Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness CoverThe 1980’s saw a lot of the odd and weird. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an underground comic that sadly was made into a kids cartoon. That really altered people’s perception of the property and was probably the death of the RPG. I found quotes online that suggest the sales of the game plummeted after the cartoon came out yet the supplements kept coming out for many years.

People enjoy the cartoons and movies to various degrees but I always concentrated more on the comic. I never read them all but the general feel and theme is how we did our TMNT games. The most important part of the title that I think got lost in the other mediums is “and Other Strangeness.”

The game does a great job of giving a lot of options for mutant animals. It has an old school method of random determination and that can be part of the fun. Not all the animals are created equally so the random determination helps this. The way the character was mutated also leads to how the character skills and starting equipment are determined. These are randomly generated and some are better than others. There is a large chance of becoming a ninja. That is one of the flaws in the character generation but it had a simple fix for us. There is another Palladium game book called Ninjas and Superspies that has a great variety of hand to hand martial art options. When someone rolled the Ninja option we just had them pick or the GM pick a different style of martial art. This really helped make the characters feel and fight differently.

The comic was darker than the cartoon and that was what really made the game shine. It was built more based on the comic and that was fun. There was plenty of silliness and mutant animal death in our games. Most of the characters were experiments of some organization. Which on the table on happened 40% of the time, but for us it created a much more interesting backstory then accidently walking into some oozy mutagen.

The game of course is not perfect. The combat system can be a mess with when to dodge or parry, the physical prowess attribute being way too powerful as it applies to so much in combat, and all in all just too many dice rolls that slowed the game down. The skill system is not any better. It is a flat percentage system which is not that bad. But there are just way too many skills and many of the additional books just kept adding skills to the game.

Of the additional books I found After the Bomb to be the most useful. It gave us a setting that was filled with conflict and helped explain why there were so many mutant animals around. For character creation it had a better mutant background table and offered a wider variety of options that fit the setting. Pairing that with Road Hogs that explored the western USA in the After the Bomb setting is a must. These books offer some great adventure ideas and lots of little setting pieces.

TMNT is back in the spot light with the new movie in theaters. I have not seen it but anything that gives an excuse to talk about an old game no one probably plays anymore is a good thing. I like the idea of playing it again but the system is very old school and not always in the good way. It is clunky at times so a new system that keeps the randomness of character generation would be great.

Anyone else ever play the game? I don’t know if people would have even kept the books after all this time. Most of the books I have for it now I found at half priced book store recently.

Review: The God-Seed Awakens

The God-Seed Awakens CoverAuthor:  Paul Wolfe
Publisher:  Mystic Bull Games
Art: Doug Kovacs (cover), David Fisher, Jason Sholtis, Mario Torres, Jr.
Price: PDF $8.99 or Print $15.00 – RPG Now
Pages: 53

The Basics

The God-Seed Awakens is the newest adventure from Mystic Bull Games, written by Paul Wolfe for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG system. The adventure is intended for four to six 3rd level characters.

The cover is graced with the wonderful artwork of Doug Kovacs. The interior has pieces from David Fisher, Jason Sholtis, and Mario Torres, Jr. This review is based on both the Print and PDF versions of the adventure.

A living seed has found its way here from a distant world. A seed from a world-spanning tree where its roots made their way deep to the underworld and branches to the sky above. With the growth of the world-tree unstopped it managed to breach the confines of reality and find ways to other worlds. Two of the creatures from the seed have begun to raise forces from this world to further their own interests.

The backdrop of this adventure is an area around Mount Welwood. A judge can easily drop this area into their existing campaign world or download a hex-map from the Mystic Bull website for new campaigns. Several rumors (including a rumor table!) and hooks are included in the adventure to help a judge spur the characters to action!

In addition to the adventure a full patron write-up is included, new spells, new magic items, and many new monsters.

The artwork is liberally spread throughout the adventure. When one faces lots of new creatures, the accompanying artwork is a very useful tool for the judge to help describe the creatures to their players.

The included maps are clean and cover the cave system within Mount Welwood and the Seed of the Worldbreaker.

