Wednesday, 14 December 2016

GaryCon Ho!

Next year, GaryCon is being held from March 23rd to 26th in the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I will be there, and I will be running games. I hope that some of you may also make it to GaryCon, and that we will be able to sling dice together.

The full schedule is not yet available, but I will be running:

  • Escape From Terror Island
  • Gnome Jambalaya
  • Stars in the Darkness
  • The Revelation of Mulmo
  • The Tomb of the Squonk

The first two are unpublished funnels, so playtest credits are ripe to be had!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Pretty In Print

Purple Duck Games has just made Marzio Muscedere's Death Slaves of Eternity and my own CE 7 - The Giggling Deep available in print. If you were waiting for print, you need wait no longer.

In related news, if you are not waiting for print, CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Woods is also out, containing two classes for goblin adventurers.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Bone Hoard is Getting the Print Treatment

Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror is the first published work I did for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Indeed, it is the first writing I did for Dungeon Crawl Classics at all.

For a very long time, this adventure was only available in pdf format. It is now available in print.

You can get it here. 

Or read the reviews here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

And now there is this......

Available in pdf at RPG Now (print to follow).

The Giggling Deep describes an underground location with unique properties that will draw wizards and elves back again and again. Other character types may find things of interest to them. The Goremera offers a unique combat challenge, and warriors may be tracking the beast to avenge its victims. Thieves are given three potential prizes – the Goremera’s hoard, a shrine to loot, and a creature whose cooked flesh aids in combating poisons. Clerics of the Hidden Lord may need to reach His shrine to achieve some quest. Clerics of opposed deities may be sending their minions to destroy it. Giving multiple PCs different (and sometimes contradictory!) purposes in entering the region results in the most fun.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Angels, Daemons & Beings Between: Dagon Hardcover Edition

The Extended, Otherworldly Edition of Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between is now available. Right now, the hardcover Dagon cover is the only version active. 

Due to licensing, there is no pdf version at this time. David Fisher deserves a lot of praise for obtaining the rights for a print version.

Angels, Daemons and Beings Between: Extended, Otherworldly Edition is a Patrons supplement for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game.

The Dagon Hardcover Edition has been made as a backers' reward. It will only be made available publicly after backers have the book and then only at limited times.


More than mere supernatural benefactors, they are the schemers whose plots set worlds into motion. They are beings who amuse, enthrall, and terrify the mortals who dare to bargain with them!

24 new and fully developed patrons and demi-patrons for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Included are 66 new spells, more monstrous minions, and new spellburn and patron taint tables to use in your DCC campaign.

A must for DCC enthusiasts!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Dispatches Volume 2!

Dispatches Voulme 2 has hit the virtual shelves!

This volume focuses on articles related to adventure design. Although these articles use the excellent Dungeon Crawl Classics system, the general principles are adaptable to almost any game system.

This volume includes:

  • Basic Adventure Design
  • Using the Table to Your Advantage
  • Advanced Adventure Design
  • Killing Fields
  • How Much is Too Much?
  • Working For a Living, and
  • Your Dungeon Crawl Classics Monster Manual

Appendix N Alert

If you are in the Toronto area, and especially if you are in the Annex, you may wish to check out Zoinks! Music and Books on 1018 Bloor Street West. I was there last night, and saw a number of Appendix N works...unfortunately mostly ones I already had. But there was a copy of Jack of Shadows there, at least last night, as well as several works by Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and even a Jack Williamson. There were two Thongar novels remaining when I left, a fair bit of Zelazny, and more.

If you are in the area, and looking to fill out your Appendix N collection, it may be worth a stop.

Their phone number is 416-913-8827.

They are having a sale from August 20 to August 21, but some of these harder-to-find works may have disappeared by then!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

What is the DCC Trove of Treasures?

If you haven't noticed it yet, I have started a companion blog, DCC Trove of Treasures, which exists solely to catalogue and talk about all of the products available for the Dungeon Crawl Classics system. I am interlinking it with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Product List, so that, eventually, when you see a product listed you will also be able to check out what's in it, what it is about, or what I thought about it.

Once I have gone through the (ever-expanding) list of products, I'll start to add links to product review for every product, if I can find them.

The idea is that you will eventually have a "living" document available to help discover things you might have missed, avoid the products that won't meet your needs, and give feedback of your own in the comments.

I just posted the first issue of Crawling Under a Broken Moon. Going in alphabetical order, that leaves me with a lot of Umerica, followed by a lot of Crawljammer. That isn't a chore. That's a privilege.

(Oh, and that picture? If you haven't heard, an expanded version of Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between is coming out. In print. From Shinobi 27 Games. It's a real cause for celebration!)

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Just Came in the Mail Today

This Year's Mathom is Ready to Go!

In accordance with this post, I am sending out a free adventure tomorrow.

