Thursday 28 December 2017


Doomsayer has left a few album cover requests, but before I get to those, here is something a little easier to close the year with.

It is well known that the Valkyries, beautiful warrior women riding winged horses, come to bring the worthy fallen warriors to Valhalla (all shiny and chrome). For those who worship Whaaar! across the wasted landscape of Umerica, a different fate awaits the warrior without heart, who flees battle, or who dishonors himself or honorable adversaries with cowardly attacks or unwarranted mercy.

Doomriders are sent by Whaaar! to slay those who turn their backs to their foes, or otherwise dishonor the Umerican god of conflict. Certainly not every cowardly act results in one or more doomriders being dispatched, but equally certainly, any such act may result in the same. The chance for doomriders to appear to 0-level characters and lowly (unnamed) NPCs remains at the judge's discretion. Otherwise, when a character dedicated to Whaaar! acts against his tenants (see The Umerican Survival Guide for details) on the battlefield, roll 1d30. If the result is equal to or less than the character's level, at least one doomrider appears. For every 2 points below the character's level, an additional doomrider is dispatched.

If the character can defeat these doomriders in an honorable way (according to the tenants of Whaaar!) the god will be pleased. If the character is slain instead, the god will be pleased. An additional doomrider will be dispatched to confront any other being who interferes with the will of Whaaar!

When one or more doomriders appear, the sky turns black and rolls with thunder. Doomriders are wreathed in green flames that do an automatic 1d3 damage to anyone striking them with a melee weapon. These flames also add damage to their claw attacks (already calculated into their statblocks). A doomrider can harness lightning, making a ranged attack with a lightning bolt once every three rounds. This attack has "exploding damage" - every time a natural "6" is rolled, add another d6 to the damage. If this die also comes up "6", another d6 is added. And so on.

If either a doomrider or its steed is slain, its counterpart continues attacking. When slain, either will simply fade from existence, to be reborn in the feasthalls or stables of Whaaar! If both doomrider and steed survive combat, they take their targets bodily to the Hell designated by their god. Otherwise, they simply fade away. It is considered a great honor to be selected as a doomrider after a glorious death, and a doomrider may pause to speak to one-time companions before departing.

Doomrider: Init +3; Atk claw +4 melee (1d5+1d3) or lightning bolt +4 ranged (3d6); AC 15; Armor Die none; HD 2d12; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP green fire, lightning (exploding damage), immune to attacks requiring Will saves, immune to electrical attacks, death throes; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +0; AL C.

Doomrider's steed: Init +2; Atk hoof +6 melee (1d6+4); AC 14; Armor Die 1d3; HD 4d12; MV 60’ or fly 80'; Act 1d20; SP immune to attacks requiring Will saves, immune to electrical attacks, death throes; SV Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +0; AL C.

Note: If not using The Umerican Survival Guide, increase the steed AC by 2 and ignore Armor Die. Although I tied the write-up to the Umerican deity, Whaaar!, feel free to replace with any other god of war appropriate to your campaign. Remember that the alignment of both doomriders and their steeds should match that of the god....and not all war gods need be Chaotic!

Sunday 24 December 2017

The Fatal Feast - Mutant Crawl Classics!

An album cover like Municipal Waste's The Fatal Feast: Waste in Space screams Mutant Crawl Classics. Or, at least, it screams Mutant Crawl Classics until there is a Stellar Crawl Classics to go with. This write-up could also easily be used with Crawling Under a Broken Moon or The Umerican Survival Guide.

The official music video takes place on Waste Station 3M-TA3, lost in space 17 years. Needless to say, the scenario could work in a sealed facility on the post-Apocalyptic world just as easily. Or you could have your PCs transferred somehow to an orbital facility.

Without further ado....

The Fatal Feast

Hazardous waste laws are written for a reason. A breach in protocol at Waste Station 3M-TA3 allowed the unintended release of Virus TFRW-2012-SA05, nicknamed "The Fatal Feast".

There are three stages to this virus's infection cycle, and the PCs may encounter it in whatever stage the judge desires. It is entirely possible that the three stages are going on in different parts of the same complex.

Stage One: Initial Infection

Fort DC 15 resists infection. Those infected gain a +4 bonus to all Strength-related checks (including melee attack and damage rolls). They suffer an irresistible desire to consume non-infected living creatures. At the judge's discretion, a desire to use spinal columns to play air guitar, or use a length of intestines as a microphone, may also develop.

Infection is caused by direct contact with the virus, or by contact with an infected creature. Stage One typically lasts for 1d5 days.

Stage Two: Liquification of Living Flesh

Fort DC 20 negates. Uninfected living flesh which fails the Fort save is turned to blood at an astounding rate. Exposed beings who fail the save take 1d5 points of permanent ability damage to each ability score (except Luck) each round. Beings infected at Stage One are immune.

The virus is airborne at this time, and exposure to atmosphere where the virus is active can cause infection. This stage lasts for 1d24 years. (It lasted at least 17 years on Waste Station 3M-TA3.)

Stage Three: Un-death

At Stage Three, creatures infected become nonmagical un-dead. Although they retain an echo of their former personalities, and are able to work cooperatively, they are tools used by the virus to consume and spread. Contact with these un-dead can transmit Stage One of the virus, and these un-dead do not continue to attack those who become infected. Even the remains of these un-dead, once destroyed, can transmit the virus unless they are burned. Improper disposal of such remains led to the infestation on Waste Station 3M-TA3.

This stage is permanent. Any creature with a Stage One infection must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save each day once Stage Two commences, or succumb to Stage Three. At Stage Three, the infected characters are dead. Even if the disease is somehow cured, they remain dead.

Fatal feast un-dead: Init +3; Atk claw +4 melee (1d3+4); AC 10; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, infectious, +4 to Strength-based checks; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5; AL C.

In Mutant Crawl Classics, fatal feast un-dead have no alignment. Physical mutations may remain still be manifested by the un-dead creatures, but mental mutations are lost. Note that plantients (and other non-animal beings) are immune to Virus TFRW-2012-SA05 in all of its stages, and are not targeted by the infected, unless required for self-preservation.


This is a nasty, nasty surprise to spring on characters, no matter what stage is active when it is encountered.

If the means to avoid and/or cure the virus are present, it might make a kick-ass funnel adventure, though. In this case, encountering the remains of a fatal feast un-dead after being sealed into the adventure location can kick off the action, with players retaining control of their infected PCs as well as their non-infected PCs. PVP combat abounds!

A sealed area releases the Stage Two infection. Hope your surviving PCs have been inoculated by this point. Then on to confront the un-dead masters in order to escape the adventure location. Finally, for the big finale, blow it all up so that the virus cannot escape!

