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by Sergio Mascarenhas
Nov 12,2004


Well, last month I presented my first book in the GlovE line, Gentlemen Explorers, the core rulebook for Amazing Journeys, the Vernian role playing game.

For the next couple of weeks I was working on some extensions for Amazing Journeys but eventually I decided to move in a different direction. Instead of working on more gamebooks for AJ I decided to work on another game. After all, creating new games is a lot more exciting than creating extensions for existing games, at least for me. One day I'll go back to AJ but not right now.

So what's the game I started to develop? It's name is...


Well, some time ago there were some threads about Robin D. Laws' article on writing game 25 words pitches (check his latest 'Page XX' at http://www.dyingearth.com/pagexxintro.htm). I followed that idea and wrote a 25 words pitch for Donjonfeist. Here it goes:

"The name is hero, anti-hero. You're the most unexceptional character conceivable. In a world with magic. With dragons. Evil creatures. How do YOU expect to survive?!"

Basically Donjonfeist is a hack & slash, dungeon bashing fantasy game.

"What", you may say, "the market and the net are crowded with such nonsense. There's ODD, T&T, Rune, Donjon, Elfs, Hackmaster, etc., etc., etc. Why write another such game?"

Well, here are the reasons that lead me to design Donjonfeist:

I like hack & slash and dungeon bashing ... from time to time. I suppose this is self explanatory, so let's go direct to the other reasons.

It's "low" fantasy, if you mind. It's not High Fantasy nor even Gritty Fantasy. Hack & slash and dungeon bashing are not about heroes in shinning armour, nor even about turtured heroes going through rough times. It's all about bandits, rascals, marginals, punks, escaped slaves, prostitutes, in a word, the lowest levels of society trying to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world, specially for those of their hilk. I called this low fantasy. The low fantasy character is an anti-hero. Notice that he may not be a bad person, he is just out of fortune, luck, fate, whatever. He is a Picaro (to use the name for anti-hero in the Iberian literary tradition).

Now, I don't know about you but my experiences as a player were that dungeon bashing and H&S are the realm of such type of characters. What? You have played Paladins in the gutter? Your "lawful", even "good", character excelled down bellow? Who are you trying to kid with? Someone that makes a living by going into a place, killing everything around, and bringing back whatever is of value and can be carried cannot be the nice guy one wants to invite for tea. Adventurers that hack & slash and enter dungeons are loosers in search of an opportunity, that's the hard reality. Learn to live with it (if you live that long, that is).

There's so much to play with ... I have plenty of materials to play dungeon bashing. Modules for different games, scenarios published in magazines, the internet to explore, crpgs. The question is of choice, not of availability of materials.

... but i don't want the hassle of conversions. Yes, there are many materials available. But most of these have been done for different game systems and have game specific stats and usage conditions (like modules that are for level X characters). I want to play it but I don't want to go through the cores of converting materials from a set of arcane system concepts to another set of even more complex and alien terms. Nor do I want to be limited because scenario W is too powerful/underpowered for the PCs.

These considerations lead me to think that I need a game system that's so flexible and simple that all I need to play is a concept for each character and the description of the situation. In other words, I need a game that fits the many materials I have available like a glove. Heck, I need a GlovE game for dungeon bashing and hack & slash.

So I decided to create it.


The name Donjonfeist is taken from the expression "dungeonfeist" that is one of the ways to refer to dungeon bashing hack & slash. In that case, why "donjon" instead of "dungeon"?

Simply put, that's a homage to my beginings as a role player. Twenty something years ago I discovered rpgs through the French magazines Jeux & Strategie and Casus Belli. Specially in the latter I loved to read and explore the scenarios they presented each two months. Usually these were "donjons", French for dungeon. Donjonfeist is my tribute to Casus Belli and the wonderful work they have been doing to role playing.


This month I present the first four sections of the gamebook. The first section is about character creation. I'm working on the second section that corresponds to section four in Gentlemen Explorers. I'm also working on the third section, a combination of section two and three in GE. As you can see, Donjonfeist reworks the structure I used in the previous game, even if the basic approach is similar. There is a reason for this: As I work on my games my ideas about how to present the rules evolve. Let me recall that in GlovE the character can suffer hardships (changes to its status due to things like damage, sickness, fatigue, etc.). In GE the rules for the same came after action resolution. In Donjonfeist they come before action resolution and just after character creation. This seems to me to be a better way of handling it, specially in a game like the present one.

In any case, text that I consider to be close to finished is typed in black. What needs extensive rework is typed in red. Next month I hope to be able to present a finished version of these initial three sections. The month after that I'll move to combat and other special cases of action resolution. The last instalement will concern the supernatural (magic and religion). In four months I'll have my second GlovE game. As always, I hope you enjoy it.



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