Tabletop RPG Review: Hubris

Hubris by Mike Evans is called “A World of Visceral Adventure.”  What does that mean?  I don’t really know.  What I do know is that this is a campaign setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics that leans heavier into the Sword & Sorcery side of things, and less into the “everything AND the kitchen sink” style of standard DCC.  That’s not to say it doesn’t feature some really strange stuff, but it feels less like the sort of setting where you might be fighting cannibal gnomes living inside of the severed head of a celestial titan whose brain is now a portal to a demon-haunted kingdom mutant-cyborgs, and more like the sort of thing where you fight lizard men riding giant bugs in a sweltering jungle while being hunted by an evil queen of spiders.  You know.  Weird.  But slightly more restrained weird.  I think the “visceral” comes from the tone more than anything.  There is a feeling that if you were to make a movie in Hubris, it would be gory and feature lots of nudity.  This is more Deathstalker than Krull.  

My fumbling description likely sells the setting short, but to be honest, this book really isn’t ultimately about the setting so much as the toolkits provided to create adventures.  There is some setting info, but most of the color and texture comes out of charts and tables meant to let you create your own version of Hubris for your players to explore. 

There are some new classes, with some suggested omissions from the basic game.  No dwarf, elf, or halfling for this world.  There’s some new equipment.  There are also a few new gods and magics.  All that is sort of standard for DCC books.  You can find a lot of similar material in various volumes of The Gongfarmer’s Almanac, for example.  The real star of the book are the random tables.

There are ten territories in Hubris, and each one has a chart called the “Lay of the Land,” and a chart of encounters.  So in the Blighted Sands, for example, you might find an oasis with a waterfall where the water is flowing up, and you may encounter a troll sitting on a sand dune eating a giant scorpion.  In the Bogwood Swamp, you might find an ancient hilltop graveyard from some forgotten boomtown and encounter bipedal mushroom men who have become twisted and evil from a terrible rotting disease.  These aren’t necessarily things you’ll want to be rolling at the table.  But if you’re prepping for the night’s session and you need some quick, weird encounters, this is good stuff.  And it’s easy to translate most of these things over into whatever game you happen to be running.  Each of these territories also has a few specific locations described or important details that are more specific to Hubris, though again, it wouldn’t be too hard to lift them for your own game.

There’s another section of tables where you can do things like generate “ancient and forgotten demigods,” generate NPCs, generate city districts, and more.  These kinds of things can be amazing tools for any time your creative juices need a boost.  I’ve often found that random charts, even if I don’t end up using anything I create, get me thinking about new ideas or old ideas in new ways.  The act of trying to figure out what a strange collection of seemingly unconnected things means…that’s great fun and a great tool.  

Am I likely to run Hubris as is?  I don’t know.  On the one hand, it’s actually more the type of Fantasy I go for when I am into that genre.  I much prefer Conan to The Lord of the Rings, for example.  But when I bring out Dungeon Crawl Classics, it’s because I want the over-the-top, bugnuts crazy, hellzapoppin wackiness that DCC excels at.  I think I’m much more likely to ruthlessly raid and plunder this book to have tons more stuff I can throw at my DCC players.  That is in no way a negative.  I think this book is going to give me many, many hours of cruel joy as a DCC judge.  If Dungeon Crawl Classics is your jam, you should definitely check this out.

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