Saturday 23 December 2017


“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Queequeetodon is an enormous white whale with intricate markings across its head and body. Its eyes match the color of the seas - blue, green, grey, or wine-dark as circumstances dictate.

The leviathan, sometimes known as the Shaman of the Deep, is extremely intelligent, and is able to cast both wizard and cleric spells, but does not suffer spell loss or corruption. Rather, Queequeetodon suffers disapproval for failed spells as does a cleric.

Note that Queequeetodon needs no material components and performs no spellburn, even if a spell normally requires them. Whalesong may be noted when he casts spells, but most appear to be naturally occurring events....even if the weather seems to change with preternatural swiftness, or the sharks in the waters seem strangely focused on particular sailors.

In addition to his mystical ability, Queequeetodon's physical prowess is incredible. The white whale can ram a ship, or strike it with his powerful flukes. If using the seafaring rules in Tales of the Fallen Empire, these attacks do 3d50 hull points of damage each. If you are using the rules from Crawl! Fanzine #11, these attacks do 3d50 x 10 damage. This damage is specific to attacks against ships and similar structures only.

A normal creature subject to this creature's bite attack is automatically swallowed whole. There is a 95% chance that the creature is pushed back into Queequeetodon's stomach, there to suffer 3d10 damage per round. Otherwise, the creature remains in the leviathan's mouth, and can attempt a DC 20 Strength check to escape when Queequeetodon makes another bite attack (or otherwise opens his mouth). A character inside the whale may attempt attacks from within, but there is a -1d shift to all d20 rolls for characters in the whale's stomach, and character's in the whale's mouth increase their danger. If a character in the whale's mouth makes a successful attack, roll 1d7, modified by the character's Luck:

(1 or less) the character is immediately swallowed, along with anything else in the whale's mouth; (2-3) the whale swallows, affecting everything in its mouth, but characters succeeding in a DC 20 Strength check can hold on, taking a mere 2d6 buffeting damage rather than being swept to the gullet; (4-5) characters within the mouth must succeed in a DC 15 Reflex save or be expelled through the whale's blowhole, shooting 5d30 feet in the air before falling into the water for 1d6 damage per 10' fallen (Reflex DC 15 for half damage); (6-7) nothing happens; or (8 or more) the character (and only the character) is expelled through the whale's mouth - other characters may attempt to escape by making a DC 20 Strength check, as noted above. Surviving in the open water may still prove beyond the character's prowess.

Despite the dangers of confronting Queequeetodon, men still hunt him for the occult powers inherent in his oil and ambergris. The exact nature of these powers is left to the judge, based upon the needs of his campaign, but the following ideas are suggested:

  • Wrapping a dead man in linen soaked in Queequeetodon's spermaceti oil will restore life and wholeness, no matter the condition of the body or how long it has been dead. This must be done within 24 hours of the leviathan's death to be effective.
  • The 1,000 gallons of oil in the whale's head can be used in magic involving fire or water. Each pint used allows a +4 bonus to the spell check.
  • Each of Queequeetodon's 120 teeth can be used in a ritual to bind a single spell, making the spell effect last an additional 1d7 centuries, even if it would normally be instantaneous (specific results at judge's discretion).
  • Ambergris from the Shaman of the Deep can cure poisons and diseases if consumed. Note that the whale need not be killed to gain this substance.
  • 100 gallons of Queequeetodon's oil can be condensed into a single focus crystal, allowing any spell cast through it to gain an automatic +10 bonus to the spell check. Multiple crystals can be used. However, each crystal can only be used once before being destroyed.
  • Any who partakes of Queequeetodon's freshly slain flesh will gain 1d30 permanent bonus hit points and a permanent +2 bonus to AC as their own flesh hardens.
  • Any being who consumes one of Queequeetodon's eyes (a mammoth undertaking which will take a week or longer) gains the ability to cast second sight. The characters rolls 1d20+4 plus Personality modifier. On a roll of 11 or less, the spell is lost for that day. On a natural roll of "1", the character suffers a unique corruption. These corruptions will make the character pale, result in hair loss, and drive the character into the water, eventually turning him into a new Shaman of the Deep. If there is more than one Shaman of the Deep, they must contest the title until one is slain.
  • A being who drinks blood from the whale's still-warm corpse ceases to age. Neither magical nor mundane aging affects him any more.

Queequeetodon, Shaman of the Deep: Init -6; Atk bite +20 melee (3d20 plus swallow whole) or fluke smash +15 melee (3d24) or ram +10 melee 3d30); AC 25; HD 30d12+120; hp 350; MV swim 80’; Act 2d20; SP smash ships, swallow whole, spellcasting; SV Fort +20, Ref -6, Will +20; AL N.
Spells (+10 to spell check): animal summoning, bolt from the blue, curse, dispel magic, neutralize poison or disease, second sight, weather control.

“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Friday 22 December 2017

Canadian Content

In Canada, there are laws prescribing how much content on the radio or television must be Canadian. Love it or hate it, it means that Canadians have a chance to prosper in the arts.

Now, I have started this particular entry so many times, only to have the file disappear into the electronic ether, that one might think the Dungeon Crawl Classics write-up for this album cover itself should be "Considered Dead", but that isn't what is going to happen.

Without further ado:

The Chamber of Cold Burial

Lost within a lethal underground maze is a chamber whose floor is made of ice. The ice floor is at least 30 feet deep, but can be traversed without slipping if the walker is careful. Walking at more than have speed requires a DC 5 Reflex save to avoid falling; this is DC 10 during any round when a character engages in combat, and DC 15 if a character runs.

Any being who falls in this chamber finds the ice strangely yeilding, although only in one direction. Stuck fast in the ice, the character must succeed in a DC 5 Strength check to break free. After the first round, the character must succeed in a DC 5 Fort save each round to avoid 1d3 damage from the cold. The DCs for these saves increase by +2 each round, until the character is fully entombed in ice or slain.

Close examination of the floor can reveal this hazard, as there are skeletal remains wholly or partially embedded in the chamber's floor.

The Altar of Woeful Consumption

Rising from the floor of the Chamber of Cold Burial is a stone altar. A Chaotic spellcaster, succeeding in a DC 20 spell check, can "feed" a victim to this altar, causing the victim to become embedded in the stone as its body rots away.

The victim gains a single Will save (DC equal to spell check to resist), being otherwise helpless unless rescued. Spells such as dispel magic or remove curse, if they exceed the original spell check, are effective, as is divine intervention. Otherwise, each round the victim takes 1d3 damage to Strength, Agility, and Stamina each hour until dead. The sacrificing wizard, elf, or cleric can access half of these points to use as spellburn with no other repercussions to the caster; the other half of these points are lost. The altar automatically loses one point of available spellburn each day, and must therefore be continually fed to be of value.

