Author Topic: Escape the Dungeon  (Read 1308 times)

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Escape the Dungeon
« on: April 26, 2017, 08:06:01 PM »
Escape the Dungeon.

An inverted fantasy dungeon crawler:
In this game you are in a typical fantasy dungeon. The overlord is dead \footnote {citation needed}. You were one of his underlings. You were a monster. You still are, but for the first time in a long time, you're able to ask "Why?" So can all the other underlings.
\smallcaps{What do you do?}

written in tufte-latex, hosted on github



In the current PDF: Agenda, Philosophy, basic moves and the first few playbooks.
Still to do - rest of playbooks, GM playbook(s),  and playtests. Hoping for harsh critisim and warnings of sufferings.

https://github.com/cromlyngames/EscapeTheDungeon/blob/master/escape_the_dungeon_v0001.pdf
https://github.com/cromlyngames/EscapeTheDungeon




cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 04:26:41 PM »
The link in the first post will always point to the latest document.

Typed up the next few playbooks at first draft status:

What sort of game do you all want? Talk amongst yourselves.
Want to smash stuff? try the Brute
Want to hold a lot of keys and blackmail other players? try the Creep
Want to play as a formidable threat? try the Undead
Want to play a bunch of characters with sadistic glee? Try the Horde
Want to explore separation and back story? Try the Beast
Want to play a quieter support role? Try the Construct


Still to come:
Magus, Dregs, Hybrid, Plant, Fey, Host, Elemental Ooze


---
Things I'd love specific feedback on:
1) are the moves too long and wordy? Would they slow the game too much?
2) any ideas or preferences for names and appearances for playbooks

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 08:41:56 PM »
Added my current self imposed rules into the new designer notes section.

Started a second index of stuff and items, designed to help a GM who needs to look up if there's any moves that interact with that thing, or just choose something random and on theme.

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2017, 10:32:23 AM »
I added the first draft of the Dregs and the Magus playbooks.  Link at the top of the page.

Added a quick essay on Magic in this world. I've copied it below.



In the world of Escape the Dungeon, brave heroes explore the forgotten corners of the world, slaying creatures and collecting treasure.  They often try to kill the player characters for 'loot and experience'. How on earth does this work?

The world is steeped in magic. Magic is energy, throbbing potential for things to happen. It is unstable and tends to decay into something else quite quickly. Gold is the pure element that happens to be what a lot of magic turns into. This explains why town magic is so expensive, as the wizard is literally turning the gold back into raw magic to be infused into the spell. This process works in reverse too, and anywhere there is a large amount of magic you will have gold crystallizing out of the air. Since the dungeon largely runs on magic, you can see why heroes are attracted.

The second part of the surface dwellers' metaphysics of gold is that it can be transmuted into Levelup and back. A quantity of gold can be turned into new and terrible powers as the magic makes the target more than they were before. Traditionally, this type of personal growth up is achieved by killing, pushing things through the doorway from life to death. The bigger the door they need, the more Levelup you get. Levelup is the same thing as gold, gold is the same thing as magic, and magic changes the world.

The third part is the balance. The world has not ended in a runaway explosion of extinctions, tidal waves of gold boiling off into abstract gibbering shapes and fireballs. Magic is conserved. An increase of the amount of gold in the world must mean that the amount of free magic has decreased or that some things have died to keep the magic level the same. Or, local imbalance is corrected more directly.

In this world, large concentrations of magic create drama and gold. Large concentrations of gold leak magic, but also Levelup, normally in the form of tough, angry creatures. A rat that sleeps on a gold coin might be a giant rat next week. Sewers under rich cities are dangerous places. Owning a bank vault or being a tax collector is a scary proposition. Monsters don't carry gold, some of their life force crystallises into it when some idiot hero stabs them. Dragons sleep on piles of gold to absorb the magic they need to exist. Summoning a major spell can cause nearby gold to vanish, and if there's not enough gold, for life force to get sucked out of the wizard or someone nearby. A hero levelling up is drinking up magic that the dungeon needs to survive. Gold stolen and spent in the town is magic lost to the dungeon. A powerful monster is a significant investment of resources by the dungeon, but worth it if it stops some handsome thief crashing the local economy.

Spwack

  • User
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 01:49:02 PM »
Ok, I'm making some notes as I read this thing. Things are likely to only make sense in that particular order. This is also to keep myself on-track. If something is being stolen'd it means it's so good that I'm using it myself and want all the credit for something up something so clever, poignant, witty and/or effective. Jk but not.

