The Black Orifice

Tabletop gaming resources and events from grumpy old games designers, Ben Redmond and Nigel McClelland

Dungeon Slam Design Blog


a design blog article looking at the adventurers that will make up your party in Dungeon Slam.

In Dungeon Slam, unlike many other dungeon-cralwer games, each player controls an entire party of adventurers. Each adventurer fulfils a particular role within the party: stalwart Soldier, canny Hunter, resourceful Quartermaster or powerful Artillerist. Each party must be made up exactly one adventurer of each of these four roles. Lets have a look at an adventurer's card to get an idea as to what they can do...

Adventurer Card Structure

At first there seems a lot going of icons and abreviations and not much text. This allows simple icon-matching mechanics and saves space, allowing all the information you need for each adventurer to be displayed on one side of a standard gaming card.

Lets have a look at what's going on...

Sponsor Icon

At the top left corner of the card you will find an icon for the sponsor the adventurer is contracted to. There are four main sponsors in the game, which are the factions that your party will work for. Each sponsor has a stable of adventurers you can pick from when building your party to enter the dungeon.

Poe, here, is sponsored by Ythilic Investments, a shadowy financial corporation that may, or may not (depending on who you speak to) have links to demonic or extra-dimensional beings. Their adventurers tend to be a little on the "dodgy" side, shall we say. The organisation's impatience with their wards means their adventurers tend to favour an agressive approach to the dungeon, with a preference for ranged attacks. More details of the other factions in the game will follow in later blogs.

Attributes and Skills

Each adventurer has the same four Attributes and eight skills, although they will invariably be better in some than others. Attributes and skills are used together for the majority of the dice rolls you will make in the game. The skill tells you how many dice to roll, whilst the Attribute tells you how many of those dice you get to keep. For example, if you wanted to make a Mobility roll for Poe, you would need to roll seven dice, but would only get to keep the best three. Say you rolled 1, 1, 3, 4, 4, 4 and 6, you would keep two 4s and the one 6, getting a score of 14. If the difficulty of the roll was twelve you would have been successful, but if it was fifteen you would have just missed out.

Lets have a look at the different skills and attributes:

  • Agility (AG): an adventurer's general aptitude for movement, speed and co-ordination.
    • Finesse: Skill with weapons that require precision and manual dexterity.
    • Mobility: Skill whole-body mobility, such as stealth and acrobatics.
  • Brawn (BR): an adventurer's general aptitude for movement, speed and co-ordination.
    • Melee: Skill with weapons that strength, including using shields.
    • Might: Physical power and athleticism.
  • Lore (LR): an adventurer's general knoweldge and ability to learn.
    • Arcana: Skill at manipulating and understanding the arcane forces of the world.
    • Science: Understanding of the new ways, of alchemy, engineering and other scientific endeavours.
  • Will (WL): an adventurer's strength of personality and attunement to the world around them.
    • Awareness: alertness and ability to notice things and pick up on the subtlest of clues.
    • Inspiration: Skill at inspiring oneself and others to be the best they can, and to channel the divine and primal forces of the world.

Level-Up Slots

Part of building your party is to buy your adventurers a number of Level-Ups to maximise their impact on the game. Each Level-Up you buy takes up one or more of your Gear or Ability slots.

Gear Level-Ups, such as weapons and armour, take up a gear slot - Amulet, Body, two Hand slots, and a Ring slot. We'll have a look at gear in a later blog.

Nearly all adventurers have the same full set of gear slots, but every adventurer also has a unique combination of ability slots. Ability Level-Ups are the special tricks and adventages that an adventurer has that make them special. We will look at abilities in more detail in a later blog.

Feat Box

The section below the image is called the Feat box, mainly because it includes the adventurer's Feat - their special rules that make them unique. However it also includes some other information about the adventurer, such as its race (a typical fantasy race such as Elves, Dwarves and the like), its party and its role. Lets have a look at a couple of these in a bit more detail...


An adventurer's party has no direct impact on the game, but does show you who the adventurer has been designed to join a party with. It's a quick and easy way to build your party by just choosing the four models from a named party, but you may find new syndergies or advantages to mixing adventurers up from other parties under the same sponsor.


There are four roles in the game: Artillerists, who kick out area damage and control; Hunters, who specialise in mobility and a focused high damage output; Quartermasters, who heal and support the rest of the party; and Soldiers who protect those around them and deal with the biggest, nastiest critters in the dungeon. You must include one adventurer of each type in your party.

Hit Points

A model's hit points work just like hit points in numerous other games. As an adventurer suffers damage you cross off these markers (sleeve the card and use a dry-wipe marker is probably the easiest way). When an adventurer has lost all their HP they are Knocked Out. The Wizards who run Dungeon Slam teleport them out just before they might die, heal them up, then teleport them straight back into the fight. The trouble is, where they get teleported back to is a little random...


In the bottom right corner of the card you will find their Bounty score. Gold Pieces (gp) are the victory points in the game. The first time an adventurer gets Knocked Out their opponent gains their Bounty score. The game is a race to 12gp, and each party must have a total bounty score of 8gp, so killing the opposition is a valid strategy but won't get you all the way to victory on its own.

More to Follow

I hope you've enjoyed this design blog. Don't forget to keep checking this site for more design blog updates over the coming months.