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Dungeon Crawl Classics #5: Aerie of the Crow God
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2018 07:57:44

The party arrive in a coastal town to discover that the local lordling has got himself killed trying to deal with an infestation of harpies. His distraught widow is glad to hear that there are adventurers in town, because he rather unwisely took the key to his strongbox with him, and she urgently needs to get into it. The task seems straightforward, but of course there's a bit more to it than that.

Pleny of notes are provided covering everything from scaling the adventure up or down, to wandering monsters and even why the grieving widow is so keen to have the key back. There's plenty of background material too, about the ruined cliff-top fortress where the harpies are based... and about what else is there that will present a greater challenge. There are also some adventure hooks to get the party to the right place if needed. The history is quite extensive, and it's left up to you how much you want the locals to know - and so relate to the party before they set off.

The adventure itself opens with the party in a row-boat heading towards the bottom of the cliff - the best if not only way to access the ruined tower. You'll need to come up with preliminary material covering their arrival in town and being hired for this task. There's a sea cave at the base of the cliff and steps leading up, but everything's fairly slick with spray. There are no wandering monsters here, but the place is not devoid of resident ones...

Up into the tower, and there is plenty to explore, monsters to fight and treasure to loot. As written, there's quite a lot of loot so if you are not inclined to be quite so generous there are notes on how to cut down without affecting the flavour of the haul. Some opportunities for interaction are provided for those who don't want to brawl with everyone they meet, but they will need to choose their moments wisely.

There's really a lot packed in here, a lot of exploration will be needed to figure out what is going on and how to deal with it. Several ideas for further adventures are presented, and there are notes on the surrounding area should the party decide to stay awhile. Altogether a well-construted adventure with plenty going on.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #5: Aerie of the Crow God
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2018 08:38:29

This adventure requires a party that can think creatively and shows ingenuity, and warns that those who hack and slash their way through everything may come a cropper here! It all begins with stange beguilements in the shape of cryptic messages and dreams, that lead the party to a shallow cave in an out-of-the-way valley. What follows is no ordinary delve.

The background to the adventure explains what is going on in detail, explaining for the Judge how it all works and how to run the mechanics... suffice to say, there are three powerful wizards in a pocket dimension locked in combat (not of their own volition) and they've reached out to the party to get some outside help! Their combat is not of the brawling kind, it involves ever-shifting alliegiances and warped events, which are confusing to read, never mind run... and runs the risk of baffling the party too. There's still plenty that can harm them, however. The whole thing revolves around a mysterious deck of cards (facsimilies are provided), oh, and the pocket dimension is slowly shrinking.

Addressing the inevitable confusion, there's a whole section devoted to 'Running the Adventure' that provides some hints about how to dispel that confusion and get the characters engaged in productive action... yet it's still not very clear just what they need to do to brings events to a satisfactory conclusion, or even merely escape with their lives.

Whilst there is potential for a truly warped adventure utilising this concept, it is so weird and bizarre that players - and even Judges with the text in front of them - are likely to find it confusing and unsatisfactory, left not knowing what they can do to affect the situation and find their way back home. For genuinely crazy NPCs and odd situations this is excellent, but it needs some direction - at least for the Judge in how to make it all work coherently at the table.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #77.5: The Tower Out of Time
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2018 11:05:30

Designed as a promotional piece, this adventure runs in a single session and involves the investigation of a mysterious tower that just suddenly appears in the middle of a forest, the red light on its top echoing a hitherto-unknown comet that has appeared in the sky.

The backstory is ingenious and provides a perfectly plausible reason for the tower's appearance, a tale you'll be dying to share with your players. The first their characters will know that anything is afoot is when a 'bearded star' is spotted in the sky, assumed by astronomers to be a comet. It's a whitish-green shade and the tail is a bit wiggley, so it is called Serbok, an archaic word meaning serpent. Scarcely have the rumour-mongers started in on the usual predictions of misfortune that accompany the sighting of a comet than folk in a nearby wood announce that a large lake with a strange tower beside it has suddenly appeared there. The tower looks like it has a hide of dark scaly leather and a red light shines from its top. If the party does not rush off to investigate immediately, have local law enforcement hire them to take a look.