- "Don't play this game if it's not the game you are looking for". Well said, and up-front.

- "Build a jungle-gym, not a treadmill." Pure gold. Stolen.

- Mild nit-pick, can we have the Wizard, Thief and Fighter basic moves in the same order as before?

- Of those three basic moves, the Thief is my favourite, mostly by the use of the "negative space" created by not choosing an option. I recently learnt about this from someone discussing a Superhero-genre game, wherein not taking the "secret base" perk meant that by default, all other bases are 'not secret'. By putting an option out there, it feels more fun/gritty/realistic when it's not chosen and used against you, rather than just a 'gotcha'.

- What I'm leading up to is that the Fighter move and especially the Wizard move lack 'fun things' happening on a 6-. Damage? Fleurgh. Booooring. I want shit to break when a Wizard move fails. Idk what to change, but I feel that more pizzazz is called for. Don't you?

- "That's it, you succeeded. Now deal with the consequences." Nice! Really sets up the Fighter move for some interesting complications. In it's current form, it sort of fails to deliver. The 6- is booooring. Less things happen on a miss then on a partial success. Ehhhh... How about this: "On a 6 or below, you probably 'succeeded', but you'll really, really wish you hadn't."

- Also, how about Fighter move is: 10+, player chooses one and success, 7-9, player and GM choose one each and success. Consequences! Success is guaranteed, but at what cost? And who gets to decide?

- Additionally, I LOVE the names of your basic moves. Hard? Fatum? Blood? Tf is all of this shit? I mean, I can figure it out eventually, but FIGHTER, WIZARD, ROGUE is just BAM. Instant understanding. You aren't one of these things, but you sure can act like one of these things. Brilliant. Wish I had thought of it myself. Stolen. Now I have. Sucker.

- "Allow an ally to choose a second option for you" Nice! Flavourful, dynamic, team-based, all the things Bard-ing it up is about. Does that mean by getting someone else to decide, you only get one drawback? Hmm...

- "The GM chooses someone else to choose one for you" Oh-ho-ho, now THIS I like. Scrap the top one. Concentrate all of that deliciousness into this missed move. It's too good. I love it.

- Identity... is something I'll have to look at again in more detail. It seems like a really cool idea, but I can't quite get the narrative-ness of it in order just yet.

- "As the story demands" is important and something missing from standard AW. Well done.

 - "He who kills monsters" nice! You hated that guy, and he hated you, and now you are dead and inside him all along. Stoooolen.

- "Die free" sometimes the only freedom we get is the freedom to die. There was a LOTR 'voice-over' comic about a extremely rail-roady DM. Dying was the decision one of the players made, and there was nothing the DM could do about it 'breaking' his story. This particular phrasing is real nice.

- Did I just read 'Horde'? Oh my. I tried to make a multi-unit playbook a while ago, following the prompting of a friend. I'm looking forward to reading that.

Phew. Halfway there. I hope I don't forgot about this, I'll keep reading soon.

Note for future self: Playbook summary is next.

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 08:50:00 PM »
Woo, thanks!

I can't take any credit for Fighter, Thief and Rouge as stats, though, that's taken by this guy, who I blatantly copied the idea from having heard it mentioned somewhere http://www.sycarion.com/fighter-thief-wizard-a-fantasy-rpg/

Feedback on the basic moves - yeah. I'm not happy with them yet either. More pizzazz, concentrate the deliciouness. Tjief is favorite move (thrid time I#ve heard that now) All Noted.

Identity - you didn't get it on the first read. I need to make it clearer and or better. got it.


Hope you enjoy the playbooks, at least as far as I've typed them up!

Spwack

  • User
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2017, 04:06:12 AM »
Here we go again, time for the playbooks.

- "Them? They was dead when I got 'ere." FTFY

- "Sniff" I approve

- The names, appearance and demons of the Brute are sweet. Electricity? Hilarious. Weakness? His own or others? I'm super keen to play one and find out. Just that right mix of hilarity and broken despair, which I'm pretty sure is the tone you're going for. Bullseye.

- The miss clause of Gut Feeling is perfect.

- "Name the body part that drives them." Yessss. Good usage of Lumpley phrasing. Are you sure you don't want to let the GM choose one on a 7-9? Whichever way you choose it, make sure it's intentional. Do you, yourself know how manipulating them is going to turn out later? Because that says a lot about your relationship with them.

- It's A Weapon! There is only one option here that I would ever choose. Heh, puny elf... Honestly, the others are completely fine, but this one is just so much GOODNESS.

