Wednesday 2 June 2010

Solo Dungeon - Session One (and some handy charts)

The Solo Dungeon - will it work? Whatever does happen, it's all in the hands of the dice - those fickle, twisted and evil lumps of plastic we love so much.

Last time, we generated the party - six doughty adventurers who were set to plump the depths of the earth if we could just decide on their weapons and spells. No-one had any preferences, so I decided that Garamar the MU had chosen Shield as his defensive spell, and would learn that up for the session. The two clerics went for ring mail and shields, the fighters for Scale and shields. The thief had studded leather and a small shield. Swords, axes and bows for the fighters, flails and maces for the clerics. Sling, short sword and daggers for the thief, daggers and darts for the MU.

Their equipment list was as follows:
Oil bombs x 5
Iron spikes x 10
2 x 50' coils of rope
Torch x 6
Tinder box
6 large sacks
1 week's rations for each character
2 x 10' pole.

Just before we start, the marching order for the party is

Ralgaz, Algo, Feebul, Garamar, Sanathris, Athgal. My rationale for this is that the toughest characters are at front and back, shielding the weak thief and MU in the middle. The cleric spells, incidentally are Command, Protection from Evil and Cure Light for Sanathris, 2 x Cure Light and Light for Algo.

This is the starting areas selection. Roll a d5 and go from there. I'll just roll a d5 - result, a 4.
So we've got a choice of five doors; let's roll that d5 again - we get a 2. I wonder what's beyond the door? I go to table II, roll a 6 on a d20 and this tells me that there's a passage, 10' wide (table IIIa) and running straight ahead.

Check on Table I (see below) and with a roll of 17, it's stairs! Table VI tells us that a roll of 19 gives up one level and down 2. Chamber at the end. I'll check on table VI to see what it is. I roll a 10, so it's a 20' x 30' and a roll on the exits table tells me that there are none. A dead end - or is it? I'll check for secret doors - the generation tables are a bit vague on that, so I'll roll a d20 for each wall and allocate a random chance - none present, it transpires. A roll of 12 on the room contents table gives a great feeling of emptiness.

The party decides to return to the starting room and try another door. So far, then the map looks like this:

It's my attempt to make the dungeon more realistic - this is the sort of map that someone in torchlight, with a piece of charcoal and some parchment would draw. Well, that's my excuse, anyway.

I did check for wandering monsters as they returned to the first room but nothing happened. Let's check to see which door they try this time. Four doors left, so a quick d4 roll tells us that they try door 3 - a roll on the Space Behind the Door table tells us that there is a room there. It's 10' x 20', not so much a room, more a broom cupboard. A 10 is rolled on the exits table and the result is a big, fat zero (again). I roll an 8 for the room contents and again, the room is empty. Apart from the brooms.

A d3 roll gives us the choice of door 5 this time, so off the party go. What's behind door 5? A roll of 5 tells us that it is a straight passage. A roll of 12 after 30' indicates that the passage turns to the left, 90 degrees. 30 feet later, another periodic check indicates a side passage, and table IV, roll of 4 tells us that the side passage is right, 90 degrees and 10' wide.

So, a decision point - time to consult the dice. I'll rule 1-3 straight ahead, 4-6 right. I roll a 4 - right it is. The map now looks like this

Thirty feet later, I make another periodic check - 7, another side passage. I roll on table III and with a score of 11, it tells me that the passage is a T junction. A quick roll for width indicates that the left hand passage is 10' wide and the right hand one is 30' - that's more like a room than a passage but never mind. A quick d6 roll comes up with a 6, so right again. Along the 30' passage they go, and after 30' of this, a roll on table I tells us that they have come to some stairs.
I roll on the Stairs table and get an 8, which is up one level. Up they go and another check at the top gives me 19 - trick or trap. Ooh - something interesting.

The trick/trap table, which I'll be posting on a future session is an interesting one - some good, some bad, some neither. On this occasion, a roll of the d20 of Doom comes up with 15, an arrow trap. 1-3 arrows, 1 in 20 chance that each is poisoned. Well, a d3 roll gives 3 arrows in this trap and I'll just check to see which party member is on the receiving end. And with a 3 on a d6, it's Feebul. A d20 roll for the three arrows comes up with 15,8 and 18 so two have definitely hit. A d6 for each arrow comes up with a total of 12 points of damage, so Feebul is definitely dead as a door knocker.

