A downloadable game zine

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ALSO AVAILABLE: Dungeon Hero Volume 2: Giant Beasts, and Dungeon Hero Volume Three: Bump in the Night, two more collections of four new adventures each.

Dungeon Hero is a simple, fast, solitaire RPG game in a print-and-play "zine" format.

Create a hero using eight defining characteristics, like Archer of the Realm or Chainmail or Stealthy.  Assign them dice ranging from d12 to d6. Note your Health and Stamina levels, and then select an adventure 'zine.

Each adventure 'zine packs a lot of adventure for such a little size! Using a clever new exploration mechanic, each foray into the dungeon will offer different challenges using a simple combination of two dungeon elements.  Select two of your own traits and roll off against the two dungeon elements, and see if you can beat the dangerous situation.  If you roll well, you survive to continue deeper.  If you fail, you will take damage. But don't despair – you can spend Stamina to re-roll dice before you apply their effects!

If you can make it through the dungeon, you win! Your score is how many treasures you manage to bring out of the dungeon – see if you can beat your high score by playing again!

Volume One of Dungeon Hero contains three eight-page 'zines that you print out, cut, and fold yourself:

  • Dungeon Hero Core Rules – The core rulebook for playing Dungeon Hero. Explains the rules for character creation and gameplay, and provides an example of play.
  • Castle Charon – Robed cultists have been seen filing into the ruins of King Charon's castle. Chanting has been heard, and demons have been sighted. Can you set things right?
  • Fortress of the Frost Giant Jarl – Freezing and starving, you find a Viking outpost, but to stay with them for the winter, you must help them put down the Frost Giant jarl.

The PDF's come in two formats:

  • Volume format containing the pages for all three booklets that you can fold into the booklet as shown in the video.
  • Standalone versions that you can reference on digital devices or print for a non-folding reference sheet.

This video shows how to fold the Volume format printings into 'zine booklets:

If you like Dungeon Hero, be sure to check out Fable on your Table, which is a deeper, more detailed version of the system used in Dungeon Hero.


Version History

  • v1.5 - Updated cover art for the Core Rules booklet.
  • v1.4 - Clarified some rules in the Core Rules booklet.  Fixed a typo in the character sheets in the 'zine format adventures.
  • v1.3 - Clarified the effect of Despair when sacrificing a viking.
  • v1.2 update - Added standalone versions of the booklets for reading on a tablet or phone.
  • v1.2 - Cleaned up the language and definitions in the core rules to make things clearer and give game mechanics explicit names (such as naming rolls advance rolls or challenge rolls). Minor changes to the adventures to reflect these changes.
  • v1.1 - Fixed some typos in Castle Charon.
  • v1.0 - Initial release.
StatusReleased
CategoryPhysical game
Rating
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(45)
AuthorLone Spelunker
GenreRole Playing
Tagsprintable, Print & Play, Short, zine

Download

Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

Dungeon Hero Zines Volume 1 v. 1.5 (PDF) 3 MB
Core Rules Standalone v. 1.5 (PDF) 359 kB
Fortress of the Frost Giant Jarl Standalone v. 1.3 (PDF) 303 kB
Castle Charon Standalone v. 1.2 (PDF) 306 kB

Development log

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Comments

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this system is so neat! understood in minutes. Fun right away. I would love a book version of this that is the rules and just a bunch of adventures lol. How do you feel about people writing adventures for this system? 

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Glad you're enjoying the game!  If you like this, be sure to check out AdvanceQuest from Button Shy games – it's the same system.

As for other people writing adventures for the system, Button Shy and I agree that it's fine as long as people are just sharing it as personal work, it's offered for free if shared, it includes a credit linking it back to me and the system, and it does not include any racist or otherwise offensive content.

Other people are making fan content for the game.  Check out Ellie Valkyrie's work, for example.

If you do decide to make something and share it, be sure to send me a link so I can direct other Dungeon Hero fans to it!

Awesome! Also, do you have an idea of how I would be able to play this with other people as well? I have a group of like 4 friends (shocking) that are into the system and want to play together. Was stuck on if everyone would progress in the dungeon at the same time or not. The simplicity is so brilliant.  Have not found anything quiet like it so far lol. Thank you. 

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Glad to hear you're enjoying the game, and that you have friends who are too!

