I got the old board game Dungeon! for my boys for Christmas. Well not the old one. The new reprint version with the very impressive dragon on the top. I remembered it being a fun game, but that may be a false memory. I was fairly young, since the game came out the year I was born. Now that I really think about it I most likely saw some older kids playing it once. Maybe.
The boys and I played some RPG Kids, a simplified rpg system, over the summer. It was fun, but there is something about game rules and easy to grasp structure that at least my kids gravitate toward. They get a bit lost In an open ended storytelling rpg system. They like set rules and consistency. They like having a good sense of where the game is going. They like knowing the rules, so that they know which ones they can break.
We played a few games of Dungeon! on Christmas day, and a few more after that. We started changing the rules during game 1. Our game now resembles nothing close to what comes out of the box. For example, we play a co-op game. The original is a score chase game. More like Monopoly or Sorry than an RPG adventure game. From my observations kids are ok with losing, but really not okay with being beaten. When we lose, we lose together as a team.
Working together we have added or changed most of the rules. As it turns out, Dungeon! is a tragically barebones experience, but it’s also very malleable. Probably by design. Seeing as these are the same people that created the original Dungeons and Dragons I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a game created to be a template only.
Here are a few of the things we have changed or added.
We have wandering monsters in the hallways. You have a chance of encountering one of the monsters from the chambers on your journey, and they will chase you or head toward the entrance if they aren’t defeated.
We changed the winning and losing conditions to be more co-op friendly.
We added special abilities that allow more teamwork and give groups of two or three adventurers a much better chance at surviving the higher level monsters deep in the dungeon. If you have ever played D&D you would recognize most of the abilities as being class appropriate. The thief has a backstab, sneak, and detect traps, for example.
We are in the midst of adding HP and possibly XP. We might be adding more magical loot.
If we ever arrive at a stable set of rules, one that hasn’t changed a couple times during a playthrough, I’ll post it up here or make it publicly available.
I think it really is a great game, but maybe not as is. If you’re not opposed to picking up a great framework that you can build a game around, then you could do much worse than Dungeon! It also helps if you have kids that like to roll dice and consider the relative merits of wandering vs. stationary monsters. At length. Incredibly great length.