Solo Skald |||

Dyson’s Delve: Session 2

Continuing from Session 1, the party found an entrance down into the sub-surface levels of an old ruined watchtower inhabited by goblin raiders. Half the group died, so the survivors have recruited some new members before heading back down. As before, this is a solo game using Dyson’s Delve with OD&D rules (by way of Swords & Wizardry). Many of the descriptions below come from that text.

New Characters

Two characters returned, Talpo (a human cleric) and Nesso (a human mage). I’ve decided they’re siblings to give the group a bit of coherence. Three new characters will join them:

  • Andrina (she/her): Human mage with staff and darts (prepared sleep)
  • Fyat (he/him): Gnome thief with leather armor, dagger, and shortbow
  • Erkot (he/him): Dwarf fighter with leather armor, shield, and battleaxe

Every character is assumed to have a backpack with a few rations and a waterskin. Note that Fyat is a gnome, which comes from the new Swords & Wizardry Book of Options (affiliate link) from their recent Kickstarter. Mechanically, they have some resemblance to halflings and dwarves as short burrowing folk with bonuses to stealth and understanding stonework.

Returning to the Delve

With the addition of a dwarf and a gnome, there’s a chance the group will find the cavern entrance this time; I decide that is likely, 4-in-6. Sadly, though, they don’t find it. They’ll go through the watchtower ruins again, and I’ve decided not to restock it yet with enemies. They’ll find the stairway down to the first level of the dungeon and I’ll pick it up from there.

Dyson’s Delve Level 1 Cartography by Dyson Logos (c) 2019

Turn 1

The group descends spiral stairs carved from stone directly. Andrina will carry a lit torch from the back of the group, but Fyat will scurry forward in the darkness outside of that illumination. (Her torch will expire at the end of turn 6.) The marching order is something like:

  1. Fyat (scout duty, trying to stay hidden as he goes)
  2. Erkot (front line)
  3. Talpo (front line)
  4. Nesso (back line)
  5. Andrina (back line, carrying the torch)

Erkot and Fyat can both see in the dark, so they’re not limited to the radius of the torchlight as the others are. Fyat can see that the passage to the south curves to the right (west), while Erkot notes that the passage to the east terminates in a T-intersection about 40 feet down. They’ll go south first.

I’ll roll for wandering monsters every turn, but will only note it when they encounter something.

Turn 2

The passage actually makes a bit of a U-turn back north to a guard room. I’ll roll here for Fyat’s Move Silent” ability, but he fails and thus won’t get a bonus to a chance to surprise anything in the room. However, he can see four goblins and a hobgoblin in the room. He’ll retreat back to the party to report. The group is here to clear out the goblins, but a frontal assault for a general melee is likely not the best approach for their own survival.Instead, one of the mages will try to put the goblins to sleep, and, if thatt succeeds, they’ll engage in cold-blooded murder. (These are adventurers, not heroes.)

To do this, they’ll have Fyat and Andrina launch missiles, while Talpo and Erkot try to prevent anyone from getting to Nesso and disrupting his spellcasting. I’ll also roll normally for the goblins to be surprised: success! The group actually doesn’t need to do all the missiles, and instead Nesso can just cast his spell. We’ll look away for a moment while they carry out the rest of their grisly plan.

As a result, they find a total of 33 electrum pieces (ep), which Nesso will carry for now.

Turn 3

There’s a door leading west from the room. Fyat and Talpo will listen for any sounds on the other side; as before, I’m using a worker placement” approach, so they will combine their probabilities. If they hear nothing, Erkot will try to force the door open. The mages will stand off to the side, leaving the door itself in shadow.

The pair hear a bit of movement, though it doesn’t sound very extensive. Erkot will try to force the door with his crowbar, which increases his normal 2-in-6 chance to 3-in-6. He succeeds, and the group rushes through.

Turn 4

As they rush in (and Erkot is suitably spun around), they find a hobgoblin in his personal quarters. There’s a table and small bed. There’s no surprise, and as the captain of the guard,” his reaction is a bit predetermined.

