Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Introducing Neck Junk

It will come as a surprise to no one that adventuring parties will be able to salvage useless goods from the bodies of the fallen. I wanted to make this booty feel special. I wanted to make this treasure seem unique, but also to make clear to cautious adventurers that they needn't hold onto it. Hence the "Junk" category, subdivided into different categories of wearable junk as appropriate. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Narration Example

Here's an example of what I posted about a few days ago. You can see that there's a mix of standard RPG-style responses and some past-tense narration.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Update and Color Question

What with grading papers and trying to be a good citizen, I've had little time this weekend to put into Dungeon-Town. But that doesn't mean no time.

You may have noticed that, little by little, color has been creeping into the screenshots I've been posting. Originally I was going to go all black and white, but it just made no sense not to use some color for UI elements to better organize things visually. I'm still trying to be sparing with it, though, for the sake of consistency and game flavor. So far, I'm using crimson for player outlines and status effects, purple for enemy outlines, and a dark brownish yellow for the log. Share any thoughts you have!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Past Tense and Third Person

Conversations in the game unfold normally. But there are some exceptions. I'm using narration, not just dialog. So you may occasionally get a "he said" or "she said," though I'm trying not to use stuff like "he said, his mouth twisting into a scornful sneer." That can get very exhausting to read. I'll also have some descriptive narration built in. My visual environments are very minimalistic, so I'm counting on text to carry some of the weight of immersion.

More unconventionally, I'm not using the typical tense of game narration, the present, and I'm not using "You" to refer to the player. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pale Felsprites

These are some of the first creatures parties will meet when exploring the dungeons. They're kind of like goblins. The first set of images is for melee attackers, the second is for ranged. They throw stones (even if in the image it looks like they throw large marbles).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Current Tasks

-Fine-tuning class designs 
-Putting all powers (with statistics) into a spreadsheet
-Fully implementing (i.e., with visuals and stats) tinker, magician, and witch first-level powers for testing
-Fully implementing class-specific unique weapons for testing
-Testing combat (balance and bugs) A LOT
-Converting non-token portraits
-Finishing conversation trees for first faction quest (Church Militant)
-Slowly adding all mundane weapons and armor to game with stats and textual icons
-Adding cave tiles and making maps for Ida's Deeps
-Adding tiles for the Librarium interior

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Wastrels are the game's version of bards. Non-specialists who have wasted their lives in dilettantish pursuits, they have access to first- and second-level powers from all classes, all the games' traits, and most arms and armor. Unfortunately, wastrels' SP and BAB are among the lowest in the game, so while they may have knowledge and potential, their ability to put thought into action isn't always evident in their performance on the field of battle. A wastrel with the right stats, equipment, and trait/power loadout can be deadly, though.

Photo from the title of a 1911 novel by the same name I found on Google Books (not an in-game image).

Monday, January 23, 2017


I posted earlier about some of the skills in the game, all of which come from traits (feats). Here is how one of those skills -- "Tactician," available only to mercenaries, captains, and wastrels -- will work.

First, before any combat, the game checks to make sure one of the players has this trait and a high enough wisdom. If so, the players enter a tactics map.

As you can see, the map gives details about some of the enemies. It also includes a Help button.

Walking over this button triggers a Help dialog, so players who don't read my blog will know what is going on.

Finally, the player chooses one of the red squares to arrange his/her starting forces. In lots of encounters, this can give a huge advantage. The battle begins as soon as the player enters one of these squares.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fluff Diaries #1: Discordium

Let's Go Down to Dungeon-Town has two kinds of magic -- witchcraft, practiced by the witch class, and high magic, practiced by magicians. I'll go into more detail about witchcraft later, but here's a brief run-down on one of the crucial components of high magic, discordium.

Discordium is both a magical substance or energy (think mana) and grammar. I know that doesn't make much sense, but I feel like that's how magic should be.

The first magicians in the modern sense (i.e., in the sense of the game) were theologians of the Church of the Perfect Light whose studies of the holy texts provided them with what they called "echoes" of the language used to create the world. They realized that these echoes had patterns and rules like those of mundane grammar. When apprehending this fact -- but only momentarily, because they could not hold the apprehension in their minds very long --, they spontaneously generated what they later learned to call discordium. How this apprehension happens and why it is impossible to prolong it remain great mysteries.

Anyway, with discordium the theologians discovered they could manipulate and distort the patterns of creation to make magic. They called it discordium because it was, in musical terms, discordant with the music of creation and the nature of reality. Magic owes its extraordinary effects to this fact.

In-game description of discordium:

Discordium is an invisible but definite substance as well as the grammar of a language -- a concept very hard to wrap one's mind around, but there it is. All magicians use discordium when casting spells, but the process of isolating and preserving it for complicated magical purposes like implement use and ceremonies can be quite challenging. Despite the efforts of some entrepreneurial magicians, discordium, unlike most things, resists commodification.

