Friday 21 June 2024


Tomorrow

is 

Free RPG Day! 

It's 

practically here!
 



As I sit atop Mount Crumpet, I eagerly await the shenanigans to ensue! Come be slain enjoy playing The Invisible Man Has Risen From the Grave!, which I will be running aNoble Knight Games in Wisconsin. 

The store opens at 10 am, and I plan on starting the game at approximately 10:30 am. First come, first served, but I will have materials on hand to accept up to 8 players. Expected run time is 4 hours, but I can stay later if needed.

Noble Knight is located at 2835 Commerce Park Drive, Fitchburg, WI 53719 (phone 608-758-9901, email Contact@NobleKnight.com),



Thursday 20 June 2024

Conversion Crawl Classes 23: Hawkmoon (3): The Chatillon Caverns (2)

I neglected to talk about zombification in my last post about The Chatillon Caverns, and, as that is the heart of this adventure, that was extremely remiss.

This adventure describes the process in extremely loose terms. Zombification is a mixture of voodoo and technology, with the zombified victims being chemically processed before being fitted with electronic receivers to be given orders. I picture them as similar to the Robomen from the Doctor Who serial, The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Having previously provided statistics for Robomen, I have something I can use for the basis of statistics. I tend to think, from the description, that the zombified soldiers are less obviously technological/clunky than the Robomen, but that they also do not communicate back to their controllers or go insane. Thus:

Zombified Soldier: Init -2; Atk by weapon +0 melee (by weapon); AC 8; HD 2d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP immune to mind-affecting; SV Fort +3, Ref –2, Will +0; AL L.

The standard zombification process allows no save to resist. Aerosol zombification, should it be achieved by the sorcerer-scientists of Granbretan, creates a misty cloud. Anyone in contact with the cloud must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save each round or take 1d3 Personality damage. Zombification occurs at 0 Personality, although the victims must still be fitted with electronic receivers to be commanded.

Without magic, zombification cannot be reversed. Even neutralizing the zombification toxins does nothing unless it also reverses the damage therefrom. A Lay on Hands check able to heal 4 HD or a DC 12 Divine Intervention check can allow a single individual to recover from the condition with time and rest enough to reach 3 Personality (or higher).

Those who recover only remember their time as living zombies in nightmares and flashes of horrifying insight, as determined by the judge.

Statblocks

If you do plan on converting/using this adventure, here are some creatures from the cavern Encounters section already done for you. If you do not plan on using this particular adventure, they are generic enough that you might include them in scenarios of your own devising!

These statistics are for the animal encounters on page 29-30 of the Hawkmoon rulebook, and it should be clear that I leaned heavily on the mundane bat swarm, cave cricket, and giant rat from the DCC core rulebook when converting their statistics.

Mutant Bat Swarm: Init +4; Atk swarming bite +1 melee (1d3); AC 14; HD 2d8; MV fly 40’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks; SV Fort +0, Ref +10, Will -2; AL N; Crit M/1d8.

The mutant bats are large with purple-green rhizomatic growths instead of fur. They do not normally attack, but may fly around causing confusion and panic if woken by the PCs. PCs holding a torch must succeed in a Luck check to avoid dropping it. The bats themselves feed outside the caves, and may be in transit or sleeping when encountered. They only attack if trapped or magically controlled.

Mutant Fish: Init +3; Atk bite +4 melee (1d4); AC 13; HD 1d6; MV swim 30’; Act 1d16; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will -4; AL N; Crit n/a.

These rather piranha-like cave fish are large, blind, and aggressive. While they can survive with only sporadic feeding, they are voracious, and attack any other creature entering the underground pool they live in. 2d6 are encountered. Each fish is 2-3 feet long.

Mutant Insects: Init -1; Atk bite -2 melee (1d3); AC 14; HD 3d8; MV 20’ or climb 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -3; AL N; Crit M/1d8.

These carnivorous insects are enormous cave crickets which have lost the power to jump or fly. Instead, they crawl along cavern walls, ceiling, and floors in a never-ending search for whatever they might find. In the Chatillon Caves, they largely subsist on mutant bats. They have long thin antennae allowing them to sense prey. 1d6 mutant insects is a standard encounter.

Mutant Rats: Init +4; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4+1 plus disease); AC 13; HD 1d6+2; MV 30’ or climb 20’; Act 1d20; SP disease (1d3 Stamina damage each hour after bite until a DC 12 Fort save succeed; mutation); SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will -1; AL N; M/1d6.

These mutated giant rats are covered with boils, pustules, and strange growths. Anyone bitten by a mutant rat, or who strikes the mutant rat with a melee weapon and then fails a DC 10 Reflex save to avoid being splashed by the pus-like fluid in its cancerous growths, contracts its disease. Every hour after the initial contact, the victim must succeed in a DC 12 Fort save or take 1d3 Stamina damage as tumorous growths erupt from their own flesh. These tumors subside as the damage is healed, but so long as they remain the diseased character can likewise infect others who come into contact with their pus.

Finally, if the judge has access to the Mutant Crawl Classics rulebook and wants to add some additional mayhem to their game, anyone who fails three or more saves against this disease gains a random mutation. Roll 1d7: (1-4) Physical Mutation, or (5-7) Mental Mutation. While this means some PCs may intentionally fail saves in order to gain unique abilities, as the lowered Stamina affects future saves, this is a potentially lethal decision.

Normally, 2d6 are encountered.

