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Last time I wrote about Dungeon World, it was all about Fail. I want to write about my current Dungeon World campaign and how I’m using the Dungeon World toolbox these days.

Last Fall, I got the idea to run an open table game at the game store, but the players latched on and we took the game to the dining area at our local Wegmans, where we have met up just about every fortnight. We just had Session 16 on Saturday, which seems like the most dramatic and emotionally riveting episode yet. First, I’d like to introduce some of the characters, then I’ll explain what happened in the fiction. Next time, I’ll talk about how that arose out of my prep, the players, and the mechanics of the Dungeon World system.

Characters

This week we had Axl, Bella, Vivia, and Phoebe playing Arg the Troll, Lur the Barbarian, Wei the Druid, and Ghanna the Ranger, respectively.

Arg is Axl’s second character, which he took up in Session 13 because his primary character was indisposed. Arg is a Fighter, using the “Towering Brutes” playbook from Number Appearing [PDF]. Since he was from the region of Wei’s homeland, we established a little bit of history and rapport between them. That’s probably all you need to know to follow the action.

Lur is not just any Barbarian. In her second session, Bella noticed she hadn’t picked a race, and we established that she was a “dark elf”—definitely a strange sight in the Spine Hills, beyond the frontier of the Chthonic Imperium. This fact had significant consequences for the Campaign Front, and for the events in this session.

Lur also adopted a 7-year-old girl she found in a razed neanderthal village high in the mountains in Session 8. She didn’t share a language with the girl, so she took to calling the child “Raven”. This gave her access to the Modorwulf compendium class when she dedicated the child to her tribe’s savage god. As a result, she always knows the direction and distance to Raven, and can attack with frenzy anyone who stands between her and her “cub”.

And when Lur encountered her own people for the first time, she gained heritage moves of the Shroud Elves: seeing in darkness, and invoking Shroud Elf magic. She needs only to rest in the Shroud to invoke the rights of her blood.

Vivia only started playing with us in Session 13, so Wei’s career isn’t as storied as Lur’s or Ghanna’s. She was a member of the Druids of Dain, and a guardian of the Iron Tower of Phesh-A’tri. That tower collapsed in Session 12, in events closely related to the party, and Session 13 brought her into contact with them. Those events are too involved to go into here.

Ghanna is the longest-running character in the campaign, a Ranger from the desert on another planet. She has a hawk named “Steve”, an orkish bow, and she bears the Holy Cross of Saint Crucian. Because she struck down a bounty hunter sent from Death’s domain, she gained our Hunter of Hunters compendium class, which gives her special abilities to sense, track, and fight the undead and Death’s agents. And when she swore fealty to Saint Crucian’s cross, she gained the Crusader compendium class, which lets her unlock the relic’s powers against Hornéd Fiends and their spawn.

Sugar the elfin Bard looms large over the events in this session, despite being elsewhere. Sugar was Axl’s primary character, who joined the game in Session 2. He was involved in a ritual to seal the rift between 2 planets, but he wound up on the wrong side. He cheated death so many times that Death started to take notice.

Sugar also had some dealings with a witch, which gave him access to two compendium classes. In their first encounter during Session 5, they made a pact which gave him horns and access to the Goatkin moves. Death was hot on his heals when they met again in Session 9, and the witch offered to hide his heart into the roots of the world, so that Death could not take him. This transformed him into the Heartless Troubadour, and Death was none too pleased.

Setup

After a quick recap, we started with a flashback. Lur was a little girl, about the same age as Raven, and she went on a hunting trip in the frozen northern sea with Jurek, a mohawk-wearing warrior from the Spine Hills. They were tracking the Mirror Seal, so named because its hide can be treated to reflect like a mirror, and Lur was armed only with a harpoon and her furs.

Unknown to them, a mother seal was tracking them to keep her pups safe. Lur saw Jurek disappear thrashing beneath the water, and Lur saved him by killing the seal with her harpoon.

