DCC Level 0 Character Funnel is a Bad Concept

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Heroes are the ones who survived and did the big things. You can only assess that at the end -- death or retirement.

This touches on the subject of what a "campaign" is, too. Is it a "story" about a certain set of characters, or is it a world? If the former, of course things like TPKs ruin campaigns. But if it is the latter, the story doesn't end just because some group ends up moldering bones on the bottom of a spiked pit. There are other heroes.
Right. That’s a big part of it. Self-centered focus on me the player and my character instead of the group, the campaign, the world, or the game. “I am the star” not even “we are the stars”.

The heroes are the ones who live. Make the character who survives the 0-level funnel the hero. Get attached to the one who actually does something in the game. Hell, don’t even name them until they survive. They’re a random collection of numbers. It’s a game.
 

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Retreater

Legend
Also -- and this should go without saying, but we seem to have to say it a lot -- just because you didn't like a thing doesn't mean it is a "bad concept" or "bad design."
Agreed. I had a bad experience and had some holdover gripes from that game when I made the OP. While I don't want to tell anyone they're having "badwrongfun" I can say that the experience I had with the the funnel at the con game was badly run and poorly implemented. The game was so bad that I can't imagine another Judge(?) being able to present it differently due to the inherent flaws in the structure of the character funnel concept in that adventure.
Running around with characters who are common peasants trying to survive impossible odds and having their first taste of adventure doesn't sound like a terrible concept (especially for some good laughs and a light-hearted game), but I think it should be a 20-ish page pamphlet system, not THE selling point for a system with a 400 page rulebook, unique dice, dozens of adventures, etc.
The funnel is the main thing I've heard about DCC. And it's certainly nothing to write home about, IMO.
 

Right. That’s a big part of it. Self-centered focus on me the player and my character instead of the group, the campaign, the world, or the game. “I am the star” not even “we are the stars”.

The heroes are the ones who live. Make the character who survives the 0-level funnel the hero. Get attached to the one who actually does something in the game. Hell, don’t even name them until they survive. They’re a random collection of numbers. It’s a game.

I also think DCC's general ethos and tone fits this perfectly. You can play heroic adventure stories with DCC, but what it's embracing by default is something meaner and greedier, which I fully respect. It's not the sort of thing I gravitate toward as a GM, but I'd kill to play in at some point.
 

payn

Legend
Agreed. I had a bad experience and had some holdover gripes from that game when I made the OP. While I don't want to tell anyone they're having "badwrongfun" I can say that the experience I had with the the funnel at the con game was badly run and poorly implemented. The game was so bad that I can't imagine another Judge(?) being able to present it differently due to the inherent flaws in the structure of the character funnel concept in that adventure.
Running around with characters who are common peasants trying to survive impossible odds and having their first taste of adventure doesn't sound like a terrible concept (especially for some good laughs and a light-hearted game), but I think it should be a 20-ish page pamphlet system, not THE selling point for a system with a 400 page rulebook, unique dice, dozens of adventures, etc.
The funnel is the main thing I've heard about DCC. And it's certainly nothing to write home about, IMO.
I think you were oversold on the funnel concept. It's not the crown jewel of DCC (I didnt even know about it until after playing a campaign) its just an element that is tons of fun.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I also think DCC's general ethos and tone fits this perfectly. You can play heroic adventure stories with DCC, but what it's embracing by default is something meaner and greedier, which I fully respect. It's not the sort of thing I gravitate toward as a GM, but I'd kill to play in at some point.
Exactly. It fully embraces Appendix N Sword & Sorcery pulp fantasy. It’s not a game, generally, about selfless heroes saving the world with no expectation of reward. It’s a game of hired thugs slaughtering men and monsters for gold. Magic is dangerous and corrupts. The gods are cruel and fickle. It absolutely nails that aesthetic.
 

Undrave

Hero
Um, overall, feels like a weird reaction. for me the funnel is like the best part of the system. Survival is pure chance, yeah. The idea is discovering your character through the experience, whatever it is. So your stupidest character is the only one to survive, make what you can with them and, yeah, sure, might be a short future, but that’s their life, live it, role play it.
Feels like a waste of my limited time
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
I prefer more competent characters at start, so as to maximize that middle area of playing, before they become too powerful.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The funnel is really just the rolling four sets of stats and picking one thing, except it's done at the table and you don't always get the one you want. I usually advise treating some of your 0 level goons as ablative armor for the ones you want to see get to level one. It doesn't always work, but its always fun.
 