Mutant Salamanders: Init +2; Atk bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 13; HD 1d6; MV 20’ or swim 20’; Act 1d20; SP immune to sight-based attacks; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will -4; AL N; Crit M/1d6.

Mutant salamanders are 3-4 feet long, with pale translucent skin. Although they have black eyebuds, sight is not their primary sense, and they are immune to attacks requiring sight (such as color spray). Always hungry, they will leave the water to pursue prey. 1d8 are encountered.

Mutant Spiders: Init +5; Atk bite +2 melee (1 plus venom); AC 17; HD 1d3; MV 30’ or climb 30’; Act 1d20; SP venom (-1d to d20 rolls for 1d3 hours plus Fort DC 14 or 1 point of damage per turn for 2d8 turns); SV Fort +0, Ref +5, Will -4; AL N; Crit M/1d6.

Long-legged spiders similar to pale daddy longlegs or harvestmen, these spiders are 1-2 feet tall on their stilt-like legs. They are shy, and flee from confrontation unless cornered. Their venom causes stiffness and dizziness (expressed as a -1d shift on the dice chain to all d20 rolls for 1d3 hours), and requires a DC 14 Fort save to avoid taking 1 point of damage every turn for 2d8 turns.

A thief can milk a living mutant spider of 1d6 doses of venom, or 1d3-1 doses from a dead spider, with a successful Handle Poison check.

Next: Stormbringer: The Madcap Laughs

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Conversion Crawl Classes 22: Hawkmoon (2): The Chatillon Caverns (1)

The second scenario in the Hawkmoon boxed set is The Chatillon Caverns, which is a much larger adventure with stronger ties to the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain). The scenario is easily long enough to devote multiple posts to, each focusing on a different part of the adventure, but for our purposes two posts will suffice – one to describe conversion in general, and one to provide statblocks for some of the creatures you might find in the caves.

As with the previous post, we are going to allow magic and technology to mix as it does in Michael Moorcock’s Tragic Millennium stories. As I said in the previous conversion post, I think it is worthwhile to preserve the flavor of the original adventure when converting it. Also, if you are converting from this particular Appendix N-based resource, it is reasonable to assume that you are also trying to capture something of the original.

Getting Started

A band of Granbretanian sorcerer-scientists have dug themselves a hold in a limestone cave system near Chatillon. They are capturing peasants and combining secrets of ancient voodoo and modern science to transform their prisoners into mindless living zombies.

This is an adventure with real stakes (zombification is permanent), in which stealth is often a better choice than confrontation. Magic in DCC can be a real game-changer, but even a long-lasting sanctuary spell cannot cover the entire complex, and allows the Granbretans to call for reinforcements. The judge must allow the players to learn that caution is important. Ideally, the judge should allow for encounters with zombified peasants, although not statistics are offered. Especially as the players may lose PCs to the process, it has to be telegraphed early. Some zombified peasants patrolling around a cave entrance, or even on a raid for new victims, would be worth including.

Remember that interesting choices require some amount of information. In this case, that the PCs’ information is inadequate – and that they need more – is what you wish to convey. Imagine that the guide taking the PCs to the cave knows one of the zombified peasants, calls out his name during the fighting to no avail, and the guide can tell the PCs that “he didn’t even seem to know me”. Imagine that the PCs can detect a lingering chemical smell. Imagine that they can determine that their attackers were living, rather than un-dead. How does that affect the players’ decisions?

We will look at zombification in greater detail below, and include a zombified peasant statblock in the next post.

Travel Within the Caverns

The experience of difficult traveling in the cave system is part of the point of this adventure, and the judge will have to do some work to make this run smoothly.

First off, movement rates are given in meters, although luckily the maps are scaled to feet and do not need conversion. It takes 20 minutes to travel 150 meters own a main passage, 40 minutes to travel 150 meters down a secondary passage, and an hour to travel the same distance down a tertiary passage. 150 meters is 492.162 feet, and for the sake of convenience, we can round this up to 500 feet. Thus, it takes 2 turns to travel 500 feet down a main passage, of 250 feet per turn, or 25 feet per minute. Travel down a secondary passage allows 175 feet of movement per turn, and movement down tertiary passages is a painfully slow 50 feet per turn. Within limited parts of the passages, normal combat movement may be possible, but in other locations movement and the use of certain weapons may be restricted. PCs can move twice as fast through previously explored terrain, or if they choose to forego caution. Smaller PCs are usually slower, but in this circumstance they have an advantage in size which negates the need to take that into consideration.

Otherwise, a convenient rule of thumb is that 3 meters is approximately 10 feet, and can be treated as such for game purposes.

Passage encounters include crawlspaces, pits, caverns, remains, and animal life. This is all well and good, and with a system as large as the Chatillon Caverns it would be impractical to have this all mapped out and predetermined beforehand, but there is potentially quite a bit of die-rolling involved mid-game to determine which features are encountered. The judge must then make a note so that these features can be found again if and when the PCs return to an area.

A good solution could be to preroll 30 main passage encounters, 20 secondary passage encounters, and 10 tertiary passage encounters. These could be written out on numbered index cards whose colors indicate the type of passage involved. As the encounters occur (through die rolls or random draw), the judge simply notes the card number on the map. This method can also be used for random wilderness features and/or minor adventure sites and lairs on a wilderness hexcrawl. This also gives the judge a chance to think about what bodies, or ancient caving gear, might still be found here ahead of time and, if it is in a regularly used/patrolled area, if it is still there, and if so why? Game stats can also be noted, such as the Climb Sheer Surfaces or Agility check needed to navigate a sharp decline (which is a sharp incline in the opposite direction).