- The Creep. Oh jeez oh jeez oh jeez this is all so gross. I love it.

- Brain slither might need to be reformatted. DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING because it's beautiful in the same way fungal infestations are beautiful, but hard to read. Something about the order, not sure. Maybe: On a 7+ you can hold their shadow indefinitely, releasing it at any time to summon one of their demons. And then go from there.

- I have no idea what a seedling creep is and I do(n't) want to. Is this how Creep's are born?

- Greek Chorus is fun. Same as Scarred, it rewards you for playing the way you feel like you should.

- Black Leech seems like the most powerful move, but also the clunkiest to use. Memory-killing seems like a big deal, but maybe give the GM something to work with.

- The Undead seems to be all about old shit and its powers. Still can be a very effective Fighter, but more controlled than the Brute. Which is nice.

- Looking at All Is Dust, I've come to a really obvious realisation: You need to take that move in order to use it. Which is eh... I feel that Scarred, Greek Chorus, and now this one shouldn't be moves. They should be intrinsic to that playbook, meaning other's can't take them, and they are encouraged to play a certain one. Not mandated, but still. You feel me? This is only my opinion, so let me know if you've made a particular design choice here. Maybe this causes too much XP flow. Idk.

- "Logical paradoxes" Heh. Nice.

- Rise Again is all sorts of nice. Flavourful, effective, powerful, and potentially deadly for everyone involved.

- Is Maslov a reference I'm not getting? The first time I read this I didn't read the first two lines. Makes the whole thing make a whole lot more sense. Maybe "At the start of the session roll to see what the hoard is currently dealing with." Reading from now, I suddenly see a whole microcosm unfolding, with drama occuring partly behind the scenes. Plus, there's a couple rewards along the way. Nice. I remember you saying something along the lines of a one-shot focussed game. Maslov would be a mild issue after about three sessions, due to the limited written content, but for a one-shot? Brilliant. Instant plot hook.

- One thing though, does the Horde have a leader? I.e. the PC? Or is it just "Here is a vague group of similar individuals"?

- Trap making. On a 6-, someone always dies? Nice.

- The Filofax 6- is cool as well. So much opportunity for (re)introducing "interesting" characters.

- In fact, the Horde 6- clauses are just GOOD. As well as 'Mother-In-Law' as a demon. and HAT-WEARING. Oh my god tiny little gremlins wearing hats running around getting blown to gore-y bits running away from this slathering broodmother while trying to win a trade war. YES. ALWAYS YES.

- "My name is Aaaaargh. Pleased to meet you." Good reference.

- Good appearances and names for the Beast, but a couple more would be nice, especially the latter.

- Lifecycle seems like a really interesting take. I tried to create someone along the lines of a mass-murdering monster, and I had that failed rolls could become a 7-9 so long as an ally or nearby useful object was moderately mutilated. You even got the XP from it so long as your description was horrid. Enough. With this you can reroll... four missed Fighter rolls on average before your time is up. Cool, that seems pretty fair.

- Unleash Instincts is FUN. Not complicated, very easy, but powerful and spooky and dangerous. Stolen.

- Arcane Bridle changes things up a lot. You are now a beast of burden. How does that make you feel?

- Optional source of food? NOT OPTIONAL. Good list by the way.

- Jesus, "Bells" as a demon? This poor thing. This poor, monstrous thing. Very much going for the harsher version of the game here. My heart breaks. So does your face when this thing gets mad. Cool.

- Construct Demon: Replacement. Awwww. That's actually so sad. Unless they fight it out. In which case yay~

- Elemental Engine. Why not consuming dangerous radioactive substances for +1 Wizard? And this miss, oh my word, brilliant. Magnificent.

- Simulacrum seems like buckets of cool. Who is the real construct? IS there even a real individual in there, or just a melange of personalities? Does that even matter?

- A million monkeys is fun. Expensive to use, and dangerous to boot, but very cool for that player.

- I don't have much to say about the Magus, except that it seems well thought-out, formatted nicely, and fun to play. Henchlings and Meddler's Curse especially. Good shit. Are Homelessness and Sanctum mutually exclusive? Now that I think about it, maybe not... Huh. An interesting past.

- The Dregs seem hella fun. I can't wait for one of my players to miss a Smuggle roll. Bandits... I would recommend, when you launch an ambush rather than when you set an ambush. Gambler's Tarot has the same problem as Commune from the Creep, trying to frame it in dice etc. Don't. Just tell them, and then ask them what that looks/sounds like in game.

