Dungeon crawlers are the original dungeon games. They go back to the 1980s with classics like Dungeon Master for the Atari ST. Dungeon crawl themes were adopted later by renowned RPG games like Baldur's Gate and Diablo.
My daughter and I developed a lightweight ruleset that a 4 year old can enjoy. Included in the rulebook are instructions for:Coming up with storylinesSetting up treasuresMonster cards to populate your dungeonHow to introduce your child to role playing games and increasingly complex creative playBattle rules that even a 4 year old can follow
Darkest Dungeon has the player manage a roster of heroes to explore dungeons below a gothic mansion the player has inherited. Played out in a mix of real-time movement and turn-based combat, a core feature of Darkest Dungeon is the stress level of each hero that increases with further exploration and combat; a character sustaining a high-stress level may gain afflictions that will hamper, or possibly enhance, their performance as an explorer. The Stress Symbol or Iron Crown, a crescent with five inward-facing spikes, is also in the game's logo.
Darkest Dungeon is a role-playing game in which the player manages a roster of heroes and adventurers to explore these dungeons and fight the creatures within. Prior to entering a dungeon, the player can use facilities in the game's "hub-town" near the mansion to manage a roster of heroes and inventory. Each hero belongs to one of fifteen character classes, and has their own statistics and skills that can be upgraded over time. If a hero dies while exploring a dungeon, that hero is lost for good.
Once the player has completed preparations, they select four of their heroes to go explore a procedurally-generated dungeon. Combat encounters play out in a turn-based manner. A core element of Darkest Dungeon is its Affliction system, which indicates heroes' stress levels or resolves. A number of factors impact Affliction while in a dungeon, such as adventuring without food or light sources, witnessing the death or wounding of a fellow party member in battle, or from blights cast on them by enemies. Unchecked stress levels will gradually interfere with the behavior of the character, such as being frightened and unable to fight directly. Allowing a hero to reach an extremely high stress level can cause them to have a heart attack, bringing them to the brink of death if not immediately tended to. Stress can be lowered while in a dungeon through camping offered at specific locations, or other restorative items, as well as when back in the nearby town.
The next DLC, "The Colour of Madness", was released on June 19, 2018. Narratively, it has a meteor crash near the village that causes some of the villagers to turn into zombie-like creatures. This leads to new dungeons, monsters, and other aspects of gameplay. This also adds a new mode, a horde mode, where the player's party must survive as many encounters as they can against these new creatures.
At the outset of Darkest Dungeon, the player learns that they have inherited an estate from an Ancestor who, while seeking to fulfill his ambiguous ambitions by excavating the dungeons and catacombs beneath his manor, has unearthed some terrible monstrosity and released a number of horrific and evil creatures and corruptions onto the world. Now as the owner of the estate and the surrounding lands, the player must recruit a roster of adventurers and mount expeditions to cleanse the estate of its vile inhabitants.
The main gameplay of Darkest Dungeon started out as a tile-based game that had the player control a group of characters as they moved about in a dungeon, eventually transitioning into a combat mode when they had encounters. The two recognized that players would get bored of looking at icons of the characters' heads all the time via the top-down icons, which would not allow players to come to bond with the characters. This led to the concept of presenting characters from the side view in combat, making the player feel they were at the same level as the characters, alleviating some of these issues. This gave Bourassa, the principal artist on the game, an opportunity to show off more of his work. However, this would have left them the need to transition from top-down to side-view and create more art assets. They worked around this by using the same side-view not only for combat but for dungeon exploration, creating the basic gameplay of Darkest Dungeon.
One core idea of the game was its Affliction system, in which the dungeon-crawling characters would gain stress and eventually afflictions as they explored. Bourassa and Sigman noted that while they are fans of classic role-playing games such as The Bard's Tale, Eye of the Beholder, and Ultima Underworld, most of these games lacked the human element to the characters. They give an example of a character being down to their last hit point in battle and the player simply making decisions to win, the character reacting regardless of their low health. They instead wanted to "toy with player agency", giving moments where the player is reminded they do not have full control of the actions of the adventurers in the party. They also sought to alter how most loot systems in role-playing games work so that the player was not always focused on finding the best gear for the characters but instead working to support their characters. Bourassa and Sigman were aware that these facets may turn players away from the game due to the difficulty and inability to have full control, but continued to stay true to their vision of the game.
The game's first downloadable content, "The Crimson Court", was released on June 19, 2017, on personal computers with the PlayStation 4 version to come later. The new content added a new hero class, a new dungeon type, new enemies and bosses, and other similar content to the game. Integration with Steam Workshop was added in an April 2017 update. Red Hook plans to develop additional downloadable content, to develop for other platforms, specifically highlight touch-based devices as they found their interface is already well-suited to this input mode.
The dungeoncrawl structure provides these features for location-based adventures. The hexcrawl structure provides these features for wilderness-based adventures. A fully functional urbancrawl structure would theoretically provide these features for city-based adventures.
Assuming you are using a relatively standard city (i.e. not a city that has been contrived to work like a dungeon), I think you are going to have to apply a different model. Your biggest problems is with the exploration based default goal, for two main reasons:
Basically, if you want it to work as a crawl, you either need to change the city so that it effectively resembles a dungeon, or change the default goal to something other than exploration. Both the second and third posts above change the default goal.
Cities are some of the most complex places imaginable so there will lots of ways to approach this, but a good start would be a combination of dungeon and hexcrawl rules to make them consistent with the rest of the game, with simplification important to keep pace up.
I think in many cases part of the problem is that our systems and experience leans heavily towards combat as the primary encounter interaction. Most of the long-time GMs I know can throw out dungeon crawl encounter tropes at you all day (the magical statue/fountain/etc., the ambushing tribe of , the great beast trapped/imprisoned in the depths, etc.). Most of these are routed in a life or death struggle, or at least one that represents great risk and reward. It seems to me there are 2 main reasons this translates poorly ot the urban crawl.
You could also blend the urban and dungeon by having street levels and over street levels and sub street levels and sewers, with actual dungeons below mansions and merging at lower levels. Maybe some canals run through the city, repleat with water monsters and smuggler caves. Think Empire of the Petal Throne.
At its most basic, DROD consists of rooms: tiled grids the player character moves on. Each turn he can move to one of the eight adjacent tiles, rotate his sword, or wait in place. The goal of each room is to kill every monster and escape. However, rooms are fraught with pits, doors, bombs, pressure plates, traps, and countless other hazards. Although each element is simple, predictable, and deterministic on its own, they can be combined to make puzzles of fiendish difficulty.
Meet Beethro Budkin. Beethro is a Smitemaster, a professional one and a respected member of a guild. Beethro makes his living by clearing dungeons, holds, cellars, castles and other places of monsters. The monsters he encounters mostly vermin like roaches or spiders, but also more dangerous things.
The first entry in the franchise was Webfoot DROD, also known as DROD 1.0. It was created in 1996 by Erik Hermansen and published by Webfoot Technologies. Webfoot DROD featured the first ever hold, King Dugan's Dungeon, in which the smitemaster Beethro Budkin has been hired by King Dugan to scour every monster from his legendary dungeon.
In April of 2005, DROD 2.0 was released. It featured a new hold, Journey to Rooted Hold, which follows the story of Beethro after he returns to Dugan's dungeon with his nephew Halph to investigate a mysterious passage. The 2.0 engine also presented a graphical overhaul, many new elements and monsters, and new music. It was the first DROD game to be a shareware. King Dugan's Dungeon was updated with new content and released as a separate purchase. 2b1af7f3a8