Mike’s 2021 Retrospective: Goodman Games’ DCC Year in Review

Mike’s Musings on the Year That Was, DCC-Style

by Michael Curtis

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2021, we must heave a sigh of relief that at least it wasn’t as bad as 2020. Despite the long shadows that continue to fall across our days, there were brilliant periods of laughter, joy, and comradery which helped drive back the dark. Joseph Goodman asked me to take a moment and look back on the Year that Was for DCC and sum up some of those bright times. The following list represents both public and personal triumphs and is by no means exhaustive.

10. Let’s Do the Twitch

This year saw us continue to explore the unfamiliar and oftentimes scary world of Twitch (for those of us who grew up with the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64). We’ve come a long way since Mike and Brendan first started encouraging you all to Keep Crawlin’ (assuming we had audio figured out that week) in 2020. This year, there’s been something to tune into every week on the Goodman Games Twitch channel with shows like Picks from the Print Mine, In the Studio, Talking TSR, Danger Stranger, Keep Crawlin’, and the Maw of Mike filling the digital airwaves. Even better, we actually have someone who knows what they’re doing working behind the scenes now that Alana Thompson, our official Twitch producer, has joined the Goodman Games crew.

9. Cons Cyclopean

Circumstances demanded we embrace the virtual con in 2020 and it was a trial by fire for both the Goodman Games crew and the community of fans stuck at home. Despite the challenge, we made it through with only minor burns. In 2021, we returned to the virtual space to again play games and share in the awesome fellowship that the best fans in gaming create. Spawn of Cyclops Con and Empire of the Cyclops Con saw improvements and innovations as to what virtual gaming conventions can deliver. While these events may never fully replace the joy of seeing your friends in person and sharing a table with them, we get closer and closer to that ideal with each blink of the Cyclops’ eye.

8. 9th Printing of the DCC RPG Rulebook

It’s been nine years since DCC RPG burst on to the scene and quickly demonstrated that it wasn’t just another old school retroclone. DCC RPG takes inspiration from the past and figures out how to present that in new and exciting ways. Apparently, we’re doing something right since we keep burning through print runs of the rules on the average of one a year. Other game companies have gone through more than one edition of their game in the last decade, but DCC RPG is still the same game in the same single-volume format it was back in 2012. The only changes we’ve made is to improve on the original formula, whether it be correcting typos that escaped out notice, swapping out old adventures for new ones, or, in the case of the 9th printing softcover and all future printings, embracing a more inclusive writing style, one better reflecting the ever diverse gaming community in the 21st century.

7. A New DCC Campaign

A new year was the perfect excuse to start a fresh DCC RPG campaign. After last year’s epic WarCrawl game, I wanted something a little more traditional and open-ended. I don’t do a lot of initial prep work, but I’ve discovered that making things up as I go gives me the experience of exploring the game work alongside the PCs. All these “invented in play” game details then get fleshed out in between sessions into something more concrete and—hopefully—of interest to the DCC RPG community at large in some future publication.

6. The Return of DCC Day

There’s plenty of awesome days on the calendar. Days like Valentine’s Day, Mother Day, or even Groundhog Day. There is one though that blows all those other days off the calendar page. DCC Day returned in 2021, a day to celebrate all things DCC with online gaming events and new releases. Both veterans of DCC RPG and newcomers alike virtually gathered to roll some digital dice, hang out, and see if they could survive the latest DCC RPG adventures. Whether they emerged victorious or were slain by the gongfarmer’s cartload, fun was had and you can be certain there will be more DCC Days ahead.

5. The Dungeon Crawl Classics First Time Fan Kit

Although we still get emails asking if this was a mistake (or if the Dark Master has finally gone off his rocker), rest assured the DCC First Time Fan Kit we introduced this year is entirely intentional. There’s no lack of RPG “Starter Boxes” out there that promise to teach you to their game system, but you’re usually spending $25 for some pregenerated characters, a stripped-down rulebook, and an adventure or two. If you’re lucky, you might get some dice too. Not with DCC RPG, though! For 10 bucks more, we’re providing newcomers with not only a full rulebook and an adventure module, but a tube of funky dice AND a judge’s screen. You could honestly pay us $35 and never have to buy another DCC RPG thing for the rest of your life. However, we know that once you start playing DCC and meet the rest of the folks in the fan community, you’ll be needing another bookshelf for your Goodman Games stuff before too long.

4. DCC Dying Earth Lives!

It was a long time coming and some never thought it’d make it, but on July 21 of this year, 3,346 of you said otherwise when the DCC Dying Earth Kickstarter successfully funded. With its success, Goodman Games continues to adapt the works of great Appendix N authors to the Dungeon Crawl Classics line and you’ll soon be able to explore creative work of Jack Vance along with those of Fred Saberhagen and Fritz Leiber using the DCC RPG rules. That opportunity might never have happened if you hadn’t spoken with your wallets, saying, “We trust you to do this right, Goodman Games.” We don’t intend to let you down.

3. DCC #100

DCC #100: The Music of the Sphere is Chaos is another one that’s been in the works, but delayed due to COVID. Despite delays, things have been happening behind the scenes and I had the chance to read through the final version of Harley Stroh’s fantastic adventure. You probably knew it was going to be good since it’s one of Harley’s adventure, but let me tell you folks: You have no idea. Even if you’ve heard Joseph Goodman talk about this one and its ever-shifting dungeon layout, whatever you’re picturing pales in comparison. After I read through this monster (80+ pages!), I immediately wanted to go play DCC. Getting the opportunity to see this early was a highlight of my DCC year. Next year, it will hopefully be yours.

2. DCC Continues to Grow

The Year that Shall Not Be Named saw people staying home in droves looking for something to do. During that time, we saw a wave of newcomers showing up in the DCC community, excited about this great game they just discovered. They were welcomed with open arms. This year has seen no slowing of the amount of people picking up the game for the first time and discovering it scratches an itch other RPGs don’t. In many cases, these new members of our strange band didn’t even know they had that itch until the saw DCC for the first time. Gaming overall has been growing and I’m pleased to say that DCC continues to build each year as well.

1. Michael Curtis becomes the Director of Product Development for DCC.

How could I not put this on the list of great stuff happening in the world of DCC RPG this year? I know it didn’t have the same far-reaching impact as some of the above events (yet, he says, excitedly), but it was big deal around the Curtis place. Although my new role does limit how much time I spend putting words on the page, being given the opportunity to work on a game I love and plan its future was more than just the highlight of the year, but of a lifetime.

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