Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

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Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Johann » Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:18 am

I've reviewed Doom of the Savage Kings here.

Here's a quote and a question about the module:
The dungeon is no cakewalk - which is fine by me - but some of the difficulty numbers (DCs) for saves and skill checks seem awfully high to me. The walls of a pit, for instance, require a DC 23 climb check which is practically impossible (unless a character burns Luck or is a thief). I wonder if the module was originally written for 3e.
The highest DC suggested in the main rules is 20. In order to beat DC 23, you'd need an Agility of 18 (+3 modifier) and you'd need to roll a natural 20. Is this intentional (i.e. only thieves need apply)?

On a more positive note:
The backstory is reminiscent of Beowulf as a terrible hound preys on the population of the village of Hirot night after night. It cannot be slain (at least not permanently) by normal means which makes it a fantastical monster in the truest sense. Well done!
The Hound of Hirot is a top-notch demonstration of the design philosophy of DCC: It's unique, mysterious and terrifying. Rock on!

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by larsdangly » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:16 am

I was really pissed when I saw this tucked into a copy of the game at the local store but they wouldn't let me buy it separately. It feels like I'm being punished for having purchased my copy of the book directly from Goodman Games! Anyway, any chance we could buy it directly from goodman games? How about if you have already purchased the core book?

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Colin » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:38 am

larsdangly wrote:I was really pissed when I saw this tucked into a copy of the game at the local store but they wouldn't let me buy it separately. It feels like I'm being punished for having purchased my copy of the book directly from Goodman Games! Anyway, any chance we could buy it directly from goodman games? How about if you have already purchased the core book?
Prolly best to directly e-mail or PM Harley or Joseph this question. It's too easily overlooked on a busy forum.

Colin

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Harley Stroh » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:02 am

Thank you for the excellent review and critique. Excellent points all.

Re: Skill checks. It was definitely *not* written under 3.5, though I can see how some of the skill checks might point that direction. In general, it is a failing of mine to err on the side of DCs being too high. My cohorts at GG do a good job in dialing back most my skill check calls, but a few still slip though.

However, a few points in my defense. Feel free to take or leave them:

I wouldn't argue that the skill DCs are fair. In fact, mine are often deliberately unfair. If a non-thief PC reaches the point where he has to make a skill check, he's likely already down the wrong road, having missed the chance to solve the challenge via roleplaying.

So whither the skill check requiring either skilled climber or a nat 20 + 18 Dex? I wrote it with visions of a sheer pit, slick with muck. Literally impossible for all but an insanely talented (or skilled) climber to free climb without tools. (And in Colorado, I know some of those folks. And our climbing skills radically differ.)

Fair? No. Just as not every fight is winnable, not every skill check is make-able. PC / player discretion is key. Fortunately there is the other way out of the passage. Or, hopefully, someone brought rope.

Anyhow, that was the rationale / logic behind it.

You'll see a similar climb check Sailors. I remember Joseph coming to me, saying, "Harley, the climb check is too high! It's almost impossible!" To which my response was, "It's an overhung, crumbling tower. They are untrained, without gear, climbing in sandals or bare feet. Yes, it is nearly impossible."

If memory serves, we dialed it back a little, but it is still a really difficult check.

The lesson? My boss agrees with you. And I still went with the high check. :twisted:

//H
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by RevTurkey » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:10 am

Players: If you see Harley's name on a module...be very very careful :D

(loving the adventures, thanks)
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Raven_Crowking » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:26 am

I like the high check. It matches very much what is happening in the game.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Johann » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:24 am

Harley Stroh wrote:I wouldn't argue that the skill DCs are fair. In fact, mine are often deliberately unfair. If a non-thief PC reaches the point where he has to make a skill check, he's likely already down the wrong road, having missed the chance to solve the challenge via roleplaying.

[...]

Fair? No. Just as not every fight is winnable, not every skill check is make-able. PC / player discretion is key. Fortunately there is the other way out of the passage. Or, hopefully, someone brought rope.
I like your response very much. I am gunning for the PCs' asses myself - hence my blog is named Out for Blood and includes articles on Becoming a Killer DM. I would have and probably will set the DCs differently but it's good to know they are not a fluke, but a deliberate pattern - a core of steel, as it were. I like that.

Running things as written is viable (i.e. the warnings signs are there and a climb can be avoided) and should be a veritable shock therapy to get players into the mood for gritty pulp fiction. Rock on!

