I fashioned this game by taking bits and pieces of others and watering them down so that my four year old son could play and enjoy. It has worked very well. On one occasion he was the only one who made it out of the dungeon alive. Of course his actions are what led to his mother’s and sisters’ demise, but the point is that fun was had.
This is an ever growing and evolving game. In the time I have spent writing this document, the game has already changed to make a few of the things written herein obsolete and now includes things which I will not include since this document is intended to be the basics. For your own enjoyment and experience, I encourage you to play and experiment with new rules and features as you come up with them, so that you might heighten the experience for your family and friends.
(Perhaps the character earns the use of extra attack die when attacking from behind? Be creative!)
Things you will need to play
- Two players (5 recommended)
- A Chess/checkers board
- Six sided dice (at least six dice recommended, eight ideal)
- Pieces to act as characters
- Pieces to act as markers
At least two players are needed, one to play as the Dungeon Master, and the other(s) to play as the heroes. A good Dungeon Master will use his or her imagination to make the game a bit more real for the other players: tell the story of the game and characters, be the voices of the monsters, and creatively but justly make decisions to heighten the experience for all players.
Traditional D&D is played entirely in the mind, but I prefer something visual, tactile, and personal. The board creates a visual playing filled, the pieces something to observe and control. This also helps younger children participate in the game.
The pieces to act as characters would be best if they looked distinct because many will represent different characters. Some will represent the Heroes, another will represent the Dungeon Master, and the rest will represent various monster types. Exactly how many types of heroes and monsters will be up to the imagination of the Dungeon Master (I use mini figures from other games, but one could also use the chess pieces).
(Our gargoyle Dungeon Master)
The pieces to act as markers need not be so distinct, you need only be able to distinguish four types. One type can represent a character’s physical wounds, another can represent both event locations on the board and a character’s used mind power, the third will represent traps on the board, and the fourth will represent recovered treasure (I use little glass jewels, but one could also use M&Ms).
- Movement (monsters only)
The type of character determines their statistics in Attack, Defense, Body, and Mind. I have used the types found in the board game Hero Quest as a base, but players can create whatever types they want. Hero types include: Barabarian, Dwarf, Elf, and Wizard. Monster types include: Gargoyle, Chaos Warrior, Fimir, Orc, Goblin, Mummy, Zombie, and Skeleton.
(A site we really like that gives you templates for character creation cards is Ye Olde Inn.)
Give your character a name, makes them personal. Any characters, heroes or monsters, who survive a game can return in the next. I encourage players to let any character who dies in the game remain dead, do not resurrect them. This makes them more personal, more real; thus is the nature of a role playing game.
Give your character titles for the astounding deeds they have done. Perhaps they slew many monsters/heroes, gathered lots of loot, defeated a mighty foe with one blow, or bravely ran away from danger like Sir Robin of Camelot. My personal favorite name and title come from a character played on the TV series Community: Tiny Nuggets, Water Boarder of Goblins.
(Carter the Barbarian. She once had the displeasure of fighting alongside the wizard Sparkle the Cowardly.)
Attack and Defense determine the number of dice rolled in battle. Body refers to physical hit points. Mind refers to mind points, which are used for healing, reconfiguring traps, and insulting monsters.
Heroes move about the board by rolling a die, but monsters have a specific number of spaces they can move each turn.
Here are the various type Stats:
Attack 3, Defense 2, Body 8, Mind 2
Attack 2, Defense 3, Body 7, Mind 3
Attack 2, Defense 2, Body 6, Mind 4
Attack 1, Defense 2, Body 4, Mind 8
(This is Shirley's most recent character, Twinkle the Wizard. Her primary function is to heal the others while avoiding all confrontations. Parallels real life!)
Attack 4, Defense 5, Body 3, Mind 4, Movement 6
Attack 4, Defense 4, Body 3, Mind 3, Movement 7
Attack 3, Defense 3, Body 2, Mind 3, Movement 6
Attack 3, Defense 2, Body 1, Mind 2, Movement 8
Attack 2, Defense 1, Body 1, Mind 1, Movement 10
Attack 3, Defense 4, Body 2, Mind 0, Movement 4
Attack 2, Defense 3, Body 1, Mind 0, Movement 5
Attack 2, Defense 2, Body 1, Mind 0, Movement 6
Setting Up the Board
The Dungeon Master must setup the board.
- Place one marker on the edge of the board to mark the entrance/exit of the dungeon.
