Quick Look: Dungeons of Doria
Designer: Viktor Ahrens
Artists: Viktor Ahrens, Jes Cole, Delapouite, Nathan Park
Year Published: Currently on Kickstarter!
A cooperative dungeon crawler for 1-6 players set in the fantasy world of “Doria”.
You are heroes, mercenaries and vagabonds, drawn from far flung corners of the continent Doria, seeking adventure, glory and gold. The vastness of Doria teems with dungeons, towers and cellars crammed with monsters, treasures and ancient artifacts. Work together to survive terrible perils and escape the dungeons of Doria!
Dungeons of Doria is played without a game master. Select a quest and start exploring a dungeon. Either choose from standalone adventures you complete in one session or pick one of the four included campaigns continuing over multiple scenarios.
The Dungeons of Doria Initiative System allows each character to spend their initiative points on multiple actions such as moving, attacking, looting or repairing damaged equipment. The character or monster with the highest initiative value defines the next action. Each player must decide on what to do: Use several quick actions, one slower action or a combination – depending on the items equipped. Plan tactical fights, disarm traps and manage your inventory of loot.
Over 400 unique loot cards, 19 opponents each with their own abilities plus monster modifiers and 8 initial characters that can be completely customized as you wish.
Dungeon of Doria is a (TT)RPG neatly crafted by what I believe to be an experienced DM Party.
And I say that because while reading the rules, playing the game and going through the scenarios and campaigns I directly noticed that the author had crafted a world, more than just a game.
RPG and DMs
I must have faced TTRPG for the first time when I was around 10 years old and received a D&D Tapletop box, which I loved and introduced me to specifics like mana use and the role of common RPG classes with the tanky barbarian, swift rogue, glass-canon mage and healing priest. Yet there was a problem, and one that I later faced again in game like Krosmaster Quest and other TTRPG, when playing with my brother we had to choose who would play the “bad guys” and who would play the “good guys”. Of course it lead to some arguments on which scenario to start with, start too early and the Heroes will always win, start with one of the final ones without the loot from previous scenarios and the Heroes hardly have any chance to make it to the second room. The only way we would end up playing it was occasionally 2v1 against an older cousin.
Flash forward a few years and developers are starting to invest in Solo play and Automatons to support them. Applied to TTRPG, this lead in two major trades in most of the cases, predictability of the actions of the bad guys and/or randomization. Purpose of both being to mimic the action of a real human. In most aspects it works, I play my fair share of Solo games and I’m nearly through my GloomHaeven campaign but it never is exactly the same, monster can’t decide on their own to focus the glass canon that is always behind the tank in one room and change tactics to focus the healer in the next room. That’s the trade made to predictability. In the same fashion you might fail a scenario really hard if the enemy randomized deck always give you just the counter for what you had planned turn after turn, but applied to RPG it is not that different to you only rolling critical fails through an entire game, what can happen.
Dungeon of Doria – as such
Dungeon of Doria is a rogue like version of the TTRPG, the authors made most of their trades toward randomization for better or worst. However, do not worry, they made it right, by customizing some of the decks that are used before each scenario/campaign and using special rules making use of the map’s surroundings being furniture or runes on the ground.
You may play Dungeon of Doria as a party of 1 to 6 characters (if you bring your happiness with you 1 does count as a party :p ) going into a single event dungeon or in a full length campaign of a few scenarios.
Each heroe comes with its starting perk points distributed in usual agility, wisdom, constitution …
The game comes with its fair share of equipment, both magical and physical that players may equip depending on their current Stats. Moreover, combination of Constitution and Strength determine how much Health Points you may hold, agility and dexterity determines some part of your Initiative and the Wisdom helps determine the character’s Mana Points.
The maximal quantity of each characteristic you have is of course not fixed and will evolve throughout the game, even single scenarios, allowing you to level up and equip items you found but weren’t accessible to you yet. Sometime keeping that big sword and dragging it throughout the whole game is worth it, sometimes you would have better sold it for the remedy on the second turn.
Having equipped your heroes according with some basic equipment and some randomly drown cards, you are now ready to enter the dungeon. Read the specific rules if applicable and role for initiative. In Dungeon of Doria, the initiative you have is also the amount of action points you will be able to use this turn, all at once or cut in multiple phases. Action points are being used to change your equipment, move around and attack with the weapon you are currently holding. For this reason the slow characters that are able to equip many weapons in the beginning might also be the one only attacking every two turns due to their low initiative.
