Bonus USR Solo Dungeon Crawl

Bonus USR Solo Dungeon Crawl

2024 is a leap year and in honor of that I’m doing an extra blog post this week. It helps that I am home recovering from the flu so I have some spare time on my hands. I’m going to do a dungeon delve using Scott Malthouse’s wonderful Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying (USR) with John Yorio’s suggestions for Moldvay-Era Classes in USR. This is largely inspired by a combination of John’s blog, Tabletop Diversions, and James Sral’s podcast Sub-Class Act. I highly recommend both the blog and podcast to any perspective solo players as they are gold mines brimming with goodness. USR is quickly becoming my favorite light RPG and I highly recommend it. It is not fancy or flashy but it just flat out works. I’ll be talking more about USR on the blog in the future. I should note that today we are using the original USR rules not the 2.0 and I house rule that Hits are based on Action and Ego not Action and Wits. 

The first thing we will need are some mighty heroes! 

Wulfgar the Fighter Action d10 Wits d6 Ego d8 Hits 13 Smashing things (+2 Action) Melee Weapons Mastery (+2 Action) Dodge (+2 Action)

Great Axe (Heavy Weapon +3) Plate Mail (Heavy Armor -3)

Alfred the Cleric Action d8 Wits d6 Ego d10 Hits 15 Magic (+2 Ego) Turn Undead (+2 Ego) Melee Weapons Mastery (+2 Action)

Mace (Medium Weapon +2) Chainmail (Medium Armor -2)

Merlin the Magic User Action d6 Wits d10 Ego d8 Hits 8 Magic (+2 Wits) Research (+2 Wits) Alchemy (+2 Wits) 

Ceremonial Dagger (light weapon +1) 

Mouse the thief Action d8 Wits d10 Ego d6 Hits 4 Stealth (+2 Action) Pick Locks (+2 Wits) Missile/Ranged Weapon Mastery (+2 Wits)

Pistol Crossbow (Light Weapon +1) Leather Armor (Light Armor -1)

In true B/X style Alfred can’t even cast spells until he levels up! Merlin on the other hand can cast two, he’ll prepare sleep and magic missile. I’m not going to write out all their equipment but they have packs and torches and all the normal things one would need. They also have hired two torchbearers / treasurer haulers

Bob Action d6 Wits d6 Ego d6 Hits 5 Dodge (+2 Action)

Ben Action d6 Wits d6 Ego d6 Hits 12 Dodge (+2 Action)

I think we are ready to go in the dungeon! Let’s do a randomly stocked dungeon using the west tower of the haunted keep in the Moldvay Basic Set as our location. The layout will mirror the east tower but we’ll roll as we go to see what we find in the rooms.

The parties marching order will be Mouse sneaking ahead, Wulfgar leading the main party with Bob behind him then Merlin, Ben and finally Alfred bringing up the rear.  

Mouse slowly moves forward carefully checking as he goes. The front door is unlocked and he gingerly pushes it open, his crossbow at the ready. I rolled that there is a trap in the hallway, a ceiling block trap at that! Let’s see if Mouse detects it in time. He is moving carefully so even though he doesn’t have the specific skill we’ll give him a chance, it will be a Hard Wits Contest, he needs to roll a 7 or higher with his d10 Wits die. 2! He does not detect it and enters the hallway triggering the trap. In B/X he would make a Save vs Turn to Stone, we are going to say he needs to make a Hard Action Contest to avoid the trap, he just misses with a 6 but luckily the block only does 1 point of damage (out of a possible 10!), Mouse must have rolled to the side and only took a glancing blow. As the dust settles he notices a crack in the wall, on further investigation this is a hidden nook someone covered up long ago. Inside Mouse finds 600 Silver Pieces and 10 Gold Pieces! Lets see if Mouse tries to pocket the Gold before telling the rest of the party about the silver, I’ll call this a Medium Ego Contest. With a 3 he fails and pockets the Gold before hollering to the party to come forward and see what he has found. The rest of the party is thrilled that he is alive and at the discovery of the coins! They spread the weight around with everyone carrying 100 coins each. Considering the noise that was made by the block falling and his injury Mouse now falls behind Merlin in the marching order and Alfred moves up alongside of Wulfgar. 

