Friday, December 15, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: The MCDM RPG

 Interesting one this week. I am unsure if I am calling people to support it. My purpose here is often to shed some light on a crowdfunded project you may not have seen. This one though is at $3 Million right now so it doesn't need my help.  But that is not why I am talking about this one today.

But first, the campaign.



This is a new big FRPG from Matt Colville (the "MC" in the name I am guessing).  It is obviously modeled on D&D style play and it is being pitched as a D&D alternative in all but name. Back in the day we would have called this a Fantasy Heartbreaker.

The game looks slick as hell and it will certainly be a lot of fun and look good. Matt does good work on his design so I have no doubt this will be a good game.

BUT...(there is always a but) there are a few things about it that I am not quite connecting with.

If you take D&D as the middle ground and go far out on the gritty/old-school side you get another wildly successful RPG ShadowDark.  Go the same distance in the other direction and you will have MCDM RPG.  Many of the selling points about this game read like "everything ShadowDark is, we are not." For example from the project page:

Compared to what ShadowDark say they are on their Kickstarter Project page:
Shadowdark is

NOW PLEASE UNDERSTAND. I am not trying to set up a MCDM vs. ShadowDark thing here. I think both games are great and their respective successes give evidence that both games are wanted and needed. AND (more to the point) both provide that D&D-alternative to those that want it. 

I think having a good D&D-alternative is a good thing given the bookend events from Wizards/Hasbro this 2023.  

Just as I don't click well with some of the things in ShadowDark, I also don't click very well with some of the things in MCDM.  I *do* want monsters to be able to avoid spells sometimes. I *do* want there to be a chance that the PCs can fail. I do want some grit. But I also want hope. My preferred gaming experience is somewhere in the middle.

Also, reading through the material, I get the sense that the design is not 100% complete yet. That is a red flag for me these days. When NIGHT SHIFT went to Kickstarter the book was done and playtesting complete. When Wasted Lands went to Kickstarter the playtesting on the new mechanics was done, the core rules were done, and the Gazeteer was nearly complete. Both games shipped early.  My concern is this game won't ship for a while.

I have seen online people calling this a "D&D Killer" which I have my doubts about. Pathfinder is a great game but it was not a D&D killer. I have seen a lot of so-called D&D Killers over the years. I don't think this one will be either.  But it might get WotC to pay attention. Maybe.

Even if it doesn't make WotC/Hasbro take notice it will provide a new game to people who love this sort of style and help keep role-playing going for a bit longer. Who knows, maybe I'll pick it up as well one day.


Cross Planes said...

Great post. I've spent time with the communities of both games and here is my POV: I love how loose Shadowdark is but, in my experience, if you start talking about house rules there are quite few players in its Discord and Facebook Group that really gatekeeper are aggressive in running the game as written and saying things like, "you don't need to change this game its perfect you just don't understand it". To be clear, the creator does not do this and is fighting those actions because she is honest that Shadowdark stands on the shoulders of giants.

Meanwhile, I've been pleasantly surprised how welcoming the Colville fans are and if I'm being honest I don't want to run games where I track resources and deplete resources to unlock an encounter so this game really grabs my attention. However, this KS is about funding development of the game. Yes, you will get rewards but the game is very much in an Alpha state. Additionally, if you belong to Matt's Patreon for at least 5 months at the $8 a month level you get the PDFs this campaign is funding for free.

To be clear, I love Shadowdark and really respect its designer. I'm really curious about Matt's game too and so far I've been impressed with the way he does things. I mean this has funded a development of a VTT for this game that isn't even done yet.

If Matt handles this like his other campaigns its going to be cool.

Nathan Irving said...

The ability descriptions & formatting remind me of 4e. It's not a deal-breaker, but not the way I'm interested in going.

Sean said...

Reading through the material I get the impression that the game isn't 5% complete yet. Hell, they haven't even decided on a name! I have full confidence that Matt Colville and co can pull this off, and I may buy it when it's finished. But I'm an old man. I could be dead by then.