Sunday 24 January 2016

Terror Island and the Colossus!

OSR Con 5.5 was held at a nice venue, with snacks, water, and soft drinks available for a very reasonable price. There were some cool door prizes as well. I added some DCC bookmarks and temporary tattoos to the table for freebies, and a spare copy of AL 1-5: Stars in the Darkness as a door prize. I also brought a number of DCC products where I had multiple copies to give away at my table – everyone who played got something cool.

I ended up with six players, a combination of those new to DCC and those who had played the game before. I was running the Alpha Playtest of Escape from Terror Island, a DCC funnel adventure, and it should be no surprise to anyone that things will change from this playtest to the final version. The feedback from the players was awesome…and useful.

Time is always an issue with me. There is never enough of it. Since beginning my odyssey writing materials for the DCC game, I’ve managed to run something (or more than one something) on every Free Role-Playing Game Day, and I’ve managed to do a number of other public games as well, but actually making it to even a one-day Con has been pretty much off the radar.

I was very glad to have made it to OSR Con 5.5, and rest assured that I intend to go back next year!

Speaking of playtesting, a few weeks back, I had a chance to playtest Perry Fehr’s Maiden Voyage of the Colossus. This product is now available in pdf format from Purple Duck Games at RPG Now. I understand that there were some problems with the previews for the product (now fixed!), so I am going to describe it briefly: You are tasked with ensuring that a flying ship is not destroyed by sabotage on its maiden voyage. You have four hours. The adventure recommends that you use a real four-hour time limit. There are optional hooks for individual PCs, hidden agendas that can make the adventure more fun. The prospective judge could build some of these into earlier play, to offer foreshadowing.

The adventure is statted for Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics. This offers the prospective judge a good example of how an adventure for one system can be modified for the other, with what amount to side-by-side examples. A flying ship is a bit out of place in some DCC worlds, although it would work very well in an Anomalous Subsurface Environment-based campaign, Crawling Under a Broken Moon, or on an alien world in Crawljammer. As a singular item, it would work very well in a campaign milieu based off of some of Jack Vance’s writing, or Lin Carter’s.

Just because you are running the game for one system, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't look at the other system's set-up. Use whatever you think will be the most fun!

When I ran the game, I had the PCs summoned as “demons” to the “higher plane” of Porphyria. In addition to allowing me to preserve my own milieu, it established the chance of future trips to Purple Duck’s signature campaign world, and gave me the opportunity to ask, “Now which plane are you from, specifically?” when it was time to go back.

You could easily use such a device to send PCs to the Purple Planet, the Shudder Mountains, or whatever interests you at the time. I send them to Gary Gygax’s Dungeonland, there to meet up with some other PCs (my game takes place across multiple worlds, with multiple character groups run by the same players, and multiple threads) who were in Dungeonland as a “break” from The God-Seed Awakens. The God-Seed Awakens was a divine quest undertaken by PCs from ASE’s Denethix…the Helix/Wolford group was sent by their cleric’s god as additional (and much needed) muscle. At the conclusion of God-Seed, I broke the groups up again, sending each to their own fate…

(As a side note, I did a minimal conversion of Dungeonland, with the intention of later making A Red and Pleasant Land a plane where the PCs could end up visiting….both Carcossa and Narcossa are real possibilities as well.)

Thursday 14 January 2016

Planning Ahead: Mathoms

This year’s Birthday Mathom is going to be a free adventure. Why? Because Why not?

Okay, this is why I am “planning ahead”:

To get this adventure, you need to post a review (good, bad, or indifferent) of something that I wrote. The review has to be posted on 14 January 2016 or later. Then you need to put a link to that review in the comments of this post. Finally, you need to send me an email so that I can send you your birthday mathom. Ravencrowking at hot mail dot com.

That's three steps, and you need to follow them all to get the free adventure. Simple.

Here’s the cool part: I am going to start writing the adventure in June. SO…up to an including 1 June 2016, you may also include in your comments something you would like me to include in said adventure, and I will try to include it. Remember, this is a free project, so don’t be surprised if you don’t end up with 17 patrons just because of the comments. Keep it reasonable…but be inventive.

