Explore the Wilds of Wildsgate in Dungeon Crawl Classics #28: A Review and Preview
Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game: A Retro Adventure for Modern Gamers
If you are looking for a role-playing game that combines the nostalgia of old-school fantasy gaming with the innovation of modern design, you might want to check out Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC). DCC is a game that pays homage to the classics of the genre, such as Dungeons & Dragons, but also adds its own twists and surprises. In this article, we will explore what DCC is, how to play it, why you should play it, where to find it, and what to expect from one of its most popular adventure modules, Dungeon Crawl Classics #28: Into the Wilds.
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What is Dungeon Crawl Classics?
Dungeon Crawl Classics is a role-playing game that was created by Joseph Goodman and published by Goodman Games in 2012. It is based on the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), but with significant modifications and simplifications. The game aims to recreate the feel and flavor of the early days of fantasy gaming, when adventures were more about exploration, discovery, danger, and fun than about rules, balance, realism, and optimization.
DCC draws inspiration from various sources of classic fantasy literature, art, and gaming. Some of these include:
The works of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and other pulp fiction authors
The illustrations of Frank Frazetta, Jeff Easley, Jim Roslof, Erol Otus, David Trampier, Russ Nicholson, and other iconic artists
The modules of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, Tom Moldvay, Frank Mentzer, David Cook, Tracy Hickman, Harley Stroh, Michael Curtis, Brendan LaSalle, Daniel Bishop, Jobe Bittman, and other legendary designers
DCC is not a game for everyone. It is a game for those who enjoy the challenge of unpredictable and often lethal situations, the thrill of finding rare and powerful treasures, the creativity of improvising with limited resources, and the humor of absurd and gonzo scenarios. It is a game for those who are willing to embrace the chaos and randomness of the dice, the whims of the judge (the term for the game master in DCC), and the fate of the characters.
How to Play Dungeon Crawl Classics
One of the most distinctive features of DCC is its character creation method, known as the "funnel". Instead of creating a single character with a class, level, skills, and abilities, each player creates a group of four characters with random attributes, occupations, and equipment. These characters are ordinary peasants, farmers, artisans, or merchants who have decided to embark on an adventure for various reasons. They have no special skills or powers, and they are very vulnerable to the dangers of the dungeon.
The funnel is a way to introduce the players to the game system, the setting, and the tone of the game. It is also a way to determine which characters will survive and become heroes. The first adventure that the characters face is usually a deadly and brutal one, where many of them will die or suffer horrible fates. The survivors will gain experience and level up, choosing a class and an alignment. The classes available in DCC are:
Cleric: A holy warrior who serves a deity and can cast divine spells
Thief: A rogue who specializes in stealth, traps, locks, and backstabbing
Warrior: A fighter who excels in combat and can perform mighty deeds
Wizard: A spellcaster who can manipulate arcane forces and invoke patrons
Dwarf: A stout and sturdy warrior who can wield heavy weapons and armor
Elf: A graceful and ancient warrior-wizard who can cast spells and use swords
Halfling: A lucky and nimble thief who can dual-wield weapons and share luck
The alignments in DCC are:
Lawful: Those who uphold order, justice, civilization, and tradition
Neutral: Those who value balance, freedom, nature, and pragmatism
Chaotic: Those who embrace chaos, change, anarchy, and individualism
The character creation process in DCC is meant to be fun, fast, and random. The players are encouraged to use dice or tables to generate their characters' names, appearances, personalities, backgrounds, motivations, and quirks. The players are also encouraged to get attached to their characters, even if they know they might die soon. The game rewards players who role-play their characters well, giving them bonuses or penalties based on their actions and decisions.
Rules and Mechanics
The core mechanic of DCC is simple: roll a 20-sided die (d20), add or subtract any modifiers, and compare the result to a target number. If the result is equal to or higher than the target number, the action succeeds. If not, it fails. The target number can be determined by the judge based on the difficulty of the task or by consulting a table for specific situations.
The game uses a variety of dice, from d3 to d30, for different purposes. Some of these include:
Action dice: The dice used to perform actions such as attacks, spells, skills, or saves. The type of action die depends on the character's class and level. For example, a 1st-level warrior uses a d20 for attacks, while a 1st-level wizard uses a d12.
Luck die: The die used to modify any roll by spending luck points. The type of luck die depends on the character's class. For example, a halfling uses a d6 for luck, while a dwarf uses a d5.
Spell check die: The die used to cast spells by rolling against a difficulty class (DC). The type of spell check die depends on the character's class and level. For example, a 1st-level wizard uses a d12 for spell checks, while a 1st-level cleric uses a d20.
Deed die: The die used by warriors to perform mighty deeds of arms by rolling against an armor class (AC). The type of deed die depends on the character's level. For example, a 1st-level warrior uses a d3 for deeds.
One of the main attractions of DCC is its collection of adventure modules, which are designed to provide the judge and the players with ready-made scenarios, locations, encounters, monsters, traps, puzzles, treasures, and secrets. These modules are written by experienced and talented authors who know how to create engaging and memorable adventures that capture the essence of old-school gaming.
