Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Here's to a Merry Christmas to all you Dungeoneers out there, and hoping for a great New Years, and hoping this blog will see more frequent posts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

About All Those Rules

I've been posting more frequently about the Dungeoneer roleplaying game lately, but there is another product that has been quietly brewing in the background. It is a product that bridges the gap between the Dungeoneer roleplaying game and the Dungeoneer card game. It is called Dungeoneer Scenarios. It is a document that I have long been working on, adding little bits over the months and years as ideas come to me, or as I read interesting things on the interwebs. It is a collection of optional rules, and most importantly pre-constructed scenarios for the card game - which coincidentally are highly useful for the roleplaying game.

One of the major topics are the rules. Nearly half of Dungeoneer Scenarios is devoted to the "crunchy bits" that make up the game. Illuminating how things work and offering alternatives and expansions. My post here today is an excerpt from Dungeoneer Scenarios explaining the different editions of the rules.

About the Different Rules editions
Dungeoneer has gone through 5 versions of rules. The original version was published by Citizen Games in the first ever Dungeoneer set. The final version, called Legendary Dungeoneer Rules version 2.3, was published by Atlas Games in the Legendary Dungeoneer: Wrath of the Serpent Goddess set and represents years of playtesting and feedback by Dungeoneer players from all around the world.
Why so many versions of the rules? The primary reason for multiple editions of the rules is that the game expanded with each set. This meant new cards with new card effects, and these had to be accounted for and explained as the rules developed. Also, there was tremendous feedback from the Dungeoneer community that helped to clarify and correct sections of the rules. These clarifications where added with each version.

Rules v. 1
The original rules were concise and bare-bones. The strength of this rules set was its simplicity and brevity. It cut straight to the point and was designed to fit on a small sheet of paper with minimal graphics. Unfortunately it suffered from being too terse on key points that needed elaboration. It was most criticized for appearing to have 2 contradictory win conditions. The win goal of completing 3 Quests was the correct win goal, but another paragraph seemed to suggest you won by achieving 4th level, which if you complete 3 Quests you probably would be 4th level, however there was a card in the set called a Wraith that could drain levels from your Hero, making it possible that you could complete 3 Quests without achieving 4th level.

Rules v. 2
This rule set benefited from the feedback of many players and elaborated on several fine points in the rules. The release of 2nd edition Dungeoneer by Atlas Games represented increased production values with full color backs and better card stock. Several desirable elements that were missing from the original game were included in this revision of the game, including expanded Monster stats and the ability for Heroes to initiate attacks of their choice. The rules also featured a whole new mode of play called Campaign where one player acted solely as the Dungeonlord while all the other players participated solely as Heroes co-operating to complete their Quests. (These campaign rules are included in a revised and improved format in this book) Unfortunately these improvements also made the 2nd edition cards essentially incompatible with the 1st edition.

Rules v 2.1
In response to increased criticism regarding confused wording on some rules this version 2.1 was a refinement of the v. 2 rules. These rules remained the standard through most of the Dungeoneer releases until the Epic set. Unfortunately by clarifying the length of the rules grew. Campaign play was removed in favor of a section of “best of” optional rules that were in common use by Dungeoneer players.

Rules v. 2.2
The release of an Epic set meant new rules had to be incorporated to account for higher levels and explanation for combining Heroic level sets with the new Epic set. These rules were a complete rewrite and revision of the v. 2.1 rules and expanded on describing common card effects and optional rules. This rule set was greeted with the most positive response from the Dungeoneer community as being the best rules set to date.

Rules v. 2.3
The release of the Legendary set required additional rules to explain combining sets of various levels. Care was taken not to mess up what players liked about the v. 2.2 rules. Only a small section was re-written to accommodate expanded and revised explanations required for using the Legendary and Epic sets with other sets.

