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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.



Rating:
[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.



Rating:
[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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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2012 18:19:40

I cant wait to try this out. Ill post a more detailed review later after ive played it. The art is fantastic and the concepts for making magic dangerous, risky and powerful with costs and long-term consequences is great. My only caveat is that i didnt care for the racial classes (elf, dwarf, halfling) but im sure those will be easily amended with house rules or later expansions.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
by Anthony R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2012 14:02:49

The Basics


The module is 32 pages if you include the front and back cover. I counted eight interior illustrations, one handout and three maps in the same 'artistic' style as the maps for the adventures in the core rulebook. The PDF is fully bookmarked.


Summary


The People of the Pit is designed for a party of 1st level characters. The adventure involves a pit, dark cultists and tentacles. I don't want to say more in a spoiler free review. The dungeon consists of more than 50 encounter areas spread out over four levels. The dungeon is a 'living' dungeon with a rationale (in fantasy RPG terms at least) provided for the contents and inhabitants of each room.


The dungeon does include a few traps and secret doors but not so many as to be annoying. There is also one puzzle that is designed to challenge player and not character skill (and looks like it should be fun). There are several clever touches in the module, including a unique method of traveling from level to level that could possibly allow the PCs to skip most of the dungeon and end up at the end encounter! (which could prove deadly)


The writing of the module seems solid to me and I was able to comprehend what was going on in each encounter area with the first read through. I haven't found any errata yet. The People of the Pit looks like it should be a blast and I can't wait to run it for a group. And where else can you go swimming in a pool of pit-beast poop?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #68: People of the Pit
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Steve P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2012 04:15:14

This is no retro clone.


It is brilliant. Fresh and inventive.


It is like nothing else out there.


The artwork is incredible.


It will be supported with a mass of material.


Buy it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2012 00:59:04

In all fairness, I received a review copy of this excellent book a while ago, and posted the following review to NerdTrek originally.


The first thing one can not escape when scanning through the 488 pages of Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classic (DCC) Core Rule Book is the art. It’s everywhere, and I do mean, everywhere. The TOC is laid out inside art panels held up by characters, credits, play tester thank yous, designer notes, all tucked into the artwork, that is…for lack of better explanation, straight out of the 70′s. Seriously, this IS your daddy’s artwork folks lol. The art instantly took me back to my childhood and the style of RPG games that were on the shelves at my local game-store when I first got into role playing as a hobby. Is it cheezy art? Oh yeah, but in all the ways that make it good, that type of silly weird art that feels like a guilty pleasure.


Not looking to simply be yet another retro clone, DCC holds it’s own with a rule-set that brings old school simplicity to today’s audience of players, with just enough of the standards in today’s rules to make even hardcore edition warists feel comfortable learning how to play. One of the first things that stuck with me, when reading how one designs a character for DCC, was that your race is your class….You are an elf, or a wizard…remember those days folks? No Elven Wizards here, nor Dwarven Warriors…nope, uh uh. Old School standard put elves and dwarves as their own class, and so does DCC. We also have the concept of the Zero level character, which I could see being an absolute bloodbath for the poor players. Building characters as the rules layout, which will really irritate those min-maxers out there, you will end up with at least four zero levels characters per player at the table, all with truly random abilities and gear. Why so many? Why so Random? Simple. You roll your stats and right them on the sheet in the order you roll them, with 3d6, no re-rolling, no dropping low rolls, just take what you get…then roll for a profession to determine what piece of gear you get to take with you (anything from a farm implements to barnyard animals). You create a handful of characters because, well, you have no real weapon, skill, or armor….and barely any hit points, your gonna die, a lot, lol. But, with a crowd of characters the odds of one making it to 10 XP is good, and at 10 XP you become first level, and get to pick a class, and begin building your character into someone. Where as the concept of how to start a character is very different from most games in it’s approach to forcing a player to truly play a nobody at start, its a refreshing difference, and one that I think has the potential to be a lot of fun for a group, I can see them tracking the dead pool, and sharing tales of how their zero’s died, lol.


Another of the many concepts within this system that I found interesting was that magic corrupts, pure and simple. The longer one uses it, the higher in level one gets, the more chance the run that magic will corrupt them, both physically and mentally. Why? Simple, magic is derived by dealing in pacts with demons and devils, negotiating with celestial beings, and harnessing raw elemental forces never meant to be channeled by humans…so it kind of makes sense when you put it in perspective, and I find myself amazed that more mainstream systems have not tackled the very same issue as a standard rule as of yet. The magic section contains several d100 charts (I know, how long has it been since these were the standard for everything, mass nostalgia) handling magical effects, corruption results, costs of doing business with demons/devils, results of spell burns (a method for “saving” failed spells), and the most interesting chart of all, in my opinion, the Mercurial chart. Mercurial Magic, the concept that everything, and I do mean everything matters when it comes to magic, and therefore no two spellslingers could possibly be the same. The first born child of a hanged witch, child born as a rare comet reached the apex of the twilight sky, man subjected to blindness by looking into the well of the abyss….all of these people are special to the fabric of reality in a different way, and magic flows through them differently, as it should, hence the mercurial magic chart, to determine the different results of their spell castings. Just another concept of random weirdness to remind you that fantasy games are supposed to keep you on your toes, and never grow complacent.


And of course, it would be wrong of me to fail to mention that this system already has an immense amount of support material, not only int he form of adventures from Goodman Games, but from 3PP’s as well, and at least in my point of view, when you see a compatibility logo, it’s a good sign that a system is worth checking into, as it’s going to have new material and support from more than one source, which usually means there will be plenty of material for GM’s and players alike.
For those who are missing a simpler time in gaming, when demons were demons, and the bad guys wore black, this game will feel like coming home. For those who are looking for an alternative to their current mainstream that will take them back to their childhood (or at least their older brother’s), then this game will be a lot like dropping by the neighbors for a fun night of hanging out…something different, but all together enjoyable and familiar.


The formatting is top notch, in that it makes you think you are reading a book from the 70′s. I found practically no typos or editing glitches, and in a book of this size, that’s saying something. The layout jumps from single to dual column throughout the book, with artwork both embedded and on splash pages. The artwork is B&W and all invokes the era of the 70′s when it comes to the style of art that was popular during that time period, I swear a few of these pieces would have worked as side murals for vans back in the day, right down to the shirtless muscled warrior with sideburns saving the day.


The rules are solid, and fun, which is an all important detail when it comes to a game system. They are simplistic enough that a group could learn the game quickly, but complex enough to make sure one does not feel like they are playing a stripped down game. The balance found there was a good one, and impressed me with how easy the rules felt to grasp, while still being subtly complex in their design.


Overall, this is an excellent product to add to a gaming shelf, both as an alternative game for a group, a new game for those groups disillusioned with their current game, a instant favorite for the old school crowd, or a great way for the younger generation to reconnect with the older generation of gamers on common ground at the gaming table. I can not recommend this book enough, it really was a blast to read and reconnect with my roots, and I urge you to pick up a copy for yourself.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
"I find myself amazed that more mainstream systems have not tackled the very same issue as a standard rule as of yet..." I find myself amazed that somebody who purports to be knowledgeable enough to offer up a product review obviously has no idea of Warhammer (superior 2nd edition). Pay this much money for a game which "channels" a the "feel of the good old days"...? Easier to fish up a copy of a REAL game from the good old days, and find a copy of Warhammer 2nd Ed. So many clones; so few ideas...
Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
by Antonio E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2012 02:28:12

Excellent production quality, and having followed the development of the game I can tell it's an original and inventive rediscovery of old-school tropes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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