The modules are numbered and titled with a format that evokes the classic D&D modules. For example, DCC #1: Idylls of the Rat King, DCC #2: The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho, DCC #3: The Mysterious Tower, and so on. The modules cover a wide range of themes, genres, and settings, from traditional fantasy to horror, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, and more. Some of the modules are stand-alone adventures that can be played in one or a few sessions, while others are part of a series or a campaign that can span several levels and sessions.
The modules are also rich in content and detail, providing the judge with everything they need to run the adventure smoothly and effectively. The modules include maps, illustrations, handouts, tables, charts, appendices, and appendices. The modules also include tips, advice, suggestions, and alternatives for the judge to customize the adventure to their own preferences and style. The modules are not meant to be followed strictly or linearly, but rather to be used as a source of inspiration and guidance for the judge and the players.
Why Play Dungeon Crawl Classics?
The Appeal of Old-School Gaming
DCC is a game that appeals to those who love old-school gaming or want to experience it for the first time. Old-school gaming is a style of gaming that emphasizes exploration, discovery, danger, and fun over rules, balance, realism, and optimization. It is a style of gaming that rewards creativity, improvisation, problem-solving, and risk-taking over planning, strategy, tactics, and calculation. It is a style of gaming that fosters a sense of wonder, adventure, mystery, and humor over logic, consistency, coherence, and seriousness.
DCC is a game that recreates the feel and flavor of old-school gaming by using simple and streamlined rules that allow for flexibility and freedom for both the judge and the players. It is a game that uses random and chaotic elements that create unexpected and often hilarious outcomes that challenge and surprise both the judge and the players. It is a game that uses evocative and imaginative elements that inspire and delight both the judge and the players.
The Challenge and Fun of Randomness
DCC is a game that embraces randomness as a source of challenge and fun for both the judge and the players. Randomness is an integral part of the game system and the game world. It affects everything from character creation to spell casting to combat to treasure finding. Randomness introduces uncertainty and unpredictability into the game, making every action a gamble and every outcome a surprise.
DCC is a game that uses randomness to create situations that test the skills and abilities of both the judge and the players. Randomness forces the judge to improvise and adapt to the results of the dice rolls or tables. Randomness forces the players to think creatively and strategically to overcome the obstacles or take advantage of the opportunities presented by the dice rolls or tables.
DCC is also a game that uses randomness to create situations that generate fun and laughter for both the judge and the players. Randomness creates moments of tension and excitement when the dice rolls or tables favor or hinder the characters. Randomness creates moments of humor and absurdity when the dice rolls or tables produce bizarre or ridiculous effects or consequences.
The Community and Support of Fans
events, and more. They share their experiences, opinions, advice, and feedback. They create their own characters, spells, monsters, items, adventures, and campaigns. They collaborate and cooperate with each other and with the official publishers and authors. They promote and spread the word about the game to new and potential players.
DCC is a game that benefits from the community and support of its fans. The fans of DCC provide the game with a wealth of resources and materials that enhance and expand the game. The fans of DCC provide the game with a vibrant and diverse culture and atmosphere that enrich and enliven the game. The fans of DCC provide the game with a friendly and welcoming environment that encourages and invites the game.
Where to Find Dungeon Crawl Classics?
The Core Rulebook and Supplements
The main source of DCC is the core rulebook, which contains all the rules, guidelines, tables, charts, appendices, and appendices that you need to play the game. The core rulebook is a hefty tome of over 400 pages, with a striking cover art by Doug Kovacs and a foreword by Michael Moorcock. The core rulebook is available in print or PDF format from Goodman Games or other online or local retailers.
In addition to the core rulebook, there are also several supplements that complement and supplement the game. Some of these include:
DCC RPG Reference Booklet: A handy booklet that summarizes the most essential rules and tables from the core rulebook for quick reference.
DCC RPG Annual: A yearly collection of new rules, classes, spells, monsters, items, adventures, and more from Goodman Games and fan submissions.
DCC Lankhmar: A setting book that adapts the game to the world of Lankhmar, the city of thieves created by Fritz Leiber.
DCC Dying Earth: A setting book that adapts the game to the world of Dying Earth, the dying world of magic created by Jack Vance.
DCC X-Crawl: A setting book that adapts the game to the world of X-Crawl, a modern world where dungeon crawling is a televised sport.
The Online Resources and Platforms
Another source of DCC is the internet, which offers a plethora of free or low-cost resources and platforms that you can use to play the game. Some of these include:
The Goodman Games website: The official website of Goodman Games, where you can find news, updates, previews, reviews, downloads, forums, store, and more.
events, and more.
The Purple Sorcerer Games website: A fan-made website that provides free online tools and generators for DCC RPG, such as character generators, spell checkers, adventure generators, and more.
The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG subreddit: A fan-made subreddit that provides a platform for DCC RPG fans to share and discuss anything related to the game.
The Roll20 website: A popular online platform that allows you to play DCC RPG (and other games) with your friends or strangers over the internet. It provides features such as virtual tabletop, dice roller, chat, voice, video, character sheets, tokens, maps, and more.
