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    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return $6.99
    Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God\'s Return
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    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
    Publisher: Goodman Games
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/19/2018 11:09:23

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    The first holiday adventure for DCC clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages. These are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), making this a booklet, rather than a regularly-sized DCC-module.

    This review was requested by a supporter of my patreon, to be undertaken at my convenience.

    This module is intended for level 1 characters, and can be completed in a single session, making it suitable for e.g. oneshots or convention-style gaming. As far as DCC is concerned, it is a challenging module, but does not rank among the most difficult ones. Character death is a possibility, but it is very much possible to beat this module sans PC deaths.

    This module takes place in the frigid north, and theme-wise can be considered to be one of the DCC modules that has its Appendix N-weirdness grounded in folklore and mythology – while certainly fitting DCC’s unique aesthetics, it’s an adventure that feels grounded in its odder aspects, making implementation in more down to earth contexts and settings with a sword & sorcery vibe easy.

    As always, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only judges around? Great! So, for the last couple of weeks, a strange sickness seems to have spread across the north, one wherein children fall into a comatose state, with blackened, frostburn-like patches of skin. In the introductory scene, the culprits become readily apparent: Gnarled, icy-gnomes called Tontuu attack the settlement as winter solstice approach – and herald the deadly threat responsible.

    The godling Tjaptar, a malign force that has justifiably and well-deservedly fallen into relative obscurity, has taken residence in a ziggurat of hyperborean make, encapsulated partially in basically an upside down iceberg-like structure that is levitating ever more south, spreading the dread influence of the godling. The PCs are blessed by the village priest of Loptir in the aftermath, gaining the mechanically most distinct aspect of the adventure – the ability to call upon the powers of sovereign fire.

    Each PC receives either 8 (if they demand payment) or 10 points of sovereign fire as a resource to handle the threat of Tjaptar. These points may be used as luck to enhance save-bonuses vs. cold effects, enhance spellcasting to improve fire-based spells as though using spellburn, ignite weaponry for a +1 bonus to atk and damage (+3 v.s cold-based enemies – all foes herein qualify), gain the ability to use a searing touch (which can also met through ice) or use 5 points to turn into a form of living fire for 2 rounds, including the ability to fly – which can be very helpful in the finale, but more on that later. How the PCs use their sovereign fire and how well they conserve this resource is a crucial aspect that can make the difference between success or death. I do enjoy this unique form of resource-management.

    Now, the flying inverse iceberg has vast steps leading up to the top, and from there onwards, the PCs will make their way through aforementioned ziggurat as a mini-dungeon, battling more of the ice-gnomes and witnessing disturbing sights – like strange groves of trees that have souls of children bound within them. A mantis of ice makes for a lethal foe, and heat-draining sap can make for a rather cool terrain hazard – but ultimately, the PCs should be capable of making their way quickly to Tjaptar, who looks like a pretty massive reindeer-headed humanoid, with sickly, quasi un-dead looking skin (due to neglect/not being worshipped); between his antlers, an aurora borealis looms, and inside these lights, the souls of children not yet consumed await freedom.

    Defeating the dread godling will initiate a collapse, which will see a rapid deterioration of the dungeon – which means the PCs will have to get out, fast, unless they want to plummet to a rather inglorious death! This section is also where the module’s brevity turns out to be somewhat detrimental. While the concept could have carried a longer adventure, apart from e.g. once instance, where only falling distance, but not damage incurred, is noted, this doesn’t come into play for the most part. In the end, though, the module basically resorts to telling the judge to add some checks to make things tight – which is certainly viable, but ultimately, I think the module would have been better off by simply listing some challenges for the collapse.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the same can be said for the most part, apart from aforementioned minor snafus. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard, and the original artworks in b/w are really nice. As pretty much always for Goodman Games’ DCC-modules, the maps are glorious. Unfortunately, we don’t get any player-friendly iterations sans labels etc. The pdf has basic bookmarks for sub-headers, but not for individual scenes or rooms – that could be a bit smoother for the judge.

    Michael Curtis “The Old God’s Return” oozes a great dark fantasy vibe, with a neat folklore-style backdrop and theme. The sovereign fire mechanic is rewarding, and the whole idea of the adventure is great. However, the module does suffer somewhat from its brevity. I couldn’t help but feel that, with a few more pages, this could have been a masterpiece. As provided, it is an impressive module that feels like it is held in check by the limited scope in which it can develop its themes. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

    Endzeitgeist out.

    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
    Publisher: Goodman Games
    by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/30/2013 06:20:05

    Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/12/30/tabletop-review-the-old-gods-return-dungeon-crawl-classics-2013-holiday-module/

    Tabletop companies really like to release items as close to Christmas as possible. Goodman Games is no exception. This 2013 Holiday Module, entitled The Old Gods Return is full of homages and nods to Christmas. The main antagonist has a reindeer’s head. The tontuu resemble Santa’s elves. There are some seriously screwed up evergreen trees and the joulbok is reminiscent of the Krampus in design if not personality. This is a cute little idea for an adventure, and it’s well done enough that you don’t have to play it around the holidays to get the full effect.

