Publisher: WorldWorks Games
Review Dated: 17th, December 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 8.00
DungeonWorks is probably the most unique product I’ve reviewed on GameWyrd to date. As you might have guessed, DungeonWorks is a dungeon. The twist is that DungeonWorks is a 3D model of a dungeon, a model you download off the Internet. Clearly DungeonWorks isn’t 3D as you stream it off the website, it’s up to you to print it out onto cardstock, fold, glue and create the model. The selling point is that you get to have a good-looking model dungeon for a fraction of the cost of a traditional one. You can print DungeonWorks out again and again and expand your dungeon for peanuts and until there’s no more floor space left. The catch is that you have to put some work in yourself.
I put DungeonWorks to a strenuous test. If I could build a good looking corridor then DungeonWorks would have lived up to its claims, if I could build a satisfactory looking corridor then DungeonWorks would still be a success but for every finger I cut off or every dungeon door that ended up glued to the table I’d mark the product down by one.
I type this review with the assistance of all my fingers. Rejoice!
The download unzips into a number of different folders and PDF products. You don’t need to mess around inside a huge, colour and high resolution PDF just to find and print the page with that has the gold coin covered floor tiles on. This is a welcome blessing. To get to the gold coins you’d simply have to enter the floor tiles folder first, then item tiles and then open the PDF in there. A great advantage of using this modular presentation is that each set of dungeon components comes with their own specific instructions and difficulty rating. If it’s just a matter of using a craft knife to cut out a title then the difficulty rating is low but if you’re faced with tricky cuts, lots of folding and then careful alignment of glue covered tabs then the difficulty is much higher.
Craft knife. Yeah. Perhaps the most important of the individual PDFs in DungeonWorks is the beginner’s guide. It’s here that you’re told all the bits of equipment you’ll need to put the dungeon together and what to avoid. You’ll need a craft knife since they’re so much better than scissors. This means you’ll need a cutting mat and a metal ruler too. Use something like white glue and not a glue gun because a glue there dries too quickly. I know what a glue gun is but it’s not the sort of thing I’m likely to have lying around. I used an extra bit of card instead of a cutting mat and my craft knife came from the handy stationary store down the road. That’s the level of inexperience I was working on and I managed to build a corridor that I was happy with.
I only built a corridor but printed out all of the different floor titles. I do make use of floor plans and DungeonWorks is built on a scale suitable for use with them. DungeonWorks is a coloured product. DungeonWorks is more than just coloured; it’s visually striking. It will make your players go “wow” and it is certainly possible to use some of printouts in standard flat floor plans.
It took me a while to build my simple corridor but I was learning as I went. I think that if I continue to find time on this pet project that future corridors will come together more quickly and easily. I can say with certainty that if you have any experience of model building – and lots of you do – then you’ll have no trouble whatsoever with DungeonWorks. There are more than just corridors to build. The product comes with junctions, corners and even “risers” that present a higher level than the ground level. In this way the term “Dungeon” starts to look a little off. It seems easier to build a ground level area of corridors and rooms and then build up from there. It’s certainly impossible to build downwards. I only have one corridor converted into a 3D model but have grand dungeon plans drawn on paper and in these each level of the dungeon is represented by a different 3D floor plan. It was only later than I discovered there is more than one way to use DungeonWorks to realise different designs. DungeonWorks is surprisingly flexible.
I use floor plans because they’re easy to whip out and help resolve or add some flavour to a combat that’s been threatened by a game mechanics or dice overload. DungeonWorks isn’t so easy to whip out. You can’t produce it without much planning from a draw or from the back of a GM folder. I can’t quite picture when I’d use DungeonWorks in a roleplaying game at all. I could use it if I was running a campaign specifically designed to be a series of dungeon crawls – and I’ve not done that since I first found the hobby. DungeonWorks seems more of a war game or board game supplement than a roleplaying aid. In fact, DungeonWorks is a victim of its own success in that very coolness of being able to move minis around a 3D dungeon threatens to overshadow any attempt to roleplay and not rollplay while the characters are exploring the dungeon. Mind you, I can think of gamers I know who bounce the dice simply for the thrill of beating a dungeon and they’d give their teeth for a 3-dimensional dungeon to play in.
DungeonWorks is a super product. It delivers. You really can use the PDFs and the easy to follow instructions to build yourself a model dungeon. This dungeon of yours can keep on growing until there’s no room to keep your copy of the rules anyway in the house. A rank amateur like myself can build a part of a dungeon and so anyone can. The only catch seems to be whether and when you would use such a model in your game. This last point is a purely personal decision or, at most, limited to the gaming group. I don’t think I’ll use DungeonWorks in many roleplaying games but I’m already thinking of a HeroQuest style game that could be played in it with d20 rules that the local gaming group could enjoy. Any product that inspires me to start planning a game gets the thumbs up.