A monster on the verge of eating an adventurer.

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Review: Beneath the Ruins by Alex Fotinakes

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on November 10, 2012

Tagged: zine osr module d&d

The first module for Geoffrey McKinney’s new imprint Psychedelic Fantasies is Beneath the Ruins by Alex Fotinakes. The module describes the first level of the vast ruins of Kihago. One might describe the dungeon as “gonzo”: there are laser pistols and weird science, mutant men, and yeast monsters.

The dungeon is divided into three main zones. Two of the zones are controlled by warring factions: the Luminites, who worship ancient alien technology and believe nothing exists outside of the dungeon, and the Tribe of Yrtuk, mutant men who have lived in Kihago for centuries. The third zone of the dungeon is a no man’s land, both tribes considering it too dangerous to explore. There are two optional sub-levels that can be used if you want to run the module as a self-contained unit. The author also recommends using the dungeons as the first level of a large complex. The booklet concludes with a handful of new monsters and stats for lasers guns.

The module is 16 pages long, printed as a long skinny booklet. This is a really great format for an adventure. (Though, I think it would have worked well as a two-column digest sized booklet as well.) The cover contains the map and is detachable. Each page holds a fair amount of information. Room descriptions are short enough I could imagine running the adventure with almost no prep. The type is a bit small, but I don’t think its hard to read. Some thought has clearly gone into the layout of the booklet. Room descriptions rarely cross pages–I found one exception, and here the break is clear as it happens mid-sentence. When a monster appears in a room its stat blocks is separated from the room description making it easy to pick out which rooms have monsters. All in all its clear this module is meant for your gaming table.

Beneath the Ruins is probably one of the better modules I’ve purchased recently. It’s also incredibly cheap. You should check it out.

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Review: The Inaugural Issue of Crawl!, a Dungeon Crawl Classics Fanzine

by Ramanan Sivaranjan on May 29, 2012

Tagged: dccrpg zine osr

DCC RPG and the First Issue of Crawl

Yesterday I received my copy of Crawl!, a fanzine for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. In a surprise move the fellow behind the zine, Dak Ultimak, mailed out limited edition copies of the zine to people like myself who pre-ordered. The cover of the zine mimics the cover of the limited edition DCC RPG book: it’s black on black, with a little gold foil sticker. It was a pleasant surprise.

The zine is 20 pages long, and features 4 articles filled with new ’crunch’ for your DCC RPG game. The opening article discusses tweaks to the character creation rules that will help create a more traditional sword and sorcery feel for your DCC RPG campaign: dropping demi-human classes, and moving the skills and features of the cleric and thief classes elsewhere. This article is followed by one about a new patron for wizards. Apparently this character came about from Dak’s actual home game. The third article presents rules for variable DC: easy ways to randomly make a mundane task difficult or a difficult task easy. The zine ends with some rules on converting OSR material to the DCC RPG system. Subsequent issues will expand on some of the material presented in this issue. I thought the articles were all quite enjoyable. The article about the new patron really stood out. It features a great backstory along with some humorous wizard corruption descriptions.

For a bunch of paper and cardboard, the zine’s actually very well put together. Running contrary to the classic zine aesthetic, Crawl! is a well designed little book. The layout is quite well done. The articles are laid out neatly, and there are lots of great little illustrations throughout the issue. For a DIY publication it feels pretty professional. Well, except for the fact it’s cardboard and folded paper, I suppose.

The zine is $3.50. How have you not ordered it already?

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