WWI: Dungeonslayers

Is simple best? It sure is fun!

The Elements: Dungeonslayers is a rules light role playing game. I saw a mention of it on a blog I follow that I cannot currently locate, and when I checked it out it seemed interesting. So we gave it a shot last Wednesday. We enjoyed it so much, we decided to use it as an interm system until the release of the DCC RPG beta. Also, it's free and by people who don't speak English (though there is an English translation).

The Crux: The game at it's core is a roll under system using only a d20 with the degree of success being how close you get to your target number. If you have an attack value of 15, you roll under 15 on a d20 and the value on the die is the amount of damage you do. A 1 gives you a critical for the maximum value. A 20 is a critical failure. Your target numbers are based off of your skills modified by the difficulty of the task. Skills and attacks involving other people are contested checks. e.g. on an attack, the damage you do is modified by your opponents defense roll.

There are very simple classes (warrior, scout, and casters divided into white mage, black mage, and red mage, er called healer, black mage and wizard), and Talent points are gained every level, giving each player a great variety of options in order to customize their class.

There is a set list of 'default traits' which are combined into task resolution checks (such as open locks having a target of agility + dex).

The Countenance: The initial read through the short rules got me quite excited about the game. There is just something about the way the system is set up that is intrinsically very exciting, both to me and to my players. The rules are very simple, and during play we had a great time just exploring the dungeon.

Lost in this review, I should just mention that after years of playing role playing games, it is only now that as a group, we're finally comfortable with the tropes of D&D to realize that the specifics of the fantasy game are unimportant. (Do you not get hit in every version of D&D if you flee? If you use a ranged weapon next to a monster, don't they always get to hit you?)

This came up during the game momentarily when discussing if our archer would be hit when he ran into a room. I asked him if he thought he would get attacked if he ran past the rats and he chose not to. This is explicitly against the intent of the rule set which is focused and fast moving, mobile, tactical combat. Personally I prefer things to be more locked down for some reason, and it goes against my gut to make things more mobile. However I was wrong, and when we play in a week or two we'll certainly try the 'move around freely' approach and see how that works.

That wasn't the only mistake I made, I also let casters just automatically get new spells which is a big no-no. Spellcasting is essentially unlimited, simply requiring a check. Spellcasters may only have one active spell at a time and they must succeed at a check to cast the spell, and they must succeed at a check to switch their spell. Their chances of success are fairly high, and the players seemed to enjoy playing the caster classes, so that is working well. There is a downside in that this essentially means that each player will be fully healed for every combat, which is a positive thing for the dungeons 2 go that are provided, but not such a positive thing for a more resource intensive dungeon crawl. However, there is a mana system presented in one of the many free supplements to the game.

The Genre: This is a rules light RPG. It has an old school aesthetic due to it's rules light nature, however it is miniature and combat focused.

The Detritus: The game is not without it's charm. Some of the translations are rough, but this can easily be turned to your advantage. For instance, the spells are basically lists of effects, allowing you to give them whatever creative names you want to. Also, weird translations are entertaining.

There are issues with traditional game play - the lack of resource management is good for a beer and pretzel game, bad for long term play. Combat is pretty swingy - for me, that's a huge plus.

There are a large number of free expansions to the game. It is an easy enough system to house rule. The task resolution system is amazingly flexible. (Ask for an agility + reason roll to slip from someones mental grasp, etc.)

The introductory adventure is a terrible adventure. It does get bonus points for being an adventure about killing rats.

The roll-under mechanic works great, but there's just something strange about getting excited over a '1' coming up on the die.

The Final Counsel: It's free, and I highly recommend checking it out. It seems to be setup for a very board game like experience, what with the dungeon2go adventures. This seems like a really excellent system to use with people who've never played an RPG before. The rules are simple enough, that you can just relax (i.e. drink) with your friends and not worry that things will fall apart.

It is available for free on the internet at www.dungeonslayers.com. You can read our play report with pictures here.

1 comment:

  1. I've been wanting to try Dungeonslayers for some time now, but haven't had the chance yet. It does look promising though.


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