In a previous incarnation of this top ten list, I said:
The more I play Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG the more I want to play it. It’s gotten the jaded gamer in me excited about playing a d20-based system again.
I still stand by that statement: 100%. I’m still excited. And I can give you a 100 reasons to be excited about this game, too.
DCC has been my go-to RPG since I first bought the rule book back in early 2013. Since then the game has grown through third party publishers. The first DCC Annual is due to arrive anytime now. My understanding of the game has changed, as thus the reasons why I love this game have changed, too.
So here it is, the revised Top Ten Reasons to Play DCC RPG:
10. 0-Level Characters
As the back of the book says: You’re no hero.
Roll 3d6 for each ability score, in order. That’s your 0-level character. Now do this two or three more times depending on how many characters the Judge wants you to roll up.. Now you have three or four 0-level nobodies about to embark on a dangerous adventure.
Then watch yourself get attached to your 0-level gongfarmers, cheesemakers, and squires. Watch yourself pool what little equipment you have with the rest of the group to succeed. Watch yourself feel conflicted about which character you want to protect.
Chances are: only one will survive the first adventure.
That one is your hero. Maybe. Now pick a class.
9. The Cleric
Have you ever played a cleric in another d20-based system and felt like a mere walking first-aid station? Not so in DCC.
The cleric’s ability to heal isn’t automatic; the potency depends on how high the player rolls on her spell check. More so, a lawful cleric healing a chaotic character stands a good chance of earning disapproval from her god. Time to repent.
Yet, if the Cleric keeps the faith, she can be the most potent character class in the game: healing wounds and broken bones, curing diseases, turning unholy creatures (not only undead), and at higher levels the cleric knows more spells than the wizard.
The Luck ability score is a wonderful wild card in DCC RPG. At times, it become integral for your character to survive.
Luck determines certain bonuses (or negatives) your character has under the sign he or she was born under. The higher the luck attribute, the better.
You can burn character luck points to gain a one-time bonus to a die roll (including attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and spell checks). This luck burn is permanent for most characters, and can only be replenished at the Referee’s discretion if your character accomplished certain tasks relating to his or her alignment.
Halflings and Thieves, however, are lucky. They regenerate luck points after a night’s rest. Furthermore, for every point of luck a first level thief burns, he gains 1d3 to a die roll, and Halflings can expend luck to give bonuses to other characters.
7. The Deed Die
If you’re playing a warrior or a dwarf, remember to roll that Deed Die!
At first level, you get a 1d3 bonus to your attack and damage rolls.
With this same 1d3 bonus, you can attempt any might deed of arms you’ve read in literature or seen in film, as long as you roll a 3 or higher
The Deed Die increases (1d4,1d5,1d6, etc.) as a character levels up and so does the chance of success (and better results).
Chop off the head of a hydra. Force an opponent off a cliff. Shoot at Achilles’ Heel. Swing on that chandelier. Throw a machete so hard you pin your enemy to a post.
(You may then quip a cheesy one-liner, if you wish.)
6. Critical Hits
It’s a bloody game.
Even those 0-level nobodies can surprise you on a natural roll of 20 with an extra +1d3 or +1d4 damage here and there. High level warriors can brutalize opponents with a combination of mighty deeds and massive damage.
Players will howl for the cleric when monsters deliver debilitating blows to their favorite characters.
Referees may wail and gnash their teeth when the PCs cripple then slay their favorite villain.
Beware demons, dragons, giants, and the undead: they get their own special critical hit tables!
5. The Elf Class
These aren’t Tolkien elves! They’re Melnibonéans!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read up on the Elric Saga from Michael Moorcock!
They’re allergic to iron (not a Melnibonéan trait), use mithril arms and armor, AND they can call upon supernatural patrons for aid (at first level!)
4. Magic is Magical Again
Magic is unpredictable. Dangerous.
Each magic item is meant to be a unique construct. Spellcasters are rare and hoard their arcane knowledge. Two wizards might know sleep, but for one it can also create mirror images of himself, but the other might have to shout to cast it.
Once you’ve blasted enemies with Magic Missile in DCC, you’ll never want to look back to another system. You make a spell check (1d20+Intelligence Modifier+Caster Level). Sometimes you might fizzle and only do 1 point of damage. Yet once I had an elf blast a dragon with a massive magic missile for 4d12 damage.
The most powerful wizards (or those willing to pile on the spell burn and perhaps luck) with a hair or token of the target, can Magic Missile a target a hundred miles away!
Just don’t roll a 1, lest the magic might corrupt you.
3. The Monsters
The game encourages referees put the boundaries on monsters the player-characters encounter.
Oh sure, there’s a small bestiary in the back of the rulebook, but the game encourages you to make monsters unique to keep players guessing. Lowly orcs could have translucent skin, elephantine ears, or both. There’s a table to customize them.
Lowly skeletons might possess supernatural powers the player can only guess.
Each dragon is unique. So are giants.
2. The Artwork
If you’ve read this far, seen the artwork for DCC, and still aren’t excited to play the game, then I can’t help you.
Go back to some rehash/remake/reiteration of a high fantasy setting like Middle-Earth were you might feel safe.
Drizzt won’t save you here.
1. The Game Resets Old Expectations
Abandon all presumptions, ye who enter here. —DCC RPG, page 10.
I love watching RPG veterans and newbies sit down and play the first time. Veterans will find enough familiar mechanics with other d20 systems they can help the newbies. Other than that, they’re all on equal ground when it comes to expectations.
Little, if any, of the veterans’ prior knowledge from about monsters or magic from other d20 games will help in a typical 0-level funnel. Thus, they can’t spoil the surprises for the newbies.
As the bodies pile up, usually in the first couple encounters, the players get the hint: this game is different.
It’s different and it’s wonderful.
The sense of wonder has returned along with the fear of the unknown. Both of which keep you coming back for more.
For Further Inquiries:
Goodman Games: Dungeon Crawl Classics