D&D General DCC goodness into your game of D&D

CapnZapp

Legend
This thread presumes a certain degree of familiarity with the Dungeon Crawl Classics ruleset.

I thought about what I liked about DCC and how to use it in D&D:

Ability modifiers
First off, you need to consider whether it's worth the hassle of reining in ability modifier values:

D&D uses -5 to +5 while DCC uses -3 to +3. The benefit of the latter approach is that it doesn't matter as much if your character loses some ability points from a curse or a hangover or whatever; the actual modifier doesn't change that much.

DCC generally replaces high modifiers to rolls with some ability to roll extra dice. Instead of getting an ever-higher static bonus, you might get to roll a d4 extra at low level and a d12 at much higher level.

Also, DCC uses the "test" mechanic where you're asked to roll equal or under your characteristics score. While having a Strength, say, of 17 instead of 13 means your chance at succeeding when asked to test your Strength (say, lifting a boulder) increases from 65% to 85% (effectively representing a +4 bonus on a d20) your actual Strength modifier you use to attack and damage monsters only go from +1 to +2 = not a big deal.

You'll have to judge your players if they can accept ability score loss even if going from 17 to 13 means getting your attack total lowered two steps (with D&D ability modifiers) instead of just one step (with DCC ability modifiers).

D&D 5 already places a fairly hard cap on ability modifiers (compared to other editions of D&D) so it's less of an issue.

D&D implementation: Moderate. The more digital tools you use, the more I can understand you wanting to keep things compatible. If you play the traditional way (players sitting in a sofa with pen and paper), the change is trivial and recommended. In fact, I'm not going to concern myself with groups using the all-digital approach further since for them almost every change will be insurmountable.

Non-permanent permanent ability scores:
I think it's worth mentioning this separately. Too often, D&D players assume that once gained, a point of Strength or Intelligence or whatever is permanent. "You can kill my character but don't you dare remove my magic sword or my ability bonuses!"

The best way to wean D&D characters off of this is to simply have a lot of traps, curses and other effects that make character stats go up and down. Yes, you lose points "permanently", but is it really "permanent" if you can "permanently" get new points as well?

I would say this mindset is a significant part of why so many DCC adventures feel inspired and awesome.

The Funnel

Rather than allowing players to customize their characters to perfection (which doesn't do players with a tendency for minmaxing over roleplaying any favors) DCC uses the idea you start out with (say) four characters, only one of which is intended to eventually become your hero. The basic idea is that instead of being born into the role of (possibly entitled) hero, you will have earned this, complete with a couple of battle scars and stories of companions lost along the way. The funnel explicitly assumes some of the starting heroes will quickly die; players are not meant to focus on the entire group's survival. Instead, they're encouraged to view the start of the campaign as the fire that hones the blade, so to speak. From a group of (say) 16 bumbling villagers, a set of at least one shining hero per player will emerge!

So, instead of focusing on a single hero character, which you can give the "perfect" stats already from the start, you begin with four completely randomly rolled characters. Statistically, instead of beginning with one assured above-average set of stats, you begin with four sets of stats, one of which is likely much the same (above average).

D&D implementation: Easy. Just roll up characters randomly using plain 3d6 instead of 4d6 drop lowest, but each players gets to do this four times instead of once.

Even though there is a definite risk of none of your four characters reaching the level of the standard D&D array, in DCC this is never a problem, since you can always generate more new characters, and your GM might even have you meet - and recruit - NPCs (so you generate stats but don't start with a blank slate personality-wise). And rolling up a character with excellent stats can easily become more of a curse than boon, when nothing guarantees that character's survival!

Of course, if your players are already good at not min-maxing and focusing on character personality, feel free to skip the funnel.

Luck score
I love rpgs with some form of Fate or Chance statistic. At least for me, so many things happen where it's just a hassle to try to justify tying a challenge to a specific ability or skill. Instead, some characters simply are luckier than others.

To keep things simple, I won't be suggesting replacing any of D&D's six abilities (and all the rules changes that would entail). Far simpler to just add a seventh ability score: Luck.

Luck is used primarily to see whether your character was either lucky, or unlucky. Simple as that. Test your Luck, as it were. (Fighting Fantasy aficionados like me rejoice! :) ) Roll a d20. If it is equal to or less than your Luck score, you're Lucky. Otherwise, well...

