This past weekend the full crew couldn’t assemble so I pulled out Dungeon Crawl Classics again. We have played five or six games in our DCC campaign on nights like this, and the most recent one ended with the party at the Keep on the Borderlands (thus the redrawing of the Keep of the Castellan I did a few months ago).
Since we were going to be playing a short game due to the various scheduling concerns I decided to focus on two possibilities – either the lizard man enclave or the mad hermit. Since this is DCC and I want it to be weird when compared to my more common-sense-inspired D&D campaign, it was time to rewrite the classic mad hermit scene.
Loving the classic Erol Otus illustration of the Mad Hermit, I went hog-wild with the tree.
The bottom segment of the map is the hollow tree itself, along with the raised platform with the hermit’s bed of grass and reeds. On each side of this platform are stairs carved into the wood of the tree, leading up into the trunk and down into the roots. Except that they don’t. Both sets of stairs actually lead to the same room “somewhere” in the tree, or in an extra-dimensional space, or something like that. Because magic.
In that space there is a miniature version of the hollow tree (sans hermit). That smaller tree has stairs leading up and down… You get the picture, it’s a matryoshka tree! But what’s important is what is beyond the tree – the hive. Each of the trees has a hive (successively smaller than the last). Each hive is guarded by amazon bee warriors of the appropriate size. But the outermost (largest) tree (the one the hermit lives in) has had it’s hive plundered by the hermit in the past, and he collected the Life Honey from the tree which has granted him long life, a bit of insanity, and an addiction to the honey so he won’t ever wander far from the tree because he desperately wants more. Some of the cells of the hive still have amazon bee warriors in stasis waiting to defend the hive, but the broken cells on the left show what happens to the life honey when it is left to congeal for too long – a pool of solid gold now lies wrapped around a book.
From there I basically played it by the seat of my pants. Small bee warriors attacking from the matryoshka tree, big bee warriors defending the hive, and then the players lit the little tree on fire to stop the endless waves of small bees, which lit the big tree on fire too. Next thing they are running back out of the tree… to be ambushed by the mad hermit!
Being Dungeon Crawl Classics, it was important to swap out the standard goods of the Mad Hermit for something more DCC-ish. So I removed his Dagger +1 and replaced it with the Shadowculling.
+1 to hit, 1d6 damage, target must save or lose 1/4 of his shadow to the dagger.
- Missing 25% – Lose 1d7 Luck until restored
- Missing 50% – Lose 1d4 Constitution until restored, +2 on all stealth-type checks
- Missing 75% – Lose 1d6 Personality until restored
- Missing 100% – Lose 1d4 more Constitution until restored, additional +2 on all stealth-type checks
Each shadow fragment has 1/4 of the HD of the source person, or 1/8 of the HD of a non-sentient creature. Four fragments can be combined to create a shadow creature with that many hit dice. The wielder and the shadow make contested Personality + HD rolls. If the wielder wins, he has control of the shadow, otherwise the shadow is free to do as it wishes. The shadow will dissipate at the next sunrise, whether or not it comes in contact with sunlight.
By stepping on the dagger and concentrating, someone having lost part of their shadow can get it back from the dagger (or another similar shadow-stealing effect – in which case the victim may be getting bits of someone else’s shadow instead).
Obviously his Ring of Protection +1 also had to go…
The Ring of Madness
Reduces the wearer’s Personality by 4, but increases Will saves by +4 and grants 2d12 additional hit points (re-rolled each morning).
Both maps and all three item illustrations were done on index cards on Sunday before the game. The maps were drawn with a Sakura Micron 03, and the magic items were drawn with a black sharpie marker. They are provided here for your use thanks to the awesome patronage of the many supporters of the Dodecahedron through my Patreon Campaign. The current goal of the Patreon campaign is to raise the pledge to a level where I can fully support myself through cartography, and thus no longer have to charge for commercial use of my maps. If we achieve that level of funding, I will be releasing future maps with a full free use license, including unlimited commercial use.