 In less fluffy terms, the "High Magic" trait allows magicians to gather discordium and to use it to power their wands and to trigger powerful out-of-battle spells.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Combat Music (For a Game)

I'll talk about discordium over the weekend. The day has me feeling combative, and I just finished working on the combat song for the game. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Some Changes to Armor

Whenever I am out shopping, it is always weird to see magical leather armor costing so much more than mundane armor that offers better protection. Sure, the magical leather wouldn't come with a steep armor check penalty and wouldn't be as heavy, but these considerations seem very slight compared to that of dying all the time because of inadequate protection. In the interest of streamlining, I got rid of some mundane armors that seemed mechanically redundant, but otherwise mundane armor in Dungeon-Town has a progression of AC/max DEX bonus very similar to D&D's. But I'm changing magic armor so that any +1 for any piece also comes with two additional perks -- +5 HP and +5% resistance to different damage types. These advantages are small enough not to break the game (plus, creatures will have these or comparable advantages, too) but still make magical armor more powerful than mundane armor. Someone wearing +1 Leather Armor has a reason to wear it instead of mundane Studded Leather.

Tomorrow I am going to switch gears and talk fluff. Specifically, discordium, which is Dungeon-Town's version of mana. Kind of. Also in the works for some time within the next week -- "Combat Music for a Game." 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weapon Tweaks

Most of the d20 arms and armor standards will be in place in the game, but there are some tweaks. Mundane weapons do not have different damage types (piercing, bludgeoning, slashing do not exist in Iceblink), for instance, though magical weapons and effects usually do -- more on that later.

Instead, weapons of a similar damage range often offer balanced penalties and bonuses to PC stats to help differentiate them. Class restrictions differentiate them further. Let's take maces, spears, sickles, and rapiers, all of them 1d6-damage weapons.

Damage: 1d6
Bonuses/Penalties: None
Classes: Captain, Mercenary, Zealot, Wastrel

Damage: 1d6
Bonuses/Penalties: Range 2 (can attack across one square)
Classes: Captain, Mercenary, Wastrel

Damage: 1d6
Bonuses/Penalties: STR +1, DEX -1
Classes: Witch, Captain, Mercenary, Wastrel

Damage: 1d6
Bonuses/Penalties: STR -1, DEX +1
Classes: Magician, Captain, Mercenary, Wastrel

There's obviously a great deal of abstraction here. Rapiers don't magically increase agility while cutting strength, but they effectively cancel out some of the combatant's hitting/damage-dealing potential while increasing the wielder's ability to dodge, parry, etc. But this admittedly rough simulation is not nearly as important to me as offering players meaningful weapon choices for each character and eliminating redundancy. Weapon suitability varies quite a bit depending on class, stat arrays, and planned combat role.

I'll talk about some changes to armor (magical armor especially) tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Player Tokens

These are the player avatars. They're basically miniature portraits that move. Originally, I was going to just use these with thick borders for the avatar portraits on character sheets and along the screen border, but I decided to add upper bodies to them -- I'll post a picture of those when they're done.

Monday, January 16, 2017


The zealot is Dungeon-Town's approximation of a D&D cleric. Here is the in-game description:

For whatever reason, zealots have been refused any rank higher than Acolyte within the hierarchy of the Church of the Perfect Light. Sometimes at odds with the Church and sometimes in accord with it, they wander the world on their own eccentric quests. They are quick to throw themselves in harm's way and disdain ranged weapons, but in fact they are quite bad at melee fighting. Instead, parties profit most from their healing and fire magic.

The zealot has a weaker BAB than the cleric but can make up for it with more offensive spells -- all of which use fire. In addition, they are still able to keep to the front lines with access to all armor (minus plate), plus higher fortitude saves than their D&D cousins. They also have access to the Mystic and Brawler traits. Mystic attunes them to supernatural forces, making them more aware of supernatural dangers than other characters; Brawler lets them resort to fisticuffs when necessary.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


These are the skills in the game at the moment. The list may shrink or expand. Each class in the game -- one special class excepted -- has access to two of these; players select them when selecting traits. I'm pretty sure there will be two tiers for each skill. Finally, Wisdom is going to be the attribute that all skills use, the philosophy being that wisdom represents practical application of knowledge or ability. (Also, this keeps Wisdom from always being a dump stat!)

High Magic 
Low Magic 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Class Flavor Through Text

Classes in Dungeon-Town will have different mechanical flavors, as usual. A lot of games also make classes feel distinct using appearance. Because of the bare-bones art style I've chosen and some other limiting factors (like player choice of portrait), I'm almost exclusively using text and narrative for the same purpose.

