Sunday, January 25, 2015

I've seen the errors of my ways, and realize I've been too nice

A while back I reviewed the beta release of Dungeon Crawl Classics, and my initial impression was that there were too many things I wanted to house rule to justify running it. Well, now I want to run it.

I kept reading play reports on Power Shift's blog, and the game sounded awesome. I picked up several adventures and they read like classic Sword and Sorcery, very dark and very weird. A local store had the rulebook, and I flipped through that and the new 5E DMG at the same time. The DMG has lots of cool stuff, but a lot of it is just collections of cool stuff from other editions. Its also less than half the size for more price, and its not a complete game like DCC.

Some thoughts on the classes, in comparison to my initial revue:

  • I was wary of Clerics in a Sword & Sorcery setting (where the gods are supposed to be indifferent), but I like how they're tied into the Law vs Chaos alignment thing that comes up in adventures like Intrigue at the Court of Chaos. I would play Law as an organized Church that champions humanity against the supernatural. Chaos is a scattershot of cults to the Old Ones and demons (including Cthulhu, no way he's Neutral). Neutral is pagan gods, the dual life/death of nature.
  • I love that Clerics heal their own alignment the best and risk disapproval (an actual game mechanic) for healing opposing alignments.
  • Warriors are still awesome. I may house rule the "luck modifier to favored weapon" thing, but its not as bad as I thought at first. Your modifier doesn't change as your score is spent, and not everyone has a luck bonus anyway. Still, I would think a lucky warrior would have a bonus to Armor Class, not one weapon.
  • Thieves are cooler, their skills are bonuses, not percentile anymore. And the bonuses change with alignment! Getting to spend Luck easier definitely fits the class.
  • Wizards have lots of flavor but have lots more to keep track of. I think the Patron thing has potential but needs a different implementation, like a unique spell for each patron. 
  • I'm also thinking of writing up a Witch, Spellsinger, and Scinnlea for the Raewald setting.
  • Elves should have some cool flavor, I could use the random table from Dragon Warriors for inspiration. And I don't think Patrons should be so strongly linked to them right off hand.
  • Dwarves and Halflings are ok, I'd like to see some better flavor, but that could be worked out with a player.
Now that I know I want to play, I have to decide on a setting. Two things I really want from this campaign: 1) It has to be compelling. I want the game to be something myself and the players are excited about. 2) I want the players to have agency. Their decisions have to matter, I don't want to just lead them through an adventure path.

I have a few DCC adventures I've bought, plus the two in the back of the book. I could spread these across a map and let the players explore them sandbox style, with links between them. I would also want to include a few NPC groups who could affect the players and be affected in return, so they can make plans and act on them. I have a few ideas for a setting (twilight forest, shadowlands, volcano-heated tropical valley) that I could start with. 

I also could run Qelong, or "fantasy Vietnam". Its definitely dark enough, and its a sandbox to explore. I have a Mesopotamia setting I've never gotten to do much with, again an exploration mini-setting. Neither of these settings have a lot of NPCs to interact with, and would require some work to fit in the adventures I have. 

I like having options but need to cut down exactly what I want and make decisions. 

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