Dungeon Crawl Classics: The First Character Funnel

Here are four quick characters I rolled up using the Beta rules for Dungeon Crawl Classics. It seems likely that not a one of these would actually make it out of their first dungeon alive, but hey, that’s supposed to be part of the fun this game, right?

I think my only initial complaint with the random 0-level character generation is that the poor trapper gets stuck with a sling and only one damned stone to hurl. Everyone else has weapons that they can use more than one time, while Linara is even less useful than a 1st level magic-user with a dagger, some darts, and a Light spell. Worse, with the paltry, paltry starting funds these mooks get, there’s no way she can hope to afford more (or even a dagger as a supplemental weapon) at this stage. That seems just a bit too harsh for an enjoyable game. Otherwise, though, it seems like solid enough random, low-level character generation.

Actually, I’ve got a bit of a gripe with the Luck attribute and how it is applied to rolls for good or ill. The idea – and I hate to keep using the trapper as the example, but it’s the most illustrative – that Linara “survived famine” but is now hit with a negative to fortitude rolls messes with my head a bit. I mean, I can wrap my head around it if the phrase were changed to “Endured famine.” But “Survived famine” carries a different connotation for me. Of course, I’m also really just being nitpicky here. But still. Nits. They itch.

Anyway, here’s the quartet of scrubs for your amusement:

Ghelb / Level 0 Human / Neutral
Occupation Caravan Guard
Str 11 Agi 9 Sta 13 Per 12 Int 10 Luk 11
HP 5 AC 10
XP -100
Saves +0
Money 37 cp
Items Shortsword (1d6), 1 yd linen
Notes Survived a spider bite (Luck bonus to poison saves)

Dirak’aan / Level 0 Elf / Neutral
Occupation Elven Artisan
Str 8 Agi 14 Sta 18 Per 14 Int 12 Luk 10
HP 5 AC 11
XP -100
Saves +0
Money 38 cp
Items Staff (1d4), 1 lb. clay
Notes Pack hunter (Luck bonus to 0-level trained weapon attack & damage)

Forbush / Level 0 Human / Lawful
Occupation Locksmith
Str 12 Agi 4 Sta 12 Per 8 Int 10 Luk 11
HP 3 AC 8
XP -100
Saves +0
Money 32 cp
Items Dagger (1d4), Fine tools
Notes Resisted temptation (Luck bonus to Willpower saves)

Linara / Level 0 Human / Chaotic
Occupation Trapper
Str 11 Agi 10 Sta 8 Per 6 Int 9 Luk 8
HP 3 AC 10
XP -100
Saves +0
Money 33 cp
Items Sling & 1 stone (1d4), Badger pelt
Notes Lived through famine (Luck bonus to Fortitude saves)

I reckon when they make it to first level they’ll earn the right to wear a funny hat.

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0 thoughts on “Dungeon Crawl Classics: The First Character Funnel

  1. G-Man

    Well, I followed your example and rolled up 4 0 level PCs. The results? Three characters with 1 HP, including a Blacksmith with a 5 Strength and an Elven Forester with ‘Righteous Heart’ for his Luck roll when turning unholy undead (which he won’t be able to do, because he can’t be a cleric, which is just as well because his Luck modifier is a -1, which I suppose means he has an “un-righteous heart” . . . if it mattered, which it doesn’t).

    The one possible contender to survive has a decent Int (14), and excellent Luck (17), and is also a trapper (with two sling stones, so there). She Survived the Plague and therefore gains a bonus when other people heal her (unless she later becomes a cleric, doubtful as her Personality score is low).

    I don’t know . . . the experience isn’t exactly setting me on fire to play this particular Dungeon Crawler. At least they point out, right off the bat, that this isn’t ‘heroic’ adventure we’re talking about here. This is Gritty. Realistic. Okay, not really Realistic, but not Escapist Wish Fulfillment, either. More like: these are People You Might Meet at a Greyhound Bus Station, kitted out with beaver pelts and trowels. Bring it on!

    On the plus side, I really liked the Mighty Deeds mechanic.

  2. the venomous pao Post author

    I hear you, G-Man. The concepts appeal to the very young gamer in me, but I don’t think this approach really works for me overall. If I had countless summer hours to kill with my buddies building up complete schlubs from scratch – rolling up new mooks every session or two until everyone got lucky enough to survive to 2nd or 3rd level – I’d be more interested.

    Of course, I’m avowedly not in the category of “Give me a guy who’s epic & pert near superhuman NOW!” But 0-level, 3d6 in order, “I have a rake and a couple of ounces of salt, oh, and I’m going to die real soon” folks is just too low to start for my time and interest. That’s part of why BoL feels so good. If I had to slot BoL characters into the D&D level mold, I’d figure they were probably 5th to 7th level, which is that game’s sweet spot and where we used to start in most of the games we played back in the day. Just high enough level to survive truly interesting challenges, while not being disturbingly over-the-top superheroes.

