Dungeon Delving

The dungeon—whether an actual dungeon beneath a stronghold, an ancient tomb, or a more natural cave system— is the heart of the Dark Dungeons

experience.

Dungeon delving is the most

straightforward type of adventuring. The sort of dungeons that low level parties

explore tend to be relatively enclosed environments that can often be explored a room at a time.

Time & Movement

When exploring dungeons, time is simply measured in straightforward hours and minutes, as opposed to combat rounds which last 10 seconds each. Characters in dungeons are assumed to be moving slowly and carefully, keeping a look out for danger, and therefore move at a much slower rate than in combat.

The movement speeds of characters are normally measured in feet per round. When exploring a dungeon, characters normally move at three times their

normal movement speed per ten minutes.

Example: Elfstar is encumbered by her

armour and weapons and has a movement speed of 30’/round. When exploring a dungeon,

she will move at 90’ per ten minutes.

Aloysius is unencumbered and has a movement speed

of 40’ per round. When exploring a dungeon

he will move at 120’ per ten minutes.

When moving over familiar routes, characters can move at full combat rates.

Generally, it is not necessary to

switch from general timekeeping to round-

byround timekeeping for simple actions such as someone casting a spell or

picking a lock. However, when an encounter happens and it looks like a fight is about to break out then you should start counting off time round by round.

Special Movement

Characters who are climbing or swimming move at half their normal speed (usually 20’/round).

Additionally, a character’s armour is counted three times when determining their swimming speed. Any character whose speed is reduced to zero or less by this extra encumbrance cannot swim at any significant speed but can keep afloat with effort. If a character’s

speed is reduced all the way to “cannot move”, then they cannot even keep their head above water without aid.

Light & Darkness

Light levels in a dungeon will vary

tremendously. If the dungeon is inhabited, it may also be lit; but since many

creatures can see in the dark, this is not always the case.

Similarly, adventurers are likely to

bring their own light sources with them. Sometimes adventurers or dungeon denizens may also have magical light sources or even sources of magical darkness. These all interact in the

following hierarchy:

Normal Darkness: This is the default state in the absence of any natural or magical light. Humans can’t see in this darkness, although creatures with

either the Heatvision or Darkvision abilities

can use them to see.

Normal Light: Light from non- magical sources (e.g. Torches, lanterns or natural daylight) trumps normal darkness and overrides it. Creatures with the Heatvision or Darkvision

abilities cannot use those abilities in normal light that is stronger than moonlight, but can see normally. A normal light is blocked by opaque objects and casts shadows behind such objects.

Light Spells: The Light spell creates a central light source (that hovers in

the air or that moves with an object). That light source radiates magical light

that is blocked by opaque objects. Creatures with the Heatvision or Darkvision

abilities cannot use those abilities in the

magical light, but can see normally.

Magical light from a Light spell trumps both normal light and normal darkness except where blocked.

Any location within the area of one or more Light spells and also one or more Darkness spells is either lit or

darkened depending on which spell it is closest

to the centre point of (excluding spells whose centre points are obscured from the location by opaque cover).

In the simplest case—of an overlapping Light spell and Darkness spell with nothing to obscure either of them— this will result in a straight line

between the two with everything on one side light and everything on the other side dark.

Darkness Spells: The reversed form of the Light spell creates a central source of darkness that hovers in the air or that moves with an object). That source radiates magical darkness that

is blocked by opaque objects. Creatures with the Heatvision or Darkvision

abilities can use those abilities in the magical darkness, but normal vision is useless.

Magical darkness from a Darkness spell trumps both normal light and normal darkness except where blocked.

Any location within the area of one or more Light spells and also one or more Darkness spells is either lit or

darkened depending on which spell it is closest

to the centre point of (excluding spells whose centre points are obscured from the location by opaque cover).

In the simplest case—of an overlapping Light spell and Darkness spell with nothing to obscure either of them— this will result in a straight line

between the two with everything on one side light and everything on the other side dark.

Continual Light: The Continual Light spell creates an area of ambient light centred on a point (that hovers in the air or that moves with an object). The area of effect is completely lit,

regardless of opaque objects, leaving no shadows (although any amount of lead or 6” of stone will block the effect).

Creatures with the Heatvision or Darkvision abilities cannot use those abilities in

the magical light, but can see normally.