The adventure proper begins with the party arriving at the edge of the forest and making their way through it to the tower. Once they venture inside, it is weird and strange indeed... yet all makes an odd kind of sense once you know the thing's true origins. The Big Bad at the end might, just might, be persuaded to explain what he's up to; but is more inclined to attempt to polish off these pesky intruders, or die trying.

Tower conquered, the party steps out... only to be greeted with an amazing sight. This is left hanging, with a vague promise that it might form a subsequent adventure - or the Judge may making something up. It's a fun adventure, with some seriously weird features, but the ending is unsatisfactory with no clear closure. Perhaps you'd better make something up to provide a proper end to the adventure!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #77.5: The Tower Out of Time
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #76.5: Well of the Worm
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2018 08:34:30

This adventure is set on the Plains of Barrowdown, an unfortunate patch of land that local lordlings use when their petty squabbles reach the level of open warfare - something that does nothing for those whose living depends on growing crops on the plains, who have had to survive on looting the dead when their crops have been trampled beyond salvation. Now a plague of blood-sucking worms has added to their woes, and there's a selection of adventure hooks provided to get the party involved.

The adventure background explains where the worms came from, who or what is behind them, and where the adventure will start: an old abandoned well in the middle of farmland ruined by incessant warfare.

It all begins with the party standing in the fields around the well, a bleak location that is described atmospherically. Below the well is a cavern complex, a claustrophic tangle of tunnels in which the party should feel threatened by the very environment around them, something the Judge is advised to play up. Various unpleasant creatures, some alive and some undead, exist here and none are welcoming to visitors.

It's a cramped, claustrophobic delve fulled with slithering horrors, smelly and unpleasant in the extreme... and for little reward save the satisfaction of wiping them off the face of the earth. And then you read the suggestions for further adventures... By the end of the session, the players will want hot baths, never mind their characters!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #76.5: Well of the Worm
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #4: Bloody Jack's Gold
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2018 07:51:17

If someone handed me a treasure map tattooed on a nicely-tanned piece of human skin, I'd probably scream and run away! Hopefully your party is made of sterner stuff, for this is a map made by the legendary pirate Bloody Jack Dascombe, proportedly giving the location of his ill-gotten gains, including loot from an Imperial treasure fleet that he plundered an hundred years ago.

The background is simple and straightforward, telling of a brutal pirate, his infamous last raid, and the 'Empire' whose treasure fleet he robbed... and his ultimate fate, like most pirates, at the end of a rope. References are loose enough for you to weave this all into your campaign world's history, possibly enriching it in the process. The map does show the way to the treasure, it just omits to mention minor details like the traps and other threats a would-be robber will face. There's a few ideas for how you might get the party to the right place, as the action presented here opens with them on the right island to commence their explorations. The island is uninhabited, but previous residents have left traces behind. With these and more will the party have to contend.

Then you find out what's really there, and who created the map and why. These are all matters to keep very quiet about until the party is committed to this adventure. Suffice to say that the labyrinth is being actively managed, and that it's largely filled with undead and other recruits from Hell. This is no walk in the park. There again, the treasure is pretty magnificent if the party ever reaches it. (Of course they then have to figure out a way to get it home unmolested...).

The adventure itself comes in five 'levels', the first being the island itself. It's well described with sufficient clues that the party ought to realise that it's not quite right. The second level is the complex left by former inhabitants. Sea tunnels and no less that TWO labyrinths make up the rest, providing ample scope for delving - including the possibility of underwater combat. Throughout, there are detailed atmospheric descriptions coupled with monster information, combat notes and stat blocks.

This adventure offers a hard-fought slog to get to a treasure that is going to be difficult to actually profit from acquiring, not to mention a couple of little twists at the end that might spoil the party's enjoyment of their new-found wealth. The entire piece is written in a 'GM/Designer-vs-Players' style, combatative rather cooperative story-telling (although of course you can run it however you like). It provides a nice challenge for a mid-to-high-level party, something that can often be quite hard to balance. And the idea of a 'managed dungeon' is really rather neat and hangs together well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #4: Bloody Jack's Gold
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 08:44:34

Ancient desert-cities where long-dormant giants stir and seek to revive even older deities... this sounds like it may prove a challenge and indeed it does. There's a lot of backstory that only someone who studies history and legends is likely to have heard about, but perhaps characters at the lofty heights of level 8 have time to sit around and read. Renowed heroes, they are probably rulers by now - so the adventure hooks are peppered with things like deputations of nobles approaching a character seated on his throne and asking for assistance.

