I really like this year’s Free RPG Day offering from Goodman Games – Elzemon and the Blood Drinking Box.
I want to contrast and compare it against Risen from the Sands, Paizo’s Pathfinder module. Everyone should know that I am a huge Paizo fan. I funnel more money in their direction than any sane person probably should… I got heavily involved in their company back when Age of Worms started and I’ve been hooked ever since. So I don’t mean for this discussion to be any finger pointing or name calling – this isn’t Pathfinder sucks / DCC rules. I love them both…
Risen from the Sands (RftS) is a pretty nice little adventure designed to be played in a 4-hr demo or con setting. You break into a trap laden Egyptian style tomb, fight some crazy monsters, nab some awesome treasure, and call it a day. The appealing twist is running the adventure with Paizo’s new classes – gone are the traditional roles. It’s no longer a Wizard, Warrior, Priest, and Thief kind of world. The four pregens are all taken from their upcoming Advanced Class Guide.
Contrast with the DCC adventure. Well actually it’s hard to talk about it without giving away a lot of important details…basically a bunch of first level characters are asked to go steal a wicked device from a rival wizard in exchange for something they want (knowledge, spells, whatever). The small adventure is overflowing with doom, danger, and decisions that will haunt or hunt the party forever.
This is what is missing from RftS in specific, and modern RPGs in general. There is no fear of death or consequence. Seriously, how much kill-monster-take-treasure can you do before it all starts to blur together? How much more intense would it be to use ever ounce of courage, player wit, and lucky dice, only to still die an excruciating death by some humiliating mishap? How stressed out would you be to use every resource available (including your team mates) in order to keep a secret unknown? And what are you supposed to do with that dead bear? All of this is for…let’s see…uh, zero treasure (or maybe a single scroll if you’re lucky) – you might get whatever you were looking for that go you into this mess (again, if you’re lucky). But really, this is definitely not a treasure hunt.
In DCC treasure is scarce, magic items are rare, and life is short. How would you feel if your 16th level D&D character died and all their possessions were disintegrated? I know some people that would freak out (not Dark Dungeon freak out, but freak out non the less). So much time and energy lost…I get that, the planing that goes into designing a Pathfinder character is exhausting and exhilarating. It’s just a different kind of fun. DCC? Just as much fun…just don’t get so attached…and have lots of heirs, er, I mean, henchmen.