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.
Return to Gazetteer of the Known Realms page.
Reviewed: 19 October 2018