Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

A forum for DCC RPG judges. This forum covers adventure design, monsters, judges' advice, campaign building, and all other such things.

Moderators: DJ LaBoss, finarvyn, michaelcurtis, Harley Stroh

Post Reply
AndrewSFTSN
Ill-Fated Peasant
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:51 am

Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by AndrewSFTSN » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:10 pm

Hi all

I've only read through four DCC adventures so far (The two you get in the core book, Starless Sea, Doom of the Savage Kings) but I'm getting the sense that the suggested adventure design differs a little from classic D&D and the retroclones.

When I draw a dungeon for Labyrinth Lord, I'll try to have around 25-30 rooms for an average sized level. The modules I've been reading for DCC seem more vignette-ish, like a third of the number of the rooms and with more emphasis on episodic content. Empty rooms seem to be a no-no, whereas I've always got the sense they're like a gold standard of adventure design in a more standard dungeon crawl play style.

Is this just down to my having read a limited number of modules, or is map design for DCC kind of...less about dungeon crawling??

User avatar
cjoepar
Hard-Bitten Adventurer
Posts: 185
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:27 am
Location: Ohio
Contact:

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by cjoepar » Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:53 am

I don't think you can make a generalization like that, to be honest. DCC dungeons should be different only in that the designer should not be concerned about the party's ability to defeat the encounters (be they monster, trap, puzzle or role play). Rather, they should focus on trying to create a frightening, suspenseful basis for a good story. Size is unimportant, really.

After you play DCC for 4 or 6 sessions, I think you will come to realize that it's really all about letting go of all the limiting structure that we've seen gradually creep into the D&D versions, and that has subtly influenced our mindset going into designing an adventure. Eventually, this is a critically important step to take in realizing the full potential of the system.

User avatar
catseye yellow
Cold-Blooded Diabolist
Posts: 445
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:23 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by catseye yellow » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:48 am

it is different. but it also depends on the author. for example, you should check joseph goodman modules (13th skull, emerald enchanter and especially people of the pit) for more crawly feeling, gygaxian feeling. harley stroh is channeling some serious leiber/vance vibe for strange encounters and weird locations (temple of moon in blades against death, phlogiston enshrouded wizards's manse in fell hand or under-punjar in carnifex) while curtis is doing either moorcockian take on dcc (court of chaos for elric and frozen in time is hawkmoonish) with strong empashize on law vs chaos axis or painting vivid kar edward wagnerish pictures by introducing sci-fi elements into fantasy game. daniel bishop is weird fairy tale guy who also does tremendously good new weird (stars in darkness). and so on and on.

i can see use for some empty rooms in dcc but that is basically up to you. ggames tries to provide huge range of locations, monsters, encounters and items that are grounded in appendix n. it could be bazaar of the bizarre, quarmall, bleak shore, balo's fortress, tanelorn, black coast, mournblade/stormbringer, winged apes, pale frog like creatures, horns that signal doom and demons that come from hell. so it is not only nostalgia binge but also investigation into certain style of play that is really very 'modern' (for the lack of better word).

User avatar
Rick
Cold-Blooded Diabolist
Posts: 481
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:36 am
FLGS: Gateway Games & More
Location: N KY / Greater Cincinnati area
Contact:

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by Rick » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:58 am

I think it's an Appendix N thing. Yeah, the Mines of Moria are huge, but the focus seemed to be on just a few "important" rooms / locations rather than the non-consequential areas.

AndrewSFTSN
Ill-Fated Peasant
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:51 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by AndrewSFTSN » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:16 am

All good points.
cjoepar wrote: I think you will come to realize that it's really all about letting go of all the limiting structure that we've seen gradually creep into the D&D versions, and that has subtly influenced our mindset going into designing an adventure.
I think a lot of my dungeon design has been setting into these patterns recently. I reckon a good way to explore the difference (if there is one) will be for me to design DCC adventures without the aid of graph paper.

