Dungeon

By TSR

Published in: 1975

Dungeon (also seen as "Dungeon!") was a board game created by Gary Gygax and Michael Gray. It was sort of an alternative to Dungeons and Dragons for the crowd interested in the fantasy theme, but not wanting to get involved in all the complexities of role playing, and is especially suited to kids.

The game equipment consists of a board, 8 player tokens (2 of each of 4 different colors, each representing a different character class, 6 stacks of color-coded monster cards, 6 stacks of color-coded treasure cards, a stack of spell cards, a bunch of little cardboard gravestone markers, and a series of numbered cardboard tokens, two pieces of each number. The artwork on the board and cards is wonderful, with the board having a nice dungeon-like feel with it's yellowish hallways, color-coded rooms, eerily named chambers, and chaotic layout.

Gameplay is very simple, with the goal to get enough treasure to be worth your set gold piece goal, and get back to the starting chamber. Each player selects one of the player tokens, representing either a hero, elf, superhero, or wizard (only the hero or elf can be chosen in the simpler variant of the game). Each character type has a slightly different method of playing - the elf is slightly weaker in combat, but sees secret doors more easily. The superhero is stronger than either the elf or hero, but has a higher treasure requirement. The wizard is much weaker in combat, but has spells she can use (represented by spell cards) to fight monsters also. The hero and elf need 10,000 gold pieces worth of treasure to win, the superhero 20,000 gold, and the wizard 30,000 gold.

A player moves around simply by going from 1 to five spaces, fighting a monster, or searching for a secret door. Combat is done by entering a room or chamber, and drawing a monster card. Each monster card lists what each character type must roll to defeat it, then the player rolls two dice. If they roll at or above the required value, the monster is defeated - if not, they have to roll for the monster to fight back. Defeating a monster earns the player a treasure card, if the monster was defeated in a room, and a graveyard token is placed in the room to show that room has been cleared - nobody else can fight a monster there. Chambers have three monsters in them, killed one at a time, but no treasure.

Monster counterattacks are done according to a chart - anything above a 9 is safe, but lower numbers can cause you to drop treasure, and retreat spaces - or even go back to start (a roll of two kills your character, and you have to choose another token - if any are still unused - and start again). Dropped treasure is kept in the room, with the monster drawn still guarding it - that's what the number tokens are used for.

Wizard spells are selected before starting combat, choosing either "fireball" or "lightning", then drawing the monster. Some monsters are especially weak to one or the other, and others are completely immune. Spells are replaced after being used only by returning to the start space, the main stairwell.

Treasure for the most part consists of bags of gold, gems, and other various items of value fitting the theme, with a listing of their value in gold pieces at the bottom. The artwork is nicely done, making each treasure - especially the larger ones - seem like a fitting reward. The values vary according to the dungeon "level" (determined by the color coded rooms on the board) - first level treasure may consist of bags of 250 and 500 gold - but on the 6th level, the toughest, wonderful things await such as the Huge Diamond, worth 10,000 gold.

There are also a few special treasures, such as a magic sword that makes it easier to kill monsters, an ESP medallion that lets you peek at the monster in the room before entering, and even a Crystal Ball that lets you see what monster AND treasure await you in a room.

In 1989, TSR released "The New Dungeon", a revised version of the game with a few minor tweaks. The game board is larger, with larger rooms, allowing you to place a monster card in the room, instead of a grave marker. A couple more character classes were added, with new abilities. Players can now trade treasures - or fight each other to attempt to steal their treasure. The ability to be wounded was added, and healing chambers added to allow wounded players to recover. It is almost entirely superior to the original verison, fixing key problems, and making the game more enjoyable. In the mid 90's, it was released again, this time as "The Classic Dungeon" - same as The New Dungeon, with less cartoony artwork.

Source: The Board Game Geek Database, http://www.boardgamegeek.com

A dungeon is a group of rooms connected by corridors. It can be a cave, an abandoned mine, or a crypt. It can be an ancient temple, the basement of a stormy castle, or anything you can imagine - as long as it is filled with monsters and treasure!