Numbered 2.3 Rules
A Dungeoneer player, Dane Barrett, posted a set of rules on Boardgamegeek.com that rearranged the rules into a numbered sequence for ease of reference. This quickly became my favorite set of rules to reference when running a Dungeoneer game. Also, Dane made a Rules Summary that I've since expanded and use for quick reference. (These are linked to on the right for your convenience.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Ogre

Here is another illustration that will be accompanying the ogre description in the Dungeoneer RPG Player's Guide.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ogre

Hello, welcome to another Dungeoneer Roleplaying Game update. This week we take a look at the Ogre, one of the 6 races you can choose from in the core rules.

An ogre (feminine: ogress) is a large, cruel and hideous humanoid monster. They are brute creatures who seek only to serve their own pleasures: usually finding shiny stuff, killing things, and eating food. The common mythical perception is that ogres feed on human beings, which is not true, unless they are feral or extremely hungry, or in a particularly bad mood. Ogres have a large head, protruding tusks, abundant hair and beard most often of a reddish or dark brown color, small dark eyes, a voracious appetite, and a large strong body. Their skin is ruddy, leathery, and tough.

Considered the smallest, or runts, of the giant family, ogres are rarely accepted in civilized lands. Indeed, they are also not always welcome by giants in the mountainous regions they inhabit. Most ogres are from rural, savage, or even esoteric cultures. Those from distant or exotic lands may seem to be more intelligent, or refined.

Being ferocious in combat, but generally not smart enough to make good wizards, ogres tend to excel at being warriors or barbarians.

Melee +1
Magic -1
Treasure Limit +1
Boon Limit -1

Special Abilities

Heroic

Intimidate (pay 1 glory): chosen enemy has -1 Melee for the duration of this combat. Limit once per combat.

Epic
Charge (pay 2 glory): one attack can be aimed at up to 3 enemies. You roll attack once, each opponent rolls defense normally. Limit once per combat.

Legendary
Bullrush (pay 3 glory): +2 Melee against all opponents this combat. Limit once per combat.

_____________
I hope you enjoyed this week's update. I've been doing a lot of art and writing, as usual being productive in my studio means being unproductive on this here blog. Hopefully next week's post will be more prompt. Thanks for visiting!

(note I updated this post because it was missing the special abilities previously)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review of Den of the Wererats

Robin Ashe has put together a well researched and thoughtful review of Den of the Wererats.

You can read the full review here on RPG.net

Too bad this set is out of print, because I'm sure after reading this review you'll want to run out and buy a copy or two.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Calling

The Dungeoneer RPG does not have an alignment or moral system, but it does have a way of encouraging certain roleplaying opportunities that is tied in with the Quest system. This is your Calling.

Calling

Your choice of Calling defines your motivation, it explains why you are a Hero.

When you create a Dungeoneer Hero, in addition to specifying how they fight and explore the world of Tarniss, you also choose why your Hero is on such an adventure. Your Calling determines your initial knowledge of what Quests are available as you start a level. Heroes earn a special bonus when they work to complete Quests associated with their Calling.

Belief: Live according to your calling, you specialize in Sacrifice Quests.
Curiosity: Explore the Map, you specialize in Chance Quests.
Honor: Eradicate evil, you specialize in Slay Quests.
Justice: Save those in Peril, you specialize in Escort Quests.
Renown: Gain Glory, you specialize in Threat Quests.
Revenge: Find and destroy a foe, you specialize in Search Quests.

Belief
Your actions are dedicated to serving your beliefs no matter what the cost. Your faith is strong and you know that life and limb are less important than your cause. You work to teach others what it is you believe, spreading knowledge and wisdom wherever you go. You would give up your life if you knew it could help fulfill your cause.

Role-playing: Choosing Belief as your Calling provides firm guidelines for how your character will behave. Be careful to clearly define your set of beliefs early on in the game, but do not hesitate to allow the moral dilemmas you will encounter along the way to further flesh out the Character of your Belief. Whatever the source of your belief, take care to make it clear to the other Heroes. Make sure the other Heroes know what it is you believe early on, and encourage them to work with you on implementing your goals. It’s fine to have a bit of dramatic tension between Heroes during the game. You may present yourself as a person of firm conviction, or as a mindless zealot who is unable to listen.
Famous Heroes: Moses, Zoroaster, Gandalf

BONUS: When you complete a Sacrifice Quest, recover a Boon Card from the Discard.

