This is a Review of Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics by:
Boggsimus of Boggsimus Games
The easiest way to catch my attention with something is to have an excellent approach with the product's design. Now this can take on a few different aspects: modern, traditional, and classical. The easiest way to look at this is placing the three on a scale with modern on the right, classical on the left, and traditional in the middle.
Modern designs are typically bold and clean where traditional offers familiar design tones, and classical can reflect on many different styles from the past. For example, the Pathfinder books would fall under modern and 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons would fall under traditional as it blends classical elements with modern.
So you may be wondering why I am giving you a quick lesson in design. The reason I brought all that up is because of a game by Goodman Games called Dungeon Crawl Classics. I first encountered the mammoth-sized tome at my local game store.
I was blown away by the amount of content contain within its covers. It called out to me while it was sitting on the shelf. It towered over the other books sitting around it. When I opened it up, I was pleased to find the classic pen and ink style artwork accompanying the retro RPG ruleset.
Although I didn't play too many classic RPGs, I am still quite familiar with them. To me, they bring back the nostalgia of learning to play Dungeons and Dragons from my friend's father when I was in middle school. It also gives me a feeling of the classic Final Fantasy for the NES.
These days, people tend to focus a little too much on a lot of rules and complexity. Sometimes, it's nice to sit back and play a nostalgic style game to relax. Now don't get me wrong, DCC has a lot of options and rules that come a long with it, but it's nothing that is going to span the length of your bookshelf.
Goodman Games, the publisher of DCC, gets 5 Gold Stars on my fictional 'Board of Awesome' for this one! Not only is the layout and rules easy to read, but the artwork is phenomenal! If you knew anything about me, you'd know that my personal art style is pen and ink, so of course the art is going to speak to me on a spiritual level!
What you'll need to play
DCC is a classic pencil and paper roleplaying game, so you'll need a writing utencil, some scratch paper, and a DCC character sheet, which can be downloaded from Goodman Game's website (Here).
Now, this game does use the quintessential polyhedral dice set, but in addition, it utilizes some strange dice called 'Zucchi Dice' which consists of a d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, and d30. Now there are places that offer these strange dice, but you need not worry, the book has options for rolling without them! To me, these extra dice add flair and more enjoyment to the game.
In addition to the above items, I highly recommend you snag up a copy of the book. Firstly, you are going to be getting into the book a lot for its charts and lists, but secondly because it's freakin' awesome! Seriously, you are getting a lot of content for the MSRP of $39.99!
There are over 450 pages and dozens of drawings in this beast!
Playing the Game
There are a lot of tabletop RPGs out there, that's for sure! So what else does DCC employ to differ itself from the others in addition to its Zocchi Dice? For starters, you don't simply start playing the game as a powerful adventurer. No, no, you have to earn that! DCC actually starts you out as a person with a normal background, like a peasant.
To add another layer of uniqueness, if you get killed as your 0th level character, you start over with another one! It's hilarious to me that multiple play sessions can happen before you get 'The One Character'.
Of course, you don't always have to do this, but I highly recommend it. DCC has a whimsical and retro approach and playing as a normal peasant before you end up an adventurer adds to this feeling and experience.
Another thing with DCC lies with its races and classes because they are one in the same! If you are a Wizard, you're a human wizard. If you are an elf, then you do the things that elves do... which they apparently elf. This spin on the game is a callback to classic Dungeons and Dragons.
I will say that originally I wasn't a fan of elves and dwarves being treated as both a race and class. It didn't make sense to me until I started consistently running campaigns. I have come to find that because of the traditional outlook on elves and dwarves, people tend to play them very similar. Which makes sense, since “Dwarves will be Dwarves” (like the idiom “Boys will be Boys”).
As I mentioned in the needed materials section, there will be a lot of referencing the book when you are playing the game. This especially holds true for spells and effects. Not only are you sling fireballs around, but there are different possibilities for that fireball based on the results of your roll. These possibilities include drawbacks, but also a hefty list of powerful benefits.
If you look through other RPG books, you'll notice the spell section usually takes up the most room. DCC does not differ in this aspect, but it definitely takes the torch and runs with it! Since spells in DCC have an array of pros and cons ranging from a result of 1 to 30+, a single spell entry can take up 1 – 2 pages by itself! So, this is right up your alley for all of you content junkies out there!
If you are still wanting more, magical effects, properties, and items all have their own charts to give you all of the information ever... okay, that is a slight exaggeration... just a slight one, though.
The whole feel of this game is based around classic roleplaying. In fact, the back cover of the books says “DCC is a complete roleplaying game of 1970s Appendix N Fantasy”. And trust me when I say that you will feel this approach when you are playing. I can only imagine how it felt to play classic RPGs back in the days before video games began dominating. You know, before online games, people used to have to leave their house and go over to their friend's house to play multiplayer games... weird, huh?
Although DCC is presented as a classical game covered in a layer of whimsical icing, it still can be played as a serious RPG that you can build an entire playgroup around. There are many new and familiar rules and tones jam-packed in DCC that I am confident that anyone can build hype around hosting it.
This game can grab the attention of veteran players who are looking for something new or for those looking for a nostalgic style game. The game's design approach is both inviting and ruthless; you can find that your 'mighty' warrior can be rather squishy and that your 'powerful' wizard tends to roll really bad when casting spells! Since this game caters to both rollplayers and roleplayers, it should rope people in very easily and keep them hooked!
If you are in the mood for crawling through some classic style dungeons, then this game is definitely for you... I mean, it is called Dungeon Crawl Classics!
Happy gaming! Thanks for taking the time to read this! Do you have an idea for a game you'd like me to review? Contact me through my social media and let me know!
Boggsimus of Boggsimus Games