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XCrawl is/was a very cool idea for a d20 D&D setting. Extrapolate a Dungeons & Dragons inspired modern world using the real world as the basic geopolitical map, and advance it to the modern era. Then make the player characters into members of the Extreme Dungeon Crawl League – turning dungeon crawling into an international televised sport. It was oroginally published by the short-lived Pandahead Productions and then was picked up by Goodman Games.

As the DM of an XCrawl campaign you get a fun bit of metagaming to get involved in, similar to the way the DM makes major NPCs in the Dream Park RPG – the crawls themselves are run by guys called Dungeon Judges. Each Dungeon Judge has his own personality and tends to have various trademarks for his crawls. This allows you as a DM to offer hints to the players as to what’s coming up in a crawl just based on the name of the crawl, and the name of the Dungeon Judge (DJ) who designed it and will be running it.

Here are three Dungeon Judges from the last Crawl campaign we played in:

Moses Durango aka DJ Oz Moses

Moses is from Australia and is the only Aussie in the North American DJ roster. He recruits a lot of his humanoids from the Australian outback and has a Fosters sponsorship that turns up pretty frequently in his crawls (monster lairs where the hobgoblins are hiding behind Fosters kegs are pretty common). He’s also well known for his love of oozes – particularly green slime traps, gelatinous cubes, and the occasional black pudding in the major league events. We learned to hate his green slime traps (they turned up EVERYWHERE – open a chest, green slime falls from the ceiling; kick down a door, green slime is embedded in the flimsy wood panels; and even an Indiana Jones-style giant ball of green slime rolling down the corridor at us), and to appreciate his beer sponsorship (characters who made a big deal about the Fosters, especially drinking it after a fight would get a dressing-room bonus from Oz Moses provided by his sponsor).

Reggie Smith aka DJ Registered Sex Offender

Reggie’s crawls are pretty… icky. Lots of nymphs, sylphs, succubi and harpies. Many of the creatures have charm attacks, and use them to get into the party’s pants before killing them. Also a lot of nearly naked damsels in need of rescue, and crack naked female gnome ninja suicide squads. Seriously. Naked Gnome Ninjas. I couldn’t make this shit up. His crawls are mostly minor-league affairs, but get a lot of viewership and replay on the cable networks.

Sarah McTavish aka DJ Sarah Man

Sarah McTavish started out as a table-top Dungeon Judge with a serious Lord of the Rings obsession. Expect to run into lots of orcs, goblins, cave trolls, the occasional ent and even the rare Balrog in her events. She runs the most “traditional” of the crawls that we dealt with – epic quests to destroy the macguffin, rescue the village or kill the evil leader stuff. None of her humanoids wear team jerseys or sponsor’s logos, they are equipped in a fashion appropriate to the classic dungeon crawl environment, and a lot of money goes into the set dressing to get the crawl locations themselves to have no markers left over from their prior jobs as subway tunnels and old factories.