Normally, if you try to add another ability score to a game without integrating it "properly" into all the actions and spells and effects of that game, it will quickly be that game's dump stat. Not so with Luck! In fact, in DCC it isn't ridiculous to want to play a character with great Luck even if every other score is mediocre!

Just Test your Luck alone can make Luck seem like your most valuable stat, but we've got more! I would recommend:
  • having your Luck score modify saving throws. (If you have a +1 Luck modifier, you get +1 to any and all saving throws) Just remember it is your current Luck score that determines the bonus, not some semi-permanent ever-increasing value!
  • have Luck influence who monsters attack (if you were mauled by the mountain lion, it probably happened because you're unluckier than Bob). This can be used by crafty players: a tank-y Fighter can even enjoy a low Luck score since it gives him an almost magical ability to attract enemies!
In DCC, only Thieves (and partially Halflings) get to enjoy the full benefits of Luck as a major balancing factor to make this class competitive to Fighters and Wizards. In D&D, we will operate under the assumption all classes are already equalish. Therefore, we can give the very fun Luck mechanic to everybody!

Of course, one major difference is that the unstated expectation of DCC Thieves is that they're all very lucky indeed. We will make no such assumptions here.

Spending Luck: You can spend one or more points of Luck to add a die (per point) to whatever roll you just made. The size of this die depends on your level (going from a d4* at 1st level to d12* at mid-level; then adding a static modifier to this as you climb towards level 20).
* We'll assume the weird dice of DCC aren't available to most players.

LevelLuck Die
1d4
3d6
5d8
7d10
9d12
11d12+1
14d12+2
17d12+3
20d20
You do get to see the results of your roll before having to decide to use any Luck. I recommend you only give your players one shot at using Luck for each attack, save or skill check.

In DCC non-Thieves never gain back spent Luck points. Not automatically, that is - you can still gain more Luck points (just like you can gain points of any ability score) but not in a controlled, dependable fashion. While getting back your level amount of Luck points each day makes for a very fun character, especially during scenes spanning multiple days such as downtime carousing and long journey adventures, the fact is D&D characters don't need it the way DCC Thieves do.

I would simply make sure to be generous with Luck while keeping the players in the "Luck spent is permanently lost" mindset. (I even created a companion table to carousing which is fairly generous with Luck)

Maybe you can offer a feat that grants +1 Luck a day or something. Another option is the "fleeting Luck" rules option (first introduced to DCC by the Lankhmar box):

  • "Fleeting Luck" are temporary Luck points added on top of your "permanent" Luck score. They can be lost at any moment, so spend them while you still got 'em! Obviously, you will want to spend fleeting Luck before you spend your regular points.
  • Start each longer game session with 1 fleeting Luck. You gain +1 fleeting Luck each time you roll a critical success (natural 20) or whenever the DM (or play group!) wants to reward particularly good or funny roleplaying
  • Whenever a player rolls a critical failure (natural 1), all fleeting Luck is lost (for every player character). Now you know why they're called "fleeting"!
  • Maybe best to use coins, poker chips or the like to track fleeting Luck, since they change constantly.

Adding Luck can make you wonder: won't this make adventures easier?

Well, I have yet to meet a DM worth his or her salt that can't fix this problem (spoiler alert: Just make things harder :)) so I honestly think no changes need to be made here.


Thoughts?
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Although not technically part of the DCC line, the Dungeon Alphabet and Monster Alphabet are essentially systemless DCC books, which inject DCC worldview and world design into any game. Incredibly highly recommended. And get the later editions, if you can, as Goodman typically adds more pages when they reprint the books.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm currently playtesting a Roll-to-Cast Sorcerer Variant strongly inspired by DCC's magic system. Definitely a tricky needle to thread, but what I've done is have the spell still take effect (in some manner) on a miscast, with the miscast roll integrated all into one roll with the casting roll. Not quite the same as pages upon pages of spell-specific miscast stuff, but it's a lite approximation.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think I'd go the other way, honestly. Bring a few D&D bits into DCC RPG. Like dis/advantage and some settings. But that's about it.

