Thanks for the detailed reply! Here are some quick notes in response...
1. The names of ability scores. We have a mix of previous D&D players and players who’ve never played RPGs before. Also DCC is really similar to D&D. It’s just confusing given these two factors to reference non-standard ability score names, especially when the ‘new’ ability scores do exactly the same things. Change it back to Dex, Con, and Charisma please – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; change for its own sake is stupid, etc.
I originally changed the terms so it would be clear to players that they are in a different game. I still think Personality should be different because it's effectively Charisma+Wisdom. But as to Dex/Agi and Con/Stam, I could go either way in terms of keeping them or changing back. What does everyone think?
2. The character sheet. It’s simply not organized, and DCC is not S&W or B/X, there’s a ton of stuff to write down, like spell rolls, thief abilities, etc. Most of this info can be accommodated by boxes labeled Equipment or Special Abilities, but there needs to be room for different weapon attacks, temporary and permanent ability scores, and all the DCC unique awesomeness. I highly recommend the peoplethemwithmonsters advanced character sheet. It even has a space for Race, which I tell my players to use as a listing for Homeland, which comes into play in my game.
There are eight different character sheets, one per class and one for 0-level characters. The class-specific ones have specific entries for each ability. Have you used those? (They are at the end of the beta rules.) They typically accommodate everything in my games but if you're using these and still missing things, let me know what's missing.
3. The overemphasis on Old-School play = playing with feeble mudfarmers who die constantly. I started my guys with the funnel, and it’s fun, but some things in the game don’t scale well once the characters are out of the funnel. ...
Go for it. I would categorize this under "house rules." I wrote the game with the assumption that most judges would be experienced GMs and adjust as needed to fit their style -- this is fine.
4. Mounted combat. Sorry, I use it. The first thing my players have always done is bought a horse when they get enough money. It carries stuff and helps them go faster. Horses are in all the literature and the movies. Why avoid it? My rules are +1 AC for the rider, double damage with spears/lances on a charge, Strength check or get knocked down when charged (the PCs have angered some local knights). Pack animals/work horses -2 to rider’s attack rolls. I’ve yanked some horse stats and prices from other games, but let’s get some DCC rules for them (and prices).
This will be part of the final rules.
5. The weapon rules. The damages don’t make sense to me or my players. Why not always use a spear? Why ever use a battleaxe? This is a simple fix to the few categories that simply “don’t work”: battleaxes do 1d10 damage like two-handed swords (also I renamed handaxe to just axe, handaxe sounds like a lame boyscout hatchet), crossbows do 1d8 damage, but can only be fired every other round; spears do 1d6 damage but are thrown as javelins (javelins are replaced by spears basically). Further, I don’t lower initiative for two-handed weapons, giving up the protection of the spear is penalty enough and doesn’t make sense for weapons like polearms anyway. I think d16 for initiative is a fine alternative. Perhaps we could encourage some other weapons rules: polearms and spears +1 initiative, axes can also destroy shields on any critical, swords disarm opponents on criticals, bludgeoning does more damages to slimes and skeletons. This gives players a choice, rather than just forces them to choose the optimal weapon.
Two-handed weapons using d16 for initiative is part of the final rules (that was a great idea). I played with the idea of really customizing a lot more of the weapons, including using funky damage dice for some (d5, d7, etc.). I go back and forth on making the weapons too specific. There was a time back in my younger years where I really liked very specific weapon definitions (remember the basic D&D boxed set with all the pole arm stats? was that the green box?) but nowadays I prefer something more simple.
1. Difficulty classes/changing target numbers. I’m sorry, this sucks. I know it’s the whole, it was great in 3E, the DM should just come up with a target number. If I wanted target numbers, I’d play Pathfinder. One of the reasons 1E/retroclones are so nice is that most of them dispense with this and have a flat number and the player’s power/ability succeeds....
Addressing this in two parts...
Skill checks / ability checks: These have only a few tiers of DC - 10, 15, 20. I've tried to make this more explicit in the final rules writeup. (There's also a DC 5 tier but that's for really simple stuff - doesn't come up much.) That may not have come across as well in the beta. I also like the idea of d10 for untrained checks and have incorporated that into the final rules as written
Saving throws: I do believe these should vary, but in the basic 10-20 range (nothing crazy-high like in 3E/4E). Maybe I need to give more examples?