Years later, Lur saw Jurek’s lifeless body on the beach of Narushe just before she was swarmed by the orks who killed him. Now, she was on the Mawbreaker, an Imperial Destroyer crewed by orks of the same navy. The Mawbreaker’s orkish security officer Bulag reminded her of Jurek: He wore a “mohawk” of metal spikes, and like Jurek, he had a tick of clenching his left fist when trying to conceal his stress.

Lur isn’t the only one haunted by her past. Being on the Mawbreaker, Arg remembered deserting the Imperial Shock Infantry when he was stationed not far from here in Slaveport. That’s where they were headed now to resupply before leaving port for Kobolstadt, the imperial capital. Will anyone recognize him?

He left Slaveport because they wouldn’t let him eat the slaves. But to keep out of the way of the Empire, he settled under a bridge beyond the frontier, and out there travelers were few, and his appetite was left unsated. By then he found the bone of an ancient beast which he fashioned into a signature weapon. And with that he could hunt larger prey, like the Scaly Dire Hippo.

Wei, meanwhile, was recalling her ally Sinon, who left the Druids of Dain. The others scattered even before that. Sinon is dead now—what about the others? As she left her mountainous homeland for the first time, she pondered that she might be the very last issue of the Druids of Dain.

Ghanna was taking note of the Mawbreaker’s armaments. Besides the canons below deck, she noticed another weird ranged weapon on deck, and an ork showed her how it works. Powered by a two-seater stationary bicycle, it was designed to shoot a hull-piercing hook at smaller vessels to seize and tow them.

Action!

Lur was sipping steaming ciaccolatl by herself in the captain’s quarters. The captain was a Shroud Elf, nurtured by darkness, and she kept a shroud lamp bubbling in her quarters at all times, casting a pall of inky darkness over the scene. Suddenly, two yellow eyes appeared in the gloom, and Lur beckoned him to step forward.

It was a bodach, a boogeyman, a type of goblin common in the Imperial Capital. “I heard the rumors that the Empress was aboard, but I had to see you for myself,” he said. “Tell me: Are you really out of your mind.”

“I am when I want to be,” Lur replied.

Looking into her eyes, he said “I don’t think you’re out of your mind at all. And I don’t think you’re really the Empress.”

“That’s because you’re smart. Who are you?”

“Forgive me,” he said, bowing. “I’m Sly.”

She started asking another question, but Sly interrupted: “I’m not supposed to be here, and I’ll be in big trouble if I get caught. I better go.”

“I like you,” said Lur, smiling heartily.

“Thank you,” Sly bowed again. “Your Imperial Majesty!” With that, he turned and vanished into the inky pall. But Lur screwed up her eyes to peer into the Shroud, and saw him open a bodach-door in the wall and step in.

She knocked on the door immediately. He opened, and she could see the bolt-hole went right through the wall into another shadow, but such doors can only be used by bodachs.

“Will I see you again?” Lur asked.

“I’m sure we’ll meet again soon,” said Sly. His ears pricked up, and they heard footsteps approaching. “I better go,” he said, pulling the door shut again.

Suddenly, there was some alarm on the main deck. Orks were motioning toward a patch of sea that had turned black and began to bubble and boil. It reminded Arg of a time he saw a volcano erupting under the sea, but this was different somehow.

The boiling began to belch out great bubbles of gas and a foul wind picked up. The picture was like a sandcastle blowing away, only in reverse: black sand was blowing toward the bubbling waves, and massive twisted iron beams began to take shape. A shattered black hull formed before them, on the same scale as the Mawbreaker, and spectral flame pulsed along the seams, welding it together—not anew, but whole at least. The phantom destroyer surged upright out of the ocean and righted itself on the waves.

The captain Snezhana strode out on deck, leaning over the bulwark. “Is that… the Flameghoul?!”

