Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Old School Revival at its best?

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Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:13 pm

It occurred to me the other day that next year Dark Dungeons will be a decade old!

I thought it might be nice to produce a new edition for that - partly to commemorate it, and also because I noticed that people are still downloading the game on DriveThruRPG after all this time (last month alone I got over 100 downloads from there) yet the printed version is not available from there - only from Lulu - since it wasn't designed using the proper specifications for DriveThruRPG's third-party POD supplier.

So, in order to kill two birds with one stone I thought I'd take the old Microsoft Publisher files and move the content to InDesign and into a template that will be compatible for POD on DriveThruRPG.

That way I get a 10th anniversary edition and it's much easier for people looking for a printed copy to find one.

But the big question is - what text should go in it.

Currently, I have three versions of the game in my files:
  1. Dark Dungeons - This is the original game, albeit the second printing (which replaced the to-hit table of the first edition with a much simpler d20 + attack bonus + AC >= 20 formula.
  2. Darker Dungeons - This was my version that included house rules rather than sticking to the RC. Chiefly, it had:
    • All mechanics were unified under the d20 + bonus + modifiers >= 20 mechanic
    • I added Weapon Mastery abilities to shields, rather than them giving a flat bonus to AC
    • I took a lot of the randomness out of character generation, using a standard array for ability scores instead of rolling for them and using average values for hit points instead of rolling for them
    • I added the Mountebank class (a half spell user)
    • I mostly swapped the Magic-User and Elf classes, so that the Elf is now the one who is weak and can't wear armour whereas the Magic-User is the one who can both fight and wear armour but needs more xp to level up
    • I split out the Druid from the Cleric completely, and gave them a Command Animal ability to replace Turn Undead
    • I reflavoured the Mystic class to a Beastman race, swapping the martial artist theme for a race that got more bestial as they got more experience
    • I added specialisation for Magic-Users and Clerics so that they could specialise in a particular type of magic
  3. Darker Dungeons Revised - I never finished this one. It took the Darker Dungeons rules and added a few changes to them (there would have been more changes, but the project never got very far):
    • Reflavoured the Mystic again, this time to a Warlock
    • I added a Warlord option for a high level fighter as an alternative to becoming a Chevalier
    • I added a new racial class - the Clockwork - based on Eberron's Warforged
As I say, the big question is which of those - if any - should be used as the basis for a 10th anniversary edition.

My first thoughts are that I'd want to include at least some of the Darker Dungeons material. The original Dark Dungeons was designed to be a close clone of the RC because the RC wasn't available other than second hand for extortionate prices. That's changed now - you can buy the RC in digital and POD versions - so there's no reason for the 10th edition to slavishly stick to the RC. If people want to play a strict RC-compliant game they can simply buy the RC.

So I think the issue is how much of the additional Darker Dungeons (and Darker Dungeons Revised) material should be in there?

I'm definitely intending to use the unified mechanics and the druid. I'm less certain about the other changes.

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Yaztromo » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:27 pm

Time flies!!! :)
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Artikid » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:25 pm

Personally I'd like to see an updated Dark Dungeons with the changes I suggested in a few threads (Thief skills spanning 14 levels instead of 36, wrestling rules - but not those from BECMI/RC, Immortal Saving Throws for Angels/Archons, additional monstrous spell casters... )

Things I'd take from Darker Dungeons are:
The Mountebank,
The split Druid,
Shield weapon mastery,
Magic specializations,
Non-random option for character creation,
I'd also give an option for non-random Hit Points.

I'm on the fence about the Mystic/Beast man, I'd have to see it to make my mind up.

I personally don't like the d20 unified resolution (it's a compatibility issue with the RC) , and the Elf/Magic-user swap.

EDIT: I'd especially like to see the correction or clarification of wand and staff use I pointed out in the other thread.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by sycarion » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:36 pm

Time flies.

Personally, I'd like to see what would have been in the Darker Revised book. The unified mechanic works for me, but I am intrigued by the Warlord option for fighters and the clockwork race.

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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Artikid » Wed Dec 04, 2019 10:40 pm

Ah, yes the Warlord and Clockwork are good additions too.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Tim Baker » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:34 am

I enjoy Darker Dungeons. The Lupine makes a good shifter from Eberron, and could be paired nicely with a Clockwork class. I've always loved the 4e Warlord, and absolutely vote for it to appear in the book. Warlocks are another favorite of mine.

So I guess that's my way of saying I'd prefer to see Darker Dungeons Revised. I'd certainly be interested in purchasing such a product.

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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:08 am

I have to say this is surprising me. I was expecting to see the new classes and things being unpopular but the unified mechanics popular - but it seems to be the other way around.

One thing I don't want to do is stray too far from the original Dark and Darker Dungeons, so looking back at the "Darker Dungeons 2" threads where I was throwing out ideas to see what stuck I think I'm going to just go with including the Warlord and Clockwork and not any of the other proposed changes.

I'm trying to decide on basic formatting at the moment. The old three-column layout is definitely out - that was just done to copy the three column layout of the RC - but I can't decide whether to go for a two-column layout or a one-column-with-sidebar layout. They both have advantages and disadvantages, so I'll play around and see what looks good. I've learned a lot about layout and design since I wrote Dark Dungeons.

For general art style I definitely want to stick to the Gustav Dore pictures of Dark Dungeons rather than the cartoony style of Darker Dungeons. I've never been happy with the latter (to be honest I've never been happy with the production values of Darker Dungeons anyway - it's sloppily edited, has ugly tables, has no colour...)