Final deadline to get in on the mathom is 1 August 2016; the mathom goes out on 4 August 2016.

Right now, you can select from the following to review. As more products hit the shelves with the year growing older, you get more options:

Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1 (Gifts of the Only, The Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury*, Vance's Merry Men, A Lesson From Turtles, Grimic the Slaughterer*, or Laro Chelle the Ring Bearer)
The Gong Farmer’s Almanac (May Flowers)
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between*
The Revelation of Mulmo
DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013 (The Imperishable Sorceress)
Goodman Games Gen Con 2015 Program Book (Black Feather Blade; The Hypercube of Myt*)
RC 1: The Hypercube of Myt*
RC 2: Death By Nexus*
Crawljammer: The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer (Mermaids from Yuggoth and Icons of the Blood Goddess)
Pulp Weird Encounters #1 (The Tomb of the Squonk)
The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss
Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror
Through the Cotillion of Hours
Stars in the Darkness
The Stars are Falling*
The Falcate Idol
The Black Goat
The Folk of Osmon
The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten
Silent Nightfall
The Crimson Void
Dispatches from Raven Crowking Vol. 1
Prince Charming, Reanimator
Creeping Beauties of the Wood
The Portsmouth Mermaid
Three Nights in Portsmouth
The Perils of Cinder Claws
Crawl! fanzine #9 (The Arwich Grinder)

I also did conversions, or wrote material for

DCC #76.5: Well of the Worm (DCC Conversion)
DCC #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl (DCC Conversion)
DCC #82.5: Dragora's Dungeon (DCC Conversion)
DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet (Boxed set extras*)
DCC #85.5: Curse of the Kingspire (DCC Conversion)
GM Gems Hardcover Second Printing (DCC Conversion)
Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn (DCC Conversion)

* Co-authored. Obviously, I am not the original author on any of the conversion materials.

Monday 11 January 2016

Escape from Terror Island!

Saturday, January 16, 2016 is OSRCon 5.5 at the Wilmar Heights Event Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave, in Toronto, Ontario.

I will be running the initial playtest of Escape from Terror Island from 6:50 pm-10:50 pm. Pre-generated characters provided courtesy of the Purple Sorcerer 0-level Party Generator.

Travellers are shipwrecked on the notorious Terror Island. Try to survive hungry cannibals, giant reptiles, ape men, and more while searching for a way to escape. Find items that give you phenomenal powers! Cower before alien gods! Uncover the secrets of the Lake of Bronze! Level up at 10 XP, and take on the rest of the adventure with your survivors!

Because this is an initial playtest, all participants are eligible for a playtester credit in the final product. Because this is DCC RPG, no one will walk away without some form of swag.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

The Joy of Monsters

Imagine for a moment that you picked up a shining new Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook, and you were ready to start writing your own adventures. The Cyclopedia of Creatures might seem a little thin to those GMs used to leafing through a manual of monsters and picking out their favourites. Even given the admonishment to make monsters unique, DCC might seem a little thin on the ground in this respect. But this is an illusion.

I just finished updating the “Locating Monsters in the Blog”post to include the statblocks from Skull Mountain, and you know what? As of today, there are over 140 entries on this blog alone. When I look at the “Finding Monsters in My Adventures” post, there are more than 350 entries. Even acknowledging that there is overlap between what has appeared on my blog and in my adventures, it is probably safe to say that I have contributed over 400 creatures or beings to the game.

And that is just me alone.

How many strange creatures has Harley Stroh introduced? Michael Curtis? Jobe Bittman? A listing that catalogued all of the creatures appearing in all of the adventures, the blogs, the zines, the Spellburn Dungeon Denizens and the Sanctum Secorum companions….Is there any game that has as many creatures as DCC does? There are so many creative minds involved with this game that I cannot keep up. Even attempting to list them all is now beyond my meagre talents!