The Flameghoul was the Mawbreaker’s sister ship. This party last saw it in Session 12. Sugar had surrendered to a Shroud Elf commander, boarded the destroyer, and the ship imploded shortly after that, sending a burst of hellfire across the harbor.

Now the Flameghoul was sidling up to the Mawbreaker’s port. And as it drew near, at least a hundred skeletons appeared on it’s deck. The entire party was on deck now, but at every go they looked on with awe at this spectacle.

On the deck of the Flameghoul, there was a red-cloaked figure. As they ship steadied beside the Mawbreaker, she held a large megaphone to her mouth and called out for Captain Snezhana by name.

“I am Fayrin, an agent of Imperial Crown Intelligence.” She paused, while that sunk in. “But I have found a higher call. I come to you seeking a goat-man and falconer. Surrender them to me, and I will leave you in peace.”

The captain looked to Ghanna who stood nearby on the bridge, as if asking for her testimony. Ghanna answered only by knocking an arrow and—over the captain’s protest—firing it at the red-cloaked figure. There would be no surrender, and no parley with Death’s agents!

Fayrin brought down her hand as a signal, and the Flameghoul’s cannons fired at close range. Immediately, skeletons launched grappling hooks over to the Mawbreaker. Ghanna’s keen eyes caught sight of a black key hanging on a chain from Fayrin’s neck. But while she knocked another arrow, Fayrin’s pistol fired, hitting Ghanna in the hip.

Wei called upon the spirits to turn her into an eagle. Soaring high above the Flameghoul, she spotted the key too, and knew it would be useful. She turned a spiral over the destroyer, studying it closely.

Skeletons began climbing across their lines to the Mawbreaker, armed with pickaxes hanging from their bodies by leather thongs. But Lur swung her body onto one line, defying danger to knock the oncoming enemies into the surging sea with her sword as she crossed.

Arg positioned himself between two grapples, knocking a dozen or so skeletons off their lines with the reach of his bonehammer. When he saw Lur reach the Flameghoul’s bulwark, the security officer Bulag shouted “Your Majesty!”, and climbed upside-down across the same line as quickly as he could.

“Raven!” Lur and Ghanna made momentary eye contact and realized at the same time that the girl was still in the captain’s quarters. The Flameghoul’s cannons fired again and the Mawbreaker began taking on water. Orks rushed out of the lower decks to repel the skeletons swarming the main deck, but Ghanna rushed back to find Raven.

Arg was surrounded by skeletons now, and Wei landed nearby, returning to her human form. Arg kept them back in mighty sweeps of his bonehammer, but Wei fell under the tide of blows from their pickaxes.

The Mawbreaker began to noticeably tilt.

Ghanna crossed the bridge holding Raven on her back. She noticed two orks frantically pedaling the contraption she spotted before, and fire it’s hook into the Flameghoul. She let fly another arrow at Fayrin again, but her shot disappeared into the billowing cloak. Looking for a higher vantage point, she saw the smokestacks belching out a black cloud and decided to seek some other avenue. Suddenly she felt her leg give out, followed by the echoes of a pistolshot from across the waves.

On the Flameghoul, Lur and Bulag were now surrounded by skeletons, fighting back to back like comrades, and slowly winnowing their enemies. The orks began to gain ground against skeletons invading the Mawbreaker, but Arg saw a skeleton brain an ork, splitting the warrior’s skull with a pickaxe. The ork howled, but straightened himself and kept fighting despite the shower of blood spraying out of his wound. Arg knocked the skeletons away from Wei and leapt onto the deck of the Flameghoul with Wei under his arm.

Gritting her teeth and getting upright despite the pain, Ghanna looked down at the main deck, seeing orks literally hacking each other to pieces in pitched battle over the lifeboats. But somehow, despite mortal injuries, they kept fighting. She turned to the captain and asked, “What are you doing about this?”

The captain opened her mouth and put her pistol in it. Ghanna told her to stop, but she dismissed the urge to wrestle the gun away. There was a shot, and the captain fell.