The dungeon starts and you are quickly pushed to move forward, as you will be penalized each turn that no doors are opened with the progression of the monster marker, some kind of doom clock. As the turn passes this clock will even increase the level of the monster you’ll face next in the dungeon.
Most of the rooms are selected randomly, each time you open a door you’ll be drawing random monsters, the amount depends on the room, of course and of heroes, in your party, with less than 4 you’ll be drawing few monsters (usually between 1 and 2), a bit more between 4 and 5 and even more with 6.
This indicates clearly that you should at least foresee 3 characters in your party. I tried with 2 to see if there was some other compensation mechanism. Well, there isn’t but that’s not at all a problem, if you play alone be sure to make a party of 3, if you play with 2 players you should consider giving the most experienced player a second character to manage. This will make the game a bit easier as you’ll be glad to have those extra action points to defeat the monsters. Certainly if you face duplicating zombies of hordes of bad monsters …
This brings me to the monsters themselves, I already mentioned that Dungeon of Doria had taken the choice to replace the “Human interaction Master of the Dungeon” with smart storyline-choices and a lot of randomization. Well, monsters are a good combination of both. Depending on the scenario/campaign you’ll be playing some specific monsters will be popping regularly, bound to the room you are faced with. As an example, a scenario rule might tell you “every time there is a coffin on revealed room, add a zombie”. But most monsters are just drawn randomly from a deck containing all monsters and … a lot of modifier that make monsters more ruthless.
In order to make this work, Dungeon of Doria creators, decided to make all the monsters fairly weak, should they be alone and easy to defeat. Most of level one enemies have only 1 HP and none have more than three for example, whereas your weapons deal normally between 1 to 2 HP on a hit. So you’ll basically one-shot everything. But don’t worry it isn’t that simple, because you’ll also face a lot of enemies which seemingly have a lot more action points than you, because they never need 18 of them to attack ☺.
Dungeon of Doria is a real RPG but also a real Rogue like wherein the developer even thought to implement the “Move your buttox don’t linger mechanic”. I already mentioned the doomsday clock, well if you don’t move fast enough and would like to take a few turns to relax in an empty room forget it ! Would you try to do so you’ll need to face enemies popping from the entrance of the dungeon, where you came from, which might let your glass canon on protected ;).
On the other hand facing enemies will also reward you with that sweet sweet loot and some xp throughout the dungeon, allowing you to equip better armor and weapons alike, to survive your experience and the next monsters on your way.
I’d already like to point the fact that there are tons of different items, that made me really feel like an experienced Dungeon Master had transform all is creation into cards. And into cards that really make sense, but more on that later (see Universe section).
After all, progressing within the dungeon you’ll have faced enemies, rolling dice at one another, and you may or may not have accomplished your goal. If you are playing a standalone scenario and failed, booh, better luck next time, but if you were playing a scenario part of the campaign, depending on the scenario you might just be faced with “the bad ending” and be allowed to move on with some kind of penalty or to a different/supplementary scenario to recover from your failure ! That is smart and great and it really let you understand the amount of thought that was put into the game.
Universe and Material
Because, if you buy an RPG you are never really just buying the box and stuff you get but with it you always buy some kind of entrance token to that RPG universe, being a fantasy world or a dystopia. Therefore I think it is interesting to talk about the universe and the way the author brought connection to that universe.
Disclaimer: The displayed material comes from a prototype and the final product may display small differences from the material presented.
Universe as such and overall graphics
Well, you can feel through all quest’s introductions and even in the rulebook that this is not something that was developed in a night. The developer knows what universe they are in, they might even know the reason behind the shape of the guard of that specific sword (that’s because the blacksmith that forged it had lost his mom to the flew when he was 12 – is the amount of details I would expect). The artistic direction of the game and overall color pallet is what you would expect nowadays, not that it is a bad thing, and attention has been given to a lot of details on all cards and enemies appearances. However, to that extent, enemies and overall weaponry are quite fantasy-generic in both their choices/names and representations. Which is also the reason why everybody recognized the barbarian from the ranger with 1 eye closed and from a distance of 10 meters.
