Saturday, June 16th is Free RPG Day ‘12
and with it comes a slew of new and interesting little releases. They can usually be divided between tasters for new games that will be released at Gen Con this forthcoming August and support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera. In general, the tasters for the new, “hot” games are highly anticipated and on the day itself, in high demand, and sometimes the same can be said of the support provided for existing games. Free RPG Day ’12 is no different, with one of the highly anticipated titles being DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012
, a scenario booklet for Goodman Games’ recently released Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game
Arguably, Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game is the first fantasy RPG released by a mainstream publisher that really takes into account of the style of play most recently brought to the fore by the Old School Renaissance. This harked back to the simpler, more stripped down gaming of Dungeons & Dragons before it was developed into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Basic Dungeons & Dragons. In doing so, the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game promises a return to the “glory days of fantasy” gaming of 1974, but combined with modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery along with the inspiration of the Dungeon Master’s Guide’s Appendix N.
DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012 provides two scenarios for the game, one fifth level characters and one for third level. The first of these is written by the author of The Dungeon Alphabet: An A-to-Z Reference for Classic Dungeon Design, Michael Curtis. “The Undulating Corruption” focuses on the dread nature of magic in the game, it being presumed (and likely) that by fifth level, the party’s Wizard will be suffering from at least one debilitating taint. In searching for a means to rid himself of this corruption he has learnt of the Crucible of the Worm, an ancient order capable of cleansing wizards of their sorcerous taint. How this was done has been lost to time, but the Wizard, and now the party has a location, and as the scenario opens, are on their way there on horseback.
Unfortunately, as the party comes upon the site described in what lore that they have, it appears that something has wormed its way up out of the ground, destroying the site in the process. Whatever the creature is, it is leaving a trail of viscous, corrosive slime in its wake as its heads surging towards the nearest settlement. The heroes must race to catch up with it, and if they can stop it, perhaps they will learn some of the secrets of the Crucible of the Worm.
The second scenario, “The Jeweller That Dealt In Stardust,” is written by Harley Stroh, who has written several titles for Goodman Games, including some for the publisher’s original Dungeon Crawl Classics line of modules. It is purely an urban scenario, nominally being set in Punjar, the city setting for several of Goodman Games’ earlier Dungeon Crawl Classics titles, and takes its influence from Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard, and Lean Times in Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber. It is designed primarily with Thieves in mind, but the other Classes will be useful too.
In Punjar, Boss Ogo is primarily known as a dealer in jewels, but to anyone in the know, he is also one of the city’s best fences. Yet for the last month, nothing has been heard from Boss Ogo and the door and windows of town shop have been locked shut. The potential jewels and gold that he has inside the shop are too much of an attraction for some, including the player characters. Perhaps anyone who breaks in might find out what happened to Boss Ogo might discover what happened to him, but first there is the matter of his loot! Essentially a heist adventure, “The Jeweller That Dealt In Stardust” focuses primarily on exploration and mystery over combat, though the party will doubtless get into a fight or two. To support the exploration and the mystery, the inside of Boss Ogo’s shop is described in no little detail and flavour.
Between the adventures, DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012 contains an announcement for Goodman Games’ “Mystery Map Adventure Competition.” This asks the entrants to create an outline for dungeon for Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game in a thousand words using and developing the map provided. The winning entry will be commissioned as a five thousand word entry and published as Goodman Games’ DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2013. The successful author will also win $1000.
Physically, DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012 is well presented and well written. The illustrations, and in particular the maps, do capture the feel of early Dungeons & Dragons, and whilst the writing also does, it also benefits from an attention to detail that comes with a more modern presentation. Of the two adventures, the second, “The Jeweller That Dealt In Stardust” is the more entertaining affair, but both adventures in DCC RPG Free RPG Day 2012 serve as excellent one-night showcases for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game.