Saturday 23 December 2023

Snow Miser and Heat Miser

The strange beings known as Snow Miser and Heat Miser are brothers, two of the many children of Mother Nature. Each views the other as his primary antagonist, so that a being bonded with one cannot be bonded with the other – indeed, their patrons will instruct them to actively work against those who bond with their rival sibling! The only thing potent enough to make the Miser Brothers work together is the chance to foil another of their siblings’ plots, such as the North Wind.

Snow Miser dwells in an arctic land, while Heat Miser lives in an active volcano. Somehow, their lands share a common border. They have divided the world between them, and although their agents make frequent forays into the territories of their opposite patrons, the Miser Brothers usually disavow active knowledge of these raids. Heat Miser seeks to frighten mortals with tales of an unending Fimbulwinter, while Snow Miser’s agents warn of global warming. In preindustrial campaign milieus, a new ice age may be a viable threat, but if the campaign takes place in a post-industrial world, it eventually becomes clear that Heat Miser is winning, and Snow Miser’s warnings about global warming are not just hot air.

In order to bond with Snow Miser, a postulant must travel to a cold location, either due to climate or season. In order to bond with Heat Miser, a postulant must travel similarly to a hot environment, such as a desert, volcano, or steaming jungle. Those bonded to Heat Miser may not cast spells creating or manipulating cold without gaining the ire of their patron. Likewise, Snow Miser forbids his devotees from magic creating or manipulating heat or flames.

Invoke Patron check results


Lost, failure, and worse! Roll 1d6 modified by Luck: (3 or less) corruption + patron taint; (4-5) corruption; (6+) patron taint.


Failure. Unlike other spells, invoke patron may not be lost for the day. Depending on the results of patron bond, the wizard may still be able to cast it.


It becomes noticeably colder or hotter in the immediate vicinity of the caster as their patron’s attention is drawn to them. This change in temperature may be harnessed by the caster, granting a +4 bonus to a spell check made in the next Caster Level rounds.


A cloak of ice or flames surrounds the caster, providing a +4 bonus to AC for 1d5 rounds. At the end of this period, the bonus is reduced by 1 as the cloak dissipates, until it is gone when the bonus reaches +0.


All enemies within 100’ must succeed in a Will save vs. spell result or begin to sing about how great the caster’s patron is. This song-and-dance number lasts 1d5+CL rounds. An enemy targeted with a spell or attack during this period (successfully or not) is immediately freed from the enchantment. Otherwise, enemies take no move or other action except singing and dancing.


The caster chooses 1d3+CL targets within 500’. These take 3d6 damage due to either cold or fire (depending upon the patron). A Fort save vs. the spell check result is allowed to reduce damage by half.


The caster is shrouded in ice or heat, which increases the caster’s AC by 1d4+CL. Each round, the caster may send either a bolt of ice or fire (depending upon their patron) to a range of 500’ (5d6 damage, Reflex DC 15 for half), but doing so reduces the AC bonus by 1. The AC bonus lasts until expended or 1d5 hours have passed. Once the AC bonus is gone, the caster can no longer spend it on attacks.


A single Miser Imp is sent to assist the caster in whatever manner the caster commands. The Miser Imp remains until reduced to 0 hp or until the next dawn.

Miser Imps are half-sized versions of Heat or Snow Miser which act as aides to their master. They can turn small non-magical objects into snow or melt them by touch (if attended, the holder gains a DC 15 Reflex save to prevent this). Objects up to the size of a shield or two-handed sword may be affected, as determined by the judge. When reduced to 0 hp, Miser Imps explode in cold or heat, doing 1d6 damage to any creature within 5’ (no save). When not otherwise commanded, Miser Imps spend their time dancing and singing the praises of their patron.


Miser Imp: Init +2; Atk touch +2 melee (1d6 cold or heat); AC 12; HD 3d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP transform/melt objects, death throes; SV Fort +4; Ref +5; Will +7; AL N.


The temperature within 500’ of the caster immediately raises/lowers by 1d4 x 10 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, enemies of the caster within this range are chilled/heated even more, taking 1d8+CL damage each round they remain within this area (no save). The damage remains in effect for 1d5+CL turns, but does not move with the caster. The change in ambient temperature remains until natural (or supernatural) conditions cause it to change (as determined by the judge).


For the next 1d6+CL hours, any non-magical weapon striking the caster melts or turns to snow (no save), doing only half damage. Further, the caster is charged with heat or cold, and all their physical or magical attacks do an additional 1d14 damage during this period as this power is conducted by, or embodied within, them.



The Miser brothers can lend aid to their supplicants when requested. If a supplicant is casting a spell related to their patron (such as control ice for Snow Miser or fireball for Heat Miser), they gain an additional +2 bonus to the spell check when performing spellburn. When a caster utilizes spellburn, roll 1d4 and consult the table below or build off suggestions to create an event specific to your campaign.


Spellburn Result


Casting the spell causes uncontrolled shivering or sweating, which manifests as Strength, Agility, or Stamina loss. The shivering or sweating subsides as this damage is healed.


As part of the casting, the caster must perform an elaborate song-and-dance routine praising their patron. This temporarily drains part of the caster’s soul, manifesting as Strength, Stamina, or Agility loss until it is recovered.


