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Dungeon Crawl Classics #10: The Sunless Garden
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/07/2018 07:11:45

This adventure occurs when the party, for whatever reason, arrive in an apparently abandoned trading post called Garland's Fork. It soon becomes apparent that it's been 'abandoned' because all the residents have been turned into black trees... and a quest to find out why, and can they be turned back, ensues. As one might guess from the title, much of this investigation will be conducted underground.

The underlying reason is quite straightforward, and the GM is also provided with wandering monster tables and a selection of ideas for how to persuade the party that they want to go to Garland's Fork in the first place (or at least, pass through it when wanting to go someplace else!).

Although most of the adventure is a classic delve, there is some poking around to do on the surface in and around Garland's Fork - and even a friendly dog! (However, despite being named Violet, the poor mutt is referred to as 'he' for the rest of the adventure!) Everything is described clearly, and there is plenty going on that doesn't depend on the party having turned up, always a good touch.

Once they do proceed underground, things start getting strange, warped even. The Sunless Garden itself is a huge cavern... and just wait until you meet the gardener! But of course there's a lot more going on than that, plenty of scope for exploration, combat and looting in a multi-level underground complex - part natural, part constructed - with several conflicting sets of residents, none of whom are particulary fond of wandering adventurers. Everything, everyone, however, is there for a purpose; even wandering monsters have good reason to be wandering where they are, er, wandering.

The whole thing hangs together well, with a slightly demented air which makes sense once you reach the creature behind it all. The entire underground area seems to go on and on, every time you think you're done, there's another bit. There's a fair bit of treasure to loot - if you can a) get it out and b) sell it without being arrested! - and some neat ideas for follow-up adventures. An excellent delve with a nature-based twist that should keep the whole group entertained for a few sessions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #10: The Sunless Garden
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Conan the Thief
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/05/2018 09:01:07

Conan himself was a thief: it's how he started out and he used the skills thus learned pretty much throughout his life. It's not surprising, then, that there's plenty of opportunities for light-fingered characters in this game. This book provides plenty of information and options for the ethically-challenged... and for the Game Masters who will shepherd them through their adventures.

Firstly, Chapter 1: Thief Characters expands on the information in the core rules, with additional material to help you create, improve and equip thief characters. The character creation process is run through with notes at each stage as to either the most appropriate choices you can make from the core rules or giving new options - so there is a new Caste - the Outlaw - with associated detail, new Archetypes and much more. Perhaps you'd like to be an assassin or a relic-hunter or a spy... the skills of a thief can be turned to all of these and more. And those skills are many and varied, as the Education section proves when it looks at the training that can be acquired by apprenticing to various types of thief (or just hanging around, seeing as a formal apprenticeship doesn't quite go with the territory). When it comes to War Stories, thieves may substitute tall tales of memorable heists instead. There are new talents, equipment and the tricks of using them and more to bring a thief character to life.

Next, Chapter 2: Gazetteer explores the highways, byways, and underbellies of the kingdoms of Zamora, Nemedia, Corinthia, and Brythunia: places where thievery thrives, indeed becomes almost an artform. History and background, maps, descriptions... all manner of information to provide a backdrop to your exploits. There are notable places to explore, gate guards to negotiate (or sneak) your way past, rumours to hear, and much more. Everything is detailed with an eye to its usefulness or interest to a thief, and it all makes interesting reading, and will probably spawn an adventure idea or two in the mind of a suitably-devious GM.

Whilst a well-informed thief might know at least his own hometown in the sort of detail described in the previous chapter, the rest of the book wanders into GM territory, with chapters on Events, Myth and Magic, and Encounters; which are all designed to provide 'building blocks' and background to help you create meaningful episodes in your party's lives. Events may be for individual thieves, or they may be city-wide or even kingdom-wide events in which the whole party is swept up. You can read about appropriate deities for thieves, and the legends and myths commonly told in thievish circles. The Ecounters chapter contains a vast array of people and monsters that can be met, fought, befriended or indeed robbed...

