Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

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Re: Designer’s Diary #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by fireinthedust »

Stainless wrote:When I was 12 years old, in 1978, a rumour went through the school about some wonderful new game called Dungeons and Dragons. We had heard of it, but being only 12, couldn't afford any proper books for it (AD&D hadn't yet been published if I'm not mistaken, plus Australia was always slightly behind the times due to the shipping distance). The only things we had were a set of dice, a copy of the Judge's Guild Ready Ref Sheets and some second hand info from someone's older brother about what to do.

Boy it was fun!

Our first adventure, of which I remember the most, was set in a dungeon located in the middle of a desert. There was nothing but sand as far as the eye could see and a single plain stone slab that somehow escaped being covered by the shifting dunes. Under the slab were stone steps leading down into....darkness.....
I really like this description. Heck, it sounds like a fun dungeon right now!
And tough, too: no way to re-supply, a hostile desert... Conan wouldn't have made it out of Xuthal if it hadn't been for a reasonably close oasis! Did you make it out alive?

My first dungeon was Temple of Elemental Evil's Moathouse. I still remember being the last PC to survive the ghouls, and finally smiting that last one a single hit point before I went down, thus saving the entire party. Everything was fairly new, which was fun.

I suppose that's the hope: discovering that new-gamer feel.

I like throwing curve balls that don't have hit points. Mummy rot was a lot of fun for my low level party. ditto other diseases that needed a cure, rather than just throwing more hit points at the party. Sure, they beat the mummy, but the lack of Cure Disease meant running around desperately to find a fountain of healing.
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by Munafik »

I am looking forward to picking up the starter adventure for DCC RPG at my local hobby store, which, if I understand correctly, is going to be released on June 18.

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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by finarvyn »

Munafik wrote:I am looking forward to picking up the starter adventure for DCC RPG at my local hobby store, which, if I understand correctly, is going to be released on June 18.
Yes, but only in limited quantities. Only a few copies of each will be included in each box for a given game store for Free RPG Day.

The next step is that some of them will be snapped up by collectors and hit e-bay at absurd prices. (This happened with the 4E Dark Sun module last year, and probably many other times for other hot items.)

Then a week or so later, Goodman Games hopefully will release it in PDF.
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by Lennon V. C. »

After reading the Designer's Blogs and decided to preorder the DCC: RPG. The mood of this RPG is exactly what I am looking for.
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by yfr »

R I C K wrote:You guys have heard of Tucker's Kobolds, right? :wink:
From Dragon 127, pg. 3...

Worse yet, singular supermonsters rarely have to think. They just use their trusty, predictable claw/claw/bite. This shouldn't be the measure of a campaign. These games fall apart because there's no challenge to them, no mental stimulation - no danger.

In all the games that I've seen, the worst, most horrible, most awful beyond-comparison opponents ever seen were often weaker than the characters who fought them. They were simply well-armed and intelligent beings who were played by the DM to be utterly ruthless and clever. Tucker's kobolds were like that.

I have seen this sort of tactical harassment go horribly wrong, from both sides of the DM screen. It is the fastest way to convince the players that the DM is not fair.

I suspect too much tactical rationality would kill the 1960s pulp-fantasy feel of the game. Adventurers are not even remotely glamorous if they resort to logical, brutal militarism. Conan was brutal, but he never drove a flock of sheep over a field of landmines. Elric was anti-heroic, but he never developed a magically-powered anti-kobold poison. Fantasy fiction defies logic and common sense in order to push the message of the genre. (The message varies greatly; C.A. Smith's Zothique has a very different message than R.E.Howard's Hyperborea.) Military games are exercises in the creative application of military logic.

Gygax's XP advice tried to discourage characters from napalming whole villages of orcs by saying the XP was only gained if the players took risks. However, the nature of highly strategic monsters is that they *don't* take risks. They don't give the players a fighting chance. When such monsters are played rationally, the whole party will die.

This leads to a secondary problem: when the judge has the ability to pull off a TPK, and he stops short, the players will almost always be aware that he has spared them. Then the game is no longer a contest of luck; it becomes a game of two options: 1) suck up to the DM and hope that he spares your character's life; or 2) provoke the DM because you feel your character should have died already, and you would rather kill off a character than suck up.

