Release Date: 
Monday, October 15, 2001
PDF icon dungeon.pdf184.13 KB
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Play Duration (experienced): 
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Game by Daniel Bullen
Banner by Smart Eye Design

The Story

Captured and incarcerated, your only goal is to escape the underground prison you find yourself in. As you search for the hidden route to freedom, you must overcome the underworld’s hostile inhabitants and dangerously unstable passages.


Escape from your underground prison, or be the last one alive.

You Need

  • At least one standard deck of playing cards with Jokers. A single deck will suffice for a 3 player game, but such a game will be extended and bloody! Two decks can be combined for 3 or more players, allowing a quicker and easier multiplayer game.

Setting Up

  • Place a Joker card face-up in front of each player. This card represents the cell you are imprisoned in. If playing with three or more players, use the Jokers and have the remaining players randomly draw a card from the deck without looking at it, keep it face-down, and use it in place of a Joker.
  • Shuffle the deck and deal 5 cards to each player.
  • Place the remainder of the deck face-down within reach of all players.
  • Play one card from your hand to decide who plays first and draw a new card to replace it. Player of the highest card plays first.


Starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, each player takes a turn.

On your turn:

  1. Draw a card from the deck.
  2. Play a card if you can.
  3. If you have more than 5 cards in your hand at the end of your turn, discard until you have only 5 cards. All discards are played face-up.


Playing a Card:
You may only play one card per turn. There are three basic card types in Dungeon:

  • Passages (the value cards, 2 through 10) represent the tunnels, passages, and rooms you must navigate to escape.
  • Creatures (the picture cards, Jack, Queen & King) represent creatures of the underworld.
  • Aces represent your finely honed adventuring skills.


These cards are played as follows:

Playing a Passage Card
To escape from the Dungeon, you must play a series of cards, starting with 10 and progressing down to 2, laying each card adjacent to the last one played. So if you have a 10 in your hand on your first turn, you may play it adjacent to your Joker. This means you have escaped from your cell and begun the journey to freedom. Next, you would play a 9, then an 8, and so forth, playing one card per turn.

You may play more than one card of the same value (though not in the same turn), representing a branch in the passages. For example, if your current lowest card is a 7, you may play another 7 on this turn. You may only branch off from the current passage, so in the example where you have two 7s branching off your 8, you may NOT go back and branch another 9 off your 10. However, you may go back and build off of a previous branch. For example, with your two 7 branches, you may progress one of them down through 6, 5, and 4, then you may go back and play another 6 from the other 7. If you are forced to retreat, or part of your dungeon collapses, you may branch from the second lowest value card you have in play.

Another way of using a Passage Card is to collapse one of your opponent’s passages. To cause a passage to cave-in, you must play a card of the same value as the last card played by your opponent into his or her Dungeon. Both cards are then discarded face-up. For example, if your opponent has progressed from 10 through to 6, you may play a 6 to his or her Dungeon and collapse the passage; the pair of 6s is then discarded. Remember that you can only play 1 card per turn, so instead of playing the card to your own Dungeon, you play it to one of your opponent’s Dungeons. Passage Cards also come in handy when fighting off Creatures (see Creature Cards, below).

Playing a Creature Card
As you search through the caverns and chambers of the underworld, you will meet its foul inhabitants. You must either kill these creatures or retreat from the passage. To sic a Creature on your opponent, play a Creature (Picture Card) from your hand to your opponent’s Dungeon during your turn on the last passage they played. Your opponent must either fight the Creature or retreat. Note: You may not play a Creature as an attack until your opponent has left his or her cell (i.e., Played a 10 to his or her Dungeon).
To defeat a Creature, you must play one or more Passage cards of equal or greater combat value than the attacking Creature. Playing another Creature of the same or greater value also defeats a Creature. When defeated, the Creature and all the combat cards used are discarded face-up, and play passes to left of the person who played the Creature. Refer to the chart below to determine the combat value of a Creature.

11 = Graverobber = Jack
12 = Myrmiddon = Queen
13 = Wight = King

Two cards have special properties in combat: The 2, which represents freedom and daylight, can be played to defeat the Wight (King); and the Ace, your cunning and agility, has no combat value, but may be useful in other ways (see Aces!, below).
To retreat, discard the last Passage that you played. The Creature and abandoned Passage are discarded. If you retreat to your cell and are attacked in the cell, you must defeat the creature or you will be slain and be out of the game.

Creature Special Abilities
Creatures also have special abilities, which you may call upon. Instead of attacking with a Graverobber (Jack) or Myrmiddon (Queen), you may use its special abilities to your advantage.

