funnel.


Characters start out at 0-level and the very weakness of the PCs causes the players to stretch their imagination to keep the characters alive. The module serves as a great origine story and has plenty of hooks for future adventures.


Highly recomended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #0: Legends are Made, not Born
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