- Mischief is good. Uncontrollable, non-stat related, hilarious. And it's on all the time? Priceless.

- Indulging in vice is an important bit of fiction, but you're right, the move just doesn't match it.

- I can't wait to see the other playbooks. Would it be possible for you to send me a message when you write more? Thanks.

- "On Magic" HA. Stolen. 'Nuff said.

Final thoughts: The Demons are really cool, bursting with flavour. Some of your miss moves are lacking something, but others are brilliant, so I know you can do it. I don't know how important you want Identity to be in this game, that's for you to decide, but I feel that if you managed to (carefully) link Demons and Identity, you could make something really cool happen. Fix your Wizard move! It's too cool, and too important to allow it to get mushed up. Some weird-ass mix of Read A Sitch and the Harm move from AW? I'm not sure. But the Magus with +3 Wizard better be able to do something kooky.

Awesome game. If I run it I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2017, 12:38:01 PM »
Thanks, that was incredibly helpful and crystallised some of my own doubts.

Everyone who is a keen Pbta player has asked for the 6- moves to be improved by loosening them, to allow the GM to move with the story. I trussed them up tight initially for the 'rule 4 - support the GM'. Basically I wanted someone with no prior experience of Pbta to not only be able, but be forced to Gm properly, with 6- moves driving fiction forward and snowballs.

That handcuffs people who feel comfortable, and stifles the fun of gming. I think it needs to go.

Spwack

  • User
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2017, 05:08:54 PM »
I think the miss clauses need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Just a thought: The net complexity of all the clauses should be roughly equal. Observe:

1) In-brain puppet strings from the Brainer: Has extremely versatile and potentially knotty conditions for it's activation, but on a miss, just inflicts damage.

2) Healing touch from the Angel: Just heals harm on skin contact, but on a miss, weeeeeeird shit can happen, especially if its used on an NPC

See what I mean? Balance. Your Brute move, Gut Feeling I think it was, is the perfect mix. Interesting questions, extra on a 10+, but satisfactory on a 7-9, and on a 6-, something cool happens that pushes the story forwards!

My advice: Ditch those handcuffs. Make yourself a nice list of hard moves for the GM to use. Hell, cludge something together from Apoc World! It's about giving the GM a sturdy toolbox, rather than a one-size-fits-all for each and every single move. Don't leave them with nothing at all. But remember, and put this in bold, aren't guidelines, they're rules.

Treat yourself. Fix that Wizard move. "On a 6-, the attempt goes awry, resulting in an ironic twist on your original intentions." Think about what this means. If you've got Wizard+1, sure, you might give it an attempt, but maybe it won't be such a stretch that things can't be repaired. Now, a Magus with Wizard+3. At some point, they are going, GOING to roll snake eyes. And when they do, oooh boy, you'll be there. You'll be there.

Last thought: Don't feel that you need to give the same information to the players as the GM. Lumpley goes into detail about each and every basic and advanced move. There's a reason for that, the GM deserves to know what you were trying to get across, rather than having to puzzle through the poetry of it like the players do. They (if they are my kind of gamers) will enjoy that process, and I know I do as well, but sometimes you need a couple sentences to say "This was what I was trying to do."

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 04:14:52 PM »
Lots of work while the forums were down:

1) basic moves rewritten

2) all the playbooks got to first draft status.


\chapter{Playbook Summary}

What sort of game do you all want? Talk amongst yourselves.
\bigskip



Want to smash stuff? try the Brute\\
Want to hold a lot of keys and blackmail other players? try the Creep\\
Want to play as a formidable threat? try the Undead\\
Want to play a bunch of characters with sadistic glee? Try the Horde\\
Want to explore separation and back story? Try the Beast\\
Want to play a quieter support role? Try the Construct\\
Want screw with the physics of the world? Try the Magus\\
Want to include the surface town and be a fun villain? Try the Dregs\\
Want to explore issues of identity: Try the Hybrid\\
Want to play quietly but steer the story direction? Try the Plant\\
Want to play a loud and funny support role? Try the Fey\\
Want to bring 'other' powers into the story? Try the  Host,\\
Want to bring a cartoony disregard for danger into other's lives? Try the Elemental Ooze\\


What's left?
Codified GM moves. And I want to get more experience as a GM to do that.

Spwack

  • User
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2017, 12:40:54 PM »
Changelog plz. I'd very much like to know what has happened. Is there a way to get github to do that?

Instant feedback: Elemental Ooze seems to have stolen some stuff from Hybrid. I need to know what EO demons are. Like, seriously. Very important. Salt? Boredom? Magnets? Roofs?