The requirements were (1) post a review, (2) link to that review in the comments, and (3) send me your email address so that I can send you the adventure. I posted back in January to give people plenty of time.

Three people managed to do that this year.

There are days that I wonder why I bother.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pick It Up at GenCon

If you are going to GenCon this year, there is a lot of Dungeon Crawl Classics goodness to be had! 

I will be at home, celebrating the half-century mark, but I will be there in spirit. And there are a few products appearing for the first time this convention that I am proud to have had a hand in.

First off, DCC #72: Through the Dragonwall, puts your PCs through their paces. This is the second stand-alone DCC adventure I've had published through Goodman Games (The Dread God Al-Khazadar appeared earlier this year).

Harley Stroh's Journey to the Center of Aereth is also coming out, and Joseph Goodman asked a few of us to help put out a companion piece: The Lost City of Barako. Mostly, this is the work of others, but I managed to sneak in three monstrous denizens nonetheless. Both of these modules are must-haves. Journey is as good a work as Harley has ever produced, and you know that Harley Stroh consistently produces great work.

From the depths of the Aereth you can soar into the heavens, entering the Crawljammer universe of Tim Callahan's excellent zine. And then, I guess, you can plumb back into the depths....but this time the depths of Saturn. The Vault of Ash, sequel and second half of The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn, gives you a chance to see how the other half dies.

Whereas Weird Worm-Ways gave you the chance to make Saturnian Ape-Man characters, Ash gives you Martian Skeleton Men.

Moving along, the Goodman Games GenCon 2016 Program Guide features Death by Nexus, which I had a hand in crafting. That is not the best part of the Program Guide, though, because it also includes, among other things, a 36-page-long full-color illustrated interview with legendary TSR artist Erol Otus, a new 0-level funnel Not In Kansas Anymore, the Gen Con 2015 spell duel tournament Way of the Dagon, a generation method for 1970’s 0-level characters, and a new patron.

Finally, there is the new XCrawl adventure, Anaheim Crawl, which I did the DCC conversion for. The original module, by Goodman Games superstar Brendan LaSalle, is more than a little challenging, and the DCC version is no less.

My contributions to GenCon are meager in comparison to the plethora of good stuff Goodman Games has in store. Check out the Goodman Games site for more information. Or better yet, drop into their booth at GenCon. I'll be envying you from afar!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Cat's Out of the Bag

The rumors are true.

David Fisher managed to obtain the rights to make an expanded print version of Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between. Backers of the original Indigogo project have been offered a print version at cost.

This is real. It is happening.

Mulferret, the Queen of Weasels, will finally be sending agents to slay your adherents of Radu, the Prince of Rabbits.

And, who knows? If it does well, there may be a Volume II!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Dungeon Crawl Classics - Gods & Supernatural Beings

This post will compile sources for deities and supernatural powers related to the Dungeon Crawl Classics cosmos. While some of these beings may be suitable for patrons, this post will not focus on patrons per se. Another post related to that topic will be forthcoming.

As should be obvious, this post is a work in progress.

Last Updated 15 July 2016.

Ahriman, God of Death and Disease (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32.

Amun Tor, God of Mysteries and Riddles (Neutral), core rulebook, p. 32.

Aristemis, the Insightful One, Demi-Goddess of True Seeing and Strategy (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Azi Dahaka, Demon Prince of Storms and Waste (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32. As a patron, core rulebook, pp. 330-335.

Bobugbubilz, Demon Lord of Evil Amphibians (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32. As a patron, core rulebook, pp. 322-329. See also Demons of Bobugbubilz, core rulebook, pp. 402-404.

Cadixtat, Chaos Titan (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32.

Choranus, the Seer Father, Lord of Creation (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Cthulhu, Priest of the Old Ones (Neutral), core rulebook, p. 32. See also Deep Ones, core rulebook, p. 400.

Daenthar, the Mountain Lord, Greater God of Earth and Industry (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Goat-Faced Being, core rulebook (1st to 3rd printing), p. 456.

Gorhan, the Helmed Vengeance, God of Valor and Chivalry (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Hidden Lord, God of Secrets (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32.

Ildavir, Goddess of Nature (Neutral), core rulebook, p. 32.

Ithha, Prince of Elemental Wind, core rulebook, p. 356.

Justicia, Goddess of Justice and Mercy, core rulebook, p. 32.

King. of Elfland, core rulebook, pp. 342-347

Klazath, God of War (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Malotoch, the Carrion Crow God (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32.

Mycetes-Thrax, the Sleeping Growth that lurks beneath the soil, core rulebook, p. 248.

Nimlurun, the Unclean One, Lord of Filth and Polution (Chaotic), core rulebook, p. 32.

Obitu-Que, core rulebook, p. 355.

Pelagia, Goddess of the Sea (Neutral), core rulebook, p. 32.

Satan, core rulebook, p. 434.

