Thursday, 15 February 2018

PM 1: Temple of the Locust Lord

Purple Mountain Level One: Temple of the Locust Lord is a 1st level adventure written by Mark Gedak. Art is by Jacob Blackmon (cover) and Matt Morrow. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. DCC conversion is by Daniel J. Bishop. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I did the DCC conversion on this product, and am a Patreon on this project.

Purple Mountain was originally written for the Pathfinder role-playing game, and is nominally within the Purple Duck Games open setting world, Porphyra. Each level was written by a different author (although some authors may have written more than one level), using cartography by Kristian Richards.

Some of this cartography was later used to inspire Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures: for instance, Level 1 shares a map with Through the Cotillion of Hours, and Level 3 shares maps with Stars in the Darkness.

Each level also has a theme, and the theme of Level One is insects, arthropods, and similar squicky things - what are called "vermin" in the original system. It is important in doing a conversion to try to be true to the overall vision of the original author, while ensuring that the aesthetic of Dungeon Crawl Classics shines through. This means, in part, making monsters mysterious, even to those who are old hands at Pathfinder. Luckily, Mark Gedak's original work made this fairly easy to do.

Notes are given for using this product as a stand-alone adventure, or as part of the larger Purple Mountain series. An Appendix describes the Locust Lord as a deity for clerics and provides invoke patron results for wizards and elves.

The first level of Purple Mountain is the current home to a cult of the Locust Lord, a demonic entity dedicated to vermin, chasms, and infestations. Twenty years ago, the wizard Iraksed came to the Purple Mountain to discover secrets of transformation into an immortal invertebrate form. His destructive tendencies and ability to manipulate the manamites present in the first level of Purple Mountain earned him the grace of the Locust Lord and Iraksed began the painful process of shedding his mortal form into his current squirming one.

Recently Iraksed and his manamite followers have grown in power and potential for destruction. The manamites have captured and trained a number of vermin, including a throach. The throach, known to the manamites as the Instrument of the Locust Lord, has the ability to implant hosts with its verminous offspring. These offspring eventually tear themselves free of their host. The manamites love both the birth of throach grubs from within the bodies of other sentient races and the screams of their hosts as the larval throach burst free. To supply the throach with a constant supply of hosts, the manamites occasionally venture out of Purple Mountain to capture travellers or nearby villagers.

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Pulp Weird Encounters #1: The Tomb of the Squonk and the Silent Army

Pulp Weird Encounters #1: The Tomb of the Squonk and the Silent Army was written by Daniel J. Bishop and Charlie Scott, with art by Nik Wolfe (including cover) and Rick Hershey. Cartographer is by Joshua Burnett. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

Disclosure: I am one of the authors.

As the name implies, this product was meant to be the first in a series of Pulp Weird Encounters published by Mystic Bull Games. While I cannot say for certain about The Silent Army, I know that Tomb of the Squonk was originally written for In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer, but didn't fit within the space of the book.

Pulp Weird Encounters #1 contains two adventures: Tomb of the Squonk by Daniel J. Bishop and The Silent Army by Charlie Scott. Interestingly enough, both include alien technology as significant elements.

Tomb of the Squonk (Low to Mid-Level, by Daniel J. Bishop)

A hideous creature asks your help to regain his rightful body.

This adventure is heavily influenced by the World of Tiers series by Philip José Farmer. So much so that there are rules for creating Patricians - a group of human-appearing interdimensional beings that fight in an endless internecine conflict that they term “games.” The point of these games is to humiliate, and eventually to kill, the other Patricians through a “board” that consists of multiple universes, on a playground that includes other times as well as other spaces.

The cover illustration predates the adventure, which was designed to make use of it. If you are familiar with North American lumberjack mythology, you will recognize where the squonk comes from.

The titular Tomb is actually a death-trap designed to slay all who enter. It includes a white-furred temporal serpent that predates a similar occurance in Glipkerio's Gambit (and which is itself a nod both to Philip José Farmer and Fritz Leiber's Nehwon). Despite being a death trap, a clever party can survive with minimal (or no) loss.

The adventure also includes a number of gates, so the prospective judge should have other locations to hand in case the PCs pass through one or more of them. When I first ran the adventure, as a home game playtest, the PCs entered into the world of Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess (converted from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. When I ran this at Gary Con IX, characters ended up first in the Saturn of The Weird Worm-Ways of Saturn and The Vault of Ash, and then in The Giggling Deep.

I strongly recommend that the judge throw the players into the new location in media res, rather than at the normal adventure start. Adventure conversions from almost any system would be appropriate.