  • Hobgoblin: HD 1+1 (8 hp); AC 14; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); MV 9; ST 17; ML 8

Round 1: Initiative results in a tie, so actions in the same phase will take place simultaneously. In the movement and missiles phase, Andrina will throw darts while Fyat shoots his shortbow. (They’ll only get one shot during this phase; additional shots get made after melee.) The hobgoblin and Talpo will both move to engage in melee; Erkot can’t move or act this round due to forcing the door. Andrina hits for 1 damage, and Fyat misses. The hobgoblin swings a longsword at Talpo but doesn’t connect, and Talpo’s mace also misses. Due to the hobgoblin’s proximity to Talpo in melee, the other two can’t shoot again for fear of hitting their comrade.

Round 2: This time the group goes first. Erkot will be able to act this time, having pulled himself back to his feet, and Fyat will attempt to sneak around to the hobgoblin’s back (but his Hide in Shadows” does not succeed and he won’t get the backstab bonus). In the melee phase, Erkot holds his battleaxe high and attacks, hitting for 5 damage, bringing the hobgoblin to 2 hp. Talpo swings her mace again, but the hobgoblin’s armor deflects the blow. Fyat buries his dagger in the hobgoblin’s back, killing him.

There’s a lockbox here, and I’ll roll to see if they find the key on this turn or need an entire extra turn to do so. With a thief and a dwarf looking, I think that’s a total of 4-in-6 chance (3 from the thief, 1 from the dwarf), and they indeed find it nailed to the underside of the table. They’ll find 5000 silver pieces (sp) in it! (That’s enough of a reward and will not count as a Feat of Exploration” for this session.)

Turn 5

The group heads back through the rooms they’ve previously explored to the 30-foot square chamber outside the staircase where they entered. Fortunately, nothing creeps out from the shadows, but the tension is quite thick!

Turn 6

Fyat heads down that corridor to the east. He notices a small crack in the south wall that he couldn’t easily see before, which seems to lead into natural limestone caves. At the end of the corridor, the T-intersection goes north and south, with the south direction having a door on it. That door is barred from this side with a crudely-painted black skull on it. He’ll listen at the door but hear nothing.

Given the warning, instead they’ll turn north. Andrina relights her torch, which will expire at the end of turn 12 if nothing happens to it.

Turn 7

There’s a larger room here, 20’ deep but 60’ wide with a staircase leading down on the west side of the room. Fyat can hear something coming up the stairs, so he’ll attempt to hide while Erkot stands nearby to intercept whatever is about to appear. Nesso will hold Andrina’s torch for her so she has her hands free to throw darts.

What appears are a couple of goblin rat-catchers and their pet giant ferret! They’re not surprised, but the party is ready for them. The goblins have a hostile reaction (unsurprisingly) and will set their pet on the intruders.

  • Goblin Rat-Catchers (2): HD 1d6 (4, 5 hp); AC 13; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 9; ST 18; ML 7
  • Giant Ferret: HD 1+1 (3 hp); AC 15; Atk 1 bite (1d8); MV 12; ST 15; ML 8

Round 1: Fyat doesn’t need to roll to hide in shadows in this situation, because it’s not obvious that they would know he’s there (unlike with the previous fight where he’d fired an arrow before trying to hide). But this is the movement and missiles phase, so Andrina will throw darts before Talpo and Erkot can fully get into melee. She throws at a goblin and hits for 3 damage (reducing it from 4 to 1 hp). The monsters are in melee range now, so there’s nothing for them to do until the melee phase. In that phase, Fyat tries to backstab the other goblin, and succeeds, dealing double damage for a total of 7 damage and killing it outright. Erkot attacks the ferret, hitting for 8 damage and killing it as well before it can bite anyone. Talpo swings her mace at the remaining goblin, but it dodges the blow. In a counter-attack, the goblin swings wildly and finds only air. After this, he looks around, realizes his likely fate, and flees down into the darkness.

This was about as clean of a result as they could get. The goblin and ferret don’t have any treasure on them. The room has another exit on the south wall towards the east, with a similar barricade and painted skull. The group realizes that the goblins were afraid of something down here, and their goal at the moment is to clear out goblins, so they’ll leave those areas alone for now.

Rather than head downstairs or try to discover what’s on the other side of those doors (at least yet), they’ll squeeze through the crack in the south wall of the corridor to see what might be in there.

