Thursday, 16 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #3 (spring 2015) was written by Rev. Dr. Edgar Johnson III, Adam Muszkiewicz, the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, and Wayne Snyder. Art is by Wayne Snyder. The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

The issue says, in the liner notes:

The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad would like to thank Roy, Jim, at least three different Jameses, Katie, Harley, Hobbs, Doug, Diogo, Donn, Gabriel, two Phils, Ryan, Shane, several Tims, a Stephen, a Stefan, several Johns of various name-spellings and one Dark Master.

Let's look inside.

What's A d11?: A d12 mechanic invented by Adam Muszkiewicz, which was first described in Issue #2.

It is used again in this issue, so explanation is required.

Currency From Ur-Hadad: Author Adam Muszkiewicz describes the forms of coin you might find in Ur-Hadad, from the "vulgar currency", consisting of silver bits, copper chits, bronze bobs, and gold crowns, to the "high currency" of coinage carefully minted by five noble houses.

Atraz A'Zul, Mother of Spiders: The Rev. Dr. Edgar Johnson III offers a new patron. Patron spells for levels 2 and 3 are not provided; the patron is otherwise complete.

Atraz A’Zul is a spider demoness of ancient lineage whose intrigues are manifold, subtlety legendary, and cold calculation uncompromising. She is the demon spirit of dark and quiet places and the unseen things that creep there. To form a bond with Atraz A’Zul, one must go into the desert and ingest the hallucinogenic spider known as the Dream Stalker. Atraz A’Zul will appear to the dreamer who must pledge his troth to her and her alone. Those who serve the demoness are expected to protect spiders, scorpions, and other poisonous vermin.

The Heist! - An Adventure Toolkit: Written by Adam Muszkiewicz, this is similar to Street Kids of Ur-Hadad in Issue #1 and Secrets of the Serpent Moon in Issue #2, in that it offers not a single adventure, but the means to create a great number of adventures with a series of tables. I would imagine that these toolkits are relatively hard to write, given the level of creativity and re-usability involved. This one, in particular, is of great use to anyone running an urban-based campaign.

Half-Level PCs in DCC: An article by Adam Muszkiewicz, inspired by Doug Kovacs. This is for beefing up 0-level characters for funnel-type games. For another take on half-levels, aimed at providing a means for multiclassing, see Crawl! fanzine #10.

Street Foods of Ur-Hadad: Presented by "the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad", this is a single-page table using 3d30 to give you an idea as to what your PCs have just been offered by a street vendor. Is it poached tongue in a black bread sandwich? Perhaps chilled croctopossum suspended in jello? Ah, Ur-Hadad. So much on offer that I would never consider eating...

Dungeon Insert #3: The Marrow Web Bridge: Another great encounter, written by Wayne Snyder. I'm not going to spoil it, but it is excellent.

Get It Here!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #2

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #2 (summer 2014) was written by Edgar Johnson, Adam Muszkiewicz, Donn Stroud, and Jason Hobbs. Art is by Wayne Snyder (except for an image of the Purple Sorcerer, by Jon Marr, which appears in an ad). The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

The issue says, in the liner notes:

The Metal Gods crew would like to thank: Joseph Goodman & Goodman Games for obvious, the Spellburn-outs (Jim Wampler, Jeffrey Tadlock, Jobe Bitman & Jen Brinkman) for kind words, Jon Marr & the Purple Sorcerer for all the delicious zeros, Harley Stroh for boundless enthusiasm, Doug Kovacs for the late night art criticism & tutorials, the Google+ DCCRPG community for badassery, Dak Ultimak for inspiration, Heide Trepanier for holding the torch while Wayne hustles art, Katie Muszkiewicz for editing, merch and sanity, James MacGeorge for the semi-official Metal Gods playlist, the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad online gaming group, Todd Bunn & Gateway Games & More (and his crew of miscreants) for saving the day.

Thank you indeed! Let's look inside.

What's A d11?: A d12 mechanic invented by Adam Muszkiewicz that just about anyone should be using.

Editorial: Adam Muszkiewicz muses on the idea of an Ur-Hadad canon. The short answer: There is none. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. "You will do precisely what you want with Metal Gods material, so why should we pretend it would be any other way?"

Really nice to have that put in writing. It is part of the heart of Dungeon Crawl Classics, after all! It also plays into the first real article in the issue, by Edgar Johnson.

