Tales from the Sunken City

I have been running a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG campaign online via Google+ Hangouts and Roll20. The game has been going since the first of August and we typically play for 2 to 2.5 hours on Tuesday nights. We have had a couple of canceled sessions due to crazy lives, but have had a pretty stable campaign overall.

I started the campaign with The Perils of the Sunken City from Purple Sorcerer Games, a 3rd party publisher for the DCC RPG system. Several of my players were familiar with the Goodman Games modules already out which was a factor in choosing to start with the Purple Sorcerer Games products.

I liked the initial setting because it included a decent sized, but financially poor city and a large area of swamps to the South of the city. The swamps were vast portions of the city reclaimed over the centuries as the city was forcefully migrated northward by nature. The setting also includes a “sending stone” which acts like a randomly teleporting stone. Prospective adventurers place their hands on the stone and they are transported to some location. I thought this would allow me to use a myriad of modules that might not otherwise link together well.

Essentially, the modules offered a starting point with enough detail to hit the ground running, but enough white space for me to shape it into anything the players or I wanted.

The first module went quite well with some overland exploration in the swamp followed by a rather lethal dungeon for the ending of the adventure. The Perils of the Sunken City served quite well for a 0-level funnel and really helped shaped the character development of those that survived.

With the group surviving their first foray into the Sunken City they returned as heroes to the little settlement just outside the city walls proper. The group took about three months of in-game time to determine their path forward (i.e. class) and spend their hard fought gold. Two of the players also selected their patron from an entity featured at the end of the module. I ended up doing a complete patron write-up for that patron which both players have been using.

From here I wanted to run The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk for the group. It made use of the same sending stone for a start and further reinforced my base of the Great City and the Sunken City in the swamps to the south. I blended the storylines a bit and offered a possible option for controlling the sending stones instead of submitting to its randomness via an item that would be found at the end of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk.

It took us six session (2 hours each) to play through The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk. I am sure other groups have played through this faster. I tend not to steer players too much, so I let their investigations go and handle things on they fly when they take actions outside what might be outlined in a module. If they want to chat with someone they encounter, I am always happy to carry on that conversation instead of brushing it aside. I think that is a good thing as long as it helps get them information they desire. But it does add time to play through the module. In fact, though we are pretty much done with the module as written, they have a few things they still want to wrap up.

Choosing to start with the Purple Sorcerer Games Sunken City line has proven to be a good start for us. I feel like we have a solid set of characters now, some backgrounds and themes starting to show through and the start of a campaign world to play in. With the use of sending stones it will also be relatively easy to work in other adventures from other publishers as well. There is a whole area of exploration behind how the sending stones came to be and are they really limited to just taking you to portions of the swamp?

For those interested I do keep an Adventure Log at the Obsidian Portal site I use for this campaign. While I don’t post detailed session reports here, I do try to keep the adventure log updated. Feel free to check it out. I caution you that you will run into spoilers for The Perils of the Sunken City and The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk over there as you read about our group’s adventures.


DCC RPG – Ice Golem

Winter is Coming II

Last fall @twwombat ran the inaugural Winter is Coming blog festival. The Iron Tavern participated in the festival with The Linnorm Ice Throne, a powerful artifact for the Pathfinder system, and A Winter Chase, a winter time chase using the Pathfinder chase rules.

This year @MarkMeridith has continued the festival with Winter is Coming II over at dicemonkey.net. The Iron Tavern is once again participating with today’s post!

In the spirit of winter and the cold weather I post some example Ice Golems for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG system. Golems are highly customizable in DCC RPG, but these two examples should provide some basis for judges wanting to add some winter themed fun to their DCC RPG campaign.

Ice Golems

Golems are a popular guardian for powerful mages. Not needing sleep or food, golems offer several attractive options for a mage seeking to guard his workshop. In the winter wastes of the north, ice golems are a popular choice for the enterprising wizard. The cold environments easily sustain the golem’s ice flesh.

Crafting an ice golem is still a somewhat difficult task, requiring a mold to be made to freeze the water into the desired size and shape the mage desires. Once a mold has been made though, multiple ice golems can be crafted from the same mold and water for freezing is typically plentiful.

A mage can create varying sizes of ice golems. Depending on the mage’s talent an ice golem can be imbued with various special qualities. Rituals are used to create ice golems with special qualities. Mages of the north keep these rituals as guarded secrets.