And there's more. Hither Came Conan recounts exploits from Conan's experience as a thief, and even provides a character sheet for the young Conan. Then Chapter 7: The Way of Thieves is replete with material to aid you in running a campaign based around thievery. Ideas galore including thieves' guilds and the fine art of thievery; and then there's a whole chapter on setting up and running heists... which as any film-watcher knows, make for the most entertaining of light-fingered exploits. Finally, there are three fully-developed legendary thieves, the people your PC thieves want to emulate. Weave them in as something aspirational.

This work really captures the essence of the early Conan books, when Conan was living by his wits and thieving his way across the land. It also makes for interesting and unusual role-play, plenty of excitement but relying on skill and knowledge and planning rather than brute force, yet there are opportunities for combat - especially when that heist goes wrong. Definitely worth adding to your bookshelf or hard drive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Conan the Thief
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Conan Player's Guide
Publisher: Modiphius
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2018 08:47:41

This book is intended for those members of your group who want to play rather than GM, the idea being that if they're not going to GM they do not need the additional information provided for GMs. After all, where's the point in buying a book where you only need a part of it. As the information here is reproduced from the core rulebook, if you have that you don't need this as well.

It starts off by explaining what a role-playing game is, then gets straight on with character generation, detailing the steps necessary for creating your character. This involves a 10-step process that builds a description of your character in terms of his attributes, skills, talents, and equipment. These steps can be followed by rolling on a series of tables or by making deliberate choices as you go along depending on preference. Some players may have a clear image of the character that they want to play, and the dice should not be allowed to get in their way!

The whole thing begins by determining where the character comes from - his homeland. Next comes a quite complex system for allocating numbers to the seven attributes of Agility, Awareness, Brawn, Coordination, Intelligence, Personality, and Willpower. Next comes social class or Caste of origin, followed by Story - little snippets associated with your Caste that provide a spark to start in on developing your backstory. A choice of Archetype then gives skills, talents and equipment to the growing character. A lot of choice is involved at every stage, making this a quite involved process but one which produces rich and rounded characters.

But we're not done yet! Determine your character's Nature, Education and War Story. Just about everyone has seen at least a bit of war, and will have seen or done something that affected them, which - like everything else - contributes to skills and talents as well as to the character's backstory. We round off with Finishing Touches and some Final Calculations... and at some point you'd better decide on a name, age, appearance, etc. If this seems all too much and you're itching to play already, there is a fast random method; and those who want a particular slant have some alternate methods - this may be mandated by the GM, depending on the game that's being planned.

Following chapters go into much more detail about Skills and Talents, with plenty of examples, as well as Equipment. Here you'll find out how to use what you've got. Finally there's a Rules chapter with many detailed explanations of how the rules actually work and how to use them to best effect during play and a further chapter on Action Scenes which focusses on the rules for combat.

If you're certain you never want to GM this game, go ahead and get this book. It contains all that you'll ever need to create and play characters to good effect, with loads of detailed explanations and examples, and some beautiful illustrations.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conan Player's Guide
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #9: Dungeon Geomorphs
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2018 12:57:36

This is a departure from the rest of the Dungeon Crawl Classics line in that there's no plot, no adventure. Very simply, it's jam-packed with old school style floorplans for all manner of places, ready for you to build your own encounters and whole adventures around.

If you have an idea floating around, but lack the time (or the talent) to draw out where that idea takes place, leaf through these pages and pick out a location. Rather neatly, there are 120 modular map segments that can be combined in all manner of ways (hence 'geomorphs'). These segments include mazes, dungeons, underdeep caverns, monstrous lairs, castles, ruins, halls, and many other intriguing places to explore.

Each page has four segments, and each segment has eight entrances/exits which match up with any other segment - even if you turn them around. There's no set 'up' and 'down', you decide. They are all provided with a square grid, but it's up to you what the scale is, although 1 square = 5 or 10 feet is recommended... unless you want a really massive cavern or chamber, that is. There are some blank gridded segments as well in case you get creative and want to add your own designs.

If you don't like anything, change it - a black 'magic marker' is the best tool. Print or photocopy a segment that's fairly close to what you want, scribble on it and photocopy again. Or import into a graphics program if you prefer. Similar techniques can be used to produce handouts of treasure maps, stolen plans of lairs or whatever which may not be a completely faithful reproduction of the real version in your game file!

