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Dungeon Unleashed!

So . . . Dave Arneson Game Day made me do it. . .

I wrote a hack of my Simple Superheroes engine repurposed for classic dungeon delving. I spent a good chunk of the Friday September 30th writing it, and "polished" it off this morning. It had been brewing in the back of my head all Blackmoor week, particularly as I read Champions of Zed. Seriously, it's been a challenge to sleep all week

Another important catalyst was a conversation I had at a convention with and attendee who picked up Simple Superheroes after playing in my session. He wanted to run a fantasy hack for his 6 year old. And he's already done so!

It has classic class tropes that are turned a bit on their head with the "design your own" nature of the Unleashed engine. It's a framework that let's you build all sorts of awesome character "classes." In the original fantasy campaign "rules" were regularly added as new characters were introduced, and Dungeon Unleashed! framework is meant to replicate exactly that at your table.

Multiple foes are particularly dangerous in Dungeon Unleashed! as they can gang up on your hapless heroes. The five pages include example monster creation, with examples for goblins, trolls, ogres and ochre jelly.

You can grab the 5 page Dungeon Unleashed PDF here. If you are intersted in getting notified of any updates to the system (and always having access to the latest version) you are encouraged to pick it up through the CDG Marketplace.

I will happily talk about it more ad nauseum if there is interest.

This is a very early version, so I am interested in all opinions on it.


  • edited October 2016
    I read the pages I have in Dungeon Unleashed. It looks fun and may suit most folks dungeon delving needs. Here's the only tricky bits I found:

    1) I wouldn't go with wound penalties. They tend to make things less fun for folks. Though, to be honest, others would disagree.
    2) I did like the multiple opponent rules.
    3) The spell mechanic is pretty neat, I'd have to see how it plays out in playtesting.
    4) Shapechange rules for druids would be fun.
    5) Make a Mage talent for physical defense so they can cast such as shields.
    6) Maybe a rogue class?
    7) I only have the first 4 pages, I'd like to see the others.
    8) Loot's a big part of this genre. Figure out how magic items work.

    It does look cool though. You're onto something.
  • edited March 2017
    Thanks for the feedback Chris. Let me tackle these.

    1) Wound Penalties
    Your right these should perhaps be listed as an optional rule. The alternative rule could be knocked out as soon as you hit negatives, or knocked out and dying. GM should pick lethality level to taste.

    2)Multiple opponents
    Glad you like em. I am considering some stacking penalty for more powerful foes. 3 ogres with 4-greatclub [O] would roll 12 dice. Which is pretty crazy. (It should be really dangerous, but maybe not that dangerous.)

    3) Spell mechanic
    Yes playtesting is needed.

    4) Druids Shapechange
    Absolutely. Shapechange should be a Talent that a Faithful can take.

    5) Mage Physical defense spells
    There should probably be something for this. You are right. Not sure if it works identically to other spells. You should be able to cast on other characters with a Magic point being expended. How does that stack with mundane defensive Talents? Or does it?

    6) Rogue or Thief class
    In my view, the rules for warrior do cover what a "thief" can do. There are reasons why I don't feel the need to expressly build out a thief class. They weren't in OD&D, all classes should be trying to do thief-like things in the dungeon, backstabbing should be something any warrior can do with appropriate stunt based Talent etc.
    I'm not closed to the idea. I'd like to hear more of an argument for it.

    7) First 4 pages
    There is 5 pages. Your missing the page where I provide some thoughts on magic items, mounts, and monsters.
    Just head over to the downloads page.

    8) Loot and Magic items
    Agreed they are a big part of the genre. I do have some notes on the 5th page on magic items. I do think I need a bit more on mundane items and resource management.

    We both know that the whole thing needs some expansion of course.
  • edited April 2017
    First public playtest of Dungeons Unleashed!

    I've run a few games of Dungeons Unleashed! but this past weekend at Breakout (a fantastic convention in Toronto with tons of guest designers) was the first public playtest.

    Thanks to Ellery, Allan, and Miko for signing up for Dungeon Unleashed! and exploring the rules, and the adventure! It was Ellery's first ever RPG. I always love introducing new people to roleplaying.

    There were two big rules items that are worth discussing from the playtest: armour and cascades.

    Current Armour test rules do make starting characters a lot more durable. And damage more predictable. More durable is fine, and I like that it is a diminishing resource, but it does feel a little predictable. To be meaningful there does need to be some costs related to acquiring and maintaining armour in campaign play.
    I may experiment with some variations on armour. Thought briefly about armour "saves" to prevent damage to the armour's hits but extra rolling is not ideal. Perhaps a simple addendum that attack successful attack rolls of six bypass armour. Possibly 5s as well for light armour.
    Miko played Merrick a former blacksmith turned monk. So he took a talent to represent his ability to fix armour. After a scuffle on a bridge where Kajar's chainmail was damaged, they spent the evening in the small village of Thunton, where Merrick was able to repair Kajar's armour. This felt right.

    Context: current test rules give armour a soak stat and hits. Gambeson has soak 1 and hits 3. Chainmail has a soak of 2/1 and hits of 2/3. Gambeson can soak 1 point of damage from a single attack, and can do so 3 times before it is render useless. Chainmail can soak 2 damage twice, and 1 damage 3 times before it is too damaged to be helpful.
    Important to note that this makes armour repair an important Talent to have, and gives something to do in "down time."

    The base die mechanic involves comparing a string of dice from the actor in order against the defender, in order. Sometimes this may lead to a situation like:
    Attacker: 6, 5, 4, 2
    Defender: 5, 4, 3
    With the above matchup a the defender is taking 3 points of damage. Starting warriors only get 3 Lifepoints.
    A single die change could alter this so that the adventurer takes zero damage. If a player (the defender) could expend a resource to flip that six to a 1, then they would take zero damage.
    In Simple Superheroes, characters can expend two Strainpoints to do this, which is quite expensive. I have found it is almost always used defensively, on rare occasions it has been used offensively (even rarer is when both defender and attacker expend points to flip different dice).

    In the Dungeon Unleashed mechanics I don't currently have a solve for this.

    I had some discussion with Miko, (one of the players at that game, and winner of Iron GM later that weekend) about using some sort of "favour points" with the deities of the setting. This may well be a great solve. I think each deity would have slightly different restrictions on how their favour could be used.

    The Caves of Silence and Impenetrable Darkness
    I had a lot of fun running this scenario. It was a scenario designed and ran years ago for AD&D 1ed.
    I think the players enjoyed the exploration and "puzzle" aspects, as well as exploring some of the setting elements relating to the deities.
    The players did manage to make it to the final chamber and use the Gate of Travel to transport themselves to Darsivia and warn the emperor.

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