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What’s The Difference Between An RPG And A Dungeon Crawl? - Antsy Labs

What’s The Difference Between An RPG And A Dungeon Crawl?

If there’s one thing gamers like to do, it’s play by the rules.

After all, rulebooks may be the only thing separating us from the ruthless, savage, power-hungry animal kingdom.

(Unless you’ve ever played Risk, in which case you know that even following the rules can lead to your family members turning into ruthless, savage, power-hungry beasts who do everything they can to claim Kamchatka.)

Before you even get to cracking open the rulebooks, though, there are game categories that seem to have as many guiding definitions as any of the games themselves. 

Now, we love ourselves a good night of tabletop gaming (and it became one of our favorite In Real Life Achievement packs!), but there’s one thing that’s always given our friends trouble:

Just what is the difference between an RPG and a dungeon crawl? Thanks to games like Dungeons & Dragons, the two names are often conflated. That’s why we’re taking a moment today to clear up any confusion between the two.

3 Differences Between Role-Playing Games and Dungeon Crawls

Now far be it for us to let anything get in the way of your fun. Still, getting these classifications wrong can muck up your party faster than a Slow spell.

Here are three easy-to-remember differences between the two.

  1. RPG = Category - As a role-playing game, explains reddit user mdillenbeck, players take on characters and a rule set, while a dungeon crawl can be more specifically described as “a group of fantasy heroes entering some sort of underground setting, exploring corridors and rooms, fighting monsters, and getting treasure.”

  2. Regular Meetings Vs. One-Off Games - As such, dungeon crawls can be great for groups that can’t meet regularly, as they are focused more on exploration and gameplay with less of a focus on role-playing and character design, which can require a more regular time investment.

  3. Explore The World Vs. Follow The Rules - RPGs are often designed to let you do - and be! - whatever you like. A dungeon crawl - though it could very well exist in the confines of an RPG - is limited in scale, letting you get straight to the kind of action you want without as much setup.

Another way of thinking of it is that, given the creative flexibility, an RPG could be played like a dungeon crawl. You likely can’t, however, play a dungeon crawl with the same rule-bending freedom. 

Still, this is not to place an emphasis of one type over another! And we’re sure you’ve found that because different games require different setups, there’s a right time and place for each of them.

So with that, we’re curious to know - how do you think about the difference between the two?

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