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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: Vendettas and Soldiers

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Having recently played the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG for the first time (finally!), I found the experience exhilarating and hilarious as our bumbling 0-level characters found themselves immediately in over their heads and striving to tackle traps and dungeon guardians they couldn’t possibly defeat without incredible ingenuity and luck. It’s what makes the game great: the stuff you face can and should destroy you utterly, but — when the adventures are done right — there are little tips and tricks tucked away that can push things in your favor. If you look for them, roll good, and make use of them. It rewards good play and hangs on the occasional good score or dice roll, as opposed to just relying on good scores and lots of mechanical options and doodads to play with.

As I prepare to run DCC for the first time, as opposed to being a player, I co-opted something that will help reinforce the roleplay aspect of DCC for a new player, giving them deeper motivations to send their character into the heart of danger. I also came up with a little mechanic that can help the 0-level characters get a better fighting chance in an especially hard funnel adventure, one that also will provide them with useful prompts to help them learn some of the “good strategy” involved in D&D-style gaming, if they aren’t already familiar. This may sound like I’m being too nice of a Judge — DCC is by intent not a game in which you really should be a “nice” and giving GM — but if you know anything about Rappan Athuk, well, that’s the adventure I’m using as the funnel and later campaign, so I’m actually probably still being mean. The players just won’t know it as quickly.

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Review: Blood Dark Thirst

Blood Dark Thirst by Kort'thalis Publishing

Blood Dark Thirst in a nutshell is Vampire: The Masquerade as distilled through author Venger’s propensity for an extra layer of darkness or weirdness (these are blood suckers who are possessed by demons!), and a major streamlining of system and theme. This isn’t a game that sells itself on its lavishly developed setting or the complex machinations of vampiric clans or houses, but instead boils everything down to the personal traits that create such beautiful conflict in the modern vampire mythos. For those seeking a quick and dark way to tell vampire stories of personal horror, you can’t go wrong. For those looking for more — more details, more traits, more than just “how does my vampire overcome or succumb to his bloodlust — this isn’t for you. And that’s just fine.

Rating: Content 4/5 and Form 5/5.

Read on for the full review!

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Curse of Strahd As A One-Shot

Strahd astride his nightmare steed

The idea of boiling down the iconic adventure Curse of Strahd is one that isn’t exactly promising for a few reasons: Strahd works best when he shows up several times, there’s a lot of backstory conveyed through locations and NPCs in Barovia, and there’s several artifacts spread out across the realm that even the odds against Strahd and present their own sidequests. Castle Ravenloft itself is a big place, with hundreds of areas to explore.

But Strahd’s been around for decades, so literally thousands of players have already played through some edition’s version of the adventure surrounding Ravenloft’s key adversary, or they’ve read about his exploits and power-level. The iconic status that makes him the perfect enemy for a party is also what makes him so cool for players to challenge head-to-head over and over again. In fact, that’s a key element of the campaign: Strahd, as a Dark Lord of a domain in Ravenloft, may have no way of being permanently defeated, and so he will play out his torturous, unrequited love story for all of time.

For Halloween, I’ve attempted to boil down Curse of Strahd to its barest elements, and I think I’ve created something that can be finished in 4-6 hours of play while still revealing the story of Strahd. Let’s see what you think!

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Review: Stairway of V’dreen for Crimson Dragon Slayer

Stairway of V'dreen

Continuing to support the in-house Crimson Dragon Slayer system, Kort’thalis releases Stairway of V’dreen, a sandbox adventure in a world that is steadily being erased as its erstwhile gods have moved on to other creations. Further embracing the zaniness of author Venger As’Nas Satanis’ love for random tables, this adventure shines in creating a surprisingly consistent world whose erasure is prompted by a surprising — and self-effacing — twist that the PCs can directly interact with during the Paranoia-esque conclusion. Though it’s clearly a beer-and-pretzels, “jump in fast and see how quickly things get crazy” style of adventure, there’s a surprising amount of depth to be uncovered.