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by goodmangames » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:30 am

larsdangly wrote:I was really pissed when I saw this tucked into a copy of the game at the local store but they wouldn't let me buy it separately. It feels like I'm being punished for having purchased my copy of the book directly from Goodman Games! Anyway, any chance we could buy it directly from goodman games? How about if you have already purchased the core book?
The free module was included with preorders from both consumers and retailers, do there are some copies on retailer shelves out there. The front cover of the module is printed with a price - "free with purchase of DCC RPG, $9.99 otherwise." It is still their inventory to do with as they deem, but you may find a store willing to sell it separately.
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by viruswithshoes » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:18 pm

So whither the skill check requiring either skilled climber or a nat 20 + 18 Dex? I wrote it with visions of a sheer pit, slick with muck. Literally impossible for all but an insanely talented (or skilled)
Am I right in assuming the only way to make a DC23 check for climbing is if the PC is a Thief, 18 AGI (+3 modifier) AND Rolls a 20? Otherwise, if the PC is not a thief he would not be trained in climbing and would have to roll d10 for the check right?

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by arcadayn » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:58 pm

Will the pdf of Doom be available at some point?

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:16 am

viruswithshoes wrote:
So whither the skill check requiring either skilled climber or a nat 20 + 18 Dex? I wrote it with visions of a sheer pit, slick with muck. Literally impossible for all but an insanely talented (or skilled)
Am I right in assuming the only way to make a DC23 check for climbing is if the PC is a Thief, 18 AGI (+3 modifier) AND Rolls a 20? Otherwise, if the PC is not a thief he would not be trained in climbing and would have to roll d10 for the check right?
No, because the Thief can and should burn Luck at this point.

Halflings burn Luck at 2 to 1, and can burn Luck for others.

Whether or not a non-Thief is trained is a function of their starting occupation.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Harley Stroh » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:11 am

Or a rope. We'd settle for a rope. :)

//H
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:32 am

Harley Stroh wrote:Or a rope. We'd settle for a rope. :)

//H
Yeah, that too! :lol:

The point is that quick thinking may be required, but the mechanics are (IMHO) pretty spot-on for what is happening in the game milieu. That is one sweet module you've written there!
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by TheNobleDrake » Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:04 pm

Quick question regarding climbing - isn't that one of the things "any adult human can do" mentioned in the book as being always a d20 roll for skills regardless of occupation?

I only ask because that part of the skill rules seemed, to me, to indicate the skills of jumping, climbing, and swimming more prominently than any others.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Ogrepuppy » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:06 pm

Harley Stroh wrote:I wrote it with visions of a sheer pit, slick with muck. Literally impossible for all but an insanely talented (or skilled) climber to free climb without tools.

Fair? No. Just as not every fight is winnable, not every skill check is make-able.
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Let's hug it out, brah.
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Johann » Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:33 am

I ran Doom of the Savage Kings yesterday and we had a blast. Five players ran four 0-level characters each. Time was short, so I started them off right in front of the dungeon.* They lost 18 out of 20 characters and slew the hound. Great times!

*I'll use the village as a base for a planned mini-campaign dealing with the highly acclaimed Barrowmaze.

I've amended my review with Harley's answer and the above text.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by larsdangly » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:01 am

goodmangames wrote:
larsdangly wrote:I was really pissed when I saw this tucked into a copy of the game at the local store but they wouldn't let me buy it separately. It feels like I'm being punished for having purchased my copy of the book directly from Goodman Games! Anyway, any chance we could buy it directly from goodman games? How about if you have already purchased the core book?
The free module was included with preorders from both consumers and retailers, do there are some copies on retailer shelves out there. The front cover of the module is printed with a price - "free with purchase of DCC RPG, $9.99 otherwise." It is still their inventory to do with as they deem, but you may find a store willing to sell it separately.
Thanks. A new friend from the boards here offered to sell me an extra copy, so it is all good. Can't wait to check it out! My teenage daughters and one of their friends were pawing over the book yesterday and made me promise to run an adventure for them once I can get one ready (?!?!?!?). Unexpected, but welcome chance to do something goofy with the kids!

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Harley Stroh » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:58 am

Johann wrote:I ran Doom of the Savage Kings yesterday and we had a blast. Five players ran four 0-level characters each. Time was short, so I started them off right in front of the dungeon.* They lost 18 out of 20 characters and slew the hound. Great times!
Johann!

I'm so glad the adventure went well. 18 of 20 .... yikes ... :shock: They drowned the beast in the blood of their fallen comrades!

"Out for Blood," indeed! Well played, sir.

//H
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by screenmonkey » Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:20 pm

DC23 climb check is unnecessary, if you're at the bottom and still alive, just walk out the east hall and take the stairs. :D

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Johann » Fri Jun 08, 2012 7:49 am

Harley Stroh wrote:18 of 20 .... yikes ... :shock: They drowned the beast in the blood of their fallen comrades!

"Out for Blood," indeed! Well played, sir.

//H
The players made the choice to face the beast.

After a veritable bloodbath in the dungeon, I gave the survivors the option to hand over the spear to the Jarl for a nice reward. The majority of the players seemed to favor this, but one player wanted to tackle the hound himself. The others reluctantly agreed and off they went. =)

At the end, only three characters were left: One fled, one died (the original "Let's confront the hound ourselves!" guy) and one slew the hound. As luck would have it, the triumphant player was a friend's twelve-year-old son who occasionally plays with us.

