The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

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serendipitous
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The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

Thanks ahead of time for ideas & feedback.

I'm wondering what is the Least I Need to Know (more or less) to DM through, say, a funnel? And/or a set of Things to Do to Get There, knowledge-wise. I'm pretty newbie on the DMing & have only been RPGing about a year -- my boys & I picked up gaming after our church forced us out. Seems to be an improvement on all fronts. :)

There appear to be roughly two fronts I need to wrangle with, one being narrative and the other being system (obviously they affect each other, but are still a bit separable). I ran a one-off D&D game & it is safe to say that I can figure out how to get the narrative down and set up a satisfying set of encounters, but the system rules are where I struggle to really get a firm grip. Especially combat. My biggest mistake in my first game (Wild Sheep Chase) was that I hadn't wargamed/simulated a multi-character combat at the end of that module and as a result my players didn't have the satisfying wrap-up we'd all have liked.

I'd be grateful for pointers, a short list of things to master, anything that seems useful & actionable.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
francisca
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by francisca »

The least you need to know? Probably more than you are willing to put forth the effort to learn.
serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

francisca wrote: Fri May 22, 2020 7:04 pm The least you need to know? Probably more than you are willing to put forth the effort to learn.
Okay!

As in: the least one needs to know is more than anybody is willing to work for? or just me?
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Raven_Crowking »

The least you need to know?

How the major systems of the game work (combat, skills, spell checks).

How Luck works.

How the Dice Chain works.

The basic job: Provide a context that allows the players to make interesting choices, determine the consequences of those choices, and the end result becomes part of the new context for additional choices.

The easiest way to learn this stuff from a cold start is to jump into a game and experience it as a player. There are online options, such as the upcoming DCC Days.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

Raven_Crowking, thanks so much.

That short list is quite helpful: I'm so scattered these days, and my usual approach to something like this isn't working -- it's too intuitive, and my head is too full of bees.

I've played several sessions in a DCC campaign, so that helps; but my friend who ran the games is just a terrific judge/DM and it all seems a bit overwhelming. You've narrowed it down to tackle-able.

I have a couple followup questions, if you or another Forum Person have time to answer.

1. Is there one thing you wish you'd known, or wish you'd done differently, when you were starting? Either judging for DCC or just DMing.

2. Can you share/make explicit the "feel" or effect you are going for when you shape the campaign in response to the player choices? The options for my players will be fairly broad. I'd like to let them run headlong off script without breaking the campaign, and allow the world to spring up beneath them & support a rich experience even when they do the unexpected. But I'm not facile with storytelling OR the system just yet.

Thanks so much. Hope you're having a lovely weekend.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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Raven_Crowking
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Raven_Crowking »

serendipitous wrote: Sat May 23, 2020 9:23 am Raven_Crowking, thanks so much.
You're welcome!
1. Is there one thing you wish you'd known, or wish you'd done differently, when you were starting? Either judging for DCC or just DMing.
Let the game go where it will. If one encounter seems easier than you expected, another will be harder. Let the players lead, and don't worry about the outcome.
2. Can you share/make explicit the "feel" or effect you are going for when you shape the campaign in response to the player choices? The options for my players will be fairly broad. I'd like to let them run headlong off script without breaking the campaign, and allow the world to spring up beneath them & support a rich experience even when they do the unexpected. But I'm not facile with storytelling OR the system just yet.
I try to make the game feel, as much as possible, like the fiction that inspired it. "What would Edgar Rice Burroughs or Bob Howard or Jack Vance do?"
Hope you're having a lovely weekend.
I am. Hope you are too!
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Vort »

Hey, welcome to the forum. And to DCC. I've only been judging for about a year and I still feel very new to it. But, it's a blast.
1. Is there one thing you wish you'd known, or wish you'd done differently, when you were starting? Either judging for DCC or just DMing.
That's a tough one. I wish I had known a lot of things before starting! But I think you need to dive in. DCC is really well designed to jump in both as a player and as a Judge; that's what the Quick Start is for. All you need to get going is in there. I'd say if you're just getting started, ignore the Core Rulebook and start with the Quick Start; it really helps one focus. As for having done something differently, I think that would be having oversold the death side of DCC; I really pushed it in the beginning, how easy it is to die, and "don't get attached to your character" to the point where I had people not wanting to play (because why waste all that time rolling up a character if they're just going to die), or those who played "to win" and run through a module *just* to show they could survive; they didn't engage in the purpose of the game and didn't have much fun. So I'd say don't set out with a specific goal, just play and have fun, and you'll find your way.
2. Can you share/make explicit the "feel" or effect you are going for when you shape the campaign in response to the player choices?
Fun. I want the game to be their best time ever, every game. Whatever is fun is what drives me, fun for both the players and for myself. Sorry I can't really provide more on that, but I'm not a campaigner -- I've been running one shots, though with Lankhmar I've been linking them together in a sort of episodic campaign (without all the minor campaign details).