What would I bring into D&D from DCC RPG? Basically all of it.

My top ten are:

Rolling to cast. I love that using magic is not a foregone conclusion and that they dropped spell slots in favor of casting until you fail.

Mercurial Magic. It's so much fun to have additional secondary effects tacked onto every spell. It adds variety to casters and makes some spells a real dilemma whether to cast or not. You can even end up with otherwise "useless" spells that have a great secondary effect that makes them worth casting.

Spellburn. Utterly brilliant idea. Temporarily sacrifice your stats for a bonus to your casting roll. You really want that spell to work? Okay...what are you willing to risk to get it? Absolutely love the magic system.

Corruption. Magic is channeling chaos into the world through your body. That should be a dangerous act that can change you forever. It makes magic a bit less common than some of the other systems would suggest. Sure, you can just keep casting a spell as long as you roll high enough, but every time you roll to cast there's a change you'll mutate. So maybe pump the breaks on throwing spells around.

Deity Disapproval. Another great one. Your cleric won't mutate by casting a spell, but they can abuse their powers and garner disapproval from their deity. The more disapproval you get the harder it is to use your divine magic and the more you have to atone for your misdeeds to clear that disapproval.

Ritualized Magic. The wild and crazy magic in DCC RPG not enough for you? Cool, talk to the Judge and come up with something bigger and badder as a ritual. Careful what you ask for because it will very likely be a quest just to find the spell, to say nothing of gathering the spell components.

Skills being determined by your occupation. You just know everything you should know based on that. Would a farmer know X? Then you know X if you're a farmer. No big list of skills, no wonky subsystems for each skill.

Warrior's mighty deed of arms. Instead of fighters with a limited number of maneuvers they learn or dice they can spend to try them, DCC warriors can just get creative with every attack. They might hit, they might miss. They might pull off the maneuver, they might not. It's such a blast to play a DCC warrior. You straight up feel like a badass from a Conan story.

Questing for the Impossible. One of the best bits in a book overflowing with great stuff. Don't let your game be boring. Let the PCs gain vast powers and weird tricks. But make them earn them by going on a quest.

Admonitions. I love old school, OSR, and NuSR games. One key to that is just getting on with the game and not letting the mechanics bog you down. One great way to establish that is just outright saying the Judge is in charge, not the rulebook. The game involves a lot of dice and a lot of random chance. Roll your dice in the open and accept the results, no matter what they are. If you already know the result you want, why are you rolling? If the PCs are safe, there's no challenge, conflict, or tension. It makes for a boring game. PCs can and will die. If you want your character to survive...play smarter.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I think I'd go the other way, honestly. Bring a few D&D bits into DCC RPG. Like dis/advantage and some settings. But that's about it.

What would I bring into D&D from DCC RPG? Basically all of it.

My top ten are:

Rolling to cast. I love that using magic is not a foregone conclusion and that they dropped spell slots in favor of casting until you fail.
Taken in isolation, a worthy rule.

DCC is far far too random and chaotic for my taste, however. Adding one vector of randomness (like a d20 casting roll) would be okay, making essentially every parameter of spellcasting random made my players dump the system.

Mercurial Magic. It's so much fun to have additional secondary effects tacked onto every spell. It adds variety to casters and makes some spells a real dilemma whether to cast or not. You can even end up with otherwise "useless" spells that have a great secondary effect that makes them worth casting.
Again, viewed standalone; a reasonable addition.

Combined with all the other random things, far too much, just making the mercurial effects getting lost in all the confusion.

A cleaned-up list of reined-in mercurials could work in D&D.

Spellburn. Utterly brilliant idea. Temporarily sacrifice your stats for a bonus to your casting roll. You really want that spell to work? Okay...what are you willing to risk to get it? Absolutely love the magic system.
Again, theoretically an excellent idea.

But DCC fails to safeguard against players who save their spellburn for when it really wins the game; then the scenario ends and they can rest up, playing a different character next adventure if need be.

