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!]