Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 4

The Gongfarmer’s Almanac: Volume 4: Rules & Campaign Miscellany - Part 1 is a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Zine written, illustrated, and produced by the DCC RPG G+ community under the creative vision and direction of Doug Kovacs, Harley Stroh, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Hershberger.

This volume was written by Marc Bruner, Tim Callahan, Kane Cathain, Billy Longino, Mike Loew, James MacGeorge, Gabriel Meister, Jonathan Perkel, Roy Snyder, and R.S. Tilton. Illustrations are by Doug Kovacs, Mike Loew, William McAusland, Sean Poppe, Aileen Snyder, Carla Stroh, Mario Torres, and Marc Radle.

Disclosure: I am listed as a proofreader on this volume.

Although listed as "Volume 4 of Five Booklets", there are actually six volumes in the 2015 release of The Gongfarmer's Almanac. Let's take a look inside.

Black Blood Pass - A Mini-Gazetteer: This article, by Roy Snyder (thanks given to Kevin Wojciechowski, and dedicated to the memory of Erick Wujcik) is the framework for a mini-campaign setting, complete with 16 possible "Tales of Concern" and statistics for some of the "Denizens of Caution" you may encounter there. This would fit very well into many campaign milieus, but it is a place wise PCs will soon vacate!

Chirumancy: This article, by James MacGeorge, describes Chirurgeons who practise Chirumancy.  "Their methods are terrifying - wounds sealed with carcinomas, lost limbs replaced with the spare parts from corpses, with no guarantee that the donor was willing, or even human. Their patients will be healed, but over time, they become unrecognizable." Although described in the Table of Contents as an "NPC Class", no class is described. Merely the effects of their work.

Crawling Castle of Grumblethorn and Other Architectural Horrors: Tim Callahan takes a step away from Crawljammer, and provides tables to help the harried judge create non-traditional locations to terrorize players and their characters. Of course, you can use them with Crawljammer, too.

The Grove: Gabriel Meister and Jonathan Perkel describe a woodland clearing with a small grove of trees bearing strange fruit. Roll 1d24.

Killtackleball: "Each year on the high desert plains of Urearth, the Centaurs pause in their ever-war with the savage Vulturemen and meet at the sacred oasis to sing of their victories, mourn their lost companions, and clash in the ancient game of 'Bolo'. This is the origin of Killtackleball, a sport of prowess, determination, and luck, often with dangerous results." Author Marc Bruner provides "DCC Rules for Pell-Mell Teamball Sports". Acknowledgements are given to Tim Callahan for the name and the Metal Gods (of Ur-Hadad) for the d11.

Mighty Deeds of Arms - Spear: This article, by R.S. Tilton, is described as an "excerpt from the upcoming Clearspring Gazette". It is exactly what it says on the tin, with three tables: one for the spear, one for the thrown spear, and one for the harpoon.

Tales of Travels, Trials & Chance Meetings: Author Kane Cathain offers rules intended to offer some context for what occurs between sessions. Each player rolls on two tables, and then weaves a story around the result. The judge then offers one boon and one detriment to each player, based off of the stories. An interesting concept.

The Dryad’s Tree: Mike Loew offers a piece of fiction "In which the Cautious Marauders seek to fulfill the commandments of The Portal Under the Stars". This is an excerpt from a novel-in-progress, The Cautious Marauders.

Finally, the volume is finished with a 0-Level Player Character Record Sheet created by Billy Longino.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 3

The Gongfarmer’s Almanac: Volume 3: Adventures is a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Zine written, illustrated, and produced by the DCC RPG G+ community under the creative vision and direction of Doug Kovacs, Harley Stroh, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Hershberger.

This volume was written by Daniel J. Bishop, Clint Bohaty, Jon Hook, Peter Mullen, and Noah Stevens. Illustrations are by Marc Radle, Daniel J. Bishop, Jack Kotz, Doug Kovacs, Nick Kuntz, William McAusland, Peter Mullen, Kyle Nicholas, Jason Rasgorshek, Noah Stevens, Carla Stroh, and Mario Torres.

Disclosure: I am listed as an author, illustrator, and proofreader on this volume.

Although listed as "Volume 3 of Five Booklets", there are actually six volumes in the 2015 release of The Gongfarmer's Almanac.

Let's look inside!

