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Dungeons & Distractions

by E. Joyce profile

Episode 2 of Social Lycanthropy
Fantasy, Humor
2024

Web Site

(based on 6 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

Having recently been turned into a werewolf, you're trying to make some friends in the supernatural community, and you're doing it the only way you know how: through tabletop gaming.

Funny coincidence, though: you're pretty sure everyone at this table has ADHD (including you). Can you keep your players (and yourself) on task and get everyone through the final boss battle before time runs out?


Game Details


Awards

Winner - tie, Best Prose/Writing; Winner, Most Sequel-Worthy; Entrant, All Games - SeedComp! - 2024

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Number of Reviews: 5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Tip-toeing between feel-good and anxious-mess, April 1, 2024
by manonamora
Related reviews: seedcomp

If you've heard of D&D, get ready for its unfocused cousin: Dungeons & Distractions!

This game hits all the right spots: it's light-hearted with realistic characters and situations (even if everyone got mixed up with the witching hour), the writing is witty and simply delightful, you get thrown to the wolves without clear winning/losing actions, and it's just a fun time...

... unless you can't managed to keep the distractions down and find yourself failing your players by being a too unfocused DM. For you, an AD&D wolf-person proposed to set up a one-shot with a couple of friends, with the intention of making it a recurrent thing. But that will only happen if you manage to keep your player on track and end the session right on time. And your players are not the easiest ones to deal with, between your TTRPG-experienced girlfriend that tries to be "helpful", the easily bored witch with silver clunky bracelets (and you're a werewolf, remember?), the executive deficient player who can't make up her mind in how to act, ... Many wrenches are thrown in your path, and you will need to keep your head cool enough to get the session right back on track if you want to wrap up before the timer runs out.

I wasn't surprised that on my first run of the game I didn't fail terribly, but just enough not to get the good ending. I reached the bad guy lair, and introduced it before... timer ran out and the party broke apart. Pretty fitting for my I'd say xD

It was the perfect palate cleanser (for when I played it)!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
DND Sim, April 15, 2024
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)
Related reviews: Seedcomp 2024

Here's my DND story: The longest campaign I've been in ended after two sessions, but not before my character broke both legs jumping off a cliff and had to be carried around in a bag of holding for the rest of the game. I've done a few other oneshots, but nothing much. I've still been exposed to it enough to be familiar with the basic rules. Also, illithids are cool. In Baldur's Gate 3 that new DND game that everyone was raving about there are illithids and you get an illithid tadpole inside your brain and you can romance one and what was I saying again?

Anyway, so this game is heavily remniscient of my own DND experience. DND is complicated. There's all kinds of rules for combat and spells and levels and so on, and it can easily get overwhelming. When I played, sometimes one player's combat turn would take ten minutes while everyone else (myself included) browsed their phones until the rules and rolls finally got hashed out. Everyone was new to the game, including the DM, which didn't help. It's really not that beginner-friendly.

We still had fun, and there were some hilarious moments, but sometimes the tedium outweighed the fun. For not entirely unrelated reasons, I haven't done any kind of TTRPG in a long time.

Our main character at least has her girlfriend Rachel to help her out. Rachel can go a bit too far with the backseat DMing sometimes, but it's nothing too bad. I think the stuff you deal with in the game is mostly par for the course (and much better than what I've heard of on r/rpghorrorstories - now there's a subreddit to go to if you want to burn some time). Sure it has a supernatural bent to it, but players who talk out of character or get into silly arguments or make decisions the DM wasn't preparing for is just most DND sessions, in my limited experience. You have to roll with the punches. Which is what I ended up doing in my playthrough, and despite everything that went on we did make it to the end with some time to spare. (Side note, four hours seems pretty long for a first-time DND game, but I guess it makes sense if you want to play a oneshot all the way through and have someone more experienced to guide you. I personally feel like I'd be bored to death by the end, but this group of players is probably better than my group.)

