Wicked Ones: Building Dungeons and Raiding the Overworld

In Wicked Ones, we play to find out just how long some terrible monsters building a dungeon together can survive against the inevitable onslaught of heroism coming their way. In the process, we enjoy some crazy mayhem and chaos while getting to look at fantasy life from the darker side. We find out just why monsters need to hoard all that gold, who builds all those traps, and just how hard killing adventurers is. In short, we get to be monsters.

Players take on the roll of unapologetically evil creatures who have banded together to build a dungeon as a safe harbor from which to launch raids on the overworld. So the band begins the game in search of a lair, a safe space to launch raids from and a place to call home.

Their monstrous heritage means their very nature pushes them towards dark desires. Greed and malice grip their hearts and fuel them, which makes them strong as they don’t have the hang-ups of more civilized races. But this will also be their undoing. Wicked Ones is a game about finding out how far these dark desires can take these monsters before succumbing to them. Life as a monster is a sharp rise and a hard fall.

Wicked Ones is heavily inspired by Dungeon Keeper.

Some of the key features of Wicked Ones off the top of my head:

  • Your character starts with a flaw and gains more as they snap under the pressure of stress. The GM can invoke these flaws in game and if you follow-through with the action, you’re awarded with a Dark Heart die which you can spend to take +1d on any roll. This mechanic heavily encourages monsters not always doing what’s right.

  • You hoard gold from raids, which then increases the size of your dungeon. It grows over time as you add rooms and recruit minions. These are actually drawn out on a map classic dungeon style. Your raids generate terror, which eventually leads to notoriety and triggers an invasion of your dungeon by adventurers. You can build traps and locks to further hinder these. This Dungeon Defense phase plays out a bit like a board game.

  • As your dungeon grows, you open up new caverns which you can then build into dungeon rooms giving you bonuses and allowing you to shape the type of dungeon you want to make.

  • A new wounds / defense / conditions system makes combat slightly crunchier than BitD, which fits the fantasy tone of the game.

  • A very flexible magic system makes spellcasting fairly intuitive. When you take a magic ability, you choose a single magic path and declare your own spell effects on the fly. Spells cost stress to cast and are ranked from Tier 1 to Tier 3. You take a penalty to your action roll when trying to cast more powerful spells, meaning they are more dangerous and less likely to succeed but with awesome effects. Truly powerful magic is handled by rituals, which need preparation and special requirements.

  • Players decide a “dungeon goal”, something they want to work towards as a group that gives their dungeon meaning. This dungeon goal becomes an XP trigger.

  • There is a quite robust crafting system allowing you to make crazy monster inventions, alchemicals, potions, magic items, and more.

  • As your dungeon grows, you’ll get access to 3 types of minions: packs, specialists, and creatures. Creatures are unintelligent beings that inhabit your dungeon like a bat colony or giant spiders. Specialists have a specific skill which they can use during downtime. Packs are good at raiding the overworld for supplies. You can bring these packs and specialists along on raids with you as well. Minions tend to grumble when things don’t go well, which can lead to problems within your dungeon.

  • As your dungeon grows, you’ll find underground discoveries - ravines, lava, creatures, other denizens of the underworld, veins of gold, and so on.

  • 9 Callings that represent different monster archetypes: Brute, Crafter, Conniver, Marauder, Shadow, Shaman, Tracker, Warlock, Zealot.

  • Most campaigns are naturally designed to last 16 sessions (4 months of weekly play), taking you from a Tier 0 to a Tier 4 dungeon. Of course, games can be much shorter than that as well. The dungeon starts small with the PCs hitting easy targets like farms, merchants on the road, and so forth. When they hit tier 1, they define a dungeon goal which propels the story forward as they work towards accomplishing it. At tier 3, they redefine the goal. At tier 4, their dungeon has likely accumulated a large amount of terror which triggers end game events (not written in the current doc) - something like a final battle with the forces of good trying to stop them as they cast a ritual to raise one of their own to demigodhood, a huge raid on a nearby keep driving the baron out of the lands for good, or a massive invasion of townsfolk on their dungeon as the townspeople just can’t take it any longer.