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Retreater

Legend
The funnel is really just the rolling four sets of stats and picking one thing, except it's done at the table and you don't always get the one you want. I usually advise treating some of your 0 level goons as ablative armor for the ones you want to see get to level one. It doesn't always work, but it always fun.
Yeah, but in this case it's random stat generation, random HP, random classes, and random chance of survivability.
If everything is that random, I'd rather just drop a few Plinko chips on the Price is Right and let Bob Barker tell me what character I'm playing.
In the case of the funnel I played there was zero player skill involved. You rolled a die to see what mutation you got, rolled a die for your character to see which one randomly got killed by the BBEG, etc.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think we've established that you aren't a fan of random OSR-style character generation, and your experience was further muddied my some questionable GMing, which is unfortunate. Nothing wrong with the former though, we all have our own preferences. There is, however, a huge difference between something I didn't/don't enjoy and a bad concept.
 



Arilyn

Hero
The DCC funnel is no more than one session. It's not supposed to dominate the game. It's a lot of fun seeing who will survive, and it's rarely what you assume. DCC is a game full of randomness, but after the funnel, clever play can help. But it certainly not a forgiving game. I'm having fun with my elf who has abysmal stats, and is somehow surviving. (My elves never survive the funnel so I'm pleased with my first one. 😌)

On the other hand, I also really enjoy spending time crafting characters I want. I have characters made that'll never get used but I had fun creating them. I have played and GMed games where death is pretty much off the table, and those have been very satisfying. I don't think it's fair to paint players who actually want their characters to survive as entitled, or wanting to be "the star." There's a myriad of ways to play rpgs and I don't believe DCC should be used to teach players to embrace random character creation and death.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Yeah, I agree that the funnel of DCC is overstated. It really is an Appendix N type of game. I really wish the convo about DCC was more like "Step 1: Roll your unfortunate villagers. Step 2: play through this funnel to show how they became un-villager. Step 3: Play DCC."
It reminds me a lot of the discussion around MHR and character creation. People complained loud and often that MHR doesn't have character creation rules. But they're objectively wrong. It does, in fact, have character creation rules...some players simply bounced off those character creation rules. Doesn't stop them from banging on and on and on and on and on about it. The 0-level funnel shows you the extreme edge of DCC. That's the worst it will ever be. From there on you're playing a tough badass...but you still have to deal with the whims of fate (the dice).

If someone doesn't like randomness, they shouldn't play a game with randomness. If they don't like character death, they shouldn't play a game with character death. It's not for everyone. It's not meant to be. People should just accept that and let those who do enjoy it have fun without some feeling the need to bang on and on and on about how it sucks. Things you don't like exist. They get to exist. And other people get to like them. (I know I'm quoting you, but this last bit isn't directed at you. Just venting general frustration.)
The DCC funnel is no more than one session. It's not supposed to dominate the game. It's a lot of fun seeing who will survive, and it's rarely what you assume. DCC is a game full of randomness, but after the funnel, clever play can help. But it certainly not a forgiving game. I'm having fun with my elf who has abysmal stats, and is somehow surviving. (My elves never survive the funnel so I'm pleased with my first one. 😌)
It really does seem like the ultimate in "play to see what happens" style of game. You can stack the odds as much as you like, but it's still down to the dice.
On the other hand, I also really enjoy spending time crafting characters I want. I have characters made that'll never get used but I had fun creating them.
I think character creation is all but its own separate hobby at this point. Connected, but not necessarily. Like collecting and painting minis. Collecting and building terrain. Etc. It's a cool thing to do sometimes. But there's not necessarily any connection between that and the games as actually played. Like 5E. Just because you built some power gaming monstrosity doesn't mean the DM will let it into their game.
I have played and GMed games where death is pretty much off the table, and those have been very satisfying.
I can't imagine how that would be satisfying. If you're making a character in a fantasy adventure game where the characters do dangerous things...death is always a possibility. If there's no risks, there's no rewards. It immediately devolves into "I'm so awesome". Pass.
I don't think it's fair to paint players who actually want their characters to survive as entitled, or wanting to be "the star."
I think it's absolutely fair. I watch it happen constantly at the table on an almost weekly basis. Some player has sunk hours into crafting some Mary Sue character and an absurdly overly complicated backstory and wants the DM to spin a yarn around their Mary Sue...repeatedly telling the PC how awesome they are and never suffer so much as a hang nail. That's not my jam.
There's a myriad of ways to play rpgs and I don't believe DCC should be used to teach players to embrace random character creation and death.
No. Not teach. But you definitely learn who is who from running one. You see rather quickly if a player is okay with risk and death and who's not. Helps you form the next group so you can run a proper DCC game without complaints.
 

