Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Diceless Dungeons Are Here!

Inside every old-school game is a diceless system waiting to get out, and so we're proud to announce the release of our digital version of Diceless Dungeons!  Because diceless gaming is just about as old-school as you're gonna get.  After all, decision-making, exploration, and role-playing are the foundations of old-school adventure, and anyone who's spent an entire session debating how best to proceed knows what we mean...

Seriously, how many of us have gone an entire session without so much as rolling die one, or with minimal dice in favor of negotiation and role-playing? 

So Diceless Dungeons exploits the no-brainer stuff, because you never know what's hiding around the next corner, and this is just low-hanging fruit.  But Diceless dungeons does other things meant to preserve an old-school feel in a gaming genre otherwise known for it's more modern leanings.  Ultimately, we wanted something pure that would feel more like childhood play, only with an objective mechanical foundation to hold it all together:

(1) Simple (but detailed) rules for character creation that include the mysterious sorcerer's apprentice and a challenging, but straightforward, magic system.

We kinda think our rulebook
channels Tunnels & Trolls in some respects...

(2) A combat system that preserves the feeling of risk and uncertainty while possessing an objective mooring to guard against supposed unfairness by the referee.

(3) Monsters and powerful magic to be won (and wielded) and a non-typical advancement system that makes it easy for replacement characters to jump in!

(4) A narrative system of gameplay that makes everything a tactical choice with combat, in particular, becoming a chance for players to manage personal resources while preserving a traditional division of labor between the party and, or course, their referee.  

(5)  And, finally, all of this is delivered with the look and feel of an amateur digest rulebook from the early 1970s.  Oh, and there's also an optional dice mechanic offered for the faint of heart and all those diceless skeptics out there (one called himself die-curious)!

The aims of this 42-page rulebook are summed up in its closing words:

"More than anything else, this is a game of 
imaginative play.  There is enough freedom to make anything 
possible balanced with just enough structure to hold it all 
together, and a willingness to negotiate and improvise will unlock everything it 
has to offer.  Thrilling adventure awaits, with or without dice..."

Also worth pointing out is that this game emphasizes human adventurers in a low-magic world seeking fame and riches underground.  There are no demi-humans on offer, although creative types will surely add them, and we might too at some future date!  Oh, and we're working on its softcover (and digest-sized) counterpart we hope to get out in the weeks ahead, pending a proof from Lulu, cause' it's always that, right?  Until then, the digital version beckons...


  1. Reading now, first thought is that melee fighters need offensive combat maneuvers. Reduce rounds remaining by expending a skill point and laying into them. Some variations on that.

    Second thought was using playing cards to represent combat rounds, flip for damage (Ace=1 etc) - the GM scripts the order at the start of combat (or selects and then shuffles and deals). Narrative is based on damage dealt that round (GM can peek in advance to drop hints).

    1. Excellent ideas! There WILL be a supplement...

  2. My not so humble opinion, diceless is the devil. Now that, that's out of the way. This is what makes our hobby so wonderful. So many different viewpoints, and ideas. Even if something isn't in your wheelhouse, or liking. The creativity in projects is awesome and sometimes primed to be mined for systems/ideas/projects of ones own despite dislikes. Sorry random thought/rant that forced its way out of my noggin. Carry on. :-)

  3. Color me intrigued but not (yet) a gamer who has always reached for dice...what is the elevator pitch? For example, what is the basic resolution mechanic? Thanks!

  4. I just received my copy and did my first read-thru. I have a a few questions relating to the combat system, if you don't mind my asking:

    Do you have the players choose who gets hit before narrating the combat?

    For things like sneak attacks or picking pockets, I assume that I'm supposed to pick a third of the potential targets ahead of time that might be aware and on guard against such things? I get that the game generally is about using the fiction to inform outcomes, but I'm curious how you, as the designer, do it.

    I'm guessing that clever maneuvers in battles might shorten the duration of the battle? Some plausible coup-de-grace such as dumping slippery oil under the feet of charging goblins, firing lightning into the water to electrocute the piranhas, etc.

    Are you going to set up a G+ forum for this game?

    Lastly just a comment, I see how Pits & Perils and Blood of Pangea inspired how this game works. I just received The Ruined Abby of St Tabitha, and figured it, with minor adjustment, could be run with all three systems.