The Old School movement and Dungeon Crawl Classics have produced some of my favorite adventures of late. There’s something especially freeing about the wanton destruction of beginning adventurers. And why should they make any apologies for weeding out the would-be’s and the has-beens from the tally of real heroes?
Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5: Doom of the Savage Kings from designer Harley Stroh holds true to this form, placing a group of six to twelve 1st level DCC RPG characters in a dire situation. Our heroes find themselves near an isolated village fighting a losing battle against a seemingly unstoppable foe. Can the PCs stop the madness without destroying the village itself? This one is available if you pre-purchased the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games directly and works as a great adventure for a new group fresh out of the 0-level meat grinder of DCC. (It may be difficult to find now as it’s not available for sale separately.)
The module is composed of three main, related areas. The village itself. A nearby tomb. And the beast’s lair. Each offers a variety of encounters, from chatting with villagers to avoiding traps (natural and man-made) and dealing with some curious creatures. The mix of encounter types should keep players of most kinds involved in the plot from the very beginning.
There are many things I think make this adventure great. First, it doesn’t assume the PCs are going to make one decision or another from the start. The PCs are presented with a horrible scenario and regardless of what they choose to do there will be repercussions. The details of those paths are detailed in the adventure for the GM. But ultimately there are no good decisions. They ALL have an impact on the village and how the story plays out.
Similarly, the end has some intriguing repercussions as well. Will the PCs risk their own lives and those in the village for a taste of true power? Or will they stop the evil plaguing the village so the villagers can try to get on with their lives? Both paths are again clearly marked for the GM, which should help out GMs new and old.
The cover and interior art from Doug Kovacs holds to the high standards I expect from Goodman Games. The writing from Stroh and layout are also excellent. The maps are always my favorite parts of these adventures and this module is no different. Each offers more than simply providing a sketch of the area, adding fun hints and suggestions as to what expect in various places.
One thought did cross my mind as I finished reading the adventure. What happens if the PCs fail? Does the curse of the savage kings fade away if the village (and all the villagers) are destroyed? An enterprising GM wishing to re-use the adventure might use that scenario to add to the “replayability” of the module down the line. But I might have liked to have seen some notes hinting at that possibility in the text itself.
So if you’re a fan of the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure series, I can definitely encourage you to check it out if you can find a copy!
For more about the book…
- … check it out at Goodman Games’ site (or find the link in this post at Tenkar’s Tavern to find the PDF).
- … check out all the other Goodman Games products at DriveThruRPG.
- … and check out the Goodman Games website for many many more great products and adventures to inspire you!