Monday 21 December 2015

Scary Holidays!

Here are three winter/holiday themed items to use in your very own Cinder Claws adventures - the black wreath, enchanted mistletoe, and ice piercers.

Happy Holidays to All!

Black Wreath: Init +3; Atk tongue +5 melee (entrap); AC 9; HD 3d6; MV 0’; Act 1d20; SP strength drain, “death” throes; SV Fort +5, Ref -5, Will +12; AL C.

The black wreath appears as any other decorated Yuletide wreath, save none can remember placing it, and those succeeding in a Luck check feel vaguely uneasy about it. Those red berries? They are actually all eyes. The black wreath is an extension of an interdimensional creature, an organ both for sensing what is nearby in our dimension, and for feeding on it.

The black wreath can extrude a sticky green “tongue” through the hollow center of the wreath (this tongue actually comes from the creature’s own dimension) to a distance of 15’. Any creature struck by the tongue is held fast. A creature can attempt a DC 10 Strength check to avoid being pulled 10’ closer to the wreath, or a DC 15 Strength check to break free, but each attempt uses an Action Die. A Mighty Deed with a value of 5+ can also force the creature to release its victim.

Any creature brought within 5’ of the wreath while attached to the tongue takes 1d3 temporary Strength damage per round. If brought within contact with the wreath, this damage increases to 1d5 temporary Strength damage per round. The victim becomes darker as this damage is taken, as though cast into deep shadow; normal color returns only as the damage is healed. A victim reduced to 0 Strength becomes a blackened cinder as its life force is sucked away. Should the victim somehow survive (due to a Recover the body check and a kind-hearted judge), half the Strength damage taken is permanent, and the character remains forever the color of burnt umber.

If the black wreath is reduced to 0 hp, it is not slain, but withdraws completely to its own dimension. Any entrapped victim gains a last DC 20 Strength check to escape, or is pulled into the other dimension with the wreath.

Enchanted Mistletoe: The fool who steps beneath this holiday sprig is instantly paralyzed, unless he succeeds on a Will save DC 20. Paralysis lasts until the character dies, the mistletoe is removed, the magic of the mistletoe breaks down (1d7 weeks), or the character is kissed. Well, a mouth makes contact with the character. Being bit will do.

While paralyzed, the character automatically fails Will saves. His AC is equal to his armor bonus only, discounting any shield.

Ice Piercer: Init -4; Atk pierce +4 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 1d4; MV 5’ or climb 5’; Act 1d20; SP camouflage, immune to cold and mind-affecting, double damage from heat and fire; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

This strange creature is made of ice, appearing like nothing more than a large icicle. It holds to its perch with a flexible “foot” made of slushy snow. Hidden among natural icicles, it surprises the unwary with a 5 in 6 chance, dropping down in an attempt to pierce creatures. Should it fail, it must make its slow way back up to ceiling or eaves, where it can drop again. No one knows why ice piercers form. No one knows why they attack – they certainly do not eat their victims! They usually melt away in the spring, and perhaps will not even form again in the same place when the weather turns cold again. 

Friday 11 December 2015

Some Thoughts About Patrons in Dungeon Crawl Classics

Patrons, Gods, and Demi-Patrons

Patrons are (usually) supernatural entities who are willing to aid a mortal being (especially a wizard or elf) in return for services rendered. The full write-up for a patron in the Dungeon Crawl Classics role-playing game officially consists of a table for invoke patron results, a table for spellburn, a table for patron taint, and three unique spells – one 1st level, one 2nd level, and one 3rd level.

A god is a powerful supernatural being who grants powers to clerics, and can demand that the cleric perform (or refrain from performing) certain actions in order to retain this power. There is some overlap between gods and patrons. A god may be, but need not be, a patron. A patron may be, but need not be, a god.

Non-deity patrons may include arch-liches, ghosts, faeries, ultra-powerful wizards, alien beings, and so on. If you read Appendix N literature, you will see ancient AIs, angel-like beings, demons, wizards, and more acting very much as patrons do in DCC. To the average peasant, though, there is little difference between a patron and a god. Both can exert enormous influence for or against the common folk.

A demi-patron is a less powerful patron. This might be a creature that can offer spellburn, or who can be invoked, but who doesn’t offer spells. The idea was introduced in this author’s adventure, Silent Nightfall, but it is implicit in the structure of Appendix N fiction that such creatures must exist. Likewise, this author’s The Crimson Void offers a system for ranking deities and other supernatural powers that can be used to determine what happens when they come into conflict.

Invoke Patron, Spellburn, & Patron Taint

When devising these tables, you can use published examples of patrons to give you a rough power gauge for appropriate effects. Remember, though, that you need to consider your patron as a whole. If a patron’s “patron taint” effects are particularly nasty, you might wish to give the patron a little extra oomph in terms of his invoke patron table. If your patron offers only the worst sorts of spellburn, you may wish to counteract that with another benefit.

It was recently suggested to me that patron taint should be both permanent and bad for the PC obtaining it. I would like to take a moment to disagree with that.

First off, not all of the patron taints in the core rules are permanent. The Three Fates, in particular, has patron taints that can be “resolved”, allowing the wizard bound to the Fates to get on with her life. I would argue that, if an event is both flavourful and meaningful within the context of the patron, it can serve as a patron taint. Anyone familiar with my work in Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between, or in the pages of several Purple Duck modules, will see what I mean.

Secondly, I don’t agree that all patron taint should be bad. The player has no control over rolling a “1” on a spell check, and has very little control (apart from spending Luck) as to what patron taint is obtained once the die is cast. Again, depending upon the patron overall, a “good” patron taint can even out a less powerful invoke patron chart…or even other, nastier, patron taints.