Lur and Bulag kept shattering their foes. Lur knocked a skeleton back and it fell onto another, getting their ribs interlaced like a tangled slinky. Lur took advantage of the opening to dash toward the ship’s helm.

The Mawbreaker began to tip to the port side. Its deck was at least 10 feet below the Flameghoul’s now.

Bulag was surrounded, and now he took a bad hit. Looking back, Lur’s wolf-mother instincts woke within her, and she slashed through the skeletons in frenzy.

Fayrin drew another pistol and pointed it at Wei. Arg leapt to her defense. Ghanna took advantage of Fayrin’s distraction to fly another arrow, this time perfectly aimed. It was a killing shot.

As Fayrin fell, her pistol dropped from her hand and her fingers wrapped around the black key. Where she fell, she vanished in a pool of bubbling red vapor—key and all.

Then there was the sound of squealing metal. The Flameghoul’s seams began to erupt with spectral fire.

Arg jumped into the water. The skeletons began crumbling around Lur and Bulag. Then the deck started peeling off in twisted sheets of steel perforated by flame.

Lur and Bulag dove. When they got their heads above water, Lur laughed. But then something pulled Bulag under. Lur dove again, grabbing Bulag by the arm. He fought her off, shaking his head, while bubbles erupted from his mouth and nostrils.

Then Lur made out the rope wrapped around Bulag’s leg—it was one of the grapple lines, still attached to a hulking piece of steel. She got down to the rope and cut it, and saw that piece of the Flameghoul’s hull plunge into murky depths.

She got Bulag’s head above water, and water rushed out of his mouth as he choked and sputtered.

The Flameghoul started going down rapidly, and the Mawbreaker’s towline was taking it into the Flameghoul’s grave. The cannons fired a third time, but most of their shots went wild.

Ghanna looked up to the starboard side, and judged it too steep to run while carrying the girl, with her injuries. Toward the Flameghoul, the water was boiling again. She decided to risk it.
Plunging into the searing sea, she escaped with superficial burns covering most of her body. But Raven—

Raven boiled.

The deck buckled and collapsed under Wei, and she called upon her spirits again for aid. As the hull of the ship began closing in around her, they did not fail her. Shapeshifting again into an eagle, the updraft created by the inferno shot her high above the hellish scene.

Under the water, Arg saw the Flameghoul disintegrate into fire and black sand.

About an hour, or an hour and a half later, dusk was closing in while they survivors of the Mawbreaker dragged their battered bodies and lifeboats onto the beach.

A campfire was lit, and Lur held Raven, trying to comfort her.

Because Raven couldn’t stop screaming. Her body was cold, there was no breath or pulse, but she couldn’t stop screaming. Bulag stood guard as shattered ork bodies gathered around the crying girl.

Lur called upon her Shroud Elf magic to heal the girl, and she calmed down a little. Raven was still blubbering, with a terrified expression, but Ghanna made out the words “B-b-bl-bl-black G-g-g-g-g-gate! Bl-bl-black g-g-gate!”

Ghanna pulled her hood low over her eyes, in order to examine the touch of Death.

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We’ve had some more playtests and I’m still making steady progress on the typescript. Though I didn’t get anything new online this week, I wanted to post a comment here to spell out some of the design goals that keep motivating me to work on this.

Recapture the compact simplicity of the original Phoenix fantasy RPG.
This especially includes three simple character types, making monsters with a single rating, consequential luck rolls with exploding doubles, and dramatic combat resolution where bunches of dice hit the deck from both sides at once—among other features.
Unpack and embrace the weird implications of the original game.
Like taming monsters and berserk combat as primary features of play. Or your Luck score mitigating missile damage. Or the idea of Strength as both physical vigor AND the inward mettle that magic relies on. And vitally, the idea of ability scores that encompass all of a delver’s skill and training—no separate skill list required!
Use smaller numbers and simpler operations across the board.
The original game routinely requires addition and subtraction of 2- and 3-digit figures for basic conflict resolution, and the latest iteration adds even more dice and more and bigger numbers, with more complex operations in some common cases.
Finally, I aim to make it as easy as possible to pick up and play your first session.
What I’m hoping to accomplish will be a game more elaborate than World of Dungeons or Risus (itself inspired by T&T), without sprawling into the expanse of games like Swords & Wizardry Core, LotFP Weird Fantasy, or Dungeon World.

