Riding the Solo AD&D Tiger

On September 29th, ten brave heroes entered the Ligmatic Cloister, nestled in the cleft between two towering peaks of the Bofaheart Mountains.

Only nine returned.

The expedition started out well.  While searching the front range of the Bofahearts, the party spied a long train of wagons – heavily guarded – and made their way down into a narrow valley where a rough and broken ruin of a road allowed for much faster travelling.  Better yet, the merchants in the caravan couldn’t deny that the road was an unknown and mostly disused track once known as the Deeznutz Pass.  A wildly successful sweet talk attempt from the Paladins Argoth and Geoff got them to reveal the road passed within a bowshot of the walls of the ruined cloister!  They wouldn’t say where they were coming from, but it had to be the north.  Perhaps the berzerkermen that prowled the hills and plains there?

This is a huge win for the party.  Instead of blundering the wooded hills, they won a straight trip to the megadungeon.  Better yet, this shaves more than a day and three wandering monster checks off their journey there and back again.  Over the long run, this is going to save a lot of PC lives, and it changes the nature of each delve from a dangerous trek to the dungeon to a mostly pleasant hike.  It doesn’t remove the risk, but it does heavily mitigate it.

Coming now to the dungeon, the party finds a collection of ruined stone buildings on the far side of a crashing mountain stream.  The bridge was out, but no matter – clever and resourceful parties can whip together a makeshift bridge easily enough.  After poking about a bit, they find that the cloisters one small basement was empty and dark.  But a small crevasse running through the floor of one tower suggested a potential reason for the fall of the House of Ligma – a sinkhole, the bottom of which surely let loose a horde of nasty critters to devour the long gone monks of the cloister.

The party entered to find a literal labyrinth of corridors, branching and twisting and turning back on itself time and time again.

In dice-speak, I rolled a long string of “branching corridor” results in a row.  There’s only a 15% chance of hitting it once, and I must have hit it six times in a row and far more often than not.

Early on the party’s scout – a thief named Bianca – managed to catch the chittering of a pair of wererats, which allowed the party to escape unscathed.

More wandering.  A couple of empty rooms.

And then we got complacent.  Bianca finds herself 30-feet ahead of the party inside a small room, at the far side of whose entrance she finds a typical door.  With a small click, something changes, and the floor drops out beneath her only to slide to a halt somewhere lower than it had been.  Alone and with no light source, she could only wait for rescue, and even that in silence.  Surely, the room would rise back to its place of origin, right?

To the party, the room descended suddenly, the archway filled with stone, and she would be seen no more.

After more wandering, they bump into a party of ten dwarves, exchange map information, and part on peaceful terms.

This was an important meeting for two reasons. One, the dwarves allowed me to learn a little about the dungeon ahead.  Four rolls on the Periodic Check table saved the party forty minutes of careful searching.  From a campaign perspective, this chance encounter unlocks dwarves in the world, and the friendly reaction result indicates that dwarves in this world are generally a friendly and peaceable sort.  We may even be able to recruit dwarves into the party at some point.

Even without their scout, the party couldn’t be surprised by the next encounter.  Just as a wandering monster check came up positive, the party enters a chamber that has another encounter.  Two quick trips to the rando table reveals TWO parties of NPCs, and a roll on the reaction chart indicates a sense of general uneasiness and hostility in the air.  The party’s two paladins leap into action, getting between the two parties and calling for peace among the men of the Solar Skyfather.  This works thanks to that +30% reaction adjustment and once again the party earns an intel coup that saves them all sorts of time exploring the never-ending halls.

Armed with this fresh knowledge, the blunder about for a bit, before finally stumbling onto 1,000sp stashed behind a loose stone.  None of the three NPC parties encountered so far found it, but maybe they drove off most of the denizens of the dungeon and that’s why it is so quiet down here.

Shortly after that lucky find, the party kicks in the door to a room where three stone containers lay open with piles of platinum in each.  The party makes its way slowly to the containers, and all of the heavy sword swingers pass over a deadly trap without the slightest hint of danger.  The magic-user Ronnie Dio has less luck, plummeting down through a trap door to fall, stunned at zero hp.  They fish him out, grab the platinum, and haul ass out of there.

It only nets them 50-60gp and xp each, but with only two casualties and a lot of mapping done, they can count the session a success.  With a day of rest, they’ll be ready to make another assault on the ruined cloister as early as October 2nd, except for Ronnie Dio who needs another week of bedrest to heal.

But the bigger question is…how do we restock level one?

This ain’t no F2F game.  We can’t just “figure it out”.  We’re going to need to let the dice help us decide how the dungeon changes while we were away.  Does every room get a re-roll for each delve?  That sounds harsh.  Do you check for restock at the start of each month?  That’s gentler, but more predictable.

This will need some thought.