Magical light from a Continual Light spell trumps both normal light and normal darkness and also magical light and magical darkness from a Light or Darkness spell.

Any location within the area of one or more Continual Light spells and also

one or more Continual Darkness spells is either lit or darkened depending on which spell it is closest to the centre point of (regardless of the presence of opaque cover).

In the simplest case—of an overlapping Continual Light spell and Continual Darkness spell—this will result in a straight line between the two with

everything on one side light and everything on the other side dark.

Continual Darkness: The reversed form of the Continual Light spell

creates an area of ambient darkness centred on a point (that hovers in the air or that moves with an object). The area of effect is completely dark, regardless

of opaque objects (although any amount of lead or 6” of stone will block the effect). Creatures with the Heatvision

or Darkvision abilities cannot use those abilities in the magical darkness, and normal vision is also useless.

Magical darkness from a Continual Darkness spell trumps both normal light and normal darkness and also magical light and magical darkness from a Light or Darkness spell.

Any location within the area of one or more Continual Light spells and also

one or more Continual Darkness spells is either lit or darkened depending on which spell it is closest to the centre point of (regardless of the presence of opaque cover).

In the simplest case—of an overlapping Continual Light spell and Continual Darkness spell—this will result in a straight line between the two with

everything on one side light and everything on the other side dark.

Noticing Things

Some characters have the ability to

spot details that others can’t. The

Stonelore ability of dwarves, for example, lets them notice newly built construction, gently sloping floors, traps involving shifting walls or blocks of stone, and secret doors involving moving stone walls.

Players do not need to specify that

they are using these abilities on every

single patch of wall or corridor.

If their characters are moving at the normal cautious exploration pace, then this includes characters who have these abilities using them, and the Game Master should automatically roll for such abilities when the character comes within 20’ of something that could be detected by them.

However, such abilities cannot be used if characters are in combat, running,

or otherwise not moving carefully.

Any character can listen for faint sounds echoing through the dungeon. This is usually done at closed doors,

in an attempt to determine what—if

anything— is on the other side of the door.

Characters listening at doors (or down corridors) must stand away from the rest of the party and even then the party must be being quiet. It is not

possible to listen while there is conversation or combat going on.

To see if a character other than a

thief hears a noise, the Game Master rolls 1d6. If the character is human (other than a thief), they hear a noise if a 1 was rolled. If the character is

demihuman, they hear a noise if a 1-2 was rolled.

To see if a thief character hears a

noise, the Game Master rolls 1d100. They hear a noise if the roll is less than

or equal to the thief’s Hear Noise chance.

In any case, the Game Master should not distinguish between rolls that

failed and rolls that succeeded but in

situations where there was no noise to hear.

Doors

With the exception of the most basic natural cave lair, almost every dungeon contains doors of one type or another separating areas.

Most dungeon doors are made of wood. In well maintained and occupied dungeons, they are likely to be in a good state of repair and may or may not be locked, but in old dungeons and tombs, they may be swollen with seeping damp or otherwise stuck. In some cases they may have even be magically locked.

The difficulty of opening a door

depends on its state. Obviously there may be individual situations in some

dungeons that are different—such as metal or stone doors—but usually they fall into one of the following categories.

Normal Door: Characters can simply push or pull this door open and walk through.

The chances of the characters

surprising (or being surprised by) whatever is at the other side of the door are

normal. See Chapter 10: Combat for details on surprise.

Stuck Door: A door that has become stuck must be shoulder-barged open. One character may attempt this per round, and must roll a Strength Check

in order to do so. If the first attempt is not successful, then whatever is at the other side of the door will be alerted

by the noise and has no chance of being surprised. See Chapter 10: Combat for details on surprise.

Locked Door: A locked door may be barged open in the same way that a stuck door can be, although the

Strength Check is made with a –4 penalty to

effective strength. Alternatively, a thief can attempt to pick the lock. Each

thief is only allowed one attempt to pick each lock, and if this fails they must either give up or try again when they have improved their Open Locks ability. However, a failed attempt to pick a lock will not alert creatures on the other side of the door.

