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Dungeon Crawl Classics #26: The Scaly God
by James G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/13/2012 23:30:37

A great module! This is the kind of module I grew up playing in the early '80s. Our players said, It was like a low level "Tomb of Horrors." Indeed, there are lots of traps to keep your PCs on their toes at all times. Many of the monsters are very challenging. Especially the last one. (As it should be!) I DMed for a group of five 4th level characters. Heading into the final encounter, I leveled them up to 5th level. It was only through sheer luck that they survived the final battle. We finished the module in about 14 hours of playing time. The party skipped many of the possible rooms they could have explored because of time. We could have had another 2 to 3 hours of playing time, if we would have tried to get through every encounter. 5 Stars!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #26: The Scaly God
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/13/2012 01:24:11

Semi-spoilers ahead!


Villagers have been disappearing—and some of them are your
friends! A number of clues, various old superstitions, and a handful of vague omens point to the brooding citadel of the emerald enchanter. This silent monolith has sat undisturbed atop a windy ridge for centuries. Legends say that a green-skinned sorcerer dwells there, where he conducts strange experiments and builds enigmatic machinery. His emerald constructs patrol the grounds of his citadel, and he is seen only rarely when he ventures out on nefarious errands that end in horrid screams and strange lights coming from his citadel. Now you believe he is holding your friends captive. To rescue them—and potentially acquire some loot along the way—you set off to invade his inner sanctum. -- Player Beginning


Well, if that doesn't describe the adventure, I don't know what does. The Emerald Enchanter is a second-level adventure, by Joseph Goodman, creator of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Like his previous adventures, EE gives the judge the same quality of dungeon: bizarre encounters to challenge the party, "a method behind the madness" to give consistency, a few captives to replace fallen members, and a "backdoor" to reward risk-takers. The adventure is fourteen pages long, shorter than his People of the Pit, but long enough for party TPK. The art is wonderfully evocative, definitely useful for the judge to tell the players how much trouble they're in. It's a well-designed wizard lair, which the judge (or players!) can use as a template for his own ideas.


My only quibble with this adventure is why the heck would you let strangers wander about your house? Won't they scratch the silver and damage the furniture? The encounter where the party initially meets the enchanter lets them cleverly "short circuit" the adventure, but warns the enchanter of these invaders. Why doesn't he send his emerald guards in their direction? (Or, since this is a dungeon crawl, who cares?) You could eliminate this encounter entirely. Or you could give a good reason for his non-interference, such as the party inadvertently releasing an NPC who kills him off, but doesn't adhere to the idea that "the enemy of my enemy is a friend".


Overall, I enjoyed this adventure very much. It has nothing to do with, but leads fine to the Free RPG Day 2012 adventure, The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust. I mean, who else are you going to use to fence all those emeralds into gold?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/12/2012 00:43:53

Remember first level? You went into a dungeon, stabbed a few kobolds, went into another area, killed a few goblins, went somewhere else, slew some orcs, went to another place, attacked some skeletons, got their treasure, and finally did something (like slay hobgoblins) at second.


DCC isn't that.


"Now a decade has passed since the last sacrifice, and the rumbles of the pit-beast can once more be heard deep in the pit. This time, though, there is another factor. People have emerged from the pit, herding great slithering tentacles before them. These people of the pit wear gray robes and have no faces. The local peasants have chased the robed men away on numerous occasions, and now the humble folk around the ravine fear for their safety. It was enough to fear the beast of the pit, now must they fear the people of the pit as well? You have set out to explore the great ravine in search of mystery, adventure, riches, and fame—and perhaps to aid your neighbors along the way." -- from the Player Beginning


Spoilers ahead.


If the core book's "Portal Under the Stars" was a trap-encrusted killfest, "People of the Pit" is a refugee from Queen of the Demonweb Pits and Shrine of Kuo-Toa (and better organized, too). While Pit may not be campaign-sized large, your poor players certainly didn't take them on at first level!


