So, I was home watching my boy yesterday, and during one of his naps decided to roll up my "posse" of characters for the scheduled Thursday game of Dungeon Crawl Classics. Here's what I ended up with (and just by the way, I am naming them right now, as I am posting this...everything else was pure random roll):
Old Orin Pig-Keeper
Strength 11, Agility 6 (-1), Stamina 3 (-3), Personality 18 (+3), Intelligence 12, Luck 12
Luck: Bountiful Harvest (bonus to hit points)
Hit Points: 1
Occupation: Dwarven Herder (alignment: Neutral)
Gear: Staff, sow, 29 copper pieces
Strength 9, Agility 8 (-1), Stamina 10, Personality 7 (-1), Intelligence 7 (-1), Luck 11
Luck: Conceived on Horseback (bonus to mounted combat)
Hit Points: 1
Occupation: Caravan Guard (alignment: Lawful)
Gear: Short sword, linen (1 yard), 29 copper pieces
Young Yorin Assistant Pig-Keeper
Strength 9, Agility 8 (-1), Stamina 11, Personality 9, Intelligence 8 (-1), Luck 9
Luck: Fox's Cunning (bonus to find/disable traps)
Hit Points: 2
Occupation: Dwarven Herder (alignment: Neutral)
Gear: Staff, goose, 39 copper pieces
Derrick the Blue
Strength 10, Agility 11, Stamina 14 (+1), Personality 15 (+1), Intelligence 8 (-1), Luck 5 (-2)
Luck: Raised by Wolves (bonus to unarmed attacks)
Hit Points: 3
Occupation: Indentured Servant (alignment: Chaotic)
Gear: Staff, locket, 20 copper pieces
Wow...this is definitely NOT your father's B/X! Four characters with a combined total of 7 hit points, and cumulative ability bonuses of (-1), (-3), (-2), and (-1)...I am anticipating quite the bloodbath!
As I wrote earlier, I intend to be comparing the DCC rules to B/X over the next couple days/weeks due to their superficial similarity (not the least of which is DCC's recycled art from B/X). A few initial observations about the system, specifically with regard to chargen:
- The idea with funnel system is that playing multiple characters will ensure some survival over time to higher levels, where your character will no longer suck, in the process developing a background and emotional attachment to the peon that had the fortune to survive.
- Unlike B/X, initial viability of characters is NOT a concern, due to the funnel system...which means that unless one is fortunate with the random dice rolls, each individual character rolled tends to look like a walking meat puppet. Viability is thus determined "in play" (if a character is viable, it is assumed he or she will survive to 1st level).
- B/X, on the other hand, provides some basis for viability in its chargen process. Ability scores are subject to some adjustment (based on prime requisite), class (and thus prime req) is chosen by players based on those scores, and "hopeless characters" may be discarded. Two of the characters above (Bill and Yorin) would be discarded as "hopeless" under the usual terms given in B/X (all ability scores are below 12 with multiple scores in the less-than-nine range), and Orin would definitely fit the rules-given criteria as well (as a character with both a below-average agility and a 3 for stamina), though his 18 in personality might make the character a fun challenge to play as a very sickly priest.
- Even should these characters survive to 1st level, I'm not sure they would suddenly become "viable." An extra +1 or +2 hit points probably wouldn't make up for the character's other deficiencies, and if my reading of the DCC rules is correct, then Orin would be forced to become a Dwarf due to his initial occupation (dwarven herder). A dwarf with a strength of 11 and a stamina of 3? Such a stat-line would not even have the option of being a dwarf in B/X; but assuming it did, one could at least "sell down" personality to raise strength. Here the character is left with a high score in an ability that is of little use to his class, and no choice in class due to the random nature of the DCC occupation system.
- Because of this (the lack of potential viability), the game would seem to defeat its own purpose with its "funnel system;" having multiple characters is supposed to (in part) take the sting out of death and allow one to be a bit more cavalier and adventuresome with characters. Not worrying if one or two bite the dust. And yet, with only one real candidate with decent future prospects, the temptation would be to play UBER-cautious with that single fragile character, "guarding" him with the three other "meat shields."
- Even should Derrick reach 1st level, my choice of class is somewhat constrained by his ability scores; again, in B/X I have the option of adjusting the character's abilities based on Prime Requisite. If I wanted to play a fighter, I could reduce his personality score to 9 (average) and raise his strength to 13 (bonus to combat and earned XP). This is not an option in DCC...I can play a cleric, or I can choose to suck in a different class - and NOT a demihuman class, as I did not roll the required occupation type.
- With average (or less) scores in Luck, it would appear the only thing the score is good for is "burning" to gain bonuses, and the random birth aspect is of little use.
All right, as stated these are just my initial observations. I am still looking forward to play and will be interested to see how the game works in practice. Personally, I intend to play all the characters with as much skill and enthusiasm as I can muster. Already, I find "Bow-Legged Bill" is my favorite, and can only hope he survives to 1st level despite his gross limitations (I realize this is unrealistic in light of his 1 hit point but, there you have it). At first I thought Orin and Yorin might be brothers, but after careful consideration have decided they are father and son (extremely aged father, considering Orin's ability scores), and would like to see at least one of 'em survive. Despite Derrick's superficial viability, he strikes me as a bit of a jerk (any indentured servant with ability scores greater than the freemen of the group is going to be looking down his nose at them), and believe I shall have him walking "point."