Friday, December 19, 2008

C&C Quick Start

Recently I downloaded the Castles & Crusades Quick Start guide and read it. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would! A very clear and clean presentation, very much the same mechanics as classic D&D. I feel like I could run a very slick campaign with just the Quick Start guide.

For those who don't know, the C&C quick start guide has: All the basics (core mechanic, abilities, combat, saves). Equipment with a single statistic: armor bonus or damage die. 3 races (human, dwarf, elf). 4 classes (fighter, rogue, cleric, wizard). Levels 1-4, with spell levels 1-2 (smart). I love the way they folded saving throws into level-modded ability checks.

I'm impressed. That's, like, pretty much everything I want in my D&D campaign.

Now, here's the relatively small parts that I'll criticize.
- They retain the wildly miraculous clerical silence/darkness spells. Those clerical powers I've really lost my taste for (in fact, I think I lost my taste for them back in the late 80's: see me struggling with stufff like that here http://www.superdan.net/lowspell.html ).
- They keep the big-monster-with-reach AOO ability. After dealing with this for years in 3E, it's just not useful to me anymore. New players can't deal with tracking them. It doesn't make sense for big, lumbering monsters to get these free insta-attacks (as if they were a constantly readied pike hedge).
- They use BECMI-like ability modifiers. Ack, so close. I sooo want to see a system which is no modifier at 9-12, and +/-1 every 3 points above or below. Nicely consistent/memorizable. And another advantage: each +1 is exactly 1 standard deviation from the mean of the 3d6 distribution (yes, I'm a part-time statistics professor: the standard deviation of 3d6 is almost exactly 3). Oh, that would be sweet. But instead they drop to an increment of 2 a little further out, which is all wonky and can't be extrapolated cleanly.

Finally, the thing that aggravates me like a thumb in the eye:
- Why do they specify two different challenge bases (like DC's) depending on the actor's primary/secondary ability status? Why not just specify one challenge base and say "if it's your primary attribute, add +6 to your roll"? It's such a cluttered design that I can't wrap my head around it. It bothers me so much that this alone would almost prevent me from playing C&C. Is there some aspect to this that I'm missing?

Nice, nice work. Soooo freaking close.

4 comments:

  1. I really appreciate your comments on the classic D&D style modifiers. I always love to get the perspective of someone who has actually studied statistics.

    I think the -3/+3 were added at the ends because somebody asked “Why even have 17 and 18 then?” Extrapolation didn’t matter since—at the time those modifiers were created for classic D&D—18 was considered a hard maximum. For C&C, which accepts scores 19 and above, that no longer holds, though.

    Of course, this is one of the easiest things to house-rule. Especially if you’re just running from the Quick Start and don’t have a lot of other material with the original modifiers already assumed.

    As for the different challenge bases vs. a +6, I recall this being discussed during playtesting, and I believe it was essentially an arbitrary choice. I guess some people found the two TNs made more sense to them, so they weren’t going to please everybody anyway, and it all works out the same in the end.

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  2. "I guess some people found the two TNs made more sense to them, so they weren’t going to please everybody anyway, and it all works out the same in the end."

    So what do TN's look like in any published adventure? Are there actually always two numbers listed for everything?

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  3. What someone answered to me on ENWorld is that the adventures document Challenge Level (0-10+) to which you later need to add either 12 or 18 to create a TN/DC.

    To which I responded: "Ick... That alone might be enough to make me avoid the system. (sigh)"

    As a side note, several of us are agreeing that it would have been better to set a Challenge Base of 15 and give a +5 bonus to people using a primary attribute. (But that doesn't address the larger concern here of publishing CLs waiting for more operations to be done, instead of fixed final DCs.)

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  4. I seem to recall saying that my plan was to just go with base 15 and scrap the primary attributes thing altogether. Don’t quite recall, since once I had the final book in my hand, I just preferred to play B/X D&D instead.

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