Like everyone else I have downloaded a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG Beta (DCCRPG). Since this is not an official release and there is a strong possibility much will change between now and actual publication, this is not be a structured review, but rather more of general observational post.
First off Goodman Games did what every other Retro Clone designer does. Instead of modeling their game after Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) first edition, they modeled it after the Original Dungeons and Dragons (OD&D). My issue with this is the race as class nonsense. This is a stupid concept, however, if you are going to do it, then fucking make it consistent, do something new and innovative, make all the races classes. Go all the way and just say, all elves are Magic Users, All Dwarves are Fighters, all Halflings are Thieves and all Humans are Clerics, now let the players choose one of the other classes if they want to. Really though, this idea just needs to die, it is confusing and adds nothing to the game. It was a bad rule back then and it is a bad rule today, no game designer has ever given me a reasonable answer as to why they cling to this idea beyond “Its SSOO Gygaxian” or because its “Retro Coolz”. It is all baloney if you ask me.
The second thing that bothered me about this game is the needless use of non standard dice. Why do I need d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and d30 ? Don’t get me wrong, I like dice, I have tons of them, I even have a few of the ones listed. However, looking at the rules, I don’t see any particular use for these dice that is creative or fun. It seems to me Goodman Games threw these dice in here for the same reason teenagers become Goths. Seriously, this falls under the category of confusing and adds nothing to the game.
Enough bitching, there were a few things I did like. For instance the 0 Level character rules look like they would be fun to mess around with. Ed’s dream of playing the Cheese makers son, could finally be realized. They also did some interesting things with Luck and Alignment, how a player adheres to the characters alignment affects his luck, of course this requires GM’s to enforce it, but it is an interesting idea. The art and layout is nice, the book is well organized, the game system appears to be easy to learn and it looks like a group of new DCCRPG players could get started in under an hour.
Right now, I would probably not bother with this game. If found myself in a position where I were running a game based on OD&D, I’d probably use the Basic Fantasy RPG or Labyrinth Lords, both are much closer to OD&D in style and mechanics. Either that or I would just use OD&D rules, I have several copies, no real reason to buy or print anything out. Besides that, I can not imagine myself in a situation where I would be running an OD&D based game rather than using AD&D or HackMaster. DCCRPG at this point does not add anything to the RPG hobby and I have to say I think its time to stop cloning OD&D, game designers either need to adopt one of the already existing games (do I really need to list them, there are at least 6 and might be as many as 10) and start making supplements, settings and adventures or they need to find a niche that is not already filled with other games. Please stop reinventing the OD&D wheel.