Sunday, June 3, 2012

Death Frost Doom meets Dungeon Crawl Classics

Today I finally had the chance to run Death Frost Doom. Without spoiling anyone, it was a predicatable disaster. Of course the PCs decided to do the one thing they shouldn't have...

We played using the Dungeon Crawl Classics ruleset. I gave them the option to start at level 0 to 3.  The group decided to pick 3rd level. Had they decided to start with level 0 to 2, I would have run Sailors on the Starless Sea for them. With level 3 I went for Death Frost Doom.

The group rolled up their stats completely in order. Then they rolled occupations and luck modifier. The group consisted of:

  • Liva the Cutthroat, 3rd level chaotic thief
  • Gelis the Exile, 3rd level chaotic dwarf
  • Gromph the Exile, 3rd level chaotic dwarf
  • Rasmus the Chronicler, 3rd level neutral cleric of the White Worm.

Gromph was the unlucky one. His initial luck score meant that he resisted poison with -1 penalty.

Without going into too much detail, the highlights of the adventure were:

  • Liva feeling totally spooked in the graveyard and around the cabin, but being her most competent self down in the crypts.
  • Gelis playing first harpsichord and then pipe-organ. She was not very talented at the first one, and very deadly for the group at the second one.
  • Rasmus deciding his mission to be de-secrating the temple of an apparent rival of his god. Which led him to cast a blessing at a fountain of unholy water - and it actually turned the water back to real unspoiled water (result from the spell check).
  • Gromph using his shield to sled down the mountain ahead of the pursuers.

All in all, what I think of DCC:

  • My players didn't like the Luck burn (one of them being down zero at the end of the adventure), but personally, I like it. It reminds me of Fighting Fantasy.
  • As I suspected, I don't like all the tables and constant need to look things up. Even though the results were pretty amazing.
  • I don't care for the strange dice (d5, d7, d14, d16 and d24) at all.
  • The neat mechanics for deeds and luck didn't play such a big role. Something I didn't expect.
  • Rolling d20 plus a modifier feels strange... I know it is part of OGL, but in 3E it was always like: skill rating + attribute modifier. Now it is only a rating (thief skills) plus d20. Feels flat.
  • The spell check mechanic and spell failure mechanic of the cleric were as much fun as I expected. Especially since the cleric went for a divine intervention in the end. Purely fantastic. The game really shines here. Side note: Again, the awesome seems to be with spellcasters. So not really an improvement over similar games.
  • I really like the way experience is handled. It frees the referee from handing out too much treasure, and also from too much balancing efforts. With DCC, if I made the encounter too difficult, the player characters just need to flee successfully and I'll be handing out 4 XP.
 What will I do with my limited edition of DCC now? Not really sure. The book is absolutely gorgeous. Style and illustrations transport the intended game style very clearly and very beautifully. On the other hand, it is quite complex with all the tables needed for play. Also, I prefer digest-sized books at the gaming table. LotFP is more elegant in this regard, but DCC has all the rules necessary to turn the LotFP fluff into crunch. What I would really need is a love child of LotFP and DCC. Or I'll take LotFP as the basis, and add DCC bits and pieces I like. Which is probably what is going to happen.

Stay tuned.

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