Decision time - do they retreat or press on? And what to do about Feebul's body?

1-2 retreat
3-8 press on sans body
9-10 press on with body and try to find resting place

I roll a 4, which means they leave Feebul behind. The thief is dead and there is no chance of disarming the trap but at least his body should remind them if they come back this way. Or come back at all.

The passage at the top of the stairs runs on another 30' - I'll check to see what happens after that. A 6 means a side passage, 10' wide, right hand 90 degrees. But the d6 decrees that the party bypass that and press on straight ahead. Another check thirty feet later reveals a door, on the left hand side. Beyond it, according to the die roll is a parallel passageway, running at least 30' in either direction.

Now we have three choices - straight on with the original passage, right on the new passage or left - a quick d6 roll gives us the choice of left on the new passageway.

On the party plod - more or less heading in the opposite direction alongside the way they came. A periodic check reveals that they have come across a door but it's on their left, and there wasn't anything in the other passageway to indicate one there. I'll roll again.

Three rolls on the d20 say that it's on the left. The dice rule in this dungeon so I'll decree that it's a secret door, visible only from this side. That's why nothing was noticeable in the other passageway.

The party presses on, and thirty feet further on, they come to another door, this time on the right. A d6 roll indicates that they ignore it for now and carry on down the passageway. A further periodic roll comes up with 19, trick or trap again. Strangely enough, it's just alongside the arrow trap that killed Feebul. I'll make the roll to see what it is - 18, rocks fall, everyone dies - or at least they do if they fail a save vs Petrification.

Sanathris needs a 13 and gets an 18
Ralgaz needs a 17 and rolls a 16. Fail.
Garamar needs a 13 and rolls a 19
Algo needs a 13 and rolls a 20, critical pass. I guess he sort of vaults out of the way and lands on his feet, ready. Or something like that.
Athgal needs a 17 but gets a 7. Fail.

The trap does 2d10 of damage to everyone who fails their save, so two characters take it. Ralgaz takes 10 damage and finds himself on -4. Athgal takes 16 damage and as he started with four hit points, he is now a pulped mess of splattered half-orc.

So, casualty number two. The map now looks like this:

Algo and Sanathris bring Ralgaz round and a Cure Light from Algo restores his HP.

The party's looking pretty battered and two members are dead, no monsters, no treasure. Should they:

Press on in search of loot or XP?

Make their way back to the entrance and recruit two new PCs to take the place of their fallen comrades?

If they do head back, they'll have to make a d20 check for wandering monsters as they go.

I'll wait to see if any consensus emerges from the comments to this post. If there are no comments, I'll make a dice decision for them.

I did try to scan the tables from the DMG to post here, but the edges of the pages didn't scan, being at the spine side of the book, so I'm transcribing them, a couple of tables at a time and posting them so that you can play along at home.

Tables I and II for your personal use (if you don't have a DMG)


  1. Alas, poor Feebul! I was really rooting for him! I take it the names weren't randomly generated then? Was it fun to play?

    Definitely go back, rest up and get more muscle (although the boys would say plough on, get the stuff).

  2. It is the solemn duty of any thief to run the risk of being turned into a pincushion!

    The names were made up by yours truly; I tried to make them a little different from each other so that it gives the feeling of a real band of players - unless the DM is a bit anal, names don't have a commonality about them.

    I found it fun - I'm playing it as laid out in the DMG to begin with and then I might change some of the tables to give a slightly higher chance of running into anything. I think it's interesting to draw inferences as to Gygax's thoughts on dungeon monster and treasure frequency from the probabilities of encountering them on the tables.

    I suspect that as we go on, the flavour of the sessions will come out a bit more; it might have been the lack of encounters that made Feebul a bit careless as he got to the top of the stairs - or he may have been a bit tired and sat down for a rest on the wrong stone.

    Your preferred option is mine also; if it goes that way, I'll roll up two more on the character generator and go with whatever it says, rather than roll and roll again for a thief. Plus if they do go back, I can have fun with the city encounter table - random harlots, here I come!

  3. I'm with Dungeonmum on this one, too. Go back, get some fresh meatsacks... er, party members. Continuing onward seems to hold a lot more risk than going backward at the moment.