Dungeons & Delvers: Goblin Cave Playtest

We ran a fairly simple playtest yesterday, with some of the Appendix D classes so that we can try to iron out any kinks before the release of Red Book.

The 1st-level party consisted of a barbarian, a cleric with the Fire and Forge Domains, an infernal pact warlock, and a Serpent Style monk. Only starting gear, and we're also using a new short rest rule it takes progressively longer each time, and you can only do it three times a day.

I've been working on a kind of playtesting sandbox to link everything together, do mini campaigns (gain a level after every dungeon crawl), and let parties deal with different challenges in different situations, all of which I think that will provide more useful playtesting data. Also we can publish it later.

The first dungeon was a goblin-infested cave: I had 2d4 goblins (level 1) prepped to ambush them in specific areas, and each time they started an encounter there was a 1 in 6 chance of more goblins showing up due to noise. Moving back through the cave to a previous encounter area also had a 1 in 6 chance of another 2d4 goblins being there, so they just couldn't come and go as they pleased.

I didn't put a hard cap on general goblin numbers (though I probably will the next time, do the tune of 30 or so in all), but there was only one champion (level 3) and shaman (level 5) in the cave. They were in the back, but could show up sooner if something happened where it was logical for them to do so (which is what happened).

The first encounter had them mostly ambushed by six goblins. I got a few good hits in, enough so that the party took a 10 minute rest in order to recover their Vitality Points. I think three of them were down a WP or so.

The second encounter was only three goblins. As expected they went down pretty quick without doing much (including flee) besides maybe 1 WP of damage in the end. Rather than risk resting for 30 minutes to get lost VP back (which would call for three random encounter checks), they just kept going.

Encounter three was a kelpie (level 5), something I just threw in because I drew a pool of water and wanted something different. She almost hugged the barbarian to death (1d6+4 and immobilize), and after killing her they retraced their steps through the previous two encounter areas and camped outside.

Nothing happened during the night, but when they went back in both the champion and shaman were waiting for them, along with five other goblins. I figured during the six or so hours they were gone, the goblins found all the bodies and decided to setup an ambush.

Champion didn't get to do shit because they focused on him right away. They then did the same to the shaman, but he ended up getting a spell out before going down (barbarian saved and ended up doing crap damage to the monk). After that it was mostly clean up. They ended up finding a magic dagger, mask that gave you blindsight, and three mending potions on the shaman: the barbarian downed one right away, took another, and gave the last to the monk since they were the melee duo.

All the way in the back of the cave they managed to catch a gang of goblins mostly sleeping. They picked off the sentries first, and then the rest while they were waking up and preparing to defend themselves (managed to get a few jabs in though). Found a prisoner and some cash: mostly put them there because my daughter was wondering where the loot was.

Last section was a kind of bat kennel with four dire bats (level 2 Medium beasts). These were much more dangerous than the goblins, being level 2 and a size category larger (which affects WP/VP and damage). They good guys still won, but I took the barbarian down with me (unconscious, not dead).

Melissa was playing the barbarian and warlock. In her opinion they both performed fine.

The barbarian felt like a barbarian: she was able to wade into melee, and take a decent number of hits and still keep going (including soaking a few kelpie hugs). She used Reckless Assault a lot, which helped ensure that she at least got to hit something almost all of the time, but that was more to do with her bad luck than anything else.

The warlock had Bind, which might have been more useful if the goblins didn't die after each hit. I think warlocks should get another talent at the start, so that they're more than a two-trick pony (for comparison, clerics get two and wizards get three). Also thinking of making it so that Eldritch Blast can be souped up to deal more damage by spending Boon. Gives you something else to do with it, at least.

Our daughter is mostly interested in punching and blowing up shit, and she seemed to enjoy the monk quite a bit. Cleric less so because she only got to make one attack each round, but her Fire Domain was the reason the champion and shaman went down so quickly. From what I could tell both classes also performed really well. We've tweaked the monk so that you get to add Dexterity and Wisdom to AC, but no DR. This made her a pain in the ass to hit, but when I hit her it was pretty bad.

Going to have them level up, spend their cash (ideally on mending potions and maybe slightly better armor), and then pick the next dungeon--either an elf graveyard or a necromancer's pit--and see how that goes.

Rules Changes
Some things we tried out.

Tried a rule where when you melee an enemy you're "engaged" with them. If you try and run they get to make a free attack against you. Enemies can only be normally engaged with one other monster at a time (the last one that attacked them).

So if you and someone else are fighting, say, an orc, if the fighter hits it the rogue can duck out without suffering the free attack (orc is too focused on the fighter). Trying to keep it simple, something you can easily do without using minis. I don't want to do the 3E or 4E thing where you can opportunity attack things even if you're almost completely surrounded.

If people like this rule, we'll add in a Disengage Action so you can avoid the free attack. By default it'll be a Standard Action, but some classes will be able to do it as a Swift Action (ie, rogues and rangers are an obvious choice), after using talents (like the rogue's Hit and run), or as a Free Action.

Made it so that Flurry of Blows lets you spend ki to make a free attack. Reduced unarmed damage to 1d4 to start and offset this. AC now lets you add Wisdom, but no scaling DR (need to take Iron Body for that). Monk still kicked a lot of ass. I'm liking this better than rolling damage twice and using the highest.

Didn't use Serpent Style because the goblins kept dying in one hit even with the reduced damage. We'll see how it goes when fighting more durable enemies.

Mending Potions
Didn't impose a Constitution penalty, still only restore 1 WP per round. Party got three and used all three by the end, which seems fine to me given that they wiped out an entire goblin nest.

Short Rests
You only get three per day: first one takes 10 minutes, second takes 30 minutes, and the last takes an hour. After that you're just too exhausted: gotta long rest.

Image Dump

Just unwrapped a new mat. It was pretty wavy, which isn't something I remember being an issue with other mats. It had been wrapped up for a really long time though, so maybe that was it.

I don't have Medium-sized bats (couldn't even find the Large dire bat I have), so went with Medium-sized dragons.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Ranger, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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