I would contend that the best purpose of patron taint is to strengthen the thematic bond between wizard and patron, and that you should consider any taint that does this well, even if it is not permanent, and even if it is good for the wizard.

I would also suggest that the prospective judge consider the type of game he or she wishes to run. A hideous patron taint table can turn your PCs away from the Ghost-God of Cannibal Child-Eaters if you don’t want to repeatedly play through scenes where the point-of-view characters are engaged in heinous acts involving children, while still allowing for NPCs who do the same.

Similarly, if you specifically want the PCs to consider a patron, you can build in some bennies to make that patron more attractive. I did this with Doctor Chapman for the Faerie Tales From Unlit Shores series – Doctor Chapman has fewer than average taints, and one grants a bonus when dealing with fey. This is not an accident. The adventure series is, simply put, better the more Doctor Chapman is involved with the PCs…so I gave the players reason to seek involvement with Doctor Chapman.


If you take a look at the spells in Dungeon Crawl Classics, you will see that many of them, depending upon the spell check result, contain the effects of a whole group of D&D-type spells. This is a good thing for the game as a whole, but it makes coming up with three unique spells for every patron rather difficult.

I went a different route with Doctor Chapman, and also with The Black Goat. If you are determined to make other spells available, consider allowing a wizard to cast a cleric spell (I did this in The Crimson Void) or invest in some sources of new spells – Liber Arcanum, Tales of the Fallen Empire, and The Gongfarmer’s Almanac are good places to start. Another thing you might consider is converting materials from other systems.

Some patrons may have more than three spells – Paul Wolfe has a patron like this in Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between. As always, you should consider what seems right for your patron first, and then try to figure out how to define it within the rules.

Other Benefits and Drawbacks

Finally, you may wish to consider adding benefits and drawbacks to your patrons and demi-patrons which do not rely upon the roll of the dice. For an example of what I mean, see Ulibex, the Neutral fungous Lord of Mushrooms, Molds, Mildews, and Yeasts, in Silent Nightfall. There is no reason not to give the PC who bonds with a strange creature some immediate consequence, for good or for ill. In fact, there are a lot of good reasons to do so:

  • It’s fun.
  • It’s surprising.
  • If good, it makes the players more apt to try their luck the next time some equally foolish venture presents itself.
  • It brings the unique nature of a patron directly and immediately to the table.
  • It gives the bonded PC some unique trait that is the direct result of play, rather than of buying feats during chargen.

For more fun, consider using a table of unique effects, so that if another PC jumps on the bandwagon, the patron might react in a different manner!

Patrons List and Patrons in Appendix N

I am considering maintaining a list of available patrons for DCC, and a list of patrons/patron-like beings in Appendix N fiction, but these would be separate posts if there is enough interest.

Thursday 10 December 2015

All the Funnels

Looking for a 0-level funnel adventure? Below is a list of all the funnels available for Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl Classics, Dark Trails, and related RPGs. 

If I have missed anything, please let me know! I will update regularly.

Last Updated 30 July 2019
That's a whopping 96 funnels to date!

12,000 to 0
A Gathering of the Marked
A Hellish Commute
A Horrible Day at the Dunwich Fair
The Arwich Grinder
Assault on the Sky-High Tower
Attack of the Frawgs
Beaten Copper
Betrayal at the Admiralty
Beyond the Silver Scream
Big Trouble in Little Punjar
Carnival of the Damned 
Cavern of the Cannibal Crone
Country Crawl Classics
Crypt of Morgrath
Cult of the Skin Demon
Curse of Cragbridge
Death by Nexus
Death Slaves of Eternity
The Desert Gardens
The Devil’s Cauldron
Duel at Midora Temple
The Dweller in Dreams
The Endless Chasm of Zaxxyn
Escape from Innsmouth
Escape from the Purple Planet
Escape from the Shrouded Fen
The Exodus of Wolfbane
Fae Hard
The Fate of the Ruthless Wizard
Fire in the Mountain
Frozen in Time
Goblins of the Faerie Wood
Gold Fever Comes to Owl Creek
Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign
The Handoff
Hive of the Overmind
Hole in the Sky
The Hounds of Halthrag Keep
The Hypercube of Myt
In the Wake of the Zorkul
It Came from Outer Space
Life Finds A Way
The Long Sleep
The Lost Patrol
Madazkan's Court
The Mall Maul
May Flowers
The Meat Grinder
Mother's Maze
The Museum at the End of Time 
Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry
Night of the Mad Kobold
Not in Kansas Any More
The Old Mansion on Rubbleknot Hill
The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk
Operation Unfathomable Completely Unfathomable DCC version
Outlive, Outsmart, Outkill!
The Peasants' Fell Bargain
The Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury
Picnic Among the Pines on the Rocky Mountain Stage Line
The Pillar of Anuul
The Pillars of Peng
Playing the Game
The Portal Under the Stars
Prince Charming, Reanimator
Prison of the Mad Gods
Rat Salad
Recruitment Day for the Perilous League
Reliquary of the Ancient Ones
The Ruined Keep
The Ruins of Ramat
Sailors on the Starless Sea
Sanctum of the Snail
The Seventh Pit of Sezrekan
The Shambling Undead
Sisters of the Moon Furnace
Sky ov Crimson Flame
Slave-Drones of the Fantas-ti-plex
The Slave Pens of Maxus
Soul for the Ocean Dark
Sour Spring Hollow
Starkweather Mountain
Street Kids of Ur-Hadad
Swindled at the Laughing Harpy
Sword in the Jungle Deep
They Served Brandolyn Red
Thirteen Brides of Blood
Tomb of the Ghast Queen
The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss
The Virtual Funnel
The Void Corpse of Amann Uur
The Well of Souls
The Witch of Wydfield
World-Quest of the Winter Calendar
Wrath of a Dead God


Previous versions of this list had notes on publisher, my level of involvement with the writing, etc. The intent now is to link these to the appropriate DCC Trove of Treasures entry to provide additional information.

