Saturday, 22 May 2021

Miserable Hours Passed Like Years!

The disembodied eyeball of a titan, the Eye retains the life force and evil machinations of its former self. Where the titan has long crumbled to dust, and its very name is forgotten, the Eye endures!

The Eye dominates victims who meet its gaze, unless they succeed in a DC 25 Will save. Domination lasts for 1d5+2 hours, and the injunctions of the Eye always include returning to it, and gazing upon it, before three hours have passed. A creature dominated by the Eye must carry out the Eye's injunctions to the best of its ability; failure to do so causes a permanent loss of 1d3 points of Personality every 10 minutes. The judge determines whether or not a victim is following the Eye's injunctions, and the judge's determination is final! Trying to circumvent what the Eye wants once it has dominated you drains your very soul.

The Eye can do little by itself. It is tough and fibrous, but not very powerful physically. Unfortunately, it is usually protected by dominated minions.

The Eye can only dominate 30 individual creatures at a time. If the Eye dominates an additional creature, a random previously-dominated creature is released. It is not unusual for the Eye to have its dominated creatures destroy a released creature, or one that it was failed to dominate.

The Eye can feed through an aperture at its base, and moves using the short tentacles that surround it.

The Eye: Init +2; Atk dominating gaze; AC 14; HD 1d8; hp 7; MV 5’; Act n/a; SP dominating gaze, telepathic injunctions (infinite range for dominated beings); SV Fort +4, Ref -8, Will +20; AL C.

Injunctions of the Eye

1. "Carry me to another location on a small platter!"

2. "Feed me!"

3. "Water me!"

4. "Bring another being before me, and make them meet my gaze!"

5. "Destroy a specific being that has been released from my domination!"

6. "Find me a giant body to dwell in!" (Presumably, the Eye could worm its nerve-tentacles into the body's brain and control it.)

7. "Perform some specific mission against my enemies/to increase my security!"

Frankly, the goals of the Eye are fairly pedestrian. Of course, it is just an Eye. What use has it for gold or Earthly pleasures? Things might change, of course, if it actually obtains a body....

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Your Dizzy Burning Mind Only Tells You One Thing!

Morphic dissolution is a horrific condition caused by ingesting a difficult concoction of rare herbs and fungi, some of which are only found in the remotest of lands. In the (fantastic version of the) modern world, one would have to travel deep into Mammoth Caves, and then travel by canoe up hidden streams that feed the Orinoco River. Possibly, some of the compounds needed are only found in the steaming jungles of Venus or are contained in the fossilized remains of the polar lichens of Pluto.

In any event, once consumed, the unfortunate victim must make a DC 20 Fortitude save or take an immediate point of Strength, Stamina, or Agility damage as the victim's body becomes unstable. Thereafter, even if the initial saving throw is successful, every hour the victim must make an additional DC 10 Fortitude save or suffer 1d3 points of Strength, Agility, or Stamina damage. Determine randomly for each point. This damage is permanent unless restored by magic or super-science.

Once a victim has lost 6 total points from their physical ability scores, the warping of bone and tissue, and the plasticity of flesh, becomes obvious. Thereafter, the character loses 1 point of both Personality and Intelligence for each additional failed saving throw. This is in addition to continued loss of physical statistics, and is also permanent.

If a victim can make every required saving throw over a period of 24 hours, the process ceases, but is not reversed. Likewise, a Lay on Hands attempt sufficient to cure a poison can end the process, as can a neutralize poison or disease spell. Again, ending the effect does not reverse it.

If a victim reaches 0 Strength or 0 Stamina due to morphic dissolution, they immediately collapse into a primeval slime, as described on pages 423-424 of the core rulebook. 90% will be 1 HD slimes, but 10% (or larger victims, at the judge's discretion) may have 2 or more HD. Remember that morphic dissolution can effect much large creatures than mere humans!