2. NPCs. Should I be using the same stats as PCs or not? I decided early to just use standard type stats, because the PCs have way too many moving pieces, and this works fine.
Quoting from the final manuscript...
Monsters Don’t Play By The Rules
Why should they? Conan never knew what manner of foul beast he would face, nor whether his sword would overcome its sorcery: he feared no creature of flesh, but was justifiably terrified by the supernatural. Monsters and magic are not bound by the same laws that govern mortals. The creatures that follow demonstrate examples of this fact; and you should heed it in your own creature and encounter designs.
Men and Magicians
The fantasy world is populated primarily by men of medieval ranks: serfs and peasants, journeymen and master craftsmen, men-at-arms and knights, and dukes, earls, kings, and other nobles. Among these many mundane inhabitants are some with special abilities. Here are sample Men you can use to populate your world.
As noted previously, “monsters break the rules” – and that applies to Men, as well. When sending your players to face a magician or warrior, you need not spend the time to create a complicated leveled-up player character according to the class rules. Make it fast and make it interesting!
Then there are some sample stats. What I've done is even simpler than what you describe. I don't think there needs to be much "class structure" in the NPC stats. OD&D didn't "level" NPCs at all. It worked in 1974...
3. Having a individualized patron chart that I have to create. This is too much work, and the sample Patron included doesn’t work that well. A much better option would be to have a set chart for all patrons included in the Invoke Patron spell. Certain results should be like = 10-12. Patron summoned, but angry. Demands a sacrifice or will <b>f*ck</b> up PC, does not reward PC in any way. 13-15: Patron summoned, will help PC with a modest power or secret like restoring HP or a lost spell, but demands a gift or sacrifice – see Sacrifice to Patron table. I’ve fudge this currently, which is cool, but I’m going to run out of random ideas. I can’t always demand a virgin sacrifice within 7 days in return for restoring a spell. I think such a chart would give players a better sense of how to use a Patron as well.
Why didn't I think of that?
There will be many more patron tables in the final manuscript (there are 5-6 in there as of now), but the idea of a generic table is also a good idea.
4. The critical hits tables. I love them in most ways, but too many results simple result in more damage. The entries that involve more damage + something like blindness, knocking down, etc.
When fighting monsters, I think it's fun for the PCs to do damage, since effects like blindness or deafness aren't as lasting (the monster's going to die in a couple rounds anyway).
But when you see the monster critical hit tables, you will find more excitement along the lines you note above.
There are specialized tables for dragons, demons, un-dead, and giants, then a generic monster one as well. Here's an excerpt (again quoting unedited text that's not spell checked or otherwise publication-ready)...
Crit Table U: Un-dead
1 or less Unnatural boils sprout spontaneously around the wound. These are extremely painful to the touch, and automatically inflict 1 point of damage in any round where the character exerts himself physically (such as running, jumping, and of course fighting). They can only be healed with magical healing.
2 The cold touch of un-death spreads across the wound. +1d4 damage and PC gets the chills, chattering his teeth noisily until magically healed.
3 The numbness of death spreads around the wounded area. +1d4 damage and the PC slowly loses sensation. On the next round, he must make a Fort save against DC 2. Failure means he is paralyzed. This first save is easy, but he must make another save against DC 3 on the next round, then against DC 4, then DC 5, and so on. If he makes every save to DC 20, he shakes off the numbness and is unaffected. But if a single save is failed, the PC is paralyzed – not “stiff” but simply insensitive to any sensation, and completely numb and unable to move. The paralysis can be cured by any magical healing.
4 The horrifying visage of life after death infects the PC’s thoughts as the un-dead leers in his eyes with its attack. The PC must make a DC 15 Fort save or be shaken and unable to move or attack for the next 1d4 rounds.
5 The character is cursed from beyond the grave! Depending on his actions and the intelligence of the un-dead creature, the curse may have specific terms associated with the wishes of the un-dead (judge’s discretion; see Appendix C). Alternately, the curse causes a -1 penalty to Luck and all dice rolls until lifted.
