Monday, December 7, 2015

DCC and 0-Level Characters

Busy day today.  I have Eighteen research design videos to edit.

But I thought I would throw out something I am playing with for my next campaign, either my "Second Campaign" or my War of the Witch Queens one.

I want to use the funnel idea from Dungeon Crawl Classics to figure out which characters will go through the adventures.  I would run them through an 0-level adventure and then allow them to choose their classes.

Could be a lot of fun.

What are your experiences with this?


Marcelo Paschoalin said...

No direct experience with that, but by reading and re-reading the Funnel mechanic I think it is not something I'd like in my campaigns. If all players control a little "party of nobodies", the zero-to-hero curve becomes too forced when the Highlander effect (it is expected at least one survives, right?) kicks in.

Maybe I'm too biased, but having played lots of Barbarians of Lemuria, Savage Worlds, GURPS and WoD lately I see all PCs as already a bit experienced, not true 0-level chars.

And OD&D is already lethal to 1st level PCs anyway. There's no need to make it harsher.

ravencrowking said...

Lots of direct experience with this in DCC, and I highly recommend it.

In the funnel system, each PC starts with 1d4 hp, which are retained at 1st level, so that the 1st level PCs have a little more Oomph. Rather than making the game more lethal, it grants an additional 1d4 hp cushion. It also allows for a bunch of PCs to be slaughtered without the players getting too upset...establishing that it is a dangerous world from the first session.

Each player also controls 3-4 PCs, with the hope that at least one survives. In my own experience, when the PC gains that 1st level, there is a real sense of character growth - I let it happen mid-funnel, with the intent that class grows organically from character. Wizards need to learn spells, and clerics are the result of divine election. There are other ways to do this.

The important thing is that there is no "Highlander effect". Survivors aren't immortal. They are 1st level PCs in a dangerous world. The surviving PCs discover that there is more to them than they thought, but that is all, and that is also implied in the backstory of every PC for every game system.

What the funnel allows you to do is threefold:

(1) Reduces min-maxing. You effectively roll 3d6 in order four times. But, while one of the generated characters is likely to be favored, it is up to you to keep that one alive. You still tend to get slightly better than 3d6 in order rolled a single time. Characters are viable, but imperfect.

(2) Backstory is generated automatically. You want to know who the PCs are, and why they have thrown together? Now you know. And so do the players. You even know who their dead friends and family are, if you ever want to send a message from beyond. Every funnel is really a way to answer the question "What pushes a bunch of people into a life of nihilistic wandering into constant danger?"

(3) You can start the game off with the wildest stuff you can think of. Seriously. Read any 0-level funnel for ideas. Facing Chaos Lords? Check. Sendings of gods? Check. Titans? Check. The lair of a time travelling thief? Check. It may kill a bunch of 0-level schlubs...but so what?

Here are some links that may help. The first is a discussion on creating effective funnels (and you should disregard anything in it if it doesn't fit with your vision!). The second is a comparison of the funnels available at the time it was written (nothing I wrote is included).

Finally, my funnel adventure, Prince Charming Reanimator, is available on RPG Now for free (PWYW) in pdf, so grab it, convert it, or mine it for ideas.