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Goblin Moons and more DCC thoughts

September 2, 2012

I wish I could say I have been recovering from GenCon, or that I’m at DragonCon this weekend, but sadly neither is the case. Its just been awhile since I’ve had much RPG-related to blog about. Yesterday changed that:

In honor of the Blue Moon on Friday, the guys at the Asheville Pathfinder Lodge wanted to hold a special event. Our lodge has had particular fun with, and recruited several new members by playing the free Paizo adventure We Be Goblins! It offers the unique opportunity to play Goblin PCs. At least it used to be unique until they recently released the Advanced Race Guide.

Informed by the material in that book, and borrowing the pre-gens from “We Be,” one of the regular APL GMs goblinized the First Steps intro module In Service to Lore. More than just a simple re-skinning of familiar encounters, we’ve created a goblin version of the Pathfinders called the Raidmakers, complete with 10 different goblin factions. Examples include: Ooo… shiny!, Fire Fire Fire FIRE!, Dog-hate, Eight-Fingers, Why Longshanks Get Rid of Good Stuff, etc. All of these line up with a respective “regular” factions we’ve all come to know.

The modules are still in alpha, and of course, completely unofficial, but the players seemed to really enjoy getting to roleplay goblins again with brand new encounters. Once we get them polished up a bit, I’ll check to see if we can post them here and spread the love for our little toothy, watermelon-headed friends.

In other news, I GMed a few sessions of DCCRPG and completed the adventure that came with the special edition of the core rules, #66.5 Doom of the Savage Kings. It was pretty awesome, but the players had some constructive criticism about the system in general. One of the main ones is that their PCs are too fragile! This was a first level adventure, and we had each player running two 1st level PCs. There were a few close calls, but no true fatalities, but the potential was certainly there. Have we become used to having 20-30 hit points on first level from 4e? Maybe. But it does stink to put a lot of effort in to a 5 HP character, only to see him get mauled by a dog or taken down by a brigand.

The other complaint is that most of the PCs aren’t very good at anything. One player had a Wizard with 13 intelligence. That character would never have made it past the character creation stage in any other system. It’s a fair point. So far, we’ve been pretty much playing by the book, or Rules As Written. That may change for future DCC sessions. Right now it feels like DCC Super Peasants! We may create something like DCC Heroes, that allows “5d6 take the top 3” for rolling stats, and rather than rolling them straight down the line, being able to assign numbers to the key stats you want. We may also re-roll 1s and 2s on hit dice so they have a decent number of hit points. Also, we may choose Race/Classes rather than rolling them randomly, as we’ve played several sessions and had about a dozen elves and dwarves, but not a single halfling. We’ll keep experimenting and let you know how it goes! We have plenty of material as I’ve bought all the DCCRPG modules released so far including the gorgeous Special Edition 13th Skull.

The Pirates set sail again this week, as we continue our Skulls and Shackles campaign. It will be good to put my pirate hat back on, and set sail for adventure!

  1. Jeffrey Tadlock
    September 2, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I think what you described is the system DCC RPG aims to be. Even the opening line on the Characters chapter starts with “You’re no hero.” The game follows this tone through its mechanics. These are peasants that are struggling and scraping by to earn what fortunes they can with what are fairly normal abilities.

    To a large degree I think some people have become accustomed to 4e and even 3.x where you start out more or less as a hero mechanically. Point buy to get optimum stats, a reasonable number of hit points and such. In DCC RPG the characters don’t start as heroes.

    I find the funnel really helps new players learn the tone of the game. The funnel is brutal. I still remember the face on the players when the first set of 0-levels were killed. First frowns and then sudden smiles and laughs as they realized just how deadly the funnel can be. I think that experience helps set the tone for the game as a whole as you move on into leveled play.

    Character generation is pretty quick in DCC RPG, so I think they balance the deadliness of the game a bit by reducing the amount of time it takes to create a character. That isn’t to say folks don’t get attached. We had Elroy the Dwarf fall in a 0-level funnel 2 sessions ago and the whole party was crestfallen at the death.

    Since all characters were built with the 3d6 method, it is quite likely that the whole power level is lower as a whole. So it isn’t like the wizard is standing next to an 18 strength warrior all the time. Quite likely he is standing next to a Warrior with a 12-14 strength. Since the effect is across the board I think that helps too.

    I think it is great that you have started playing by RAW. It is the best way to learn what works for your group and what doesn’t. It does help you decide what things to tweak to make the game more suitable for you and your players. Because as the Judge’s chapter says (and I love this quote too) “Let the rules bend to you, not the other way around.”

    • September 2, 2012 at 10:42 am

      I completely agree. The funnel is a unique and gritty experience. I think that aesthetic has its place, and if both the players and the GM are looking for that kind of high-lethality style, its perfect. I really enjoyed it, but I was the one GMing and slaughtering PCs 🙂

      We’re going to try it a little more heroically and see how we like it. If the Hero-PCs start steam-rolling encounters, we may make adjustments as necessary. As you quoted, “Let the rules bend to you, not the other way around.” I think it’s still within the spirit of DCC to play with pumped up PCs. If everybody is having a good time, everybody wins.

      • Jeffrey Tadlock
        September 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

        I totally agree. Sounds like you have tried it by the rules and found a few tweaks to make the game fit your group better. I think that is awesome. Look forward to more play reports to hear how things worked out. Have fun!

  2. September 2, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Also remember that ‘role-playing is the thing’ in DCC: if your players enjoy more power, let them seek it out: want that mage to increase in INT? Craft some deadly quest seeking out the ‘Well of Knowledge’ or set him on the path to making some horrible bargain with a greater power. That way you can accodate the ‘heroic’ styles of play while retaining the texture that makes DCC so distinctive and refreshing. (And from what I gather, high level DCC characters are absurdly dangerous…)

    • September 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Thats an excellent idea! I haven’t tried any high-level DCC with RAW. Maybe we’ll try that and see how it goes. Items that increase effective caster level can boost up a low INT wizard too, but I think we might try the heroic approach to DCCRPG and see how it plays.

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