My Thoughts

Mystic Bull Games went all out with the cover on this one! Awesome art by Doug Kovacs. I saw the original to this one at Gary Con when Doug had it with him. It looked great then and it looks great on the actual printed module. The beast on the front with the eyes and mouth of a starfield is an excellent touch. And something about the cultists on the ledge really appeals to me.

As I noted earlier in the review, the module has a good amount of art throughout. While helping avoid any “walls of text” the art is a boon to judges in describing the new creatures the characters will encounter in this module. A definite plus.

The module hits the DCC “feel” by having a dimension traveling tree spreading its seed to other worlds. Couple the very premise with the vast array of atypical creatures and a DCC judge is sure to keep his players on their toes. The beauty of it all is the hooks start with things such as glowing spiders, raggedly dressed people preaching of a new god, and such. Then the characters will find themselves at odds with the creatures of the god-seed. I really like the more “typical” setup that really leads to anything but “typical”!

I also like that a full patron write-up is included for Shaloth. My players have the tendency to pick patrons from various modules I run. Some only have the patron and no write-up to go with them. The full write-up for Shaloth would be of great aid should a character choose this patron. Or if I wanted to borrow it for my campaign even without running the module.

Wrap Up

The God-Seed Awakens is great add to the DCC judge’s bag of tricks. With the ease of dropping it into an existing campaign and the plethora of items to borrow for an existing campaign the latest release from Mystic Bull Games is sure to find some use.

Review: D&D Starter Set

D&D Starter Set Cover

Review by Guest Blogger Kelly Davis

The Dungeons and Dragons Starter Box (MSRP $19.99, Preorder Amazon $12.65 at time of this review) is worth the price for groups wishing to try the new version of D&D.  I would recommend only one box purchased per group, as the Basic Dungeons and Dragons rules are available as free download from the WOTC website.

The large starter box is mostly filled with air, but your printed copy of the basic rules might help fill the empty space. Inside, you will find a 32 page rulebook, a 64 page adventure book, 5 pregenerated characters, one blank character sheet (intended for use in the D&D Encounters organized play program) and a set of polyhedral dice.   The rest of the space is taken up by a cardstock spacer.

The rulebook covers what you would expect. A brief introduction to the hobby of roleplaying, dice conventions and a brief introduction to all the rules, equipment and spells that the players would ever need to complete the 4 adventures in the other booklet.

The Adventure booklet contains 4 linked smaller adventures, each probably playable in two 4 hour sessions depending on how your group operates. They are written to help the new DM, with hints at enemy tactics, hooks on getting your characters into the adventure proper, and the back of the book features a mini-monster manual for any creatures found in the adventures. The four adventures are designed to take a group of 4-5 characters from 1st to 5th level.

The adventures are decent. They give the characters options, it’s not simply a set of encounters done one after the other (like 4E published adventures seemed to be). There are consequences for actions – perhaps being too noisy alerts the enemy, or catching them by surprise allows for some tactical advantages.

The game comes with 5 pregens. 2 very different fighters, a dwarven cleric, an elven wizard and a halfling thief. Each character has a few sentences that describe their personality, background and some character flaws that, if roleplayed, gain minor advantages later on. The reverse side of the character sheets feature info on the race and class  of the given character and the pre-selected improvements that occur with each new level. This takes a lot of the guess work out and allows people to play without even looking at the basic rules or the forthcoming Players Handbook.

I really like these pregens! They are likable characters who are well thought out. Some of your players may want to keep them rather than build their own once you get into the Basic rules.  There is also one single sided blank character sheet with a blurb about the Encounters program on the other side. With the popularity of Living Campaigns and Pathfinder Society, can you blame WOTC for starting 5E’s organized play program before the Player’s Handbook is out?

The dice are nice, too. They are a marbled blue with white inking. They are slightly more ‘precision edge’ than your typical rounded/polished dice, although they are very light – perhaps made of a cheaper plastic?

All of this in a study box (like the old days!) for a small price.  What could have been added? Maybe some stand up cardboard minis?  Sure, but the new approach to D&D makes ‘theater of the mind” OK again, so don’t want to send the wrong message.   I would have liked the two booklets to have more substantial, cardstock covers , too.

