Sunday, March 19, 2017

Index Card D&D

I return! Here's my ruleset for Index Card D&D - a collaborative GM-less super simplified dungeon crawl game. Basically, everyone spends like 15 minutes creating a class, monster, treasure, room, and trap, and then we play a simplified D&D with the results. It's silly fun and always unbalanced, and you accumulate more cards the more you play. We've super been enjoying it, so I figured I'd share the current iteration of the rules. It's especially fun with a beer in hand!

[link to pdf]

If you play this, I'd love to hear about it! Feedback welcome, especially if the directions are unclear. I'm thiiiinking of running this Friday or Saturday night at North Texas RPG Con, since there's a dearth of games in those slots (and it was fun trying it last year), so hit me up if that's something you'd be interested in. :)


  1. Some feedback.
    A quick peek it needs some to a lot of work. But its a great platform to spring board a different way to achieve GM less collaborative gaming.
    One key challenge is preventing Players from tailoring one challenge only their character can solve or their character tends to draw more than their share of the spotlight. How the index card encounter can be randomly designed in a way that there is no singular solution but there is a good shared collaborative method of determining how it is resolved.
    I would recommend breaking up the index card into Hook, Challenge, and Reward in Open Ended statements. When they get the Hook, for example, two different players will "Tag" it or complicate it (Yes but technique). Same goes for the challenge. and the reward.
    Something like a Spinning Bottle to randomly choose a player, and an random aspect the player has to creatively work into the hook, challenge, and reward is something that comes to mind.
    One tool that may be needed is a location generator or method. It can be simple as a d6 of very near to very far. Just to string the adventure along from one "encounter" to the next.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate you taking the time to read it! :)

      One thing that mitigates the desire to design a class that takes the spotlight is that you can't start with the class you made. There is some tailoring of content that happens (someone makes a Cookie Monster class that needs cookies to level up, so they're sure to include some cookies in the loot), but so far we haven't had anyone make their class necessary to advance. Which is good, because with the number of classes we've accumulated at this point, the likelihood of the key class being present in the party at the same time as the key challenge appearing is slim in later rounds of play. :P

      It should be noted that we're approaching this as a collaboratively generated dungeon crawl (which I should put in the description). We're just going room to room kicking down doors and seeing what fun stuff is inside. I would be interested to see your idea more fleshed out though, it sounds like an interesting game. :)

  2. "Combat – roll d6 for initiative, one for the PCs, one for the monsters. Re-roll ties.

    Monsters randomly determine their targets. No need for miniatures or battle maps. If a

    party member is level 4, double the number of monsters appearing."
    Who resolves what? do we spin the bottle? Who rolls for the monster?

    1. I ain't particular. We use a d8 if we've got 8 players, for example, but I imagine most gaming folks have a way they're comfortable using for randomization. Likewise, who rolls doesn't matter as long as it gets done.

  3. some recommendation.
    Feel free to feedback or comment. Throwing ideas around.

    Step 1: Everyone creates one of each of the following 4 things in an Index card (and who made it). Make 'em interesting, but don't write a novel.
    Step 1.1 Class. Class name, HD, Attack bonus, AC, Damage, Spell Dice, Level up requirement, Special Abilities, Starting Item. (You cannot start with a class you wrote).
    Step 1.2 Challenge (Trap/Hook/Conflict). Description, Challenge DC (Find or Sense the Opportunity or Threat DC), Effect (effect's DC, and consequences).
    Step 1.3 Place. Name, Description, Things, Special
    Step 1.4 Creature (Monster/NPC/NPC group). Name, Description, Challenge DC (DC to interact with the Creature), HD/HP, Attack Bonus, Damage, AC, Special

    Step 2. Shuffle up the classes and deal 'em out. (You cannot start with a class you wrote).
    Step 2.1 Fill up the class details.

    Step 3. Shuffle up the Paces. This is the Rooms/Placed Deck.
    Step 4. Shuffle up Creatures and Encounter. This is the Encounter Deck.

    Playing the game
    When someone asks :"what they are doing?"
    The response is
    step 1: Declare assumptions
    step 2: and what they are doing.
    The person who is asking must work in the assumptions and the players course of action.
    Challenge DC (for creatures or challenges) relates to detecting, interacting, negotiating, puzzling etc... the Encounter Card.

    Running the Game
    Step 0. Arbitrarily/Randomly have a player Draw a card from the Places Deck and Encounter Deck.
    Step 1 That player reads the description of the place deck and asks "What are you doing?"
    Step 2 The other players respond accordingly (see Playing the Game).
    Step 3 The player reading the card must work into the Place and Encounter the Assumptions and course of action of the other players and plays out the encounter.
    Step 4. Has the scope of events moved outside the Place?
    Step 4.1 Arbitrarily/Randomly have a player Draw a card from the Places Deck and Encounter Deck. repeat Step 0 to step 3.
    Step 5. Is it escalating or descalating? Has the course of events winded down as the threat dispersed OR has a greater threat escalated? If so..
    Step 5.1 Arbitrarily/Randomly have a player Draw a card from the Places Deck and Encounter Deck. and work in the new Place and Encounter into the escalation or de-escalation. Repeat step 1 to 3.
    Step 6. Has it resolved?
    Step 6.1 Arbitrarily/Randomly have a player Draw a card from the Places Deck and Encounter Deck. and work in the new Place and Encounter into the escalation or de-escalation. Repeat step 1 to 3.
    Step 7. This step is triggered when out of cards.
    Step 7.1 Reshuffle the Encounter and Placed Decks.
    Step 7.2 Arbitrarily/Randomly have a player Draw a card from the Places Deck and Encounter Deck.
    Step 7.3 Work that into a Cliff Hanger.

  4. sorry there is no editing my comment. Anyway I went in and tried to clarify and modularize the steps. I'm assuming that many people are not familiar with the very narrative improvisational style of this technique.
    The Declare Assumptions is a "Yes But" technique. A way for other players to complicate the scene and circumstance.
    Step 3 where the Scene is "played-out" needs more work. Ideally more testable statements. I couldnt think of good ones.
    Step 5-7 are triggering conditions.

  5. May I borrow your idea and spin it off using Dungeon World?

    1. Sure, go for it! :) And thanks for the suggestions.

      this is a Gdoc statement sized. It credits you as the source. Its in a form anyone can get and edit for their own use.

  6. I like this a lot. I will make some revisions of my own and test it. I especially like the casting system and spell burn. I'm working on a "dice pool" concept for something else, and I may find a way to marry my ideas with this.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! :) Also, if you make rules changes that work well for you, I'd love to hear about 'em!