That last item is what I wanted to talk about tonight.

When I started playing Tunnels & Trolls at the dawn of 2010, one of the things that got me jazzed about the game (apart from the endorsement of Ron Edwards) was the sheer simplicity of the game. After buying my first T&T rulebook, we actually got our game started using the free Abridged Solo Rules while waiting for the book to arrive:

Later, I read a post by Erik Tenkar (or two) backing up our experience: The abridged rules in the Corgi pocket solos really are enough to run the essential game.

Soon, I picked up a bunch of other T&T products, and before long I ordered a copy of the classic 1979 5th edition rules from Flying Buffalo before they ran out. One cool feature of the 1979 rulebook is that everything you need to play your first session is covered in just 33 pages: from 1.2 “The Basic Game” to 2.14 “Character Levels”, plus the Level 1 Spells on page 2.22.2.

The rest of the book is awesome, and you can peruse it at your leisure, after sampling the ruckus of your first game, and dreaming about how to extrapolate and build on what happened already. But you can jump in with both feet in just 33 pages!

Alas, the 5th edition is no longer available. The creative team behind classic T&T has published an all-new game in its stead. There’s a lot to love about the Deluxe rulebook that I backed, and bringing together all that classic T&T art in one volume is an indulgence worth every penny by itself. But one thing that Deluxe T&T doesn’t do is “concise”.

In Deluxe, the “Core Rules” span 155 pages, including much that was formerly relegated to appendices, or not part of the game at all. As an example, the equipment section now covers 31 pages, including elaborate rules for crafting custom weapons.

In Twisted Tunnels, I plan to split the rulebook into two divisions: Part I will be “Basic Dungeon Demolition”, focused explicitly on what you need to run your first session. And Part II will cover “Elaborations”, very useful content that expands on the basics to create a widening spiral of play.

The entire product ought to weigh in at no more than 64 pages, maybe even as small as 32. The current typescript covers most of the content in just 38 pages, but that includes a lot of personal comments that will be removed. It also doesn’t account for any art or layout I might add.

In 2013, Ken St. Andre wrote: “I didn’t invent fantasy roleplaying, but I did simplify it”, and that simplicity is my central motivation of developing Twisted Tunnels as my own tribute to the original. And in working toward simplicity, I think I’ve discovered an original interpretation that does its own thing.

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There are two types in the Twisted Tunnels: allies and monsters. “Monster” is the catch-all term for any creature you and your allies encounter.

Troll? Monster. Animated skeleton? Monster. Evil sorcerer? Monster. Rival adventurers? Monsters. Unless, that is, they got the drop on you: Then you better hope they are allies! If you want “non-player characters”, go find a game for ninnies and literature professors.

Monsters are almost never as detailed in their game ratings as the delvers. In most cases, all you need is a Monster Rating (MR), which represents the monster’s morale, ferocity, strength, and how much damage it can take in battle.

Monster Rating (MR)
Monsters get Combat dice equal to their MR, and their MR counts as their CON for purposes of taking hits.
Other than that, Monster Ratings work just like a delver’s ability ratings, and you can use a Monster Rating for anything the monster might be good at.
Sore and beat
When a monster has taken half it’s original MR in hits, it is sore. Once it takes hits equal to its original MR, it is beat. These can provide a useful tempo for the battle, giving you cues to change tactics, trigger a special ability, retreat, or even surrender.
Injured monsters usually recover their Monster Rating at 1 point per turn, when they can rest.

