Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review - Dungeon Crawl Classics #0 Legends Are Made, Not Born

Dungeon Crawl Classics #0 Legends Are Made, Not Born By Chris Doyle (For 6 PC's 1st level NPC classed) If you are planning on playing this module STOP READING NOW - I can't see how to write a review without some spoilers.

The entire Pre-4th edition Dungeon Crawl Classic (DCC) line is immediately attractive to an old old-school gamer such as myself. DCC#0 more so than most, from the Erol Otus cover illustration, the TSR-style format from cover to cover, to the 2 color blue and white map on the inside front and back (but sadly stapled to the booklet). While written for systems other than AD&D or OD&D I find the DCC line particularly ready for adaption.

The 32 page module covers of a lot of ground. The adventure itself, six pre-generated PC's with a few paragraphs of background text, the village of Dundraville, map included, as well as a guide to awarding experience, and an especially handy reference table of all encounters and their locations.

The background material for the DM is short, sweet and useful. The pre-gen character information nicely done. Through-out the adventure there are a number of fleshed out sections adding tid-bits to the scenario, crumbs that can be followed for a DM's expansion, or simply used as flavor for the evening's game.

The adventure itself is short. Few encounters and a relatively small cave system to explore. A short adventure but what can be an extremely deadly one. The major NPCs, and they are the meat of this scenario, are easily capable of delivering attacks that will kill the pre-gen characters with a single strike. While this is always the danger of low level adventures this deadliness seems to be the main thrust of DCC#0. Even with careful planning and excellent tactics the confrontation with the main NPCs appears to me to be painfully abrupt and something I would not normally throw at extremely low level characters, at least not ones where the player had invested any time or care in creating.

While DCC#0 has the earmarks of an excellent tournament scenario I see it as the nucleus of an excellent campaign adventure.

The groundwork and background has been started. The village, the staging base for the adventure, is tiny, so fleshing it out should require only a minimal effort. A wilderness map is lacking and such a map would allow easy inclusion of wilderness encounters. The text of the adventure immediately suggests several.

1) An old battlefield between a small band or army of orcs and humans.
2) Ruins of a dwarven outpost
3) A large wolf den
4) A dryad's glade

The adventure within the cavern complex should be no trouble to expand. While there are bosses and sub-bosses there are few mobs. A colony of kobolds or a pack of goblins would not be amiss. It would be quick work to add to the natural caverns, create a larger more complex tomb system with dwarven skeletons, the cursed remainder of the soldiers who murdered/buried their lord. Expand the area with the mage, add zombies, other charmed servants...

DCC#0 contains many good ideas and an easily expandable adventure. On its own it is a short, nicely fleshed and deadly scenario.