Sunday, 22 September 2019

Solo Dungeon Crawl #1: Concept and Prep

For domestic reasons I've been unable to go along to our RPG group for a couple of months now, and am unlikely to be able to in the near future.  I even had to abandon the Call of Cthulhu session I was going to run, despite having had quite some fun with the prep, which was a great disappointment to me.  But such is life.

So I'm going to try some solo gaming (in part inspired by the Roleplay Rescue Podcast, which I've been following for some time).  A lot of the most fun bits of RPGs can't be done solo of course, but some can.  I'm going to concentrate on an old-fashioned dungeon crawl.  .

I'm going to try a randomly-generated sandbox (so no theme - 'Temple of the Red Lich').  I've no idea if it will work or not.  It may just turn into "You walk into a room and see Monster X", but even that will be some practice at combat and will occupy me for a little while.  It may make me think a little about what lies beyond dungeon creation.

As regular readers will recognise, my initial thoughts are heavily influenced by my experience of Barrowmaze.


Lord Hamar  (Artist: Nate Hallinan)
Lord Hamar has decided to bring Civilization to the southern reaches of his domain.  Unfortunately, his predecessors haven't been so enlightened and allowed the South to operate as a number of semi-autonomous communities.  He has a large number of dissents waiting to be relocated and employed in agrarian pursuits, but before the expensive resettlement programme begins, various trouble-spots need to be cleared.

The government has appointed several Factors in the region and have made it known that they will give adventuring parties licence to clear out a such trouble-spots.  Bounties may be paid, and adventurers will be allowed to keep any loot they acquire through their licenced activities.

The approach to Haybrook
A factory has been established in the village of Haybrook and our party has acquired the licence to explore the dungeon that lies beneath Stone Hill.

The Factor and his assistant

The Adventurers

Now I could create a party of mid-to-high level Heroes, well-matched and kitted out with all sorts of singing swords, but that isn't my style of play.

I like the idea of PCs not being heroes, just people who for their own reasons (possibly heroism, who knows?) are going in search of experience and treasure.  If they survive, they may eventually be what we term as heroes, but at the moment, they're just getting by.  I rather like the concept of the Dungeon Crawl Classic 'Funnel' - that is an adventure where each player starts with a stable of 0 Level characters (butchers, bakers and candlestick makers), most of which are expected to die, but one or two of whom will survive and graduate to Level 1.  I may incorporate some DCC features into my solo gaming, but not yet.

So what I've done is to roll six characters using the B/X Essential rules (I'll graduate to Old School Essentials - the upgrade - once I get my hard-copy).  I've rolled 3d6 in order with no point transfer then chose classes based on the results.  I know that's harsh on the character, but I think that the inevitable weaknesses generated fit in with the 'ordinary Joe' concept.

I intend to keep a pool of six adventures, and for each crawl to (randomly?) select four.  When a character dies, I will roll another for the pool.  For the initial pool I stuck with the basic B/X Essentials classes.  I know I ran the risk of getting six consumptive magic users, but in the end I ended up with a cleric, a dwarf, a thief, an elf and two wizards.  Not a bad mix.  When a character dies (and regular readers will know that I experience that a lot), I will roll a new member of the pool.  With these new characters I will have the option of adding Advanced Classes.

Our starting characters


  1. I shall follow this with interest.Ranger of Shadow Deep is rather a good set of solo rules.

    1. Oh, mine won't be anything like as sophisticated as that. Just a little bashing!


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