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Saturday 8 January 2022

[Free RPG Day 2021] Tomb of the Savage Kings

Now in its fourteenth year, Free RPG Day in 2021, after a little delay due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, took place on Saturday, 16th October. As per usual, it came with an array of new and interesting little releases, which traditionally would have been tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. Of course, in 2021, Free RPG Day took place after GenCon despite it also taking place later than its traditional start of August dates, but Reviews from R’lyeh was able to gain access to the titles released on the day due to a friendly local gaming shop and both Keith Mageau and David Salisbury of Fan Boy 3 in together sourcing and providing copies of the Free RPG Day 2020 titles. Reviews from R’lyeh would like to thank all three for their help.


Goodman Games provided two titles to support Free RPG 2021, both of which were highly anticipated. Perhaps the more interesting of the two was Dark Tower: The Sunken Temple of Set, an expansion for Dark Tower, the classic  and highly regarded scenario written by Jennell Jaquays and published by Judges Guild in 1979. However, the other 
was as eagerly anticipated since it was for Goodman Games’ highly popular Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing GameIn past years, the support for Free RPG Day has come in the form of a quick-start, either for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game or Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game – Triumph & Technology Won by Mutants & Magic, but for Free RPG Day 2021, the support came in the form of a scenario, Tomb of the Savage Kings.

Tomb of the Savage Kings is a short adventure for Second Level characters which shares an Egyptian theme with Dark Tower: The Sunken Temple of Set. There the similarities end, for Tomb of the Savage Kings, for although there is a Pulp sensibility to both, that sensibility is one of Pulp Fantasy and Swords & Sorcery in Dark Tower: The Sunken Temple of Set, whereas it one of Pulp Horror for Tomb of the Savage Kings as it draws on Universal Studio’s The Mummy and The Mummy’s Hand, as well as Hammer Studio’s The Mummy for its inspiration. In fact, the sensibility is so strong in Tomb of the Savage Kings, that if there was such a thing as Pulp Crawl Classics, this would be a perfect scenario for it.

The scenario begins with the players being hired by Portnelle’s most popular and wealthy socialite, the widow Zita Aztur. Her sister, Isobel, smitten with a mysterious suitor who fancies himself as an adventurer, and has gone missing. The widow fears that she has run off with this would be adventurer in search of the Moon Spear of Andoheb, said to be located in the latter’s pyramid tomb. If true, she fears for her sister’s life as everyone  up until now who has searched for the spear has never been seen again. With promise of a handsome payout and the good widow’s Halfling servant along as a guide, the scenario begins with the Player Characters outside of the tomb looking for a way in…

Once inside, the Player Characters find a classic Egyptian tomb complex. It consists of just nine locations and packs into that the traps, undead, treasures, and clues typical of the genre. It is definitely worth the Player Characters’ searching for clues as there are signs that someone has been here before—and recently! Those clues are nicely done in a grand depiction of the life of Andoheb, and the Judge should definitely provide it as a handout to her players. Following these and exploring the pyramid should bring the Player Characters to a fantastic climatic confrontation which plays much on the inspiration for Tomb of the Savage Kings and depending on what happens, have some interesting outcomes. Two of these have links to the scenarios, Dungeon Crawl Classics #66.5 Doom of the Savage King and Dungeon Crawl Classics #77.5 The Tower out of Time, and so the Judge may want to have access to those. 

Physically, Tomb of the Savage Kings is as well presented as you would expect for a scenario from Goodman Games. The artwork, the cartography clear, and the scenario is well written, though it needs an edit in place.

Tomb of the Savage Kings is a great adventure for Free RPG Day which can be played in a single session. The theme—and probably the plot—will be familiar to many a gamer, especially if the players like Pulp Horror depictions of Egypt. It does also suggest that perhaps there is further potential in an Egypt-set or Egypt-like setting for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game or a more Pulp Horror setting. For fans of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game who like their fantasy with steamy mix of Pulp Horror, Tomb of the Savage Kings is fun adventure.

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