- Place all hero characters on a square near the entrance
- Place event markers on the board (seven or eight recommended)
- Decide the location of traps (five or six recommended / DO NOT USE MARKERS)
- Place initial monsters
The entrance/exit will represent the heroes’ starting point, or the place of retreat should any wish to abandon the quest.
The event markers will be either treasures for the heroes to find or monsters to fight. One marker will represent the Dungeon Master’s character (in our games, this is the gargoyle). The Dungeon Master must decide before play begins which markers are which. I recommend four monster events – including the Dungeon Master’s character - and three treasures.
The traps must be known to the Dungeon Master, but cannot be marked; the Dungeon Master shall have to make a mental note of their locations. This way the heroes will not know where the traps are.
The initial monster type is determined randomly by a hero player (draw cards, roll dice, etc.). Once the initial monster type has been determined the hero player will roll a die. The number rolled represents the number of the determined monster type that will appear at the games beginning.
Game Play: Heroes’ Turn
The heroes may go in any order they chose during their turns. During a turn each hero may do all of the following:
- Recover one mind point
- Roll a die for movement on the board
- Perform one of the following actions
- Attack a monster
- Explore an event location
- Search for and reconfigure a single trap
- Insult a monster
- Heal a hero
NOTE: After an action is performed a hero may not move on the board (no attacking a monster then running away).
NOTE: All actions require the hero to be standing next to the target, not diagonally (EXCEPTION: Wizards may perform all actions diagonally).
During movement heroes (including wizards) may not move diagonally.
Attacking monsters/heroes will be discussed later (See BATTLE).
If exploring an event location, the Dungeon Master reveals whether the location has a treasure or monster(s). If the former, give a treasure marker to the hero. If the latter, randomly determine the monster type and how many appear in the same fashion as determining the dungeon’s initial monster. The Dungeon Master must place the monster(s) as close to the event location as possible.
If searching for traps, the Dungeon Master must reveal all traps in the eight spaces around the searching hero’s location. If the hero wishes to reconfigure a trap, the hero must use 2 mind points (give the hero two mind markers) and roll a die. Any number less than or equal to the hero’s total mind is successful, and the trap will now explode only when monsters step on it. (EXCEPTION: a 6 is always unsuccessful). If unsuccessful the trap explodes and causes three damage to the hero (give the hero 3 wound markers.)
To insult a monster the hero must use two mind points and roll a die. Any number less than or equal to the subtraction of the monster’s mind from the hero’s mind (Hm – Mm = X) is a success (EXCEPTION: a 1 is always successful and a 6 is always unsuccessful). The effect of an insult, successful or not, is determined by the Dungeon Master. This is an ideal place for imagination. For example, the monster may get one extra/less attack or defense die, run away, take no action, or give automatic damage to hero. Tell a story for what happened and why the monster reacted that way.
To heal a hero, the healing hero must use one mind point for each wound the healing hero is removing.
Once all heroes have performed an action, their turn has ended.
Game Play: Dungeon Master’s Turn
The Dungeon Master may do all of the following:
- Move all monsters
- Attack with all monsters
Each monster’s movement range is given. (NOTE: if a hero is standing next to a reconfigured trap, monsters should step on said trap when approaching to attack the hero. The trap will cause three damage to the monster.)
Attacking monsters/heroes will be discussed later (See BATTLE).
Game Play: BATTLE
In battle, when an attack is commencing on either hero or monster, the results are determined by dice rolls. Three of the six numbers on the dice represent a hit by the attacker (these numbers are meaningless if the defender rolls them). Two of the remaining three numbers represent a successful block of a hit by the defender, and the last number represents a successful counter hit by the defender (these numbers are meaningless if the attacker rolls them). Remember, the amount of dice rolled is determined by the characters' attack/defense numbers.
NOTE: If the defender is a hero, the defender may choose to insult the attacker before battle begins. Previously stated insult rules apply.
Battle plays out in the following fashion:
- Attacker rolls attack dice
- Defender rolls defense dice
- Both receive wounds for unblocked or counter hits
If a monster dies in battle, the victorious hero receives a treasure. If a hero dies in battle his treasure falls to the ground and is available for another hero to pick up as an event location.
Game Play: Ending
Once all treasures are found and monsters slain, the heroes must still exit the dungeon for the game to be concluded. During this exodus the heroes are free to viciously turn on each other so as to claim more loot for themselves.
Now go have fun and once you get comfortable, trying adding additional elements. Huzzah!