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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.
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.