Thank you to the DCC/MCC community for helping to keep these lists up to date, and especial thanks to Dieter Zimmerman and Michael Harrington for their help!

Friday 13 November 2015

Who Should Be the Big Bad in the New Star Wars Trilogy?

Clearly, it should be the scheming Amidala.

She was the "phantom menace" from the first film, a Sith lord so subtle that she could pretend to be two people, out of a very small group of people, without either Qui Gon Jinn or Obi Wan Kenobi catching on. A Sith Lord able to take control of her world at a very young age. A Sith Lord who possesses the genius necessary to take back that world from an army of droids, using only a few grappling guns and some Gungans.

Amidala, not Palpatine, decimated the Gungans by convincing them to get slaughtered for the Naboo. 

Amidala, not Palpatine, first recognized that Anakin was special and started grooming him for her purposes. 

Amidala, not Palpatine, had the most influence on the older Anakin...and literally seduced him from his Jedi vows. 

When Palpatine sends assassins to kill Amidala, he is attempting to dispose of a rival. 

When Luke and Leia are born, Amidala fakes her own death using her Sith wiles....which is why Leia remembers her on Aldaraan. Amidala seems to die again when Leia is young, but does not...

Amidala is why.

In The Phantom Menace, they kept saying that there was always a bigger fish, and to be careful not to assume. In a sense, then, the prequel trilogy is actually a contest between Amidala and Palpatine, which Palpatine wins. His win causes Amidala to fake her death, and go into hiding. Yet she still hangs around Leia because, as we know, there are always two - a master and an apprentice. Moreover, Obi Wan and Yoda eventually focus on Luke because they have figured out what Amidala is, prompting her second apparent death when Leia is still young, and causing Obi Wan to dismiss her as a potential hope.

Suddenly, a lot of apparent mistakes make sense.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Vault 0

My brother's business venture: Vault 0.

Costuming and accessories for gamers and fans.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Toronto Crawl Classics

I have started a new blog as a home for my open Dungeon Crawl Classics game that will be starting next January. This will contain rules, characters, maps....anything that players in the game should be aware of. You can find it here.

If you are in the Toronto area and feel like playing, there will be neither cost nor commitment required. Those who show up are the party that night. Either they get to a rest stop by the end of the night's gaming, or they get to roll on some tables I will be devising to determine what happens between the curtain of one gaming session and when their characters are seen next. Basically, unless otherwise arranged, one adventurous outing = one session.

What will this game entail?

  • A sandbox setting (the ruins of Toronto, which effectively contains villages, dungeons, a megadungeon or two, and wilderness areas).
  • Several funnel adventures to allow PCs to be readied for the game.
  • A large, known, complex for the ease of play. If you have nothing better to do, you can always attempt to raid the Dark Paths. Simply exploring Ruined Toronto is hazardous...but rewarding.
  • Points of familiarity for those familiar with the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Hiring Board...You can take a job, go exploring, or set your own agenda.

Who can play?

Anyone who wants to. 

Players may have multiple active PCs. On any given game night (outside the funnel), each player may choose one of his or her active PCs, if that PC is available (i.e., the PC is not off on another quest, recuperating, a prisoner, etc).

Disruptive players can be banned, but let's hope that never happens. In character Player vs. Player action is fine; out of character PVP is not. 

What do you need?


Stuff to write on.

Any DCC material you might have will come in handy, but it isn't really needed. No published materials will be used without serious modifications, so you can own every DCC adventure available if you like. It makes no difference to me.

Toronto Crawl Classics is obviously influenced by the wonderful work of the DCC particular, Crawling Under a Broken Moon and Crawljammer. Buy all the issues if you want. Read them. They may help you. They may not. At least they will be entertaining.

When will this start?

I am shooting for January 2016, although the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.

What can I do to help?

I am trying to find a public venue, preferably not too far from the Annex, to run public games in. Any help here would be great!

Friday 30 October 2015

Walkabout Thing

Walkabout Thing: Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d5 plus enervation); AC 12; HD 2d8+2; MV 30’ or climb 20’ or swim 30’; Act 1d20; SP enervation (1d3 Strength damage, Fort DC 15 or 1 point is permanent), regeneration by enervation, stealthy; SV Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +3; AL C.

“That thing, I swear, it looked like a koala,” said John. “But no koala’s ever been that big, nor had eyes that looked so evil. The whole thing was drenched, like it had been down in the creek. And its jaws – they weren’t the jaws of nothing I’d ever seen before. More like a dingo or that marsupial wolf they had in Tasmania once.”

John shook, and I passed him my pint. I wasn’t sure I believed him till then. Strange things happen in the Outback, sure. Uncanny, more than like. I’d heard stories of ‘roos that chased men and ate flesh, come up from the Dreamtime. I’d heard of drop bears, then koala-like critters that waited in trees till some bloke walked under, thinking it was just one of them slow-moving eucalyptus feeders up there. Nothing to worry about, right? But they say the drop bear, he eats meat.

I’ve never seen any of them things. Australia’s got enough critters that can kill you without making up more. But when John cupped the beer with his hands, looked down at it, I felt a shiver down my spine. Because I knew – I knew – that this thing was real. More real to John than the untouched beer in front of him.

“We need to kill that thing,” he said. “Simon’s dead.”

