An Example Dungeon

Example Dungeon Key

A band of marauding orcs have been sporadically attacking merchant wagons in this area for two months, and the local authorities have hired the party to track down and deal with the creatures once and for all.

Based on the range of the attacks and the local terrain, the orcs are believed to be based somewhere in the nearby foothills. The hills are dotted with mostly uncharted caverns and crevices that are home to creatures of all sorts.

After days of searching and tracking, the party has traced the orcs to a small cave at the southern end of the foothills. A small stream flows into the cave and there is much evidence of foot traffic going in and out.

The party will find the stream is initially shallow and follows the depths of the cave deeper into the hills. As it travels downward, the cave narrows into a tight passageway roughly four ft wide and seven ft in height. Ninety ft in, the stream becomes about three ft in depth and flows through Room 1.

Map Key

  1. Guard Cave: The stream continues through this area and flows out through a smaller tunnel to the north. Attempts to follow the stream will be difficult, if not impossible, as the tunnel rapidly narrows until it is filled by the rushing water.

    This cave is occupied by 6 orcs (hp 6, 6, 5, 5, 3, 3) each armed with spears and hand axes. Unless the party takes extreme caution, any entrance through the stream tunnel will cause ripples thus alerting the guards. They will attempt to surprise and attack the first PC to enter by hurling hand axes and then attacking with spear thrusts. Each guard carries 2d6 sp and 2d8 cp on him. This room is occupied with sleeping skins, food of the most terrible sort, and water skins. A crude playing table is covered with a pair of knuckle bone dice, 24 sp and 7 gp.

  2. Common Sleeping Area: All orcs live here unless occupied elsewhere. Enough sleeping skins and cots are present for the entire contingent. A central fireplace creates a smoky atmosphere. This common area is filled with long rough tables, captured tapestries (4 worth 50 gp each; the rest are worthless), assorted silverware and other utensils worth a total of 250 gp, and the stuffed and mounted head of a manticore (the orc leader claims to have slain the creature single-handedly; in actuality he found it already dead from old age and took the head as a trophy... the astute PC will notice the head has no teeth).

    12 orcs (hp 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, and 4) stay here when not on duty in the GUARD CAVE or needed elsewhere. Of these, ten wear leather armour. Six are armed with spears and hand axes, four are armed with short swords and spears, and the two orcs with 8 hp are armed with broad swords and wearing chainmail armour and carry shields. The two toughest orcs keep on their persons 3d20 gp and 4d8 sp each. The remainder possess 2d6 gp and 2d20 cp each.

  3. Arsenal: Assorted arms captured on raids and not used by the orcs will be stacked in here. The inventory is as follows: 1 stack of 25 spears, 1 pile of 6 daggers, 1 pile of 5 short bows, 2 piles of 5 quivers each (one pile has all quivers fully filled; the second pile has quivers in various states of capacity), 1 stack of 8 short swords, and 1 stack of 5 halberds.
  4. Dog Kennel: The orcs keep 4 war dogs (hp 6, 5, 5, 5) here behind a crude wooden fence, and will retrieve them if any invading force totals four or more. Various bones, both animal and sapient, can be found scattered through this den, but there is nothing of value to be found.
  5. Goods Storage: the orcs keep in this cave all the assorted goods taken during raids. If the party has time, a thorough perusal of the contents will reveal: 3 barrels of oil, 200 lbs of various cloths in bolt form (worth 50 gp total), 30 various iron pots and pans, 14 books on various themes (none magical), 1500 lbs of lumber cut in various sizes and shapes, 1 keg of large nails, and 4 mounted animal heads (2 large deer, an ogre, and a Pegasus).


Sample Play Session

Background: A party of stalwart adventurers, consisting of Hogarth, human fighter and party caller (player: Bob), Alice, human magic user (player: Mary), Friar Chuck, human cleric (player: Chuck), Groin, dwarf fighter (player: Jason), Floppinjay, elf thief (player: Eric), and Hap, normal man mule-tender (NPC). They are searching for a way down to the ancient ruins of the Temple of the Serpent-Men, long sought and thought by most sensible folk to be only a legend until a recent earthquake opened a deep crevasse and turned up some unusual objects of unmistakably ancient origin.

GM: After a couple hours searching through the foothills and scrubland to the south and west of the crevasse you've come across something interesting—a small cave-entrance with a shallow stream flowing into it and evidence of foot traffic going both in and out. The cave entrance is approximately 100 yards west of the crevasse where the ruins are. It’s now about noon.