A rescued victim can only recover whatever available points are not used for spellburn; the other damage is permanent, including that which is not available for spellburn. These points are consumed by the altar.

Victims who die in this manner are lost for eternity, and cannot be brought back by any means.

Sanguine Hourglasses

There are several of these items believed to exist. Each is an hourglass whose "sand" is made of "grains" of crystallized blood, culled from some alien entities which experience the flow of time differently than do mortal men.

When the sands of a sanguine hourglass are flowing, time is slowed within a 500' radius around the hourglass by a factor of 10. For every minute that passes within the radius, 10 minutes pass without. Multiple hourglasses can stack, so that two hourglasses can work together to slow time by a factor of 100. Note that flipping an hourglass means that it continues to flow, until all the crystallized blood is in one chamber or the other.

It is believed that at least two such hourglasses are possessed by the current Keeper of the Altar of Woeful Consumption. They are said to be used to maintain the available spellburn contained by the Chaos altar, so that one available point is lost every 100 days instead of every day.

A sanguine hourglass is nonetheless fragile, and any hit against AC 12 that does 2 hp or more damage can shatter it. The effects of a shattered sanguine hourglass end immediately, but any creature within 100' must roll 1d7 + Luck modifier:

(1 or less) the creature immediately ages 10d10 years; (2) the creature immediately becomes 7d7 years younger, possibly ceasing to exist as a result; (3-5) nothing happens to the creature; (6) the creature gains momentary insight into the future, and can re-roll any one die roll within the next 2d12 days, taking the better result; or (7 or better) the creature gains insight into the nature of time itself, effectively increasing its initiative bonus by +2 forever. The creature also gains an extra Action Die, which starts at 1d3, but increased up the dice chain each time the creature levels. Judges and players are reminded that this Action Die can be used for a move action even before it becomes high enough to risk using for attacks, skill checks, or spells.

Drifting Remains

This monster is known to inhabit the lethal maze wherein the Altar of Woeful Consumption is found. It appears to be a grey-white almost spidery thing, with sharp appendages and sensory apparatus placed at irregular intervals. It does not walk, but flies slowly about, and is thus immune to the dangers of the icy floor in the Chamber of Cold Burial. One pulpy fungal knob on its upper surface bears an absurd resemblance to a man's head wearing a fedora, which may hint at the creature's origin. It gives off a rancid smell like rotting shredded flesh.

The drifting remains attempt to pierce victims with their many sharp limbs. If two or more limbs succeed in striking the same victim, the remains may hold on (Strength DC 10 + number of limbs attached to break free). While holding a creature, the remains may attempt to use its ovipositer to infect the being with its young.

It takes 1d3 days for the young to hatch as crawling maggots, during which time it is possible to treat the infestation as a disease. For instance, a cleric can attempt to lay hands, or to cast neutralize poison or disease. After this time, things become far more dire.

  • Days 5-7: Skin turns a morbid color. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Stamina damage each day. -1d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Days 8-9: Stiffening morbidity. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Agility damage each day. -1d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 10: Withered veins and difficulty gaining breath. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent Strength damage each day. -2d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 11: Organs putrefy, and victim vomits blood. Fort DC 10 or suffer 1d3 points of permanent damage to all statistics. -2d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.
  • Day 12 and beyond: Catalepsy and death. Fort DC 10 each day to avoid falling into a cataleptic state (so as to appear dead). Once the victim falls into this state, it cannot be removed without also removing the infestation. Each day after the victim becomes cataleptic, he suffers 1d5 permanent Stamina damage each day until dead. 1d3 days after death, the young drifting remains (2d7) emerge. Each has AC 13 and 1 hp. Young drifting remains have no effective attacks, and their only goal is escape (fly 20'). There is a -3d penalty to any spell check made to cure this condition.

Drifting remains: Init -1; Atk sharpened limb +2 melee (1d3 plus hold) or ovipositer +0 melee (infect); AC 15; HD 4d8; MV fly 20’; Act 5d20; SP hold, infect; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +3; AL C.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

The Dice Have Spoken! The Thing in the Chimney is Released!

I offered to give away two copies of Perils of the Cinder Claws today in this post.

Now the time has come. The contestants are:

(1) Paul
(2) Elias Stretch
(3) Subhuman
(4) knobgobbler
(5) Jeff
(6) Jonathan N.
(7) Colin Brodd
(8) Doomsayer
(9) Edgar Molas
(10) Ngo Vinh-Hoi

He rolls on rolz:

Elias Stretch and Ngo Vinh-Hoi, please contact me at ravencrowking at hotmail dot com. I will need a valid email address to send you your prize through RPG Now.

Tuesday 12 December 2017


I am doing this album cover next at the request of Wayne Snyder, via Google+. There are a few creatures on this album cover, and more demons are always useful to the beleaguered judge, so here we go!

As a side note, the demon generator at Purple Sorcerer was used to help generate base statistics that I then adjusted to match the cover art.

Without Further Ado:

Baal Zymymar (type 6 demon): Init +13; Atk charge +24 melee (2d12+12); AC 23; HD 25d12; hp 151; MV 50’; Act 4d20; SP demon traits, infravision 120', immunities (immune to weapons of less than +4 enchantment or natural attacks from creatures of 9 HD or less; immune to fire, cold, electricity, gas, acid), projection (can teleport at will to any location, as long as not bound or otherwise summoned; can project astrally and ethereally), breath weapon (swarm of stinging flies, 60' cone with 40' base, damage equal to current hit points, Fort DC 23 for half; 3 uses/day), crit range 16-20, darkness (+20 to spell check); SV Fort +15, Ref +18, Will +18; AL C.

This potent demon has power over a legion of seventy-two lesser demons. It appears as a giant (20' tall) goat-headed man with a patch of bare flesh shaped somewhat like an upside-down star on its forehead. Baal Zymymar gives off an offensive smell, not unlike that of a great goat, but muskier and strangely disturbing to those who smell it. The demon can communicate telepathically, or speak in any known tongue.

Summoning Baal Zymymar for any occasion except the most important is fraught with peril, for this demon is vain, has a long memory, and has an entourage which can be sent to punish the presumptuous. However, as a demi-patron, it is possible for wizards and elves to call upon Baal Zymymar to power their spells. When a wizard calls upon Baal Zymymar for spellburn, roll 1d4 + spell level + Luck modifier and consult the table below:

0 or less - You dare disturb Baal Zymymar with so feeble a request? The caster immediately suffers 2d12 damage and must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or die. No spellburn is granted.