And, like, Portal, Pit is sufficiently deadly. If your figher insists on running down the slick stairs, he could fall to the pit floor before meeting anyone. And when you do enter combat, those grey-robed cultists have the audacity to have these tentacled things burst out of them when they die. Oh, and if they're in an area where tentacles are nearby they can summon them to do their bidding (like grab characters and toss them screaming into the pit). And that's just the first encounter.


The adventure sticks to theme yet provides an assortment of enemies, magical traps, mundane ones, and a few Things to Run Away From. The adventure has method behind its madness. Smarter characters will proceed cautiously and use the shortcuts to their objective. Others will find themselves shocked, teleported, cursed, turned to stone, sliced open, and screaming a hentailike death. Thoughtfully, the adventure has plenty of 0-level captives who can replace fallen members, and more 0-level captives to replace the previous ones. And, yes, the trope-ic Indiana Jones finale has a beautiful babe about to be sacrificed to the pit.


If there's any criticism of the adventure, it's that it's not just for 1st level characters! DCC is about not knowing what you're up against, and the stats (and shortcuts) can certainly be adjusted for higher level parties. And you may want to make the Control Tentacle spell easier to access by the spellcasters, if only to roll on the corruption table!


I'm pleasantly please with the People from the Pit. Just makes you wonder what will happen at second level.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
by Matthew T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2012 10:35:52

I’ve come to expect mysterious, bloody, full-on awesomeness from Goodman Games, and Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter does not disappoint. This adventure module for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game is crammed with combat, traps, weird creatures and magics, and that special new Old School charm that DCC invokes so well. This adventure is designed for 8-10 2nd level characters of all classes: thieves are needed to open doors, find traps and ferret out secrets, warriors will be tested with lots of combat, and spell-casters will find many strange magics to content with. There is lots of fighting, plenty of mysteries and surprises, and even some good opportunities for role playing if your interested.


I must say that the folks at Goodman Games apparently role play with much larger groups than I. 8-10 characters? I’m lucky if I get 4 players at a session! This circle is easily squared however by increasing the level of the PCs, by nerfing the adventure, or, as we did in my playtest, having the players run multiple characters (this option is quickly becoming the norm in my DCC games).


Ah, yes, my playtest. I was hoping to write a playtest review, but the game was a bloodbath, another DCC RPG TPK (don’t you just love this hobby’s acronyms?). As such, I only got to play about a fifth of the adventure, but what I ran was very exciting and what I was not able to run looks great.


If you’re a DCC player, all I can say is that this adventure will exciting and challenging. Tread carefully, think clearly, fight well, or meet your doom!


If you’re a GM, read on:


WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. GMs ONLY


The Emerald Enchanter can be easily dropped into almost any campaign, though the introductory text assumes the enchanter is plaguing the PCs’ hometown. Most of the information needed is presented, though the GM should give some thought to the vulnerabilities, immunities, and special properties of living statues, golems, and such constructs (i.e. are golems susceptible to charm spells or paralyzation, etc.). There are also several mysterious entities as well as a dozen or so NPCs within the adventure that the GM may find herself role playing (including 3-4 potential 0-level replacements for fallen PCs).


There is a straight, brute force path through the adventure that heedless, lucky, and tough PCs may survive. But there are also a few shortcuts, mysteries, and hidden resources that a careful, clever, or daring party may use to increase their odds of success. If your players fail, there’s probably something they missed. And if you’re of the mind, you can play this several times before your players find everything.


A few bits of advice: special attention should be paid to the tactics of the enchanter since he will mostly likely be aware of the PCs early in the adventure; creatures suddenly turned from statues into flesh and blood should, in my opinion, be disorientated for a round or two; and the final confrontation may require map and miniature (or at least a few place markers and a doodle), as it is a tad involved. Also, as I reviewed the PDF version of this adventure I can say that if you’re planning on printing the module, you might want to print only pages 3 – 14 and skip the players’ handout and the maps. Nice as they are, they have loads of black space and will suck your printer dry faster than stirge cheating on its diet.


