In the last installment of this OSR Week I will talk about of what had been without doubt this summer surprise: the future publication of Dungeon Crawl Classics by Other Selves.
As I don't have the game this review wil concentrate in the beta 060811 (June 2011) that once Goodman games put as a free download and that has been translated to Spanish by Jose Masaga among others, as with others reviews of this OSR Week I will concentrate on those characteristics I think to be important or that had drawn my attention, and I can advance you that with the suitable group of players it can be an extremely funny and hilarious game seeing some of the options it proposes (and while I am writing the review I'm thinking on some of my usual players).
The text of this beta begins with an introduction with some references to the long history of Dungeons & Dragons, including the game creators, Gary Gygax and David Arneson and Bob Bledsaw, founder of Judges Guild, the editors of the different versions of the first basic edition of Dungeons & Dragons, John E. Holmes (Blue Box, July 1977), Tom Moldvay (Magenta Box, 1981) y Frank Mentzer (Red Box, 1983), Tim Kask, first editor of Dragon magazine and Robert J. Kuntz, co-author of many iconic releases of Dungeons & Dragons like Deities & Demigods and also famous for playing Robilar, the first character to survive the famous (and deadly) campaign Tomb of Horrors.
If you are interested in knowing more about the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons you may read this post of year 2011 at La Frikoteca (in Spanish), Zenopus Archives, Acaeum and this article at Wizards of the Coast website.
After citing these illustrious figures the introduction goes to coment to comment dice usually used in this kind of games (you know, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20) and those created by Lou Zocchi (d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, d30, or d% and that, as a suggestion for the future patronage, will be fine to have a set of these as part of the stretch goals available to patrons if possible) and the artists who illustrated the first editions, Erol Otus, Jeff Easley, Jim Roslof, Jim Holloway, Clyde Caldwell, David A. Trampier and Jeff Dee.
Finally prospective players are asked to live great adventures as once it was done.
After this so ornate introduction it briefly comments what we can expect regarding game mechanics if we know of other Dungeons & Dragons versions, like ascendent Armor Class, Difficulty Class for abilities (between 5 and 20) or Critical Hits and Fumbles in combat.
You're no hero.
You're a reaver,
a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets.
You seek gold and glory,
winning it with sword and spell,
caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished.
There are treasures to be won deep
underneath, and you shall have them...
After this so convinving declaration of intentions regarding characters here is when all begins to have a curious nuance as a matter of speaking, because it's advised that each player create 3 or more level 0 characters (indicating a fairly high mortality degree) with their chracteristics and initial profession decided randomly (so its perfectly feasible to obtain characters that hardly are expert adventurers), those surviving the exploration of their first dungeon and achieving 10 experience points will be able to choose a character class at level 1 and move forward in their adventurer careers.
And speaking of advancement through experience, it's noticeable to observe that in this case there's a really simple progression, because each encounter means only 4 experience points (XP) and characters don't have to resort to tables for each class, so the only one they will need (regardless of the chosen class there are only 10 levels):
Character types that may be chosen are those typical of other OSR games, so it's possible to create Clerics, Warriors, Thieves, Wizards, Elfs, Dwarfs and Halflings. Those character classes have, as usual, their own peculiarities regarding special abilities (namely actions that can only be done by these classes), although compared with ones present in other games like Aventuras en La Marca del Este it's easy to see that their rules are more complete and with more use notes:
- All classes have the chance to have extra attacks as they progress and obtain more experience.
- Clerics may gain the disaproval or even the despleasement of the deity they serve if they had carried out actions judged to be pecaminous.
- Warriors can carry out deeds typical of literary and cinema adventures (swing while clinging to a chandelier, jump over wide chasms to go to meet the enemy, etc.) giving them advantage in combat.
- Thieves really don't change as much, in any case they are capable to use their luck to increase their chance of being successful on what they intend to do.
- Wizards may have supernatural patrons (demons, angels, spirits, old gods, etc.) allowing them to access knowledge otherwise may be inaccessible, although it may be dangerous to deal with them...
- Elfs basically still retain their capacities and can cast spells as wizards do, although their relationship with supernatural patrons is far more stable, they also show great sensitivity to iron, so its mere presence annoys them and contact can even get hurt them, for this reason all weapons and armor they use are made of mithril.
- Dwarfs are also caracterized for being more or less equal to ones from other OSR games, although in this case they can carry ot feats as warriors and when attacking in formation with sword and shield they can hit with it and gain an extra attack.
- Halflings are bon vivants as their literary kin and are also specialized in attacking with two weapons at the same time and enjoy a good pool of luck which can pass on to their partners (although only one of the halflings can act as amulet in case of being more in the adventure group).
