Monday, August 15, 2011

Pretty Good Game Last Thursday

No, I’m not talking about the Seahawks game which, despite the win, saw offensive tackle Russle Okung injured yet again, Tavaris Jackson get sacked half a dozen times, and Kelly Jennings being run over, run through, and generally being beaten like a red-headed step child every play.

No, THAT game showed me the ‘Hawks have a lot o work to get through over the next three weeks.

[as a side note, how about them Tennessee Titans? Matt Hasselbeck looking pretty sharp, huh? And how ‘bout that Jake Locker kid?]

No, I’m talking about our Thursday night game in which we played the Dungeon Crawl Classics beta.

Not bad.

Very, VERY minor complaints so far, and some of these might simply be a matter of “style preference.” DCC is a strange juxtaposition of several things:

- A B/X foundation (including styling and recycled artwork from the Moldvay book)
- House rules ‘ported straight from D20 (and later) editions
- Random tables a la what might be found in the OSR blog-o-sphere and on-line publications
- Indie-style narrative tools coupled with alternative random number generation

The end result feels a bit schizophrenic to me…at least when reading it.

But we didn’t use most of the rules…Thursday we were still in the “funnel” stage. Eight players sat down to the table with a total of 22 PCs between the bunch of us…the DM also provided us with a couple of NPCs to round out the party to an even two dozen. Of the bunch, I believe all but four of us were 0-level (two of the players had played in the prior DCC try-out when I was out of Mexico) but as it was, there were too many PCs for me to get an accurate gauge of who or what everyone was (fortunately, I didn't have to GM).

Not that there’s any real difference between the characters at 0 level. Personally, I found it great to play “normal humans.” I’ve always felt that the simpler the system, the more the game becomes about your character actions and interactions. And playing the equivalent of B/X “Normal Men” still offered great opportunity for characterization…though it didn’t go quite the way I’d initially expected.

Luke, our GM, came back from GenCon with a copy of Patrick Wetmore’s Anomalous Subsurface Environment, and he’s adapted DCC to the Land of One Thousand Towers. Which put MY initial assumptions about my characters a little “off.”

For example, when I originally rolled up my two dwarf pig herders (“Old Orin” and “Young Yorin”) I figured they were a fairly peaceful pair of father-son farmers, not hardened adventurers. I mean an occupation like “dwarf herder” sounds like something they’ve done for awhile, right? If they were hardened ex-mercs they’d be a little tougher.

But that was before I learned about the goth-zombie demihumans, coupled with DCC’s own description of what the dwarf background is all about. When I first created the characters, I never bothered reviewing the classes so stopped at 0-level character creation + “Neutral alignment” (which made them feel like nature-worshipping, druidish types). Now I’m like Oh, they’re short Drow with beards, exiled to the surface world and forced to raise pigs for humans.

These guys are SPITEFUL.

My third character, Bow-Legged Bill, was originally conceived as a Lawful caravan guard…an outrider, born to the saddle (literally, based on his luck). A protector of travelers in a strange land.

Then we got introduced to our NPCs…fellow caravan guards, buddies of Bill’s, who told the story of a caravan being recently wiped out and a good load of gold being available to loot because of it. Opportunists looking for a score at the expense of the very folk they were hired to protect.

These are my character’s buddies?

They were also, inexplicably, armed and armored much better than myself with splint mail, shields and flails (as a zero level flunky, I had a short sword and a couple dozen copper pieces). As we set out on our excursion to liberate the cash of the fallen from the raiders that took it (the unfortunately named “Mock-Tards,” some kind of gnoll-like monster), I realized my initial assumptions about my characters had been way off. Bow-legged Bill was like a dirty cop…and a rookie one at that, only starting to learn how to get in on the take.

It wasn’t too long before we had our first combat encounter…a pack of hungry wild dogs. The DM tried to make us feel bad about killing DOGS but I wasn’t having any of that (I’ve been menaced by wild dogs before…in the woods in Mexico…and they’re not cool). Especially considering my characters were unarmored and only had 1 hit point apiece.

Afterwards, we found that our caravan buddies had been hiding out in their splint mail while the rest of us were fighting for our lives and decided that they weren’t deserving of their high priced gear, and it would be of more use to other party members.

