Dungeon Sagas Development

DS layoutObviously, the end of the Kickstarter is just the beginning of the Saga. Though we’ve only got a few hours left I’ll still be posting up development notes over the next few weeks and I’ll be very happy to hear your comments on where we’re getting to. This is likely to be less frequent than it has been recently, so you might like to subscribe to make sure you get the alerts (the button’s on the right). Anything particularly interesting may get flagged in the Kickstart updates, though I can’t guarantee that. Also, as I’m the designer I don’t always know the ins and outs of specific production issues, dates and so on. That’s the Mantic guys’ remit. Happy to discuss the game design though.

Anyway, I’ve got some posts in mind and will upload the talk on experience in an hour or two. Is there anything I haven’t covered that you would like me to discuss in the coming weeks? If there is, then drop me a comment below and I’ll add it to the list.

Thanks  🙂

This entry was posted in Board Gaming, Dungeon Sagas, Game Design Theory. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Dungeon Sagas Development

  1. eriochrome says:

    I added you to my blog roll so i can keep track of updates. Looks like the msntic guys need to update the graphics agsin in an hour or so. You guys have promised 8 more bonus missions in the dungeon journal since changing the listing to 12+. Also added minis to the base pledge bonus minis and two scenarios and “bonus tiles” to the second expansion. No reason not to keep the graphics updated in the last two days with their high traffic.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks erio, I’ll remind them 🙂

      • eriochrome says:

        The current stretch goal is also problematic as they have been incredibly vague about tiles for the base game and expansions. The have discussed material but actual information about the tiles in the base game or expansions can be characterized by the picture of mainly dead rising tiles and saying:

        “Just some of the different examples of the tiles you will get. ”

        No general numbers, no room number, no hall numbers. Seems like they are now trying to sell me stuff they had be promising me all along.

        • eriochrome says:

          Very much reminds me of the lack of information about scenario counts I commented on in the past as they moved into the expansions.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The number of tiles is not yet finalised as it partly depends on what fits on the sheets. I’m working to a minimum of what was in DKH 1.

        • eriochrome says:

          But looking at the picture they provided as “some of the tiles” which you use for your random dungeon post, those are most of the room large hall tiles from both Dead Rising and Green Menace (with some slight modification) and that is before “bonus tiles”. Some is one of those words that mean more than a few but less than most so about half would not be unreasonable. Now if all the remaining tiles people are getting to make up the rest are the small linking pieces or repeats that is not really being honest.

          Now this is all sort of fine if they get these sets much more defined by the time the pledge manager comes around. The black fortress could have a lot of new terrain type features whose rules show up in the companion thus making it interesting even if you do get a lot of other tiles from the base game and expansions.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          The set will get increasingly well defined as we go along. Quite apart from anything else I need to know what there is to design the scenarios 😉

        • eriochrome says:

          Looking at the comments section on the kickstarter it sounds like some people are getting ready to revolt if they do not get their doors soon. I have been using my dungeon bowl doors for testing but those are like 24 years old now. Would not mind seeing 4 doors in the base set with 2 in each of the expansions and tile add on though.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Doors are coming 🙂

        • eriochrome says:

          I guess the web layout guy has the weekend off as stuff is way out of date now.

        • eriochrome says:

          Finally updated. Make sure you get those elf and dwarf rules in their so I can do my monsterous heroes adventures. They were promised with the DKH stuff but have never made a listing.

  2. Helznicht says:

    Will be keeping an eye on here. Hoping there is info about how a high level character looks and how a high level combat will look like. Stuff like how skills and new gear effects stats. How having a cap of 5 armor value that you have to roll over on a d6 is handled after a handful of defensive skills and new armor gear. How will dice mechanics will work when i am rolling 8,9,10 dice every attack. How different the advanced rules are from the core (will it be just additional rules on the basic system or will I have to teach my family a completely different rule set)?

  3. Danny says:

    I have a load of things I’d like to ask about, but most would be expecting too explicit detail from such an early stage in development. A few things I have mentioned on here before though, which I think you should be able to give fairly easy answers too in such early stages of development are;

    1) In regards to random dungeons, what game mechanic will you include (if any) to determine what the goal of each dungeon quest is? How will the “Win” be defined? Cards draws, table rolls etc?

