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

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!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Scotland Bound

I will be headed to Scotland in mid-August.

If any readers live in Scotland, give a shout out!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Mathom Rules!

In the Shire, the hobbits give others gifts on their birthdays, and I have been doing the same with a "Birthday Mathom" every year for the last several years. Here's how you get this year's version:

(1) Post online, anywhere, a review of any Dungeon Crawl Classics product between now and August 3rd. Need a list of DCC products? Here you go!

(2) Drop a comment to this blog post with a link to said review.

(3) Send me your email address at ravencrowking at hotmail dot com.

Each of these steps is important. The mathom is always a pdf, so I need an email address to send it to! That seems to be the step I need to remind people of each year. But, really, it's not too fact, it's a piece of (birthday) cake!

(See what I did there?)



Where are you going?!?!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Free RPG Day Recap, Redux

It would be remiss of me not to mention that 401 Games, while not carrying every title from Goodman Games or every Dungeon Crawl Classics module, did have Dread on Demon Crown Hill waiting for me, as well as core books and several other adventures. They also asked me to put them in contact with Goodman Games in order to get the funky dice.

I had an early Father's Day after running Gnole House with my older children, so that they could attend their mother's birthday party on Sunday. We used the board games cafe at 401 Games, playing a game called T.I.M.E. Stories. We managed to beat the game just before the store closed.

T.I.M.E. Stories is sort of a locked room mystery played using a board. Unfortunately, once you've finished it, that's the game. Fortunately, there are additional expansions that allow for different game scenarios. I recommend trying the game, but I don't know if I recommend the price tag for a game you only get to beat once.

We had a discussion about getting a copy, with the expansion scenarios, playing through them, and then passing it on at half cost. It would be less than movie tickets for four, if purchased in this manner, and was certainly more entertaining than many films I've seen.

On Sunday, I dropped by Doug Miller Books, where I was able to obtain a Manly Wade Wellman book, The Beyonders, that I hadn't heard of before. There was actually a fair amount of Appendix N material there, although you have to do some looking to find it. Zoinks! is another place where I've had luck rounding out my collection, as is the BMV by Bloor and Spadina.

I'm only about halfway through The Beyonders, but it is (not surprisingly) good so far. As always, when reading Appendix N fiction, I find myself considering how to express characters, situations, and creatures in Dungeon Crawl Classics terms. The Beyonders is short on creatures, so far, but otherwise would fit in well in a Chained Coffin campaign. Or in the Esoteric America of Secret Antiquities. Something involving Michael Curtis, anyway.

Free RPG Day Recap

For this year’s Free RPG Day, I ran Michael Curtis’ excellent adventure, Gnole House, at 401 Games in Toronto. I had scheduled the game to start at noon, but the Free RPG Day give-away started in-store at 10 am, and almost everything was gone by the time I got there. Nonetheless, the store had set aside not only enough copies of the Goodman Games Free RPG Day DCC Quick-Starter  to make sure that every player at the table got one, but I was also given a 4th Printing rulebook to give away. And I did.

This was in addition to a print copy of The Revelation of Mulmo – Tentacled Edition – which I contributed from my own private stash.

(Dueling Grounds, which had been my previous go-to for Free RPG Day events, moved to Peterborough this spring, thus requiring me to find a new venue. I had done one event with Hairy Tarantula, but their downtown location closed last year. Nonetheless, I was glad to discover that 401 Games now has more than ample space for gaming, and actually runs a games café with a great selection.)

Because of its location, I had imagined that there would be a good turnout for Free RPG Day, and planned for a maximum of 10 players. I got four, three of whom had never played Dungeon Crawl Classics before, and one of whom was an old hand who had played in my Free RPG Day game last year.

After a brief rundown of class abilities, each player chose a single character out of the 14 that I had pregenerated using the tools at Purple Sorcerer. We ended up with a dwarf, a wizard, a halfling, and a thief. Because there was no cleric, I supplied two doses of the balm of St. Cuthbert, which could heal 1 HD when applied.

Gnole House is based on How NuthWould Have Practiced His Art Upon the Gnoles, by Lord Dunsany, and The Man WhoSold Rope to the Gnoles, by Margaret St. Clair. Both are good (and short!) reads, and if you have never read them you should. Particularly if you are going to run this adventure.

