I was almost going to swap this question out and then I had a feeling about a game I love. It is a popular game, but in my eyes deserves more play. It is a game that makes me feel brilliant every time I play it. I really feel that it hits the right notes for a role-playing game (RPG).
Dungeon Crawl Classics deserves more play!
Goodman Games has been doing epic work with this game. It is, in my measured opinion, the best Fantasy RPG on the market today. I will preface that by saying I have not played them all. What I have played though makes me want to play this game over and over again. No, I don’t currently play it. But every time I play another game I wish it were Dungeon Crawl Classics. Many people would believe that this is because of its old-school feel. They will point fingers at me and say that I like rules far too much. But I do not feel that this is the truth for this game. I feel that this game challenges people and brings out the roleplaying in them.
Prove it old man.
Let us start at the initial game for a regular Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) campaign. The funnel. If you are following the suggested rules of the games most players will start with three to four characters. They will be totally green characters all with random stats, equipment and the like. The characters hear a rumour or follow a legend in the hopes that they can better their situation by finding mass amounts of treasure. They are subjected to all sorts of horrible, deadly adventure. Many, in fact, most die. But those few that come out the other end are transformed into able adventurers with a taste for excitement.
That did not prove it.
What the initial setup does is cause the player to think about four different options. They are not a build they have designed and there are multiples. The players will like the characters with the strong statistics, but often times these are the first to die. Having run many a funnel, these initial games are roleplaying packed. There is a multitude of personalities blossoming around the table as the characters begin to fall. Then, when the funnel is over, the players are left with the survivors. Their character comes from a pool that may not contain a class they wanted to be. But they are challenged to play the character in classes that suit their strength. Now that is a roleplaying challenge.
Still not convinced.
Everything in this game talks about roleplaying and unique situations. Magician’s cast spells that could corrupt them irrevocably. They can power their spells by burning their own essence. Then, when the spell comes off, it will have a varying effect depending on the check to cast it. Monsters in this game are never just monsters. You never walk around the corner and see a group of 4 orcs. Yo walk around the corner and see a pale, yellow-skinned figure with a curved wicked blade and a scar across a milky white eye. Beside him, his green-skinned companion holds a javelin that compliments the metre long topknot that hangs down his back. The one making the noise you heard stands a head taller than the rest and is resplendent in a yellow robe that seems crisply laundered. Finally, a much smaller figure hides behind those said same robes. An intense green and completely naked child who plays with the severed head of the robes previous owner. This style is encouraged in the text and the unique art found throughout the book.
You make some valid points.
I recently saw an advertisement for a newish RPG. It had on it the slogan:
More books – more content – more game!
I literally shuddered. DCC is a big book. But it has no official supplements. There are no player’s companions and bestiaries that are “core” books. Sure, there is third party material and modules but no core line. That means you just need to own the one book. Brilliant. I feel this approach deserves a standing ovation. That book encourages you to get inventive. It even shows you how to be inventive in places. This to me is the core of roleplaying. Be inventive and creative. Have fun – and wow does it encourage that. Most of the modules I have seen are great if you want prepared stuff. Otherwise, make your own. I have two available for free on this site. There is the Tomb of the Ghast Queen (0 level funnel) and Serpent People of Skiterborne Swamp (1st level adventure).
And then the dice
Did I mention that you get to play with different sized dice to a normal RPG? Well, you do, and who does not like new dice. In fact, the subject of one of my recent RPG A Day post was about the mechanic in this game. If you want to read about the dice chain then you can read about it here.
There is so much more.
There is so much depth and fun to be had with this game. I could write so much more about this topic. In fact, the only time that anyone ever used the tip button on this page (not in a test) was someone that paid me $10 USD and thanked me for the Serpent People module. He really liked it and was very appreciative of me putting my material up for him to play! Sure, that does not add to the game but it makes me feel happy that there are people out there playing it! I used to run once a fortnight (that is two weeks USA friends) online game of this. I loved it. It was evocative and fun. It got sidelined sadly because I was gaming too much and I opened a store. But I feel that all the players were looking forward to each instalment. Get into this game one and all! Keep rolling (those sweet Zocchi dice)