Monday, October 14, 2013

Song of Drar and Murin: planning a solo dungeon crawl campaign - Part 1

picture from BoardGameGeek

I've been toying with the idea of solo-wargaming for a while now, and it seems like the pieces are coming together, if you will excuse the pun...

I already own a few terrain cloth and terrain items, but setting up and cleaning up afterwards is a bit too much of an effort for a solo game, so my mind turned to dungeon tiles. These have the advantage of being being to store, set-up, and take down, and look good even though they are 2-dimensional. I wanted something geomorphic, but unfortunately the selection on RPGnow were more of the "toolkit" variety.

The breakthrough came when I saw the Dungeon Command box sets which my brother had bought; these are "ready to play" faction sets which contain rules, pre-painted plastic miniatures, game cards, as well as double-sided cardboard terrain tiles which interlock in a jigsaw puzzle fashion. Each box comes with two large tiles (8" x 8") and two small tiles (8" x 4"), as you can see above. My brother has bought them for the pre-painted minis, which means he will be passing me the tiles, giving me a total of ten large tiles and ten small tiles.

Now the large tiles are the key here, because they are large enough to allow a mass skirmish while still having features that block line-of-sight, and they are geomorphic to three of their sides, which means I can combine the tiles in a large number of configurations.

Also contained in the box sets are creature cards for both the Dungeon Command game (which is a diceless skirmish game) and the other D&D dungeon crawl games. The latter are the second key to my plans.

They describe the tactics used by the creatures the cards represent, and tell the player what a creature would do if it was adjacent to a player character, what it would do if it was near a character, and what it would do if it was far away from a character. This gives each type of creature a "doctrine" which while predictable was logical, and did not require an additional die-roll and looking up of charts.

With these two elements in place I looked to the figures I already own for a setting, and the top choice was dwarves versus goblins in a "battle for Moria" setting. I will play a dwarven warband against the goblins occupying Moria, which will be controlled by the game mechanics.

Now I think the traditional dungeon crawl where you go from room to room to find random creatures, kill them, take their stuff, then carrying on to the next room where the occupants act as if they hadn't noticed what had been happening next door a little... silly. Having a "monster" faction with few troop types seemed a more realistic option for me.

The next step was to decide on a set of rules, and since we are going to be playing OGAM soon, I decided to turn to the Song of Blades and Heroes, which the OGAM rules are based on. The use of three range bands instead of measurements for movement and shooting allows me to write the algorithm for the goblins based on their distance from the dwarves: for example, goblin archers will move away from a dwarf if in contact or within short range, shoot if at medium range, and move to medium range and shoot if at above medium range.

Once I got the ruleset decided, I could start working on the maths.

(continued in Part 2)


Simon Quinton said...

ooo interesting, Looking forward to the next bit. Out of interest though why don't you use Song of Gold and Darkness? That has soloplay elements from what i've read.

captain arjun said...


I looked at SOGAD, but the additional rules are mainly for generation of treasures and traps, which I think are not applicable for what I am trying to depict here.

I am getting the tiles from my brotehr tomorrow, so hopeully I can get a quick game in in the evening.

Simon Quinton said...

Cool just wondered :D I've picked them up but not read through them yet.