LOL XD Random Dungeon

My friend Alex from To Distant Lands wanted to run an off-the-cuff game of D&D, generating a random character for OSE (B/X) using his cool webpage and then generating a random dungeon. It was low-prep on his end, and on my end—although I had my OSE book out for fun—I was basically adlibbing how I interacted with the dice. Low stakes, low effort. Perfect to hang out and enjoy an otherwise uneventful Saturday morning (my lunch plans were canceled)!

I generated (sort of) two characters: Jane the mage and Joan the fighter. I say "sort of" because I did use Alex's generator for Jane at first, but then I closed it out and lost track of her scores and everything. I realized a while back that my favorite way to play old D&D is to keep it simple, and assume the default because it doesn't make much a difference. Basically, as if to treat B/X like OD&D except dropping even more pretenses. Alex didn't mind! Easier on him as it was for me.

Session Summary

My party started off in the north, we went west, forced open a door, and found a room with a giant concrete cube 8' on all sides (I joked that my characters probably didn't understand what concrete was). There were also baby shrieker shrooms. Not sure if that's like a motif, but the idea is that they're mushrooms that scream when they detect movement. Since they were baby ones, though, the most they could do was an "eep". Jane picked some while Joan investigated the cube, and then found that it was indeed a cube. The vibes were mysterious. Compelling.

Then we went into a bigger room with three stalactites hanging from the ceiling (NB: they're stalactites because they hold on tight). There was also what seemed to be a body on the other side of the room. Jane investigated the body while Joan investigated the stalactites in case they were fucked up and evil. Turns out, they were! Jane found that the dead body was impaled by something, and right after Joan was able to warn Jane that a stalactite was moving straight towards her and was about to impale her. Jane moved out of the way, and the two came up with a plan that Joan would force open the door on the south side for them both to escape. Turns out that door was locked, and I figured that maybe the body would have a key, so Jane and Joan took the body and ran back to the room with the cube.

The body had a stupid amount of treasure on it because of the random generator, including 1 thousand copper coins, so Alex decided it was just that much value in significantly less coins. It also had a set of thieves' tools, but I didn't have a thief in my party. I was talking with Alex about how to handle this situation, and we decided that even if there were a thief the chance of picking the lock would have been stupidly low per turn (15%). Then he decided that the body actually had a ring of keys on them as well, and it would have a 50-50 chance of having the right key for any locked door we came across. Surely enough, it had the right key for the lock, so we went into the next room.

There was a catwalk running horizontally across the center of the room, with a rope hanging down from it. There was also a tapping sound on the other side of the southwestern door, but it didn't sound like footsteps. After determining if the door was push or pull, I used Jane's 10' pole to keep the door shut. Then I had Joan check the catwalk and Jane listen for any sounds behind the northeastern door. Joan was being too loud, though, so Jane couldn't hear anything. We forced open the northeastern door since the other door seemed more sus, and made it down a corridor and into another room with apples in various states of decay floating on the water (I forgot to mention that the dungeon, for some reason, is decently lit and also has several inches of water on the floor). There were also skeletons hanging from the ceiling. We decided that there were also pumpkins and that the room was pumpkin spice themed, and soon after Alex realized that the virtual tabletop let him use emojis as play tokens. We had lots of fun with that!

It was a dead end—I assumed there was a secret entrance that looped back to the front, and it turned out there was, but I didn't care to search for it at the time. As my party backtracked, we finally encountered a group of orcs. The two we initially met didn't speak common, so I decided to spend one of Jane's language slots on speaking orcish. It turned out they were pretty chill and were asking if we were union (random result from an NPC table Alex was using), and if so if we wanted to help them strike by which they mean kill their boss. We were like yeah fuck it! So we followed them to the east side of the dungeon where we were met by giant centipedes that Jane put to sleep, and then the orcs killed ("They weren't smart enough to join the strike :/").

The door at the end of the hallway was locked, but it turned out we had the key! So we opened the lock and found the orcs' bosses, a bunch of evil spearwomen led by an evil adventuring party—all female, which was fun. The girlbosses asked us to pick a side before they decide to kill us, so we shut the door back on them and asked the orcs what the deal was anyway. It turned out the orcs were helping them find an evil artifact to bring about the empress of terror, but then the girlbosses mistreated them for being men (they're not racist, though). I didn't want to get involved in whatever shit was going down, so I had Jane bar the door while Joan rushed through the orcs with her shield to make way. The orcs were freaked out by us breaking rank, and started to scatter. Then we escaped!

That was 2 hours of play, about 20 exploration turns. We got 480 experience total, which Alex originally split by 2/3 and 1/3 since my main character was technically Jane.


This was just a really fun way to spend my morning. Again, it was super low stakes and low effort. That should really be the selling point of an old-school dungeon crawl, and yet! (Alex has some thoughts on games that he's been running lately, so I want to throw the ball into his court to talk about that.) The casual nature of the game, and ignoring the annoying bits, made it really easy to enjoy and focus more on hanging out. It wasn't a social game like I have been playing lately, i.e. one where the characters are doing the socializing, but it was a social game for me. I wish it was in person so I could have brought snacks and drinks. I live for this.

Time to talk rules (boo). More things should be just 50-50. I suggest this in my dungeon crawling rules pamphlet TURN, which I kinda wanna go back and revise since it's not super reflective of my own preferences, but it really does make things so much easier. Also reminded of my FMC session where, after character generation, I told everyone to forget and ignore their ability scores. This makes old-style D&D so much less annoying. Level 1 mages get 1 spell, and level 1 fighters add +1 to hit. It's so, so much easier to deal with. One more thing: stuck doors are annoying, and I think that success should mean you don't waste a turn rather than failure meaning the door doesn't open. Would keep the game going.

(Oops, one more thing: there's a handy rule that 20% of non-human NPCs speak common. Alex rolled for the whole encounter of orcs which he said he regretted in hindsight, but something I thought was interesting was the corollary: for every 5 NPCs, you're going to get one who speaks common. That means that you can focus on making one interactive NPC for any party of NPCs! Maybe roll if the leader speaks common, and otherwise assume one of the underlings does. Isn't that handy and generative?)

All in all, I loved how quick this was to get going! It makes me a lot more confident in tools like procedural generation. Alex literally got up out of bed and generated a random dungeon and rolled with it. When the random stuff was stupid, it ended up being really fun because we could play off of it and talk about why it is that way. That's kind of why I'm hesitant to call this a victory for old-school games, because we threw out so many of the typical conventions and played it pretty fast and loose. Party games, though? Yeah!


  1. Re: Stuck Doors (& Picking Locks)
    I've used a sorta variation on that rule before where a 1-2 of course means you do it immediately and therefore gain surprise on whoever is on the other side. But a 3+ is how many turns it takes you to finally get it open (minus 2) either by banging your shoulder into it (loud) or patiently working the lock (quiet). Example: Red the Fighter wants to force open the door. Rolls a 5 (-2), its still stuck and it will take 3 turns to open.


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