Oh, and one last thing I did learn from my playtest: the emerald enchanter has no adequate fire control in his citadel. If your players, say, climb onto the roof of the citadel, slip down a chimney, and accidently set fire to the kitchen, things will go badly.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
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DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2012 02:06:11

A key element of player experience in the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game is a sense of wonderment. Your job as judge is to convey “the sense of the unknown” that was so easy to achieve when we were children who did not know all the rules. -- DCC RPG Core rules


If, by "a sense of wonderment", you mean "OH SHI*", yes, DCC adventures have a sense of wonderment. If D&D adventures are a series of stat blocks and treasure tables, DCC adventures are a case of "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't". Assuming, of course, your players will last long enough to find that method. Spoilers ahead.


The first adventure, "The Undulating Corruption", is a 5th-level quest for a corrupted wizard and his party. DCC has a wonderful mechanic that the more a wizard casts spells, the more likely he'll suffer a corruption. In this adventure, your players have found out about a shrine that can cure corruption. Except that it isn't really a shrine. And it escaped.


The second adventure, "The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust", is a 3rd-level heist of a fence who seems to have disappeared a month ago. Seems, of course, is the operative word. More accurately, it seems that Boss Ogo stumbled upon a particularly enchanted jewel, and has made contact with a Lolth or Lovecraftian mythos-inspired spider god, whose spiders have leaked into our own plane. It doesn't help that Ogo himself has a well-trapped location, or mundane opponents, such as the surviving gang members, still watch over his shop.


At about six pages each, both adventures are short, but that doesn't mean they're easy. They should be adaptable to other game systems. The second adventure will also be useful to understand what a thieves guild would look like. Also included is a $1000 design contest, with an October 2012 deadline.


My only hesitation in recommending these adventures is that, as of this writing, DCC seems to be releasing adventures starting at 0th level and is up to 1st, if you ignore the short 5th level adventure in the core book. Those who wish to create their own sense of, ahem, wonderment, adventures already have the adventures in the DCC core rules as models. The others who rely up on prewritten adventures may wish to wait until Goodman Games releases a 3rd level adventure to have something to compare these adventures against.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2012 18:22:18

The Emerald Enchanter is the 2nd adventure released in the DCC RPG Line of adventures for 2nd level characters after Purple Duck Games' release of Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror. If you are a referee that prefers to use prewritten adventures in your gaming, the DCC RPG is has the strong beginnings of a varied assortment to choose from.


The Emerald Enchanter isn't just the name of the adventure, it's also the hook that draws the players in - townsfolk have gone missing, and the Emerald Enchanter is the likely culprit.


I must say I'm really digging the adversaries in this adventure. The grunts have a nice twist to them. The more specialized adversaries? Awesome twists to them. I will never look at mosaic artwork the same way again. Ever ;)


The ability to work potential replacement characters into the adventure is in itself a great thing, especially with the potential lethality of the DCC system. I'm glad to see the author placed some replacements if needed.


The challenges are great, but so are the rewards. I think it is a pretty well balanced adventure, both in the challenge department and in the goodies the PCs might acquire. I think having a Wizard or an Elf in the party is pretty much needed for the party to succeed but I could be wrong. It's a shame I won't get a chance to run this until sometime in the future. My PCs are still 1st level.


The artwork is, as always, many layers of awesome. I'll say it again: Goodman, start selling art prints!


Oh, and the PDF is bookmarked as always. Nice job.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #69: The Emerald Enchanter
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Age of Cthulhu 6: A Dream of Japan
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/07/2012 02:25:55

Alright. This review will be one big spoiler, so you brave little investigators can leave the room now. It's time for us Keepers to have a chat.


Ready? Good. A Dream of Japan reminds me of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Masterfully written, tense and suspenseful, and, more often than not, ending with the main character screwed over in some sort of dreadful fate in the end. Or like the horror movie where it only seems that our heroes win out, only that we know that the terribleness is just beginning.