I don't have any explicit rules for playing Dungeon Hero multiplayer, but I imagine you could have a shared pool of stamina and resolve, and then each player makes their own traits.  Or perhaps distribute the available stamina and resolve across different players. For each situation, you simply choose two characters' traits to bring to bear.  Should be balanced largely the same as the single-player version except you'd have more opportunities to use d12's and d10's, so you might also make a rule that you can't have more than one d12/d10 in a roll or something.  If you try this, I'd be interested to hear how it plays out.

You might also be interested in Fable on Your Table, which is a game that uses similar mechanics but with a tabletop miniatures setup.  It's also solo-only, but I'm currently working on a version that can accommodate multiple players.

There's also Welcome Aboard, Captain, which is also based on the same system, but in a more Star TrekBabylon 5 Orville type setting.  That has rules for generating challenging procedural missions that are very similar in structure to the Dungeon Hero games, and it includes rules for playing it multiplayer, with players taking on the role of different bridge officers.  There's a free preview adventure called Charon Wormhole that introduces the game, its mechanics, character creation, and the setting; you can check that out to get a feel for how that game plays out.

awesome thanks a ton! 

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I love this little system! 5 stars for me! On a side note, I would be really awesome to have a supplment that helps the player generate his/her own adventures

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Glad you enjoyed it!

As for creating adventures, be sure to check out my upcoming game Welcome Aboard, Captain, which uses similar mechanics as Dungeon Hero but for a sci-fi game. It has a procedural mission generator that works really well.

The first authored adventure is available as a learn-to-play game, but the full game has the generator.

Lone Spelunker,


Got to tell you I just ran through Castle Charon, I had a lot of fun playing it. I hit the minions twice (72 & 80) I thought I was dead for sure. 


I have a question, if there are multiple monsters (like the minions) the extra damage doesn’t carry to the next monster, correct? I had 1 hp left on the first minion and rolled and my higher roll left me with 4 points of damage. I played it as the first minion died and no damage went to the second minion until the next roll. Was the correct or should 3 damage be applied to minion 2? 

(1 edit)

Glad you enjoyed the game!

You had it correct; damage does not carry over to the next enemy. (Otherwise, there would be no difference between one 12 strength enemy and two 6 strength enemies.)

Hello! i gotta say your profile is amazing and all projects that you made are really stunning! I always wanted to make a tabletop game, how can i start with idea and mechanics? do you have any guides like youtube channels or tutorials? 🤍

(+2)

Hi, glad you like my stuff!

I don’t have any tutorials for making your own games or anything, but there are plenty of board game design communities on the web.  For instance, the Button Shy discord server has lots of people talking about making games with regular competitions and discussions. There’s the /r/tabletopgamedesign/ subreddit.  There’s a popular “Board Game Design Lab” podcast that interviews designers. And there are many more out there.

Just jump in!  

thanks for feedback, it was very helpful! have a great day 🌞🌞🌞

(+1)

I had a lot of fun playing these RPGs. Loved the one-shot zine format and all the dice rolling. Keep these coming, please!

Glad you enjoyed it!

(+1)

Just finished writing up my first playthrough on my gaming blog. Absolutely love the mechanics and style of this game. Five stars, definitely!

Link to my playthrough here:
https://www.fistfulofvalkyries.com/2022/05/first-adventure-castle-charon-dungeon...

Cool, I'll check it out!

Downloaded the core and the 2 expansions on seeing Mel Li's review and Geek Gamers.  Played the Castle of Charon so far, and got through by skin of teeth. It was great to have a system that created a framework for a story to develop from your imagination..hope some more might be on the way..

Just wondered though about the role of treasure, not sure if this has been raised before, but it seems that it is gained during the play without it providing some benefit for your character, or am I missing something?

Love the game and looking forward to the next one..oh, and please continue to provide pdf option on any future releases as my poor old eyes struggled with the text size yiu have to use with the zines format..

Just wondered though about the role of treasure, not sure if this has been raised before, but it seems that it is gained during the play without it providing some benefit for your character, or am I missing something?

No, you're not missing anything, that's correct.  Mechanically, its role is to be your "score" at the end of the game.  But it's also a story prompt – you should imagine what cool thing you found when you earn treasure.  Don't just say, "+1 score" and be done with it – use it to imagine something.

There are places in Dungeon Hero adventures where you find things that are mechanically useful.  However, those aren't handled with simple treasure bonuses; they're detailed in the game using lock paragraphs, and typically give you new traits you can use or other special benefits.