Thoughts On Dice Notation: A discussion of "exploding dice", and how they are indicated. As with the d11, exploding dice are a tool that every judge should have available. In short, if a die roll is written 2d7! (with the exclamation point indicated that the die roll is exploding), and a natural "7" came up, you would reroll and add that the the original score. Keep doing so as long as natural "7"s are rolled.

(The author uses 2d5! in his example, but as the d7 is the coolest die on the dice chain, I substituted.)

Torgo Speaks: The Elder Races: Author Edgar Johnson channels Old Torgo Pegleg to talk about the Elder Races.

Long, long ago, before there were Men, there were two great races. One of them, usually just called the “Old Ones,” came from beyond the stars, through a place in the bottom of the world. They are gods, it is said, or demons, depending on who you’re askin’. But one thing’s for sure: They weren’t from around here, on Ore. They don’t bleed good red blood (or even green blood like the damned elves), and their ways are inexplicable, save for one thing: They wanted to rule this place. They almost did, too. Now, to look at them, they weren’t too different than one of them squids what wash up on the shingle sometimes, but bigger, very much bigger. When came the Old Ones from the place beyond the stars, they took to the deeps of the seas, and built there many great cities and, in them, works of great power, though their purposes were unintelligible to the likes of men. Mayhap the serpent-men know more, but they ain’t telling, those what still slither amid the wild places of Ore.

Some of this may contradict the background Adam Muszkiewicz provided in Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1, and this is part of the reason that there is an Editorial at the start of this issue.

Metal Magic Items: Every setting needs appropriate artifacts, and in this case a few are supplied by Jason Hobbs and Adam Muszkiewicz. In this case, they are the Rod of Robhal ("offered to the Priests of Joodahs by the Metal God Robhal, lord of law breakers, himself"), Magor’s Manacles, and the Sanguine Resonator (for some reason, Stamina is called Toughness in this entry).

Secrets of the Serpent Moon: Like Street Kids of Ur-Hadad in Issue #1, this is a kit for creating unique adventures. And it is a real thing of beauty. Of course, it gives you a lot more than you will need to create a single adventure, so you will want to refer to it again and again until you have squeezed it dry. Adam Muszkiewicz wrote this piece of inspired goodness.

Here's another interesting tidbit: When I wrote The Mysterious Valley for D.A.M.N. #1, I included troglodytes that allude to the Sleestaks from The Land of the Lost, but I didn't cut anywhere as near to the bone as the author has here. If you are looking for usable Sleestatistics, this adventure kit has you covered!

Bounty Hunters of Ur-Hadad: Adam Muszkiewicz provides a kit for dealing with PC bounty hunters in Ur-Hadad. It is easily used in other settings, and is a worthwhile part of any judge's toolkit.

Axes of the Metal Gods: The Rickenbastard: Adam Muszkiewicz provides the "great axe of a red-brown unknown metal" that belonged to the unstoppable, insatiable Lemm the Killmaster.

Heirloom Weapons: Author Donn Stroud provides a means to describe heirloom weapons that your 0-level (or more potent) PC might be carrying. They will not all be magic, but some of them will be. Only the judge knows for sure. This is an article that is of value to any judge, using any campaign setting. Again, it belongs in any judge's toolkit.

Dungeon Insert #2: Starcophagus of the Crimson Prophet: The author for this Dungeon Insert is not listed, although Adam Muszkiewicz seems a likely candidate. This is solid stuff, but if you use it outside of its Ur-Hadad setting you'll have to create your own Prophesy of Zemuel Lek. Or just use #4.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1

Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1 (winter 2014) was written by Adam Muszkiewicz, Edgar Johnson, and Wayne Snyder, with art by Wayne Snyder. The publisher is the Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism.

Ur-Hadad is a setting supported by Adam Muszkiewicz's blog, Dispatches From Kickassistan. Ur-Hadad is not all you will find on the blog, of course. Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a zine which puts material about the setting into print. See also Goblin Mini Mart and Edgar's Game Blog.

Let's look inside.

The Metal Gods: Author Adam Muszkiewicz provides a brief history of the setting, Ore, and man's quest to master it through Metal.

Ur-Hadad, The First City: There is something extraordinarily compelling about the idea of the first city, a dwelling place that predates human occupation. Author Adam Muszkiewicz herein gives a brief description of Ur-Hadad, the First City of Ore.

