"It belongs in a museum!"
- -- Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.
The Digger system is one of two combat systems at Dream Chasers, and is used to simulate a party exploring a dungeon. The other, the Gunslinger system, is used to simulate people shooting/punching/fireballing each other in the face.
Each Form a character has has an attached statblock for Digger encounters, but they will almost always be identical on all of them. Forms meant to represent some particularly powerful Gunslinger states may not have a Digger form at all.
Digger is based around dungeons. In most cases, they are literal dungeons - caves and ruins with traps, monsters, and other means various and sundry to ruin a Drifter's afternoon. In other cases, they can be arena battles or other situations with a succession of challenges that need to be overcome.
Dungeons are cooperative undertakings intended for two to six characters, with a party size of three to four being preferable. Characters have a separate set of stats and actions that can only be used inside of the dungeon; these are used to resolve Challenges, which are like cards drawn from a dungeon's deck. There are two main concepts governing success and failure in dungeons:
- Exploration - Parties accrue Exploration as they resolve Challenges, and succeeding at Challenges generates more Exploration. When a party reaches a set level of Exploration (usually 100), they have explored a significant part of the dungeon, found new and exciting discoveries, and overcome its dangers. They win!
- Exhaustion - Exhaustion is accrued with Challenges as well, but failing Challenges will give you more of it. Exhaustion is meant to represent HP, mental energy, reusable resources, and so on - the ability of an adventurer (and the party) to continue exploring. A character who reaches 100 Exhaustion can no longer do Challenges - or much of anything. They need to head back home.
Typically, a dungeon will have three to five Challenges, plus a Final Challenge and possibly a Climax Challenge. A Challenge takes place over approximately two to three rounds of RP, so each dungeon would ideally be about six to fifteen rounds of RP in length. Dungeon scenes involve a level of abstraction: fights are not played out as blow-by-blow, simply walking through hallways is glossed over, and the focus is on the action. Because of this, short poses and quippy exchanges of dialogue are encouraged.
A Final Challenge is the last encounter of the dungeon. Success means you win the dungeon; failure means you go home. Some dungeons also have Climax Challenges, which will fire immediately prior to the Final Challenge. These increase the difficulty, and allow for two-stage Final Challenges.
While it isn't strictly required by the code, the responsibility of GMing is shared. Each Challenge should be GMed by a new player on a rotating basis. The order of the round-robin GMs can be set however the participants like.
Dungeons are also divided by type.
- Ruins are dungeons which have typically already been explored to some degree. They are still dangerous, and not to be underestimated. Success rates are intended to be around 60%.
- Labyrinths are challenging dungeons which have seen little exploration, and pose significant dangers. Success rates will be around 40% at best.
- Abyss is the classification given to dungeons that are very rare, totally unexplored, and teeming with legendary, savage traps and challenges. They are phenomenally deadly, even for parties of tough and prepared adventurers, and almost all of them guard plot secrets of some kind. Success rates will be less than 20%.
Challenges and Dungeon Abilities
Each Challenge has a Level (1 to 4, with 4 being extremely difficult) and corresponds to one of four categories.
- Brute: Brute refers to the use of force to break through an obstacle. This includes breaking down walls, pushing massive objects into place, and so on. A Brute action doesn't have to represent physical power; it can include using explosives, shooting a fireball to blast through something, or levering a boulder away from a door to slip through the gap. Brute is breaking or destroying an obstacle to get where you need to go. Its corresponding Action is "Force."
- Agility: Agility is using one's speed, reflexes, and mobility to get out of a situation. It includes outrunning a collapsing bridge, firing a precise shot into a small target, or wall jumping one's way up a pathway. Magic that helps you move across an area or trick shooting counts as much as basic acrobatics. Agility is moving over or around an obstacle to get where you need to go. Its corresponding Action is "Rush."
- Wits: Wits is more esoteric; it tends to focus on puzzles, or other situations where figuring out what is happening is more important than being strong or fast. Decoding a puzzle, overcoming a maze, and answering a riddle is more important. Wits is finding out how to overcome an obstacle to get where you need to go. Its corresponding Action is "Investigate."
- Combat: Combat is the use of fighting skills to clear monsters or enemies. These tend to be quick skirmishes - a combat Challenge is typically not an extended fight with named NPCs, but a battle with random monsters. Combat is defeating an enemy in battle to get where you need to go. Its corresponding Action is "Fight."
