Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Pick up axe, put on Chainmail and kick the door of the dungeon in with Dungeonslayers by Christian Kennig

Dungeonslayers by Christian Kennig is the roleplaying equivalent of riot police kicking your door in at 3am. It'll shout in your face, cuff your Grandma and bundle you into the back of the riot van before you get a chance to explain that Mr. Jenkins, the drug dealer, lives three doors down at number 42. If you do fancy a dabble in old school (whatever that is, you might as well try and nail water to a wall than pin that term down) fantasy, then Dungeonslayers is like injecting absinthe.


Characters are described by 3 physical and mental attributes, from which 6 abilities are derived. From here, you calculate 7 combat values, which help accelerate combat during play. You create it by starting with one of three races: Dwarf, Human or Elf. You pick a class: fighter, scout or spellcaster (of which there are only three kinds). Then you assign the attribute values and calculate your abilities and race bonuses. Not a lot of choice but with players like mine, choice is bad. Choice leads to free thinking. Free thinking leads to ideas. Ideas in the hands of deranged sociopaths like my players is dangerous. Tack on spells and equipment. Hang on, character creation in two pages. I'm numb, like I've been subject to a bout of skullbuggery.

As familiar as the A-Team van

The mechanics are a familiar machine, roll a d20 and compare against attribute + ability. Criticals are in there, as is initiative for combat order. In a combat round, you select an action you want to do (spell lobbing, spleen smashing, wall painting - alright, wall painting isn't there but as it is loose and fast, there is no reason why not) and roll some dice. You can dodge attacks, special weapons cause more harm and armour soaks it up. Get in the way of too many orc axes and you fall over. If the other characters aren't all evil bar stewards, you get healed or you might get resurrected but this doesn't make you a zombie. Unless your GM has a sense of humour.

There's more

There's a one page spell list and a one page equipment list. Dungeonslayers has a fast and neat GM Section and ample bestiary. Joyously, Dungeonslayers has a sample adventure. Which means that you can literally download and run it in an evening. Few free games provide a sample adventure, which is definitely a barrier to many GMs. I have never run fantasy and I could have run a session of this quicker than writing this review. My dear, suffering wife who thinks that roleplaying is some sort of elaborate community care scheme to ensure geeks (you know, you and me) are kept off the streets; could run it. There's a support community for the terminally incapable or for those wishing to have some friends. The game and website launch was professionally done and recent, it makes a change to release a game surfing the crest of the wave.

Go on, pick holes in it, sunshine... I dare you

My standard complaints are null and void with Dungeonslayers. Pictures? It has lovely covers (by Paul C Butler) and if you stuffed any inside then they, well, wouldn't make sense. That's daft. It has three columns! Ah ha! More than two... but the short sentence length makes it somehow snappy... the additional white space caused by the added column - errrr... could it be any more trim? There is a small dig at modern games at the start but that is quickly forgiven. I'm clutching at straws here! It was translated! Yes, there you go, a fault. Well, actually, no. It's been translated perfectly (efficiently, one might say) and dedicated to the memory of Gygax. Very fitting. There you go, I've not managed to find anything wrong with it. Damn you, Christian!


Dungeonslayers nails precisely what it sets out to achieve. A fast, trim, dungeon-crawling, monster-hacking, treasure-thieving game. And I mean efficient. There's more fluff on a steel ingot. Christian has done an excellent job and with a small horde of translators and helpers, has created a tongue in cheek game that only those with a cold stone where their heart should be can't love.

ps. Thanks to fellow RPG Blogger Stargazer for the tip. And congratulations on having a part in this superb game.


Stargazer said...

Awesome review! I am very glad you like it. BUT you refer to the game as Dragonslayers a few times. It's called Dungeonslayers. :)

Rob Lang said...

Argh! I'm rubbish at getting the name of the game right. I've done that SO many times now. I just don't understand how I manage it. I read each review through loads of times. ;)

I'm glad I have people like you about to put me right!

Glad you liked the review, thanks for the tip.

Badelaire said...

Holy effing crap. I need, need, to print this out and put some dice on the table ASAP.

Thanks yet again for finding some great games and putting out reviews here.

Just FYI though - if you ever review Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, , or OSRIC, I will cry, then hate you forever.

Keep it real, and keep 'em coming.

Rob Lang said...

@Badelaire, many thanks. Whatever you do, don't Click here.

Stargazer said...

@Rob: I read my posts several times before I publish them and still I find a couple of mistakes later. Such things happen. ;)
And of course I put you right... I helped translate the thing, I want that it's reviewed under the correct name. :D

Badelaire said...


Because Dungeonslayers looks to be about ten pounds of awesome in a five pound bag, I'll just pretend you never posted that link...this time!

Keep 'em rolling.

phoenixquest said...

Thanks for this review. Nice job of conveying some enthusiasm and getting across the basic idea of this game.

I just downloaded and devoured this game and it really pushes my buttons. It's only 20 pages! Yet it has some good meat for dungeon crawling and is "traditional" and "old school" whatever that means.

I really don't want to bother with big 100+ page games anymore so this is perfect! Loved magic, classes/races, talents and checks. Simple, efficient and clean.

Rob Lang said...


Many thanks! Dungeonslayers is simply superb. I hear they have a new one-page dungeon adventure out. It's of a similar high quality, so I'd check that out too!