Can someone suggest a system and adventures suitable for cooperative GM-less (or GM-lite) dungeon crawling?
Background situation in short: I’m looking for something that could provide my wife and myself some interesting action-filled adventures. Neither of us wants to GM. After some experiments, we've decided that GM-less story-driven dungeon crawl adventures that we could play with tiles and miniatures is something we would love to do. Now I need your help identifying the game system and adventures suitable for such needs.
Needless background details: I’ve been running games for several decades, and somehow I've almost always ended up running the games. And now I’m tired of hosting games. I also don’t have now the time I did in high school, learning D&D, researching the setting, planning potential plot twists, and creating excel formulas to automate my games. I want to actually play a character instead of running the game. I’m also looking for a casual diversion, not a full hobby, so I can’t really spend all my time preparing for a game and would rather have something we could play together for a few hours on occasional evenings.
I’m now an expat in a small foreign town, with limited knowledge of the local language. Thus finding a local roleplaying group is not an option I'm currently interested in.
I don’t want a story-telling/story-sharing game (like Beasthunters, Fiasco or Penny for my Thoughts) or a game with a rotating GM (the point is to have no GM, or for me to have minor GM-like responsibilities together with playing a character). Those kinds of things are fun over a weekend, but not something we could enjoy as a diversion after a day of work.
What I’m looking for:
Simple, yet dynamic combat. Modern D&D (and its Pathfinder sibling), with its complicated combat, doesn't suit me. We don’t want a book of abilities, multiple things to take into consideration during each combat round. In a game that we only play for 1–2 hours after work, we will just keep forgetting that level of detail (and I’ll forget even more, as I expect I'll end up having to control and understand the bad guys as well).
- Something that will allow us to use tiles and miniatures (so less improvisational story telling, and more exploratory dungeon-crawling). As an example, my brief experience with Dungeon World showed that it doesn't accommodate my desire to use minis and tiles very well.
Pregenerated dungeons, so I can prepare tiles and put them on the table as we keep exploring. Fully-random dungeons are either too random or too generic. Ideally it would be good if the adventure provided us with ready-to-print miniature-scale tiles for the crawl, but we could make do with a location map and match the location map with tiles.
Interesting story that would put some meaning to tile-walking, dice-rolling, dungeon-crawling action.
Well organised narratives that are GM-less–friendly. Something that could work reading out of the book in a GM-less game (for example, the descriptions of rooms or of an encounter).
As a GM I do prefer long narrative background in the beginning of the book that explains everything in details, and when I would run prepared modules I never read boxed text from the book during the game — the book was there to help me understand the background of events and activities of the groups involved, while players were free to do what they want. But in a GM-less environment I’d prefer it to be structured so I could read it out loud as we get to the next room, when an encounter begins, or when an NPC appears (with some basic guidance so that one of us could roleplay the interaction). It doesn’t necessary have to be in the style of gamebooks (e.g. "if you have the die of fate go to 69, otherwise go to 172"), but it would be good if it provided us some narrative and meaning to the dice rolling. ;)
Adjustable difficulty that provides us with challenge but doesn’t obliterate us. I do like Challenge Rating systems; something I could use as a basis for the encounters. Most adventures are planned for a larger party with diverse skills. We will play it with two characters (one character each), but we still want to have a fair chance while having no cleric, thief or wizard.
Easy adaption. I remember the time I was converting classic D&D modules into GURPS. I don’t want to repeat that. So if I use (e.g.) Dungeon Crawl Classics as the system with a 1e AD&D adventure module, the conversion rules should be already there (not up to me to create) and shouldn’t be too complicated.
Low level, rather then high level. I’d prefer to start at 1st level, or with something like DDC’s 0th-level funnel. We don’t need that many abilities out of the box, and we’d prefer to slowly unlock them during the game.
Simple game system. Same as with the combat. I’m not ready to read multiple source books just to pass some time in the evening with a bit of roleplaying. If it's too much to learn, I’d rather spend that time reading a novel by Neil Gaiman or China Miéville.
What doesn’t work:
Boardgames. I’ve tried several dungeon crawling boardgames (Myth, Shadows of Brimstone, Warhammer Quest) and they are too repetitive and not narrative-driven enough for my taste.
Gamebooks (like Fighting Fantasy). This is definitely something that doesn’t work with my wife. Usually such books only have a few proper endings and lots of "failure" endings, requiring multiple replays.
Mythic GM-less system (too random for my taste).
One-on-one adventures/systems. This requires one of us to be a GM. My wife doesn’t GM, and I've had enough of that.
Finding a group in this town
So as you see, I’ve already done some research and am already leaning towards DCC (even though getting the funny dice will be much more complicated than getting my first set of D&D dice back in the day), though I’m not sure how well will this system work with other adventures, nor whether it will suit my needs.
As for an adventures — I’m currently out of ideas as to what may suit my needs. So any any help and suggestion for both would be appreciated.