Hemlock Bones Mystery Adventure #1: The Coal Snoot: This is a level 1 adventure by Clint Bohaty, which is inspired by the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The PCs play a combined Inspector Lestrade/Watson to the character of Hemlock Bones, who is largely a vehicle for the judge to nudge players as needed...and to swoop in and take the credit at the end.

There are very few good mystery adventures on the market, because mystery adventures are hard to write. What if the PCs miss the clues? What if the players are having a hard time interpreting what those clues mean? How do you avoid turning The author here supplies guidance to the judge to make the adventure work.

If you've ever read the original Sherlock Holmes stories, you've probably pondered about Watson's amazing forbearance. More than once, Holmes deserves a hard right cross from the estimable Doctor. (Of course, the literary Holmes is also a formidable bare-knuckle boxer, so it might be all for the best that Watson never becomes embroiled with him in fisticuffs. Be that as it may, Clint Bohaty takes into account the potential "death" and looting of Hemlock Bones, both to allow the judge to move him offstage (and give the PCs the spotlight) and, I suspect, because the author knows one or two players.

The Marvelous Myriad Myconid Caverns: Peter Mullen supplies a walk along the subterranean river Yimmer, in the Endless Dungeons of Acererak. Designed for 3rd-4th level characters, this adventure might take a little bit of prep work to run well...not every creature encountered has statistics, and while the water of the Yimmer may have a myriad of effects, it is left to the judge to determine what is happening when the PCs visit it. Nonetheless, I think that this is my favorite piece in the manages to skirt around the precipice of whimsy without ever falling in!

It also comes with a 1st level wizard spell, fungoid fisticuffs.

May Flowers: This is a 0-Level funnel which I wrote. The illustration on page 32 was created by my co-worker, Kyle can just see a leg hanging out of the lower flower. The funnel follows upon the accidental discovery of a buried statue of Flos Tenebrarum, the Flower of Darkness. The adventure was inspired by The Disinterment of Venus by Clark Ashton Smith. Man-eating cowslips are an homage to the Man-Eating Cow from The Tick. Thunder logs are inspired by The Lavalite World by Philip José Farmer. Pit-roses and pierceblossoms are ways to make standard-type traps work with the theme.

I have to apologize for the map quality of the Fane of Flos Tenebrarum. I have gotten so used to my chicken-scratch maps being redrawn by others that I didn't consider what I was foisting upon the gentle reader! For this, I got an illustration credit....

Tomb of the Thrice-Damned War Witch: A relatively short adventure for 4th level PCs by Jon Hook, where players may well wish that they left their characters at the inn. This is a deadly adventure which pulls no punches. The treasure may be worth it if you can reach it. Or it may not. This is the kind of thing that characters take on because they are fools, because they have need of a specific item (and here I am thinking of the wand, Obezaeth), or because they want to prove that they can rise to the challenge.

The Worm Cult of Laserskull Mountain: This is a scale-able adventure by Noah Stevens. Well, really it is more of a template to build your own Laserskull Mountain. There is a mash-up of influences here. An obvious one seems to be either He-Man or the Holmes Basic side-view of Stone Mountain (or both) that influenced Jeff Sparks' Skull Mountain. Other influences appear to be The Land of the Lost or maybe just Lost (the shield pylons), H.P. Lovecraft, and Harley Stroh's Purple Planet.

I did note the following, and wondered if it related to The Crimson Void: "Being averse to causing the actual deaths of other sentients, the EMBALMERS use strange crimson energies to place attackers in a lightless anti-dimension rather than kill them outright. Hateful succubi and skeleton-demons live within the CRIMSON VOID, and blasts from the VOIDGUN are only unleashed in the direst emergencies."

Get It Here!

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Gong Farmer's Almanac Vol 2

The Gongfarmer’s Almanac: Volume 2: Monsters, Treasures & Patrons is a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Zine written, illustrated, and produced by the DCC RPG G+ community under the creative vision and direction of Doug Kovacs, Harley Stroh, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Hershberger.

This volume was written by Randall D. Bailey Jr., Kane Cathain, Bruce Clark, bygrinstow, Doug Kovacs, Billy Longino, Terry Olson, Jordan Smith, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, Kyle Turner, and Matthias Weeks.
Art was provided by Marc Radle, Craig Brasco, Michael Bukowski, bygrinstow, Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Carley Onofroio, Sean Poppe, Revturkey, Carla Stroh, and Christopher Wood.

Disclosure: I am listed as a proofreader on this volume.

