Dungeon Goons//Shrine of the Scorpion Lords

Taking a quick break between emptying my bank account to pledge the overwhelming amount of rad projects for Zine Quest 3 and wrapping up the art for my own project, I wanted to share a tiny project I have up on my itch.io page.

My head is usually in the clouds so I often miss projects when they are first released to the masses. I’m late to the party on this one as well but I was really inspired when I did discover it. Tunnel Goons by Nate Treme is a micro, rules-light fantasy RPG game that only requires 2d6 to play and takes like a minute to create a character. Nate also released the game under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License and gave permission for folks to hack it to pieces. Which I did—kind of. The core rules of the game are so perfect that they didn’t really need adjusting much. Really all I did was mash it together with elements from games I typically like to run, ie. B/X. There’s a little more crunch to character creation, xp, currency, combat, and exploration. I wanted to take the 2d6 core rules and make a pocket-sized B/X sibling and I think I’ve done just that with Dungeon Goons.

I also wanted to take a crack at designing an adventure within this framework. Monsters in the game only come with two stats which is Difficulty Score and Morale so coming up with all sorts of strange creatures on the fly is super easy and fun. This makes stocking the dungeon a breeze.

Here is a quick breakdown of my dungeon design process. I’ve got a little moleskine notebook that I will sketch out tiny dungeon layouts in. Some I don’t use, but it’s a place to practice placing rooms and passages. Then I take the Basic D&D rules for stocking a dungeon using a D6: 1-2 empty, 3-4 monster, 5 special, 6 Trap, etc. I will note the results but I’m not married to them at this stage, it’s a starting framework to build from. Then I will take the dungeon and start actually building it on my computer (I don’t typically do this for my home game material, just the stuff I plan on publishing) using Affinity Designer. More often than not the layout of the dungeon will change a bit and I will add and remove stuff. After the layout is finalized I take the results from the stocking exercise and start fleshing it out. At this point I’ve spent so much time in Designer toying with the layout that filling out room descriptions and details doesn’t take me too long. That’s mostly it in a nutshell, but for the more polished projects I have playtesting and an editor comb through it to clean it up.

For the adventure Shrine of the Scorpion Lords, the process was much the same. I wanted everything to fit on a single piece of printer paper so there was room for the dungeon on one side and town/local area map on the other.

Here’s the synopsis:

The desert outpost Fort Drywater is in need of help to stop the menace of the dreaded Scorpion Lords—an evil group of half-men half-scorpion marauders bent on ridding the desert of outsiders. Drywater, a rough and tumble oasis in the desert wastes, has only recently begun to bring in steady supplies to this remote edge of civilization. Now the Scorpion Lords, as they are known, have started attacking the incoming supply caravans leaving no survivors. It’s only a matter of time before they turn on Drywater to finish them off…

It’s certainly a bit over-the-top with the half-men half-scorpion dudes running around, but it was a lot of fun to make for that reason. Just having a bit of fun while I finish up my more serious project, In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe that just successfully funded on Kickstarter—I plan on having released and shipped out to backers and preorders in the spring. Stay tuned!

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