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Goal in dungeon crawler, survival rpg?

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Im working on a game where you manage a party of heroes. You set out on a journey and move on a map where you come across towns and dungeons. You travel to "the next region" when you are done with one region and the final (maybe 5th) region has a final dungeon/challange before you "win the game".

What can be the goal for the party of heroes setting out for the adventure? The setting is old-school, D&D or boardgame rpg.

  • Save the land / world. An evil sorcerer has set in motion a super powerful ritual that will plunge the world into darkness. Each region has an artifact and you need to stop him in his fortress of solitude in the fifth region using all 4 artifacts. But why would merchants charge you money for their wares (which I want) if the world is ending? Why do side quests matter? Everybody should help you if this is the final days. Maybe the ritual is only PARTLY super bad.
  • Fortune. Legend has it that in the 5th region a rare treasure is kept by a nastly something (dragon?).
  • Grand quest. The king has an awesome reward for those that can resque princess/ return regalia. So a keeper is needed (so this is similar to "Fortune" above really).

How can the run/campaign be "scored"? So a player can try to beat it? The score can be the wealth in the final treasury / reward, which is larger for:

  • higher difficulty run (setting when starting a new campaign)
  • less days was spent reaching and claiming the final goal.
  • less heroes killed in the process from starting the campaign

Or what else? What would work with these mechanics? Its not bad if something needs to be done in each region. Or maybe you just progress when you feel done with the current region and want a higher difficulty region? (you also run out of dungeons to complete in a region) Any other nice ideas that you have?

Thanks a bunch!

Edited by suliman

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Ok, so you have a Party RPG that has 5 regions, 1 that has a dragon, and a king gives you a quest to save the land right? You want shop keepers, side quests. I'll give some story options first.

Statesmen or religious leader who (could be intentional or unintentional) refuses to believe the worlds ending, Thus everyone doesn't REALLY believe the worlds ending, except perhaps the king, or a princess (princess's can give quests as well)

Kingdom just had a war, so people don't want to help or give stuff away.

The world ending is a secret, passed down in the royal family. They don't want everyone to panic.

The Character does not learn that the world is ending till some way into the quest. Or the info is only given to the player.

Your not from the kingdom, thus everyone distrusts you.

Really it's not hard to fit everything into a single narrative. Just remember that people are naturally distrusting, and get shady with limited resources.


Now as for score, You could keep a tally for enemy's killed, gold collected, quests completed, etc. If it was me, i would grab every variable that you want to include in what makes a successful run, and add a value to each type. For instance, Orc's = 2 points, goblins = 1 point because 2 goblins are about as hard as 1 Orc. 10 pieces of gold to a point, Easy side quests can be 5 points... you get the idea. This way when your half way into making the game, and you realize there isn't much incentive to do side quests, or kill a certain enemy, you can raise it's points.


hope this helps a little

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I suppose the party goals really depend on how story heavy you want things to be. Let's take one hypothetical scenario as example:

"Years ago, a group of people took part in magic ritual which had gone awry. Due to their political standing, those people could not be executed nor imprisoned, so they were banished. The ritual, however, was far more insidious than anyone thought at the moment, and kept expanding throughout the land. The people who originally performed the ritual know a way to try to stop the blight from expanding. Thus, they band together, and defy their own banishment to try to redeem themselves from past mistakes."

Both the quest and side-quests can explore the personal role each character had in the current state of affairs. Although they are trying to save the region/world, nobody has any reason to like them (or perhaps some people do). The quests might also explore why people refuse to leave, even though things are clearly going south (or perhaps not so clearly). If you want things to be less story heavy, you could just have a secret organization trying to bring the cast of characters into power again, and people sympathetic to the cause sell them stuff.


Scoring also depends on what do you want players to do. If it is about killing monsters, then that could be the score, but limit the amount of monsters which give points (in a diminishing curve) per region, so you have to plan how to tackle the area. I'd personally avoid leaving too open ended when the player leaves a region. If, for example, you do have a dragon, you could make it roam around destroying things. Your final score would depend on how much of the land you could save (and how fast you gathered enough power to actually face the dragon).