Conflict with the other Miser Brother prevents the patron from devoting full energy to the caster. Regardless of the amount of spellburn, the caster only receives the benefit of 1d4 points, and any remaining amount is lost.


In a moment of magnanimity, the patron offers to double the bonus from the caster’s spellburn, if the caster will agree to undertake a quest sabotaging some scheme of the other Miser Brother’s. The nature of this task is left to the judge to detail, but if not completed in a reasonable time (as determined by the judge), the patron removes all access to spells save those used in direct support of the quest.


Thursday 23 November 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tiamurkey: Init +5; Atk peck +7 melee (1d3+4) or claw +5 melee (2d6) or breath weapon; AC 20; HD 12d6; MV 40’; Act 5d20; SP breath weapons, relatively stupid, death throes; SV Fort +8; Ref +5; Will +5; AL C.

Breath Weapon 1: Sonic gobble: 60' cone, 1d6 damage and Fort DC 15 or be knocked prone.

Breath Weapon 2: Hot grease: 80' line, 2d8 damage (Reflex DC 15 for half).

Breath Weapon 3: Stuffing: 10' x 10' space, creatures therein cannot move until they succeed in a Strength check DC 15 to escape the stuffing and leave the space.

Breath Weapon 4: Barrage of giblets: 30' cone, 3d6 damage (Reflex DC 15 negates).

Breath Weapon 5: Somnambulance: 30' diameter cloud up to 30' away, Will DC 15 or fall into a torpor, being able to take no actions and move at only half normal speed for 1d8 rounds.

Tiamurkey, King and Master of Evil Turkeys, dwells on a hell plane amid giant mutated turkeys, primordial cranberry jellies, and other evil four-clawed birds of the nether realms. Once every year, on the fourth week of November, he rises from his fetid breeding grounds to roam the Fields We Know in search of those who have put up decorations for other holidays too early in the season.

Each of Tiamurkey’s five heads has its own breath weapon, and each of these can be used three times each day. Although Tiamurkey is a genius among turkeys, he is still not that bright by human standards, and cunning PCs may find a way to outwit him. It is said that he only appears this late in the year to avoid rain – in times past, he has been defeated when all five heads looked upward into the rain until he drowned. Snow doesn’t present this problem.

When reduced to 0 hp (or otherwise “killed”), Tiamurkey is not slain, but merely banished back to his hell plane to recover until his next sojourn to the mortal realm. He will seek to extract vengeance upon those who defeated him, but, not being that bright, his vengeance is likely to target the wrong people.  


Sunday 29 October 2023

Conversion Crawl Classes 20: The One Ring: Tales From Wilderland (2): Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit

I feel terrible about last CCC post, wherein I described how railroady an adventure was without commenting on its name, Don’t Leave the Path. Of course, we know that this is taken from Gandalf and Beorn’s advice to the company in The Hobbit, while traveling through Mirkwood, but it still seems a touch on the nose to have not mentioned. If you want to understand the basic philosophy behind the conversion methodology here, it is recommended that you read that post.

The second adventure in Tales From Wilderland is Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit, in which the PCs are invited to rescue a hobbit from goblins on the High Pass of the Misty Mountains. I am entirely of the opinion that the choices the players face, and the consequences of what they choose, is the most important part of adventure design. As a consequence, while Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit offers more player choices than Don’t Leave the Path, I am going to suggest that the judge increases the number and quality of choices available when converting this adventure.

Part One – The Easterly Inn

The first part of the adventure describes how it came to pass that a Hobbit opened an inn in the middle of the Wild, the history of the Brandybuck brothers, and the fate of the missing Dinodas. The Easterly Inn is described in detail, as the company may return here again and again on their travels.

The Easterly Inn is described well enough to use in play, but is not described in the same detail as, say, the Inn of the Welcome Wench in The Village of Hommlet. No map of the Inn is included. There is a great deal of background, which may be useful for the judge when framing the Inn and its inhabitants within the game milieu.

The one thing that the judge should change in this section is the adventure hook. Variable levels of success is great, but I would not tie this directly to skill checks. Or, rather, the judge should determine how much Dodinas trusts the adventurers based on their conduct, and then roll a Personality check using a die (from 1d8 to 1d30) based on that determination.

In the last post of this series, I suggested setting 1 point of treasure at approximately 10 gp. I feel that still works well enough for this adventure. This might not be enough recompense to motivate your players, and that is okay. The real treasure is the friends the PCs make along the way – a safe base of operations. The real danger is that the PCs’ refusal sours their reputation. Judges should take into account their PCs’ previous actions when role-playing NPCs, for good or ill.

Another thing the prospective judge might do is have the Easerly Inn appear in previous game sessions. If the PCs know the halflings – conversion to DCC, remember? – they might be a lot more willing to help. A note of caution here: players who believe sympathetic NPCs only exist to pull their characters into danger will generally resist becoming too attached to anyone. Use this type of plot hook sparingly!

Part Two – Searching the High Pass

This section deals with the journey across Wilderland to the foothills of the Misty Mountains and the High Pass. The company encounter several dangers on this journey, and pass through the ruins of a town built many centuries ago. They find signs that the caravan was attacked.

