Monday 24 February 2014

Everyone Else: The Trolls of Mistwood

A serious problem with the “Everyone Else” series that I had been working on is that I am so far behind that, when I get to a product, it is too little, too late.  So, I am going to try something different, and start with recent products, working my way back.

Caveat:  I am pretty deeply enmeshed with the DCC community now, and I have relationships of some sort or another with most of the good folks publishing DCC materials.  

In the case of The Trolls of Mistwood, by David Fisher (Shinobi 27 Games), I am listed as an editor.  I was lucky enough to have seen this adventure at several stages of its development, and had some very modest input into the direction of the final version.  So, you can take all of my comments with a grain of salt if you like.

The Trolls of Mistwood is a higher-level adventure (4-6), and is intended as the first of several adventures centring around the same region.  It makes use of patron information from Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between, and provides most of the information needed to run the scenario.  You may want to have a copy of the Invoke Patron table for Hecate, Goddess of Witches handy, and that is not included.  You can find it here if you don’t have the AD&BB tome.

Without giving too much away, the adventure revolves around trolls.  Author David Fisher cleaves pretty close to the standard fantasy types for monsters, but this actually makes the adventure work better, as those places where expectations are confounded become more unexpected.  There are some cool magic items, including a very detailed magic sword. 

The inclusion of Mistwood, a settlement that is fully described for Dungeon Crawl Classics, is a very definite bonus – DCC could use a similar product targeted at low-level play, ala Keep on the Borderlands or The Village of Hommlet.  Of course, the clever judge who started early could use Mistwood as a campaign location from the funnel onward, bringing the successful PCs back home to deal with the village’s problems when they have gained a few levels and toughened up some.  Doom of the Savage Kings (by Harley Stroh; Goodman Games) comes closest to date, and has supplied many a campaign with a potential starting point.

I like the art of David Fisher, and it should be no surprise that, when the author is the artist, there are some nice pieces of art in the final product.  There are some of David’s “clip art” pieces, and his images including trolls are among his best.  I would have preferred that the NPC pictures were less “pose-y”, but you can’t have everything, and for many a judge the images are usable as a visual aid. The cartography is excellent.  It is not surprising that two of the maps have been made available separately as colour art pieces. 

Overall, I am pleased with how The Trolls of Mistwood turned out.  Flavour-wise, the adventure seems to very much influenced by Poul Anderson – which is a good thing, as Poul Anderson gave us the modern rpg troll.  Gary Gygax’s trolls are very much those seen in Three Hearts and Three Lions, with a long-nosed nod to the trolls in L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s The Roaring Trumpet.  I think there is a bit of Fritz Leiber and Jack Vance in there as well, although that may just be me looking for influences that may or may not exist.


  1. Re: the art being "posey," it looks like an updated medieval woodcut. The troll expressions, gloomy mood and cerebral palsied fingers are nice touches. In this case the Angel of Death with his flaming sword is chasing the poor sinning trolls from the garden of eden, with its foliage right behind them. Maybe he confiscated the head/apple from them before giving them the boot. Although, the peasants in the town are smiling, and nobody I've ever seen portrayed in artworks from the period ever smiled in the middle ages. Ever.

    1. That's not one of the pictures I meant by "pose-y". I should note that even David's posed pictures look good, though. I just prefer his more dynamic art.

    2. One really nice thing is that the page with the woodcut can be printed out and then used as a player handout, as there is no hidden information on the page.

      The above was meant to be a positive review. I really like David Fisher's artwork. I love the pictures on pages 7 and 19. The adventure is a good one, and it will be interesting to see where the Mistwood series takes us. DCC adventures set a high bar overall, and this one is certainly up to par!

  2. Have you finished reading through all the Appendix N booklist, yet?

    Beyond appendix N, are there any books you'd recommend as inspirational for gaming? Especially, in the post apocalyptic, or new age long after an apocalypse, would be most interesting.

    Any artists you find give you inspiration for designing adventures? Thanks!

  3. Hey Daniel, only just caught this review - don't know how I missed it for 3 months but thanks for the review! Is there a way to post this review on RPGDrivethru? In any case, thanks for the observations and I'll endeavor to be more artistically dynamic in future! Lol. Cheers mate.


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