    Example: Myself and two mates want to start a weekly or fortnightly campaign of Dungeon Saga, watching our heroes slowly grow from one game session to the next. We want to share in the experience as working as a group of adventurers exploring the unknown twists and turns of the dungeon as we explore further from the entrance, fighting monsters, defeating traps and overcoming hazards together. So we choose to play random dungeons against AI monsters. For our first game, we choose to raid an Orc lair, and we want to play for a couple of hours. So we choose ‘X’ amount of dungeon cards and we choose the Orc and Goblin AI cards and stack the deck with Orc flavoured creatures and a few traps etc. What is our goal? How do we win? Surely exploring all the rooms to the full extent of the dungeon card deck and killing all the monsters within will be a ‘win’, but couldn’t there be something more to it, something with a slight narrative? Couldn’t there also be a goal which we are aiming to achieve within the Orc lair…perhaps recover a rumored item of treasure, perhaps simply being paid by the local village to rid the region of a particular Orc Warlord or Shaman or perhaps being hired to rescue some villagers.

    Will there be some way of including quest goals for Co-Op play Vs randomly generated dungeons and AI monsters…perhaps returning to the tavern after each completed quest to find out what the next quest may be…or to choose from a number of available quests?

    2) I’ve seen mention of traps, which is fantastic, however I’ve not seen mention of other non-monster dungeon hazards. Will you be including these?

    For instance, chasms to leap across, ropes to ascend/descend, water to venture into and/or swim across, collapsing ceilings/walls, walls or cliff faces to climb.

    I guess in effect these are board spaces that are treated differently to “normal” board spaces. I guess you could liken them to difficult or dangerous terrain. Have you got it in mind to include these or something similar?

    3) Will heroes be able to attain skills of some sort to aid them in successfully navigating the above. If so, will these be part of hero development in settlements during downtime?

    4) Multi-Level dungeons. Have you had any thoughts on these? For instance, will the tile packs contain one or two special dungeon tiles that are a flight of stairs, a winding stairwell or perhaps a hole in the floor or ceiling with a rope, chain or ladder situated so heroes can ascend or descend to different levels. Perhaps mid dungeon, or it could be deliberately placed at the bottom of the dungeon tile deck so the last random dungeon card draw of the gaming session finishes just before the heroes descend to a new level, ready to play their next session starting from the bottom of the stairs of the new dungeon level.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      1) I have quite ambitious aims for the AI and random stuff, but it’s not tested yet so I can’t say for sure. The objectives of a dungeon should be linked to what’s living there, so may come from that deck. There will be side missions/quests/whateveryouwantotcallthem as well as main missions anyway, so these will add to the things you can be doing in tour games, random or otherwise.

      2) Possibly. I expect these may appear in one of the supplements, though that’s not confirmed. I’m less sure about differing levels (heights) on a single map, as that has never worked when I’ve tried it in other games.

      3) If there are hazards then there will be skills or gear to overcome them. They get added as sets.

      4) Going up or down a level between layouts is fine, I just find them confusing and unsatisfying as a single layout. I’ve never seen it work well. So yes, if you end as you find the stairs down, then start the next level at the foot of the staircase then that would be fine.

  4. Danny says:

    Thanks for your responses here Jake, much appreciated as always 🙂

    In regards to mid dungeon ascent/descent, it may be easier if I simply describe by way of example.

    Imagine a single level tomb (pictured in the link below) that the adventuring party have come to plunder for treasure, but mostly for a magical weapon they’ve heard rumoured lies at rest with it’s long dead owner. They force entry into the tomb and move through an entrance hall to end in a treasure room at the centre of which lies a hole in the flagstone floor, a shaft descending into darkness. The adventurers tie off a rope and climb down to find a single large room and plunder it.

    (of course, they’ve had to fight various creatures and avoid some traps along the way…and the Wizard and Elf (who chose to stay in the treasure room above, fearing a fall climbing down the rope due to their low strength) almost get killed when the Barbarian and Dwarf take the weapon from the dead owners hands in the crypt below, enabling a magical trap that animates the carved skeletons in the stonework of the supporting pillars in the treasure room MWahahahaha…MWahahahahah)

    Anyway, this level change was quite simply achieved by placing the single room to the side of the main floor plan, and it was clear to all what this represented and worked really very well.

    A map of the above adventure;

    In regards to how this relates to what I was discussing with multi-level dungeons mid-dungeon. With the dungeon deck, will you allow there to be a parting of ways (intersections)…so a room where there are three exits. One the adventurers have just entered, and then two others? A split in the dungeon card deck?