The closest I came to having as much raw fun in D&D 5e as I do in DCC is when a friend ran an 80s "video game" style one-shot (homebrew) and I played Hellboy. Otherwise, I just can't get the same satisfaction out of D&D that I get out of DCC, and that kind of defines what DCC is for me.

Good luck!
Trevor / Road Crew (Calgary)
---
Shaky, Gambler, N, AC 10, hp 1, S12 A9 S5-2 P9 I9 L9, r+0, f-2, w+0, club +0 (1d4)
Shifty, Smuggler, C, AC 11, hp 1, S9 A15+1 S5-2 P13+1 I8-1 L8-1, r+1, f-2, w+1, init+1, attack rolls -1, sling +0 (1d4)
The Illuminating Anhk, Elven Artisan, L, AC 10, hp 3, S11 A9 S9 P13+1 I10 L15+1, r+0, f+0, w+1, fumbles +1, staff +0 (1d4)
KIA Bailey Bramford, Beadle, L, AC 11, hp 1, S13+1 A13+1 S12 P5-2 I13+1 L11, r+1, f+0, w-2, init +1, staff +1 (1d4+1)
serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

Raven_Crowking & Vort: thx for your help.

It is really helpful in a concrete way to conceive of the funnel/early campaign in terms of keeping to the Quick Start, and to think of scaffolding the "feel" of the game from a particular fiction base. Yay! These are actionable items. I <heart> feasible, useful, leveraged actionable items.

I don't have to worry about overselling death, thank goodness, everybody's played DCC before though not everyone has funneled.

And the more gestalt-level ideas of allowing the game to go where it does & heightening the fun factor will help me make calls in the game and campaign decisions between sessions that maximize our adventure & joy. We could really, really, really use a fun game.

I don't suppose either of you -- or any other thread-browsers -- have set a campaign in Iain Banks' Culture universe? Ultimately I'd like to go for an E. R. Eddison "Worm of Ouroboros" sort of world set in the Culture universe, that would keep me busy for a few years esp. since our group tends to rotate GMs. But the mention of Burroughs is very tempting ....
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by finarvyn »

I would suggest that you try a few of the DCC modules first, and then create your own campaign after.

(1) Modules are written for you, so easier to plug-n-play.

(2) Campaigns, while fun, require a lot more prep by the GM. And a much better feel for how the rules work. And what you need to do in order to "balance" things a little.

Running through some modules first will give you a better feel for the system and how it plays, and this will allow you to develop your own intuition on what works and what doesn't when you build your campaign. I am totally unfamiliar with Iain Banks' Culture universe, but trying to build this from scratch when you don't have a true feel for the game system -- well, that sounds really challenging.
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serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

@finarvyn -- I get the benefit of modules. If this were D&D 5e I'd probably be module-stitching for this.

However, things are hard enough these days and I just don't have the psychological reserves to deal with the gender stuff in DCC modules. I do not want to ever run another module that assumes judges, NPCs and PCs are male and whose artwork is dominated by male characters, with most of the female images -- IMHO -- pimped out. I'm running DCC as a labor of love for a friend but am not in a good space for this other stuff.

This is a reddit post I made about gender/sex in the core book, which explains the basics:

"Of course gender/s*x is loaded in many ways & a sensitive topic. In advance, let me say that I am in favor of lively & considerate conversation and debate and don't think we'll all agree. I hope that what I say is respectful and apologize for any offense given.

For myself, when my boys & I started role-playing it was with D&D 5e & I was pleasantly surprised to find that the language in the manuals was inclusive/balanced: roughly 50/50 on gendered pronoun usage and not a slant toward using the male pronouns for more-powerful or "default" identities. The art did not display females in more-provocative dress than the males & was also pretty balanced in terms of percentages, with a bonus inclusion of a range of coloring.

