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Tales from the Sanctum

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The Sanctum Secorum podcast plumbs the depths of Appendix N as it applies to DCC RPG. Each show reviews one piece of Appendix N media — be it literature or film — and then discusses how to bring aspects of it to the table for your DCC game. We explore how the selected piece might already easily fit into particular modules and DCC settings, and we highlight one specific DCC module that really ties into the Appendix N material.

Enter the Sanctum Secorum… and be inspired.

Review: Dicey Times

Here at the Sanctum Secorum, we don’t do many reviews and so, when we do? It is generally because something really stands out. This is another such case.

Dicey Times, a play on both the product and the troubled times in which we live, is a subscription box delivering a set’s worth (but not a set) of individually curated dice. We ordered a one-time box ($30) to give things a try and eagerly opened the box when it arrived.

I’ll start by pointing out that everything about this box is handled with a real attention to detail. Even the mailing box itself is chosen to be eye-catching and fun. While there is nothing wrong with a plain white box, just the simple act of bringing in the mail was already filling me with anticipation. Now, there is no unboxing video (although we may do one next time – see below) so here are a few more packing details. Wrapped in tissue was a bundle of confetti-colored excelsior, nestled in which were two small pouches and a box. Also included was a personalized note with wax seal.

Cracking open the seal revealed a note to the early adopters (we got in on the first shipment) and a curation list of the individual dice. The dice represented are the “traditional” polyhedral dice chain d4 through d20 with a bonus d6 thrown in. So, here is what we received.

Looking at the dice individually is where things got to be really fun!

“D20 – A weighty monster, this D20 is a unique dragon-themed die made of solid zinc alloy, and sized slightly above average. Guaranteed to make an impression on friends and surfaces alike, best to use with table protection!”

This die is beefy. It has a great weight in the hand and, upon close inspection has some really dice detailing. On the downside, it is a little tough to read at a distance, but a quick black wash would resolve that. This is one of the standouts in the box.

 

 

“D12 – Your D12 comes from a workshop in Poland known for its intricate designs.”

The copy for this die, one of my other favorites, is a bit light and I would love to know a bit more. Still, the pattern evokes Polish porcelain and my family has strong Polish ties. While your mileage may vary, I absolutely love this easy to read d12. How often does one say that?

 

 

“D% – I took a chance on these and only got one to try out – this die is fossilized coral, which is what gives it such interesting depth and detail.”

I recognize the numbering on this die (although the manufacturer doesn’t leap to mind). This is a nice looking piece, one I would be more likely to use as part of a set than individually, but a really nice addition to a dice collection.

 

 

“D10 – …I admit this D10 comes from a set. I included solely as a Star Wars tribute. May the Force be with you as you use it!”

While not a standout die (probably from a Chessex set), I understand that there are going to be some “ordinary” dice in the box to keep the price reasonable. This fits the bill, nothing special, but fully functional.

 

 

 

“D8 – A gorgeous acrylic, with iridescent swirls of sea blues and greens.”

Another “ordinary” die – but – it is a nice looking “ordinary” die. Every die doesn’t need to be cast of mithril, or carved from fire giant bone for me to enjoy it. This is simply a nice die. This one will go into one of my gaming bags and see use. Score another one for keeping the box affordable.

 

 

“D6 – Your D6 was lovingly handmade by a crafting duo who have spent the last ten years touring events in Europe to share their historical and fantasy creations, and have recently been able to open up their own store back home in Italy.”

This one gets a longer write up because this is what I’m calling “my conflicted die”from the box. The die itself feels like a laser cut balsa d6, that has been assembled, glued, and painted. It is really light in the hand and, bluntly, I’m never going to use it. That said, I do like the background of the die. I know a number of traveling entertainers and crafters who are wholly out of work at the moment due to Covid-19. Those folks are really struggling to make ends meet. So, as a die? Meh. As an act of support for a struggling crafter? Hell yes! Opinions on this die are likely going to be fairly strong among gamers; for me, the benefit outweighs the negative. It’ll go up with my other unused dice – and I am fine with that.

 

“D4 – Made from a zinc alloy with an enamel paint, this durable die is styled in an iron finish, with large, clear numbers for easy reading.”

Somewhere between a normal-sized d4 but not a micro die, this is a clean, easy to read d4. It’s actually easier to read than many of my larger dice. This will definitely go into one of my dice bags, but it not one for a place of honor among my collection. It is a nice little metal die though.

 

 

BONUS! I really appreciate you chipping in on this project. Thanks to your generous contribution, I was able to source a great selection, support some small businesses, and gather a few more dice than I expected! I’ve included an extra “thank you” die in your box – a black resin D6 with pirate skull pips. Hope it amuses you!”

So, I absolutely ADORE these dice. I first saw them in a targeted ad on Facebook and Judge Jen gave me a set of these d6s. They are great, and getting an extra one in this box was, for me, the icing on the cake. While I don’t know how much these cost, this certainly adds to my perceived value of what was in this first box.

 

As you may have guessed from the bonus text, this originally was put forth as a way to source some really cool dice as a gift for someone’s first set of dice. This allowed for the purchase of a number of really cool dice and everyone who chipped in ended up getting some really cool dice.

As someone who doesn’t often purchase loose dice, I was a bit leery of what I was going to think when I opened the box but, with shipping (and thanks to the bonus die) it worked out to $3.75/die. For the price, I’m really happy.