Barred Door: A door that is heavily barred may be barged open in the same way as a stuck door, although the Strength Check is made with a –8

penalty to effective strength. A thief cannot

use their Open Locks ability to open a

barred door unless there is a mechanism for lifting the bar from the front of the door.

Magically Locked Door: A magically locked door cannot be physically forced open. The magic must be bypassed or dispelled in some way (the exact details will vary depending on

the specific magic used).

Secret Door: A secret door is a door that is camouflaged so that it does not appear to be a door. Typical secret doors include walls that shift out of

the way when a lever is pulled, fireplaces

or bookshelves that rotate, or simply wooden doors that match the wooden panelled walls of a room.

Unless the secret door consists of a shifting stone wall (in which case a dwarf has a chance to notice it when simply walking past), a secret door

will not be seen by characters unless they either specifically search for it or

they accidentally trigger its opening

method.

Searching for a secret door takes 10 minutes per 10’ section of wall searched, and each character searching must roll 1d6. Any character who rolls a 6 (or any elf who rolls a 5-6) finds

the door. Note that if characters split up

to search a room more efficiently, only one is likely to search the location of the secret door.

One-Way Door: Some doors may be opened freely from one side but are magically locked from the other, thus allowing access in one direction only.

Traps

Traps are a common hazard in dungeons, and always a danger to adventurers.

The most common types of trap are often the simplest—pits with fragile covers that will give way when someone walks over them; poison needles in locks so that someone trying to pick the lock will prick themselves on them; blades or spears that are rigged to shoot out of the wall when a flagstone is stepped on; and so on.

Generally, adventurers will have no chance to accidentally notice these traps—although some individual traps that are crude or badly made may offer a chance. Traps must instead usually be detected by magical means or by the Find Traps ability of thieves and

mystics.

With the exception of large traps

involving moving walls—which may be noticed by a dwarf’s Stonelore ability

as the dwarf merely passes them—traps must be actively searched for. A thief or mystic does not get to roll for

their Find Traps ability by just walking past an area that happens to contain a trap.

Searching a 10’x10’ area for traps

takes 10 minutes, just like searching for

secret doors, and thief or mystic characters can search for both types of thing at the same time.

When a trap is found, adventurers

generally have three options. They can try to get past the trap without setting it off. They can try to set off the trap without getting hurt by it. Or they can try to disarm it. Only a thief or

mystic has the ability to disarm traps.

If the attempt to disarm the trap

fails, the trap is set off—although the thief or mystic will usually not get hurt by

it, depending on the way the trap works. Should the trap be one that can be

triggered more than once without needing to be manually reset, the thief or

mystic may attempt to disarm it a second time.

Example: Black Leaf discovers a trap

door rigged to open under the weight of a

person and deposit them in a pit. She tries to

remove the trap, and fails. The trap door swings

open. Although she was not standing on it and therefore hasn’t fallen in, it is now

open revealing a 10’ wide pit that the party must work out how to cross.

Later, the party are walking up some

stairs when Oeric steps on a trapped step and

a blade scythes out catching him on the

leg. While Elfstar heals his wound, Black

Leaf attempts to remove the trap so that it

won’t go off again and hurt anyone else. Not

having a good day, she fails again. The blades

scythe once more, but she is not standing on

the trapped step so they do not hit her.

Eventually, the party come to a

treasure vault containing a pedestal on which sits a

golden chalice. Black Leaf discovers that the

pedestal is trapped and if the chalice is

removed then some gas or liquid will be squirted out

of it. She tries to remove the trap and fails

yet again. Poisonous gas is ejected from

the pedestal and fills the room. Unfortunately,

since this fills the whole room leaving nowhere

safe to stand, it will affect Black Leaf.

Environmental Damage

Whether falling down pits, being squirted with burning oil, or being trapped in a room that is slowly

filling with water; characters can be subject

to a variety of harmful environments in a dungeon—not all of which are the result of traps!

Listed below are a number of common ways that characters can be hurt by the environment:

Falling: Falling in an uncontrolled manner does 1d6 damage per 10’ fallen. If a character has deliberately jumped down rather than simply fallen down, they may make a Jumping Check as if making a high jump from a standing start. Whatever height they get on the Jumping Check is subtracted from the height of the fall before damage is rolled.

Fire: Being hit with a burning torch will do 1d4 damage.