And that's the drawback of A Dream of Japan. The ending has our investigators none the wiser that they really didn't succeed and are now pawns for the terrible horrible terror. Sure, actual investigators aren't supposed to defeat the forces of the Mythos, but the players may want to have that ridiculous concept of "fairness" in an adventure.


A Dream of Japan doesn't do this. Or, rather, it ends with the seeds for the Keeper to take his next adventure and drop hints (as well as NPCs close to the investigators) that their adventure in Japan isn't exactly over. It's a rather fiendish idea whose success will depend on how well your players don't mind being hornswaggled by the forces of the Mythos.


Otherwise, it's a great adventure. Chaosium set high standards of writing with its Cthulhu adventures, and A Dream of Japan follows quite nicely. It is, of course, set in Japan, yet its scope never has us needing a broad sourcebook to support it. The level of detail (at least until the end) makes our jobs easier.


Definitely an adventure to make your next one a little more interesting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Cthulhu 6: A Dream of Japan
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Critter Cache 1: Big Bugs
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2012 19:05:00

The creatures presented in this bestiary are, for the most part, real-world creatures that have been vastly enlarged and, in some cases, given some kind of fantasy twist. Despite the name, some of the creatures presented are not really insects, but I suppose that “Oversized Invertebrates” would have made a less satisfying title. The product exhibits good production values, typical for Goodman/Blackdirge products. The artwork appears to be all-new, produced specifically for this product. The content is well-written and the creatures are useful, but as the supplement was published in 2008, the monsters predate Monster Manual 3 and may require some updating for best results.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critter Cache 1: Big Bugs
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Critter Cache 2: Prehistoric Beasts
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2012 19:04:43

If the official D&D Monster Manuals leave your Isle of Dread feeling a little underpopulated, pick up this supplement and flesh out your ecosystem a bit. Twenty-six prehistoric beasts—not just dinosaurs—populate these pages. Following WotC’s lead, author Aeryn Rudel names dinosaurs “behemoths,” so that a ceratosaurus becomes a “devilsnout behemoth” and a tyrannosaurus becomes a “tyrantfang behemoth.” Five of the creatures are aquatic, great for encounters on the way to the Isle of Dread (or wherever); there are also three varieties of flying reptiles or “leatherwings.” The artwork is fantastic, though some of it—signed “Burgard” and dated six or seven years before the publication of Critter Cache 2—may be reused from Broncosaurus Rex (I’m not sure about this). Critter Cache 2 was published in 2008, considerably before Monster Manual 3, so DMs may want to look at updating the monster math used in CC2 before the PCs meet these classic real-world beasts in play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critter Cache 2: Prehistoric Beasts
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2012 22:54:56

Introduction: Dungeon Crawl Classics has been making some buzz on the RolePlayingGeek forums. The "not just another return to old school" RPG comments and Goodman's reputation made me take a closer look at this highly thematic fantasy RPG.


Art: Probably what hits you first is the "old school" art. It's not the slick Magic the Gathering art that's been infecting coffee table RPG's, but art last seen in the old first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I'm namedropping, but Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, and Jeff Easley are contributing artists. And, yes, the art still has no relevance to the text the page is on, comsuming gobs of laser printer ink if you're even thinking of printing this out. I REALLY wish a printer-friendly PDF version of this book was released.


Core Mechanic: It's OGL.


Differences from other systems: Basic D&D's Cleric, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling classes. Surviving 0th level. The Luck ability score. Spell checks -- which work differently for wizards versus clerics. Critical hit tables, fumble tables, and other tables of thematic fury. No prestige classes, attacks of opportunity, feats, or skill points.


Organization: The book is pretty intuitive to use. For example, character generation comes first (because all the old school gamers did that sort of thing), before the actual combat mechanics. It's also a PDF, so searching is easy. While it has a simple Table of Contents, it has no index. Chapters are Characters, Skills, Equipment, Combat, Magic, Quest snad Journeys, Judge's Rules, Magic Items, Monsters, and two Adventures.


