Sunday, August 15, 2010

Solo D&D Play

I have a habit of flitting about from project to project. One week I'm obsessed with writing a novel, the next I'm programming a text adventure, and the week after that I'm trying to write a mega-gamebook that provides linking material between all of the Fighting Fantasy series. This week, I've started developing rules for D&D solo play that abstract dungeon exploration. So just for the heck of it, I'm going to post some of that work up here. I've been using Mentzer Basic as my guide for the rules here, with some AD&D thrown in for good measure. And it's definitely incomplete. I haven't included any of the random tables, which are the heart of the game, really. But the basic framework is provided below.

And no, my tables and charts didn't format properly.


The Regular Game Turn:

For every turn in which you are exploring the dungeon, you must follow the procedure below.

Step 1: Wandering Monsters: At the beginning of every second turn, you must roll to see if you have encountered any wandering monsters. Roll 1d6. On a result of 1, you have encountered a wandering monster. Use the Random Monster tables in Appendix A to determine what type of monster you have encountered, then use the Encounter rules to resolve it. This will take up the entire turn. Remember that wandering monsters usually have no treasure. If you do not encounter a wandering monster, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Encounter Check: Roll on the following table to see what you have discovered in the dungeon this turn:

Encounter Check Table

Roll: Result:

1-4 No encounter
5-6 Monster
7-8 Monster and Treasure
9-10 Trap
11-12 Trap and Treasure
13-14 Treasure
15-16 Obstacle
17-18 Obstacle and Treasure
19 Stairs
20 Special

No encounter: You have found nothing of significant interest in the dungeon this turn.

Monster: You have encountered a monster. Use the Random Monster tables in Appendix A to determine what type of monster it is, then resolve the encounter using the Encounter rules. There is a chance that the monster will have some treasure, as noted under each individual monster entry.

Monster and Treasure: Determine the monster type as noted above. The monster is also guarding a treasure of some sort, determined by using the Random Treasure tables in Appendix D. Note that this is in addition to any personal treasure the monster may have as noted in their monster entry.

Trap: Roll on the Random Trap tables in Appendix B to see what kind of trap you have encountered.

Trap and Treasure: You have found some treasure, as determined on the Random Treasure table in Appendix D, but it is guarded by a trap. Check the Random Trap tables in Appendix B to see what sort of trap it is. You may ignore this and proceed to the next turn if you wish, or you may choose to try and take the treasure, in which case you must bypass or trigger the trap, as detailed later in the Trap section.

Treasure: You have found some unguarded treasure that you may take with ease. Roll on the Random Treasure table in Appendix D to see what it is.

Obstacle: Something is blocking your path. Roll on the Random Obstacle tables in Appendix C to see what it is and how to resolve it. You must get past the obstacle to proceed. Otherwise you may choose to take another path through the dungeon, in which case see the rules for Backtracking.

Obstacle and Treasure: The obstacle is not blocking your path, but is instead stopping you from claiming some treasure. Roll on the Random Obstacle tables in Appendix C and the Random Treasure tables in Appendix D to determine what is here. If you want to claim the treasure, you must get past the obstacle. Otherwise, you may choose to continue exploring and proceed to the next turn.

Stairs: You have found some stairs leading up or down to a different dungeon level. Roll on the Random Stairs table in Appendix E to see what type they are. You may choose to ignore the stairs and keep exploring the same level you are on, or you may take the stairs to the new level.

Special: You have found a special sort of room not covered by any of the previous categories. Roll on the Random Special table in Appendix F to see what you have discovered.


It is important to keep an accurate record of your game turns as they progress. This will become necessary when you want to leave the dungeons, and will also be needed for various other situations, as well as helping track durations for spells and light sources. Your record should look something like this:

Turn Event

1 No encounter
2 Wandering monster: 1 orc
3 Found treasure: 100gp
4 Took stairs to Level 2
5 Pit trap: killed


You are assumed to be moving carefully and making an accurate map of the dungeon. Doing so prevents you from becoming lost. You may choose not to map, in which case your exploration will be quicker. If you do so, you need only check for wandering monsters half as often as normal. However, you have a 1-in-10 chance of becoming lost every turn. Dwarves are better at navigating the underground passages of the dungeon, and so they only have a 1-in-12 chance of becoming lost. See below for the consequences of being lost.

Becoming Lost:

There are a number of ways you may become lost, with teleportation and not mapping being the two most common. If you become lost, you will be unable to leave the dungeon until you find a familiar area again. Characters have a 1-in-10 chance per turn of finding a familiar area, except for Dwarves, who have a 1-in-8 chance. If you have become lost by somehow being transported to a new dungeon level, you will only be able to find familiar territory once you return to a dungeon level you had previously explored.

Leaving the Dungeon:

You may decide to leave the dungeon at the start of any turn. To do so, total up the number of turns you have played, and then divide them by two. This is the number of times you must check for Wandering Monsters before you reach the dungeon exit. Note that you may not leave the dungeon if you have become lost.


If you come to an obstacle that you cannot pass, you may backtrack along your path until you find a new area to explore. On each turn you roll for Wandering Monsters as normal, but do not make the usual Encounter Check. Instead, you have a 2-in-6 chance of finding a new area to explore. Only then can you start making Encoutner Checks again.


Your character must have a light source to see in the dungeon, unless you are a Dwarf or an Elf. Some common light sources are listed below, along with the number of turns they last for.

Light: Duration:

Candle 3 turns
Torch 6 turns
Lantern 24 turns

Note that your character will need a tinderbox to light a torch or a candle, and flasks of oil to light a lantern. If you run out of light sources in the dungeon, you will be effectively blind. See below for the consequences of blindness.

Fatigue and Resting:

Your character must stop and rest every 6th turn, due to fatigue. During this turn you do not check for Encounters, but you must still roll to see if you have encountered a Wandering Monster. You may choose to go without rest, but you will suffer a -1 penalty to attack and damage. This penalty is cumulative, so if you ignore this rest period twice, you will have a -2 penalty. The penalty disappears as soon as you rest for a turn.


Your character’s movement may be slowed if he carries too much equipment and treasure. Normally your character is unencumbered, but if you become encumbered you must roll twice as many times for Wandering Monsters as normal. See the Equipment section for more rules on encumbrance.


Your character cannot see. You suffer a -4 penalty to saving throws, attack rolls, and armour class, and you have double the normal chance to be surprised by monsters. You are automatically lost, and do not have a chance to find a familiar area until the blindness wears off. Otherwise, your only real chance of survival is to find another light source, or to stumble across stairs heading to the surface.


  1. >I have a habit of flitting about from project to project.<

    You are not alone. Keep up the good work!

  2. Work? Nothing but play here, my friend.

  3. Just curious, what appendixes are you referring to? I'm using the 4e rulebooks and there aren't any trap, treasure, or monster appendixes in the core books

  4. I probably didn't make it clear enough, but the above rules are incomplete. The appendices referred to are ones of my own devising that I didn't include here, because otherwise the damn post would be immense.

    Oh, and I'm making this for compatibility with the various versions of D&D made by TSR. You might be able to convert it for use with 4e, but it's not being designed with that in mind.

    (And on another note, don't expect me to finish this project any time soon. I haven't worked on it for months.)

  5. Anonymous1:56 AM PST


    [url=]Click here for a SoloPlay module![/url]