Dungeons & Delvers: A Crawl Through a City in the Shadow of Death

Previous sessions with our kids have been pretty simple, short crawls: they go into the dungeon, beat up everything, and then that's that. We got a bunch of new Dwarven Forge sets in the mail, so I wanted to go all out and see how they fared against something more long-term and unpredictable (which would be a good way to stress test character durability).

Here are the (current) rules:

  • Almost every room has something bad in it. The first time a door is opened, I roll on a table to see what's in there. Could be something simple, like a couple skeletons, could be a shitload of skeletons and skeleton warriors. In this way it's kind of like the Dungeon board game, which they've also played.
  • Once a room is cleared, if the characters return to it I roll a d6: on a 1 I roll on the encounter table again to see what wandered into the room while they were away.
  • If the characters rest inside the dungeon I roll a d6, and on a 1 they get hit with a random encounter. Also, as per the rules, resting in a dungeon reduces Wound Recovery by 1, to a minimum of 0. Base Recovery is determined by your Might score: d4 is 1, d6 is 2, and so on. Since the wizard's Might is d4, this means that she won't heal at all without healing items, which increase Wound Recovery.

I made it clear that they'd need to check for traps, consider when to retreat or risk camping in the dungeon, try legging it and nailing the doors shut, and so on to survive. I also explained that there's a staircase somewhere on the floor that leads to the next level, that other levels would be harder (but provide more treasure), and that there's a sort of boss monster on the 3rd-level that they'd need to defeat in order to "win".

Here's an overview of the first floor. As you can see we haven't painted all of the new pieces.

First room was an easy start: just a pair of skeleton warriors. They went down pretty quickly, and the adventurers even looted a ring off of one (25% chance of having some sort of jewelry).

Aaand things immediately get cranked up to 11. This fight dropped the barbarian all the way from 6 to 2 Wounds. Since they were so close to the entrance, they opted to just leave and risk the odds of passing through a single room. They were fine going back through the first chamber, but the next day...

...some zombies had taken up residence. Zombies are slow, but take several hits before going down. They also get a hefty bonus when they gang up on a single adventurer. Even so, the barbarian was able to chop them apart pretty easily: methinks I'll need to drop her starting Might down to d8.

The last encounter had them squaring off against a combination of skeletons and skeleton warriors. The barbarian was able to hold off the three skeleton warriors, while the frog and cat-caster took out the rest before helping her out.

They got their first magical item: a ghost sword (or, perhaps more accurately, the ghost/soul of an intelligent sword). Useless against mindless undead, but great against living creatures and ghosts. The frog took it, which means I need to update the frog picture!

Design Notes
I've got a kind of "intro" adventure for Dungeons & Delvers ready to go. It's intended to teach you how to play the game while you play it. If you want to check it out, and ideally run it (there are four pregen characters in the package), lemme know via a comment or private post/message/etc.

I mentioned above that I think I need to drop the barbarian's starting Might to a d8. As I explained in this post, classes currently start with a d8 in their "key" stat (ie, fighters start with a d8 in Might, clerics have a d8 in Grace, etc). I wanted to see how a character with a d10 would perform, and in most cases she was outclassing everyone else.

Since they're 2nd-level, they need 150 XP to level up (base 50, plus 50 per current level, including 1st-level). This might sound like a lot, but they racked up 48 points in this session. They'll probably level up again by the time they clean the floor out.

Treasure has been completely overhauled. It used to be based on the monster's Attack value and a few other factors, like whether it was encountered in a lair. This was inline with the latest Dungeons & Dragons editions and Dungeon World, where you get more treasure if the monster is harder to kill. But, since it doesn't make any goddamn sense, I'm going with the treasure types as found in a classic/easy-to-master/black box D&D set I picked up on eBay a while back.

Here, treasure is based more on what the monster is (and whether it knows what treasure is/has any use for it). So, for example, most animals won't have loot unless encountered in their lair, mindless undead may have incidental treasure (things that they might still be wearing), and creatures that have actual use for treasure will always have some.

A Sundered World is out! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Fighter is geared up and ready to go! Unlike the default Dungeon World fighter, your skills matter more than your special "can sometimes be lost but not really" weapon. There are a variety of fighting styles to choose from, including the ability make a DEX-based fighter.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.


  1. I should be able to run my group through your intro adventure in the next month or so if you'd like.

    1. @Gary: Definitely! I'm formatting it in InDesign now, so I'll send you a spiffier pdf when it's good to go.


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