As with the first adventure in this volume, there is nothing inherently wrong with the encounters suggested herein, but they are linked to GM whims and resolved via die rolls, and they could be made more meaningful. For example, Summer Storm catches the company in unexpected weather, where a check is used to determine whether they find shelter or suffer an increased chance of fatigue. Instead, a judge could allow the PCs to find shelter in exchange for a lost day of travel, or travel while taking a -1d penalty to all rolls until they gain a proper rest. With a random encounter table and a consequence for delay, the choice becomes meaningful. This also makes the Beornings encounter potentially meaningful.

The judge will need statistics for the Eager Feet encounter, and probably for A Stranger on the Road. The judge is directed to A Stranger in the Road as an encounter resolved almost entirely based on PC choices. In DCC, an Intelligence check (DC 12) can recognize Longbottom Leaf – smokers and halflings roll 1d20; all others roll 1d10.

Most of the creatures in this adventure either appear in the core rulebook, or are easily extrapolated therefrom. The Night-Wight in this section is the most interesting creature in the adventure, and that is what we will be converting to DCC.

Remembering that monsters don’t have to play by the rules, we need to deal with this bit of text and turn into DCC goodness:

The company’s Look-out Men must make Awareness tests; the Target Number for this roll is determined using the table on 168 of The One Ring Roleplaying Game, and ranges between TN 14 and TN 18 depending on how wary the characters are. If the roll fails, then the Night-Wight automatically places one of the company in an enchanted slumber and carries him off to its lair. The Look-out men must then make more Awareness tests, dropping the TN by 2 each time. For each failed check, another member of the company is taken by the Wight.

And a bit later:

Those kidnapped by the Wight are dragged away to the brook nearby. There, the wight submerges them in the muddy banks of the river, pushing them into boggy graves so that only the victims’ faces remain at the surface. They are entombed alive in the clinging mud.

Once battle is joined with the Wight, the victims may make a Valour test every round to awaken (starting at TN 16, and dropping by 2 each round of battle). Once awake, escaping from the mud needs a successful Athletics test. A hero who was buried in the mud is considered to be temporarily Weary, until he is able to wash away the clinging dirt.

In DCC terms, we can say that the Night-Wight has a special ability we will call “Enchant and Submerge”. Anyone on watch may make an Intelligence check (DC 18; cumulative -2 to DC per failed check), or the Night-Wight steals away a companion (lowest Luck first). The stolen companion is placed in an enchanted slumber (no save) and submerged in the river mud with only their faces above the surface. Once combat is joined, an enchanted PC may attempt a Will save (DC 16, cumulative -2 per failed save) to awaken. The round after they awaken, a PC may act with a -4d penalty to all die rolls, which decreases by 1d per round thereafter until the PC is rolling normally.

Init: “The Night-Wight is a thing of shadow, haunting the remains of a warrior who once fell into corruption. It attacks using a wicked spear with a barbed head, and will resort to using its claws if disarmed. Let’s say it was a level 2 warrior in life, and give it a +2. But wait…Fell Speed. Let’s say +5.

Atk: A spear does 1d8 and claws 1d3, but we can also take the warrior’s deed die (from life) into account and grant a +2 attack and damage bonus. Spear +2 melee (1d8+2) or claw +2 melee (1d3+2).

AC: The monster has Parry 7 and 4d Armour, based on the difficulty of harming its semi-corporeal shadow form. Let’s make it AC 18.

HD: Endurance 54 is again indicated as a result of the Night-Wight being difficult to damage with corporeal weapons. The design suggests to me that driving it off with fire is the best option, so I will happily say that the creature has 8d12 Hit Dice, and also say that it only takes half damage from any non-magical source.

MV: The creature has Movement 3 and “Fell Speed”, which I am going to interpret as giving it MV 50’.

Act: 1d20 seems right to me.

SP: In addition to the things already described, the Night-Wight has Fear of Fire. From the text, “Hate” appears to indicate a creature’s motivation (and hence willingness) to fight. “Based on its special abilities, the Night-Wight loses 1 point of Hate at the end of the first round of combat for each companion wielding a torch (Fear of Fire) but still profits from its enhanced power at night (Denizen of the Dark). When reduced to 0 Hate, the Night-Wight flies away into the night shrieking in frustration (Craven).

We can say that the Night-Wight must make a Morale check at the end of each round it faces an enemy armed with fire. It takes a -1 penalty for each fire-wielder it faces, and an additional -2 for each successful save it has already made.

Let’s also give it a good bonus to Stealth. +10 seems right to me.

SV: Reflexes are important for a creature with “Fell Speed”, but Fortitude less so. A craven creature probably has a low Will, but as we are dropping save bonuses due to fire, choosing a high Will bonus is better. Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +12.

AL: Chaotic.

Crit: Following the table on page 385 of the core rulebook, we get a result of U/1d12.

Put altogether, our statblock looks like this:

Night-Wight: Init +5; Atk spear +2 melee (1d8+2) or claw +2 melee (1d3+3); AC 18; HD 8d12; hp 54; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP Un-dead, enchant and submerge (see below), stealth +10, half damage from non-magical sources, fear of fire (see below); SV Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +12; AL C; Crit U/1d12.