6 The wound blackens immediately and a horrid infection from beyond the grave begins to spread. The character must make a DC 10 Fort save or temporarily lose 1d4 Stamina. The infection continues to attack each day, forcing another DC 10 Fort save or loss of another 1d4 Stamina each morning until the infection is magically expunged. The character does not heal while infected.
7 Supernatural frost spreads out from the wound in a lacy web, causing +1d8 damage and intense pain. The frost dissipates on the next round but until the next full moon, the PC takes an extra 1 point of damage from all cold-based attacks.
8 Necrotic energies leap from the un-dead in a sizzling flash, enervating the character. The PC loses 2d4 Stamina temporarily.
9 Faced with the very real prospect of unnatural un-death, the PC becomes unhinged. He immediately loses 1d4 Personality and goes temporarily insane, behaving erratically and strangely until the next new moon. The controlling player must make a percentile roll before any action, and on 01-10 the character makes an insane action (as determined by the judge) instead of what was intended. On 11-00 the intended action occurs.
10 The visage of rotting un-death brings the horror of the grave to the character’s thoughts. He must make a DC 16 Fort save or be shaken with fear, unable to attack or do anything except quake in fear for 1d4 rounds.
11 Strange electrical sparks leap from the attacking un-dead, causing an additional +1d10 damage.
12 The attack is imbued with some unnatural remnant of un-dead slumber. The character must make a DC 16 Fort save or fall asleep, instantly and deeply. He will not awaken for 1d7 hours or until shaken violently.
13 The attack is infused with powerful necromantic energies which cause the character’s skin to flake and rot! His flesh begins to fall off in large chunks, exposing the muscle and bone below. This is extremely painful and debilitating. The character loses an extra 1d8 hit points and 1 point of Personality immediately, and again every morning thereafter as his flesh slowly rots. He dies when his Personality reaches 0. The rot can be arrested only by powerful magical healing.
14 The strike of un-death saps the PC’s energy. The character temporarily loses 1d4 Str and must make a DC 12 Fort save or lose an additional 1d4 Str.
15 Strange spectral energies arc to the PC’s body, making him temporarily incorporeal for 1d4 rounds. The PC is translucent and cannot grasp physical objects. He cannot speak, make noise, attack, or be seen in bright light. He can fly at his normal movement rate and can pass through solid objects at half speed. He is considered un-dead while incorporeal. There is a 1% chance the transition is permanent.
16 A disgusting grave rot immediately spreads around the wound, causing an additional 2d6 damage and forcing a DC 16 Fort save. Failure on the save causes additional temporary loss of 1d4 Stamina. The rot gets progressively worse, forcing another save each morning against loss of another 1d4 Stamina, until magically cured.
17 The brief brush with death affects the PCs’ memory. He loses all memory of the last 24 hours and must make a DC 16 Fort save or also lose memories of the past 1d7 days.
18 The blow smashes against the PC’s temple and gives him a glance of his own moment of death sometime in the future. This brush with death paralyzes the PC with fear for 1d6 rounds.
19 The wound immediately turns a deep yellow color and a dizzying madness infects the character. He temporarily loses 1d6 Intelligence and 1d6 Personality.
20 The wound takes the shape of an unholy mark. The character takes an additional 1d6 damage and is marked. Un-dead creatures are attracted to the PC from miles around. He cannot hide from un-dead, and they relentlessly hound him. The mark can only be removed by a blessing, holy cleansing, exorcism, or the like.
21 The character’s soul is scarred by un-death. He permanently loses 1 point of Luck.
22 The wound erupts in a disgusting infestation of maggots. They cause +2d6 damage plus an ongoing 1d6 damage per round until the wound is healed via magical means.
23 The un-dead’s intensely concentrated aura of unholiness infects the PC with an unholy aura. Any magical blessings or similar effects are automatically cancelled, and the character takes 1d4 points of temporary Personality loss.
24 Grave rot! The wound bubbles and festers like a thing not from this earth. The rot causes an additional +1d12 damage and 1d6 Strength loss immediately, and the wound will not heal naturally. The damage and Strength loss can only be recovered via magical healing.
25 In a supernatural display, flesh melts away from the wound, revealing the bones beneath and causing additional +1d6 damage and 1 point of Stamina loss. Each round thereafter, the radius of melted flesh expands, causing an additional +1d6 damage 1 point of Stamina loss. The melting flesh continues to expand until the PC dies. It can only be suspended via magical healing with a spell check of 20 or greater.
