Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to Host a Dungeon

Tony Dowler's How to Host a Dungeon

Recently I had the joy of playing around with the indie rules of How to Host a Dungeon. The .pdf is a mere five bucks and for that you get a fun little, self-contained map-making jaunt that can be played on its own, as a one-shot, or it can be used to generate dungeons for other fantasy games. It's actually a surprisingly versatile game in its scope, yet its easy to come to grips with and get into the thick of it without skipping a beat.

My first time through, I drew this 'test map' which was created without having read the rules first. It would've helped with at least a read through, but it wasn't a complete disaster. The game is pretty neat, you start out with a land mass, focusing mainly on the underworld portion of it and 'build' your underworld through the ages.

Geologic age begins as you randomly lay out natural caverns, magma pools, underground rivers, and the like. Some of these random placements are neat because they occur at the same point when you drop the dice and see where they land. After you get the basic lay of the land (quite literally) your first race moves in with a semblance of civilization. As they tunnel and explore they encounter minerals, gems, and possibly wandering monsters. More monsters move in and a real dungeon ecology begins to flesh out.

Frankly I skipped many of the 'adventuring' aspects and focused on the dungeon creation itself. There is a whole other facet where you create wandering monsters and horrors, who can fight one another if they come into contact, and adventuring parties fresh from the surface that begin to do some exploring. Treasure and gems are formed, and can be carried off by different races. Using glass beads you can track these items not just around the dungeon, but through the ages too. The sub-game involved seems a lot of fun.

As you go through the seasons and handle all the denizens in turn, you begin to see a pretty cool dungeon take shape before your eyes. One of my favorite aspects of the game is that it captures that old-school D&D feel, even making your drawing look like you went back in time to your middle school years and stole a copy!

...pre-colorized version


  1. This is pretty neat. I could make use of that.

  2. Thanks for reviewing my game! That's a really great looking dungeon. Do you mind if I add it to my Flickr pool?

  3. Very Cool! I downloaded it and browsed it. Now where did I put my paper and pencils... =)

  4. Mik,
    Thanks for posting about this. I had never heard of it before. I believe I'm gonna have to pick this up!

  5. @Bill and Armchair: Thanks guys, it's a very cool game and you'll get a lot of usage out of it. You can also play it as a standalone too!

    @Shelexie: Nice to hear from you, the holidays must be keeping you swamped!

    @Tony: Sure! I'd be thrilled to add my dungeon to your pool. You've got a good game on your hands here. Stay tuned, I'm unleashing Alpha Destructicus on my group in 2010!

  6. I have heard of this for a bit but not seen it. Looks fun.

  7. That looks like a lot of fun. The file just arrived in my e-mail; I'm looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  8. @Eli: It's a blast and surprisingly a lot more in-depth than my review suggests.

    @Chris: Good! You'll dig it, I promise.