In any event, you must find help...and a cure! But if you imagine that Dr. Harrell, the scientist, is going to help you, think again. He's probably the one who poisoned you in the first place...Revenge is one possible motive. Or Dr. Harrell might need a grateful, disfigured, servant around the place to hold his test tubes and tell him how brilliant he is.

For the judge: The threat of morphic dissolution is more powerful than the reality. If you are going to use this in an adventure, make sure that the magic or super-science needed to reverse it is also part of that adventure. Certainly, the PCs will be motivated, and they will understand soon enough that they are on a time limit!

And should it be the case that the evil Dr. Harrell poisoned them, and is using the threat of morphic dissolution to force the PCs to undertake some mission (by withholding the cure and the reversal agent), at least give the players the potential satisfaction of giving Dr. Harrell his comeuppance. For example, you might give them the chance to poison him and destroy the cure!


Some thoughts on potions

This was brought about by this Reddit thread, where my response was probably not very helpful to the original poster, but it did get me thinking about the make potion spell.

Looking at the Spell Text

The caster creates mystical brews that grant supernormal powers to those who consume them. The result of the spell check determines which kind of potion can be created, as indicated below; each casting allows the caster to choose one potion from the eligible results at his spell check or less. This portion of the spell requires 1d6+1 hours to cast.

This suggests to me that initial spell check determines what potions the caster might know at the moment how to create from the list. If the initial spell check is too low, the caster cannot even attempt to make a specific potion. Perhaps the stars are not right, or the herbs required are not in season. Whatever the reason, without pondering and study (and a better spell check!) the caster can only do so much.

The spell as written lists what the caster can attempt to create. By using the Quest For It mantra, it is possible to increase the potions a caster might know based on spell check. For instance, the caster might discover a particular potion, and the judge then determines which spell check ranking it falls into. Once the spell check ranking is determined, the potion becomes possible to make for that caster.

The judge may also wish the caster to be able to research/experiment to create new potions. The same sort of rule would apply: (1) the player determines the potion's likely effects, (2) the judge determines where that would fall on the spell check results, (3) the judge determines what special ingredients might be required, (4) the PC has to obtain those ingredients, and (5) the PC makes a spell check. If it is high enough, the PC has successfully learned the formula for a new potion, and can add it to his list. The PC still does not have a sample of it, however.

Once a potion is decided upon, the caster must spend money equal to half the potion’s spell check number (rounded down) × 25 gp to procure the necessary equipment and base ingredients for the potion. In addition, each brew requires a special substance that must be harvested by the caster himself and then brewed, which takes roughly one week after the spell is cast. See below for suggested special ingredients and more details on potion effects.  Unlike other spells, the judge, not the caster, makes the spell check roll to determine the caster’s success.

This suggests a second spell check, where the caster does not know whether or not the potion creation is successful until tested.

Options and Ideas

There really is no reason why a DCC alchemist could not create any potion that the judge approves and the player can think of. 

In addition to having recipes for potions being secrets that have to be learned/unlocked beyond what is in the make potion spell, you may also wish to read the section on ritual magic, short as it is, and then apply the ideas therein to certain potions. Yes, you can make potion X with ingredients A, B, and C, but it gives you a bonus to the spell check to use ingredient Z.

The Tales From the Smoking Wyrm zine has included some interesting rules for herbalism in issues #1 and #2. The Hubris book has an Alchemist class, which might have some ideas that you could use, even if you do not use the class itself. Several new potions are described in Danger in the Deep! as wares potentially sold by the snailtaur potion masters.

The arcane affinity spell could be used to unlock a new series of potions, if a caster gained an affinity as an alchemist.

Remember that you can also tie potions into seasons, astrology, or whatever you want. It is entirely possible to have a potion that can only be brewed during the first summer solstice of a new century.

The original poster in the Reddit thread was concerned about forgetting the new weird and powerful ingredients required for making a potion. The best way to avoid this is to take notes! You would lose a lot of the color of they system if you ignore potion ingredients. There is a big difference between having to harvest mummy dust and spending a few hours to make a generic spell check. The first is not only more flavorful than the second, but it is also more dangerous!