A useful tool when you are partway between wanting to use a prepared adventure or develop your own. Caves, castles, hallways, lairs, places with deep chasms or rivers running through them... just about anywhere you might choose to delve.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #9: Dungeon Geomorphs
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #8: Mysteries of the Drow
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/31/2018 09:35:39

Originally written as a convention tournament adventure and intended to be played using Drow characters (pre-generated ones are provided) over three rounds, this scenario may be played with any characters with little or no adjustment as part of your campaign. It makes use of material from two other Goodman Games publications, the Aerial Adventure Guide and the Complete Guide to Drow, but although these may enhance your game you don't need to possess them to run it.

The introductory material for the DM explains what is going on. As usual, there's factional bickering going on amongst the Drow. For Drow parties, they are summoned by their head of house to aid the cause by retrieving an unknown but powerful weapon another house has found. Other suggestions for getting the party involved are given if you are not using the pre-generated characters - perhaps they are mercenaries hired to do the job, or they have been captured by the Drow and are given the task as the price of their freedom. There's scaling notes should your party be stronger or weaker than the at least 35 character-levels recommended, a list of wandering monsters to roll on, and lots of detailed background to add richness to the setting. It's not just one Drow house against another, you see: there's internal bickering within the houses, and other non-Drow factors at work too.

The mission itself breaks neatly into three parts, with three elements of the puzzle to be acquired. In convention play, that equates to the three rounds of the competition, but if running this as part of an ongoing campaign it can be a bit more freeform, with the party exploring all the locations and following up on clues in whatever manner they please. There's plenty of advice on how to keep the party moving in the right direction - if nothing else, they'll have a Drow matriarch on their backs, demanding, demanding... Prior preparation is vital, especially as some locations work far better if you have certain props and handouts ready for when the party gets there. There's one puzzle which works best if you can present the players with an actual representation of what they find - don't be alarmed, it's simple to put together, and clear directions are given.

The adventure begins with the Drow matriarch delivering her instructions to the party. Then they are sent forth to explore... A massive delve follows, with ample opportunities to interact and to fight with a range of monsters and sentient denizens of the deep. To do well, the party will need to gather information as well as fight their way through the opposition and puzzle stuff out. There's a huge amount to see and do packed into this adventure, with some mind-boggling ideas and magics to get your head around.

It's a real microcosm, a slice of the underground world of the Drow, and ought to keep you and your group entertained for hours. Everything is clearly laid out - even a series of door-opening puzzles which should challenge even the most puzzle-happy parties to the limit, yet the necessary clues are there for them to find. Each item, creature, NPC is where it is for good reason - even the wandering monsters have good reason to be wandering where they might be encountered - and the lid is lifted on what it's like to be a Drow in a world of Drow. Of course, once the objectives of this adventure have been met, the further ramifications are only just beginning, but that's another adventure that you will have fun creating... Definitely recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #8: Mysteries of the Drow
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #7: The Secret of Smuggler's Cove
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2018 08:31:57

This adventure all begins when a party of adventurers arrive in a small seaside village and undertake to investigate a haunted lighthouse... and find far, far more than they bargained for! This one just keeps on giving, with dungeons to delve, monsters and smugglers to defeat, and nefarious plots to thwart. Oh, and part of the action takes place underwater. What more could you want?

There's an overview of the whole thing, lists of wandering monsters, and notes on how to scale the adventure if you have a stronger or weaker party than the 4-6 5th to 7th level group for which the adventure is written. There are also several hooks, one or more of which can be used to get the party heading for that lighthouse if the mere thought of a haunted building isn't enough to get them going. Then we settle down to some detailed background about the area and the lighthouse itself, which make fascinating reading and show why things are in the state they're in when the party arrives. This all helps to set the scene nicely.

The adventure proper begins with the party arriving along a clifftop track to the foot of the lighthouse. Once they venture in, everything they'll find is described clearly, with notes on how to run each encounter to best effect. There are various ingenious traps to circumvent and a rather confused ghost lurking on the stairs. That, of course, is just the beginning. There's a ruined manor house, assorted cellars, and some sea caves to explore yet, and as mentioned before a plot to unravel and thwart before the party can go home for tea, or even a well-earned pint.