Enchant and Submerge: Anyone on watch may make an Intelligence check (DC 18; cumulative -2 to DC per failed check), or the Night-Wight steals away a companion (lowest Luck first). The stolen companion is placed in an enchanted slumber (no save) and submerged in the river mud with only their faces above the surface. Once combat is joined, an enchanted PC may attempt a Will save (DC 16, cumulative -2 per failed save) to awaken. The round after they awaken, a PC may act with a -4d penalty to all die rolls, which decreases by 1d per round thereafter until the PC is rolling normally.

Fear of Fire: The Night-Wight must make a Morale check at the end of each round it faces an enemy armed with fire. It takes a -1 penalty for each fire-wielder it faces, and an additional -2 for each successful save it has already made.

Of course, if the PCs just sleep with no one on watch, it is time to either roll up some new characters or pick up the action in hell.

Part Three – Battle at the Ringfort

The company comes upon the survivors of the caravan, and aid them in a desperate battle against a Goblin host. The company is victorious (or else perish in the battle!), but discover that the Goblins carried off Dinodas as they fled.

For the most part, this section can be run as presented. Statistics for goblins, orcs, and men-at-arms can be found in the core rulebook, and judges should find this fairly easy to adapt. The difficult part is allowing players full agency, as the adventure assumes the kidnapping of Dinodas. There is even a sidebar acknowledging this!

My personal recommendation is to try to distract the PCs with attacks on the ringfort – which is, after all, the goblin’s plan – but allow the PCs to prevent the kidnapping if they keep their wits about them. There is nothing worse than having a brilliant plan and having it thwarted because the plot has plot armor!

It should be noted that the Allies in Battle table (and similar) can be reformatted as a normal d12 table – there is no requirement for special dice! Likewise, the benefit of the defensive fortifications can be described as a +4 bonus to AC as long as the defensive ramparts are held.

Part Four – Under the Hills

Following the Goblin kidnappers brings the adventurers into the tunnels under the Misty Mountains. After braving these dark passages, they find that the Goblins have  imprisoned Dinodas with an unbreakable chain.

Spend the time to draw up even a basic map, and know the way that the goblins have gone. Most of the potential hazards should be consequences for choosing the wrong path; many of these make no sense in terms of hazards along a regular route. Consider a long curving route where the PCs can risk hazards to get ahead of the goblins. And don’t regard this in terms of ten-foot squares – the goblin tunnels run for miles.

Part Five – The Goblin Feast

The reputation of Hobbit cooking has reached even the caves of the Goblins, and they demand that Dinodas cook them a feast. The adventurers can use this feast to trick the Goblins into fighting amongst themselves, or to steal the key and free Dinodas from his bonds.

The situation and map as the PCs first discover it is fine. The goblins owning an unbreakable chain with an unpickable lock? Once the PCs are on the scene, don’t try to force a particular outcome. In the case of an escape, you still have a potential running battle in the goblin tunnels (look to The Hobbit for inspiration). Besides, this is DCC – a high enough roll on sleep or charm person can resolve this part, as can knock.

Remember, as a judge, it is your job to discover what happens along with your players. It is not your job to force what you deem is most dramatic to be what happens. Dice and system will create drama. Let your players have their moment!

(Another way to look at this is that players going through early adventures, such as The Keep on the Borderlands, faced situations. When they talked to other players, how they faced those situations and what happened as a result made for lively conversation. Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit attempts to narrow the potential solutions so that the situation can only be resolved in one way – by acquiring the key to Dinodas’ chains. There may be a small range of options within the only possible resolution, but the PCs are very much following a path laid out by the writer’s plot. This is not great design.)

Epilogue - Back to the Inn

After rescuing Dinodas, the company returns to the Easterly Inn for their reward.

There is nothing wrong with this section, but you should consider how it is changed if thieves attacked the inn while the PCs were away. There is, after all, a potential encounter pointing in that direction. The judge may also want to include one or more encounters on the return journey. Even if these are only flavor encounters, they provide an opportunity to lay new adventure hooks!

Next: Hawkmoon!

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Now Live!

This is just a reminder that Prisoners of the Secret Overlords, which I talked about here, is now live!

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Conversion Crawl Classes 19: The One Ring: Tales From Wilderland (1): Don’t Leave the Path

Continuing our exploration of games based off Appendix N literature, we turn to The One Ring, which is also based off of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I am going to examine the first two adventures in Tales From Wilderland, each in its own blog post. I have averred throughout this series that any adventure should be convertible, and that access to the game’s base rules should be unnecessary. In this case, I am truly putting my money where my mouth is. I do not own the base rules for The One Ring, have never played the game, and my understanding of it is gleaned by perusing the adventures in question. If you are an aficionado of The One Ring, you will perhaps be able to judge the effectiveness of my methodology by examining these two posts.


The first thing to note is that The One Ring is a far more narrativist game than Dungeon Crawl Classics. The basic terms for statistics, the order of play, and even the nature of play are different. The One Ring seems to focus a great deal on narrative travel, where PCs take various jobs – such as Lookout and Scout – making various rolls to avoid or resolve hazards and/or prevent Fatigue or loss of Hope. At various points, the PCs may have experiences which cause them to fall under the Shadow.

