Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Megadungeon Crawl Classics #4: some thoughts on playtesting those houserules(and Lankhmar rules) and a general update

So when I wrote some fancy pants houserules for dungeon crawl classics to make the game play a little bit more like B/X, I noticed some interesting things. For the record, I playtested them with DCCRPG modules*, not my own megadungeon, which I still haven't finished even mapping the first floor of.**

First off, players feel more vulnerable once you start forcing resource management and inventory space on them. There's more discussion on leaving dungeons mid adventure, which sort-of works for the modules I used. Many DCCRPG modules, even if they are dungeons, are "adventures" and they're built around being playable from start to finish without stopping. Having to stop and eat, rest, etc is pretty much glossed over in the core rules, so my players, typically reckless DCC players, found themselves being much more careful, planning out loot-carrying duties and such.

The Lankhmar rules are in full effect here: I added in healing ungents*** at 50 gp a pop, and used the Lankhmar healing and resting rules. Without a cleric to potentially reset the player's problems every encounter, there's even more caution. Battles are felt much more, and the consequences of getting to fights are actually felt. After exploring half of the top floor of one dungeon, the players were so beat to shit, having burnt through their regular rests, decided to leave, with gold pilfered in tow(and to be fair, they'd already managed to fill their inventory slots to the brim).

This is good, and it's the element I felt was truly missing from when I started running DCC in mid 2015. I don't really like the Cleric class or its ability to heal a potential infinite number of times****, so limiting heals in a more tough way does more than adding in torch burndown, a need to eat and inventory limits ever did(on top of this, an odd amount of DCCRPG modules are actually very well lit and require no torches, and many are so short that it's possible to fully explore them without needing to eat for the day...).

That being said, I am not...dismayed by these findings, because it turns DCC from a combat focused, easy-to-recover-losses adventure into a deadlier, more piece-meal style of dungeon crawl.

Which is exactly what I was going for, anyway, so that's nice.

Hireling rules are hilarious. Players are really responding to the whole Village Strongman over a regular hireling, because getting a critical and then promptly killing the weak-ish monster and then promptly demanding a hefty raise causes some interesting mid-combat/dungeon interactions. One of my players just kills his hirelings for pissing him off, but that's fine. He is an angry kill-y kind of guy.

Nobody wants the mages, despite the fact that they're free torches and do 2d3 damage. Maybe I'll make it ranged. Hmm.

Besides this, what's going on with me, in RPGland?
- My LotFP campaign is getting close to the planned wrapping up point, a running of Deep Carbon Observatory. Surprisingly little death has happened mostly because the party has learned that "nah fuck that" is usually the best option. It does make throwing Veins of the Earth monsters at them kind of...disappointing. I've thrown the By-Frosens at them a lot, they even stole a dragon egg from them, so you know there's some bad blood there.
- One of my players runs a vanilla rules DCC campaign which is just short little adventures. I've lost some characters, alright, but Elric the shithead Elf is literally the only remaining character of the originals since Cashmere left***** due to Elric trying to cast sleep on him and rob him for boat fare. From my side, only my cleric, O'Malley has died, and replaced with decent Halfling Eiber, who talks like a bad Solid Snake impression but has 18 agility, so it's all good. It's pretty fun.
- Starfinder is starting to become boring. I don't run it, I only play, but we're all getting tired of the GM and his brother bickering over the rules every fucking week.
- 37/52 books read for the year but for new material I'm starting to do shit like spend audible credits on shitty Star Wars novels because they're mercifully short. Last Honor Harrington book came out recently so I'm hyped on that. Big Mouth season 2 is around the corner, gonna snatch that up and then cancel my netflix sub until Final Space and Bojack Horseman come back. The Dragon Prince was not to my liking.
On creative projects:
- Have a few things On The Go that I plan to release for free: DCC Conversions of Veins of the Earth, A Red and Pleasant Land and Maze of the Blue Medusa. Nothing too special there, just mostly the bestiaries and such. It's actually more of an exercise in practicing using Scribus so I can learn the program well and such. Plus if I can make the free conversions look really good, then may-hap the creators will give me a boost.
- Still working on the Domains book, but after Fiona's excellent editing, I need to get a couple days to myself, throw down some tutorials on GIMP and Scribus so I can put that shit out and sell it. Unfortunately, getting a New Job and also having my lady visiting a lot means I have neglected my RPGing...
- Other projects are still being passively researched and googled while I'm at work and are likely the next few things to be published by me after the Domains project and the free conversions:
Megadungeon Crawl Classics - You know what this is.
Carry Out! - A fun little wagon ride.
Davon's Brew - A fun, re-useable little adventure my Judge for DCC came up with I wanted to revise and expand and probably sell.
Masked Killers - Just a little funnel about people with masks hunting the PCs in and around a large tavern.

* The Emerald Enchanter and The One That Watches From Below
** Busy.
*** Heals 1d4. Seems chintzy, but the artwork for Lankhmar implies using it to survive being dropped to zero.
**** I am fully aware of clerical checks and balances, but I've also played games where they managed to pull off healing every single time. With a halfling present it was goddamn ridiculous.

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