RPPR Episode 11: Dungeon Crawl from Here to Eternity – a tribute to Gary Gygax

Hosted by Ross Payton and Tom Church
Music: A tribute to Mozart by Steffe Coonan
Promo: The Escapist Podcast

Gary Gygax passed away on March 4 2008. His legacy is the foundation of role playing games as we know them. While we are not old school players who were there in the golden age of D&D, we both felt Mr. Gygax’s hand in our games. The adversarial competition between DM and the players, the ‘kick the doors down and slit their throats’ style of dungeon crawling. We talk about the generational differences in gamers and Gary’s many contributions to popular culture. You can see his influence in video games, new media and much more. This is not a solemn tribute as we both thought that Gary would want a lively upbeat discussion.

Shout outs:
Neverwinter Nights 2: An excellent 3rd edition D&D computer game with more features and gameplay than you can shake a dead orc at.

Dieselboy’s Dungeon Master Guide:
An incredible drum & bass album, perfect for fast paced battles when running your own D&D game.

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup:
A sadistic computer game. Described perfectly in this thread:

Like Nethack, Dungeon Crawl as an ASCII (text based) Roguelike game. The player controls a single character (represented by an @) who ventures deep into a subterranean cave complex in order to find the fabled (in this case the Orb of Zot).

A defining feature of Dungeon Crawl is the huge range of possible character combinations. There are 26 races (such as Ogre, Ghoul, Demigod, and Naga) and 28 classes (like Berserker, Warper, Stalker, or Ice Elementalist) and about a dozen different gods to worship. Your choice in each will matter greatly; an Ogre Berserker will play very differently than a Human Berserker, and a High Elf Conjurer who worships Sif Muna, God of Arcane Knowledge will play very differently than a High Elf Conjurer who worships Vehumet, God of Magical Destruction. There’s a lot of strategy to pore over, and many different viable playstyles.

The religion system is refreshing. You don’t simply sacrifice corpses on an altar until you get an artifact. Each god has likes and dislikes – actions and objects that will anger them or please them. Please your god enough and you’ll be granted powers like Haste, Might, or the ability to raise the dead.

The item system is kind of similar to Diablo’s. You might find a sword that does ice damage and raises your intelligence, or you might find an axe that raises your strength and gives you fire resistance. The magic items aren’t like Nethack; these are randomly generated, although there are some set unique artifacts to find.

The combat in this game is intense. Make no mistake about it: this game is challenging. In other roguelikes, “power-up” items like potions, scrolls and wands are emergency items. In Dungeon Crawl, you’ll have to make use of these items frequently, and with intelligence, in order to survive.

There are lots of weird, interesting things in the game: real pet classes, a detailed mutation system that can give you significant abilities and disadvantages, unique spells (such as turning into a venomous spider, or blowing up the dungeon architecture), weird artifacts, different dungeon types, etc.

I haven’t found a better pure, strategic hack’n’slash game yet. As in all Roguelikes, there is no saving, and no loading your game. When you’re dead, you’re dead. If you want to win, you’ll have to use your head.

Liked it? Take a second to support RPPR on Patreon!


  1. You brought up the idea of the “old school” philosophy vs collaborative story telling. From personal experience I can tell you when a GM/ST have one philosophy and players have another it can cause a lot of tension that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

    I totally forgot where I was going with this.

    So for a second I was thinking:: “Sounds like Survivor Ravenloft…..”and then Tom busts out with the “Lord Of The Flies” reference….way to make me feel like a pop culture dumbass guys 😉

    The only games I can think of being BETTER played drunk are :”ELFS” and “Paranoia”

    ::chuckles:: I’m still a young’in in gaming…I’m 27. 🙂 Also I have to kids at the preschool I teach at that I am 90% sure will become gamers. Aren’t many 3 and 4 year olds that can intricately tell the plot of Starwars with any degree of understanding…it’s cute.

  2. I just htough about something else….which one of you is a fan of the movie “From Here to Eternity?” That’s a WWII movie right?…hrmmm I’m guesing it’s Ross. 😉

  3. Hey, I’m a new listener. Only found out about this podcast a couple of days ago and have greatly enjoyed going through the archives. All I can say is…where were you guys when I was in Springfield and desperate for a CoC or D&D game? 🙂 I lived there back in 2000-2002.

  4. I was wondering, what is that music at the end of the cast? I really enjoy listening to you guys.

  5. Author

    The song is a Tribute to Mozart by Steffe Coonan. There’s a link at the top of the show description.

  6. Author

    Thanks for the comments, guys. You’re right, I am a fan of from Here to Eternity although I haven’t seen it in years. And I understand how difficult it can be to find a good group of gamers in Springfield. Oddly enough, we had a tough time getting good games around the same time.

  7. For me it was easy to find gamers in Springfield. I found my group my second week here! I just started hanging out at Metagames and bingo-bango.

  8. Death by orcs.

    Good show, was saddened by lack of Tom’s letters and anecdotes though.

    I’m playing obsessively that Stone soup dungeon crawl now. …great.

    The farthest I got was with a Dwarf Berserker named “Joe”. He had the pleasure of killing another one of my player’s ghost but sadly met a very bloody end when he went berserk and attacked what appeared to be a room containing around 15 orcs.

    Why didn’t I listen to you! I guess sometimes it’s “okay” to run.

  9. That was a great tribute to a great man. I’m still relatively new to gaming compared to many, but since the beginnings I have acknowledged the lasting influence of Mr.Gygax and his collaborators. Twas a great listen! Keep up the good work!

  10. I have just got back into playing d&d. This is my first episode and I loved it. I especially like the part about d&d and the devil. My friends and I joke about all the time. One of my friends actually took one of our jokes and turned it into a shirt. It’s Satan giving a thumbs up . On top it say RPG’s Orphan tested Satan approved

Leave a Reply