Guest Writer: Eric Bloat
A word about Goodman Games, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Funnels & Grimtooth
The good folks at the California based gaming company, Goodman Games, like their Fantasy RPGs the same as they like their Heavy Metal music, volume cranked to 11 and thumping like a ballpeen hammer to the head. With their flagship game, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, an Open Gaming License D20 system-based stripped down and mutated version of 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, Goodman Games has amassed a cult-like following of devotees who even call Goodman Games owner (and DCC RPG creator) Joseph Goodman, The Dark Master. These zealot-like fans, lineup in droves to praise DCC RPG and support each of its many highly-successful crowd funded projects. These fans have gone on to create multiple Third Party adventures and content, as well as at least two DCC RPG dedicated Podcasts: Spellburn and The Sanctum Secorum. And a few lucky (and highly talented) fans have even penned official DCC RPG adventures for Goodman Games.
DCC RPGs success derives from many OSR (Old-School Renaissance) gamers desire for Dungeons and Dragons to return to its heyday and a longing a simpler (and more deadly) style of play. DCC RPG is inspired by the works of literature suggested by D&D creator Gary Gygax in the now infamous Appendix N, found in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide.
“The Funnel” is a meat-grinder style of adventure, where each player controls multiple zero-level characters, who are little more than farmers and peasants. These characters go on an adventure and more often than not die in the process. It is not unusual to have a “TPK” or Total Party Kill, where no characters survive. If any zero-level characters survive The Funnel, they go on to become 1st level characters.
In 1981, RPG game supplement publisher Flying Buffalo began releasing a series of deadly obstacle and scenario books for Dungeon Master to challenge their players with. These books, were “hosted” by a 12-foot-tall, self-professed troll named Grimtooth, who would gleefully walk you through how to be kill, um challenge, your players. Grimtooth’s Traps would go on to produce seven volumes in total and sell over 250,000 copies. In January 2016, Goodman games licensed Grimtooth’s Traps and released “Grimtooth’s Ultimate Trap Collection” which was a reprinting of the first 5 Grimtooth’s Trap books all released in one Mega-book.
Expanding upon the licensing agreement with Flying Buffalo, Goodman Games created and released it’s first crossover where Grimtooth enters the DCC RPG game system, Grimtooth’s Museum of Death.
Grimtooth’s Museum of Death
Grimtooths Museum of Death is an adventure out of time. The cover art by Goodman Games in house artist, Doug Kovacs, to this adventure module depicts Grimtina, Grimtooth’s sister, who has just ecstatically cut a warrior’s body in half with a chainsaw, while a wizard, eyes open, with a severed head lay at her feet. Behind her a small wall of fire separates her and her victims from her brother. Grimtooth looks down upon the carnage from his skull-encrusted throne with a smirk of satisfaction at seeing the demise of the adventuring party at the hands of Grimtina.
The author of this adventure module sets the tone perfectly with the adventures intro:
”Remember the good old days, when adventures were underground, NPCs were there to be killed, and the finale of every dungeon was the dragon on the 20th level? Those days are back. Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures don’t waste your time with long-winded speeches, weird campaign settings, or NPCs who aren’t meant to be killed. Each adventure is 100% good, solid dungeon crawl, with the monsters you know, the traps you remember, and the secret doors you know are there somewhere.
After three decades, the wait is nearly over. In Grimtooth’s Museum of Death, you and your players finally get the chance to delve into the evil troll’s base of operations first detailed in the pages of Grimtooth’s Trap Comics. Deadly traps old and new are waiting to be sprung, from Castle Grimtooth down to the lower treasure levels. You just might see a few familiar faces on your journey, too.
This adventure is designed for 20 to 30 twenty-seventh level characters accompanied by a host of 50 seasoned mercenaries, 200 hirelings, 3 ox-drawn carts loaded with chickens, wooden poles cut to varying lengths, and several siege weapons. In playtests, the group that lived the longest brought several backpacks stuffed with scrolls and a ring of three wishes. It is also feasible for an adventuring party as low as level zero to best Grimtooth’s traps and reach the Great Troll’s treasure hoard, but they must keep their wits about them at all times lest they be ground up as monster chow in Grimtooth’s blood chutes.”
Officially listed as a level 1 adventure, Grimtooth’s Museum of Death, follows the lead of the title character and is never honest. Everywhere you turn in the museum, things are not what they appear to be. It seems that everything is out to get the characters. “Oh, but the treasure.” Sure, there is plenty of that but you must ask yourself at what cost?
With over 100 levels to Grimthooth’s lair, the only thing that is certain is that your characters will die. Let me repeat that for those skimming, YOUR CHARACTERS WILL DIE! And ya know what? You’re going to have a blast doing it!
James Walls hosts a Youtube channel, Living for Crits, where he does a bunch of live play throughs of DCC adventures. For Grimtooth’s Museum of Death he brags that the first group of people he ran through the module only lasted twenty minutes.
With Grimtooth’s Museum of Death, as with character-eating adventures of old like The Tomb of Horrors, part of the allure and part of the charm is playing through it, dying, then playing through it again, just to see if you can get further than the last time.
You and your gaming group is sure to get many sessions of exciting, terrifying, frustrating and elating gaming from this one module alone. Give Grimtooth’s Museum of Death a try. You’ll be glad you did. But here’s a final word of warning before you do:
”The evil troll Grimtooth has finally thrown wide the gates of his abode to all comers. The troll has sent ravens far and wide inviting delvers to share in the vast wealth of his treasure room. Of course, there is a catch. The adventurers must wend their way through a maze of traps in Grimtooth’s Museum of Death, a curated collection of the deadliest and most devious traps ever assembled in on place. Along the way, they might even cross paths with a few of Grimtooth’s allies: Grimtina, Spike the Grimdog and Sludgeworth. Tread lightly, delver. There are no refunds for the this tour.”
The minds behind the madness:
Jobe Bittman of Spellburn Podcast fame, is no new comer to writing for Goodman Games and Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. His writing credits include “The One Who Watches from Below”, “Glipkerio’s Gambit”, “Death Ziggurat in Zero-G” and the self-published module “Into the Demon Idol”. Co-written by Steve S. Crompton (who also did the Cartography and supplied some interior art) and who has been doing graphics & illustration for Flying Buffalo since 1981. Crompton worked on all seven Grimtooth’s Traps books as well as several forays into the comic book industry. Jen Brinkman from both Spellburn and Sanctum Secorum Podcasts did the editing. Featuring stellar interior art by Stefan Poag and Bradley K. McDevitt to round out the cast.
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Eric resides in Louisville, KY with his wife Jaime and their two teenagers Chaz and Kristen. Owner of Bloat Games, a small independent game publishing company and author of SURVIVE THIS!! Zombies!, in his free time he posts videos on his Youtube account, Eric from Bloat Games, where he rambles on about his love of roleplaying games and all things nerdy. Feel free to enjoy his blog.