A natural fire the size of a camp fire will do 1d6 damage per round and each round after the first after the first

it has a 5% chance per point of total damage done of igniting the target’s hair

and/or clothing.

Being in a fiercely burning building

will do 2d6 damage per round and each round after the first after the first

it has a 5% chance per point of total damage done of igniting the target’s hair

and/or clothing.

Burning oil, such as a flask of lamp

oil that has been lit and thrown, will do 1d8 damage and also has a 5% chance per point of damage done of igniting the target’s hair and/or clothing.

Characters whose hair and/or clothing has been ignited will continue to burn for 1d6 rounds doing 1d4 damage per round, unless the they have some way of putting out the flames, such as smothering them or dousing them with water.

Example: The inn that Elfstar is

staying in has caught fire. The first thing that

Elfstar knows about this is when she is awoken

by a burning beam crashing through the

ceiling of her room onto her bed. In the first

round, Elfstar is woken, but takes no damage

since the beam missed her.

In the second round, Elfstar takes 1d6

points of damage from being in the burning

bed. She rolls a 4, so takes 4 damage, but

doesn’t need to roll for her clothing igniting since

this is the first round in which she is in the

fire. Luckily, Elfstar has unused spells left over

from the previous day, and casts Resist Fire on

herself. This will prevent her from taking any

more damage from non-magical fire sources.

In the third round, Elfstar again takes

1d6 points of damage from being in the

burning bed. She rolls a 2, but resists the

damage because of her Resist Fire spell. Since

this is now the second round that she has been

in the fire, she has to roll to see if her

clothing ignites. The fire has done a total of 6 damage

to her, so her nightshirt has a 6x5% = 30%

chance of igniting. She rolls a 16, and her

nightshirt goes up in flames. Elfstar quickly

leaves the burning bed.

In the fourth round, Elfstar is no

longer in the burning bed, but her nightshirt is on

fire, doing 1d4 damage.

She rolls a 4, but doesn’t mind because

her Resist Fire spell is still keeping her

safe.

Elfstar now has a dilemma! Does she try

to put out the burning nightdress, taking

time? Does she throw modesty to the wind and

simply rip it off while running to rescue the

other patrons of the inn from the fire? Or

does she try to rescue the other patrons of the

inn while still on fire herself?

Drowning and Suffocating: Characters who suddenly find themselves

unexpectedly unable to breathe (because they’re being choked or because they’ve suddenly been fallen into deep water, for example) can hold their breath for

a number of rounds equal to half their Constitution score. If the character expects the situation and makes an effort to take deep breaths and hold their breath before entering it, they

can hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to their full Constitution score.

Once the character can no longer hold their breath, they will start gasping

uncontrollably and/or drowning; and will be at a –5 penalty to all activities

(and be unable to cast spells) for 1d6 rounds.

Finally, the character will fall

unconscious for a further 2d6 rounds before dying. If the character is brought to somewhere where they can breathe during this time, they can be revived

by a successful Healing Check, or by any magical curing spell (Cure Light Wounds, Cure Serious Wounds, Cure Critical Wounds or Cureall).

If a magical curing spell is cast on

the character at any time before death but without removing them from the

situation in which they cannot breathe, it will bring them back to the start of

the suffocation or drowning process, as if they had just taken a deep breath.

Mapping

When in dungeons, it is common for one player to draw a map as the party progresses. The Game Master should encourage this, and should help the players to draw such a map quickly and accurately. Remember that while the players are limited to whatever

description the Game Master gives them, the actual characters can see all around them.

Table 9-1: Reaction Rolls

2d6 Roll Reaction 2-3 Hostile 4-6 Aggressive 7-9 Cautious 10-11 Neutral 12 Friendly

While it is somewhat unrealistic for

the Game Master to give exact dimensions for rooms and corridors, it is

nonetheless good practice, because it helps to offset the fact that the spatial memory of the characters would prevent them getting lost far better than the verbal memory of the players remembering the Game Master’s descriptions will prevent them getting lost.

Misleading or confusing descriptions should only be given if there is an in- character reason for such confusion (such as a magical effect), and the

players’ map should not be considered an in-character item that can be lost or destroyed. It is an out of character

prop to remind the players of what their characters can remember.