If that's not satisfying, though, if you want, you can always swap out one of your dice if you want to envision finding something useful.  Since you can imagine whatever you want for your character traits at character creation, it won't unbalance the game if you change what your traits represent as you go.  For example, say you just fought an evil blacksmith and earned a treasure, and you imagine finding a weapon he was working on. You could replace out your d8 Lockpick Set with a d8 Wicked Serrated Sword if you wanted to.  You could still imagine using your lockpick set; you'd just be rolling a d4 for it in later challenges. But you'd have a cool sword you could imagine using during your adventure, too!

(This isn't explicitly mentioned in the rules, of course, but I, as the designer, give you my full blessing to engage in this sort of story engagement!)

Anyway, glad you're enjoying the game.  Thanks for writing in!

(2 edits)

lonesplunker,


One more question if you don’t mind. If someone wanted too couldn’t you out together a set of dice for this with only two colors? 

Say white dice for me and black dice for the dungeon?


If so would it be  

1d12,1d10, 2d8, 3d6 for the player side

And

2d12,2d10,2d8,2d6,2d4 for challenge side?


since you’re never using more than 2 die per side?

In general, yes, although keep in mind some adventures change the dice available. For instance, you might gain access to another d12.

When I play, I use four sets of polyhedral dice. One pair of dark-colored dice and one pair of light-colored dice.  But honestly you could get away with one set or even a dice rolling app on your phone if you wanted. Just do what feels right for your setup!

Hi @lonesplunker, 


For some reason I can't fold the zine as you show in the video It ends up with some overlap, I am printing from a Mac which I think you used to create it. Also I am sure acrobat was view the page 100%. Any ideas how to make the line up better?



Hello,


I fixed it, I had to make a printer setting adjustment. 


Ah, glad you got it sorted.  I hadn't seen that issue before, so good to know.  Please leave this up in the comments here for others who might encounter the same problem!

will do. 

(2 edits) (+1)

This is a brilliant game. Captures that unique feelling of playing an old school D&D modules perfectly. Clever use of simple stat tracking & traits system to generate tension and drives stories while still maintainly a high degree of narrative freedom.

I thoroughly recommend this to any Solo RPG players!
P.S. Please keep making more in this format so I can pencil color them :)

Wow, thanks for pointing me to that - it made my day!  It's a great play-through.

I hope Elric made it to the end of the pyramid!

If you like Dungeon Hero, you might be interested in my upcoming sci-fi game Welcome Aboard, Captain which uses that same 2x2 mechanic for delivering a Star Trek like experience with a procedural mission generator and more pre-authored adventures.  The intro adventure that teaches you how to play is already available for free.

Again, thanks for posting that - it was really cool to see the colored versions of those covers!

That looks super cool! Will definitely check it out!

Well, ever since you posted your video, I’ve been getting a big stream of interest and sales in the game compared to normal. And a lot of your viewers (assuming they came here because of your review) are the type to generously tip on top of the minimum price.

So, thank you thank you again for taking the time and effort to make that video - it really helped! Dungeon Hero is sitting at the #2 popular physical game right now.  Wow!

You are welcome sir! I posted my videos on the Dungeon Dive and Solo Adventure FB group so I assume most of the viewers are from there! Guys in these groups are great fans of Solo RPG games and Dungeon Crawls so Dungeon Hero is the perfect match :)
You should join the group if you are interested and maybe tell us about your other games! Also Daniel (The host of Dungeon Dive youtube channel) is awesome :)

(1 edit) (+1)

I've been playing these with my 5 yo daughter and theyre awesome!


Is there a word template for this format which you can share?

Sorry, but I didn't use Word for this.  I used Apple Pages to generate the individual pages, and used some automator scripts to convert them into the PDF documents.  I'm not sure I would recommend the process, though.  If I were doing it again, I'd probably use a page layout system rather than simply a word processing context.

Glad you like the game, though! Thanks for playing.

(+1)

Just downloaded and played during  lunch break, I love it! Thank you for making this!

Nice! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

(1 edit) (+3)

I play this with my kids (7-y/o girl and 9-y/o boy), DM'ing the story, adding flavor to the descriptions and actions, and we all get so excited! They add flourishes to their moves, or narrate exactly how a certain move connected or missed, etc...