Turn 8

The group finds themselves in a series of tight caves that lead generally southwest. Fyat and Erkot go ahead in the darkness; their knowledge of stonework tells thm that this area was constructed somewhat more recently than the watchtower ruins, but it’s still quite old. The humans move as quietly as they can behind them, taking care not to get so close as to illuminate the gnome and dwarf with the torch.

Turn 9

The caves split, with a small set of steps spiraling downwards but the primary passage opening into a larger cave with a rough, uneven floor. There are a couple of exits from this room, including one to the south where sunlight can be seen. They can hear animal sounds from a small chamber to the southeast and another one to the north.

They’re not here to hunt animal vermin, though, so the most interesting things here are the secret” exit from the dungeon they’ve found. There’s an old goblin skull here that’s now used as a mouse nest, and they find 12sp in it.

Turn 10

They head out this exit and realize they’re just on the south side of the small escarpment where the watchtower was built. This is a side entrance to the dungeon that can bypass any guards on the surface, though with the risk of potential animal encounters. This will count as a minor Feat of Exploration.”

But they don’t have the sense that this is all of the goblins here, given that one of them fled further down into the dungeon beneath the watchtower.

Turn 11

The group returns through the caves to the first door with a barricade. Moving quietly and carefully takes the entire turn (10 minutes) to get there.

Turn 12

Again, Fyat and Erkot will listen at the door. They don’t hear anything, and the barricade is on this side, so they’ll have to spend the next turn removing it. At the end of this turn, Andrina’s torch goes out and she lights a new one that will expire at the end of turn 18. (Amazingly, no wandering monster encounters have yet to occur.)

Turn 13

Within this room, they find a dried font for holy water and several candle-niches. This gives them the sense that this is some sort of holy tomb or reliquary. Whatever they find here could be interesting to a lot more people, depending on whether they can get more details and return to civilization with them. The dungeon continues to the south from here.

Turn 14

In this tomb, they find a sarcophagus. The cover of it is quite dusty and faded. There are two doors leading east and west from the south end of this room; the one to the west is sealed with wax. After some consideration, curiosity wins out (because this is Dungeons & Dragons) and they decide to open the sarcophagus.

Erkot pries it open with his crowbar while Talpo watches with her holy symbol at the ready. Fyat crouches as best as he can in a small alcove so as not to be seen. Andrina holds the torch for them all.

Inside, a zombie in chainmail rises up and attacks! There’s no chance of surprise for anyone here.

  • Zombie: HD 2 (13 hp); AC 15; Atk 1 strike (d8); MV 6; ST 16; ML 12

Round 1: Talpo starts to try to turn the zombie, but that will take a few moments as I think that should be treated more or less as a spell. The adventurers win the initiative this round. (Upon re-reading the Attacking from behind” rules on p. 40 of S&W Complete, I realize that Fyat can get the backstab bonus if there’s surprise or someone else is attacking the enemy from the front.) So Andrina will throw a dart at the zombie, hitting for 3 damage (bringing it down to 10hp). Erkot is pretty much already in melee range, but Nesso will hold back momentarily. In the melee phase, Erkot swings his battleaxe and glances off the chainmail of the zombie. Fyat makes his backstab attack, similarly not penetrating the armor. Talpo finishes her prayer and holds her holy symbol aloft, and the zombie attempts to flee rather than attack. But the only place it can go is north, past the others, so Nesso takes a swing at it with his staff and misses. (I generally treat the depart for X rounds” as a bit of a chase with the party trying to bring it down.)

Round 2: The zombie will try to flee for the rest of the combat, but the group will give chase to bring it down and in fact they win initiative again. Andrina will throw a dart again and Fyat will fire his shortbow; they both miss. Erkot, Nesso, and Talpo all chase it down; this could get out of control as it continues to flee. They get an attack as it runs away, but none of them hit it. The zombie is at the door they used to enter the room.

Round 3: The zombie wins initiative this time, and it flees into the room with the stairs leading down. The others give chase, and in the melee phase, they all get an attack on it. Erkot misses, but Fyat backstabs it for 3 damage (down to 7hp). Talpo hits it for 2 damage (down to 5hp).

Round 4: This time they win initiative and surround it so that it can’t get away. They’ll get free attacks on it and eventually bring it down; it takes a few rounds, but eventually it succumbs.

Buried in its chest they find a dagger +1. That’s a nice find and Fyat will take custody of it.