Sample Golems

Ice Golem, Large: Init -2; Atk fist +8 melee (dmg 2d6+6) or icy breath; AC 13; HD 10d8+10; MV 20′; Act 1d20; SP icy breath, double damage from fire-based attacks; SV Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +4, AL N

Icy Breath: (cone, width 15’, length 15’, 6d6 dmg, DC 15 Fortitude for half damage)   An ice golem can use its icy breath attack every 1d5 rounds. Using the icy breath weapon consumes the ice golem’s action for that round. Targets caught in the breath weapon’s cone-like shape can attempt a Fortitude save for half damage.

An icy breath attack also has a chance to extinguish any open flames (torches, candles, etc). If an open flame is in the area of the attack there is a 60% chance the open flame will be extinguished.

Double Damage, Fire-based Attacks: An ice golem is especially susceptible to fire-based damage. Fire-based attacks do double their normal damage on a successful hit.

Ice Golem, Medium: Init -2; Atk fist +5 melee (dmg 1d10+4) or icy breath; AC 12; HD 5d8+5; MV 20′; Act 1d20; SP icy breath, double damage from fire-based attacks; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +3, AL N

Icy Breath: (cone, width 5’, length 10’, 4d6 dmg, DC 13 Fortitude for half damage)   An ice golem can use its icy breath attack every 1d6 rounds. Using the icy breath weapon consumes the ice golem’s action for that round. Targets caught in the breath weapon’s cone-like shape can attempt a Fortitude save for half damage.

An icy breath attack also has a chance to extinguish any open flames (torches, candles, etc). If an open flame is in the area of the attack there is a 60% chance the open flame will be extinguished.

Double Damage, Fire-based Attacks: An ice golem is especially susceptible to fire-based damage. Fire-based attacks do double their normal damage on a successful hit.

ICv2 Summer 2012 – DCC RPG

ICv2 released their summer 2012 numbers today for the top 5 RPGs. ICv2 has been releasing these charts quarterly and the information is based on interviews with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.

The accuracy of these charts is often called into question, especially when particular companies are knocked out of the number 1 spot on the chart. I tend to consider it a reasonable source of RPG game popularity in the market as ICv2 does release this every quarter and has been doing so for many years. If nothing else it is at least a conversation point, there are likely many other factors at play as to true popularity.

With that out of the way – look who showed up in position five on the chart for summer 2012! Goodman Games with Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG!

  • Pathfinder                                                                       Paizo Publishing
  • Dungeons and Dragons                                                Wizards of the Coast
  • Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader/Deathwatch                       Fantasy Flight Games
  • Dragon Age                                                                    Green Ronin Publishing
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics                                               Goodman Games

It has seemed that Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is having its share of popularity with the 1st printing having sold out and a near constant buzz about the game on social networks and message forums. But one has to wonder if that is just due to some of the circles I hang out in. It seems the popularity is more than just amongst my hangouts on the Internet.

Congrats Goodman Games!

Review: Through the Cotillion of Hours

Author:  Daniel J. Bishop
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Art: Scott Ackerman
Price: PDF $3.50 / Print(+ PDF) $7.50
Pages:   15

Through the Cotillion of Hours is Purple Duck Games third release in their Adventure Locale line supporting the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and the second written by Daniel Bishop. The Adventure Locale series of adventures written to be dropped into nearly any DCC RPG campaign with minimal prep. One of the unique characteristics about this particular release is it can be used for any character level and any number of characters.

As noted in the blurb text for the adventure, sleeping characters are invited to a masked ball of the Dreaming God, Somnus. Donning masks the characters are granted entrance to the palace where they are left to find the Dreaming God Somnus to possibly ask him to grant them some request. Best be careful though as not all requests are met with pleasure.

The adventure can be run as a drop-in as it can occur while characters sleep. That keeps a DCC RPG judge from having to work it into the current campaign as it can literally happen at anytime in a campaign path.

I mentioned earlier the Adventure Locale series are designed to be run with minimal prep and dropped into existing campaign worlds. This adventure truly delivers on the drop-in factor. Given that it can be run with any number of players and any level of character, it really is quite flexible. I could easily see prepping this and having it ready to run for nights that we are a couple of players short. This module could certainly save me from needing to cancel a session due to last minute cancellations. All I need is for the characters to sleep and I have an adventure for them to take part in.

The other nice thing about this adventure is that they might not complete it the first time through. That isn’t an issue as it can become a recurring dream. So if I were to run it for a couple of players one night I could always pick it up again on another week where we were short some players.

The prep factor of this one is higher than the first two in my opinion, mainly because the judge needs to learn the dream world and how things work there. The adventure is also timed and the judge needs to be ready to track that time and know how to advance that “clock” forward. The previous two adventures I could literally run after a brief skim of the PDF. This one needs a slightly more thorough reading to be ready to run. The time needed is well worth it in my opinion, but it does need a bit more prep time.

