Into Dark Dungeons

Dark Dungeons is a large book, and can seem rather intimidating; especially if you haven’t played before. This chap- ter explains the sort of things that Dark Dungeons characters do over the course of their adventuring careers, and how the book is laid out to mirror that story path.

Rags to Riches

Adventurers start their careers as inex- perienced and under-equipped novices. Over the course of their career, they will become far more powerful and capable – this capability being meas- ured in terms of their “level”. They start at 1st level and can reach as high as 30th to 36th level before (hopefully) becoming Immortals – whereupon another 36 levels of experience await them.

However, even first level adventurers are a cut above the normal person. Adventurers are assumed to have been trained by (or undergone apprentice- ships to) older mentors. Therefore even at first level they have a better than average ability to fight and maybe even the ability to cast a simple spell or drive away minor undead with the power of their faith.

However, they are by no means the only people to have undergone this type of training. Town and city guards may be low level Fighters, and a village may be looked after by a mid level Magic-User. Trained characters are more common in the upper echelons of society where there is less pressing need to work in a mundane job to put food on the table and where such train- ing and experience is considered good leadership material.

Consequently, many castles and large temples are run by experienced adven- turers who have the wisdom and worldliness to know what problems need an adventurer’s touch but lack the time to sort the problems out them- selves. Such characters make excellent patrons for new adventurers – and many new adventurers aspire to achieve just such a position themselves.

Starting a Life of Adventure

Although it is possible for a Game Master to decide otherwise, the Dark Dungeons game assumes that new characters will start at first level. There are many races – both humanoid and otherwise – in the world, Dark Dun- geons assumes that most adventurers will be human; with the occasional demi-human.

Chapter 4: Creating a Character takes you through the process of creating an ad- venturing character, and includes the special rules that apply to the different classes of character.

All characters will have certain abilities such as skills and weapon feats, and some characters will also be able to cast spells. The next three chapters of Dark Dungeons describe those abilities.

Chapter 5: Ability Checks & Skills con- tains the rules for skill use and a de- scription of each individual skill.

Chapter 6: Weapon Feats contains infor- mation about what abilities a character can get with different weapons (and different levels of expertise at using those weapons).

Chapter 7: Spells & Spell Casting contains the rules for learning and casting spells, as well as a description of each spell.

The First Adventures

Before setting off on their first quest, most adventurers will want to spend some of their money on equipment.

Chapter 8: Equipping For Adventure contains price lists and descriptions of a wide variety of equipment and services that characters may wish to purchase.

Some of this – such as building castles – will be way out of the league of starting adventurers, but the basic necessities like weapons and lanterns and rope and so on will prove both affordable and essential. Starting adventurers may even wish to hire men-at-arms to accompany them on dangerous quests. Once equipment has been bought, the adventurers are ready to go.

Some stories may vary, but it is most common for low level adventurers who are just beginning their careers to start by doing small jobs in their local area.

This could include fighting bandits or local humanoid tribes; or exploring local caves and ruins. Most of these initial jobs and quests will not involve straying too far from civilisation and will involve underground exploration.

Chapter 9: Dungeon Delving provides the rules and guidelines for underground exploration; and Chapter 10: Combat provides the rules for fighting whatever dangers are found in those dungeons.

Of course, such fighting and exploration has its consequences. Some adventurers will be injured. Others will die. And those who survive will emerge more experienced and hopefully richer.

Chapter 11: Getting Better provides the rules for how characters recover from injuries – both magical and mundane – and even death; and provides rules for the gaining of experience and consequent increasing of levels. It also provides rules for how adventurers can spend their new-found riches on improving their abilities.

Expanding Horizons

After a few adventures, most adventuring parties start venturing further afield. Whether through increased confidence or through necessity, they will start exploring the dangerous wilderness that exists away from civilised areas. The dangers are greater in such areas, but so are the potential rewards.