While thematically appropriate for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this is going to increase the work needed to run these scenarios in Dungeon Crawl Classics. Despite being quieter adventures overall, both adventures contain encounters that would be fun to play out regardless of system.

The first thing to address is how to use the scenarios in the first place.

Do We Change the Game?

The overall answer is No.

At the end of the day, we are trying to make a playable DCC adventure out of the original. When converting material from a very different system, these is always going to be a temptation to port mechanics from the original system into whatever game you are converting it to. After all, any decent adventure takes advantage of its original system’s mechanics, and you are bound to lose something by not using those mechanics.

From my reading, loss of Hope or falling under the Shadow are events which should be generally under the players’ control. Fatigue plays a major part of these journeys, again from my reading, so we could model that with penalties if the characters are not sufficiently rested. The dice chain works admirably in this regard.

I get the sense from reading these adventures that, in The One Ring, the PCs are generally destined to succeed, and the only real question is how much success they have. It also seems to me that player choice is severely limited; the outcomes the GM wants to happen occur regardless of player choices seems to be the expectation. In the second adventure I will be looking at, there is even a sidebar discussing how some GMs might “prefer to let everything be ruled by the whims of the dice, and always give the players a chance to stop their foes from acting. The advantage of this approach is that the players never feel like their fate is out of their hands”. The downside is that if the players are quick and lucky, they might derail the GM’s expectations. That allowing player choices to greatly affect the outcome of an adventure is characterized by “the whims of the dice” is more than a little problematic to me. Of course, if you are playing Dungeon Crawl Classics, you are probably perfectly fine with allowing player choice and the dice to each affect the outcome of the game!

Meaningful Encounters and Color

In my three-part essay on Context, Choice, and Consequence (part 1, part 2, part 3), I argued that the primary job of the GM is to provide context for player choices, and then adjudicate the consequences of those choices, which becomes part of the new context for future choices. If you understand that general idea, then it should be easy to see how meaningful encounters derive from choices which have consequences. In this case, the consequences are the stakes of the encounter.

For example, in many combat encounters, the stakes are character survival. Survival need not be the only stakes, though, and having additional (or different) stakes adds spice to adventures. Harm to an allied NPC, for example, can create additional stakes requiring choices which take those stakes into account. “Win conditions” are the conditions that the PCs must meet to reach a favorable outcome. Meeting the win conditions means that the consequences fall in the PCs’ favor. They obtain or retain the stakes.

Conversely, color encounters are not meaningful. This doesn’t mean that they are useless or uninteresting. They act to help set tone, create verisimilitude, and set context. In fact, color helps to allow the players to understand the stakes when they have meaningful encounters. Color encounters, for example, can establish an NPC as an ally, making threats to that NPC meaningful, and hence the survival of the NPC reasonable stakes.

Color encounters also help to disguise meaningful encounters, so that the players cannot always be certain whether or not they are in a situation with potential dire or wondrous consequences. Maybe that room is really empty. Maybe it contains a secret door, a hidden treasure, an invisible monster, or some form of trap. If everything is meaningful, then no tension exists trying to discover which details are worth paying attention to and which are not.

In addition, encounters can blur the lines between meaning and color. Evidence that a basilisk is in the area might seem like color, but if it informs your choices going forward, including how you tackle the potential encounter with the monster itself, you could easily argue that the information obtained were the stakes, and your ability to understand it was the win conditions. There is no hard-and-fast divider between the two encounter types. Understanding them, though, will be useful when converting adventures from a system like The One Ring.

Part One: Where Rivers Run With Gold

The company rescue Baldor the merchant from three ruffians, and he asks them to serve as his caravan guards on the crossing of Mirkwood.

This part doesn’t require a lot of conversion. The three ruffians in question are former men-at-arms from Esgaroth, so the man-at-arms statblock from page 434 of the DCC core rulebook seems more appropriate to me than bandit stats. Because they are ruffians, shift their alignment to neutral (or even chaotic) and because they are cowardly, change their Will save modifier to -4.

Nothing else really has to be done, but the adventure would become far stronger if it was part of a larger narrative, where the PCs already wanted to cross Mirkwood on some Quest For It motive of their own. This changes the hook from merely being convenient to Baldor and his son to being convenient for the PCs as well.

Another possibility: The PCs require some aid from the Elfking, and are only planning on accompanying Baldor as far as the edges of Mirkwood. Seeing Baldor and his son safely through the forest might be the price of the Elfking’s aid, or even getting an audience. The point is that by linking the PCs’ motives to Baldor’s desire to cross Mirkwood, you have a far better chance that the PCs will not simply return to Laketown and try to loot Smaug’s corpse for its jewels. In fact, you better have a good reason that the PCs not do just that, or that will be exactly what the PCs do.

You shouldn’t need special rules for intimidating the ruffians. The simplest thing to do is make a Personality check modified by circumstance (such as group size, armaments, and reputation) vs. the thug’s Will save. Likewise, you shouldn’t need special rules for Riddle or Courtesy to role-play talking to Baldor and learning some of his history.

