Saturday, 18 January 2014

Published Work for Dungeon Crawl Classics (Part III)

The Folk of Osmon (Purple Duck Games):  This is the culmination of a few factors.  One is the swamp map supplied by Tim Hartin of Paratime Design.  The second is an image supplied by Mark Gedak of Purple Duck Games, which ends up being used as the Avatar of Osmon itself.  Finally, there is a strong influence from Appendix N authors Edgar Rice Burroughs and Sterling Lanier.  Because of the environment, I thought that it would be a perfect fit for use with Jon Marr's Sunken City adventures, and was able to receive permission to say the same on the ad text.

Now, I have a confession to make.  Of all the CE Series modules so far, The Folk of Osmon is my favourite. I love the titular Folk, I am happy with the Avatar of Osmon, and I am very happy with the re-usability of the site.  The other monsters, I think, are both weird and evocative.  The swamp light faeries are one of the things I am happiest with.

While the ruined city of Osmon is something that I will probably revisit at some time, if there is interest, the text is all OGC, so I hope to see some of this material used by Purple Sorcerer's modules as well.  In any event, there is a dungeon delve or two to consider for the future.

You can find reviews of this module at the Iron Tavern, at Tenkar's Tavern, and at Endzeitgeist.  Or go here.  You can buy The Folk of Osmon in pdf format here

The Imperishable Sorceress (Goodman Games):  Enter Joseph Goodman.  I defy anyone  to have Joseph Goodman ask them if they are interested in pitching an adventure idea, and to say "No".  It simply cannot be done.  I feel sure you can understand that when Mr. Goodman asked me to pitch an idea for a short adventure, I was more than willing to do so.  At the time I had no idea where the adventure was going to appear; it is now part of the 2013 Free RPG Day offering from Goodman Games.

As I mentioned on Spellburn, Joseph accepted the first idea I pitched him.  However, things weren't necessarily as easy as that might sound.  My initial pitch had more encounters going up the side of the mountain, but some of this material was dropped for length, focus, and as a result of playtest comments.  I had imagined climbing the mountain somewhat like climbing Stardock in Fritz Leiber's story, "Stardock". At one point, I had devised a whole mountain-climbing mini-game.  Perhaps it will be useful for something else down the line.

My initial idea for the main adventure area didn't include doors (should Builders have doors like humans?), but Joseph wanted me to consider doors, secret doors, and more traps.  The result, I think, was better than the original doorless plan.  Joseph also urged me to consider how an Appendix N author like Philip Jose Farmer would get the PCs to the dungeon, and hence the coin was developed.  I had originally imagined something more like the "Stardock" story.

The whole idea of setting the adventure in a cold region surrounded by boreal forests was due to my partner. She said something like, "Joseph knows you live in Canada; give him something Canadian."  I assure you, however, that we don't have Builders beneath the Canadian Shield.  Really.  We don't.

You can find a review here, here, and here, and pick it up in pdf here.  It comes with an Xcrawl adventure by Brendan LaSalle.

The Mysterious Valley (Straycouches Press):  Found in D.A.M.N.! Issue #1, this is the result of editor Garett Oliver being a friend and regular player in my weekly DCC game.  Around the same time that D.A.M.N.! was being planned, I had done my tribute to the late Ray Harryhausen on my blog.  Garett asked me if I could do an adventure that was a tribute to the man.  Naturally, I had to say yes.

I decided to create a mini-sandbox rather than a full-on A-to-Z adventure.  Nonetheless, a lot of work went into devising The Mysterious Valley, because a lot of areas had to be fleshed out in general terms well enough that the judge could use the material "as is".  Of course, the real hope is that the mini-sandbox would inspire judges to add material of their own as well as flesh out what is there.  A great many adventures could take place within The Mysterious Valley.

One of the important things (to me) was the make the mini-sandbox useful through a wide range of levels.  As a result, you will find the seeds for many game sessions within the text.  There are a number of single-entry areas that beg to be expanded upon - I am torn between doing expansions on these areas for future issues and leaving them open so that no judge need fear that using any "official" expansion need undo her work.  The likelihood is that I will choose the second path, barring great demand that I follow the first.

If nothing else, The Mysterious Valley will supply the perspective judge with a lot of monster statistics to use as she will.  There are well over 30 creature types fully statted out in the adventure.  I am not aware of any reviews of the issue yet, but it can be picked up in pdf format here.  If you discover any reviews, please let me know!

The Nexus of Yule (Purple Duck Games):  In 2013, as American Thanksgiving approached (Canada's is in October), I posted some game stats for a giant mutated turkey and a primordial cranberry jelly on the Goodman Games forums.  If you go back and read that thread, you will discover that, as a result of finarvyn's response, I began to plan a one-off Christmas special, which became The Thing in the Chimney.  While I will be discussing that first Yuletide module in greater detail next post, The Nexus of Yule is a sequel to that adventure, published together with the original by Purple Duck Games as The Perils of the Cinder Claws.  This year, of course, I was competing with an official Goodman Games adventure, The Old God's Return, by Michael Curtis.

Allow me to take a moment here to suggest that The Old God's Return is a cool adventure, and you should definitely consider getting it.  It is available in pdf here.  Similarly, if you are looking for a Thanksgiving adventure, Edgar Johnson has made Revenge of the Gobbler available here (and this one is free!).

One of the problems with creating The Nexus of Yule is that I didn't want to simply rehash The Thing in the Chimney, and the first module had used a great number of Yuletide tropes.  Instead, this adventure allows the characters to enter the titular Nexus, whereby they can pass from one plane of existence to another, always arriving at Yuletide, and encountering different problems thereby.  At the end, of course, they are confronted by the Cinder Claws, who, having been defeated by them in the earlier adventure, is looking for powerful mortals that can keep Christmas in their hearts the year round....