Chapter 12: Into the Wider World contains the rules for such exploration, and the rules for urban encounters for when adventurers decide to visit big cities.

Power & Responsibility

By the time they reach 9th-11th level, adventurers have probably made quite a name for themselves in their country, and are likely to have come to the attention of the rulers of the land.

It is common at this time (although by no means universal – some adventuring parties continue to wander for their entire career and never settle down) for such adventurers to be granted titles of nobility and be expected to expand their liege’s country into the untamed wilderness.

At this point, the focus of the game switches from mostly adventuring to mostly politics with the occasional adventure.

Chapter 13: Settling Down contains rules for both acquiring and running fiefdoms and domains, including managing the economy and both attracting (and managing the happiness of) populace to the new area.

Of course, all the monsters in an area don’t simply get up and walk away when someone plonks a castle down in their territories – so they will need killing or driving out as the land is settled.

Similarly, rival nobles (from the same country or enemy states) may also do their best to make sure that the new upstarts fail.

All this means that life isn’t just throwing festivals and making sure the books balance. There is still plenty of intrigue and diplomacy, and if all else fails there is always the possibility that things will erupt into open warfare.

Chapter 14: War! contains the rules for armies and for mass battles.

A Whole New Playground

Eventually, adventurers will set their sights on higher goals than simple temporal power. Immortality is there for the taking!

Whether they have spent time ruling a domain or they have lived the life of a wanderer, particularly powerful adventurers can still find new places to explore.

The mundane world is not the only world in existence. There are other worlds out there and even other planes of existence. At high levels, adventurers can explore these planes for knowledge and riches far beyond anything available at home.

Chapter 15: Out of This World provides descriptions of other planes and of planar travelling.

Of course, travelling the planes also means that adventurers will encounter threats and dangers far greater than they would ever see on the mundane world.

Adventurers will find themselves meeting Immortals face-to-face and getting involved in their plots, along with the machinations of other planar creatures.

At some point, the adventurers will want to join the ranks of the Immortals themselves. Doing so is never easy, and usually involves both finding an existing Immortal willing to act as a sponsor and undergoing an extended quest to prove one’s worthiness.

Chapter 16: Questing for Immortality provides details of this process.

A New Beginning

If everything goes right, eventually adventurers will achieve that ultimate goal

– they will have become Immortals. This marks a new beginning for their adventuring careers. Although they no longer care about such mundane things as money and they are – even as newly fledged first level Immortals – far more powerful than most mortal creatures; they are still lowly compared to the more powerful Immortals and creatures of the multiverse.

Adventuring at this level becomes much more freeform, with politics and exploration both playing a part. While most Immortals enjoy playing political games, others are more interested in meddling in the affairs of mortals; acting as patron for clerics and knights and acting as protectors of whole races or even creating new races!

Other Immortals prefer to wander the multiverse and explore the new horizons that such exploring brings. Still others retire from adventuring completely, and simply live a life of comfort and hedonism free of mortal cares.

Chapter 17: The Immortals contains the rules for playing at Immortal levels. Whatever an Immortal’s passion, Immortality is the final reward for a lifetime of adventuring.

The Rest of The Book

Beyond chapter 17, the rest of the book contains resources for the Game Master. This is not to say that you shouldn’t read them if you’re not going to be the Game Master, but there is no reason for you to do so and you may spoil surprises for yourself if you do.

Chapter 18: Monsters contains the abilities and descriptions of the various types of monster that may be encountered over an adventuring career.

Chapter 19: Treasure contains information about the sort of treasure that might be found, and contains descriptions of many magical items that adventurers can find or even make during their careers.

Chapter 20: Artefacts contains rules for the most powerful of items. Artefacts can be made only by Immortals and are too powerful for mortals to safely use. That doesn’t mean that mortals don’t use them anyway, of course.

Finally, Chapter 21: Game Master Advice contains miscellaneous other advice and tips for the Game Master that don’t fit into any other chapter.