Friday, August 21, 2015

Review And Commentary On The Free DCC rpg Adventure -IN THE STEADING OF THE NERGALITES From Mystic Bull Games

This is a free sixteen page rpg adventure for the Dungeon Crawl Classics game from the pen of Paul Wolf and the crew at Mystic Bull games. This is one of those game adventures that seems to come right into the high states event of a setting world even though this is a 1st or 2nd level adventure. This is a rip roaring adventure that involves Dwarves, serpent men, the god Nergal, it has a pretty intense pickup for an adventure but typical of the DCC rpg efforts especially from Mystic Bull who are a third party DCC provider. Note that when going to the Mystic Bull games site your going to have to click on the links marked 1-UP, 2-UP, And Booklet to down load this free adventure from their site from those .

The plot of the adventure is like something straight out of a 70's issue of Sword of Conan and some of the other sword and sorcery paperbacks from that era. The plot goes something like this:
The ancient shrine of Nergal, God of the White Sun, lies under Rurarik Mountain, a dead testament to the division within the dwarven outcasts’ devotion to the Nergalite prophet, Agol Umberstone. When the Dissenter gathered his own believers around the banners of Qo, the Twin-Headed Snake and Destroyer of Worlds, his Nergalite brethren converted or died at their hands. Now, ages later, the devotees to Qo are starting to stir in their cocoons, ready to emerge in their new forms and their new purpose to free the destroyer from her eon long imprisonment.'
In sixteen pages you get a full blown cult of Nergal, monsters, legends, and a few plot twists but this is a DCC adventure so there's plenty of ways to die for a party. The sword & sorcery action is fierce and the author knows his material. For a free product there's plenty of nice art work and maps are very well done. I don't see this translating well into other retroclone systems but its possible. There are some nice one of a kind relics and artifacts ala DCC usual call of these types of treasure in their adventure so expect plenty of dungeon crawling action in this one. Again the better part of valor is going to keep your PC's alive and kicking but you might miss out on the sword and sorcery action. This isn't a stand on the sidelines adventure. The cult of Nergal is wicked and dangerous in its intensity and violence it brings to the table. On many levels this adventure dips its toe into the cult like  background of the 80's sword and sorcery films of yesteryear bring a smile to my face as certain twists and turns echo the VHS memories of the past. Again we have the fact that DCC emulates and echoes the inspirations of the Appendix N from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide but does it with clever bit of slight of hand on the author's part here. We get eighteen separate locations in this adventure and lots of encounters with the eye on providing the PC's with plenty to handle and do. This adventure could be played convention style but I think that a DM should have one or three PC's to drop on the players in case of some deaths. This is a well thought out but brutal adventure in places that echoes the writings of Robert Howard mixed in with some solid sword and sorcery hijinks.
There is plenty here to keep a group of 3 to five players of 1st and 2nd level PC's going for at least a couple of evenings as they try to explore every square inch of this adventure location. The local history is well thought out and the relationships between the NPC's are well fleshed out, dangerous, and very much going to challenge a group of experienced players. I'd say that this isn't an adventure for those who are not used to the very nature of the DCC concepts. This adventure might take a read through and prep up for an experienced game master due to some of the background pieces in the adventure and the prep time necessary to run  'In the Steading of the Nergalites.' 
In closing I get the feeling that there are at least three or more places in this adventure that a clever DM could exploit to continue the adventure's themes and expand upon them into their own campaign world. There appears to be a background to the world presented 'In Steading of the Nergalites'. Given Mystic Bull's track record we're going to be seeing plenty more sword and sorcery pulp themed adventures from them. I highly recommend that you pick this adventure up if your into Conan style DCC. This is one to use to get that vibe on and get in on some DCC action this coming weed.

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