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.