Unlike many offerings for Free RPG Day, this isn't a 'starter pack' in the conventional sense of introducing a ruleset in sufficient detail to play a short adventure with the characters provided. Instead, herein are a couple of adventures at different levels - a level 3 heist and a level 5 expedition - but it is assumed that you have access to the rules and have some characters already.
First is the level 5 expedition The Undulating Corruption by Michael Curtis. It's based around the premise that ALL wizards, be they good or evil, acquire the taint of Corruption by the mere fact that they use magic, and that should a mechanism be found to remove said Corruption without harming the wizard, it would certainly be worth seeking out... however it might actually work. Both the party and a bunch of tomb-raiders have got wind of this, and so the race is on to discover and harness such a potent resource for anyone who uses magic seriously.
Brief notes are given on how to get the party involved and where to put the adventure site, but it's loose enough to fit pretty much wherever in your campaign world you want to put it. Needless to say, just getting there involves a few challenges, all mapped out and with sufficient detail for them to be run with ease... although it's clear something is going on and characters will likely not wish to linger overmuch. Some innovative monsters bar their way, however, and the chance to gain a few clues about their goal, and then the chase is on!
Eventually, the characters will have a chance to deal with any Corruption that they have, but the price is high... and given the circumstances, it's a one-off deal. Overall, this is a splendid romp that captures the essence of what Dungeon Crawl Classics is attempting to achieve on your tabletop, an adventure well worth tucking away until your characters reach the dizzying heights of 5th Level.
Inserted between this adventure and the second one is a map-based competition: you have until October 2012 to come up with an adventure built around this map with the winner getting to write Goodman Games's contribution to Free RPG Day 2013! I feel some ideas coming on already...
Next, from the pen of Harley Stroh comes a 3-rd level adventure The Jeweller Who Dealt in Stardust. Set in Punjar, a city well-known to DCC affectionadoes and notorious for its ethically-challenged inhabitants, it's basically a heist. A leading fence has gone missing, so someone's got to break into his place and find out what's happened to him... Whilst thief skills are essential, it is likely that swords and spells will also come in handy.
This is a fine adventure redolent of some of the burglarious escapades Conan gets up to in the novels, with plenty of scope for sneaking around, dealing with unspeakable horrors and perhaps even pocketing some loot. Right now I wish I hadn't read it because I would have loved to play a character in it! Guess I'll have to run it, instead, at least I shall have an excellent map and some quite innovative surprises to throw at my players!
This work is an exemplar of the sort of adventures to run with this ruleset, truly catching the flavour of the game and promising a couple of sessions of epic fun for players and game master alike!
[5 of 5 Stars!]