Well, the fearless PCs found their way to the high, narrow house in the wood, looking for both clues as to the fate of that fearless seller of cordage and the emeralds that the gnoles were believed to own. The thief went scouting around the house on his own, prompting the watch-gnole to leave his hollow tree. But, unlike Nuth, the other PCs weren’t willing to allow their companions to die so easily, and shouted a warning from where they watched from the trees.

What followed was the gnole shaking hands and miming human customs, urging his potential next meal into the house.

I have no desire to ruin the adventure, so at this point I am just going to say that a great time was had by all. One player remarked that, for all his years playing D&D, he had never actually been in a “murder house” before. The dwarf turned out to be quite the old-school tactician, using various furnishings to create alarms that would notify the PCs if a secret door opened, checked various pieces of furniture to see if they moved (the secret doors were fixed in place), and so on.

Even with the balm of St. Cuthbert, the dwarf was dropped to 0 hp twice, the halfling once, and the thief once. Only the wizard managed to escape without coming within an inch of death. The dwarf, who had reduced his Luck to 0, only survived by rolling a 4!

Strangely, no “1”s were rolled during the session, and if memory serves the only critical hits were a “16” from the halfling and a backstab from the thief. I rolled dice in the open, as is my custom, and had the players roll damage when they were hit by any creature. This was fortuitous, as more than once absurdly low damage rolls saved the lives of one or another PC, and if the player hadn’t rolled it they probably wouldn’t have believed it.

It should probably be mentioned that the kitchen was made more disturbing when the dwarf made a sandwich.

Good times. Good times.

They forgot the fellow in the tree and, when they tried to set fire to the adventure location, were nearly undone. But, no, the dice went their way yet again! At the end of the session, before handing out swag, I was able to tell the adventurers that they were the first, since Nuth, to ever return from the House of the Gnoles.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

There WILL Be Swag.....

This Saturday at 401 Games in Toronto, I will be running Michael Curtis' excellent adventure, Gnole House. Swag is provided by Goodman Games. In addition, I have a print copy of The Revelation of Mulmo (the Tentacled Edition) that someone is going home with.

And that someone is not me.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Once you realize that restrictions in fantasy actually strengthen that fantasy, all that remains is determining what your coherent vision actually is.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Odyssey Con, Recap

Okay, it is well past time to talk about Odyssey Con, which I attended, along with Brendan LaSalle, at the end of April this year. Con attendance was high for a small con, but gaming attendance was low – largely, I think, because the convention was not set up to allow players to pre-register for games. Nonetheless, both Jeff Bernstein and Forrest Aguirre managed to make it out to play, as well as several people new to Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Full Disclosure: J. Laakso, Secretary and Webmaster of the convention, is also my brother.

Thanks to the generous contributions of Goodman Games, Shinobi 27 Publishing, and Purple Duck Games, Brendan and I were able to spread a certain amount of published Dungeon Crawl Classics wealth around to players, and the convention was able to do a draw for other items – including a Dagon Hardcover of Angels, Daemons, andBeings Between Extended, Otherworldly Edition that had been signed by both myself and co-author Paul Wolfe.

My brother also runs/owns Vault 0, which creates and distributes clothing items for cosplay, as well as some gaming items, such as this pirate-themed dice bag, which I picked up while at the convention. I use a Duluth Trading Companysix-pocket parachute tool bag for a dice bag, which can carry enough dice to kill a small bear. 

The Jolly Roger dice bag will allow me to carry a smaller amount of dice for quick gaming, or when I don’t want to have to carry a huge dice bag around at a convention. This last wasn’t a problem at Odyssey Con, but at Gary Con my hotel room was not even in the same building as the convention. The construction is durable, making it somewhat superior to most of the other dice bags I’ve used in the past. Also, the image on it allows the PCs to know what they are in for! 

Everyone at the convention was friendly, and I had a great time. Nix, who was in charge of the gaming aspect of the convention, was an excellent host. Unfortunately, no pictures from the Mad Scientist room party, wherein it was demonstrated that my nephew Stefan can make a good Rum and Coke even if he is forced to use Pepsi.

Some highlights from the judge's position at the table:
  • TPK in The Imperishable Sorceress after the PCs one-shot the demon and deal with Ivrian. They are killed by waspmires because they want to leave no area unsearched.
  • For the first time ever, running The Arwich Grinder, PCs engage in a serious conversation about worshiping the giant invisible baby.

