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Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
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Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/19/2018 08:36:09

If you've been paying attention throughout the Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure modules so far, you might have noticed material providing background about where each one is set. It's generic enough that you can take an adventure and pick a suitable spot in your own campaign world, but coherent enough that you could have built one around them. Now you don't need to, because here's the World of Aereth to drop all existing (and future) Dungeon Crawl Classics into.

It starts off with a delightful 'foreword' detailing the discovery of this tome in the depths of a contemporary American library. How it got there we can only speculate: but it does add to the conceit that this world, this alternate reality, actually exists somewhere... And then we are off with a sweeping review of the Northlands, the Southlands and the Lostlands, complete with geographical features, celestial bodies, the seasons, and all manner of information. I know the foreword spoke of the battered and aged condition of the manuscript, but although atmospheric, the background makes the text rather hard to read. Persevere, though, the text is replete with snippets of information that makes the place come to life - places, festivals, events past and present, and more.

There is also a chapter on organisations, in particular those which spread beyond national boundaries, and one entitled Beyond the Known Realms that leads you into the wilder unexplored regions - excellent for those parties who wish to explore or even settle new places. There is a history of the Northlands that spans over three thousand years from antiquity to the present day. And this is just the Gazetteer. There's plenty more in the box!

There is an even more massive book for the DM. This contains an even more extensive history, a bestiary, notes on deities and other powers, NPCs galore, talk of 0-level characters, and a rather neat section taking the existing Dungeon Crawl Classics adventures and building them into more-or-less coherent campaign arcs. There's also an index of people, places, items and more that have appeared in all modules to date.

As if this wasn't enough, there are two completely new adventures - Halls of the Minotaur and The Thief Lord's Vault - to start you off. All-in-all, if you've ever thought that Dungeon Crawl Classics are fine as one-off adventures, but need a context: well, now you have one.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Joseph Q. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2007 00:59:58

Fully fleshed and ready to roll! The setting is mutable and can accomodate a variety of gaming styles and material. It is a big help for those of us running DCC adventures as it (obviously) provides a wealth of background and mood elements for the series. It reminded me of my gaming roots (early 80's D&D) and I found it easy to integrate my old modules and newer adventures into the setting. My gaming group was pleased to have a more well-defined history for their characters to relate to and, over all, it serves it's purpose pefectly. I run several simultaneous gaming groups and having a distinct base to distinguish the DCC group from my others has been a huge help.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Joel H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/21/2007 00:00:00

If you're like me and you've decided to adopt Goodman Games' campaign world of "Aereth" as the campaign setting for your game, then this purchase is a no-brainer. If you are a DM on the lookout for some fresh campaign ideas to integrate into your own, look no further. If your're looking for a campaign setting were every single nook and cranny of the map is filled in with detailed charts and descriptions of every small town, hill and vale, you search in vain (although I'm told the "Wilderlands" boxed set might be more to your liking).

What I was looking for in a campaign world was something similar to Greyhawk, but with a publishing company that still catered to that kind of setting while utilizing the latest 3.5 core rules. For whatever reason, Wizards of the Coast has become self obsessed with "Eberron" and the "Forgotten Realms" and has pretty much left Greyhawk enthusiasts to their own devices ever since 3.5 came out. Right now Goodman Games is the only publisher I know of that still writes "traditional" D&D adventures that allow you to stick with just the 3.5 core rulebooks (i.e. you don't have to go bankrupt purchasing unnecessary supplements). Having wedded myself to the "Dungeon Crawl Classics" line of adventures for my first stint as GM, I knew it was only a matter of time before DCC#35 "Gazetteer of the Known Realms" would end up on my wish list.

The world of Aereth is very much to my liking, a sparsely populated world with isolated fiefdoms and cultures still largely unaware of one another. Mighty empires that once spanned the globe have either broken down into squabbling factions or sunken into obscurity altogether. The writers and designers of this world understand full well the virtue of leaving blanks on the page to be filled in later. The Gazetteer provides a loose framework for stringing together adventure hooks rather than trying corral you into running your game a certain way or fixating on a singular theme. It supplies you with enough geography and back-story to make informed decisions about which region your PCs might hail from without bogging you down in lengthy genealogies or political trivia.

While not without its faults, I much prefer the digital PDF version of this product to the boxed set. The two books in the print version of this module (GM's Guide to the Known Realms and Gazetteer the Known Realms) had a lamentably dark background graphic on every page that could make for some difficult reading. The PDF version fixes this by including a "no-background" version of both tomes. Also, the maps which come with the boxed set are 24 X 36 inches and there are 3 of them! So it's a bit of a relief to be able to print small portions of the maps and use them as player handouts. The three large maps are broken down into 45 separate PDF files, but that doesn't mean that the specific location names are any easier to read.

