dungeon of the green goat

How to Host a Dungeon is a solitaire game by Tony Dowler in which you build a megadungeon, step by step.

Our group has had a lot of discussion of this game, until Chris–a/k/a Greengoat–put together this awesome animated version, which omits the actual mechanics of the game at work to show you the fictional end result:

Part One – from the Primordial Age to the Terror of Grak:

Part Two: Reign of Grak and a Plague of Spiders:

First of all, recognize my man Greengoat’s amazing effort and great drawings here. And I’m really impressed at how he managed to turn the ebb and flow of the game into an imaginative and creepy story as several factions duke it out to control those caverns. Grak must be one of the most terrifying ogres around–going up against him would be absolutely dreadful.

If that’s your bag, check the game out. I figure each of the “rooms” that Greengoat refers to is actually a modest dungeon level or sub-level in D&D terms.  (Dowler includes a free version of the game as a download, though the full PDF is only $5.)

From my take on How to Host a Dungeon, it’s a pretty nifty little bugger, both in concept and in execution. The layout and interior art are both absolutely wonderful. There are places where I wish the rules were better edited: certain aspects don’t exactly line up completely, but anyone accustomed to the make-it-up-as-you-go DM’ing style of OD&D is surely used to smoothing over contradictory or unclear rules. A second printing would make the game absolutely irresistible, but even with a few flaws in communication, How to Host a Dungeon is solidly entertaining purchase.

Tavis or Eric – when do we mount an expedition to the doleful Dungeon of the Green Goat?

9 Responses to “dungeon of the green goat”

  1. October 29, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    When Senor Greengoat runs it for us! Didn’t I already call dibs on Grak’s head?

  2. 2 Greengoat
    October 29, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    It would be interesting to run a mega dungeon with an “outdated” and fanciful map of the area in the hands of the players. Which is what would have to happen since the fricken internet knows the dangers of Grak now.

    It was pointed out to me about how tired my voice-over comes across in some sections and I wish it wasn’t so because the end narrative that was formed by he game was very organic and entertaining. It was the animation and recording that was starting to wear on me by the end.

    So I guess I will begin the slight detailing and sandboxing of Grak’s Gultch.

  3. October 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    I’ll play one of the Gnomes out for revenge…

  4. October 29, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    I eagerly await the delve into the Dungeon of the Green Goat! The history of the place is exciting (albeit procedural), and the maps are very nifty.

    Watching the animated walkthrough of dungeon creation was a lot of fun, and it looked interesting enough that I’m now planning to try the How to Host a Dungeon rules for myself. As to the bored tone of the voiceover, I thought that was a deliberate stylistic choice, meant to emulate a typical university lecturer. It certainly didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the video!

  5. 5 Lord Bodacious
    October 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    This is a pretty awesome project Chris, helmet’s off to some great choices on design and tone. What off as very much a “blueprint” has immense vitality and personality by the end.

    I too would be very down to delve this sucker. Any potential for an all/mostly gnome party? Will depend on ruleset – class would spice it up quite a bit…

  6. October 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for the review! I’m glad you guys are enjoying the game. If you find any areas of the rules particularly hard to make sense of, let me konw. I’m always collecting feedback for the next revision.

  7. 7 Greengoat
    October 31, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Yay Tony!

    I am actually seriously thinking about plopping the dungeon down as an anchor for a possible sandbox game region. I am busily gathering Judges guild tables and making hex maps for rolling up. It will be interesting translating the loose narrative into an actual 3D space underground for exploration.

  8. October 31, 2009 at 2:39 am

    I’d love to see a post about your translation process to a D&D-usable map. In a comment at Grognardia I opined, baselessly, about ways to do this:

    Godeke’s comment is essential to some of my favorite dungeon maps, like Caverns of Thracia with its layers of history. A great tool for helping you evolve your maps is Tony Dowler’s How to Host a Dungeon – http://planet-thirteen.com/Dungeon.aspx – a solo game of procedural dungeon generation. By playing out successive eras of subterranean settlement, expansion, disaster, and rediscovery, you wind up with maps that have their own organic history built into the architecture. The default mode of the game is a vertical cross-section, which would require some additional mapping to get a traditional horizontal map of each level (but that’s the easier part). It’d be reasonably easy to play How to Host a Dungeon with a purely horizontal perspective (although you’d lose some of the lovely layering), or with both a cross-section and a traditional series of grid-maps, so that you would have a D&D-usable map when you were done.

  9. January 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Green, please let us know if you run a game in this. I’d love to know how it goes.

    Interestingly, we did try a multi-player variant of HtHaD that uses a top-down view instead of a side view. We just marked the dungeon entrances with a cave drawing and followed most of the rules as written. There were a few minor bugs, but I thought it worked pretty well. Eventually, I think it would be cool to have an “official” multi-player varient, though I haven’t really had time to work on it myself.

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Past Adventures of the Mule

October 2009

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