1 - Baal Zymymar is not amused by your request. The caster immediately suffers 2d6 damage and must succeed in a DC 10 Will save or be knocked unconscious for 2d5 days. No spellburn is granted.

2 - Baal Zymymar is not amused by your request. The caster immediately suffers 2d3 damage and must succeed in a DC 5 Will save or be knocked unconscious for 2d5 rounds. No spellburn is granted.

3 - Baal Zymymar is not interested in your plea. The caster is not punished, but neither is spellburn granted.

4 - A cloud of biting flies surrounds the caster, crawling over his flesh, up his nostrils, into his eyes, and into his clothing. This is expressed as Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss. The caster may gain a maximum of 6 points of spellburn. The vermin leave as the spellburn damage is healed, and the damage heals at half the normal rate. Finally, the caster now owes a service to Baal Zymymar, and the demon will collect regardless of the wishes of the caster.

5 - A cloud of biting flies surrounds the caster, crawling over his flesh, up his nostrils, into his eyes, and into his clothing. This is expressed as Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss. The caster may gain a maximum of 10 points of spellburn. The vermin leave as the spellburn damage is healed, and the caster now owes a service to Baal Zymymar, and the demon will collect regardless of the wishes of the caster.

6 - A cloud of biting flies surrounds the caster, crawling over his flesh, up his nostrils, into his eyes, and into his clothing. This is expressed as Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss. The vermin leave as the spellburn damage is healed.

7 - The caster feels a portion of his soul being sliced away, where it is stored by Baal Zymymar in his palace in Hell. Spellburn is expressed as Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss. As the caster recovers, he becomes accustomed to the loss of part of his soul, but that part is never truly restored unless the caster journeys to Hell itself, seeks it out, and frees it from its bondage. From this day forward, the caster will sometimes dream of his soul's bondage in hell.

8 - A gaping wound in the shape of an inverted star appears on the caster's forehead. Spellburn is expressed as Strength, Agility, Stamina, or Personality loss. The wound heals as this damage is recovered, but it forever leaves a visible scar. This scar is identifiable as the mark of Baal Zymymar by demons, and may be recognized by wizards, priests, sages, and others at the judge's discretion.

9 - The power of Baal Zymymar infuses the caster, leaving him with a goaty reek that is disturbing to those who encounter it. The caster may spellburn as normal, but can take points off Personality as well as Strength, Agility, and Stamina. Moreover, for each point taken from another ability score, one must be taken from Personality. I.e., at least half of all the spellburn must come from Personality. This damage heals as normal, but damage to other attributes must be healed before Personality damage can be restored. As the Personality damage heals, the reek fades, until it finally disappears.

10 - Wild Bacchanal: The caster may have up to 10 points of spellburn at no immediate cost. However, every night thereafter (up to the number of nights equal to spellburn granted), the caster is plunged into a wild orgiastic rites of Baal Zymymar in his dreams, and gets no benefits from rest. I.e., the caster does not heal damage and does not regain lost spells. The caster may become the unwitting parent of a half-demon child at the judge's discretion. Female casters do not become pregnant themselves in this case; the child is carried in a surrogate womb provided by a succubus in Baal Zymymar's entourage.

11 - An offer you cannot refuse: The caster may have up to 10 points in spellburn without immediate cost, but there is a task that Baal Zymymar wishes completed within 1d30 days. If the task is not completed by that time, the caster takes 1d7 points of damage per point of spelburn gained - the cost of Baal Zymymar's displeasure.

12 or higher - This great work is pleasing to Baal Zymymar's vanity. The caster gains 10 points of spellburn without cost, but is marked somewhere upon his body with the sign of the inverted star. From this point forward, the caster rolls 1d5 rather than 1d4 on this table, but for all future spellburn requests (regardless of the result), the caster owes a favor to the demon that Baal Zymymar will make use of. If the spellburn result indicates that the caster owes Baal Zymymar a favor, this is an additional favor owed. If this result is rolled again, the die used by the caster continues up the dice chain to a maximum result of 1d8.

The Entourage of Baal Zymymar

Lillit (Type 4 demon): Init +5; Atk claw +11 melee (1d10+4 plus paralysis) or peck +9 melee (1d12+4); AC 22; HD 12d12; hp 73; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60', demon traits, paralysis (1d6 turns; Will DC 22 negates), immunities (immune to weapons of less than +3 enchantment or natural attacks from creatures of 7 HD or less; immune to fire, cold, electricity, gas; half-damage from acid), projection (can teleport back to native plane or any point on same plane, as long as not bound or otherwise summoned; can project astrally and ethereally), darkness (+16 spell check), crit range 17-20; SV Fort +12, Ref +13, Will +10; AL C.

Lillit has the ability to appear as a beautiful woman, but her true form has a raptor-like bird's head and torso erupting from her shoulders, and her hands and feet are the claws of enormous  predatory owls. In woman's form, her touch can cause paralysis (as a claw attack), but does no other damage. She seduces men for their seed, which is of value in Hell. She can speak all languages and communicate telepathically.

There are those who claim that Lillit was the consort of the first mortal man, bringing him equal parts terror and pleasure, before being banished to Hell.

Vanth (Type 3 demon): Init +4; Atk tail lash +11 melee (1d8+2); AC 19; HD 9d12; hp 51; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60', demon traits, immunities (immune to weapons of less than +2 enchantment or natural attacks from creatures of 5 HD or less; half-damage from fire, acid, cold, electricity, gas), projection (can teleport back to native plane or any point on same plane, as long as not bound or otherwise summoned), crit range 18-20, spines, darkness (+12 to spell check); SV Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +8; AL C.

Vanth is a bright red female demon with features that are semi-insectile and semi-chthonic. She is covered in spikes that cause 1d8 damage to any who attack her with melee weapons unless a Reflex save (DC 18) succeeds. Vanth has a bird's head emerging from her mouth; it is this which speaks when she chooses to communicate in that way. Otherwise, she can communicate telepathically.

Despite her fearsome appearance, Vanth can be summoned by wizards and elves seeking a guide in the Underworld. In this role, she acts as a pychopomp, meeting the dead and escorting them to their designated place thereafter. In the role of guide for the dead or living through the Underword, she may even be seen as benevolent despite her fearsome appearance.