Payment offered is two points of treasure each, and we will have to decide what that means in DCC terms. I would recommend that a point of treasure be equivalent to approximately 10 gp, but that treasure is assigned specifics rather than left as an abstract. A silver arm ring might be a point of treasure, or 10 bags of wool. The difference is more than just color – one is far easier to transport than the other!

Part Two – The Edge of the Woodland Realm

Baldor has friends in Thranduil’s court, so the first part of the journey is on board the Elven rafts up the Forest River. The company are escorted to the edge of the forest kingdom and warned not to leave the path.

This part is largely color, until the party reaches the Wood Elves’ Court. At that point, there is a meaningful encounter (in The One Ring system), as follows:

Lindar suggests that as the Elves do not know the company, they should remain here to ‘guard the supplies’. In two days, the Elves will bring the company to the edge of Thranduil’s realm. In the meantime, they can remain here in the caves; Lindar promises to send down some bread and wine.

To win Lindar’s trust, the company need three successful tests of Persuade, Courtesy or Song. If they show they are worthy guests, then they are permitted to stay in better quarters in the upper caves, and may even hear the Elves singing. The combination of soft beds and good company relieves the company of any Fatigue they have accumulated so far.

I am not sure how fatiguing it is, even in The One Ring, to sit on a raft being poled by wood elves for several days, so I am not certain that the stakes in this encounter work in either system. They certainly don’t in Dungeon Crawl Classics, so making the stakes more meaningful is required to salvage the encounter when converting it. I have already suggested giving the PCs reason to want to speak with the Elf King. Another possibility is that better accommodations results in 1 point of Luck for those who can manage it.

The “three successful tests” reminds me of skill challenges, which we looked at here. In this case, I would have the players role-play their attempts to persuade Lindar, setting a base DC of 15 (because persuading him is not easy), and determining what die to roll based on occupation with a modifier ranging from -4 to +4 based on my adjudication of the appropriateness of their attempts. Each failure decreases the chance of success, which can be modeled by raising the DC by +2 (or even +4) per failure, with three successes still being required. Knowing something about the history of Thranduil, I would raise the base DC to 20 if the party contains one or more dwarves and give a +1d bonus to any checks made by elves.

While this encounter is hardly worth spending much time on, the consequences of sneaking out of the caves – both if caught and if not – are something the judge should at least think about. The MERP version of Mirkwood has maps and information about Thranduil’s Halls that the judge may find useful if they are up to more conversion work. Otherwise, a quick sketch map, and probably some details about the dungeon cells, will have to suffice. Remember that Thorin & Co. were not found sneaking about the palace itself in The Hobbit, and this should probably come with some dire consequences.

Part Three – The Long Road

The company set off for the west, braving the perils of the dark wood.

We don’t have to worry about Hope or the Shadow, but it is certainly worthwhile to say that travel through Mirkwood is fatiguing. Instead of Fatigue tests, have the PCs make Fortitude saves while traversing the great forest. The “TN” listed in 16, and we can imagine that this is roughly equivalent to the DC. Failure indicates 1d3 Stamina damage, with total exhaustion and a need for rest occurring at Stamina 0. We don’t have to make this a quality of all travel; we can make this a quality of Mirkwood.

(As a result, we also need Stamina scores for Baldor and his son, Belgo.)

What we want to do here is establish some stakes for upcoming encounters. In DCC, characters can always recover 1 point of Stamina each day, but fatigue can compound, making it difficult for characters to face further challenges. Hunkering in place is also possible – and may even be necessary – but the caravan probably has limited supplies of food and water. Some of the encounters which might otherwise be merely color in DCC can also be described as potentially draining the party’s energy reserves.

The hazards in the game are triggered by a check, but for DCC I would just include a chance of a hazard occurring each day, with a random table to determine what hazard occurs. I would include a chance to roll twice, combining the hazards. Nine hazards are listed, so a 1d10 table would work, with the “10” indicating “roll twice”. Multiple “10”s compound.

DCC doesn’t have characters take set roles like Look-Out, Huntsman, Scout, or Guide, so who gets to roll to resolve an encounter is really up to the judge. Luck might be in play, or marching order. The chase mini-game in The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly has encounters based on where PCs are in the chase, and might offer some guidance to the judge.

Some example hazards, to give the judge ideas, follow.

Spider Webs (Guide - Dangerous Meeting)

The company enter a region of the forest where the trees are covered in spider-webs. None of these webs cross the path, but this is a very dangerous place to make camp.

The company’s Guide must make a Travel test to keep the company moving. If this test is failed, then the company fails to get clear of the spider-haunted region before night falls and they have to make camp. If they camp near the spider-webs, then the company are attacked by Attercops at night (assume two Attercops per companion).

The adventure doesn’t provide statistics for Attercops, but there are plenty of examples in DCC modules, and the DCC Annual Volume 1 provides base statistics and guidance. Because we are looking at random encounters, let’s not assume two per companion. Instead, since we are imagining these spiders are statted up so that two per PC is a reasonable challenge, let’s say 1d8+5. Or even 1d10+5. The party could be in for a difficult battle or an easy one, depending upon the dice.