The Local and Online Groups and Events
A final source of DCC is the community of players and judges who organize and participate in local and online groups and events. These groups and events provide opportunities for you to play the game with others who share your interest and passion. Some of these include:
The Road Crew program: A program that rewards judges who run DCC RPG games at local game stores, conventions, or other venues. Judges who register their games can receive swag and prizes from Goodman Games.
The Gongfarmer's Almanac: A fan-made annual publication that collects and compiles fan-created content for DCC RPG, such as rules, classes, spells, monsters, items, adventures, and more. It is distributed for free at conventions or online.
The DCC Day: An annual event that celebrates DCC RPG with special games, releases, sales, and more. It is held on the first Saturday of June at participating game stores or online.
The DCC World Tour: An annual event that showcases DCC RPG around the world with special games, guests, panels, and more. It is held at various locations and dates throughout the year.
Dungeon Crawl Classics #28: Into the Wilds
An Overview of the Adventure
One of the most popular and acclaimed adventure modules for DCC RPG is Dungeon Crawl Classics #28: Into the Wilds. It is a classic introductory adventure that sends the adventurers to Wildsgate, a frontier keep beset by a wicked curse and savage foes. In their battles against bat-riding goblins, savage cannibals, and evil rebels, the heroes uncover rumors of a lost vault left behind by the infamous thief Zamuk the Swift.
Into the Wilds is an adventure for character levels 1-3. It can be played as a stand-alone adventure or as part of a larger campaign. It can also be used as a funnel adventure for zero-level characters who want to become heroes. The adventure includes:
A detailed map of Wildsgate and its surroundings
A description of the history, geography, politics, and culture of Wildsgate
A list of rumors, events, encounters, and secrets that can be used to enhance the adventure
A series of scenes and scenarios that form the main plot of the adventure
items, and treasures that can be encountered in the adventure
An appendix that contains additional information and resources for the judge
A Review of the Adventure
Into the Wilds is an adventure that has received many positive reviews from judges and players who have played or run it. Some of the common praises and criticisms of the adventure are:
The adventure is well-written, well-organized, and well-presented. It is easy to read, understand, and follow. It provides clear and concise instructions and explanations for the judge.
The adventure is versatile, flexible, and adaptable. It can be used for different levels, classes, alignments, and settings. It can be modified or expanded by the judge to suit their own preferences and style.
The adventure is engaging, exciting, and fun. It offers a variety of challenges, encounters, and rewards for the players. It has a good balance of combat, exploration, role-playing, and puzzle-solving. It has a compelling plot, setting, and characters.
The adventure is original, creative, and imaginative. It has a unique and distinctive flavor and style. It has elements that are unexpected, surprising, and memorable.
The adventure is too linear, railroaded, or scripted. It does not allow for much freedom or choice for the players. It forces the players to follow a predetermined path or sequence of events.
The adventure is too difficult, deadly, or unfair. It poses too many threats or obstacles for the players. It does not provide enough clues or hints for the players. It does not reward or compensate the players adequately.
The adventure is too clichéd, predictable, or boring. It does not offer anything new or different for the players. It relies on tropes or stereotypes that are overused or outdated.
The adventure is too vague, incomplete, or inconsistent. It does not provide enough detail or information for the judge. It leaves gaps or errors in the plot, setting, or characters.
A Sample of the Adventure
To give you a taste of what Into the Wilds is like, here is a sample of one of the encounters or scenes from the adventure. This encounter occurs in Scene 2: The Road to Wildsgate, when the adventurers are traveling along a forest road to reach the keep.
The encounter is called "The Goblin Ambush", and it involves a group of goblins who attack the adventurers from their hidden positions in the trees. The encounter is designed to test the combat skills and tactics of the adventurers, as well as to introduce them to one of the main enemies of Wildsgate: the bat-riding goblins.
The encounter is described as follows:
you notice that the birds and animals have gone silent. You feel a sudden chill in the air, and a faint smell of smoke. You hear a rustle in the branches above you, and then a loud screech. You look up and see a swarm of bats flying towards you, each carrying a small goblin rider. The goblins are armed with bows and arrows, and they fire at you as they approach. You also hear a war cry from behind you, and see another group of goblins emerging from the bushes. They are armed with spears and swords, and they charge at you. You are caught in a goblin ambush!
The encounter then provides the following information for the judge:
The number and statistics of the goblins and their bats
The tactics and behavior of the goblins and their bats
The possible outcomes and consequences of the encounter
The possible rewards and discoveries of the encounter
Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game is a game that offers a retro adventure for modern gamers. It is a game that pays tribute to the classics of fantasy gaming, but also adds its own twists and surprises. It is a game that challenges and entertains both the judge and the players with its simple and streamlined rules, its random and chaotic elements, and its evocative and imaginative elements. It is a game that has a loyal and active fan base that supports and enriches the game with their own creations and contributions. It is a game that has a collection of adventure modules that provide the judge and the players with ready-made scenarios, locations, encounters, monsters, traps, puzz