Monday, 6 March 2017

Left on the Cutting Room Floor

Here are a few extras from a recent(ish) DCC project that either didn’t fit the space requirements or tone of the product. I present them here so that you may use them in your own games.

Pustule: A yellow pustule on the (1d4): (1) right wall, (2) left wall, (3) floor, or (4) ceiling quivers with mucus-like pus. If interacted with in any way, it bursts, spraying pus in a 30’ radius. A Reflex save (DC 5) avoids the pus. Touched characters get a DC 10 Fort save each round to avoid losing 1d3-1 points of Strength, Agility, or Stamina (PC’s choice) as the pus eats into his flesh. Once a character makes a successful save, the damage ends. Characters who survive long enough can heal the damage normally. A ranged attack against AC 7 can burst a pustule from a safe distance.

Polyp: A bulging reddish polyp emerges from wall, ceiling, or floor. The polyp quivers slightly, straining towards any character approaching it. Should a PC touch the thing, it attempts to envelope him. The PC may attempt three Strength checks to break free: DC 5, DC 10, and DC 15. Thereafter, he is completely encased within the polyp. 1d5 minutes later, the polyp spits the character back into the corridor, healed of all wounds, diseases, and poisons. Any given polyp can only heal 1d3 PCs before it goes black, shrivels, and falls off the surface of the hallway.

Antibody: Init +3; Atk touch +0 melee (0); AC 6; HD 1 hp; MV fly 40’; Act 1d16; SP attach, reduce Agility and speed; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

The dungeon is alive, and is patrolled by its own antibodies, which seek to deal with foreign substances. These are small blue fleshy spheres, covered with bumps and prongs, which fly in groups. Antibodies cause no damage, instead attaching to whatever they hit.

Attached antibodies are no longer active. They can be removed with alcohol or acid (including the pus from pustules), and do not “reactivate” if removed. Every three antibodies attached to a character reduces that character’s Agility by 1. Every five antibodies attached to a character reduces that character’s movement speed by 5’. If speed is reduced to 0’, a character can no longer move on his own.

Blue shade: Init +0; Atk none; AC 10; HD 1d4; hp 3; MV fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP non-corporeal, telepathic; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +7; AL N.

This alien creature is a non-corporeal sphere, 30’ in diameter, in which everything appears to be a shade of cornflower blue (including any PCs within the sphere). It is nothing more than a color in this plane, and can neither harm another nor be harmed. It is telepathic, interested in everything, understands next to nothing about life in this plane, and is as annoying as all hell. It always answers a question with a question. Its voice is always calm, and it insists that it is smarter than everyone it has yet encountered in the material realm. If PCs become upset, or if a violent encounter occurs, the blue shade calmly suggests that everyone stop and consider things rationally. You are aware that the creature you are interacting with will die if you pierce it with the pointy thing you are holding, aren’t you?

The blue shade remains for 10 minutes of actual game time, or as long as the judge desires.

Giant tapeworm: Init -2; Atk bite +1 melee (1); AC 9; HD 1d6; hp 4 each; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP attach, blood drain; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

These are 5-foot-long parasites. A giant tapeworm that successfully attacks its foe latches on, and will not release its hold until dead. Thereafter, the tapeworm drains 1 hp of blood each round. The corpse of a creature killed by a giant tapeworm cannot be used to open a sphincter (although the giant tapeworm corpse can do so).

Graffle: Init +2; Atk stick +0 melee (1); AC 15; HD 1 hp; MV 20’; Act 1d14; SV Fort -2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL L.

Graffles are tiny humanoids, no more than a foot high. They wear clothing, but seldom wear pants, and their torsos are covered with shaggy fur. There is another tuft of fur at the end of their tails, and they have a tuft of fur at the top of their heads. They are generally inoffensive, and prefer fleeing to fighting. The Graffles claim to hail from a place called “Graffle Boulder” and refer to the dungeon as “this weird place in outer space”.

Draugmere, the Demonglass Blade: This Chaotic +1 longsword communicates with its wielder by simple urges. It appears to be made of black glass, but is as hard as steel, and its golden crossguards are twining dragons. The name of the blade is imprinted in the mind of any who grasps its hilt, as is the simple nature of the bargain Draugmere offers – you gain +1 bonus hp for every comrade you slay with the blade. These hit points cannot be healed, and are always used first. But it is easy to gain new bonus hit points, if you have any friends nearby…


Orb of Temptation: A glass orb, 6 inches in diameter, which seems to contain a naked human woman. A PC gains 1 point of Strength as soon as he picks it up. The woman within the orb will answer one question for any given character, but only one question ever. The orb must be passed to another character to get another answer. As soon as the new character takes the orb, he gains 1 point of Strength, and the previous character loses 1d3 points of Strength. The woman in the orb always answers questions truthfully, as succinctly as possible, and she knows everything that the judge knows. She asks the question asked, rather than the question intended. The players may choose to pass this object to new characters as often as they like, so long as they are willing to pay the price.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Writing for the Ducks

As some of you may know, my first published product for Dungeon Crawl Classics was also Purple Duck Game's first DCC product - AL 1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror. It's nearly five years later, and I have 24 products with Purple Duck Games, either already out or nearly there. I've written for other publishers as well - they're like Pokemon; I gotta catch 'em all - but it is Purple Duck that I keep coming back to.

