I'm looking for a way to play a D&D-like game in about 2 hours. And before I reinvent a wheel that's doubtless been explored many ways before, I wanted to ask you lovely people for suggestions for existing games.
Context: We've been playing OSR-like D&D in an open-world sandbox using Lamentations of the Flame Princess mixed with home-brew rules, followed by another sandbox using 5E but similar OSR priorities. We've also been playing some Dungeon World. Now, we have a period where I have much less free time coming up, so I want something that's self-contained, requires no prep, and can be played in a short space of time, but still gives us a D&D fix. Also, for a while I've wanted a way of running a short, self-contained thing that feels like D&D to give various friends and family members a first taste.
Wishlist (not expecting to get everything, but this would be ideal for me right now):
- Focused on the dungeon (rather than time spent in town, politics, wilderness exploration, etc.)
- OSR priorities: challenge, play to find out what happens, non-linear, not focused on combat, not focused on stats. Doesn't necessarily have to be super-lethal, but I'm not against that either.
- ~2 hours start to finish. This means we're not getting a whole big dungeon. More like a complicated situation - a few rooms, some relationships between those rooms, multiple ways of approaching them.
- Premade dungeon and premade characters - possibly with some tickbox customization that takes 10 minutes. This then implies you'd need multiple of these dungeons and accompanying pregens, so you can play different scenarios. Although re-playability of a single dungeon would be a lovely extra!
- Lightweight, easy rules (and fiction-first priorities)
- Characters with fun abilities - I'm not really wanting the OSR feel of peasants with sticks here. I think for my target audience it would be more fun to pick up and play a game where the wizard has a bunch of tricks up their sleeves and the rogue can spiderclimb, or what have you. What I'm interested in is applying fantastical powers to problem solving. So not just how can we use these bales of hay and flasks of alum to solve this puzzle, but how can we use the ability to drink fire and spit it out again to solve problems.
"Why don't you just...
- ...play a classic D&D module using a classic ruleset, like LotFP, The Black Hack, etc?" Because those take much longer. It can easily take several long sessions to get anywhere with these classic modules, even if I did some work to add pregens with a sensible loadout. If you have a module that you think is really good and plays out in the time needed, then by all means point me at it!
- ...play such and such a 3E/4E/5E/Pathfinder product" I'm pretty ignorant here of what's out there, so please do tell me if you think there's something that would work. But I suspect they would run afoul of my desire for OSR priorities (I expect most of these to be pretty linear battle crawls) and also my desire for lightweight rules. I don't want to have to teach anything like that complexity.
- ...play a one-shot of Dungeon World". This one we will probably do as well! But I also want a game that is more challenge oriented, and has a predetermined dungeon to explore.
Does this already exist?