  • Graverobber – Play this card on your turn to search through the discard pile and retrieve one card of your choice. Add that card to your hand, and then discard if necessary to end your turn with 5 cards. If you draw the last card from the deck on the turn during which you intend to play a Graverobber, the discard pile remains until the end of your turn; then it is shuffled and placed face-down for play to continue. The Graverobber is discarded at the end of your turn.
  • Myrmiddon – Play this card on your turn to “fish” from your opponent’s hand for one card, (i.e., ask your opponent for a card from his or her hand). If your opponent has that card, then he or she must give it to you. Whether successful or not, the Myrmiddon is discarded. If you desire to, you may demand to look at your opponent’s hand. If your opponent told the truth, you must discard your entire hand; otherwise, you get the card you requested and your opponent must discard his or her entire hand. Recall that only one card is drawn at the beginning of a turn. A player with no cards is extremely vulnerable to attack.


An Ace may be played at any time, whether it’s your turn or not. It does not count as a card, so you may play one or more Aces and one other card during your turn. When you play an Ace, immediately draw the top 2 cards from the deck. The only exception is when someone else plays an Ace immediately after you play an Ace, letting him or her draw first. It’s possible for all the Aces in a deck to be played immediately one after the other. In this case, the player who played the final Ace would take 2 cards, then the player who played the second- to-last Ace would take 2 cards, and so on. If, by playing an Ace, your hand grows to more than 5 cards, you will need to discard the extras, but not until the end of your turn.


If you escape the Dungeon (by playing cards from 10 through to 2) or all of your opponents are dead, then you win!


Random Cell/Jokers Wild – In this variation, a random card is dealt facedown for each player’s cell, instead of using the Jokers. The Jokers are shuffled into the deck and can be substituted for any card. Once played, with its declred value, the Joker retains all of the declared card’s attributes until discarded. If you use the Joker as a passage card and your opponent plays a card to cause collapse, you may choose to discard a card of equivalent value from your hand instead of the Joker.
Pitch Black – This devious version of the game uses the Random Cell/Jokers Wild rules and goes several steps further. All discards are played face-down. If a Graverobber is played, the player may view the discard pile secretly and select which card to take. The discard pile is returned face-down. All passages are played face-down. Players will be able to estimate how others are progressing, but not with certainty. This rule also lets players “cheat.” You may play passages out of order, or use any cards you like, in fact. However, if someone suspects you are cheating, they may request that your Dungeon be revealed. If you are cheating, the entire Dungeon (excluding your cell) must be discarded. If you aren’t cheating, the accusing player must discard his or her own Dungeon. Remember, all discards are face-down.
Almost Black – Like Pitch Black, but passages are played face-up, i.e., only discards are face- down.
Suicide Queen – In the standard game, when a Myrmiddon is played, players may choose to lie about whether they possess the requested card. If accused of lying, the player must reveal his or her cards. If he or she has the requested card, it must be handed over. In this variation, the player who lies may choose to discard his or her entire hand, instead of giving the requested card to the player who played the Myrmiddon. The “fisher” does not get the card requested.
Counter Attack 1, 2 and 3 – In the standard game, the Graverobber can be used to search the discard pile, and the Myrmiddon can “fish” a card from your opponent’s hand. This variation makes these actions a lot more difficult. Whenever a Graverobber or Myrmiddon is played for its special ability, rather than an attack, any player may instantly interrupt by playing a matching Creature, cancelling the special action. The pair of Creatures is then discarded. Any player may interrupt with a 3rd or 4th matching Creature, which negates the reversal. The interrupting cards do not count as playing a card for any player, but the original Creature does. You may choose to allow this rule only for Graverobbers (Counter Attack 1), only for Myrmiddons (Counter Attack 2) or for both (Counter Attack 3).

Origin and Credits

Daniel Bullen: In April 2001, I was made redundant. Being unemployed allowed me to work full-time on game design. This game came out of a long-standing idea of mine to make a diceless RPG based on bidding with cards or chips. In the end it’s not really an RPG, but it is bloody and good fun! You can see more of my games at www.diewalkure.co.uk (Ed.: As of July 6, ‘06, diewalkure was not active.). Thanks to Ian & Fiona for playtesting with me.

Legal note

The game Dungeon is ©2001 Daniel Bullen.
The banner art for Dungeon is ©2001 Cathleen Heard.
This .pdf of Dungeon is ©2001 Invisible City Productions, Inc.