Basically, we are currently in the Third Age of Man. The abandoned city and its restless giants date back to the Second Age, and once they surface they regard the Third Age fellows as inferiors, pale shadows of what Men once were... (the Titans say the same about the Second Agers of course, but we'll gloss over that for now). Their ultimate plan is to remove these pesky Third Agers and cleanse the place ready to take their place in the sun once more. Someone had better go and sort them out.

Just to muddy the waters a bit, this 'end of times' scenario includes sub-plots which different classes or races may be enticed into following, perhaps by divine relelation or the goading of a patron. However the main thrust of it is that raids on settlements are increasing, with what appear to be giants of unearthly beauty being the perpetrators, and the source is a ruined half-buried desert city. The adventure proper starts with the party standing on the sand just outside the city walls...

Inside they may explore to their hearts' content, wandering monsters permitting, but ultimately find that the only building standing is a temple, and what lies beneath. There are ample opportunities to die (usually horribly) as they venture further in and down, for this temple has been reactivated and is being used to further the Second Agers' schemes. The end - should they survive that long - involves the rising of a Titan, and cinematic levels of destruction and is certainly something that will never be forgotten by anyone who survives to tell the tale.

If your party is jaded, this will shake them awake and provide one last epic adventure before they hang up their swords. They'll need to be lucky as well as skillful to survive, though, but if they do they'll have a tale to tell that they can dine out on for the rest of their lives.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 10:51:08

Now here's a thing: like any red-blooded adventuring party the prospect of raiding a long-deserted wizard's tower with an eye to looting it sounds like a good way to spend a day or two... but what if you cannot find the way in?

You see, this is the first challenge that presents itself, gaining entry. It's part of what gets the characters there in the first place: the area is rife with rumours about a wizard's tower that not only has no discernable entrance, it's also protected by a forcefield, and appears in perfect condition although buildings around it stand in ruins. There must be something worth looting in there. Several hooks are provided to help you persuade the party to visit.

There's some background explaining who built the tower and why it's ended up like this, which may become relevant if the party is interested in figuring such things out rather than just robbing the place... although it does explai why the place is haunted, and serves as a reminder to all spell-casters that prior preparation and planning are vital when engaged in major magic use! The adventure starts off combat-heavy, and also includes a trap-infested stage, with curious magic and puzzles to figure out once the party reach the tower itself. Maps are clear, and each location is given a three-part listing: description, creatures, and how they will react to the party. Monster stats and loot are also included, just where you'll need them. There are a full three levels of classic dungeon delve before the party reaches the tower proper, once within it's time to role-play, puzzle and think their way through to the end. Along the way there's a fascinating insight into the life of a studious and experimental wizard, the side of magic little touched on in games where most magic-users are just that: users of standard spells as a means to an end.

It all makes for an entertaining classic adventure that is well thought out, challenging and coherent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho (v3.5)
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:21:49

This module presents a three-level dungeon delve that ought to take characters from 1st to 3rd level, provided that they survive. They'll need wits, courage, and luck to triumph. There's plenty of combat but also situations that call on the party to plan, be ingenious and apply tactics rather than just rush in waving a sword and yelling!

The Background sets the scene for the DM, speaking of an ambitious sorcerer in ancient times, one Tsathzar Rho. Like all such, he went a bit too far, summoning powers that were beyond even his prodigious capabilities to control, and paid the price. A price that, if those powers get their wicked way, will now be paid by the denizens of this world. Strange things are happening deep within a mountain cave complex, and they are beginning to spill out into the world...

It all begins somewhere in your campaign world, where the inhabitants of a fairly isolated village ask for help in dealing with an ogre. He's lived in a nearby cave for ages, but until now has contented himself with robbing the odd passing merchant and bullying the local kobolds. Now he's turned into a psychoic madman and needs to be stopped. Parties which agree to help will be directed to the cave, the inhabitants of which have until recently been quite peaceful. Now they are aggressive and causing more and more of a problem.