(from Dungeons & Dragons Game Rule Book, 1991 TSR Inc.)

The most familiar setting of the role-playing games that focus on hack-and-slash...

The words above from the rule book, and the similar words in the earlier editions of the game, have undoubtedly meant a lot to role-playing games and other fantasy-themed games.

What lies in the room ahead? Is it empty? Does it have some devilish traps? Are there monsters in there? Perhaps even a liar lair of those monsters? Or something completely different? Maybe treasures?

In the flicker of your torch, you look around. You've seen rooms like that many times before. You have placed a heavy treasure chest on your back and you, and your friends, walked home with that box of gold to mourn your dead comrades that perished on your journey. In the same flicker, you have seen strange magic, glitter of priceless jewels, strange scrolls with arcane languages written on them, and strange stuff that was invented by some long-forgotten person in Lake Geneva, WI.

This is your character's life, and it's ending one game turn at a time.
You're not your 2-handed sword.
You're not your plate mail.
You're not your fucking elven cloak...

...

Dungeons & Dragons was set, as the name suggests, in the Dungeons. Or, at least it always started from the dungeons - as the characters gained more experience and fame, they started adventuring also in outdoors, and finally settling down and starting to rule their own little realms of influence. The dungeons - the dark, scary, treasure-filled hellholes somewhere in dangerous places in middle of nowhere - were the springboard to the fame. Every adventurer, early in the career, goes in to the Dungeon to find some gold to buy something to fill stomach with, and some XP to get better stats.

The Dungeon was always an easy way to get the players used to basic game rules, such as combat - and the rest of the part of the rules that did not actually deal with "roleplaying". Learning the actual roleplaying could always wait until the second game... early in game it'd be more important to learn how to create a character and how to fight. You and your friends - the other characters - were just going for a stroll to a forgotten cave and bring back the rumored treasure that is guarded by some mindless monsters. What could be easier than that?

Not surprisingly, the Dungeons became the greatest thing that ever happened in computer RPGs. Since "go to the dungeon and bring back treasure" isn't too complicated to implement without an actual game master, it has always been the big favorite of the CRPG designers. And over the years, these people have done dungeon romps with fairly amazing amount of depth - Nethack still remains my favorite. While the plot can be condensed to "go down there, bring back an amulet and go up to sacrifice it to your god", the game is not too easy and still keeps in its grip. Random dungeons have always been fun. D&D has rules for making randomized dungeons, and some even say that many D&D adventure modules were created this way... many computer games, most notably the Roguelike games like Nethack, also utilise random dungeons. Admittedly, random dungeons are more on their element in computer games that don't even pretend to have a complex plot...

But beyond randomized dungeons, there's the careful design. Once you give more sophisticated goals, add devilish traps, and add unforgettable goals and non-player characters, it no longer feels like a "dungeon", even when it superficially seems like one. With a touch of thought, the Dungeon gets a soul. At first, you was banging heads in some forgettable location. Then, you got to bang heads in a calm and orderly fashion. And now, you suddently need to think which heads you should bang and when in order not to get your own head smashed. Slowly, the dumb barbarians become... talkative. The setting, the dark corridors, didn't change, but suddently, you have to think. First, it was enough to cooperate with other players and their characters, and then, you also needed to cooperate with other characters you met. First steps from the hack and slash to real roleplaying, and you didn't even need to get out of the Dungeon!

So, dear adventurer: Sooner or later, you will end up in the Dungeon of one form or another. You may not choose when, but when you get there, you can expect to return as a hero if you do your job well. It is an experience each of you need to do once. And why not? It's easy money!