That said, I'm also trying to stay away from lengthy exposition sa much as possible. Instead, I'm using some of the textual elements players will see most often, i.e., the names of powers, to gives players a sense of how their characters might fit into the game world with fewer words and broader strokes.

Magician's First-Level Spells

Arrow of Kleos
Minor Discord of Antiphemios 
Armor of Tyromachus 

Witch's First-Level Spells

Prithee Sleep, Cruel Babes 
Old Meg, She Gave Them Succor 
Ballad of the Frogs

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Factions

You control a band of adventurers who have come to explore Ida's Deeps, a huge dungeon occupying the interior of a mountain. The way in was sealed for ages, but that has changed. Unfortunately, you are late. The dungeons have been opened for a year, attracting adventurers from all over as well as organizations with different agendas. The Lord Mayor has decreed that all adventurers have to sign on with one of these factions to enter the dungeons. These factions are:

The Lucrios Expedition House, a straightforward moneymaking enterprise
The Librarium, a society of scholars, archaeologists, and power-hungry magicians
The Church Militant of the Perfect Light, religious soldiers who want to guard against ancient evils and enrich their institution
The Society for Autonomous Individuals, a faction with no apparent institutional agenda besides allowing freelancers access to Ida's Deeps

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Current Tasks

-Fine-tuning class designs
-Putting all powers (with statistics) into a spreadsheet
-Fully implementing (i.e., with visuals and stats) tinker, magician, and witch first-level powers for testing
-Fully implementing class-specific unique weapons for testing
-Testing combat (balance and bugs) A LOT

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Just Humans

As I responded to a comment in an earlier post, there will only be humans in this game, mostly because if I were to incorporate dwarves, elves, etc., I'd want to make their presence a meaningful part of the narrative and world, and I'm more interested in having the story revolve around profession and faction choice.

Many players like non-humans because of the mechanical variety they add to character creation. In place of the traditional options, players in Dungeon-Town can choose an unusual circumstance of birth occupying the same mechanical niche. The births of heroes from myth and legend have influenced most of these ideas.


Some Hypothetical Natal Circumstances 

Raised by Wolves 
Found in Rushes
Stygian Bath 
The Stronger One (strangled twin in womb)
Raised by Shepherds
"Changeling" (character has zero resemblance to father)
Born with a Caul


Because the player makes four characters, this can obviously lead to some narrative absurdity -- four heroes walking around all of whom were raised by wolves, for example. But realism for its own sake isn't one of my design goals.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tinker Features

Yesterday, I discussed some of the features of the tinker, with more of an emphasis on the class's limitations than on what makes it cool -- though Engineering and Alchemy did get mentioned. So here are some perks:

  • Tinkers are the only class that can use flintlocks. Flintlocks are the only ranged weapon to use the D12.
  • Tinkers have access to grenades, which are handled through use of SP rather than through inventory. The main categories are ghostpowder (entangling), vitriolic bombs (acid damage), and amber charges (electrical damage). Each grenade has different tiers.
  • Tinkers also have access to the experimental rifle, another tiered SP-driven power.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


The tinker is the first class I began work on, and it's now almost complete. Here's the in-game description:

Tinkers believe themselves to be experts in the fields of magico-mechanical engineering, firearms, and alchemy. In fact, their knowledge is incomplete, often dangerously so, and only the lucky few survive long enough to produce technologies that consistently benefit their users. Like many thinking people, they tend to be physical cowards. They make poor front-line fighters, but their grenades and guns can help win battles.

Defense and BAB progression are very similar to the SRD rogue's. Tinkers can't use shields or wear mundane armor with greater than +3 AC, and they are limited to using ranged weapons and, in melee, only simple blades. Tinkers have average HP and SP (in Iceblink, SP power spells and spell-like abilities, of which the tinker has several).

Design-wise, this is the class closest to the traditional rogue, with less emphasis on stealth/sneaky abilities, which I didn't want to bother with (I have reasons for this I'll get into later). But the rogue is only one of two classes with access to Engineering, a trait that functions in much the same way as trap detection skills in other RPGs but has some broader applications too.

Friday, January 6, 2017

First Post

This is a development blog for a game I'm working on. Here's a bit of what I know:

TITLE: Let's Go Down to Dungeon-Town
ORIGINAL TITLE: Combat & Conversation

ENGINE: Iceblink
PLATFORMS: PC and Android
TYPE: Single-player, turn-based narrative/dungeon crawl RPG with party creation

RPG SETTING: My own. Has elements in common with the setting of The Birthday
ART STYLE: Black-and-white, MS Paint
NARRATIVE STYLE: Anthony Trollope, Jack Vance, J.R.R. Tolkien
SOME GAMEPLAY NUMBERS: 4 factions, 8 nonstandard classes, over 50 nonstandard traits and powers, 10 dungeon levels, 1 town

TOWN NAME: Hamlet-on-the-Deeps