The Steam summer sale is ongoing, and I’ve already discovered one unplucked gem – Legend of Grimrock. It’s a great old-school RPG computer game, but better yet, it offers a brilliantly simple plot for a tabletop mega-dungeon crawl.
Legend of Grimrock is essentially an update of classic RPGs like Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master. You have a party of four adventurers, whom you can create from scratch or select from pregens. You move through the dungeon 1st-person style, using WASD. You don’t move around freely — there’s a grid. Your party members don’t move around separately — rather, you arrange their marching order, putting your tanks in the front row, your spell-flingers and arrow launchers in the back. There’s easy access to character inventory. The spell system is almost a direct lift of Dungeon Master‘s rune system.
Combat happens in real time, so you have to maneuver around, activate attacks, wait for them to recharge, fire off spells, and try not to get lost while you’re doing it (the game automaps for you, which helps a lot, but you can activate “old-school” mode and turn off the in-game map). While monster fights are certainly a key aspect of the game, there’s a lot of puzzle solving, reading runes for clues, finding keys, avoiding traps and the like. I’ve only played the first level or so, and it’s a lot of classic, throwback fun.
The game’s story is a stripped down premise perfect for a tabletop campaign. Mega-dungeons are a hallmark of fantasy RPGs (Eye of the Beholder actually takes place in Undermountain, after all). I’ve seen a lot of different reasons for a party to get dumped into a massive multi-level dungeon complex, but Legend of Grimrock‘s is pretty great. The adventurers are prisoners, and the dungeon is a prison. If they can get out, they’re free and absolved of all crimes. But the dungeon is inside a mountain, a towering spire, and the entrance is at the top. You get dropped off via airship, and you start your adventure with nothing. No weapons. No armor. Your wizard doesn’t even know any spells off the bat.
Sounds pretty hardcore to me.
Oh, remember how I mentioned Legend of Grimrock is part of the Steam summer sale? It’s $6. DO IT.