So, I recommend this as a purchase for your group. Everyone doesn’t need one. Only one box – for the DM of your group , should be fine.

Kelly Davis has been playing roleplaying games for most of his 40 something years. Most of that time has been spent as a game master.  He works as a contract system analyst for General Motors and is happily married with two creative kids who he is hoping will take up his hobbies.  His favorite games include D&D (all editions), Gamma World, Savage Worlds and Dungeonslayers!

Firefly Board Game

firefly_board_game_coverThere has been a ton of board games based on licenses in the past few years. I have been reluctant to try them as the few I have tried have not always been good. The few standouts have been games like Battlestar Galactica and the X-Wings miniature game. Most seem to try to cash in on the name with a game that does not always make sense and may have been rushed to production. I was leery with Firefly. I had heard a few good things about it on the net but nothing from a trusted source. I have not played it as often as I would like but so far I have been rather pleased with the game.

Firefly Board game is a game for one to four people (it does have rules for solo play) that plays in about two to three hours. Each player starts with their own Firefly, chooses a captain, and a place on the board to start. Each captain is different and offers its own advantages. As one prepares the game for set up it seems a lot more complicated than it really is.

The game takes up a bit of space. The board itself is good sized but one also needs room for many different decks of cards and their discard piles. The base game has thirteen different decks. Five of the decks represent different jobs that the Firefly captains can get from different contacts like Badger or Patience. Five other decks represent the different items and crew that can be acquired at different locations like the Space Bizarre or Regina. Two decks show movement one for inside Alliance space and the other for Border space where the Reavers are. The last deck is the misbehaving deck and this deck is used to complete some of the jobs and requirements to win the game.

Each captain starts with some fuel, a few spare parts, and a little cash. They are free to travel around to different places to get jobs or shop and try to find crew. There is a balance that has to be done as getting money from jobs is great but does not always lead one to victory. Finding the best crew and items is always great but again rarely will it in itself lead to victory.

I will admit when we first set up the game and saw all the components and decks it was really a little frightening. About half way through the first game when we started to see all the elements click together and it felt like a Firefly game that we knew we were really going to like this game.

There are Story cards that determine the win condition of the game. There are too few Storycards in the game and even with expansion there still does not feel like there are enough to that they have much variety. I like the concept of the cards and I just hope that someone finds a way to really make some cool scenarios be it the company or some fans. Each card starts with some flavor text to set up the story. Then there are certain goals that have to be done in a specific order. It might to do successful jobs for certain characters, or acquire so much money, or to go to some planet and accomplish something. To be able to do it though one needs to complete jobs and acquire a crew and gear. I like the game because one can just do jobs and become very successful there but if one is not working towards the goals it doesn’t matter how good the crew and gear are and it doesn’t matter how much money you have. Someone can do a few jobs and then try for the goals quickly and that can make for a short game if they win. But if they can’t complete the goals that can really set them back as they might have to replace dead crew members or get better equipment or other actions that have to be done to overcome setbacks.

There are three types of checks that are usually made: diplomacy, mechanics, or fighting. One adds up all the bonuses for whatever check they are about to make and rolls a d6 to try to get higher than a target number. A one is not an automatic failure and the 6 explodes so one rolls the die again and adds that number as well. There is always a chance of success though it might not be very good. Some diplomacy checks are called bribes so one can spend money to increase the chances of success. Some fighting is done with kosher rules so no weapons allowed. Most characters have a bonus to some or all the skills. A well rounded character might have a bonus to each where a really specialized character might have a plus three to one skill. Some characters will just have a plus one to one skill as most of the characters for hire are not that skilled. Characters have a cost that one has to spend to hire them and then that cost is subtracted from each successful job as one has to pay the crew. This is very important and on jobs that pay out in items other than money the crew still needs to get paid in cash.

