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Dungeon Crawl Classics #53: Sellswords of Punjar $8.99
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #53: Sellswords of Punjar
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #53: Sellswords of Punjar
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2008 12:51:21

Being a huge D&D fan, it’s hard to remember sometimes that not everyone else who plays the game is as enthralled with its particulars as I am. When it was revealed that Goodman Games was going 4E with its Dungeon Crawl Classics line, but wasn’t using the GSL, those of us who cared about such things were all trading significant glances – you know, the kind with wide eyes and raised brows. Clearly, this would have big ramifications! Well, perhaps, but it’s just as important to judge the resulting adventure on its own merits too. So let’s take a look at the first such 4E DCC: Sellswords of Punjar.

The adventure is meant for 1st level characters, which is to be expected given the newness of 4E. Interestingly, despite using the OGL, there’s really no difference between this and any other Fourth Edition product. Anyone who was worried about questions of compatibility can lay those to rest right now. Likewise, the PDF’s other mechanics are quite nicely done also, having bookmarks to the various sections of the PDF. There’s also a second PDF with eight pages of full-color maps. Except for two other full-color maps set in the main PDF itself, the product is all black and white, with heavy use of grayscale for backgrounds and borders. Since there is no printer-friendly version, you may have an easier time just buying the print version if you want a physical copy.

The adventure itself has a fairly gritty feel to it. The PCs start off in the slums of Punjar, caught up in a turf war between the Beggar King and the Thieves Guild. Things soon turn even more macabre as the PCs are forced to venture into the filth of the city’s sewers to seek answers regarding the new monsters that have recently arisen in the area, and put a stop to them before far worse things lay waste to Punjar. The adventure is quite well-crafted, and carries a deft mix of foes, traps, and other things to keep the PCs on their toes. Indeed, while some may say that 4E has too much of a “superhero” feel to it, this adventure does a great job of keeping the PCs on the move against not-inconsiderable odds, lending it a darker atmosphere that’s played up expertly. There are even appendices with notes about further adventures in Punjar, and new monsters.

In the end, I was quite impressed with the adventure that was crafted here. A varied mix of challenges serve to keep the PCs moving, and despite the low-level there’s a real sense of tension throughout the adventure. Sellswords of Punjar brings a familiar flavor to the new edition of the World’s Favorite Fantasy RPG, and it’s most welcome for it. Punjar is on its way to making its mark as a 4E favorite with its debut DCC.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #53: Sellswords of Punjar
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/08/2008 19:59:24

A quality product for a game I barely recognize.

Like many people, I've been curious about the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons -- but I'd already seen enough of 4E to know that it probably wasn't going to be the fantasy game-system for me. Buying Goodman Games' Sellswords of Punjar gave me the chance to see the details of the 4E rules "in action", without mortgaging the cat, the dog, and that annoying kid down the street just to buy a whole new set of rulebooks I may never use.

What did I learn?

Goodman Games still knows how to make slick, interesting fantasy adventures which capture the imagination. This adventure also has a decidedly more "swords & sorcery" feel to it (e.g. Howard, Leiber, Moorcock), rather than the traditional "high fantasy" (Tolkien et al) stuff which typically defines most fanatsy rpgs. Definitely a welcome change of pace for me.

What else did I learn?

I'm sticking with Troll Lord Games' Castles & Crusades from here on out for my fantasy gaming needs -- with the occasional dip into Paizo's Pathfinder line for supplementary material.

I'm not getting into the "does 4E suck?" endless debate here -- all I can say is, in my opinion, 4E looks like a perfectly acceptable fantasy rpg system ... but it's not really D&D except in name only. Honestly, 4E bears about as much resemblance to Dungeons & Dragons as the current Battlestar Galactica television series bears to the 1970s TV show which inspired it -- a few superficial elements are common to both, but they are fundamentally different things.

4E and D&D are effectively two different games, and whether you're okay with that, or not, will depend on your personal preferences.

Sellswords of Punjar is a sufficiently good introductory adventure that I may well use its maps and its plot in a Castles and Crusades game, but it's obvious that I'll be gutting the 4E mechanics to do so. 4E is so much its own beast, that it's easier to use this adventure as an inspiration and a guideline, rather than to try to "translate" it in any sort ot systematic way.

Bottom line?

Good story, good maps, quality production values ... and the encounters seem well thought out and well-balanced, in and of themselves.

Still, if you don't play 4E, be advised that you'll be buying this adventure more as a good story outline and a gameplay guideline. It won't translate anywhere near one-to-one without some serious hands-on heavy lifting by a motivated Game Master.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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