Spells as Potions

Obviously, the manifestation of a particular spell might have it play out a potion. I had one other thought, though: have you considered creating a Mercurial Magic table that allows spells to be learned and cast as potions? Some effects might just create potions. Others might give the caster a choice to use the spell normally or concoct it into a brew?

For instance, fireball could be "cast" in potion form, creating a liquid that explodes on contact with air. Depending upon the mercurial effect, the strength of the potion could be either known at the time of casting, or have to be determined when it is used. (Fireball potion +5 would indicate a roll on the fireball spell table with a +5 bonus, whereas fireball potion 25 would indicate the result on that table.)

Mercurial effect could also determine whether a potion imbiber or the caster suffered the effect of a natural "1"!

If you are even crueler, imagine the ability to create a potion that forces the imbiber to suffer spellburn to fuel the potion's spell check!

Just a thought.

If there is enough interest in this idea, I would certainly develop it further.

In the end, you are the judge. The rules bend to you, not the other way around.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Worthy of Conversion

Because I was asked recently about non-DCC adventures I thought were worthy of conversion to Dungeon Crawl Classics, I thought I would post about it. I have already posted about personal conversions of The Albuquerque Starport from Gamma World, Anomalous Subsurface Environment (including Moktars and Insect Men classes for DCC, Barrowmaze, Stonehell, and Skull Mountain. I have mentioned conversions of classic TSR modules like Eye of the Serpent and Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh. I think that anything can be converted to Dungeon Crawl Classics, and the early TSR modules are prime candidates.

I also think that scenarios written for games like MERP or Stormbringer make excellent choices, because almost by definition they are going to drip Appendix N goodness. Bree with the serial numbers filed off makes a good setting for Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry

But let's make this a sale's pitch. Here are 4 current products that I would love to convert to Dungeon Crawl Classics. Feel free to contact the publishers and point them to this blog post! Also, consider getting these adventures and doing your own conversions if they do not!

In no particular order:

The Temple of the Blood Moth

Authors Jacob Butcher and Skerples deliver a wonderful and nasty little adventure in zine format. The original adventure is system-neutral, but refers to creatures that are not included in DCC's core rules. Enough information is provided that an experienced judge can easily fill in the gaps/

The adventure revolves around the titular temple, and includes both elements of magic and super-science, which should be enough to warm the heart of any DCC judge. And blood moths. And an attempt to genetically engineer angels.

A full DCC conversion would be longer than the original, because there is plenty of material herein to base a new patron on. Since the adventure also deals with mutations - more akin to corruption that Mutant Crawl Classics mutations - the judge could certainly gain some new tools to play with!

The publisher is Abrasax Press.

You can get it here!

Castle Xyntillan

Written by Gabor Lux and published by the First Hungarian d20 Society, Castle Xyntillan is an extensive love letter to Tegel Manor and old-school gaming. Oh, and to Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories. This is a large manor, with dungeons beneath, and it is not going to be explored in a single evening. Like the "campaign dungeon" of yore, this is a location that many sessions of play will revolve around. PCs are likely to plan expeditions, go off to do other things, and then come back. Their actions will, of course, affect the setting and how the castle's inhabitants view/treat them.

In addition to fun encounters and some unique inhabitants, a full DCC conversion would include the Malévol family itself as a that could survive, perhaps, until the very last member of the family is both dead and laid to rest! It would be even better to start with a funnel that reveals one or more PCs to be distant relatives of the Malé them a reason to "reclaim" the castle from its current occupants, and resulting in some interesting role-playing opportunities both in the castle itself and in nearby Tours-en-Savoy.

The original was written for Swords & Wizardry. There is a lot of material, so until you are ready to run a game converting on the fly, you may wish to take copious notes before play begins. The PCs have a lot of leeway to explore the area, so you will want to make sure you have a fairly comprehensive idea of how you will do the conversion before introducing the setting.

