Dungeon Crawl Classics #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea (DCC)

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Dungeon Crawl Classics #67: Sailors on the Starless Sea

A 0-Level Adventure

Since time immemorial you and your people have toiled in the shadow of the cyclopean ruins. Of mysterious origins and the source of many a superstition, they have always been considered a secret best left unknown by the folk of your hamlet.

But now something stirs beneath the crumbling blocks. Beastmen howl in the night and your fellow villagers are snatched from their beds. With no heroes to defend you, who will rise to stand against the encircling darkness? The secrets of Chaos are yours to unearth, but at what cost to sanity or soul?

An introductory adventure for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game, Sailors on the Starless Sea pits a mob of 0-level adventurers against the legacy of the Chaos Lords and their corrupted hordes. Delving beneath the crumbling ruins, the characters discover ancient crypts, a starless sea, and an ancient ziggurat, where death and treasure await in equal measure!

Writer: Harley Stroh 

Cover Art and Cartography: Doug Kovacs

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An RPG Resource Review


Designed for a party of 15 0th-level characters (with the anticipation that each player has three characters), this adventure sees this motely horde of novice adventurers attempting to stem a plague of abductions that has recently blighted a village. For best effect, as this is supposed to be a starting adventure, this village is home to most or not all party members, thus they have a vested interest in its wellbeing. Some of those abducted may be friends or family...

There's a brief outline of how the adventure is intended to play out and a fair bit of background for the GM explaining how the situation came to be, and who is responsible. The adventure itself begins with a ruined keep that looms over the village from a nearby hilltop. There are plenty of rumours, and the first task facing our heroes is to decide which are fact and which are fiction. Each player can roll a D10 against a table of rumours, but there are no hints as to their veracity - they will have to make their own minds up. Naturally, the rumours offer valuable clues, but the fake ones can also lure foolish characters to their doom!

The first thing the party will have to decide is how they will approach the keep. Each route, and there are several, has its own dangers, and has a detailed description along with the particular challenges appropriate to it... and then there's the wandering monster table, on which each area features as well! Depending on the route chosen, there is the possibility of a spot of tomb-robbing, but beware: items taken from there are cursed! Although sample curses are provided, the GM is encouraged to make up his own based on whatever he's got planned for the campaign to come.

Once inside, each area comes with a graphic and atmospheric description along with notes about who (or what) is there to fight and what loot is available. Much is not obvious and will have to be searched out... and of course there's still those wandering monsters who may choose to happen by at an inopertune moment. The 'keep' portion ends with the discovery of stairs leading downwards...

As you can imagine, there is more to explore below. There the source of the evil awaits. Lucky, organised and courageous parties might be able to deal with it, maybe even keep their minds intact. Some of the abducted villagers are here in chains, and may be rescued - if any player has lost all their characters, they made a ready source of replacements, else all they want to do is flee for their homes.

The whole adventure is well-resourced with clear maps, a couple of player handouts and excellent descriptions coupled with notes on what's to find and what's to kill in each place the party goes, along with plenty of opportunities signposted for GMs to add clues to further adventures of their own making. An excellent introductory adventure to start a new campaign in the spirit of this game.

Inspiring Adventure


This was my group's introduction to the DCC roleplaying game, and boy was it a memorable one. We're all 'hardened gamers', having played for 30 years and evolving through various editions of D&D (as well as other gamers). Right from the start of this adventure, players knew they were in for something different. After the first few encounters I noticed my players nervously reviewing their character sheets before entering any room, and there was a palpable sense of dread amongst them....great, the adventure had succeeded in setting the DCC atmosphere from the get go.
Players knew there was something grim and dark going on, and they reveled in it even as they questioned whether they had the ability to stop it. Awesome.
But even as the adventurers began prodding floors with 10-foot poles in search of traps and seriously debating whether it was wise to open that chest (is there a fortune of gold inside, or lurking horror), there was a sense of epic adventure. The climactic scene, where the PCs battle a reviving demon atop a ziggurat rising from a underground sea of black water is memorable and as dramatic as they come.
With a victorious blow, and as the ceiling of the cavern crashes down around them while they race to their awaiting Viking longboat, a pair of players hummed the Indiana Jones theme song. Awesome.
And the adventure ends fittingly...with the long ship floating down a subterranean river with the promise of adventure at its end.
Honestly, I can't find fault with this module. It is THE perfect introduction to DCC.

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