Obligatory DCC Post

Why I might shove a stick in my eye

Spoiler alert: this is a “blah, blah” post. It’s (almost) entirely filled with my opinion. It is possible that you will agree with some of it, but not likely that you will agree with all of it. Sometimes I am right. On other, more frequent occasions I am, in fact, an ass. I write this with only part of my tongue in all of my cheek.

If you would rather skip my opinion (which is entirely cool) and get to the useful part, scroll down to the end, where I willingly pay my Joesky Tax.

Wheel Reinvented. Again.

Holy effing crap! Goodman Games has revolutionised the god-damned RPG universe! And just in time, because I really wanted to play D&D, but none of the other 28 versions published since I was 12 really felt right.

By the time you read this, the beta release of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is old news. I was the 4,086th person to download the beta copy since its release on Monday. From a sheer numbers perspective, I have to give Goodman props—that level of fan loyalty and positive product anticipation doesn’t happen by accident, and those are numbers to make any indie publisher proud.

Stick in the eye
Sweet Relief

But...seriously? We are talking about yet another reskinning of D&D.

E-fucking-nough already.

It’s bad enough that the people who created D&D wrote at least twelve versions [1] on their own, then released an open invitation for people to blandly regurgitate that work in the form of the OGL, opening the doors for a morass of equally undifferentiated retro-clones. Like, how many versions of Swords & Wizardry alone are there?

Whitebox, Core, Complete...Please. Stop. How many versions of the same thing do we need? Apparently, not as many as we seem to want.

I’m bewildered, as I have been before. So I download a copy of DCC and start reading, just to see what astounding RPG miracle Goodman has cooked up that will make me so hungry for it that I'll start eating my own dice.

Sadly, there is none. The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is a scaled-down version of SRD mechanics with house rules thrown in to make it look old school. Except that it isn’t. All the stuff that you’d ostensibly simplify to give old-school cred (like spell-casting and combat) have been made more complex with extra table rolls and bookkeeping, while opportunities for meaningful innovation (like chargen and campaign-building) have been left un-innovated. Plus, you are reminded—several times in the text—that if you don’t maintain strict adherence to the rules precisely as they are written, the system won’t work.

Goodman: 34.99, Imagination: 0.

Which is beyond disappointing. It’s downright absurd. Oh, wait, I stand corrected. You get to roll d5s and d14s. That’s pure fucking innovation, right there.

This is a completely wasted opportunity. Goodman Games has the loyalty of a large and engaged fanbase.[2] Loyal. As in, “We’re behind you, so if, you know, you want to take a risk and try something new, we got your back because we’re interested in what you have to offer.”

Instead, Goodman took the All-Mouth-and-No-Trousers approach by jumping on the emperor’s new bandwagon. As in, “Hey, let’s sell a PDF of our D&D house rules, slap on an OGL at the end, and get our slice of the OSR pie.” Clearly uninspired. Certainly lazy. Possibly dumb.

Believe me, of all gamers, I completely get the desire to invent rules, tweak them the way you like, and share with other gamers. But if I’m going to take the trouble to codify my work and set it before other people, you can be damn sure that I’m going to  provide something new or different and worth the effort of reading or paying for it.

It’s like we, as a community of creative people, just can’t get off the dime. We keep supporting a litany of rewritten content that’s already proven to work and be popular and fun. But just because the OGL says we can doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Wouldn’t it be better create new and exciting stuff with that content? Wouldn’t Goodman Games do better by their loyal fanbase with a new and exciting fantasy campaign setting instead of yet another revision of a fantasy game?[3]

Just asking for some original thought here. Like the artwork, which is truly excellent. But these wonderful images could have appeared in any one of many supplements. Like, for example, The Dungeon Alphabet, [4] also from Goodman. Dungeon Alphabet is crazy-clever. Love the words, love the pictures. It is substantial, creative, and useful.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG? About as substantial as 2d7 farts in the wind.

Joesky Tax

I may be a sarcastic jerk, but I pay the piper when he plays. In this case, the piper is Joesky, and my payment thus:

Permanent Injury Option
Characters can forgo proper healing by “pushing through” their wounds. However, this causes a permanent injury.

In game terms, your character automatically restores up to one hit die per level of hit points by accepting a permanent injury. Each injury manifests as a permanent 1-point reduction in a random Attribute:

Die Roll (1d12) Attribute Affected
1-3 Strength
4 Intelligence
5 Wisdom
6-8 Dexterity
9-11 Constitution
12 Charisma

You can accept a permanent injury at any time. The total number of permanent injuries sustained cannot exceed the character’s current level, and the number of hit points regained each time cannot exceed the character’s current maximum.

Flurbis is a 3rd-level thief (hit die: d4). After getting battered through a series of encounters, he can restore 3d4 hit points by accepting a permanent injury. His 1d12 roll on the table comes up “9,” so his Constitution is reduced by one point. As a 3rd-level thief, he can have up to 3 permanent injuries.

  1. Original whitebox (LBBs); Holmes Basic; B/X; BECMI; Black box, Rules Cyclopedia, AD&D 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5th, and 4th editions; and Essentials. What am I missing?
  2. Just shy of 7,000 downloads of the beta at the time of this writing.
  3. Unless, of course, the fanbase wanted DCC to be another flavour of D&D, in which case Goodman Games has done the right thing and I have no business railing against it.
  4. Affiliate link.
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