The answer is, obviously, any game where conversion is easy has all of the creatures DCC does, and shares all of its creatures with DCC. If you use the charts in the core rulebook, James Raggi’s Random Esoteric Creature Generator, and The Monster Alphabet, you have an infinite number of creatures at your fingertips. And as much as I would like to own the book(s) that gathers all of that goodness together, if I have learned nothing else from my sojourn with Dungeon Crawl Classics, I have learned this: selecting monsters from a preset list is a trap. All of the best stuff I have done has been influenced by images, fiction, random generators, and simply letting my mind wander until I had some solid idea of what should be in a particular adventure.

That said, play with those ideas that are out there. All the Purple Duck stuff I’ve done is OGC (or nearly all; there might be something I’ve missed). Play with it. Make it your own, and then publish the results. Make mention of the Black Goat or Kala Môr! Really. Not only will I buy a copy, but if you let me know, I will help to spread the word. There is a reason those blog posts, designed to make finding those stat blocks easier, exist. Like the early Cthulhu mythos, our work is stronger when echoes of one author’s oeuvre appear in another author’s work, even in a minor way.

Convert Me - Skull Mountain

This is an original Labyrinth Lord adventure by Jeff Sparks, and published by Faster Monkey Games. I used it in my home Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, setting Wolford to the south and east of Helix (from Barrowmaze) and south and west of Stonehell. From this you may (correctly) gather that both Barrowmaze and Stonehell are part of the campaign setting. Not too far away are the ruins where Sir Amoral the Misbegotten may be found. Slightly more distant, the pass of The Black Goat.

In addition to trying to sell you on the usefulness of these items for your own DCC game, I am going to include some of the conversion stats I used when running Skull Mountain at home.


Here are some monster examples, given DCC stats. These are cut&pasted from my conversion notes....they are exactly as I used them in play. Obviously, you will get more out of these if you actually have the adventure in question.

Bone Golem: Init +3; Atk femur bone (as club) +4 melee (1d4+1); AC 18; HD 8d12; hp 40; MV 30’; Act 4d20; SP infravision 60’, immune to electricity, fire, cold, or mind-affecting attacks; SV Fort +12, Ref +8, Will +10; AL N.

This golem has four arms, each of which can wield a weapon. It can attack up to two characters at a time.

Darkling Acolyte: Init -2; Atk claws +2 melee (1d3) or obsidian sword +0 melee (1d7) or harmful spell (see below); AC 14; HD 1d8; MV 30’ or climb 30’; Act 1d20; SP obsidian sword shatters on natural 1 or 20, harmful spells; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +5; AL C.

Darkling acolytes can cast minor harmful spells, which typically manifest as threads of purple smoke which invade the lungs and cause choking. Each darkling acolyte can cast two harmful spells per day, each of which causes 1d6+1 damage at a range of 50’ (DC 14 Fort save for half damage).

Darkling Captain: Init +4; Atk claws +5 melee (1d3+2) or obsidian sword +8 melee (1d8+2 plus shock); AC 20; HD 4d8+4; hp 26; MV 30’ or climb 30’; Act 1d20; SP shock (Wasserblitzen); SV Fort +7, Ref +4, Will +6; AL C.

Wields Wasserblitzen (+1 Chaotic long sword: Int 10; Communication: Simple urges; Bane: Water Elementals [Painful wound; +1d4 damage]; Power 1: Detect traps within 2d4 x 10’; Power 2: Shock blade. Inflict an additional 1d4 electrical damage with every strike, doubled to 2d4 if opponent wears metal armour, is in water, or is composed of metal (such as a golem or living statue).

Entrance Guardian: Init +0; Atk stone fist +4 melee (1d6+3) or lava stream +2 ranged (2d6); AC 18; HD 5d10+10; hp 42; MV 10’; Act 2d20; SP DR 5/magic, immune to mind-affecting, not alive, regenerate 3 hp/round in archway, 5 lava streams before recharge; SV Fort +10, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

The entrance guardian can shoot lava from its mouth, like a breath weapon, five times before its reservoir is depleted. It regenerates at a rate of 3 hp per round while resting in the archway. This also replenishes its lava at a rate of one “breath” per five rounds.

