I had the chance to play as a band of four PC's in Erik Tenkar's DCC arc yesterday night. I always appreciate the chance to play in someone else's game, and as a regular DM, I know how difficult it can be. So thanks are of course in order. I am normally a Pathfinder DM and Player, so my review brings some of those newer sensibilities to look at DCC.
Onto the game. I think that we probably should have taken time to introduce our gaggles of 4 lowly PC's. Most of the party had clear favorites (both of mine made it out), and some clearly despised characters with abysmal rolls. I think that it would have made the eventual deaths of these unloved PC's a bit more fun if we had done a short intro to our PCs. There are a lot of reasons why it might not have worked as well as I'm imagining last night--for one we were a new party of strangers, and for two we were all new to the ruleset. I'd just like to point out that my two PC's who died were named 'Fumbleface' and 'Mike Mearls'. If I was DM'ing this in the future, I would probably encourage this minimal level of 'backstory'. I mean seriously, how awesome would it have been if 'Fumbleface' had kicked things off with a string of critical hits and survived through to the end of the adventure.
Erik ran us through the introductory dungeon in the DCC book, and I must say I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a bit bigger. We managed to defeat the stuff in this dungeon with 8 or 9 PC's left, out of a group of 16. With the emphasis on the funnel I was expecting that we would end up with a group of 4 barely alive PC's struggling out of the dungeon. With the number of PC's each person had, we were essentially always in control of where our favored PC's were (i.e. never in harm's way). The only significant risk that my favored PC took was at the beginning of the game, where she knocked a magical tome out of the hands of a fire-shooting statue.
I'm working on leveling these guys up right now, and I'm thinking that I might end up liking my Dwarf guy more than the conniving ropemaker lady (who I had originally envisioned as my 'main' PC).
She has really good stats, a plus one in everything but agility, and a plus 2 in luck. I guess I originally saw her as a thief, but I ended up not being a huge fan of the thief class when looking at it in the DCC pdf. I looked at this class for long enough to realized that my ropemaker was probably not going to end up as a thief. I don't have any specific criticisms of the thief class per se. In fact, I think that my ropemaker would have made a perfectly fine thief on paper. She's got bonuses to almost every score, so she really could probably have ended up as a Warrior too. But because her character creation wasn't purely mechanical, in its inclusion of 'actual play', I realized that although she would mechanically fit into any of the three classes, she's probably a magic user. But something feels weird about that class to me. I don't know if I really *want* to invoke a patron. The spell-caster in this game feels a bit more Lovecraftian than traditional D&D, and I'm not a huge fan of that (as a PC). I actually really like the flavor, it just feels *dangerous* to be a wizard, and I'm not sure I want my character to go insane from using magic. I'm not sure what felt 'wrong' about this classe to me, but my gut is telling me that as a 3.x and higher player, I like options for my PC's that give me control. Whereas, the Wizard Class is determined almost entirely by luck (rolling on a table for the spells you know, and then rolling on a table for the weird effects). So I'm hesitating to level the ropemaker, because I think that she's clearly going to become a caster (and would probably make a pretty kick-ass one), but I'm worried that she'll roll a bunch of crappy spells, or weird 'mercurial effects' for them. In Pathfinder, of course there wouldn't be any of this hesitation. But I'm not a huge fan of how Magic in Pathfinder loses some of its magical flavor by mundanifying its spells (like for instance, who actually tracks spell components--for anything other than Wish, Miracle or Resurrection?).
I really like all of the Dwarf's features, and I think he has a plus 1 to strength, so he'd make a perfectly fine fighter. I also really like the 'sword and board' feature that the dwarf has built in. This class does feel right to me as a Pathfinder player. I didn't look at the Warrior class (except to read the 'deeds' section), but this class feels min-maxed in all of the right ways for Dungeon Crawling. I mean they don't have any skills except for 'Dwarven Stonecunning' type stuff. Dwarf is a race that min-maxes itself, and since I have a bonus in strength and stamina, I feel like it doesn't matter that I have negs in luck and Int. I really like the dwarf here, it feels like a dwarf, and it looks like fun to play. (also I don't have to make any Faustian bargains to get that power, nor to roll on a table for my class powers.
The one other thing I wanted to mention briefly was how awesome it was that everyone had only a few pieces of random mundane equipment. Combined with the fact that we were all weak, made everyone look to squeeze every bit of advantage out of the tools we were given.
I'm considering running funnels for future Pathfinder RPG's with the simplified 3d6 in order and use the NPC class commoner for the PC's. Seriously, as I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking that we Pathfinder DM's should develop the random generation charts for PF so that we could use the funnel for beginning Pathfinder adventures. The funnel was a lot of fun, and I really do like the way that it incorporates actual play into character generation. I didn't realize how much that would inform my later decisions for leveling, but with my ropemaker, my initial idea of her was as a thief but the dungeon made me see her more as a magic user.
Anyways, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG was a lot of fun and I'd like to thank Erik again for running it. I'm looking forward to playing again next week.