Why I’m now writing for DCC RPG

Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 in DCCRPG, RPG | 0 comments

Happy Holidays, Thick Skull Adventure fans! I know it’s been a while since I made a blog update, but that does not mean we’ve been idle over here at Thick Skull Adventures. In fact, over the last few months I’ve been completing work on our newest adventure, Attack of the Frawgs. In addition to the general excitment of completing a new adventure, I’m also particularly pleased with this one as it’s one of a half-dozen or so third-party publisher products approved to be used with the new Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game (DCCRPG) from Goodman Games. I’m very excited to part of the DCC RPG family and have been having a lot of fun playtesting the system and providing feedback to Joseph Goodman. In today’s post I’d like to provide a bit of background on Frawgs, address why the switch to DCC, and what does this mean for the rest of the Princes of Kaimai series that started with The Haunting of Larvik Island.

Stephen is an alumni of The Old School

As I mentioned in this earlier blog post, I was very excited to read the announcement from Goodman Games when they announced DCC RPG. The golden years of my gaming experience had taken place during the late-70s through late-80s, mostly playing AD&D but with a mix of 2ED toward the later half. I DM’d with my player’s all the classic TSR modules (GDQ series, I-series, S-series, etc.) along with the classic Judges Guild modules; those adventures had a great influence on the type of module I enjoyed playing and would write myself. In the 90s and 2000s due to Real Life, moves, and marriages, or core group continued to play, but not nearly as often. I played a handful of 3ED and 3.5ED games, but never with the same frequency of the games I played in the 80s. During those lean times some of the modules that fascinated me the most were the Dungeon Crawl Classic modules–they targeted an audience that yearned for the “old-school feel” with quality writing and classic art and I was square in that demographic. As such, I garnered a respect and affinity for the GG products.

When, in 2008, I had made the decision to publish a D&D game, Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition was just being released. I spent much of 2008 and early 2009 playing and learning the 4ED rules. And while 4ED was a decidedly different game, I was committed to writing for the system because, well, I had so much of my youth tied up in the D&D brand going to any other system (e.g. Pathfinder) would have felt like abandoning an old friend. Between writing, playtesting and layout editing, I toiled for 18 months on The Haunting of Larvik Island and by the time it was released The Edition Wars was in full swing. And as someone who has now written for multiple systems, I can say with (with all due love and respect for all games) 4ED is a significantly different feeling game than previous editions. That does not make it better or worse in and of itself, but depending on what you enjoy in an RPG game it may appeal to a different set of skills. And let’s be clear that’s not a bad thing; I love Yahtzee, Chess, Risk and Stratego… they’re all different games but appeal to different moods. In the end, I just love to game.

Nice history lesson, but what does this have to do with DCC RPG?

DCC RPG appeals to me because it captures, for me, a sweet balance of rules, tone and story. It re-creates much of the traditional feel of the games I was weened on, but with the benefit of cleaning up some of the game mechanics. Magic in DCC is arcane, mysterious and most of all dangerous. DMs are encouraged to create monsters that are unique and location-specific, not common and well understood. All of these aspects of the game – the simplified rules and the tone, are well suited to the types of stories I like to write. For me, RPGs were another medium to write fantastic adventure fiction. When it came time to write for 4ED, I found I was spending quite a time working on balancing the encounters, ensuring I was adhering to game mechanics, creating spreadsheets of algorithms to track treasure parcel allocations, monster damage math, etc. When writing for DCC, the rules just seemed to get out of my way from the stories I want to tell.

And let’s not discount the support I’ve received from Goodman Games themselves! All through the the writing process, Joseph Goodman has been very supportive and interactive providing the DCC RPG third-party publishers (3PP) and the gaming community advice, support, frequent updates to the beta rules. GG has also helped to promote the 3PP products with forums and promotion on the game website. This has been a stark contrast from the GSL community which has not been updated by WotC since 2009 and who’s support comes almost exclusively from other generous community members outside of WotC.

So is it exclusively DCC RPG from now on for Thick Skull Adventures?

Unclear at this point. For certain I can say I’m going to be publishing more DCC RPG adventures. Attack of the Frawgs will obviously be released once DCC RPG is released generally to the public. I am also currently in the process of “re-mastering” The Haunting of Larvik Island for DCC RPG rules. This includes not only converting the monster, but also redefining the layout, and some of the pacing of the encounters.

The big question is for Larvik 2–which will not be its name, but we haven’t decided on a title yet. My bother, James D. Newton, and I are collaborating on this one and have been writing Larvik 2 on and off for about 6 months now. The outline for the adventure is complete as is the first ⅓ of the adventure. Before we wrote the outline for Larvik 2, we sat down for several meetings and I went through the large backstory for Larvik and the mythology I’d created for that adventure. Because we’d created such detailed backstory and mythology for Larvik 2, it made writing Frawgs much easier. Frawgs has essentially spawned (pun intended) as an “alternate prequel to the Larvik sequel” because the events that happen in Frawgs effectively happen simultaneously to the events that are happening on Larvik–trust me this will make more sense once Larvik 2 is released, but you can rest assure any of these adventures can be played standalone. Anyway, Larvik 2 was originally outlined as a 4ED adventure (in terms of encounter pacing) but given…

  • how much I’m enjoying DCC RPG right now…
  • the incredibly positive interaction I’ve received from GG and the other GG 3PPs and…
  • that Smart Money is that D&D is currently being re-written into 5ED as we speak by Monte Cooke and others…

…means I will be switching to convert Larvik 2 straight to a DCC RPG adventure for its eventual release. As Larvik 2 is still at least 9 months away, I will re-assess the D&D landscape then and either convert to 4ED (or most likely 5ED) at that time.

Until then, thanks again for reading, and I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or any other ritual you choose to celebrate or not celebrate.