Sorcerer’s Cave was originally a card game that came out in 1978. It was an early attempt to do ‘D&D but a board game’. As its creator Terence Donnelly said, “while I had enjoyed being a participant in a fantasy role-playing adventure, I wasn’t ready to do the work needed to set one up… if only the concept could be translated into a format that would require no laborious set-up and no referee—a game that could be taken out of the box and played instantly, yet be different every time”.
I find this quote interesting because it shows that at least some people found creating an old-style D&D character too much bookkeeping. Bob Harris, the creator of Talisman, similarly said that he “had it in mind to come up with a way we could have all the excitement of a role-playing adventure without all the hard work of creating characters and drawing maps”.
He later turned it into a computer game. This used to cost, but you can now get it for free here.
I’m sure most readers have played ‘dungeon crawl’ computer games. There’s nothing new here, and the graphics are certainly outdated. And yet I play the computer version of Sorcerer’s Cave every few days. I like it because you can complete an expedition in a matter of minutes, and because the decisions you make (admittedly few) aren’t wasted: you don’t, for example, pick skills only to find that you never use them.