Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Review - Primal Tales Issue One

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I don't do a lot of reviews, because reviews are hard, but I got this and thought it was worth my time to put some words out.

Published By: Pandahead Publishing • Written by: Brandon LaSalle and Brett Brooks • 38 pages • $6.00 • B&W PDF (with a color cover) • $10.00 • B&W Softcover (with a color cover)

What's In It?

Primal Tales is a 3rd party product for Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC; and fully compatible with Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC)). Contained herein are rules for anthropomorphic animal folk that differ from those contained within MCC. The primal are less of a race/class combo as commonly found in both DCC and MCC and more of a racial template in the way that humans are treated in those same games. The primal have the option of three character classes; the Savage Warrior, the Arcaster, and the Chimerae, which are analgous to a DCC Warrior, DCC Wizard, and a DCC Cleric with a more druidly bent. Lastly there is a write up for a new Patron, Lamia, and some of Lamia's servant creatures.

The primals are created very similarly to a standard DCC/MCC character with new tables to determine the animal species (or family) and occupation. The occupations are similar to those found in DCC, but the animal's family/species determine the type and damage of their natural weapons (teeth, claws, horns, etc.) as well as some innate natural abilities. These abilities are minor, like increased base movement, dice modifications for certain skill checks, or even specific capabilities like the ability to hold ones breath for an extended duration, the ability to glide for short distances, and more.

In this respect the primals may exceed the manimals of MCC at their base level for some players, and even if not expressly using these rules a Judge may use this to inform their own game. Conversely, the mutations that a manimal gets in MCC put them into an entirely different scope of play in some respects.

Of the classes the most interesting is the Chimerae which uses the divine spellcasting rules (using disapproval instead of corruption) forgoes the Cleric's Lay on Hands to instead gain Animal Transformation, and has a custom spell list built up from the Wizard and Cleric lists plus a handful of additional spells included in this book. Honestly this class is good enough to be included in an otherwise vanilla DCC game as a human Druid class without further modification; I really like it that much.

The Savage Warrior is basically a standard DCC warrior with improved damage and crit range on the primal's natural weapons. Meanwhile the Arcaster is very nearly a DCC wizard except for an automatic "Spirit Familiar" spell gained at level 1. Both of these classes are fine options for the primal but do very little to expand on the existing classes.

Lastly we get a new Patron in the form of Lamia, a figure from Greek myth, here given the full power of a patron. There are custom Invoke Patron, Patron Taint, and Patron Spells included as well as a handful of minions. All of these are interesting and new when compared to existing DCC Patrons and MCC AI Patrons. Again, I would include this material even in a DCC game without primals.

Closing Thoughts

If anthropomorphic animals are your thing this may well be a worthy product for you to consider. The different animal families/species all feel different and have traits to make them feel like the creatures they are meant to be, The primal classes range from interesting to fantastic (really the Chimerae is great!), and the introduction of Lamia provides an interesting new patron option that is both powerful and creepy.

Score: 90% Pretty much a grand slam, if only the Savage Warrior and Arcaster were a little more different from the base classes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Alphabet of Outer Beings - E is for Eschatology

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E is for Eschatology

Eschatology is the study of, and the beliefs around, the end of the world. This may be a prophesied destruction of creation, the nest step in the cyclic destruction and renewal of the world and the gods themselves, or even a cultural shift that tears down the old world and brings forth a new culture.
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang, but a d20
(with all apologies to T.S. Eliot)