DCC is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, frankly. The rulebook uses masculine pronouns as default and assumes that active characters are male: ie, castles are staffed with "lords", recruitable villagers are men, and so on. RE artwork, open the rulebook to the first endpapers: okay on %female, takes a hit for provocatively portrayed female but no male counterpart. First few pages, dominantly male, one female warrior. Next color page, balanced %, males fully clothed, one female with short skirt + taut tube top. I think the only female on the ToC pages is a scantily clad fairy whose bum is showing: none of the males had to flash their butts to get included on the ToC, they all have actual clothes on. I'd like Goodman to move the % to more-or-less 50/50 and make sure that the % of males on display = the females. Whether that means more men who look like they come from romance novel covers or more women who get to wear pants is up to Goodman."
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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Raven_Crowking
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Raven_Crowking »

Have you considered just converting 5e modules to DCC then? It is pretty easy to do.

https://ravencrowking.blogspot.com/2013 ... o-dcc.html

I've written longer pieces on things like NPCs, monsters, and save DCs. If you want to write your own material, I encourage you to do so!
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

@RavenCrowking, no I hadn't really thought to do that. Thanks for the link (and for your work on this) -- will head over & take a peek!

ps -- and: thanks so, so much for the encouraging words
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Vort »

@serendipitous, that's pretty hardcore of you to be playing something you find offensive! Well done in separating the system from the material. I'm not refuting anything that you've pointed out: as a white cis male these are things I would've glossed over myself, except for a fantastic person I had met almost two years ago running a local LGBTQ+ RPG group. Since then, I've tried to be more conscious of wording and have noticed the same as you in reading module text aloud -- especially awkward when I realize I'm reading to players from an inclusive group. I try to edit as I read, but sometimes fall into long-established habits and it would indeed be better if everything were updated to be gender neutral (or at least gender fair)! (eg. I just noticed in a module plenty of "guardsmen" when they could just be "guards".) There's no reason a game system should make someone feel uncomfortable running it. I think Goodman Games is up to the challenge going forward -- they seem pretty decent, and lately I've noticed a shift in their art that seems to indicate they're listening. At least, I like to think so; everyone I've dealt with there so far has been decent people. But it would be cool to see some female+ artists and writers!
Trevor / Road Crew (Calgary)
---
Shaky, Gambler, N, AC 10, hp 1, S12 A9 S5-2 P9 I9 L9, r+0, f-2, w+0, club +0 (1d4)
Shifty, Smuggler, C, AC 11, hp 1, S9 A15+1 S5-2 P13+1 I8-1 L8-1, r+1, f-2, w+1, init+1, attack rolls -1, sling +0 (1d4)
The Illuminating Anhk, Elven Artisan, L, AC 10, hp 3, S11 A9 S9 P13+1 I10 L15+1, r+0, f+0, w+1, fumbles +1, staff +0 (1d4)
KIA Bailey Bramford, Beadle, L, AC 11, hp 1, S13+1 A13+1 S12 P5-2 I13+1 L11, r+1, f+0, w-2, init +1, staff +1 (1d4+1)
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by Raven_Crowking »

serendipitous wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 7:46 pm @RavenCrowking, no I hadn't really thought to do that. Thanks for the link (and for your work on this) -- will head over & take a peek!

ps -- and: thanks so, so much for the encouraging words
You are very welcome!
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.
serendipitous
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Re: The Least You Need to Know? or: quick-start for judges

Post by serendipitous »

Vort wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:17 pm @serendipitous, that's pretty hardcore of you to be playing something you find offensive! Well done in separating the system from the material. ....
.... I think Goodman Games is up to the challenge going forward -- they seem pretty decent, and lately I've noticed a shift in their art that seems to indicate they're listening. At least, I like to think so; everyone I've dealt with there so far has been decent people. But it would be cool to see some female+ artists and writers!
Vort, thanks! It's rather baby vs. bathwater, yes? And so many cool folks really like DCC, clearly there's a lot good there. Agree that the people at Goodman are good ones; the gender stuff drives me bananas but I certainly don't think Goodman has poor intentions.

Also great to read about how playing with different sorts of people has made you more conscious of the language used & the stuff I brought up. That really seems key to systemic change on these things, having relationships with all sorts of different folks & wanting to build a great world -- both in-game and out-of-game -- for all of them.
"... and also: the willingness to stand firm, and also: where does one learn to stand firm? in what kind of school or university?" -- Bolano, 2666
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