Friday, June 17, 2011

DCC rpg art

Yesterday Norman of Troll and Flame commented in my Gameblog post about funky dice:
My biggest shock, totally dumbfounded about this.

How the heck is everyone not talking about how great, plentiful, the art is? If we were arguing / bitching / blogging about whether the art was rip off or homage, if retro style is alienating, etc. I'd be down. But dice? really?
Norman's got a good point here. There's a metric crapload of art in the beta rules and most of it is really good. I mentioned in passing some of the pieces in my scrawlings, but a lot more could be said.  For crying out loud, the credits include classics TSR guys like Easley, Laforce, Holloway, Roslof and Otus as well as the best new guys like Mullen and Poag.  This is an all-star line-up!  Though I must admit not every piece is a home run.  I don't like the way Mullen does tusks and fangs, so the interior cover doesn't do much for me.  (That cyclops in the background is super-awesome, though.)  And the faces don't work for me on the illo at the top of page 13.  Still, I like the vast majority of the art.  Even some of the Easley pieces, and I'm not normally a big fan of his work.

I kinda wonder though, are all the studies of/homages to pieces of old TSR art, plus the cartoons, plus the adventure marginalia like in the back of the 1st edition DMG just a little too much?  I love all that crap, but aiming specifically at beardos like me is probably a good way for Goodman Games to go broke.


  1. Anonymous5:47 AM

    Well, I believe the art has it's own appeal even for younger ones.
    More important is that the beta reads like someone has a point (or even a vision?) and does this whole thing. The art, the rules, the texts - they fit together. And I believe many of the younger ones will get that. Those who don't are not in the target demographic anyway, probably, maybe. *shrug*

  2. My guess as to why people aren't going gaga over the art is because people are fixated on the dice.

    People are fixated on the dice because there isn't nearly enough emphasis being put forth in the blogosphere about the fact that you do not NEED the dice at all. Any linear progression can be obtained with the platonic solids.

  3. J. Random, you keep beating this drum. I don't disagree with your point, but if you think rolling d8 and rerolling 7s and 8s is the same experience as rolling d6 then you are crazy loco in the head.

  4. The art doesn't really move me, but more than that most of the people I play with wouldn't read the rules if you begged the art in an RPG is pretty much irrelevant. When it comes right down to it, the experience of playing the game is what it's about, not how its packaged.

  5. I applaud the effort of Goodman Games, I had a chance to play this two years ago at Gary Con and I didn't enjoy it then. I thought there was some promise but though there is some nice art...I'm sorry why are we trying to re-invent the wheel here?

    I met Lou Zocchi in the eighties and I enjoyed our conversation but I don't need to buy dice that I won't use for anything else. Sorry but no amount of art or neat mechanic is going to lead me down that path, D30 tried that years ago...and no it didn't catch then either. I also seem to remember another fantasy game that tried odd dice the died as well...

    I like a lot that comes out of Goodman, this wasn't one of them.

  6. I did talk about the art quite a bit in my own "first impressions" post on my blog. Personally, I think there's too much of it.

  7. Does the art in the old TSR products only have value through nostalgia? I don’t think so. I think—whether intentionally or not—there was a lot that was right about it then, and a lot that remains right about it now.

    (Note too the blending of B/X and 1e DMG style. They seem to be cherry-picking rather than blindly aping.)

    And while the DCC RPG might blend in on a vendor shelf at NTRPGCon, I think it is going to stand out at my local game stores. (Especially with the reduced presence of Hackmaster.)

  8. Anonymous11:00 AM

    In J. Random's defense, rolling a d8 for 1-7 means only rerolling 1/8 of the time for that particular die- it's not that frequent. d3, d5, d16, d24 and d30 can be simulated with no rerolling (though it does take multiple dice for the 16, 24 and 30). But a bargain gamer could make do with the traditional dice, as long as they could stomach rerolling 1/8th of the time (or less) for the simulated d7 and d14.

  9. ReaperWolf11:25 AM

    It's funny. Many of the old school fans I know are chomping at the bit for DCC but those same people delight in calling Rolemaster 'Chartmaster'. Take a gander at the DCC spell charts, and critical hit charts, and fumble charts, charts charts charts...