Some highlights from the player's side:
  • Our band (Haggis Sack) is broken up as the sound engineer from the Isle of Skye won't be rejoining us today. His wee homunculus Mini-Me gets in a last gibe, however, and also manages to rescue my character.
  • Glory or a TPK hinge on a single die roll in Hole in the Sky. Glory is not what the dice have in store!

You can read another take on this convention here.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

In Praise of the Artists

I spent a lot of time at Gary Con talking to people who either enjoyed my writing, or were polite enough to say that they did. Of course, no adventure is just the writing. There is always the art. 

(In Dungeon Crawl Classics, that art might include the cartography, but that would be a different post.)

I have now worked with a number of publishers in this little community of ours. 

Regardless of who I am working with, one of the real joys of writing adventures is seeing how the artist(s) involved interpret my words. 

Sometimes, to be honest, the words are pale in comparison to the artistic vision of the people who bring these thoughts to visual life.

Seriously, there is satisfaction in finishing a project. There is certainly satisfaction in getting paid for it. But it is when I finally have the chance to see the words mesh with the art that everything falls into place for me.

Other authors may be different. I can't say. Nor do I think that there is a "right" way or a "wrong" way to enjoy this process of creation. I just wanted to post a big "Thank you!" to all of the artists who have helped make my work look good over the years.


Thank you!

I hope that it is clear that the art in this post is representational, but the inclusion (or lack thereof) of any given piece isn't meant to call out specific artists.

I am grateful to anyone who has ever tried to make images out of my words!

Now, here's the contest: Can you name the products that these images come from? There are images from 12 products. 

The first person to name them all, in the comments, will receive a POD coupon for Dispatches Vol IV from me as soon as the print version is available. All you need to do is pay postage!

(Well, and make sure I have your email address linked to Drive Thru!)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Gary Con, Extended

Gary Con IX was the first large convention that I have been to in many long years - over a decade at least. What a fantastic time! Inevitably, I am going to fail to mention some people or some events, partially because I am still recovering and partially because there is a limit to my abilities as a writer. Here we go, though...a more extended version of Gary Con events.

(On second thought, I lie....Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee last year was pretty damn big, and I got to meet and hang with Brendan LaSalle there! It just goes to show, though, that I am going to make mistakes in this report.)

Thursday: Arrived at the hotel with my son, Mike. Because we were late to book, I had to use the overflow and get a suite at the Timber Lodge. I had imagined pick-up gaming in the room (it included a table seating 6), but that never came to pass. Too bad, in a way. I had packed more than enough material to run another 3-4 games.

Dropping by the Goodman Games/Black Blade Publishing booth, I met with Jon Hershberger and signed a raffle copy of the DCC core rulebook.

At 2 pm I ran a playtest of Escape from Terror Island, which seemed to go pretty well. Included at the table was none other than Thick Skull's Stephen Newton, who had pictures taken.A good thing, too, as I had failed to take any.

That night, after the game, Mike and I met with Joseph Goodman, Harley Stroh, and Jen Brinkman, and went to dinner at the Pub Next Door....which was excellent and crowded with Con-goers and locals alike.

That evening Mike and I hung out at the bar for a bit, and were witness to Doug Kovacs running a game of Dog Storm. The game was in process when we arrived, so we didn't play, but instead drank Spotted Cow and talked to other gamers.

Friday: I ran two games: a Gnome Jambalaya playtest at 10 am and Stars in the Darkness at 2 pm. Among the people at my tables were David Baity and Clint Bohaty, who are certainly known to the DCC community. David Baity kindly brought be a Dark Trails thermos cup, dice, decal, and cup holder.

Please realize that, although I am only mentioning a few of the people at my tables (and largely because I am name-dropping), I got to game with a hell of a lot of great people not specifically mentioned. The tables were few, the gamers were fun and engaging, and I hope most of us enjoyed ourselves!

Between games, I tried to locate Paul Wolfe, both because we have had a cordial online relationship for a number of years, and because I wanted to get him to sign a copy of Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between which will be a raffle prize at Odyssey Con at the end of April.

We were able to get in on Dog Storm for that night, and Mike ended up winning. When we were on the edges the previous night, it had sounded as though people were having a lot of fun. The reality was even more fun. Almost all of my characters (I think all, but I say "almost" in case I forgot something) were taken out by dog storms or cosmic debris.

