Dungeons: The Dragoning. No, Really.

A few months back, I was talking to a few friends about a hairbrained idea I had for a Fate hack that would take the off-the-wall nature of “It’s Not My Fault” and add another totally off-the-rails element to it. Namely, players would literally build a sci-fantasy universe as they create their characters (Mutant Gallifreyan Dragonkin Kamen Rider is one of the more amusing ones so far), and then I as GM would ad-lib a session wrapping everything together.

While it got a lot of traction with local groups (to the point I started fleshing out the generic storyline and rules hacks needed), I had a message from a friend (and Patreon backer) that consisted of a single name: “Dungeons: The Dragoning”.

The gauntlet thrown, I took a look at this and…

And…

For all the things good and sweet in Odin’s beard, I wish I saw this glorious trainwreck years ago, because this would have been a great way to run one last game in college.

Since I don’t think I need to witness this alone, I am going to share it with all of you so that you may also partake of this insanity.

==The Pitch==

Dungeons: The Dragoning 40,000 7th Edition is a fan created game to end all fan-created games. The game, in short, is a story and mechanical mashup of 7th Sea, World of Darkness, Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40k, Deadlands, Dungeons and Dragons, and nods to pop culture everywhere possible.

The best part? The creator admitted that he did all of this on a single dare.

==What You Get==

It’s really hard to precisely describe “What You Get” with a fan created product like this. There’s really a lot going on, so I will do my best to break it down.

The “core” book, if you can call it that, comes in just shy of 400 pages. If you have experience in RPGs like I do, you will spot where every mechanic and reference is from. In fact, when I explained this to a friend, his immediate comment was “This is the game someone would make in response to ‘X Game Did Y Better’.” I can’t give a good comeback to that.

Within these pages, you have a functional setting and swaths of rule mechanics in an easy-to-grasp layout, with art borrowed from various sources.

==Mechanics==

I mentioned that this was a trainwreck, so I will do my best to sum it up.

This is a game that decided to take advantages/disadvantages and damage mechanics from Deadlands, the roll mechanic of 7th Sea, class/progression mechanics from Warhammer Fantasy, acquisition mechanics and some combat elements from Warhammer 40k, races and tropes from D&D and Warhammer, and capping it with “exaltations” and character sheets from World of Darkness (with others thrown in).

To further break it down: you build a character using designated points by assigning skill and attribute trees as Primary/Secondary/Tertiary order (from World of Darkness); these range from 1-5. Next, you’ll be choosing a race for some minor mods and bonuses (and races are pulled from all of the aforementioned games), and choosing an Exaltation (Vampire, Chosen, etc) that grant you special abilities and a power pool of sorts to power those abilities.

Next is selecting a class, with options inspired by many sources but mechanically work like Warhammer Fantasy (as in you can only spend XP on things relating to the class and may “exit” after you purchase the minimums). You finally round out your character with freebie points (namely for Advantages, Feats, and other upgrades) and getting a starting gear package.

Character creation done, the game borrows the Roll and Keep system from 7th Sea in non-combat (roll stat+skill, keep stat), with a more World of Darkness-like combat roll (roll skill, keep them all). Damage is determined by the weapon (using Roll and Keep again), subtracting it from any armor or other perks, and then dividing what’s left against the Resilience of the target (which is basically the Size mechanic for wounds in Deadlands). This remainder is subtracted from a pool of HP.

The mechanics and sources don’t end there, as there are Feats (basically Advantages) that give special bonuses, the magic mechanic is a cross between Vancian magic and Warhammer’s “all magic is from the Warp/Chaos” to make things interesting. Getting new upgrades is an XP expenditure, and levels are gained by going to a higher-level class, whether along the tree based on your first class or another that you meet the requirements for.

Yes, it is has a lot of moving parts from a lot of places.

==The Good==

As previously mentioned, this is a fan product, and fan products tend to go into the direction of unplayable (either overkill or just wonky). In this case, it is surprisingly playable and balanced in the most ridiculous ways possible, and this was something I did NOT expect when reading it.

I’m also a fan of how this game truly is the “X Game Did Y Mechanic Better.” Damage from Deadlands, HP from D&D, Roll mechanic from 7th Sea, Classes/Careers from Warhammer…and these are all things people have praised before but griped about other parts. It’s amusing.

No matter what else I’ll say, I have to add that the idea of pulling all these things together and making it a viable, functional game is still impressive. It’s even more impressive when you find that the story works along those lines as well, being this odd conglomeration of realms that coexist.

==The Bad==

There are two major issues with Dungeons: The Dragoning, and both stem from it being a fan created homebrew game.

The first is the lack of original ideas. Granted, while the story/setting is intriguing, it’s borrowing heavily from various sources, while the mechanics are literally just cherry picked from other games. It really is that whole “X Game Did Y Mechanic Better” to the max, but it does make you wonder just what the mind behind it would be capable of if they wrote their own game. The art is the same way, borrowing from whatever fits the bill.

The second is a matter of personal taste, but from what I’ve been hearing as I explain it to people, I can’t really deny it: there’s too much going on. To make it even worse, if you are NOT an avid reader of tabletop RPGs and had experience with these games as I have, it’s a total mess to read through. Trying to explain it to local gamers lead to lots of puzzled looks, even from the old grognards. I think there may just be too many mechanics that are borrowed, making it rather daunting.

==The Verdict==

As this is a fan game that is an amalgamation of other games, I don’t feel right giving this a rating.

That said, if you are a fan of games that were released in the 90s and early 2000s, want something that is just so wrong but works well, and pulls mechanics from a slew of games while still being different, then you should absolutely give the book a read.

If you are new to tabletop gaming, have a hard time grasping mechanics, and struggle tracking multiple elements during game, then you will want to give this a pass.

Dungeons: The Dragoning 40,000 7th Edition is available as a free download at multiple locations.

 

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