Monday, 1 June 2020

Big Damn Heroes...

...Or, playing with 1-2 players

It happens sometimes that you only have one or two players available, and you want to run a Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. This isn't as crazy as it sounds. Plenty of Appendix N fiction follows the exploits of a single adventurer, or a duo.

The judge who wishes to run games for only one or two players can use this simple hack. Others have suggested means to deal with the funnel - see various articles in The Gong Farmer's Almanac for ideas. Herein I am only looking at what happens when a character gains 10 XP and gets to choose a class.

Allow the character to select two classes, and get all the benefits of both (hit points, hit dice, save modifiers, etc.). The character is still considered to be level 1, although they might be a warrior/thief (Conan, Fafhrd), a warrior/cleric (effectively a paladin), a warrior/wizard, etc. The cleric/wizard combo in particular offers something much closer to many of the sorcerous beings found in early fantasy fiction.

Demi-humans must choose their race-class as one of the two classes. Humans cannot choose to become elves, dwarves, or halflings. In the case of Deed Dice, just bump the character's Deed Die +1d up the dice chain. Halfing thieves gain a +1 bonus per Luck Die, but only grant +2 when they spend Luck for others.

When the characters hit level 2 (at 50 XP), they can add one level of either of their existing classes. And so it goes, up to level 10.

What if a player wants to take the same class twice? I.e., start as a warrior/warrior? Treat as a level 2 warrior with 10 XP, who is considered level 1, and who gains level 3 at 50 XP. By the time you reach level 10, the character might have to add another class, but the odds of reaching such heights in the short term are extremely slim.

There you have it. Nothing else is required, save the native wits of the players themselves.

And, these characters can join larger groups by considering their actual hit dice rather than their levels - at least for a short time. If the group gets larger, just start using normal XP progression from their hit dice. Suddenly, that 2nd level wizard/thief/thief is considered a 3rd level character!

The funny thing is, this might allow PCs to represent Appendix N protagonists more closely than the core rules do. It makes the PCs stronger and more versatile as well, allowing them to insinuate themselves into places where angels fear to tread.


  1. I've used Kevin Crawford's "Black Streams: Solo Heroes" rules (included in "Scarlet Heroes") to run a single player using DCC rules.

  2. I thought this was a really great post so I added it to my BEST READS OF THE WEEK series! You can check it out here if you would like!