I’ve been looking forward to the release of David Baity’s ‘Carnival Of The Damned’ adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG since it was first announced by Purple Sorcerer games last year.
This is a quick 'first impressions' write up rather than an in depth review because I don’t want to give away any spoilers for this brand new module. That said I am planning on running the adventure a couple of times in the coming months so you can expect to learn more about the foul denizens of this particular carnival in the not too distant future!
The module is designed to be run either as a level 0 funnel or a tournament style adventure. It contains over 30 different encounters set in a travelling carnival which, it turns out, is not quite what it seems once the sun goes down! The premise may be simple, but the backstory is elegant and well thought out. It’s a lot more involved than just a case of ‘rescue the kids and kill the bad guy’
The adventure includes twisted versions of carnival rides and games, and the player characters will come across a unique group of adversaries. Clowns feature quite heavily, but let’s face it, who isn’t scared of them? (I blame Stephen King’s Pennywise)
The encounters can be arranged in any order, although the author includes some useful notes and a suggested ‘running order’ for both tournament style and more 'story driven’ funnel play. It’s also worth noting that David has included a couple of useful devices (a magic lantern and a mechanical fortune teller) which the judge can use to help guide the players and reveal the story. Used carefully these should really add to the adventure and prevent it from feeling too linear. The individual encounters could also easily be dropped into other games. It wouldn’t be a great deal of work to scale up the encounters to make them a more appropriate challenge for higher level characters either. Remember though, DCC RPG is not about ’balance’ and if there isn’t at least some danger of character death you’re missing out on the fun!
In typical DCC fashion nothing is quite what it seems in ‘The Carnival Of The Damned’ From the kid’s ball pit to the penny arcade via a disturbing encounter with a bearded lady there is something to terrify every player and delight every judge!
[5 of 5 Stars!]