    The title of the piece is a bit misleading. The Old Gods do not in fact “return.” There is only one god, a fraction of its former self and near the end of its existence due to a lack of worship in this piece. That said, it IS the principal antagonist of the adventure, and even weakened, a god is a pretty powerful enemy for Level 1 characters to be taking on. Even with a party of six characters, expect some, if not all, to fall as you strive to complete this. Even if you beat the god, there is still a very large chance of a Total Party Kill after the fact (no spoilers as to why), so GMs might want to run this as a one-shot rather than risk beloved characters.

    The plot of the adventure is pretty straight forward. Villages around the area are seeing their children struck with a strange illness for which there seems to be no recovery – magical or otherwise. The children fall comatose and appear to be suffering from symptoms akin to frostbite. Thankfully it has not affected the village of the PCs – until the adventure is underway. Attacked by strange gnome-like creatures with a perchance for murder, the PCs and their home village repel these invaders, only to discover at least one child has been struck by the malady. The PCs are chosen by the High Priest of Lopitar (god of fire) to smite the menace plaguing the land. In a sense, the conflict becomes more than PCs Vs. antagonists, but that of fire Vs. ice and old gods Vs. the new régime. Characters participating in the conflict will receive a special bless from Lopitar that allows them a wide range of fire based abilities. These powers are not permanent and will almost certainly exhaust themselves during the adventure, but they will be a lot of fun to mess around with while the players have them.

    From there, the players will have to deal with a flying iceberg, three levels of dungeons, figuring out the mystery of the evergreen grove and do battle with an ancient god itself. It’s a pretty daunting adventure, and as mentioned previous, it’s not a question of IF a PC will die, but how many. Hey, if you’re reading this, you’re more than used to the DCC death toll by now, and this shouldn’t surprise you in the least, right?

    There isn’t a lot more to the plot here. After the players leave there village, The Old Gods Return is fundamentally a straight forward hack and slash dungeon crawl experience. The emphasis is on roll-playing over role-playing, but again, you kind of expect that going into a DCC adventure. The adventure is quite short, able to be played in a single session. Although the dungeon is three levels deep, there are only three real combat encounters to be had, four if you count the one that sets up the adventure, and a fifth optional one that most players won’t run into unless they are poking their heads into everything.

    As always, the art in the first party Dungeon Crawl Classics pieces are fantastic. Doug Kovacs does an amazing job, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the map for this adventure was a two page spread. DCC has the best maps in the industry, so you’re getting twice as much of the thing they do best. That’s a holiday present in and of itself! The other drawings are also a lot of fun, as they really help to showcase how much of this is an homage to various Christmas characters and themes. Without the visuals, a good portion of the piece may be lost on gamers, to the point where they might not realize this has an undercurrent of a holiday theme going for it.

    Overall, I really enjoyed The Old Gods Return. Although I’m not a person who celebrates any of the assorted December holidays, this adventure really blends the season with Dungeon Crawl Classics tropes, and the end result is a very memorable adventure you and your friends will no doubt talk about for some time after. Is it the best DCC adventure I’ve ever played? No it’s not. The Old Gods Return is a lot of fun, though, makes for a great addition to any DCC fan’s library and is well worth playing through. This is a great way for Dungeon Crawl Classics to end 2013, and if you have a DCC playing friend, this would make a great late Christmas present for them – plus you’ll be able to share in the experience as well!

    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
    Publisher: Goodman Games
    by William M. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 12/24/2013 18:28:02

    A fun adventure to run! It is easily adaptable, or can be run as a one shot for the holidays. It catches both the spirit of the season and of DCC RPG. For those looking to spark up your own campaign, there are plenty of ideas to develop further in your own campaign.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Dungeon Crawl Classics 2013 Holiday Module: The Old God's Return
    Publisher: Goodman Games
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 12/24/2013 07:39:07

    Herein is an exciting 1st-level adventure (suitable for 6 characters and possibly best as a one-off rather than part of a campaign) to shake off the effects of a large dinner - assuming that is that you can round up enough gamers over the holidays, here they all vanish until after the new year is in.

    The background explains how in the long-distant past ancient civilisations fled advancing ice, but sometimes left treasures behind... and one such has come to light as an iceberg containing it breaks off of a glacier to be set loose in the ocean... excpet that as it floated free, ancient magicks reactivated and instead of drifting off on the sea the iceberg rose high into the air! A long forgotten godling stirs... and pestilence falls on the land beneath.

    OK so what does the party have to do with this? It's the time to celebrate the shortest day of the year in a remote village (their home, or just where they happen to be that night) and rumours of disease and a strange glittering shape in the sky soon turn to aweful reality. With the characters being the only adventuring types to hand, it's up to them to deal with the problem.

    Imbued with power by the sun-god worshipped in the village, the party needs to chase and then gain access to the flying iceberg - no mean feat in itself as it is some 100 feet in the air! However, several methods are suggested to accomplish this. Once in, there are some interesting and unusual places to explore and a very godling to battle - not bad for first level!

    Everything is well-laid out for the GM, with monster stats just where they are needed and atmospheric illustrations and maps to set the scene. It should prove an enjoyable adventure and something to remember, with a seasonal feel that doesn't descend into bizarre appearances of contemporary holiday trappings. Recommended.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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