04 July 2021

First Place: Fleeting Luck

It may sound like the name of a racehorse, but fleeting Luck is a rule from DCC Lankhmar that is so good I shall be using it with all future games of DCC RPG and MCC RPG I run. I was never fully satisfied with the Luck rules in DCC RPG, but fleeting Luck solves the problem I had.

What problem? The problem is threefold.

  1. For the price of 1 Luck point, all you get is a +1 modifier to one roll.
  2. For non-thieves and non-halflings, regaining Luck occurs rarely.
  3. Luck is capped at character generation. If you are awarded Luck, but you are at your maximum, you get nothing.

If the judge awards Luck sparingly, the cost of using Luck is too great to justify unless you are a thief or a halfling. If the judge awards Luck generously, then only those who spend Luck will ever benefit from it, and those whose starting Luck is low will not be easily persuaded to spend what little they have when Luck may be all that saves them when it comes to "rolling the body."

I think the problem could have been avoided by separating Luck from other ability scores in the first place. Luck isn't an "ability." It's just something you have. It ought to be fluid, with no upper limit, and it ought to be spent freely to a point. But that issue is moot. Luck is entrenched as an ability.

Luckily... DCC Lankhmar introduces the concept of fleeting Luck, which is a compromise between Luck as a mostly static ability and Luck as a fluid resource. To summarize, player characters have the traditional Luck ability, but they also start with 1 point of fleeting Luck. Fleeting Luck is gained far more easily and often, but if anyone in the party rolls a 1 during an attack, spell check, or ability check, then everyone in the party loses all of their fleeting Luck, which must be gained anew. Every player character starts each new adventure with 1 point of fleeting Luck as it cannot be saved.

This makes Luck far more interesting to use. It still carries risk, but it also makes it worth the risk. It also enables the player characters cursed with low Luck scores to take riskier actions when necessary without hobbling them for the rest of their adventuring careers.

So, fleeting Luck will be standard in my games from now on, but I do have another alternative, which I may or may not use, but I'll save it for a future article.

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