First of all, love the gnome-tied-to-a-dog story -- great stuff!
As for 'why' it's called 'fantasy role playing', well, that's a can of worms that you've unintentionally (I think) set the can opener on. Briefly, it could be fantasy in a "Hey! I can do whatever, limited only by my imagination!" sense, or in an "events taking place in an unreal world" sense. Mechanics, one way or the other, don't determine if it's fantasy or not. Then there's another can called "why people play" sitting right next to that first can, and which I will pretend isn't there...
*noticing that I've kicked a hornets nest*
Sorry, folks. Not my intention, just a common case of "my cup of passion runneth over..."
*opens a jar of Keeagan's Ointment & passes around to sooth any stinging egos*
Like many folks I don't have much time to game; so if I sit down to a table as a player, I want maximum entertainment. For me that means access to the mechanics & free reign for my imagination. I don't think I'm alone in this viewpoint, as D&D has been cultivating this mind set ever since 2nd ed. Like it or not, D&D is the standard
by which all FRPG's will be compared. I find myself in an odd place concerning the DCC RPG. The system grants this kind of freedom to the DM's, but not to the players... as such I love running the game, but I have no interest in playing the game
& I'm doing my best to extend as much access to the system mechanics to the players as I can get away with; but the system doesn't leave much "wiggle room."
To address both your point and Jim's point above, the funnel doesn't have to be the only character creation method. You don't have to start at 0-level. That idea is in the game, as is. To support that with just one quote from page 10 of the beta: "The author strongly encourages you to begin play using the method as described here exactly." I sure don't read 'strongly encourages' the same as 'demands'.
I disagree. If the sentence stopped at the word 'described' I would agree with you; but the addition of the word 'exactly' adds extra emphasis, and with the use of itallics the author adds a considerable amount of emotional punch to the sentence.
Whether or not you do heed that suggestion, you need never think about the funnel and it's ins and outs again. Carry on with whatever method works for you. If the 'thousand other distractions' that let you decide the details are not enough, and you want one more, then do things that way with DCC, too.
I've already done that. I've got 14+ pages of house rules to cover all the NPC's I'm going to need to tell a passable story in the Aereth setting: gnomes, half-elves, half-orks, rangers & barbarians; and magic item mechanics that aren't
going to punish folks for owning them.
I'm not allowing access to 90% of it because we're still in beta-test mode. After the game goes live, any new characters generated by the players will be according to the house rules. That way they'll get a personal feel for the differences without having to restart the game.
It ain't gonna break it if you do.
I think the author disagrees with you...
'The recipe for DCC RPG: start with "100% as written
," add house rules, ...'
This tells me the author doesn't want us taking liberties with his rules as written, but we may add to them if we feel the need. I also interpret this to mean that he wants games to start with the funnel.