Dealings in Dungeons
«Dealings in Dungeons» is a single-player dungeon-crawling role-playing printable-cuttable card game made by Sophie Houlden. I recommend it, it’s fun!
This post is mostly an extended twitter reply to Sophia with the scattered thoughts about the game.
The adventure started with Cursed Statue as the very first object to pick up. It gives a -2 to all attack rolls! so it’s a hard mode switch turned on at the very beginning. After surviving the first two fights with such an obstruction we had to decide what to do.
It didn’t occur that you can probably just drop it on the ground anywhere :) It didn’t felt right to retrofix the problem by pretending that it wasn’t picked up in the first place — so the poor rogue was on the quest to find a shopkeeper naive enough to buy it off from him. Many shortcuts were avoided until finally, close to the endgame a shopkeeper in the level 3 agreed to buy the cursed figurine off our hands. Real-life cheering ensued! Many shortcuts were avoided to improve the chance of encountering the shopkeeper.
Rogue got some fairy early on as an ally — but they soon left, disgusted by rogues actions at some dead adventurer’s grave.
Soon another ally was encountered — a greedy merc named Macy, who asked outrageous two gold for each fight, or she’d leave. Although she was sleeping through many of her attacks, she was well worth the price and was with the rogue till the end.
Another ally, a weird doctor with a suitcase full of saws, was very welcome as well, and, like Macy, helped to win the final boss.
Even though the game is solo, having another player to DM the events vastly improves the experience:
- The player doesn’t get to know the results of their actions beforehand. Will they rest until healed and risk some guaranteed, but unknown danger?
- The player only needs to care about their stats, I took care of the enemy HP, effects and rolls. We used a bunch of dice to remember the hitpoints of player/allies/enemies and effects (e.g rogue’s evade that works three times was tracked by a dice turned to “3”).
- As a DM I get to read the monsters flavor text when they appear and creatively explain their action rolls :)
- The rule “DM has the final word” allows DM to overrule event results, e.g when it is already late, but the player decides that, despite the warnings, he really needs to enter some magical-looking door with loads of illuminated wirings in it.
- The level progression was excellent. It was a great choice to have each level their own card sets, and overarching dragon breath quest was a terrific touch (our rogue didn’t manage to find both crystals, though).
- A clarification of “Turn N” action used in many actions would be welcome. Probably rewording “Turn 4” -> “Skip 3” would help.
- It wasn’t immediately obvious to us that on enemy cards two rolls may match a single action. After noticing that, it does look obvious in retrospect though and hard to understand how to miss that.
- I printed the cards on a generic A4 printer paper by using the stock linux option of printing 4x4 pages. This approach got me small white borders around each of the card so cutting that out with xacto+ruler / scissors was twice the work than it would be on a page with no borders between the cards. Even though the playing is comfortable, the the size feels too small as the flavour texts turn a bit too tiny.
- Magic and Wisdom as the name of the same stat are used interchangeably — it’d probably be better to stick to one.
- A certain boss action asks to shuffle all of the enemy cards together. I used only the rare enemy set, and it worked great.
- Rogues evasion trait feels kinda off. There are no downsides in using it as a first combat action, and it was used as the first action always, no exceptions. It backfired insignificantly only once, when the some goblin thief stole a single gold piece and ran away.