Curiosity
You are driven by insatiable curiosity. You love to learn interesting facts, solve strange puzzles and resolve mysteries. You are infatuated by new spells, odd maneuvers, cryptic blessings, weird skills, undecipherable sigils and ancient mysteries.

Role-playing: Playing a curious Character is always fun. You help keep the band moving forward because you must know what is underneath that last unexplored Map Tile, or what is needed to fulfill the next Quest. With a Curious Character, you do not need to be afraid to make mistakes, as you can always consider them a good learning experience.

Getting Along: Curious Heroes can get along with just about any other Calling. Make sure you spend some time in the Role-Play Phase asking the other Heroes why. This will let you express your curiosity, help them clearly enunciate their position on issues and lets each band member reveal their agenda.
Famous Heroes: Merlin, Bilbo

BONUS: When you complete a Chance Quest, recover a Treasure card from the Discard.

Honor
You are filled with contempt for evil. You seek to destroy all vile Monsters and scheming villains. They shall be given no quarter. There must be no hesitation.

Role-playing: You are a shining example to the rest of the world. Act like it. Your excuse for destroying the Monsters and villains of the world is your contempt for their lack of honor and goodwill. The maintenance of your own honor is of great importance. Treat the innocent with courtesy and respect. Comport yourself in an irreproachable manner at all times. You do not always need to lead, but when given the opportunity you excel at leading the charge. You know that whatever dank dungeon you end up in, you will have foes enough to confront. Stand bravely beside your allies and face the terrors of the world without fear. Once the battle is done, celebrate victory without pity or remorse
Famous Heroes: Beowulf, Achilles

BONUS: When you complete a Slay Quest, Gain 2 additional Glory.

Justice
You cannot stand unfairness and act to remedy all inequities. You are a champion of the weak, an upholder of the law, dedicating your life to the rescue of the defenseless and the protection of the meek. Defend those in danger, aid those in need and bring down the hammer of justice upon those who seek to harm the innocent.

Role-playing: Justice is a straightforward Calling that gives your Hero a simple set of rules to act upon. It’s a great Calling to choose if you want to act as the moral compass of your group and be their leader. When you role-play a Hero motivated by Justice, do not forget to apply the standards of fairness and consistency to the band itself. The focus of your attention should be on those who need your help. Dealing with the other Heroes is a secondary priority for you. However you can make friends by making it clear that when they are in need, you will not hesitate to do anything you need in order to keep the band safe.
Famous Characters: Robin Hood, Spartacus

BONUS: When you complete an Escort Quest draw 2 cards, then discard a card from your hand.

Renown

You seek Glory and understand that engaging in the most Perilous of Quests is the best way to do so. You would not turn down any Quest presented you. One day your name will be sung by bards in taverns across the land. Onwards to Glory!

Role-playing: Seeking renown is great fun. Do anything to get more Glory, and don’t worry too much about how. You cooperate with the band because you know it is the best way to gain Glory, and that bad behavior will be punished with Peril. Playing a Hero with a calling to renown creates great motivation for the band to march onward to great adventure. Do what gains you Glory, while taking care not to attract too much Peril. But then again, more Peril means more Monsters, and more Monsters means more opportunities to gain Glory! Keep it light, jump in to help other Heroes when they need it, because if they fall, who will be around to tell the tale of your extremely awesome and generous behavior and the great sacrifices you make.
Famous Heroes: Conan

BONUS: When you complete a Threat Quest, gain one additional Glory and discard one Peril.

Revenge
You seek to find and punish one who has harmed you, your family or your people. Your single minded devotion to this task propels you to search the world for your foe. No matter how long it takes, you will track them down and extract whatever punishment you see fit.

