Dungeon Master Assistance

Where anyone over 18 can share thoughts and ideas on RPGs.

D&D 5E vs. Dungeon Crawl Classics

Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game attempts to recapture the feel of the original 1970s version of Dungeons & Dragons, with modern game-play rules.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Wizard’s of the Coast’s OGL controversy – here is a link to a post by Matthew Rossi that covers it very well:
After controversy over changes to the OGL, Wizards of the Coast backs down offers D&D content via Creative Commons

My reaction to all of this is two fold:
1) Depending on the Wizard’s of the Coast’s behaviour between now and the time the next version of D&D is released in 2024, and my opinion of that version, I will not be buying any Wizard’s of the Coast products.
2) I will be reviewing, and play-testing a variety of other table top role playing games (TTRPGs).

The vast majority of my readers play Dungeons and Dragons 5e. I am still playing it and it is still my favourite TTRPG. In addition to posts regarding that game, as I review alternatives I will be posting my opinions on them along with the differences between them and D&D 5e. I will attempt to give you enough information to assist you in comparing them to the rules you currently use, and perhaps some additional materials to assist you should you want to play-test them yourself.
I previously posted an ICRPG Conversion Guide If you want to check that one out.

This is my first “5E vs. Alternative TTRPG” post.

You can download a free copy of my 5 page PDF “An Introduction to Dungeon Crawl Classics for D&D 5E Players” HERE. It also contains Combat Reference Sheets.

Here is a summery:


• The FUNNEL: DCC has you create three of four zero level characters.
During the first 0-level game, it is expected that all but 1 of your 0 level characters will die. The survivor will becomes your level 1 character
• DCC does not have:  Feats, Hit Dice, Spell Slots, Inspiration, or Skill Points.
• Rather than Proficiencies: You are trained in certain skills.
• The classes are: CLERIC (human), THIEF (human), WARRIOR (human), WIZARD (human), DWARF, ELF, HALFLING. Yes, Dwarf, Elf and Halfling are classes.
• Clerics turn creatures that are unholy to their religion. This may include creatures other than un-dead.
• All spells are cast with a spell check. Each spell has a unique chart that adjudicates the spells results.
• Wizards may lose access to a spell after a casting it. If he rolls a low spell check.
• Clerics that roll a low spell check may increase his chance of failing on subsequent checks.
• You can spend ability scores to enhance dice rolls. All characters can burn Luck, and wizards and elves can burn other abilities.
• ABILITIES: 1. Strength, 2. Agility (like Dexterity), 3. Stamina (like Constitution), 4. Personality (like Charisma), 5. Intelligence (like Intelligence and Wisdom combined), 6. Luck
• WEIRD DICE: DCC uses a standard polyhedral set, enhanced with a d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and d30. Stringing them all together creates what DCC calls a “Die Chain”.
• The Die Chain: d3-d4-d5-d6-d7-d8-d10-d12-d14-d16-d20-24-d30
• Instead of ADVANTAGE/DISADVANTAGE: Whenever the rules specify a bonus of +1d, the die to be rolled moves one step to the right on the chain (or one to the left for a -1d). Multiple steps can switch the die type two or more steps.
• SAVING THROWS: There are three types of saving throws: Reflex (Ref) Is 10 modified by the Agility modifier. Fortitude (Fort) is 10 modified by the Stamina modifier. Willpower (Will) Is 10 modified by the Personality modifier.
• CRITS & FUMBLES: Natural 20s automatically hit and you roll on a crit table, your Luck modifier is added to this roll. Natural 1s are automatic misses, and and you roll on a fumble table. The die rolled depends on the armor you are wearing.
• DEATH: When a PC’s is reduced to 0 HP, he is dead or bleeding out. They can survive up to the number of rounds equal to their level. They can be healed during that time but will suffer a permanent loss of 1 point of Stamina and gain a terrible scar from the wound. If a level 1 or higher dead character’s body can be recovered within 1 hour, the dead PC may test their Luck, usually by rolling a d20, and rolling equal or less that the dead PCs Luck score. If they succeed, then the character was badly injured, but survived their wounds. The survivor will have 1 hp, takes a -4 penalty to all rolls for the next hour and one random physical ability (Strength, Agility, or Stamina) will be permanently reduced by 1 point.
• ALIGNMENT: The 3 alignments are: Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic.
• LEVELS: Your character can advance to level 10.
• INITIATIVE: An initiative check is conducted by rolling 1d20 and adding the appropriate modifier: Agility modifier, and, for warriors, class level. A d16 is used instead of a d20 for characters wielding two-handed weapons.
• ACTIONS: On their turn, a character may move up to their speed and perform actions. A typical PC may attempt one action. Some non-combat actions also count as an action. Some actions may be performed while moving.
• HEALING: Wounds heal with rest. A character who gets a good night’s rest heals 1 hit point. If the character gets a day of bed rest, he heals 2 hit points per night. Critical hits that inflict penalties other than hit point damage heal when the associated damage heals. Some critical hit results may create permanent injuries which can only be healed by magical or extraordinary means. Ability score loss, except for Luck, heals at the same rate: 1 point with a good night’s rest, and 2 points with a day of bed rest. A character may heal both ability score loss and hit point loss on the same night’s rest. Luck, however, does not heal. Except for the special abilities of halflings and thieves, a character who burns Luck does so permanently.
• LUCK: A character can permanently burn Luck (reduce his luck score) to give a one-time bonus to a roll. A character can only burn Luck to affect his own die rolls (except for halflings). Luck is typically used to affect a character’s attack rolls, damage rolls, spell checks, thief checks, and saving throws, but it can also be used for other purposes. A character can declare his intent to burn Luck before or after his die roll. He then specifies how many points he will burn. But he can only burn Luck once per roll.
• WITHDRAWAL: If a character or monster withdraws from an active melee his opponents immediately receive a single free attack. (This is similar to an Attack of Opportunity in D&D).
• TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING: A character can wield a light-weight secondary weapon in his off hand while using a sword or other primary weapon in his natural hand. The character typically attacks using a smaller die.
• TABLES: There are tables – lots of tables. Every time you roll a natural 1 or 20 on an attack, make an ability check, cast a spell, and other times, you might then roll on a table to see what the results are.