Area A

This Area is controlled by the forces of Granbreton, including barracks, labs, and storage. This shouldn’t be difficult to covert, but it is important that we consider just how much of the chemical and electrical technology available the PCs can understand. We could pull out the Mutant Crawl Classics rules and make use of artifact checks, but for what is available in the scenario the DCC skill check rules are probably robust enough – simply require a DC 15 to 20 Intelligence check, depending upon what is being attempted, and note that untrained PCs (which should be all of them) roll 1d10.

Awakening the cryogenic sleepers in Area C may change this, but that is a reward for doing something, and is entirely in keeping with the Quest For It! ethos of the game.

Some specific issues and their potential solutions:

·         Pistol crossbow: Several opponents have these. I would give then 1d4 damage, ranges 20/40/60, and a cost of 50 gp. Ammo cost is 15 gp for 20 bolts. Where these items are more common, costs are reduced to 30 gp, and 10 gp for ammunition. Recovery of these items is therefore valuable, but you can’t fit very many in a bag.

·         Section Six: Warriors automatically recognize that this is a military installation. No roll necessary. Otherwise, try to convey this with detail, rather than a roll.

·         Chemical Lab: Drinking the chemicals caused 1d3 Agility and 1d3 Intelligence damage per dose. Fort DC 5 or 1 point of each is permanent. Imbibers are highly suggestible while damage remains; Will DC 10 or follow suggestion (+1d if suggestion is against character’s nature or obviously suicidal). There are 50 doses, so expect the PCs to use these on their foes!

·         Scientists’ Quarters A: Luren Narcus’ healing fluid, if poured on a wound and a 6 is rolled, requires a DC 10 Fort save or kills the patient in 1d3 rounds.

·         Scientists’ Quarters B: The book on voodoo rituals may be a source of spell knowledge.

·         Scientists’ Quarters D: The poisoned tea does 3d6+2 damage, or 1d10-1 with a successful DC 15 Fort save.

·         Scientists’ Quarters F: Rahna Fil’s whip, although non-magical, causes 1d8 damage due to its micro-wire tips. This is an artifact from ancient times and, if destroyed, cannot be replaced.

·         Electric Prod: 1d4 damage plus stunned for 1 full round, and unable to take any action (no save). This weapon ignores AC bonus from metal armor. It is an artifact from ancient time and, if destroyed, cannot be replaced.

 Converting Statblocks

As an example of how to convert a statblock to DCC, we will look at the Hounds (Granbreton soldiers) from pages 37-38. In Hawkmoon, each creature in a group is given its own statblock, which seldom adds enough variety in DCC to make the effort worthwhile. Using individual initiatives may make combat less predictable, but having to track each individual is, again, often more effort than the results are worth.

The next post will be several other Chatillon Caverns statblocks in DCC terms.

Init: We are given 10 Hounds, with Dex 9-12 each. As DCC’s Agility in analogous to Dexterity, we can safely say they have a +0 bonus.

Atk: The adventure gives the Hounds a range of weapons, presumably to individuate members of the group. This is counter to the idea of faceless soldiers (these minions of the Dark Empire wear masks to hide their features), so I will limit them to spear, javelin, and mace. These are skilled soldiers with Strength scores ranging from 10-19, so I will give them +4 to hit and +2 to damage.

AC: Armor is listed as 1d10+2 for the awake Hounds, and “none” for those which are asleep. The text doesn’t tell us what armor the Hounds are wearing, and I am inclined to go with chainmail for AC 15 (10 unarmored).

HD: With a range of 14-20 hit points, we can say 2d8+4 and keep the existing range.

MV: 25’ (30’ unarmored) as the Hounds are human.

Act: 1d20.

SP: There are no indications of special abilities.

SV: Looking at the listed DEX and CON for these creatures can give us an idea as to how Reflex and Fortitude saves should be converted. We’ve already granted +4 to hit points, or +2 per die. And accepted +0 for initiative. As soldiers of the Dark Empire who have sacrificed their individuality for the greater cause, I think we should grant a bonus for Will. Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +4. This takes into account a +1 bonus across the board for skill and experience.

AL: Although they are evil, they are Lawful.

Crit: Following the table on page 385 of the core rulebook, we get a result of III/1d8.

Put altogether, our statblock looks like this:

Hound of Granbreton: Init +0; Atk spear +4 melee (1d8+2) or mace +4 melee (1d6+2) or javeling +2 ranged (1d6); AC 15 (10 unarmored); HD 2d8+4; MV 25’ (30’ unarmored); Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +4; AL L; Crit III/1d8.

Area C: Cryogenics Storage Facility

Using this area as written makes a bold assertion that your campaign milieu is Earth in some far distant era, the Tragic Millennium or otherwise. This is appropriate for some campaigns (in DCC Dying Earth, you could even be time travelling back to the Tragic Millennium), but for others this is inappropriate. Consider that the cryogenics facility was not under the auspices of NATO, but rather some space exploration charter, and you can put anyone or anything in here that you desire.

In any event, the NPCs get normal statblocks, and can easily use the normal DCC skill rules. What they are trained in is, of course, quite different to the occupations of the place and time they now find themselves in.

In any event, read “-40% from Pick Lock skill” as DC 30, and let the thief spend Luck if they want to get in. Awakening the cryonauts successfully either requires following directions, a DC 20 Intelligence check per revival attempt (failure by 5+ kills the cryonaut), or divine intervention DC 10. For my money, awakening the cryonauts, then finding a way to communicate with them, is the biggest draw to this adventure, so, while it should be difficult, it should not be quite so difficult as having recovered a specific book.

Next: Hawkmoon: The Chatillon Caverns (2): Statistics

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Free RPG Day

As I will be travelling in the US during Free RPG Day this year, I will be running The Invisible Man Has Risen From the Grave! at Noble Knight Games in Wisconsin. 

Free RPG Day is June 22nd. The store opens at 10 am, and I plan on starting the game at approximately 10:30 am. First come, first served, but I will have materials on hand to accept up to 8 players. Expected run time is 4 hours, but I can stay later if needed.

Start time depends upon how long it takes to acquire the DCC adventure, of course!

Noble Knight is located at 2835 Commerce Park Drive, Fitchburg, WI 53719 (phone 608-758-9901, email Contact@NobleKnight.com), If your GPS is like mine, it will tell you to take the offramp from HWY 18, but that offramp no longer exists. 

Hope to see you there!



Monday 10 June 2024

Conversion Crawl Classes 21: Hawkmoon (1): The Twisted Village

If you have never read any of the Hawkmoon novels, the setting is the future (and hopefully alternate) Tragic Millennium, where the Dark Empire of Granbretan (Great Britain) is in the process of conquering what remains of Europe. It is a post-Apocalyptic setting where there is still a fair amount of technology being used, especially by Granbretan. Judges who wish may find Mutant Crawl Classics and/or the Umerica setting useful if they are creating campaigns in the Tragic Millennium. This series of posts will assume the use of Dungeon Crawl Classics, with the goal of converting the material to a usable DCC adventure.

Hawkmoon has a very different take on skills, artifacts, and statistics than Dungeon Crawl Classics or Mutant Crawl Classics. We will need to decide whether or not we want to take things as they are, turn technology into magic, or make other adjustments to move closer to mainline DCC. If you’ve ever read or run Silent Nightfall, you will know that mixing magic and technology doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In addition, I think it is worthwhile to preserve the flavor of the original adventure when converting it.

Getting There

The text provides a hook and discusses skill checks that might be needed to shorten the journey to the adventure location. It is probably somewhat worthwhile to consider other hooks that might be dropped later in the campaign if the players do not jump at the first one. I would also strongly urge you to consider what might happen during a 60-mile journey through hilly woodlands infested with mutant animals.

If the NPC providing the hook had some form of “wondrous artifact” said to come from the ruin, the players might be more likely to follow up on the hook. For instance, he could have a butane lighter. Even if the PCs steal it from him, the judge has done little harm to the campaign. Expectation of greater things could easily whet the players’ interests.

Likewise, the judge could create a random encounter list and/or place set encounters en route to the main adventure location. The remains of other ancient buildings (intact or not, and possibly inhabited) act as signposts that the PCs are heading in the right direction. The aforementioned Silent Nightfall has a simple method of creating mutant animals that could be of some use. Likewise, other remains of “the black road” (Point Four in the “Outside the Compound” section) might still remain and help guide the PCs to the main adventure location.

Remember, in a sandbox setting, it is entirely okay for the PCs to miss things, including whole adventure locations. The judge can (and should) place hooks to other adventure sites in every location they create or use. This might draw players’ interest back to the things that they missed, or simply supply a sense of mystery and verisimilitude. Either way is okay.

If you are running a one-shot, on the other hand, it is not only reasonable to narrate the hook and journey as part of the adventure setup – it is in this case recommended. Neither adds anything significant to the adventure as written.

Outside the Compound

There are four areas (or “points”) described outside the compound (the main adventure site). The first two of these provide potential camping/resting spots. The fourth (the black road) is color. The third (the stream) provides a challenge, so I will take a closer look at it. The text of the adventure reads:

Water dragons are carnivorous plants. They somewhat resemble water lilies, but have black flowers and the edges of their floating leaf pads are extremely sharp and coated with an anticoagulant chemical. Water dragons can whip their leaf pads around with lightning speed, but cannot reach more than a half-meter or so from where they are rooted in the river shallows. A successful Biological Lore is needed to recognize these plants and know the danger.

Anyone walking though a mass of water dragons is attacked 1d8 times a round by the plants. Each ford takes two rounds to wade through. An adventurer can try to run, taking one round to get through the ford, but he must also succeed at a DEX x 3 roll or he trips and falls, taking 1d3 more rounds to get up and scramble out of the river, during which time the water dragons flail madly.

Each water dragon attack has a 30% chance of striking home. Any successful attack does 1d3 damage. If the damage penetrates the target’s armor, the anticoagulant causes him to suffer an additional hit point loss each turn until a successful First Aid stops the bleeding.

The adventurers can attack the water dragons if they want. The plants only have a single hit point each and no armor. Any successful attack severs the stalk and sends the plant floating down stream. If the adventurers try to destroy the plants by spreading burning oil or something similar on the water, the plants pull their pads and flower beneath the surface until the stream’s current floats the annoyance away. Each ford has 20-30 separate water dragons. Perhaps some kind of sharp-toothed rake could be improvised to dredge a path through the plants. But the quickest solution is to run through as fast as possible, trusting in your armor to protect you.

If the adventurers are discouraged from using the fords because of the water dragons, they might try to swim a deeper part of the stream. Even here, the shallows are infested with the bothersome plants, but a successful Jump roll will carry the leaper right over the plants into the deeper part of the stream. A successful Swim roll gets the user safely across, and a second successful Jump roll gets him over the far shore’s accumulation of plants.

In DCC terms, we might say:

It takes two rounds to wade through the ford. Water dragons attack once each character 1d8 times each round, -5 melee (1d3 damage). Those hit suffer an additional 1 hp damage per turn until the bleeding is stopped with a DC 7 Intelligence check (remember untrained PCs make this check with 1d10). Characters can run through with a successful DC 12 Reflex save; otherwise they fall and take an additional 1d3 rounds to clear the ford. Away from the fords, the plants can be avoided by a DC 5 Strength or Agility check, a DC 10 Strength check to swim across the stream, and a DC 10 Strength or Agility check to leap out of the stream over the plants on the far side – Armor Check Penalties apply to all these rolls.

The water dragons are too dense for melee attacks to be effective, but an area-affect attack which does 25 hp damage is effective. Floating burning oil on the surface is not, as the plants can simply submerge until the stream’s current floats the oil away.

The attack modifier was based on a 30% chance of hitting an unarmored average person (15+ to hit AC 10), with AC modifiers rather than damage reduction helping to protect better protected PCs. You will notice that I gave no check to recognize the danger. This is in keeping with the general “Make Monsters Mysterious” vibe of DCC. Dangers of all sorts may be mysterious.

Alternatively, the judge could create a potential encounter with water dragons leading to this sight, which would give the PCs a chance to recognize them. If your players are anything like mine, though, the black flowers are probably enough to prompt a cautious approach.

Inside the Compound

There are three things we need to deal with here: (1) the treasure, (2) creature statblocks, and (3) the Bio-Warfare Lab.

In terms of (1), it is probably safe to acknowledge that your PCs will not be ripping out the commodes to install them in their home base. There are, however, a lot of books and some weapons that the PCs may certainly appreciate. I assume that “23s” is the equivalent of 23 sp, and this works in most cases, although you may occasionally wish to raise this to gp value, so that a “gold ring holding a sapphire” is worth 30 gp instead of 30 sp/3 gp.

If a book has a potential to raise a PC’s level in a skill (Chemical Lore, for instance), we can just say that the PC’s die for related skill checks goes up. Untrained is 1d10, and trained is 1d20, so there are three steps in the standard dice chain (d12, d14, d16) we could use. Or we could grant a +1 bonus per +5% otherwise gained. Finally, we could link some of these books to specific spells, possibly with unique Mercurial Magic based off the books themselves.

For weapons, I have no problem with a .38 revolver doing 1d8+2 damage if the rounds misfire half the time and you need to figure out how to clean and oil the weapon before using it. I would suggest an initial DC 20 Intelligence check (on 1d20) to determine what needs to be done, with a cumulative +2 bonus for every week spent examining the weapon.

Nonetheless, there is very little in this adventure for DCC characters to scavenge. The judge may wish to include a few generic odds and ends which the PCs may recover and find some use for. Crawling Under a Broken Moon, Umerica, and (to a lesser extent) Mutant Crawl Classics have random tables that might be of some use here. The judge may also simply turn out their own pockets or look around their own homes for inspiration. Pencils, pens, a manual coffee grinder, tweezers, fingernail clips, and a grater are all items within my immediate surroundings as I write this, for instance. Items like paper clips, a stapler, and bull clips are more valuable in a world where they are no longer easily purchasable.

 Creature Statblocks

This adventure includes handwolves, sabrecats, and a group of five mutants as primary opponents.

Handwolves are mutants descended from domesticated dogs, whose forepaws have become manipulative appendages like hands. They are able to walk on their hind legs and wield weapons. Providing statistics for these creatures should not be hard; simply modify the wolf statblock from the core rulebook like so:

Wolf, common: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL L.

Handwolf: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4) or by weapon +3 melee (by weapon); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 40’ or 20’ on hind legs; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

If you wish your handwolves to be more dangerous, you could modify the dire wolf statblock instead:

Dire Handwolf: Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2) or be weapon +7 melee (by weapon+2); AC 14; HD 2d6; MV 40’ or 20’ on hind legs; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL N.

You will note that I made the use of weapons slightly advantageous to the creatures. I penalized movement on their hind legs, and I shifted alignment from lawful to neutral because only three handwolves are present in the scenario, suggesting that they may be less apt to form packs than their canine forebears.

Likewise, the five mutants can be built off of the bandit statblock, with modifications for the weapons, armor, and mutations given in the text. I am also going to modify hit dice to better represent what is seen in the text, and to reflect the mutants’ position as the primary antagonists in the adventure.

Bandit: Init +2; Atk scimitar +2 melee (1d8+1) or javelin +3 missile fire (1d6); AC 15; HD 1d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

“Orlo’s skin is tough and leathery, and covered with great calloused lumps, giving him 1d6-1 points of armor, but greatly reducing his DEX. He wears leather armor in addition to his tough skin. He does not have enough DEX to use his poleaxe, so the damage he does is halved.”

In DCC, your Agility doesn’t have to meet any threshold to use a polearm, but we want to keep the “tough but clumsy” flavor. He takes 2 points less damage from any attack, and his leather armor doesn’t fit any normal humanoid. Here is our Orlo:

Orlo: Init +0; Atk polearm +0 melee (1d10); AC 14; HD 2d8; hp 12; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP DR 2; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +0; AL C.

