My alter egos have spent much of their time tromping about dungeons in search of fabled artifacts and glorious adventure. It's the setting of some of my fondest imagined memories.
That is, I'm sure, what moved me to try my hand at creating my own miniatures game, Dungeon Delve. The last time I had a chance to play test my home-brew dungeon crawler was March and April 2017 (overview). In the interim I had the chance to play some skirmish games at Historicon and Fall In using a variety of other rules, including the great Ares rule set from 1999, inspiring me to completely revamp my game's core engine, incorporating and blending a variety of mechanics from those other inspiring games. It took much more time than I tricked myself into believing to rework all of the cards (about 160+) and multiple tables (magic items, terrain features, etc.). I spent a month restatting dozens of encounter profiles, trap cards, etc. and then rejiggering quick-reference sheets to mirror the new mechanics. I then, of course, had to reprint everything. I'm still at the stage in this hobby where I'm spending more time in game prep than actual playing (whether it's writing scenarios, making terrain, or statting up warbands), but it's all fun. I'm guessing that eventually I'll have enough backlogged material that I'm happy with that the prep-to-play ratio will invert.
Originally the Second Saturday Scrum Club (our local gaming gang) was going to play Star Wars Armada, but the number of players who could make it to Saturday's game kept fluctuating right up until the last minute, so we decided to go with a play test of Dungeon Delve, which I was more than happy to get on the table after spending so much time re-engineering the whole thing.
Jared, John, Francesco, Walt, and Walt's son Garrett joined me for an evening of friendly fighting across my dining room table.
Dungeon Delve: The Crypt of "Mighty" Lord Thule
|Played by Walt and Garrett|
|Played by Francesco and Joe|
|Played by Jared and John|
The Usual Caveats
All of the photos are by my wife Ellen (barring fewer than a dozen contributed by me and Jared). She enjoys popping into our games for about a half hour at some point in the evening and snapping pics of the miniatures, terrain, and us having a good time. Hopefully you enjoy this glimpse her photos provide into our evening!
Click on any photo to enlarge.
|Took Scratchbottom and Holford Stoutfellow|
|Archimedes the Grey|
|Meet Sophia Irongrip, leader of the infamous Crypt Raiders of Felinore!|
|A corner of the crypt.|
|Oranth the Oblivion-Gazer warming himself by the fire while the damned dance in another room...|
|The Shank Gang!|
|You don't want to know what was at the bottom of that blue pit! But feel free to ask Grouse Shank sometime why he is now blind in one eye after investigating it and see if you get a truthful answer.|
|Whenever a character goes to open a door, there's a chance that it will be locked, or worse, trapped. If the character fails to detect the trap, a card from the "Door Traps" deck gets drawn, like the one above.|
|What's in that fountain? Are you going to go up and check it out?|
|Every team gets a pool of eight pillars at game's start to draw from and place in their opponent's rooms whenever a new one is revealed. The pillars are a way to create some minor obstacles and give cover to monsters that may be in the room.|
|Clem the Monk faces off with the Orc Captain in the doorway. After finding himself at the pointy end of the orc's spear a couple of times, Clem realizes he might be in over his head.|
|Felonious Fist in front of a secret door found when the room was searched.|
|Roughly two-thirds of the map....|
|Walt and Garrett preparing to give me and Francesco a rough time with some orcs we stumbled upon.|
|These bedraggled orcs took shelter in the crypt to get warm and dry off.|
|I created some cube markers for the common conditions that need tracked in the game. In this instance, my monk|
borrowed ("B") an action from his next turn.
|Garrett drawing out the next room on the Chessex mat.|
|The Plot Thickens!|
Major Encounters can start to occur any time after every team has explored at least one room, at which point there is about a 1-in-10 chance (dice willing) of each new room resulting in a Major Encounter.
|Like most cards in the game, the player's opponent receives these encounter cards, reads the pertinent information to the player having the encounter (the top text), but keeps the rest of the details to himself.|
|Unlike the randomly generated rooms, the Major Encounter cards specify a room's size and specific features. This card provides the dimensions, victory points for resolving the challenge, and extra information, like falling into the Hell Pit!|
|Here are the stats for the endless stream of undead that start climbing out of the abyssal pit. Note the infinity symbol where the quantity should appear: These skeletons are going to keep on coming every turn until that pit is closed.|
|Overhead shot of part of the crypt near the end of the evening. We were very close to connecting up various parts of the explored crypt, which would have put our parties of adventurers on track for crossing paths and duking it out.|
|Quietly creeping through the room's bone-littered floors...|
|Tools of the trade.|
|You need a lot of doors of various types (wooden, stone, double, portcullis) ready at hand for this game.|
|The wizard with the unpronounceable name!|
|Part of developing the narrative for the scenario involves discovering "Major Encounter" rooms (there are four total in this scenario). Why are there so many undead revelers on this room's beds?|
|Initiative cards: Every character and monster gets one each turn.|
|(clockwise from top): Walt, John, Jared, Francesco, Joe, and Garrett.|
|I sold 90% of my game collection after my divorce in 2007, but I could never bring myself to part with these, picked up at Throckmorton's in Huber Heights, Ohio in the early 1980s with lawn mowing and birthday money.|
I was glad to get a chance to beta-test Dungeon Delve with the new core rules engine and retrofitted cards. Each new pass at the game refines it a bit more to my liking. My game is really designed for two teams (with maybe up to two players per team), though I had one other time stretched it to three teams (one player per team). Bumping it out to three teams with six players started to stretch the game at its seams, and it occasionally bogged down a bit, especially around combat. I also learned that players tend to get so eager to explore new areas that they often split the party, which I also think slowed the game down a bit. I may redesign the initial rooms each team starts in to reduce the number of exits. Some starting rooms had as many as four doors/archways, tempting folks to send characters off in all directions, which was fun, but with this many players meant a lot more work for everyone.