Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play

On Tuesday night I was able to play in my first Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG game. Carl Bussler of Flagons and Dragons fame is the Judge of the game and we have several fine Google+ acquaintances playing. We are playing Sailors on the Starless Sea. If you don’t want spoilers you might want to skip this post. I do not intend to go into extreme detail, but I cannot guarantee no spoilers at all.

We are playing via Google Hangouts for voice and video. We are making light use of Tabletop Forge. We use it primarily for some overview maps and to handle our dice rolling. I have toyed with Tabletop Forge a bit on my own, but this is my first actual game with it. It seemed to work very well for our needs and its integration with Google+ is what makes it the perfect tool.

We had four of our five players for our game this week. We had a timely start and soon we were off to investigate some ruins to the south of Honningstad, the town we were based out of. Each player had three 0-level characters, save for the youngest player who we had agreed the session before could have four characters going into it. We are a generous group!

Our characters were the winners of a lottery, well, that is what we were told. Some of the unlucky characters were a bit skeptical and some of the others thought their fortunes changing.

The task was to travel south to investigate some troubles that were believed to be originating from Talonsgate Ruins. Our lucky (or is that unlucky) lottery winners head south to find out what they can about events.

My characters were Tanor the Healer, Sogan the Unlucky, a dwarven miner and Cam the Quick, an orphan. The group of twelve reach the ruins and one of the group circles the ruins and finds what might offer a way into the ruined keep without using the main gates.

We reach the area of tumbled boulders and begin to carefully make our way up. A loose boulder is knocked loose and sends a boulder cascading down the hill. Unfortunately the boulder manages to hit three of the party, sending them to their deaths! Taron the healer was no more along with two other party members.

In many games of the day, a death is disappointing, especially when it happens in the very first encounter. It simply wasn’t the case in this game. It was great fun as the dice fell the way they may and I lost one character and another player lost two of their three characters – in the first encounter! It was great fun!

We managed to move the massive boulder off of the dead and retrieve the valuables from the dead – save for the breakables!

From there we moved on with exploring an opening the movement of the boulder had opened. We found a door with a pentagram on it which spooked all of us. So we did not try to enter the keep through that portal, but moved up to the opening in the keep wall.

We explored several areas in the keep proper. At one point two of the characters decided to retrieve a pony we had left outside the keep to help open a door. So Cam the Quick and another character headed out the front gate of the keep. A portcullis came crashing down killing one character outright and wounding Cam the Quick.

We retreated quickly from that and back into the keep. We went to a ruined tower and explored that area as well. We encountered an ichor of some sort which began attacking our party. After several rounds of combat we finally managed to kill it.

This brought us to the end of the evening, we will be continuing next week.

My initial actual play impression of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is very positive. There has been something very liberating with running characters with completely random stats through an adventure. Knowing that there is a good chance a character might die is also a nice change. Looking forward to our next session as we see who survives to actually move on to being heroes!

If you are looking for something with an old school feel, but not quite with old school mechanics – take a look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. It is a very solid offering from Goodman Games, my only regret is it took me so long to check it out!

A Look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Recently I have become interested in the Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games. I was aware of their beta playtest, but for the most part I ignored it. I am not real sure why I did not pay it more attention during the beta, but it never really made it any closer than the edge of my radar.

Fast forward just a bit and it the game started to get some activity on various forums and social media outlets as its release date drew nearer. Then people started posting they had received their PDF, then people started posting they had received their actual book. From there more review started happening and my curiosity grew.

I started reading a little more about it, EN World did a good review of it and I decided to look for it at Origins this year. I could not find the book there, so I purchased the PDF that weekend.

Initial thoughts are quite positive. The book is chock full of art and art from that early era of Dungeons and Dragons. The back cover has a quote that sums things up nicely “You’re no hero. You’re and adventurer…”

A group sitting down to play starts at level 0. You don’t start with just one level 0 character, but with three, four or even five characters. Why? Because many of them are going to die as they go through the funnel. The funnel is the adventure that gets ordinary people to go adventuring. Ill-equipped and with hardly anything to their name these adventurers go off to tackle the task at hand – maybe a few will survive. Those that do survive advance to first level where a class is chosen.

The game has the basic classes, Cleric, Thief, Warrior, Wizard, Dwarf (who is very similar to a warrior), Elf (who is like elves of old both martial and wizard in one), and Halfling who has some thief-like tendencies.

Magic is dangerous in this game. Casting even the simplest of spells carries some risk. This risk is what keeps magic from being too commonplace. Magic can corrupt you as the game goes on.

The game also uses funny looking dice. No. Not the funny looking dice we are all used to playing with. To us, d4’s, d12’s, and d20’s are common. DCC RPG uses things like the d3, d7, d14, d16, d24 and others. Dice that I actually did not have in my collection. I remember opening my Basic D&D Box set many years ago and the fond memories of seeing such unique dice. Somehow Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG was able to recapture that feeling.

I intend to take a closer look at Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in a future posting, so let me move on into my early foray into the game. My son and I (the same one that has GM’ed some Pathfinder) generated up three 0-level characters each to see what that experience was like. It went quite quickly.

Generating characters with truly random stats and such was very refreshing! No agonizing over where to place your ability score points, just let the dice fall the way they will. None of our characters were very extraordinary, but I think we each had our favorite we were hoping to see survive.

Yeah, fat chance of that! We tackled the first adventure included in the book. Being used to more modern games where you characters are “supposed” to survive, six characters felt like plenty.

When we reached the second room and saw two characters die right away we quickly realized we might not have enough characters with us. I think we made it to about the fourth room before we TPK’ed. We loved it. We had a blast playing even if it did result in all of our newly created characters dying.

So this weekend I tracked down a copy of the hardback book (which was harder than one would think) and ordered two sets of those “funny” looking dice. I can’t wait for them to arrive later this week.

If you hold some nostalgia for your initial forays into gaming and those initial forays were back in the late 70’s or early 80’s you need to check Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG out. There will be some fun times ahead!