Exhumed: Pamphlet Dungeon Edition

Last night, I completed a version of Exhumed for the Pamphlet Dungeon Jam hosted by Nate Treme—about half a minute after the jam closed at 1:00am local time. (It’s been a rough week.) I was disappointed to be unable to show it off among the other excellent pieces, but I figured, hey, I made the thing—I might as well share it. And on the bright side, this afforded me some time tonight to fix some errors and squeeze in some edits I couldn’t fit before the deadline. Click below for a color version, or click here for printer-friendly black-and-white. (Edit: Updated May 17 to fix errors and missing content.)

This pamphlet is actually pretty different from the last publicly available version I linked on this site, which was still pretty much an Into the Odd adaptation. This one is closer to the version I last playtested before switching to Grave, with rules closer to Nate Treme’s In the Light of a Ghost Star. (I was using those rules before I discovered his game, but his very simple approach gave me the confidence to conclude “just roll over 3” could work just fine.)

Also, true to the spirit of the game jam this was meant for, this version includes a fleshed-out version of the introductory dungeon I ran at Metatopia 2018. The details here seem sparse, with as much information for after the dungeon as there is for the dungeon itself, but it’s practically extravagant compared to what I took to Metatopia. I was the only one who needed to read that adventure, so I could get away with three bullet points of sentence fragments with sensory details. I mean, I knew what I meant, at least. I haven’t actually written many adventures for public consumption, so adapting one to this format was a really interesting exercise.

I haven’t decided yet whether this is the last thing I’ll do with Exhumed (which you might remember I described as “mothballed” just two weeks ago). Between Exhumed, the single page Searchers hack I posted recently, and Grave, I now have three short, OSR-style soulslike games I can run at a moment’s notice, in addition to some neat adaptations by others I’m looking forward to trying at some point (like Knave Souls). Surely I have enough soulslike games, right? I can move onto something else now, maybe?

I must admit, though, that working on this one got me thinking about how I’d like to do it “right”—a larger project, with more art (public domain or otherwise), better graphic design, more adventure locations, actual maps, custom character sheets, thematically appropriate spells and magic items, and so on. (And, Gwyn help me, I even know how I’d finish my early Black Hack adaptation if I ever decided I needed one.) Adventure design still doesn’t feel like my strong suit, so a project of that magnitude may be a long time coming, if it ever comes at all. Plus, I’m really eager to get going on a couple other projects, too. All this design work is only a hobby for me, of course, so I can afford to change my mind and chase after whatever creative project inspires me to stay up way past my bedtime. So, as I like to say: We’ll see.

Finally, one last note: I ran out of room in my “thanks” section to say so, but thanks to everybody who reassured me it was time to lean into the fact that I keep accidentally naming my soulslike games after metal bands. That title font makes me smile.

7 responses to “Exhumed: Pamphlet Dungeon Edition”

  1. I really like this. I just playtested it with my wife, she enjoyed it, and the NPCs leave enough room to build a cool, cryptic world. Good job!

  2. Oh my gosh, thanks! That has got to be the fastest I’ve ever gone from posting to getting actual playtest feedback. You’re amazing! 😀

    • You’re welcome!

      I printed it off last night and didn’t know when I’d get to try it. My wife is drawing goblins and I just set up a couple of characters, when she took a break from her art I just said “Hey! Come play this game with me.” I think the only thing I’d add is give characters a DEX test to see who acts first in a round (monsters and NPCs always act at 3), combat went by pretty quick and smoothly. I’ll definitely play this again with a few others.

      • Awesome! The exact initiative rule you suggest is at the end of the “Actions” paragraph, so that probably ought to be called out more clearly. I’m fixing a couple other errors now; maybe I’ll move it to the front of the paragraph instead.

      • I must have read that but then just couldn’t find it while actually playing.

  3. Hey, I don’t know if you’ll see this comment on a two year old post, but I just played this with my girlfriend and a couple friends and it was really fun. Straightforward, simple, and really enjoyable. It was a great time. I just wanted to let you know that it’s really good, and I’m probably gonna run it myself a lot in the future!

    • Apparently it takes me about a month to see old comments—sorry about that! But thank you so much for the kind words. This is terrific to hear!

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