A review! My first written specifically for this blog in fact. I have recently wrapped up a several months long Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign set in the swords and sorcery world of Fritz Lieber’s city of Lankhmar using the DCC Lankhmar ruleset and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the rules and its design. I figured there was no better place to begin then the first adventure from the boxset I ran No Small Crimes in Lankhmar.
The Pitch: After the enterprising adventurers break into a long-abandoned wizards manor in hopes of scoring some easy loot, a long forgotten curse shrinks them to the size of rats! The Players must explore the now gigantic house to find a way to break this insidious curse, and maybe make off with some treasure!
When running a game of crime and skullduggery, home robberies are likely to be a common occurrence, and while there are a multitude of ways to spruce up this classic setup, No Small Crimes manages to do so in an unforgettable way. My players still talk about “that one robbery” where they were shrunk down to the size of mice and did battle with spiders and intelligent rats among the decaying couches and staircases of an old manor. And honestly, if that sounds appealing at all to run, then I would say this adventure is easily worth picking up!
But if you are desiring more details I am happy to provide. The module comes out to about ten pages of adventuring content. Some of it is devoted to a basic setup and some (pretty good) advice for running the module, and the rest of the pages are a keyed map of the manor and descriptions of all its rooms and locales. The book is quite easy to follow, and no room is wasted. Each one containing some encounter, puzzle or peculiar occurrence, from attacks by lurking spidesr who drag PC’s up to their webs, to encounters with the intelligent (and armed) rats from the City of Lankhmar Below, who fight with coordinated crosssbow fire and by sending giant (just pretty big) feral rats charging at the party. In all these encounters, the setting really elevates them from typical slugfest to memorable battle, as instead of sewers you battle rats across the sheets of an ancient bed, and you fight spiders among the kitchen cupboards and countertops. By far the star of the modules foes is one of the greatest wandering monsters I have ever sent against my players, The Cat!
The Cat is a veteran of the Lankhmar streets, and my players were treading from room to room with a great deal of fear as signs of the cats presence grew nearer and nearer, I was even able to use the passing shadow the cat as a great end of session cliffhanger before we opened the next one with a dual battle against the rats and the ferocious feline. The battle was somewhat anticlimactic since the parties white wizard cast a desperate Charm Animal that left the cat very well disposed to her, and when she grew back to normal size the party gained a mascot!
Aside from The Cat, the highlight of the adventure is definitely the final encounter against the Bronze Statue in the wizards laboratory. The statue is a decently tough enemy, but even more so against the miniaturized party. The potions to grow back to full size are tantalizingly just out of reach, and guarded by this colossus. My party solved this conundrum by having the warrior run interference against the statue Shadow of the Colossus style as the thief ran with all his might to grab the tiny potion bottles from a high shelf to deliver to the other side of the laboratory door. After barely escaping, the party triumphantly drank the re-enlargement potions and kicked in the metal laboratory door to do battle against the statue, who became possessed by the spirit of a god who they had annoyed (my own addition to the adventure, I felt the boss needed a little “something-something” as it were).
For all their troubles, Players are likely to loot the house for all its worth, collecting a hefty sum of gold, and wizards will discover a couple of scrolls and the previous owner’s spellbook (which I filled with rat and size-changing themed magic). By far the best reward are the potions of shrinking and growing, which are sure to open more size-related hijinks for the future of your campaign. I also threw in a unique set of tools for my thief, who made use of their +2 bonus against disarming and unlocking mechanisms made in the advanced Eastern Lands.
My only criticism would be that while the adventure has a solid setup and a fun twist, that is about as far as it goes. This adventure of a manor robbery where you shrink down to rat size is basically what it says on the tin. But not every adventure needs to be a pinnacle of creativity and subversion, and the shrinking gimmick does its job well enough, I guarantee your players will at the very least be intrigued, if not excited by the prospect of trekking across the now gargantuan manor. Were I a hypothetical high school teacher of an RPG module writing class I would give it a “B+, Solid Work!”.
I very much recommend No Small Crimes in Lankhmar. As an introductory adventure to DCC Lankhmar, I think No Small Crimes serves its purpose with panache! Both player and GM get to come to grips with the important fleeting luck mechanic in an adventure that is sure to stick out in players minds. For the players, in addition to the unique experience, it is sure to leave them with a decent haul of cash and some intriguing potions. On the GM side, the adventure presents a few easy hooks to continue your campaign, as the players now have an easy entrance to the sinister world of Lankhmar below and all its rat infested goodness. You must first purchase the DCC Lankhmar Boxed Set in order to get your hands on this delightful adventure, which will cost you 60 dollars. For this price you not only get the adventure, but also the three DCC Lankhmar rulebooks, as well as a full printed map of the city, a judges screen, a Goodman Games newspaper with other Lankhamr themed goodies, and codes to download all of these as PDFs, a great price for a great version of DCC in my opinion! So get your swords, collect your thieves tools, and do battle against the vicious cats and cunning rats of Lankhmar.