My son even came up with an animagus character that could only use certain powers when he was in a certain form (dragon or human), and the transformation itself was a trait, so had to be used wisely. He sadly lost that one during the boss battle, but enjoyed every bit of it!

We loved the adventures that start off by giving you random or chosen items, or the ones that force you to drop one item... In the pirate adventure, we named each member of our crew before they met their untimely end...

I own all 3 volumes and keep recommending them to all my friends 😜

I drew a template that we photocopy, and they love drawing all their gear and the treasure they pick up on the way.

Thank you so much for these moments...

(+3)

Wow, what an incredible read! Glad you enjoyed it. Your comment came in right at a time of frustration for us so it was a great little pick-me-up that was well-timed and helpful. Thanks for taking the time to write it!  Tell your kids that I am jazzed they enjoyed these adventures!

I have played. I love it.


You need to make more volumes please. Also find a way to make actually mini books with a publisher. I can't fold too well and that would add some money making for you. I know I would buy them.

Glad you enjoy it.

I am working with a publisher for some more adventures. Subscribe here to be notified when there is news.

(Also, love your username. Danzig kicks.)

Hello :) i tried your game and i like it :) i have a little boardgames' blog - named "Giochetti e Sfizietti", where i review your game (https://giochettiesfizietti.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/carta-forbici-19-dungeon-he... )... i hope you like it! Thanks again and have a nice day :

Nice!  Glad you liked the game.  Sorry you got defeated ONE PARAGRAPH away from the end, but sometimes that sort of thing happens!

Thanks for taking the time to talk about it to others.  It's nice to hear about people's experiences with it.

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This game has 3 small "foldable books", the core rules and 2 adventures. I've enjoyed it. It has good things like:

  • System to define a character.
  • A simple mechanism based on dices for moving the story and skill tests.
  • I think it has enough replayability for playing it several times.

It's not just a dungeon crawler, each adventure gives you a narrative to link all the random encounters and situations, and all these random elements are thematically related to the story.

In my case, I played drawing each element of the story on paper and listening to Skyrim OST.


That map looks great!  Glad you're having fun with the game.

(+1)

i was so entertained yesterday playing this. So fun! Any chance to make an Advance Edition in the future with the same system?

(+1)

Yes, I'm working on some advanced games using this same system (subscribe to be notified when they drop!), but in the mean time, you might be interested in Fable on Your Table, which is a more-advanced solitaire fantasy dungeon crawler that uses this same system with printable miniatures (or minis you supply yourself).

Glad you enjoyed the game, and thanks for taking the time to say so!

I like this a lot - rolling 2 against 2 is so simple and satisfying. The freeform trait assignment means lots of room for imagination and fun character creation! I’ve been playing as Jaromir Greyglass, a witcher with a big ol’ broadsword and a grappling hook :-)  Thanks for writing these awesome rules and adventures!

Nice! Glad you are having fun with these adventures. Be sure to subscribe for news of future movement on these adventures!

Grabbed this in the Racial Justice bundle, and just played the Frost Giant adventure. This was a lot of fun!! From folding the booklets, to creating a character, to playing the adventure, the whole thing was a blast, for a pleasantly diverting evening away from Netflix. (Alas, I had to use an online dice roller to play; if I get myself a set of gaming dice, then I can play screen free!) Reminiscent of the CYOA books of my youth, with a little more freedom of imagination. Definitely planning to buy the next two volumes (and more, should you write any!) Thanks for this (and for your support of the bundle).   :)

Awesome. Glad you enjoyed it.

And thanks for supporting the bundle!

(+2)

A very simple yet clever system, which applies to pretty much any genre and makes for very engaging adventures. The possibilities are limitless, and so are the potential tweaks to the game!

(+1)

Nice work! I haven't checked out the second volume yet. Have you thought of doing split tracks? Like rolling a die to see where you go or allowing players to choose shortcuts that have greater dangers?

(+1)

Yes, I've thought of that; these adventures are quite linear!  Problem is that entirely split tracks through the adventure would also shorten the adventure, and we're pretty tight on space as it is with just one printed page.

am exploring some branching mechanics in the later volumes.  For instance, the vampire adventure in Volume Three has a fortune-telling mechanic that can expose new weapons you can use to take down the vampire, but they come at an increased threat cost.  It's not something you choose, but it does have some branching narrative.

One thing I'm thinking for Volume four are one-entry decisions you can make, that are either/or decisions that may have repercussions later for plot point later.