Hope this is helpful :)


Edited by Thiago Monteiro

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One idea could that your five party members are prisoners that have be falsely imprisioned but the king has a soft heart and will allow the party out of jail to find proof of their innocence.  

The players will win the game once they defeat the last area where the boss confesses to the crimes 

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How about building up the epicness i general?


Long time ago I did a fair share of dungeom-mastering. I cannot say wether or not I was good at it but the players seemd to enjoy it at least 😊


In my experience, a good story for this kind of game would build gradually, for example:

Rather than going diretly to "Save the kingdom!" consider a more personal approach, start the story with something with a personal relation to the players character. This is the base motivation why they embark on the journey. Then, as the story unfolds the player get deeper and deeper involved into the fate of the kingdom and the stakes go up.

In my mind most good books and movies start like this, a small adventure on the personal levels that slowly ends up in epicness.


Of course, depending on how the game is setup such a story arc may be to big to suit the game, but its hard to say


I can give one concrete example, now Im winging this one so dont take it to seriously as I havent really thought it through in details, its just to illustrate: 😊

Quest 1: The sister to one of the party members has mysteriously dissappear whilst going to the market in the nearby town. The players set out to investigate only to find traces leading to a nearby bandit-camp where she is held prisoner. The players rally the local countrymen and have to fight through the bandits to reach the end

Quest 2: It turns out the sister has been taken away from camp by an unknown sorcerer. Rumors are her blood possess a special ability required to unlock hidden dark arts. The Players have to pursue, unfortunately the Wizards tower is in the middle of a small warzone and the players have to fight and defeat the clans at war to gain access. With rumors of their victory over the prior bandits spreading, more voulunteers have joined the Players forces and with the new found army they attack in attempt to both defeat and saveguard the region as well as save their sister.

Quest 3: The players are too late. The sorcerer has already completed the ritual and imbued with his new power he has besiged the capitol. The Players swear vengence and with the full force of their armade they set sail to defeat the sorcerer once and for all and save the kingdom


One way of scoring could be to count the number of losses, the less of their countrymen fallen the better!


Ok, kind of a crappy story, but anyway, building the story gradually and making sure to link the actions of the characters to some driving forces makes the store a bit more realistic in my mind.


Welll... Thats my two cents at least 😉

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I need story to be pretty flexible; you play through it several times rather than one epic journey (and then the player is done and moves on to the next game).

So the setup needs to be somewhat open, as the content for a "campaign" is procedurally generated:

  • the terrain of the 5 regions
  • the content in them (which kind of dungeons, where are they, what is the population and mission for each dungeon)
  • the towns and their content in each region
  • the final challange (this should have several versions so the end combat is always unknown).

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If I get you correctly, you have a set of nice gameplay mechanics which you want to set against a background just to get things going. That is, it is not story really your focus (and likely, neither of your players). Since the content is going to keep changing between runs, it makes no sense for players (on average) to be attached to it, or even pay much attention to what is going on. 


In this sense, an alternative approach could be to think about the landscape and a few final bosses and derive everything from there. For instance, if the final boss is a Mr. Lord Skeleton, the immortal, your motivation to visit the terrains would be to find a way to kill an immortal being. On the other hand, if you have the Mutant Giant Mole, the party might need to delve in a bunch of caves in search of the creature.


The way you describe it, it might be more important to spend time creating an appealing visual identity, rather than a deep/tight/innovative story.

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Posted (edited)

Yeah Thiago. It's almost a sandbox for adventure rather than a classic story-based game campaign. But some sense of story is always good of course.

Looking at two games that inspire this project (Darkest Dungeon and Battle Brothers), the story is very weak and the setting and gameplay mechanics is central. I like that.

Edited by suliman

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