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Reviews of Dungeon Crawl Classics?

 
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Occluded Sun
Duke


Joined: 02 May 2014
Posts: 1003

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reviews of Dungeon Crawl Classics? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There are several threads here that mention DCC in passing, but none that analyze the rule system. Can anyone point me to a good review of DCC?

(I'm trying to run a game in it now, and so far people seem to be enjoying it, but knowing some of the problems that inevitably pop up in any system would be useful before I try putting them into an official and complex module.)
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erik
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't have time for a full review, but I can give my 2 cents.

I've played a weekly DCC game going on almost a year now, so while I don't have the rule books myself, I'm pretty well acquainted. Also we're running a campaign where each player has multiple characters so I have gotten to see a variety of outputs. I'd say it is better than LotFP if going for retrogarbage.

The good:
The magic at a cost that they use is better than any that I've played with. The downsides are just rare enough that people aren't scared out of casting spells. But spellcasting is still over complicated (see "the bad").

The starting professions are amusing novelties, and the bonus mini-hit die is slightly helpful in making the low levels a bit more beefy than in 3e.

I haven't gotten into high levels (we're around level 3-4), so Fighters are still pretty bad ass. Best attack and damage, best initiative, best HD, and you can throw down special combat effects/maneuvers almost all the time with your deed die.

The bad:
Some races/classes are hot steaming garbage. Halflings and Dwarves are inferior thieves and fighters. Halflings are only useful as luck batteries for the rest of the party, like a familiar for a caster. Anyway, I don't care that it is a retro game, it is the 21st ghostdamned century and races as classes is shit design. If I only had a single character and it was a halfling, I'd suicide the character for sure. And I love halflings. Case in point, I have a low-luck halfling as one of my characters and I'm constantly doing crazy dangerous things with him in the hopes that he gets retired from life.

The scaling dice are dumb novelties. I never enjoy trying to find a d14 or d16, or remembering after rolling that oh yea, some penalty changed my die type. It's a lot easier to mentally do +2/-2 than search for a stupid die somewhere in a pile.

Rolling 3d6 for stats is as terrible as it ever has been. The odds of having a character with decent stats is pretty low as you need a 16 to reach +2. The special starting luck trait could have been neat, except nobody has exceptional stats thanks to 3d6 stats, so that novelty is wasted. Except for that one guy in the group who obviously cheated in rolling his characters. I swear there's always one (hint, it is the Wizard with 18 intelligence and all the best Mercurial effects).

Casting spells can be like a half dozen dice rolls or more before you even get to the effect of a spell. Unorganized players with caster characters slow combat to a crawl.

Wizards are highly incentivized to use spellburn, their own luck, or halfling luck on some important spell rolls. There are some rolls that you only ever make once, like patron bond, so of course they go all out and get the most awesome results.

I don't know if it is just our MC, but due to confusion about cleric disfavor, it has changed repeatedly throughout our sessions. As written it seems like most of them are temporary bad juju that go away after a day, kind of a way to prevent clerics from having unlimited daily casting. It seems like my penalties stick around longer than originally intended by the game. That and as a law cleric I automatically get disfavor whenever healing chaos characters, makes me think neutral clerics are where it is at.

I'm currently on a purple planet module where my cleric is hella nerfed and I pretty much cannot cast spells without burning excessive luck. It has become a running gag that Daenthar hates his followers, and mine most of all. I've given brief sermons on how love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and those most blessed by Daenthar receive his greatest scorn.

Alignment is as stupid as ever. Law, Neutral, Chaos. Chaos is pretty much evil, but sometimes they waffle and suggest that it isn't... but it totally is. Case in point, a level 2 chaos thief's suggested title is "Murderer". And Chaos gods are a pantheon of evil.

Something we've run into is that we started as a meat grinder campaign where we had 4 characters each, and they were supposed to keep getting killed until we got down to some non-shitty characters and a smaller party. I think that is suggested as a way to start in the book. Instead we got super cautious and now have huge parties that split up and higher level characters that are harder to die. It led to a lot of characters to manage. Often we leave some party members behind from various adventures. But sometimes there is inequity if somehow some players take more characters into a mod than others. This seems like it is totally avoidable, but somehow it keeps happening.
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Occluded Sun
Duke


Joined: 02 May 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thanks!
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erik
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I live to serve.