Saturday: I woke up late, and so only got into the tag end of What's New With Goodman Games....but not too late to see Doug Kovacs stump the Dark Master with Lankhmar lore. The kickstarter went live.

My only game for Saturday was The Revelation of Mulmo, scheduled for 10 pm to 3 am (we ran over), so I had plenty of time to hang around the convention area before that. I was able to have a longer conversation with Doug Kovacs, as well as see and discuss his original art. I met Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Taven. I was finally able to catch up with Paul Wolfe, as well as his family. I spoke with Reid San Filippo, Forrest AguirreScott Swift, Adam Muszkiewicz, Bob Brinkman, and others. It was all a bit of a whirl, and I apologize to those I haven't called out specifically. I had a short interaction with Michael Curtis. Somewhere in there I met Jobe Bittman and Jim Wampler.

My game that night included the illustrious James V. West.

I almost forgot to mention that Mike won a backpack full of beer while I was running this game, easily beating the American competition in Beers of the World....heavy drinking being the Canadian national sport even more than hockey is! It should go without saying that being a giant of a man with biceps like my thighs also improved Mike's chances! Canadian honour was upheld!

Sunday: Up by 10 am to breakfast, check out of the hotel, and then run The Tomb of the Squonk for a full table, which included Jeff Goad. No one was turned away. A lot of "20"s were rolled by the players. Side trips to The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn and The Giggling Deep were made.

After the convention, Mike and I had lunch at the Pub Next Door, where we again met with Doug Kovacs. It was a full convention.

Shout-Outs to the Players Who Signed Up for My Games

If you're not listed, let me know in the comments. If I met with you at the Con, but my overworked brain left you out of the above report, say "Hi" in the comments. Especially for the 0-level funnels, because I would like to make sure that you get the playtest credit you deserve!

Escape From Terror Island: Richard Mundy, Don Porter, Chris Ellis, Ken Austin, Jeff Bernstein, and Joshua O'Conner-Rose.

Gnome Jambalaya: Jon Steelman, Becky Banner, David Baity, Clint Bohaty, Karen Johnson, Charlie Brashear, Todd Brashear, and David Caulkins. (Chris Ellis was on the waiting list, but I can't for the life of me remember if we made room or not....?)

Stars in the Darkness: Richard Mundy, Mike Bolam, Chris Ellis, Joshua O'Connor-Rose, Christopher Turner, Matthew Turner, Justin Bowers, and Dave Crimm.

The Revelation of Mulmo: Dave Bresson, Nathan, Steph, James V. West, Andrew Moss, Jeff Bernstein, Trevor Hartman, and Joshua O'Connor-Rose.

The Tomb of the Squonk: Jon Steelman, Jeff Goad, Becky Banner, Richard Mundy, Tim Deschene, Jeffrey Laluc. The Waiting List included Eric Lopez, Mike Bishop, Chris Ellis, and James Smith. I tried to accommodate all comers.

Recommendation to the Con

On the "Players Wanted/Table Full" stands, include something to indicate what game is being played. Especially if you need players!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Gary Con IX

Gary Con was last weekend, and a great time was had! I am still in Wisconsin, visiting family, but I would like to shout out to all the great people I met and gamed with and say THANK YOU! It was gratifying to have dedicated gamers willing to fill a table for a 10 pm - 3 am slot, and I hope that I did not disappoint!

I will almost certainly return next year (barring some emergency), and try to work my schedule so that I have more time to hang out with people.

To the player in Tomb of the Squonk who lost his dice - I have them. Give me a shout and I'll make sure that they get back to you.

Again, great Con! Thank you!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Left on the Cutting Room Floor

Here are a few extras from a recent(ish) DCC project that either didn’t fit the space requirements or tone of the product. I present them here so that you may use them in your own games.

Pustule: A yellow pustule on the (1d4): (1) right wall, (2) left wall, (3) floor, or (4) ceiling quivers with mucus-like pus. If interacted with in any way, it bursts, spraying pus in a 30’ radius. A Reflex save (DC 5) avoids the pus. Touched characters get a DC 10 Fort save each round to avoid losing 1d3-1 points of Strength, Agility, or Stamina (PC’s choice) as the pus eats into his flesh. Once a character makes a successful save, the damage ends. Characters who survive long enough can heal the damage normally. A ranged attack against AC 7 can burst a pustule from a safe distance.