You can find a review here or at the Iron Tavern.  The adventure is available as part of The Perils of the Cinder Claws in pdf format here.

The Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury (Brave Halfling Publishing):  I helped John Adams whip his baby into order, and he gave me a "with Daniel Bishop" writing credit.  This is an add-on 0-level funnel for the Appendix N Kickstarter, so I'll not say too much about it at the moment. First off, John did all the heavy lifting. Second, while I have seen the finished pdf, I am not certain that supporters have received their download links yet.  I think they have.

The Revelation of Mulmo (Dragon's Hoard):  Simply the largest DCC module to date, with 60 described areas, this was an add-on for the Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between Indiegogo project.  The new spell, Scrying, and the lunar creatures in the adventure, are listed as OGC in the module, and I hope others will make use of them.

I've already discussed the problems with Dragon's Hoard's non-delivery of physical product at length, and I am not going to retread that here, save to say that I dearly wanted to see this in print.  I paid for a good bit of the art out of my own pocket in order to ensure that the quality of presentation was high, and I did the layout as well.

What is The Revelation of Mulmo?  The PCs enter and examine a deserted elf howe. It is a "Quest For It" adventure, with a chance to rescue a fallen comrade from death. It is a "Mysterious Magic" adventure, where using magic within the elf howe may have unforeseen effects.  It is a patron-centric adventure, with new patrons supplied and where patrons both instigate and can affect the adventure that unfolds. But most of all, it is an adventure about elves in Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Within this module, you will find references (some obvious, and some hopefully not so obvious) to every Appendix N author's vision of elves, if they offered any such vision. You will therefore find nods to (among others) Poul Anderson, Lin CarterLord Dunsany, Michael Moorcock, Andre Norton, Margaret St. Clair, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Roger Zelazny.  My desire was to create an adventure that redefined elves from what Dungeons & Dragons has depicted as the "Tolkien norm" to something far closer to the source materials and the DCC vision.

Part of one room reads as follows:

This chamber was a laboratory once. The central area is filled with carved wooden tables, splattered with stains from blood and chemicals, while the curved northern wall contains five brass-bound wooden cabinets. One of these is open, revealing a plethora of scrolls and a shelf filled with glass vials, but the other four are closed. Dissected creatures are splayed on several of the tables – frogs, owls, cats…even a human woman.  Each of these is strapped or pinned to a table, cut well open, and their organs are extracted to lie on the table beside them.

The human woman is alive, and conscious. Her name is Hermia, and she made the mistake of coming her seeking to learn magic from the elves. A skilled healer might be able to put her back together (DC 25, Intelligence-based), but even so she is shattered, and can do nothing without at least a month of bed rest.

Divine healing will not help unless she is undissected, although direct divine intervention may. Afterwards, she is AC 9 and has 1 hp. Her interest in adventuring is completely shattered. A Lawful character that saves her gains a permanent +1d4 bonus to Luck. Any attempt takes 1d3 hours to perform.

Needless to say, these are not your frolicsome do-no-harm elves.  Even if you do not use the main hook, where there is a chance to restore life to a fallen comrade, there are plenty of reasons for an adventuring party to attempt to discover the howe's secrets.

You can find a review at Tenkar's Tavern, and a review at the Iron Tavern.  The module can be purchased in pdf format here.  This is actually one of the adventures I wrote which I am happiest with, and it makes me a little sad that more people have not bought it, read it, and played it (even though there is no money in my pocket if they do).

(For the curious, the other adventures that I am currently happiest with are, in no particular order, The Arwich Grinder; Stars in the Darkness; Prince Charming, Reanimator; The Imperishable Sorceress; The Folk of Osmon; and Icon of the Blood Goddess.  This is not to say that I am unhappy with the others, but if you wanted my "must have" list, there you have it.)

The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten (Purple Duck Games):  Imagine that you are writing a series of adventures intended to aid the poor judge whose players want to Quest For something.  It is pretty easy to write these things for wizards - drop a new spell, a patron, a magic item, a method to learn a spell, a way to remove corruption.  Wizards are easy to motivate.  A thief is going to be looking for a lost treasure or a big haul, a daring theft or a clever con. Clerics are a bit trickier because their Quests are likely to be tied into their specific religions, but by creating potential divine rivals to their own gods' power, you can create something that the canny judge can easily turn into a clerical Quest.

What about warriors?  You can throw them a magic weapon, or armour, but what else can you do?  What makes the dedicated fighting man salivate?

If you are anything like me, you played the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons when it came out, and, if you are like me, you discovered that feats were both a blessing and a curse.  They were a blessing because they allowed you to differentiate one character from another.  They were a curse because (1) there were too many of them, (2) the player had to sift through them to level his character, and (3) because you were only allowed to take a few, and many were suboptimal, the characters ended up looking a lot alike anyway.

How, then, would it work if you allowed all the benefits of feats but none of the drawbacks?  What if you could have any number of special talents, so long as you earned them in actual play?  What if feats became, not a thing you select from a menu, but a "treasure" you gained from an adventure?  Thus The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten was conceived.

This is a good example of an adventure that I am very happy with, even if it is not on my "must have" list. Despite being intended as a warrior-centric Campaign Element, for me the well and the stone heads are the best bits. You can find a review at Tenkar's Tavern, the Iron Tavern, Endzeitgeist, the Hapless Henchman, here, or here.  You can purchase it in pdf here.

ENDNOTE:  I have seven more products to talk about in the next post, and then on to something more interesting.  I am way behind on some of the things I want to talk about, and I am considering trying to catch up on some things, like Appendix N authors and other people's DCC products, by grouping them together and talking about more than one at a time.

Currently Working On:  FT 1: Creeping Beauties of the Wood and CE 6: The Crimson Void.

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