The time has come for me to run a more "standard" campaign. I no longer have time to run weekly sessions of Expeditions in the Northlands sandbox campaign using Swords & Wizardry.-The player characters had explored a lot of the "low level areas just prior to the last TPK and I just don't feel like restocking them. So, I figured it'd be good time to change things up. It'll still be the Expeditions in the Northlands, but it'll use adventure hooks (as opposed to players finding their own) and DCC RPG.
I've been yearning to run DCC RPG since I bought the hard cover last year. The reason I've waited so long is because the game is really meant for veteran players. I was also in a transition period where I was without a steady group. But now I've found a core group of players and we're ready to play. (Now I just need to track down some Zocchi dice).
I'm looking forward to warrior PCs performing Mighty Deeds by pushing or blinding their opponents; Clerics who don't just cast "generic" cure light wounds spells, but can heal bones and cure diseases--the effectiveness depends on the alignment of the recipient; Thieves whose skill bonuses are based on their alignment; critical hit charts; fumble charts; wizards saving themselves from destruction by burning Luck; calling upon a Patron for aid... the list goes on.
I'm even envisioning the "mood" of the campaign changing from mere survival and exploration to more of a brooding gravitas as the player-characters complete quests to perhaps restore the Northlands to their former glory.
I'm recalling the opening scene from the movie Excalibur as an example of this "mood." I might even play "Siegfried's Funeral March" at the start of the next session.
I'm also remembering the words on page 6 of the Keep on the Borderlands:
The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them...
Yet the characters in DCC RPG aren't knights; first and foremost, they're adventurers. They can be lawful, but they start off broke, desperate. They'll loot each others corpses during the "funnelling" process. Some might be as chaotic as the forces they are fighting against. Which reminds me of another passage, this one from In Search of the Unknown, describing the background of the vanished heroes Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown:
Some say, and perhaps rightly so, that their motives were based on greed and some kind of vague (or chaotic) evil. No one knows for sure.
They may have saved civilization from a barbarian army, but they did it for their own purposes. And now their gone and others want to plunder their home. How anti-heroic. Gravitas.
I can't wait to play "Merlin's Spell" from the Excalibur Movie Soundtrack--which is unfortunately so hard to find now--when the PCs discover a (unique) mysterious magic item--like sword of power.
I'm pulling ideas from books about haunted castles ruins, Celtic and Norse myths, atlases of mysterious places. I really want the Northlands to be mysterious place shrouded by the fog of myths and legends--and real fog, too. Once again things are unknown.
This is why even the prospect of running DCC RPG excites me. The d20 mechanic is familiar, but I still don't know the nuisances of the system. Magic itself at first seems Vancian, but its once again mysterious--you don't know what exactly it will do. Even the gods can be capricious and unpredictable bestowing their powers on to mortals.
DCC RPG brings back the mystery of when It'd flip through my brother's AD&D books when I was kid, not knowing anything about the monsters or really what the game was about. Today, D&D is explained, the monsters are all statistics, characters are just constructs to min-max to "beat" the game.
Where's the mystery? Where's the fear of the unknown?