Welcome to Avalon, a world full of dungeons, adventures and monsters!
We are pleased to have the opportunity to talk to Rodger Deering, the creative mastermind and developer of the upcoming dungeon crawler Dungeon Crusade – Book I: Genesis of Evil. Join us in this exclusive interview on a journey through the deepest board game dungeons to find out more about this promising game, its unique gameplay mechanics and why you need a huge table to set everything up.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer a few questions! We love to talk about board games in general and even more to learn about them from designers like yourself. To get started, would you mind giving us a quick overview of yourself and your life as a board game designer?
First off, I greatly thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me about Dungeon Crusade. I’m very grateful.
I have played board games/video games/PC games since I was a kid until now. I love all types of games, but by far my most favorite kind are fantasy dungeon crawl games, fantasy adventure, etc. Ever since I was a kid until now, I’m UBER passionate and obsessed with them, but especially dungeon crawl games. If it’s a dungeon, heroes involved, quests to complete, loot to be had and monsters to slay, I’m down for it! 🙂
I managed to resist backing board games on Kickstarter until last year and therefore missed the successful campaign for your current project, Dungeon Crusade. What inspired you to develop a full-scale role-playing game (as your first game)?
There is a lot I would like to say here about that. Many things led me to do Dungeon Crusade. So I’ll try to explain the many aspects of it.
1) I feel I was blessed with a fairly creative and imaginative mindset. I tend to think outside the box and strive to innovate rather than imitate. I’m a good problem solver and love to figure things out in a fun & innovative way.
I also possess a truckload of drive, determination, focus and strong will to make a commitment, and get things done, especially when people are looking forward to it. Throughout my life, I genuinely love to do things for people to enjoy.
2) The game I have searched for my whole life, never existed. So years ago, I set out to create it. However, I’m a diehard soloist board gamer. I wanted this game, (Dungeon Crusade) to be geared primarily for the soloist gamer. I have seen for years; many players like me want to enjoy a board game solo.
3) To have this innovative and new game experience I wanted to give to myself and fellow gamers and what I envisioned, Dungeon Crusade just turned out the way that you see it. However, I was very observant to make this game very manageable and not too complicated, and everything just to make sense.
Truth be told, I do not care for complex games all that much. I feel they don’t hit the table that often due to their complexity. While Dungeon Crusade is vast & massive, the game mechanics are quite easy and very easy to grasp.
Dungeon Crawlers seem to be on top of the board game food chain at the moment, and games like Gloomhaven are scoring one award after another. How would you compare Dungeon Crusade to the likes of Gloomhaven, Dungeon Alliance or even Dungeon & Dragons? Are there any mechanics you love and which are similar to DC? And what are the unique features to separate DC from the Dungeon Crawler crowd?
Right off the bat I think anyone just taking a look at Dungeon Crusade can see this is something entirely different just in appearance alone.
For one, Dungeon Crusade is to my knowledge, the first open-world dungeon crawl board game. An open world defined by the perimeter of the dungeon boards which are 3×2 feet. When the heroes enter the dungeon, they can go anywhere they like, complete their quests how they like. There is nothing linear about Dungeon Crusade. It’s a very unique, exciting and new experience for people.
The heroes are given their quests, and it’s up to the player(s) how they would like to complete them. There are chambers of the dungeon where high-level monsters lurk. If a player is genuinely bold enough, nothing is stopping them from entering those chamber(s) and doing battle with them. LOL, I would not recommend that reckless gameplay, however! 🙂
Another thing in Dungeon Crusade is you control 6 heroes and their faithful fetchhound Albus. You see, when the heroes enter the dungeon, they are there until they complete a certain amount of quests, then they return to the village for Celebration Day. The heroes can send Albus back to the village to retrieve new gear, potions, torches, etc. Albus is an essential and crucial part of the game. And no worries! Albus can never be hurt, maimed or killed. Monsters merely ignore Albus and vice versa.
We also have two different types of encounters the heroes will have with the monsters in the game. There are three different types of monsters in the game – Minions, champions, and guardians. Minions and guardians roam the halls and corridors of the dungeon, while champion monsters reside within the chambers of the dungeon. One of the exciting parts about Dungeon Crusade is when heroes enter into a chamber. They will have no clue as to what champion monster lurks inside! So having two different types of encounters with monsters keeps the game on the edge and fresh.