Sezrekan, core rulebook, pp. 336-341. See also The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad, core rulebook, pp. 457-460.

Shul, God of the Moon (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Three Fates, core rulebook, pp. 348-353.

Ulesh, God of Peace (Lawful), core rulebook, p. 32.

Yddggl, the World Root, core rulebook, pp. 354-355.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Safe Spaces and X-Cards

This post is actually a request for comments, as I am putting together table rules for Toronto Crawl Classics. As such, I hope, whether you intend to participate in the Toronto game or not, you will supply your thoughts.

I recently heard about an individual’s negative experiences related to gaming, including rape jokes, doxixng, unwanted touching, being followed home, and the like. Of course, as I step towards doing a long-term open-table campaign, I would like to make sure that my table offers a safe space. That is, I don’t want anyone to ever feel abused at a game I have anything to do with.

When I was told about X-Cards, I thought “What a great, and obvious, idea!” The more I have been thinking about them, though, the more I am doubting that my initial reaction was the right one. And that is what this post is, really: Asking the community for their thoughts. Anyone who would like to comment should feel free to do so. Anyone who wants to comment anonymously may do so at ravencrowking at hotmail dot com.

Here are my areas of specific concern:

(1) I have a tendency to believe that rpgs should push comfort zones, and there are definitely horror elements involved in Dungeon Crawl Classics. I have some concerns that the X-Card system would remove uncomfortable decisions and experiences from the game. And, in Dungeon Crawl Classics, that might be a lot of the game. Consider:

  • Your PC fumbles and something bad happens. Can you tap the X-Card to undo the fumble?
  • The same, but a critical hit against your PC. Does the X-Card make the crit go up or down on the chart?
  • The same, but clerical disapproval.
  • The same, but mercurial magic.
  • The same, but corruption.
  • Etc., etc.

Worse, I imagine that running almost any published adventure for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and certainly any adventure I have penned, will bring on a host of tapping the X-Card simply to deal with events that go against the characters. Or having to deal with any of the creepy monsters, situations, or choices that exist within the better adventures.

Can you imagine running Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror where the players can veto, without cost, the appearance of any creature or any event within the scenario? I am concerned that the game itself would swiftly lose its point. Which brings us to (2):

(2) Elements in a well-crafted scenario are there for a reason.

One of the X-Card examples I was given is that a player dislikes spiders, so taps the card, and the GM changes the encounter to giant rats.

That is fine in a scenario where the placement of monsters has no specific purpose, but let us take again the aforementioned Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror. The titular monster collects bones, so the creatures encountered in the scenario have none. The creatures encountered are part of the “footprint” of the main encounter, and it is not so simple to change them. Especially not on the fly.

For another example, what if a player objects to the superior hearing of the Pallas Troth in The Black Goat? The scenario falls apart. You can take almost any well-written scenario, and see where aspects can be removed or changed which will damage (or destroy) the whole.

(3) I have been a strong proponent of the view that the GM runs what he wishes, and the players either decide to play that game or not. The idea that the players can veto anything flies in the face of this position. Does the game adapt to the player, or does the player adapt to the game? I have always been a strong advocate that the player adapts to the game, and alters the game to adapt to herself through the agency of her characters.

(4) It was exampled that a player may use the X-Card for something minor, such as a name, to demonstrate that it is okay to do so at the table. This suggests that players should not hesitate to demand alterations of things that they find only somewhat uncomfortable. It also suggests that not having to deal with any minor discomfort is more important than the value of a coherent scenario to the other players at the table.

(5) While I certainly would not find sexual harassment acceptable, this seems to go far beyond preventing abuse and into some other territory. In fact, the use of X-Cards may rob agency from the GM in terms of creating and presenting scenarios, and the other players, both in terms of (a) reacting to those scenarios, and (b) even experiencing those scenarios.

For these reasons, I am concerned that using X-Cards may make game play anaemic. Because I always want to run the best game I can, I am soliciting the input of you, the reader. What do you think? Should I use X-Cards? Should I not use X-Cards? Should I use them in some limited form? And, if so, what should the limitations be?

Monday, 20 June 2016

Free RPG Day 2016

As previously announced, I ran Black Feather Blade at Dueling Grounds in Toronto, Ontario for Free RPG Day 2016. Joining me were Heather Bishop and Morgan Clayton, who were part of the original playtest group, to run the NPC groups of Duani and Seldon Esh respectively. If you are running this game at a convention (or otherwise) and can take the opportunity to allow players to run the NPCs, the adventure will be all the better for it.

Black Feather Blade was designed with two Robert E. Howard stories in mind – The Black Stranger (aka The Treasure of Tranicos) and Hills of the Dead. If you are fortunate enough to read both before running the adventure, it will be to your benefit. In The Black Stranger, Conan has to deal with other groups who are after the same treasure as he is. Because each group is roughly balanced, politicking and exploiting events becomes the order of the day. The likely culminating events of Black Feather Blade is an homage to Hills of the Dead.