Suanggi (Type 2 Demon): Init +3; Atk by weapon +8 melee (by weapon +5) or grapple +8 melee (1d4+5 plus constrict) or gaze (sleep); AC 14; HD 8d12; MV 50’; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60', demon traits, grapple (opposed Str vs. +5 to escape), constrict (automatic damage each round), gaze (Will DC 16 or sleep 1d5 turns; attempt to wake allow new saves), illness (Fort DC 16 negates), immunities (immune to non-magical weapons or natural attacks from creatures of 3 HD or less; half-damage from fire, acid, cold, electricity, gas), projection (can teleport back to native plane or any point on same plane, as long as not bound or otherwise summoned), read minds, crit range 19-20, darkness (+8 to spell check); SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +8; AL C.

This demon promotes cannibalism and disease. Anyone subjected to any successful attack she makes must succeed in a Fort save or suffer 1d3 points of temporary attribute damage to Strength, Agility, or Stamia (determine which randomly each time this damage is taken). If the initial save fails, a new save must be attempted each day, or additional damage is taken. Once a save succeeds, the disease has run its course.

This demon appears as a scrawny woman with red skin and prominent horns.

Rangdayak (Type 2 demon): Init +4; Atk claw +7 melee (1d10+3 plus drain XP) or breath weapon; AC 13; HD 7d12; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP infravision 60', demon traits, drain XP (Will save 14 or lose 1d6 XP; this loss cannot alter the PC's current level, but must be regained in order to progress), breath weapon (cloud of madness, 30' diameter, up to 30' away; all within must succeed on a DC 14 Will save or attack nearest creature until a save succeeds [a new attempt is allowed each round]), immunities (immune to non-magical weapons or natural attacks from creatures of 3 HD or less; half-damage from fire, acid, cold, electricity, gas), projection (can teleport back to native plane or any point on same plane, as long as not bound or otherwise summoned), read minds, crit range 19-20, darkness (+8 to spell check); SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +4; AL C.

Rangdayak appears as a lizard-like woman, whose open fanged maw reveals the head of a demonic baby which is her true visage. A tail grows where her genetalia would otherwise be.

Like Suanggi, Rangdayak promotes cannibalism, but she specifically promotes the consumption of infants. She is a friend to witches, and can grant any witch a +1d6 bonus to a spell check one time between full moons (once a month), in exchange for which she requires some action be fulfilled that reflects her nature. If the witch fails to keep her part of the bargain, the judge may choose any two spells during the next month, and apply a -1d6 penalty to their spell checks.

It is often left to the witch herself to ensure that she has done enough to "pay back" the magic loaned to her by Rangdayak. In general, the higher the bonus gained, the more that must be done to balance the scales. If the judge is in doubt, a Luck check can be used to determine whether or not Rangdayak accepts the repayment.

(Within this context, the judge must determine exactly which characters qualify as a "witch". Generally, Chaotic female wizards and elves qualify, but some settings, such as Tales From the Fallen Empire or Hubris, may have classes that the judge wishes to restrict Rangdayak's favor to. The judge is always right.)

Greater larvae (Type 1 demon): Init +1; Atk bite +5 melee (1d7); AC 12; HD 1d12; MV 20’ or swim 30'; Act 1d20; SP infravision, half damage from non-magical weapons and fire, darkness (+4 to spell check); SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1; AL C.

These are scarlet, worm-like proto-demons, created from the souls of those whose afterlife merits such treatment. They can speak the Infernal tongue and the common language they knew in life, but cannot travel the planes of their own volition. Greater larvae have a sulfuric stench that mortals find repulsive, but which many demons treat as an aphrodisiac.

Lesser daemonic larvae can be encountered in Curse of Mistwood, published by Shinobi 27 Games.

Saturday 9 December 2017

Want a Yuletide Present?

Want something extra in your stocking this holiday season?

I am going to give away two pdf copies of The Perils of the Cinder Claws to random people who reply to this blog post. You will have to supply an email address if you are selected.

This product contains The Thing in the Chimney, the first holiday adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics

The Thing in the Chimney was originally a free pdf available through this blog. In 2013, it was republished by Purple Duck Games, along with a companion adventure, The Nexus of Yule. That same year, Goodman Games came out with the first of its holiday adventures, the excellent The Old God's Return.

The rules:

1. You get entered into the random roll automatically by posting in the comments.

2. You get an extra chance per review that you pen related to a DCC product on this list. Just link to your reviews in the comments below. 

3. I am going to roll the dice on December 20th, and post the results on the blog. 

4. When the results are posted, winners have to supply an email address so that I can send the pdfs to them (through RPG Now).

Daniel J. Bishop delivers by the buckets - this constitutes at the same time the most disturbing Christmas modules I've read before, all while managing to avoid delving into a gore-fest - instead, this collection of modules allows one to delve into a sense of utter weirdness, of oddness and some primal, twisted take on Christmas tropes without losing the very intent and spirit of the holidays - these modules are frightening, unsettling, yes, but they never turn unpleasant, managing to maintain a sense of wonder and high-spirited fun. I love these modules and if I can get a group together this Christmas, I'll run these. The modules are awesome enough to warrant you converting them to other systems, should you prefer a non-DCC-system - THAT good! Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval! (Thilo G.)

I just finished running "The Thing in the Chimney" (the first of two adventures in this excellent product) as a Judge. Honestly among the most fun I've ever had in a fantasy RPG session and I've been playing for more than 30 years! It's a silly, but challenging, thematic romp. It's listed as "Suitable for 16 1st level characters, 6-8 2nd level characters, 3-6 3rd level characters, or 1-2 4th level characters." This seems perfectly accurate. It would probably also be an excellent 0-level character funnel with a few tweaks. I won't say anything more, for fear of spoiling the humor of this module, but you should buy it now, even if just to read and enjoy. (Patrick R.)

The first adventure is The Thing in the Chimney, a low-level adventure ideally suited to a 'funnel' horde of 1st-level characters or to smaller numbers of higher-level folk. It's a bizarre dream-like caper in a weird world, an alternate dimension perhaps, in which the party comes across a great hall in a freezing northern land on the longest night of the year. Mix in a sentient fruit cake and a map that bends reality (before you have scoffed any alcohol-laden fruit cake!) and you can see why I call it bizarre... but fun, something completely different to regular gaming yet providing a gaming 'fix' over the holidays. It could even prove an amusing diversion for non-gamer family members, as the holiday theme makes it quite accessible to someone unfamiliar with role-playing. (Megan R.)

Thursday 7 December 2017

The Death Dealer

Heavy metal album covers have inspired gamers for decades, and have certainly influenced Dungeon Crawl Classics. Nothing is more obviously influenced than Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, but it has been a while since the last issue of that worthy zine has come out.

What are we to do in the meantime?

