Watch a DCC Campaign Unfold on Blades Against Bandwidth
by Brendan LaSalle
“We’ve (been) floating the idea of running a longer campaign with the characters that have survived our previous one shots but I’m not sure the system holds up much after the initial magic of the funnel. Do any of you have any experience with longer games? Did they go well or end up poorly? Does the system hold up during higher levels? How do you construct a DCC campaign”
– A question posed on Reddit by user Tomaly
To Reditor Tomaly and anyone else who doubts that Dungeon Crawl Classics can be a fantastic RPG engine for a sustained campaign beyond a character funnel, I say look no further for evidence to the contrary than Blades Against Bandwidth, Goodman Games’ first sponsored Twitch campaign.
Once it was clear that the Covid-19 quarantine meant a complete shutdown of the normal 2020 convention season, the Goodman Games Twitch channel became our new outlet for gaming. Goodman Games is famously staffed with a host of gaming old-timers who were a bit on the luddite side, so we had to learn about new gaming platforms fast. Zoom, Twitch, OBS…there was a steep learning curve and we did our best to gain proficiency as quickly as we could.
The format of the show originally titled Swords Against Bandwidth is simple: an ongoing RPG campaign through published DCC adventures, with a set cast plus one free character that would be shared by a weekly special guest player.
The cast had a few changes over time as schedules changed and the lockdown grounded on. There were a few post-funnel character deaths as well. Guest character Brank the Dwarf, may he rest in glory, made the ultimate sacrifice and was replaced by Septus the Wizard. Beloved cleric of Justica Tiamartha was replaced by Phoebe, who became both the moral center of the party and their part-time babysitter, begging them all to not ingest random things they found in the dungeon.
The first episode of Blades Against Bandwidth streamed on April 26th, 2020. We ran a full, proper funnel: The Accursed Heart of the World-Ender, which gave us a host of really interesting characters to work with. The crew then ran a continuous campaign through a series of fantastic adventures:
DCC Convention Module 2020: The Accursed Heart of the World-Ender
DCC #81: The One Who Watches From Below
DCC #97: The Queen of Elfland’s Son
DCC #69: The Emerald Enchanter
DCC #88.2: Curse of the Kingspire
DCC #69 (additional): The Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back (ongoing)
DCC #77.5: The Tower out of Time
One night that I wasn’t able to make it, Judge Tim ran an adventure set in the zine-world he wrote with Joey Royal, One Of Us, which was a great one-off gaming.
Our campaign has been 24 three-hour sessions so far. The characters who survived the funnel progressed from zero level to somewhere in the neighborhood of fourth in the course of the entire adventure so far (every member of the party either just made fourth, or is just about to). We had a few character deaths, and those players went back and started again from 1st level with other characters that survived the funnel.
IF we assume that Blades Against Bandwidth represents an average DCC campaign, and barring PC deaths and other unforeseen eventualities, THEN:
It takes one session for a zero level character to become first.
It takes about seven sessions for a character to rise from first level to second.
It takes about nine sessions for a character to rise from second level to third.
It takes about 11 sessions for a character to rise from third level to fourth.
An interesting point to make about Dungeon Crawl Classics versus a standard fantasy or high-fantasy campaign: the characters get weirder and weirder. Jeff Goad’s character Forrester Longbranch began the campaign as a simple halfling tailor. Now, twenty-four three hour sessions in, he is third level and quite different: he has one huge arm with an 18 strength, a rainbow-colored magical burn scar across his face, dozens of mundane scars, and is the owner of multiple strange trinkets, each a unique magical item. Compared to a standard fantasy FRPG campaign, the Blades Against Bandwidth crew haven’t just grown, they are all beautifully mutated, fully realized weird fantasy characters.
Being the primary judge for Blades Against Bandwidth has been an immensely rewarding experience. The Blades are a clever, strategic bunch, honestly some of the best gamers ever assembled in this well-traveled Road Crew Judge’s humble opinion, and they constantly kept me on my toes. Studying the adventures of some of the best designers in the industry absolutely shaped me as an adventure writer. Learning the technical side of stream-show running has given me an immense appreciation for the skill it takes to carry it off well. I will always be grateful for the opportunity.
I have a couple of huge thanks I have to give away. Alex Kurowski partnered with me on the earliest episodes and was extremely patient with me. Alex became a kind of Twitch show mentor, and I’ll always be grateful for that. Bruce Cunnington was always generous with his time and technical expertise, and he was amazingly patient with me as I learned OBS. Tim Deschene, my platonic life-mate, became my technical other half and his hard work let me concentrate on telling the story.
And I have to give a shout-out to all the fans who tuned in, but no more so than our most constant viewer, Goodman Games’ own Jess McDevitt. Thanks for all the laughs and encouragement.
I want to say a special thanks to all the players – regular cast and guests alike – for putting in the time and effort. Beyond everything else for me, BAB has been fun. This is the longest DCC campaign I have ever run, and the most fun. Thank you all.
But don’t take my word for it! Check out Blades Against Bandwidth and see for yourself what a fun, unpredictable, satisfying campaign adventure is to be had with Dungeon Crawl Classics.
|Episodes||Average Character Level||Adventure|
|1||0||Accursed Heart of the World Ender|
|2-5||1||The One Who Watches From Below|
|6-7||2||The Queen of Elfland’s Daughter|
|9-13||2-3||The Emerald Enchanter|
|14-16||3||The Curse of the Kingspire / Tower Out of Time|
|17||3||The Tower out of Time|
|18||3||The Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back|
|19||3||Transitional / Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back|
|20||1||One Of Us|
|21||3||Transitional / Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back|
|24-25||3-4||The Croaking Fane|
To watch the entire campaign unfold have a look at the Blades Against Bandwidth playlist on the Goodman Games YouTube channel.