Role-playing: A grand Quest for revenge allows you to help weave the various adventures you and the band have together into one large coherent narrative. When you choose revenge as your calling, you agree to help the Dungeonlord weave a tale overlapping multiple dungeon levels and wilderness areas. Do not expect each twist and turn of plot to relate obviously to your grand Quest for revenge. When you choose revenge as your calling, you should specify a nemesis. This nemesis is the villain who wronged you in the past. You have no lofty goals or rarified aspirations. Your motivation is tangible, palpable and reachable. However, to reach your nemesis, you know you must have help. Once you have revealed your chosen foe to your allies, you will need to help them with their goals if you expect to be able to receive their help.
Famous Heroes: Inego Montoya, Batman

BONUS: When you complete a Search Quest discard two Peril.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Culture

The Dungeoneer RPG treats the race/class matrix a little differently than traditional fantasy RPG's. First is the addition of Cultures. Nearly as important as your innate abilities acquired through your character's race, are the things she learned in the culture she was raised in. You choose the culture for your character at the beginning of the game. Or the Dungeonlord can deal culture cards out randomly.

Cultures
Ancient: the ancient civilizations, thought to be long lost, remain in various hidden and isolated regions of the world. They hold forgotten knowledge, but are also somewhat naive to the modern world. +1 MG

Esoteric
: from the mysterious lands beyond the seas, esoteric people have unique skills and customs that seam strange and fascinating. +1 BL

Imperial
: people from the conquering nations of Dolmar, Ilbor, and Baulephor may seem to have a sense of supremacy to others. They are citizens of powerful nations and accorded the rights that come with citizenship. They are often trained professionally for the military. Beyond the borders of their lands though, they are often hated and despised. +1 ML

Rural
: these are simple folk, peasants and farmers that come from regions far from cities. They may seem uneducated, but they have a wisdom that comes from a sense of community and making a living through hard labor. +1 TL

Savage
: far from the civilized lands are people that live in tribes and forage for a living. They are hardy and have valuable survival skills in the wilderness. +2 ML vs. chosen foe

Is this the final list of cultures? I don't know, playtesting continues, things are revised and improved. This has been pretty stable for a while now and works well in play.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quest Points

There are 3 things I consider to be core to the Dungeoneer experience: Peril, Glory, and Quests. As long as we can maintain these in the RPG in their purest form, then we will have succeeded.

Assigning quests in the RPG isn't a matter of dealing out quest cards randomly. Players must earn quests through roleplaying. They must talk to the tavern owner and discover that his daughter is missing in order to trigger the Maiden in Distress quest. Then players will have to follow clues to find out where she was taken to and how to get there. Then they must deal with all the obstacles in the way, and finally with the difficult head-strong maiden herself (or however the Dungeonlord chooses to roleplay her).

Maintaining the quest reward system, but expanding it into adventuring party game play was a challenge. If each hero had individual quests and was the only one to benefit upon its completion it is unfair to the whole party, because everyone helps in some manner or other complete each quest. Yet because the typical reward of a quest is "gain 1 level", and if the whole party got that with each quest, the game quickly becomes broken.

We wanted to avoid a solution that would complicate the game, or require some complex formula such as "each hero gets 1/4 of a level" or something like that. A formula of sorts was unavoidable, but we needed one that was simple, intuitive, and worked with the spirit of the game. So the QP (quest points) system was born.

Quest Points:
  • Each completed quest is worth 1 QP (epic quests are worth 2 QP, and legendary quests are worth 3 QP each).
  • The entire party gets the QP for each completed quest, regardless of who does the finishing move that actually completes the quest.
  • To gain a level requires a number of quest points equal to that level. For example to go from 1st to 2nd level requires 2 QP. To go from 5th level to 6th level requires 6 QP.
This ends up feeling very much like an abbreviated XP (Experience Point) system from classic fantasy RPG's. But instead of the XP primarily coming from killing stuff and taking its loot, the reward comes from accomplishing many other meaningful things in the game world.

