Dungeon Crawl: The Plan

Running “Maze of the Blue Medusa” using Bastionland, Lamentations of the Flame Princess,The Black Hack.

As I mentioned before I’d like this dungeon crawl to be more of a light-hearted board game than a depressing exploration of character mortality. That being said, the dungeon I picked is chock full of dark, gritty stuff. The next question is: What system should I use?

The System

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I settled on Bastionland (an upcoming update to Into the Odd). Not only are the rules a bit more streamlined, but combat has been modified to be more tactical and satisfying.

I won’t go too much into the nitty gritty rules, but these two are worth mentioing:

1) When attacking, simply roll damage. There is no to-hit roll. 2) When multiple attackers target an individual, they roll together, keep highest.

No matter how many people attack at once they can’t deal more than 8 or 10 damage each round, preventing wild damage swings one way or another. It also encourages players to spread out and engage separate targets than simple focusing on one at a time. It makes combat quick and deadly while still requiring some strategic thought. Nice.

The System: Plan B

Halfway through writing this article I ran a short game of BastionLand to test out the system with my group. I loved it, and we all had fun, but my group approached me and requested something a little crunchier, a little more complex for this extended dungeon crawl.

So I revisited my list of Dungeon Crawl systems and picked the next thing on the list: “Lamentations of the Flame Princess”. I’ve heard a lot of good things, and from an initial skim it looks like a solid choice.

Several Days Later

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Halfway through reading Lamentations, I hit a brick wall.

I’ve never really played an OSR game before, and a bunch of stuff in Lamentations felt like a quiz I hadn’t studied for. I’m sure that a lot of this confusion comes from my own unfamiliarity with OSR tradition, but it upset me enough that I had to stop reading it.

I spent an hour searching through the rules to see what Charisma was for: hirelings. What? I had never heard of hirelings before I read these rules, and still only have a vague understanding of why you want to bring a dinky NPC along with your main character.

After spending another hour, I still don’t know what Wisdom is used for, aside from slightly modifying one of your saves (how you avoid harm/damage/bad stuff). Why are 1/3 of a character’s defining elements treated like afterthoughts? Why are there so many rules about owning land and boats?

Let me know what I’m missing in the comments, because I am genuinely puzzled by this game.

The System: Plan C

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All that to say: I eventually landed on using “The Black Hack”. It looks fairly straightforward, and does some neat things through the Usage Die. I also appreciated all of the user-made content for the game (thanks Dieheart).

To help me learn the rules, I made a fancy reference sheet that you might also benefit from.

The Adventure

I’ve had my eye on “Maze of the Blue Medusa” for a long time. Not only does the adventure look top notch,. but the book and the writing are simply gorgeous:


Sadly by the time I heard about it the book was out of print!. With no plans for a reprint any time soon I decided to print my own. Fortunately the organization of the book lent itself well to tiny little booklets. These turned out great, and should work well at the table.

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Fingers Crossed!

Any suggestions for me before I start? Any other adventures I should check out? Any rule systems I missed?


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