The treasure chests/treasure chest deck is another unique feature of Dungeon Crusade. When I designed the treasure chest deck, it’s the ultimate in risk and reward. I created some great treasure chests with different amounts of gold within them, some chests that have powerful artifacts within them, a few empty chests, and there are trapped/bad chests a hero could find. There is no guarantee your hero is going to find an excellent chest every time. The dungeons of Dungeon Crusade are quite dangerous and loaded with all kinds of things, good and bad. Risk & reward! 😉
And there also is true party building. In the land of Avalon, there are many different types of warfare. Heroes are only versed in a few types of warfare, and weak in a few of them. Monsters are the same way. A key to victory in Dungeon Crusade is building small parties of heroes that compliment each others warfare traits. So you may have a barbarian who excels at chaos warfare, but terrible in arcane warfare. You would create a party with the barbarian who excels at chaos warfare, but then bring the wizard in who excels at arcane warfare. That is a great combination to take on the creatures & monsters in the many dungeons of Avalon.
No hero is a “superpower” in Dungeon Crusade. However, as they rise in level, and you equip different gear on them, (193 pieces of loot in the game…I love loot 😉 ) and you mine for precious stones and minerals and have the blacksmith in the village craft power gems to insert into sockets on some gear, you can build your hero as you see fit. I believe players will be quite happy with how they can develop their heroes how they see fit.
Another unique aspect of the game is the Avalon Adventure board game. You play this before playing Dungeon Crusade. You will travel around the land of Avalon doing micro-adventures, small dungeon delves, exploring crypts, towers, and tombs, getting into trouble in the villages, fight monsters and many other things. I have written over 250 different encounters just for this game. Your objective is to recover the 3 magical runes to shatter the curse on the dungeon doors. Every game, these are randomly placed and hidden providing tons of replay value.
There is more I can say but I don’t want to bore you or the readers. 🙂
I am not sure why, but when looking at the Dungeon Crusade photos, it reminds me of some of the amazing PC dungeon crawlers. Did you have any specific board/video games in mind when you started the development?
When I set out years ago to create/develop Dungeon Crusade, I wanted to break the mold of the fantasy dungeon crawl genre, and give fellow gamer’s and people something truly, innovative, unique, immersive and quite fun. I’m incredibly passionate about fantasy/dungeon crawl types of games.
I grew up playing board games like Dungeonquest, Dark Tower, Warhammer Quest and of course Heroquest. But I also LOVE those PC RPG’s from that golden era as I call it. Games like the Ultima series, Eye of the Beholder, Might & Magic, Wizardry and my personal favorite Baldur’s Gate. Plus many more. I let these games inspire me, and my creativity & imagination in designing Dungeon Crusade. Anything I do in life, I strive to innovate rather than imitate. To me, that’s when real progress is made, and you further whatever you are trying to accomplish.
So bottom line, Dungeon Crusade is very retro-inspired at its core. It was just a sheer pleasure to work with Kickstarter, the awesome backers, and these amazing artists to bring Dungeon Crusade to life for all of us to enjoy.
It only takes a quick looking at the Kickstarter or official pre-order page to realize that Dungeon Crusade will be a HUGE game. What is your main goal and focus and what player type do you have in mind?
As I said above, I set out to break the mold of the dungeon crawl genre and give all of us new to enjoy, and hopefully build a thriving community around.
One of the many things that were paramount to me in creating Dungeon Crusade is to make this like a creative toolset for people to create their own quests, scenarios, and mods and share them with others. People that play these types of games are a creative and imaginative bunch, and they have a story they want to tell. With Dungeon Crusade, they will have that chance to do so. This is one of the most significant rewards I’m looking forward to. Seeing what people will create with the game.
I will be releasing the actual blank quest cards and scenario pages for people to download so when they create their content, it will look pretty much like it came with the game. One of my “hero” games is Neverwinter Nights. Bioware allowed people to create modules to share with others, and there are still things being made for that game! So my thought is there will always be something fresh and new to experience with Dungeon Crusade.
When you asked about player type, I suppose someone who wants to experience something pretty creative and a brand new game experience. Again I go back to the dungeon. It’s so refreshing, and daunting at the same time when you place your heroes on the siege tile at the outset of the game and a player does what they wish. It’s quite an odd/exciting/unique feeling. LOL, be careful where you send your heroes…it’s a dangerous dungeon for sure.
Looking at the full setup, you seem to need a huge gaming table, but also plenty of time to set up the game. Is this the case or is Dungeon Crusade also a game for a quick game fix?
That is true, you do need some time to set up the game and some decent space for all the “Crusadeness.” The thing about Dungeon Crusade, and it’s hard to describe without showing you, but you can play a scenario that is very short or have a LONG drawn out game.