Characters:


You start at to 0th level, with its high mortality rates. The book states upfront you'll generate -- and play -- several characters and see who survives. The core book comes with a 0th level adventure so DMs will have an idea of how to design one. And there IS a random character generator at Purplesorcer.com. Still, you can easily make first and higher levels if you want to do boring things like survive.


In addition to the standard platonic solids (and the heretical d10), the game calls for Zocchi dice: d3, d5, d7, d14, and so on. They'll set you back over $20 on Amazon.com. Rather than just using positive and negative modifiers, you will "step up" and "step down" dice. A d8 might be stepped up to a d10, or stepped down to a d7, for example. Unfortunately, for those of us who own iPods, there's no app for this (yet). But see Purplesorcer.com for a web die roller and KickStart app.


DCC pretty much uses the standard six ability scores and modifiers. Personality replaces both Charisma and Wisdom. Luck is a new ability score used for a variety of skill checks and other rolls. You can burn Luck for a one-time bonus on a roll (typically life-or-death) and gain it back through roleplaying to your alignment. Your character will roll on the Luck Score table to see what special ability they can modify with Luck (eg. The bull: Melee attack rolls).


Character generation consists of: 3d6 for each ability. 1d4 hit points, modified by Stamina, one randomly determined piece of equipment, one randomly determined occupation, and zero XP. On the character Occupation tables, you roll your character's occupation and if their character is a non-human (such as a halfling chicken butcher). You get to choose your alignment: Law, Chaos, or Neutral.


PDF Notes: Character generation is only twelve printed pages long, so you can print this section as a handout for players.


Classes: As said, the classes are Basic D&D's Cleric, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Each class has its OGL level progression table, but also have special abilities that set them apart. Clerics and Wizards cast spells (that's a whole chapter in itself). Thieves have thief-related skills and can better use Luck than other classes. Warriors can make cinematic Mighty Deeds of Arms, such as blinding or disarming an opponent, and have improve critical hit tables. Dwarves and halflings are fighters while Elves are fighter/wizards. Besides racial abilities, dwarves have a shield bash attack, and halflings can fight two-handed and serve as a party good luck charm! The non-spellcasters are easier to play. Each class's section is only a few pages long so you can print out these sections as player handouts. (Spell casters, however, will need to know the Magic rules.)


Combat: Combat is pretty much OGL with chromey tables and without a grid. Roll for Initiative, roll for your Attack, roll for damage. A Natural 1 results in a roll on the Fumble table, and a Natural 20 means rolling on your classes' Critical Hit table (yes, there's more than one Critical Hit table!). Warriors and Dwarves have their Mighty Deeds. NPCs have Morale Checks. Characters can fight two-handed with penalties, and clerics can turn unholy opponents. DCC also has a complex Spell Duel subsystem that can accomodate multiple spellcasters -- and can result in nasty eldritch side-effects (demonic invasion, anyone?). With the grid gone, combat has been simplified back to AD&D.


Magic: Magic is dangerous. Spellcasters make a spell check, and each spell has its own results table. The higher the result, the better effect the spell has. Critical failures and successes add highly thematic penalties and consequences. A cleric's failure reduces his chances of casting spells until the next day (his deity's busy fighting a holy war) and a roll on the disapproval table (eg. a test of humility). Wizards have the far worse (and amusing) miscast and corruption failures. Miscast an Animal Summoning spell, and your familiar might disappear and come back very very angry. An example of a minor corruption would be ears mutating, major corruption corpulence, and greator corruption tentacles replacing limbs. Wizards' spells are further individualized with side effects ("Mercurial Magic"). Spellburn rules allow wizards to temporarily sacrifice ability points to add to his spell check or recover cast spells. Wizards have familiars, can consult spirits, and can even acquire supernatural patrons. These effects are handled by extensive but uncomplicated tables in the book. Unfortunately, the magic rules and spells are not well layed out for printing from a PDF. The magic section mixes rule players must know (eg. descriptions and ranges of spells) with information a gamemaster may wish to keep from the players (eg. the various tables of effects). Spells are about a page long, but some spells wrap to the next page, making printing of individual spells inconvenient. Clerical spells and wizard mechanics and spells differ enough that I would have preferred to see a different chapter on each.


