Friday, August 16, 2013


Show of hands from those of you wasting copious amounts of time on Blog of Holding’s ‘Dungeon Robber’ game?


Thought so. It is putting my thesis writing in jeopardy, the game is that good.

It has its bugs (a kobold killed me with d20 damage – WTF??), but the gameplay makes you forget those quick enough.

Anyway, the game also has tons of inspiration for tabletop gaming as well. For me, the biggest thing I’d swipe is the retirement system.

Now, before I get into details, I’d have to admit I am not a true grognard. I haven’t memorized the differences between woodbox vs whitebox vs BE vs BECMI vs RC. I haven’t bought or kept up on the domain games of ACK or whatever else is out there, so if I am reinventing the wheel, bear with me. I write this to make things clearer for me, and if a reader can get something out of it as well, bonus.

Hell, I can barely remember the domain system from my old gaming days and the Rulescyclopedia on my shelf. And that tells me they are too complex. If you can’t remember how a rule goes, it is probably not a good rule in terms of usability.

Dungeon Robber’s retirement system IS excellent in terms of usability. It is simple, memorable, and adds so much flavour to the game world based on character actions.

Basically, a player can ‘retire’ a character at any level past 1 and make that character a functioning part of the town they come from.

The town starts as a small hamlet, with very little goods or services. However, anyone retiring at level 2 becomes a Yeoman, producing more food which can be dropped to distract monsters. Retiring at level 3 makes one a Tavernkeeper, so henchmen can be recruited at their establishment. At level 4, a retired character becomes a Merchant, offering more useful equipment for sale and also unlocking the Thief class. At level 5, a retiree becomes a Gentle(wo)man, selling leather armor and rapiers. Level 6 sees the emergence of a Mayor, drawing a Smithy that can make proper swords and chainmail. A level 7 retiree is a Knight, so the Fighter class is unlocked and the Smithy can now produce plate armor and bastard swords. At level 8, the retired character becomes a Bishop, starting a temple selling healing potions and unlocking the Cleric class. A level 9 retiree is a Count(ess), who opens a Wizard’s college unlocking the class and a magic shop. Level 10 sees a Duke or Duchess, who erect a coliseum where you can train monsters or fight them. A character who retires at level 11 is a Prince(ss) who unlocks magical arms & armor. Finally, a level 12 retiree bcomes Queen or King, unlocking a Treasurey with powerful items.

And that’s your domain game right there. Simple yet brilliant, portable into any old school game, be it original or retroclone like DCC or S&W. It could be extended and played with in so many ways, offering multiple roles for retirees, letting the setting grow with the players, and providing a reason to keep useful characters going and let others drop into the scenery.

Good job Paul! I don't know whether you stole it from a pre-existing game or cobbled it together yourself, but either way great presentation.

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