I do have some UI quibbles that I think could've made the game a smoother experience: you're given info about the characters and the characters' characters (meta!) at the start of the game, but after that you can't really reference the info again, and it can be hard to remember it all. I never figured out exactly what the "Look around the table to see how everyone is doing" thing does - I think it shows you how distracted everyone is, but it's hard to check exactly since it only gives out textual descriptions. I got in the habit of barely checking it since the descriptions often don't change from one "turn" to the next. Also, is the general Distraction meter just for you, or is it for the whole table? If it's just for you, does every character have their own Distraction meter? But only yours is directly visible? Questions I wasn't totally sure about the answers to. Fun game overall, though.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Manage conflicting social demands during a DnD game in a fantasy world, April 6, 2024
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game consumed a lot of my attention and thought process.

You are a dungeon master/game master having a night with a classicallly-sized 4 person party, complete with fighter, rogue, cleric and mage.

All of the participants, though, are magical (well, mostly), including a fox spirit and a golem. Also, many of them are neurodivergent in different ways (including you).

The gameplay loop is that you advance the campaign a bit (which seems like its own fun story), and then an issue arises either in-game between characters or in-person. You have options to resolve it, which vary but often include taking gentle action, taking firm action, or doing nothing.

There are three ‘negative’ things that can pile up (or, occasionally, go down) that I found: you can get more and more distracted; the individual people can feel hurt or disconnected from the game; and time can progress.

I wasn’t sure what each of my actions would do or what the consequences, if any, of the above would be, but I had some idea and formed a strategy. It was very similar to a real-life stressful situation; it reminds me of my day-job as a high school math teacher (do I continue the lecture when everyone’s bored and the only topic left is really obscure but has a 5% chance of appearing on the end of year exam and ruining their life? Do I focus on the engaged students and let people talking in the back keep going? etc.)

I ended with time running out in the climactic fight, and that seemed just fine to me. I didn’t feel a need to replay, as there aren’t any perfect TTRPG sessions in real life, and ending without any major meltdowns seemed a big plus.

The characters were very distinct and their individual personalities mattered, making this work well as a character piece.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
I'm on a highway to hey look a squirrel!, March 24, 2024

I found this game honestly quite humorous. It reminds me of every D&D session I’ve ever had (both as DM and as a player. Things make sense (although there is too few shouting and metagaming and talking generally out of game to be very relatable).

The setup was neat and vaguely reminded me of an interactive blend between a D&D character sheet and a rulebook. The options were clear and had fair ideas. I liked the characters much, even though suddenly it started talking about a “full moon” and a tail and I got very confused… until I realised that the characters weren’t actually human!

Overall, a fun and light game which I would play again any time, no doubt about that.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A fun DM sim, March 18, 2024

This game is a great implementation of Pinkunz’s “AD&D” seed, with a supernatural twist that adds another layer of charm to the “friends playing D&D” setup. I love this kind of game (social resource management? social roguelikes?), and I imagine that it’s tricky to make, so kudos to E. Joyce for continually pulling it off!

The setup is compelling; the PC is a newbie DM with anxiety who’s running her first game for a group of people she mostly doesn’t know very well (all of whom, including her, are neurodivergent). This requires a balancing act between accommodating your own needs and those of the players, figuring out their personalities as you go along and guessing at how best to engage them or help them feel comfortable. Your girlfriend is also a player, and you need to navigate your interactions with her as well—do you tell her when her backseat-DMing bugs you, or just grin and bear it?

I always found there to be a good variety of choices, without an obvious “best” one, and after failing to successfully finish the session on my first playthough, I enjoyed replaying to try for the best outcome. After achieving it I still replayed a few more times to hunt down the other “failure” endings. Often in this type of game I find collecting all the endings as fun as winning!

I do have two bits of critique, one being that the contrast between the text and the background isn’t great on light mode (dark mode is much better, except for the links). The other is regarding the way you can check in to see how engaged or disengaged the players are; “Look around the table to see how everyone is doing” is something you can do any time, but I didn’t clock the purpose of it right away, and sometimes its description of what someone was doing contradicted what the passage text had just said.

Despite those quibbles, this game is a treat that I certainly recommend!

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This is version 3 of this page, edited by EJ on 5 March 2024 at 12:56am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page