Dungeon Crawl Classics (here after refered to as DCC) is an OSR table top RPG system put out by Goodman Games. It didn't start as a unique system though. In it's first incarnation DCC was a series of modules for third edition Dungeons and Dragons. The founder of Goodman Games, Joseph Goodman, started the product line after a Dragon Magazine poll showed that the player base had an even three way split between high school students, college students, and folks who'd completed their education and entered the workforce. Figuring that students are broke where as non-students have money rather than the free time to come up with new crap for their campaign he decided to market to nostalgia. DCC modules were released by number and seemed to do pretty well given that they were at #52 by the time that fourth edition came out. Now as any sane person will tell you Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition was a disaster and a consequence of this was that sales of D&D products almost dried up. This led to the emergence of the OSR and a push for a return to the good old days. With flagging sales mister Goodman took the general outline of the D20 system, the general class outline of basic/expert, and a heaping helping of inspiration from Appendix N and forge an all new system, at once recognizable and new.

Starting with the recognizable, the classes are Warrior, Wizard, Thief, Cleric, Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. Yes, races are back to being classes. The core game play mechanics are roughly the same as third edition D&D. Roll a d20 and add modifiers to see if you succeed. Hit the target DC or AC or higher and you pass. Characters advance in level by gaining experience points. This increases their base attack bonus, saving throws, and hit dice. Stats are generated by rolling 3d6 and summing the results. The list could go on but those are the high points.

Now for the new. DCC has the six core attributes: strength, agility, stamina, personality, intelligence, and luck. Those acquainted with D&D will notice that the wisdom stat has no corollary. It's been folded into personality. Luck is also new and modifies critical hits, fumbles, and a handful of other stuff. Rolling a natural 20 on a attack grants a roll on one of the critical hit tables. The exact die and table rolled on is determined by class and level but the roll adds/subtracts the luck modifier. Critical hits can include everything from giving a goblin a black eye to beheading a dragon just depending on the table and the die. Fumbles are the opposite; rolling a one on an attack roll can mean that your character trips, manages to drop his weapon, or some how manages to strike himself in the face. Luck can also be "burned" to increase rolls. Miss that save by two? Burn two luck and save your wizard from death or worse. This is a finite resource that does not replenish for most characters though judges are encouraged to award it for good role playing.

Spells are significantly different from vanilla D&D and most other derivatives. All spells (both wizard and cleric) can be cast as many times as you want to but you are rolling for effect. Approximately half of the pages of the core rule book are spells each of which takes up about a page and a half describing the effects of various rolls. The lowest successful roll for fireball is a bog standard 3d6 damage but the highest result is equivalent to meteor swarm. Many other spells serve double or triple duty. The rub is if you roll a natural one the spell not only fails but it misfires. This can be anything from embarrassing to annoying to lethal depending on the spell and what your character rolls on the misfire table. Most spells have small individualized misfire lists to roll on. Wizards can "spell burn" sacrificing x amount of a physical attribute to get x bonus added to their spell roll and players are encouraged to come up with florid and lurid descriptions of what their characters are doing to bring their stats down like writing in their own blood or screaming themselves hoarse. Magic is a risky business.

Warriors and dwarves get a "deed die" which replaces base attack bonus and gets added to both attack and damage rolls. The deed die also replaces feats. If you want to do some special attack maneuver you declare your intention and if you roll three or higher it works within reason. The book provides a few examples but like most OSR games it takes the DIY approach rather than a rule for every occasion. Halflings and thieves both have unique relations with luck since they regain it at a rate equal to their level per day. Theives roll a number of luck dice equal to how much they spend when they burn luck with the size of the dice increasing as they advance. Halfling get +2 per point of luck spent and they can spend luck for others making them a lucky charm for the entire party. Elves get a hand full of wizard spells and decent attack bonus making serviceable as both casters and melee support. Classes only go to level ten and characters do not start at level one. They start as classless level zeros with a starting occupation and a few item related to that occupation. Roll on the occupation table: you are a halfling chicken butcher, congratulations you get a live chicken and a meat cleaver. Players are encouraged to enter the first session with four(ish) character with the expectation that one or two will make it. Adventuring is a risky business.

DCC has a lot of fiddly little features but there are a few that stand out enough to be worth mentioning. This game is highly lethal and it wants to kill your characters. It assumes you will be okay with this. It also has zero character customization options. You get what the dice give you and make of it what you will. Choices are made in role playing and not before. Power gamers will not like it. The modules that I've played are middling to very good. I'd suggest DCC #66.5: Doom of the Savage King. The last thing worth mentioning is that it uses more than just the standard polyhedral dice. The game employs d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, and d30. These are a little pricey but you can just use a dice roller app if you aren't a purest. The entire system is in one thick book which even includes some small adventures in the back to get you started. DCC is kind of meant to be wild and unpredictable. It leaning away from the war gaming roots and into the fantasy literature side of D&D's origins. Like I said, new and familiar all at once.


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