Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review DCCrpg Adventure Starter - 2011 Free RPG Giveaway

DCCrpg Adventure Starter - 2011 Free RPG Giveaway
(16 Pages with attached cardboard cover)

A brief overview of the DCCrpg (pgs 4-6)
The Portal Under The Stars (pgs 8-12)
The Infernal Crucible of Sezrekan the Mad (pgs 13-16)

Written By: Joseph Goodman, Harley Stroh
Cover Art and Cartography: Doug Kovacs
Interior Art: Jeff Easley, Tom Galambos, Doug Kovacs, Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, Jim Roslof

The DCCrpg Adventure Starter contains two extremely short, extraordinarily lethal mini adventures and a hell of a lot of illustrations. After seeing the Beta rules I am beginning to sense a trend here. I certainly don't mind. The company is welcome to ply me with artwork, bikini models and beer all they want (I'm still hoping for the beer and bikinis).

The cartography is a bit on the busy side. I realize it is part and parcel with a kind of pulp magazine style theme, but it is more than a bit distracting. I personally enjoy a nice, unadorned map, preferably on the inside of a detached cardboard cover like modules of old. It reminded me of the old Troubadour Press AD&D Coloring Book more than anything else.

On the cover is the same piece of art that adorns the DCCrpg Beta rules. A nice piece of work but I'd rather have had something unique and related to one of the adventures on the Starter. On the back cover are examples of three modules DCC #69 Sailors on the Scarless Seas, DCC #70 The People of the Pit and DCC #71 The Emerald Enchanter. They are fairly comic book like. I would have hoped either for old style covers such as the DCC line became known for or perhaps old Pulp Style covers in homage to magazines like Weird Tales or Amazing. It is interesting to see that they are going to continue with the old DCC numbering system that goes from the 3.X D&D, then the lamentable 4e line. I thought that they might decide to start fresh.

The interior artwork is extremely nice. I like the variety and will make good use of it, but very little of it seems related to either adventure.

Both adventures are very short. It seems like they wanted to fit in two differing examples to showcase low and mid-level play. I would have favored a single, much longer low level adventure. The DCCrpg Beta rules which are free for download are needed to play these as written. The first five pages are a waste of preciously limited space for a brief explanation of the game philosophy and a peek at the core rule mechanics, then directions to the website and Beta pdf.

After reading the mini adventures I felt they were designed along the lines of some of the old tournament modules from TSR. There was definitely a sprinkling of Tomb of Horrors about both. Unfortunately these are so short that what style and character of the writing exists feels a little forced. Quick, deadly encounters that offer no real roleplaying opportunities, unless it comes from interaction among the players. Both have some good usable ideas. More importantly both adventures can be adapted to D&D/AD&D with ease. Given the opportunity for longer adventures of more depth and character the DCC line promises to be everything I have hoped for though less distracting cartography would be appreciated.

If you can get a free or cheap copy of the Adventure Starter it is worth picking up. I've heard that they are charging $4.95 for a pdf of this giveaway. Not worth it from what I've seen. It just seems like this was a bit of a mistake in design. I was pretty disappointed when I read through it, but only because I had higher expectations and desires. The Dungeon Crawl Classics name led me to expect more, even from a free giveaway.

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