So, the purpose of this blog post is twofold: First, I want to convince you, budding would-be adventure writer, that you should submit to Purple Duck. Second, I want to tell you about a Patreon project Purple Duck Games just started.

As to the first, Mark Gedak, the publisher of Purple Duck Games, is a great guy who has never in any way, shape, or form been anything less than a joy to work with. If you don't know it, publishers in this industry bleed money. After paying for writing, art, cartography, and layout, every project leaves them in a hole waiting for the Gentle Reader to become the Gentle Buyer and dig them out. Despite being the first hand out in the Great Bloodletting that is getting a project from manuscript to print, I have never once had to nudge Mark, or began to wonder if he had forgotten.

In fact, I have approached Purple Duck Games on more than one occasion, with a wild scheme that required him to making payments before a manuscript even existed. Not only did Mark Gedak give me help and advice, on all of those occasions he bought into the project, taking the upfront costs out of his own coffers. Of course, we already had a working relationship at that point, but even so Purple Duck Games has treated me more than fairly.

Purple Duck Games has also supported me when I wanted to help my friend, Raechel Henderson, with her kickstarter (this is why you can get Prince Charming, Reanimator, as a free pdf) and in terms of prize support for Odyssey Con this April. (Other prizes are supplied by Shinobi27 Games, Straycouches Press, and Goodman Games!)

If you're looking for a publisher open to new authors, and that has both the desire and tools to help you succeed, you could do far worse than Purple Duck Games.

Which brings me to my second aim: To announce (and support) the Dungeon Crawl Classics Patreon set up by Purple Duck Games.

This Patreon is designed to help fund the development of further Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game from Purple Duck Games. It will allow Purple Duck to continue to offer releases in the AL, CE, FT, Dispatches and PM lines and provide both their writers and artists with a greater return on their investment.

The initial release schedule would look something like:

1st - AL 8: Fire in the Mountain by Daniel J. Bishop
2nd - Dispatches IV by Daniel J. Bishop
3rd - PM 1 - Temple of the Locust Lord by Daniel J. Bishop and Mark Gedak

Everything in that tentative initial release schedule is already written.

It should be clear to you, Gentle Reader, that my name comes up a bit often on the DCC side of Purple Duck Games' catalog. There is plenty of room for other writers in that stable!

Purple Duck Games can be reached at their Facebook page if you want to pitch an idea. I encourage you to do so. The AL Series needs more writers, and not everything Purple Duck Games does needs to be part of a series - witness the excellent Death Slaves of Eternity by Marzio Muscedere!

In any event, please consider the Patreon, because there is a lot more coming from the Ducks!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Odyssey Con

I will be a Featured Gamer at Odyssey Con 17, April 28th - 30th at the Radisson Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. So, by the way, will the estimable Brendan LaSalle!

Here's what I'll be running there:

Incursion of the Ultradimension
Friday, 2-6 pm
MCC level  2 - no experience necessary - all materials provided

It rises—silent, ancient, and ominous—from the depths of the Monster Ocean. A curious relic of the Ancient Ones, long forgotten beneath the waves. Then, without warning, alien creatures never before seen on Terra A.D. spill forth the ravage the land! This is the Retreat of Delirium, home to strange super-science and creatures not of this world. What fiendish plans do they have in store for the rad-blasted world of Mutant Crawl Classics? Venture through the Retreat’s glowing door and discover what awaits beyond!

This is a Mutant Crawl Classics playtest, written by none other than manly Michael Curtis!

Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror
Friday, 8 - 11 pm
DCC 2nd level - no experience necessary - all materials provided

Terrible horrors lurk in the workshop of Dellspero the Philosopher. Though Dellspero has been missing for ages, does his lair still contain the secret magics he worked with?

The Imperishable Sorceress
Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm
DCC level 1 - no experience necessary - all materials provided

As the adventurers pass through a mundane door, they are startled to find themselves unexpectedly in a frozen landscape. A distant woman’s voice whispers a welcome, and the characters are thrust into a tale of spirits and ancient secrets.

The Arwich Grinder
Saturday, 8-11 pm
DCC 0-level funnel - no experience necessary - all materials provided
Not for kids!