The Silent Army (Low-Level, by Charlie Scott)

Help a village defeat an alien menace.

The working title of this adventure was The Cyber-Satyr, and you will find it referenced as such in Tomb of the Squonk. This adventure is really written as a fairly linear side quest, but one that foreshadows an alien invasion. Note that the actual invasion can be generations hence if the judge doesn't want to address it, or next week if she does.

Note that "the entirety of this work is designated as Open Gaming Content" except the Product Identity, which are mostly terms so designated by Goodman Games. This means that, if you wish, you can create and publish an adventure that follows up on either The Silent Army or Tomb of the Squonk. I would buy it. Neither the Patricians nor the alien Tsinchin are Product Identity.

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Prince Charming, Reanimator

FT0: Prince Charming, Reanimator is a 0-level funnel adventure written by Daniel J. Bishop. Art is by Luigi Catellani, and cartography is by Kristian Richards. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

This product comes about due to the confluence of several factors.

First, I had planned to do a series of fairy tale-based adventures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, titled Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores. The idea was to combine classic fairy tales with one or more strong Appendix N influences, to create something that accentuated the folkloric (and often dark) fey elements of the original tale and the adventurous energy of Appendix N fiction.

Second, my good friend Raechel Henderson, who was the first person to ever pay me for a piece of writing, had a Kickstarter project that was moving slowly. I asked my readers to help spread the word about Raechel’s project, in return for which I would write a free adventure. Her project, Spellbound and Spindles, was related to fairy tales too, making this a perfect tribute to those who contributed either with dollars or links. Although Spellbound is no more, it pleases me to no end that Raechel Henderson not only achieved her goal, but fulfilled her commitments, releasing seven issues before Spellbound closed its doors. Perhaps, like Sleeping Beauty herself, Spellbound will reawaken at some future date? Our community should all wish for a strong introduction to fantasy specifically made for children.

Finally, Mark Gedak of Purple Duck Games not only agreed to publish the follow up series of fairy tale-based adventures, but also to publish the free adventure professionally.

The result was Prince Charming, Reanimator, with the pdf version being Pay What You Want. Prince Charming, Reanimator, is based off of the observation that Prince Charming's brides were found (in the original fairy tales) at the bottom of a well, in a glass casket, and after being "asleep" for a century. This struck me as being more than a little akin to something a medieval Herbert West, Reanimator might be into. And et voila! Here we are.

The adventure includes Dr. Chapman as a patron, using the abbreviated format from the core rulebook (invoke patron results only). For a more complete write-up, see FT 1: Creeping Beauties of the Wood.

Get It Here, or Get the PWYW Pdf Here!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Prayers of the Forgotten

Prayers of the Forgotten was written by Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman. The cover illustration is not credited (or, at least, it is not in my copy, which has a different cover illustration). Cartography is by Carl Bussler and Eric Hoffman. The publisher is Stormlord Publishing.

I previously reviewed this item here (and that is the cover I have!).  My opinion on the product has not changed.

“There is no such thing as a dead god. Only dead followers.” - Sir Baylin the Last

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Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Portsmouth Mermaid

FT 2: The Portsmouth Mermaid is a 2nd level adventure written by Daniel J. Bishop, with art by Matt Morrow (cover) and Luigi Castellani. Cartography is by Kristian Richards. Additional writing by Godric McKellan and Bobby Ree. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I am the author.

An invitation to a wedding, and a patron's desire for a mermaid's tears, bring the PCs to Portsmouth, an amalgamated not to H.P. Lovecraft's fictional towns of Kingsport and Innsmouth. In particular, judges would be well advised to read The Festival, Dagon, and The Shadow over Innsmouth if they are interested in direct influences.

The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen, is another obvious inspiration. So much so that I am left wondering whether or not Lovecraft had considered this tale when penning Dagon.

There are a great many other fairy tale and nursery rhyme references in the adventure. The Golden River, it may be noted, relates to The King of the Golden River (by John Ruskin), and is also connected to Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror through the "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" encounter in Appendix C: Additional Encounters.

The adventure includes five appendixes.

Appendix A is compiled statblocks for everything referenced in the adventure. There are a lot of elements that can be in play, so this is worth printing out and keeping handy.

Appendix B is New Magic Items. In August of 2014 I ran The Scrimshaw Rod contest on my blog, and decided to split the difference, declaring both contestants (Godric McKellan and Bobby Ree) winners. These items were created by them, and they should have been credited in the text.

