Thursday, September 5, 2013

2013 Goal: Run a Dungeon Crawl for my Local Meetup Group

One of my goals for 2013 is to run a game for my local RPG meetup group. While I have met some people in the group, it's a large group and there's no telling who would come out for an old school dungeon crawl.

Time is running out and I need to get a jump on this.

After some arm twisting, my regular players and some additional friends agreed to "play test" a couple of dungeons to help me pick the most enjoyable one. If I'm going to go out and run a game for strangers, I'd like the adventure to be interesting enough to give the players something to work with.

We started last night and didn't even get inside (they opted to go in via the roof rather than the front door, but that led to some hilarious complications), but already I have learned a few things:

It's best to use pre-gens or have players create their characters before the game session. We lost over an hour and that's even with my menus of equipment packages that were intended to speed up that part. 

I want to use physical representations of resources - torches, oil flasks, arrows, etc. Maybe glass beads or pennies or some other token, to give the player a real world representation of their diminishing resources.

Spells, per one of my players suggestions, should be printed out on an index card that the player turns in when its cast. Again, resource representation.

Another player suggestion, make the character sheets modular. The idea is to have the basic equipment lists on index cards, character stats on another, weapons and armor on another, special skills (thieves, turning for clerics), saving throws another (create several for each class in case mulitple players play same class). They could be laid out in a rectangle on the table in front of the player, like an ordinary character sheet.

Since it's a 1 shot, all PCs have the same chance to hit, make that a hard-coded piece of the character sheet.


I'm really trying to step up my game after DragonCon - just going all in. I'm excited about the next session and seeing how they'll approach the dungeon.

In addition to determining which crawl I'll run for the meetup group, I'm on a mission to show my regular players that a dungeon crawl is neither necessarily hack-and-slash or a railroad. Already, I have dispelled some of the players' misgivings about dungeon crawls, just by letting them go in through the roof.


  1. "...I'm on a mission to show my regular players that a dungeon crawl is neither necessarily hack-and-slash or a railroad."

    I like the sound of that. Good luck getting the game going. :)

    1. Thanks, Christian!

      We had our second session last weekend and so far, so good!

  2. If you are going to use "index cards", you might want to pick up some of those packages of them that have five colors in each . . . and then color code the items/supplies.

    By the way, 'treasure' found during the crawl should then be on cards as well (i.e., green card for "Potion #3 - smells acrid"). Of course the party won't necessarily know what the potion will do.

    For one-off games per-generated characters are an excellent idea. Also I very highly recommend having a "to hit ACx" matrix on their character sheets. THAC0 is easy to figure out but so many players really never get the hang of it. This will help avoid the "what do I need to hit it" syndrome that so slows down games.

    Have fun!

    -- Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Love the idea for cards for treasure! I hadn't considered that - it definitely could add to the sense of actually gaining something, and I could make each one unique and not have to make up some description of it at the table.

      The character sheet i use as the base template includes a To hit matrix. it's the sample one in the b/x books that is supposed to be a sheet of notebbook paper.


  3. I like the resource management ideas. Definitely having the characters ready to go will cut down on lag time.

    1. Hi Sean,

      Yeah, definitely doing pre-gen for the meetup group. I thought i could speed it up ,but no. Even with my regulars and my direct involvement and attempts to streamline choices, it was still too long.

      As for resource management, I think for a low level game that is about exploration and supplies it will work great. It did strike me that in a higher level game it wouldn't have nearly the same utility. If they have 50 torches, 50 cards seems tedious, ditto for 100 arrows or some such.


  4. I've never run a game for random people, and I want to. On the whole, I realized reading this that I've never written down my gaming goals. Things like running more games for strangers, doing D&D for charity, and having a PC in my game fall in love. Not to mention just playing a larger variety of games. Definitely gonna put this in tomorrow's roundup on my gaming blog. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    1. hi Jim,
      Thanks for the comment!

      I'm a habitual goal setter (not so much on the accomplishing side), so it was natural for me to extend it to my hobby stuff. it also has the benefit of helping me evaluate hobby expenses.