    If so, as long as the split only encompasses a single room or two in either direction, then the mechanic to ascend or descend is really exactly the same as going left or right on the same level. The only difference being, is that you place the upper or lower level to one side and not physically connected to the main level. I’ve done this successfully in a number of adventures. You do run into problems though if the upper or lower level has too many rooms as you begin to run out of playing area and players can’t reach across the table to reach every part of the extra level.

    Anyway, I just wanted to explain what I meant a bit clearer that I did at first 🙂

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I understand Danny. All perfectly clear 🙂

      As you say, a room or two is less confusing and the real; problems lie with large layouts in multiple planes simultaneously. That said, I’ve run across many players in RPG sessions who found any of this sort of thing confusing. The real question is how is this going to make a better game than just having another room on the same level?

      • Danny says:

        “The real question is how is this going to make a better game than just having another room on the same level?”

        That’s a question the answer to which will be different depending on who you ask, of course 🙂

        For me, it adds variety, flavour, excitement, a greater feel of the exploration and adventuring atmosphere knowing my heroes are exploring a 3D environment rather than a 2D environment. Its an opportunity to include cool but basic mechanics like climbing and also an opportunity to add some cool looking and individual graphics to some specialised terrain tiles (after the pledge manager closes, you guys will have a lot of cash to play with 🙂 )

        As you’ve said though, I guess some people will just find it a hindrance.

        Again, the great thing about using cards for these mechanics, is that you can always stack the deck with your preferences. Those who would like a little 3D in their dungeon could include a card or two in the dungeon deck…those who don’t can leave them out of the dungeon deck.

        At the very least, it could be worthwhile investigating and having a game or two during play testing whereby a single room is placed randomly within the dungeon draw deck just to see how it plays out and if it is worthwhile including. If you do, my suggestion would be to make those cards essentially a dead end. A single room or small combination of tiles that contains something interesting and worthwhile, yet does not take up an extraneous amount of room on the tabletop when placed. They would also make great end rooms to a dungeon, the final goal room for the heroes to find that magic weapon they are looking for, or the lair of the monstrous creature they have come to kill.

        • Danny says:

          I was re-reading the WHQ article in White Dwarf 192 tonight, simply because I find the thought of being able to have the Heroes explore a 3D environment, to ascend and descend during the exploration of a random dungeon game, quite fascinating. It’s something that would help add to the exploration atmosphere of the game. It’s essentially the same as a simple branching of ways in the corridors of a dungeon that remains on the same level, except the new upper or lower level is not physically connected, like say a T-Junction is…although heroes can still easily move between the two separate areas…either easily by way of stairs or ladders, or in a more difficult fashion by way of ropes or climbing a sheer surface (perhaps with an element of danger involved).

          I didn’t pledge for Shadows of Brimstone because the genre didn’t appeal to me at all. However I did look at it and watched a couple game play explanations and it had a kind of similar mechanic, however instead of ascending or descending it simply had the heroes move through supernatural portals to other worlds to continue play there.

          Issue WD192 had a WHQ article that included three extra board tiles, one of which was a 2 space x 2 space descending stairwell where the Heroes could descend to a different level. If the heroes chose to descend the stairs (they didn’t have to, they could choose to simply continue on exploring on the same level), they would roll a D6 and add that many dungeon cards to the remaining undrawn active dungeon card deck, shuffle and then split the cards (some being placed wit the stairs – to be used if the heroes chose to descend, and some with the path to continue on the same level, if they chose to do that). I kinda feel that this D6 roll **could** leave you with having to explore too many more card draws on the new level, sucking up too much of the playing area. I really think a balance would be needed to be struck between making the new upper or lower level a nice find and enjoyable exploration, with perhaps the chance to find your goal or an objective room (if objective rooms or the like are going to be used) and not having to explore too deep into this new area before either reaching your goal, or quickly turning back to continue on down the main path of the dungeon.

          Just thinking out loud late at night before bed 🙂

  5. Psychopomp says:

    I have to say I’m feeling much better about this project as the advanced rules come under discussion. The early discussion on the core ‘board gamey’ rules focusing on the Necromancer-as-adversary made it sound a lot like Jake was focusing on sort of independently re-inventing Descent. It sounds like with the advanced rules we’ll be getting the sort of ‘RPG-lite’ game I’ve been jonesing for since support for WHQ tapered off and it became to fiscally difficult to keep adding miniatures from that game company. I’m sorry for my earlier doubt!

