Solo Skald |||

Dyson’s Delve: Session 1

I’ve decided to explore the updated 2019 version of Dyson’s Delve using Swords & Wizardry. As far as I know, this is still just a Patreon exclusive, although I’ll update if that changes. (I’ve supported his Patreon for as long as I can remember!)

I was inspired to do this by Lone Horizons on YouTube, who’s playing this using DCC.


All these characters are humans and first level. Originally I created them with White Box, hence the limited class selection. Replacement characters will have more variety.

  • Kugch (he/him): Cleric with leather armor, mace, and shield
  • Talpo (she/her): Cleric with leather armor, mace, and shield
  • Nesso (he/him): Mage with dagger and staff (prepared sleep)
  • Ukib (he/him): Fighter with leather armor, spear, and shield

House rules:

  • Armor purchases are cumulative (i.e. a character must have leather armor before purchasing chainmail)
  • XP is awarded for Feats of Exploration from 3d6DTL (affiliate link) as well as treasure and monsters.
  • Missile attacks after the first in a round go at the end of the round. Firing into a melee is possible at a -2 penalty; misses within that penalty range hit a random target in the melee.
  • PCs dropping to 0 HP exactly must save versus death. PCs at negative HP are dead.
  • Shields may be splintered to absorb all the damage from one physical attack, but are destroyed in the process.

I will likely add more as we go.

Initial delve

The in-world reason for the delve is to clear out the goblins that have been raiding the surrounding farms. The group will certainly find additional reasons to continue to delve deeper as they go.

Dyson’s Delve surface ruins Cartography by Dyson Logos (c) 2019

Turn 1

The four of them approach the ruins from the north on a bright, sunny morning. There’s an old watchtower that’s mostly collapsed, and they’ve heard that there’s a secret entrance to the dungeon in the vicinity. As they approach, they find a broken statue on the stairs, with ropes wrapped around it (possibly used to pull it down). As they’re inspecting it, I decide they have a similar chance of finding anything hidden in the rubble as they do of finding secret doors (in a group game, they’d find it automatically, but I’m playing solo). I decide that Ukib will stand watch during the search to ensure they’re not surprised.

Talpo is going over the statue’s plinth when she finds a wand of magic detection with 2 charges. She hands it to Nesso, who’s the only one who can use it. I decide this counts as a secret and therefore award them a minor feat of exploration.

They can see a few smaller pillars to the south of them, and they decide to check those out before going up into the tower ruins.

Turn 2

These pillars are huge columns of stone that have been broken off at 30 to 60 feet high, each nearly 10 feet on a side. This is the kind of stone that the locals have been carting off from the ruins for years, although perhaps these are too high for anyone to have messed with yet.

I wonder if they will note the cavern to the south; given the angle and the trees, I decide it’s unlikely and will give it a 1-in-6 chance: failure. They’ll go up into the tower ruins instead.

The delve itself specifies a check for wandering monsters every 20 minutes, which is every 2 turns, on a 1-in-8. The check is negative this time.

Turn 3

Ukib leads the way, followed by Kugch, Talpo, and Nesso. There are doors, plus a missing section of wall next to them with some debris that looks to have been built into an extremely crude barricade. The goblins guarding this entrance are not very good at their job and in fact are sun-blind, so the group will have a chance to surprise them on an increased 4-in-6 rather than the usual 2-in-6. Unfortunately, the dice indicate otherwise and the goblins hear them - but the group doesn’t see them in time. (I roll to see if any of the adventurers drop any held items, but they manage to hang on.)

The encounter begins when the two groups are 20 feet apart. The initial reaction by the goblins is hesitation rather than an immediate attack, and they call out a warning to go away. Of course, the adventurers are here specifically to hunt them down, so Ukib instead tells them to leave peacefully with their lives. He doesn’t have a Charisma bonus, so I decide they will just get a normal morale check. On a high roll, the goblins’ll pull back to their reinforcements and warn them; on a low roll, they’ll roll initiative. The goblins in fact roll low, and thus we go to combat. The group goes first. (I may have reversed the morale check rule, but it’s fine.)

  • Goblins: HD 1d6 (5, 6); AC 13; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 9; Save 18; Morale 7; -1 to hit in sunlight.

Round 1: The adventurers won initiative but will not be using missile weapons. The goblins have shortbows and short swords. So they both fire at Ukib, who’s in the lead, but both miss. The fighter and both clerics charge in, and the mage tries to take cover. Ukib will attack one goblin while the two clerics gang up on the second one. Ukib hits his goblin for 4 damage, taking it down to 1 hp. Kugch also hits, dealing 3 damage. Talpo misses. The second goblin is therefore at 3 hp.

Round 2: The goblins go first again, but this time in melee. Nobody is able to connect with their targets, and the echo of battle rings through the ruins.

Round 3: This time Ukib’s opponent is able to hit him, and would deal 6 damage. However, using the shields shall be splintered” rule, Ukib’s shield takes the hit and is destroyed (reducing his AC to 11). The other goblin misses. Ubik now grasps his spear with both hands, increasing his damage to 1d6+1. He hits the goblin for 2 damage, killing it. The clerics fail to hit their target. The surviving goblin (at 3 hp) makes a morale check and fails, fleeing back into the ruins and wailing in fear. Any other goblins in the area definitely know the group is present!

In the chaos of battle, did they see which way the goblin went (unlikely)? No, so they will have to be extra alert. This area has a door to the north and an open area to the south; they randomly decide to go north.

Turn 4

The door to the north will definitely have been reinforced by the goblins laying in wait on the other side. The group will therefore need to try to force it open.

