Dungeoneer Deluxe: Upgrading and Updating Dungeoneer

Dungeoneer is over 15 years old, and almost from the time it was published I was already redesigning it. The game was quite well received but always fell into that "cult hit" category. It sold well enough to stay in print, but never quite gangbuster numbers. I always felt it was a pretty strong game with unfortunate production short comings.

The game should have come with dice and tokens. It is really silly that it didn't. I was a naive young designer and was just happy it was published. It deserved so much more. Still, it is a lot of fun to play and any gamer has dice and tokens around they could use to play the game when they got a deck.

There was another thing, the rulebook was never fantastic. It was overly written and hard to understand. They say a designer shouldn't write their own rulebook and that's true! I got a lot of help from Atlas Games who did the best they could with what I gave them. Part of the problem though wasn't the rulebook, it was that there was genuine kludgy-ness to the game. Unnecessary complications, that had a purpose when the game was designed but really could and should have been streamlined.

Dungeoneer Deluxe.
This is my redesign of Dungeoneer from the ground up. Yet, somehow it is exactly the same game with all the kludgyness gone. It is streamlined, fun, competitive, finely balanced and more tactical. The game I was trying to design in the first place. Also, it has all the components needed in the box! I even designed some special dice that makes combat lightning fast and easy to play even for younger gamers.

Also, my art skills have improved (I think) and I've made some great new art for it!

I'm posting this now because I have a prototype that I'm bringing to Protospiels around local game conventions and events. If you are in the San Francisco bay area and go to Dundracon or Kublacon you can check it out, play it, and tell me what you think.

Review of a TSR Classic: Gods Demigods & Heroes

I'm working on a new video series on how Norse Mythology has been handled in tabletop RPG's over the years, starting with the original Gods, Demigods & Heroes by TSR Rules.


John Carter Art by Rafael Kayanan

I learned a lot about the tortured journey of John Carter from the books to film when doing research for the Warriors of the Red Planet roleplaying game.

There were several attempts to bring John Carter to film going all the way back to Bob Clampett's attempts in 1936 with an animated version. I think prior to the advent of CGI it would have been impossible to satisfactorily portray the fantastic imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his wondrous and weird Barsoom, so animation would have been the best option. Disney made a fun little Mars & Beyond show back in the 50's that had a snippet of Barsoom. Then there is this terrific fan made animation that shows more imagination and faithfulness to the book than the recent live action film.

The John Carter live action movie was enjoyable, certainly better than the unfair reviews claimed, but it missed many opportunities. They did have great artists working on the concepts and I love the Art Of book. But in an earlier iteration there was a concept artist who I felt really nailed the energy and exotic flavor of the books. Rafael Kayanan. Here are a sample of some of the concepts he did.

Now some of you might be saying "but he drew John and Dejah with clothes on! The books say they are butt naked!!". Ok, ok, but you know we are never going to get butt naked John and Dejah on film except maybe on PornHub. Still, these are some kick-ass concepts.

You can see more of Rafael Kayanan's Barsoom concepts here.

How Many Barsoomian Mars RPG's Are There?

Fans of Edgar Rice Burrough's classic Mars novels (barely novella length by today's standards) have it good these days with several high quality fan made and official Barsoom inspired RPG's. This wasn't so until somewhat recently.

Before Warriors of the Red Planet the only Burrough's RPG material was few and far between, there was the ill-fated Warriors of Mars by TSR that was quickly squashed by the Burrough's estate. Which wasn't really an RPG, it was a miniatures war game. There were a few other wargames with some RPGish elements like John Carter Warlord of Mars and John Carter Warlord of Mars ... yeah, really and they came out a year apart. But the influence of ERB and his incredible imagination could be felt all across the world of tabletop gaming.

Recently Polyhdral Nonsense compiled a good list of current Barsoomian RPGs with some addendum by commentators here:

Polyhedral Nonsense

btw. While looking up the links for this post I stumbled across my old review of the Disney John Carter movie, which I gave pretty positive marks. I stand by that review, especially when compared to what they've done with Star Wars since then.