“Uvas is a giant, over 2.5 meters tall (nearly 9 feet). He has not stopped growing since he was 13 years old. Someday, he will grow too big, and his legs will snap.” Ulvas is given a CHA (Personality) of 4 and a CON (Stamina ) of 21, as well as an 18 STR (Strength), reflected below:

Uvas: Init +1; Atk spear +5 melee (1d8+3) or short bow +3 ranged (1d6); AC 11; HD 3d8+18; hp 37; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +9, Ref +1, Will -2; AL C.

“Egrinn’s skin is slate-blue, with large raised purple blemishes. She has no other mutations. Her mutations did not manifest themselves until after puberty, and she remembers her former life well. If adventurers could somehow offer her a reasonable chance to rejoin human society, she’d leap at it. She wears chain armor.” She is also listed as having “Ambush 72%, Cut Purse 72%, Dodge 55%” so I am going to give her some thief-like skills. Her low Will save is based off of a listed CHA (Personality) of 2.

Egrinn: Init +1; Atk cudgel +2 melee (1d4+1) or short bow +3 missile fire (1d6); AC 16; HD 2d8; hp 14; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP stealth +7, Pick Pockets +7; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will -4; AL C.

“Zharge has extremely delicate bones. Any damage that penetrates his half-plate armor is doubled.” Because DCC doesn’t use armor as damage resistance under most circumstances, it is far easier to lower Zharge’s hit points that double damage every time he is hurt.

Zharge: Init +0; Atk warhammer +3 melee (1d10+1); AC 17; HD 2d8-4; hp 10; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

“Igoa has a third eye in the left-middle of her forehead, and her left arm ends in a whip of gristle and skin. She wears crudely sewn-together leather armor.” For some reason, that whip doesn’t do anything to Igoa’s stats in the original adventure, but we will fix that. I gave her an extra action die so that she can use the gristle-whip in addition to another attack:

Igoa: Init +2; Atk cudgel +1 melee (1d4) or gristle-whip +2 melee (1d3) or thrown rock +2 ranged (1d3); AC 12; HD 2d8+8; hp 20; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

In Hawkmoon, each creature in a group is given its own statblock. In the case of the five mutants, above, this allows each individual to have its own flavor and abilities. In the case of near-homogenous creatures, like the three handwolves described above, or the four sabrecats we are going to look at below, this doesn’t add enough in DCC to make the effort worthwhile.

Sabrecats “are descended from wildcats and have grown somewhat. Their forepaws have been transformed into knife-sharp scythes of bone, and they rear onto their hind legs to fight. If the adventurers can get away from the cats into the open, they can easily outrun the sabrecats, whose ground movement is impeded by their enormous fighting claws, though they can still climb just fine.”

Init: The four sample sabrecats have DEX 15 to 21, and Dexterity corresponds to Agility in DCC. I am inclined to average this out at a +2 bonus.

Atk: Again, we are dealing with four separate ranges, but I think 1d6 as a baseline for their claw attacks works, as it is analogous to a short sword. The cats can also bite, so we’ll make that 1d3 damage is it is not their primary attack. I think that +3 to hit works for the claws, and +1 for the bite.

AC: The monster has Parry 48-59% and 2 points of Armor. Assuming the armor is for thick fur, let’s make it AC 13 (+2 for Agility, and +1 for the fur).

HD: Hit points are listed as 5, 12, 13, and 14. HD 2d8 allows for this range.

MV: If the PCs can easily outrun the sabrecats in an open area, let’s give them MV 10’. Since climbing is unimpeded, we can add a 20’ climb speed as well.

Act: Because we want the sabrecats to be able to use both claws, we give them 2d20. We could raise that to 3d20 to allow for a bite each round, but I don’t see them biting instead of clawing. If a claw is damaged (due to a critical hit or mighty deed), the creature can start using its teeth.

SP: There are no indications of special abilities.

SV: Looking at the listed DEX and CON for these creatures can give us an idea as to how Reflex and Fortitude saves should be converted. We’ve already granted +2 to Initiative, and I am inclined to raise Reflex save modifiers to +4. Fortitude is a matter of Stamina (CON), which seems to average to a +1 bonus. That fur might help to, so we can say +2. We don’t have any real guidance for Will, and I see no reason to go higher than +0. Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0.

AL: As normal (albeit mutated) animals, Neutral is appropriate.

Crit: Following the table on page 385 of the core rulebook, we get a result of M/1d8.

Put altogether, our statblock looks like this:

Sabrecat: Init +2; Atk claw +3 melee (1d6) or bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 13; HD 2d8; MV 10’ or climb 20’; Act 2d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N; Crit M/1d8.

Bio-Warfare Lab

If this vial is broken, everyone within the room will die of super-pneumonia in 2d10 hours. If any of the outside doors or windows are opened, the disease will escape and eventually wipe out all human life within fifty kilometers (before the rulers of Bavaria and Shekia quarantine the entire region, preventing all entry upon pain of death).

If you are going to use this adventure in DCC, you need to realize that the PCs may well take the vial, and not open it until reaching some more populated area. If this happens, my recommendation would be to just roll with it.