So I mugged ‘em.

Well, maybe I should be a little more specific: my emo dwarves and bad seed security guard lured one of the dudes behind a copse of trees and then brutally murdered him. After that we intimidated his buddy into giving over his armor and weapon and making him walk point for the party.

This, unfortunately, did not sit well with some of my other 20 party members and payback would come later in the evening.

Let’s see, how did that go down again? Oh, yeah…we found the mock-tards’ lair and proceeded to explore it in a huge pile of people. There was some early suggestion of using my pig-sows for setting off traps, but we already had the naked caravan guard up front so I was able to put ‘em off (my pig farmers were rather attached to their pets). There was a trap door that went off at a crossroads and then a couple mock-tards and a wolf came out of the shadows and attacked. A bunch of chaos ensued due to the incredible amount of people and the D20-style initiative rules. All my characters had agility scores under 9 (short-legged dwarves and bow-legged human), so I was generally among the last to act. People died. One guy was trying to keep the trap door open rather than just writing off the guys inside and getting into the fight…I think I tried to kill him, but I was at the “back of the pack” and the GM ruled I couldn’t get up there.

The melee eventually thinned out. Old Orin charged one of the mock-tards and bull-rushed it into the pit, landing his full weight on it and driving it onto the spear of one of the peons climbing out. Unfortunately, Old Orin only had 1 hit point (Stamina/CON of 3) and broke his neck in the attempt.

Bow-legged Bill used a flail on another mock-tard and brained the shit out of it, killing it. The splint mail seemed to fit just fine.

Randy’s characters decided to kill Bow-Legged Bill because he seemed a murderous loose cannon. His first character's assassination attempt resulted in fumbling and stabbing himself in the brain with his own knife. His second assassination attempt…um…I think he missed. However, his third guy, Stiles, was able to hit, and Bill was felled by foul play (he only had one hit point, too).

By this time, all the mock-tards were dead and the party was probably down to half its original size. We found a big ol’ box of treasure and some radioactive rock (identified by Young Yorin the dwarf) which we stashed in a lead box we found. For some reason, Yorin was spared from the bloody purge that claimed Bill, perhaps due to his youth and the thought that he’d been “led astray.” Sure.

Having completed our first outing, the survivors were advanced to 1st level and everyone got to pick a class. Well, everyone but the demihumans (my character’s class is Dwarf…go figure). We found enough treasure to purchase anything “up to scale mail.” Damage in DCC is variable by weapon, so it only makes gamist sense to pick up a long sword and shield. My character has gone from “assistant pig-keeper” to ShadowFell-ish Badass, in a single session…yeah, that’s kind of a weird transition, but that’s the game.

I’ll be interested to see how things go this week, and I am looking forward to another session (this time with more than 1 hit point). We'll see whether I can put paid to the trecherous Stiles or not.

“Spiteful.” That’s the word of the week.

: )


  1. I explained to everyone at the office that you were ahead of the curve on the NPCs obvious coming backstab and just being extremely proactive about it, and that you are not actually a bloodthirsty sociopath.

  2. @ Luke: Hmmm...I didn't actually attack any of the PLAYER characters (well, though I wanted to attack Greg for fiddling with the trap door). Mainly, I was greedy for the NPCs' accoutrements and felt the party would be better served if we (or rather "me") had their armor, etc.

    Everything else was just a slim justification.
    ; )

    Also, I have to admit I did receive an inordinate amount of joy in mugging the caravan guards, who seemed like total twits. Maybe I *am* a little bloodthirsty!

  3. Our JB reveling in the death of characters?! Surely we must be mistaken! Looking forward to making better use of my halfling and also a set of zocchi dice when they are not $30.

  4. tried to buy a set of those this weekend, but the woman at Gary's looked at me like I'd asked to buy a salmon. So much for trying to keep my business local.

  5. THIS case, that is. Still a big fan of Gary's in general, and the young lady was very nice. Just have to get all that legalese out of the way, this being the internet and all.

  6. I wonder if Greenlake Games has 'em...

  7. Amazon counts as local for Seattle right? Search for "zocchi dice". They have the sets I bought for $18.