There are clear maps, and each room's notes are divided into three sections. Firstly, there's a description that can be used to explain what the party sees when it enters. This includes things that are there but need to be searched for as well as what's obvious as soon as you stick your head round the door. Next is a section on inhabitants, covering monsters and NPCs, including their EL and what they are carrying. Finally there's a section on 'development' which discusses the likely actions, tactics, etc. of whoever is there. All the stat blocks, however, are at the end of the module rather than in the room description where they are needed, although there is a note recommending that you photocopy them (or if you're a PDF-user, print them out) so as to have them available for easy reference whilst running the module.

There's a lot going on, but it all makes sense why each creature is where it has been placed, even if this is intended as a classic 'dungeon delve' where you expect to have to fight everything that you meet there. There's not much of a conclusion: it's assumed that the party is successful in foiling the Outer Ones plot and just mentions that they may be out for vengeance for having been thwarted... not very much to go on. It does make for an entertaining delve for those who relish a few sessions prowling subterranean vaults killing and looting as they go, but in some ways the backstory is quite redundant: just get in there and fight!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho (v3.5)
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #74: Blades Against Death
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2018 11:45:18

This adventure is set in the city of Punjar, and is intended for a strong level 4 party - some 6-10 characters plus henchmen is suggested. The background sets the scene, explaining how in a three-part adventure the party attracts the attention of the gods themselves and duel with Lord Death himself for their very lives.

So, how to set up such a predicament? The driving force for the adventure is a quest to save someone from the clutches of death. In the unlikely event that the party hasn't lost someone recently, a job offer from a nobleman who wishes to get his girlfriend back after some misadventure. Either way, amongst the myriad rumours that fly around a city like Punjar, there's one that claims that the blind Witch of Saulim, who hangs out in Squalor Court, knows of a way to breach the veil between the dead and the living. The first scene involves finding the Witch and learning what she knows.

As the Witch - like all fortune-tellers - is remarkably unclear in her proclamations, the party may need a little help to figure out where they need to go. Eventually they ought to visit a temple, steal a particular artefact, and make their way to the charnel pits where access to the realms of the dead is apparently a bit easier than elsewhere in town. It all sounds simple put like that, but of course it is actually quite tricky to accomplish. Scenes are described clearly and evocatively, and the threats laid out well. The temple raid is an adventure in its own right - and in its execution scope for further adventures arises, if you choose to make use of the opportunities.

The charnel house is an essay in warped madness. Somehow the party will have to navigate through to reach their goal and accomplish their mission. They can only do that after releasing the blockage that's stopping the souls of the deceased reaching the afterlife... because that's where they, although (for the present at least) still living, must go. It all ends with a game... but the stakes are high.

This adventure should live long in the memories of your players, and of their characters should they survive. Adventure on a grand and cinematic scale indeed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #74: Blades Against Death
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #73: Emirikol Was Framed!
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2018 08:53:08

This is a city-based adventure - something I always enjoy - and it opens with a note that for best effect the party should be strangers to the city in which you set it. Apart from that, the city needs to be large enough to support a high-powered and famous wizard - one Emirikol the Chaotic, as it happens.

The introduction explains how the situation that the party will face came about, but as figuring it out is a major part of the adventure I'm not going to describe it here. The adventure itself begins with a fly-by shooting whilst the party is going about its own business in the city. The perpetrators appear to be winged apes armed with crossbows, who have killed a merchant, caused havoc in a shopping street and now are turning their attention on the party - probably the only folk around who look as if they could do anything about the attack. They appear to be under the command of a robed, mounted fellow who is casting some kind of fiery spell-bolts at anyone getting in the way.

By the end of the day, the party is approached by the City Watch captain seeking their aid in bringing the perpetrator to book: apparently that robed figure was none other than Emirikol the Chaotic! He's accompanied by two concerned citizens, another wizard and a lady whose brother was once Emirikol's apprentice... until he was murdered by his master. They have a plan, but need some adventurers to carry it out. Each of the three has several pieces of information to impart that should aid the party in their mission.

