As good as the 0-level games were, I came away feeling the 5th level game was just a little bit unfinished. There were things that bugged me a little and somethings that bugged me a lot and other things I thought would bug me but didn't at all. Overall, the 5th level game wasn't as tight as the 0-level game. I think part of that was unfamiliarity with the rules. But the players got that figured out pretty quickly. So I think there's another part of the mechanics that just didn't gel with them.
Started with meager 3e experience. Plays mostly 4e but was involved in a Basic D&D campaign recently. Prefers the hijinks and speed of older rulesets, although still likes 4e a good bit.
- Thud O'Malley - Warrior
Feels strongly that 4e is the best edition ever. Has played 2e but came on board during the 3e era.
- Quinenthal - Elf
Has played AD&D on. Hard to gauge which edition he favors. Enjoys a little bit about all of them. But is very critical of all of them as well.
- Slaan-Ti - Cleric
Not sure if he played in the 3e era. Plays mostly 4e. Has some issues with it but likes it significantly enough to keep it going. Enjoys older rulesets but has had limited exposure.
- Thumbs O'Malley - Thief
He's really into World of Darkness. And likes 4e a good deal.
- Bartholomew Quo - Halfling
- Player B had a Mercurial Magic talent that allowed him to roll a d30 on his Magic Missile attempts. This was pretty wild, until he rolled poorly enough to lose the spell.
- Nobody died. But Player B's Elf got left behind in the dungeon. Funny scene at the end where everyone made a mad dash for the door. Player B rolled really poorly on initiative.
- The group played smart up until the last room, where they just walked in like it was no big deal. Elzemon dropped some electroshock therapy on them and then it got, as they say, REAL.
I did a post-mortem after the session to get the players' thoughts and impressions on the mechanics and the game in general. Here's what I got. Note these are unfiltered/uncensored feedback I solicited post-game. Just because it's here doesn't mean I want the changes in DCC or that I agree with the player in question. See my observations below to get a feel for my thoughts on the session.
- Player C really, really did not like the Cleric. Mostly because he rolled poorly on spellcasting, felt the Cleric spell list was pretty vanilla and felt the spell check penalty was punitive compared to what Wizards got.
- Player D felt the Thief needed to do more damage. He felt that backstab's criticals were okay but weren't all that great, compared to being able to do x2 or x4 damage.
- Player D didn't care for the Thief percentage skills at all. Others commented on them in a negative fashion.
- Player B liked playing the Elf and felt that the arcane spellcasting was pretty cool.
- Player A liked the Warrior and really liked the Attack Die instead of the bonus. Most other players wanted a die like that and made numerous suggestions on getting one for the other classes as well. Big hit there.
- All players (even E who was new to DCC) wanted some means of increasing stats. There was a Spell Fumble and a Disapproval in this session. The players were more concerned about (A) getting a low stat out of the gutter or (B) getting a damaged stat back up to its previous rating than getting 18s or 20s in a stat.
- All players requested a way to recover between combats. The Cleric was rolling poorly and wasn't getting the healing out there. Players requested a number of possibilities, from rolling a d6 to rolling a die and adding level to healing surges.
- All felt pretty strongly that Luck offered a poor value for its expenditure. They unanimously requested that it be its own thing.
- All (there was a lot of group agreement in this session) wanted something like Wisdom brought back. There were a couple of situations where Personality and Intelligence didn't cut it and it felt forced to have them roll one of those.
- Player B sent out a compliment to the chef on not having negative hit points.
- Player C wanted an Attack Die for the Cleric. He felt left behind by the characters that got two action dice and by the Wizard's mojo.
- Player B pointed out that the way the spells scaled was insane. When I told him they were all "1st level" spells he about choked on his beer. He used several spells and the effects he got from them were pretty out there. Like slaying 4 creatures with one shot. Or putting a squad of hobgoblins to sleep for a day.
- Player E felt the game was too swingy with the d20 and low bonuses. He thought it might work better using 2d10.
- Both Player C and Player D felt the damage wasn't evened out among the classes. The Elf was just a killing machine. The Warrior did a boatload of damage. The Thief got crits that were interesting but didn't hurt opponents much. The other two classes were just kinda there.
- At 5th level, we used the funky dice a lot more. The Warrior rolled a d8 and ignored 8s for a d7 with no fuss. The dice were not a significant issue at all. Not one complaint, despite reluctance early on in the first playtest with this group.
- The Infernal Crucible is light on the combat. But I'm here to test the rules. So I threw in an intro combat prior to the party finding the portal. I'm glad I did because it gave me some useful insight.
- Monsters by-the-book are really boring. Very AD&D swing-hit/miss, swing-hit/miss. I'm a good DM and even I had a hard time spicing up the encounters. Combats were a bit of a slog, especially the Ape. I think DCC could benefit by borrowing some 4e-isms for their monsters.
- At 5th level, the PCs were pretty buff in everything but their saves. I could see this being intentional. No complaints from me.
- I think DCC could benefit by bringing the "Attack Die" concept to all the classes as maybe a "Class Die" (I think that's what it's been called on the forums). Maybe it takes the place of the Wizard's spellcasting bonus. Or the bonus the Thief gets to Thief skills. Or the bonus the Halfling gets to Sneak/Hide. You get the picture by now. It's a great mechanic. It's really simple and very enjoyable.
- Maybe the Cleric can have a smaller spellcasting bonus die and have the die type lowered whenever he rolls a 1 instead of the ever-increasing spell check penalty? I'm thinking a d7 at 5th level that gets dropped to d6 or whatnot. Just thinking out loud.
- Spells need to be audited by spell level. As it stands, I can't see any arcane spellcaster casting anything except Magic Missile until it is lost. The scaling of spell effects is way out of whack.
- Mercurial Magic is hard to keep track of. We forgot about it more than once.
- DCC at 5th level felt odd at times. It was like it's this really cool kinda-old-school game. And then you call out for a Fortitude save. The dissonance was palpable.
- Overall, DCC at 0-level was a blast. DCC at 5th level? It had its moments. Beyond some reworking of the spell effects, I think the spellcasting is great. The Warriors Attack die is also great. But the percentile Thief skills are just weird -- especially sitting next to the Warrior with this cool die mechanic. It's like it's almost there. Thank goodness this is the Beta.
- I guess the most painful verdict of the night's play was that none of the players were really jazzed about doing another game. Most came away with a seen-it, been-there attitude. Almost all the players ran into an issue with one mechanic or another that cooled their jets -- whether it was Luck, spell check penalties or percentile skills. They've agreed to give it another go when the official rules come out. And also to playtest the thing I've been working on. But I may have to find another crew to continue playtesting DCC beta. This is disappointing because there was serious talk of using DCC as an alternate campaign from the bi-weekly 4e game after the 0-level playtest