Polyp: A bulging reddish polyp emerges from wall, ceiling, or floor. The polyp quivers slightly, straining towards any character approaching it. Should a PC touch the thing, it attempts to envelope him. The PC may attempt three Strength checks to break free: DC 5, DC 10, and DC 15. Thereafter, he is completely encased within the polyp. 1d5 minutes later, the polyp spits the character back into the corridor, healed of all wounds, diseases, and poisons. Any given polyp can only heal 1d3 PCs before it goes black, shrivels, and falls off the surface of the hallway.

Antibody: Init +3; Atk touch +0 melee (0); AC 6; HD 1 hp; MV fly 40’; Act 1d16; SP attach, reduce Agility and speed; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

The dungeon is alive, and is patrolled by its own antibodies, which seek to deal with foreign substances. These are small blue fleshy spheres, covered with bumps and prongs, which fly in groups. Antibodies cause no damage, instead attaching to whatever they hit.

Attached antibodies are no longer active. They can be removed with alcohol or acid (including the pus from pustules), and do not “reactivate” if removed. Every three antibodies attached to a character reduces that character’s Agility by 1. Every five antibodies attached to a character reduces that character’s movement speed by 5’. If speed is reduced to 0’, a character can no longer move on his own.

Blue shade: Init +0; Atk none; AC 10; HD 1d4; hp 3; MV fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP non-corporeal, telepathic; SV Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +7; AL N.

This alien creature is a non-corporeal sphere, 30’ in diameter, in which everything appears to be a shade of cornflower blue (including any PCs within the sphere). It is nothing more than a color in this plane, and can neither harm another nor be harmed. It is telepathic, interested in everything, understands next to nothing about life in this plane, and is as annoying as all hell. It always answers a question with a question. Its voice is always calm, and it insists that it is smarter than everyone it has yet encountered in the material realm. If PCs become upset, or if a violent encounter occurs, the blue shade calmly suggests that everyone stop and consider things rationally. You are aware that the creature you are interacting with will die if you pierce it with the pointy thing you are holding, aren’t you?

The blue shade remains for 10 minutes of actual game time, or as long as the judge desires.

Giant tapeworm: Init -2; Atk bite +1 melee (1); AC 9; HD 1d6; hp 4 each; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP attach, blood drain; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

These are 5-foot-long parasites. A giant tapeworm that successfully attacks its foe latches on, and will not release its hold until dead. Thereafter, the tapeworm drains 1 hp of blood each round. The corpse of a creature killed by a giant tapeworm cannot be used to open a sphincter (although the giant tapeworm corpse can do so).

Graffle: Init +2; Atk stick +0 melee (1); AC 15; HD 1 hp; MV 20’; Act 1d14; SV Fort -2, Ref +2, Will +0; AL L.

Graffles are tiny humanoids, no more than a foot high. They wear clothing, but seldom wear pants, and their torsos are covered with shaggy fur. There is another tuft of fur at the end of their tails, and they have a tuft of fur at the top of their heads. They are generally inoffensive, and prefer fleeing to fighting. The Graffles claim to hail from a place called “Graffle Boulder” and refer to the dungeon as “this weird place in outer space”.

Draugmere, the Demonglass Blade: This Chaotic +1 longsword communicates with its wielder by simple urges. It appears to be made of black glass, but is as hard as steel, and its golden crossguards are twining dragons. The name of the blade is imprinted in the mind of any who grasps its hilt, as is the simple nature of the bargain Draugmere offers – you gain +1 bonus hp for every comrade you slay with the blade. These hit points cannot be healed, and are always used first. But it is easy to gain new bonus hit points, if you have any friends nearby…

Orb of Temptation: A glass orb, 6 inches in diameter, which seems to contain a naked human woman. A PC gains 1 point of Strength as soon as he picks it up. The woman within the orb will answer one question for any given character, but only one question ever. The orb must be passed to another character to get another answer. As soon as the new character takes the orb, he gains 1 point of Strength, and the previous character loses 1d3 points of Strength. The woman in the orb always answers questions truthfully, as succinctly as possible, and she knows everything that the judge knows. She asks the question asked, rather than the question intended. The players may choose to pass this object to new characters as often as they like, so long as they are willing to pay the price.