Review: The Waystation

AL4 The Way StationAuthor:  David Przybyla
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Art: Luigi Castellina, Marc Radle
Price: PDF $3.50 – at RPGNow / at / at Paizo
Pages: 19 (incl. cover)

The Way Station

The Way Station by David Przybyla is the most recent release from Purple Duck Games for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG system. The Way Station is part of the Adventure Locale line written to be easily dropped into nearly any DCC RPG campaign with minimal prep. This adventure is for four to eight 3rd level characters.

The adventure involves finding a ventilation shaft from the ancient dwarven kingdom of Upanesh. A large network of tunnels connected the various wards of the Upanesh. Railcars would shuttle people and goods from way station to way station. Eventually these way stations came under attack from both earthly and supernatural beings.

Eventually the South March Way Station came under assault and a dwarf that was the chosen hero of Upan held the station as the others fled. This was the last the dwarven hero was seen.

The adventure is entered through a ventilation shaft that has been lost to time. A judge can easily work this into their campaign by either having the characters randomly come upon it, hear stories of an ancient dwarven kingdom, or perhaps even a child lost and discovered inside the ventilation shaft. Simple entry points like this make great strides to making the adventure easier to drop into a campaign world.

Once beneath the surface there are several unique things awaiting the characters. From a rather unusual rail car used by the Upanesh to the new monsters introduced in the module. True to DCC RPG fashion, none of the monsters found in the module are going to be ones the judge or players would find in a traditional monster book. Each of the monsters within are well done will make for interesting encounters.

A new magic item is also in the book. I do not want to detail it too much so as not to spoil the surprise, but I really like how the item works. One of the tenets of DCC RPG is that magic items should be special. The Way Station does this very well. The item has some story to it and has an interesting mechanism of gaining power over time in interesting ways.

The Review

It has been some time since Purple Duck Games has released a DCC RPG adventure. I was glad to have this one come across my path. I have enjoyed their previous adventures released for the system and they have been popular among my players as well.

Featuring easy placement into an existing campaign is always a strong point to an adventure when I use it. This one has just enough background to make it interesting, but still portable. Unique creatures for the various encounters help lend it the Appendix N feel and throw long seasoned players who can recite the stats for a troll from memory off their game a little. The unique magic item has an eloquent mechanic behind for those that wish to see it gain in power.

The download also includes maps for use on the Virtual Tabletop. One includes the numbering scheme and the other has the numbers removed. This is a very useful feature for the judges that run on VTTs. It is nice seeing a publisher taking notice and making their maps as easy to use with a VTT as they can.

I continue to be impressed with DCC RPG releases from Purple Duck Games. This is another adventure I look forward to working into my own DCC RPG campaign. There is also use to a judge who just wants to “borrow” the creatures and magic item from the module as well.

If your DCC RPG campaign is near the 3rd level mark, this adventure is well worth taking a look at. It is an another strong entry in an already strong adventure line.

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.

Review: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror

Author:  Daniel J. Bishop
Publisher:  Purple Duck Games
Price: PDF $2.75
Pages:   11
Tankard Rating:  4/5

Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror is Purple Duck Games first release of an adventure to support Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games. This line of adventures from Purple Duck Games is designed to be picked up and used alone in a DCC RPG game. This adventure is written for a party of second level characters.

From the teaser text at RPG Now we learn that terrible horrors lurk on in the long since missing Dellspero the Philosopher’s workshop. Do the magics he worked on yet remain in this workshop setup in what was once a temple of the Chaos Lords?

Bone Hoard of the Dancing Hoard is a single level dungeon. The judge is provided with some background text to reveal the history of the location. A section for the judge is also included that provided with hints on integrating the adventure with an existing campaign, the flow of the adventure and why the magic items within are handled the way they are.

Just before the module moves into the room descriptions the general overall feel for the dungeon is described to help provide the judge with the information he or she needs to keep things consistent. Each room in the dungeon is keyed, includes a brief “boxed text” description and then the details necessary for the judge to run the room.

The adventure includes new monsters, in fact none of the monsters used in the adventure are traditional by any sense. I found the monsters used within the module very fun to describe and use against the players! The monster aspect seemed to hit the prevalent “Appendix N” feel of DCC RPG quite well.

The adventure also includes several new magic items. Many of the magic items are single use items in efforts to keep with DCC RPG’s “magic items are not common” approach. For the one powerful item it does give away in the adventure, notes are included for the judge on how to handle that if it poses an issue.

I found this adventure well written and suitably twisted enough to fit right in with the DCC RPG feel.

One frustrating factor was the empty room factor to the dungeon. There were several rooms that were listed as empty rooms. I tend to not include many empty rooms in a dungeon. This is not a huge issue though, as these rooms could be spiced up a bit if one desired.

I ran this adventure for a group of people over Google+ Hangouts. It took us two sessions to complete, probably about 2.5 hours each session. A great time was had. One of the big differences with DCC RPG and the adventures that tend to be associated with it in comparison to most d20 type games I have played is that sometimes the characters run away!

This module was no exception. Early on there was an attempt to flee a particular threat, which did not pan out as the movement rate of a couple of the party members was abysmally slow. However, this did lead to a dramatic moment involving a shield wall put up by the dwarves and a rolling Halfling ball of death!

Later on in the module the party caught glance of one of the threats and made a conscious effort to avoid that encounter at all costs. They carefully skirted the area in question and managed to make off with the prize without facing the encounter they sought to avoid.

Overall this was a fun adventure and worked well as a one-shot and could have easily been dropped into an existing campaign as well. With the module being easily prepped it could also be picked up to fill a game session relatively last minute as well, especially given the price. I look forward to the future DCC RPG adventure releases from Purple Duck Games.

4 out of 5 Tankards