The Walkabout Thing looks like a massive koala with dog-like jaws and a sinister attitude. When it bites, the victim takes 1d3 Strength damage and must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save or 1 point is permanent. It regenerates lost hit points equal to 1 per point of temporary Strength damage, and 5 per point of permanent Strength damage.

Despite being nearly as large as a man, the Walkabout Thing is a cunning predator, gaining a +5 bonus to any stealth check.

Happy Halloween!

Friday 23 October 2015

DCC 4th Printing Kickstarter live.

Since its debut in 2012, Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game (DCC RPG) has sold through three printings and spawned a movement. This Kickstarter funds the fourth printing, with stretch goals that add a plethora of awesome new features to the physical product. Additional stretch goals fund reprints of some DCC RPG adventure modules that have sold through their first printings.
The physical product is a 480-page hardcover book. The cover and endsheets are color; the interior is B/W. The book is filled to the brim with art, in the classic TSR old-school style. The default binding is Smythe-sewn (“textbook” binding, very durable), although stretch goals may change that (see Kickstarter page).

Friday 16 October 2015

Dalek Crawl Classics 1: The Hartnell Years (2of 3)

Virgile Beaudoin wrote “I would always be in for DCC Daleks but a couple of spells or a magic item would also be interesting Are you a fan of Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy? There could be a couple of fun things in there for DCC. My campaign starts again in a couple of weeks for its second year. 5-6 characters lvl 2 nearing 3. All players whish for magic items or political/cultural/power structures to climb. Anyway, just a couple of ideas. Can't wait to read what you come up with next. ^^”

This, of course, left me open to merging two of my favourite things: Doctor Who and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

By the time of The Chase, the Daleks have developed a form of time travel analogous to the Doctor’s own TARDIS – a time machine that can track other time machines, and is larger on the inside than on the outside. Not only can it track the TARDIS, but it gains on the Doctor and his companions ever so slightly throughout the story. As we will see, Daleks in later-era stories do not always achieve this level of time travelling sophistication.

In some ways, The Chase is a “sequel” (and “prequel”) to the Tom Baker-era story, Genesis of the Daleks. Obviously, Genesis of the Daleks didn’t exist yet in the program, but if we look from the outside, in Genesis the Doctor is sent back in time to the point where the Daleks are created in order to destroy them. In The Chase, the Daleks move back in time to stop the Doctor in his first incarnation. One might almost be considered a response to the other. In fact, this may be the first story where the Time War is foreshadowed. From the perspective of the Daleks, it may take place during the Time War.

The Daleks in this story are no longer dependent upon radiation (as were the ones in The Daleks) and have their own internal power supplies (a departure from The Dalek Invasion of the Earth). Their understanding of humanoids has also improved, allowing them to create a near-perfect duplicate of the Doctor.

It is also worth noting that, while no Dalek is seen levitating up stairs on-screen, the action in The Chase implies that these Daleks are capable of doing so. It is easiest to see this in the Marie Celeste sequence, where Daleks are able to reach areas of the ship only accessible by stairs.

These are still not the Daleks of the new series, however, and they lack several refinements later Daleks will use. If they are part of the Time War, as seems likely, they are part of a group which has significantly less technology available to it than several later Dalek groups. This may be due to changes in the timeline, splintering Dalek factions, or a simple lack of available resources. A lack of resources might place The Chase as post- Day of the Doctor from the Dalek’s perspective, or it might indicate that the Daleks have allocated greater resources elsewhere…such as an all-out attack on Gallifrey itself.

It’s fun to speculate.

The Chase

Daleks have been a mainstay of the Doctor Who universe. They appeared in the second televised story, and have appeared more times than any other villain. Indeed, the Daleks are the only creatures that appear in at least one televised story for every Doctor.

They are a perfect villain species to appear in your Dungeon Crawl Classics game. They are even better suited to Mutant Crawl Classics, Crawling Under a Broken Moon, or Crawljammer games.

Chase-era Dalek: Init +0; Atk plunger arm +2 melee (1d3) or energy weapon +3 ranged (1d6+3); AC 17; HD 1d12; MV 30’ or levitate 5’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communications, specialty arms, levitation; SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +7; AL L.

The Daleks in The Chase do not seem to rely on long-range communications as frequently as the Daleks in the previous two stories, although they still retain the ability. They are capable of replacing the plunger arm with specialty arms, such as a long range motion detector. (Earlier Daleks could replace the plunger arm with a high-powered acetylene torch, so this is not a new development.) These Daleks can slowly levitate up stairs, or along a plane not greater than 45º angle.

Dalek Duplicate: Statistics as original; AL L.

Aridian: Init –2; Atk club +0 melee (1d4); AC 9; HD 1d3; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP low-light vision; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

A species of rather ineffective piscine humanoids encountered on the planet Aridius in The Chase, the Aridians lived in the underground remnants of their ancient cities. Over many generations, the oceans of the planet had slowly dried, leaving the Aridians and the Mire Beasts to contest for what remained of the desert world. Not particularly brave, the Aridians attempted to keep the Mire Beasts out by building walls around them. The Aridians also tried to sell out the Doctor and his companions to the Daleks, only to be foiled when the time travellers refused to cooperate. The Aridians would make a great creature for an adventure where you end up liking the people you have to oppose. They mean well, but they are easily frightened into bad choices.

Mire Beast: Init –4; Atk tentacle +3 melee (1d3) or bite -2 melee (1d5+1); AC 13; HD 4d6; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60’, stealthy, grab, constrict or bite, hardy; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C.

