Review: Two Hour Dungeon Crawl

Posted: 5 December 2015 in Reviews

I can’t resist random dungeon generators, which is bizarre because I almost never use them, and I know that when I buy them. Let’s call it a Quirk.

Anyway, 2HDC is a fast, simple dungeon crawler from the THW stable and using their house engine, the reaction system; in my case, a 47 page PDF. Rather than a detailed chapter by chapter review, I’m aiming for more of a summary this time. Note that 2HDC is designed exclusively for solo or co-op play, there is no head-to-head option.

Character creation is more complex than usual for a THW game, as there are 15 races and 8 professions (in effect, character classes) to choose from, each granting various bonuses and penalties. Armour also comes in multiple types rather than the usual THW "you either have armour or you don’t", and there are shields too.

The combat system is much the same as Swordplay, which is in turn a variant of Chain Reaction (both reviewed here), so I’ll gloss over that; being familiar with those, what I bought this for was the dungeon generator. 2HDC does add magic to the Swordplay engine, in the shape of three generic spells: Damage (magical shooting), Dazzle (miss a turn) and Defend (count as shielded). There are also healers, who as you might expect from their title heal injured characters.

Items of gear are more restricted in numbers and variety than in most current THW games, and largely weapons or armour. Assorted magic items are also available, although you find them in dungeons or get given them as rewards rather than buying them.

Now to the meat of the game, the dungeons. You begin by consulting tables to work out what the boss monster of the dungeon is, and why your little band is going in there (you can always choose this).  The dungeon is then generated as the group explores; they begin in a corridor, and then tables are used to generate each new area ("tile") as they move in the time-honoured fashion; corridors, rooms, T junctions, stairs and so on. Rooms or dead ends may have secret rooms in them, which generally contain undead, traps, or vermin. There’s occasional treasure, obviously. Rooms are all the same size and have exits in the same places, although there’s nothing stopping you making that more interesting – the rules suggest using any actual dungeon tiles you might have.

From time to time the group will meet something, and the action then shifts to a "battle board" off to one side, which is potentially at a larger scale and is where fights are played out using the combat and magic rules. As well as monsters (which are themed around the boss monster), you might encounter rival parties.

Campaigns are essentially a series of dungeons where you carry over your loot from one game to the next.

Overall Rating: Let’s call it 3 out of 5. I’m ambiguous about this one; unusually, just reading it doesn’t tell me whether I would enjoy playing it or not. I guess I should try it and see what happens. Maybe later.

  1. Charles F. Blakely says:

    I downloaded Chain Reaction 2015. I’ll try it and see if I find it useful in my solo gaming or group gaming. I will also check out the 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl later. Keep on with you recommendations. I really like Stars Without Number. Hopefully THW releases will prove as useful.

  2. Ywen says:

    They’re must be a mistake somewhere as it’s written in that you CAN play head-to-head.
    Can you or can’t you?

    • andyslack says:

      Rule 34.0 states specifically that 2HDC is played either solo or co-op, which lines up with statements in rule 13.0. I admit it says on the DriveThruRPG writeup that it can be played head-to-head – I wonder if that is just a copy/paste from another writeup?

      Anyway, since the dungeon layout and encounters are generated randomly as the party advances, I’m not sure how head-to-head would work. I suppose you could have one player generate the dungeon in advance and be a conventional dungeon master, or have a dungeon layout everyone can see, with multiple entrances, and race competing parties to a target room. However, it looks to me like it’s not really intended for head-to-head play. You could always ask on the THW forum, they’re very friendly.

      • Ywen says:

        I checked and the description and THW official site also mentions head-to-head: . And you’re right, nothing in the rules deals with competitive play. So I think this should be corrected. There’s a difference between competitive play supported by core rules and an hack IMHO.

        > I suppose you could have one player generate the dungeon in advance and be a conventional dungeon master
        Yeah, that’s not what I had in mind when hearing about competitive dungeon crawling with the PEF system.
        More like two competing bands of dungeon delvers trying to steal the loot from one another.

        I asked on the forum. Ed mentioned 3 ways:

  3. andyslack says:

    Competing bands of delvers could be done, I think; the easiest way would probably be to start each party at a different entrance to the same dungeon – in effect each generating their own dungeon with a shared Big Bad – and adding a rule about when those dungeons join up. A random event or special room, maybe. Still a hack, though, I guess.

  4. […] in an arbitrary order. I should say that I’ve read a couple of other reviews of this game (here and here), and neither of them say the rules are confusing. I’m not sure why, but this game […]

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