Just what the title says. DCC has the best and most innovative magic system of any role playing game I have played. It works so well on so many levels. Mechanically it has many nice feature – spells are unpredictable and variable, there is a cost for casting, and spells are tied to powerful entities. Thematically it captures the flavor of magic better than anything else.
Magic should be unpredictable and dangerous. The DCC system lets spell casters roll dice and take chances. It makes sense that more powerful spellcasters get more out of casting spells. Why does Mephisto the mighty only get a few small dice from magic missile, the same as Jimbo his bumbling apprentice? While other systems allow for advancement of spells they do so in a way that is tied more to the rule books and spell descriptions. In DCC spells are tied to your character’s ability to cast the spell with and the winds of chance.
Magic is a harsh mistress and not one to trifle with. Even Mephisto can make mistakes when casting causing things to go haywire. In any situation why wouldn’t you use a spell if there were no drawbacks and you can have the spell back again after a rest? Everyone would be a magic user! Now, if dabbling in magic spells was likely to have terrible personal consequences you’d understand why few people would want to do it.
Spell burn is genius. If any spell caster could make a magic staff they would be making them in their spare time. The world would be overrun with magic items. Why adventure when you can sit around the shop making super valuable magic items all day long? If making that staff cost you your health and could possibly backfire and leave you with physical deformities you’d think twice about it. You wouldn’t be making the things on the side and trying to pawn them off for spare cash.
There are a few downsides to the system which in my mind are minor and can be fixed.
- Magic takes up table time with the dice rolling charts.
- Some of the flavor doesn’t fit for me.
- The number of spells is low.
- It’s possible to min max the system.
These are all fixable at the table.
Anyone who hasn’t played with this system should give it a try. It’s fun.