Sunday, December 23, 2012

After action report:

Since the meltdown of the group dynamic and the ending of this particular version of My Áereth I’ve taken the time to re-read the reports and analyze things better; I think there are some very definite lessons to be learned. 
      1.       The DCCRPG system is awesome!  During the time I was running this game I lost track of the number of times the random nature of the tables helped me to create some new twist for the action. 
      2.       I think it can now safely be said (in spite of how things ended) that the DCCRPG System is perfectly capable of handling longer, epic style play.
      3.       ONE character per player… :D

For all of my praise for the DCC system, I must admit to some basic criticisms:
      1.       The DCCRPG system begs for more diversity in available character classes; and not just because the players want them.  The first two questions asked by nearly everyone at the various sessions I ran asked: can I split class, and; are there any other races than these?  Having these extra classes would also make world design a bit easier as well…
      2.       The DCCRPG system begs for effective mutli-classing rules.  Given a choice, I think that Thingerlun would’ve been a Wizard/ Thief split and Milo would have been more effective as a Cleric/Warrior split (or as a Paladin).
      3.       I will add one caveat to the comment on epic play – the nature of the DCCRPG system requires more time to prep than other versions of D&D because everything must be pre-generated, or generated on the fly: and my bias is that I don’t like the; on the fly style.  I like having everything prepped and ready for the chaos that the players always bring to the table.  That being said, this is a new system and there isn’t much DCC specific support material available yet. However, there were times when the random nature of the system itself got in the way; particularly when we had to stop and look up spell and critical table results.  Most of the major plot points in the recently ended storyline were written long before I started the DCC beta test game; but were all written for a D&D3.5 paradigm.  I was spending at least 40+ hours a month prepping for two game sessions; and I’ve not gotten a chance to paint very much in over a year.  I will freely admit that I have always spent more time in game prep than the average Gamer; but the up side is now I can re-use any of the material in future games to amortize the time spent over the number of games it can be recycled into.  This game was also slowed down a bit because I was using it to alpha test my own DCC compatible Critter’s Manual.  So I can see why the designers emphasize small scale play and in the future I will probably do likewise.  
      4.       Luck burning to change a die’s results wreaked more havoc; and gave me more headaches than any other RPG system I’ve ever played.  I spent more time re-writing the causality of events at the table because someone (usually a thief or halfling) would just say; “Nope.  I burn enough luck to change that result.”  Then I have to frantically come up with a plausible reason why or how the catastrophe was avoided… and it’s not always an easy task.
      5.       As a corollary to critique #4: REGENERATIVE LUCK FOR THIVES AND HALFLINGS IS HORRIFIC!  They are nearly impossible to kill, and even if you do… the recovering the body rule on p. 93 of the Core Rules means that they might not be dead after all.

Fortunately, the solution for all of these points is time.  As more content becomes available most of these problems will simply evaporate.   Some of these points are easy enough to address at the table; particularly critiques 4 & 5.  In all future DCC games I will be enacting the following house rules:

House Rule: Luck burn to change a character’s fate will remain available; however, the recovering the body rule is gone.  Dead is dead…  Though players who wish to continue on as an undead character will, as always, be allowed to do so as long as they were of at least 3rd level before they died.

House Rule: NO more daily regenerative luck.  Thieves and halflings will still be able to get more when they spend luck; as their class level indicates.  So at 5th level thief still rolls 1d7 every time they spend a luck point and a Halfling still gets a 2 for 1 gain on their spent luck points and may still spend luck for others if they are the party’s good luck charm; but the spent luck doesn’t grow back by morning. 

House Rule: As soon as a character advances in level they make a luck roll against a DC= 10, +1 per level they have attained.  Success indicates that the character has gained 1 point of luck.  Failure indicates no change; and a critical failure indicates the character loses a point of luck.  Caveats: a Halfling who succeeds at this check gains 1d2 luck points; as does any non-thief who critically succeeds at this luck check.  Thieves who critically succeed at the luck check get to roll their luck die from their last level and add that many points to their luck score.  Halflings who critically succeed at this check will gain 3 luck points.  So: all characters heading into 7th level would need to succeed at a DC 17 luck check to gain 1 point of luck; or 1d2 luck for halflings.  If this was a thief, and they rolled a natural 20 on the check, they would gain 1d8 luck points.  A character may not expend luck points on this check.

I have as yet devised no easy solutions to split classing.  I’m sure someone will figure something out eventually.

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Part of the reason I wrote (and soon hope to release) Critters, Creatures, & Denizens was to address critique #1.  So I tried to develop creatures based on DCC scaled ability scores to enable folks like me to play something weird.  After 30 years of playing D&D the core races aren’t very interesting to me anymore, and I’m not the only one out there who feels this way.  Many of the creature entries in Critters, Creatures, & Denizens are written from the perspective that there will be players at your table who will want to play them as characters, and there are several template-style entries to turn Player Characters or NPC’s into lycanthropes, vampires, or other intelligent undead.

The rest of the 120+ creature entries, and their more than 400 pre- generated variations, are there to make the Storyteller’s life a little easier.  There are a new types of Demons, a new Patron, all granting a plethora of dungeon fodder.  There are also several entirely new critters… all set to a DCCRPG scale.  There are also listings on abilities, etc. for many common (and a few uncommon) farm animals to make those 0-level events that much more interesting.

Lex Anne was an example of what I refer to as “critters with classes” which is an optional rule I introduce that can allow for any non-human, intelligent creature to gain class levels.  The whole rule is less than 300 words long, but I think it works rather well.  Her character was actually a spirit of the upper air known as a Vanir that have natural cleric powers the same way elves are natural wizards.  In this case the player gave up the cleric levels for thief levels; per the optional rule I created… which she then subverted into an assassin.

And then came the mutants… courtesy of the nearly 40 mutations available in chapter 2.  The mutations consistently transmuted mundane creatures into un-knowable monsters that posed serious challenges anytime they were in use.  My favorite was the mutant ogre in the Tomb of Arden Brightheart; it had 3 mutations, Headless and still kicking, Displacement, and Skeletal Transformation (lead).  They thought it could teleport itself; but in reality, it was so slow that it had to use its ability to project a false image to allow time for it to enter into melee combat.

Just for fun, here’s a link to the information for Sythrixis (the format gets ruined when I try to post it to the blog) he isn’t in the CCD, but is an example of what can be created when you use the DCC Core Rules and the mechanics I bring to the table –