Thursday, June 9, 2011

Delving into the Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG, Part I

You can download the DCC RPG PDF from Goodman Games, as #61.

First the Cover is very evocative. When an adventurer facing a challenge of crossing a chasm to get to the dungeon door.

Next the is a b/w full page Mullen's interior cover. Showing orc/goblin/hobgoblins standing outside of their cave. Plus some type of one-eyed giant. It set the town as the creatures are obviously dragging in slaves into the area. Interestingly one slave chain is a group of brownies.

Also setting the tone is the sub title "Glory & Gold" won by Sorcery & Sword. The use of a full page illustrations is a theme repeated throughout the rulebook.

Next is the introduction and credit, right off we are told that the beta rules are an excerpt, however they touch every area that the DCC RPG is meant to cover. Also that it is still a work in progress. And it is good to know that there will be a third party license for those interested in publishing for the DCC RPG.

Next we get some of the enthusiasm I saw in the alpha playtest documents. Some may view it too much of a joke like how Hackmaster 4e presented. To me it shows the fun and exuberance that Joseph and his team feel for what they are trying to. Free from adhering to the D&D 3e vision, or the D&D 4e vision, they are getting to go full bore on the type of fantasy THEY like. It is a bit zany and crazy and they are going to have fun even if it means that a door explodes out it's jam, smashes into you, and kills you before you step a foot into the dungeon.

Now this is NOT my type of fantasy, I mostly try to run a game where adventure is found in the conflict of culture and religion. I was always more a fan of Tolkien than Moorcock. However I do appreciate the sentiment, understand it fairly well as I grew up with the stuff, and I love the enthusiasm. After 30 years of gaming, I find myself more attracted to games with a community of gamers that have a great sense of fun and this has it in spade.

Next we get another full page Mullen Illustration wwith a dragon having a field day with some adventurers. Interestingly the dragon is using spells and not it's breath weapons.

Now we come a section on the Core Mechanics of the DCC RPG. While there a lot of old school attitude the heart of it is the tried and true d20 system of 3.X, sort of. There are many differences in the detail but the general gist is that you are going to be rolling a d20, looking for a high roll and try to beat a target number.

Next Joseph highlights the difference from both D&D 3.x and AD&D 1.0. No feats, prestige classes, attacks of opportunity, or skill points. It has ascending AC, yay!, and uses a d20 roll high beat a target to resolve most actions.

The next section highlights the additions the DCC RPG brings.

  • Cleric turns a wider range of creatures and it depends on their religion.
  • All spells require a spell check, i.e. a skill roll, to succeed, spells have variable result based on a chart.
  • The magic system isn't quite fire and forget, the Wizards may keep their spell after a successful roll, or lose it for the day after a failure.
  • Clerics have repeated penalties for successive casting of the same spell.
  • There are critical hits and some types of characters get better at them the higher level they are.
  • Finally there is a burn ability mechanic that can influence a dice roll. Luck is mentioned.

Finally Joseph tells us that he going to be using the Zocchi dice as part of the mechanics, d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, and d30. That he has plan to make them readily available from Goodman Games and that for now there are other sources from which you can buy them.

This is the first "hump" that a DCC RPG has to overcome to attract gamers. The initial impression is nearly always negative. It is a gamble by Goodman Games to do this. Skipping ahead a bit the main use of the Zocchi dice is to reflect increasing ability to get better criticals and better results on various tables.

The use of the Zocchi dice is has two implications in terms of mechanics. First you won't be using a bell curve to roll. Every number has an equal chance of coming up. Also you will have a wider RANGE of results when you use the bigger dice.

That could make the difference between acceptance or rejection of the zocchi dice. We will have to wait and see.

Then we wind up with another full page illustration this time by Roslof, it is sad that he passed away recently, but it is great that he getting a showcase for his work. This show an adventuring party with all four classes represented descending the stairs into the dungeon, I guess they figured out how to cross the chasm. What nice is that they are not muscled models and that their outfits look sensible for the occasion.

Next time we dive into Character Creation.


Akrasia said...

Thanks for the helpful overview!

Regarding: "I was always more a fan of Tolkien than Moorcock."

I a fan of Tolkien and Moorcock equally, but they obviously write very different kinds of fantasy. However, I would resist characterizing Moorcock's work as 'zany' or 'gonzo' in the way that the DCC RPG seems to be.

The themes that Moorcock deals with in his fantasy novels often are quite serious, and the effects of sorcery and Chaos are not described in a light-hearted manner (they're not written up 'for laughs'). The kind of fantasy the DCC RPG evokes seems radically different from that found in the Elric, Corum, or Hawkmoon novels. (IMO)

Scott said...

It's always a challenge to get players out of the strict d-n-d mode, because that model has been so successful for so long.
This adventure sounds a bit like the old Tomb of Horrors module in the fact that death lurked around every corner.

I have a dungeon-crawl related website that you may be interested in. It's called Dungeon Quests