We only had three other players, but two of them were author Marzio Muscedere (Steel and Fury) and author/artist Elias Scorsone (Wrath of the Frost Queen and Dungeon of the Dragon Master). Marzio also has a new adventure in the works with Purple Duck, Death Slaves of Eternity – look for it this July!

Six PCs entered. Two PCs survived. Spoilers follow. Select text to read.

  • The first PC death was due to the giant dire mole. The mole managed to survive the adventure, much injured, having retreated into its tunnels.
  • For the first time running this adventure, I have seen players explore all six burial mounds.
  • A certain curiously carved silver whistle was found, but the players had the good sense not to blow it.
  • Great use was made of the “sacrifice chain” mechanic. We actually got to the “lover or family member” option because, when his wizard died, Elias decides that he and his elf PC had been lovers. When his elf fell to a swarm of corpse parts, I let him use the accumulated Luck to modify the “roll over” check to see if the elf survived, but sadly Malotoch’s favor was not enough!
  • Once the titular Black Feather Blade was found, there was a three-way combat in the final tomb, with a swarm of corpse parts attacking everyone involved. What fun!

Free RPG Day swag included the Goodman Games preview of DCC Lankhmar and Mutant Crawl Classics, as well as Slügs! for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Without going into spoilers, both scenarios from the Goodman Games release are excellent, and if you did not pick this up you should try to get the pdf when it appears on RPG Now.  I am a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and found Slügs! an amusing read, but I don’t think I would use it much at the table.  It’s a sort of mini-bestiary, containing a bit more goofiness than grit. But then, who knows? Some of the slügs described are potential denizens of ruined Toronto once I get Toronto Crawl Classics up and running….!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Nexus Game Fair

I should have posted this a while back, but things have been busy. Sometimes better late than never.

I had the good fortune to attend the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from May 27th to 30th. 

I had the opportunity to play in several games run by the talented Brendan LaSalle (creator of XCrawl and all-around Goodman Games luminary), as well as Scott Swift of Lesser Gnome Games. In the late hours of Sunday night, I even managed to run a bit of The Arwich Grinder.

It is probably pretty clear from these pictures that photography is not my strong suit. 

In any event, there was some great gaming, a lovely room party with much interesting conversation to be had, and great people to meet, game with, and hang about with. If I am able, I will return again next year.

It should be noted that Brendan LaSalle deserves extra XP for confounding the powerful sonic attack of a walrus-demon with merely his wits, his goodwill, and a pair of earplugs supplied by the hotel. Thanks for putting up with me!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Free RPG Day

I will be running Black Feather Blade, from the 2015 Goodman Games GenCon Program Guide, on Free RPG Day.

Level 1, Dungeon Crawl Classics

June 18th, 2016
Noon until 5 pm
(or the last PC falls)

Duelling Grounds 
1193 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N4

All Materials Supplied!

Up to 10 Players May Participate!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Increasing the Bandwidth

Purple Sorcerer Free Tools pledge drive is underway! Check it out!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Mathom Deadline TODAY

You can still get in on the Mathom by 1 August, but if you want an element in the adventure, today is the deadline. 

Here’s the cool part: I am going to start writing the adventure in June. SO…up to an including 1 June 2016, you may also include in your comments something you would like me to include in said adventure, and I will try to include it. Remember, this is a free project, so don’t be surprised if you don’t end up with 17 patrons just because of the comments. Keep it reasonable…but be inventive.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

A Year Later

A year ago today, I was off doing my own thing - actually, running a game for my older daughter and her friends - when my nephew committed suicide in Wisconsin.

The time you lose doesn't take away the time you had, and I know that he had good years as well as bad. In the end, though, the Wisconsin "justice" system became too much for him to bear. 

He was found guilty for a non-violent felony crime, with no actual evidence, and under circumstances where it is nearly impossible that the prosecution and officers involved did not know that he was being scapegoated.

It is almost impossible to overstate the loss. Not only for my sister and her husband, or for my niece and all of his friends, but for himself, and for the people he might have known.

People get busy. It always seems like there will be more time, or another opportunity to spend time together. But eventually time runs out. We do not always know when that will occur.

Wally, you are missed. You will never be forgotten.

To my readers:

You matter. Your lives matter. You have intrinsic value no matter who you are. The world would be a sorrier place without you in it. Whether or not we have ever met in person, I would be sorry if you were gone. 

The other people in your life - make time for them while you still can.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Dalek Crawl Classics 1: The Hartnell Years (3 of 3)

The final Dalek story with William Hartnell as the Doctor was the sprawling epic, The Daleks’ Masterplan, and its prequel episode, Mission to the Unknown. Although audio, reconstructions, a two-part Target novelization, and (apparently) a graphic novel of this story exist, the story itself still has several missing pieces. Both the story’s length and relative obscurity mean that potentially game-able elements are not going to make it into this entry.

