I haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons, but it seems like the kind of thing I would have liked (and still would, for that matter), and I did play some games that were obviously influenced by it. I think it might be this game that sort of romanticized the word “dungeon,” bringing to mind a labyrinth of rooms and corridors filled with monsters and treasures, rather than just a dingy jail. In a lot of fantasy games, be they role-playing, video, or board, there’s going to be what I’ve seen referred to as a “dungeon crawl,” despite the fact that they rarely involve actual crawling. I’ve written before about one of my favorite board games from my childhood, Dungeon!, which was actually made by TSR.
Players move around the board and kill monsters, which can be accomplished by rolling a certain number or higher. If you fail, the monster attacks, and will steal some of your treasure. The winner is the first to obtain a certain amount of gold and then return to Start. A lot of the fun lay in seeing the different sorts of monsters, all represented on cards.
Another dungeon-crawl sort of board game that I had was HeroQuest, which I used to play with my brother and occasionally my dad.
I think it would have been more fun with more people, but I didn’t KNOW any other people. One player serves as dungeon master in the guise of the evil wizard Zargon, who was apparently called Morcar in other countries. Why they changed it for Americans, I couldn’t say. The evil wizard in Dragon Quest II is named Hargon, but I don’t think there’s any direct connection. Maybe there needs to be a game with an evil wizard who talks in slang, and his name would be Jargon. Anyway, Zargon controls the monsters and reveals what’s on the board, while the other players control the heroes. Monsters to fight include goblins, orcs, skeletons, mummies, zombies, and Chaos Warriors. There are various books with quests the Zargon player can run, or you can make up your own. My brother and I would sometimes come up with some totally ridiculous ideas when we got bored with the standard ones. I don’t know how popular this game ever was, but I do remember seeing people play in the study lounge at college, so I guess it wasn’t something that ONLY my family knew about.