The Curwen Family have lived up among the pine woods on the outskirts of Arwich Village for as long as the oldest village gaffers can remember. The beautiful Bessie Curwen's bonnet is found in a strange creature's grasp. The village owes much to her family, so someone must go up into the dark pine-clad hills to make sure that the Curwens are all right. After all, the Curwens saved the village from starvation two winters ago. If you do not go, who will?


 Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Caring About Characters and Plot

In his most recent "Roleplaying Tips" email, John Four writes:

How do you get players to care about their characters and your plot?
This is in the top 10 questions I get asked all the time. It's tough to do. Today I'll share one approach to encounter building that's part of the 5 Room Dungeon product I'm working on that helps you solve this tricky problem.
Here's the situation. You slave away crafting an awesome situation using the encounter triangle. You've got location, foes, and plot. You even add green flocking to your minis.
But then the hobos rip right through it. As the first foe starts to parley, the barbarian hurls a handful of dice in his face and cleaves the second guy on the backswing.
You then try to roleplay during the combat. But each word just buys the PCs time to sharpen their weapons, including the cleric (hey, how did the cleric get an edged weapon!).
In frustration, you bargain.
Johnn: "Hey guys, these baddies might have some important information. Maybe you should try talking to them."
Hobo 1: "Nah. We'll cast Speak With Dead after the XP cha-ching."
Hobo 2: "Forget that bro! Don't waste the spell slot."
Hobo 1: "Heh. Could good call, droogie. Hack on!"
The problem that John is describing here is a direct result of the PCs' actions having no consequences.

If the baddies have important information, and the PCs slaughter them, let the PCs find that out the hard way. Now the characters have a problem of their own creation to deal with, and the GM should absolutely not be helping them out. What he should be doing is letting them know that "John the Knife knew, but he was slain by adventurers some time back" or whatever is appropriate. Let them know they made the problem. And then let them solve it.

Here's another potential consequence: The PCs cannot always go through the baddies like a hot knife through butter. What if the GM occasionally includes baddies that can beat the PCs? Or can be so costly to beat, in terms of resources, that the fight is more of a loss even if the PCs win? There is no reason for the players to try diplomacy if the sword always works.

If you want the PCs to talk to your villains, you need to make sure they see, early on, that powerful foes are willing to talk to them, rather than simply wiping the floor with them. You also need to let the players see that this works....rather than stripping the PCs naked and taking all of their stuff, a powerful monster will let them go for information. And, perhaps, that powerful monster offers them some information if the PCs are reasonably polite.

Nor do the PCs always have to meet the baddies in a bleak dungeon with no one else around. Why not during a masked ball, a church service, at a wedding or a funeral, etc.? There are all kinds of circumstances where swords and spells are simply unacceptable.

You get players to care about their characters by making them work for what they get.

You get players to care about your plot by making understanding your plot integral to that work.

When players have to work to make their characters what they want, not only is there an actual history to the character, which the player can take pride in, but the character represents the effort of the player. And you can be certain that players value their own effort!

That said, if your game depends upon the players making a particular choice, you've got a problem, because players will often make some other choice...and they should be able to do so.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Dispatches 3 Now Available in Print

Dispatches Vol 3 is now available in print.


Sorry about the lack of strong content in this blog over the last few months. Product announcements are all find & dandy, but I promise to get back into more meat & potatoes posting as well this year.


Friday, 6 January 2017

GaryCon Event Registration

I will be running the following events at GaryCon. Tickets are now available:

Escape From Terror Island
Event #30, Thursday at 2 pm (4 hours)

Gnome Jambalaya 
Event #36, Friday at 10 am (4 hours)

Stars in the Darkness
Event #38, Saturday at 2 pm (5 hours)

The Revelation of Mulmo
Event #39, Saturday at 10 pm (5 hours)

The Tomb of the Squonk
Event #40, Sunday at 10 am (3 hours)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

GaryCon Ho!



Next year, GaryCon is being held from March 23rd to 26th in the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I will be there, and I will be running games. I hope that some of you may also make it to GaryCon, and that we will be able to sling dice together.

The full schedule is not yet available, but I will be running:


  • Escape From Terror Island
  • Gnome Jambalaya
  • Stars in the Darkness
  • The Revelation of Mulmo
  • The Tomb of the Squonk


The first two are unpublished funnels, so playtest credits are ripe to be had!










Monday, 7 November 2016

Pretty In Print

Purple Duck Games has just made Marzio Muscedere's Death Slaves of Eternity and my own CE 7 - The Giggling Deep available in print. If you were waiting for print, you need wait no longer.

In related news, if you are not waiting for print, CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Woods is also out, containing two classes for goblin adventurers.