26 Death rattle! The stench of un-death chokes the character, who collapses in a fit of gagging that slowly begins to suffocate him. He must make a DC 20 Fort save or lose 1d4 points of Stamina. If he fails the Fort save, he must make another save on the next round. If that fails, he takes additional Stamina damage and must make another save. The pattern continues until he makes a save or dies.
27 The un-dead creature sucks life force from the character. The PC loses an additional +1d20 damage, and the un-dead creature heals that same amount (not to exceed its original total hit points).
28 The wizening. The character immediately ages 1d20 years. If the result is 15 or more, he permanently loses 1 point of Strength, Agility, and Stamina as his body weakens.
29 The end is always dust: the wounded area crumbles to dust, inflicting an extra +2d12 damage and permanently disfiguring the character. He loses the use of that arm, leg, hand, or whatever area was struck. On the following round, the area adjacent to the wound in turn crumbles to dust, inflicting an additional 1d6 damage. The radius of dust transformation continues to expand, inflicting an additional 1d6 damage each round, until the character is dead. The transformation to dust can only be stopped by very powerful magic.
30+ Un-death seeks un-death: in a flash of thick black smoke, the un-dead creature expends some of the necromantic energies that sustain itself to transform the PC into un-death. The un-dead attacker automatically loses 1d6 hit points, and may be killed as a result. The PC collapses in a state of apparent death, only to arise 1d6 rounds later as an undead creature under the control of the judge. Roll 1d8 to determine the type of creature that arises: (1-4) zombie, (5-6) skeleton, (7) ghoul, (8) ghost.
5. Having the signature effect of the MDoA all rolled up with the MDoA rules as it’s currently written. Basically, my warrior player never knows what’s going on. Maybe we’re just dense, but there’s a lot of stuff going on around the table. I’d suggest keeping the rules, but clarifying. Say, MDoA can do these sorts of things when (1) the player declares he’s attempting something specific he describes, (2) he rolls a 3+ on the Deed dice (I’m sorry it needs a clearly delineated name, let’s pick one), and (3) his combined attack roll hits the target. Warriors also have a Signature Move. This is like one of the results on the Disarm or Trip examples. If a warrior does not declare a specific action for his MDoA die, he attempts his Signature Move by default. Succeeds with the signature move as above. Right now, all the various effects of the MDoA are all rolled up together; it’s too much.
Hmmm...I may be missing something here. Typically when using a MDoA, the warrior would declare, "I'm attempting a disarm!" or "I try to shove him into the river with my attack!" Then that action becomes the MDoA. What am I missing?
I like the term Deed Dice.
1. Expanded equipment list for non-standard purchases. Hiring alchemists, buying horses, renting mercenaries, buying spyglasses, etc. Lots of modern, post-3E D&D type games have these now, and I’d love to not have to pull stuff out of other books. Much like the old DMGs used to have this stuff. Keep the current equipment list as a Standard Village purchases, because I like I can just be like: “here, this is the equipment you can buy in this standard village,” but I’d like some advanced options.
I have to say "maybe" to this - agreed that it's good to have but I'd like those things to be mysterious, rare, and loosely defined, and most of us have lots of reference for this as well.
2. Obviously, an XP value chart. GP = XP works pretty well, as does goal based XP (say 500 for clearing a small area of monsters, or whatever). I also use a 100XP per monster HD divided by number of players & henchmen system, but this seems to advance the PCs alittle too fast and rewards killing for its own sake rather than smart play. Keep it simple though.
I originally had a fairly complex XP system but I am now leaning toward a very, very simple system. I've seen a couple iterations of it suggested (including one version suggested by someone these boards). There is a strong appeal in the traditional "lots of calculations and fiddly bits" system but I had to ask myself - do I really enjoy that? In short, no; for years I've played with a more ad hoc system in my own games, and frankly this game is about simplicity. I am now leaning toward something really, really simple -- like, PCs get a certain amount of XP based on how difficult an encounter was to overcome, and there's a pretty finite scale (like, 3 or 5 options).
