Wizards has once again redesigned the old classic “Dungeon!” boardgame. The game itself is not really all that different, though the look and feel of the board and pieces is really nice, and you can’t beat the $20 price tag. Still, the game is basically a kid’s game, offering little variety for the veteran gamer. Perhaps we can make a few changes that will liven it up and increase its replay value.
The first step might be wandering monsters. It’s easy to see which dungeon level each tile on the map belongs to. Stairway tiles can be considered either with the roll of a die, and secret doors can mark the boundaries of dungeon levels. When in doubt, roll it out!
Every turn, a player rolls 2d6. On a 12, he encounters a monster of the dungeon level he is on. After defeating the monster, roll 1d6 – on a 4-6, it has treasure. The numbered markers can be used along with the side of the board to mark where undefeated monsters and dropped treasures are located. This variant makes the game harder, and really increases the value of the teleport spell and the secret door card.
A less intrusive variant is to use class abilities. This may shorten the game, so you may wish to increase the amount of treasure needed to win by 5,000 gold for each class. Choose one option for each class, or choose both and increase the gold needed by 10,000!
- Alchemist: When you defeat certain monsters, you may take a spell in addition to any treasure. Blue dragon – take lightning bolt. Red dragon or fire giant – take fireball. Mind flayer – take teleport. Add +2 when attacking any monster in the Laboratory chamber, and draw a treasure when defeating a monster there.
- Loremaster: Start the game with the esp medallion and crystal ball cards.
- Healer: When a monster attacks and scores a hit, roll a die. On a 5 or 6, reduce the effect by one step. You may not be attacked in the Chapel chamber.
- Holy Warrior: Use the Fighter’s chances when attacking undead or the evil cleric. “Undead” includes the skeleton, zombie, ghoul, mummy, vampire and dracolich.
- Hunter of Beasts: Keep any dire rat, minotaur, giant lizard, giant spider or owlbear cards you defeat. Turn them in at the Great Hall for 1,000 gp times the monster’s level.
- Hunter of Dragons: Keep any blue dragon, red dragon or dracolich cards you defeat. Turn them in at the Great Hall for 6,000 gp each.
- Hunter of Giants: Keep any ogre, troll, hill giant or fire giant cards you defeat. Turn them in at the Great Hall for 1,000 gp x the monster’s level.
- Fated Hero: Start the game with a magic sword with a +2 bonus. You may lose this card just like any other treasure. Take it from any dungeon level you like.
- Sneak: You can sneak through an uncleared chamber on a 3-6. On a 1-2 you must end your movement in the chamber as normal. You also lose one less turn due to the cage trap (i.e., no turns on a 1-3 and one turn on a 4-6).
- Treasure Hunter: When you collect a treasure, take one from the next higher level deck, if possible. Level 6 monsters have level 6 treasures.
Any non-Wizard character can be given the ability to use Wizard spells. The character chooses 4 spells with which to start the game. Others may be found as per the variant above. Add 10,000 to the amount of treasure needed to win; more if a class ability is used.
A non-Fighter character may use the Fighter’s attack number or her own when fighting a monster. Add 10,000 gold or more if a class ability is used.
A non-Cleric character may use the Cleric’s attack number or her own when fighting a monster. As usual add 10,000 gold or more if a class ability is used.
Any non-Rogue character can use the Rogue’s ability at finding secret doors. Add 10,000 to the gold requirement; more if a class ability is used.
A good variant to use with Wandering Monsters. When you enter a room, roll a die. On a 2-3, there is no monster there. If so, then take a treasure from one level lower, if possible. Empty level 1 rooms have no treasure.
Many other variants are possible. Hopefully, these will get you started realizing the full potential of this nifty little game!