However, while standing here in this stair room, a wandering monster enters the area: actually, it’s five goblins, who have been alerted by the one who fled earlier!

Turn 15

There’s a chance for the adventurers to be surprised, but fortunately they are not. The encounter starts at 50 feet away, so Fyat and Erkot see them, but the humans can only hear them approach.

  • Goblins (5): HD 1d6 (1, 2, 2, 4, 6 hp); AC 13; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 9; Save 18; Morale 7

Round 1: Nesso will begin to cast his sleep spell. The adventurers win initiative, so Andrina and Fyat will throw darts and shoot arrows at the goblins. They both miss, though. The other two move to protect Nesso while he finishes his spell. The goblins rush into melee range, but the spell goes off and puts all 5 of them to sleep! The group takes the same course of action as previously.

The goblins are not carrying any treasure; this was a fight for survival.

Turn 16

Heading back to the tomb area, they decide not to explore the sealed door to the west. They’ll check the door leading east, though; there’s no sound from it. Talpo and Nesso will work together to force the door using Erkot’s crowbar and succeed.

Turn 17

This is a slightly larger tomb area with a door to the south. More importantly, though, the east wall is decorated with a mosaic of the life of Saint Ulther, a priest with bulging eyes who is shown guiding a fishing vessel in to port during a mighty storm.” In front of this mosaic is an ornate sarcophagus. The group will investigate this further, but fortunately he is truly laid to rest.

This counts as another minor feat of exploration, as this was a lost saint whos whereabouts were unknown.

Saint Ulther was a sorcerer in the time leading up to the great war with the elves. He wasn’t a good man”, but occasionally he did great things between his more typical mercenary endeavors. He is often mistaken as a minor water deity (between the bulging eyes and the fact that he operated mostly in and around a few islands), but he was really just a typical mid-level magic user.

This information will certainly attract other kinds of attention once more people know about it.

Turn 18

Fyat and Erkot will listen at the door to the south. They don’t hear anything, so the two siblings will try to force the door open. They succeed, and the group heads through.

On the other side, thought, they find piles of skeletal remains and 9 skeletons! The group is caught by surprise and the skeletons will get a free round of attacks.

  • Skeletons (9): HD 1 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6, 7, 8 hp); AC 11; Atk 1 strike (1d6); MV 12; Save 17; Morale 12

Round 1: As noted, the skeletons have a surprise round. Each character will get two attacks on them, except for (randomly determined) Talpo, who only gets one. She is unharmed, but Nesso takes 4 damage (down to 2 hp). Andrina is hit once for 4 damage and killed. Fyat is hit twice for 9 damage and killed. Erkot is hit once for 2 damage and goes to 4 hp. Round 2: Talpo would try to turn the skeletons to cover the group’s retreat, but the skeletons win initiative. In the movement phase, then, all three of them turn and run.

It’s quite dark down here, so the two humans will try to follow Erkot to the best of their ability. They’ll have to make other plans to come back for the bodies of their comrades.

At the end of the round, Nesso lights a torch for him and his sister. Fortunately, nothing else comes out of the darkness at them.

Turn 19

After catching their breath, the three survivors decide to head back to town with the news of what they’ve found. They make their way out without further incident.

Experience and rewards

  • Treasure: 33ep, 5012sp => 16.5 + 501.2 = 517.7gp (rounded to 518 XP)
  • Monsters: 10 goblins (100 XP), 2 hobgoblins (30 XP), 1 giant ferret (15 XP), 1 zombie (30 XP) = 175 XP
  • Feats of Exploration: 2 minor (finding the secret exit, crypt of Saint Ulther) = 195 * 2 = 390 XP

Total 1083 XP, divided 3 ways for 361 XP each (before XP bonuses are applied). No one levels up yet, but with this treasure they should be able to get some better equipment and hire a few retainers, plus try to find a couple more adventurers.

Conclusion

That worker placement approach is fun, but I need to think a bit more about my door approach. That sloppiness cost two adventurers and a magic dagger! I didn’t use too much material from the Book of Options beyond the gnome ancestry, largely because my attribute rolls were so poor that I didn’t want to bring in any of the thematically-appropriate classes. With the unlocking” of Saint Ulther’s tomb, I’ll add a few more possibilities to my list for next time.

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