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2499
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by finarvyn » Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:28 am

Rick wrote:I think it's an Appendix N thing. Yeah, the Mines of Moria are huge, but the focus seemed to be on just a few "important" rooms / locations rather than the non-consequential areas.
I like this take on it. Appendix N seems to be mostly full of short stories rather than sweeping epics, and I think this flavor has crept into many of the published modules.
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by Raven_Crowking » Thu Feb 06, 2014 7:21 am

finarvyn wrote:
Rick wrote:I think it's an Appendix N thing. Yeah, the Mines of Moria are huge, but the focus seemed to be on just a few "important" rooms / locations rather than the non-consequential areas.
I like this take on it. Appendix N seems to be mostly full of short stories rather than sweeping epics, and I think this flavor has crept into many of the published modules.
You will pardon my contrariness, I hope, but if we examine Appendix N, 22 specific books are recommended and 13 specific series. Of the 22 books, 20 are novels and 2 are collections of short stories. Of the 13 series, 4 may be considered series of short stories, although I would argue that the listed series of Gardner Fox are novels that were published serially, and that the "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series by Fritz Leiber in places comes close to being the same.

http://ravencrowking.blogspot.ca/2013/1 ... ry-or.html
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.

User avatar
DM Marcus
Wild-Eyed Zealot
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:37 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by DM Marcus » Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:50 pm

AndrewSFTSN wrote:Hi all

I've only read through four DCC adventures so far (The two you get in the core book, Starless Sea, Doom of the Savage Kings) but I'm getting the sense that the suggested adventure design differs a little from classic D&D and the retroclones.

When I draw a dungeon for Labyrinth Lord, I'll try to have around 25-30 rooms for an average sized level. The modules I've been reading for DCC seem more vignette-ish, like a third of the number of the rooms and with more emphasis on episodic content. Empty rooms seem to be a no-no, whereas I've always got the sense they're like a gold standard of adventure design in a more standard dungeon crawl play style.

Is this just down to my having read a limited number of modules, or is map design for DCC kind of...less about dungeon crawling??
I don't think there has been a mandate to design dungeons one way or the other. Like it has been pointed out, each author has injected their own likes and dislikes into their adventures as far as I have noticed.

I have to say that I hadn't considered that observation though, so kudos.

As an outsider looking in, the differentiating characteristic that I first noticed about DCC was the effort to mystify the world again. As a long-time GM and player, I had gotten so used to a world of orcs, goblins and dragons that the wonder of the setting had disappeared. It was fun to run a game where my players didn't recognize everything they encountered.

Maybe the dungeons not having empty rooms is simply a product of the designer trying to fill a dungeon that has to fit on a one page map in a publication.

Gameogre
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 244
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:14 pm
Location: Teleports at will.

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by Gameogre » Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:02 pm

DCCRPG dungeons remind me a lot of the 4E ones. Fewer endless halls to explore,fewer weak monsters to fight, more interesting monsters,more memorable encounters.

D&D Classic and AD&D had mighty HUGE dungeons filled with sometimes hundreds of different types of monsters but after a bit you kinda realized 75% of the encounters wouldn't be remembered the next day much less a month from then. A lot of empty rooms and one type of monsters taking over a area of the huge dungeon to use as its home.After fighting through a area you kinda saw less and less of the old monster and more and more of a new different one.A lot of the game attrition

So far as far as store bought dungeons go in DCCRPG it's mostly about a much smaller place crawling with some hideous foul creature the players never heard of.The encounters are hard and full of death and attrition plays a smaller roll.Instead it's mostly figure this out and defeat it fast,before you end up as room ornamentation for the next band.

This is of course my take on it anyway.

smathis
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 1091
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:52 pm

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by smathis » Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:40 pm

I definitely think there's a distinction between the classic D&D dungeons and DCC RPG ones.

I'm not sure if there's a purpose behind that distinction. But the idea of the 5-level dungeon with 100s of rooms being the central focus of one storyline doesn't seem to be a part of DCC at the moment. And I'm cool with that.

In Transylvanian Adventures, the idea of the "dungeon" is spelled out as a modest (by classic D&D standards) adventure site that features anywhere from 5-15 rooms. If I were to want separate "levels" or a more involved adventure site, I'd either break it up into two locations (like Doom of the Savage Kings does) or treat it as a true megadungeon -- meaning one location that is the central focus of an entire campaign like Temple of Elemental Evil.

Investigation plays a big part in TA. And it's a lot of fun. So TA seems to work best with concise dungeons. DCC appears to operate in a similar paradigm. So all the better.