In terms of game mechanics, there is no save to prevent infection if you are present when the vial is opened. Later, allow a DC 20 Fort save each time to contagion is encountered to avoid contracting it. Every hour, an infected person is allowed a DC 15 Fort save to avoid 1d3 damage to Strength, Agility, and Stamina (determine each point randomly), with death occurring at 0 Strength or Stamina. Even if the disease is cured by magic, the victim remains susceptible to future infection. At the judge’s secretion, a neutralize poison or disease spell with a result of 34+ may destroy the released super-pneumonia while it is still contained (either by the vial or within the Bio-Warfare lab).

It takes an hour for the first symptoms to manifest, so if the PCs have opened the vial, the disease has probably escaped before they are aware of it.


Next: Hawkmoon: The Chatillon Caverns

Friday 7 June 2024

Interview: Cult of the Cave Crickets!

RCK: We are talking today to Jeff Demers and Casey Lynch of Dark Star Adventures, who have just launched the kickstarter for their new adventure, Cult of the Cave Crickets! I understand that this is a Lovecraft-inspired investigation to uncover the fate of a lost expedition. Is that right?

Jeff: Hi Daniel! That's right, our first adventure draws heavily from Lovecraft's works, especially "At the Mountains of Madness" and "The Colour Out of Space." It explores the aftermath of a Shackleton-like research expedition that vanished while investigating a crashed meteor in the frozen foothills at the edge of civilization. The party is tasked with discovering the fate of the expedition through a macabre scavenger hunt, using a handout to track the survivors and the fallen. Playtests show it to be a sizable adventure, taking 8-12 hours to complete over multiple sessions. 

RCK: That sounds pretty cool. I am a big fan of throwing Lovecraft at the gaming table myself. Without giving too much away, can you tell us about it?

Jeff: Absolutely! Without spoiling anything, Cult of the Cave Crickets introduces a race of fungus-worshipping, mutant cave crickets that are fiercely protective of their home.

RCK: Cave crickets have been around in gaming forever, but I can’t think of anything that focused on them before. Definitely points for uniqueness!

Jeff: Thanks! Cave crickets, also known as “Spider Crickets”, truly are nightmare-material. Not only are they just completely alien looking, but they are prolific breeders, terribly invasive, and cannibals by nature. Organizing them into some sort of cult would certainly take a powerful entity, perhaps one from beyond the stars…

RCK: Okay, so cave crickets. What else?

Jeff: We crammed as much cool stuff into this adventure as we could! You'll find three unique locations, ten brand-new enemies, five new magic items, and a bunch of deadly traps and environmental hazards. As a Judge, I love having flexibility in my adventures, so I've included multiple ways to kick off the module and several different endings, ranging from minimally to highly disruptive to the surrounding world.

RCK: Casey, as the artist, can you talk a little about your inspirations?

Casey: Well, my first career was in graphic design and my day job is running my independent pottery business, so I’m pretty new to the world of illustration. But in trying to develop a black & white style in the tradition of OSR art, it was really cool to look at some of the original artists for the AD&D Monster Manuals and Dungeon Masters Guide, like David A. Trampier, Darlene Pekul, and Harry Quinn. As for contemporary artists, I’m obsessed with the pure technical skill of Kiril Tchangov’s work and I aspire to have an ounce of Jez Gordon’s style. 

It’s been a blast dipping my toe into this very deep pool and I can’t wait to do more and get even weirder with it.

RCK: I’ve already mentioned the cover. Is there an interior piece you’d like to share with us?

Casey: Of course! I have two. The first is a portrait of a crikari warrior. The illustration is intentionally loose and rough, to show off their aggressive and alien side! 



The second is the Veil of madness, a magic item hidden within the depths of the caves where the eponymous crickets dwell. Wearing the veil may come with downsides, which I tried to portray in the illustration.


RCK: Very cool! You'll be posting more pieces to your Kickstarter page when they're ready?


Jeff: Yes! All of the art is done, and lots more will be shared on the Kickstarter. Actually, the entire adventure is complete! It’s been written, play tested thoroughly, fully illustrated, and laid out. 

RCK: That's pretty amazing itself. Often, principle work is done, but crowdfunding pays for the art and the layout. At least, that has been my experience.

Jeff: The Kickstarter is the official launch of the adventure, and in celebration we’re reducing the price by 30% for anyone that supports it during that time! 

The adventure will be available in both print and PDF. Anyone choosing to receive a print copy by mail will also receive a download code for a free copy of the PDF. 

We’re super excited to bringing this adventure to the community, and can’t wait to share it with everyone!

RCK: I understand that there is a bit of a romantic connection here too. I have found that the Dungeon Crawl Classics community is very supportive of its members. Allow me to offer my congratulations!

Casey: Haha, yes! We’re getting married on June 22nd. Thanks for your well wishes. We’ve felt very lucky to have each other, as well as the DCC community as a whole, as a support system throughout the tricky process of getting this thing published!

Jeff:
Publishing our first adventure just as we get married has been a crazy experience! When it rains it pours, and we'll be walking down the aisle just a few days before the Kickstarter launches. Thanks to everyone that has been messaging us with congratulations, we love every one of you!

RCK: Good luck with the wedding, good luck with the Kickstarter, and may both be the start of a wonderful future! 

In the hollow depths beneath the earth, where light is forgotten and sanity wavers, lies a terror beyond mortal comprehension!

Cult of the Cave Crickets invites you to descend into a labyrinth of darkness, where mutated insects skitter and fungal abominations writhe. Unravel the mystery of a fallen star and a missing research expedition over two to three sessions of intense gameplay. This is not a mere adventure—it is a journey into madness, a confrontation with the unknowable, and a test of your very sanity.