schneeland

Adventurer
Just to stress what others have already said: if you don't feel completely burnt on DCC, maybe you want to give playing with a level 1 or 2 character a chance. While I also had fun with funnel adventures, I personally enjoyed the experience with higher level characters much more (I haven't played anything higher than level 2 yet, but I suspect, mirroring my D&D preferences, level 1 to 4 - corresponding to D&D levels 2 to 8 - will be my favourites).
 

aramis erak

Legend
Man, I thought the days of purely random PCs were behind us. Why would anyone join an adventuring group like that? 'Well, we can't fight, think, or run, so let's load up and go kick the liche lord's a$$'*.

* = Sounds sort of like a reality TV show when I re-read that line. :D
Ever hear of the OSR? Old School Renaissance. A group of (mostly) people not born before TSR's time of troubles, often waxing nostalgic for a particular playstyle which I didn't encounter until the 1990's, despite playing AD&D before Moldvay Basic was released.

There are some older folk in the scene as well, but most of the OSR is looking to do Moldveyesque D&D as a rules light narrative first experience where "sometimes we even roll the dice"....
DCC is aimed squarely at the OSR's bulk, but with enough extra oddities that it's distinctly different without being different in tone. Hence all the odd (literally) sided dice (d3, d5, d7) and the unusal "missing steps" (d14, d16, d24).

My solution when players ask for a non-random method for D&D and other random 3d6 games: I set 3 to each face. Let them arrange to taste, 3 into each att.
 

Arilyn

Hero
No. Not teach. But you definitely learn who is who from running one. You see rather quickly if a player is okay with risk and death and who's not. Helps you form the next group so you can run a proper DCC game without complaints.
Yes, in DCC the randomness and character death is baked in and not accepting that flies in the face of the game's phosophy.

But you can have plenty of tension in other games without the constant threat of death. This argument comes up repeatedly, and I don't want to dive back in. I just want to point out players have a variety of preferences. I have a variety of preferences and it's unfair to paint the differences in broad brush strokes, which happens too often from all sides.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Not quite. It’s so that you’re not penalized for running away. You don’t have to fight to the death and win to earn experience. You’ll get more XP the more challenging the encounter, so a skin of your teeth victory nets you more than “technically” engaging then running away as a means of gaming the XP system.
Technically, you don't have to kill to get XP in BX/BECMI/Cyclopedia nor AD&D1 - you just have to "defeat" the opponent - by morale or evasion.
Moldvay, Page B22: "Experience points are also given for monsters killed or overcome by magic, fighting, or wits."
Overcome can logically include avoiding if the purpose of the encounter was to prevent access to a place... or to turn the PCs into food. Or into slaves. etc.
I think you were oversold on the funnel concept. It's not the crown jewel of DCC (I didnt even know about it until after playing a campaign) its just an element that is tons of fun.
"Can be," not "is." I didn't enjoy it when I tried it in the 80's... and it was a concept, tho' not called a funnel, that some had. It's not inherently fun. For some, it's inherently overload. For others, it reduces the thing they find most important - identification with the PC. For me, it was a hassle of numbers... I'd rather start higher level than start with multiple PCs, but BITD, it wasn't uncommon for us to take in 2 PCs each...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
But you can have plenty of tension in other games without the constant threat of death.
Only if the players are invested in the world and the NPCs. Which is nowhere near as common as often claimed.
This argument comes up repeatedly, and I don't want to dive back in. I just want to point out players have a variety of preferences. I have a variety of preferences and it's unfair to paint the differences in broad brush strokes, which happens too often from all sides.
Different players have different preferences. And individuals can have different preferences. Absolutely. But it’s either a broad brush, no brush, or we spend an infinite amount of time painting all the details with toothpicks.
Technically, you don't have to kill to get XP in BX/BECMI/Cyclopedia nor AD&D1 - you just have to "defeat" the opponent - by morale or evasion.
Moldvay, Page B22: "Experience points are also given for monsters killed or overcome by magic, fighting, or wits."
Overcome can logically include avoiding if the purpose of the encounter was to prevent access to a place... or to turn the PCs into food. Or into slaves. etc.
Technically…in B/X you get more XP for treasure found than dealing with monsters. That “also” in your quote.
 

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