Table E1: 1d20 Ways to End the World
  1. The world will end in cold and darkness as all the gods, good and evil, perish due to lack of faith from the mortal realm. 
  2. A great war between the forces of law and chaos will consume the world and raze it to the ground. In the end only the godless survivors will know what comes after. 
  3. The end will come when the gods all perish and usher in a dark age bereft of divinity until such time as new gods arise once more from mortals powerful enough to claim the heavens for themselves.
  4. The world will end in fire when the sun god finally tires of the day/night cycle and scours the world clean with divine fire. 
  5. The current age will end when death and darkness are finally conquered and the followers of light and life achieve true paradise.
  6. The gods of a prior age, eternal and slumbering, will wake at last and cast down the current order and usher in a new age.
  7. The world will end with the arrival of a great new power that will upset the balance between law and chaos. 
  8. The great cycle of ages will come to an end and begin again with a final battle between the forces of life and death. 
  9. The forces of Chaos finally overthrow the last of the champions of Law. The mortal realm descends into pure anarchy as mortals tear each other apart without law to hold them together.
  10. The elemental balance will be upset and the world will be torn apart by the competing forces of air, earth, fire, and water raging out of control.
  11. The divine for forsake the mortals, and the world falls to the infernals and their servants becoming a twisted hellscape.
  12. The world will spin on without gods after technology grants mortals the power to slay the gods.
  13. The last souls will be born into the mortal realm, grow old, and perish, leaving the world quiet once more as nature reclaims the worlds. 
  14. The age will end when the mortal races die out and are replaced by new races of mortals, forcing the gods to change and adapt.
  15. The world ends when the gods finally tire of their games meddling in mortal affairs and destroy the mortal realm.
  16. The godkiller escapes it's prison within the world and begins to slay the gods one by one. The age ends with the death of the last god and the end of mortal religion.
  17. Powers unknown and unfathomable from outside of reality itself attack the mortal and divine realms slaying god and mortal indiscriminately. All worlds end as the very planes themselves are torn asunder. 
  18. The planes of reality crash together shattering and reforming with gods and mortals both undergoing change and rebirth.
  19. The forces of Law finally triumph over Chaos resulting in a world of pure law. The age ends with the mortal realm stifled by unending conformity, unchanging and without progress.
  20. The gods of darkness will finally extinguish the sun and snuff out all light and the world will come to an end in darkness and cold.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Holiday Interlude 2018 #1 - Headless Horsemen

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Since this has become a Wednesday blog (except on days where I screw up my schedule), and since this Wednesday happens to also be Halloween I figure why not lean into it a bit....

Previous Holiday Interludes

Headless Horsemen

Headless horsemen are undead creatures that ride coal blac steeds which themselves are spectral in nature. Headless horsemen are vengeance bound either to slay all the living relatives of those who beheaded them, or to fulfill the requirements of their last earthy goals. Headless horsemen will often pursue their targets doggedly within their range which is often geographically limited by way of running water, a common barrier against undead. Most headless horsemen will have a false head made of a pumpkin or similar which burns with ghostly, hellish flames and can be thrown as a weapon.

Init +4; Atk Cavalry Sabre +3 melee (1d8+2), Pumpkin Head SP, Steed Trample +1 melee (1d7), Steed Kick +1 (1d8); AC 14; HD 4d8; MV 50’ or teleport 100' as an action; Act 1d20 & 1d16 (steed); SP Pumpkin Head: The horseman can throw their pumpkin head once per night tp to 50' dealing 2d8 explosive damage within a 10' radius (DC 12 reflex for half); Undead; Immune to blinding and critical hits targeting the head; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +2; AL L.
Cypher System
Level: 5 (TN 15)
Health: 15 • Armor: 1
Damage: 5
Movement: Long
Modifications: Might saves as level 7, immune to blinding & attacks affecting the head.
Combat: In combat the rider will attack with a saber for 5 points of damage. Once per evening it may also throw it's pumpkin head up to short range; the head explodes for 5 points of damage within immediate range. The steed may also attack as a level 3 creature for 3 points of damage with a trample or kick attack.
Interaction: The horsemen cannot be bargained with and will attack without fear. They may be defeated by crossing running water or by destroying their original body.
Use: Headless Horsemen are often found haunting sites of battle or guarding a specific location for a powerful necromancer (who likely created it).
Loot: A defeated horseman will leave behind it's pumpkin head, a level 5 cypher than can be thrown up to short range dealing 5 points of damage within immediate range. This is not found if the horseman uses it instead.
GM Intrusion: The horseman pulls a pistol or musket and fires a shot at up to long range at level 4 for 6 points of damage.