Thursday, January 19, 2012

Finally Played Dungeon Crawl Classics

I finally got around to playing Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics last night and I gotta say that it was fun. The first time I read the game I was turned off by some things. No, not the weird dice. I loved that idea. I was instead turned off by the 3rd Edition-isms so I tucked it into my hard drive thinking that DCC would remain a curiosity. For whatever reason the game came up in conversation and we decided to give it time at the table.

Of course we started with the funnel; 4 characters run by a single player, my wife. They are: Thorek the dwarf, Gareth the woodsman, Saul the cobbler and Mithra the alchemist. Hit points ran the full gamut, from 1 to 5.

Gareth the woodsman knows Thorek the dwarf who knows a guy who has a map for sale. Saul the cobbler and Mithra the alchemist are kin who set out to adventure for the legendary wealth that's "out there". They have a meeting set at the road house on the old forest road. Thorek who has known those who have set abroad becomes the impromptu leader of the band. He sets the marching order with himself in the front carrying a forge hammer. Gareth is next with his trusty hand axe and closely following up is Saul with an awl from his workbench clenched in hand like a dagger and Mithra who wields a staff/walking stick.

Gareth sees odd tracks in the mud. I call for him to roll an Intelligence check vs DC 15 to get details. The roll is 21! He can count 3 or 4 individuals in bare feet about the size of a child out in the cold elements. Then Mithra spots something up ahead on the road. It's an object or something lying in the middle. Thorek tells the rest of the group to stay put while he goes and checks it out. Gareth stands in front of Saul and Mithra since he's the burliest of the 3. As it turns out, the thing on the road was a piece of torn material off what looks like a heavy cloak. Attack!

From the high bank of the road two nearly naked, what can be called men in the loosest sense of the word though too small to be, with nearly black skin the color of wet slate leap onto the party. One attacks Thorek the dwarf while the other leaps onto the woodsman sinking his teeth into the man's collarbone. From there the newfound party careens into the chaos of their first bit of action.

Gareth stumbles and smashes his axe into the road's high side rock bank breaking the axe's hickory handle. Thorek, in the excitement, forgot about the lanyard on his heavy headed forge hammer and on a wild swing essentially throws throws the hammer down through the tree tops on the low side of the road. Amazingly, Saul who has 1 hit point throws himself into action to save the dwarf and takes down one of the creatures with a stroke of his awl. And Mithra with her measly 2 hit points steps up and crashes her staff on the head of the thing that is biting the woodsman.

Interesting how that played out. The two tougher characters were saved by those teetering on the edge of death just by setting out.

Thorek tells the rest of the party that the road house is just up the next hill. Scared they break out into a run. I called for a Fort Save to determine condition when they arrive. All fail except for Mithra who is the most scared of what just happened.

As the smoke of the road house's ovens came into view yet again something was seen up ahead on the road. Another of the dark figures was hunched over something. A body! Mithra yelled at it but wasn't going to advance on her own. By the time the rest of the party could catch its breath the thing was long gone. As it turns out the man lying on the road, an old adventurer, was Thorek's contact. Mithra began to bind his wounds like she did Gareth's a scant hour ago but he was well beyond her capabilities. His last raspy words were to take the map hidden in his shirt. It's too important not to.

Thorek declares that they'll take the body to the roadhouse and then determine how to do a proper burial. And that's where the session ended.

After it was over I had each character roll a Will Save. Saul and Mithra failed while Gareth and Thorek both succeeded on the high end. We're using the results to shape the fiction and upcoming role-play.

Quickly I discovered that my bias against the 3rd Edition-isms was wrong. Those "isms" made light made it easy to run fast and loose in ways that I never felt comfortable doing when running full blown 3rd Edition. It felt a lot like Swords & Wizardry with some extra bits to help shape the intended experience. The character funnel makes for a neat experience too. It's more personal and less focused on the game world though I suspect that will change as the survivors grow in power. It got two thumbs up.