Masterplan Dalek: Init +1; Atk plunger arm +2 melee (1d3) or energy weapon +5 ranged (1d6+3) or flame thrower +2 ranged (1d6 plus catch fire); AC 17; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, flame thrower (Ref DC 15 or catch fire, 1d6 damage per round until save succeeds); SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +7; AL L.

Black Dalek: Init +3; Atk plunger arm +3 melee (1d4) or energy weapon +6 ranged (1d7+4); AC 19; HD 4d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication; SV Fort +14, Ref +0, Will +9; AL L.

Dalek Supreme: Init +3; Atk plunger arm +4 melee (1d4) or energy weapon +7 ranged (1d8+4); AC 21; HD 6d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication; SV Fort +18, Ref +0, Will +12; AL L.

The Daleks in The Daleks’ Masterplan, like the Daleks in The Chase, have advanced time travel technology. They do not seem to have the same ability to levitate, although the judge may decide that this is simply not seen on-screen (or referred to in the novelizations). They do have a new arm, which is used to clear vegetation in the story, but which would make a devastating weapon – a flame thrower that affects all targets within a 5º arc up to a range of 20’.

Other Critters & Beings


Persuaded to join with the Dalek Alliance by Zephon, Beaus was a tall humanoid wearing an armoured survival suit. He had a dark visor, and apparently breathed chlorine gas, making his features difficult to distinguish. His helmet had an antenna at the top for long-range communication. Should his helmet be breached (8+ damage in a single blow against AC 20 or a Mighty Deed result of 5+ against AC 15), he takes 1d4 damage each round in a standard atmosphere. During this time, he also has a -1d penalty on the dice chain to all rolls.

Beaus: Init +0; Atk buffet +1 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 3d8; hp 16; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, chlorine-dependent; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +5; AL L.


The Master of Celation was a hairless humanoid covered in black spot-like patches. One of the more powerful of the delegates in the Dalek Alliance, Celation goes on to form a Galactic Council with the other survivors of Dalek treachery. While this was certainly a setback for the Daleks at the time, the Time War in new Doctor Who suggests that the Daleks surmounted it.

As an interesting side note, “celation” literally means “concealing pregnancy or delivery” – perhaps the “spots” are actually some form of reproductory organ? If Celation were semi-aquatic, they could be ducts for egg-laying, or they could be areas where the species can reproduce via budding. Very little is known about the species in The Daleks’ Master Plan.

Celation: Init +2; Atk buffet +0 melee (1d3); AC 10; HD 1d8+2; hp 8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +6; AL N.


Little is known of Gearon, a humanoid with an egg-shaped head whose features were hidden by a visor and a silver or black space suit. He arrived in a huge space ship, making it likely that the strength of his people was in their fleet, rather than in individual prowess.

Gearon: Init +0; Atk buffet +0 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 1d4; hp 4; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP space suit offers +5 to AC and Fort saves (already included in statistics), visor grants immunity to gaze or sight-based attacks; SV Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +4; AL L.


Malpha was a  humanoid creature whose pale skin was covered with a patchwork of dark “veins”.  Like all of the delegates working with the Daleks, very little is known about Malpha or his people.

Malpha: Init +0; Atk buffet +1 melee (1); AC 11; HD 1d4; hp 3; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.


Giant bats found on the planet Desparus, screamers are known for the loud noises that they make when hunting prey. Their screams confuse and immobilize victims who fail a Will save (DC10) for 1d3 rounds. Affected creatures can do nothing but cower, granting the screamers a +2 bonus to attack rolls.

Screamer: Init +6; Atk bite +4 melee (1d5); AC 14; HD 2d8; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP scream; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will -2; AL C.


A sharp-toothed and physically imposing humanoid reminiscent of the Futurekind seen in Utopia and The Sound of Drums, Trantis represented the Outer Galaxies.  Trantis gains a +3 bonus to opposed Strength checks.

Trantis: Init +0; Atk buffet +5 melee (1d3+3) or bite +3 melee (1d5+3); AC 12; HD 4d8+4; hp 24; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP strength; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +8; AL L.

Varga Plant

These mutated plants from the planet Skaro can shoot out thorns as though they were darts. Any creature struck by a thorn must succeed in a DC 24 Fort save or lose 1d3 Personality and 1 Agility per turn. When Personality reaches 0, the creature is transformed into a Varga plant. If the creature has more than a 0 Agility at the time, it is mobile. There is no known natural cure for Varga infection. Even attempts to remove the condition (as a disease) using a cleric’s ability to Lay on Hands, or a neutralize poison or disease spell, are made at -1d on the dice chain.

