I had the opportunity to run Harley Stroh’s Escape From the Purple Planet this past weekend as a one-shot to introduce a new player and hopefully to graduate a few new level 0 characters to level 1 for our ongoing Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign (because we’ve been chewing through characters like crazy lately).
Major kudos to Harley and Goodman Games – it ran very smoothly and comfortably in a 4.5 hour game slot. The only place where it dragged was right at the beginning as the players tried to figure out the first room (one died of a broken neck when they were playing tug-of-war with the chain, but that was it). After that, the module had a feeling of pressure behind it that kept building up – although part of it was because I did the timer aspect of the lower part of the adventure publicly instead of secretly, so they KNEW shit was going down.
12 level 0 starting characters
– 8 DCC Fantasy Characters
– 3 Kith
– 3 “Players transported by DM fuckup into the game world”
Of these, 3 survived. One of the players and two of the fantasy characters (both human). I would go into the causes of death of the others, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers.
I REALLY wanted one of the kith to survive so we could have a leveled up kith when we go back to the Purple Planet at level 4, but it was not to be.
I’ve been enjoying DCC over two different campaigns over the last two years. The game has a serious “gonzo” feel to it, especially if you run the official adventures (which are mostly quite linear, but that hasn’t bothered my group so far).
You CAN try to play it straight – there are a number of third party adventures that feel much more “traditional” than the DCC official adventures. In our previous campaign I used it to run variants on Ravenloft and Keep on the Borderlands.
For a new-school D&Dlike game (statements of old-schoolness notwithstanding), it has a grossly high fatality rate. Our main DCC group is rolling into level 3 now, and we’ve churned through at least 30 characters to get here – running only official adventures.
Warriors are incredibly better at fighting than non-warriors (getting a bonus die in combat instead of an attack bonus, but that bonus die produces special effects AND is added to both attack and damage rolls), but spellcasters occasionally go nuclear and end adventures. (One wizard dumped everything into a sleep spell, knocking out everyone in the castle who didn’t make a DC 44 will save for 23 hours, 17 minutes, and 12 seconds).
The variability of the magic system is my only hesitation about the game. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t… If a wizard avoids spellburn through the whole module (and stays alive) and then dumps it all into one nuclear attack, odds are that said nuclear attack will be the adventure finale. Unless of course the wizard misjudges what the final encounter is and goes off half-cocked.
The official adventures are fun, well-written, but generally quite linear. Since we play this as our alternate game from our more traditional D&D game, this hasn’t been a problem for our group, but some of the modules would rub me the wrong way if they were my only gaming outlet.