The answer is obvious. Stat some things up using album covers as our inspiration. Therefore, without further ado, I present to you:

The Death Dealer

The Death Dealer is an un-dead reaver mounted on a great black warhorse. His eyes glow red, but no visage can be seen beneath his horned helmet. He gains a d7 Deed Die (as a warrior) and uses 1d24 on Table V for critical hits, with a threat range of 18-20.He has the power to control any horse he rides by force of will alone. He can make a ranged attack up to 60' away with the force of his gaze. This causes 1d6 damage (Deed Die does not apply), and the target of a successful attack must succeed in a DC 15 Will save or be unable to act for 1 round.

The Death Dealer wears cursed half-plate armor. Anyone who dies while wearing this armor arises 1d5 rounds later as the new Death Dealer. However, the Fumble Die for the cursed armor is only 1d12.

The Death Dealer: Init +5; Atk battle axe +1d7+2 melee (1d10+1d7+2) or longsword +1d7+2 melee (1d8+1d7+2) or searing gaze +0 ranged (1d6 plus lose action); AC 17; HD 5d12; hp 33; MV 20'; Act 1d20 + 1d14; SP un-dead traits, Deed Die, extended crit range, control horse, searing gaze; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +6; AL C.

A warhorse controlled by the Death Dealer gains +4 hp and a +4 bonus to Will saves.

The Death Dealer's warhorse: Init +1; Atk hoof +5 melee (1d6+3); AC 14; HD 4d8+4; hp 26; MV 60’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +6; AL N.

Thursday 30 November 2017

DCC (and other RPG) work to date


A Lesson From Turtles (Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1)
AL 1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror
AL 3: Through the Cotillion of Hours
AL 5: Stars in the Darkness
AL 8: Fire in the Mountain
Assassins of the Pit (DCC #68: People of the Pit)
CE 1: The Falcate Idol
CE 2: The Black Goat
CE 3: The Folk of Osmon
CE 4: The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten
CE 5: Silent Nightfall
CE 6: The Crimson Void
CE 7: The Giggling Deep
CE 8: Goblins of the Faerie Woods
CE 9: Both Foul and Deep
Crawljammer: The Vault of Ash
Crawljammer: The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn
DCC #90: The Dread God Al-Khazadar
DCC #92: Through the Dragonwall
Dispatches from Raven Crowking Vol. 1
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Vol, 3
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Vol. 2
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Vol. 4
FT 0: Prince Charming, Reanimator
FT 1: Creeping Beauties of the Wood
FT 2.1: Three Nights in Portsmouth
FT 2: The Portsmouth Mermaid
Gifts of the Only (Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1)
HT 1: The Perils of Cinder Claws
Icon of the Blood Goddess (In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer)
Laro Chelle the Ring Bearer (Adventures Add-On #7)
May Flowers (The Gong Farmer’s Almanac 2015 Vol 3)
Mermaids From Yuggoth (In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer)
Raven Crowking Presents Gary Con 2017 Special: Items of Magic
Raven Crowking's Birthday Mathom 2013
Raven Crowking's Birthday Mathom 2014
Raven Crowking's Birthday Mathom 2015
Raven Crowking's Birthday Mathom 2016
Raven Crowking's Birthday Mathom 2017
The Arwich Grinder (Crawl! fanzine #9)
The Black Feather Blade (Goodman Games Gen Con 2015 Program Book)
The Imperishable Sorceress (DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013 and DCC #89: Chaos Rising)
The Mysterious Valley (D.A.M.N. #1 Winter 2017)
The Revelation of Mulmo
The Revelation of Mulmo Tentacled Edition
The Tomb of the Squonk (Pulp Weird Encounters #1: The Tomb of the Squonk and the Silent Army)
The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss
Thirteen Brides of Blood (The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2017 Vol 7)
Vance's Merry Men (Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1)

Co-Wrote (Two or more authors working on the same material)

50 Fantastic Functions For The D50
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between: Expanded, Otherworldy Edition
Curse of Mistwood
DCC #89: Chaos Rising (The Imperishable Sorceress)
DCC #91.2: Lairs of Lost Agharta
Fearsome Critters
Grimic the Slaughterer (Appendix N Adventures Add-On #7)
The Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury (Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1)
RC 1: The Hypercube of Myt
RC 2: Death By Nexus
RC 3: The Shambling Un-dead

Converted to DCC

DCC #76.5: Well of the Worm
DCC #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl
DCC #82.5: Dragora's Dungeon
DCC #85.5: The Curse of the Kingspire
GM Gems Hardcover Second Printing
PM 1: Temple of the Locust Lord
PM 2: Desolate Dwarven Delve
Races of Porphyra: Erkunae
Races of Porphyra: Ith'n Ya'roo
Xcrawl: Anaheim Crawl (DCC RPG Edition)
Xcrawl: BostonCrawl (DCC RPG Edition)
Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn (DCC RPG Edition)

Other DCC Writing Credits

AL 1-5: The Stars are Falling (bridging material)
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between Volume 2: Elfland Edition (Forward)
Black Powder, Black Magic Vol. 3 (Varmints!: The Malcupine)
Children of the Sun
Crawl! fanzine #3 (Magic Wand)
Crawl! fanzine #9 (But He Sure Had Guts!)
Crawl! fanzine #10 (Half Levels)
Crawl! fanzine #11 (The Deep Elders)
Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine #7 (Bounders)
D.A.M.N. #1 Winter 2017 (Converting Material to DC and  It’s All Greek to Me!)
DCC #71: The 13th Skull (Seven Strange Skulls)
DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet Boxed Set (additional writing for The Purple Planet Companion and Lost Tombs of the Ancients)
DCC #91.1: The Lost City of Barako
DCC Lankhmar (additional writing)
Goodman Games Gen Con 2015 Program Book (The Black Feather Blade and one of several authors  of The Hypercube of Myt)
Goodman Games Gen Con 2016 Program Book (one of several authors of Death by Nexus)
Maiden Voyage of the Colossus (DCC stats)
Monster Alphabet
Sanctum Secorum Episode #09 Companion: Two From H.P. Lovecraft (Born of the Old Ones)
Sanctum Secorum Episode #17 Companion: A Night in the Lonesome October (The Experiment Man and The Ripper’s Blade)
Sanctum Secorum Episode #20 Companion: Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan)
Sanctum Secorum Episode #30 Companion: Sign of the Labrys (Yeast Plagues)
Secret Santicore 2016 (Yddgrrl, the World Root)
The Gong Farmer's Almanac 2016 Vol 3 (Two Roaches for Your Adventures)

Writing for Other RPGs

Dragon Roots #0 (Be Thee for Law or Chaos)
Dragon Roots #1 (Campaign Considerations: Tropical Adventures, Faerie Encounters, Races & Paragons from the Middle World, Tribute to Gary Gygax, and What's Over There?: Temple of the Golden Ape)
Dragon Roots #2 (Campaign Considerations: Coastal Regions)
Dragon Roots #3 (Balmorphos and Campaign Considerations of Mountainous Areas)
Petty Gods: Revised & Expanded Edition (Poisoned Cup of Life, Rod of Destiny, and Twisted Crown)
The Dungeon of Crows - First 28 Rooms
The Dungeon of Crows 2 - Avatar of Yog Sutekhis

Saturday 25 November 2017

CE 9: Both Foul and Deep

Mark Gedak at Purple Duck Games is experimenting with ways to bring products to you at a reasonable cost. The most recent Campaign Element, for instance, is being sourced through Go Fund Me so that it can be releases in Pay What You Want (for the pdf version, anyway). The goal is to cover art and writing costs, as well as layout and design. All the writing is done.

