“In the Footsteps of Fools… only other fools tread”
The colloquially-described “Liane-Level” five-publication DERPG adventure series. [‘All’s Fair At Azenomei’, ‘Strangers in Saskervoy’, ‘The Lords of Cil’, ‘Beyond the Mountains of Magnatz’, & ‘And Thence…to Almery’]
Welcome to the official page outlining all you need to know about this panoramic creation, which gaming systems of less finesse might title as a ‘campaign’. Adventures beginning with a grand Cugel-Level escapade in Azenomei, then carrying the PCs through an evolutionary symphony of exploits beyond their imaginings across the furthest reaches of the known world. Finally bringing them back to Azenomei and a confrontation with Iucounu as trail-hardened heroes rather than the fops they once were.
‘Liane-Level’ is an unofficial phrase that could be replaced by ‘Advanced or Adventurous Cugel-Level’. This style of play retains varying degrees (according to individual GM tastes) of humor and foppish quirkiness, whilst bringing in more dark horror, opportunities for bloodshed, and a sense of continuity that standard Cugel-Level lacks. Story being more important than technicalities, these adventures are written in a rules-lite fashion. (Any experienced GM can run them using the rules mechanics of their choice.)
Depending on how often you play, how much of the material you use, and how much of your own ideas you add, this series could last for considerable real-time play. Around the middle of the series Turjan’s Tome starts to become an invaluable reference guide (particularly for spells, magic items and other rich incidentals): as the PCs cease being incompetent rascals and become at least basic-level adventurers (albeit unwittingly).
It is up to each GM whether they use this series to transition directly from Cugel-Level play to a Turjanic campaign, or keep things at ‘Liane-Level’. Various optional rules variations are discussed in the publications. We mention just two here:
(i) At Liane-Level magic is hard and particularly expensive [in ‘IP’] to learn,
(ii) If you are concerned that over such a long period of time the IP earned will turn the PCs into ‘superheroes’ compared to other Dying Earth folk, incrementally increase the number of IP required to raise all ability-levels beyond a certain point, plus consider allowing up to 3 individual IP to be sacrificed per session as bonuses to important rolls.
‘In the Footsteps of Fools’ was a labor of love, put together little by little over several years as a personal hobby then edited to professional presentation. It is a throwback to the author’s early recollections of ongoing role-playing game series from his teens and 20’s. Long-term character development, tactical planning, accumulation of spells and magical items, grandiose objectives: all feature into the conceptualization. Not to mention that Jack Vance’s awesome Dying Earth is a world worthy of exploration at length, and here we offer DERPG fans the chance to do just that!
It is envisaged that many GMs who choose to explore DERPG may start off running a few more standard Cugel-Level adventures in the Ascolais and Almery regions just for the sheer fun of it all, perhaps using the amateur original Footsteps of Fools series:
Footsteps of Fools series ‘O’:
1 – The Cooks of Cuirnif (DERPG Rulebook sample adventure)
2 – The Quergib Frogs (XPS Vol. 1, Iss. 3)
3 – Lumarth/Caravan to Aktabras (XPS Vol. 1, Iss. 4/5)
4 – The High Road to Kaiin (free download at Violet Cusps)
5 – A Walk in the Woods (free download at Violet Cusps)
6 – The Exasperating Cadaver (free download at Violet Cusps)
7 – The Day of the Quelo (an official Pelgrane Press publication)
8 – Axomber’s Crypt (free download at Violet Cusps)
9 – The Kaiinese Drakeling (free download at Violet Cusps)
10 – Flolad’s Nephew (free download at Violet Cusps)
After this GMs can take their game off into Liane-Level play, using the official ‘Footsteps of Fools’ adventures (see list below) to present an enormous canvas of more adventurous exploration – the weird, the wild and the wonderful – before returning the PCs at last to Almery to confront one of fantasy literature’s greatest foes: Cugel’s (and their) arch nemesis ‘Iucounu the Laughing Magician’.
The final section of ‘And Thence to Almery’ is devoted to Iucounu’s manse Pergolo, and a great variety of ways in which the Laughing Magician can be confronted. It was decided not to release Pergolo as a stand-alone adventure, because the concept of a long-journey back across the Dying Earth (before being able to mete out vengeance) is too intrinsic! (The bare minimum adventures that are suggested as a shorter version of this campaign are Publications 1, 2 & 5 – with PCs transported via malfunctioning sorcery east from Saskervoy instead of south.)
