Crafting a World

Over the last three months the Simple Dungeons team has been crafting a new world for the game to inhabit. The World map is an organic depiction of the basic story elements. The Secrets of Vivarium adventure story hit a road block when we didn’t know how far apart each of the main story points were. To help I began on a map to locate these plot elements in game space. This is the most exciting part, getting to show the world to the Players.

One aspect of my favorite book stories are the small maps at the beginning. They don’t spoil any major plot elements, but they do allude to a world that exists around the story. The cities and roads are mapped out for you, seemingly by people from that world. I would look at the map and know that on the following pages I would be diving in to one of those places. I would be exploring its boundaries as the plot unfolded. That is what we want Players to experience when they play Simple Dungeons: to be exited about exploring the world laid out before them.

This map took 3 months to draw and paint. The scale may have been too large, however we feel that it is just the right size for Simple Dungeon’s ambitions. The Secrets of Vivarium: Part 1 will explore a piece and each subsequent edition will explore a bit more. Eventually there will be stories crafted by us and others that take off across the country and explore every nook and cranny.

We hope you like it.

The Skill System

Skills are the fundamental action in Simple Dungeons. There are three areas in which you can take Skills. Strength, Intelligence, and Dexterity. Each of these archtypal areas can be increased as Characters level up, increasing their odds of success when using them. Characters also have 2 Secondary Stats: Movement, and Defense.

Strength covers everything physical and brute force. If you want to smash down the door, or swing a giant sword, you would Roll Str.

Intelligence covers the mystical energy forces that players can learn to control. If you want to play mind games with an Villager, or bring someone back to life by channeling the naturally occurring energy from the Earth, you Roll Int.

Dexterity is reaction time.  If an arrow flew out the darkness and you tried to dodge, or you want to challenge someone to a sprint, you would Roll Dex

Movement is used to measure the distance you can cover in a set amount of time. If you’re in combat and lugging a suit of armor, or if you get stuck in mud, your movement is going to be reduced.

Defense is an accumulation of how much protection you have. When someone takes a swing at you you compare their attack to your armor.

Each Skill group covers a wide swath of possible actions and all together form a rough estimate of how a Character will perform at any task. When a Character wants to attempt something they will Roll to see how they do. The goal is that no one will spend time wondering which stat to Roll and that everyone can stay immersed in their game.

We believe that to have the best game play flow, you need to reduce the number of game mechanics. That is why Simple Dungeons aims to bring its namesake to every aspect of Table Top for the Ultimate Rules Light Visual Experience. URLiVE for short… no one calls it that.

Site Updates

The site went down for a couple of hours yesterday while we tried to figure out some technical issues but its all better now. Turns out that when I went to back up the site I dropped a folder into the wrong directory. Took an embarrassingly long time to figure out why nothing was missing and yet nothing was working.

We do everything ourselves here at Simple Dungeons from designing and maintaining the website to writing the game rules and drawing the art. No outsourcing in this project, gotta keep that overhead down. No matter, we forge onward and I’m glad you’re here to watch it all unfold!

Simple Items

When we play RPG games we’ve found difficulties pulling in new players because there is nothing to play with. Miniatures help with this by grounding the Players. It gives a physical object to handle and move around.  With Simple Dungeons we want to get players interacting with their environment and holding objects in their hands all the time. By printing and cutting out items players will actually get to play with objects and arrange things in their inventories.

The inventory page isn’t just line items like some other pen and paper RPG’s, it is made of physical slots that you use to move and arrange things. Items have various sizes and shapes that key them in to particular spots. These spots refer to common locations on the body like the head, torso, and feet. There are also spots for Main Hand weapons, Offhand, and Special Items. By cutting out the objects and holding them in your hand they become yours. Now opening chests and getting a reward means the GM is actually handing you a prize.

As the Table Top Miniatures area is concerned we have plans to create a miniatures printed document for some DIY minis. In personal campaigns I have used a technique where you cut out printed minis and glue them to stands. It is considerably cheaper than buying real miniatures and faster since you don’t have to paint them. Future plans include creating entire books of DIY minis to cut out and use in the game.

Money is another big area for getting to handle items. One of the big reasons people like board games in the vein of monopoly is that they get to hand paper currency. Simple Dungeons won’t require paper money, but it will come with templates for you to print and use.

Having an entire game of pre-drawn and painted items is another ambitious goal but we think its worth it.

Writing an RPG

There are many excellent RPG rule systems on the market. Some systems offer very complex and deeply specific statistics that let you simulate your world as close as possible to reality. Others offer simplistic mechanics that leave everything up to the DM. The complex systems often end up with players spending long stretches researching skills or interpreting cryptic rules. Combat in these systems can sometimes take hours to finish up, which is ironic for being minutes of in-game time. The simplistic rule sets can often lead to combat feeling unfair or unbalanced. The simplistic campaigns are usually designed as one off scenarios where characters aren’t even meant to survive the whole session. This is fine for a one off, but what about when you want to keep exploring for multiple sessions?

With Simple Dungeons we wanted to strike a balance between Complex and Simplistic. We have yet to see an RPG that simplifies their game in the same way that we do. Not in a way that makes it too easy, or too dumb, but in a way that streamlines processes and keeps the story moving.

It is an ambitious idea and we plan to find the balance. With Combat we want just the right amount of gritty statistics and narrative. The key for us is that you are never wondering what skill to roll, you just know.

Having entertaining content is also important for the many new players that we intend to bring to Tabletop RPGs. Experienced Game Masters don’t worry about having to write and lead their own campaigns, however it can be daunting for those that have never played before. Our story strikes a balance between serious, world saving action, and funny moments to mix it up.

This system is still open to change. When developing a new rule set it is important to keep an open mind and listen to new ideas. Feedback is crucial to the success of the game and we want to insure that it is play tested and perfected by as many people as possible before launch.

So far it looks like we are making some bold and vague claims about the game. In the near future we are looking to create a Beta Version of the game that we can release for play testing. With that in hand you will be able to see for yourself if it stands up to expectations.  After full release we hope to create a kick starter to fund book production and we would like to create a trial version so that anyone can experience the first couple hours of the game.

Site Changes

Our website is a constantly changing and evolving creature. Were not quite sure what our ultimate look is going to be so don’t get to attached to anything quite yet. We plan to start releasing small updates on content once a week to give you an idea of how the game is shaping up. Keep coming back for more game news and sneak peaks!