Although listed as "Volume 2 of Five Booklets", there are actually six volumes in the 2015 release of The Gongfarmer's Almanac.

The volume is divided into three sections: Monsters, Treasure, and Patrons. Let's look inside.


  • Anti-Matternaut: Although listed as "Antimater Man" in the table of contents, this is a creature whose appearance will be quite familiar to those of us who were growing up in the 70s. Author bygrinstow gives more than a passing nod to the Micronauts (which I also had as a child), while offering a creature that is firmly tied into Dungeon Crawl Classics game mechanics.
  • Blight Serpent: Matthais Weeks serves up a giant snake that can spit out swarms of vermin.
  • Ghosts: No author is listed. Although this reminds me of The Age of Undying, Tim Callahan is not among the authors for the issue. If you happen to be the author, please shout out in the comments! Looking at the art, and the list of writers, I expect that the written portion of the article is the work of Doug Kovacs, as well as the art. In any event, this is a usable ten-point system to allow for PC ghosts in a scenario where it is appropriate. Item #3 ("can move freely between all the tables, though cannot leave large groups") makes me suspect that this write-up originated in a tournament somewhere.
NOTE: That's been confirmed. Art and writing are both by Doug Kovacs, and the work was done for Catastrophe Island at Gen Con.
  • Grub Knight: Kane Cathain offers rather disgusting creatures that are, essentially, slime-coated giant grubs who presumably feed on the dead after large battles, and then drag their discarded weapons and armor-encased limbs around with them.
  • Snakion: Terry Olson offers an interesting monster that actually defies an easy description. There is a binding ritual to establish a mental link with one, making it an interesting ally for an NPC wizard (or a PC wizard!), and it has its own crit table.
  • Vaechral: Also by Terry Olson, this is a rather nasty Type I demon that acts as a primordial agent of destruction. You wouldn't want to meet one in a dark ally.


  • Items to Die For: Kyle Turner offers three "instruments of death" which come at a cost. Not all of the costs are equal...but, then, neither are all of the benefits.
  • Objects of Wonder from the Ruins of Glittergus: Author Jordan Smith describes three items associated with a setting that sounds like it belongs in the Umerica of Crawling Under a Broken Moon. "Glittergus, the ancient city of antiquity, sits alone on its plateau above the deserts of the Hudson Basin. A city older than recorded time, it draws treasure seekers in with its tales of glass spires, screaming metal dragons, and libraries of lost knowledge. Many explorers are from the Swamp Kingdoms of Jersey and the scattered lands of Brokendyn. Many dream of exploring the ruins, but few dare to enter, and even fewer come back out. But those that do are laden with great treasures from the past." Beautiful.
  • Pelagian Equipment: Two items related to Pelagia, the Sea Goddesss, are brought to you by Bruce Clark.
  • The Wall of Kovacs: This "is a barrier made of wood and stone and metal, and which appears at different places, at different times. It is a transient fixture, if you will." It is by bygrinstow, based on the suggestion of Wayne Snyder and inspired by the art of Doug Kovacs.


  • Ghrelin: This is the "Demon Lord of Hunger and Starvation" who "cares about nothing but consuming". Author Randall D. Bailey Jr. offers a full patron write-up, including spells.
  • Great Ebony Hand (GEH): A patron by bygrinstow, inspired by Todd McGowan's tchotchke and improved by DCC Google+ Community Members, this includes a full patron write-up with spells...and even a handy familiar.
  • Hecate: This patron write-up by Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener offers the judge an alternate to the Hecate found in Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between. Only her 1st level patron spell is supplied, although "doubtless other dark magics are within her capacity to grant".
  • The Eye of Obitu-Que: Matthias Weeks supplies a dangerous and powerful magic item related to Obitu-Que, one of the partially-developed patrons in the core rulebook. Included in the write-up is a Type III demon of Obitu-Que, known as the Will of Obitu-Que.

Finally, the volume is finished with a 0-Level Player Character Record Sheet created by Billy Longino.

Get It Here!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Gong Farmer’s Almanac Vol 1

The Gongfarmer’s Almanac: Volume 1: Men & Magic is a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Zine written, illustrated, and produced by the DCC RPG G+ community under the creative vision and Direction of Doug Kovacs, Harley Stroh, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Hershberger.