What's so good about this adventure is that everything has a purpose. NPCs and monsters are found where they are because they have a good reason to be there that doesn't involve providing opposition for a good fight - although many of them will be happy to oblige when the party shows up. Another good thing is the sheer amount of things that are going on, it doesn't all revolve around the main plot... and the party can explore the various areas petty much as they please, there's no one route through. The whole adventure shows clear evidence of having been thought through carefully and honed to make it a realistic setting. Definitely one to enjoy, whichever side of the DM screen you are sitting!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #7: The Secret of Smuggler's Cove
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #6: Temple of the Dragon Cult
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2018 08:17:57

Now that's a straightforward task: just go kill a dragon that has not only been mortally wounded but they've even tracked down its lair for you... or is it? Apart from the usual unease the thought of a cornered wounded predator ought to arouse, there are of course other issues for the party to deal with!

Putting both the 'dungeon' and the 'dragon' into Dungeons and Dragons, this is a delve with a difference... just about everyone around reveres the dragon in question! The background material for the DM lays this out, and provides useful material like scaling advice should your party be stronger or weaker than the recommended 40 character levels, bearing in mind that it's supposed to be challenging in places, and sometimes the best option will be to retreat and regroup. Remember, you don't have to outrun the dragon, merely outrun the slowest party member! This is intended to be combat-heavy, but many of the opponents are well-developed NPCs rather than hordes of cookie-cutter monsters, which makes it all a bit more interesting... but also necessary to study them before the game so as to run them to best effect. Likewise, review the maps as it's easy for parties to get lost, especially if they are not meticulous mappers.

There's sufficient backstory to explain what's going on, then the action proper starts with the party standing outside the injured dragon's lair ready to go in. There are four levels to the complex and all have inhabitants with good reason to be there... and none of whom are welcoming to visitors. Loads of notes are provided to help make the action more vivid and entertaining - several encounters even have a whole section called 'Cool ways to make this fight interesting' associated with them!

The whole thing is replete with little side-notes that make each and every encounter unique and distinctive. Oh, and there are traps to avoid as well as monsters to fight. Stat blocks and descriptions are placed just where you'll need them and there are a few illustrations you can show the players and handouts that you can give them. And of course, finally there's a big cavern with a massive heap of shiny treasure and a dragon on top. Classic stuff, an adventure that is as fun to run as it is to play, and one thoroughly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #6: Temple of the Dragon Cult
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #5: Aerie of the Crow God
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2018 07:57:44

The party arrive in a coastal town to discover that the local lordling has got himself killed trying to deal with an infestation of harpies. His distraught widow is glad to hear that there are adventurers in town, because he rather unwisely took the key to his strongbox with him, and she urgently needs to get into it. The task seems straightforward, but of course there's a bit more to it than that.

Pleny of notes are provided covering everything from scaling the adventure up or down, to wandering monsters and even why the grieving widow is so keen to have the key back. There's plenty of background material too, about the ruined cliff-top fortress where the harpies are based... and about what else is there that will present a greater challenge. There are also some adventure hooks to get the party to the right place if needed. The history is quite extensive, and it's left up to you how much you want the locals to know - and so relate to the party before they set off.

The adventure itself opens with the party in a row-boat heading towards the bottom of the cliff - the best if not only way to access the ruined tower. You'll need to come up with preliminary material covering their arrival in town and being hired for this task. There's a sea cave at the base of the cliff and steps leading up, but everything's fairly slick with spray. There are no wandering monsters here, but the place is not devoid of resident ones...

Up into the tower, and there is plenty to explore, monsters to fight and treasure to loot. As written, there's quite a lot of loot so if you are not inclined to be quite so generous there are notes on how to cut down without affecting the flavour of the haul. Some opportunities for interaction are provided for those who don't want to brawl with everyone they meet, but they will need to choose their moments wisely.