Every character gets a rating in each of the Dungeon Abilities, which reflects how effective they are at resolving those Challenges. These are purchased using Digger Points (DP), which are tied to their Gunslinger Character Points; for every 5 Character Points, they receive 1 Digger Point. As such, a newly-created character begins with 48 DP.
Whenever you encounter a Challenge (let's say Brute), your character will activate their corresponding ability (in this case, Force) to attempt to resolve the challenge. The party's score is tallied against the challenge difficulty; success generates more Exploration and less Exhaustion. Failure does the opposite.
Exploring a Dungeon is about more than just a series of individual challenges, however -- it is also a battle against the mental strain and physical fatigue that comes from exploring the unknown, surrounded by things that want to kill you.
The environments themselves are dark, scary, and oppressive. You may end up taking status effects like poison, and have to burn resources to get rid of them. It's also easy to get lost, or have to backtrack, and there's no in-universe FAQ to guide you.
Exploring Dungeons is the leading cause of death for Drifters. It is not for the weak of mind, body, or spirit.
In game, we reflect this in-between-encounter strain using Dungeon Conditions, which are effects characters will suffer with the resolution of a Challenge. They typically impose penalties on characters' Dungeon Abilities, reduce the Exploration received, or add to the Exhaustion received. One Condition, Treasure, is beneficial but rare, and is meant to reflect that treasure chest full of healing potions that pops up just when you run out. Either way, all Dungeon Conditions apply to the entire party, beginning as soon as the card is drawn.
A list of Dungeon Conditions is included below. Every Challenge will have at least one Condition, possibly more.
- Hesitate: Agility scores are reduced by 1 for this Challenge, but Wits scores are improved by 1 for the next Challenge.
- Reckless: Wits scores are reduced by 1 for this Challenge, but Brute scores are improved by 1 for the next Challenge.
- Fright: Combat scores are reduced by 1 for this Challenge, but Agility scores are improved by 1 for the next Challenge.
- Overzealous: Brute scores are reduced by 1 for this Challenge, but Combat scores are improved by 1 for the next Challenge.
- Weaken: Characters' Brute scores are reduced by 2 for this and the next Challenge.
- Slow: Characters' Agility scores are reduced by 2 for this and the next Challenge.
- Stupify: Characters' Wits scores are reduced by 2 for this and the next Challenge.
- Wound: Characters' Combat scores are reduced by 2 for this and the next Challenge.
- Bad Luck: All Dungeon Ability scores are reduced by 1 for this and the next Challenge.
- Injure: Characters suffer an additional 5 Exhaustion on this Challenge and the next, if they failed their individual roll.
- Tire: Characters suffer 3 Exhaustion on this Challenge and the next, regardless of whether they fail their individual roll.
- Exhaust: Characters suffer an additional 10 Exhaustion on this Challenge if they failed their roll.
- Treasure: Characters receive 5 extra Exploration for successfully completing this Challenge.
- Secret: Characters receive 10 extra Exploration for successfully completing the next Challenge.
- Save Point: The party is cleansed of all of their Dungeon Conditions.
- Wonder: Characters suffer 8 less Exhaustion on this challenge.
The following advanced Conditions reflect particularly fiendish traps or encounters. They are more rare; you may not get one in a basic Ruin, but in a Labyrinth you will encounter one or more. In an Abyss, advanced Conditions appear much more frequently.
- Collapse: Characters' Brute scores are reduced by 2 for the rest of the dungeon.
- Cripple: Characters' Agility scores are reduced by 2 for the rest of the dungeon.
- Madness: Characters' Wits scores are reduced by 2 for the rest of the dungeon.
- Maim: Characters' Combat scores are reduced by 2 for the rest of the dungeon.
- Overwhelm: Characters suffer an additional 5 Exhaustion on every Challenge in the dungeon, regardless of whether they fail their roll.
- Suffer: The party takes 10 additional Exhaustion on this card regardless of success. The minimum Exhaustion for this card is 10.
- Vault: Characters receive 10 extra Exploration for successfully completing this challenge.
- Hope: Characters suffer 15 less Exhaustion on this challenge. Hope should be used sparingly in all tiers of dungeons.
Yes, these Conditions are mean. Yes, these Conditions can stack and that is even more mean. Dungeons are intended to be challenging, particularly upper-tier ones like a Labyrinth or an Abyss. The secrets of the world are locked in these catacombs, and uncovering them should feel like an accomplishment.