Giant Frog: Init +2; Atk bite +0 melee (1d3) or tongue +2 ranged (snare); AC 10; HD 1d8; MV 30’ or leap 50’ or swim 60’; Act 1d20; SP swallow prey on natural 19-20; SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N.

Prey snagged by a giant frog’s tongue must succeed on a DC 10 Strength check or be pulled 5’ closer each round (Strength DC 20 escapes, tongue is AC 15 with 5 hp). Prey swallowed by a giant frog take 1d3 damage at the beginning of each round and cannot attack unless they already have a dagger in hand (and then as -2d on the dice chain).

Giant Gecko: Init +0; Atk bite +5 melee (2d3); AC 15; HD 2d8; MV 40’ or climb 40’; Act 1d20; SP camouflage (+5); SV Fort +2, Ref -2, Will -2; AL N. 5’ long.

Giant Sturgeon: Init +0; Atk bite +6 melee (2d10); AC 20; HD 10d8+10; MV swim 50’; Act 1d20; SP swallow; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +3; AL N. Up to 30’ long.

A giant sturgeon swallows prey whole on a natural 18-20. Swallowed prey take 2d6 damage each round, and must succeed in a DC 15 Reflex save to attack from inside at -2d on the dice chain (but vs. AC 13).

Giant Tuarara: Init -3; Atk bite +5 melee (3d4); AC 17; HD 3d8; MV 40’ or climb 20’; Act 1d20; SP camouflage (+10); SV Fort +2, Ref -2, Will -2; AL N. 8’ long.

Grey Worm: Init +0; Atk bite +3 melee (1d8); AC 14; HD 6d8+6; MV 10’ or burrow 30’; Act 1d20; SP swallow whole, sense creatures 60’; SV Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N. 30’ long.

A grey worm swallows prey whole on an 19-20. Swallowed prey suffers 1d8 damage each round, and can only attack with a readied dagger at -1d on the dice chain.

Kalrak the Darkling High Priest: Init +1; Atk claws +5 melee (1d3+1) or obsidian dagger +6 melee (1d4+2); AC 19; HD 6d8+4; hp 24; MV 30’ or climb 30’; Act 1d20+1d14; SP magic obsidian dagger, spells; SV Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +7; AL C.

Obsidian Dagger: +1 Dagger; Alignment: Chaotic; Intelligence: 1; Communication: None.

Gold Ring of Protection +2: If worn by a Lawful creature, does 1d3 Agility damage per round for 1d5 rounds as it burns away. It cannot be removed without a Remove Curse spell.

Spells: (Spell Check: d20+7): Blessing, Darkness, Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Resist Cold or Heat, Second Sight, Word of Command, Binding, Curse, Divine Symbol, Snake Charm, Wood Wyrding, Bolt from the Blue, Remove Curse, True Name.

Razemeth the Avatar, average-sized purple dragon: Init +11; Atk claw (x2) +12 melee (1d8); bite +12 melee (1d12); tail slap +12 melee (1d20); AC 21; HD 11d12 (82 hp); MV 50; Act attacks 4d20, spells 1d20; SP Amphibious; SV Fort +11, Ref +15, Will +11; Al C.

Breath Weapon: Type (Smoke); no damage but remains for 1d6 rounds, conceals); Shape (Cloud, radius 1d3 x 10’, aimed up to 90’ away).

Level 1 Spells (1d20+4): Choking Cloud

Special: Change shape (1/day, darkling female); Detection (at will, gems within 100’); Darkness (at will, 30’ radius area within 100’).

Rhadogessa: Init +5; Atk bite +2 melee (2d5 plus poison) or leg +6 melee (0 plus pull); AC 15; HD 4d8; MV 50’ or climb 20’; Act 1d20; SP poisonous bite (Fort DC 15 or 1d7 per round until save succeeds), pull (Strength DC 15 or pulls to mandibles and gains free bite at +6 bonus next round), infravision 80’; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.