Men call her the “First City” not because it was the city that they built first, no. The hands of men took no part in raising her walls, burrowing warren and sewer beneath her streets. She was ancient before Man first learned to walk upright and older still when the Elder Races enslaved him and brought him here to serve them. Those who came before the Elder Races had faded into myth by the time those races had taken the city, as had those who came before them, and even those before them, and so on unto the dawn of time. Still, she is the First City.

Assassins Of Ur-Hadad: Again written by Adam Muszkiewicz.

It would be entirely inaccurate to suggest that flocks of assassins haunt the streets of Ur-Hadad, that guilds of shadowy killers flit across moonlit terraces and down darkened alleys stalking their prey. The Grand Vizier himself has decreed that all such institutions of organized murder are illegal within the city’s walls and, as such, they must not exist there. To suggest otherwise, to suggest that the Grand Vizier’s word was any less than inerrant perfection, would be treason as well as a base and treacherous lie.

The Mercenary’s Guide to Ur-Hadad: Adam Muszkiewicz channels Captain Chogrun Versk of the Brotherhood of the Blue Mark to give interested mercenaries some tips and information about how to survive and profit in Ur-Hadad. Of course, "interested mercenaries" means Player Characters!

Street Kids Of Ur-Hadad: A Zero-Level Funnel Adventure Tool Kit: Now, this is one of the Best Things Ever, and it is written by Edgar Johnson. I have written about it before, here and here, and it remains one of those things that I wish I had written. Essentially, it is a series of tables that creates a unique adventure, ostensibly a funnel, but which could be used easily enough as part of the generation of any city-based adventure.

Dungeon Insert #1: Cave of the Maggot Witch:  Finally, the issue is rounded out with a short encounter by Wayne Snyder, which is intended to be inserted into whatever dungeon or adventure that you wish.

Get It Here!

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Meat Grinder Too

The Meat Grinder Too is a 1st level adventure written and illustrated by Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane and published by Back to the Dungeon.

This is a sequel to The Meat Grinder. I would urge you to read that entry in order to understand this one, if you have not already.

You have survived the trials of death and chaos. Your families were killed by the GREAT PIG MAN BEAST and his demonic Baphamorian GOAT MEN! YOU SLEW THEM ALL!

A great transformation has came over you! You are FIRST level survivors of a terrible trial. Pick one character to play and the rest are reserves. Any new players can start out with four funnel characters. You don't get a first level character for free. YOU MUST HARD EARN WHAT YOU GET!

That is from the first page, and the energy is roughly the same throughout the adventure. The characters arrive at Porttown, "a horrid collection of 12 huge rotting buildings" built over the Arkham River. "Crossing the river is a huge cyclopean stone bridge with fould carving of hedonistic heather rites and practices from some ancient age." 

Just as with The Meat Grinder, The Meat Grinder Too channels the energy and tropes of the pulps, as well as of 70's-era role-playing games. This is like a metal version of some of the Judge's Guild material from gaming's Golden Age.

And, as in those days, the simple pleasures of the River Rat Tavern give way to adventure literally served on a platter! It's time to explore the Sea Cave of the Fish King if you don't want Chaos and Death to rule the world....

This is not a polished product. It is also a product that offers a Parental Advisory: "EXTREME VIOLENCE AND HEAVY METAL OCCULTIC CONTENT". It is also not politically correct in any sense of the term. But it is fun.

At this time, there is no link to get The Meat Grinder Too. It is my hope that both The Meat Grinder and The Meat Grinder Too become available again, either as products you pay for (I would be happy to do so!) or products you can download for free.

The townspeople point towards a foul and polluted coastal plain save for corral [sic] spires and hills covered in a dead forest littered with broken ships and trash. "That is the way you must go to get to the sea caves." says a towns person pointing east to the coast. Strange screeching black sea birds fly above. The sea behind crashes on a rock cliff face below. A storm is blowing in from the distance with thunder and lighting crashing blows a stinking sea in into the faces of the party. One large hill juts out of this area with huge double doors. Above the doors is pentagram with an eye in the center.

Fun stuff!

The Meat Grinder

The Meat Grinder is a 0-level funnel written and illustrated by Lord Eldrad Wolfsbane and published by Back to the Dungeon.

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in the winter of 1979,  with the Holmes Basic Blue Box set. Or, at least, I think it was 1979...I graduated High School in 1984, and started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 7th or 8th grade.

Old brain is old.