Bob: Can we tell anything about the tracks—what made them? How many individuals? Do the tracks appear fresh?

GM: Whatever made the tracks was about man-sized and wearing shoes or boots. You’re pretty sure there were multiple individuals, not just one person going repeatedly in and out, and most of the tracks appear fairly fresh. You can't really tell anything beyond that without a ranger or other woodsman-type.

Bob: Okay, the elf will go down into the cave and scout it out.

Eric: Why me?

Bob: Because you’re a thief so you’re sneaky and less likely to get surprised by any monsters that might be lurking down there, and you’re an elf so you can see in the dark.

Eric: Okay, then, I do what he says—cautiously enter the cave with my sling out, making sure not to step in the stream. What do I see?

GM: The cave-entrance is about 10 ft wide and 8 ft high and descends gently as it winds to the north and east. About 30 ft in it turns to the east so you can't see beyond that from where you’re standing. It appears to grow narrower as it goes deeper, so if you’re going to keep following it, eventually you’re going to have to be standing in the stream.

Eric: Do I hear anything?

GM: [rolls] Just the sound of water dripping and splashing on the rocks.

Eric: I’ll cautiously move up to the eastward turn and look in that direction—what do I see?

GM: Beyond the curve the passage keeps descending and narrowing, and winding in a northeasterly direction. You can see about 40 ft farther, by which point the passage has narrowed to about 4 ft wide and 7 ft tall, filled entirely by the stream.

Eric: Okay, from where I’m standing I poke into the stream with my short-sword. How deep is it? How swiftly is it moving?

GM: it’s not deep, only a foot or two. It’s not moving very quickly either, though a bit faster here than at the surface, and it looks to be moving a bit quicker up ahead too. You’d have no trouble standing upright in the middle of it. The water is cool and a little muddy, but fresh.

Eric: Can I hear anything here?

GM: Same as before.

Eric: Okay, I go back and report all this to the rest of the party.

Bob: Right on. So as we head in we’ll have the elf in front, the dwarf second, me in third, Alice fourth with a torch, then the NPC and the mule…

GM: Hap says, “I’m not going in there, and neither is Tom!”

Jason: Who’s Tom?

Chuck: I think that’s the mule.

GM: [as Hap] Right. we’ll wait for you right here until an hour before sunset, then we’re heading back to the village whether you come back or not.

Mary: But that’s not the agreement we made…

GM: [as Hap] I just agreed that Tom and I would come with you to look for these ruins and haul back whatever treasure you find. I never said nothin’ about following you down into holes in the ground after who-knows-what.

Bob: Will you come with us if we pay you an extra gold piece?

GM: [rolls reaction die] No.

Chuck: can’t we just force him to come with us at swordpoint and tell him we’ll kill him if he doesn’t?

GM: what’s your alignment again, Friar Chuck?

Chuck: Lawful good. Why?


Chuck: Oh. Never mind.

Bob: Alright then, the NPC and the mule stay behind. Marching order as before, with the cleric bringing up the rear. The elf has his sling out, the dwarf his crossbow, I’ve got my spear, Alice is holding the torch, and the cleric has his hammer and shield. Everybody agree?

All but GM: Yup.

GM: So, as I described before, the passage winds north and slopes down for 10, 20, 30 ft, turns to the east and narrows, then continues winding northeast and narrowing for another 10, 20, 30, 40 ft. By this point the passage is 4 ft wide and 7 ft high and you’re all standing in the stream, which is about 2 ft deep.

Jason: How deep underground are we?

GM: [rolls] Not too far, maybe 15 ft.

Bob: We continue forward.

GM: Alright. The passage goes east for 10, 20 ft, and curves to the northeast. The slope levels a bit here, the depth of the stream increases to about 3 ft, and the current slows a bit. Over the next 30 ft the passage widens slightly and about 30 ft farther ahead from where you are now the passage appears to widen out into a cavern.

Bob: Okay, we proceed forward cautiously, still in single file. Does the elf hear anything?

GM: knows there are orcs in the cave ahead, but because the orcs are alerted to the party’s approach both by the light from their torch and the disturbance their passage is making in the stream, they’re being quiet as they set their ambush for the party. Nonetheless, he decides, on a roll of 01-05 he might hear something unusual [rolls (79)] Same as before. Splashing and dripping water; nothing more. As you move forward 10, 20, 30 ft the passage opens out into a wider cavern—bigger than the radius of your torchlight. You’re entering via the southwest corner. The stream continues northward through the middle of the cavern. Give me a surprise roll.

