The Slave Mines of Vindicus the Terrible
A Level 0 Adventure for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth
Ruined Earth was born out of a near orbit cosmic catastrophe that nearly destroyed Earth more than two thousand years ago. In the wake of this catastrophe, life on Earth changed dramatically. In a post-apocalyptic mockery of modern Earth, a Sorcerer named Vindicus has risen to great power and cruelly subjugates others for his personal gain. Vindicus’s mooks abducted children, forcing them into slave labor at a mine under their cruel master’s fortress.
After a long and tiring shift of digging, the children find themselves locked in their cells for a rest. The crackle and hum of cheap halogen lightbulbs overhead and the buzz and whirring of distant machinery make it hard to fall asleep. Suddenly the lights flicker and go out. The cage door’s electromagnetic locks release, swinging open a few inches. Moments later, the power comes back on, restoring light in the room. The doors remain open. It’s time to make a run for it!
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The Slave Mines of Vindicus the Terrible is a 0-Level adventure for the Barbarians of the Ruined Earth roleplaying game (read our review), a post-apocalyptic fantasy game based on Black Hack by David Black. The Slave Mines of Vindicus the Terrible takes inspiration from the 1980s and early 1990s Saturday morning cartoons and the mine scenes from Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom. Mechanically and thematically, the adventure is also inspired by Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games. Those familiar with DCC character funnels will appreciate the nuanced influences seen here.
Rules of Engagement
DCC character funnels are an exciting way to create would-be heroes. During this character funnel adventure, players each control the actions of four 0-Level inexperienced children (or young teens) characters. Barbarians of the Ruined Earth does not have rules for character funnels, therefore, some rules have been adjusted to facilitate this adventure. Most notable are those associated with the characters themselves.
Characters for this adventure are kids with a total of four hits points. When they are reduced to zero hit points, they are assumed to be cinematically recaptured or otherwise out of the story. The children characters do not have Attributes. Instead, they have one Attribute-like rating—”Kid Luck”— which is used for all Tests. There is a 50-50 chance of success on all Tests, with opportunities for Advantage and Disadvantage dice rolls. Players may choose to be human or randomly roll their Race—Human, Beastman, or Vek. At the game’s end, each player will select one of their surviving kids to level up to level 1. All others become non-player characters or go off on new adventures.
The last thing to note is the adventure entries’ format, keyed to the 23 locations on the isometric map. It relies on bullet points and color-coded boxes to denote the type of information, with the onus being on the Gamemaster to embellish as they see fit.
- White is for descriptions of things that are immediately apparent.
- Grey is for random Events or Sorcerer’s TV (a series of five location-specific timed events in which Vindicus broadcasts throughout the mines).
- Yellow is for additional information when the group actively looks around the area—it does not require a Test.
- Orange is for things that must be actively searched for, spotted, or interacted with to reveal—requires a Test.
The Slave Mines of Vindicus the Terrible is a colorful publication dominated by yellow and orange accents. Similar to the layout of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, it uses a single column of text. The page layout and color scheme are quite easy on the eyes. The tinted boxes used in the room descriptions help categorize information for quick reference. The book measures 6.625″ x 10.25″; it will noticeably stand out on your shelf. It’s worth noting here that the book I received from DriveThruRPG included two copies of the adventure-bound into one book—I assume this is a one-off printing error.
Playing as kids (or young teens) presents unique challenges. It’s doubtful that the kids will be able to overpower most of the robots in the mines. Instead, players must think like a kid; how would a ten-year-old handle the situation?
I completely missed the “Level 0” on the cover when I first opened the book to read it. As a fan of DCC’s character funnels, I was excited to see it. Overall, the adventure is moderately challenging, and for a good reason. Funnels, by design, are meant to whittle down the total number of characters so that the player can easily decide which survivor goes on to become a first-level character.
I think Mike Evans captures the feel of his inspirational sources quite nicely and has hit the mark with this one. The adventure’s design takes me back to watching my favorite Saturday morning cartoons of yesteryear.
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