On one’s turn when moving one either moves one space with no chance of something happening or they move up to five spaces by spending one fuel. There are engine upgrades that can change those numbers. When doing a fuel burn one has to flip over cards from the Alliance or Border space deck for each space moved. This can have nothing happening so the ship keeps flying or there could be an encounter or mishap. Some of the encounters are salvage ops and there captain can stop and end his turn there with the chance of recovering some cargo or other resource or the captain can ignore it and more on. A card can also show the ship has a malfunction so a spare part can be spent or a mechanics check might keep the ship flying. A run in with an Alliance ship or Reaver ship is the worst possibility. With the Alliance ship as long as the Captain has no warrants out for him and has no wanted crew and is not smuggling contra band or fugitives he’s fine. If he some of that then he might lose it or pay a fine. The Reaver ship is much worse. All passengers and fugitives are automatically killed. A weapons check is made to see how many of the crew die. Border space is a dangerous place but such encounters are still very rare making it a good gamble.

One thing that does slow down the game but I like are the Job and Planet decks. The discard pile can be looked through by anyone and those are available for people to get. Basically a person that lands on one of these spaces that wants a job or wants to buy something can consider up to three cards and get up to two. They can consider cards in the discard pile after looking through it and then draw cards from the deck to get up to three total. Any they pass on gores in the discard pile.

That’s a fair rundown on most of the basics. I did not cover everything but that should give more than a good over view. I wanted to also talk about some of the expansions. Every game has expansions it seems these days and Firefly is no exception. I’ll cover the ones I have.

Artful Dodger: This is a different ship. It adds a fifth player to the game. The ship is also different from the Fireflies. It has a better engine and can hold more crew but does hold less cargo. It means doing multiple jobs at once is a little more difficult.

Big Damn Hero Promo Cards: This small expansion is just five members of Serenity (Malcom, Wash, Zoe, Jayne, and Kaylee) with another ability on their cards. They are each in the main game but these promo cards have it so whenever any of them successfully completes a misbehaving card they receive an extra $100.

Breakin’ Atmo: This is the first real expansion but it is a small one. It is just fifty cards five for each of the job decks and planet decks. It does not add any new rules and I like there being a bit more in each deck so people that want to just go to a place and sit for many turns trying to find the best cards is a bit more difficult to do.

Pirates and Bounty Hunters: This is a good sized expansion. It includes two new ships one that can hold larger amounts of cargo but is a little slower and one that is very small and fast. It has some new captain options. Most importantly though it has player verse player rules. If one gets the right job they can attack other ships. It also has warrants so that ships can go after certain characters that are wanted and turn them in for money. The rules her can change the game nicely and allow for more interaction between players.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Worst Module Ever

Castle Greyhawk CoverOver the years there has been hundreds of modules made and it would be impossible to get people to agree on the worst. For me there is just one that is head and shoulders above the rest. I know for many people the Forest Oracle ranks as the worst D&D module. While that one is badly written in pales in comparison to the farce that is Castle Greyhawk.

The year was 1988. Greyhawk was a setting we had been playing in for years. At the time I had the box set and a few modules and we read about different aspects in Dragon magazine. There were hints and little blurbs about the majestic Castle Greyhawk. It was the one area of the work that we wanted to see more than any other. What we received were thirteen different levels that have basically nothing to do with one another. It was written as a joke with more puns then a Paranoia adventure and not nearly as well thought out. There really isn’t anything salvageable in here.

It starts with a decent enough premise. The old castle has been rediscovered and they are looking for people to explore the monster invested basement. Except there is no one that can explore it. The entrance to the first area is successfully hidden away. Only the PCs when they are approached as dopes by a kid can they learn the location to get in there. But even before that we have the weather. The druids around the castle are pissed off so the weather of any day is randomly rolled. It could be hot, it could be snow, and it could be anything. One would think this would be a problem to be solved but it is barely talked about. It is just poorly planned out and not a lot of it makes sense. I would get used to that as it is one of the few inconsistencies through this module.

The setup to the first dungeon is really odd. A crying kid asks the PCs to help find his dad. But it isn’t his dad it’s who he works for. Basically some guy found the entrance to the dungeons that everyone wants cleared and hid it so he could turn it into a zoo. So, the PCs go on and explore an underground zoo. It has all kinds of weird creatures to kill, but it tries to be funny and fails. The worst part is this is probably the best part of the dungeon.