Like in so many other ways, DCC's spellburn rules don't give a damned they are eminently gameable. While that suits some players, herein we are discussing D&D which presumes that order and structure are good things... :)

Corruption. Magic is channeling chaos into the world through your body. That should be a dangerous act that can change you forever. It makes magic a bit less common than some of the other systems would suggest. Sure, you can just keep casting a spell as long as you roll high enough, but every time you roll to cast there's a change you'll mutate. So maybe pump the breaks on throwing spells around.
Again, by itself not a bad idea. I could easily want to play a D&D game that includes corruption rules.

But playing a D&D game that includes corruption AND taint, disapproval and patronage, mercurial effects...? On top of each and every spell being its own Wild Sorcerer? No thanks.

Deity Disapproval. Another great one. Your cleric won't mutate by casting a spell, but they can abuse their powers and garner disapproval from their deity. The more disapproval you get the harder it is to use your divine magic and the more you have to atone for your misdeeds to clear that disapproval.
I agree, this rule is another great one.

Just a shame DCC included all the great ideas, making the end game almost unplayable :)

At least, I think so, which is why I started this thread.

I chose the funnel and Luck rules, and what I also therefore did, was able to kill my darlings.

Ritualized Magic. The wild and crazy magic in DCC RPG not enough for you? Cool, talk to the Judge and come up with something bigger and badder as a ritual. Careful what you ask for because it will very likely be a quest just to find the spell, to say nothing of gathering the spell components.
Like with spell duels, I just said no.

Skills being determined by your occupation. You just know everything you should know based on that. Would a farmer know X? Then you know X if you're a farmer. No big list of skills, no wonky subsystems for each skill.
A legitimately great idea. In a rules-light game, this is perfect. Shame DCC isn't a rule-light game, though...

For D&D, well, this game already has a skill system, and I don't want to change lots of things. I started this thread to try to think of "how can I inject DCC goodness into D&D with the minimal number of changes possible?"

Warrior's mighty deed of arms. Instead of fighters with a limited number of maneuvers they learn or dice they can spend to try them, DCC warriors can just get creative with every attack. They might hit, they might miss. They might pull off the maneuver, they might not. It's such a blast to play a DCC warrior. You straight up feel like a badass from a Conan story.
Absolutely. Playing Warriors and Thieves were great in DCC 🙂👍

In the context of D&D, however, I have decided that simply giving them Luck will enable their fighteryness just like it will enable a Ranger's rangeryness and a wizard's wizardyness.

Again, I'm trying to do much with little here.

Thanks for a great post! DCC sure made my day, even if my players never could bring themselves to overlook its deep flaws.
 

Luck score
I love rpgs with some form of Fate or Chance statistic. At least for me, so many things happen where it's just a hassle to try to justify tying a challenge to a specific ability or skill. Instead, some characters simply are luckier than others.

To keep things simple, I won't be suggesting replacing any of D&D's six abilities (and all the rules changes that would entail). Far simpler to just add a seventh ability score: Luck.

Luck is used primarily to see whether your character was either lucky, or unlucky. Simple as that. Test your Luck, as it were. (Fighting Fantasy aficionados like me rejoice! :) ) Roll a d20. If it is equal to or less than your Luck score, you're Lucky. Otherwise, well...

Normally, if you try to add another ability score to a game without integrating it "properly" into all the actions and spells and effects of that game, it will quickly be that game's dump stat. Not so with Luck! In fact, in DCC it isn't ridiculous to want to play a character with great Luck even if every other score is mediocre!

Just Test your Luck alone can make Luck seem like your most valuable stat, but we've got more! I would recommend:
  • having your Luck score modify saving throws. (If you have a +1 Luck modifier, you get +1 to any and all saving throws) Just remember it is your current Luck score that determines the bonus, not some semi-permanent ever-increasing value!
  • have Luck influence who monsters attack (if you were mauled by the mountain lion, it probably happened because you're unluckier than Bob). This can be used by crafty players: a tank-y Fighter can even enjoy a low Luck score since it gives him an almost magical ability to attract enemies!
In DCC, only Thieves (and partially Halflings) get to enjoy the full benefits of Luck as a major balancing factor to make this class competitive to Fighters and Wizards. In D&D, we will operate under the assumption all classes are already equalish. Therefore, we can give the very fun Luck mechanic to everybody!

Of course, one major difference is that the unstated expectation of DCC Thieves is that they're all very lucky indeed. We will make no such assumptions here.