There's really a lot packed in here, a lot of exploration will be needed to figure out what is going on and how to deal with it. Several ideas for further adventures are presented, and there are notes on the surrounding area should the party decide to stay awhile. Altogether a well-construted adventure with plenty going on.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #5: Aerie of the Crow God
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/21/2018 08:38:29

This adventure requires a party that can think creatively and shows ingenuity, and warns that those who hack and slash their way through everything may come a cropper here! It all begins with stange beguilements in the shape of cryptic messages and dreams, that lead the party to a shallow cave in an out-of-the-way valley. What follows is no ordinary delve.

The background to the adventure explains what is going on in detail, explaining for the Judge how it all works and how to run the mechanics... suffice to say, there are three powerful wizards in a pocket dimension locked in combat (not of their own volition) and they've reached out to the party to get some outside help! Their combat is not of the brawling kind, it involves ever-shifting alliegiances and warped events, which are confusing to read, never mind run... and runs the risk of baffling the party too. There's still plenty that can harm them, however. The whole thing revolves around a mysterious deck of cards (facsimilies are provided), oh, and the pocket dimension is slowly shrinking.

Addressing the inevitable confusion, there's a whole section devoted to 'Running the Adventure' that provides some hints about how to dispel that confusion and get the characters engaged in productive action... yet it's still not very clear just what they need to do to brings events to a satisfactory conclusion, or even merely escape with their lives.

Whilst there is potential for a truly warped adventure utilising this concept, it is so weird and bizarre that players - and even Judges with the text in front of them - are likely to find it confusing and unsatisfactory, left not knowing what they can do to affect the situation and find their way back home. For genuinely crazy NPCs and odd situations this is excellent, but it needs some direction - at least for the Judge in how to make it all work coherently at the table.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #78: Fate's Fell Hand
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #77.5: The Tower Out of Time
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/19/2018 11:05:30

Designed as a promotional piece, this adventure runs in a single session and involves the investigation of a mysterious tower that just suddenly appears in the middle of a forest, the red light on its top echoing a hitherto-unknown comet that has appeared in the sky.

The backstory is ingenious and provides a perfectly plausible reason for the tower's appearance, a tale you'll be dying to share with your players. The first their characters will know that anything is afoot is when a 'bearded star' is spotted in the sky, assumed by astronomers to be a comet. It's a whitish-green shade and the tail is a bit wiggley, so it is called Serbok, an archaic word meaning serpent. Scarcely have the rumour-mongers started in on the usual predictions of misfortune that accompany the sighting of a comet than folk in a nearby wood announce that a large lake with a strange tower beside it has suddenly appeared there. The tower looks like it has a hide of dark scaly leather and a red light shines from its top. If the party does not rush off to investigate immediately, have local law enforcement hire them to take a look.

The adventure proper begins with the party arriving at the edge of the forest and making their way through it to the tower. Once they venture inside, it is weird and strange indeed... yet all makes an odd kind of sense once you know the thing's true origins. The Big Bad at the end might, just might, be persuaded to explain what he's up to; but is more inclined to attempt to polish off these pesky intruders, or die trying.

Tower conquered, the party steps out... only to be greeted with an amazing sight. This is left hanging, with a vague promise that it might form a subsequent adventure - or the Judge may making something up. It's a fun adventure, with some seriously weird features, but the ending is unsatisfactory with no clear closure. Perhaps you'd better make something up to provide a proper end to the adventure!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #77.5: The Tower Out of Time
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #76.5: Well of the Worm
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/18/2018 08:34:30

This adventure is set on the Plains of Barrowdown, an unfortunate patch of land that local lordlings use when their petty squabbles reach the level of open warfare - something that does nothing for those whose living depends on growing crops on the plains, who have had to survive on looting the dead when their crops have been trampled beyond salvation. Now a plague of blood-sucking worms has added to their woes, and there's a selection of adventure hooks provided to get the party involved.

The adventure background explains where the worms came from, who or what is behind them, and where the adventure will start: an old abandoned well in the middle of farmland ruined by incessant warfare.

It all begins with the party standing in the fields around the well, a bleak location that is described atmospherically. Below the well is a cavern complex, a claustrophic tangle of tunnels in which the party should feel threatened by the very environment around them, something the Judge is advised to play up. Various unpleasant creatures, some alive and some undead, exist here and none are welcoming to visitors.

