Complexity Level of DCC

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Thane
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Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Thane » Tue May 22, 2012 12:30 am

I've been reading a bit lately, how DCC feels clunky to some. I guess it's all a matter of what you are used to.

But I'd like to ask those who are now familiar with the game, how clunky is the DCC system?

1. Hero (most complex)
2. 3.5
4. Basic D&D (least complex)

Where would DCC fit into the above list? I realise the list may not represent an exact science, but it's a good generic example nonetheless.

Also, how crunchy/complex/clunky is the entire magic system?

Thanks

EDIT: For clarity.
Last edited by Thane on Tue May 22, 2012 2:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Ravenheart87 » Tue May 22, 2012 1:43 am

Thane wrote:1. Hero (most complex)
2. GURPS
3. 3.5
4. AD&D 1ed
5. Basic D&D (least complex)
That scale seems to be a bit flawed and too subjective. AD&D 1st edition is very complex if you play by the book. Yeah I know, most of you didn't, but then I can play D&D3.5 without feats, attack of opportunity, grappling and some other crap, and it would be far less complex than AD&D1e. A game can be complex in different ways. Character creation is easy in AD&D1e, but combat rules are not, meanwhile character creation is complex in D&D4e, but combat is easy (although looong).

IMO character creation is very easy and quick in DCC RPG, the basic rules are easy too, combat is between "light "medium weight" - the rules themselves are easy to master, but magic, fumbles, crits and other charts may slow things down a bit, if the Judge isn't prepared. A good Judge's Screen would speed up things a bit.
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Colin » Tue May 22, 2012 1:57 am

I'd say it all depends on what someone means by "complex", so it's hideously subjective. The game itself is pretty simple, but it is highly dependent on random elements and the use of random tables. That's the area where there's slow-down and where some folks are experiencing what another poster called "table friction" and others might call "clunk" (which is also not the same thing as complexity). The real issue is this: does the individual enjoy a lot of random elements and associated dice-rolling attached to a simple core system? For some folks, the unpredictability, the constant clatter of dice (including odd ones!), the weirdness such extensive use of random elements and tables can bring, those are all features worth the slow-down and referencing. For others, they're just too much. So, I'd say the DCC RPG isn't complex, but it is "random-heavy".

Another issue, I think is that of expectation. Some folks might expect to just grab the game and run with it, simply based on the fact that it has clear roots in earlier editions of D&D. They're then taken aback when they find that it is a very different beast in many ways and that their assumptions have to be thrown away completely in several key areas. It's an Old School RPG, but it's not a retro-clone at all, and it really isn't D&D.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Thane » Tue May 22, 2012 1:59 am

Granted the list isn't perfect, and I assumed people play ad&d like we do - make stuff up for the most part.

On thinking, it's the magic rules that give me pause for thought, everything else seems to be relatively straight forward. And chart heavy; yes, but that too can be resolved.
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by giant » Tue May 22, 2012 3:08 am

Thane wrote:Granted the list isn't perfect, and I assumed people play ad&d like we do - make stuff up for the most part.

On thinking, it's the magic rules that give me pause for thought, everything else seems to be relatively straight forward. And chart heavy; yes, but that too can be resolved.
It's not really that the magic rules are terribly complex, more that they are both new and chart heavy. The magic rules are sufficiently different than any version of D&D that they require careful reading and the abandonment of many assumptions. Also be prepared to have the charts available on the fly. I don't think I find any of the rules really are particularly complicated now that I have grown accustomed to them.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Karaptis » Tue May 22, 2012 5:21 am

Let me also add that the BXCMI editions of DnD got crazy as far as rules went as well.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue May 22, 2012 5:36 am

IMHO, complexity where you want it is good. Complexity where you do not want it is bad.

I did not want my complexity to be based on positioning figures on a mat; that affected my enjoyment of certain other games. Others dug that. That's completely cool; to each his own.

I think that DCC put the complexity right where I wanted it. Some others might feel differently. That is also cool; to each his own.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Karaptis » Tue May 22, 2012 6:31 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:IMHO, complexity where you want it is good. Complexity where you do not want it is bad.

I did not want my complexity to be based on positioning figures on a mat; that affected my enjoyment of certain other games. Others dug that. That's completely cool; to each his own.

I think that DCC put the complexity right where I wanted it. Some others might feel differently. That is also cool; to each his own.

RC
Very true. That is why we get these debates on some people not sure on DCC. I'm with RC on DCC putting complexity where I want it. I think those on the fence should play a few modules first. The adventures are where the fun is at to those who dont want to or not have the time to make them up.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Warduke » Tue May 22, 2012 6:44 am

Just my 2 cp ...

The DCC RPG only looks complex. People see all the tables and freak out. But from play at conventions, it plays super fast and clean.

In a timed combat against a "boss monster," the same encounter run in 4e and DCC, the DCC combat will resolve quicker every time.

(I'm not saying that it is better or worse. Whether or not that is a virtue is for each gamer to decide for himself.)
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by Warduke » Tue May 22, 2012 6:56 am

Responding to the OP, I'd place DCC squarely between 3.5 and BE. (Once you add CMI, it gets WAY more complex than DCC.)
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by reverenddak » Tue May 22, 2012 9:55 am

I think Clunky vs Complexity is better. I found DCC RPG one of the simplest games, in terms of complexity, that I've played in a while. It has enough "crunch" to make the power-gamers fine with it, but streamlined and simple enough for TOTAL NEWBS to get it. Look at the character sheet, that is the biggest indicator of complexity. It's almost as simple as a Oe/BECMI D&D! The best games, for me, have always been where the Players just have to tell me their intent, and the rules take care of the rest, as opposed to some newer games where you look at your sheet to "see" what you can do.