This is an octopus-like creature, adapted to survival in dark caves and tunnels. Mire Beasts are encountered on the surface of Aridius as well, although they are usually active only from twilight to dawn. During the day, they hide by burying themselves in the sand. They are somewhat stealthy, having a 1 in 6 chance to surprise in addition to whatever chance of surprise the judge typically uses.

If a Mire Beast tentacle hits, it grabs the target. The victim can make an opposed Strength check (vs. +4) to break free, cause 5 hp damage (which does not count against the creature’s total), or succeed on a Mighty Deed of 4+. A Mire Beast who grabs a target can either do automatic tentacle damage or make a free bite attack in the next round with a +6 bonus.

Mire Beasts are extremely hardy – even if reduced to 0 hp, they gain a DC 10 Fort save in 1d6 minutes to determine if they were slain or merely stunned. If the save succeeds, the Mire Beast is alive with 2d6 hp recovered.

Mire Beasts possess a cunning intelligence, and are capable of concerted plans and action.

Fungoid: Init +0; Atk grab +0 melee (0); AC 12; HD 2d6; MV 10’; Act 1d20; SP constrict and suffocate, sense prey, immune to mind-affecting; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

These are tall, fungus-like beings encountered on the planet Mechanus. They make a distinctive “popping” sound, which may be a form of communication among themselves. If they are able to grab a creature with their “umbrella”, they can do 1d3 points of damage each round thereafter due to constriction and suffocation. Although the fungoids do not see in the same way animals do, they are capable of sensing potential prey within 60’ by a combination of sensing heat, motion, vibrations, and sound. They are completely immune to effects that target the mind.

Mechanoid: Init +1; Atk restraining arm +0 melee (restraint) or flame thrower; AC 18; HD 3d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP restraint, flame thrower; SV Fort +10, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

Mechanoids are robots created for the colonization of other worlds. The 1st Doctor and his companions encountered them on Mechanus. They are roughly spherical, with triangular plating. Each has two arms that fold into the Mechanoid. These can be used for skills, or can restrain an opponent they hit (opposed Strength to break free, the Mechanoid gaining +4 per arm restraining a creature, and multiple Mechanoids can restrain the same creature).

Each Mechanoid also has a built-in flame thrower, which can strike multiple targets in a 20’ cone with a 5’ base. Each target in the area takes 1d6 damage (Fort DC 15 for half) and must succeed on a DC 10 Reflex save or catch fire (1d6 damage each round until a save is successful).

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Three Nights in Portsmouth

Three Nights in Portsmouth is now available.

Anyone that has explored the seaside town of Portsmouth knows that it is a town filled with secrets. FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid only scratched the surface of some of these secrets.

It is time to return to Portsmouth again with three new adventures that can be played in a two or three hour adventure slot. The adventures are:

  • Blood for Cthulhu!
  • Trail of the Rat
  • The Open Tomb

A Dungeon Crawl Classics anthology for 4-8 level 2 characters by Daniel J. Bishop.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Dalek Crawl Classics 1: The Hartnell Years (1 of 3)

The Daleks

 Daleks have been a mainstay of the Doctor Who universe. They appeared in the second televised story, and have appeared more times than any other villain. Indeed, the Daleks are the only creatures that appear in at least one televised story for every Doctor.

They are a perfect villain species to appear in your Dungeon Crawl Classics game. They are even better suited to Mutant Crawl Classics, Crawling Under a Broken Moon, or Crawljammer games.

Original Dalek: Init +0; Atk plunger arm +2 melee (1d3) or energy weapon +3 ranged (1d6+3 or paralysis); AC 17; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP paralysis, long-range communication, reliance on radiation, reliance on static; SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +7; AL L.

Original Daleks are able to partially paralyze those struck by their energy weapons (2d3 Agility damage, recovered at a rate of 1 point per hour, movement speed reduced by 5’ per 2 points remaining). A second paralysis blast while this temporary damage is in effect requires a DC 20 Fort save, or the new damage is permanent.

Original Daleks are reliant on radiation, taking 1d4 damage each turn their environment has insufficient radiation content. Their travel cases are powered through static electricity conducted through the floor of the Dalek city. If this connection is broken, the Dalek is helpless.

Original Daleks cannot climb stairs.

Original Dalek Creature: Init –4; Atk claw +0 melee (1d3); AC 7; HD 1d3; MV 5’; Act 1d12; SP reliance on radiation; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +5; AL C.

The original Dalek creature, bereft of its cybernetic casing, is fairly defenseless. It has the same reliance on radiation that the original Daleks do. The difference in alignment between a Dalek in its casing and outside is based upon later lore. Daleks are quivering lumps of hate, but the Dalek casing actually programs much of the creature’s behaviour. As we will eventually see, uncased Daleks don’t like their cased brethren very much.

Original Thal: Init +2; Atk by weapon +0 melee or ranged (by weapon); AC 10; HD 1d4; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0; AL L.

The original Thals were agrarian pacifists, who hoped to come to terms with the Daleks. Their attempt to bypass the Lake of Mutations on Skaro, and then find a way into the Dalek city through caves in the mountains, would make a great DCC funnel adventure.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Invasion Dalek: Init +1; Atk plunger arm +2 melee (1d3) or energy weapon +4 ranged (1d6+3); AC 17; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, reliance on broadcast power; SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +7; AL L.

Black Dalek: Init +3; Atk plunger arm +3 melee (1d4) or energy weapon +6 ranged (1d7+4); AC 19; HD 4d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, reliance on broadcast power; SV Fort +14, Ref +0, Will +9; AL L.

