Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reading Out Loud + Critical Hit Charts

After our DC Adventures game Tuesday night, I started reading through the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG book, with a special eye on the spellcasting mishaps and critical hits.  I've been keeping my eye on this thing for a while.

I'm not really what you would call an OSR guy.  I may have gotten burned out on the increasing complexity and ever expanding power creep in any 3.x version of the game, but that never really translated into me wanted to fall back to an earlier version of D&D.

That having been said, lots of guys that are into the OSR are kind of fun to read, so I follow a few OSR blogs and the like.  Even when I didn't agree with those blogs, lots of those thoughts helped me to examine and reflect on my own thoughts on the hobby and what I do and do not like in my RPGs.

Anyway, the reason that Dungeon Crawl Classics caught me attention was that it did something a little different than other OSR retro clones.  It makes a system that is similar to OSR D&D games, but isn't identical, and then patches on some stuff that, while not in earlier editions, takes inspiration from the same sources that the original rules took their inspiration from.

Let me just say, I don't know if this game works well or not.  I've not had a chance to play it, and I've only read part of the book thus far.  What I have read, I have liked, but let me make one disclaimer:

This is a game for playing a crazy fantasy campaign in a crazy setting that is greatly inspired by pulp fantasy but with a few other elements, with lots of stuff that doesn't quite make sense together if you think too hard, but you are suppose to think too hard about it.  You are suppose to grab a sword or a wand and blast things trying to kill you so you can get rich and famous or have an insane story about how you died spectacularly.

I'm not sure if it was the d20 boom following the OGL, or if it's roots go back further, but there is a vile and dangerous thought in RPG-dom, and that thought is that one game system should be able to handle anything.  There is not one perfect set of rules that will model everything perfectly and upon which you can throw any kind of campaign template upon, and expect it to work.

Dungeon Crawl Classics doesn't model the Lord of the Rings well.  That's too deliberate and noble for this type of game.  It doesn't model the political intrigue and incessant warfare of a Song of Ice and Fire.  It's way too gonzo and action oriented for that.  

To be honest, it doesn't even model it's own pulp roots well.  Bear with me here.  Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser and Conan aren't quite at home in a setting like this.  They run into crazy and raid tombs for gold and glory, but in a setting like DCC, it's not just one hero in a thousand that finds crazy . . . crazy lives right outside the damn town!

D&D, and now DCC, really created it's own strange reality that was inspired by a thousand different sources, but doesn't match any of them perfectly.  It is very much it's own genre, though I'm loathe to figure out what to call it.  Patchwork Crazy World Dungeon Fantasy?  

In fact, I'm starting to wonder, and feel free to call me out on this, because I'm not married to this position, if D&D (original) style roleplaying works best if the world is treated as only a shade more serious than your standard Paranoia campaign, and perhaps just a shade less serious than the over the top Warhammer settings.  

Meaning that the more serious you want your game to be, and the more you want to retell stories like LOTR and SOIF, the less you want a game where your fighter is getting blasted in the face by dragon fire and bitten twenty times by an ancient wyrm and surviving, no matter how abstract hit points are suppose to be.

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