Another thought that kept passing through my head as I read this one was the tie-ins to Coliseum Morpheuon from Rite Publishing. I reviewed Coliseum Morpheuon here at The Iron Tavern several months ago, but it covered a whole dream world as well. It could be an interesting area for a DCC RPG judge to explore if they chose.

All in all another solid adventure from the Purple Duck Games for DCC RPG. This one will be nice to have in the back pocket for times we have a couple of players cancel. I look forward to the next in the Adventure Locale series.

DCC RPG: Fast Zombies

Art by welovethedark on Flickr, used under Creative Commons



Zombies have been on my mind a lot recently. I started listening the We’re Alive audio drama a couple of weeks ago and have been catching up on all of the episodes so far. In this drama there are several types of zombies – ones that can move extremely fast, behemoth sized zombies, jumpers, climbers and smart zombies. I’ve found myself intrigued by fast zombies before and other systems do have fast zombies. With that as my spark I wrote up a fast zombie creature and the framework of a ritual to go along with it. After all these things have to be created somehow!


The Ritual

Lost to the passage of time in an ancient necromancer’s laboratory is the rite of ritualized magic to create powerful undead. Within these dusty tomes are rituals thought by many of the art to be impossible. Combining the dark arts of wizardly and clerical necromancy the tome details a three-day ritual by both to create this breed of fast zombie. The ritual frees the animated zombie of the chains of rigor mortis while retaining its mindless obedience and its ability to sustain devastating amounts of damage before its destruction.

Wizards and dark clerics who study these long lost tomes over time will decipher the ritual and learn the tools, words and movements to complete the ritual. While the majority of the ritual needs to occur near a cemetery or suitable burial ground, the final portion of the ritual must occur under the phase of a new moon at the burial ground. Several of the required components are not trivial to obtain, further complicating successful completion of this ritual. Components can vary depending on slight variations of the ritual and what is available. Several ounces of quicksilver or mercury are always required for the ritual.

Upon successful completion of the ritual the casters are able to animate fast zombies.

The Zombie

Zombie, Fast: Init +2; Atk bite +3 melee (1d6+1);AC 12; HD 3d6; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead, on critical hit also gains additional attack; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C

Fast Zombies are terrifying opponents and frequently catch unsuspecting adventurers unaware. Bearing remarkable resemblance to the more typical zombie, the fast zombies have remarkable speed that often takes their opponents by surprise. Few can out distance a fast zombie who will pursue untiringly after threats. The fast zombie does this while retaining the toughness of slow moving zombie.

DCC RPG Limited Edition Cover

When Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG was released it was available in two different covers, the “normal” cover and a gold-foiled limited edition cover. I was a little behind getting into DCC RPG. I knew about the Beta but did not pay much attention to it as I was happy with my Pathfinder game. So I only ended up with the “normal” cover.

Recently there have been rumors and talks of a second limited edition cover for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. To make it even better it was going to include a few small fixes and an index the second printing of the game received. A black-and-white sketch was posted of the cover as well.

Yesterday the pre-order opened for the second limited edition book and a picture of the cover was released. It simply looks great! The art is done by Doug Kovacs who really has the “feel” of DCC RPG art down. He has another winner with this cover as well. The book is now available for pre-order from Goodman Games website.

DCC RPG Limited Edition Cover

Review: Crawl! Issue #4

Crawl! is a fanzine for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. The fanzine is wrangled by the Reverand Dak and is only available in paper form. In the day and age of electronic distribution that last point might sound a little odd. But it is quite refreshing to stroll out to the mailbox after work and find the most recent issue there.

The typical issue of Crawl! includes additional options and rules for DCC RPG. These can range form tables that expand the current game, new spells, patrons, and similar content. The most recent issue of Crawl! deviates from that content line-up and presents a full adventure.

Issue #4 includes a 5th level adventure written by Yves “sheriffharry” Larochelle, a detailed village with NPCs, a forest, a new dragon, a dungeon, new magic items and more. The layout of this issue was done in a way that allows people that are not necessarily in the market for a new adventure to “steal” bits and pieces and use them separately from the adventure itself.

While I have not been able to play-test the adventure in this issue, it reads well and should be an enjoyable session or two of fun. As mentioned before there are several things in this issue I could easily drop into my existing campaign. From monsters to NPCs to populated dungeons the issue proves very useful to an judge running DCC RPG.

Scott Ackerman does much of the artwork in this issue. If you are a fan of DCC RPG you have probably been seeing more and more of his art pop up in some of the 3PP products. Scott really seems to catch the Appendix N feel of DCC RPG with his art depicting twisted creatures and scenes.

If you play the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, you should check Crawl! out if you have not already.