Salamander: Init +6; Atk claw +5 melee (1d4) or bite +3 melee (1d8); AC 18; HD 8d8; hp 32; MV 30’; Act 3d20; SP heat (1d8 each round to all within 20’; Fort DC 12 for half), cold vulnerability (+1d12 per die of damage), immunities (fire, non-magical weapons, sleep, and charm); SV Fort +3, Ref +12, Will +8; AL C.

Terko Cooper: Init +5; Atk scimitar +6 melee (dmg 1d8+3) or javelin +7 missile fire (1d6) or harmful spell (see below); AC 17; HD 3d8; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP harmful spell; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +2; AL C.

Cooper can cast three harmful spells per day, each of which causes 2d7+2 damage at a range of 100’ (DC 15 Will save for half damage).


The Mask of Terror: This helmet-like mask of strange, dark metal encloses the entire head in the hideous likeness of a horned, reptilian fiend, including slavering fangs and glittering red eyes. The mask radiates magic and evil. As disturbing as its normal appearance is, it also carries an enchantment:

Once a day, the wearer can cause the mask’s face to become utterly terrifying. Creatures within 30' who see the mask must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or flee in panic for 2d6 rounds, or cower in fear if flight is impossible. Any attack on a panicked creature ends the effect. Mindless monsters and those immune to gaze attacks are unaffected by the mask.

Caltrops: These nasty little objects are generally available in larger settlements, especially where horses are common. A five-pound bag of caltrops costs 5 gp and contains approximately 100 of the spiked metal balls. When scattered on the ground, they slow or discourage pursuit over a 10' x 10' area. Anyone walking through must slow to 5' per round or make a DC 10 Agility check to avoid stepping on them. Caltrops do 1d3 points of Agility damage slow movement by 5’ per point of Agility damage until the damage is healed.

Wormstriker: +1 Lawful Long sword (Int 6, communicates via simple urges). Bane: Dragons (Beacon of fury; sword attempts to persuade everyone that it can communicate with to attack the bane under any circumstances [ego check for wielder and potentially others]). Power: Detect secret doors within 1d6 x 10’.

Rod of Striking: As staff, +2d12 damage on critical in addition to other effects (uses a charge, 8 charges; shatters when last charge used for 1d12 damage to all within 10’ [including wielder, Ref DC 10 half]); black wood.

Location-Based Changes to Mesh with DCC

Here I deal with some things that are given Labyrinth Lord statistics, or I am adjusting treasure. Not every change I made is listed, but I give a few rooms simply to allow other judges to compare the original with the changes I made:

Area 3-2: Potion of Extra-Healing heals up to 3 HD and has 5 doses. Potion of Super-Heroism grants 3d8 temporary hit points and a 1d5 Deed Die (or +2d on the Dice Chain for warriors and dwarves) for 2d6 rounds.

Area 6-1: 1 point of temporary Stamina damage per round due to heat (Fort DC 10 each round negates); requires 5 minutes of rest to recover. IN THE LAVA: Intense heat causes 1d3 Stamina damage each round (no save).

Area T-7: No magic spear or potion.

Area U-8: Greenstar's cloak is well-made, but has no magical properties.

Area U-10: Each potion heals 1d8+3 damage. Scroll is written in code. When properly deciphered the scroll can be read but not until then. Int DC 15 or Read Languages DC 10; each attempt takes 1 turn. The caster uses her own spell check result.

Area U-13: Each potion requires a DC 10 Fort save. On a success, it heals 2d12 damage per dose (2 doses each); on a failure it causes 1d3 Strength and Agility damage due to muscle cramps. This damage heals at the rate of 1 point per hour.


Skull Mountain is an excellent adventure, which can be converted fairly easily to DCC. You should either buy it and convert it yourself, or you should kindly ask Faster Monkey Games to put out a DCC version. In fact, if the author wants to do the conversion himself, I'll send him my notes.