I’ve gotten related RPG-style boxes before of varying (and sadly oft-declining) quality. Those have often had dice but those dice were generally packs that one can buy on Ali Baba for $3 a set or so. Either that or REALLY ugly Chessex speckled dice that many stores cannot even give away. In short, they’ve always been giveaway dice. If a new player needs dice, I could give them a set and let them get started. There is a place for that sort of thing, but I’ve got enough sets like that to last me for years.

What came in the mail from Dicey Times was something wholly different. Every detail is meant to elevate the experience: the visually pleasing box, the bright tissue, plucking the pouches and box from the excelsior, and the satisfying act of breaking the wax seal. I was, quite literally, enjoying the opening of this box long before I had gotten to the dice.

Opening this box was fun!

I’ve bought a lot of dice, dice that I’ve really enjoyed getting (especially from our friends over at Crystal Caste) but I never imagined that getting a selection of unknown dice would be such fun. Dicey Times really sets a high bar for RPG boxes. This doesn’t feel like a bunch of thrown together remnants that are gathering dust in a warehouse, there really is an experience here. Additionally, if you really love one of the dice and wish you had a set? Dicey Times buys a lot of dice and will be happy to look through their remaining stock to see if they can help you assemble one.

There is nothing not to love here. Gamers supporting gamers and crafters to provide great stuff for more gamers. There are all sorts of interesting dice being manufactured out there these days and I’m looking forward to seeing where Dicey Times takes me next. Needless to say, we’ve gone from a one-time box to a subscription.

The business is VERY new, still working on getting a full web-presence up (again this just started out as a “do something nice for someone” project that has blossomed into something bigger), but you can jump in now by heading through the link below. Not only that, but you get to set your own price to help determine what you will end up receiving.

#DICEY TIMES

Review: OS&R: Oubliettes, Sorcery, & Reavers

Disclosure – I was provided a free copy of this product for review with the understanding that my review would be less about the system and more about what in this system is innovative or worth adding to your own DCC game should you choose not to use the system itself. All of that said? Nice…

The product itself is fairly sharp. Art styles vary a bit wildly for my particular taste, but overall, it is a nice looking PDF. When looking at its usefulness for adaptation to DCC? There is some GREAT stuff in here.
Read More

Review: The Tale of Halfdanur the Black

Author +Colin Brodd disagreed with our opinion on Three Hearts and Three Lions. We told our listeners to “punish him” by “buying his books – lots and lots of his books.” Now, we didn’t really think that he should be punished (or even scolded)… but we still think folks should check out his books. Of course, I put my money where our mouth is and bought the lot. I am not disappointed.Read More

Review: Feast of the Preserver

142751Feast of the Preserver from Shinobi 27 Games is often billed as a “survival horror adventure”, but that isn’t wholly accurate. It is more a mini-campaign than an adventure, weighing in as a 44 page PDF, there is a lot going on here…and all of it delightfully dark. There are probably 12-16 hours of game play here if players really dig deep and investigate all the opportunities afforded them.

Written for a party of 3-4th level PCs, this is not an adventure for a novice Judge. There are a number of twists and turns written into the storyline and, if run like a traditional dungeon crawl, the air of doom and menace would become lost. This adventure thrives on the helplessness of villagers, struck by an unknown plague, a raid for ransom by bandits, and the mysterious titular religious feast. Keeping solid notes and establishing a timeline to keep things running smoothly is recommended.

Once in though? Oh, what an adventure! Survival horror indeed! The players will need to be at their absolute sharpest to escape the hazards they face. It isn’t that the adventure’s threats are overwhelmingly powerful…but they are quite clever. This is an adventure that calls for brains as much as brawn and those seeking to “murder hobo” their way through it will most likely perish. Fools rush in…to a chipper shredder.

The quality of the material itself is also top notch: the interior art is dark and evocative, the writing reminiscent of the classic Hammer films, and the new material presented can easily be pulled and dropped into an ongoing campaign (who doesn’t want a new “dark” patron). This is an adventure that can be dropped into any ongoing campaign of appropriate level or one that can be hinted at and built towards from campaign start. The tools are provided to make players more than a little leery of what dwells in the darkness.

$9.50 gets you a hard copy and the PDF and it is very much worth it.

Review – Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdoms

Reading through +Mark Hunt‘s “Drongo: Ruins of the Witch Kingdoms “, it would be easy to compare this to the Purple Planet or to MCC but that would do it a great disservice. While Drongo could easily be used to supplement campaigns of either (or any DCC campaign) the level of detail provided gives a great feel for the world, and hints at so much more.

New character classes, races, and the like make this a nice addition to any Judge’s toolbox, with the addition of a nicely thought-provoking section on rewarding PCs that gave me a few ideas.

The book gives details and broad information without becoming overwhelming and inundated with minutia. Rather than flooding the reader with information overload a couple of paragraphs gives a Judge all they need to know to be able to run with a subject. The book is succinct and wholly usable in so many ways that it is simply a must have.

Originally, a limited number of print copies were available at Gen Con 2015 (these sold out). Recently, Drongo came back into print again and copies were making their way around Gary Con to people who had pre-ordered through Mark.  Drongo is well worth picking up in hard copy or PDF.

For ideas how to work Drongo into your campaign, or Appendix N into Drongo, check out Sanctum Secorum Episode #02.