If it’s one thing the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game has inspired, it’s going back to what I remember about many of the original modules for D&D… Gritty, gruesome dungeon crawls where you were never quite sure if your characters were daring or mentally challenged for walking in the front door in the first place. That for me is all about what the Old School Gaming movement is about. A return to the horror-inspired stories that reminded me of the strangeness of H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany mixed with the audacity and adventure of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.
So when I say that the Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror feels “Old School,” that’s what I’m referring to. But even more than that, this module has a bit of the tough, rough-and-tumble, devil-may-care attitude that is inherent in everything I’ve read for DCC RPG. Though it’s designed for level 2 characters, I don’t see many of them surviving. One part Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. One part The Shadow Out of Time. Designer Daniel J. Bishop has one heck of a twisted tale for you that puts the “ick” in “ichor.”
I suspect that the product line is meant to present a dungeon or other location that can be easily dropped into an ongoing campaign. There isn’t much of a hook to get characters there in the first place, but that’s left to the GM. It starts with a bit of ancient history. History that as a player or GM you know should have remained lost, buried, and forgotten. But somehow it never stays that way. Madness has a way of spreading and the PCs are here to stop it. Can they? Or will they succumb to the madness themselves and get lost in the chaos?
Though the PDF is only 11 pages, it feels full and covers a lot of ground. A one page map as your guide, these rooms will likely become tombs for your PCs. Treacherous traps. Grotesque creatures from nightmare. And a climax that may prove too much for even a seasoned adventurer. The layout is a traditional two column affair, with most of the text large enough to read easily. I have no idea who did the art or maps, but they work well though there are only a handful spread through the document. I found the writing to be top notch, with only one minor glitch where a blank line is needed between paragraphs. And honestly that’s so minor an issue I hesitated to even include it in the review.
I don’t want to give anything away, but I have to say I have a whole new appreciation for boneless Buffalo wings. If you play through, I recommend you avoid eating any while exploring. Maybe stick to things that never had bones to begin with. Pizza is a good choice.
Awesome adventure in a small package, I think the Purple Duck Games “Adventure Locales” line is off to a great start with Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror and look forward to other modules in the series!
more about Purple Duck Games and this module…
- … pick up a copy of AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror at RPGNow.
- … and check out the rest of their catalog while you’re there.
- … or head over to the Purple Duck Games blog where you’ll learn about current and past projects.