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Are Dungeon Crawlers an “overdone” genre? Also, I want to make one!

9 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/06/2019

Hey I’m totally new to this website but I wanted to get some feeback on a game I’ve been working on. It’s still very new. In fact, I’ve only finished creating two full scenarios (out of several that I intend to make) that have been playtested a handful of times with two and three players. It is a narrative-driven cooperative dungeon crawler for 2-4 players with a world and characters inspired by JRPGs with some legacy elements (unlocking more characters, abilities, and areas). Players can create “save files” which are essentially player sheets that keep up with experience, gold, abilities, etc. They will travel a world map, in which more areas are unlocked as they play through the story (by completing scenarios). I already have about half the story written with lots of character dialogue and development.
The mechanisms are sort of as follows: ability cards unique to the character have a set number of uses that are indicated by six-sided dice. To use the ability, you remove one of the counters and the character does whatever the card says (think Gloomhaven but instead of using the top of one card and the bottom of another, you instead just choose one card and subtract a counter from it to use it). I think this type of gameplay is quick, simple, but still fun since each character’s ability feels unique.
To determine initiative, all characters currently playing and all revealed enemies have cards that are shuffled together and placed down in order on, what I call, an engagement board (I think this is similar to Mice and Mystics?).
Anyways, without trying to go too far into the details of how to play, I was wondering a few things:
1) Does this sound like too big of an idea for my first game?
2) Is the dungeon crawler/fantasy genre too overdone?
3) Does anyone know of any other games that use dice counters to use abilities, and if so, how well did the mechanism work (is it smooth or boring or anything?)?

Joined: 08/01/2008
Why are they dice, and not

Why are they dice, and not just counters? Is it because you have to roll them?

Juzek's picture
Joined: 06/19/2017
1. Yeah, it sounds like a

1. Yeah, it sounds like a pretty big project. But like any big project it can be accomplished in small chunks. At my work we do projects that often take 4 years to build. To compensate for not being able to comprehend the whole thing at once, we use documentation, so I encourage you to waste some paper.

2. It is done a lot, but just like books with a predictable plot, I still enjoy it because it is different than the other ones. If you make a good game, it will be good regardless of what other games are out there. I love playing D&D, but don't have anyone around me to be the gamemaster, dungeon crawler games are a good substitute.

3. I would need to see your mechanic more clearly to pass judgement. If it feels smooth go for it, but I'll guess it doesn't cause you are asking specifically about it. The goal is to limit abilities so that they can be awesome and not too unbalanced. You could try some sort of mana system, or action points per turn, or a deckbuilding element.

Currently, do the set number of uses recharge?

It sounds like you are writing scenarios or campaigns. Are you going for a one shot thing? Or would you have something that could be repayable? Expansions?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Just do it

If you have the feeling that your Dungeon Crawler is good. Just make it. Don't worry about the amount that are out there. As war-gamer, I know there are even more war games out there. But I make my own any way.

Joined: 03/06/2019
The dice represent the number

The dice represent the number of uses for each ability per scenario. They are different depending on how strong they are. Some have only one use and others have four or five. I felt that dice may be a cleaner alternative to actual counters. I also have six-sided dice that are rolled for modifying attacks.

Joined: 03/06/2019
1) I have a feeling this

1) I have a feeling this could take at least that long. I have been writing down every detail in my phone and making changes along the way as we play test.

2) I understand that. Been interested in D&D for a while now but it’s hard to find a good DM or a dedicated group.

3) The mechanic actually does feel smooth most of the time because it’s just as easy as subtracting a counter. From there you perform the ability as stated from top to bottom (ex: move 3 | attack 2 with pierce). Each ability has a set number of uses that can be recharged if you spend a turn to do so. I have been balancing out the abilities as I go (buff/nerf) because I have definitely come across some overpowered ones.

I am giving players the option to replay any scenario for more experience/gold, but they won’t be able to receive any special items that they got from the first time. I’m not sure how to make the entire game replayable since after the first time of going through the story/campaign, it would lose its fun. However, I did want to make a lot of quests that can be done after the main story is complete that would be a bit more challenging. I was also thinking of making a way so that players can chain together dungeons to double experience and have higher chances of getting better gear. This would be similar to Dragon’s Crown.

Joined: 06/09/2017
i agree that counters make

i agree that counters make more sense than dice (for action tracking) especially if you have dice for rolling as well as it might slow players. not a lot, if the dice are rolled far enough away, but enough to break the fourth wall and take them out of the experience for a moment.
saying that if each player has a few of these cards and each has a bunch of counters that could get chaotic quickly.
as others have said there are ways to achieve the same thing by other means. the actions per turn is a good one (but common). certain cards could use more/less actions to perform, or different types of action (eg swamp fire blast: deal 3 damage. cost 1 green/ 1 fire action). this in turn could mean different heroes have different action types/amounts (eg mage 1 action, any type. warrior 1 fire, 1 melee, 1 piercing) these can be buffed/changed between quests.
a simpler method could involve the way the card orientation. the "top" edge shows the current actions remaining (4 per card + face down recharge). it can be a graphic design nightmare but saves on dice/counters.

Ryan Winters
Joined: 01/28/2019
I want to echo some of the

I want to echo some of the other comments here and say I don't think we'll stop seeing dungeon crawlers any time soon. D&D has been going strong for decades. Gloomhaven was a huge hit and more recently Middara had a very successful kickstarter. So I would not worry about it being overdone. Mostly, you should just know there is stiff competition out there. In a style of game that is very popular, you have to find a way to set yourself apart. You should absolutely compare your game to other ones already available and try to answer the question of why someone would play your game instead of or in addition to those.

Isegrim's picture
Joined: 03/11/2017
If you want to mke one, make

If you want to mke one, make one. If you want to make a game many will play, make it good.

Joined: 03/06/2019
Thanks, these are good

Thanks, these are good suggestions. I will have to play around with some of the ideas. The multiple dice could get hectic I suppose. So far it has not been an issue since I have several packs of six-sided dice of different sizes. But I could definitely see how it might look unappealing to have so many.

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