If you’re a newbie to Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, you’ve come to the right place, my unofficial guide for those who aren’t familiar with game or who’d like to know more. After you’ve read this, and perhaps the The Top 10 Reasons to Play DCC RPG, you should have enough background to understand the game.

A Bit of History

Goodman Games first published DCC in 2012 during the height of the Old School Renaissance, a movement among veteran Dungeons & Dragons players to support, promote, or publish systems that either cloned or imitated pre-2000 versions of D&D.

If you’re already familiar with Dungeons & Dragons (and its d20 variants out there), you already grasp the basic mechanics of DCC.

Sort of.

(If you’re not familiar with D&D at all, you may skip below to Play the Game.)

DCC’s mechanics resemble post-year-2000 versions of D&D, but streamlined. The design philosophy, on the other hand, has its roots in the early days of D&D, going back to the 1970s, when players could finally play characters like those found in science-fiction/fantasy and sword & sorcery literature.

The mix of this old school philosophy with newer school mechanics has made it difficult to classify DCC. While its part of the d20 family, the game is almost its own complete and distinct system. I’m reluctant, at times, to compare it to D&D because most of the iconic elements found in mainstream D&D (character classes, spells, skills, attributes, feats, experience points) work much differently in DCC, or are non-existent.

There’s much more to this history, of course, but now you know enough to…

Play The Game

The best way to learn a game is to play it.

Find a DCC Judge or Game Master to run you through a 0-level funnel.

To play a 0-level funnel, you roll up three or four 0-level characters and see how many survive their first adventure.

Here’s a few neat things I like about 0-level funnels:

  • Character generation is fast. Let those dice fall where they may and you’ll be playing in 15-20 minutes. Don’t try to min-max your characters; the rules as written won’t let you.
  • You don’t spent much time agonizing over equipment to buy. Just about every character is broke. (However, if your character has money, spend it on something useful like a flask of oil or the ever-popular 10-foot pole!)
  • If you roll up a sub-par character, you can let it die during play and be still in the game. You have other characters.
  • The same thing goes if a character dies in combat or by other means.
  • Strangely enough, you may grow attached to these zero-level Animal Trainers, Blacksmiths, Ditch Diggers, Jesters, and Orphans.

If there’s nobody you know willing to run, visit the Events Page and Retail Locator at Goodman Games. Go online. Find those DCC groups on social media like Facebook.

If all else fails, run a funnel for your friends, even if its simply The Portal Under the Stars in the back of the rule book or in a copy of the Quick Start Rules (see below). As a newbie DCC judge, you don’t have to know much about the game to run a 0-level funnel. It’s easy to learn as you play… you don’t have to master the system to run a good game.

The Next Steps

So you tried it and you like it: what next?

  • Get a copy of the Quick Start Rules. Road Crew member of Goodman Games ran the game, ask for a free copy as they might have it as part of their swag. Your local game store might also hand out free copies for Free RPG Day. Otherwise, it’s $5–which is a still a good deal if you’re still shy about investing in the rule book. [Edit: here’s link to a the free pdf at the Goodman Games website.]
  • Go to the Goodman Games’s website, the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG section, to find out more about the game.
  • Go to Purple Sorcerer Games and check out their free tools. You can generate batches of 0-level characters and use other time saving features.
  • Check out the third party support–Goodman Games has done a wonderful job encouraging other publishers to generate their own content, like The Gongfarmer’s Almanac and Crawl! Zine.
  • Buy the Dice–you can find official DCC dice at Goodman Games. Other options are available, of course.

Do I have to buy the special dice?

No. Not at first anyway. The DCC rulebook has instructions how you can use regular RPG polyhedrons for the game. Yet purchasing the dice, just as purchasing the rulebook, shows you are committed to learning the game to Judges out there.

Must I meet the qualifications found on Page 10 of the DCC RPG rulebook to avoid becoming cursed heretical beholder?

Yes!

Even if you must hunt down copies of those little brown books! Reprints and PDF downloads will do.

Discover the history of the hobby. Read at least some of the books in Appendix N before you go too deep into the game.

Final Remarks

All tongue-in-cheek humor aside…

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG isn’t meant for every gamer. Far from it. That should be clear by the artwork and the 0-level funnel system alone.

You should already have an interest in science-fiction and fantasy before you play the game, otherwise, put the rule book down. If this sounds elitist: it is; yet you might be saving yourself from unneeded frustration and confusion if you walk away.

Understand that RPGs are an end-product to the history, literature, art, and motion pictures which inspired these games in the first place. A particular sub-set of sword-and-sorcery fantasy literature and media inspired the creation of DCC RPG.

Otherwise, play the game. Enjoy it for what it offers.

Bonus:

Because you took the time to read this, for your next 0-level funnel you may recover the body without making a luck check of ONE and only ONE zero level character of your own who reached zero hit points. (Normally zero-level characters simply die when the reach zero hit points).

This bonus is good in your next 0-level funnel only. If you don’t use it, it expires.

You character, however, still suffers the penalties for recovering the body (see page 93 of the DCC RPG rule book).

If you’re GM or judge objects, tell him or her the argue zero-level funnels are hard enough and that the spirit of the game relies on rulings not rules.

If that still doesn’t work, then tell your GM/Judge that I, Stelios, said it was okay, despite not being an official representative of Goodman Games or having any real authority over what happens at other tabletops besides my own, but I believe some zero-level characters deserve a second chance…