The Cloud Dungeon
Author: Andrew J. Miller
Page Count: Not Relevant
Available Formats: PDF and Print
Cost: PDF – $7 or Print – $17
This game was printed and gifted by a close friend with the express purpose of writing this review.
“The Cloud Dungeon, a DIY Adventure Game with paper craft, coloring, co-op and competitive mini-games, and difficult decisions with permanent (often hilarious) consequences. It’s a creativity-inspiring co-op experience that’s fantastic to play as a family. It can be played in 90 min-120 min, or broken up into 30-45 minute sessions, as the book is divided into three chapters.”
I am only in possession of a printed out copy of the original PDFs, not the actual spiral bound printed edition. The overall quality of the PDF is very good with a very whimsical feel to the art, fonts and overarching presentation. Everything is clear and easy to read even if some pages are minimalistic. There are areas within the PDF that could have been layout slightly differently to help conserve paper and ink, but otherwise, it is nicely done.
Mechanically, the game is rather simplistic as it was intended to be a game that is approachable by both children and adults. As with all other RPGs and even some tabletop games, character creation is the first thing that is accomplished.
Here we simply cut out a character card and its corresponding “standee”. Players will next give their character a memorable name and stats. Base stats are included on the character card and a D6 is rolled and the result is added to each. The new combined total is recorded in the next available block in the to the right of the original base stat. The health tabs are cut horizontally (more on those later).
Now is where the fun and DIY begins! You next determine your quirks by a simple 2d6 roll and compare the numbers to a chart. The result is then drawn, however whimsically you want it to be, on your character card. Players then select a starting item and either attach it (via tape) to their character card or simply place it next to it. Players then receive an a sum of gold, which are simple coin cutouts that you can color as your play. The last thing to do is cut out one decision card. Decision cards are used when smarts/strength/sanity rolls are required and players should refer to this card for instructions at that time.
That is character creation! it’s simple and easy and you get the added bonus of getting to color it if you so choose. Check out the video below of a very good tutorial about character creation some of the rules.
The game itself is written in the form of three separate adventure stories. Each will have a variety of points at which characters must either make a group or solo decision. These decisions are used to navigate through very specific points within the story. The results could be both positive or negative.
There are also several spots during the opening scenes of the game that will help to further define how the rest of the story will be influenced. For example, there is a location in which all players will meet a hobo and will have to decide as a team, if they give him money, don’t give him money or simply buy him some food. Once the team decides, the results (on the next page) prompt them to circle a specific A#, (A1, A2 or A3) on the decision card. This circled letter/number combination will be used to determine how the story develops as play continues. Many of the future decisions are based on what A# was circled in that opening scene. There are other options available depending on which adventure is being played out.
Each combat situation will present players with a very easy to use flow chart with their options, but ultimately there will come a time to fight. Fighting is very easy (players can refer to the decision card)! Here’s basic premise.
1. Set up the combat situation based on the flow chart
2. Look at the creature token to determine the stat to roll
3. Roll 2d6
4. Apply any modifiers to the stat score [temporary] (ie strength 1 = -1 to your strength)
5. If the result is equal to or less than your modified stat score, you succeed! Otherwise, you failed.
6. Follow the flow chart for success of failure to determine what happens
These rules are the basic premise of what mechanically drives the game. As I said before, the rules are very simple and easy to understand.
The theme of The Cloud Dungeon is rather basic and easy to connect with. The long dead queen of the Cloud kingdom, Tyrannie, stored all of her immense wealth and riches in the Cloud Dungeon! She went so far as to devise a chemical process by which she could thicken and stabilize the clouds structure enough to make it possible to build upon the clouds. In
In doing so, she was able to create a vast country in the sky, far above the land below. This country is Yonder and characters are headed there to seek their fortune and fame or an untimely demise.
Since the game is a DIY project, there is that element of fun that comes from cutting, taping, coloring and just general doodling. All of which are an integral part of the game. The game is whimsical in nature and rally very approachable to gamers of all ages. It also possesses elements of Choose Your Own Adventure books, miniatures games, RPGs and other tabletop gaming elements.
The only issue I have with the game itself might be replayability of the game over the long haul. There are several options, remember those A3, B1 type things I mentioned earlier? each story has a variety of these that could be circled depending on the decisions made by the group as play starts. Once you run through these, there seems to very limited options beyond this point. My only other issue regards the overall layout of the material. I think it could have been more smartly laid out so as to conserve some paper and ink.
Your mileage may vary, but I think the game has a place in gaming circles! I can see this as a fun game at a convention or even a game club’s game day. With it’s “all ages” approachability, it would do well at these types of events. With a little re-skinning, it could be used as a tool for homeschoolers to learn a variety of social and life lessons by way of roleplaying them out and promoting them to make informed decisions.
I look forward to busting out my childish DIY skills in the near future and see how this game goes over with a variety of different audiences through conventions and game clubs that I occasionally frequent.