Varga plants have a dim consciousness whose only instinct is to kill living animals. They seem to prefer humanoid forms to all others for their targets, leading to some speculation they are not natural, but were bred either by the Daleks, or by the Thals or Kaleds during their long war on Skaro. Whatever the truth may be, Daleks imported Varga plants to the planet Kembel for security, and it is quite possible that similar measures were taken on other worlds.

Dalek creatures are not immune to Varga plants, but the thorn darts of the Varga cannot penetrate a Dalek casing, even with a natural “20”. All forms of armor grant an additional +2 bonus against Varga plant attacks, except shields, and a character completely covered in armor with a lowered visor is immune to their darts.

Varga plant: Init -2; Atk slam +0 melee (1d3) or thorn +1 ranged (1 plus infection); AC 9; HD 1d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP infection, armor gets added bonus; SV Fort +1, Ref -2, Will +5; AL C.


Invisible predators which the First Doctor described as “vicious”, Visians are 8-foot tall bipeds with roughly humanoid forms. They were described as “thin, bony, with two long, clawed arms, feet like birds' claws, and a narrow head with a beak” in the novelization. They may have been related in some way to the migratory Krafayis seen in Vincent and the Doctor. Whether or not the Visians are capable of speech is also an open question. Because of their invisibility, any ranged attack made against a Visian has a 50% chance of missing, regardless of the attack roll.

Visian: Init +0; Atk claw +2 melee (1d3) or peck +0 melee (1d5); AC 17; HD 2d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP invisible; SV Fort +1, Ref +7, Will +4; AL C.


A humanoid composed of seaweed-like tendrils, Zephon may well be a plant-animal hybrid. Although it spoke with a human-like voice, and wore a hooded robe, it has no discernable features. A similar creature was imprisoned in the Dauntless Prison in an episode of the unofficial Doctor Who spin-off series, K-9.  

Zephon: Init +0; Atk by weapon +0 melee (by weapon); AC 12; HD 2d4; hp 6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +5; AL L.

The Time Destructor

This Dalek weapon manipulates time, vastly speeding its passage on a scale as large as a planet, or within a scope as limited as a single individual. It was powered by a small amount of taranium, an extremely rare element found on Uranus. The tarranium core was small enough to easily pocket, but represented more than a billion tonnes of processed ore.

Within the Time Destructor’s area of operation, 1d3 years pass per round for the first minute. Thereafter, for each minute, the number of years which pass increase by +1d on the dice chain, until 1d30 years per round is reached. Thereafter, the Time Destructor accelerates to 1d3 centuries per round, continuing up the dice chain each turn until 1d30 centuries pass each round. This is the maximum output of the device.

Most creatures caught within the operational area of the Time Destructor take 1d3 points of permanent ability score damage for each year they are aged. The judge may allow long-lived creatures (such as dragons or elves) or time-sensitive creatures a DC 10 Fort save each round to resist damage caused by the device. A creature which is both long-lived and time-sensitive, which would include Gallifreyan Time Lords, gain a +4 bonus to this save.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

How I Roll

Tomi Tapio K from Helsinki, Finland Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

I have utilized several methods of rolling dice over the years. When I started the game, polyhedral dice were not even widely available, and chits were used. Eventually, cheap plastic dice appeared. You had to colour these in yourself to make the numbers legible. The 20-sider was numbered 1-0 twice, so that you coloured one side one colour, and the other side another colour. Say, red indicated 11-20, while white indicated 1-10.

Nowadays, I have a huge collection of dice, and have multiples of everything in the Dungeon Crawl Classics dice chain several times over. But the tools don't matter as much as what you do with them. So here is how I roll.

(1) Almost everything is rolled in the open. In the DCC core rulebook, Joseph Goodman gives the advice to roll the dice in the open, and I second it. You can have players who believe you are not fudging the dice without doing so, but when they see the dice fall, they know it to be true. Die rolls in the open are way more exciting than dice rolled behind a screen.

(2) Some things are still rolled behind the screen. Attempts to find traps. Attempts to locate secret doors. Basically, if the players should not know the result, the dice remain hidden.

The goal here is to create the same level of uncertainty in the players that their characters should experience. Is there a trap that we just failed to find? Perhaps we should still be cautious....

Some GMs prefer to allow the players to roll these checks, and then use a "control die", secretly rolled by the GM, to modify the player's roll, or to set the DC for the check. This gives the players an illusion of having some control over the result, but I find it unsatisfactory. First off, you are adding an extra roll for no good reason. Second, the illusion is pretty easily pierced. Third off, the results may be skewed.

To indicate what I mean by the last, consider the case where a PC has a 1 in 6 chance of noticing a hidden door. Then the GM rolls 1d6 to determine what actual number the player must roll to make that 1 in 6 chance. The odds shift. The chance of one six-sided die coming up on a "1" is 1 in 6. The chance of two six-sided dice coming up on the same number is 1 in 36.

