Way back in 2012, in the dawning days of DCC RPG, we released the first three modules for Dungeon Crawl Classics. These were DCC #66.5: Doom of the Savage Kings, DCC #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea, and DCC #68: The People of the Pit. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 7 years since we released them—and more than 8 since they were first designed and playtested. How time flies. And yet these modules just keep on selling. This is because—thankfully—customers seem to really enjoy playing them. They’ve all gone through multiple printings and at this point are “modern classics.”
We recently came across some online reviews for them, written many years after their first release. We’re going to pat ourselves on the backs a bit and quote these reviews. If you haven’t played these first three adventures originally released for DCC, now is a great time to do so!
Harley Stroh’s tale here is fantastic. It feels like it was taken straight from the pages of pulp literature and hits the themes of pulpy dark fantasy perfectly. The prose is phenomenal and the module, as a whole, actually has some replay value for the judge. How good is this? Well, good enough to make it worth converting to other systems. If you’re already playing DCC, then this is glorious. Even if you aren’t, this is well worth getting for the amazing prose and dense, evocative atmosphere. This is a fantastic first adventure for the system and establishes a level of quality only rarely seen. Don’t be fooled by the brevity—this has a lot of amazing gaming waiting for you. In spite of the lack of player-friendly maps, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. This is a truly fantastic yarn, a must-own for DCC-groups, and a great buy for other systems as well. Seriously, the atmosphere is phenomenal.
Harley Stroh’s Sailors on the Starless Sea is a fantastic adventure in the best sense. It is very dangerous, but never in an unfair way. The adventure manages to transport the notions of a thoroughly magical world without requiring the meta-concerns of RPG-systems. There is method and an internal logic to how magic works within the game; players that think are rewarded, whereas approaching this with solely a roleplaying attitude will result in pain galore. I love this, as the adventure teaches being methodical and consequently rewards players ability over that of the PCs, making this an all out fun module to play. Compared with MANY “first” adventures for systems out there, this is a phenomenal achievement and clearly highlights the strength of the aesthetics of both DCC and its aesthetics. Now yes, I could complain about the fact that integration of the second printing bonus dungeon could be smoother, but that may well be a feature for you. Similarly, the lack of player-friendly versions of the amazing maps DCC modules tend to have galls me to no end, but the atmosphere and epic climax of this complex, the expert prose and fantastic execution make it all but impossible to rate this any other way than 5 stars + seal of approval. This is a great adventure, and one that holds up very well to this date. Much like Doom of the Savage Kings, this is good enough to get it even if you’re not playing DCC. Yes, that good.
Joseph Goodman’s The People of the Pit is a frickin’ masterpiece. (And yes, I got the obvious Appendix N reference of the title.) At this point, I am utterly bored by most modules that feature an evil cult, particularly if it’s yet another mythos-deity of the week related thing they worship. This module, though? Damn, it is absolutely glorious and a perfect rebuttal to the internal conviction that the whole cult + tentacles angle needs to be boring. In fact, this module pretty much shows everyone how it’s done. The dungeon is hard, brutal even, but fair. The adversaries are brilliant, creepy, and unique. The dungeon has a ton of unique features that PCs can partake in. The focus on player-skill over character-skill is amazing. The prose is crisp and concise. The production values are great. Oh, and all my nitpicks about the potential of this set-up? Daniel J. Bishop’s bonus level stripped me of them. The consistence of the quality here is impressive.