I’m a little later to this party than I thought I’d be, but here it goes anyway. Pyramid #3/106 is the first issue of the magazine to be released after the completion of the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game. While the game itself is still not available to the public at the time of this writing, the many Kickstarter backers have started receiving their copies. I guess this issue is meant to both appeal to them and to get other players interested in the upcoming game.
What’s In It?
The cover is an illustration from the game itself, depicting an armored knight and a wizard or druid cautiously advancing through a tunnel whose walls are covered in glowing sigils. Maybe it’s the style of the knight’s armor, but the piece gives me a bit of a Dark Souls vibe.
After the usual introductory blurbs about what’s in the issue, we get the first “real” article: Designer’s Notes for the DFRPG, by Sean Punch himself. It tells us what it was like to write the game, and gives us an incredibly detailed account of what’s in each of its books (including the stretch goals and add-ons) and how that content differs from what’s in the Basic Set. If none of the excellent DFRPG reviews published on the Internet so far have answered all of your questions about the game, then it might be worth buying this issue for the six pages of designer’s notes alone - you won’t get a more complete description without reading the game itself.
Next comes an article on Quick Equipment Kits, by Peter V. Dell’Orto. It has loadouts in it, which is good because I love loadouts! The article is only four pages long, so if you don’t love loadouts you can rest assured that this isn’t reprinting the whole of GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 13 for the new “edition”. This article leaves weapon and armor selection entirely to players, and instead focuses on all the other stuff. It has a basic delver package with a minimum of generally useful gear like ropes and blankets. It then presents a set of add-ons separated not by character template, but by function within the party: Cartographer, Door Breaker, Medic, and so on. It also devotes some space to pre-filled quivers of arrows or bolts, pre-filled bags of sling stones, and bulk rations of all kinds, which are nifty time-savers all by themselves.
Next comes a whole bunch of Deathtraps by Cristopher R. Rice. While I haven’t gotten around to reading the Dungeon Fantasy Traps PDF, I’m told these are much more cruel than the ones on that book. This makes this a useful tool for GMs who want to go Gygaxian on their players with false-door crossbow traps or the Magical Magnetic Murder Machine.
In the Eidetic Memory column, David Pulver talks about Demi-Human Dungeons. Contrary to what you’d expect from a David Pulver article, there are no math-intensive rules here. Rather, this is a nice set of guidelines for designing dungeons built by dwarves, halflings, elves and gnomes. Why would each of these peoples build a large underground complex? What would they use it for? How can it fall into ruin and be infested by monsters, and what treasure would be left behind? Given that the implied Dungeon Fantasy setting is built on well-worn cliches, the answers will probably not come as big surprises to veteran GMs, but the descriptions are clear and filled with interesting references in their examples. Do you want to know what it would be like to delve into the shattered ruins of Bag End? Read this.
Secrets of the Living Tomb by Steven Marsh details the dungeon from the solo adventure in Pyramid #3/104 in a GM-friendly format, complete with some backstory and possible campaign hooks. I only skimmed this one, as I intend to play the adventure eventually.
Undead, Undead Everywhere by Sean Punch gives us six new undead monsters to play with. You have two new varieties of zombie (drowned and frozen), Swamp Wisps made of toxic gas, and Mummies which are every bit as dangerous as their OD&D counterparts. There’s also a couple of more exotic selections in the Herd Horrors and the Tomb Trees. The Mummies and the two “exotics” were by far the most interesting ones to me, though I liked all of them because you can never have enough monsters.
The State of the Dungeon is a short update on where in the official release process the game is. It’s close to the end, but not there yet. It does focus more on the physical product, which makes me think widely available PDF versions might take a while longer than that to show up, if they do at all. Personally, I would like to see them earlier rather than later. I already have mine, but I want something to link to people who are averse to shipping charges.
We end with a Random Thought Table by Steven Marsh on simplifying things to ease players into the Dungeon Fantasy RPG. It’s mainly a big old plug for the Delvers To Go! supplement, but some of the suggestions here are also interesting.
What Do I Think of It?
Overall, I quite liked this issue, and found it to be worth the price. My personal favorites were Quick Equipment Kits and Undead, Undead Everywhere, with Demi-Human Dungeons coming in close behind.