Thursday, October 18, 2012

Firstest with the Mostest

"I didn't really talk like a total hick"
Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest is credited with coining the phrase "Get there firstest with the mostest", when asked to describe his tactics. I suspect he said it a bit more intelligently than that, but since he was a hated Confederate general, and the victors write the history books, his words were written as if spoken by a genuine rube.

At any rate, I think his personal philosophy of battle holds up pretty well in Dungeon Crawl Classics. Allow me to explain.

I was reading a forum post over on the Goodman Games forum. It's about combining DCC and AD&D. The parts that I found of particular interest were concerned with using old 1E modules with DCC and the conversions necessary for such. Module T1: The Village of Hommlet was batted around quite a bit. As I read it, my very first thought was to use the fluff and descriptions, but for anything mechanical, just grab the Libram (my personal nickname for the DCC rulebook). It seems pretty straightforward to me. Hommlet is a shining example of Gygaxian naturalism, so subbing in one set of mechanical details for another shouldn't really be a problem. Plus, both games are founded on a core belief that encounters do not have to be fair or balanced. So, if a DCC version of a monster is too powerful, the characters should just beat feet and look for a way 'round.

So, all that sounds fine, up to now. But . . . Hommlet is a 1st level module. What about using more potent modules, like White Plume Mountain? DCC tops out at 10th level. So, Gods forbid the party should ever enter the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. Can you imagine a 10th level fighter with d8 hit dice strolling through the G series? Sure you can, but not very far through it, right?

Which really starts bringing this post full circle. I realized something wonderful about DCC combat. It is fast and deadly. Yes, the characters don't walk around with triple-digit hit points. Their damage potential though is off the charts compared to any other form of D&D, except maybe 4th with its semi-mystical "Powers".

A DCC Hill Giant has AC16 and an attack bonus of +15, doing 2d8+8.They average a crit about every 5 rounds, have 8d10 HP, and roll a d24 for attacks. Yikes! Oh, and their crit table is a thing of terror. So, what about our fighter? Well, he'll have 10d12 HP, not the d10 of AD&D, so that's a start. He can attack up to three times a round. One of those is with a d14, but that is mitigated by the attack die. His attack die will grant him a minimum of +5 to-hit and damage each round. It could be as high as +14, and remember: the single roll applies to all attacks and damage for the round. So, if he gets a +14, and assuming he hits all three times (a very safe assumption with a +14 to-hit also), he will do at least 45 points of damage. That is if none of the attacks crits and all his damage rolls come up 1's. Which brings us to crits. Our fighter's threat range is 17-20, which translates into a 20% chance for a crit each turn, or one every five turns, like his giant opponent. A 10th level fighters crits are the stuff of nightmares.

What does all this mean? It means lots and lots of blood and gore flying around from the start. It means that when the fight is joined the warriors need to wade in and handle business real quick. I haven't studied the monsters yet, but I suspect that each level is challenged similarly. So, the monsters are stone cold killers, more than capable of meting out enough damage to ruin a character in short order. But the characters are also capable of raining down death. A sound plan, when there's time to formulate one will be beneficial, and in some situations crucial. Along with an exit strategy. Always know which way to run. Survival is a matter of who hits hardest and fastest, or avoids getting hit at all.

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