Power Armor for DCC (or other Retroclones)

I’ve been way out-of-pocket with blogging as the baby date gets closer (super excited and terrified), and I haven’t actually been gaming to boot. Doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about stuff occasionally, though. For example, this was something I drafted up a while back, meant to flesh out more, and now am just going to post as-is, cause why not?

by Eupackardia

I was thinking about how to handle power armor in gonzo science fantasy games within the bounds of D&D-like rules. I know some people have touched on this before — pretty sure Dungeon of Signs had some sort of power armor on the HMS Apollyon — but I was thinking about how I would codify it for myself in the event that I ever ran my ASE DCC campaign or something along those lines.

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Simplifying Encumbrance for Dungeon Weariness

The old standby
The old standby

In my last post, I struggled a bit to determine the DC for “encumbrance as encounter,” or a Weariness check as I dubbed it. I got a lot of positive feedback on the post, but Noah pretty fairly pointed out that there’s still a lot of work getting in the way of the fun in documenting encumbrance as suggested. I agree, and at the time I was thinking that a highly customized character sheet was really the only good way to make it simple. I essentially repeated the sentiment to Harley and expressed the additional difficulties I was having thinking how to incorporate it with DCC specifically, given the armor check penalty already incorporated in those rules. I had a few different thoughts on tweaks and revisions I could make to fit it into DCC, and how a sheet would look that would make it less difficult to track in any D&D-ish system.

Until tonight, when I realized that DCC’s armor check penalty not only didn’t need to be modified, but that it actually could be the key to really simplifying this for any D&D-like game, and not requiring a major character sheet overhaul. Here’s what I’ve got …

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Dungeon Weariness: Encumbrance & Exhaustion as Encounter

In my last post, I jumped off from Brendan’s thoughts on lighting as encounter with a couple of ways to simulate the passage of time, and as usual my personal favorite is the playing card method. Last night, while perusing the LotFP Rules & Magic book for no particular reason, I started thinking about it some more, and I think there’s more that can be handled by the “four suit” method. (To recap, base encounters on playing cards and torches go out every time all four suits have been drawn.)

First, one tweak I’d make to lighting in particular. I previously suggested that lanterns should run out of oil every other time the four suits are drawn. Even as I wrote this I didn’t love it, as one of the goals of the card method is to keep things very simple: Every time you draw X, then Y happens. I noticed in LotFP, lantern oil lasts a full 24 hours, and while this is a bit more generous than I’m inclined to be, it did lead me to my solution. Every time torches go out, there is a 1-in-3 chance that lanterns run out of oil as well. This makes lanterns theoretically infinite, but the odds are low.

IMG_2406 grenadier 2004 hirelings

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Lighting as Dungeon Encounter: Two Methods

David Trampier

Brendan at Necropraxis recently had a great post on using the random encounter die as a time-tracker — instead of just triggering wandering monsters, the encounter die could also lead to torches burning out or lanterns running out of oil.

As initially written, he advises just ignoring such results for the first two or three turns when it would seem unreasonable for new light sources to be dying. But it got me thinking, “What if there were a simple way to simulate time passage in the check itself?” Two ways popped into my mind, actually.

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Episodic Adventures and Then Some

So it’s been a while …

As I mentioned over on G+, my wife and I are expecting our first child this June, and her first trimester wasn’t the easiest going for her. Compound that with my new position at work (started in August) starting to ramp up and the result is a lack of blogging.

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When I was a Fighting-man… Part One

deviantART by Tensen01

Originally posted by Brianna Heine on the other (now defunct) version of this site.

Today I’d like to discuss the classes that should be available to player characters. So how do we begin? Well let’s start with my “keep it simple” concept.

The simplest way to do that is to just allow all the classes available to a d20 Pathfinder campaign. “All the classes?” I hear you ask. “Even the Gunslinger?!” you quickly follow. Well… No. We can’t allow all the classes. Some just flat-out don’t work. Not if we’re trying to create the atmosphere presented in REH’s stories.

I first looked at the Hyborian Age d20 Campaign Site for inspiration. It seems like they’re using standard 3E D&D (not Pathfinder) as a base. Apparently they chose the “Everyone gets to play whatever they want” method. Thankfully they left out the Paladin (because in absolutely no possible way does that belong in the Hyborian Age) as an option but they did add a few other classes to the mix.

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A Barbarian of Barbarians …

Darren Goodacre
Darren Goodacre

Originally posted by Brianna Heine on the other (now defunct) version of this site.

… a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs… his eyes a volcanic blue that smoldered as if with some inner fire…

… he moved with the ease of a great tiger…

… the vitality and endurance of the wild were his…

… he was naturally intelligent, jealous of his rights, and as dangerous as a hungry tiger…

When reading any story involving Conan of Cimmeria it would be easy to over exaggerate his game statistics. Something like the following might be a casual reader’s impression:

Conan, Cimmerian, Barbarian 20, Thief 20, HP 520, Str 18, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 18

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Message for you, Sir: Henchman PCs for DCC RPG


One of the interesting side effects of the DCC Funnel method of character creation is that it is possible for a single player to have more than one character survive to the end. Different judges handle this in different ways; some make their players choose a single character to level up, others allow the player to have multiple leveled adventurers. I initially went with the latter option, but I’ve found that it can get a bit unwieldy in practice when several players have two 2nd level characters. I’m now considering an option somewhere between the two: henchman PCs, aka apprentices.

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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.”


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.

DCC RPG Spell Record Sheet

Another new addition to the Downloads section — this time it’s a Spell Record Sheet. Hopefully this proves a handy addition for a few wizards, clerics, and elves out there.

deviantART by Manweri