The second level is also on a level the PCs can get to. It says the door is secured and no one can get through, but how others get through the Zoo when no one knows about the zoo is baffling to me.

Anyway the second level is one that gets built around a simple idea of irony. What if a group of orcs, trolls, goblins, and such all got together and made a plan to find someone to serve? So, they get this big banquet planned so that whomever shows up will be impressed. This is the plot of the second one. It doesn’t matter what day the PCs explore this area that is the day that the whomever is going to show up. There is party planning going on and all these monsters are busy. They assume the PCs are there for the party so they don’t fight the PCs. And if the PCs fight them there are too many. If things go bad for the PCs they get captured and tossed into a sewage pit for punishment.

The PCs have to explore everything here so they get the clues as to what is going on. What is really going on is that the PCs are spectators. They do nothing here that changes anything. The party happens, Asmodeus shows up. Yes, the real Asmodeus one of many demon lords who apparently regularly hangs out in Castle Greyhawk. He basically is unimpressed and tries to kill everyone. Wasn’t that fun?

It just gets worse from there. The next level has been taken over with plotting chefs. The creatures here are food puns and one of the only workable NPCs Poppinfarsh Doughboy. Fourth level has a three dimension quality that doesn’t work well. They tried and failed at doing something. The whole point of that level is to give cryptic pointless clues at the other levels. The fifth level is a role playing game. They have a paranoia take off, some characters loosely based on Marvel Superheroes, and other shake your head it is so pathetically bad encounters.

At this point I really did not want to read anymore. I wanted to make a meme with the picture of the module and warning label over top the whole thing. I did read more but it is not something I want to go over in any more detail. I don’t know the history of the product. I don’t know what vindictive person thought this version of Castle Greyhawk was a good idea. It is just a bad module that fails to be funny, fails to be clever, and fails to do anything but insult the Greyhawk name.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.


The Dragon's Demand “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting Dragons!”

I know others who have noted the lack of adventures that end with the locating and slaying of a dragon. In my own campaigns dragon encounters are always remembered. They are rare, but each encounter was unique and challenging. The dragons were played intelligently as the apex predators they are. The PCs many times had to make deals with the Dragons as they were unable to defeat them in combat. Dragons I feel should be epic and never a throw away encounter. It never mattered if it was just a faerie dragon or pseudo dragon or a big bad kick your ass red dragon. That is why this week I showcase not one, but two similar adventures that each build up the PCs to tackle a single Dragon.

Originally I was just going to discuss one module, EN Publishing’s To Slay a Dragon. It was a Kickstarter I participated in and I think it would be very fun to run. Last week though while figuring out what to buy with a 20% Barnes and Noble coupon I found a copy of the Dragon’s Demand, a module by Paizo Publishing.

The two are very similar, not just in module theme, but how they work. Each is set in a very small town the players characters can explore, find mystery, and meet interesting NPCs. Each town has its own unique history waiting to be discovered. Each module has a series of side quests the PCs can accomplish to help gain treasure and XP. Each module is in three parts, which while common for plays, is not so common in module construction. Each module has the PCs gather items of power to help slay the dragon and each module assumes the PCs will get up to about level six or seven before fighting the dragon.

Sadly though if I were to just recommend one it is not even a contest. To Slay a Dragon is a much better product. It is larger by almost 100 pages and it is less expensive to purchase.  The extra pages are devoted to setting which I appreciate. The Dragon’s Demand really has a lot to be desired within the four pages it gives to describe its town. To Slay a Dragon devotes more space to just describing the NPCs and that is without stat blocks. It is not just the attention to the setting. Dragon’s Demand is a more typical adventure of dungeon crawls with A leading to B leading to C. To Slay a Dragon takes a different approach and makes the first two parts a sandbox experience. There are a lot of options for the characters and they are free to handle them however they want.