This volume was written by David Baity, Julian Bernick, Gabriel Pérez Gallardi, Reece Carter, Chris Fassano, Reid San Filippo, Terra Frank, Edgar Johnson, Billy Longino, Terry Olson, Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener, and Jon Wilson. Art is by Craig Brasco, Jeff Griffith, Doug Kovacs, Todd McGowan, Sean Poppe, Claytonian JP, Revturkey, Mario Torres, Frank Turfler, Jon Wilson, William McAusland, Carla Stroh, and Marc Radle.

Disclosure: I am listed as a proofreader on this volume.

Although listed as "Volume 1 of Five Booklets", there are actually six volumes in the 2015 release of The Gongfarmer's Almanac. Strictly speaking, this material isn't necessary for running a Dungeon Crawl Classics game. Do you need an assassin that isn't a thief following the Path of the Assassin? Probably not. But it's nice to have the option, the material is cool, and the pdf is free.

The volume is split into two sections: PC Classes and Rituals & Spells. Let's look inside.

PC Classes

  • Assassin: This "lawless angel of death" is by Julian Bernick. Assassins have a "poison die" that works similar to a Deed Die in some ways - it gives a bonus to attack roll and damage. On a successful attack, the victim must save against the total attack value or be poisoned (with seven possible results, based on a roll). They also can assassinate a totally surprised opponent, which is a hefty ability. Level titles are given for all ten levels.
  • Dervish: Edgar Johnson provides a holy warrior class that is a little bit warrior, a little bit paladin, a little bit ranger, and a little bit monk. It's an interesting and flavorful class, with some variation in terms of thief skills. I could see this class existing in most Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign milieus.
  • Gold & Glory from Beyond the Grave: Terra Frank offers what might be the most surprising, and interesting, group of classes in the volume: Rules to play as a ghost, skeleton warrior, or vampire. Rules are not given for converting recently-slain characters to these classes (unfortunately!), but the judge can use the multiclassing rules from Raven Crowking's Nest or Crawl! #10 as a basis for doing so.
  • Luchador: Reid “Reidzilla” San Filippo provides a "mystical, bravado-fueled, unarmed warrior from the southern reaches of post-apocalyptic Umerica" for your pleasure. "Blessed by the Bueno-god El Santo, patron of all monster slaying wrestlers, Luchadores channel the hope of their peoples and their indomitable will through outlandish mystical masks to empower their ancient unarmed fighting techniques." Fun? Yes. Appropriate to all settings? Probably not as written, though reskinning the class shouldn't be that hard. One can imagine a Trumphammer 2K scenario where luchadors have to cross the border wall between Mexico and the United States. Likewise, a luchador might fit into a scenario inspired by Michael Curtis' Secret Antiquities. Given that Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) dates back to 1863, the class might also appear in Black Powder, Black Magic's Brimstone of the Weird West of Dark Trails.
  • Martial Grandmaster: Surely not everybody was Kung-Fu fighting, but this guy was. This is not a class, but a "monster" write-up by bygrinstow. And, yes, with a +8 bonus to initiative, this cat is as fast as lightning. With four Action Dice (1d24, 1d20, 1d16, and 1d14) as well as his "badass" ability, he certainly is more than a little bit frightening.
  • Sword Monger: If you've ever seen The Highlander, then you know where David Baity got his inspiration for this class. These are extremely powerful characters, and are very likely to dominate group play. The author notes that "Judges are encouraged to place a fellow sword monger into game play irregularly to keep the class balanced", but it has to be noted that this form of balance is going to skew play towards the sword monger PC even more: He survives almost anything you can throw at him, except special scenarios where the big threat is all about him and his physical stats increase 1/4 of the time. If you've only got one PC, though, the class is almost perfect. (Okay, I do have one other complaint. The name "sword monger" implies that the character sells swords. A "monger" is "a dealer or trader in a specified commodity", like a costermonger sells fruits and vegetables.)