Spawning monsters

TTYF isn’t a safari. Delvers never know what terrors they might face in the bowels of the abyss when their torches burn low. We don’t know what lurks and slithers in your imagination, and we urge the referee to spawn each and every monster from her own demented designs.

As soon as you have a mental picture of your monster, give it a rating from 1 to 99 that describes how tough it is. Then decide what language it can speak, if any, and what it needs. You may give monsters any traits or powers you wish, without tying them to ratings.

Usually a Monster Rating spiked with a grisly imagination is all you need to churn out one rip-roaring encounter after another on game night. If your imagination is feeble, bone up on some weird tales, adventure fiction, comics, and action movies. The first rule of creating monsters is have fun; if it seems like work, you’re breaking the first rule.

Here are some possibilities if you have a cool idea and aren’t sure how to translate it into a monster for TTYF:

The monster is super fast, strong, huge, or armored.
These features can all be covered by jacking up its Monster Rating, and describing it vividly. The extra endurance and Combat dice might represent anything that helps the monster hit harder, or faster, or avoid damage, and it’s up to you to bring it to life in your description.
Likewise, if the monster is slow, weak, tiny, or squishy, just decrease its MR.
The monster is impervious to some kinds of attack.
Suppose your fire ifrit can’t be harmed by flame, your vaporous ghosties can’t be hit by physical weapons, or your adamantium robot can only take hits if they target its atomic eye lasers. Just describe how the inappropriate attacks bounce off harmlessly and move on. The delvers won’t roll attack dice for the harmless actions, but it might leave them flat-footed against the monster’s attack.
If the monster isn’t quite impervious and you yearn for more accounting, you could subtract or divide the damage by a constant factor every time they hit it with an attack the monster can resist.
The monster has a weakness.
Some monsters will be completely defenseless against certain exploits. Your vampires might be arithnomaniacs who are immobilized by counting when you throw seeds at them. Your dog-men might be instantly “sore” if someone blows a dog whistle. Your Ancient Spirits of Evil might be immediately banished if someone speaks their true names aloud. You don’t need any ratings to handle stuff like this—just describe it when it happens.
If you crave more bookkeeping and the weakness isn’t that dramatic, you could add a damage bonus or multiply the hits every time they hit the monster with its weakness.
The monster has an attack that needs to refresh.
Maybe you have an arbalist who needs to reload his weapon between shots, a swamp troll whose belch can engulf delvers in burning acid, or a witch who can summon clouds of blood-drinking songbirds. You might make them follow the same rules as delvers and track their ammunition or Power, or you could simply assign a chance in d6 that their attack will refresh this round. An arbalist might have to roll 1–3, for example, or the witch might have to roll a 1.
Other special attacks
Some monsters might be able to hold delvers at bay like a reach weapon; knock them around; leave savage, crippling wounds; grab them; swallow them; poison or infect them; et cetera. Your imagination is the limit. Be fair: Make sure there are signs of the threat for observant delvers, and be obvious when you narrate the monster’s behavior and actions. Just let your descriptions set the scene.

If it survives an encounter with the delvers, then you might endow your monster with more detail: Consider its hunger, its habits. What are its fixations or emotional disorders? Does it have any hopes or fears? Does it have a distinctive voice or awesome quirk, like twirling its whiskers or regurgitating the bones of delvers past, to gnaw on while it awaits its next feeding?

Wandering Monsters

Some areas of the Twisted Tunnels are so hostile that even monsters fear to creep. Others have wandering monsters who might bumble into a dungeon demolition team at any time.

Make a list of monsters who prowl the area the delvers are exploring (if any), either alone or in groups. They don’t have to be looking for trouble: You can include all kinds of interesting encounters in your list, and a good mix can add a lot of atmosphere to your Twisted Tunnels.

When there are monsters a-lurking, we roll a d6 every turn, and spring one of the encounters on the list on a 1. You might check for wandering monsters based on other events and actions, or at your own frequency.