This reward system assumes that each player worked together to get to the place where the quest could be completed. Everyone participates and is rewarded.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Warrior

You are a combat specialist. With weapon in hand you are a terrible force of nature cutting through opponents like a farmer harvesting wheat.

You show great vigor, courage, and competence in battle. You are the first line of defense in your party. You can deal out immense damage and absorb wounds that would kill an ordinary man. You protect the weaker members of the party, giving wizards time to cast their spells, afford paladins enough time to call on their gods, and provide cover for the scouts to do their handiwork.

While your melee aptitude is second to none, you are inexperienced in the forces of magic and have the least magic ability of all classes. But you more than make up for this lack of mystical knowledge with your powerful sword arm and raging bloodlust. As you gain experience the other party members will learn powerful spells and gain various strange special abilities, but you will only get better at fighting. You will deal more damage, aim more accurately, and hit more foes than anyone else.Melee aptitude: pay any # of Glory, add this # to your next Melee attack.
Rapid strike: on a Melee hit you inflict 2 wounds, and hit in the case of a tie.
War cry: you and your allies gain +2 Melee for the duration of this encounter. This ability may be used once per encounter and uses 1 Melee attack.
Stronghold: you establish a stronghold to begin ruling your kingdom from, gathering peasants and warriors to your banner.

Hope this provides some idea of what a character class write up will look like in the Dungeoneer RPG. Wonder if anyone can guess what the mysterious acronyms QP is?

I know it must seem like I've abandoned this project, but I assure you it is still in development. There have been some major impediments I'll write about some day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tomb of the Lich Lord reprint

Atlas Games has reported that they've reprinted Tomb of the Lich Lord and it will be in stores soon. This item has been unavailable for some time now and I'm glad to see it back in stock because it is as close to a "base set" as Dungeoneer has. Though all Dungeoneer sets can be played alone or combined with other sets.

So don't pay any more for it then retail price. (Unless of course you want to support this site and get a signed copy along with original art)

I don't think any changes have been made to the cards, but it is likely to have the latest rules in it (v2.3).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Legendary Dungeoneer typo fix

It was recently brought to my attention that there are typos in Legendary Dungeoneer: Wrath of the Serpent Goddess that I said I'd fix. Sorry, this is so tardy, but better late than never!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RPG Card Face Improvement

On the left is the classic Demonic Adder from the Tomb of the Lich Lord set, on the right is the RPG version. Making revisions is always hard, in particular something as important as an established interface design. But the classic card face design has been needing an overhaul for some time.

When I first designed the card face my main concern was showing art much larger than your typical fantasy card game had. In this end I bled the art behind the text. While I thought I was being clever, it made creating the art extremely challenging. Every composition had to have an enormous "dead space" that didn't compete with the text. In addition that space had to be dark, since the text was always white. This has hung on my neck like an albatross through the various sets.

Since the RPG is such a radical departure, I wanted to make the cards distinctive as well. This is an RPG that uses cards - not just another Dungeoneer XCG set. So I took the opportunity to redesign the face. I've posted earlier versions of this design, but this has been polished even more. The mechanical information is all grouped together now and there is more detail. This time I show it side by side with it's XCG counterpart so that you can see the RPG is 100% compatible.

I'm not saying this is the final design - I may play with the art to text ratio a bit more, there probably is room for larger art, the text hear is still a bit large. But I like the legibility.

One improvement you may notice is the text stating "inflicts 1 wound" is gone. It has been replaced with a little "hit" symbol next to the stat. This cleans up the card as well as providing better information. The other thing you may notice is that I've been enhancing the melee/magic/speed symbols. These are still being worked on, but I feel these are more contemporary in their quality.

Here is another classic card, Spell Focus:


In this one you may notice the border is green instead of blue. This is because we found that generally the Boon/Bane/Encounter/Treasure identification was clear enough by the symbol placed next to the playtime - duration - category text, and that the Peril/Glory identification was critical on first glance.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What is a roleplaying game?