Bob: [rolls] 2

All but GM: *Groan*

GM: Okay, as you file into the cavern you’re caught unawares for 2 segments…

Eric: I’ve got a 16 dex!

GM: Right, so Floppinjay is caught for 1 segment and everybody else for 2 segments by a half-dozen brownish-green fellows with bristly black hair and pink pig-snouts. They’re currently [rolls] 30 ft away to your right (the east), charging at you and hurling hand axes as they come. Segment 1, they charge 18 ft. Segment 2, they charge the remaining 12 ft, hurl their axes, and pull out spears. Only the first 3 of you are open targets, and only Hogarth and Groin can be hit. [Rolls] 4 attacks on the dwarf, 2 on the fighter. [Rolls] No hits on the fighter, 3 on the dwarf. [Rolls] 7 points total damage. 2 orcs on each of the dwarf, elf, and fighter. Actions for round one.

Bob: Attack one of the orcs on me with my spear.

Eric: Fighting retreat in a northerly direction.

Jason: Drop my crossbow, pull out my axe and attack.

Chuck: Can I move forward into the room?

GM: No, Alice is blocking your way.

Chuck: Right-o, then. I’ll wait for her to clear the way…

Mary: Do we see or hear any orcs besides these 6?

GM: No.

Mary: Then I’ll drop my sleep spell right in the middle of the crowd.

GM: OK, initiative. Beat a [rolls] 2.

Bob: [rolls] 1. Crap!

GM: The 2 orcs on Floppinjay follow him north and attack [roll] 1 miss, 1 hit. [rolls] 3 damage.

Eric: Aiee!

GM: 2 attacks on Hogarth [rolls] miss, miss. 2 attacks on Groin [rolls] miss, hit. [rolls] 5 damage.

Jason: I’m down, -3 hit points.

GM: you’re not dead but you’re unconscious and bleeding. You’re also underwater…

Jason: *Gurgle, gurgle*

GM: Bob, you’re up.

Bob: Attacking the orc on the left. [rolls] 10.

GM: that’s a miss…

Mary: I step forward so Chuck can squeeze by and get to Jason. Then I cast my spell.

GM: [rolls] The 4 orcs who were attacking Hogarth and Groin are all affected, and so is Hogarth. Floppinjay and the 2 orcs who were on him are out of the area of effect.

Mary: Good going…

Eric: Sorry.

Chuck: Can I get to Jason’s body?

GM: Yeah, you’re able to drag him onto shore on the west side of the stream. Actions for next round?

Jason: I bleed.

Bob: I snore, and inhale water, I suppose.

Mary: I wake up Hogarth.

Chuck: I administer a cure light wounds to Jason.

Eric: I suppose I need to fight these guys alone? I drop my sling and get out my short sword to attack.

GM: Initiative. [rolls] Eric, beat a 3.

Eric: [rolls] Boo-ya! 4! Attacking the one on my right [rolls] 14.

GM: Near miss. The blow catches on his shield.

Eric: These guys have shields?

GM: Yep. Studded leather armour and shields. Armed with spears. [Considers morale of the orcs–they’ve lost more than 50% of their party. The GM assigns +15% for this; +another 40% for the 4 allies down, -20% for the 2 PCs down; additional ad hoc -25% because they’re fighting an elf and have him outnumbered 2:1. Total modifier +10%; rolls 54 = the orcs will disengage and retreat]. The 2 orcs disengage and retreat towards a passage in the southeast corner of the cave.

Eric: Can we chase them?

GM: Sure, next round. they’ve got a 30 ft head-start, and are 10 ft from the exit at the end of this round. Chuck’s spell goes off and Jason gets [rolls] 8 hit points back. You’re still unconscious, though, because you went below zero. Mary wakes Bob up and he spits out some water. The 4 orcs are still asleep but it looks like the choking from inhaling the water is going to wake them up next round. Actions?

Bob, Mary, and Chuck: Finish off the sleeping orcs before they wake up.

Eric: So we’re not gonna chase those two that ran away? OK, I finish off the other sleeping orc.

GM: Done. As the two orcs flee out of the room you hear one of them calling out in orcish something that sounds like “unleash the Dogs of War.” Now what?