When an encounter from the list is triggered, you can pick a random event from the list or choose one that makes sense. Some referees keep their wandering monster entries on index cards to shuffle and draw when needed; others roll dice to pick a random entry from a written list.

After you determine which monsters will appear, decide where they are in relation to the delvers and what they might be doing there. Sometimes they will spring right away, sometimes you will show the players signs of the monsters before they are in sight.

Monster Reactions

Some monsters will be on patrol looking for someone to bite. Some monsters will have other interests.

When monsters meet the delvers unexpectedly, you can determine their reaction randomly if the delvers aren’t overtly suspicious or hostile. Call for a Saving Roll from the unluckiest delver.

  • On a flop, the monsters attack without hesitation, and pursue the delvers if they flee.
  • On a miss, the monsters are visibly hostile, but they won’t pursue the delvers if they flee.
  • If they succeed, the monsters are cautious—but if a delver can speak their language, they may chat, rap philosophy, or broker deals.

This Saving Roll determines their initial disposition, but they may change their minds at any time as the encounter unfolds.

Catching and Training Monsters

Monsters mostly don’t want to die, and battle can be a bonding experience for them. Monsters know when they’re beat, and they have different tricks for getting delvers to spare them, including wimpering, pledging their service, offering something of value, or playing dead.

When a monster begs for its gruesome life and you understand its language, you can take the monster as a minion. If you are a good master, your minion will more or less follow orders and keep it’s promises—unless things get stressful. Your Charisma rating is the number of minions you can have at one time.

When your minion rebels against orders, you must punish the monster and make a Saving Roll on Charisma. If you succeed, you cow the minion into submission. At least for now…

Minions can earn XP and Level Up. Treat their Monster Rating as their current level to determine how much XP they need. When a minion levels up, the referee may give it a new talent or power appropriate to its ilk.

Minions might earn XP for different deeds than the delvers, like indulging in mayhem, destruction, or sating their hideous appetites.

Animal-type monsters might be tamed with appropriate treats instead of language. This is how delvers get cool mounts like dinosaurs or giant birds.

Last gasp moves

Some monsters are bad sports and won’t be captured or tamed. Instead, beating them might be the trigger that makes them crumble to dust, go berserk, invoke a diabolical curse with their last breath, explode in fiery doom, open a permanent portal to the netherworld, or collapse the dungeon.

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You get XP for looting treasures, daring, exploration, and defeating monsters. The referee determines XP awards for a given adventure, using the following guidelines:

Looting treasures
Gold, coins, jewels, fine art, trade goods, or other valuables: If you find it in the Tunnels, earn XP equal to its value in coins, when you get it back to an outpost.
Daring
When you miss a Saving Roll, earn XP equal to 50 × the Dungeon Level.
Exploration
When you escape the Twisted Tunnels alive, earn XP equal to 100 × the deepest Dungeon Level you reached in that delve.
Defeating monsters
When you vanquish or subdue a monster, whether through combat or trickery, earn XP equal to the enemy’s Monster Rating. If the enemy has ratings like a delver, earn XP equal to the enemy’s combined CON, INT, and STR.

The referee may grant additional XP for completing missions or other pointless acts. We advise the referee not to indulge players seeking XP for “story progress” or “role-playing”, unless these flights of frivolity are especially fun for the whole table.

Level Up

The point of accumulating XP is to gain levels, according to the table below.

When you earn enough XP to reach a new level, you can raise your Luck or skill. Pick one:

  • Increase your Luck by your new level number; OR
  • Choose one ability rating that is lower than the new level, and increase it by 1.

If you raise your Dexterity, Luck, or Strength, you may need to update your Combat dice based on your Craft.

Level XP Total
1 0
2 1,000
3 3,000
4 6,000
5 10,000
6 15,000
7 21,000
8 28,000
9 36,000
10 45,000

If you decide to keep adventuring after level 10, each new level costs 1,000 XP × your current level, plus the XP required for the previous level.

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