By the time the Daleks invaded the Earth, they had overcome their reliance on radiation and static electricity. These Daleks each had a receiver dish with which they could obtain broadcast power from several Dalek compounds or saucer ships. They no longer sought to paralyze enemies – enemies were to be exterminated

By the time the Daleks invaded the Earth, they had overcome their reliance on radiation and static electricity. These Daleks each had a receiver dish with which they could obtain broadcast power from several Dalek compounds or saucer ships. They no longer sought to paralyze enemies – enemies were to be exterminated.

In the serial, Earth’s magnetic core draws the Daleks to it, destroying them. A similar device could be used in a DCC or MCC Dalek adventure. Travelling across invaded Britain was a big part of the Doctor Who story, and could be used as a funnel adventure. Exploring a crashed Dalek saucer might also make for interesting game play…especially if some of the occupants are still active!

A Dalek can be disabled if its receiver disc is damaged (Mighty Deed 4+), but these Daleks are far more efficient in their long-range communications, and instantly know that the Dalek unit is disabled.

Slyther: Init +4; Atk claw +3 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 4d6; hp 14; MV 40’; Act 4d20; SP enhanced senses, stealthy, fear attack; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C.

The Slyther was a “pet” of the Black Dalek, unleashed to control the human worker population, and allowed to eat anyone it could catch. It is likely that the Slyther is a Dalek mutant of some sort, larger than a man, and able to attack with multiple claws. It has enhanced sense, able to sense living beings within 100’ without needing to see them. It has a 1 in 3 chance of attacking by surprise, in addition to whatever normal chance the judge uses for other creatures. Finally, it induces fear in its prey – a creature targeted by the Slyther on its first round must succeed in a DC 10 Will save or lose its next action due to sheer terror.

Roboman: Init -2; Atk by weapon +0 melee (by weapon); AC 8; HD 2d6; MV 20’; Act 1d16; SP long-range communication, insanity; SV Fort +3, Ref –2, Will +0; AL L.

Robomen are normal humans, operated on and controlled by the Daleks. They are controlled by a headset reminiscent of the head cowling of a Cyberman; if this is damaged (Mighty Deed 3+), the Roboman is no longer controlled by the Daleks. The Daleks always know when a Roboman asset is lost, and usually investigate.

If the Daleks lose control of a Roboman, or on a 1 in 7 chance each time a Roboman is hit, it will go insane, seeking to destroy itself. Under normal circumstances, nothing can restore the humanity of a Roboman. With the strange powers available to Clerics, Wizards, and Mutants, the judge may allow a Roboman to remember who he once was. To this end, it is worth noting that the Daleks tend to choose only intelligent specimens for Robotization.

If these versions of the Daleks seem surprisingly easy to defeat, the author recommends that the reader view the original programs and makes any adjustments he or she sees fit to make. There are several stories, including the original (The Daleks), in which the Daleks are defeated by primitive weapons.

Friday 2 October 2015

Fun (?) Doctor Who Party Game

My youngest turns 9 today, and has a Doctor Who themed birthday party this weekend. One of the entertainments is a sort of puzzle game that I wrote, which I hope won't prove too difficult for the kids to figure out. I reproduce it, without all of the fun graphics, below:


The Third Intergalactic Peace Conference was held on Station Zed Alpha near the borders of Draconian space. The delegates were there to draft a treaty for mutual defence against the Daleks. The delegates included:

  • Earth Adjudicator Kim Worthington
  • Alpha Centauri
  • Ice Lord Sarl from Mars
  • The Draconian Ambassador
  • Commander Storr of the 7th Sontaran Fleet
  • Bexes, a Tree from the Forest of Cheem
  • Sister Manas from New Earth
  • Administrator Horth, a Silurian from Earth
  • Loboromo of the Judoon
  • Navarino Ambassador Zor

In addition, there were, at various times during the proceedings, twelve surprising guests – each one an incarnation of the Doctor. At some point during the Conference, the signed Peace Treaty disappeared. It is feared that one of the delegates is an agent of the Daleks.

The Doctors have given testimony in message cubes. You can look at one message cube at a time. The delegates are also present for you to question, if you wish.

Your mission is to find the Peace Treaty, and figure out who, if anyone, is working for the Daleks.


Earth Adjudicator Kim Worthington

As Adjudicator for Earth, I supported the Peace Treaty. It was my idea to include the Judoon and the Sontarans. Both are warlike races, but both would benefit from a secure alliance. The Judoon would gain policing authority over the border areas where Daleks have been attacking out colonies. The Sontarans would gain allies against the Daleks, which would allow them to focus on their millennia-old war against the Rutans. They would also get to fight the Daleks, and the Sontarans have never turned down being included in any military force.

I don’t understand why Commander Storr acted the way he did. Before lunch, he wanted nothing to do with the Daleks. It was almost as though he were afraid of them, if that is possible. After lunch, he said he had only just arrived, and reversed his earlier position. Sontar almost declared war on the Alliance when we questioned his honesty.

Then the Peace Treaty disappeared. I hope that we can find it.

Alpha Centauri

My people are peaceful, and do not like all this talk of war. I agree with the other delegates – we must defend ourselves against the Daleks – but I do not like it. It was very nice seeing the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith again, though. I met them on Peladon, a primitive world, but a staunch ally of the Galactic Federation.

Ice Lord Sarl from Mars

My people care a great deal about war and honour. Once, we were enemies of the Earth. Now, we are ready to stand with our allies.

The Ice Warriors spend most of their lives in armour. We learn to recognize small differences. Commander Storr changed after lunch. This was not the same Sontaran who argued so forcefully against alliance before lunch. I do not know how he changed. I do know that he changed.

The Draconian Ambassador

We have a great deal of respect for the Doctor. We were glad to see him attend this Conference in so many of his forms. The Daleks have attempted to trick the Earth and Draconia in the past. The Doctor saved us from a grievous conflict that would have decimated both planets. They will not do so again.

