I have been reading over the beta rules of Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game for about a week now. With the rules being released for public playtest, I feel I am free to go ahead and share some initial observations. Here are my first impressions, in no particular order of importance:
- The Art Direction Is Inspired - it is hard to open the PDF of the rules and not have an opinion about the art, and the way the book is laid out. Joseph Goodman is credited as the art director for the book, and I must say that he is doing a hell of a job. The art is very old-school, and it makes me want to play the game! Peter Mullen's work is probably my standout favorite, but I feel all of the artists involved have done a fantastic job.
- Race As Class Is In - I am not too thrilled with this. Even when I was a kid playing Moldvay Basic I gripped and questioned why demi-humans were handled as classes. I didn't like it then, and thirty years later I like it even less.
- Dice, Dice and More Dice - this is going to be a sticking point with a lot of gamers. In the age of unified dice theory I am not so sure many people will be willing to go back to multiple dice conventions used in the same game. And not just that, but the game also uses Zocchi dice -- all of them! There is already an outcry of pain because DCC RPG uses percentile dice for thieving skills... Personally, I don't see anything wrong with this approach, but I would like to see the dice in play before offering my opinion.
- Tables, Tables and Even More Tables - here again, this will make or break the game for some. DCC RPG is table heavy. There are tables involved in character creation, like how Luck affects you during your adventures. There are Critical Hit and Fumble tables for combat. There is a table for two-weapon fighting, and one for Turning Unholy. There is a table for Spell Duels and tables for various other things involving spells (Corruption, Spell Burn, etc.). Each Wizard and Cleric spell has a table of its own to determine how well the spell was cast, and the various things that might result. The beta rules only list the first level spells. Personally, I am not sure how I feel about this. Here again, I want to try playing the game, with all of its tables, before I decide if I like it or not.
- Skills - being a d20-based game I expected a long list of skills, but I was wrong. Skills are mainly handled as Ability Checks, with the character's Ability Scores, Class and Occupation factoring in with bonuses to the check; a d20 is rolled, adjustments are factored in and a target number assigned by the game master must be beat. I like this, and it is basically the same way I handle skills in most all my games.
- Classes - classes read like most any other game inspired by D&D. Each class seems to have a lot of flavor, and should be fun to play. I have already expressed my disappointment over seeing demi-humans handled as classes and not races...
- Combat - I do not see a lot of complication involved with combat, but there is more to it than say Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry. Critical Hits and Fumbles are a big part of the game, each with tables. Also, there are Mighty Deeds of Arms, which allow Warriors to do cool stuff during battle. I haven't read too deep into this, but Mighty Deeds seem like a nice addition to the game without adding in the complications found with d20 Feats.
Well, that about covers it for now. I am sure I will have more to share as I look more closely at the game. So far, I really like what I am reading and it is a joy seeing the old-school art direction of the book. I really hope I have an opportunity to play the game soon, so I can post a proper playtest report here on the Outer Dark.