Monday, August 13, 2007

You Got Your Fandom In My Dungeon Twister!

I was asked the other day why I hadn't created lists of "custom" characters for use with DT - it's because I generally find that sort of thing silly. When Magic: The Gathering first hit, there were thousands of fan-created sets online, most of which were badly broken and nearly unplayable. With the advent of Heroscape, particularly Marvel Heroscape, people are doing the same thing again, in order to see their favorite character/setting/whatever in a playable form.

I also know that Chris has 20+ sets already mapped out in his head, so I won't run out of new and interesting characters - and I don't want to duplicate something he's already dreamed up.

Another problem is that Dungeon Twister doesn't lend itself as well to this sort of modification. Most Superheroes will be significantly more powerful than your average DT character - or else you need to ignore one or more of their powers to make them balanced. Can you imagine Superman as a DT character? You'd need to introduce Kryptonite as an item AND as a board element. And that's just for one character!

That said, however, my wife and I spent part of this weekend brainstorming. Just to see what we could come up with.

Please keep in mind: I am not laying claim to ownership or rights of any of these characters. I won't even pretend I have permission to use them. Nor are we suggesting these to Christophe Boelinger - he may come up with a character who duplicates one or more of these in some manner, but it will be his own idea, not mine. For all I know, he may already have used one or more of these special abilities in an upcoming set.

Obviously, these characters are not tournament legal.

Source: Marvel Comics
Movement 4, Strength 2
Special Abilities:
Wall-Crawling - All squares which are adjacent to a wall are treated as normal floor squares for Spider-Man.
Spider Sense - Spider-Man is +2 Strength when defending.

Source: The Princess Bride
Movement 2, Strength 2
Special Abilities:
Crowd-Fighter - Fezzik is +2 in combat for each adjacent opponent past the first.

Inigo Montoya
Source: The Princess Bride
Movement 3, Strength 1
Special Abilities:
Sword Master - Inigo Montoya gains +2 Strength when holding a sword, in addition to the +1 normally conferred by the weapon. This bonus applies both to attack and defense.

Source: Discworld
Movement 4, Strength 1
Special Abilities:
Wizzard - Rincewind may attempt to use Magical items. If he does so, flip a coin. If the coin is heads, the item is used normally. If tails, the item is removed from play.
Luggage - The Luggage may treat any square adjacent to Rincewind as though it is a normal floor square.

The Luggage
Source: Discworld
Movement: 3, Strength 5
Special Abilities:
Loyal - The Luggage may only attack characters who have attacked Rincewind.
Carrying Capacity - The Luggage may carry an unlimited number of items. It may not use or benefit from any item.
Property - The Luggage is worth 0 VP if it escapes the maze.


I could go on for a while.

Here's what I learned when doing this:
1) Chris has a tough job. It's not easy making characters who aren't 58/58 Invulnerable Monsters. It's also difficult keeping them balanced. I can't imagine creating eight unique characters PLUS objects PLUS rooms for more than a set or two at most. Much less coming up with the rules in the first place.
2) Special abilities are hard. You can't overload characters with abilities, but you can't short-change them, either. The "Decks" section here is teams people have created for use in DT. Not all of them are tournament legal, but it's still interesting to see which characters are getting use and which are not - based on their abilities and how they blend with the rest of the team.
3) The best fit for fan-created DT characters based on literature (or film or other fandom of choice) are those from a low-magic (or no-magic) setting. I can see potential for several Monty Python characters. Harry Potter, on the other hand, would be a pain to accurately model - there's just too much magic flying around in Harry's world.
4) Chris has a difficult job. I know this was point number one, but it was important enough that I thought it bears repeating. I don't envy him the hours of work he's put into DT, but I am a great deal more thankful (and aware) than I was a few weeks ago.


  1. Comic books would be especially fitting for DT, because of the sheer prevalence of "villain captures heroes and makes them fight on his world" plotlines. Wasn't Secret Wars basically that, and didn't Darkseid do that once on the DC side?

    I think Harry Potter characters wouldn't be so bad, because the magic in that world is basically reduceable to either spells that come out of wands (can be limited by the rules), items (designer's discretion) and flora/fauna (same).

    I wonder if the nature of DT makes coming up with new, interesting and balanced characters more or less difficult than balancing new and interesting figures for, say, Warmachine.

  2. What were you thinking when you put a *COIN-FLIPPING* mechanic on a DT character!? Shame on you! Shame.


  3. Jim: Comic Books are a TOUGH fit. Super-heroes are all larger-than-life and extremely tough. Spider-Man, Captain America and Nick Fury are about the only three you could easily adapt to DT. Batman would be damn near impossible. Superman is totally out of bounds.

    Most of the X-Men are just more powerful versions of existing characters (Kitty Pryde is a better Wall-Walker, for example).

    The problem is that Harry Potter characters would be dependant on overpowerful items, which would then unbalance games with other characters.

    In all honesty, I expect that the DT balance issues are on par with Warmachine. WM has more rules and stats to worry about, it's true - but DT has to have eight comparable characters in a set, plus four objects (and a key and some rope), and something new on the floor. And all eight characters need to be "in theme" to one another.

  4. Mike:

    There are already a few random elements in DT. Room placement, of course. And the Darkness squares from Forces of Darkness. And the Scroll of Confusion.

    And it's in-theme for the character. It makes him interesting and entertaining - and a bit of a gamble to use.

  5. I'm just thinking about the first time I played. Chris was so adamant about how there should be nothing random in playing the game except the placement of rooms. We were talking about Magic the Gathering and how much he hates coin-flipping mechanics.