If this sounds like something you might want to try, Dungeon Crawl Classics has a free “DCC RPG Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventures – PDF” that contains everything you need to learn the rules and play your first game.
They also have a great deal on their “First Time Fan Kit” that contains everything you need to start playing DCC for $40.00. I got this and had to pay about $20.00 shipping for the 5 pounds of goodies, but it was definitely worth it. These products alone have a suggested retail price of over $90.




3 responses to “D&D 5E vs. Dungeon Crawl Classics

  1. Francesco March 6, 2023 at 9:20 am

    I’ve started playing DCC recently and I love it. Its mechanics are very interesting. As an alternative to 5E I’d suggest you these games for following reviews: Five Torches Deep, Basic Fantasy RPG, OSE and Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells


    • Ronny March 6, 2023 at 11:43 am

      Thanks for your recommendations. I have PDF versions of all of these rules but haven’t dug into any of them yet. Based on your recommendation I will put them on my list to review.
      But first – I plan on reviewing Castles & Crusades, ShadowDark, and Kobold Press’s new RPG (code named “Black Flag”) when the finished rules are available.
      I intend to also play test them. By play test, I mean teach the basic rules to my group and run a short adventure, typically using pre-generated character sheets.
      I haven’t yet play tested Dungeon Crawl Classics. When I do, I’ll post my opinions along with pros and cons comparing it specifically to 5e. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it.


  2. Pingback: D&D 5E vs. Pathfinder 2nd Edition | Dungeon Master Assistance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: