Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Review


Thank you Goodman Games.

DCC RPG isn’t even a new game. It’s not even close! But what it is- AWESOME!

I picked up my new physical copy today. It comes in at a whopping $29.99 for 477+ Pages?!? That is unheard-of in this day and age!

And that’s before we even get into the game itself. It’s like Warhammer Fantasy RPG and Hackmaster had a baby and raised it during the era of 3rd Ed D&D. Which, that is partially true given that Goodman started out making DCC adventures during the hay days of the OGL in Third Ed, making throwback style modules. DCC RPG is basically a cut down, streamlined version of the 3rd Ed rules, with a LOT of exceptions that make it a unique and beautiful baby.

It also borrows from the good old BECMI days of D&D with the character races as classes and only seven classes total. There are also only 10 levels to worry about and an experience point system that is anything but overly crunchy or burdensome. The design theory here was- make characters, go on adventures, and have fun.

Artwork sells games. This is from the interior of DCC RPG. Look familiar?

I’ve said for years that artwork sells RPGs.

The “old Grognards” in the crowd will probably recognize the Easter Egg in the image above as a tribute to the First Ed AD&D Player’s Handbook. The art throughout the book is very much in that old T$R style of black and white (mostly) artwork. Some of it can be a little goofy looking, some more serious fantasy. It really takes me back to the old Tunnels & Trolls or Dragon Magazine era in the 1980’s.

This game comes highly regarded and well recognized. I could go on for hours about it.

Even the guy who sold me my softcover today stopped to chat about this game. He said he wished he could get a campaign going for it. If nothing else, we both got a good chuckle at the 0 Level character funnel. “Oops, character A died in the first five minutes. Good thing I have a stack of characters here.”

It’s very much in that old school dungeon crawl game way of doing things. Kick in the front door of the dungeon, smash orcs in the face with your mace, and rescue the elf girl in the chainmail bikini. If you’re really “lucky” you’ll probably get to fight a dragon on dungeon level eight or nine. DCC RPG lends itself well to beer-n-pretzels roleplaying- not too serious or dramatic.

I daresay Matt Mercer and his Critical cast would be seriously confused by how this game is usually run. Don’t even think about making a costume when your character could get mangled in a deathtrap before third level and the GM has no qualms about doing it.

DCC RPG goes all out with superfluous tables and statistics.

I find it amazing for a game that is basically supposed to be rules lite to go so far into what I consider old school style tables. Thieves get bonuses to their skills based on level and alignment. There are tables for spellcasting, talking to a deity, and various dragon styles. You can create new strange humanoid races and customize your dragon’s fighting style in this game. The amount of tables and the types of things they cover really take me back while still being all fresh and new.

Speaking of unique and wonderful concepts, this game uses some freaky dice! d7’s? d24? Because everyone has one of those lying around. Okay, I have d24’s and d30’s but I still have to go out and acquire a set with d7, d14, and d16’s. That’s strange even for me. You have to see for yourself how they’re built into the system, but they’re there. You can also fake it with regular polyhedral dice or find a dice roller for your device of choice. Personally, I like physical dice.

DCC RPG Dice available from Goodman Games, Amazon, and others.

I’m not kidding when I say I could literally go on about this game for hours. I love how it’s laid out. I love the art! Even the dice are appealing. I think I’m probably going to generate a few characters tonight, or at least a stack of 0 Level neophyte characters to see how many live one session in and become actual classed PCs. I’m also going to pull out the random dungeon generator and Grimtooth’s Traps. Remember a while back when I said dungeons didn’t necessarily make a ton of sense back in the day? Yeah… yeah… I’m pretty excited!

As a GM, the most appealing part of this system to me is the monsters. You can customize all of your standard monster types from demons to un-dead, humanoids and dragons. There really aren’t a lot of cookie cutter monsters in this game and the stat blocks are loose and friendly enough that they can be modified easily. The best part- there’s no crunchy experience point system. No CRs and no encounter levels to balance. The party can either rock it and drop it or run away. Running away still gets experience. Okay, maybe not quite as much, but smart and alive is still better than valorous and extremely dead, right? Hopefully the players see it that way.

I really wanted to talk some about all of the cool spells and magic items, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m also thinking seriously about putting some material together for it. I actually give Goodman Games a lot of credit for not putting out a million sourcebooks. Lots of great adventure modules, though. Personally, I want to do a hex crawl campaign with this system.

The game also includes some inspirational reading material for GMs and players. There are open tributes to everyone including Gygax, Arneson, Moldvay and others.

Overall, I give this game very high marks. It is possibly the best rules lite-ish throwback OSR style game going right now. It’s wonderful for us “old Grognards” and young players alike if you’re looking for a change of pace and style. I highly recommend this product with all sincerity.

Until next time, keep those dice rolling. Stay safe. Game on!

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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