    Did you play much (if any) TFT way back when? That was really my game for years, and we always started at least a few points higher than the suggested 32 point beginner level. 35-36 points seemed to work best, and also matched up nicely into that 5th level range.

    This is part of why I like BRP so much, too. You can begin with quite competent characters who remain fragile enough that they have to act intelligently to stay alive. It’s just a better overall feel for me, here in my geek dotage.

    Still, DCC does have some interesting points to appropriate (the Mighty Deeds mechanic, for sure) and the art is delicious. So I’m quite pleased with the download and I might even pick up a hardcopy when it comes out, if I’ve got the scratch to spare. But I don’t see it taking over my gaming anytime soon. Plus, despite being as much of a dice fiend as I am, I don’t own any of the funky zocchi dice and I’m not really interested in acquiring them.

    Alas, here’s a bandwagon I’m not really likely to get on 🙂

    1. G-Man

      Yeah, DCC does have some awesome art, including remakes from Moldvay Basic. Interestingly, the art doesn’t necessarily mirror the “reality” of the PCs in such a ruleset. But I suppose depicting a group of slack-jawed yokels tripping over each other with the aforementioned rakes and trowels wouldn’t make for stirring viewing!

      Agree with you on the zocchi dice. Gimmick. No reason why those tables couldn’t be done with straight percentiles. It just forces you to use the friggin’ things.

      And in complete agreement with you regarding BRP and the fragility of characters (keep that in mind, seeing as how you’ll be playing CoC soon). And the random PC generation in Stormbringer and Hawkmoon is genuinely fun, something that makes the chargen a ‘game’ in itself and fires your creativity.

      I never got a chance to play TFT back in the Good ‘Ol Days, which is a shame, based on what I’ve seen of the rules. Kind of like GURPS lite?

      We always figured the “golden spot” for D&D levels to be around 2-5. I thought I saw a retro-hack out there somewhere which basically ‘froze’ PC advancement at about that power level, which is an intriguing idea.

      1. the venomous pao Post author

        I’m a sucker for those remakes from Moldvay, daddio. Those rip my chest open and punch the nostalgia button with a big meathook of a fist.

        A couple of pieces depicting scrubs show up – I’m especially fond of the farmer fighting the little imp things on pg. 14. But that may just be because the imps – especially the one with the shears – look disturbingly like one of the parrots I live with. If she had arms, that is. 🙂

        My only regret with BRP is that I didn’t spend more of my younger days playing SB/Elric. The game just works and works well. Of course, TFT and Hero did, too, and I don’t think I’d actually trade my time with those. But if there were a way to go back and squeeze in some good BRP I’d be happy.

        Oh, I’m looking forward to the fragility in CoC quite a bit. I’m expecting a hobo with a stick to take Miles Vanderwyck out.

        TFT was great fun. It’s less “GURPS lite” than “GURPS’ daddy.” Far, far less fiddly, but nearly as customizable when it came to characters. If you want to check it out there are a couple of solid retroclones out there for it. “Legends of the Ancient World” from Dark City Games is the place to start, though their version is very stripped down – almost microlite level, really.

        I don’t think I’d willingly go below 3rd level for a “serious” D&D-type game these days, myself. But I’d also absolutely not take such a game above 9th level. Name level always seemed like a good place to stop to me 🙂

  3. Ben Overmyer

    For my part, I really like the Corruption mechanic for wizards.

    And the really high mortality rate for characters.

    On the other hand, I don’t need a long campaign, or powerful heroes (despite the epic nature of my own game, Ingenium) to have fun. I don’t think I’ve ever survived any campaign in any system for longer than a few months at most.

    But yeah. Especially enjoy Corruption.

    1. the venomous pao Post author

      Oh, hey! Sorry for the delayed response, Ben. This almost slipped through the cracks.

      The Corruption mechanic is definitely in genre, and I like that. I’m still not quite sold on the high mortality rate, but it’s something I could live with.

      Over my 30 years of gaming I’ve played in several multi-year campaigns, but they weren’t of the “meet weekly” or whatever type. They were much more episodic stories featuring the same (or mostly the same) cast of characters. So I understand your point of view on not needing long campaigns to have fun.

      So yeah, the things that were done to make Fighters & Magic-Users more pulpy/S&S-y are the highlights to me. I just don’t feel like I need DCC to do such things for me. I’ve been doing them on my own (and without having to explain yet more weird dice to players) for a long, long time now. Still, it seems like an enjoyable enough game and there are ideas aplenty to hork from it. 🙂