I've also thought briefly about a larger, "folio" size adventure resembling a hex crawl type adventure that has a truly branching narrative with a mini-adventure (a series of traits) on each page with a decision at the bottom of the page to take you to another page (basically, hex to hex). Those sorts of things will be much harder to playtest thoroughly, so they'd be slower to produce, though.

(1 edit) (+1)

Okay. I dig that. Yeah, I was thinking that the branching narrative would be something like, say 1-22, you're climbing a mountain. But then at 23 you have a lock icon and if you' can beat, let's say a d8 or d10 hidden rock trait with your Elf Eyes or something, you can instead advance to A1. A1 is 4 sections long and has strong monster traits. It spits back out at 32. Otherwise you continue down the main line, taking longer but facing less dangerous adversaries.

These alternate tracks could be in text boxes on the right-side margin.

Oh, and do you have a random treasure generator or anything? Man, I'm loving this system.
EDIT: Oh, I see what you mean about size. Yeah, the pocketmod thing. I was reading them on the regular PDF thinking you could just add more pages.

(+1)

Well, if you're looking for a more fulsome Dungeon Hero experience, you might check out my Fable on Your Table game. It's got some mechanics that are very similar to Dungeon Hero, but it has printable miniatures, a deeper combat system, and a companion web app that procedurally generates dungeons.  Dungeon Hero was created as a distillation of that game, so if you're looking to go the other way and get something more detailed and expansive, that's a good pick!

Also, I suppose there's nothing preventing a PDF that has more pages.  I just felt that the 'zine size made it nice and portable and kept the play time to nice, enjoyable sessions that never go on too long. But there are people who have expressed interest in making their own Dungeon Hero adventures, so maybe we'll see some new adventures with these kinds of mechanics.  (Or maybe you will write some?)

(+2)

Hmm, maybe I will write some. I wasn't looking to see Dungeon Hero become something that it's not. I really like it for what it is. Just wanted to riff about storytelling. But I will go and check out Fable on Your Table, too. THanks

Printing Problems! My Core Rules PDF is not orientated like yours. When I print in the 4x2 pattern, pages come out upside down and out of order. I'm familiar with PocketMod prints, but I'm missing something on the print side. Thanks!

There's a video on how to fold the 4x2 'zine format on the page above. 

If that doesn't explain the issue, let me know!

(1 edit)

yes found that, its a printing issue. In your vid the text is upside down on each side of thw paper. When i print its all the same direction so folding doesnt work.

Thanks for adding the photo - that makes clear what the issue is.  I will look into it tonight and get back to you!

(1 edit)

Hmm.  I just double-checked the file, and it appears to be correct.

Which file are you printing?  If you want the 'zine format, print "Volume One v1.4.pdf".  The "standalone" versions (like "Core Rules v1_5.pdf") are there for the people who just want to read them as PDF's on their tablets.

I've also updated the info pages with notes to this effect so hopefully it will help other people avoid the same trouble you experienced.

(+1)

Ahh Thank you, that is exactly the issue. I was on the StaneAlone docs. Didn't notice there was a difference. I thought each PDF was a separate adventure. Didn't realize the DungHero Zone was all of it combined. thanks!

Glad we got it sorted!

(+2)

I recorded two let's plays of Dungeon Hero.

Here's the first one for Fortress of the Frost Giant Jarl.

And the second one for Castle Charon.

Interesting.
When a line has several enemies, am I correct to assume that I have to defeat them one after the other, gaining one treasure each time I defeat one (and losing overkill, that is each new enemy starts anew)?

That is correct!

(+1)

Amazing. I was so bored before I found this.

(1 edit)

Then my goal for the game is accomplished! Glad you're enjoying it. More is coming.

Great!

pure genius. The cut and reverse fold to create the book, brilliant!

Glad you like it!

I can't take credit for the cut and reverse fold setup, though - that's a staple of the "zines" community.  I picked up the technique looking at other people making 'zines around the web.  (It is pretty cool, though, isn't it?)

Is there a software you used to make these in the one page format?

I used Apple's Pages word processor. I set up the page setup to have the metrics of each individual eighth-of-a-page, then then made an Automator script to convert the PDF that produces into a series of .png files, which I then lay out in another document with pre-set page positions and rotations. I then export that as PDF.

That way, I have two PDF's: one that can be read by a PDF reader and it will flow in the way people expect, and one in a foldable format that will fold correctly.