It is finally in my hands! It is massive, and gorgeous. I could hardly be more pleased. I was an early backer of the kickstarter, and was delighted to see all the stretch goals being met. First I would like to get one minor criticism out of the way. On first open, I noticed that my slip cover has a crease and a slight tear in one corner. The packing box seemed a little inadequate. There, now I have made all the complaints I am going to make.
First the unboxing experience. The cardboard shipping box itself is handsomely stamped with a black DCC RPG Skull logo. I carefully slit the packing tape over the box-lid tabs, and eased them open. Beneath was revealed my Tome, in all it’s glory. I say Tome, because that is the best word for this phonebook sized piece of mammoth printing. As I said at the top, I immediately noticed the slight damage to the slip cover, and I could see that it corresponded to the slightly crushed corner of the packing box.
Beneath the main book, I found my extra (6) adventure modules, judges screen just as ordered. Also a handsome character-sheet cover (featuring Peter Mullen’s alternate cover art for DCC RPG 4th printing), a pad of character sheets for 0-levels (printed 4 up), and a single set of full sized character sheets one for each class option and one 4-up 0-level. Additionally, there were 3 large Skull logo print stickers, and two pages of participation stickers for judges to award to players, and finally a bookmark that included a 0-level character sheet printed on the back! All this cost me just $40 plus $12 shipping and handling. Apparently there are pencils, dice and a dice bag still to come. Yay!
I am extremely pleased with the swag, and its appearance.
The book itself looks fantastic, with the brightly printed slip cover, and elegant gold foil edges with the scalloped page indices. The book opens and lays flat easily – perhaps the best bound RPG book I have ever seen. It comes with not one but two bookmarks built in – perfect.
So far, I have read the character creation rules, and skimmed the rest of the book. I am still very impressed. Goodman games seem to have built the game I have been dreaming about for years. One where rules stay out of the way of creativity, but support a graphic and gritty game. They do not go out of their way to provide “compleat” coverage of all the possible issues in game – which is fine by me. What they do is provide enough rules to satisfy the basics, and leave a lot of room for the imagination.
There are no feats (which always bug me by essentially eliminating any creative player suggestions as to daring actions). Instead, there are mighty deeds for martial types. A Warrior or Dwarf can attempt any kind of additional action by a declaration (actions include but are not limited to trip, shove, disarm, blind), and checking the result of the d20 roll and the deed dice. The mighty deed succeeds if both the attack hits and the deed dice is 3 or greater. There – try whatever you like, no feat required. The game is both stripped down, and yet highly evocative. What rules there are seem carefully (and minimalistically) designed to support a certain type of game play. One that feels at home in settings as diverse as Tolkien’s middle earth, or Moorcock’s Melnibone. Zelazny’s Amber, or Howard’s Cimmeria. Which is right and fitting, since these are all mentioned in Appendix N.
Character classes are limited to Warrior, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric, plus Halfling, Dwarf and Elf (which are treated as classes).
I love how the magic system looks. I always wanted a system that felt like the one in the books such as the Dragonlance series featuring Raistlin – that magic is an effort, and takes something. Now every spell requires a check to succeed. Rolling a one risks corruption – your character may grow boils, or another deformity. Success may mean you get to recast the spell later. Failure may mean you lose the spell for the day. Great success means you do more with the spell.
There is a luck ability (and a mechanic). All characters can “burn” luck to avoid a bad situation. But you don’t want your luck to run out. Bad things will ensue. Rogues and Halflings have a simple mechanism to restore spent luck. Others – not so much.
Magic is intended to be rare, and special. There are no magic shops. Wizards can create stuff at high enough level – staffs (for themselves), potions, even swords – but they would be rare and probably owned by someone. All swords (for example) have personality. There are no plain “+1 swords”. Chances are your sword will want to kill someone or a whole race. Any magic item may draw the attention of the gods. Powerful items – more so.
Clerics can earn disapproval – failure is cumulative and can require penance. Alignment is on a simple Law – Neutral – Chaos axis; more concerned with actions than morality. Straying from alignment has more consequences for clerics than others (they must share alignment with their gods).