Game Time: Dungeon Robber

You guys know I’m a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons. You also know, or at least should vaguely recall me mentioning, that I first got into the game at the age of 10, in the wayback of 1983.

For those that can do math, yes, that means I’m 44 years old, and spend a lot of time running a blog about anime and Dungeons & Dragons. Bite me.

Years before I was first introduced to D&D, one of the games primary creators, Gary Gygax, had realized that not everybody was going to have a group of people to play D&D with. Since he wanted to make the game accessible to everyone, he did what Gary Gygax did best.

He totally bullshitted a solution. Like a boss.

As this simple flowchart explains perfectly.

Okay, yes, I’m a huge fan of D&D, and am eternally grateful to Gary for giving this amazing thing to the world. That doesn’t make me blind, however, to reality. Gary bullshitted a lot of rules, solutions, and workarounds to his own bullshitting. He was the original homebrew champion, and is probably still bullshitting his way through things as he plays D&D with God in Heaven.

By the way, God totally plays a Rogue. Because irony came from somewhere.

Of the many results that came of Gary’s attempts to make D&D available as a single player game were the first edition random dungeon generator charts, first published in 1979. These charts allowed a single person to play D&D, by tossing out the rules of logic, physics, math, and common sense.

Basically, what the charts did was allow you to random roll everything in a dungeon. Rooms, doors, directions, monsters, loot, all of it. It is best known for being so batshit insane, that even the staunchest defender of D&D kind of shakes their head and tries not to mention the utter insanity these charts would create.

Primarily because any attempt to map a dungeon created in this way was so futile, even the Borg didn’t resist. Hallways and rooms would cross over each other in a manner Cthulu found insulting. Once you were in the dungeon, getting out was pretty much impossible, unless you lucked onto an exit. Which meant you were well and truly boned if you wanted to go sell all your sweet loot, instead of dragging it around like a deranged mall Santa.

The encounters were even worse. While the monster difficulties were scaled according to what floor you were on, how many of them there were was also random. One lone adventurer against six Goblins is still not a fair fight.

The traps were the worst, though. Those things weren’t even scaled properly. Set off a trap, and you could be killed instantly by a poor roll of the dice. Impaling, falling, being set on fire, or melted in a pool of acid all awaited your unlucky wrist flip.

In a nut shell, the charts were super deadly. Enough so, they were more or less impossible to play anything like a sensible game with. Loot was scarce, monsters were aplenty, traps were everywhere, and the whole mess was a Mobius strip of madness.

It was awesome.

So, what’s all that got to do with anything, I hear you asking?

Because some madman took those charts, and turned them into a playable browser game.

Like, literally.

Yes, you too can now know the madness inducing meanderings through an ever changing labyrinth of despair, traps, horror, and cheap pay offs that was my first understanding of playing the game of Dungeons & Dragons.

I have mentioned it’s amazing I’m sane, haven’t I? Pretty sure I did. The Minotaur reminded me of it, but that guy lies worse than the dragon he rides around on.

Dungeon Robber is as faithful a recreation of the original 1979 charts as possible, randomly rolling every room, encounter, trap, and loot, just as it was done back then. It’s also completely insane, just like it was. Nothing about the dungeon makes any sense, because that’s what a faithful recreation should be like.

Developed by, the game only tweaks the original first edition D&D rules enough to make everything work as it needs to in order to be a stable browser game. Everything else is left just as it was, including that growing sense of desperation to find a way out when your first level character accidentally slides down a shaft and finds themselves on level five, surrounded by monsters that can kill them by sneezing in their general direction.

The graphics aren’t fancy, mostly just a flowchart, the same one, more or less, that accompanied the rules and charts needed to play the single player D&D version. You can access a very basic character sheet, and your inventory, as well as a visit a small town which your exploits can help make more prosperous.

Home sweet horror.

Th town is the neatest part of the whole game, really. There’s a cemetery where you can visit all your characters that have died, and the whole place actually grows and changes as you retire characters and start up new ones. Just like the dungeon itself, it’s silly and random, but it does give the whole thing something it was missing back in the day.

A sense of purpose.

There’s not a lot else to say about Dungeon Robber. It is what it is. Simple, straight forward, and mind numbingly absurd. It’s also a ton of fun, and a great way to kill a bit of time when you’ve got nothing else to do.

Head on over to blogofholding, and give it a go. The Elder Gods await the chance to devour your sanity.

The Ear Seeker is particularly friendly.

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