What is clear is just how exciting it was to discover this game, and the energy with which I crafted adventures. I filled a notebook with monster statistics, including a ton of dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, as well as miscellaneous mythological and fictional horrors that Dr. John Eric Holmes had not included in the Basic game.

Dungeon Crawl Classics brought that sense of creative energy back, in a way that I had not experienced since the halcyon days of High School (when I was playing the 1st Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons).

The Meat Grinder is like those old games...down to coding the map with letters instead of numbers! This is not a slick product by any means, but it is a fun one, and it perfectly captures the asthetic of weird fantasy. The illustrations are likewise energetic if not professional. Even the typed font screams the 1970s.

At this time, there is no link to get The Meat Grinder. It is my hope that both The Meat Grinder and The Meat Grinder Too become available again, either as products you pay for (I would be happy to do so!) or products you can download for free.

The Great Pig Beast and his Goat Men Soldiers born of demons and chaos, he is the enemy of everything! The Soldiers of the King's Army have all died in battle, at least that's what they dying soldier told us when he rode up bloody and babbling. We (A LARGE Group of "0" Level Characters) were sent as irregulars from our village to stop the goat men from circling around and coming through the west hills! There were no goat men coming through the west hills as they MUST have came through on the east river! OH NO! Right where our families were sent. BY THE GODS NO! Our families will be killed by ambush on the way to safety by the vile stinking goat men. We will have nothing left to live for except for blood and vengeance. It is as we feared ...

Blood, Chaos, and Death!

Damn, that's good stuff.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Making of the Ghost Ring

DCC #85: The Making of the Ghost Ring is a 4th level adventure by Michael Curtis, illustrated by Doug Kovacs (cover and cartography), Jim Holloway, Stefan Poag, and Michael Wilson. The publisher is Goodman Games.

Disclosure: I was an uncredited playtester for this adventure.

Magic is mysterious in Dungeon Crawl Classics, and creating a magic item can be an adventure in itself. Well, more than one adventure if the judge so decides. In this case, it takes one more adventure, even after the maker has crossed over into death. And, because she cannot complete her work alone (but must complete it!) the PCs are given a chance to help.

And, should you agree, you get teleported around the world to gather the things still needed to complete the magic. As a complication, there is a demon who wishes to collect the ghostly sorceress's soul. This means that the ghost, Lifthrasir, has a time limit to meet if she is going to finish crafting the ring, and by so doing save herself.

Yes, the adventure is rather linear. It is a series of sub-quests, and is fairly (although not exclusively) combat-oriented. Nonetheless, each of the set pieces is interesting, and each of the set pieces is substantially different from the others. The PCs definitely have agency in how they deal with the subquests, and creativity can definitely affect the outcome! My players, for instance, had the easiest time with what was (I believe) intended to the most difficult set piece.

Notably, the PCs will have to leave some major treasures behind if they wish to continue their quest. In my opinion, this is a feature rather than a bug. First off, it means that the players have to make interesting choices. Second, planar step is a 3rd level spell, and the PCs may have access to it by 5th level.

Overall, this adventure is reminiscent of Gary Gygax's advice about creating magic items in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. For instance:
Harvest the pumpkin in the dark of the moon and dry the seeds over a slow fire of sandalwood and horse dung. Select three perfect ones and grind them into a coarse meal, husks and all. Boil the basilisk eye and cockatrice feathers for exactly 5 minutes in a saline solution, drain, and place in a jar. Add the medusa’s snake venom and gem powders.Allow to stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Pour off liquid into bottle, add sepia and holy ,water, mixing contents with a silver rod, stirring widdershins. Makes ink sufficient for one scroll.
There is a great deal more flavor to this sort of process than there is to, say, a list of spells, feats, and a cost in gold pieces!

(For another take on creating magic items, see Tales From the Fallen Empire.)

To save a soul and forge a ring! A ghostly enchantress calls for aid, her salvation hanging in the balance. Brave heroes are needed to complete the creation of a magical ring, a process that will take them from gritty city streets to sun-scorched deserts to the ruins of an ancient fortress atop a windswept peak. Are the adventurers up to the task or shall a sinister demon claim the souls of not only the enchantress but the heroes as well? Only luck, courage, and wits will triumph against adversity and allow the adventurers to claim the Ghost Ring for themselves!

Get It Here!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Goodman Games Gazette V1N8

Place holder.

I am trying to acquire a copy of this product for review. If you have one available, please contact me.