It is Your Destiny: Less Random Character Creation for DCC RPG

I’m pretty confident in stating that DCC RPG is currently my favorite incarnation of the world’s most popular fantasy role-playing game. Lately, the esteemed barkeep at Tenkar’s Tavern has been posting quite a bit about DCC, and he recently touched on the subject of character creation. I’ve been thinking a bit about this subject as well.

On the off chance you are reading this and aren’t familiar with DCC, the default method of character creation is 3d6 in order for attributes, rolled starting hit points, and general randomness. Characters begin at 0-level and have to earn xp to reach 1st level in a class. Each player gets 3–4 starting characters; most are expected to die in their first adventure, the “funnel.”

skeleton

As my DCC game goes along, I’ve noticed that the experience of the 0-level funnel adventure feels markedly different from the experience of a mixed level party that includes a number of players starting out with 0-level characters. There’s a big shift in party dynamics: When everyone is 0-level during the starting funnel, everyone has a favorite they want to make it, but generally everyone knows any of these guys could go at any minute, and there’s a lot of fun in that. On the other hand, if you’ve got a few 2nd level PCs in a party, a new player joining with a new group of 0-levels really just wants to protect their favorite as much as possible and kill off the excess fodder quickly to get them out of the way. So I’ve come to realize that while 0-level is a big part of DCC as written, once the party has leveled a bit, any new players should probably just make a leveled adventurer as well and jump right into things.

But I’ve also been thinking about how I would start a DCC game if I didn’t want to do strictly random, 3d6 in order and what have you. I think that the random funnel method tends to lean things toward a certain play style that, while awesome, may not be what I want for every game – though if you’ve never tried it, I strongly suggest you do; it is awesomely fun. DCC may have been written with that play style in mind, but I don’t think it’s any insult to say they ended up designing an edition that works great for wide variety of D&D styles.

Erik suggested his game would use the popular and longstanding AD&D best 3 out of 4d6, assign as desired. Personally, I don’t see myself utilizing that method any time in the near future (I’d rather just run Savage Worlds and give full control over building a character). But I have put together a slightly less random and tougher starting combo that I might implement as new characters are created in my current game, and will almost certainly try if a TPK hits the reset button at any point.

1. Choose Race: Yep, just choose which race you want to play, and do that first. If you’re going to be a halfling, the subclass will still be determined randomly.

2. Roll Attributes: The rolling method varies slightly based on the race you picked, inspired by this post and Papers & Pencils.

  • Humans: Roll 3d6 in order, but you are allowed one swap. For example, if you want to switch the number you rolled for Intelligence with the number you rolled for Stamina, that’s your one swap.
  • Halflings: Keep the best 3 out of 4d6 for Luck, and the worst 3 out of 4d6 for Strength. All other scores are 3d6.
  • Dwarves: Keep the best 3 out of 4d6 for Stamina, and the worst 3 out of 4d6 for Personality. All other scores are 3d6.
  • Elves: Keep the best 3 out of 4d6 for Intelligence, and the worst 3 out of 4d6 for Stamina. All other scores are 3d6.

3. Hit Points: This varies slightly depending on whether it’s a 0-level start or a 1st-level start. If 0-level, all PCs get maximum hit points. Because of this, most 0-level starts will be limited to two characters per player. If starting at 1st level, roll hit points and add 4, but only apply the Stamina modifier once – essentially, treat the 0-level maximum HP as though they were unmodified by Stamina. Using this method means that a character with average Stamina will still have 5 HP in the worst-case scenario, which is still more than many 1st level wizards would have in most versions of D&D.

4. Occupation, Equipment, and Wealth: Roll occupation on the appropriate table based on race. Determine equipment and wealth per the rules based on the starting level (0 or 1). Elves may start with a mithril short sword (01–50) or mithril scale male (51–00); the replaces their ability to buy mithril items cheap at 1st level. If the elf rolls a short sword, it replaces his occupation starting weapon. If scale mail is rolled, it replaces the random piece of equipment.

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Author: John Carr

Gamer, comic guy, office drone.

4 thoughts on “It is Your Destiny: Less Random Character Creation for DCC RPG”

  1. So I’ve just started reading DCC in preparation for my first real post on the site so I’m still learning. I find the concept really interesting. You wind up creating an origin story for the party and like that a lot.

    Are you saying that if a player has a 1st level or higher character that dies he has to make a new group of o level characters?

    How do thoes characters survive the higher level adventure to make it to 1st? What do they have to contribute to the adventure besides extra hp to soak up damage? If none of his 0 level characters survive, and he has to start again, how will he ever have a character with a high enough level to actually survive?

    1. You’ll see as you read that the rules are not very particular on certain things, as DCC is mostly written with the idea that most people running it will have plenty of D&D experience. There is no rule that says when you die you have to go back to a new group of zeros, but so far I’ve been running it that way. Now mind you, until our last session no one was higher than 1st level anyway, so it was really just like losing a level, and statistically a zero can hang in there OK with some 1st level characters.

      The other problem I had was not everyone in my group was able to join us for the first few sessions, and since we hadn’t played DCC before I wanted them the experience of 0-level characters as well. That’s really how I started to see last session the disparity that exists when you’ve got 2nd level adventurers and zeros in the same party.

  2. Pretty cool ideas on the character gen.

    I was thinking of using roll 8 characters, 3d6 in order. keep 3 or 4 characters (depending on the size of the funnel).

    one stat swap OR reroll of occupation (can ask for racial occupation range of numbers on the chart for one of the characters)

    or maybe i’ll just steal your ideas 😉

    1. Thank you, sir! 🙂

      Generating a large number of characters and picking from that pool sounds like another neat way to approach it. I’m also intrigued by this rolling method Adam posted at Kickassistan: http://bit.ly/187Vbbj. Straight 3d6 twelve times, and pick any sequential group of 6. I’d personally treat it as an infinite loop, so if you wanted the last number you rolled to be Str, you’d go back to the top for your Dex/Agi, and so on down the line.

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