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I’ve been running OD&D solo sessions on and off for the past few months, as I have some time and the inclination I roll up a PC and run through a random dungeon crawl. I’m sticking to the three 3LBBs with some other bits from the same time period:

  • The Strategic Review Issue #1 “Solo Dungeon Adventures”.
  • D&D Monster and Treasure Assortment (useful not only for monsters and treasure, but for the “Treasure is contained/guarded/hidden by/in” tables.
  • The revised underworld wandering monster tables from the Greyhawk Supplement (this is all I’m using from that supplement), just to give a bit more variety.
  • Various unstocked maps, as needed.
Monster & Treasure Assortment

If I have a question that needs to be answered (like which path to choose or whether to search for a secret door), I just pick an appropriate probability and roll on the spot.

The first PC I rolled up was a Dwarf Veteran, Delth Thicktooth. He was able to afford plate armor, and wielded a spear and hand axe, but had only two hit points.

The random dungeon generator assumes a single staircase down to a room to start. So I hand-waived the trip to the dungeon and Delth descended a staircase beneath some nearby ruins into darkness, lit a torch and saw an empty 20×20 room… with no exits.

Delth spent 3 turns searching the walls for a secret door, finally finding one in the southeast corner. No wandering monsters happened down the stairs during that time, thankfully.

He proceeded through the door into another small room, and was met by two Hobgoblins playing cards at a table. No one was surprised, and the reaction roll was negative. Delth lost initiative for the first round. The Hobgoblins rushed him and attacked with swords, but missed with their attacks. Delth stabbed at one of them with his spear, wounding him. Emboldened, Delth decided to press the attack! But while he was gloating about his certain victory, one of the Hobgoblins moved in and stuck him with a sword doing 6hp of damage. RIP Delth.

Referee notes

No Exits

The random dungeon tables have a couple of places where you can roll a room with no exits, with associated rules regarding secret doors. I could have just re-rolled after getting an entry room with no exits, but it seemed interesting to have a secret door in the first room, and I reasoned that anyone coming into such a room with no visible exits would certainly suspect a secret egress somewhere. OD&D vol. 3 mandates a check for wandering monsters at the end of every turn, so the search for secret doors would have been risky if it went on too long.

No Infravision

PCs cannot see in the dark in OD&D prior to the Greyhawk supplement, but all monsters can, unless they are in the service of PCs. Hence Delth needing a torch.

Wandering Monsters

Using the by-the-book tables in vol. 3, on the 1st dungeon level it’s possible to encounter a 1st through 4th-level monster. The Hobgoblins are on the 2nd level table. While Delth had plate armor and shield and the Hobgoblins needed 17+ to hit him, he did only have two hit points. I think he was doomed from the start unless he was smarter, but in this case (losing first initiative) he did not even have a chance to parley, retreat or close the door before being attacked.

Reaction Rolls

However, a positive reaction roll would have turned this into an entirely different encounter. The Hobgoblins might have let him pass for a fee, for example. In vol. 1, charisma is said to influence monster behavior (see below for the really awesome wording). If you take this to mean it influences reaction rolls, then charisma can be a very important stat for a beginning PC. However, Delth’s charisma of 7 did not offer any adjustments either way.

In addition the charisma score is usable to decide such things as whether or not a witch capturing a player will turn him into a swine or keep him enchanted as a lover. – OD&D vol. 1, p. 11