Now, how do we make trying to escape the spider-infested area interesting? How about this: Everyone must make a DC 10 Fort save or take 1 Stamina damage from fatigue. A random PC then makes a Luck check; success indicates the party has left the infested area. The players may gamble as many attempts as they like, until they have either left the area or every PC has attempted a Luck check and failed. Discount PCs who have already failed when determining who gets to attempt a Luck check next.

Fat Pheasants (Huntsman - Wrong Choices)

The huntsman spots a flock of juicy fat black pheasants on a branch. He is permitted a single Hunting test to bring one down before the rest scatter. If this test succeeds, the company eat well that night. If the test fails, the pheasants vanish, and the company are tormented by the thought of what they might have had if they were luckier. This discontent increases the Target Number of their next Fatigue test by one level.

Choose a PC with a ranged weapon. A hunter, forester, or the like would be a good choice. That character spots the pheasants and gets a single attack roll against AC 12. Success means a joyful meal in which everyone can recover 1 point of Stamina damage. Failure means that the next Fort save to avoid Stamina damage is made with a -2 penalty.

Blanket of Butterflies (Look-Out - Fatigue)

A flock of huge purple butterflies flutter down from the treetops and nest on the sleeping company. These butterflies are like a velvet shroud; if left undisturbed, they smother their victims. The butterflies hum a lullaby as they land. The Look-out must make an Awareness roll to stay awake; if successful, he fends off the unnatural sleepiness and drives the butterflies away. If this roll fails, then the humming of the butterflies puts him to sleep too. The company are saved when one of the insects is inhaled by a sleeping companion, and his choking snorts wake the rest. In that time, though, all the company were partially suffocated and feel drained. Add Fatigue again, or twice if the Look-out failed the test with a roll of an Eye.

Whoever is on watch at the time makes a DC 15 Will save to avoid the unnatural slumber. Failure means that the butterflies drain 1 Stamina from each party member, plus make a DC 10 Fort save or take an additional 1d3 Stamina.

“The company are saved when one of the insects is inhaled by a sleeping companion, and his choking snorts wake the rest”? Hmmm. Everyone make a Luck check. If anyone succeeds, that is indeed what happens. Otherwise rinse and repeat until someone makes their Luck check or everyone reaches 0 Stamina and dies.

Part Four – Castle of the Spiders

As the company make camp, Baldor falls afoul of the enchanted stream that runs through Mirkwood. Temporarily deprived of his memories, he flees into the woods and is trapped by Spiders in a ruined castle.

This should be a fun encounter, although you will again need to provide your own statistics. The encounter calls for a number of tests where the judge should simply supply information. Climbing the wall is a DC 10 Climb Sheer Surfaces or Strength check. Traversing spider webs without alerting the spiders should be tricky – let’s call that a DC 15 Move Silently or Stealth check. Armor check penalties, of course, apply.

Pulling Baldor up requires a DC 10 Strength check. Cutting him free shouldn’t require any kind of check or test unless under attack, and then we can say DC 15 modified by Luck. An edged weapon is required; a dagger offers a +1d bonus. It might take more than one round to cut him free; each round of work reduces the DC of future checks by a cumulative 2 points.

A lot of attention is paid to Belgo’s amulet, but it doesn’t really do much in the adventure itself. I would be tempted to let the amulet act like Bêlit’s ghost in Queen of the Black Coast. Why not let it channel his mother’s spirit, once, to save him from certain doom? At least then you can end the adventure with some sense of closure for Baldor and Belgo.

This encounter brings another thought to mind – how do we describe the waters of Mirkwood in game terms, should some player be so foolish as to have his character drink from them?  A Fort save to prevent sleep and memory loss, followed by a Will save to avoid memory loss if the first save is failed?

Part Five – The Hermit of Mirkwood

The company find shelter with a crazed hermit. Can they convince him to aid them, or is he planning to murder them in their sleep?

Let’s give this hermit the statistics and abilities of a friar. Let’s then ignore all the various tests from the text, and allow the players to gain information from their character’s actions. Let’s role-play interaction with the hermit, and then allow a party member to make a single DC 10 check to see how the hermit reacts, with the group’s role-playing determining what size die they use – noting, of course, that the hermit can demand they leave any time the judge decides that the PCs have gone too far.

Let’s say that sleeping outside in the storm forces everyone to make a DC 15 Fort save or take 1d4 Stamina damage as well as gaining no benefits from rest. This represents their taking ill if they fail; no one gets benefits from rest regardless of the save result. Let’s say the storm hasn’t abated if the PCs are kicked out. Let’s say killing the hermit in his home costs everyone 1 Luck, as he was beloved of the Valar.

Now we have reasonable stakes.

The potential reward is the remains of an axe-head, the fabled Wolfbiter. Apart from the rewards granted if it is returned to Woodland Hall, we have no details of what the axe would be like if reforged and fitted with a proper handle. Let’s use sword magic and some judicious tinkering to find out:

Wolfbiter (+2 Lawful battleaxe): This weapon can communicate by simple urges, and has a 7 Intelligence. It has an additional +2 bonus to attack and damage wolves of all types, and its critical range against these foes is extended by +1 (so that a thief wielding the axe would score a critical hit against a wolf on a roll of 19-20). The axe is cursed so that any who takes it by force must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save whenever it strikes down a non-lupine foe, or be turned to stone permanently. This curse would certainly affect anyone involved in killing the hermit and uncovering his treasure.