In the past, I’ve interpreted the rules about door opening to mean that each character has an independent chance to open the door. Instead, I’m going to use Marcia B.’s method of treating this as a worker placement game. As the two strongest characters, Talpo and Kugch will pool their efforts to open the door. Ukib is prepared to rush in if the door is opened, and Nesso will be ready to cast sleep if necessary. This gives them a combined 4-in-6 chance of success: the door opens! The clerics fall over in the process and will be unable to act in the first round.

I don’t think there’s any legitimate chance of surprise here. However, there are a total of 7 goblins (the six specified in the key plus the one that fled earlier). There’s a small table as well.

  • Goblins: HD 1d6 (1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 5, 5)

Round 1: As previously noted, Nesso begins to cast sleep (which will not take effect until the appropriate phase). The adventurers win initiative again. In the movement phase, Ukib rushes in (this is a terrible idea but was a prepared action) and attacks, but doesn’t hit anything. Both clerics are recovering to their feet and won’t act this round. The goblins let fly with their shortbows, except for the one who fled and will try to attack Ukib in the melee phase. Each of the three front-line adventurers will get two shots on them: Ukib is hit once for 4 damage, Kugch is hit once for 6 damage (splintering his shield), and Talpo is not hit. This kills Ukib. In the melee and spells phase, Nesso’s sleep spell finishes casting, and all the goblins fall asleep.

The adventurers leap into action, killing the goblins one by one. (That sounds pretty brutal.) The loss of their fighter is a dark moment as well, though, and I assume that’s what motivates the cold-blooded murder of the goblins. They’re able to recover his spear as a memento for his family. The goblins had a total of 12d6 = 49 electrum pieces for the group.

At the end of this round, I check again for a wandering encounter: d8 negative.

Turn 5

The adventurers next prowl to the south chamber of the ruins. Above them are a couple of rock baboons who hoot and holler. As the humans have a bit of bloodthirst in them right now, will they challenge (yell back) at the animals (likely)? Yes, and per the adventure text, that causes the baboons to back down and go quiet. They’ll go pick over the remains later, looking for food.

Instead, the adventurers find some broken old wooden stairs that used to lead up into the tower, when it was fully standing. They poke around in the debris but there’s nothing to be found here.

Turn 6

There’s another door ahead of them; this time, Nesso will listen at the door. If he doesn’t hear anything, the clerics will try to force it open. That’s exactly what happens: there’s only silence, and thus the other two have a 4-in-6 chance of success: they can’t get it open, though. They’ll have to try again next turn. Again, no wandering encounter shows up.

Turn 7

This time, they’re able to force the door open and fall through. Fortunately for them, there’s no one on the other side. Instead, they find some empty wooden crates and a spiral staircase leading down into the ground. It’s quite dark down there, and thus Nesso lights a torch before they proceed. Torches last for 1 hour, meaning that the torch will burn out at the end of turn 13. This also completes a major feat of exploration, discovering an entrance into the levels below.

Turn 8

The group descends the stairs into the dungeon proper now. They find themselves in an area built from stone blocks, with an archway leading southeast. Down here, it’s going to take a full turn for their eyes to adjust to the darkness (illumination from a flickering torch is not the same as the bright sunlight outside).

Therefore, they have a normal chance to be surprised by the goblins down here in this first area, as do the goblins themselves. The encounter starts at 20 feet distance, inside the range of the torchlight. Neither group is actually surprised, though, and since the goblins are on the alert for intruders (anyone who’s come here has obviously gotten past the surface guards), there’s no chance of a reaction roll.

Nesso doesn’t have another sleep spell prepared, so he’ll be using his dagger (there’s not enough room for him to use his two-handed staff). The clerics will be using their maces, keeping in mind that Kugch’s shield is destroyed (reducing his AC by 1).

  • Goblins: HD 1d6 (1, 2)

Round 1: The adventurers win the initiative roll. In the movement phase, they all rush in. One of the goblins will try to flee, but won’t get away until the end of the round (allowing one free attack on it). In the melee phase, Talpo and Nesso will try to stop that goblin, while Kugch faces down the other one. Nesso hits the fleeing goblin for 3 damage and kills it. Kugch is unable to hit his goblin, but that goblin hits him for 6 damage, which takes him to exactly 0 hp.

Kugch must now make a save versus death — and fails. That goblin passes its morale check and stands over his body, ready to fight the other two humans.

Round 2: The initiative this time is a tie, so actions take place simultaneously. That said, it’s only a melee this time. The goblin will attack the mage, and both of the adventurers will attack it. Only Talpo hits, and that kills the goblin.

The group only has two members now. They’re going to note the two exits from this 30’ square chamber (south and east), then recover the 17 electrum pieces from the goblin bodies to give them a total of 66 ep.

In this level, wandering monster checks occur every turn, with a 1-in-6 chance; it’s negative this time.

From here, though, they need to retreat and head back to town. Losing half the group is not entirely unexpected, but they’ll want to get reinforcements before they continue.

Experience and rewards

The group ended up splitting 66 ep two ways, for 33 each, or 16.5 gp for both. Nesso also found that wand. They also completed two feats of exploration, one minor (five dungeon areas) and one major (finding the entrance into the subsurface levels), which gives them 525 XP split two ways for 262.5 XP each. They killed 10 goblins, which is 100 XP for 50 XP each. That’s 16.5+262.5+50 = 329 XP each.


It’s been a few months since I’ve played OD&D, but the recent successful Kickstarter by Mythmere Games has my interest piqued again. Next time, I’ll bring in a bit of that material for the new characters and talk more generally about it.

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