I have been experimenting with using Boardgame ideas in dungeon exploration. My group is mostly newer players and don’t generally enjoy the “you see a 20 foot corridor with two exits and a door to the east”. I have used this approach off and on in small ways but now applied it to Munsukaru’s Penance in from the Forest of Spirits adventure. Its a 3.5e/Pathfinder adventure which I have converted to 5e. The Paizo Adventure Paths are very good in my opinion but they consistently have one adventure which is a dungeon crawl which, if removed from the adventure, wouldn’t make much if any difference to the overall story. They seem to exist to gain levels with no other pay off for the PCs. See the Choking Tower for another example.
While converting it I also added more pay-off for the PCs – with clues to a “mech” they can use in the final battle against the bad-guys tarrasque (kaiju fight).
The rules for the dungeon are:
- Use tiles to represent rooms or other important features.
- Party must explore at least half of the tiles and then can move onto the next level.
- They can pick any tile they like when exploring.
- They have the option to explore as many tiles as they wish.
- Once moving to another level the remaining tiles are put into an optional pile that can be explored at anytime – shuffle the pile at the start of each session.
- Some tiles are chained, for example Tile A is a perquisite for B. In this case when A is revealed B is also played next to it, but otherwise, B remains with the DM.
- 1 tactical combat per level – this is just for variety.
Here is what it looked like in action (the samurai mini represented where they are):
I essentially took the most interesting parts of the dungeon and added them as individual or interconnected tiles.
So far, I have found this approach to be more engaging than the normal dungeon-crawl.
Of course, YMMV.
Banner Credit: MF Zork! by burrowowl