Many of us remember exploring the rooms and chambers of the classic board game, Dungeon!. The latest iteration of the game was recently re-released (as of October 16th)—and to help celebrate, Chris Tulach describes his first experiences with the game, and offers new variants to the current rules (included below, for reference). We hope you enjoy!
s a kid, I have fond memories of summers at Lake Winneconne in Wisconsin. Back in the early 80's, we’d load up the car and rendezvous with my cousins at the lake for a weekend of fishing, swimming, and general summertime relaxation.
My cousin Jason and I were really into fantasy—we'd both read the The Hobbit, and knew of Dungeons & Dragons through the cartoon. However, the game seemed like something older kids played. I was intrigued, but intimidated by it. Then one summertime get-together—after a long day of fishing, when we were typically hanging out in the cabin lamenting over our separation from our Atari games and action figures—Jason plopped down the Dungeon! board game.
Opening the box, we discovered a board populated with rooms of various “levels” which apparently housed nastier monsters the further down you went. There were four characters to play: hero, superhero (which just sounded better), elf, and wizard. (Jason always played the elf, and I played the wizard—we got our younger brothers to play the other two.) Then we read the rules: about a race to collect the most gold, which was earned by defeating monsters.
This was totally awesome! I was hooked on the game, discovering cool bits of D&D, like the different colored dragons, magic swords and fireball spells. Our first D&D game was Dungeon!, and it fired our young imaginations and broke down the walls of anxiety we had about trying out that “older kids' game.” Dungeon! was a great introduction to D&D, and it’s a big part of why I ultimately started with the roleplaying game.
Now, we’ve recently released a new version of the game for the first time in 20 years! In celebration of its release, I’d like to share with you four variant rules for the game. One variant makes the game feel a little more old school, two hack the game with a modern eye, plus one final variant for those of you who love playing wizards. Mix and match the variant rules to your taste, and enjoy!
Boots of Striding and Springing
Each of you has purchased a marvelous magic item from a hedge mage prior to your foray into the dungeon. These special boots of striding and springing allow you to bound about at an incredible pace! Unfortunately, you never really could understand the old mage’s instructions completely, and the boots tend to behave a bit… erratically.
Variant Rule: On your turn, roll two dice for movement instead of moving 5 spaces.
Book of Infinite Spells
Variant Regaining Spells
A most valuable and useful magic item from your master’s library that you rescued before it burned to the ground (by that fire elemental you mistakenly released), the book will undoubtedly come in handy while adventuring in the dungeon. Just turn the page, and a new spell appears!
Variant Rule: When you're playing the Wizard and spend an entire turn in the Great Hall, you can roll one die and select that many Spell cards to return to your hand instead of selecting just 1 card.
Your Worst Enemy
Variant Win Condition
Each of you managed to make a powerful enemy that’s been hunting you throughout the land. You know you’re due for a showdown soon, but maybe if you head down into the dungeon, you can buy some time and find some way to defeat your foe.
Variant Rule: When you return to the Great Hall with the required amount of Treasure, you must have a final combat with a Monster to win the game. Reveal a Monster (skip Traps) with a Level equal to the highest recommended level for your Hero (Rogue – Level 3, Cleric – Level 4, Fighter – Level 5, Wizard – Level 6). Wizards may choose to use a Spell prior to revealing the Monster. Place that Monster card next to your Hero. Fight that Monster. If you end your turn in the Great Hall with enough Treasure to win the game (either by defeating the Monster or retaining enough Treasure after the Monster attacks you), you claim victory!
Cooperative Play Variant
The dungeon’s gotten very dangerous of late—with its wandering monsters threatening to overrun the nearby town! You’ve decided to set aside your differences for once, and created an adventuring company charter to aid your town in beating back the tide of evil. And this time, everyone gets an equal share of the loot… although you still have to watch the Rogue.
Variant Rule: Instead of playing the game against each other, you are all working together to defeat the Monsters and claim treasure. At the beginning of the game, add up the gp amounts of Treasure needed to win the game for all Heroes, and divide the total by 2. That number is the collective amount of winning Treasure for everyone. During the game, you can play with your Treasure cards face up. Once the Heroes have enough Treasure to win, each Hero must return to the Great Hall. The Heroes lose the game if one of the following things happen:
- Two Heroes are killed during the game.
- You have a number of revealed Monster cards in the numbered slots on the side of the board equal to the number of Heroes +2.