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

CapnZapp

Legend
I don't want to upend the balance of D&D character classes, so I'm thinking that there are many cool and unique things about DCC that will have to stay there, if I can't justify bringing it to everybody.

Luck is easily justifiable as a universal mechanism; Mighty Deeds not so much.

That doesn't mean I don't like Mighty Deeds or that it isn't a worthy rule, just that it makes sense only to half the character classes (at most). That, and that it's free-form-ness, which absolutely is what makes it so awesome in DCC, makes for an ill fit to D&D's much more codified abilities.

The Luck mechanic given to DCC Thieves is much more mechanically defined (and limited), which is why it is a good fit for D&D imho.

I try not just to think of great rules from the source ruleset, I also try to think of how well they fit in the destination ruleset.

To that end, try to imagine a lucky fighter, and you'll see that this ability (to spend some Luck to succeed) can easily be interpreted as "might", not "luck". Just like the luck of say a wizard probably is brilliance or being a smartass rather than something that involves happenstance.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
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.
A very reasonable thought.

However, what really sets DCC Thieves apart, I found, is their ability to jump right in, heedlessly and with abandon, fairly secure in their faith that luck will always bail them out in the end.

Perhaps not so much during a prolonged combat encounter, but definitely during off-screen downtime activities. When you make a lot of rolls and each individual roll doesn't matter very much (like in combat) Luck is not a great decider. But when an entire day's story is resolved by maybe three rolls, it's a very different matter.

The ability to actually spend Luck is key here. Otherwise having 18 Luck only means you're unlucky 10% of the time, or 17% compounded over three rolls, which doesn't cut it.

If, however, you're allowed to spend Luck, the probability of being Lucky three rolls in a row come much much closer to the ~99% which a player character that is subjected to repeated such sequences really need for it to make sense to "trust" ones luck.

To be clear: the worst-case scenario here is that you'll end up two Luck points shorter, so you know you can no longer trust your luck the next time. And not that you actually are Unlucky now, if that could cost you your life (or pride or whatever).

I hope that made sense, otherwise we'll discuss an example.
 

A very reasonable thought.

However, what really sets DCC Thieves apart, I found, is their ability to jump right in, heedlessly and with abandon, fairly secure in their faith that luck will always bail them out in the end.

Perhaps not so much during a prolonged combat encounter, but definitely during off-screen downtime activities. When you make a lot of rolls and each individual roll doesn't matter very much (like in combat) Luck is not a great decider. But when an entire day's story is resolved by maybe three rolls, it's a very different matter.

The ability to actually spend Luck is key here. Otherwise having 18 Luck only means you're unlucky 10% of the time, or 17% compounded over three rolls, which doesn't cut it.

If, however, you're allowed to spend Luck, the probability of being Lucky three rolls in a row come much much closer to the ~99% which a player character that is subjected to repeated such sequences really need for it to make sense to "trust" ones luck.

To be clear: the worst-case scenario here is that you'll end up two Luck points shorter, so you know you can no longer trust your luck the next time. And not that you actually are Unlucky now, if that could cost you your life (or pride or whatever).

I hope that made sense, otherwise we'll discuss an example.

In DCC, absolutely. In D&D, I'm not sure adding Luck is needed for rogues. However, in 1e or 2e, Luck would've been a game changer for thieves. Imagine being able to spend Luck (1 point = 10% bonus or something like that) on your Find/Remove Traps checks! It would've made thieves much more fun to play at low levels.
 

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.

Something Ive done is putting the limit on it that any direct damage the Deed deals cannot exceed what you rolled on the Deed dice themselves.

Ive found it not only tempers what people try to do with it but also keeps adjudicating it simple; no need to worry about people trying to end fights in one shot, but still letting them chain into other things. Rolling 10 with your Deed dice doesn't make your kick to the chest all that impressive, but them falling down the stairs still hurts, and if I put the enemy next to the edge of a bottomless ravine I deserve the consequences of an easy encounter.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
In DCC, absolutely. In D&D, I'm not sure adding Luck is needed for rogues. However, in 1e or 2e, Luck would've been a game changer for thieves. Imagine being able to spend Luck (1 point = 10% bonus or something like that) on your Find/Remove Traps checks! It would've made thieves much more fun to play at low levels.
To be clear: my proposal is to change all of the game, for all of the classes. (=Luck is given not only to Rogues but to Warlocks and Druids and whatever as well) Remember, I am operating under the assumption D&D balance is already good (if not great), so I'm not trying to give something to only some characters.

Yes, I am fully aware that a Spending Luck mechanic could be seen to somewhat favor classes with fewer more impactful rolls over classes with many and therefore individually less impactful rolls. You'd think "Wizards vs warriors" but surprisingly often D&D Wizards rely on the bad luck of others rather than the good fortune of their own rolls. (In short, you can't spend Luck to make the Dragon fail its saving throw)

I would focus on the character-building aspect of Luck. If you have bennies or any other meta-currency, you can increase the chance of succeeding where failure would have hurt your character concept the most. This is much more valuable than dealing some extra damage to some random mook. If you play the world's greatest bard you wouldn't want to flub your solo performance in front of the king, so pay Luck until you succeed! If you have made a point of your Wizard knowing everything there is about the insidious Purple Hand cult you suspect is operating in the sewers, you will enjoy using Luck point to make sure you never miss any of the clues to their whereabouts. If you play a Casanova type character you would not want to fail the seduction attempt of the Countess, so use your Luck to ensure an eventful evening! And so on. At least I see such character-defining rolls as much more valuable than spending my luck on successfully making attacks or avoiding some mere damage...! :)

And yes, no D&D class "needs" this mechanic, or more help of any kind.

