Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Dyson's Delve, Session #1

L.B. was in for spring break, so I decided to run Dyson's Delve using Swords & Wizardry Whitebox (the Brave Halfling version, which I have in hardback and box). Unfortunately, L.B.'s cousins weren't on spring break, so we be played in the evenings after they got their homework done, and since they had to get up early in time for school the next day we played fairly short sessions.


Clockwise, starting with the Dungeon Master

  • T.K.B. — Dungeon Master

  • E.A. — Emma Lee, a gluttonous guard (fighter) who grew up as a woodsman

  • L.B. — Gloriana, a vain knight errant (fighter) who grew up as a woodsman

  • M.A. — Zoric, a superstitious oracle (cleric) who grew up as a woodsman

  • T.A. — Elric, an superstitious student of ancient lore (elf) who grew up as a street urchin

Character Generation

I decided we'd use Alex Schroeder's Character Generation Shortcuts (which covered Fighters, Clerics, and Wizards) and More Character Generation Shortcuts (which covered Elves, Dwarves, and Halfings) charts to create characters. This sped up character generation, but it also gave the characters customized classes, past experience, character qualities, and background qualities and events from the characters' early years and recent past, and their standard equipment. For example, one of the PCs was Elf, a superstitious student of ancient lore who was originally a street urchin and who had recently committed a shameful deed and had to flee town.

He had a PDF of the former, and I made a quick PDF of the later so I could have a printout for the character generation session.

(Alex later posted a revised PDF with more demihuman backgrounds and a starting spell for the wizard and elf backgrounds.)

I think the subclass approach he used is a great idea - it adds a lot of flavor, without needing any additional rules.

I also decided to use the background as a skill substitute. If the character needed to do something that was covered by their background (for example, a woodsman could track) they could either just do it, or if it was difficult they could make a saving throw, possibly with a bonus.

Anyway, we rolled up characters using Alex's tables and 3d6 for attributes, arranged to taste. I let them have max hitpoints for 1st level, and I decided that cleric spells would start at first level (in S&W Whitebox, like Original D&D and Basic D&D, clerics get their first spell at 2nd level) because the kids tend to rush into things with out thinking them out, so they'd need cure light wounds. I also let them buy some extra equipment beyond what was in Alex's tables.

The kids all really enjoyed the customized classes and the background elements from Alex's tables.


I decided that a merchant wagon train had been attacked by goblins and the merchant had been kidnapped. One of the ox drivers had survived and stumbled into the a nearby town with the stories. The PCs decided to try and rescue him in hopes of a reward. They found the trail of the goblins, and it lead them to a hill topped with ruins. In the ruins they found a hole under a leaning, partially collapsed wall that lead to the steps that lead down to room #4 of Dyson's Delve.

They killed one of the goblins guarding the entrance stairs, but the other goblin got away, alerting the goblins in room #5. The PCs paused briefly to loot the dead goblin, but then ran after the other goblin, into room #5, where they were ambushed by the alerted goblins. Battle raged around the room, and when the boss from room #6 joined in things looked bleak for a while, but they killed off the goblins with only Gloriana still standing. Gloriana dragged everybody to room #6 and locked the door, and there they stayed for a couple of days until people were healed up a bit. They then went to explore more, even though several of them were hurt quite badly. They went back to room #4, and spent some time arguing, until they were attacked by giant rats. After that they spent more time in room #6.

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