As in the beginning of the review I talke about dice used by Clásicos del Mazmorreo it's the moment of speaking of the chain of dice:
d3 - d4 - d5 - d6 - d7 - d8 - d10 - d12 - d14 - d16 - d20 - d24 - d30
As you may see it's a progression scale ranging from the lowest dice to the highest and in this game also serves, besides modifiers to action from -4 to +4, to see the more or less degree of sucess a character may have in an action, so it's possible to move a position to the right (enhance dice) or to the left (reduce dice) in the scale depending on the circumstances.
The usage of the chain of dice can be applied to the following situations:
- Use a weapon you are not trained for means you will have to reduce the dice (example: a thief can use crossbow, staff, blowpipe, dagger, dart, short sword, long sword, blackjack, sling and club but if he wants to use a long bow he will have to reduce the action dice a step, so instead of using 1d20 in levels 1 to 5 he will use 1d16).
- Using two weapons at the same time also implies a dice reduction (example: a level 4 warrior with Agility 9 - 11 will have a reduction of 2 dice in the dominant dice and 3 dice in the weak hand).
- Doing subdual damage to leave an enemy unconscious (example: a player attacks another one with the flat side of his small sword or the pommel to leave him with 0 hit points, the damage caused by the sword will be 1d5 instead of 1d6, plus the Strenght bonus).
- Use thief abilities acording to the character level, when their level is higher more higher will be the action dice (neutral thieves have d10 at levels 1 and 2, d12 at levels 3 and 4, d14 at levels 5 and 6, d16 at levels 7 and 8 and d20 at levels 9 and 10).
- Thieves can also enhance their luck dice whenever the character level rises (from d3 at level 1 to d16 at level 10).
Combat basically is not much different from other OSR games, although in the section about Critical Hits and Fumbles there are interesting changes and addenda:
- Critical Hits and Fumbles still function in the same manner when you use 1d20 as an action dice, so a natural 20 is a Critical Hit and 1 it's still a Fumble.
- If you use lesser or higher dice than 1d20 Critical outcomes correspond to the higher score that can be obtained whith this dice, so with 1d12 the Critical Hit is obtained with 12, with 1d14 the Critical Hit is obtained with 14, etc.
- The number to obtain a Critical Hit can change with the character class, so warriors of levels 1 - 4 make Criticals with a score of 19 - 20, those of level 5 - 8 with a score of 19 - 20 and those of level 9 - 10 with a score of 17 - 20 (it must be remembered that it's necessary to impact the enemy equaling or exceeding his Armor Class to declare a Critical Hit).
- Critical Hits have 5 specific tables to determine its outcomes regarding level and character class.
- Blinding attacks (a called shot to enemy vision).
- Disarming attacks.
- Trips and throws.
- Rallying maneuvers (to unite the group and encourage them).
- Precision shots (directed toward a particular area of the enemy).
- Defensive maneuvers.
In the beta I'm reviewing there's available level 1 spells for Wizards and Clerics only although in the published game there are a total of 761 spells, this fact does not stop you from adapting others from similar games or invent those that you believe appropriate, remembering of course that magic in Clásicos del Mazmorreo it is not exactly mundane, quite the opposite, it's a dangerous and exhausting matter for those daring to try it.
Magic in Clásicos del Mazmorreo is product of gods and demons whims so for spells functioning it's necessary to do spell checks with a Difficulty Class equal to 10 + (2 x spell level) and there's the chance of a Critical for improving or increasing the spell effects (each spell has a list of specific effects) or a Fumble, the latter can mean the deity of the Wizard or the Cleric disaproving them, being subjected to Corruption effects (with all kinds of effects and physical changes each more funny, strange or spectacular, like having a third eye in the forehead, his limbs becoming tentacles or acquiring a demonic stigma).
To assure a spell is succesful or recover its use in a desesperate situation sorcerers can resort to the use of Consumption, an act where sorcerers sacrifice their Strength, Agility or Stamina and describe an action to lose these scores, although if the player isn't very inspired in this session the referee can use a random table to decide which concrete action is carried out.
In Clásicos del Mazmorreo Luck have a great importance, revealing itself during character creation (to see which activities can favour) and modifying the outcomes of some rolls, the character also can burn Luck on a permanent basis spending part of their luck to obtain a positive modifier to the roll (including attack rolls, damage rolls, spell checks, thief ability checks and saving checks).
To finish I only have to say that Clásicos del Mazmorreo is an adequate complement for other OSR games and complements I had reviewed in this week of thrilling adventures without rest (using rules related to chain of dice, combat with Critical Hits and Fumbles and the use of Luck and feats) and magic, which use and secondary effects can be completely adequated to themes like those treated in the Realms of Crawling Chaos supplement (which I reviewed in this post as part of this OSR Week) or Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
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