The other thing that's bugging me is what to call it. On the one hand it's supposed to be Dark Dungeons' anniversary, but on the other hand it will likely include all the material from Darker Dungeons plus the extra bits.

I need to think about that, and about how much to include in the way of "developer commentary" explaining why I did things a certain way and/or offering alternative options.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Artikid » Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:56 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:08 am
I have to say this is surprising me. I was expecting to see the new classes and things being unpopular but the unified mechanics popular - but it seems to be the other way around.
My educated guess is that people may like the idea of more character options, but don't like the idea of another "fork" in game systems.
This way it is easier to repurpose things from an OSR game to the other.
Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:08 am
One thing I don't want to do is stray too far from the original Dark and Darker Dungeons, so looking back at the "Darker Dungeons 2" threads where I was throwing out ideas to see what stuck I think I'm going to just go with including the Warlord and Clockwork and not any of the other proposed changes.
Out of curiosity, but will you include the additional "errata" I pointed out?
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:07 am

Artikid wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:56 am
Out of curiosity, but will you include the additional "errata" I pointed out?
I'll take them on a case by case basis. Most of them should make it in, but no guarantees!
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Artikid » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:26 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:07 am
Artikid wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:56 am
Out of curiosity, but will you include the additional "errata" I pointed out?
I'll take them on a case by case basis. Most of them should make it in, but no guarantees!
That's fine for me, I'm trying to contribute but I don't want to impose.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Yaztromo » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:15 am

In general, I'd prefer Dark Dungeons not straying too far from BECMI under game mechanics point of view.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by RobJN » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:59 am

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 8:08 am
I
The other thing that's bugging me is what to call it. On the one hand it's supposed to be Dark Dungeons' anniversary, but on the other hand it will likely include all the material from Darker Dungeons plus the extra bits.
"Dark-But-Not-Too-Dark Dungeons"?

"Dark(er) Dungeons: Decade Edition"?
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:06 am

Yaztromo wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:15 am
In general, I'd prefer Dark Dungeons not straying too far from BECMI under game mechanics point of view.
In terms of rule changes, the only one I'm wedded to is the move to using d20+bonus >=20 for as much as possible. It does actually make a huge difference to the game in terms of speed and ease of teaching to new players (especially younger players) than having different rolls for everything.

It doesn't really affect compatibility, since if some monster in an adventure (and let's face it, we're primarily talking about compatibility with BECMI adventures here) saves as a "Fighter 10" or "is turned as a Zombie" then the actual die roll used for that saving throw or turn undead check doesn't matter.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Yaztromo » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:48 pm

I agree with you.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:21 pm

RobJN wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:59 am
"Dark-But-Not-Too-Dark Dungeons"?
"Dim Dungeons"
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Big Mac » Sat Dec 07, 2019 3:50 pm

Blacky the Blackball wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:21 pm
RobJN wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:59 am
"Dark-But-Not-Too-Dark Dungeons"?
"Dim Dungeons"
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:01 am

I've been thinking about this on and off, and I've started playing with InDesign looking at different potential layouts; but I'm not going to be able to start this in earnest for a week or two because I've got another project to finish off (for anyone who cares, it's a new version of Cthangband - which I need to finish writing the help files for before releasing it).

In terms of layout, I'm currently torn between two basic designs.

One big design rule is that overly long lines of text are hard to read, so you need to make them shorter than across a whole A4 page. There are various ways to do this from having wide decorative margins to using multiple narrower columns of text. Now the original Dark Dungeons uses a three-column layout, which is overkill. It does this because the RC had three columns (and because I didn't know any better at the time!) but the result of this is that the columns are so narrow that the text justification goes all squiffy and looks terrible.

I've tried using two-column text, and that looks much better, and I've also tried using unbalanced columns where there is one wide column containing the text and a narrower column that's half margin and half column in that it contains references, footnotes, and definitions. That's a style I've used in some of my more recent games (e.g. FASERIP and Lightmaster) and it's worked really well. If you want another example, think of the Monte Cook games: Numenera, The Strange, and the Cypher System.

The unbalanced columns look better, since they're more modern and there's good use of colour; but they only really work well if the text is pretty consistent throughout and there are plenty of notes and things that can be put in the smaller semi-margin column. I have no problem with the latter, since I can add lots of cross-references, definitions, and so forth (and I'm hoping to add lots of "designer commentary" notes too). The former might be an issue, though. There are large sections of the book (weapon feats and monsters) that really need a multi-column layout. Or do they? Can I redesign them to use a single wide (but not full page) column and still look good?

I'll have to do some more experimentation when I've got the Cthangband documentation out of the way.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:01 am

I enjoy the layout in Numenera books, and would be super interested in your commentary, design notes, etc. If you can make that work, I'd be very interested in seeing it.

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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Angel Tarragon » Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:37 am

How about the second printing + revised version with a bonus chapter with everything else that you added (races, classes, etc) as an optional addendum to the game?

I am personally a fan of the 2 column layout.
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Re: Dark Dungeons - 10th Anniversary Edition

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:03 am

I've thought about putting the additional material an a bonus chapter or optional chapter, but to be honest the biggest difference between Dark Dungeons and Darker Dungeons was always the change in mechanics and that's something distributed throughout the book rather than something that can be isolated in a chapter (like the extra classes could be, for example).

In other news, I officially released Cthangband v6.2 this morning, so with that out of the way I can now devote some time to this project.
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