Tabletop RPG Review: The Gongfarmer’s Almanac 2017

As with previous volumes of this series (2015 & 2016), this is made up of fan-created material for Dungeon Crawl Classics (as well as Mutant Crawl Classics and some other less official variants).  This volume has a large chunk devoted to a specific theme, the chaos realm of Pandemonium.  From adventures and locations to character classes and monsters, there’s a lot of Pandemonium in this, and I imagine your mileage may vary.

Like the other volumes, I found lots of inspiration and plenty of cool ideas, though large swaths of the book will almost certainly never make it into my games.  The first three chapters have a lot of hexes, so if you wanted to run your characters through Pandemonium as a “hex-crawl” you could.  Or you could simply lift the hex and plop it down into whatever game world you happen to be running.  That’s what I’m likely to do.  There’s one in particular, The Carousel of Doom that I’m giving serious thought to running as a sort of Halloween season scenario.

Chapter four is all about a setting called Dark Seas.  It’s a sort of underground ocean-set British-themed Steampunk Fantasy with lots of ironclads and monsters. As I read through it, I thought a lot about how I might enjoy playing something in this Dark Seas setting, but had no interest in running it.  In spite of my interest in running a more nautical-themed game, little of this felt like it would translate over to what I want to do.  Still, more variety never hurts.

After that, it’s the usual.  New patrons, some of which are quite nasty.  Some new classes, of which I think the Dwarf Sapper is my favorite. New magic items.  And then some adventures and such, including some for variations on the game (mods to run contemporary Urban Fantasy or World War 2, neither of which light my fire).  

Though this is definitely the most unified volume I’ve read so far, the big strength of these books is their ‘throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ attitude.  And since they’re very cheap (free to download on DriveThru or cost of printing + shipping on Lulu), they’re worth investing in for those ideas that are spawned, the bits and bobs that are useful.  This was almost 500 pages for about $15. after shipping.  You can’t really beat that.

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