The moves are obviously much better now. I think the Fighter move still needs "deal with the consequences", since it does seem to be all about avoiding negatives, rather than just getting positives like Thief or Fighter. I like that.

Interestingly, you seem to have created MC hard moves that are linked firmly to the moves themselves. That might create an interesting effect: By rolling a certain move, the player gets to decide the tone of the game for the next few moments. They get to manipulate that tone somewhat (through their choices), but then it's up to the MC to narrate how the game progresses.

If the MC isn't specifically called to "move against" an option, does that mean they can't do anything? Or is it a soft move like. Hmm... An example:

Grimy the Gremlin is tossing grenades at Gerald. Or rather, sliding between the orc's legs and shoving them up his pant legs, and rolls+Thief.

On a 10+ : Grimy chooses to deal another one damage to Gerald's friend Greg, does it quickly and gets away cleanly. He could've chosen to not use up an item, but grenades can be replaced, limbs are trickier. Can the MC say (because he's sick of Grimy's shit) that his bag only has three grenades remaining? Or is that solely the purview of "moving against"?


cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2017, 07:38:48 PM »
Here you go: changelog covering everything that's changed from 06 June (my previous post here)
https://github.com/cromlyngames/EscapeTheDungeon/compare/master@%7B2017-06-06%7D...master

Notes on your notes
1) Elemental ooze startup bits need fixing. bugger. will do.
it will have:
jobs: Jnaitor, Plumber, Potter, Exterminator
demons: Resin; Rainfall; Writing; cheese; lawyers.

2)Basic moves - yeah. Still not 100% happy there, but I think dice need to hit the table to test them first.

3)If the MC isn't specifically called to "move against" an option, does that mean they can't do anything? Or is it a soft move like. Hmm... An example:
- for me, on a 10+ you succeed. No need for soft moves, the players should have moved the situation on themselves just by succeeding. If they end up looking at the GM afterwards, THEN a gm move triggers.
In your specific example, I would argue the GM should not make a move. It's a fucking awesome scene, the player succeeded on the roll and for the GM to anything but let Grimy blow the leg of Gerald is not being a fan of the characters. IMO.
I do get why you ask that. It feels like there is a beat missing in the rythm of the words in those moves. I'll need to think about the sentances used there for the flow to avoid that thought.

cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2017, 07:10:56 AM »
And i took another look last night.

Yeah. On a ten+ choose three of five. It implies that the remaining two are open in the fiction. The other option is

10+ you succeed. Live with it.
7-9+ you succeed. Choose 1from5, gm moves on one other
6- you fail and the gm 2from6 to move on.


That is probably simplest.

The other option is keep as is and spell out the snowball.
On 10+ choose 3from5.  The gm may threaten to move on 1 remaining. What do you do?

I think I like this way. It hardcodes soft and hard moves early on, which is nice scaffold gor player expectation and for the gm section.
It hardcodes the conversation rally. BUT how well does it work with two players?
Gm needs to break or pause rally to move spotlight.not an issue for an experienced gm but how to support that for a new one?



cromlyngames

  • User
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2017, 07:55:11 AM »
note for myself: two examples of grouping MC moves: http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=7219.0

Spwack

  • User
  • Posts: 137
    • View Profile
Re: Escape the Dungeon
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2017, 03:27:39 AM »
You're phrasing of "a beat missing" pins down exactly what I was feeling. Something isn't quite working and there's a gap. I think your phrasing of "threaten" works really well, and as a matter of fact "Announce future badness" is an MC move.

Sudden realisation: A thing that might be missing from the "rhythm" is the success of the player. In AW, your successes are clearly presented, even if they aren't exactly what you wanted. Your moves have only the potential negatives, which makes it seem as though it's a poor decision to ever roll dice.

THEREFORE - Your players need to be very active participants, or your characters need to be under a lot of pressure the vast majority of the time. Escape the Dungeon requires a consistent need to get things done.

One thing I attempted to do for an AW one-shot was to write out some prompt cards to get the drama flowing almost immediately. I didn't need to use them, in the end, because the players went nuts anyway. Maybe something along those lines might work for EtD?

Last thought (ha, that's a lie, this is too much fun), I'm thinking every game should start in media res. Always have the biggest roughest toughest dude pinned down by someone slightly less rough and tough. Always have a big shiny lever directly in front of the most impulsive player. And put something interesting and weird in the room, something that can be used and abused.

I'll do some more thinking. Really want to try this out though.