Minecraft Mod Examinations: Runic Dungeons
Minecraft's dungeons are a lot of fun to explore, but they can be a frustrating experience for players who lack a lot of free time. Almost all of the ones included in the original game are massive things that can take over an hour to fully clear, and even the smallest of the game's randomly generated dungeons are still quite large. Moreover, there is a very good chance that they will not be located anywhere near the player's home, meaning that a long hike is required to reach them, and that a simple secondary base may be required. And while the game's pyramids and jungle temples can be completed very quickly, they may still be quite far away from home, and there are no special monsters within them, so once a player knows how to deal with a temple's traps, they turn into nothing more than free loot zones. This means that those looking for quick challenges with decent rewards will have to look to mods to satisfy their needs, but most fan-made dungeons have all of the same issues as the originals. Fortunately, there is Runic Dungeons, a mod that allows easy access to a world full of great dangers and greater treasures.
Runic Dungeons is fairly unique among dungeon mods in that it covers an entire dimension, and while this seems like it would be a negative for time-pressed players, it works out very well thanks to the architecture of the world and the fact that the portal can be placed anywhere that the player wishes. However, this portal is not exactly easy to make, it requires special chalk that can only be found inside of chests in pyramids and temples. Three pieces of this chalk will need to be found, and then combined with gold, diamonds, and emeralds to create a magical staff. After that a horizontal portal must be constructed by surrounding at least one block of chiseled stone with stone brick, though there are larger portal sizes available for those with extra materials. The player can then activate the middle-block with the staff to open up a gateway to the dungeon dimension, and then right-click to pass through.
Players will then find themselves in a fairly large room built out of unbreakable stone, with a locked door in each direction and a single key conjured into their inventory. This key is one of a special type found in all rooms of the dungeon, and it can open any door in this world, but is destroyed after a single use. Every time a new room is entered the player will have to slay any enemies inside of it and find another key before they can continue on. As the player will generally only have a single key at one time, losing it can be a horrifying event, though it is not completely irreplaceable. Players can gain an extra key by either summoning and slaying the Wither in the dungeon dimension, or by combining a Nether star and some gold into a new dungeon key.
But those keys can be well worth the effort thanks to the immense amount of treasure found in each room. Most areas have at least one chest full of great items, and many have four or more. These rooms are generally pitch-black, full of traps, and guarded by two to four monster spawners, whose creatures will often ready and willing to the jump the player the instant they open the door. There are also a few rooms that can be quite safe to enter, such as maze-like libraries and trapped ore-storage rooms, and these serve as a nice break from the mod's combat-heavy areas, while also providing some almost-free treasure for the lucky player. But attempting to locate these by sound can actually bring one into even deadlier areas, as some rooms force the player into a boss-fight against either the Wither or the mod's own Runic Guardians.
While they can be very dangerous enemies, finding these special golems is actually one of the most rewarding parts of the dungeon, as they can drop a number of the mod's unique items. Those who enjoy decorating their homes will love that all of the otherwise unbreakable blocks in the mod are dropped by the guardian in more usable forms, while more practical types of players may find the Wither-resistant blocks to be exceptionally useful. Players can also harvest runic steel from the boss, and combine them with sticks to create diamond-quality weapons and tools. There are also hilarious ropes that can be collected, allowing one to either ride any creature in the game, or force such beasts to hover over the players head, though even the item's description mentions that it is still under development, and zombies and other monsters will likely bite or shoot at their riders.
Those who have Baubles installed will have an additional treat available: craftable belts and amulets that can buff the player in a number of ways. All of the amulets are made from diamonds, gold, string, and a powerful potion of some kind, and they provide the wearer with a weakened, but permanent version of that potion's effect. On the other hand, belts are focused more on providing unique passive abilities, such as allowing the player to pull out and reuse a few of the arrows that they have been shot with. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of belt types in the game, and all of the amulets are disabled by default in order to keep the game balanced, so the Baubles integration is fairly limited unless one edits the configuration file.
And the limited Baubles integration is not the only issue with Runic Dungeons. There is a severe lack of variety in the dimension, with only five or so square rooms that are repeated throughout a complex that completely covers an entire world. Also, the use of obsidian blocks to guard certain keys is an effective way of preventing players from unlocking the next door before all of the monsters in a room are dealt with, but having to constantly break down the hardest mine-able material in the game can easily become tiresome over an extended gaming session. A number of small bugs are common in the current version of the mod, though most of these are graphical in nature and unlikely to cause any serious issues. Finally, Runic Dungeons is simply not finished yet. The developer has plans for at least one new type of dungeon dimension, as well as more items, rooms, and even a few special dungeons in the Overworld and Nether.
Whatever he has planned, the future of this mod may be quite interesting. Thanks to its system of bite-sized challenges and the easy access its portal provides, players can feel they have made a great deal of progress even if they only clear two or three rooms. Every area that has enemies can provide a good bit of difficulty without completely overwhelming the player, and the others are all pleasant surprises and interesting rest areas. While it may have trouble pleasing those looking for more traditional challenges, Runic Dungeons is by far the best option for any player who cannot spend hours delving into a labyrinth.