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2499
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by finarvyn » Tue Mar 04, 2014 3:21 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:
finarvyn wrote:Appendix N seems to be mostly full of short stories rather than sweeping epics...
You will pardon my contrariness, I hope, but if we examine Appendix N, 22 specific books are recommended and 13 specific series. Of the 22 books, 20 are novels and 2 are collections of short stories. Of the 13 series, 4 may be considered series of short stories, although I would argue that the listed series of Gardner Fox are novels that were published serially, and that the "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series by Fritz Leiber in places comes close to being the same.
Contrary is fine. No harm, no foul. I'll confess that I haven't read all of the fiction in Appendix N, and hadn't taken the time to count volumes as you have. I should have said that most of favorite Appendix N fiction was originally in the form of short stories.
  • Pretty much anything by Robert E. Howard was written as short stories. That includes Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull, El Borak, his westerns and horror fiction, etc.
  • Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey mouser is a bunch of short stories. They weren't written in chronological order and at the time were never intended to be sequential.
  • Michael Moorcock's Elric stories were originally short stories, also not written in any particular order. (His later works were done as novels, but the originals were short stories.)
  • Several of Roger Zelazny's Amber books were serial publications, which is a grey area short story-wise, but his Dilvish stories were short stories.
  • Almost everything by H.P. Lovecraft could be considered a short story.
I'm not sure how to classify stories seralized. I hadn't thought much about it, but I know that the early Barsoom books of Edgar Rice Burroughs were seralized in magazines.

As you noted, this is only a small slice of Appendix N. It is, however, my favorite slice. This probably biased my judgement somewhat. :wink:
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:21 am

finarvyn wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:
finarvyn wrote:Appendix N seems to be mostly full of short stories rather than sweeping epics...
You will pardon my contrariness, I hope, but if we examine Appendix N, 22 specific books are recommended and 13 specific series. Of the 22 books, 20 are novels and 2 are collections of short stories. Of the 13 series, 4 may be considered series of short stories, although I would argue that the listed series of Gardner Fox are novels that were published serially, and that the "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series by Fritz Leiber in places comes close to being the same.
Contrary is fine. No harm, no foul. I'll confess that I haven't read all of the fiction in Appendix N, and hadn't taken the time to count volumes as you have. I should have said that most of favorite Appendix N fiction was originally in the form of short stories.
  • Pretty much anything by Robert E. Howard was written as short stories. That includes Conan, Solomon Kane, Kull, El Borak, his westerns and horror fiction, etc.
  • Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey mouser is a bunch of short stories. They weren't written in chronological order and at the time were never intended to be sequential.
  • Michael Moorcock's Elric stories were originally short stories, also not written in any particular order. (His later works were done as novels, but the originals were short stories.)
  • Several of Roger Zelazny's Amber books were serial publications, which is a grey area short story-wise, but his Dilvish stories were short stories.
  • Almost everything by H.P. Lovecraft could be considered a short story.
I'm not sure how to classify stories seralized. I hadn't thought much about it, but I know that the early Barsoom books of Edgar Rice Burroughs were seralized in magazines.

As you noted, this is only a small slice of Appendix N. It is, however, my favorite slice. This probably biased my judgement somewhat. :wink:
Most of what REH wrote was short stories, agreed. Likewise HPL. Both were published poets as well!

Again, sorry to be contrary otherwise, but while the Fafhrd and the Grey Mousers were not written in chronological order, they were definitely written to be sequential. Fritz Leiber actually goes back and fills out sequential narratives in several instances, which link two stories. It may even be the case that the sequential order is the order of writing, if not publication. In either event, the fact that JRRT worked on some of RotK before all of the earlier sections of LotR were complete does not mean that LotR is not sequential.

Likewise, I have read all of the Dilvish stories, and there is a sequential narrative. So much so that it was resolved in the novel, The Changing Land. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Changing_Land

Many novels of the era were first published as serials; that does not make them any less novels.

One needs only to examine the publication of the Elric stories to see that Elric started in novellas - somewhere between a short story and a novel. Moreover, there are definitely linked narratives in the Elric books. When Appendix N was composed, Gary Gygax had 3 Elric novels available to him and 3 short story collections.