I thought of some other things that seem like things that we either aren't doing right, or the game isn't doing right. Mostly this is harping on luck.

Something that we haven't handled super well is Luck rewards. To the uninitiated: you have a luck stat, and you can spend points from your luck stat to boost important rolls. Luck doesn't heal or regenerate (unless you are a halfling or thief), and instead you get luck rewards for doing things to help your alignment's goal. This becomes a problem in mixed alignment parties.

For Law it is really easy. You do a "good deed" or whatever. Defeating the dungeon of cultists is something you were gonna do anyway, and you get your luck back as a Law character. But Chaos and Neutral don't seem to get nearly the same set up. We did have one adventure module which was more chaos centric (court of chaos), but that hasn't been the norm.

For Chaos it is really hard sometimes to tell the difference from supporting Chaos to just being an asshole, and since it's a bad incentive to give rewards for being an asshole, Chaos has it hard on getting luck rewards. Neutral has it even worse. I mean what the fuck. How do you support Neutral's goals?

Death Spirals. Other than casters using luck to make outrageous spell checks, Luck is mostly used to survive a life or death saving throw or check. And if you aren't lawful then you're often pretty much in a death spiral since you'll be attacked more often thanks to your forever low luck (it seems like traps and monsters tend to first target people with the lowest luck).
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is there anyone in your group that genuinely likes the system, or is it just a "shits and giggles" thing?
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erik
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's what the guy being MC is willing to run lately. Other players have paid money for the main book, so they certainly enjoy it enough for that level of investment. My feeling is that the system is inferior to 3e obviously, but we can still have fun with an inferior game. Would people jump at a chance to play another game instead? You betcha. But this is what's being offered, and friends and a good MC can make it fun regardless.

I still enjoy playing my cleric even though it is very hard for him to successfully make a spellcasting check right now (penalized to a d14 die when casting on this planet, spells fail on <12, and for a while I had more penalties than bonuses on my casting modifier). Since I have a team of characters he still serves a role as a tank with his fuck-off AC and has some other tricks.

We actually openly discuss things that seem like they're hindering enjoyment, like the luck rewards disparity between alignments was recently discussed and our MC is gonna work on it. We just haven't played for a few weeks since the holidays and some tragic stuff has come along. It didn't really become an issue worth mentioning until one guy lost most of his party and just has a chaos character, which made it more obvious and pertinent that non-law characters get the shaft on luck rewards.

And there are things that are entertaining about the system. Running a grinder with level 0 characters dying all over was fun. We've played through multiple modules that were entertaining. Purple planet module basically randomized a lot of bonus spell effects, which made casting spells new again. For each spell the first time we cast it there is a d100 table of totally random shit happens as secondary effects when casting spells for this setting. Thereafter that same effect always occurs for that character casting the spell. One of my characters only got boned because deities also had specific things that happen to their clerics and for my particular deity it was that my spellcasting die type is reduced 2 steps. Harsh. But some of my spells have useful secondary effects that trigger on this planet even if when I fail to cast the spell. So when trying to create food rations for example, I will turn into a winged skesis for 1d3 rounds, and be able to fly a bit. That's come in handy a couple times.
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Blicero
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Is this the same group of people you played Lamentations with? Have you been exclusively using the DCC modules, do you know?
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erik
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

More or less. A few players changed, but the same group mostly.

I think it has been straight modules. 4 of em I think. But we have a fair bit of sandbox where we do random things.

Peril on the Purple planet.
Keep of chaos (?) - couldn’t find this one on the list of modules.
Intrigue at the court of chaos
People of the pit

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dungeon_Crawl_Classics_modules
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

DCC seems to be a strictly better alternative to Hackmaster, in that it's more playable and funnier. That doesn't strike me as an amazingly high bar, but there it is.

-Frank
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