Dragon’s Demand starts off weakly. Getting PCs to the adventure is not always easy and in some cases, like this, a bit too heavy handed but I think writers can do better. PCs arrive in town as part of a caravan. The caravan owner is arrested and the PCs get stuck in the town. A tower falls over and the mayor decides the PCs are the only competent people she has to investigate it. At the very least I would make investigating the Tower seem dangerous and the PCs are hired to do so because no one wants to take the risk. There are quests the PCs will discover, but I dislike that the actual adventure is part of the list of quests. It seems like not enough XP is in the adventure and so when the PCs accomplish items like explore the collapsed tower they get bonus XP for it. I would add in more monsters or traps, making it more dangerous, but increasing the amount of XP.

In the second part the PCs explore the manor house of a wizard. It has magical traps and other surprises inside but the biggest surprise comes from the PCs not being allowed to keep anything they find. Aside from keeping the adventure going there are few reasons any PCs would ever to agree to terms of that kind. Killing things and looting them is one of the basic assumptions in the game. The module is also a lot of dungeon crawls. It is comfortable and what players are used too but I like it to be mixed up every now and again. When everything turns into a dungeon crawl then things seem very similar.

By the time the PCs get to the dragon they should have enough items to really make the battle easy. It is only a Green Dragon, so not the toughest. If all the items are not enough the PCs can call it by its real name and that will weaken the creature even more. It is a CR 11 creature for PCs of 6th or 7th level, so it could be tough if they miss some things.

To Slay A DragonBy contrast To Slay a Dragon is mostly sandbox. It gives the PCs plenty of time to explore the town and meet fleshed out NPCs. They don’t have to do all the quests and can really enjoy the first part of the adventure. The second part with the fear of the dragon hanging over their heads is also a sandbox but with the dragon killing whole towns it makes the creature seem rather fierce and dangerous. The PCs only hope to defeat it is with a few unique items they must find and find quickly. If the PCs kill and get all the XP they might be 9th level by the time they face the dragon but more likely will be lower. This dragon is CR 14 so a whole lot tougher and the fight will feel like a better victory. The treasure will also feel earned. This is not the appropriate treasure for a CR 14 creature. This is the appropriate treasure for a dragon that has been raiding and stealing from people for centuries. It is a treasure trove worthy of a dragon.

I hope to one day get to run one or both of these. I like adventures that build up towards something epic like these do. It is nice to have one module that covers all of the lower to mid-levels of the game. To Slay a Dragon is the stronger module but it is also larger and has more room to fit into it the details and extras that I really appreciate in a module.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Mini Review: The Stars Are Falling

The Stars Are Falling CoverPurple Duck Games has taken some of their earlier adventures and combined them to form a short campaign arc for Dungeon Crawl Classics. The product was released as The Stars Are Falling and is written by Daniel Bishop, Paul Wolfe, and David Pryzbyla. The compilation includes the following previously released adventures:

I have reviewed each of the above products separately, except for Sepulchre of the Mountain God, here at The Iron Tavern. The links above will take you to the Iron Tavern review.

And though I have not done an official review for AL2, I have run that adventure. It was a great time for the group I ran it for and provided us with a lot of fun. So though it lacks a review here at the Tavern, it is no less great than the other adventures above.

The Stars Are Falling brings all of the above adventures together in one product – available in PDF or Print format from RPGNow, d20pfsrd.com, or Paizo.com.

Two pages have been added to provide a campaign framework for linking all of these adventures together. The suggested order to run these is slightly different than their release order – AL2, AL1, AL3, AL4, AL3 (optional), and AL5.

A 0-level funnel does need to be provided by the judge running this. Portal Under the Stars from the core rulebook is a great candidate for this as a particular event that happens in that funnel can be tied to The Stars Are Falling with minimal work. If your group is already familiar with that funnel, some suggestions are made on how to strengthen ties from whatever funnel you choose to the theme of this product.

The remaining portion of the framework chapter review each component of the compilation and what changes need to be made to tie them together into one campaign arc. These are usually 2-3 bullet points, map adjustments or how to tie legend from one adventure locale to another. These are all easy modifications and do a lot to give the compilation a cohesive feel.

While I have not run these adventures tied together I have run all of them but the finale at some point. They are all great adventures, several of which my players still talk about or haunt them in some fashion. By turning them into a compilation a DCC RPG judge has a great resource they can use to jumpstart a DCC campaign up through 3rd level or so. In addition a great many events will have been set into motion that ideas to continue the campaign should be abundant.