Any of the Footsteps of Fools publications can be used as stand-alone material by those who know for sure they will never run/play the whole series. But be warned: running one of these publications out of sequence will mean that you cannot run the whole series coherently with those same players. We advise instead that you start with the introductory adventure All’s Fair At Azenomei and see how you go from there. (Skipping other episodes only if absolutely necessary.) The publications in this series (in order) are listed here immediately below, and are available as official DERPG pdf adventures from Pelgrane Press. Note that due to an original idea to have more publications of lesser size, in most cases more than one episode is contained in the same publication:
“In the Footsteps of Fools…” (the official series):
Publication 1: “ALL’S FAIR AT AZENOMEI” [Episode 1] The chance to work for an unusual sponsor and compete for the title of ‘Monarch’ of Azenomei’s annual Grand Fair. Prizes, mysteries, and murder, but surely nothing could go seriously wrong… [The Town of Azenomei is described in detail in this free Guide, which is a necessary adjunct to this adventure.]
Publication 2: “STRANGERS IN SASKERVOY“ [Combined Episodes 2 & 3] A series of hazardous adventures of dubious legality – traveling around Saskervoy in the employ of ‘Twango of Flutic’. Motivated by his promise (which at the GM’s discretion may or may not be genuine) to transport them back to Almery. [A detailed Guide to Saskervoy Town is available for free here, and is an invaluable adjunct to this publication. Plus a map of the Saskervoy Reach is also available for free]
Publication 3: “THE LORDS OF CIL“ [super-sized Episode 4] Along the coast from Saskervoy is the ancient land of Cil (now reduced to a demon-haunted palace and small town). Due to a chance encounter with ancient magics, the PCs have a unique opportunity to pose as hereditary lords, returned from out of history. Sadly their inheritance turns out to be not only incredibly hazardous, but also energetically disputed by sinister forces. [Luigi Castellani’s awesome pictures for this publication are available as a taster handout.]
Publication 4: “BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS OF MAGNATZ“ [Combined Episodes 5 & 6] On the other side of Cil is a vast mountain range. It can be crossed along the ancient road, but only by enduring a series of large and small adventures along the way. First of all surviving the menacing town of Vull, crossing the mountains themselves, taking advantage of the strange hospitality of the mighty scientist Pharesm, and finally surviving the Vale of Dharad, which is occupied by an army of basilisks!!
Publication 5: “AND THENCE…TO ALMERY“ [Combined Episodes 7-9] On the other side of the Mountains of Magnatz a huge river heads south towards the ancient city of Erze Damath. From there (eventually) the PCs can cross the Plain of Obelisks to Old Romarth, which is situated in the north of the lands they originally wandered in. Here (after much difficulty) they make the acquaintance of a band of magicians that can assist their return to Azenomei and an epic confrontation with Iucounu.
[Essential to this publication are the free Location Guides to Azenomei, and to Old Romarth. This publication also has an appendix of adaptation notes for DERPG’s ‘Fields of Silver‘ adventure book, which can thus be seamlessly incorporated into this volume. The Ocean of Sighs appendix outlines a shorter potential Series 2 that could be run just before the Pergolo episode: with PCs returned to the north as victory seems within their grasp, as Cugel was.]
Further free articles not linked above but considered especially useful for this series are:
The Enhanced Action optional rulings
Facing Supernatural Terrors at Cugel-Level
Learning & Using Spells at Cugel-Level
The Magic of the Wild
Weapons of the Dying Earth
Deities of the Dying Earth
Gilgad’s Wilderness Survival Guide
Click here: for a complete listing of all DERPG products, and links to their individual pages.
As well as the works listed above, the same author created Pelgrane Press’ publications: ‘Demons of the Dying Earth’; the official sample scenarios: ‘The Day of the Quelo‘ (Cugel-Level), ‘Gomoshan’s Tomb‘ (Turjan-Level), & ‘The Creep of Inaccuracy‘ (Rhialto-Level); and was a significant contributor to ‘Cugel’s Compendium of Indispensable Advantages‘, ‘Turjan’s Tome of Beauty & Horror‘, and ‘The Compendium of Universal Knowledge‘, and both a contributor and early editor of much of the material that went into Tooth, Talon & Pinion.
He has also written an unofficial free bonus chapter for the Kaiin Players’ Handbook: covering the Old Town district in much greater detail. And a free bonus article on using the Scaum Valley Gazetteer as a connected campaign.
Due to the varied complexities of existence he has now retired from gaming writing. It remains possible that some small scenarios may still emerge from his fevered mind from time to time, but alas the mighty creations of old are now behind us.