As a player, I often responded to killer DMs by making characters who imitated actual military history, rather than pulp fantasy. This often led to resentments. DMs felt I should be more like Conan and less like the pilot of the Enola Gay.

Military strategies work well for formal war games with precise rules, played between soldiers who share a respect for a particular way of warfare. Tabletop role-playing games operate with very loose rules, and they are played by fantasy-fiction readers who collaborate to imitate a genre of fiction. The tactical and strategic ruthlessness that is very appropriate to a formal wargame is an effective way to destroy any semblance of goodwill between fiction fans.
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by Lennon V. C. »

yfr wrote: This leads to a secondary problem: when the judge has the ability to pull off a TPK, and he stops short, the players will almost always be aware that he has spared them.
I am a little ashamed of this but I knew one of my old GM's would never kill my character unless specifically pushed him to. So I rolled my character to be a glass cannon. Minimum hit points and defense and max damage. Sure enough as long as I was acting like I did not want my character to die, he didn't. I know it's a very muchkin thing to do.
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by Abchiptop »

Geoffrey wrote:One of the important things about new monsters is that they utterly avoid the problem with players dealing with any given monster as a known quantity: "Oh, a medusa is giving you trouble? Let's go to the adventurers' shop, boys, and buy each of us a mirror, then we'll go take care of her. We've dealt with the likes of her before."
A little late on my reply to this, but last d&d game I ran had an encounter with a medusa like baddie.
The whole party had been warned of her petrifying gaze only to stumble upon statues holding mirrors. This medusa. Was blind and immune to petrification, meaning her gaze as well as her army of stone eye basilisk were built to murder a party.
Maybe we don't need new monsters per se but new threats to existing monsters
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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by VengerSatanis »

Harley Stroh wrote:Designer’s Diary #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Or, Running DCCs that Don't Suck

As we begin the count down to Free RPG Day, Joseph asked me for some thoughts on running successful adventures for the DCC RPG.

And as I mentioned to one of our playtesters this past weekend, I’m just as much as fan as a writer. So consider these as design notes from a fellow judge; it won’t be long before you are running your own DCC RPG adventures, converting old classics, and sending your PCs off to do battle against the unknown. Together we can work out some guidelines that can that help to ensure that all our adventures don’t suck.

No Old Monsters
Joseph’s first design mantra. Or better put, no known monsters. The world of the DCC RPG is the world of the unknown. As blacksmiths, woodsmen, squires, beggars and slaves, the 0-level PCs in our games are ignorant of the wider world, its mysteries and threats.

We’ve all run games in the past 25 years where this was true of our PCs. But now you have the chance to make it true for your players.

Every adventure will have new monsters that your PCs (or players!) haven’t faced before. Weird, ungodly, alien new monsters, whose very existence threatens the logic of our staid, simple lives. These aren’t the same entries regurgitated from the last 20 monster manuals, these are beasts from the outer dark that live up to the title of “Monster.”

Our players are comfortable with the known. Even if their PCs are 1st level, the players have all “been here and done that” before.

Never again. It’s time for a true test of courage, to pit their precious PCs against something terrifyingly unknown.

Embrace the Chaos
The DCC RPG is unpredictable. Really unpredictable. One moment, the PCs are losing a battle against a Rat God and thousands of his furry minions, and the next, the dwarf has won a strength check against the god, ripped free his bejeweled scepter of death and is hammering that Rat God back through time and space to whatever pit that spawned him.

And the opposite happens as well: When that glorious natural 1 rolls up, the entire table howls with agony, and you get the chance to add another notch in your judge-screen.

It isn’t pretty. It isn’t predictable. But it is a fundamental feature of the game. No battle is truly lost until the last PC gives up, and death is never more than a heartbeat away. With judicious use of Luck, spellburn and piety, the PCs can turn the odds in their favors. But stare too long into the abyss, and at some point the abyss will look back.

