Nearly a year ago I backed a Kickstarter project from John Adams for a series of DCC RPG-based modules. And the first module in the series - Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1: The Ruins of Ramat – was delivered back in October 2012 to project backers. You can download it along with the next three as part of the Appendix N Adventures Annual Subscription but if you are looking for #2 or #3 (and soon #4 I suspect), they’re also available at DriveThruRPG. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to do more than glance at them until now, but I decided I’d dive in today and see what I could find.
First of all, this is definitely a module with an old school feel. From the cover to the interior art to the story, this has the DCC RPG flavor from the get-go. And it should! Ramat is written for new characters (0-level characters for DCC) and they are tossed into the fire from the beginning. There’s a literal slippery slope leading the adventurers into an old ruin and right into the waiting mandibles of a creepy critter!
Honestly just reading through this short (16 page PDF, 12 pages of content/images) adventure I got a great feel not only for the setting but for the traditional room-by-room dungeon crawl I fondly recall from my youth. The images and handouts offer glimpses into the darkness in grand style (great art from interior artists Mark Allen & Steve Zieser as well as a great cover from Doug Kovacs) but the little touches of sensory detail in the text bring things alive. The location descriptions and read-aloud-text offer visual cues with a bit of light (“Faint light trickles down from the hole above dimly illuminating…”) and darkness (“This rather long room stretches off into the darkness…”), auditory (the cries of a young girl serve as part of the player introduction), and olfactory (“A musky, animal scent fills your nostrils…”). Each cue makes it that much easier to get sucked into the adventure…
The background alone offers all sorts of creative avenues for a GM picking up the module. And if there aren’t enough hints or suggestions there, you get three possible expansion ideas in an Appendix to continue the fun. I have high expectations for the next three modules in the series to see if any of those connect back to #1 to keep some form of story continuity going forward.
And whether or not your players are new to the hobby or experienced roleplayers I expect them to find some fun things to deal with by the end. Traps. Monsters both magical and mundane. Disease. Curses. And puzzles worth scratching their heads over. It is an introductory adventure so nothing is too difficult, but it should prove a challenge to any 0-level characters entering the fray.
My biggest issue with the whole adventure is the lack of a map included in the main PDF itself. It’s included as a separate image file in the distribution zip. As someone who reads most gaming materials on my tablet these days, having the module in multiple pieces makes that a bit difficult. Though I love the idea of having the map be a separate, more hi-res download, I’d just as soon have the map as a page in the main PDF in some form or another.
But speaking of the map, it’s awesome. This is not a standard lines and squares kind of affair – it includes all sorts of cool bits and pieces illustrating various parts of the adventure and is presented in a bit of an isometric perspective. Again, great work from Mark Allen.
Whether you like the DCC RPG funnel system or not (creating a handful of 0-level characters only to see most of them die before reaching 1st level isn’t for everyone), I think The Ruins of Ramat has plenty to like. Pick it up at the Brave Halfing Publishing site as part of the subscription and see if your PCs manage to survive to the end. I’m betting more than a few may bite the big one before the end.