But of course, you need all the game content out and set up to play either type.
In one of your latest updates, you mentioned that you feel cardboard enemy and hero standees are the preferred option. In the age of miniature games, why did you decide to go down the 2D route instead of the detailed 3D?
First and foremost, Dungeon Crusade is a retro-inspired game. Being someone who is very much into retro things, cool looking cardboard miniatures belong in Dungeon Crusade. There is just an undeniable charm to them, especially with how well done they are. Plus, it gives Dungeon Crusade a unique identity among other dungeon crawlers.
Another huge reason I went this route is gameplay. The game plays so well with these. The guardians, (the bosses of the game) are quite huge and because how I designed them don’t hinder gameplay at all.
I love huge plastic minis, don’t get me wrong, but wow..sometimes in some games they are more of a hindrance and detracts from the game. Another thing to consider is there is no painting involved. So many people get games that have so many plastic miniatures, it’s sometimes impossible to find the time to paint them all.
Lastly, I think that in some cases cardboard miniatures goes with fantasy board games so nicely. I think it adds to the theme and makes it more enjoyable.
Talking about heroes, what I am missing in most (role-playing) board games, is a proper level system which gradually rewards my champions with new skills, more hit points, items, etc. after each of the adventures. How does the level up and skill system in Dungeon Crusade look like?
Heroes in Dungeon Crusade can obtain level 3 in the game. When a hero reaches the next level, they will take a new hero card that will increase their health, the amount of essence they have and a new higher set of special abilities open up to them. Also, they get more proficient in the different warfare types.
Each hero has 3 unique special abilities, and each ability can be leveled up to level 3. Think of this as a skill tree. Also, when heroes level up, they can wield more powerful weapons and equip better armor. There are 3 different tiers of loot in the game. So at level 1, a hero can use tier 1 gear, at level 2, tier 2 gear, etc.
As a side note, there are 193 pieces of unique loot in Dungeon Crusade spread out over 9 different types.
A mining and crafting system in a board game – how cool is that! I love the idea to mine resources and craft new items and weapons from it. How detailed will the system be and will you get better items from crafting than from mission rewards?
Crafting & mining in Dungeon Crusade is very fun & easy. Let me explain it a bit to you. During setup, there will be 8 potential mining sites, however only 4 real ones. It’s random where the mining sites show up from game to game.
A hero or Albus must explore to find these mining sites. Once one is discovered, a hero needs a pickaxe to mine. When a hero mines, they will maybe just find rocks & pebbles, minerals such as moonstone and zultanite or precious gems that hold magical properties within.
A hero or Albus can take these back to the blacksmith for him to craft power gems that heroes can plug into socketed weapons and armor to give them a wide array of bonuses. There are many different “recipe” cards a hero can choose from depending on if they have the right materials/gems/minerals to craft it.
There is more to crafting & mining, but that’s it in a nutshell. But this is yet another way a player can build their hero as they see fit and make it unique to them.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Patrol System, one of the unique features of DC?
Yes, one of the most significant features in Dungeon Crusade is a system I created/developed called the patrol route system. What this does is gives the player what I call a “living dungeon.” Monsters move throughout the 3 by 2-foot dungeons with random movement and behavior. You never have to “think” where a monster or creature will roam to next, the patrol route system, or rather their A.I. takes care of that for you.
What you will have to do however is adjust your tactics, strategies and planning on the fly because monsters are continually moving, and you as a player will never know just where they are going. I have a video on the companies YouTube channel where I demo this. Please excuse the video if anyone views it, it’s using the rough prototype board I created years ago. But there is much newer final content where you can see examples of this system in action.
But all 4 dungeon boards for Dungeon Crusade have this patrol route system in place. As I said, dungeons in Dungeon Crusade measure 3 x 2 feet in size.
Besides the base game, you are developing three additional (mini) games to complete the adventure in Avalon. Can you tell us a little bit more about them and why you decided to add them to the base game?
These are the House of Chance games found in the village. During Celebration Day, the heroes can enter into the House of Chance and play one of 4 games where they can bet gold, and hopefully win big. The games are Tower Attack! (comes standard in all editions) then there is Skull Jack, Heroes vs. Monsters and The Adventures of Bravely the Knight. These 3 games come in the Master of the Realm edition.