Mary: We look around the room. What do we see? How big is it?

GM: The cave is irregularly-shaped, approximately 50 ft wide east-west by 90 ft long north-south. The stream enters via the southwest corner and exits in the middle of the north wall. There are 5 ft wide passages out of the northeast and northwest corners, both going roughly east. The 2 orcs fled down the southeast passage. The ceiling is about 15 ft high in the centre of the cavern, about 8 ft high on the two passages, much lower on the stream going north. West of the stream there’s nothing but dirt and rocks. On the east side there are piles of sleeping skins, vile looking foodstuffs, waterskins, and a crude table that appears to have a pair of dice and some coins on it.

Eric: I check out the table. What type and how many coins are there? Is there anything else on the table?

Mary: I use my staff to sort through the piles of bedrolls and food. Do I find anything interesting or unusual?

Bob: Chuck and I pull the orc bodies onto the west shore of the stream and examine them. Do any of them have any jewellery or unusual accoutrements? Does any of them look like a leader-type?

GM: There are about 2 dozen silver and 7 gold coins on the table. Aside from the dice there’s nothing else there. You find a few copper and silver coins but nothing else of interest in the bedding. None of the orcs appears to be a leader-type; none of them has any treasure or unusual item aside from a few more copper and silver coins. You hear voices down the southeast passage – they’re speaking in orcish and it sounds like way more than two of them.

Bob: Alright, let’s gather up the silver and gold coins and the dice I suppose, and beat a retreat back to the surface. Chuck and I will carry Groin’s body, Alice will light the way with the torch and Floppinjay will bring up the rear. I assume it’s still daylight outside?

GM: it’s been, like, half an hour tops.

Bob: Right, so these orcs probably won’t try to pursue us into daylight.

Eric: Hold up, I’m not leaving yet. I dump out my two oil flasks by the southeast passage and want to set up a trip-wire with an ember to ignite the pool when someone crosses it. Can I do that?

GM: Sure, you've got the same chance to set a trap as you do to disarm one.

Bob: What are you doing? Come on!

Eric: I want to give these guys something to remember us by.

Bob: Whatever, the rest of us aren’t waiting. Catch up when you’re done…

Eric: Okay, so I’m setting the trap. What do I need to roll?

GM: Well, first, give me a d6 roll.

Eric: Umm, why?

GM: For surprise…

Eric: [rolls] 5! Ha!

GM: You turn to see 4 large dogs bearing down on you from the northeast passage. They’re currently 80 ft away and charging.

Mary: I guess those are the “dogs of war,” eh? I figured that was just a code-phrase, like “Hey, Rube”…

GM: Nobody but Eric is in the room. Initiative? [rolls] Beat a 6.

Eric: [rolls] 5, +1 for my Dex because I’m using a missile. So 6, tie!

GM: You can get a shot off before they reach you, then.

Eric: [rolls] Attacking dog #2; [rolls] 15 +1 for Dex = 16. that’s got to be a hit!

GM: Yep.

Eric: [rolls] 3 points damage.

GM: Dog #2 whimpers and holds up, but the other 3 continue their charge and leap to attack, attempting to drag you down. You’re bigger than them so you get a +4 defence bonus, but there’s 3 of them, so they get +2 attack on their attack, meaning they need 14 or better to knock you down. [Rolls] 18—down you go! Action for next round?

Eric: I’m going to stand back up and pull out my short sword.

GM: And the dogs, all 4 of them, will try to hold you down. Initiative: beat a [rolls] 6-1 = 5!

Eric: [rolls] 5! Tied again!

GM: we’ll say you’re on your knees by the time the dogs attack. So they get +2 for that, +6 because there’s 4 of them attacking, and you lose your Dex bonus [rolls] 3 + 8 = 11; that’s enough—they’ve got you held.

Eric: So what can I do now?

GM: You can try to break free next round by making a Bend Bars roll.

Eric: Guess that’s what I’ll do then. [Rolls] 18.

GM: Nope. The dogs still have you held. You get one more chance to break free…

Eric: [rolls] 64. Nope.

GM: …before a group of 8 orcs including 2 leader-types in chain-mail and carrying broadswords enter via the southeast passage and see you lying there. “Ha ha, look what the mutts dragged down!”

Eric: I surrender!

Mary: Umm, Don’t orcs normally refuse to take elves as prisoners?

GM: ’fraid so…

Eric: Blerg.