One bone I have to pick with the graphic design of the whole shebang is that "looking cool" seems to have taken priority over functionality in various design decisions. For instance, putting a faint white glow around the fonts on the map to help them stand out was a good idea, but if only they had made the glow thicker and brighter all the names would be a LOT easier to read. As it is, most of the names of the smaller towns get lost in the beautiful map textures and are virtually unreadable at any scale.

But I quibble. I'm currently running my second adventure in the DCC universe, and already the Known Realms Gazetteer has proved invaluable in helping me answer my PC's pesky questions about the local climate and where certain roads and rivers referenced in the adventure might ultimately lead to. Now I don't have to make stuff up on the spot and backtrack later. Thank you, Goodman Games! <br><br><b>LIKED</b>:

  1. Maps give the GM a rough outline of the geography without weighing down the game-setting in convoluted or excessive back-story.
  2. Allows the GM to put each Dungeon Crawl Classic adventure in a geographic and cultural context.
  3. GM's Guide provides numerous "Adventure Paths" which can help you to easily string together a series of Dungeon Crawl Classics into one comprehensive story arc.
  4. The world maps are broken down into small chunks (15 individual PDFs each) so that you can print only a portion of any given map and use them as player-handouts.
  5. "No-background" versions of the Gazetteer and GM's Guide are much easier on the eyes.
  6. Module includes two unique DCC adventures to get your party started.
  7. GM's Guide provides detailed mythology and history of the Known Realms, including a proprietary pantheon and bestiary, all of which can be added to (or subtracted from) your campaign without difficulty.
  8. The Gazetteer provides as many cultural flavors and textures as any GM could possibly want or need. The world of Aereth sports equivalents of Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures, as well as Arabian, Asian, and Mesoamerican civilizations! It even has its own "Caribbean" equivalent, complete with imperial colonies.
  9. Campaign world is so large that you could design your own adventures around the landmarks provided and not run out of mapped territory for years on end.
  10. The maps have a "satellite photo" quality that helps to define the geography and climate of any given area. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
  11. The names of towns on the maps can still be difficult to read, even in PDF format.
  12. The Gazetteer has no index of towns listed in the back.
  13. Without an index, the lack of well defined political borders makes it more difficult locate a town's description in the Gazetteer.
  14. If you want to create a "world" map which shows an entire continent, you will have to stitch it together in an image editing program (such as Photoshop).
  15. No PDF chapter bookmarks on the "no-background" files. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br><BR>[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]<BR>

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Crawl Classics #35: Gazetteer of the Known Realms
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Alan W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/14/2006 00:00:00

If you are a fan of Goodman Games modules, then the Gazetteer had to set your eyes alight. The product is massive, comprising 3 huge full-color maps; 2 adventure modules in classic Goodman Games retro style. A Gazetteer book, with history, demographics, and other details of the world; a DM book, with specific feats, spells, etc. for the world; all are included.

This is such a huge product that I am going to break my review into 2 parts. First, comments on the material itself, second, comments about the pdf itself.

Material Maps: The maps themselves are beautiful, without too much verbiage cluttering them. The location of all of Goodman?s modules are marked on the map, which makes it easy to find a spot to place a group, with ample opportunities for pre-made goodness.

Gazetteer: This is a fine document. I have not read it all, but the sections I have read have plenty of information, but also leave plenty of creative room for the gamemaster to make it his own. One definite complaint is a lack of an index. With all these cities, countries, geographic features and personages, an index would be a Godsend, and it is not that hard to put together in this electronic age.

DM Book: Another fine document. The feats are interesting, but not overpowered. Plenty of campaign starting ideas for a GM. Adventure paths give you a flowchart of sorts to carry your players through, using Goodman?s modules. (OK, so it is a bit of self-promotion, but it is well thought out and a neat idea.)

Modules: 2 modules are included. The first is for a set of 0 level characters, who start with whatever the village can dig up for them, plus what they find along the way. The second is for 4-6th level chars. I have read the zero level game pretty thoroughly, and it looks very good. Arranged in the classic 1st edition style that Goodman is so proficient at, is has multiple styles of challenges, and looks to be a solid challenge.

Pdf product This is a massive 300+ MB product. The maps are delivered as 45 single page maps, there are printer-friendly versions of the two main books.

These pdf?s are pretty no frills. No internal links from the chamber of contents, the bookmarks are tied to the chapters, but give no help within the chapter. There is no overall view of the maps, which makes getting a worldview, without printing all the maps and taping them together, very difficult. A 4 page document, 1 page with the three maps combined, and single pages for a combined version of the individual maps. Having these maps link to the existing full page maps would be a nice bonus.

While there are printer-friendly versions of the two main books, printer friendly maps for the modules would be a great addition, as the old-style maps eat tons of ink. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: The material itself. The modules.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Maps are hard to use. INDEXES!! I would like to see more use of the possibilities of the pdf format (and would be glad to download another 300 MB version that corrects some of these flaws. Hint, hint, hint.)<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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