Rating: Content 3/5 and Form 5/5.

Read on for the full review!

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Raiders of the Lost Tomb: Chult Adventurer’s Guide now available

Raiders of the Lost Tomb: Chult Adventurer’s Guide

Raiders of the Lost Tomb: Chult Adventurer’s Guide by M.T. Black, Jeremy Forbing, R P Davis, Alex Clippinger, Mark Gellis, Cody Ashby, Leo David Pakirdjian, P.B. Publishing: Phil Beckwith, and Micah Innerarity is now available at the Dungeon Master’s Guild!

This supplement features two subclasses for every class in the Player’s Handbook, plus two for the Artificer, and one for P.B. Publishing’s bestselling Hex Witch class, for a total of 27 archetypes, 5 new races, new backgrounds, 50+ pages of spells, new feats, and more!

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Review: Slaves of Tsathoggua for Crimson Dragon Slayer

Slaves of Tsathoggua

Slaves of Tsathoggua is an old-school style dungeon crawl adventure for the Crimson Dragon Slayer 1.11 One Hour Game roleplaying game. It’s very much in the weird fantasy/sci-fi genre, featuring gonzo technology and a wild assortment of monstrous creatures, bizarre aliens, and terrifying horrors from worlds beyond our understanding. There’s a lot of strong roleplaying opportunities as well as some creepy combat encounters, but the weird situations call some attention to the weaknesses of such a simple and freeform system as is found in CDS 1.11. That said, it also speaks to the system’s strengths towards getting a solid adventure experience up and running in minutes, and the ease of conversion to nearly any OSR system — especially Swords & Wizardry, Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, and their progenitor early editions of Dungeons & Dragons — makes this experience immediately portable to whatever your flavor of game mechanics happens to be.

Rating: Content 4/5 and Form 5/5.

Read on for the full playtest review!

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A Little Mayhem Never Hurt Anyone

A couple days in and Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem is in position 42!

Since I don’t know what to write in an Afterword for my releases, I tend to ignore the story behind the scenes of many of my Dungeon Masters Guild releases. Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem was an absurdly long time in the making, however, and as such it accumulated a bit of a tale that I feel is worth telling, especially since it reveals my adventure-writing process.

So strap in for a short but revealing ride down 18 months of love and heartache…

…it’s not really that sappy. Trust me. But all the same, here it is.

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Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem is now available at the Dungeon Masters Guild!

Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem!

The full-length version of Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem has arrived at the Dungeon Masters Guild!

We posted the Free Preview Version a little while back, but seeing the finalized version of the full adventure is a dream come true! This adventure nearly died with a massive hard drive crash, so it’s become quite the storied creation around these parts. But now it is alive and in the wild, so let’s take a look!

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Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem is about to land at the DMsGuild

Two-page spread of Wilderness Encounters and Level 1 map & intro

The full-length version of Modrons, Mephits & Mayhem is about to arrive at the Dungeon Masters Guild!

We posted the Free Preview Version a little while back, but seeing the finalized version of the full adventure nearing completion has us drooling in excitement, so we had to share a quick look at what you’ll see…and believe us, it’s quite an improvement over the preview version! Let’s take a look.

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Forging the Realms: A DM’s Kit for Running the Realms now available at the DMsGuild

Forging the Realms: A DM's Kit for Running the Realms

We are proud to announce our first compilation — featuring nearly 50 pages of bonus never-before-published content — on the Dungeon Masters Guild:

Forging the Realms: A DM’s Kit for Running the Realms, available now for only $2.00 at the DMsGuild!

This guide compiles several releases that are tailor-made for making the Forgotten Realms campaign setting a joy to run, and includes nearly 50 pages of content that provides extra tables and lists for the DM’s tool box. Whether you’re new to Faerun and need some help making your campaign feel Realmsian, or you’re an old hat looking for new ways to invigorate adventure prep or at-the-table gameplay when the players go off the rails, this guide is for you! Let’s see what’s inside:

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