"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tales from the Tomb: Crunch De-Fanged

This week I was on a podcast with the guys from Spellburn. It should be out soon. There was a lot of focus around the new character classes and the rule enhancements in Transylvanian Adventures. Moreover, there were some comments directed at the "crunchiness" of Transylvanian Adventures. Something that surprised me because, frankly, it hadn't translated to play.

And here's why I think that is...

First, the rule enhancements introduce "crunch" of two varieties: situational and optional. Situational crunch covers rules like Ruin, firearms damage, Fear, and damage recovery. These only rear their heads every now and then. Ruin enters play 3 or so times a session when a character is dropped to 0 hit points. Fear, once -- maybe twice or not at all -- at the Judge's discretion. Optional crunch represents rules like the different approach to Luck spends and the bonuses and penalties around the "Mad Libs" section. This is crunch that a group can buy into if they want.

Judges have the same latitude to cut corners, adjust rules, ignore rules, and overall tailor gameplay for their group. Just because a rule is in a book doesn't mean it has to be used. Especially those with "optional" in their title.

Second, things are different in Transylvanian Adventures. And some things are new. That can be hard to grok at first. And I think it gives the impression of an illusory learning curve. Most people -- without having read the book -- figure out Ruin the first or second time they roll it. The alternate Luck spends take a little bit more effort to remember. But after a session or two, I've found that they tend to make sense. Especially for seasoned DCC RPG vets. And, at the end of the day, the Transylvanian Adventures character classes are just that -- level-based character classes. Had the Exotic been named the Monk, the Polymath named the Cleric, the Half-Breed named the Elf, the Valiant named the Bard, the Scoundrel named the Thief, and the Reaver named the Dwarf, I think Transylvanian Adventures would seem less foreign. But, really, that's all that it is. And the analogues between the genre-based classes in Transylvanian Adventures and the role-based classes of other OSR games become fairly clear after a minimal time investment.

In my experience running and playing both extensively, I've found no real difference in crunch between DCC RPG and Transylvanian Adventures. Before running convention games, Michael Curtis and Harley Stroh give a short tutorial on DCC RPG. It runs about 10 minutes or so. Before running a game of Transylvanian Adventures, I give the same sort of talk, covering the same ground with the additional Transylvanian Adventures bits added in.

It still takes about 10 minutes.

Things may have some unfamiliar names. And a couple of rules are turned on their ears. But when the dice are done clattering, Transylvanian Adventures is still very much DCC RPG.


  1. It was fantastic having you on the show, Scott, and every DCC RPG fanatic should go get this supplement ASAP. Bravo for the hardback option, which I will be getting in addition to my PDF copy...

  2. Hi Scott, Transilvanian Adventures looks like a very cool way to play DCC RPG, do you send review copies? I have a youtube channel where I upload my english video reviews:


    And I have posted many spanish reviews at rpggeek.com, here are a few:


    1. I can do a PDF review copy. Is there an email address you use on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG?

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