3. A good list of monsters. The current monster style is fine, but I need three more things if you’re really going to give me something different: (1) treasure – don’t make me cross reference a chart either, just put how much treasure the things has right in the entry (1d8 gp or whatever), and please include some Alchemical uses (goblin skulls are used to make poison potions by wizards or whatever, unicorn horns can resurrect the dead or restore 1d8 points of lost Charisma); (2) actually special attacks/weaknesses – monsters should be different from one another, and not just statistically, I want crocodiles with swallowing or drowning attacks, dragons with a soft underbelly, pixies with three or four taunting or charm type things. Not necessarily stuff in the old MMs, but new and actually effective special powers that make monsters truly unique and FUN to use. You’re already doing some of this, as I can see from the Basilisk entry, etc. but keep it up; (3) number encountered. Screw challenge ratings or whatever, those are boring and don’t force players to make intelligent decisions. Random numbers of goblins are fun. Let’s not get all Gygaxian naturalist with like: for 30 goblins there are 2 females who don’t do anything. But, the oh sh*t moment of players running into 35 goblins because I rolled really high on an encounter while their traveling can lead to all sorts of fun. ALSO: I don’t need a ton of monsters, but I need a good standard coverage (sorry James Raggi) like dragons, giants, faeries, sea monsters, centuars, and maybe some fish-men. You get the picture.
There are a lot of monsters in the core rules. They are designed to provide a baseline. None of them appear in the modules -- every module is primarily composed of new creatures, since encountering the unknown is part of the game. This will give you many more options to choose from.
The stats don't have "number encountered" - I leave that up to the judge - but there are plenty of encouragements in the verbiage to mix it up quite a bit, and suggestions on how to do so.
4. The assumption I’m going to love Mythos-themes in every adventure. I play CoC. But in DCC, I use a more warhammer-y and less eldritch-mysteries-y world. Not every adventure is going to end up with the summoning of dark gods or gigantic monsters or involve cultists and insane astrologists. Don’t remove the Mythos elements, but don’t assume that just because Clark Ashton Smith and RE Howard had some Mythos stuff means I want every DCC to be centered on that stuff (I’m looking at you Free RPG day adventure). Similarly, I don’t always want ancient eldritch hypertechnology in my adventures. This is more a word-to-the-wise. Having some rocking, challenging adventures just involving some giants or a dragon would be nice, and I would buy them. I look to old school adventures for their problem solving complexity and interesting scenarios, and the random potion charts. Weirdness is great, but don’t always make it unfathomable weirdness from beyond the stars. I think Joseph’s preview of the demon demanding payment from the baron to kick off an adventure is a great example – don’t just assume I always want tentacles in my RPGing.
This one's a fine line. Gygax mentioned a certain set of authors he considered most influential on D&D: "the most immediate influence ... were probably de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, and A. Merritt." One of the missions of DCC RPG is to design a game built around the literature of Appendix N, and the "core" of that canon insofar as it influences D&D is those important authors.
As you may have noticed from the first lineup of modules, there will be a distinctly Appendix N flavor to the DCC RPG adventures. Right now there is nothing else like this on the market. There are plenty of "old school" type modules but most of them follow the "D&D conventions" versus the pulpier vibe of Appendix N.
Eventually the modules may transition to a more "traditional" old-school D&D approach, similar to what you noted above and perhaps more like what the 3E DCC modules were like. Maybe.
5. Don’t give up on kingdom/stronghold rules please. Mass combat comes up earlier and more often for me, because I use lots of small dungeons rather than ye olde megadungeon. I’d pay some money for some simple mass combat rules combined with rules for followers when leveling up, and simple and fun rules (no minigames though please) for running strongholds or gaining lots of political/magical power. I already have mass combat rules I like a lot and are VERY simple, while still including some tactical choice by the players so it’s more of a game, but it’s always nice to have more. Working this in as a default for high-level play, along with some sample adventures would be perfect!
Not part of the core rulebook but I agree, it's something that should be included at some point.
Many of these suggestions have been noted elsewhere in the forums. I want add my two cents and emphasize some of them. I think these are kinds of fixes that would also really separate DCC as a higher quality, must-buy product, distinguishing it from the number of other free retroclones out on the market. That being said, thanks for making an already great game!
Glad you like it so far. Hopefully the final rules won't disappoint.