Right around the time that the DCC RPG hit the shelves, there was a whole lot of hype around a number of different product lines, some of which were available at launch, some became available later and some we're still waiting for (I'm looking at you, Tales from the Fallen Empire!). During that initial rush of hype around the game, I'm pretty sure that I first became aware of Cognition Pressworks' Critters Creatures & Denizens (hereafter CCD -- which is not the same as that religion class those of us Catholic kids who got to go to public school had to go to on Wednesday night) on the Goodman Games forums (although what I was doing on a forum, I have no idea. Looking for character sheets maybe?), where it was discussed as a book full of the sorts of monsters and such that Judges never want to bother to stat out themselves because they're too boring (wolves, giant snakes and the like). Not a bad premise. And art by Scott Ackerman? Awesome, I'm in!
DetailsCCD is currently available via Lulu.com for $14.99 in perfect bound softcover or $9.99 in pdf. For a mere $5 more, I went for the softcover. Coming in at 235 pages, this is pretty great value in print, with over 120 unique entries and 400 variations on those entries (so, say, there's an entry for badger and then 3 different versions of badgers). There are some decent optional rules for hexcrawling and, for some reason, rules for hexgrid combat (wtf? what's that doing in my DCC?) and a whole chapter on Mutations, which uses a d30, so it's okay in my book (not perfect; that's reserved for Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness and always shall be). The worst guide to monster creation I've ever read rounds out the book, but more on that below.
|Problem #1: Gibbons|
are apes, not monkeys
Problem #2: STAAAAAAAT block
Look at that stat block over there on the right. See how long it is? See how many tiny details it tries to encompass? See how much useless info is in there? Why do we need separate attack lines for each different method of attack? Why do I need to know how much damage a monkey's kick does, isn't he going to bite instead? Why do I need exact numbers and figures for all of this crap and not just make it up on the fly?
In short, I don't need any of that crap. If I need to know a particular thing, I just decide what it is. I don't need a ton of metrics that I'm just going to ignore.
The reason for all of this pointless bloat becomes obvious when you look at the final chapter of the book, Making Critters. This chapter does not describe how to build monsters in DCC. Instead, it discusses how to convert monsters, not from any classic source of awesome monsters, but rather from 3.xe era and Pathfinder books, which I think, more than any other detail explains why the author applies a design aesthetic that doesn't seem to come close to what I'd say reflects that of DCC.