Monday, October 15, 2012

DungeonMash II: The PDFing

DungeonMash is not a roleplaying rules supplement. If a character needs to shoot a gun, cast a spell or hack the tubes of the inter-web you use the existing rules-set of your favourite game. Nor is it an adventure module, though you are encouraged to pillage, pluck and plunder from anything on your game shelf (or book shelf, or movie shelf, or video game collection etc).

Instead it can be best described as an accessory for those game nights when no one really wants to run anything.

How to Play
Instead of having one person at the table running an adventure while the others sit around and play on their phones, gossip eat pizza and ignore you, in DungeonMash the players each take turns being the referee (or Dungeonmaster, or Gamemaster, or Judge etc).

There are a couple of ways to do this, in fact you could probably just grab your gaming group and do your own version right now. This is the kind of go gett’um attitude we’re looking for, because frankly, I have no desire to turn this into a 300page how-to guide.

The action should be restricted to a small area that none of the players or their characters is familiar with. Examples could be a dungeon, a small town, a haunted wood, a sprawling mansion etc.

It is recommended that each player describes only one small section before turning the referee duties over to the next player.

Getting Started
Some things the group should decide on before play:

What rules are we using here? What edition? Are house rules permitted?

Theme of the dungeon
 A haunted moor? Mad sorcerer’s manse? Caverns of the Ice Moon? There is some flexibility here, depending on what level of gonzo the group is comfortable with. If one player wants to run a traditional dungeon crawl, but a second player would rather run an exploration through an abandoned spaceship and everyone is okay with that, then there is no real reason why not. The party would then shift from abandoned mine to a starship corridor depending on who is running that particular room. In fact this sort of play is encouraged (hence the MASH portion of the title) and you might be surprised at what kind of story result from this sort of play.

However, once a player decides on a theme, they should stick with it.

Wandering Monsters
The group should decide on 10 to 20 monsters that are ‘wandering’ through their dungeon. If it is a player’s turn to be the referee, but they have absolutely NO idea what else they want to do, they can select one of these wandering monsters to throw at the party. Players are allowed to run monsters that are not on the Wandering Monster list.

How many rooms?
You may want to limit the number of rooms (or areas) are going to go into your dungeon. Depending on time constraints and the number of people at the table, have each player run a specific number of encounters. This also allows the players to save their good stuff for the last.

Decided on the loot. This can be it money, XP, items or any variation thereof. There must be as many reward items as there are players, but they must have at least one that is clearly better than the others (called the ‘Big Bonus’) and one that sucks in comparison to the rest (called ‘the Shaft). Any rewards in between can be of descending or equivalent value. How the reward are given out is covered in the next section.

Keeping Score
Every time a player becomes the referee, they gain 1 point. If a player passes their turn, or happens to be in the washroom, they get squat.

When they are done their section, every other player gives the referee a score between 0 and 4 points. The referee meanwhile, can choose to award any or all players a few points (usually 1 or 2) if they feel that a player did something exceptional.

At the end of the game, the points are tallied and the player with the highest point total gets the Big Bonus, while the player with the lowest total gets The Shaft.  Ties can be split by rolling a die, rock-paper-scissors or in Thunderdome.


Adhoc Adventures
This works best if the game has a fair number of pre-published adventure modules. Everybody grabs an adventure module, the first player details entrance to their adventure and then runs any relevant encounters. The next player then runs a room from her adventure module, and so on around the table.

If the group is comfortable mashing things up from different variants (GURPS, D&D Spelljammer/Ravenloft/Darksun etc), or even from different games entirely (Shadowrun/Ghostbusters/Bunnies and Burrows), then go crazy!

The Random Table Experience
Make a mess of random tables and force the player whose turn it is to be referee to roll up a room size, a monster, event and treasures. They don’t have to be large…

Example Dungeon: Roll 1D6 for each column.
Step 1: Room
1          Small Room
2          Small Corridor
3          Medium Room
4          Medium Corridor
5          Large Room
6          Long Corridor
Step 2: Exits
1-2       No exits
3          1 exit
4          2 exits
5          3 exits
6          Secret door

Step 3: Event
1          Nothing
2-3       Monster
4          Trap
5          Player’s choice
6          Roll twice!

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