It’s a scenario that most Dungeon Masters know well. It’s game night and you just didn’t have time to prepare. Whether you had to work late, take care of the kids, or you just forgot, it all comes down to one big question: tough it out or reschedule?
No one likes to miss a session of their favorite pen-and-paper roleplaying game, and that’s why good DMs will always have a Plan B. If you don’t have time to come up with a set of encounters to stand-in when you haven’t really prepared, Wizards of the Coast think their new Dungeon Delve supplement can do the job for you. And they’re right.
The book is straightforward. It offers a three-encounter dungeon crawl session for every level of play. I was skeptical when the book was announced, but after looking through it, I can say that it offers a lot more than quick hack-and-slash for the lazy DM.
The delves all begin with a setup paragraph explaining the story behind the encounters, but not much time is wasted before it’s time to roll for initiative and get into the thick of combat. This book is mostly about creating a quick and easy gaming session where players can have it out with the DM’s repertoire of ruffians. The concept of the dungeon delve (a practice that began over ten years ago at GenCon) was originally meant to give strangers at conventions a way to enjoy the gameplay of D&D without the rapport of a tightly knit gaming group. In some ways, this "version" of D&D is more a boardgame than a true RPG. Which is not to say it’s not fun, just less focused on the roleplaying and more on the rollplaying.
Hit the jump for more on Wizards of the Coast’s new Dungeon Delve supplement for Dungeons and Dragons.
So instead of debating whether to grant clemency to the necromancer leading the undead horde, for instance, the adventuring party just kicks down the door, fights the monsters, wins the encounter, then moves on to the next room to do it all over again. The encounters are well balanced, if not a little too straightforward. The level 1 delve involves (you guessed it!) kobolds and the level 30 features colossi. In between are challenges for all levels, with appropriate magic items and treasure as a reward. Most of them involve bang-down-the-door style adventuring, and my only negative comment is that I wish some of the locations were a little more inspired. Last month’s fantastic Manual of the Planes included a number of fun, fantastical planar encounters, and there’s no reason Delve shouldn’t have either.
The delves keep with the new D&D adventure format where all the pertinent information for an encounter is available right on the page. Statblocks, treasure details, traps, everything. This means that, while the book throws quite a few entries from the Monster Manual (and more recent monster supplements), they’re all included on the page. It also adds over 40 new adversaries for your gaming group.
One of my favorite features is that each delve has fully illustrated maps on the page, but also tells you what set of Dungeon Tiles you can use to match them perfectly. I’m not anal enough to care about every single feature of an encounter, but this addresses one of the gripes I’ve had with past D&D4E modules.
If you don’t have time to plan an evening of gaming, or if you just want to inject a few professionally crafted combat encounters into your campaign, Dungeon Delve delivers.
Wired: 30 level-specific encounters featuring new monsters, new tactical maps, and story seeds. Included statblocks and reward information mean that Delve is all that’s needed for a night of fun hack-n-slash.
Tired: Locales are a little static. Lack of otherworldly encounters or terrain.