Scenario and campaigns
The game comes with its fair share of different standalone scenarios and campaigns, not even counting on the fact that you can of course make your own if you share the authors talent. Because the scenarios are well crafted in storylines that harmonize in the universe in all aspect, taking into account the size and geographic of the continent invented by the author.
Tons and tons of cards! Let’s start with the basics, there are a lot of different sort of monsters and modifiers, and they all come in 5 levels which makes already a good amount of cards, but nothing compared to the huge amount of equipment most of which are somehow unique cards or at least not duplicated more than once ! This variety in loot cards makes every loot drawn different room after room, scenario after scenario; even if most of them are not useful to your character right now you’ll always hesitate in the beginning to keep that sweet sweet big sword.
Dices and standees
Dice provided in the prototype are standard D10 in white and black although I believe that if the Kickstarter explodes they might get improved.
All characters and heroes come into the form of standees that are well made, easy to identify and take the right amount of space on the board. If you ask me standees also take less space and allow for smaller boxes so I’m all in team standees (against minis) but don’t let my girlfriend know 😉
Character and Campaign sheets
To make a good TTRPG you need to have character sheets for players to write their character name, characteristics, eventually loots, fears, …
Well, Dungeon of Doria has got that covered and in a neat way. The character sheets are organized so that you will not forget to upgrade your life points or Initiative points when you get more strength from loot or from leveling up.
Campaign sheets are also provided to allow you to record you failures and success and the impact those had on the campaign, quite standard but well done and always appreciated.
Character boards and Player Help
On top of the character sheet to write everything you are, Dungeon of Doria provides you with a character board in order for you to place all your loot, either equipped on you, in your belt somehow fast to equip or in your backpack. Dungeon of Doria is a TTRPG after all and its normal you don’t have to right everything and it allows you to make good use of the loot cards as well as visually keep an eye on your possible course of action for the turn.
Being a TTRPG you don’t need to read 300+ pages of rules to get acquainted with the game, the rule book is quite straight forward and if you have friends over for a campaign I recommend going through the Quick starter guide provided with the game that really helps you. Firstly, it will help understand all the most important rules and second how strategic choices are influencing your progress in Dungeon of Doria.
In addition developer provide player help cards listing symbols, standard action and how the turn goes, with just those and a few explanatory word you may already start playing.
One last remark
There are mainly two reasons that make me a non-RPG player, the first one is the difficulty to find a good Game Master and the second one is the amount of rules you need to “really” play the game.
TTRPG have the tendency to cover at least one of the two aspect for all the wannabes like me. Dungeon of Doria certainly covers both, there is no need for 1 player to play against the other nor is there a need to read thousands of pages of rules to grasp all the possibilities.
I feel there is a lot of good to be said on this game, but you might still ask if that’s a game for you, unfortunately there might be a little trick. Dungeon of Doria is an RPG, if you don’t like to play the role of a character and let him level up or if the idea of rolling attack dices, adding bonuses, subtracting armors and rolling defense dice disgust you, stop right there. A TTRPG is still an RPG to a small or big extend and Dungeon of Doria is an RPG all the way.
The second consideration is the Rogue like nature due to the amount of randomization. Which might allow for unconventional encounters. If you are purist and are offended to see a mummy pop in a goblin camp or have a goblin shaman fire “poisonous fireballs”, and are prawn to shout that it makes no sense, stop here too. Although very well constructed and scenario mechanics making absolute sense in the most traditional Fantasy way, the rogue like mechanism might lead to some funny monster combination in one of the room of the Dungeon, certainly if set against the flavor text. I realized that when I somehow imagine a shaman and a zombie going all Batman like through the castle windows to enter and try to capture the princess☺. Same goes for loot.
But if you love RPGs and at are ok with Rogue like mechanism, Dungeon of Doria is a very well thought TTRP that, to pagan like me, is documented enough, narrated enough and furnish with enough material and choices to feel like a full RPG without the need of a Dungeon Master.
Find out more at BGG.
Do you find that you’re missing too many reviews as we drop them? Provide your name and email below and we’ll keep you in the know of what we reviewed that week as well as other hot news!!!!!
QuelqunQui (literally Someone who in French) is an eclectic who can’t stop doing more than one thing at a time.. Quelqunqui is a harpsichordist and gamer at heart that doesn’t abide by rules he doesn’t believe in. When not playing he’s traveling the world for the Belgian Air force.
See QuelqunQui‘s reviews HERE.