The game has been playtested quite a bit. I run two weekly games with it and am looking for people who might want to set up and run their own playtests. We play online on Discord using Google Sheets for our character sheets and Roll20 to draw out the dungeons. The dungeons have this kind of awesome emergent gameplay to them and take on a life of their own as they slowly grow session after session. Most sessions revolve around downtime and a raid on the overworld, with a dungeon invasion by adventurers occuring roughly every 4 session.

I’d also be very happy to get any thoughts or feedbacks on how I’ve set up the game. The doc itself is mostly meant to be functional for my playtesters - it’s not exactly meant for “public consumption”. There’s no design to it really, it’s very dryly written, etc. so please forgive the lack of it being cool looking. I’m working with an awesome artist to make a unique look for the game and we’re already about 30-40% done with the artwork for the planned 200-page 6x9in. book. It’ll look cool and monstery…someday. :slight_smile:

Anyway, here’s all of the docs:
Core Rules: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1E3QROY_8Qs2RLzSbZD32LPgMyqVaaz817qD8AP_BPPo/edit?usp=sharing (Google Docs, comments enabled)
Sheets: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1C5_eQMDdu9fwX3w4QAlFkJ6LxsNUHb8Uo0tKiH95gtQ/edit?usp=sharing (Google Sheets)

PDF of rules and sheets: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/18KAn2oJ7F_z9yhMkYuGSuioFz1hNxOSD?usp=sharing

Feel free to join our discord if you want to get involved somehow! https://discord.gg/JcuExnC


I’d be interested in running or playing in a playtest, if you are recruiting here!

Right now, I run two playtest groups, each with 4 very regular players in them that have been going several months. I run online, so don’t really like going above 4…

I’m really hoping to get some other people that’d be interested in running the game though, then some players to hop into those games. I’d like to get a feel for what it runs like without me really being around, what kind of stories it leads to, etc.

The doc now is runnable for sure, though there’s not a lot of GM support in it (you come up with your own setting, there’s no list of best practices, not many examples of play, etc.). I’d be around to help get things set up though, talk about the changes in the system, bounce ideas off of - would love to do that.

Also I’d be more than happy to run you (or anyone really) through a one-shot of it to show the system changes off and how the first session kinda leads into a dungeon being set up and how the game goes from there.

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I’m in the same boat with my own game (mechanics nearly complete and lots of local playtest, but no playtests without me as GM) so it’ll be a great learning opportunity to try to run your game blind!
My usual group can only meet once a week though (for my game) so I’ll need to recruit some new people.

If you’re thinking about running it online, maybe I can help out with getting some players together. I’ll drop you a PM.

Very nice work. Maybe I can get my group on board with playtesting, as we are switching games at the moment.
Questions that came up during my first readthrough:

  • Crafted or bought alchemicals and potions are depleted after their respective uses and have to be bought/crafted again. Is that correct?

  • I like the “time limit” with terror and notoriety ticking steadily towards the endgame events, but are there planned ways to decrease terror/notoriety?

  • How does notoriety factor into possitive effects on your dungeon?

Besides that I’m really interested in the powerful entities. Sounds cool and badass.

Epicness ensues when I confront my adventuring party with the dungeon they build in a past game of Wicked Ones :smiley:

That would be amazing! Keep me updated if you do decide to run it and let me know if there’s any way I can help.

  • Alchemicals and potions deplete, yes.

  • Character death gives -2 terror. Only that… The uncontrollable nature of it is better for the game (imho) because players have a ton of stuff to focus on. It’s better for terror/notoriety to spin out of control. Each raid exploding and gaining more terror than planned is part of the fun. Makes for great devil’s bargain material there.

  • Monsters respect those with fierce reputations. You take +1d on any Banter or Command roll against monstrous factions with tier equal to or lower than your notoriety. Also, I’m considering allowing notoriety to automatically recruit minions up to its tier instead of taking downtime to recruit them as your name spreads far and wide and they show up.

Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll let you know should we start playing.

This looks great. What you see as dry, I see as being clear and well organized.

If you are going to add fluff / flavor, I’d suggest doing it as sidebars and call outs. Don’t take away from the clarity of the rules!