Magic Items and Monsters: In the DCC world, magic items are rare and unique, monsters mysterious and heresay. Swords receive an extensive treatment of tables to personalize them. Rules for scrolls are provided. Potions have a table in under the Make Potion spell, but that's about it. Magical items are more like the One Ring than Home Depot. Although a monster bestiary is included (they get their own Critical Hit tables, too!), so are suggestions to make a stock creature unusual enough for players to be unsure what they're facing. Stat blocks are also included for human non-player characters. Treasure is relegated to an opinion piece against the conventional "monster guarding a pile of coins". If you (and particularly your players) don't like this aspect of the game, it shouldn't be too hard to change.


Adventures: The core book comes with two adventures, The level 0-1 Portal Under the Stars, and 5th level Infernal Crucicable of Sezrekan the Mad. These adventures were also released at the 2011 Free RPG Day, so do not purchase the Free RPG Day product. True to its lethal character generation, Portal is designed for fifteen to twenty 0th level characters, with each player definitely controlling more than one character. The author's playtests show games of up to 28 players and a 50% mortality rate, with only one TPK. Infernal is more conventionally suited for 4-8 5th level characters. Portal has nine encounters and Infernal three. I haven't played them, so don't have a sense how long the adventures take or how "meaty" they are.


Support: Despite the new release of the core books, DCC already has some adventures and other support available. Purple Sorceror Games has a free character generator and dice roller. Their first adventure, Perils of the Sunken City for 0-1 level, is available on DriveThruRPG and has free paper miniatures and battlemaps at the website. Goodman Games has released two DCC adventure: Dungeon Crawl Classics #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea, and Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit(previous DCC adventures are for other game systems). Other 3rd party companies (even Paizo) are advertised with the PDF but their websites don't show product released yet. DCC is OGL, so, except for 0th level 15+ character adventures, I don't think it would be difficult converting from D&D 3.x to DCC.


Conclusion: Dungeon Crawl Classics puts a fantastic spin on generic fantasy roleplaying. Those of us who remember "old school" games with their extensive critical hit tables and other wild ideas have them again. Spells are no longer lifeless stat blocks but are to be feared, even by those who wield it. With D&D Next returning back to its "old school" roots, Dungeon Crawl Classics is definitely worth a look at.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Ben B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2012 01:27:19

Simply excellent.


I've grown up with RPGs in the background, considered myself one of the early "Munchkin" gamers...
"Go play Atari, kid, this stuff is too...complex for you..."
---Thought balloon "If he sees our Heavy Metals and that topless lady pewter figure and tells Mom..."


But I've played D&D/AD&D and others for years, sadly not much after a year or so into the 00s


Reading this, and I got the "Free RPG" a year ago, it's well worth the price. I'm starting to like "Old school" rpgs. Oh, I do not bash the future and idolize the past, I simply like the imperfect RPG worlds of past times versus the more slick, modern worlds created by big businesses. They have better writers, artists, etc. But I like the RPGs that were hashed out in a bunch of adventures and kind of formed consensual mish-mash fantasy worlds. Being real geeky I hope there's "Oerth" somewhere in the multiverse, but oh, well...


So, it made me feel like a kid again, but I've played enough RPGs to "Run" this in my head and it's brilliant. Enough chaotic/offbeat/old school to be random, enough experience in people making it that the problems with the old rules aren't out to inspire another "Nodwick". Don't get too nerdy/attached to characters, though. Plenty of real death, encounters too powerful to charge in fighting.


I'll note they did a "Recommended Reading" list in the back which was a photo of a pile of books. Many of these are in my list. One note, and I'm not saying ill, but there's no Clark Ashton Smith despite there being clear CAS influence, notably the "Vombis Mold and Vombis Zombie" but big deal!


