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 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:00 pm

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 » 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.

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

Post by serendipitous » Fri May 22, 2020 7:41 pm

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

Post by Raven_Crowking » Sat May 23, 2020 3:30 am

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 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:23 am

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 » Sat May 23, 2020 12:23 pm

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 » Sat May 23, 2020 4:52 pm

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 » Tue May 26, 2020 10:13 am

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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