The Stars Are Falling compilation is another great release from Purple Duck Games for the DCC game. Whether you missed out on some of the adventures as they were released or you were looking for a mini-campaign product in adventure path style you will want to take a closer look at this release.

The Perils of Cinder Claws

perils_of_cinder_clawsPurple Duck Games has just released The Perils of Cinder Claws by Daniel Bishop. This is a Dungeon Crawl Classics module ready for some holiday gaming! The product actually contains two adventures – The Thing in the Chimney and The Nexus of Yule. The module comes in at 32 pages with artwork from Jacob Blackmon and cartography by Kristian Richards.

The Thing in the Chimney is suitable for a wide range of character levels with the level appropriateness determined by the number of characters. Anything from 1st level to 4th level is covered. The adventure takes place on the shortest day of the year in the winter and starts in a great hall that can easily be placed in the middle of the wilderness or small village or town.

I do not want to spoil too much of the adventure, but suffice it to say that the adventure contains all types of holiday themed components. Fruitcakes, snowmen, reindeer, and more! All are blended in an interesting adventure that would play well as a one-shot or holiday diversion for your ongoing campaign. You just might get to meet Cinder Claws himself!

The Nexus of Yule is the second adventure in the product. It can be used stand-alone or as a follow-up to the first adventure, though this one is listed as being suitable for four to eight 3rd level characters. This is another easy one to bring a separated group of characters together as the characters are brought together in this Nexus.

Avoiding spoilers again, there are many holiday themed elements throughout. The adventure can conclude in a variety of different ways depending on the group’s or individuals desire to help Cinder Claws.

And finally the Appendix includes a Patron write-up for Cinder Claws, a Yuletide Spirit. Invoke Patron check results, Patron Taint, and Spellburn results are all included. The names of three Patron Spells are included, but the details of those are left up to the judge. The names of the spells should provide enough to convey a general sense of what would be appropriate.

While I have not had the opportunity to run the adventures in this product, they look like great choices for someone wanting to run a holiday themed DCC game. The product is available at RPGNow.

Review: Bluffside City on the Edge

Bluffside: City on the EdgeIn the days of d20 we had more than a few city supplements published. Freeport is the most famous and the easiest to use with all of its support. It is a gritty pirate city making it easy for players to understand and the original trilogy of adventures written for it as well as other after that served as a great introduction and way to make good use of Freeport. But while Freeport is great, and I did run a very enjoyable campaign there it was not my favorite city published in the days of d20. That honor goes to the city of Bluffside. Bluffside is a city built on the ruins of a lost civilization. It is written with creativity and plenty of mystery that appeals to me. I just hope this time around it gets the support it deserves and that some of the many mysteries the book raises get some kind of answer.

The new version of Bluffisde is written for the Castles and Crusades RPG. It is not a system I like and when it was first announced I was not going to buy it for that reason. However, I found my old copy of the original and was reminded on how much I enjoyed reading the setting. I did eventually buy a copy and I am pleased that I did. I have zero intention of ever using it with Castles and Crusades but luckily there are very few rules that I would need to convert into whatever system I might use when running the setting.

Bluffisde has a rich history and is filled with mystery. A very long time ago there was a civilization that was destroyed in a cataclysm. Bluffside is built over and around the ruins of one of their cities and seemingly the center of the cataclysm.  It is named Bluffside because it sits high on a cliff over the ocean. The many districts of the city are in many ways small cities themselves. Each district is separate as the area the city is built on has crevasses that make it impossible to build a single large expansive city. This really makes the different area unique and feel much more like small neighborhoods.

The books is filled with great places of interest that are ridiculously easy to use. Each one defines a shop or building, lists the regulars so it is easy to know which NPCs one might encounter there, and lists a couple hooks to turns any point of interest into a seed for some type of adventure. Some of the hooks are complex, others are just simple sentences, and all serve to be a good starting point for some type of adventure – big or small.

