Tabletop RPG Review: Dweller Between Worlds

I have to give Goodman Games credit.  Their adventure modules sure are different and weird.  With Dweller Between the Worlds, author Marc Bruner gives us an adventure suggested for five or six level 1 characters.  That seems completely bananas to me, as I think this would be a challenge for characters of level 3 or more, but that’s part of the fun of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I guess.  I mean, look at Sailors on the Starless Sea, which my players faced with probably a dozen characters of level 0 to 3, and if it wasn’t for a few absolutely amazing rolls on their part and terrible rolls on mine, might have resulted in a total party kill (TPK).  Part of the charm of DCC is its almost complete lack of anything resembling play balance. 

With all that rambling done, I’ll say, without going too deep into the plot of this one, it sees the PCs thrust into leading military units in a raging battle against beings from another dimension.  How have they gone from peasants to trusted hands of a desperate lord?  That’s up to you.  It’s part of why this feels like it should maybe be for a slightly more experienced group, but whatever.

The module is inspired by the strategic and tactical board games of the 70s & 80s.  The sort of thing published by SPI, Avalon Hill, or even early Steve Jackson.  It deals with military units fighting horrible monsters.  Then traveling to a realm of chaos and fighting more monsters.  There’s no dungeon crawling here, no layer to delve into, or riddles to solve.  It’s mostly about using terrain and out maneuvering your enemy while keeping your troops in line.

In tone, it reminded me a lot of some Michael Moorcock stories, particularly the Corum tales.  I was also reminded of a couple Conan stories where he works as a mercenary or a soldier, and is forced to lead troops against seemingly impossible odds.  

I’m not really sure this one is for me.  It feels like it might be good to run at a convention or something, with some pre-generated characters who have back stories connected to the events and NPCs of this module.  I suspect if I use it at all, it will be to raid some pieces and elements to plug into something else.  That might include the alternate large-scale combat rules that are featured at the back of the book. 

There is one technical problem with the book.  I thought I was going nuts for a while when I tried to consult the maps to see where the keyed locations were.  But no, it appears the player’s version of the area map was reproduced where the judge’s keyed map should have been.  I’m sure I’ll be able to whip something up if I need to, but it’s something I noticed.

It was a fun read, but I don’t expect to see it hitting my table anytime soon.

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