Dare you enter the subterranean abyss and confront the Cult of the Cave Crickets? 



Friday 31 May 2024

The Scrivenry

8:00 tonight, Goodman Games Official Twitch Channel, where we talk about Context, Choice, and Consequences. 

Be there, or be a flattened cube!

Link to Episode!Link to Episode!

Please Note: Edited for time change!

Second edit to add episode link.

Thursday 2 May 2024

The Owlman

Based on this post from Reddit (artist unknown).

The fellow we are seeing, based on the size of the rabbit, is about halfling-sized. Nothing in the illustration suggests any special ability, apart from perhaps an ability to withstand the cold, and perhaps some skill at poaching. He appears to be armed with a long stick with a rabbit skull bound to it…so maybe he has some supernatural ability after all.

Let’s see….


Owlman: Init +0; Atk staff +0 melee (1d4) or uncanny sight (Will DC 15); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP uncanny sight, reduce cold damage by 2 points per die; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +2; AL N.

An owlman’s uncanny sight allows it to fix any being with its stare. Targets must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or be unable to move, mesmerized by the owlman until 1d3 rounds after it ceases staring. An owlman may only stare at one target at a time. Each round an owlman stares at the same target, it learns something about them. Roll 1d7: (1) name, (2) class, (3) level, (4) occupation, (5) alignment, (6) insight into previous history, (7) a secret that the target would rather not have revealed.

Owlmen use their uncanny sight both to escape unwanted attention and to learn about those around them. Because of what their uncanny sight reveals, adventurers may seek an owlman enclave to learn about potential foes. This is a double-edged sword, as the owlmen may learn the adventurers’ own secrets and pass them on to others. In exchange for their knowledge, owlmen often demand a price of service – usually removing some danger to themselves and their kin.

Ship’s Doctor

From this Facebook post:

What the hell happened to the ships doctor out on the high seas? My RED TIDE campaign is going off the rails all day long…and I LOVE IT!

I have my ideas, but how would YOU stat this abomination?


So, here we go!

When writing these statistics, I wanted to create a fun (and potentially terrifying!) opponent who could remain in a fight for some time. It was also my goal to make a creature that required some thought to defeat, under the assumption that players would be shown the illustration (or have it described to them). Because there is a 2-in-7 chance of something good coming out of the syringe attack, I left some uses in it to tempt the PCs into experimenting on themselves…or accidentally enhancing enemies! Even in the event that the ship’s doctor escapes into the briny deep, the judge can have it drop its weapons as it goes overboard…

Ship’s Doctor: Init +0; Atk tentacle +4 melee (1d3) or bone saw +2 melee (1d4+2) or bite +1 melee (1d6) or syringe +0 melee (injection); AC 10; HD 4d6; hp 16; MV 20’ or swim 30’; Act 3d20; SP injection, regenerate 1d6/round, limited wings, variable crits, brain vulnerability; SV Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +4; AL C.

Was it magic or science that changed our old sawbones? Or was it some unholy mixture of the two? Whatever caused the ship’s doctor to transform, the crew can at least agree that it was no change for the better….

Injection: If the ship’s doctor hits a foe with his syringe, he automatically injects some fluid into the target, with variable results. Roll 1d7: 

(1) Sedative: Victim drops to bottom of initiative count, and must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or fall unconscious for 1d3 minutes. 

(2) Poison: Victim takes 1d6 damage, and must succeed in a DC 12 Fort save or take an additional 2d6 damage. 

(3) Mutagen: Victim must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or undergo corruption. Roll 1d10, modified by Luck: (3 or less) greater corruption, (4-8) major corruption, or (9+) minor corruption. 

(4) Petrifying Agent: Victim takes 1d3 Agility damage and must succeed on a DC 10 Fort save or be turned to stone. 

(5) Hallucinogen: Victim takes 1d3 Personality damage and must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or their next 1d5 actions affect random targets. (The victim can no longer tell who is who with any certainty). Attacks against the ship’s doctor’s brain which affect other targets instead do normal damage. 

(6) Medicine: Target is healed 1d6 damage. 

(7) Performance Enhancer: Target gains a permanent +1 bonus to one random statistic (other than Luck). The statistic cannot be raised higher than 20, with any additional bonuses being lost. Abilities grant a +3 bonus at 19, and +4 at 20. Wizards and elves gain a bonus spell if their Intelligence is increased to 20 (+3 bonus spells total).

Should the ship’s doctor be destroyed, the syringe still works for 1d5 doses before running dry.

Regenerate 1d6/round: The ship’s doctor regenerates 1d6 hp per round, even after being reduced to 0 hp, and as damage is healed, lost body parts regrow. The ship’s doctor can spend one (or more) action dice to regenerate an additional 1d6 damage per action die.

Limited wings: This abomination cannot fly, but its wings are useful enough to prevent any falling damage, allowing the ship’s doctor to leap from crow’s nest or spar to attack.

Variable crits: When using bone saw or syringe, the ship’s doctor crits using 1d10 on Table III. When attacking with his bite or tentacles, he uses 1d10 on Table M.

Brain vulnerability: A successful mighty deed (or attack with a -1d shift for PCs without a deed die) can target the ship’ doctor’s brain in a jar. These attacks cause no damage, but if a single attack with a blunt weapon caused 12+ points of damage, the jar shatters. This instantly kills the ship’s doctor, and halts the creature’s regenerative abilities.