UK Games Expo featured a ton of games, as it always does, but one certainly stands out a little extra. Conan: The Tower of the Elephant is an adventure boardgame where we get to relive the young barbarian’s adventure from the classic Robert E. Howard story with the same name.
Conan: The Tower of the Elephant, due from Perilous Worlds and Room17 later this year, is using something called the Tenfold Dungeon (or TFD) system, and it’s really cool. Let’s have a chat with Ricard Fortun, who worked with designer Anders Johansson in creating this thrilling boardgame.
Before we get into the Conan game, can you please explain what the Tenfold Dungeon system is?
Adventure boardgaming nowadays seem to have an essential 3D feel to it. Miniatures, plastic doors, or cardboard standees all try to rise the feel from the board to a more immersive experience. Yet so far, mass production boardgames still left the richly illustrated environment on a 2D set of tiles, a board or a map.
We all dream about having our dungeon build in 3D, explore from atop the catacombs and corridors of a rundown fortress or a cursed castle. Before Tenfold Dungeon, the only resource available to achieve this 3D full experience was expensive resin sets (and very heavy!) or handcrafted scenery that needed to be glued, painted, and stored!
We also desired our dungeons in 3D, of course, so when we started the company, the first project we wanted to launch was Dungeoneers, a full 3D dungeon crawling experience with minis, and what would become the Tenfold Dungeon System. The project was very ambitious for a startup company and the costs could have killed us if it would fail. So we decided to put aside the overall project and launch only the 3D system of boxes within boxes that we know now. Dungeoneers, however, will see the light in full next year!
Tenfold Dungeon is a range of environments depicted in a series of fully illustrated boxes clipped with a unique plastic door-clip and torch-clips that keeps the boxes sturdily together once set up. Since all TFD sets are made with the same technical specifications and materials, all clips are 100% functional across the range. We have opted for the highest quality cardboard, reinforced corners and thick board and coatings for a sturdy and durable feel.
Each TFD presents 12 boxes playable on both sides (full illustration and a grid is provided inside representing rooms and corridors – and outside- to recreate ramparts and terraces). Although each set presents a different selection of corridors and rooms of many sizes, all TFD sets are fully compatible with each other. Inside each TFD set, players will also find a set of staircases to move up and down levels and a set of walls and T-clips to link walls with boxes to partition larger rooms or to create mazes and secret chambers.
Although we plan to make TFD sets of any outer size, the first range of 5 settings are all W300xL370xH125mm containing 12 boxes in total for an average playable surface coverage of around 1 sqm.
Because the inside of a TFD is hollow (allegedly a lid and a base containing 10 more boxes) players can store inside their TFD set, full collections of models, dice, tokens and markers, pens, pads, rules booklets, etc to play their game on it. So not only it is the scenery and setting but also the box to keep it all tidy and easily transportable.
So, Tenfold Dungeon system is an offer to a fully immersive 3D experience at a very affordable price, designed to be extremely re-playable and versatile and yet occupying the least space possible when disassembled. It is your solution to store your own game and the perfect “toolbox” for DM to design, plan and then direct their RPG games.
What did people at UK Games Expo think about Conan: Tower of the Elephant?
Conan: The Tower of the Elephant is the first full game that uses the Tenfold Dungeon system. One of the qualities of TFD is that you can stack the boxes to create high 3D features and we did this with one of the first adventures of Conan. The Tower of the Elephant is a magic and incredibly beautiful building that Conan will have to climb in order to steal the Heart of the Elephant a mystical priceless jewel that Yara, the evil wizard keeps.
When you build the Tower of the Elephant with TFD set, you realise of the true possibilities of this product. You have in front of you a tall cardboard building fully illustrated inside out that turns into a chose-your-own-adventure game in a moment.
But is not only visual, the game plays incredibly well as a SOLO or PVP game with a very well thought dice placement system that Anders Johansson designed. With an adventure booklet that runs the player up and down the tower as he or she chooses the options and challenges, the players find themselves taking boxes from the tower, flipping them over and playing inside chamber after chamber and stairwell after stairwell in search of Yara and the Heart of the Elephant. Each room magnificently illustrated that generates a magic feel of actually living the adventures of Conan and Taurus.
We think and we have been told by industry connoisseurs, players and press, that TFD system is a great idea for boardgames and RPGs. When we put it together with the adventures of Conan and a great simple and very cinematic game system, the reception by the public has been very positive and exciting.
Of course the first thing that strikes the player is the 3D element of the tower – standing in front of a 450 mm tower that unfolds in front of your very eyes as you play. The IP of Conan reinforces the confidence that what they have is a quality product, and then playing a game that allow them to manage Conan himself and decide his fate. Tower of the Elephant is not a game set in the Conan times and locations, it is a game where the player IS Conan and through their rolls and decisions will make the hero the Barbarian we all love and admire!
There are more Conan adventures planned, how will that work?
We have two more adventures planned that will follow the evolution of Conan from a young barbarian in the Tower of the Elephant to a more seasoned Conan on the third adventure (still to be confirmed). The game system remaining the same, will evolve and incorporate new options and rules that are needed to fit the game mechanics with the feel of the adventure.
The second Conan game in the TFD series will be Red Nails, projected for next year. As fans will know, Conan and Valeria find adventures, battle and treason in the deserted city of Xuchotl.
Whereas Tower of the Elephant is a relatively simple up-and-down adventure in search of a fantastic treasure; the Red Nails narration offered us a great opportunity for a game with a bit of resource management, adventure crawl and even skirmish combat against the forces of Xotalanc’s. All in all, a true full on Conan adventure.
We’ll have more on Conan: The Tower of the Elephant as it gets closer to release, but it sure looks like this’ll be a fun game. Sign up for our newsletter for sneak peeks at some of the cool stuff in store. There’ll be something for the collectors here as well, that much is safe to say…