Don’t Sweat the Balance
This is true of all good RPGs: When PCs get desperate, players get brilliant. While it is no fun to go up against immediate and certain death, games do get interesting when the PCs have exhausted all their traditional options and need to get a little creative/crazy to survive.

This past weekend our PCs encountered an enormous toad that had a nasty habit of freezing its prey solid, and then gumming the frozen prey into shards. Our thief clawed his way to the top of a frozen cavern only to be swallowed whole.

The party was at a loss and the PC was moments away from turning into a thief-iscle. But then a lucky enlarge spell tripled the thief’s size, bursting the poor toad from the insides, and spattering the ice cave with toady bits. Sadly, the gigantor thief succumbed to the numbing kisses of two other toads, but for an instant he was drawn back from the brink of certain death by creative spell use.

Give them enough Rope (or Magic) to Hang Themselves
Magic in the DCC RPG is predicated on PCs dealing with otherworldly entities. There is no generic power source; rather you are dealing with capricious, fickle, covetous powers. And these are your friends. There is only so long PCs can draw from these alien powers before they expect favors in return.

In this way, there is much more at stake for the PCs than simply delving a dungeon for forgotten loot. Rather the wizard is trying to regain a portion of his lost soul, the priest is bent on a crusade for his patron, the warrior is fighting for mastery over the fearsome helm that threatens to transform him into a raging machine of destruction, and the thief … well, thieves have never needed much help getting into trouble.

By stepping out of their roles as serfs, apprentices, slaves, and indentured servants, the PCs become masters of their own destinies, with the chance – no matter how slim – of shaping it to their whims. Sure, many will perish, but the ones that survive will have spat in the face of Death, torn the loom of life from the three Fates, and triumphed against all odds.

And that is something to fight for.

Appendix N: Know it. Love it.
Finally, a successful run of the DCC RPG is steeped in the weird, otherworldliness that is Appendix N. In the next couple weeks visit your local bookstore and pick though their stacks of musty old pulps. What you’ll discover is fantasy adventure before it became codified.

Thumb through the old magazines and maybe pick out one with a Frazetta cover. Spend the evening imagining lost futures and forgotten empires, their degenerate inhabitants, the weird magic lurking behind altars to obscene gods … and you’ll find you’re set to run a DCC game.

In Closing
These are a few of the covenants we’re following as we write the modules that will reboot the DCC adventure line. But none of it should come as a surprise – you've been preparing the last 30 years. Drag the whetstone down your broadsword one last time and wipe the rust from your hauberk. Adventure is calling.

Here here!

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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by VengerSatanis »

stacktrace wrote:Advice like this is golden. By all accounts Harley, you are one heck of a DM. I only wish I have had the pleasure of bellying up to your table. I find that my recent attempts to run RPG games have always fallen a little short. I am constantly chasing that feeling of wonder and endless possibilities I felt playing the game growing up, and never quite finding it. Convinced that it was the rules themselves, and if I could just find that perfect ruleset or house rules, I could be there again.

Reading this though, I have come to think that it is much less about the rules themselves. I need to forget endless attempts to find a perfect set of rules, and relearn how to just play again. The DCC rpg seems a perfect vehicle, and if you can provide more gems like these either here, or in the ruleset themselves, you would help both those of us who have lost our way, and those looking to enter the dungeon for the first time.

Yes, this is a mirror image of my own experiences with gaming. I feel that the OSR, and Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in particular, has brought about an awakening. Into the unknown!

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Re: Designer’s Blog #4: Adventuring in DCC RPG

Post by Skyscraper »

To the OP: very nice post!
Maledict Brothbreath, level 4 warrior, STR 16 (+2) AGI 7 (-1) STA 12 PER 9 INT 10 LUCK 15 (+1), AC: 16 Refl: +1 Fort: +2 Will: +1; lawful; Armor of the Lion and Lily's Blade.

Brother Sufferus, level 4 cleric, STR 13 (+1) AGI 15 (+1) STA 11 PER 13 (+1) INT 10 LUCK 9, AC: 11 (13 if wounded, 15 if down to half hit points), Refl: +3 Fort: +2 Will: +3, chaotic, Robe of the Faith, Scourge of the Maimed One, Darts of Pain.
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