A Very Short D&D Story

So I've doing some playtests with solo dungeon generation, etc. Very high body count. I've revised encounter tables to iron some stuff out, I've exchanged most of the Appendix A elevator rooms for simple falling bars, etc., etc. Now I decide to bump up the solo PC level to 5th and see if we can at least clear out a 1st-level dungeon. I roll up a beauty of a character:

Garrick, Dwarven Fighter Level 5 (Lawful). S16, I15, W11, D18, C13, X15. Magic: Sword +1, +3 vs. trolls, Potion of Fire Resistance (3 doses), Displacer Cloak. Thus: AC -2, MV 9", hp 23, Atks Sword, magic +8 (1d8+3) or Spear, thrown +7 (1d6), Spec Infravision 60', Resist Magic +4, Rapid Strike feat (x2 melee atks), Cloak gives +2 to targeted saves, etc.

This, I'm thinking, is finally the ticket. Garrick & me should easily clear out a full level (via DMG Appendix A) and then consider any balancing issues for parts that were too easy (I mean, no 1st-level monsters can even hit him normally).

After the entrance, the first room is a big triangle with 1 orc. Obviously, he goes down quickly: collect 1 piece of jewelry & 100 sp. Leaving that room, we roll 19 on Table-I (Trick/Trap), and then a 20 on Table-VII (Chute down 1 level, cannot be ascended in any manner). So after all the safety bumpers installed around "Elevator Rooms", we've still stumbled into a down-one-level trap. Well, so be it.

I'm thinking maybe Garrick's got the goods to recover from a lost dungeon level. Room #1 on the new level: Bars fall blocking access to chute behind. (Well, at least that replaced another lost level from an elevator room.) Room #2: Huge spider with only 2hp, killed by opening spear-throw. (Treasure: 200 sp, 20 pp). Room #3: Monster with treasure indicated.

Roll for monster level: "6" on d6, indicating a 4th-level monster. Monster roll: "8" on d10, indicating a Giant Scorpion. Surprise roll: Garrick 2, Scorpion 4; so scorpion gets 2 actions before Garrick. Distance roll: "1" on d6, indicating 5-foot distance, so scorpion can immediately melee. Due to excellent AC, scorpion needs 17 or more with claw/claw/sting routine. Rolls are: 8, 14, 19. Stinger hits for 2hp, Garrick needs to save vs. Poison: Roll is a "2".

So the sterling Garrick is dead from scorpion poison after 4 explored rooms and just 3 total rounds in combat. Elapsed play time is about 10 minutes. That's D&D, folks.


  1. "Truly, if my character has risen higher than others, it is by standing on the bodies of those who failed their saves."
    I. Newton.

  2. You do the khi for Charisma thing too? Here I thought I was the only one. Cool.

  3. Are you giving your characters a chance to detect and circumnavigate the traps, or do they just automatically stumble into any trap you generate?

  4. @JD: So now there's two of us!

    @Paul: Basically auto-stumble. I haven't used a Thief yet, and haven't thought about the tradeoff for corridor searches vs. wandering monsters yet.

  5. ouch, this brings back so many 1e memories. i've no idea how any 1st level magic-users or illusionists ever survived to 2nd!

  6. Don't know if you'll see this, but I've been doing quite a bit of Appendix A stuff recently, and I am curious if you ever wrote down or spreadsheeted your modifications to the tables - starting to come up with some myself right now, would be interested to see what changes you might have made.

    1. Good question -- I haven't typed anything up, it's all scribbled on copied pages out of the book. My first thing is that when using OD&D monster tables, I modify the d6 level roll by "-1" because I think they're too harsh at the first levels.

      Appendix A, Table III: Cut 9-10, 9-13 is passage "T"'s, 16-20 four-way intersection, cut 20. Table III.A: 1: 5', 2-19: 10', 20: 20' (1-in-6 go to III.B). Table V: 1-8 Empty, 9-10 Monster only, 11-15 Monster & treasure, 16 Special/stairway, 17-19 Trick/trap, 20 Treasure. Table VII: 9-11 Elevators, 5-in-6 become passage blocked by falling bars (1 day).

      In short: (a) I cut about half of the 45-degree passages, (b) normalized passages so only rarely do you get the huge widths, and (c) changed contents to be more in line with other books and not be 60% empty rooms.