    Hah! Victory is mine!

  10. A rule book is a complex combination of writing, graphic design, and game mechanics. Using D&D as an example (and keeping in mind this is my opinion as a practicing graphic designer, a wanna-be writer, and amateur game designer), early D&D materials were crap for everything but game mechanics.

    Over time, they've evolved into better things (while some might say the game mechanics are now crap, it's not an opinion I share.)

    Revisiting the poorly-designed days of yesteryear seems pointless to me. However, I do miss the days when players were more likely to describe an outrageous action and then look pleadingly at their DM in hopes it would be granted a roll, as opposed to the modern, "I use Rambunctious Riposte(TM) -- the updated version, 2d6 plus stunned (save ends), instead of the original 2d6 + Cha Mod, plus dazed until end of my next turn. I rolled a 17, so that's 56 versus Reflex for 97 points."

  11. As a 20-something non-beardo OSR newbie:

    DCC Beta has the most inspiring art I've seen in a product. I love the black & white, sketchy madness of it and the hectic perspective shifting. It's what tells me I'm not lost in the concept art for a video game, fully conveying that I'm at a goddamn table with goddamn pen & paper.

    Other young'ns I've shown it to seem to agree (the margin art looks like the universal favorite), though I haven't surveyed broadly.

  12. The art matters a great deal to me (Art Prof grognard, go figure) and now with DCCRPG, along with the Dunegon Alphabet, Goodman Games is really the new gold standard for OSR illustration. I think it is a strong selling point and is just delicious.

    I received my Zocchi dice in the mail 2 days ago and love the novelty of the things. While I've not gotten a chance to play the game yet, I'm certainly looking forward to a few session later in the Summer.

  13. @ReaperWolf

    Heh. Something I learned a long time ago is that a gamer’s bark is usually worse than their bite. I don’t know how many times I’ve see someone lambasting a system only to be the first to start on a character when someone offers to run that system. At least, among the people I’ve gamed with over the years.

  14. Too much art? That's like saying, "There are too many good looking women on this beach, in bikinis!"

    If that is a problem just close your eyes and hope for rain, or click the damn button and go to the next page.

    The art is great. More importantly it is immediately useful in any fantasy campaign. I can't draw but will gladly steal art for my gaming use. The DCC Beta is a treasure trove to be plundered for the art alone.

  15. Love the art. Not a big OSR guy and I just find the art rich and inspiring. Tons of situation as opposed to posed individuals.

    It's weird all this agonising over DCC. You can make all the same critiques for every other retro-clone. Why is there so much hand-wringing for DCC in particular? It's bizarre. Kind of a turn-off really. I'm starting to believe those criticisms labelled against the OSR community.

  16. "I'm starting to believe those criticisms labelled against the OSR community."

    Don't leave me hanging like that, Olman! What are those criticisms?

  17. click the damn button and go to the next page

    I did. And guess what I found on that next page? MORE ART!

  18. That it's a bunch of fussy old grognards aggressively defending a dogma.

    I don't buy it and recognize the internet distortion field, but the excessive nitpicking about the DCC really does make me want to scream "NERD!"

    I mean it's a fun and lively game. It's great to critique it and look at what does and doesn't work for your gaming style, but all this anger about weird dice and saying there is too much art and my favourite, the art plagiarism charges, just seems misplaced and obsessive.

    It's the flip side of the awesome, creative and productive energy that I felt defined the OSR.

    Maybe it's simply because Goodman Games is the biggest player to get in on the retro-clone revival?

  19. "Maybe it's simply because Goodman Games is the biggest player to get in on the retro-clone revival?"

    Maybe. I sometimes sense a little hostility towards Goodman. If someone is reading this and thinks Goodman Games are a bunch of jerks, please share why.

  20. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I'm not so pleased with the art, as it is all so predictable and expected at this point. Yep, homages fill the pages, but I have the books the originals come from. If they had the balls to do fresh NEW subjects and not ape the old TSR art it would possibly be worth noting. Honestly, the art (and the game) strikes me as a Hackmaster sort of parody game (and yes, I know people seriously play Hackmaster... but it's ALSO a joke.)

  21. And that's why you remain anonymous...