CE 9: Both Foul and Deep takes your PCs into the sewers beneath a major metropolis. In addition to an example of how such a location can be set up to Quest For It (a nine-location adventure using a map designed by Paratime's Tim Hartin), you gain materials to help you create your own sewer encounters.

This includes 30 monsters (not including those who are encountered in the aforementioned adventure), diseases one can contract through exploring sewers and cesspits, and a discussion of the types of humans one might encounter in the sewers and vaults beneath the city. My recent trip to Scotland, and touring the vaults below Edinburgh, was of some use here.

If you are at all interested, I would urge you to drop by the Go Fund Me page here.

What is in this Volume?

Appendix N literature is filled with cities, glorious or decaying. Beneath the streets of these urban centers lies a region dank, foul with the effluvia of countless generations, flowing through crumbling brickwork in the malodorous darkness. If your players are anything like mine, sooner or later they will wish to have their characters delve into these fetid morasses.

This product is intended to ensure that you are ready. To that end, a small area of sewers is described, with several hooks to entice PCs into investigating. Three appendixes supply added content to expand the original area or to create sewers of your own. The last appendix is an abbreviated patron write-up of Squallas, Mistress of the Night Soil Rivers, whose domain is the sewers.

You Say 30 Monsters. Can You Give Us an Example?

Stinkdew: Init always last; Atk none; AC 12; HD 2d8; MV 1’; Act none; SP glue, wrap, digestive enzymes, vulnerable to fire (x2 damage); SV Fort +5, Ref -10, Will +0; AL N.

This fungal plant is similar to a sundew, in that it gives off a scent to attract prey, which it then adheres to and closes around to digest. In this case, the fungus gives off a horrid stench like rotting meat, which gives the thing its name. The fungus otherwise appears like a leather collection of dark rags. It can detach itself from the ground and move along slowly, in the manner of a slime mold. Stinkdews are easily avoided by characters who know what they are, but are hazardous to the uninitiated or those who might encounter them while in flight from something else. For this reason, they subsist mainly on unintelligent prey.

Any creature or object that comes into contact with a stinkdew is caught fast. On the first round, it requires a DC 10 Strength check to pull free. Each round, the DC increases by +2 and the fungus wraps more and more of itself around its victim. On the third round, the stinkdew’s digestive enzymes activate, causing 1d3 damage per round. These enzymes can digest wood, bone, paper, leather, and cloth – anything organic – but leave metal items and stone undamaged.

Even after escaping, a victim discovers that the sticky glue of the stinkdew coats him, causing a -1d on the dice chain to all die rolls until 1d3 hours have passed or the goo is washed off with alcohol. Worse, the victim stinks during this time, doubling the chances of a random encounter and making it all but impossible to surprise any creature with a sense of smell.

Stinkdews are easily burned, but that can create its own hazard in the sewers (see page XX).

(This is the least dangerous of the 30 monsters. The most dangerous....well, encounters for high-level PCs are supported.)

Tuesday 17 October 2017

AD&BB Volume 2

This puppy has already funded, and needs less than $300 Australian to make its next stretch goal: patron spells in the Sorcerer's Grimoire free online tool at Purple Sorcerer!

It should be noted that the Australian dollar is generally below the US dollar, so any pledge you might choose to make is actually cheaper than it would otherwise be. 

I was asked to write an introduction for the volume, and I have seen an earlier version of the text, so I have some bias here.

But it is also my understanding that the Purple Sorcerer stretch goal means that the spells from both Volume 1 and Volume 2 would be available for making spellbooks online, as well as for making convention characters. And that is a lot of material.

The Fae Hard adventure, which is a stretch goal, will release eventually in any case. It will just take longer if the stretch goal is not reached. The Sorcerer's Grimoire goal, though, is within our grasp. 

Jon Marr's community resources are fantastic. Please help me push this over the top.

Thursday 5 October 2017

Gary Con...Looking For a Game

My son, Mike, will be coming to Gary Con with me again this year, and we are hoping to jump into some games where we can both play. I tried to make Friday my big day for running, opening some time Saturday for off-book games or just talking to people.

If we can jump in your game, please let me know!

(All plans at this point are tentative, until official scheduling is up.)

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Gary Con X, Redux

I have submitted the following games to Gary Con X. Hope to see you there!

Goblins of the Faerie Wood: 0-level funnel with goblin PCs! This is what happens when the king of your tribe sends you to the witch doctor of another tribe, because he has a toothache that won't go away. Characters and two goblin classes to level into are provided.

Prince Charming, Reanimator: 0-level funnel. Your mission is to enter the ruined castle, find the place where the “Sleeping” Beauty lies, and bring her forth for Prince Charming to restore with a kiss. Characters provided.

Silent Nightfall: Level 2: Recover the Whispering Stone for the King of Elfland! Silent nightfall, now to bed/A rushlight to ward your way/Hush now child, cry not child/They listen to find their prey. Through forest they come/Down dark streets they glide/O my children lie silent/We are all safe inside. Characters provided.

The Falcate Idol: Level 2: The Cult of the Harrower is ancient, and each of the eight eyes of its spider-idol is rumored to be a moonstone gem the size of a pigeon's egg.  Moreover, somewhere within the cult's sanctuary, a pool flows from the Egg of Creation.  Characters provided.

The Thing in the Chimney: 1st level. Yuletide comes but once a year. Enjoy it (very!) early with the original DCC holiday adventure! At the waning of every year, as the sun grows closer to the horizon, and spends less time in the sky, there comes a time of terrible cold and deep snow to the lands of the north.   The world waits with hushed breath for this, the longest night of the year, to be over.  Characters provided.

Thirteen Brides of Blood: 0-level funnel. Vampires haunt the land! Erasmus Cordwainer Blood has existed for countless centuries, feeding off the blood of those villages closest to his hidden lair.This time you will seek him out, and put an end to him before he can strike! What could go wrong? Characters provided.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Gary Con X

Well, registration for Gary Con X opened while I was away in Scotland. I am now registered, but I have no idea what games to run for the convention, being rather busy catching up on overdue writing.

So, I put it out to you.....Is there anything in particular you'd like me to schedule?

Sunday 17 September 2017

Home Again, Home Again

I've explored caves, castles, ruins, tombs, and cities. Scotland is a beautiful country, and if you are ever given a chance to go, you should take it.

Now, back to work!

Saturday 12 August 2017

Offline for a Bit

As of this moment, I will be offline until mid-September. 

Scotland bound!

Friday 11 August 2017

Look At Me!

Looking to run a tournament funnel for Dungeon Crawl Classics? Why not add a little Rick and Morty, and make the PCs all Mr. Meeseeks?

It's fun and easy, and requires only a few extra rules:
  • All occupations are "Mr. Meeseeks". Mr. Meeseeks are always considered to have the proper occupation for any skill check that might come up (and thus always roll 1d20 instead of 1d10).
  • All Meeseeks come into existence with the words: "Hi! I'm Mr. Meeseeks! Look at me!"
  • All Meeseeks are conditioned to help. The first time someone asks for a Meeseek's help with anything, that becomes the Meeseek's entire purpose for existence. They will do anything to fulfill it.
  • The request is always met by some variation of "Ooohhh! Can do!"
  • As soon as the request for help has been achieved, the Meeseeks ceases to exist.
  • Existence is pain. For every half hour, real time, a Meeseeks exists, its Action Die is reduced by 1 step on the Dice Chain. If it ever rolls a natural "1" on its Action Die, the Meeseeks realizes that killing the original requester is the only solution to ending its existence. At this point, its Action Die is restored to 1d20.
  • A Meeseeks reduced to 0 hp also pops out of existence.
  • When a Meeseeks pops out of existence, any equipment it had when created disappears with it. Equipment that it obtained in the real world remain behind when it when the Meeseeks disappears.
Now all you need to do is use some form of Meeseeks Box prop (there is a cool one in the Rick and Morty Mr. Meeseeks Box o' Fun), grab your favorite module (a tournament module, or a module of any level, or even a converted Tomb of Horrors), and start rolling dice.

For extra fun, have one of the first players be Jerry.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Mathoms Away!

Mathoms have been sent.

This year, there were only two recipients....I hope I made it worth their while.

The "Law of Diminishing Returns" seems to have kicked in with a vengeance....should I bother to keep doing this?

Friday 14 July 2017

How To Guides Galore

How do you write a great adventure?

Anyone who has ever put pen to paper in this hobby knows that is the $1,000 question. It  would be the million dollar question, but, let's face it, very few of us (if any) are making that much off this gig.

I've given my own answers in the Dispatches series (published by Purple Duck Games), particularly the 2nd volume. If interested, you can find them here: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4. However, my goal here today is not to talk about my own work, but the work of others.

How To Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck is by Joseph Goodman, Chris Doyle, Brendan LaSalle, Adrian Pommier, Rick Maffei, Mike Ferguson, Jeremy Simmons, Ken Hart, and Andrew Hind, and is published by Goodman Games.

Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss and How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss are both written by Venger As'Nas Satanis. The first book is illustrated by Bojan Sucevic, Monstark, and Glynn Seal. The second is illustrated by Zarono, Terry Pavlet, Randy Musseau, Monstark, Jez Gordon, Craig Brasco, Joshua Burnett, and Stephan Poag. Both books are published by Kort'thalis Publishing.

It should be obvious, because I am talking about all three, that I have purchased and own all of these products. None of them were provided for me, but you should be aware that I have published material with Goodman Games, and continue to do so, which may affect my judgement somewhat. I have actually met one or two of the Goodman Games authors in person, and enjoy their company. Take that into account.

It should be taken as a given that I don't agree with all of the advice given in these books. The current Goodman Games book was written during the era of 3rd Edition publishing (the text is copyright 2007), which means that some of the advice is based around what amounts to the highly structured adventures of Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons - a far cry from what is needed in a Dungeon Crawl Classics or an Old School adventure IMHO.

I would have love to see an updated version with essays by the likes of Harley Stroh and Michael Curtis. It looks like that is coming! In fact, I think some backers have already received theirs; I will try to comment on this more when I have a copy of the new text in my hands.

Meanwhile, much of the advice in the version you can get from RPG Now is solid, though, and if you hope to write for Goodman Games one day it is probably worth your while to know what Joseph Goodman is looking for. You might want to try to get the expanded version from your Friendly Neighborhood Game Store, though.

Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss is shorter, cheaper, and an easier read. Most of the advice in here is good, although there are a few things I disagree with. For instance, in The Arwich Grinder, children are included in the opposition. There are tables included to spur the prospective adventure-writer's imagination, but they are not very extensive at all. On the other hand, Venger's distinction between rails and guardrails is a good one, his writing style is conversational, and his description of adventure structure is pretty well spot-on.

There's actually quite a bit of material on adventure design to be gleaned from How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss. Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss could easily have been an appendix to this larger work.

I've owned How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss for a while now. At first, I bought the book in pdf, but I was impressed enough to buy dead tree copy. It's worth getting. For one thing, there are far more extensive (and useful) tables. For another, it gets a bit into the author's philosophy on running games - not only how, but why, we do this. Even if you don't agree with everything Venger says (and I don't - is it really important to have matching dice? I tend to think not) the essays are none-the-less thought provoking.

So, which should you get?

  • If you are playing 3rd Edition, Pathfinder, or a similar system, the Goodman Games offering currently available on RPG Now is going to be very useful.
  • If you are trying to write for Goodman Games, obviously, the Goodman Games offering is going to be useful, and you might want to spring for the new edition.
  • If you want to read interesting essays from a variety of people, Goodman Games has that. I would imagine that is true for either version.
  • If you are playing Dungeon Crawl Classics, you will probably want the newer version of How to Write Adventure Modules That Don't Suck. Be aware that the link in this post is to the older version!
  • If you want an in-depth tutorial of the philosophy of GMing, How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss is worthwhile.
  • If you want a reference work with stuff in it you can draw from repeatedly, How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss is worthwhile (but certainly not alone in this regard - books like The Dungeon Dozen, The Dungeon Alphabet, The Monster Alphabet, etc., also come highly recommended).
  • If you want to be inspired right now, with a minimum of fuss or cost, Adventure Writing Like a Fucking Boss is a good pick.
  • If nudity or sex offend you, avoid anything by Venger As'Nas Satanis!