"GLORY & GOLD WON BY SORCERY & SWORD"
Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game (DCC) by Goodman Games is a truly remarkable RPG. If you see it on the shelf your first thought may be, "holy crap, that book is huge, that game has got to be bloated (or insert other term for a "big" game)". If you get past that initial shock though, DCC RPG will surprise you. It's actually quite rules-light. DCC favors an old-school feel of rulings rather than rules. What makes the book huge is how the spell system works.
See, casting spells in DCC is a big deal. The second paragraph in the magic chapter sums up the feel perfectly. "Summoning magical energies is arduous, expensive, and dangerous. No wizard does it lightly. As a result, there are no mundane magics, no spells used simply to light a corridor, for example. Use a torch, fool; it is much safer!" Each spell has an expansive table because you make a spell check and the result determines that instance's effects. Basically, while you know magic missile produces missiles of....magic, whether you get one mote of arcane energy or turn into a machine gun of magical onslaught depends on your casting check (roll) on that turn. Now, this is quite an oversimplification of the casting system but what I am trying to stress is the book totals more than 476 pages. 174 pages of that are spells!
Okay, so the book is big. Well, if you want to learn the general mechanics, character options, equipment, and combat rules then those are all contained within 91 pages. Imagine that, less than 100 pages and you have more than a general understanding of the game. Cool? Cool!
Enough about the "size" of the book. Let's get into some of the other awesome bits about DCC RPG.
Wanna play a completely gonzo game starting out as peasants who tromp into a dungeon and are destroyed by droves? Awesome, that's just what the DCC 0-Level funnel was designed for. Basically you roll up a (nearly) randomly Player Character and head into the dungeon. Actually you roll up a bunch of 0-levels (probably between 3-4 depending on the number of players and the needs of the adventure) and descend into the abyss.
What do these PCs look like? Well, they have some ability scores (including a Luck stat, isn't that awesome? Basically how Lucky you are and you can "burn" luck to help you when you are in need of some extra awesomeness!), some hit points, a measly amount of coin (they are peasants usually), a randomly determined piece of equipment, an occupation (and hey, the occupation may choose your race like Elf, Halfling, or Dwarf. More on this later). Your occupation also gives you one weapon and training in that weapon plus some trade goods!
Classes in DCC RPG are a little different than modern D&D like games. Humans get a choice of Cleric ("the militant servant of a god"), Thief, Warrior, or Wizard. Each of these classes has their own flavor and way of interacting in the adventuring world. Demi-Human, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling immediately enter into their own racial class. The Dwarf is very similar to the Warrior but with its own flair. The Halfling is kinda like a combination of Thief and a little Warrior with some Halfling specific abilities as well. The Elf is a magic user that can also be pretty decent with a weapon as well. Sorta like a combo of Warrior and Wizard but...only in certain ways.
Changing gears now, Goodman Games set out with the goal of producing a one-book RPG so everything you need as a Judge (the DCC RPG term for Game Master) is including in this single volume as well. Things like Quests, Judges Rules, Magic Items, and Monsters are all inside the book. Also, as a Judge Goodman Games through in a couple of adventures to help you get the feel of the game. The 4th printing of DCC includes a 0-Level funnel and an adventure for characters of levels 1-3.
I could go on and on about the DCC RPG book but really, you should pick it up and give it a read!
How about in play? What's it like?
I've ran two 0-Level funnels. One in which the characters stayed 0-Level and another where the characters leveled up part way through and became 1st level characters because I wanted to get a taste for what 1st level characters are like. Both times I ran DCC I used the Sailors on the Starless Sea adventure by Harley Stroh (buy here or here). I'll review this adventure sometime in the future but it's awesome!
The game is wacky and zany! DCC RPG uses a dice chain rather than a large amount of modifiers. On the dice chain are dice that folks may not be used to (Zocchi dice like d14, d16, d24, etc.) but DCC RPG includes conversions for people who don't want to buy more dice (who doesn't want that) or you can use the awesomely available Crawler's Companion App (available in tons of places by Purple Sorcerer). Anyway, between the randomness of dice, the off-the-wall mentality of DCC RPG and Goodman Games' reliance and stressing of Appendix N, DCC RPG is a fantastic experience that is sure to rock your game table.
I'm trying to not gush on and on about DCC RPG but seriously, it's a good time. You should check it out!
Okay, I can't stop myself. Wanna know more about DCC RPG? You should join up with the DCC Community on Google Plus (G+) or the Goodman Games Forum.