Encounters

As the characters move around the dungeon, they will need to overcome natural obstacles, but will also meet

the various dungeon denizens and need to deal with them. This will often result

in combat, but could also result in

diplomacy, trade, or the two parties simply ignoring each other.

When two groups meet suddenly, for example if the party open a door or come round a corner and are suddenly faced with confronted with one or more monsters (the word “monsters” is being used in a generic sense here; the monsters may be just as human as the player characters), then the first

thing that should happen is that the game should switch from general timekeeping to round-by-round timekeeping, and the Game Master and players should roll for surprise (see Chapter

10: Combat for details of surprise).

When the monsters have their first action, the Game Master should

determine what their reaction is to meeting the player characters.

Table 9-2: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 1)

1d20 Monster Number Roll

Encountered

1 Beetle (Giant Fire) 1d6

2 Centipede (Giant) 1d6

3 Ghoul 1d2

4 Goblin 1d6

5 Human (Bandit) 1d6

6-9 Human (Commoner) 1d3

10 Kobold 2d6

11 Lizard (Giant Gecko) 1d2

12 Locust (Giant) 1d6

13 NPC Party 1 Party

14 Orc 1d6

15 Skeleton 1d10

16 Snake (Racer) 1d2

17 Spider (Crab Spider) 1d2

18 Stirge 1d8

19 Troglodyte 1d3

20 Zombie 1d3

If the monsters act before the player characters have acted because they surprised the players or won

initiative, the Game Master will either know in advance how the monsters will react based on their personalities and the situation, or can consult Table 9-1.

The results of table 9-1 are explained in

the following paragraphs.

Hostile: The monsters will immediately attack, flee or surrender; depending on their numbers and strength compared to the apparent numbers and strength of the party.

Aggressive: The monsters will not immediately attack, but will threaten the party—either verbally or with growls and body language. If the

reaction needs to be re-rolled because the party try to parley, the re-roll will

take a –4 penalty.

Cautious: The monsters will not

immediately attack, but will react with suspicion and may verbally challenge the party. They will ready themselves

in case the party attack.

Neutral: The monsters will not attack, and will react in a neutral manner;

ignoring the party or greeting them in a

Table 9-3: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 2)

1d20 Monster Number Roll Encountered 1 Beetle (Giant Bombard) 1d6 2 Cthonic Worm 1 3 Ghoul 1d4 4 Gnoll 1d4 5 Goblin 2d4 6 Grey Ooze 1 7 Hobgoblin 1d6 8-10 Human (Commoner) 1d3 11 Lizard (Giant Draco) 1 12 Lizard Man 1d6 13 Neanderthal 2d4 14 NPC Party 1 Party 15 Orc 1d10 16 Skeleton 2d6 17 Snake (Pit Viper) 2d6 18 Spider (Black Widow) 1 19 Troglodyte 1d6 20 Zombie 1d6

gruff or formal (but not overly

friendly) manner. They will take precautions in case of attack by the party, but not in

a threatening manner. If the reaction needs to be re-rolled because the party try to parley, the re-roll will have a

+4 bonus.

Friendly: The monsters will greet the party in a friendly manner.

If the party respond to the monster’s reaction by attempting to parley, or

the party act before the monsters and

attempt to parley, when the monsters get a turn then the Game Master will either know how they will react based on the players actions, or can roll on table

9-1 again with whatever bonus or penalty came from the original roll and an

additional bonus or penalty based on the Charisma Modifier of the party leader or spokesperson.

The players have the option, if they

are deliberately trying to insult or

intimidate the monsters in an attempt to provoke them into a hostile reaction, of treating any charisma bonus that the party leader has as if it were a

penalty of equal magnitude.

Table 9-4: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 3)

1d20 Monster Number Roll Encountered 1 Ape (Cave) 1d4 2 Beetle (Giant Tiger) 1d4 3 Bugbear 1d6 4 Cthonic Worm 1d3 5 Doppelganger 1d2 6 Gargoyle 1d3 7 Gelatinous Cube 1 8 Ghast 1d4 9 Harpy 1d3 10-11 Human (Commoner) 1d3 12 Golem (Clay) 1d4 13 Medusa 1 14 NPC Party 1 Party 15 Ochre Jelly 1 16 Ogre 1d3 17 Shadow 1d4 18 Spider (Tarantella) 1 19 Wererat 1d6 20 Wight 1d3

If the result of these opening

reactions (whether role played or rolled for) is that the party and the monsters end up talking, trading or otherwise acting in

a non-hostile manner towards each other, then the game can switch back to general timekeeping.