I didn't pull any punches and rolled everything in the open. He didn't run away and he saved the day. Great times!

The risk of character death - the real risk, that is - makes victory that much sweeter!

(Cue links to my blog for articles on old school gaming and Death, Dying and TPKs.)

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Harley Stroh » Fri Jun 08, 2012 8:41 am

Johann wrote:At the end, only three characters were left: One fled, one died (the original "Let's confront the hound ourselves!" guy) and one slew the hound. As luck would have it, the triumphant player was a friend's twelve-year-old son who occasionally plays with us.

I didn't pull any punches and rolled everything in the open. He didn't run away and he saved the day. Great times!

The risk of character death - the real risk, that is - makes victory that much sweeter!
*Very* cool. I can't think of a better conclusion to the adventure!

//H
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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by JonHook » Fri May 16, 2014 9:45 am

I just finished reading this module, and it was a fantastic read. I look forward to running it someday... soon, I hope.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by MrHemlocks » Fri May 16, 2014 11:24 am

This was the first, besides the zero level adventure in rule book, DCC adventure I ran. It was a blast! My players made Hirot their home base and continue to use it, within my Blackmarsh campaign setting, after 2 years of play :)

I just wish GG would expand on Hirot and make a mini campaign setting around it. So much potential there :wink:

DCC has been released over two years now and still no campaign setting has been made or even hinted at...sad :(

DCC needs a campaign setting to call its own.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by JonHook » Fri May 16, 2014 12:19 pm

MrHemlocks wrote:This was the first, besides the zero level adventure in rule book, DCC adventure I ran. It was a blast! My players made Hirot their home base and continue to use it, within my Blackmarsh campaign setting, after 2 years of play :)

I just wish GG would expand on Hirot and make a mini campaign setting around it. So much potential there :wink:

DCC has been released over two years now and still no campaign setting has been made or even hinted at...sad :(

DCC needs a campaign setting to call its own.
Have you checked out the Kickstarter for The Chained Coffin yet? It is building into a campaign setting. Author Michael Curtis recently posted on his blog about it, about how the Kickstarter is exploding, and how that will translate into even more in-depth material for that region to be a campaign setting. For $30 in the Kickstarter, you are going to get a metric ton of goodies. If the Kickstarter hits $36K+, it'll all be collected into an honest to goodness box set. Freaking wild.

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Re: Review: Doom of the Savage Kings

Post by Rick » Fri May 16, 2014 12:37 pm

MrHemlocks wrote:DCC has been released over two years now and still no campaign setting has been made or even hinted at...sad :(

DCC needs a campaign setting to call its own.
Here's a hint or two for ya -

http://poleandrope.blogspot.com/2014/05 ... -your.html
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14 ... n?ref=dash
It has come to pass that The Chained Coffin may be destined for greater things that a simple 32 pp. adventure. If the fans desire it, The Chained Coffin could become a mini-campaign boxed set, one that includes a large 11”x17” regional map, a gazetteer describing the Shudder Mountains, and, in addition to The Chained Coffin adventure, a pair of secondary adventures designed to begin play in the region as zero-level PCs and to encounter later in their adventuring careers.

Needless to say, if this “campaign in a box” idea becomes a reality and is well-received by the fans, it may begin a new trend with DCC RPG. People have been clamoring for an official DCC RPG campaign world (whether a new one or a revised version of Aereth, Goodman’s original campaign world for the 3E DCC adventures) and this could be the first of several steps to make that happen.

DCC RPG encourages judges to abandon the notion that the campaign world needs to be a vast, sprawling expanse filled with countless cities and diverse ecospheres. Instead, DCC RPG suggests taking a smaller approach and limiting the campaign to a compact region, like a duchy, a minor stretch of wilderness, or even a single valley. The Shudder Mountains are precisely this style of world design: a finite area filled with enough adventuring ideas, unusual locals, and unique critters to meet the needs of long-term play.

A series of “campaign boxes” would allow judges to pick and choose what they want to include in their campaign worlds, rather than be given the full world treatment common to most pre-packaged fantasy campaigns. To continue with an Appalachian-themed metaphor, you’d get the patches to make the quilt rather than the whole blanket, and could assemble them using only the squares of color that catch your interest. Not into Egyptian-themed adventuring regions? Then there’s no need to spend the buy that campaign module (although if I wrote that one, I hope you would anyway). Love the idea of sword-and-planet type adventures? Pick up the hypothetical “Perils of the Purple Planet” themed set. And so on down the line.

This way, the folks who want a sense of a shared campaign world could have one—if they so desired—while the maniacal homebrewed campaign designer could pick and choose, utilizing material from the sets that captured their interest whole cloth or just the portions they liked. It’s an interesting concept and I believe it would be useful to game masters of not just DCC RPG, but other fantasy games as well.

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