Tabletop Review: Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1: The Ruins of Ramat (Dungeon Crawl Classics)

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1: The Ruins of Ramat (Dungeon Crawl Classics)
Publisher: Brave Halfling Publishing
Page Count: 20 (plus an extra two page PDF of handouts and a map)
Cost: $5.95 or $26.99 for a year subscription
Release Date: 10/14/2012 (For Kickstarter Backers’ PDF Version)/TBD (All Others)
Get it Here:www.bravehalfling.com

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you know I really enjoy the new Dungeon Crawl Classics system Goodman Games released earlier this year. So when I saw a Kickstarter back in June where a company was going to try and release their first DCC adventure, I happily threw money at it. Well, that Kickstarter exploded to where there are now seven or eight products in the works being funded by the money it raised – most of which are Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures. You won’t hear me complaining about that. Now, Brave Halfling has run into a few problems along the way. One of his artists and the slipcover creator both massively raised their rates post-Kickstarter which left him with a financial shortfall and some publishing delays. It happens. Kickstarter is Venture Capitalism, not Amazon, after all. Personally, I’m just happy the first adventure is finally out with the promise of more to come.

The Ruins of Ramat is a twenty page adventure. Of those twenty pages, one is the OGL, two pages are the covers, two thirds of a page is introduction, one page is back story for the adventure, one page is an encounter table and the hook for the PCs, five and a half pages are the actual adventure itself, six and four-fifths pages are exceptionally awesome artwork, one page is an appendix for expanding the adventure with three unconnected and very different situations, and one page (page 2) is inexplicably blank. The PDF version of The Ruins of Ramat also comes with a second two-page PDF. It contains the full map drawn in the usual Dungeon Crawl Classics style, along with two half page versions of the handouts that are in the core adventure PDF. I’m not sure why we’d need or want both, but extra pages are extra pages, I guess.

The actual adventure is a pretty interesting one. As it involves Level 0 characters, there should be a lot of PC death occurring. Of course, that’s one of the whole points to a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure, which is why the game’s core rulebook suggests everyone play two or three PCs EACH when doing one of these. This particular adventure suggests eight to twelve characters, which means three to six actual gamers playing. The adventure is a pretty big one, containing seventeen rooms and four big encounters that range from a crab spider to a demon with an instant death attack. Ouch. There aren’t a lot of monsters to encounter, but again, that’s because these are Level 0 characters. I think the adventure is balanced enough that a few of the characters will make it out alive, and that’s to be expected. DCC has a mortality rate almost as high as Call of Cthulhu after all.

The back story for the adventure is an incredibly good one and it revolves around the Church of Ramat, a Lawful Good deity (well, just Lawful as this is DCC) splintering into two factions and eventually destroying itself in a violent civil war that has left the religion and its God forgotten for thousands of years. It’s just too bad that much of the back story will never be encountered by the characters that play through it, but at least it’s there for gamers to read and enjoy after the fact. The weakest part of the story is the player hook. A little girl has her dog kidnapped by a giant monster (which never appears in the adventure oddly enough) and the PCs all journey into an until now undiscovered pit in their hometown which then leads into forgotten old ruins. I can’t see too many cheese-makers or basket-weavers thinking this is a good plan of action. I mean, I love animals more than people, but if I was a Level 0 human in the world of Dungeon Crawl Classics, where a horrible death by a foul beastie is more likely than a stroke or clogged artery, I’d be more inclined to buy the child three puppies instead.

All in all, The Ruins of Ramat is not only a great adventure, it’s better than some of the “official” Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures I’ve seen put out. The art is fantastic, the story is a very interesting one and I like the idea of optional expansions for the adventure. The storyline also gives a great explanation for why one (or more) of the Level 0 characters becomes a cleric. It’s practically built in. The Ruins of Ramat impressed me greatly and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a physical copy of the adventure to see how it holds up in digest form. Even more though, I’m looking forward to the rest of the adventures that will be released in the months to come.

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