Dungeon is an incredibly popular power metal band originating from Broken Hill in Australia. Formed in 1989, they play technical metal akin to Helloween, Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray. The line-up has varied over the years and at time of writing is:

  • Lord Tim (Tim Grose) - Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
  • Stevo (Steve Moore) - Drums & Backing Vocals
  • Dakk (Brendon McDonald) - Bass & Backing Vocals
  • Stu (Stuart Marshall) - Guitars & Backing Vocals

Dungeon have toured Japan and Australia extensively and have additionally released their albums in Europe and the US. Their album releases to date are:

  • Changing Moods (1995)
  • Demolition (1996)
  • Resurrection (1999)
  • A Rise to Power (2002)
"A Rise to Power" is one of the best selling Australian metal albums of all time.

     The Dungeon series: a comic created by Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim. In it they depict the vaguely D&D-style adventures of Herbert the Duck and Marvin the Dragon as they try to figure out what to do in life. The Dungeon is the centerpiece of the tales.

     Turn the pages with glee as Herbert is fettered to a legendary sword he cannot draw, and thus must learn how to kill foes with a feather. Read about Marvin, a stout fire-breather who cannot attack anyone who has insulted him. See the village of lazy, drunken rabbits who are unfriendly to strangers. Eventually everybody gets side-tracked with cakes and cookies.

     The writers seem to have taken something from every great serial around, whether comic, television, or "moving picture" series. You have an epic scale story that takes place in three different timelines, all revealed slowly, giving you a similar feeling to the Star Wars trilogy as certain events are referenced of which only the characters are privy, and remain in the reader's imagination. There are moments of light heartwarming nature similar to that of the Bone series and in turn also the moments of perfect stupidity of characters and illogic of the world, as in Futurama. It's also an epic tale of internal and interpersonal struggle in a fantasy setting like Cerebus but it's not boring and psychotic. Finally, possibly owing to a European attitude toward sex, ribald situations abound, but aren't dwelled upon with a barely disguised fascination for the reader.

     The artists manage perfectly with space; no panel is ever wasted. Story and dialogue never drag, nor are there rows of animated successive actions.

     And some of them might entertain your kids! I'm guessing the authors wrote Dungeon Parade with kids in mind, although the kidification doesn't detract from the characters or story at all. Depending on how you feel about cartoon nudity, Zenith 1 & 2 might be alright as well, with Zenith 3 having art perhaps a bit more realistic. Cartoonish gore and blood occur, as well as a few lampooned shaky morals (e.g. a group of vulture people who cling feverishly to their own subjugation), but I remember even Hanna-Barbera throwing questionable stuff at me as a young one, and I survived.


Existing English translations of the Dungeon series (in order of timeline):

Dungeon Early Years (volumes 1 and 2)
Dungeon Zenith (volume 1)
Dungeon Parade† (volumes 1 and 2)
Dungeon Zenith (volumes 2 and 3)
Dungeon Twilight (volumes 1-3)
Dungeon Monstres* (volumes 1-4)

                † Dungeon Parade takes place between Zenith 1 and 2, however, they are simply side tales and do not contain very many plot-pertinent events.

                          * Dungeon Monstres contains stories from various points in the timeline, filling in the origins or adventures of secondary characters or showing other adventures of the main


     It would probably make the most sense to start with Dungeon Zenith, as it introduces all the main players and was the first created. I started with Twilight, however, and, as most comic readers probably know already, this didn't ruin the read. Solid series.

Dun"geon (?), n. [OE. donjoun highest tower of a castle, tower, prison, F. donjon tower or platform in the midst of a castle, turret, or closet on the top of a house, a keep of a castle, LL. domnio, the same word as LL. dominus lord. See Dame, Don, and cf. Dominion, Domain, Demesne, Danger, Donjon.]

A close, dark prison, common, under ground, as if the lower apartments of the donjon or keep of a castle, these being used as prisons.

Down with him even into the deep dungeon. Tyndale.

Year after year he lay patiently in a dungeon. Macaulay.

 

© Webster 1913.


Dun"geon, v. t.

To shut up in a dungeon.

Bp. Hall.

 

© Webster 1913.

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