Commander Storr of the 7th Sontaran Fleet

I am Commander Storr, of clone batch 3 million 4 hundred and 27. My arrival was delayed by a Rutan aggressor, which was dispatched by the 7th Sontaran Fleet 100 million kilometres away from our current position.  When I arrived, the Doctor and others claimed that I had already been here, and that I had argued against an alliance. This is not true! This alliance against the Daleks makes good strategic sense, giving Sontar the opportunity to consolidate its forces against the hated Rutans and offering glorious combat against a superior foe. Sontar-Ha!

The Judoon also claim that I was here. At first I suspected a Rutan trick – they can take the shape of other beings – but a DNA scan confirmed my identity when I came aboard…two hours before my actual arrival! The station log cannot be falsified, yet I know that I was not here!

My clone batch comprises 2 million individuals with the same DNA. I have contacted Sontaran High Command to ensure that all active members of the clone batch are accounted for.

Bexes, a Tree from the Forest of Cheem

My people came from the Earth, and our roots there go deep. We came when the Earth called for allies. It is true that we do not love things made of metal, and we do not love war, but we remember where we came from. Besides, the Daleks are the enemies of everyone.

Sister Manas from New Earth

I am here only as an observer. I represent the Sisters of Plenitude on New Earth, currently headquartered in New New New New New York. I must say that this Peace Conference has been unusual. Several strange people have come and gone, and there have been strange noises. Grinding, wheezing…I do not know how to describe them. Someone must be ill, for at least either different doctors have been present, some dressed quite bizarrely.  

Administrator Horth, a Silurian from Earth

Of course the Silurian Confederation stands with Earth. We are the original occupants of the Earth. Our species went into hibernation long ago. When we awoke, we found our world inhabited by the descendants of the small mammals that raided our fields. There was conflict, all too often, but now we have learned to live together in harmony.

I am here as the Administrator of the Pond-Copper Institute. We take apart captured Dalek pieces to try to find weaknesses. They are cyborg creatures, part machine, and part living being. Much of their behaviour is programmed into them by their travel machine casings. Someday, we may even find a way to live in harmony with the Daleks. We just need to find a way to stop the machine part from programming them to hate everything that isn’t a Dalek.

Loboromo of the Judoon

Lo go flo ro slo mow toe row. Blow mow flo go so hoe row mow. Doh so tro grow no. Bo joe hoe mow slow flow row grow plo lo moe lo so go.

Navarino Ambassador Zor

Navarinos are peaceful. We’re not fighters, but we love the Earth, especially the Classic Era Earth of the 50’s, the 60’s, and the 70’s. We are technologically oriented enough to provide means of defence against the Daleks. We do not create weapons. The Transformation Arch was installed for my use, so that I could take this form. You humanoids sometimes find my natural form…distressing.

Someone has tampered with the Arch. It is now set to transform whoever passes through it into a much smaller form. Some kind of insect, I believe.


1st Doctor

“Hmmm? Yes? Oh, enough of this bother. Yes, I was at the Conference with Susan and her two teachers, Barbara and Chesterfield. Chesterton. Humph. Yes, you could say I saw the Peace Treaty? Is that what this is all about, hmmm? It was all rolled up and wrinkled. A dreadful sight. Did you know those papers even had a dead fly stuck to them? No, I didn’t keep them. I gave them to a young man in a rather tasteless jumper. The whole thing had nothing to do with me. I was still trying to get those two young people home to Earth, and didn’t mean to be there at all.

“If I may make some observations, though? Did you consider the Transformation Arch? Hmmm? Perhaps someone there wasn’t exactly who they claimed to be?”

2nd Doctor

“Oh dear, oh dear. Yes, I was at the Peace Conference. With Jamie and Zoe. Well, I’d helped to set it up when I was, well, the older me, and I just wanted to see how it turned out. Educational, too, for Zoe at any rate. I’m not sure how much Jamie was able to absorb. Well, I left when I head that Commander Storr arguing with…well, Storr called him Doctor. It’s a good idea to remember your past, but not always a good idea to see your future, if you follow me. I’m afraid, in my haste, I knocked over my drink. Oh my giddy aunt! I hope that didn’t cause a problem!”

3rd Doctor

“Ah, yes, the Third Intergalactic Peace Conference. I helped set that up, you know, as a favour for the Emperor of Draconia. I took Sarah Jane for a brief visit, just to see how our old friend, Alpha Centauri, was getting along. A bit grey around the tentacles, but still the same old Alpha Centauri.  We just stopped for a quick drink and a sandwich. Well, you see, I promised Sarah Jane a trip to Florana, the famous planet of flowers, and we had to be getting on. No, we didn’t make it. The TARDIS got pulled a little off track. We ended up in Manchester. The planet Manchester. Not nearly as pleasant as you might imagine.”

4th Doctor

“Of course I was there! Of course! They needed someone practical, and intelligent, and…well, intelligent, to help them sort things out. Besides, there was that Sontaran, Storr. Never trust a Sontaran, I say. Don’t I say that, Romana? Never trust a Sontaran. Caught him trying to steal the Peace Treaty from the vent by the Transformation Arch. Sontarans aren’t usually that sneaky. Usually they’re all shouting and zapping people, but they can be tricky. They once tried to invade Gallifrey, you know.  Also, someone nicked my TARDIS. Oh, I know. Romana said the same thing. Just forgot where I parked the old girl. But I’m telling you, someone took my TARDIS and landed it behind those potted ferns…Hmmm…Would you care for a jelly baby? The orange ones are my favourites.”