Spending Luck: You can spend one or more points of Luck to add a die (per point) to whatever roll you just made. The size of this die depends on your level (going from a d4* at 1st level to d12* at mid-level; then adding a static modifier to this as you climb towards level 20).
* We'll assume the weird dice of DCC aren't available to most players.

LevelLuck Die
1d4
3d6
5d8
7d10
9d12
11d12+1
14d12+2
17d12+3
20d20
You do get to see the results of your roll before having to decide to use any Luck. I recommend you only give your players one shot at using Luck for each attack, save or skill check.

In DCC non-Thieves never gain back spent Luck points. Not automatically, that is - you can still gain more Luck points (just like you can gain points of any ability score) but not in a controlled, dependable fashion. While getting back your level amount of Luck points each day makes for a very fun character, especially during scenes spanning multiple days such as downtime carousing and long journey adventures, the fact is D&D characters don't need it the way DCC Thieves do.

I would simply make sure to be generous with Luck while keeping the players in the "Luck spent is permanently lost" mindset. (I even created a companion table to carousing which is fairly generous with Luck)

Maybe you can offer a feat that grants +1 Luck a day or something. Another option is the "fleeting Luck" rules option (first introduced to DCC by the Lankhmar box):

  • "Fleeting Luck" are temporary Luck points added on top of your "permanent" Luck score. They can be lost at any moment, so spend them while you still got 'em! Obviously, you will want to spend fleeting Luck before you spend your regular points.
  • Start each longer game session with 1 fleeting Luck. You gain +1 fleeting Luck each time you roll a critical success (natural 20) or whenever the DM (or play group!) wants to reward particularly good or funny roleplaying
  • Whenever a player rolls a critical failure (natural 1), all fleeting Luck is lost (for every player character). Now you know why they're called "fleeting"!
  • Maybe best to use coins, poker chips or the like to track fleeting Luck, since they change constantly.

Adding Luck can make you wonder: won't this make adventures easier?

Well, I have yet to meet a DM worth his or her salt that can't fix this problem (spoiler alert: Just make things harder :)) so I honestly think no changes need to be made here.


Thoughts?
I think, were I going to add a luck score to D&D, I'd just add it as another stat, without the spending luck part of it. There have been a number of times where I've found myself thinking that a luck score would be a great way to answer player questions like "does the hobgoblins fall onto another hobgoblin?" "Is there something I can use to light a fire in the enemy camp?" and so on.

The other mechanic I find myself thinking about with D&D and DCC is the Mighty Deeds mechanic. I've no idea how to put that in in a balanced fashion, but it's easily my favorite DCC RPG mechanic. I suppose I could just limit the effects to advantage/disadvantage, but when you start putting limits on it (other than no-instant kills, which I've seen more people try with it in DCC), it starts not feeling as creative.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
The other mechanic I find myself thinking about with D&D and DCC is the Mighty Deeds mechanic. I've no idea how to put that in in a balanced fashion, but it's easily my favorite DCC RPG mechanic. I suppose I could just limit the effects to advantage/disadvantage, but when you start putting limits on it (other than no-instant kills, which I've seen more people try with it in DCC), it starts not feeling as creative.
You could just add it as a Fighter feature usable once per turn: Before rolling attack you declare a deed such as Disarm, Push, Knock Prone, Blind it on its next attack, etc. For this attack, you do not benefit from your Fighting Style, "replacing" it with the deed.

You could come up with some other trade-off – expending a Hit Die, not allowing it during a round in which Action Surge is used, only allowing it on attacks you make as an Action (i.e. not bonus action attacks or opportunity attacks), etc.
 

You could just add it as a Fighter feature usable once per turn: Before rolling attack you declare a deed such as Disarm, Push, Knock Prone, Blind it on its next attack, etc. For this attack, you do not benefit from your Fighting Style, "replacing" it with the deed.

You could come up with some other trade-off – expending a Hit Die, not allowing it during a round in which Action Surge is used, only allowing it on attacks you make as an Action (i.e. not bonus action attacks or opportunity attacks), etc.
Yeah, there's lots of ways it could be done. It's such a great mechanic, it wouldn't surprise me if plenty of folks had ported it over already.
 

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