Now, as a PDF. Obviously it reads perfect on my computer using default PDF viewer software and Corel PDF Fusion.
I also have a Toshiba Thrive tablet. On this it reads very well, though a few pages towards the beginning, the ones with photographs with text imposed over don't show up, but I can read the full thing OK. Likewise subsequent modules I've bought the two released as of this date of this comment work perfectly on all screens.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Alphabet
by Ben B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2012 01:14:04

I bought this on a lark and loved it!


Full of very good, inspirational material, the alphabet is really a nice random springboard for adventures/encounters, etc. that reaches far beyond simple geomorphs and monster tables. Well worth the price for reading fun alone for anyone into RPGs/DM'ing.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dungeon Alphabet
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Illes T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2012 05:10:30

The DCC RPG is the most plaesant surprise of the year. It's a game that not only captures the feeling of old-school gaming and appendix N literature, but does it with the use of innovative and fun game mechanics and with the help of writing that's going to have an impact on how you play and run your games.


The size of the book might be intimidating, but it's a bit deceiving: it's full of cool illustrations made by the best old-school artists of the past and the present, the font is quite big and there are plenty of whitespace. I found it quite easy to read, it didn't strain my eyes like some other, flashy products. Joseph Goodman has a very strong opinion and goal, and the writing mirrors his enthusiasm very clearly. I enjoyed it very much, especially since he gives a lot of good advice for players and judges too. I think this is one of the defining aspects of DCC RPG: instead of more and complex rules, you get inspiring advice and content to customize the game. Goodman Games deserves a praise for the bookmarks too, which make navigation in the pdf very easy. Too bad there's no index, which makes it harder in the hardcover version...


The rules are based on a the d20 system, but leaves the crunchy character optimizing game elements and pain in the ass rules out. Your character is an amalgam of a profession, six attributes (strength, stamina, agility, intelligence, personality, luck), a birth augur, and of course a character class. By default the game advises the players to start with a handful of level 0 commoners, who will become level 1 adventurers after their first adventure, but you also get the rules to start at higher levels. The attributes go from 3 to 18, their bonuses going from -3 to +3. Luck is and odd one, because it can change a lot: you can burn your luck to survive dangerous situations, and you can gain more if you find a way to please fate and the gods.


The seven classes might be well known from earlier editions of D&D, but they are very different from their origins and even each other when it comes to gameplay and mechanics. Warriors are brutal in combat and have the Mighty Deed of Arms, which is probably the coolest and most flexible subsystem for martial maneuvers I've ever seen. Thieves are good at thief skills and their luck reacharges with rest. Clerics can use the power of their gods to turn unholy (what's unholy depends on religion), lay hands, ask for divine aid and summon spells, but they must be careful, for the overuse of their powers or bad luck might anger the god, and pleasing the gods requires sacrifice. The wizard cast spells in a semi-vancian way, can serve and invoke various patrons for more power, but at a cost. Dwarves are underground fighters who can smell out treasures, detect strange constructions and are adept at using their shields. Elves are a mix of warriors and wizards, who can find patrons easier, are immune to sleep and paralysis, have infravision, but the touch of iron burns their skin. Halflings are good stealthy, ambidextrous and bring luck to the party.


The core system is very light. The whole skill chapter is only two pages long and the rules for combat aren't complex either. It's the extra stuff, that makes thing more complicated, and in my opinion, interesting and cool. You get critical and fumble charts for combat, Mighty Deed of Arms for warrior maneuvers, and a seperate sub system for spell duels. The latter is perhaps the only part of the game that's more complex than needed, and might slow down gameplay. DCC RPG also uses the Zocchi dice, and in a good way: instead of adding or subtracting modifiers, some situations change what kind of dice you roll, eg. when fighting with two weapons, you might roll a d20 for your right handed, and a d14 for your left handed attack.


