I submit to you 4 systems, one dungeon.
I’ve wrestled around with what system I want to write in as my primary game system for fantasy dungeon crawls. I mean, technically I could pull out more than four. Open Legends, Mythras, ICRPG, Bare Bones, FATE, and more all got pulled up as possibilities. But I was determined to go with what I know best.
My latest dungeon effort, one room at a time on my blog here, The Catacomb of the Wolf Lord, is done with Dungeon Crawl Classics. I strongly considered Basic D&D, literally just Basic as opposed to OSR or all of the variations on OSR. I considered Pathfinder 2E, but the rulebook is pretty hefty and there are so many character options. And last, there was good old 5E. So many options, but what would work best for me?
So much source material to choose from.
One thing I love about D&D 5E is that it is probably the single most expanded upon RPG in the history of games. I thought I had a lot of 3E monster books from various publishers. Some folks in the community call it “bloat.” Regardless of what it’s called, there are hundreds of variations on classes, monsters, spells, etc. Given the amount of options, I decided to go for something a little simpler.
Let’s be clear, though. The amount of options isn’t as negative as the Old Grognards Society might have you believe. The massive amount of options is less daunting as long as the DM and the group agree on what can be used or not used. At some point, there just comes a point when the group agrees this far and no farther. The same applies to homebrew.
Too much material sort of my issue with PF2E, but not the only one. Paizo has printed some seriously impressive books, especially monsters, for Pathfinder 1E. PF2E has three bestiaries to date. Their conversion of 1E source material has been fantastic so far.
Recently Paizo announced a new title that would be 5E compatible. PF2E sales are not as stellar as maybe they could be according to some. If I were going to try to make some cash on DriveThruRPG from this dungeon, maybe PF2E isn’t the way to go? I’ve also never been a fan of the Pathfinder’s campaign world. It’s okay, just not my jam, maybe.
DCC has a whopping two books of official content, not counting modules, zines, and Lankhmar. Basic D&D has surprisingly few monster books as well. T$R was pretty good about not flooding the market back then. Of course, back then it was presumed DMs were creating their own homebrew monsters. Third party companies weren’t going bonkers with anything but modules as far as I remember. DCC is pretty much built for modules.
It’s not so much quality over quantity.
There are other factors at play. Sure DCC is extremely homebrew friendly and pretty easy to publish modules for it. Sure it’s familiar from the 3E D&D days. (Yes, I’m enamored with it as of late.) It’s got a lot going for it!
What D&D and Pathfinder both need (IN MY OPINION) is a narrowing. At its very core of any game is a basic set of stats, abilities, weapons, spells. The wheel can only be reinvented so many times over, right?
DCC offers that exact notion that rules can be narrowed. I’m not spending endless hours as the GM trying to dig through classes, subclasses, feats, skills, and so on. DCC is pretty basic Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and Wizard. The races are classes unto themselves. Nothing complicated.
I can go nuts (re)creating monsters, spells, items and even demigods all I want. Goodman seems cool about everything. But DCC isn’t bloated, either. The field is wide open like back in the Basic D&D days. Which is not to say the Internet isn’t absolutely thick with expansion material. But the DCC Core and Annual are all I’m using, plus whatever I can borrow, steal or create on my own.
D&D Basic is inspirational for DCC because of its classes, spells and weapons. Races were still considered classes in DCC and the monsters translate from Basic to DCC freakiness pretty well.
The best part is I can look at all the other books for PF2E and D&D 5E for inspiration. Outright plagiarism is not cool. NEVER EVER directly copy something and claim it as your own. It’s not fair to other creators.
Borrowing concepts and abilities from other games is legit. Out-and-out plagiarism is not.
However- you can re-skin, change abilities, reorganize and rename creatures any time the situation dictates as long as you’re doing most of the above at the same time. An Orc by any other name is a Klurg, hailing from the far desert, with orange skin and wielding a khopesh made of solid obsidian. (Steal at will, I don’t mind.) Orcs in my campaigns typically behave like Star Trek Klingons, anyway. You can be original without doing all of the legwork over and over. (Remember that whole thing about reinventing the wheel?)
I see DCC has a Werewolf Lord, so why not a Wolf Lord? They compete with one another. One represents nature in three different aspects. The other represents the horrible abomination of man and nature. This will be fun! Clerics and Wizards will both benefit.
The homebrew potential in DCC is immense. Plus it can always convert to other games quite easily. ICRPG is an easy conversion. D&D 5E and PF2E are also possible with a little time. I think the in-depth systems are awesome for more serious role-playing where DCC is great for beer-n-pretzels dungeon crawls.
Game on, family! See you soon. Hope you’re having a fabulous week.