Nor does any of the above change the point I made earlier, which you quoted above. Appendix N consists of both long and short works. The things that Gary Gygax specifically mentions strongly tend toward longer works. There is no reason why any DCC game should not take equal advantage of a longer format, if that is what the participants desire.

In fact, it would help to examine the serialized works with ongoing plotlines, such as Leiber's Swords Against Wizardry or Swords and Ice Magic collections, to see how both the short story and long plot arc can be worked together. This is not wholly different from the way some programs use individual episodes to further the needs of a longer story arc, telling a much larger story than any single episode could.

All good as long as you are having fun.
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.

User avatar
DM Cojo
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 223
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:47 pm
Location: Mount Pleasant, MI

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by DM Cojo » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:20 pm

I find that I prefer adventures that can be completed in one 4 hour gaming session. It works best for my group who have intermittent attendance. But I am quickly running out of adventures that fit that bill, so I may have to adopt a new strategy.

User avatar
finarvyn
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2499
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 3:42 am
FLGS: Fair Game
Location: Chicago suburbs
Contact:

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by finarvyn » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:04 am

Raven_Crowking wrote:while the Fafhrd and the Grey Mousers were not written in chronological order, they were definitely written to be sequential. Fritz Leiber actually goes back and fills out sequential narratives in several instances, which link two stories.
Yeah, but not at the time. If you look at publication dates for the stories, most of the "fill in" stories were done a few decades after the originals. The decision to make a consistent storyline was done much later when it was decided to publish the stories as a series of novels.

But we're derailing the thread. Maybe I should scoop the Appendix N posts out of this thread and slide 'em over to the "Appendix N" section of the boards....
Marv / Finarvyn
DCC Minister of Propaganda; Deputized 6/8/11
DCC RPG playtester 2011, DCC Lankhmar trivia contest winner 2015; OD&D player since 1975

"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
-- Gary Gygax
"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
-- Dave Arneson

User avatar
Raven_Crowking
Cold-Hearted Immortal
Posts: 2990
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:41 am

Re: Difference between D&D dungeons and DCC dungeons

Post by Raven_Crowking » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:30 am

finarvyn wrote:
Raven_Crowking wrote:while the Fafhrd and the Grey Mousers were not written in chronological order, they were definitely written to be sequential. Fritz Leiber actually goes back and fills out sequential narratives in several instances, which link two stories.
Yeah, but not at the time. If you look at publication dates for the stories, most of the "fill in" stories were done a few decades after the originals. The decision to make a consistent storyline was done much later when it was decided to publish the stories as a series of novels.
Perhaps, but when Gary Gygax compiled Appendix N, volumes 1-6 were already published sequentially.
But we're derailing the thread. Maybe I should scoop the Appendix N posts out of this thread and slide 'em over to the "Appendix N" section of the boards....
Maybe.

My appreciation of Appendix N fiction has certainly grown over the years. With the publication of DCC, I searched out and read everything specifically mentioned on the list I had not read already, and quite a lot by the listed authors that is not specifically mentioned.

To cleave more closely to the topic:

To me, DCC dungeons differ from traditional D&D dungeons in that the sense of mystery that first pervaded the hobby is retained over the course of an adventuring career. When we first started playing these games, and didn't know what a skeleton could do, that was an exciting time. The extrapolation that we should never be sure what a skeleton might do means that this interest is retained. Likewise, there is no list of magic items that can be memorized to reduce the sense of the unknown.

In addition, DCC doesn't bother waiting for high levels to throw anything at you. Where in traditional D&D, exploring the planes is always a possibility to reignite interest in higher-level campaigns, DCC is happy to make Intrigue at the Courts of Chaos a level 1 module. In DCC, it is never safe to assume that, just because you happen to be lower level, that you will be in the shallow end of the pool.

DCC dungeons tend to be focused, rather than a collection of monsters. The monsters tend to have some specific purpose and are seldom just a random menace. Failure has consequences, and these consequences are usually more than simply failing to get a treasure.

That said, many of the best earlier edition modules were also heavily influenced by Appendix N, and are easily translated into DCC.
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.

Post Reply

Return to “Judges' Forum”