(The struck out portion is incorrect; see comments, below.)

(3) I let the players roll damage for the monsters. First off, this ensures that I will never fudge damage to save a PC. Secondly, it gives the players a clear understanding of their opponent's damage potential - part of that context thing I am always going on about. Finally, doing so really keeps the players involved. When the GM inflicts 24 points of damage on your beloved elf, you might be tempted to blame the GM. When you are rolling the damage yourself, you begin to really hate your opponent.

Image by Tomi Tapio K from Helsinki, Finland. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Terror Island and the Colossus!

OSR Con 5.5 was held at a nice venue, with snacks, water, and soft drinks available for a very reasonable price. There were some cool door prizes as well. I added some DCC bookmarks and temporary tattoos to the table for freebies, and a spare copy of AL 1-5: Stars in the Darkness as a door prize. I also brought a number of DCC products where I had multiple copies to give away at my table – everyone who played got something cool.

I ended up with six players, a combination of those new to DCC and those who had played the game before. I was running the Alpha Playtest of Escape from Terror Island, a DCC funnel adventure, and it should be no surprise to anyone that things will change from this playtest to the final version. The feedback from the players was awesome…and useful.

Time is always an issue with me. There is never enough of it. Since beginning my odyssey writing materials for the DCC game, I’ve managed to run something (or more than one something) on every Free Role-Playing Game Day, and I’ve managed to do a number of other public games as well, but actually making it to even a one-day Con has been pretty much off the radar.

I was very glad to have made it to OSR Con 5.5, and rest assured that I intend to go back next year!

Speaking of playtesting, a few weeks back, I had a chance to playtest Perry Fehr’s Maiden Voyage of the Colossus. This product is now available in pdf format from Purple Duck Games at RPG Now. I understand that there were some problems with the previews for the product (now fixed!), so I am going to describe it briefly: You are tasked with ensuring that a flying ship is not destroyed by sabotage on its maiden voyage. You have four hours. The adventure recommends that you use a real four-hour time limit. There are optional hooks for individual PCs, hidden agendas that can make the adventure more fun. The prospective judge could build some of these into earlier play, to offer foreshadowing.

The adventure is statted for Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics. This offers the prospective judge a good example of how an adventure for one system can be modified for the other, with what amount to side-by-side examples. A flying ship is a bit out of place in some DCC worlds, although it would work very well in an Anomalous Subsurface Environment-based campaign, Crawling Under a Broken Moon, or on an alien world in Crawljammer. As a singular item, it would work very well in a campaign milieu based off of some of Jack Vance’s writing, or Lin Carter’s.

Just because you are running the game for one system, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't look at the other system's set-up. Use whatever you think will be the most fun!

When I ran the game, I had the PCs summoned as “demons” to the “higher plane” of Porphyria. In addition to allowing me to preserve my own milieu, it established the chance of future trips to Purple Duck’s signature campaign world, and gave me the opportunity to ask, “Now which plane are you from, specifically?” when it was time to go back.

You could easily use such a device to send PCs to the Purple Planet, the Shudder Mountains, or whatever interests you at the time. I send them to Gary Gygax’s Dungeonland, there to meet up with some other PCs (my game takes place across multiple worlds, with multiple character groups run by the same players, and multiple threads) who were in Dungeonland as a “break” from The God-Seed Awakens. The God-Seed Awakens was a divine quest undertaken by PCs from ASE’s Denethix…the Helix/Wolford group was sent by their cleric’s god as additional (and much needed) muscle. At the conclusion of God-Seed, I broke the groups up again, sending each to their own fate…

(As a side note, I did a minimal conversion of Dungeonland, with the intention of later making A Red and Pleasant Land a plane where the PCs could end up visiting….both Carcossa and Narcossa are real possibilities as well.)

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Planning Ahead: Mathoms

This year’s Birthday Mathom is going to be a free adventure. Why? Because Why not?

Okay, this is why I am “planning ahead”:

To get this adventure, you need to post a review (good, bad, or indifferent) of something that I wrote. The review has to be posted on 14 January 2016 or later. Then you need to put a link to that review in the comments of this post. Finally, you need to send me an email so that I can send you your birthday mathom. Ravencrowking at hot mail dot com.

That's three steps, and you need to follow them all to get the free adventure. Simple.

Here’s the cool part: I am going to start writing the adventure in June. SO…up to an including 1 June 2016, you may also include in your comments something you would like me to include in said adventure, and I will try to include it. Remember, this is a free project, so don’t be surprised if you don’t end up with 17 patrons just because of the comments. Keep it reasonable…but be inventive.

Final deadline to get in on the mathom is 1 August 2016; the mathom goes out on 4 August 2016.