To complete their task, the party will have to invade Emirikol's home, the Shifting Tower, which is located in a walled compound to the north of the city. They will need to break in and find the wizard's inner sanctum, where (for reasons pertaining to the pacts from which he draws his power) he ought to be asleep in a glass casket. As you can imagine, a powerful chaotic wizard's home is a pretty chaotic and unusual place to explore, with all manner of strange things to find...

The climactic 'boss fight' at the end has some truly epic features, and it is now that the party may finally discover what's really been going on. There's a possibility that the party may feel a bit marginalised, but they have plenty of opportunities to take independent action which you should naturally focus upon, letting other things continue as a backdrop. Just about every possible conclusion is covered, most have scope for further adventures too. This one lives up to the inherent promise in Dungeon Crawl Classics!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #73: Emirikol Was Framed!
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #72: Beyond the Black Gate
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2018 08:31:40

This is a tough adventure, suggested for about TEN level 5 characters, or half-a-dozen of level 6/7... and even then they are put on notice that a cautious approach of stealthy exploration will win out over those who think they can hack or spellcast their way through anything: however despite a thoughtful approach being best there are moments when nothing but brash courage will do.

The background lifts the lid on the problem. Basically, the Wild Hunt isn't riding out any more and a bunch of witches want the party to sort things out, replacing the Horned King if needs be, and setting the Hunt in motion once more. This will involve multidimensional travel to visit the current Horned King in his realm, the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom, and stealing the Horned Crown off of his very head! Various hooks are provided to get the party involved - enticing them with rumours of vast treasure or somehow manoeuvering them into the clutches of the Witches of Asur, from which the only escape is to undertake this quest.

As befits such a legendary quest, there is a huge number of rumours to be discovered - some even true - which you are encouraged to customise to your own campaign. The core element is that the Witches - and the portal through which the party will be sent - is in the far north of the world. Different classes and races have separate lists of rumours, so there's a good chance that a wide variety will be gathered.

The adventure falls into two parts. First the party has to locate the Witches of Asur, then they go through the portal - which, if you haven't guessed, is called the Black Gate - and the rest of the adventure covers their activities in the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom. It all begins with the party on a ship in a dreadfull storm - they may have taken passage to visit the Witches, or you may decide to spring it on them unawares when they are travelling by sea for a completely unrelated matter. Be that as it may, proceeding begin in a maelstrom of mountainous seas and a howling gale in which the ship founders leaving the party's only hope to scramble onto a rocky shore where they may either climb a 200 ft cliff or enter some very dodgy-looking caves (with the sea trying to drag them back in, of course). Either way, they'll end up in the same place: dark, dank, and plain nasty... and eventually they encounter the Witches who explain why they are here. Like it or not, they'll soon be on their way through the multiverse...

The Thrice-Tenth Kingdom is a bleak and wintry place, infested by giants who will outmatch the party in head-to-head encounters. Knee-deep in snow (if they are lucky) characters will have to contend with the local wildlife as they trudge to their destination. There's plenty to explore in the Horned King's castle, much to see before the throne room is reached and the King himself confronted.

Despite the magnificent build-up to the adventure, the end is somewhat weak. The options seem to be to murder the Horned King or take him as a Patron, for which all the necessary game mechanics are provided. Moreover, if he is slain it is assumed that the party will return the Horned Crown to the witches, who hand out a few rewards and that's that. (If your party has other ideas, the properties of the Horned Crown are listed in considerable detail, however...). You might want to build up the finale a bit to avoid an abrupt ending, but the main part of the adventure has a splendid epic feel. The party won't forget their visit to the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom for the rest of their days!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #72: Beyond the Black Gate
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #71: The 13th Skull
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2018 07:56:48

This adventure is quite short - designed to be played in a single session - for level 4 characters, and opens with a warning that you need a good mix of specialists and plenty of fighting types, and that there are ample opportunities for the incautious to come to grief (terminally). The mission is quite simple - to save the girl - but in actuality it's very difficult to actually rescue her even when the party manages to triumph over evil.

A quite extensive background explains what is going on and how events over the past few centuries gave rise to the current situation. It all started with a deal with a devil, always a risky thing to do; but this one seemed to be working well until it came time for the devil to collect... The deal was, to give a wizard called Edward Magnussen great good fortune and other abilities which he parlayed into the position of Duke and command of the realm in which the action takes place. In return, he was to give over not just his soul but those of his next twelve male descendents and that of the next daughter born to the line. He was then to receive immortality, although for the meantime he'd die like any other mortal.

