I’ve been giving more thought to Dungeon Mode. I still haven’t had a chance to playtest the concept, but I am (slowly) putting together a test campaign. In the meantime, here are some random ideas:
1. I think a better name than “Dungeon Mode” is probably a Cubecrawl. I didn’t come up with the term (I’ve nicked it from David, who came up with it in a comment) but it fits perfectly. I’m basically abstracting all distance into cubes, turning the game environment into a kind of blocky Minecraft world. Cubes are arranged not just along the traditional X- and Y-axis, but also with level maps layered one above the other along the Z-axis, creating a simulated three-dimensional space. Digging and mining will probably be important.
2. I suspect OD&D will be a better fit than B/X for a cubecrawl. I’ve been looking into White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, and it already assumes 10′ squares during combat rather than the more granular 5′ in B/X (e.g. combatants are assumed to be in melee range within 5′ in B/X, whereas they are assumed to be in melee range within 10′ in OD&D). White box D&D also feels much more wargame-y and abstracted than later editions.
3. I’ve put together a simple map template made up of a grid of 22 squares by 26 squares (I own a Hexers Role-Playing Game Board, so I went with dimensions of 22 x 26 to match that). I’ve also taken some inspiration from roguelikes and have developed a simple map key using ASCII characters to match the various terrain types and points of interest in OD&D:
¶ Wizard’s Tower
It’s still too early to say if cubecrawling will work in practice, but I’m eager to give it a go.