Just about every RPG ever written has tried to answer this question. Usually devolving into discussions of childhood cops & robbers games. I don't know that anyone has written the perfect answer. I'm working on that section of the Dungeoneer RPG, and I've borrowed from various sources to come up with this:
A Roleplaying Game is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and are rewarded for making choices that are consistent with the character's motivations or further the plot of the story. Participants collaboratively create stories by determining the actions of their characters, and these actions succeed or fail according to the rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players can improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.
I don't know if I've succeeded, in fact posting it here has made me aware of how esoteric this sounds. Your thoughts?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reprints

Dungeoneer fan Tyler Dion asks when Tomb of the Lich Lord will be reprinted? Good question Tyler!

Currently there are 3 sets out of print:
Tomb of the Lich Lord
Haunted Woods of Malthorin
Den of the Wererats

We prepped the art for the press (there was minor errata on a couple cards) and were ready to go, when we discovered a sudden, and HUGE, spike in the printing costs. We didn't want to raise the retail price, but we couldn't print them at a loss either.

To put the problem in context, the larger your print run, the lower your costs can be. Large games like Magic: the Gathering can absorb the printing cost increase, but our print runs are closer to 5-10 thousand. And a reprint just doesn't sell as much as a new game, generally.

The options left are to wait until there are enough pre-orders and to hope the cost spike is only a bubble that will come back down. Or, raise the retail price. We're still deliberating.

In the meantime I've made copies I own available for sale on eBay. To make it worth the time and effort, I've had to add incentives: an original sketch and signed print.

Also, the Dungeoneer RPG will have some of the cards from those sets, when it is completed and hopefully printed later this year.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dungeoneer Rules Numbered


I've been told time and again how great and fun Dungeoneer is and how not-so-great the rules are...the rules have been rewritten a few times, and improved upon, and expanded as the game has grown, but it has always been tough to write the perfect rules set.

Boardgamegeek.com user Dane Barrett has posted his version of the Dungeoneer rules, where he divided up all the rules, reorganized them a bit, and numbered them. The result is an incredibly handy version of the rules where every rule can be quickly found and more easily understood!

Is Boardgamegeek.com the best site on the interwebs? Quite possibly.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Play Dungeoneer Online!

Studio Denmark and Vassal Factory are proud to announce the English version of the Dungeoneer module for the VASSAL engine.

The VASSAL Engine is a set of general-purpose Java libraries for creating online versions of traditional board and card games. It provides support for game piece rendering and interaction, and supports play by email or over a live connection.

Currently in development, the entire Tomb of the Lich Lord set is being converted to work with Vassal Factory's virtual tabletop gaming technology.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Special Sale


Haunted Woods of Malthorin and Den of the Wererats have long been out of print, but I found some extra copies! I know these are in demand, so I'm offering a special: each set includes a signed copy, an original sketch, and a fine art print of Dungeoneer art - a value of $55 for only $40.

There are only 5 copies of each set available. I'm also offering some of the other sets with the same deal. Click here to see.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dungeoneer RPG mock-up



I was doing some graphic design work on the Dungeoneer RPG product and wanted to visualize how all the stuff would look together. So I came up with this mock-up. The latest content list looks something like this:

1 32-page Hero's Guide booklet
1 32-page Dungeonlord's Guide booklet
1 32-page World Guide booklet
1 4-page Quick Start Guide fold-out
2 6-sided dice
16 tokens (various Glory, Peril, etc.)
4 Hero Sheets
1 11"x17" poster map of Tarniss
220 cards


Whether this will be the final list I don't know yet, but it is where the product is currently at. It was so much work I had to enlist the help of my friend Ed Baraf to help with the editing. He is one of the best, detail oriented producers I've ever worked with and this project couldn't have been done without his help. (note that in this mock-up image I'm using parts from the Polish Tomb of the Lich Lord set, of course the actual cards and parts will differ)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dungeoneer computer game online in French


I'll be watching with interest as Vassal Forge develops the online Dungeoneer in French. Maybe if it comes out good we'll try to convince them to do an English translation.