    That said, I’m looking forward to discussion on how loot works. Descent is a bit unsatisfying, because it’s always a single piece of treasure, usually a one-use potion, that’s worth a little bit of gold at the end of the dungeon whether used or not. You end up saving just to get 150 – 200 gold. I miss the the WHQ amassing hundreds of gold coins in great big piles of dubiously-gotten wealth! Even if its just adding a few zeros, it *feels* different for the heroes to write down 200 gold, or for the Necromancer to stock a chest with 500 gold, instead of 25 or 50.

    Also, there were hints in earlier posts that in addition to the villain creation rules, there might be some custom monster creation rules? That would be very nice, as it would allow us to inject more re-playability by delving further into Mantic’s miniature offerings as well as our already-existent collections. And chance of getting something like that, or is it still too early to say?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Still not sure about custom monsters. Custom Monstrous Heroes definitely, but for rank and file? Not sure they’re really worth it, especially given that we have so many already in Mantica to explore. We’ll have to see how we go with the other stuff first, I think.

      • Nakano says:

        I support custom monster idea if you decide to do that with Mantic.

        • Nakano says:

          But I don’t know if it needs to be complex. Just some kind of stat chart + attacks? On another note, custom blank spell cards, items and equipment might also support nicely custom content / scenarios.

      • eriochrome says:

        Custom trooper monsters could probably be made up by the fans pretty easy. Take you monster type match it as closely in size and fighting ability to one of the existing monster then look at the special rules from the character development for an approprate swap to make it unique. I have a feeling that once the rules hit we will see tons of monsters coming out from all us amuteur game designers.

  6. Tom says:

    Hi. Just wondering if the large array of room tiles now being planned for the various expansions will come with a large array of in game effects, or are they just going to more simple aesthetic variations in shape and visuals?

  7. eriochrome says:

    Pretty amazing total. Looks like you have a lot of work to do. Not sure on my count but i think it got up to more than 60 scenarios across the dm pledge and the 3 expansions. Not to mention ai, random dungeons, advancement, rules for models from undead, orcs, goblins, demons, abyssal dwarves, dragon, elves, and dwarves.
    The more classical nature of many high fantasy natures creates nice overlap between model ranges. Thinking about my chainmail factions they have elves, dwarves, humans being your heroes and undead, orcoids, and gnolls with demon allies matching the villians. Add in reaper bones from 2 of their kickstarters and i have a ton of minis waiting for dungeon exploring.

  8. Danny says:

    Jake, I have another thing I’d like to add to the list for you to discuss please.

    First though, I’d like to ask a blog administration related question.

    When I visit your blog, there is a list in the top right corner labelled “Recent Comments” (I assume it presents the same no matter what platform or browser software you are using). This lists only the five most recent comments and with often many more than five comments being made between my visits, its very difficult to track comments others have made, and then your responses to those. I dread missing anything, so is there some way that you can get into the back end of your blog mechanics and make the “Recent Comments” list longer, or perhaps any new comments easily identifiable?

    Now the game related question I have is one that you have touched on here previously, but only very briefly…and that is Dungeon Terrain and how they will affect LOS and movement.

    Certainly, I imagine, some things will do one or the other, and some things will do both. For instance, the barrels may block movement, but not LOS, a stone pillar would block both movement and LOS and perhaps a fog effect (perhaps a spell or special room effect) would block LOS but not movement. My question is, are you going to be treating the dungeon furniture cardboard tokens as actual in game effects (so will the cardboard barrel tokens block movement) or will you be treating them purely as aesthetics and allow freedom of movement through these tiles?

    With the advent of 3D dungeon furniture, it seems to me that the rules will need to cater for this rather that having them purely as aesthetics. In line with this, will some of the furniture be able to be mounted? What I mean by this is will the Barbarian be able to jump upon the table and swing his sword at a Trolls face? This would be easy with the cardboard tokens, and is also doable with *some* of the 3D terrain pieces (like the table) if the tops of the 3D terrain are designed to take miniatures, like the 3D Pile of Bones counters are. Clearly though, things like the bookcases won’t be able to have a 110kg raging Barbarian leap upon them and remain standing…

    Also, will you have lingering spell effects, like a Protective Wall of Fire to block movement, A Creeping Mist to block LOS etc. If so,how will these be shown in game, with cardboard counters placed on the affected tiles?

  9. Danny says:

    Jake, are we likely to see anymore rules releases for Dungeon Saga now, like an updated Beta rules set with the amended Hero stats/cards etc…or is it all closed down and hatches sealed?

  10. Looking forward to the next update 🙂

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