The Great Roc Race Review

The Great Roc Race is a new release from Grand Scheme Publishing, following the success of the King of Dungeons RPG Kickstarter back in July 2019. The book contains 31 pages and is available as a PDF from DTRPG for $5.00.

The scenario was originally developed from a game used on the UK convention circuit and Baz Stevens snapped up the chance to publish it. The Guild (players) are contracted to take part in the annual Great Race around Cataclysm, located in the Dunmarren Archipelago. The race involves the players riding a Giant Roc around three circuits of the city, hopefully avoiding obstacles and not getting killed. Players should be warned: there are usually a number of casualties.

The book is split to three main parts; obtaining and training your mount, meeting the opposition and riding it in the race – hopefully to victory. First off, the players will have to track down a suitable creature to ride, though some help is provided. This is fraught with danger and risk that the players may end up with an old nag of a Roc, rather than a super-duper Volcanic Firetail. If the Roc bonds with a player, this will prove to be very advantageous later in the race.

Part two looks at the players opponents who include the undead, the Drow and some royalty; an eclectic mix indeed! Useful stats along with general and secret information is provided on each page. The third part describes how to run the race around Cataclysm; as previously mentioned the circuit involves three laps of the city, split into six steps. I must admit it took me a couple of read-throughs of the instructions how to run the race (described on page 24) but on the second attempt it made complete sense. The players will have to avoid obstacles at two of the six steps; in addition the players can perform other actions such as a ranged attack or try hand-to-hand attacks (mount another teams creature and overcome them). The players then advance a step which of course, is dependant on the result (eg. sky / ground / sky / ground / sky / ground / screaming / death). For each step, there are a set of instructions along with tables (‘the mechanics’) to roll a result and the players will have to deal with the resulting situation.

If the players lose, they will have to answer to their employer and deal with whoever wins. However this may not necessarily be a bad thing, the winner may (may being the operative word here) be impressed with the players and offer them an opportunity that they can’t refuse…

It was a very pleasant surprise to receive a copy of The Great Roc Race as a Kickstarter backer and Neil Gow’s authorship with Baz Steven’s development support made for a very enjoyable read. The premise is fairly straightforward (capture a mount, ride it and win the race) but the easy-going writing style, along with the featured non-player characters bring the scenario to life. Though there aren’t pages and pages of descriptive text setting the situation, you do immediately get a ‘sense’ of the atmosphere and what it is like to walk the streets in Cataclysm, dealing with the characters in the scenario. There are a number of black and white line art illustrations which provide an idea of what some of the NPC’s look like, along with some random scenes of Cataclysm. The text is clear and well laid out with some colour highlights in the table headings and character inserts. However, I did notice one or two letters ending up overlapping due to the font used on the above and below lines. A minor thing – just made my OCD twitch slightly.

This was an enjoyable scenario to read and certainly looks like good fun to run over an evening or so’s play. If you run KoD games, this is definitely well worth checking out – a recommended purchase. Thanks go to Baz Stevens for sending a copy through the Kickstarter fulfillment.

About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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