Tools are the biggest advantage your characters can bring to a Dungeon. They are items that boost your Dungeon Abilities for a single Challenge, and can be used to cover for areas where your character is weak, or to make your strengths even more pronounced.
Purchasing a Tool costs 5 DP. Each Tool is built with 4 Tool Points spread along the following three (really two) categories:
- Rating: Scored between 1 to 4, with 4 being an extremely effective and potent Tool. These add to the chance of beating the Challenge. Each point in Rating costs a Tool Point.
- Effects: Effects are extra things a Tool can do. These typically grant status conditions that improve your actions or affect the amount of Exploration you receive. Effects and their Tool Point costs are listed below.
- Uses: Each Tool can only be used a limited number of times per dungeon. The number of uses is determined automatically by the Tool's Rating; you cannot spend Tool Points to increase Uses.
- Rating 1: Four uses per dungeon run.
- Rating 2: Three uses.
- Rating 3: Two uses.
- Rating 4: One use.
Tools are meant to be discrete objects, which the character carries around and can use in a tricky situation.
- Brute Tools should be objects that cause some kind of destruction. Perhaps a heavily armored gauntlet or a bomb that they can place to blow up something in their way; it might also be a powerful magical spell engraved onto a Crest Graph.
- Agility Tools should enhance a character's mobility in some way. This might include a grappling hook that they use to cross a chasm or climb a wall, rocket skates that allow them to move incredibly fast, or a Crest Graph engraved with a flight spell.
- Wits Tools are more esoteric than the others, but they should still be objects. For example, a character might have a pair of goggles that lets them scan an area, a mentor's notebook filled with numerous notes and maps that might provide a clue, or a Crest Graph that holds a spell to let someone see from afar.
- Combat Tools should be objects used in a fight. One might be a powerful area-of-effect ARM that can clear many monsters at once; another might be a Crest Graph with a powerful explosive spell. Combat Tools can also summon or distract monsters, as is the case with Jack's Guitar.
Exceptions to the discrete object principle will be extremely situational and rare. "Punching really hard" or "thinking about it carefully" are not Tools; they are things your characters will be doing anyway as they attempt to solve a Challenge.
Whether you use Tools to compensate for weaknesses or enhance strengths is up to you, but a character can only own Tools that affect up to 3 of the 4 dungeon abilities. So if you already have Tools for Wits, Agility, and Combat, you cannot buy a Brute Tool. After all, if everyone could do everything, there would be no point to having a party.
Like Dungeon Conditions, a Tool's Effects apply immediately to the entire party. In fact, Tool Effects apply retroactively to the entire round, regardless of what order people acted in.
Tool Effects and their Tool Point costs are below:
- Sacrifice: The party takes 10 extra Exhaustion for this challenge, whether they succeed or fail. (-1 TP)
- Liability: The party generates 5 fewer Exploration upon successfully completing this challenge. (-1 TP)
- Efficient: The Tool has one extra use, but the party receives half the Exploration as usual from the Challenge. Exploration from Effects and Conditions is not halved. (-1 TP)
- Rally: If the party failed the previous challenge, the whole party gains +1 to the necessary Dungeon Ability for this challenge. (1 TP)
- Fanfare: If the party succeeded at the previous challenge, the whole party gains +1 to the necessary Dungeon Ability for this challenge. (1 TP)
- Strengthen: All party members receive a temporary bonus to their Brute score. This lasts for two Challenges: +2 for the current Challenge, +1 for the next. (2 TP)
- Quicken: All party members receive a temporary bonus to their Agility score. This lasts for two Challenges: +2 for the current Challenge, +1 for the next. (2 TP)
- Enlighten: All party members receive a temporary bonus to their Wits score. This lasts for two Challenges: +2 for the current Challenge, +1 for the next. (2 TP)
- Embolden: All party members receive a temporary bonus to their Combat score. This lasts for two Challenges: +2 for the current Challenge, +1 for the next. (2 TP)
- Stalwart: On this challenge, the party takes -5 Exhaustion. (2 TP)
- Resilient: On the next challenge, the party takes -8 Exhaustion. (2 TP)
- Cleanse: All Dungeon Conditions currently affecting the party are removed. (3 TP)
PCs can carry a limited number of Tools into a dungeon -- this is reflected by a character's Tool Belt. Characters can own as many Tools as they want, but can only bring as many into any given Dungeon as they have slots on their Belt.
Each character begins play with a free Tool Belt that has two slots. Up to three additional slots can be added to your Belt over the course of the game. One slot will be added per Chapter; however, you can add a slot early by paying 7 DP. This will be refunded at the start of the next chapter.