It may seem, or feel clunky at first. But I've mention this a number of times, my favorite part of the game is rolling on the random tables. They're flexible enough to "tune" to whatever the player intended on doing. They add a moment of suspense and anxiety that I really-really-REALLY (truly) love. I think it's perfectly fine, and encouraged, to tweak the results to fit what the player's intended action/result. I really encourage players to describe how they cast spells and how they swing their swords. I'm the type of GM that is always going, "Describe it to me!"

One day, that warrior, that keeps "going for the eyes"... one day he's going to find an eyeball stuck on the end of his sword. For now, he'll have to be content on shaving eyebrows. And that wizards, that keeps trying to BLAST his enemies with magical flames, but keeps getting sparks causing minor burns. One day a huge arc of flames will engulf his enemies.
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by smathis » Tue May 22, 2012 10:18 am

Warduke wrote:Responding to the OP, I'd place DCC squarely between 3.5 and BE. (Once you add CMI, it gets WAY more complex than DCC.)
I'd agree with this. And with regards to perceived complexity (as opposed to actual complexity), I'd say DCC can be played and experienced as a game that's more "complex" than it is. That's that "table friction" thing. When I've run it, I've found having one person looking up the spell charts (usually me as the Judge) reduces perceived complexity because I can just describe what happens. Other groups might have the player of the character do it -- which I think would work well if the player understood the DCC spellcasting rules, had no problem locating/referencing the charts and there were a limited number of spellcasters in a party. None of those conditions have existed (yet) at any DCC game I've run.

Roughly here are the points where DCC diverges and complexity can be perceived and "table friction" can occur (Save vs. Illusion!):
1. PC starts to cast a spell*
2. Player looks the spell up from some source (card, notes, rulebook, etc.)*
3. Player decides whether to use Spellburn, how much and from what sources
4. Player rolls spell check
5. Player looks up result on chart
6. Player rolls more dice based on result*
7a. Player looks up another result on another chart (in the event that Corruption or a Mishap) occurred
7b. Target of spell may get a Save, resulting in potentially another lookup on the spell chart.*
8. Results are applied*

The ones with an asterisk are the steps that pre-existed DCC. Those are things you'd need to do in any version of D&D. The non-asterisked ones are unique to DCC.

IME, a lag can be introduced in step 3, 5 and 7a. That's why things go smoother when I handle the spell charts in the games I've run. I either have the spell open or have the player turn to that page. I take the chart from them and have them roll X dice in quick succession because I can keep up with the table faster than they can roll/reference, roll/reference, etc. Then I narrate what happened. This gives the added benefit of the result being "mysterious", making it much more fun for myself AND the player. Just reading off what a spell does isn't nearly as cool, IME. It's kind of like turning over a bunch of tarot cards and having someone tell you what they mean.

DCC, IMO, is a really simple game in a good way -- as in not complex at all. On par with B/X or LotFP or S&W. But the chart lookups can make it seem more complex than it really is. And, as others have stated, it's complexity in an area that I like.

I'm also working out ways to make targets/NPCs/Monsters not roll saves. IMO, that's just an unnecessary step for all but the most important villains and NPCs. And it seems superfluous at times to go through all this dice-rolling and chart lookups only to have that effort circumvented by a good Saving Throw. I mean, the purpose of a lot of level-based effects and saving throws (as they relate to NPCs and Monsters) in most editions of D&D is to get a variance in result from the casting of spells.

Which DCC has charts for.

So having the chart AND a saving throw is an unnecessary duplication, IMO. I'd keep saving throws for PCs. I'd argue they serve a different purpose in play than saving throws for monsters. If you aren't into that, I'd say roll the save BEFORE you do any further rolling for the Spell result. Or if the save is pretty much already determined roll it before you even roll on the chart.

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by smathis » Tue May 22, 2012 10:19 am

reverenddak wrote:One day a huge arc of flames will engulf his enemies.
Or the ground underneath him will open up and he'll become a snack for a Slimy Toad God...

I think it would be awesome to have a Warrior named something like Torak the Eyebrow Shaver. :D

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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by finarvyn » Wed May 23, 2012 12:00 pm

Warduke wrote:The DCC RPG only looks complex. People see all the tables and freak out. But from play at conventions, it plays super fast and clean.
True. I think that the quantity of tables seems to bother a lot of folks, but you don't use most of them most of the time.

I know this could be said about any RPG, but if there are parts that seem complex then just leave them out for a while. If you don't want complex fumbles, spellburn, or whatever, play without them and add them slowly.
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Re: Complexity Level of DCC

Post by DimitriX » Thu May 24, 2012 10:42 am

When I showed the book to my players a few of them commented on how much there was in there and how complex it seemed. I think they saw table after table in the magic section and got concerned. But, there are a few things that help mitigate this concern.

First, because there is no multiclassing, some characters will never have access to some sections of the book. Only Warriors and Dwarves have to learn about Deeds. Only Clerics have to learn how the cleric spell casting works. Only Wizards and Elves have to learn about arcane spells. Thieves and Halflings have it the easiest of all as their classes don't really have any special subsystem to learn.

Second, even within a particular class, you don't have to know everything. Wizards and Elves will never have access to all of the spells in the book. So, the easiest thing to do is figure out which spells a character has and then print those out. So, a 1st level Wizard doesn't have to deal with the whole book of spells, just the 4 spells they start off with. Because leveling goes a little slower than in other rpgs, the players will have more time at 1st level to learn the subsystems of their particular class.

As the old saying goes, "How do you eat a whole elephant? One bite at a time." I think if you serve the elephant of DCC RPG to your players in small chunks, then they'll pick it up quick enough.

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