The Old School Renaissance has been a movement in RPG circles for more than a decade now. Originally a way for old timers to relive the thrilling adventures of yesteryear, like Queen of the Demonweb Pits or Keep on the Borderlands, these games have branched out into new creations that merge the best of Stranger Things-era D&D and today.
Some Old School Renaissance games are literal recreations of the RPGs played in the late 20th century, but others are their own thing, new creations that are inspired by those old games, but are not a clone of them. Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics is just such a game.
To get an idea of the feel of this game, I’ll tell you about one of the game’s more well-known innovations: the character funnel. Every player starts with one to three zero-level characters who are put through a specially designed adventure. Those that survive get to level up to 1st level in an actual class.
DCC is designed for people who can set aside intense and intricate stories or watching a character make a full and complex arc through an entire campaign. It is for those who care more about the “game” in RPG, about gathering around a table with friends and laughing your heads off, and getting to talk about the amazing, epic, and macabre ways the characters have died. Yes, it’s very much based on the Swords & Sorcery genre that inspired the original D&D game. But, often in keeping with those stories, the game leans hard into the gonzo. Magical mishaps tables have wizards exploding and clerics jumping through hoops to regain the respect (and the spells) of their deity.
DCC is not a game of regimented rules for every situation. It fully embraces a free-wheeling style of play. Fighters have an ability called Mighty Deeds of Arms. Basically, when the dice roll your way, you get to describe something cool the fighter does. And this isn’t just set-dressing; if the GM agrees, your character could literally lop off a foe’s head and sending it spinning into the face of another foe, swing from a chandelier to get clear across the room in a single movement, or push one or more enemies off a cliff. The only limits are your imagination and what the GM agrees is possible for a character performing an action that will go down in tales and song as truly epic.
Don’t be turned off by the thickness of the rulebook; it includes not just what D&D calls the Players’ Handbook, but also monsters and GM advice. If you’re looking for some gonzo RPGing, if you don’t mind robots and mind-rays showing up in your fantasy worlds, and are ready for to see your characters melted, exploded, corroded, flambéd, chopped, mashed and cooked in a stew, ask the RPG experts at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy® about Dungeon Crawl Classics today.