Monday, May 29, 2023

Some tiny PnP dungeons

When I saw Crumbling Dungeon by Alexander Sheen, I thought it looked familiar. A little bit of looking through the old records and I found that it was because I had tried a later iteration of the concept called Dungeon Dailies.

So, I found a demo of Crumbling Dungeon and got out the demo of Dungeon Dailies so I could compare them. While I was at it, I also printed out Solo Tower Hack so I’d be playing three quick little dungeons in a row, just for the beauty of the number three.

Okay, let’s get Solo Tower Hack out of the way. Every five or ten years, I try it out. And I think it gets worse every time. Really, the only choices are which stairs to take. Beyond that, roll a die and do what it tells you to do.

So, both Crumbling Dungeon and Dungeon Dailies are collections of mazes that have things like monsters and treasure chests in them. So they are at least as much puzzles as they are games.

Crumbling is the simpler one. From what I can tell from the demo, the symbols are on the same areas of the grid and a maze is procedurally created around them. The full game consists of 365 of these mazes.

The only random element is combat. Beyond that, Crumbling is just a set of mazes with special scoring conditions. To be honest, the combat isn’t enough to make this a game to me. It’s a puzzle. 

Dailies changes things up with each page having four different mazes. The combat is a hair more complicated, there is a little resource management (you need keys to unlock doors) and you level up. 

Dailies is still almost entirely a puzzle but it feels like it has a hint of a gaming experience in it. Like it’s 95% puzzle and 5% game. I didn’t enjoy my first play but this second time was fun.

Actually looking at what Alexander Shen has done, I find that I’ve tried more of their games and puzzles than I thought. (Still need to try Quests Over Coffee but I do plan on doing that) And a lot of their product are puzzles and games that are explicitly designed to be played during a coffee break. It’s a niche but it’s a niche I regularly visit.

I’m not sure if either Crumbling or Dailies are good puzzles. I do find them relaxing though.

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