Rituals & Spells

  • Blood Splash: This is a 1st level wizard spell, by Reece Carter, where the caster cuts himself and uses his own blood as a weapon.
  • Healing Spellburn: Author Gabriel Pérez Gallardi provides a mechanic whereby clerics may heal their wizardly comrades of damage caused by Spellburn. There are, of course, consequences of so doing. Overall, the mechanic is fairly well balanced and has inherent limitations that should prevent its overuse.
  • Sacrifice: A 1st level cleric spell by Doyle Wayne Ramos-Tavener where a sacrifice can be made to achieve a certain benefit, either for the caster or for another, and which requires a sacrifice either by the cleric or another. That the ritual can only be performed in a place holy to the caster's deity, there is an inherent limit in the spell.
  • Temporary Creation: This is a 1st level cleric spell by Terry Olson that creates some mundane item for a short period of time. The item is considered a manifestation of the god's power, and it is sinful to misuse it.
  • Vacuity: This is a 3rd level wizard spell by Chris Fassano that "Expels oxygen from lungs or area of effect; drains life force and thoughts from creatures; and can create a black hole, potentially transporting objects randomly across the universe or crushing everything in reach to an infinitely small point in space." Have fun with it!
Finally, the volume is finished with a 0-Level Player Character Record Sheet created by Billy Longino.

Get It Here!

The God-Seed Awakens!

The God Seed Awakens is a 3rd level adventure written by Paul Wolfe and illustrated by David Fisher, Jason Sholtis, Mario Torres Jr., Rick Hershey, and Doug Kovacs (cover). Cartography is by Kristian Richards. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I am listed as an Editor, and receive a Special Thanks for my "read-through and suggestions".

The God Seed Awakens strikes me as a massive adventure, although this is as much to do with the factions involved and the environment as it does with the number of encounter areas. There is a lot going on here, and judges who like opportunities to role-play should get the chance even if their players prefer the diplomacy of the sword.

The adventure includes a complete new patron (Shaloth), as well as the invoke patron results for Hecate, Goddess of Witches (from Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between). There are a lot of new monsters, some the result of the realities-spanning God Seed and others native to the PC's own world.

The adventure takes place within the Mount Welwood Cave System, which is pretty well described, making use of the three dimensional nature of such areas. When I ran the adventure, my players found some of the encounter areas were more tense because they had to deal with the environment as well as the monsters.

Conversation with the author informs me that The Stone God Awakens by Philip José Farmer was an influence on the adventure design, and there are definitely indications that this is the case. There are a number of intelligent species, for instance, and there is an intelligent plant at the heart of the adventure. But this is certainly not a dry revisiting of the novel; beyond these touch-points, the God Seed and the Stone God are very different beasts.

(Discussing this with Paul Wolfe caused me to locate a copy of Farmer's novel and read it.)

The description of actual cavern where the God Seed is located reminds me of a 70s black light poster...achieving much the same effect as the realm of Dormamu in Doctor Strange. Paul Wolfe does a great job of ensuring that the players know (or reasonably should know) that the God Seed itself doesn't come from our own reality. If they fail to understand that, there is an optional epilogue that can drive the point home...either as an actual even or as a vision.

This is not an easy adventure, and unwary explorers will be wiped out, most likely by Tuegel leechmen or their master before they ever see the God Seed. When I ran this adventure, I placed it in the northern part of the regional map from Anomalous Subsurface Environment (Patrick Wetmore). The PCs were sent there to fulfill a divine quest, having called upon the gods for aid. Meanwhile, another group of PCs in another campaign had called upon divine assistance, and were later sent across worlds to help the first party. They needed it; this is a tough adventure. In fact, the adventure is tough enough that I sent them into a converted version of Dungeonland in order to recover before facing further challenges!

There are some really fun encounters here, some because they are challenging and others because they offer the players opportunities to interact with the creatures through diplomacy, force, stealth, or whatever they think best. PCs can make allies and enemies. Mystic Bull offers a pdf of the Tokar class on its website, which is useful if you must replace fallen characters. Some of the encounters I enjoyed running the most are ones I haven't even described here, because I don't want to spoil the fun of others. There is a lot of meat in this product.

From beyond our dimension, a living seed has festered here for an aeon. Within it lurks the nascent form of Akavala, the Ravenous Tree, dread ruler of a shattered world and its carefully gathered and subjugated protectors. Two of these powerful creatures escaped into the underworld drawing champions and enemies from the complex societies found there. As the god-seed grows, the world creeps closer to its doom.

Get It Here!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Goblins of the Faerie Woods

CE 8: Goblins of the Faerie Woods was written by Daniel J. Bishop and illustrated by Gary Dupuis and Brett Neufeld. Cartography is by Tim Hartin. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

Like all of the Campaign Element series, this product seeks to add material to your campaign milieu that you can use over and over again. It also has obvious tie-in value to the Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores series.

Herein you will find two five-level classes for goblins, who can become goblin warriors or goblin witch doctors. as well as rules for 0-level goblins. When I was working on my own game system (Raven Crowking's Fantasy Game, or RCFG), I did some work to recast goblins, including the basis that forms the goblin witch doctor class.

Readers of the CE series will notice that, quite often, I include places where PCs can gain information for a price. This is intentional. In a game where "Quest For It" plays such a prominent role, the ability of the players to gain information is vital. Likewise, the opportunity for the judge to plant adventure seeds is extremely useful.

Some notes on things:

  • Jungus the Witch Doctor began her life male, but I decided to make her female. She is named after Carl Jung
  • The Grey Ones would have been called the Greywhethers if I hadn't used that name in Silent Nightfall. Actually, a number of the creatures in Silent Nightfall were originally pets kept by goblins in RCFG, as an homage to The Princess and the Goblin.
  • Gaulmurk, Ogre-Sorcerer of the Iron Bands is modeled after the wizard of the iron bands in Longshanks, Girth, and Keen. He was made tough (and able to step into Elfland) so that low-level PCs wouldn't simply start the adventure by leaving the path, going to his tower, and ganking him.
  • The Weird of Sortharl is, of course, created in loving memory of the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons Wand of Wonder, a magic item that was always fun for the DM to include. The name recalls a magic item mentioned in an old Dragon Magazine or White Dwarf article. I can't pin down the article at the moment, but the item was the Strange of somebody or other. It stuck with me.
  • The spider’s voice is supposed to perform four tasks. One, it is intended to be an entertaining encounter as is. Two, it is supposed to be an example of using "Where Spell Knowledge is Found" - just because an idea seems fanciful doesn't mean that it can't be realized in-game. Three, it gives the PCs a reason to ask questions of the Grey Ones. Finally, one of my players had hoped to learn the language of spiders.

Monday, 13 February 2017

GM Gems Hardcover Second Printing

The Second Printing of GM Gems was written by Lou Agresta, Rone Barton, Russell Brown, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Adam Daigle, Ashavan Doyon, Tom Ganz, Stephen S. Greer, David Hall, Stefan Happ, Ed Healy, Tim Hitchcock, Phillip Larwood, John E. Ling, Jr., Hal Maclean, Rob Manning, Greg Oppedisano,Greg Ragland, Craig Shackleton, and Patrick Smith. The project manager was Stephen S. Greer. Art was provided by Laura Lakey, Stefan Poag, William McAusland, and Peter Mullen. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I did the Dungeon Crawl Classics rules conversion on this project.

This is a good-sized hardcover book with a lot of material in it. Because the book is intended to be mostly system-neutral, there was a lot of content which did not need conversion at all. Some things required fairly heavy work because of the difference in assumptions between 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (which the 1st printing of GM Gems used as its default) and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Let's look inside.

Introduction: What it says on the tin.

Chapter One: The Urban Experience

  • Alchemical Mishaps: Written by Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Tim Hitchcock, Phillip Larwood, and Greg Oppedisano, this is a d% table of things that might go wrong when messing with potions or strange chemicals. Or unexpectedly right. Because of the major difference in magic between games, this required some conversion. Because of the similarities of what might happen, it didn't require much. 
  • 100 Dockside Events: Written by Rone Barton, Russell Brown, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, and Hal Maclean. This is another d% table, with things that might be happening by the docks. Most of these things could be used as potential adventure hooks.
  • Local Folklore and the Truth Behind the Myths: Writers Elizabeth Courts, Tim Hitchcock, and Hal Maclean provide 13 examples of folklore the PCs might hear, the truth behind them (unless the judge decides otherwise!) and adventure hooks that can be used in relation to the folklore.
  • Memorable NPC Frills: Russell Brown provides a d% table of quirks that make an NPC memorable.
  • Rites of Passage: Lou Agresta, Rone Barton, Elizabeth Courts, Ed Healy, and Tim Hitchcock provide 20 examples of things PCs might have to do to enter into elite societies. This is useful fodder for the Dungeon Crawl Classics judge, who needs to devise means by which PCs may Quest For It. 
  • Specialty Shops: Writer Ashavan Doyon provides four shops that might "cater to the unusual needs and wants of adventurers", complete with adventure hooks.
  • Unique Taverns and Inns: Rone Barton, Russell Brown, Elizabeth Courts, and Rob Manning provide 8 taverns and ins which might appear in the judge' campaign. 
  • Unusual Holidays: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Ed Healy, and Tim Hitchcock provide 15 fantasy holidays, complete with adventure hooks. Particularly in pre-industrial worlds, holidays mark the progress of the year. If your campaign milieu doesn't yet contain a Moon Hill Sapping, this article will help.
  • What’s In Those Pockets?: This is a d% table by John E. Ling, Jr. If your game includes thieves, these things are always useful.

Chapter Two: Getting There is Half the Fun

  • A New Look at Caravans: Adam Daigle, Stephen S. Greer, Stefan Happ, Ed Healy, and Patrick Smith provide five unusual caravans that might be used in the judge's campaign. I have used the Tinker's caravan in my home game to good effect.
  • Extraordinary Campsites: Adam Daigle, Greg Oppedisano, and Greg Ragland provide 16 campsites which are more than just a spot beside the road. In the same way that Weathertop was more than a generic campsite in The Fellowship of the Ring, these camping places can make a routine part of the adventuring life a bit more memorable. And they come with adventure hooks.
  • Roadside Ruins: Writers Russell Brown and Greg Oppedisano provide 10 strange ruins with adventure hooks. The judge may use these for color, or develop them into full adventures.
  • Traveling Merchants: B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Stefan Happ, and Tim Hitchcock provide six unusual merchants who may be met on the road.
  • War Torn: On the March: Russell Brown supplies a d% table of encounters in an area rife with conflict.
  • Weathering the Storm: Ed Healy, John E. Ling, Jr., and Greg Ragland describe 13 fantastic weather events, complete with adventure hooks.

Chapter Three: The Dungeon

  • Alternate “Wonders” for the Rod of Wonder: Elizabeth Courts, Dave Hall, Tim Hitchcock, Rob Manning, and Greg Ragland provide a d% table for alternative effects when using an item such as a wand of wonder. "Banal mechanical boosts and transmutations are not all that fanciful. Returning true wonder to powerful magical devices, below are 100 new ways to shock and amaze!" Dungeon Crawl Classics judges should consider that any object may produce one or more effects from this table. 
  • Empty Rooms Worth Describing: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Tom Ganz, Tim Hitchcock, Rob Manning, Greg Ragland, and Craig Shackleton present a d% table of "empty" rooms, with neither monsters nor treasure, but which are likely to capture players' imaginations.
  • Familiar Creatures with Unfamiliar Faces: B. Matthew Conklin III and Elizabeth Courts supply 12 (not 20) unique creatures as well as a d20 table to change the appearance or ability of monsters. What this really means for the discerning Dungeon Crawl Classics judge is that they gain a dozen new creatures. Because of the differences between 3rd Edition and DCC monsters, this is one of the articles that required the most conversion work. 
  • Left Behind: Writer Hal Maclean supplies five familiars whose masters are gone. The familiars wizards may gain in Dungeon Crawl Classics are very different than those in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, so this is another article that required serious thought to convert.
  • New and Unusual Light Sources: Adam Daigle, John E. Ling, Jr., and Greg Ragland provide 21 alternatives to the humble torch. 
  • The Nose Knows: Russell Brown discusses the sense of smell. "Explorers of deep underground tunnels, castle dungeons, and sealed chambers in ancient tombs all have one common experience: the strange and overpowering smell of these places. Describing smells to your characters can add depth to their experience, create a sense of horror and dread, and give important clues about recent events or foreshadow the next encounter they’re about to have."
  • Noxious Substances: Lou Agresta, Elizabeth Courts, Stefan Happ, Tim Hitchcock, and Greg Oppedisano provide 18 things you would really rather not come into contact with. There is a minor formatting error with the last one, "Vapors of Drowned Deep One"; don't miss it as a result!
  • Short Encounters for Short Attention Spans: Writers Rone Barton, Elizabeth Courts, Stephen S. Greer, and Tim Hitchcock offer a d% table of minor encounters to liven up a dull moment.
  • 100 Unique Treasures: Rone Barton, B. Matthew Conklin III, Elizabeth Courts, Stephen S. Greer, Tim Hitchcock, and Greg Oppedisano complete the product with a d% table of interesting alternatives to yet another hoard of coins and gems.

Even the most creative among us benefit from the creativity of others. Overall, this volume is an excellent resource, which I am happy to have on my gaming shelf, along with 50 Fantastic Functions for the D50, The Dungeon Alphabet, The Monster Alphabet, and the Random Esoteric Creature Generator.

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