It's a cramped, claustrophobic delve fulled with slithering horrors, smelly and unpleasant in the extreme... and for little reward save the satisfaction of wiping them off the face of the earth. And then you read the suggestions for further adventures... By the end of the session, the players will want hot baths, never mind their characters!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #76.5: Well of the Worm
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #4: Bloody Jack's Gold
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/17/2018 07:51:17

If someone handed me a treasure map tattooed on a nicely-tanned piece of human skin, I'd probably scream and run away! Hopefully your party is made of sterner stuff, for this is a map made by the legendary pirate Bloody Jack Dascombe, proportedly giving the location of his ill-gotten gains, including loot from an Imperial treasure fleet that he plundered an hundred years ago.

The background is simple and straightforward, telling of a brutal pirate, his infamous last raid, and the 'Empire' whose treasure fleet he robbed... and his ultimate fate, like most pirates, at the end of a rope. References are loose enough for you to weave this all into your campaign world's history, possibly enriching it in the process. The map does show the way to the treasure, it just omits to mention minor details like the traps and other threats a would-be robber will face. There's a few ideas for how you might get the party to the right place, as the action presented here opens with them on the right island to commence their explorations. The island is uninhabited, but previous residents have left traces behind. With these and more will the party have to contend.

Then you find out what's really there, and who created the map and why. These are all matters to keep very quiet about until the party is committed to this adventure. Suffice to say that the labyrinth is being actively managed, and that it's largely filled with undead and other recruits from Hell. This is no walk in the park. There again, the treasure is pretty magnificent if the party ever reaches it. (Of course they then have to figure out a way to get it home unmolested...).

The adventure itself comes in five 'levels', the first being the island itself. It's well described with sufficient clues that the party ought to realise that it's not quite right. The second level is the complex left by former inhabitants. Sea tunnels and no less that TWO labyrinths make up the rest, providing ample scope for delving - including the possibility of underwater combat. Throughout, there are detailed atmospheric descriptions coupled with monster information, combat notes and stat blocks.

This adventure offers a hard-fought slog to get to a treasure that is going to be difficult to actually profit from acquiring, not to mention a couple of little twists at the end that might spoil the party's enjoyment of their new-found wealth. The entire piece is written in a 'GM/Designer-vs-Players' style, combatative rather cooperative story-telling (although of course you can run it however you like). It provides a nice challenge for a mid-to-high-level party, something that can often be quite hard to balance. And the idea of a 'managed dungeon' is really rather neat and hangs together well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #4: Bloody Jack's Gold
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2018 08:44:34

Ancient desert-cities where long-dormant giants stir and seek to revive even older deities... this sounds like it may prove a challenge and indeed it does. There's a lot of backstory that only someone who studies history and legends is likely to have heard about, but perhaps characters at the lofty heights of level 8 have time to sit around and read. Renowed heroes, they are probably rulers by now - so the adventure hooks are peppered with things like deputations of nobles approaching a character seated on his throne and asking for assistance.

Basically, we are currently in the Third Age of Man. The abandoned city and its restless giants date back to the Second Age, and once they surface they regard the Third Age fellows as inferiors, pale shadows of what Men once were... (the Titans say the same about the Second Agers of course, but we'll gloss over that for now). Their ultimate plan is to remove these pesky Third Agers and cleanse the place ready to take their place in the sun once more. Someone had better go and sort them out.

Just to muddy the waters a bit, this 'end of times' scenario includes sub-plots which different classes or races may be enticed into following, perhaps by divine relelation or the goading of a patron. However the main thrust of it is that raids on settlements are increasing, with what appear to be giants of unearthly beauty being the perpetrators, and the source is a ruined half-buried desert city. The adventure proper starts with the party standing on the sand just outside the city walls...

Inside they may explore to their hearts' content, wandering monsters permitting, but ultimately find that the only building standing is a temple, and what lies beneath. There are ample opportunities to die (usually horribly) as they venture further in and down, for this temple has been reactivated and is being used to further the Second Agers' schemes. The end - should they survive that long - involves the rising of a Titan, and cinematic levels of destruction and is certainly something that will never be forgotten by anyone who survives to tell the tale.

