Dungeon Crawl Classics Adventure Path #4: The Purple Planet
Linking together a series of published DCC Purple Planet adventures to take your characters from Level 0–6!
This article is the fourth in my series putting together a zero-to-hero campaign using published Goodman Games modules. If you haven’t yet, check out the introduction to this series to get context, tips and to see the other 4 Adventure Paths! And check out my second Adventure Path series with three more Adventure Paths!
This Adventure Path makes use of the Purple Planet setting, and so it makes sense that you would need that box set to run this adventure campaign.
I haven’t had a chance to run a full Purple Planet campaign yet, but I have played many of these modules. That said, there aren’t a lot of choices at most of the levels. I’ve added notes wherever I can about my experience with a given module.
Since the whole conceit of Purple Planet in inspired by John Carter, there is no Level 0–3 that is directly set there. The core idea is that the characters start “on Earth” and are transported to the Purple Planet. As a result, I’ve presented a series of “regular” modules to cover those levels.
It’s up to you whether you let your players know that you will eventually end up on the Purple Planet, or whether it is a surprise. Personally, I recommend having a session 0 where you explicitly discuss that they will eventually end up there.
I’ve chosen to go with a more pulpy theme throughout, rather than the old west/civil war theme. In addition, a core conceit of John Carter, and The Purple Planet, is the idea that the PCs whole goal is to get home. They need to find green crystals that will let them go home. But if you want to run a Purple Planet campaign, home isn’t that interesting.
That said, the books had John running back and forth every few years, with his time at home glossed over, and that’s the approach we’ll take here. If you want to run ‘regular’ adventures between the Purple Planet adventures presented here, feel free to jump over to one of my other Adventure Paths to find ideas at those levels. I like the idea of the PCs perhaps ending up in the Shudder Mountains when they finally find a green crystal to take them home, but you could choose Punjar, or a new location every time they return.
Warning: Many spoilers below for all the adventures that are presented.
Let’s begin with a frozen trip through a time-traveler’s hideaway…
Level 0/1: Frozen in Time
If you use the “cavemen at Level 0” option presented in this adventure, you can start this as a funnel, and level up the characters in the middle of this adventure.
If you’d prefer not to go with the caveman theme, then you can run this as a standard funnel as well. Perhaps an iceberg crashes into the coastline near their village, or they just happen to live near a frozen mountain.
If you’d like to go with a ‘random people from different times and places all thrown together’, even perhaps from the ‘real world’, or the ‘1980’s real world’ (perhaps they all got on the same amusement park ride), you can use the Funnel that comes with the Purple Planet Box Set, Escape from the Purple Planet. I’m not as much of a fan of just throwing random people from different times and places into a gladiatorial arena, but for some campaigns, that could work really well! That would start folks directly on the Purple Planet, which does mean you’d need to find another option for Level 2. Perhaps you could relocate The Emerald Enchanter to the Purple Planet.
Now we head from frozen tundra to sweltering jungle…
Level 2: Moon Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom
This is a great continuation of our weird science theme.
This is a classic King Kong type adventure on a lost island.
Coming from Frozen in Time: The PCs can no longer handle the boring life of tribesmen, and the melting ice has them take to their boats to find a new home. They end up on this terrifying island!
More Level 2 Adventure: The Emerald Enchanter has a weird science (demon science) theme, and so could be fit in here by amping up the strange science that the Enchanter is working on.
Level 3: Neon Knights
This is the transition adventure that gets folks over to the Purple Planet.
Vazhalo, a wizard that was dragged to the Purple Planet long ago, has discovered an artifact that will grant great power if he manages to pull off a series of gruesome machinations.
But first, he needs a group of heroes from his home world to defend his tower from a kith raiding party…
Coming from Moon Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom: The PCs are yoinked from the island to to Vazhalo’s tower on the Purple Planet, where he commands them to defend him. While the adventure suggests they return back to their home world after seven rounds, for this campaign, they would remain on the Purple Planet, and search the tower for clues to Vazhalo’s plan…
More Level 3 Adventure: You can have the PCs return to a different place on their home world, perhaps as part of Vazhalo’s scheme. As a result you can slot in more ‘home world’ adventures before they are once again pulled to the Purple Planet. You could slot in Star Wound of Abbadon for example.
But I recommend you stick with the Purple Planet from here on out.
Level 4: Peril on the Purple Planet
This is the namesake adventure of this path, so it’s the keystone.
The link above goes to the PDF version of the box set, which includes lots of books in one PDF, one of which is this Level 4 adventure.
The goal of this adventure is to hex-crawl across the Purple Planet looking for greenstones that have the power to transport them home. The stones have many powers, and so are coveted by all.
To make this adventure more fun, I like the idea that the PCs are finding something on the Purple Planet that they have been lacking up until this point. Community, a home, friendship, and perhaps love. It should be a hard decision as to whether they use the greenstone to return home or not; especially when their last home was a jungle island.
Coming from Neon Knights: The PCs thwart Vazhalo’s scheme, and travel across the Sea of Dust looking for a way home.
More Level 4 Adventure: The Rock Awakens is easy to slot into the hex crawl of this module. Might as well work it in! There are also a number of additional adventures in the Purple Planet Box Set/PDF that can be inserted here, or anywhere in the campaign from here on out. There are also all of the Lost Tombs of the Ancients presented in DCC #84A (included in the Purple Planet Box Set). You can add a few of those to the hex crawl as well.
Level 5: Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet
Jim Wampler created Mutant Crawl Classics, so he knows his science fantasy.
This adventure has the PCs seeking to repair the biosphere of the Purple Planet, which has started to wane, causing the moon milk used to counteract the radiation to lose its potency.
This is a challenging adventure, and worthy of being Level 5. The PCs need to have numerous Purple Planet items and green stone shards, including an operational hover skiff.
Coming from Peril on the Purple Planet: If the PCs found a greenstone and used it to return home, then this adventure can begin with a panicked call from their friends on the Purple Planet that the moon milk is losing its potency, and they desperately need help. If the PCs continue to reside on Purple Planet (either by choice or because you haven’t let them find a full greenstone gem yet), then this can be a planet-wide crisis that they are asked (or choose) to investigate.
Level 6: Sky Masters of the Purple Planet
Our capstone adventure!
By this point, the PCs have encountered nearly all that the Purple Planet has to offer, but they have so far avoided the Sky Masters — who are said to descend from their home on Choran, larger of the Purple Planet’s twin moons, to raid and steal from those on the surface.
The adventure begins when something the PCs value deeply (perhaps a recently acquired greenstone gem, a spellbook, or love one) is stolen during a midnight Sky Master raid. The PCs jump in a captured sky-boat, and the chase is on!
The campaign can then proceed with adventures in the Southern Hemisphere of your own design (more of the Lost Tombs from #84A can be located there), or conclude with the PCs now in possession of a sky galleon, and becoming Ascended Masters in their own right, using their benevolent rule to make the Purple Planet a better place for all…
Coming from Synthetic Swordsmen of the Purple Planet: The PCs may have just acquired the greenstone gem they need to return home, or have returned triumphantly after repairing the Biosphere when the Sky Master raid begins. They may have set themselves up as the new curators of the Biosphere, and have key components needed to maintain it stolen by the Sky Masters.
The Purple Planet presents a great change of pace from a regular DCC campaign. The hex crawl aspect, and the weird science at every turn creates a definite mood. John Carter focuses much on the relationships he forms when on his own Purple Planet, and I hope your PCs have found friends, enemies, and a place to call home…
I hope you get a change to enjoy this adventure path!
Check out Adventure Path #5: The Shudder Mountains for more ideas!