Friday 7 June 2024

Interview: Cult of the Cave Crickets!

RCK: We are talking today to Jeff Demers and Casey Lynch of Dark Star Adventures, who have just launched the kickstarter for their new adventure, Cult of the Cave Crickets! I understand that this is a Lovecraft-inspired investigation to uncover the fate of a lost expedition. Is that right?

Jeff: Hi Daniel! That's right, our first adventure draws heavily from Lovecraft's works, especially "At the Mountains of Madness" and "The Colour Out of Space." It explores the aftermath of a Shackleton-like research expedition that vanished while investigating a crashed meteor in the frozen foothills at the edge of civilization. The party is tasked with discovering the fate of the expedition through a macabre scavenger hunt, using a handout to track the survivors and the fallen. Playtests show it to be a sizable adventure, taking 8-12 hours to complete over multiple sessions. 

RCK: That sounds pretty cool. I am a big fan of throwing Lovecraft at the gaming table myself. Without giving too much away, can you tell us about it?

Jeff: Absolutely! Without spoiling anything, Cult of the Cave Crickets introduces a race of fungus-worshipping, mutant cave crickets that are fiercely protective of their home.

RCK: Cave crickets have been around in gaming forever, but I can’t think of anything that focused on them before. Definitely points for uniqueness!

Jeff: Thanks! Cave crickets, also known as “Spider Crickets”, truly are nightmare-material. Not only are they just completely alien looking, but they are prolific breeders, terribly invasive, and cannibals by nature. Organizing them into some sort of cult would certainly take a powerful entity, perhaps one from beyond the stars…

RCK: Okay, so cave crickets. What else?

Jeff: We crammed as much cool stuff into this adventure as we could! You'll find three unique locations, ten brand-new enemies, five new magic items, and a bunch of deadly traps and environmental hazards. As a Judge, I love having flexibility in my adventures, so I've included multiple ways to kick off the module and several different endings, ranging from minimally to highly disruptive to the surrounding world.

RCK: Casey, as the artist, can you talk a little about your inspirations?

Casey: Well, my first career was in graphic design and my day job is running my independent pottery business, so I’m pretty new to the world of illustration. But in trying to develop a black & white style in the tradition of OSR art, it was really cool to look at some of the original artists for the AD&D Monster Manuals and Dungeon Masters Guide, like David A. Trampier, Darlene Pekul, and Harry Quinn. As for contemporary artists, I’m obsessed with the pure technical skill of Kiril Tchangov’s work and I aspire to have an ounce of Jez Gordon’s style. 

It’s been a blast dipping my toe into this very deep pool and I can’t wait to do more and get even weirder with it.

RCK: I’ve already mentioned the cover. Is there an interior piece you’d like to share with us?

Casey: Of course! I have two. The first is a portrait of a crikari warrior. The illustration is intentionally loose and rough, to show off their aggressive and alien side! 

The second is the Veil of madness, a magic item hidden within the depths of the caves where the eponymous crickets dwell. Wearing the veil may come with downsides, which I tried to portray in the illustration.

RCK: Very cool! You'll be posting more pieces to your Kickstarter page when they're ready?

Jeff: Yes! All of the art is done, and lots more will be shared on the Kickstarter. Actually, the entire adventure is complete! It’s been written, play tested thoroughly, fully illustrated, and laid out. 

RCK: That's pretty amazing itself. Often, principle work is done, but crowdfunding pays for the art and the layout. At least, that has been my experience.

Jeff: The Kickstarter is the official launch of the adventure, and in celebration we’re reducing the price by 30% for anyone that supports it during that time! 

The adventure will be available in both print and PDF. Anyone choosing to receive a print copy by mail will also receive a download code for a free copy of the PDF. 

We’re super excited to bringing this adventure to the community, and can’t wait to share it with everyone!

RCK: I understand that there is a bit of a romantic connection here too. I have found that the Dungeon Crawl Classics community is very supportive of its members. Allow me to offer my congratulations!

Casey: Haha, yes! We’re getting married on June 22nd. Thanks for your well wishes. We’ve felt very lucky to have each other, as well as the DCC community as a whole, as a support system throughout the tricky process of getting this thing published!

Publishing our first adventure just as we get married has been a crazy experience! When it rains it pours, and we'll be walking down the aisle just a few days before the Kickstarter launches. Thanks to everyone that has been messaging us with congratulations, we love every one of you!

RCK: Good luck with the wedding, good luck with the Kickstarter, and may both be the start of a wonderful future! 

In the hollow depths beneath the earth, where light is forgotten and sanity wavers, lies a terror beyond mortal comprehension!

Cult of the Cave Crickets invites you to descend into a labyrinth of darkness, where mutated insects skitter and fungal abominations writhe. Unravel the mystery of a fallen star and a missing research expedition over two to three sessions of intense gameplay. This is not a mere adventure—it is a journey into madness, a confrontation with the unknowable, and a test of your very sanity.

Dare you enter the subterranean abyss and confront the Cult of the Cave Crickets? 

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