If your party is jaded, this will shake them awake and provide one last epic adventure before they hang up their swords. They'll need to be lucky as well as skillful to survive, though, but if they do they'll have a tale to tell that they can dine out on for the rest of their lives.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #76: Colossus, Arise!
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2018 10:51:08

Now here's a thing: like any red-blooded adventuring party the prospect of raiding a long-deserted wizard's tower with an eye to looting it sounds like a good way to spend a day or two... but what if you cannot find the way in?

You see, this is the first challenge that presents itself, gaining entry. It's part of what gets the characters there in the first place: the area is rife with rumours about a wizard's tower that not only has no discernable entrance, it's also protected by a forcefield, and appears in perfect condition although buildings around it stand in ruins. There must be something worth looting in there. Several hooks are provided to help you persuade the party to visit.

There's some background explaining who built the tower and why it's ended up like this, which may become relevant if the party is interested in figuring such things out rather than just robbing the place... although it does explai why the place is haunted, and serves as a reminder to all spell-casters that prior preparation and planning are vital when engaged in major magic use! The adventure starts off combat-heavy, and also includes a trap-infested stage, with curious magic and puzzles to figure out once the party reach the tower itself. Maps are clear, and each location is given a three-part listing: description, creatures, and how they will react to the party. Monster stats and loot are also included, just where you'll need them. There are a full three levels of classic dungeon delve before the party reaches the tower proper, once within it's time to role-play, puzzle and think their way through to the end. Along the way there's a fascinating insight into the life of a studious and experimental wizard, the side of magic little touched on in games where most magic-users are just that: users of standard spells as a means to an end.

It all makes for an entertaining classic adventure that is well thought out, challenging and coherent.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #3: The Mysterious Tower
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho (v3.5)
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:21:49

This module presents a three-level dungeon delve that ought to take characters from 1st to 3rd level, provided that they survive. They'll need wits, courage, and luck to triumph. There's plenty of combat but also situations that call on the party to plan, be ingenious and apply tactics rather than just rush in waving a sword and yelling!

The Background sets the scene for the DM, speaking of an ambitious sorcerer in ancient times, one Tsathzar Rho. Like all such, he went a bit too far, summoning powers that were beyond even his prodigious capabilities to control, and paid the price. A price that, if those powers get their wicked way, will now be paid by the denizens of this world. Strange things are happening deep within a mountain cave complex, and they are beginning to spill out into the world...

It all begins somewhere in your campaign world, where the inhabitants of a fairly isolated village ask for help in dealing with an ogre. He's lived in a nearby cave for ages, but until now has contented himself with robbing the odd passing merchant and bullying the local kobolds. Now he's turned into a psychoic madman and needs to be stopped. Parties which agree to help will be directed to the cave, the inhabitants of which have until recently been quite peaceful. Now they are aggressive and causing more and more of a problem.

There are clear maps, and each room's notes are divided into three sections. Firstly, there's a description that can be used to explain what the party sees when it enters. This includes things that are there but need to be searched for as well as what's obvious as soon as you stick your head round the door. Next is a section on inhabitants, covering monsters and NPCs, including their EL and what they are carrying. Finally there's a section on 'development' which discusses the likely actions, tactics, etc. of whoever is there. All the stat blocks, however, are at the end of the module rather than in the room description where they are needed, although there is a note recommending that you photocopy them (or if you're a PDF-user, print them out) so as to have them available for easy reference whilst running the module.

There's a lot going on, but it all makes sense why each creature is where it has been placed, even if this is intended as a classic 'dungeon delve' where you expect to have to fight everything that you meet there. There's not much of a conclusion: it's assumed that the party is successful in foiling the Outer Ones plot and just mentions that they may be out for vengeance for having been thwarted... not very much to go on. It does make for an entertaining delve for those who relish a few sessions prowling subterranean vaults killing and looting as they go, but in some ways the backstory is quite redundant: just get in there and fight!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho (v3.5)
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