Appendix C contains Additional Encounters that can be used to liven up adventuring in Portsmouth, either during this adventure or later in a campaign. They are The Dancing Shoes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Match Girl, I Do Not Like Thee Doctor Fell, The Sky is Falling, The King of the Cats, and Simple Simon's Catch.

Appendix D: The Esoteric Order of Dagon contains a complete patron write-up for Dagon, which can also be found reprinted in  Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between: Extended, Otherworldly Edition. (In fact, there is a Dagon cover.)

Appendix E: Faerie Animal Types for Portsmouth supplies a table for faerie animal characters, using the rules in Creeping Beauties of the Wood, but which are more suitable for the Portsmouth area.

This is the third item in the Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores series. Additional supporting materials can be found in Crawl! fanzine #11 (The Deep Elders) and Three Nights in Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth Mermaid takes place over the twelve days of a Yuletide Celebration in the town of Portsmouth, north of Westlake. The adventure is largely political, with several factions, all of which have a different optimal outcome. The PCs have to figure out what is going on, decide what to do about it, and then live with the consequences.

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Playing the Game

AL 6: Playing the Game is a 0-level funnel adventure by Perry Fehr, with art by Gary Dupuis (including cover and game board design) and Jacob Blackmon. The publisher is Purple Duck Games.

Disclosure: I have a playtest credit in this product.

Playing the Game relates to the Zenik Order, and is therefore linked to the author's The Elemental Lords Awaken! In this adventure, characters are given the chance to play a board game called Arbakampsi, with stakes that are far greater than most game players experience.

Arbakampsi is a board game common to the Lands of Porphyra. It was first described in Purple Duck Storeroom: Arbakampsi, for the Pathfinder system.

In many ways, this adventure reminded me of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Move Along Home. Essentially, our hapless characters become part of the game, and, unlike in Deep Space Nine, failure has real consequences.

Of course, success has consequences, too, and Arbakampsi players are given the opportunity to bond with one of four elemental patrons - Grom, Prince of Elemental Stone; Splaasha, Princess of Elemental Water; Krakaal, Prince of Elemental Flame; or Ithha, Prince of Elemental Winds, described in the core rulebook. The new Elemental Lords are all given invoke patron tables; full patron write-ups rely upon the judge or a later product.

There is some discussion of using this adventure not as a funnel, but as part of a "larger adventure location for higher level characters". Four specific scenario ideas are provided.

The adventure also includes complete rules for Arbakampsi, including a printable game board, so that the game can become an artifact of your campaign milieu.

This adventure was a lot of fun to playtest. Because of its "game" nature, there are several points at which player intelligence, rather than character abilities, determine success or failure.

What dirty peasant hasn't wanted to turn his grubby copper into a shiny gold coin? The oddly-dressed stranger offered a friendly game, a tempting wager, what was the harm? But harm is definitely in the air when a pack of rubes stumble upon an extradimensional test of elemental loyalty!  Can you make it through the tests of skill, arms and wits to achieve the Ultimate Prize?  

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The Pillar of Anuul

The Pillar of Anuul is a 0-level funnel adventure published by Reckoning of the Dead. Writing and art credits are not listed, but are presumably the work of Matt Ryan and Noah Lloyd.

This is a one-page adventure, so it uses monsters from the core rulebook, and you will need to refer to that volume for statistics. Except the vampire, if it comes up. You're on your own with that. You'll also have to decide why all of these different monster types are within such close proximity to each other...or why some of the monsters are there at all. Why are there Deep Ones in the Pillar? Etc.

There is a table to determine what monsters you encounter in the Pillar, and a table to determine what treasures you might find.

The adventure assumes that the PCs will all be goblins, created as though humans with infravision. The adventure suggests that the players "approach the goblins as they would any other race-as-class characters", but, of course, in a single page no goblin class is (or possibly could be) offered. Except for flavor, there is no reason that the judge cannot switch the humans and goblins in this adventure, so that the PCs are human. Or, these goblins could simply level as humans.

But then, really, how much do you expect from a free one-page adventure?

At the very least, this is a good starting point for a judge's creativity. Perhaps there are caverns and tunnels connected to the Pillar, which extend under the Colophon badlands? Perhaps the river is wide, deep, and not far from the sea?

Far north of the Holomart Plains, the Sinteror River carves a great chasm, dividing the Colophon badlands, a place of broken rocks and once-living trees, in two. In the badlands, a massive stone bridge built by a dead civilization stretches over the yawning valley, and it is there that the prisoner exchange will occur.

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