5th Doctor

“I see. I did go to Zed Alpha to set up a Transformation Arch, because the Time Lords asked me to. No, I didn’t attend the conference. I had already been there four times, and it didn’t seem like a good idea. The Transformation Arch? That’s a technology to change from one species to another on a cellular level. The delegates wanted it for the convenience of the Navarino delegate. In their native form, they look a bit like large purple starfish. They aren’t easy to communicate with in their native form, you know. They do seem to like playing at being other species; I know of at least one tour group that takes Navarino tourists to Disney World.”

6th Doctor

“If you must know, I did dignify the Conference with my sartorial splendour. Was it bad? Bad? Bad? Bad? Why they bothered to invite the Sontarans is entirely beyond me. Their Commander Storr tried to ruin the entire conference. And then, after lunch, he had the gall to call me a liar and pretend that he had just arrived. If it wasn’t for my inherent abhorrence for violence I don’t know what I would have done. Challenge him to a duel, most likely. Sontarans actually like that kind of thing. Anyhow, before lunch, Commander Storr did everything he could to push against an alliance, and after lunch Commander Storr did everything he could do to push for an alliance. But, by then, the Peace Treaty had disappeared! No, I don’t know where. I’m as confused as the rest of you.”

7th Doctor

“Strange, don’t you think? The way time’s ripples catch us up. I took Ace to the Peace Conference on Zed Alpha. I’d been there before. You have to be careful, or time’s ripples will catch you up, and then who knows what will happen? I think it was because of the Sontarans that we went. I had never heard of Sontarans engaged in making peace. The Sontarans are a clone species, with batches that number in the millions. That makes them a bit like Time Lords you see, each clone being almost like a different incarnation of the same being. I had hopes for Commander Storr. He had a clone, Battle Leader Svarr, who was court martialled for cowardice when fighting the Daleks on Exxilon 5. I had hoped it wasn’t cowardice. Maybe he just wanted peace. But Storr turned out to be a typical Sontaran after all. A pity.”

8th Doctor

“I did go to the Third Galactic Peace Conference. I meant to go to the Fifth. Just to help out Ambassador Kelvin with the tricky problem of Durable Solids. Not important to the Third conference at all, and I’ll get there eventually, if the TARDIS lets me. So, let’s see. I got there just in time to see my second incarnation leaving with Jamie and Zoe in tow towards the wrong TARDIS. We eventually got that sorted out, too. I’d spilled my drink, that is, the early me had spilled the earlier me’s drink, right onto the Peace Treaty. So I scooped it up, and set it near a vent to dry, no one the wiser. No, I left it in plain sight. Then I nipped away – in the right TARDIS – and managed to sort out the other Doctor’s TARDISes, too, without anyone being any the wiser.”

9th Doctor

“Yeah, I was there, not long after the bit with the Slitheen crashing into Big Ben. Rose was with me, so that was all right, yeah? Ran into myself, oh, half a dozen times, without the earlier versions of me knowing it. No, I didn’t tell Rose. She’s still getting used to the whole 900 year old alien thing. I even saw the original. Handed myself some papers. I hadn’t even remembered doing that, but I must have done. They were all rolled up and creased, so I put them in the library to straighten out. Zed Alpha has a huge library. I stuck them in the big Atlas of Peladon. I like Peladon. Lovely planet, lots of mountains. I wonder if old Aggedor would still recognize me? I’ve changed a lot since the last time I was there.”

10th Doctor

“You know what I like about a good piece of ventilation? No flies. I mean, who lets flies get into a space station? There I am, at the Peace Conference, ready to tuck into a good little bit of lunch, and there’s a fly buzzing around. Luckily, there was some paper lying on the floor, so I rolled it up. Took three tries, but I got him. Even with that guy in the fez who kept getting in the way…What? I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t know.”

11th Doctor

No no no no no no no no! It wasn’t my fault. I mean, it was my fault, but it wasn’t my fault. I mean, I was younger when everything really bad happened. First off, I was all teeth and curls and a really cool scarf when I fiddled with the Transformation Arch. I don’t even know why I did that. It just seemed interesting at the time. And cool. I didn’t know I had actually done anything.  And then I was arguing about that Sontaran who found the Peace Treaty drying on the vent by the Arch, because I hadn’t put it there yet. Then Rory tripped over my scarf…I mean the early me’s scarf, and knocked the Sontaran through the Transformation Arch. And he turned into a small insect. I think he turned into a fly. And then skinnier early me with the sand shoes…squished him. Just a little. But it must have turned out all right, because he was back at the table after lunch.”

12th Doctor

“Of course I went to the Peace Conference. I’d been there eleven times already, and I think I remember seeing myself at least once. I mean, I didn’t know it was me at the time, but if I didn’t go, that would be a paradox, and the universe hates paradoxes. Besides, it was fun. I spent the entire time playing attack eyebrows with a Sontaran. You know what’s fun about arguing with a Sontaran? No eyebrows to speak of. Really, how can a Sontaran argue with these eyebrows, when he’s got none of his own? Sontar HA! Never trust a Sontaran.”

FINAL CHANCE: Dispatch from Sontar

All active members of clone batch 3,000,427 accounted for. Inactive members include 454,302 who have died in battle for the greater glory of the Sontaran Empire. Sontar-Ha! Remaining inactive member of clone batch 3,000,427 is Former Battle Leader Svarr, court martialled for cowardice: Refusal to fight against Daleks in the Battle of Exxilon 5. Strategic calculations indicate high probability of Traitor Svarr operative in area of Station Zed Alpha. Imperative that Traitor Svarr be located and apprehended.

Sontar Out.