If the result is that a fight or chase breaks out, then the game should stay in round-by-round timekeeping, and the combat should be resolved using the rules in Chapter 10: Combat.

Wandering Monsters

The adventuring party may not be the only people (or creatures) wandering around the dungeon. Some of the

monsters that live in the dungeon will almost certainly move from place to place, and there may be other creatures or other adventurers that have also entered the dungeon for reasons of their own; whether looking for food, shelter or to loot the place.

Table 9-5: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 4-5)

1d20 Monster Number Roll

Encountered 1 Blink Dog 1d4 2 Bugbear 1d6+4 3 Caecilian (Giant) 1 4 Cockatrice 1d2 5 Gargoyle 1d4+1 6 Giant (Hill) 1 7 Harpy 1d4+1 8 Hellhound (1d3+2 HD) 1d4 9 Hydra (5-headed) 1 10 Medusa 1d2 11 Mournwolf 1 12 Mummy 1d3 13 NPC Party 1 Party 14 Ochre Jelly 1 15 Rhagodessa (Giant) 1d3 16 Rust Monster 1d2 17 Scorpion (Giant) 1d3 18 Troll 1d2 19 Werewolf 1d4 20 Wraith 1d2

1d20 Monster Number Roll Encountered 1 Basilisk 1d3 2 Caecilian (Giant) 1d4 3 Cockatrice 1d3 4 Giant (Hill) 1d2 5 Giant (Stone) 1d2 6 Hellhound (5-7 HD) 1d4 7 Hydra (6-8 headed) 1 8 Manticore 1 9 Minotaur 1d4 10 Mummy 1d4 11 NPC Party 1 Party 12 Ochre Jelly 1 13 Ogre 2d4 14 Rust Monster 1d3+1 15 Spectre 1d3 16 Spider (Tarantella) 1d3 17 Salamander (Flame) 1d2 18 Troll 1d4+1 19 Vampire 1 20 Weretiger 1d3

These creatures that may be found wandering around the dungeon are referred to as “Wandering Monsters”.

The Game Master may decide that

particular dungeons (or particular areas within a dungeon) are more or less likely places for adventuring parties

to find wandering monsters; and may therefore alter the chance and

frequency in those areas. Table 9-6: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 6-7)

The default frequency for wandering monsters in a dungeon setting is for

the Game Master to roll 1d6 every twenty minutes of game time (not real time).

If the Game Master rolls a 1, then the party will encounter a group of

wandering monsters.

The Game Master may have a pre- prepared list of what monsters (and how many) may be wandering around the dungeon. If not, roll on the

wandering monster tables in this chapter (Table 9-2 to Table 9-7).

Table 9-7: Wandering Dungeon Monsters (Difficulty 8-10)

1d20 Monster Number Roll

Encountered

1 Basilisk 1d6 2 Black Pudding 1 3 Chimera 1 4 Construct* 1 5 Dragon* 1d2 6-7 Giant* 1d6 8 Golem* 1d4+1 9 Hydra (7-12 headed) 1 10 NPC Party 1 Party 11 Phantom (Apparition) 1 12 Purple Worm 1 13 Rust Monster 1d4+1 14 Salamander* 1d4 15 Snake* 1d4+1 16 Spectre 1d3 17 Spider* 1d4+1 18 Vampire 1d2 19-20 Werebear 1d6+1

The wandering monster tables are

arranged by the estimated difficulty of the encounters, and the numbers of monsters encountered are tailored for this difficulty rather than necessarily matching the normal numbers that the monsters are found in.

The choice of which difficulty level to use should be based on the subjective difficulty of the dungeon itself.

A good guideline is to match the

difficulty to the level of characters that the dungeon was designed for.

In any case, these tables are generic

and although they can produce a wide

variety of monsters, they can also produce wildly unrealistic results; indicating monsters that have no place in the

current dungeon.

Game Masters are advised to use these tables only when they have not made a custom table for their dungeon, and to re-roll results that don’t “fit” the

current dungeon.