The largest chapter of the book is of course magic. Every spell has various power levels. How powerful you cast a spell depends on your roll, caster level and spell casting attribute modifier. Most spells aren't really single spells, but contain multiple variations. Wizards must be careful, for fumbles and low rolls can result in corruption, misfire and the loss of the spell until the next rest. Clerics are safe, but the overuse and failures will give them penalties for their following spells. I also love the mercurial magic chart: every wizard gets a side effect for each spel he learns. There are good, bad and even neutral side effects, and these make it sure that two wizards won't cast the same spell the same way.


The rest of the book contains supplementing rules, guidelines for running the game, craeting magic items, a bestiary with lots of charts to craete unique humanoids, demons, giants, dragons, undead. There are some appendices at the end of the book for curses, poisons, house ruling, names, titles, etc. Not much to write about these, I already praised them in the second paragraph enough. We also get two modules, one for zero level characters (this one is quite good) and one for fith level (this one is an interesting, but way too short deathtrap). After that, all you get is more art and ads about third party publishers.


Overall I'm very satisfied with the product. It's good to see in the big old-school mania a game, that not only captures the feel of old-school fantasy literature, but improves it, and does it with modern mechanics, without cloning an older edition of D&D. It's also a very good and useful supplement for Judges, Dungeon Masters, Referees of other games, since it's full of great guidelines, advice and mechanics, that you can use elsewhere.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Ian A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2012 21:29:54

I started playing RPGs in 1981 and played up to and into college for a few years. I played B/X, BECMI, AD&D, Traveller, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, and many other systems. My favorites were B/X and AD&D. I stopped playing in college and took up miniature war games. I started playing again a few years ago and have been playing Pathfinder. I did not care for 4E. At the beginning of 2012 I decided to play some of the retro games, C&C and LL.


I recently bought and read DCC RPG. I can tell you I read much of the rule book over about a week and was amazed. I remember the sense of wonder I experienced so long ago when I initially read the Basic Rule book out of my red box. That is the same way I felt when I read DCC. I have not played the game yet, but I am preparing to run my group through a DCC campaign. The book is visually stunning with so much wonderful old school artwork. I enjoyed distinct flavor each character class represents. DCC is truly a homage to Howard, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Sword and Sorcery in general.


$40 is worth the price if you are a fan of OSR, Sword and Sorcery, and great game mechanics. Even if you never play the game. On a side note the game seams like it was made to House Rule for those who like to make small changes to their games.


Ian



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
by erik f. t. t. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/03/2012 20:41:42

I've long been a fan of Cthulhu Mythos in my Fantasy RPG gaming. It keeps players honest ;) The creature that is the main event in People of the Pit is certainly mythos inspired, and that is a good thing, as it is pulled of perfectly.


DCC #68 breaks with recent tradition, as it is 32 pages long (30 pages after front and back cover are removed from the count) and I can easily see this taking a session and a half or even two to complete. You do get a nice amount of gaming for your investment.


I'm trying to think of what I can say about People of the Pit without giving too much away. Lets see, there are deformed cultists, there are some new creatures for the PCs to kill (or be killed by), there is the tentacled beast on the cover (I think the cover fails to covey the actual terror this tentacle beast is). Oh, and a TPK is certainly possible. I don't want to say likely, but more likely than the previous adventures in the series or in the DCC RPG book. It will certainly weed out the men from the boys. Or women from the girls.


There are some player handouts. I loves me some player handouts. I'm waiting for a DCC adventure with a players handout booklet like the old Tomb of Horrors. There, my suggestion. I'll take credit for it when someone runs with the idea ;)


If I have one complaint, its the art. As far as I can tell, there are no prints available for any of it! It's not like I'm going to print a piece of with my inkjet and hang it on my wall. I want professional art prints damn it! The player's handout for area 4-9 NEEDS to be a print. The maps need to be available in prints. Joseph, how many peasants do I have to sacrifice to the Funnel before we can get some of this art work available as prints?


Did I mention it is a fully bookmarked PDF? Well done.


People of the Pit is a 1st Level Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG adventure. It's a great piece to put your funnel survivors through from DCC #67 - Sailors on the Starless Sea. Well, so long as they aren't too worried about surviving to level 2 ;)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
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