Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dungeon Crawl Junior

We're finally getting settled into our new home and with our Christmas shopping and parties wrapped up I managed to get some minis on the table. My son and I have messed about with a variety of D&D type games, but no matter how simple I tried to tweak the rules, they always still felt too complicated. I did some on-the-fly game creation this afternoon that stripped them down to the bare minimum and had two hours of fun with the boy today. He was able to internalize the rules quickly and ran a dungeon crawl for me for over an hour. Details on dungeon crawling for kindergartners after the jump.

Dungeon Crawl Junior

Materials Needed

  • Miniatures (good guys and bad guys)
  • A board (terrain tiles or dry erase grid map or 3d dungeon terrain)
  • polyhedral dice (d4, d6, d8, d20)

Getting Started

  1. One player is the GM, everyone else are the adventurers
  2. An adventuring player can control more than one miniature. 
  3. Each adventurer player should look through the good guy miniatures and pick out some cool figures. There should be at least four good guy miniatures. 
  4. Get some paper and write down the stats for each good guy figure.

Statting up the Good Guys

  1. Take a look at the figure's armor. If it has armor or a shield, it has Armor 2. If it has armor AND a shield, it is Armor 3. Otherwise it is Armor 1.
  2. Assign a class die to the figure. The class die is used for the figure's Hit Points and Attacks. If the figure is a wizard, its class die is a D4. If the figure is knight or barbarian its class die is a D8. Everybody else (clerics, thieves, halflings, etc.) have a D6 class die.
  3. Roll hit points. Each figure rolls its class die and records the number as its Hit Points. Reroll 1s.
  4. Figures that are spellcasters (wizards, witches, shamans, etc.) pick one spell.

Statting up the Bad Guys

  1. Monsters usually have 1 hit point. They have Armor assigned in the same manner as good guys, but they have the option of swapping 1 point of Armor for an extra hit point (for example, an orc with a shield could be considered Armor 1 with 2 Hit Points instead of Armor 2 with 1 Hit Point)
  2. Most baddies have a D6 class die. Small or weak creatures are a D4, big ones are a D8.
  3. For Junior Dungeon Crawlers, keep the number of bad guys equal to the good guys. If the adventurers know how to use choke points, focus fire and how to protect their weak figures, you can increase the number of monsters. Twice as many baddies as good guys feels about right.

Playing the Game

The good guys explore the dungeon laid out by the GM. If they try to listen at a door, climb a wall, disable a trap, etc. the adventurer can roll the d20 with success on an 11 or higher.

When the good guys encounter some baddies a fight might break out.


  1. Each side rolls a D20 to determine initiative. The higher roll goes first, all of the figures moving and attacking before play passes to the other player. Initiative is rerolled each round. Ties go to the adventurers.
  2. Most figures can move 6 squares and attack once. (Small or slow figures like kobolds, golems, etc. only move 4 squares. Fast figures can move 8 squares)
  3. When a figure attacks, it rolls its class die. A value higher than the target's Armor deals 1 hit point of damage (monsters usually go down in 1 hit, but adventurers usually have a larger starting hit point total).
  4. Monsters reduced to 0 hit points are dead. Adventurers reduced to 0 hit points begin bleeding, losing 1 hit point per round, dying at -10. Did the party get wiped out? Maybe they are captured instead and awaken in the prisons of the dungeon's monsters, or sold back to the local town as hostages.
  5. Adventurers with spells can cast their spell once per combat.
After defeating a group of monsters collect XP and treasure. 2d6 gold per group of monsters, x10 if its their lair or a tough battle.

Adventurers can return to town and heal to max or spend gold to buy equipment, extra warriors, healing potions, etc.

Special Rules

  • Spears can attack a figure two squares away (even attacking past friendly characters)
  • Bows and crossbows suffer a -1 penalty attacking at more than 6 squares.
  • Two handed weapons get a +1 attack bonus.
  • Wielding two weapons can reroll a miss once per combat.

Some Sample Spells

  • Water Wave: Targets a group of bad guys. Roll a d20 for each, knocking any who roll under 10 prone. Prone figures need to spend a whole round getting up. Attacks against prone figures that miss may be rerolled once.
  • Magic Missile: Deals 1 point of damage to target figure. Shoot an extra missile at 3rd level and two extra at 5th level.
  • Turn Undead: Roll an attack against each undead in the combat. Rolling above their Armor forces the undead to flee. Undead is destroyed if the roll was the die's max.
  • Heal: A friendly character gains 3 hit points.

XP and Leveling

Any time the adventurers encounter monsters, give them XP for the encounter (they can't get XP from the same group of monsters if they encounter them a second time after fleeing for example).

Divide XP among the whole group of adventurers. Reaching their level x100 in XP gains them a new level. Roll the class die again and add the value to the adventurer's Hit Point total.

Here are the monster XP values and some notes I used:

Orc: 5xp  (Armor 1. HP 1 or 2. Attack D6)
Skeleton: 5xp (Armor 2 (3 vs. arrows). HP 1. Attack D6.)
Kobold: 3xp (Armor 1. HP 1. Attack D4. Slow-only moves 4 squares)
Rat: 1xp (Armor 1. HP 1. Attack D4-1)

Messing about with dungeon features like traps, teleport circles, funky fountains, etc. should also grant some XP. 5 to 20 seems reasonable. 

And that's it! I don't think there's anything ground breaking here, but these worked quite well for the boy and me for an afternoon of orc bashing fun. 


  1. I went through this same process a year ago. Seeking out a game for the boys and I to play. We finally settled on the Dungeons and Dragons games, which work a treat. I normally leave out the encounter cards, just playing with monsters. Within the last couple of months the boys found my D&D stuff and wanted to play. We have been playing a mixture of Basic and Advanced (2nd edition). The boys are 6 and 8.

    It's a great feeling watching their little faces as they fight the monsters or plot their next move. I wish you luck.

  2. hi! Thanks for this game.
    I think, mages is weak - successful roll chance is too low. Maybe make dice expodeble?
    Anyway, I translated this post into Russian for our players

    1. Thanks Roman! The mage does start weak, but he grows in power pretty quickly. My son and I have continued playing and the party reached 2nd level. The mage received an extra spell per combat, which allowed him to be more effective.

      And even though his d4 attack seems low, we had a string of good luck in our last battle in which the mage rolled three consecutive 4's, hitting some of the tougher monsters the party faced.

      Of course, this all just a light game to get kids rolling dice. Feel free to adjust any of the classes and let me know how they turn out!

    2. in comment to my post user Finitumus suggested to determine the starting number of spells according to the magic items on the miniature - staff, book, scroll etc, but not more than three

    3. Ha! I love that idea! I'll have to steal that for the next time we play :)