For the party, however, it all begins when they are in a packed crowd to witness an execution. On the block is a prophet who had suggested that the daughter of the current Duke be killed now before any fell fate befalls her - because she, of course, is the last link in the devil's deal. Up on the city walls, the Duke and his daughter watch the proceedings... and then she is carried off! The Duke immediately offers a fortune in gems to whoever gets her back.

It's easy enough to find out where the kidnapper took her - but it will take a good delve through caverns and crypts and a fair bit of fighting to deal with the evil that's going on, let alone get the poor girl back. There are a few rumours to pick up before the party sets out - some of them even have a slight germ of truth. The delve is perilous and can land the party in some interesting places - even a circle of Hell - and it's unlikely that they'll all return. The comments on the fates of various playtest parties make quite grim reading.

The underpinning plot is interesting, and there's ample scope for those who like battling undead, demons, and animated objects, or who enjoy figuring out nasty arcane rituals (with the aim of putting paid to them, we hope)...

But there's more! Tucked away at the back there's a whole level 2 adventure The Balance Blade. It's another single-session piece, and it is suggested that it is played as a one-off, as it basically ends with a full-blown party brawl - as in, with each other. Many players are not comfortable with this, and it does no good to party cohesion. It hinges around a wizard whose patron sends him on a quest, and requires some detailed preparation before running it, if it is to be presented to best effect. Unfortunately the patron is somewhat economical with the truth when asking the wizard to go on the quest, and so everything falls apart pretty quickly. For a start, the entire party gets transported to the adventure site before the poor wizard even gets a chance to ask them if they'd help him in the errand that he's been given.

And if that wasn't enough, there's a collection of Seven Strange Skulls right at the end of the book. They are there for you to use in your own adventures, and strange they are indeed!

Whilst everything here is fun, it's a bit of a mish-mash and somewhat gives the air of having felt the need to put out a 16 page book before there were 16 pages of material to fill it! Still, you should get a couple of enjoyable (if deadly) sessions out of the adventures, and then you still have the skulls to play with!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #71: The 13th Skull
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #70: Jewels of the Carnifex
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2018 11:15:53

A derelict mostly subterranean temple dedicated to the patron goddess of executioners, flagellants and torturers may not be high on a list of tourist destinations, but there are potential rich pickings for intrepid adventurers. The backstory reveals how decadent society prized the misfit devotees of this cult, while city authorities found them... useful. It also tells of the destruction of the temple by those who prized light and beauty and life, and found the cultists' obsession with death so abhorrent that the only solution was to put them to the sword.

There are plenty of rumours that the party can collect merely by strolling through the nearby Bazaar of the Gods. Some of them even contain a grain of truth. The adventure proper, however, begins with the acquisition (by fair means or foul) of a map that porports to show the way in through the shattered remains of the temple to an unknown passage that leads deep underground. Armed with that, it's up to the party to decide if they will pick over the temple first, or plunge headlong into the depths at once. There's not so much to see above ground however.

Below it's claustrophobic and seemingly teeming with adversaries, who are carefully orchestrated to come at the party from all directions almost continuously. It soon becomes clear why the Judge is advised to prepare and plan out this adventure before running it. Descriptions are atmospheric and the threats are deadly; yet all are logical and based in the backstory and in the physical surroundings in which the party finds itself.

It's an imaginative adventure in which unusually for Dungeon Crawl Classics one adversary does actually try to negotiate with the party... not entirely honestly, to be sure. Detail throughout is stupendous, and even if the party gets away with the loot they then have to figure out what to do with it. Definitely recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #70: Jewels of the Carnifex
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DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2016
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 07:46:09

Remarking on how Goodman Games has been an enthusiastic supporter of Free RPG Day since its inception in 2007, they're now proud to present two adventures. Moreover, they've gone overboard on covers with five different designs which were distributed randomly to retailers. Those who download the PDF get to see them all!

For Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG there is a Level 1 adventure called The Madhouse Meet, set in the forthcoming Lankhmar campaign setting (yes, the Fritz Leiber one). As a 'meet' adventure, it's designed to start off a campaign in Nehwon by throwing a disparate bunch of player characters together as they attempt to escape the clutches of a bizarre sorcerer from lands far beyond Lankhmar. It's designed for four characters but will work with fewer. After some background explanation for the GM, the adventure begins with our luckless heroes banged up in a cell. Hopefully they'll make a break for freedom... A lot of use is made of Luck, and there's a note to the effect that guile rather than brute strength is often more effective in Nehwon! While a short adventure, it is well written with atmospheric descriptions and plenty of ideas scattered around that could lead to further adventures. It's a good taster for both the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and the Lankhmar setting.

The other adventure, for the Mutant Crawl Classics RPG, is a 'character funnel' adventure for some 15-20 level 0 characters, with each player running multiple characters. It's called The Museum at the End of Time, and involves a bunch of younglings sent out on a 'Rite of Passage' to survive in the wilderness, retrieve a functioning artefact of the Ancients and, if possible, trigger whatever mutations lurk within their genetic code. This bunch has chosen the high-risk high-stakes option of venturing into the trackless Glow Desert in their quest. After a couple of days and whatever random encounters you throw at them, they arrive a a structure which they can explore and loot. It is not, of course, devoid of defences! There are some wonderous and inventive artefacts to be found, many of which will lead incautious or curious characters into no end of trouble. There's some excellent advice for the GM about presenting artefacts to primitive people who haven't a clue what they are, which will benefit anyone trying to describe items to a party ill-equipped to comprehend them, never mind this adventure.

Both are cracking little adventures in their own right, as well as good introductions to their respective systems. There are no rules given here, provided you know the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG mechanics you will be able to cope. Pre-generated characters for both adventures are available on the Goodman Games website. Enjoy your foray into these settings!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2016
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DCC Lankhmar: Masks of Lankhmar
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2018 13:17:13

This 1st-level adventure set in the city of Lankhmar is intended as a 'meet' adventure at the beginning of the campaign, an opportunity for the party to form up and forge some common bonds as well as to complete the adventure. It's designed for a small group but will require both a wizard and a thief.

There's a succinct background for the GM, and then an explanation of how the adventure begins - it's suggested that it begins in media res, and runs fast and fun to at least one of three possible climaxes, depending on what the characters get up to as the adventure progresses. Put succinctly, what will become the party encounter one another as each character independently decides that it would be a good idea to burgle the home of a renowned collector of valuable items and caravan master on the night he's throwing a big party to celebrate the acquisition of his latest piece. At this masked ball, all the player-characters find themselves in the cellar antichamber to the collector's treasure vault... but before they can puzzle out why anyone else is there when they snuck in alone, some security guards arrive and a fight breaks out.

The fight isn't designed to be too challenging, so once the guards are defeated, the player-characters can make introductions as they catch their breath and decide what to do next. Hopefully they'll realise that they might do better co-operating than working on their own. The challenge of actually getting into the vault ought to do the trick... but that is only still the beginning of the adventure. What they find will lead them on to further discoveries and riches - but they still need to exfiltrate and, well, shall we say that they may not be the only people who thought it was a good night for a heist.

Once they are outside with their loot, a spot of research will be necessary, as what they discover points to a greater treasure, a set of magical gold masks. Hopefully this research will again be collaborative, further cementing the group together. There's an optional encounter with a potential patron, and then it's time to mount a further raid on a former temple in town to get the goodies. With atmospheric descriptions and many encounters, there is ample opportunity for plenty of high jinks before the objective is attained - an inkling of this is revealed by some detailed rules for running foot-chases across the rooftops.

The final section covers ending the adventure. Given the clear and present danger the masks pose to the entire city, some or all of them might have been damaged by now, lowering their value... that is, if they didn't get loose to cause problems all over town. Oh, and the Thieves' Guild probably want a word. Winding up the adventure is no easy matter, there are lots of loose ends to sort out and most of them have the potential to lead to further adventures.

This adventure presents the fast, violent fun that ought to fill the pages of any adventure in Lankhmar, and should set up the new-fledged party as a force to be reckoned with as the campaign proceeds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DCC Lankhmar: Masks of Lankhmar
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