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pencil & paper solo RPG -- D100 Dungeon


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During the past year while we all physically distanced ourselves socially, did you do anything new? I had been looking into solo board gaming since 2019 and even bought several games but had not played any until now.

I was introduced to Dungeon & Dragons in fifth grade and immediately fell in love. Our teacher, Mrs. Sanders, gave us time during on Fridays to play in class, and we played couple times of month. But after, fifth grade, D&D sessions were few and far between as none of my friends in the neighborhood played.

A few months ago, I found out about D&D type games that you can play by yourself. How fascinating! There are several highly recommended ones, and for my first solo RPG experience, I chose D100 Dungeon. The current rules iteration is v3. It is available for purchase in both PDF and printed forms (I bought both). The previous iteration v2.2 is available as a free PDF download.


I always preferred Dungeons & Dragons over Advanced Dungeons & Dragons because of the simplicity of rules. D100 Dungeon rules favor simplicity as well. As the name suggests, the game involves mostly rolling percentages with some D10 and D6 dice rolls mixed in and looking up results in appropriate tables. D100 Dungeon is a paper-and-pencil Rogue-like in that dungeons are not pre-generated but randomly created as part of the game play, and your character can die. While I bought printed D100 Dungeon tiles that made manually drawing my own dungeon unnecessary, I wanted to do it by hand anyway. Having graph paper, pencil, dice, and soda and plopping down on the floor of the room really brought me back to the 80s. I even bought a dice tower from a local seller on Etsy.


This past weekend, I ventured forth with Vikzam the Human Sorcerer. His career started with a bang -- two areas explored and successive encounters with giant rats gave Vikzam no trouble and ended with some nice loot. Confidence was high after searching the third area that netted two spells for the spell book.

But reality crashed down hard on Vikzam in the fourth area where he encountered a pack of Tricksters. In desperation, Vikzam casted the Clumsy spell to reduce the Attack Value of the foes, but they countered with a spell of their own, Dark Strike, boosting their AV by 20. Vikzam went down hard, but he fought to the end. At least his demise came at the hands of a worthy foe and not something like giant rats.

The following day, I crafted my second hero, Grookhatin Earthbrow (Groo to his friends) the Dwarf Warrior. Groo's first D100 Dungeon training quest was a success! A pack of rats initially gave some trouble but were vanquished with aplomb soon enough. Groo even blocked the escape of a cowardly bear and slew it with a single Mighty Blow of his long sword.

The map below is from Groo's first quest. The objective of the quest was to gather three body parts from slain monsters. It did not take long to complete. Now, time to rest up and restock for the next quest.


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I skipped right to v3. The PDF is like $8, and v3 is supposed to be clearer and fixes some stuff from v2 but it's the same game mechanics. Take a look at this playlist where the game is played with v2 instructions (v3 PDF can't be printed but v2 can be printed). I watched them before getting into the game myself. Comparing it to my experience with v3, it looks 99% identical.

The great thing about this game is that because it's not narrative driven, it's really easy to play for 10 or 15 minutes and stop and then pick it up again later. It fits very well with our busy lifestyles.

There a few other well regarded solo RPG rulesets (Four Against Darkness comes to mind). If you stick to PDF format, they all seem to be priced under $10 or $15. I just happen to start with D100 Dungeon because it seemed to be the more popular choice among solo dice rolling RPGs.

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