Right now, you can select from the following to review. As more products hit the shelves with the year growing older, you get more options:

Appendix N Adventures Add-Ons #1 (Gifts of the Only, The Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury*, Vance's Merry Men, A Lesson From Turtles, Grimic the Slaughterer*, or Laro Chelle the Ring Bearer)
The Gong Farmer’s Almanac (May Flowers)
Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between*
The Revelation of Mulmo
DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013 (The Imperishable Sorceress)
Goodman Games Gen Con 2015 Program Book (Black Feather Blade; The Hypercube of Myt*)
RC 1: The Hypercube of Myt*
RC 2: Death By Nexus*
Crawljammer: The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer (Mermaids from Yuggoth and Icons of the Blood Goddess)
Pulp Weird Encounters #1 (The Tomb of the Squonk)
The Tribe of Ogg and the Gift of Suss
Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror
Through the Cotillion of Hours
Stars in the Darkness
The Stars are Falling*
The Falcate Idol
The Black Goat
The Folk of Osmon
The Seven Deadly Skills of Sir Amoral the Misbegotten
Silent Nightfall
The Crimson Void
Dispatches from Raven Crowking Vol. 1
Prince Charming, Reanimator
Creeping Beauties of the Wood
The Portsmouth Mermaid
Three Nights in Portsmouth
The Perils of Cinder Claws
Crawl! fanzine #9 (The Arwich Grinder)

I also did conversions, or wrote material for

DCC #76.5: Well of the Worm (DCC Conversion)
DCC #79.5: Tower of the Black Pearl (DCC Conversion)
DCC #82.5: Dragora's Dungeon (DCC Conversion)
DCC #84: Peril on the Purple Planet (Boxed set extras*)
DCC #85.5: Curse of the Kingspire (DCC Conversion)
GM Gems Hardcover Second Printing (DCC Conversion)
Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn (DCC Conversion)

* Co-authored. Obviously, I am not the original author on any of the conversion materials.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Escape from Terror Island!

Saturday, January 16, 2016 is OSRCon 5.5 at the Wilmar Heights Event Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave, in Toronto, Ontario.

I will be running the initial playtest of Escape from Terror Island from 6:50 pm-10:50 pm. Pre-generated characters provided courtesy of the Purple Sorcerer 0-level Party Generator.

Travellers are shipwrecked on the notorious Terror Island. Try to survive hungry cannibals, giant reptiles, ape men, and more while searching for a way to escape. Find items that give you phenomenal powers! Cower before alien gods! Uncover the secrets of the Lake of Bronze! Level up at 10 XP, and take on the rest of the adventure with your survivors!

Because this is an initial playtest, all participants are eligible for a playtester credit in the final product. Because this is DCC RPG, no one will walk away without some form of swag.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Joy of Monsters

Imagine for a moment that you picked up a shining new Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook, and you were ready to start writing your own adventures. The Cyclopedia of Creatures might seem a little thin to those GMs used to leafing through a manual of monsters and picking out their favourites. Even given the admonishment to make monsters unique, DCC might seem a little thin on the ground in this respect. But this is an illusion.

I just finished updating the “Locating Monsters in the Blog”post to include the statblocks from Skull Mountain, and you know what? As of today, there are over 140 entries on this blog alone. When I look at the “Finding Monsters in My Adventures” post, there are more than 350 entries. Even acknowledging that there is overlap between what has appeared on my blog and in my adventures, it is probably safe to say that I have contributed over 400 creatures or beings to the game.

And that is just me alone.

How many strange creatures has Harley Stroh introduced? Michael Curtis? Jobe Bittman? A listing that catalogued all of the creatures appearing in all of the adventures, the blogs, the zines, the Spellburn Dungeon Denizens and the Sanctum Secorum companions….Is there any game that has as many creatures as DCC does? There are so many creative minds involved with this game that I cannot keep up. Even attempting to list them all is now beyond my meagre talents!

The answer is, obviously, any game where conversion is easy has all of the creatures DCC does, and shares all of its creatures with DCC. If you use the charts in the core rulebook, James Raggi’s Random Esoteric Creature Generator, and The Monster Alphabet, you have an infinite number of creatures at your fingertips. And as much as I would like to own the book(s) that gathers all of that goodness together, if I have learned nothing else from my sojourn with Dungeon Crawl Classics, I have learned this: selecting monsters from a preset list is a trap. All of the best stuff I have done has been influenced by images, fiction, random generators, and simply letting my mind wander until I had some solid idea of what should be in a particular adventure.

That said, play with those ideas that are out there. All the Purple Duck stuff I’ve done is OGC (or nearly all; there might be something I’ve missed). Play with it. Make it your own, and then publish the results. Make mention of the Black Goat or Kala Môr! Really. Not only will I buy a copy, but if you let me know, I will help to spread the word. There is a reason those blog posts, designed to make finding those stat blocks easier, exist. Like the early Cthulhu mythos, our work is stronger when echoes of one author’s oeuvre appear in another author’s work, even in a minor way.