Part Six – The Well in the Wood

The last danger of the woods comes from the trees themselves. Their contempt for everything that goes on two legs threatens to turn into a deadly trap.

As the party approaches the well, everyone must make a DC 16 Will save, with the party halting if more than half fail. The encounter otherwise works much as written, save that Belgo calls out “Mother! Mother!” not his mother’s name. Resisting sleeping requires a DC 15 Will save; resisting madness requires a DC 10 Will save. Only characters who failed the initial Will save need to roll to resist madness, but all characters need to roll to resist falling asleep if the PCs stop.

Here we have the chance to let Belgo’s amulet come to the fore, rescuing him from certain death and rekindling his father’s memory. Should father and son both survive, their bond is restored. Leaving this thread hanging just seems wrong to me.

Fighting the Creature: PCs in the well have a -1d penalty to both attack rolls and damage, while the Thing in the Well has a +1d bonus to both attack rolls and damage against them.

The Thing in the Well is an obvious choice for converting to DCC. Looking at the statistics provided, we can see that they are quite different from what Dungeon Crawl Classics uses, but that presents no great difficulty. In some ways, we might even consider it an opportunity as we have little fear of getting it wrong. In fact, if there is any lesson you take from this, please consider that you cannot “get it wrong”. A monster has the stats you give it, and they don’t have to play by the rules!

Init: How fast is the Thing? We don’t really know. But as it relies on illusions and sleep, it is probably not terribly fast. Let’s just say +0.

Atk: The Thing attacks with a lashing tentacle, or attacks with a strangle once it hits. We make strangulation a special ability, so that it attacks with a tentacle lash. The earlier thugs have 2 for their weapon skill, and this creature has 3, so let’s just give it a +3 bonus to hit. Damage is listed as 5, but in DCC terms 1d6 is probably appropriate.

AC: The monster has Parry 4 and 3d Armour. If we assume this indicates an AC of 14 and some form of damage reduction, we are probably not far off.

HD: Endurance 45 is probably the Thing’s hit points, so 6d12 seems appropriate to me.

MV: The creature has Movement 2, which is the same as the thugs in the beginning of the adventure. This would argue a speed of 30’, which I dislike. The creature hides in a well. It doesn’t come out to attack. Let’s give it MV 10’ or climb 10’.

Act: “Every round, the creature may attack up to three different opponents” is a compelling argument to choose 3d20.

SP: Lure, sleep, and illusions are all part of the set-up and may be considered part of the Thing’s powers. Strangulation causes 1d8 automatic damage per round (a successful Mighty Deed, Strength check, or 6+ damage in a single edged attack to escape). Three times per day the Thing may make a single tentacle lash attack that targets all foes within 30’, using all action dice to do so. Damage from non-magical weapons is reduced by 2 points per die.

SV: Fortitude should be good, Reflexes poor for a creature of its Hit Dice, and Will phenomenal. Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +9.

AL: Chaotic.

Crit: Following the table on page 385 of the core rulebook, we get a result of M/1d12.

Put altogether, our statblock looks like this:

The Thing in the Well: Init +0; Atk tentacle lash +3 melee (1d6 plus strangulation); AC 14; HD 6d12; hp 45; MV 10’ or climb 10’; Act 3d20; SP Lure (Will DC 16 negates), sleep (Will DC 15 negates), illusions and madness (Will DC 10 negates), strangulation (1d8 automatic damage per round, successful Mighty Deed, Strength check, or 6+ damage in a single edged attack to escape), hateful lash (3/day, uses all action dice to make a single tentacle lash attack that targets all foes within 30’), 2 point damage reduction per die from non-magical weapons; SV Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +9; AL C; Crit M/1d12.

This may not be a perfect rendition, but it gets the job done.

Epilogue - The Forest Gate

Where the company exits Mirkwood, and possibly reaps the benefits of their deeds.

This section falls a bit flat. Instead, Baldor and Belgo urge the party to continue on with them to Woodland Hall, but will pay the PCs if they must. Perhaps at this point the PCs must make another dangerous trek through Mirkwood to visit the court of the Elf King now that they have seen the merchants safely through the forest. Perhaps they have something else to do. Perhaps Baldor, Belgo, or both died. Perhaps they continue on to Woodland Hall.

Watching father and son drift apart through madness and shadow, and then be drawn back together, at least draws events to a conclusion which is a bit more satisfying than merely reaching the end of the forest.


In an earlier blog post, I described the three types of adventures as persistent locations, opportunities, and player-initiated quests.  This adventure is an opportunity which may, or may not, intersect with one or more player-initiated quests. It contains persistent locations, but there is insufficient development to make them persistent in the campaign milieu without additional work by the judge. While adequate as a single session of travel between meatier adventures, the judge would get more out of this by making Baldor and Belgo recurrent characters, and by doing more with Wolfbiter.

Next: The One Ring: Tales From Wilderland (2): Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit