Index Card D&D

I feel as though I’ve been somewhat remiss lately in keeping up with the gaming portion of content on what is nominally a gaming blog.  Hopefully that will change soon, and if it does, let this be the turning point!

I can’t take any credit for this, but I wanted to share.  A couple weeks ago, my DCC DM had asked a couple of us over to try out something he’d been working on.  His own write-up of it can be found here.

The basic conceit is a player-generated DMless Dungeons & Dragons game that can be created from scratch in a few minutes and played for several hours.  Or days, if you want to build up giant decks over the course of several meetups.

We each were given a handful of index cards and were told to write up a basic class, a piece of starting equipment, a monster, a trap, a spell, a piece of treasure and a dungeon geomorph with numbers indicating how many things were in each room.  After about 5 minutes, we each had characters, a microdungeon and a handful of things that filled it.

Monsters/traps/treasures/spells go into the junk deck and geomorphs go into the dungeon deck.  As you go from room to room, flip the top dungeon card and put the indicated number junk deck items face down.  We put “X” on the back of monsters, since you’re going to have to deal with those first in any room.  Or not.  We talked about other options, such as ONLY wandering monsters.

In our first foray, we apparently ended up in a temple of crap (how very DCC!); the entrance (first dungeon card played) had no obvious exits but did have a privy pit that we decided connected to the next card, which happened to be the storage annex of a temple.  I think only one of us escaped our first run, because we’d made pretty mean monsters because no one wanted to be the guy who made a weaksauce monster.

After a few more plays, adding new cards to the decks each time, we had a more balanced experience; if things were too tough, we’d add in some weaker monsters, or if they’d gotten too easy, we’d add in harder ones.  The self-correcting element worked out really well and, by the end of the night, we decided to do one last run after adding “boss monsters”.

We didn’t get around to testing the magic mechanics, as after the first fatal run we came up with more fighter driven classes (an Edgeman, a Lizardman Looter, and some sort of Saw-Blade wielding Ripper), but it was a lot of fun!

It’s very rules-lite in a sense that you basically ‘do this thing and play D&D with it’, with D&D being stripped down to its most abstract ‘things have HD’ and ‘roll d20 to attack AC’, so you adapt it to whichever version you prefer.  In practice, the play experience is a lot like I would imagine something like this to be.  Which is to say awesome.  Your dungeons will end up being as weird and woolly as whatever you could imagine.  We had everything from a hall of mirrors that you could get lost in or smash your way out of to a doctor’s office with a snakes & ladders waiting room.

At some point, I’d like to come up with a slightly more codified explanation of play, but I think this and my DM’s post should be more than enough to get you started.

6 responses to “Index Card D&D

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