You can get it here!

Misty Isles of the Eld

Written by Chris Kutalik and Robert Parker for Hydra Cooperative, this adventure uses the Labyrinth Lord rules, and is linked to the Slumbering Ursine Dunes, Fever-Dreaming Marlinko, etc. - all products which rock as they are and would rock even harder using Dungeon Crawl Classics as an engine!

This particular adventure has a warped and wonderful take on elves. Well, on the Eld. It delivers pure Appendix N-style goodness, and the adventure includes even trying to get to the titular islands. The action on the isles is a point-crawl where the actions taken by the PCs can affect later encounters.

Did I mention that there are extra-planar elements as well?

If you are doing a home conversion, consider the possibilities for new spells and patrons that the Misty Isles provides as you read through it. Consider how the existing DCC rules could be used to enhance any attempt to voyage to the isles. Decide whether or not you want the Eld to be represented by elves, or if you want an entirely new race-class to describe them. It is possible to do a low-effort conversion if you want, but this would really be cool with a full conversion. Especially if it included the material from the related titles.

You can get it here!

Winter's Daughter

Written by Gavin Norman, Frederick Münch, and Nicholas Montegriffo for Necrotic Gnome, this adventure already has a conversion to 5th Edition D&D by the talented Thilo Graf. It is written for BECMI, and hooks into the Dolmenwood setting.

Everything written for Dolmenwood should be converted to Dungeon Crawl Classics. Everything. And you should be able to get a big shiny hardcover printed on demand. New monsters, races, classes, patrons, the whole nine yards. There is not a single word written for this milieu that would not be awesome in a DCC game.

In this particular case, you have a dungeon to explore, another plane, strange fungi to consume, and a potential patron waiting to be written up. There is also an exploration of the fey that is really sort of awesome - Dolmenwood has, perhaps, the most flavorful version of that realm currently out there.

You can get it here!


If you are a DCC RPG judge looking for some cool stuff, I hope this points you in the right direction. If you publish one of these products, and are interested in talking about doing a conversion, drop me a line!

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Poorly-Drawn Sea-Horse

Yes, the creature's left arm came out pretty poorly, but this was only a doodle after all! 

The poorly-drawn sea-horse is a hippocephalic proto-humanoid creature inhabiting the epipelagic to mesopelagic zones of the world's seas. Although intelligent, and generally good-willed, they are not tool-users. Both their environment and a lack of fine manipulative appendages has limited them in this regard.

Poorly-drawn sea-horses are sometimes seen cavorting around ships in the same way that dolphins and porpoises do. This is a good omen, and all aboard the ship gain an effective +1 bonus to their Luck for the duration of the voyage.

These poorly-drawn creatures speak the language of horses. They understand the speech of whales, and sometimes (1 in 7 chance) the languages of sailors passing through their seas. They know many secrets of the currents and tides, and of the shallower parts of the ocean. They know where islands might be found, and they know where ships lay wrecked, if those wrecks are not too deep.

Fully 1 in 7 poorly-drawn sea-horse is an accomplished magician, and knows 1d5 of the following spells (determined randomly):

1. Animal summoning

2. Breathe life

3. Detect magic

4. Dispel magic

5. Forget

6. Invisibility

7. Lightning bolt

8. Water breathing

Poorly-drawn sea-horse magicians cast spells with a +1d8 bonus.

Poorly-drawn sea-horse: Init +1; Atk ram +2 melee (1d5) or bite +0 melee (1d6); AC 12; HD 2d8; MV 10' or swim 60’; Act 1d20; SP amphibious, lucky omen; SV Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N.

Poorly-drawn sea-horse magician: Init +3; Atk ram +3 melee (1d5) or bite +1 melee (1d6) or spell; AC 14; HD 4d8; MV 10' or swim 60’; Act 2d20; SP amphibious, lucky omen, spellcasting; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +5; AL N.