This isn't about giving D&D classes help --- this is about "which of the things that make DCC awesome can we reasonably bring into our D&D gaming?" :)

What things that make DCC awesome are compatible with D&D? What lessons of DCC can we learn when playing D&D?

(Of course, the first question must be "if you feel DCC to be as awesome as it is, why then not play DCC?" to which I have already answered that while its ideas are awesome much too much of its execution is far too cluttered and scattered for my taste)
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
My first and foremost answer is that DCC breaks up the implied social contract D&D so very often grants players. That the game (and by extension the DM, but obviously some DMs have other ideas) makes a "deal" with the player to not mess with the character and above all not cause any permanent scarring.

Which is exactly why D&D can feel so "safe". And which encourages (at least my) players to go into minmax mode where the character is reduced to a collection of data points ready to be optimized.

When a game like DCC says "no, you can't have that kind of job security"; what that does is it forces players to actually keep attention to what's happening in the world and to proactively roleplay the character in an attempt to stave off disaster (and gain bennies like Luck points ;) ), in a way that you simply don't need to do when death is the worst that can happen, and this death is a minor speedbump at best.

When the world can rob you of your ability points, your stuff, your dignity (all far worse than mere death) you tend to perk up, and start treating your character as a living breathing human (or lizardman or whatever) that is vulnerable and fallible.

The funnel reinforces these themes because for every high level hero you will also have felt the pain and loss of approximately three other people. No longer are you assured the right to become high level just because you showed up and generated a 1st level character.

The argument I often hear is "why would I want to spend time writing a character backstory if I am not given the implicit agreement I will likely reach the end of the campaign?". My reply would be "This is a game, not a story. If you're guaranteed to reach level 20, why even play it out? Why even pretend dice roll matters, why pretend you're in any real danger, why pretend you are a hero?"

TL;DR: The difference between DCC (and OSR in general I guess) and D&D to me boils down to you being a DCC hero because you deserve to be called one, not because you were "born" as one. You entered adventure despite that not being the safe choice, manifested by the wrecked would-be heroes you leave behind, and this is why you're a hero. In D&D, the mindset often becomes "adventures are great because they let me farm xp so I can gain levels" - much D&D writing assumes and even outright tells you you are a hero despite you not yet having deserved that honorific, and despite adventures not really bringing any permanent defeats to the table.
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
I hope everybody feel their suggestions are welcome.

I chose Luck for reasons, but I am definitely open to discussing other DCC rules for D&D 🙂


Zapp

By the way: Do check out the Xoth campaign guide thread. It's the closest ENWorld comes to an active discussion on Sword & Sorcery gaming full of awesomesauce:

 

not-so-newguy

I'm the Straw Man in your argument
Speaking of Luck, what do judges hand it out for?
I think I've been pretty stingy with it, only +1 for completing an adventure. The last one, though, I handed out 3 Luck to anyone who completed the adventure (People of the Pit).
Anyway I'm curious to hear how often do Judges give put Luck? Also, what do PCs need to do to get it?

Another thing, when picking monsters I usually use the Old School Essentials SRD. That should work, right?
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Speaking of Luck, what do judges hand it out for?

I think I've been pretty stingy with it, only +1 for completing an adventure. The last one, though, I handed out 3 Luck to anyone who completed the adventure (People of the Pit).

Anyway I'm curious to hear how often do Judges give put Luck? Also, what do PCs need to do to get it?
I try to stick with the Luck suggestions in the book. I find that the ones that come up the most are complete the adventure (+1 to +3), acting out of alignment (-1), and disobeying a patron or god (-1).

The +1 to +3 from completing the adventure happens at the end of the adventure, if they survive...if they're successful. Dis/obeying your patron or deity is dealt with when it happens during the game. My players tend to be very anti-authoritarian so they rack up more penalties for disobeying than bonuses for obeying. But they're the ones who picks their class and patron / deity, so it's on them.
Another thing, when picking monsters I usually use the Old School Essentials SRD. That should work, right?
The secret of DCC RPG (and most old-school games for that matter), is that balance doesn't matter. Pick monster stats from any TSR-edition of D&D, any OSR or most NuSR games, or just make them up. I've found that generally AD&D and AD&D2E monsters work best with their generally slightly higher stats and nastier abilities. Just flip the AC from descending to ascending and decide on the saves, and you're good to go.
 

nevin

Hero
The secret of DCC RPG (and most old-school games for that matter), is that balance doesn't matter. Pick monster stats from any TSR-edition of D&D, any OSR or most NuSR games, or just make them up. I've found that generally AD&D and AD&D2E monsters work best with their generally slightly higher stats and nastier abilities. Just flip the AC from descending to ascending and decide on the saves, and you're good to go.
I think this is why 1st to 3rd edition are still played so much. Trying to balance DND is like trying to balance a bucket of water. it's just too much work for so little return. If fun is the goal then balance is just a speedbump that leaves everyone agonizing over what's wrong with the game. If balance is the goal then fun becomes secondary to fair.
 

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