Initial Application Bonus
All characters receive a one-time bonus as part of their initial application: their first 5 DP Tool purchase is good for two Tools instead of one. This bonus must be used as part of the initial application, and cannot be saved for future purchases.
Dungeon Flow and Commands
After characters form a party and enter a dungeon, they begin to explore it. This is done by establishing an order of who draws each card; you can do this however you want. As a matter of courtesy, the person who drew the Challenge poses first the round. Characters use the following command to draw:
This will result in three things happening. The first is that it provides the card's text: a one-to-two sentence description of the Challenge, so the person who GMs that round can pose it. Second, it states the Dungeon Ability that the Challenge will use. Third, it provides the Challenge Level that must be overcome.
After this, the person in charge of posing the dungeon that round does a pose. Characters are encouraged to take at least two pose rounds: first, to emote their characters' use of Basic Actions or Tools, and then for the dungeon runner to pose any results. You can spend more rounds if you want. Rounds are considered to run on abstracted time; a Challenge is typically not a blow-by-blow, but a quick vignette that shows a snapshot of a troubling situation.
Tools and Basic Actions are employed using the command:
Where "action" is either the name of the Stat (Brute, Agility, Wits, Combat) or Basic Action (Force, Rush, Investigate, Fight) -- you can use either to act without a tool -- or a Tool that corresponds to the Challenge Type.
Once an action is used, any Tool Effects are immediately put onto the whole party's ongoing Effects list. Duplicates restart the timer but do not apply again. Anything in the Effects list when +act/complete is pushed at the end of a round applies to that entire round. All Effects apply to the entire party.
Once an action has been used, a player cannot +act again until the next round.
The action phase of a round ends once all party members have used +act. At that time, the person who drew the Challenge processes the actions using the command:
This will indicate whether the party passed the Challenge; Exploration and individual Exhaustion will be updated automatically.
When the party has accrued 70 or more Exploration, the next use of +dungeon/draw will draw the Final Challenge. If you fail the Final Challenge, your party must retreat from the dungeon. If you succeed at the Final Challenge and still have active characters below 100 Exhaustion, congratulations! You won.
Winning at a Dungeon means bragging rights, but it may also come with other rewards in the form of treasure or other assets that can be used to get cool stuff done. It may also mean you uncover something more important, like an ancient relic or piece of lore.
Losing at a dungeon means only that the secrets of the past remain secret for another day. Go home and rest up. The past isn't going anywhere.
In either case, if the results are not clear, a page to an admin or a +request is your friend. Use both liberally.
List of Commands
- +dungeon/list: Shows a list of all available dungeons.
- +party/create <Dungeon Number>: Creates a party and prepares the dungeon to be ran.
- +party/join <player>: Joins a party led by <player>. The maximum party size is 7. This command will fail if the party you are trying to join already has 7 members.
- +party/reset: Completely clears your party information.
- +party/promote <player>: Promotes <player> to the party leader. This command will not work if actions are pending in a round, so use it after clearing the queue. Leaders can't leave the party until they pass leadership to someone else.
- +tools/+tools <X>: +tools Displays the tool list of your current form. +tools <X> displays the tool list for the form specified.
- +tools/load <X>: Loads a tool into one of your Tool Belt's slots. NOTE: <X> currently has to be the tool's numeric slot. You can see that in +tools.
- +tools/unload <X>: Unloads a tool from one of your Tool Belt's slots. NOTE: <X> currently has to be the Tool's numeric slot. You can see that in +tools.
- +camp: Displays all information relevant to the party you are in.
- +dungeon/info: Reports information about the dungeon to the room.
- +dungeon/enter: Begins dungeon run, and presents the Entry Challenge to the party. Once +dungeon/enter has been used, players cannot join the party, and your tools are locked for the duration. Players may still leave the party.
- +dungeon/draw: Draws the next Challenge. Also ticks Conditions. Mulligans are not possible. You play the hand you're dealt!
- +act <Tool>: Contributes <Tool> to your party's current Challenge.
- +act/complete: End-of-round button, done by whoever is posing that round's challenge. Once all players have acted, +act/complete processes the actions, determines success or failure, applies Exhaustion/Exploration, etc. Also ticks Effects. Does not work until the whole party either is Exhausted or has acted.
- +challenge: Reads out the currently-pending Challenge, and lists all Party Members. If the Party Member has acted, the tool or basic action they've used is also provided.