These games don’t take that long to play, maybe 5-10 minutes. But if heroes are low on gold, and they need to make purchases in the village for their upcoming delve, there is no mater place than the House of Chance to win big…hopefully! 😉
I added the other 3 games to give people more ways to enjoy the House of Chance with different games to play. The Adventures of Bravely the Knight is my personal favorite.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the House of Chance is people are thinking you play ALL 4 games at once! That is not the case. Only one game shows up for Celebration Day, and it’s random which game shows up. The 4 games are numbered 1 through 4. You simply roll 1D4. The result is what game will be in the House of Chance for this Celebration Day.
While you are putting the final touches on the game, board game fans across the globe still have the chance to pre-order it. Do you plan to keep the pre-order online until launch? And will there be a chance to buy the game once it has officially been released?
Yes. The pledge manager will be open until we must start mass production. So there is plenty of time. So no hurry or worries about pledging for a copy of the game just yet. We will be giving plenty of fair warning when the pledge manager will be locked down.
I tell people to continue learning about the Dungeon Crusade universe and seeing everything that it has to offer. I always try to get out as much information as I can to everyone so they can make a well informed and comfortable pledge for Dungeon Crusade.
We will have some extra copies on hand, and there are talks about Dungeon Crusade going retail, but as of right now, this game is only being offered through Kickstarter/Pledge Manager.
Thanks a lot for your time! Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers and us?
I greatly thank you for this awesome, opportunity to talk to everyone about Dungeon Crusade. I genuinely believe this is just a great season in all of our lives to be able to create something as grand as Dungeon Crusade to enjoy together.
There is so much more I could say about the game, it’s truly vast. But my goal was, of course, to break the mold of the fantasy dungeon crawl genre and do something for people that was different, innovative and unique. I wanted this game always to be “fresh” for people when they play it.
But we will be doing a massive expansion for Dungeon Crusade later this year. Right off the bat, there will be a TON of new monsters themed for each dungeon board, plus a new double-sided dungeon board I will be designing just a little different to change it up for everyone. There will be new types of loot, new encounters, more quests, more scenarios and a few other new features. I’m out to show how to do a proper expansion for a massive dungeon crawl game.
One last thing I wanted to touch on is a very creative and innovative way I developed the scenarios in the game. Let me explain…
There are six different difficulty settings and 3 different game modes for players to try out while playing Dungeon Crusade.
The six difficulties are…
There are also those different panels. Heroes starting gold, blacksmith inventory, bazaar inventory, village terror level, raid difficulty, guardian spawn track, guardians per quest table and minion population.
The seeding panel is used to populate the dungeon after quests have been set up.
Here are the three different game modes…
SELECT A DIFFICULTY:
This one is pretty straightforward. If you look at the scenario page, all of the columns are labeled with the different difficulties. So say we picked normal difficulty…
We would refer to each panel on the page, go down each column marked normal and set the game up as instructed.
It’s as simple as that.
CREATE A CUSTOM DIFFICULTY:
In this game mode, a player can tweak everything on the different panels except the seeding area.
15 different things can be tweaked/set over the six different difficulty settings. A player can create a custom difficulty to their liking, and create new challenges for themselves from game to game.
RANDOMLY GENERATE A SCENARIO DIFFICULTY:
Lol, watch out would be Crusaders! This is indeed only for the most courageous and bold at heart!
If you notice, there are images of D6’s above everything in the different panels. What a player can do is roll a D6 for each different setting within a panel and let fate decide what your heroes will have to deal with for the forthcoming game.
This game mode can genuinely create an almost unlimited amount of ways to play Dungeon Crusade.
But say you don’t want a game this extreme, no problem! Instead of a D6, use a D3. By doing this, you’ll still generate a random setting, but it won’t be as harsh or unforgiving as what could come up from using a D6.
Also pictured are some of the final quest cards for the game and some of the quest tokens.
I wasn’t about to give people just a scenario book, and one difficulty. There is almost an endless amount of ways to play and enjoy Dungeon Crusade, and give people so many options to create the game to their personal liking and challenge.
In closing, I guess, think of Dungeon Crusade like a massive machine with different cogs and gears all turning. You will never see the same game twice I assure you. I love games that are replayable, very random, surprising and whimsical.
I encourage people to check out the companies YouTube channel for all of the videos on Dungeon Crusade and stay connected with us on the Dungeon Crusade facebook page. We are always posting the latest news, information, updates, images, posters, videos and keeping everyone in the loop of what’s going on with the game.
Thank you again and I hope everyone has a great day! Happy gaming! :)”
- Dungeon Crawler / Role-playing Game
- 1 – 6 Players
- Publisher: Groovus Games
- Release 2018