The book does have a lot of Castles and Crusades information in it. It has 20 pages that are just NPC stats, and many pages of creatures, spells, items, classes, etc. They take up almost half the book coming in at about seventy of the hundred and seventy pages. Because of that, the decent sized book becomes a lot smaller for people like myself that will get little use out of those pages.

Bluffside is a city of mystery. There are plenty of underground caves that can lead to ancient ruins. Even the ancient palace the city is built around has not fully been explored in over a century. There are ancient magics alongside a very modern political set up that create issues for the player characters. There are a few powerful groups each with different agendas and knowledge of the city and its mysteries. The area around the city is also still wild. There are valuable metals to be found in the mountains along with tribes of goblins and other monsters. It is a city ripe with opportunity for adventuring.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.

Review: Silent Nightfall

silent_nightfall_coverAuthor:  Daniel J. Bishop
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Art: Michael Scotta, Jacob Blackmon
Price: PDF $2.75 (sale) – RPG Now / d20pfsrd Shop / Paizo
Pages: 24 (incl. cover)

Campaign Elements

Silent Nightfall is the fifth installment in the Campaign Elements series from Purple Duck Games written by Daniel Bishop. The Campaign Elements line is designed to help a DCC RPG judge create a persistent campaign world and provide patron quests, divine quests, or any number of quests to help fill the “quest for it” vibe of DCC RPG.

The Campaign Elements series can also be used to provide a short side quest on nights you are missing a player. Or on an evening you need a short diversion from the main campaign events. The CE series is a very versatile set of adventures that easily drop into any DCC campaign.

Silent Nightfall

Silent Nightfall involves venturing into a nuclear power facility from a long gone era when magic was less prevalent. Since that era a new creature called the grallistrix has taken hold and is one of the creatures calling the facility their home. A mutated wizard also calls the area his home and even the energy of the remaining nuclear power can be used as a demi-patron for your Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. If all the creatures inhabiting the area are not enough, a particularly sought after artifact is also located within the area.

While the location in this adventures fits in the vein of Appendix N literature, a nuclear power plant may not fit in with your campaign world. Daniel offers a couple of other options for a judge wishing to use this adventure but not use the previous civilization premise.

A background is provided for the judge to give him some information about the area. This is followed by a more in-depth description of the creatures within the remains of the structure, as well as the artifact lost within its depths. Before moving on to the encounter area descriptions a few ideas are presented for working the location into your campaign beyond just killing things and taking their stuff.

The included map covers the three levels of the structure. It is easy follow and for the motivated judge offers some room for expansion through collapsed corridors.

As is typical of the CE series there are several ideas suggested for “squeezing it dry”. These ideas help provide a judge with some suggestion on where the PCs can go from here after running the adventure for them.

Silent Nightfall is also full of several appendices that can be used in conjunction with the adventure or “stolen” for use in other areas of a judge’s campaign. These include a table of aberrations (due to the radiation, but easily adapted to be caused by something else). In addition to the table several specific creatures affected by radiation are included. The adventure also introduces the idea of demi-patrons. Demi-patrons are simply less powerful patrons that offer some assistance to characters but not at the capacity a full patron could. An expansion of the language rules is also included for judges wishing to use them.

And finally, a new lawful organization called the Radiant Brotherhood is introduced. This organization could easily be used as part of this adventure or borrowed for other areas of a judge’s campaign. A level structure within the organization is defined and some stats for each of these ranks.

The Review

I find Silent Nightfall another great release in the Campaign Elements line from Purple Duck Games. The adventure itself is a great option for working into an existing campaign or as a side trek.

The inclusion of multiple new creatures is also sure to add to a judge’s stable of creatures to surprise his players with. They could easily be transplanted to a different scenario with ease if the main encounter area did not grab a judge for some reason.

The concept of a demi-patron is an interesting one. A judge can easily expand this to other niche areas of their own campaign with the framework provided. I am sure I can find use for demi-patrons in my own campaign.

I continue to find the Campaign Elements line an excellent product. They have so many parts that are usable in existing campaigns – either in whole or part. I have always been able to find ways to include parts or sometimes the entire encounter area in my own long running campaign. The ease at which one can drop bits and parts or the whole encounter area into an existing campaign makes the CE line a great resource!