As I mentioned earlier, I'm playtesting the new DCC RPG from Goodman Games. I don't have a gaming group here in Korea, nor any friends to speak of at this point, at least not of the gamer persuasion. However, I do have dice, paper, and a nice quiet library.
For this first playtest, I created a group of characters and put them through a simulated adventure. Basically, I planned out three set encounters that I think reflect the sorts of things that happen in a typical D&D adventure and then put the characters through them to see how the game handled things. I'm not trying to break the game at this point or put it through any kind of stress. What I'm mostly doing is familiarizing myself with the rules to see how they work and how they differ from the versions of D&D that I usually play.
One of the really fun things about the DCC is the way it turns character creation into part of the game. Back in the day, the rules told you to roll up your characters using a very random method: roll 3d6 for each ability score, in order, and take what you got. Now, before you modern gamers dismiss this philosophy out of hand, remember that ability scores were not nearly as important in older D&D than they are in more modern versions of the game. The rules assumed that you were going to end up with an average character most of the time, and that was okay. It wasn't like 3E, where you need a couple of 17s or 18s to “not suck.” A 17 generally meant nothing more than a +2 bonus, which was nice, but you weren't going to vastly outshine the guy next to you with the +0 bonus from rolling a 9.
Also, characters were expected to die. Below about 3rd level or so, the game was highly lethal. Again, this is something that more “new-school” gamers have been conditioned to lament about the older version of the game. There are good things and bad things to frequent character death, points which have been expanded upon in numerous other blogs all over the internet. Suffice to say that I'm convinced that a decent lethality rate can actually enchance a game. Also, please bear in mind that it takes about 10 minutes to roll up a brand new character in Basic D&D, not the hour or so that one would need make a new PC in, say, 3E. So, if your guy dies, just make a new one and jump back in. No big deal.
Alright, so I'm getting long-winded here. The point is, as time went on, GMs started to get more lenient with how they let people roll of PCs. That's where methods such as rolling 4d6 – lowest came from. Effectively, what people were doing was hedging the probability in favor of higher stats. What DCC RPG does is makes that same kind of hedging, where you roll a whole bunch of stats until you find a character you like, part of the game. Here's how it works.
The game rules insist that your roll up your character using the old method of 3d6 in order. However, you aren't just making one character. No, players are encouraged to make up to five starting PCs. These aren't the fighters and wizards you're imagining, though. No, these are level 0, classless nobodies. Each player runs a small group of these 0 level PCs at once. Whichever ones survive their first real adventure automatically go up to level 1, where they pick their class and become full-fledged adventurers.
The idea is that you'll be most protective of the character with the stats that you like best, using the others to shield him and help him grab that golden ring and become level 1. If it works, not only will you have a character, but you'll have a character with a built-in backstory of how he survived the odds and became something other than a peasant or a farmer. It's a neat little concept that makes me think of all kinds of fun “level 0” adventures to test out a new character's mettle.
With the idea of the funnel in mind, I decided to make a group of 5 characters to run through my little pseudo adventure. The game recommends a party of about 15 PCs, but I thought running that many would be a bit cumbersome on my own. I got some index cards to serve as character sheets (0 level guys are pretty simple) and started rolling. Below is an abbridged version of the characters I came up with. I tried to give each one a little personality based on what I rolled. Remember everything is random, including the PCs occupations, which is what they did before they became adventurers. Each character has a single weapon and a piece of gear determined by his occupation, plus an item and some copper rolled off a random chart.
Tavor has been a squire for far too long. When rumors reached him of an ancient barbarian king's tomb recently unearthed by goblins, Tavor thought that his chance to earn his spurs had finally arrived. He scouted the location himself and found it guarded by just a few goblins. Returning quickly to town, Tavor spent the last of his coppers to ply the local riffraff with booze and look for a few men desperate enough to help him. Tavor has assembled a motley group of wanna-be adventurers, convincing them that the goblins will be pushovers, and the spoils will be grand. He just hopes his knightly insticts are correct.
Intelligence: 8 (-1)
* Luck Roll: Broken Star: Tavor adds double his luck bonus to fumble results.
Hit Points: 3
Longsword -0 (1d8)
The human known as “Dog” was a slave until his master, in a rare fit of egalitarianism brought on by copious amount of wine, set him free. Dog rushed from his master's house, determined to leave before the man regained his senses. In his haste, the former slave was not able to grab much; his only possessions are a flask of lamp oil and a bizarre purple-and-green rock that Dog hopes might be worth a few coins to a wizard or other eccentric.
Dog joined up with this band of would-be adventurers out of desperation. He needs money for food and, besides the muscle he developed digging up artifacts for his master, he has no other skills to speak of.
Strength: 14 (+1)
Luck: 8 (-1)*
* Luck Roll: Charmed House. Dog's bad luck affects his Armor Class.
Hit Points: 4
Club +1 melee (1d4+1)
Oil Flask +0 missile (1d6, target must make a REF save DC 10 or take 1d6 damage each subsequent round)
Name: Bunder Gray
Bunder Gray is a man motivated by money and a strong desire to look out for number one. He's been searching for an easy score, hoping to land a job where he can reap a large benefit while letting others do the dirty work, and he's pretty sure that he's found one by agreeing to Squire Tavor's offer.
Strength: 7 (-1)
Agility: 13 (+1)
Luck: 13 (+1)*
* Luck Roll: Broken Star: Bunder adds double his luck bonus to fumble results.
Hit Points: 1
Longsword -1 (1d8-1)
Sirus the smuggler owes money to not one but three petty crime bosses. So far, he's been able to avoid their hired thugs, but he needs money if he's going to get his boat back and pay off his debts. He doesn't plan to get his hands too dirty following Squire Tavor's little plan. Sirus will help out enough to make sure the job gets done and he gets paid.
* Luck Roll: Fortunate Date: Luck affects Sirus' missile attacks.
Hit Points: 2
Sling +0 (1d4)
Rations (1 day)
Occupation: Indentured Servant
Alfred, once a hopeless gambler, was forced into servitude by crippling debts. He worked for the same man who, until recently, owned the slave called “Dog.” When Alfred's master freed Dog, Alfred followed the slave to keep an eye on him. His goal is to keep Dog alive and convince him to return to his master's estate. Alfred carries with him a stout walking stick and his only valuable: a locket passed down through his family.
Personality: 15 (+1)
Intelligence: 8 (-1_
Luck: 14 (+1)*
* Luck Roll: Charmed house: Alfred adds his luck bonus to his AC.
Hit Points: 1
Staff +1 melee (1d4+1)
Staff (Walking stick)