They are in a 5 foot by 15 foot hallway with doors on the east and west walls and the hallway turning north at the eastern end. Wulfgar decides to check the door on the west wall first directing Ben to keep watch to the east. He opens the door but this is nothing but a long abandoned guard room, a table and a few chairs are in the room along with some cobwebs but nothing of interest. They move on to the eastern end of the hall and see the hallway goes 15 feet north and turns again to the east. Our fighter again tries the door in front of him and finds another guard room, unfortunately for the party this one has guards, in the form of eight skeletons! 

Skeleton Action d8 Wits d4 Ego d4 Hits 4, 3, 4, 5, 11, 5, 8, 4

Rusted Sword (light weapon +1) No Meat! (Medium Armor sharp weapons only -2)

Time for some combat! Let’s decide what everyone is going to do and then roll initiative. The skeletons are going to attack, they are in a 10 foot by 15 foot room and Wulfgar in standing in the doorway so he is blocking them at the moment. I’m going to say a maximum of three skeletons can attack him while he is holding the doorway with the rest just waiting for their chance if one of their boney brethren falls. I didn’t need to roll for that because skeletons will always attack and they never retreat so they didn’t have much of a choice in this circumstance. 

The party has a trickier decision, does Wulfgar hold the door bottling the undead in? If so I would say that Merlin could cast his Magic Missile and that Alfred could try to Turn Undead but at a penalty since Wulfgar is between the cleric and the skeletons. Alternatively they could try to shut the door and back up so when the skeletons leave the room, if they can even open the door, the whole party could participate and the Turn Undead would be at full strength. The danger with this second strategy is if the skeletons win initiative they will get three attacks on Wuflgar before he can close the door and he won’t get to attack back. I’m going to say it is unlikely that Wulfgar will want to close the door, let us see what the dice say. Wulfgar will stand in the doorway! So Wulfgar will attack one of the skeletons and dodge the blow of another as his two actions. Alfred will attempt to Turn the Undead from behind Wulfgar, I am going to say this will be a hard Ego contest since the fighter is between them (normally turning skeletons would be a medium contest for a level 1 cleric). Merlin will prepare magic missile but will only cast if it appears Wulfgar is in mortal danger. Finally Mouse and the torchbearers will watch the hallways in case another threat appears. 

The skeletons win initiative! Initiative is Action plus Wits, I used Wulfgar for the party since he was in front and he got an 8 to the skeletons 9. Three of the skeletons are able to move forward and attack our fighter. They have Action d8 + Rusty Sword ( +1 Action) so a d8 +1 and Wulfgar gets to roll his Action d10 to defend. He dodged for one of his actions so he can add +2 to one of the three rolls but he has to declare which one it will be. He will use it to dodge the blow from skeleton number 2. Because of his plate armor even if he is hit Wulfgar subtracts -3 from the damage inflicted, that being the difference in the rolls. 

Skeleton 1 5+1 Wulfgar 8 so the undead creature is unable to land a blow.

Skeleton 2 8+1 Wulfgar 6+2 so the skeleton wins by 1 point which is absorbed by the fighter’s armor.

Skeleton 3 5+1 Wulfgar 8 same result as Skeleton 1.

Now it is the heroes turn. 

Wulfgar has Action d10 + Melee Weapons Mastery (+2 Action) + Great Axe (+3 Action) for a total of d10 + 5 and the skeletons have a defense of Action d8 and their skinless condition means they get armor -2 against the axe.

Wulfgar 6+5 Skeleton 1 6 for a difference of 5 damage -2 for being bones means the Skeleton takes 3 points of damage leaving them with 1 Hit left. 

Alfred steps up behind the fighter, raises his holy symbol and commands the unholy creatures to retreat. He needs a 7 or better on his D10 Ego roll +2 for Turn Undead. A 7+2 is 9! Now the cleric does an Ego contest (+2 for Turn Undead) against each creature to see if they are turned. All eight abominations are repelled and retreat to the other side of the room. 

At this point Wulfgar closes the door. Did the party bring something to spike doors shut with? I think that is likely, yes they did. The party uses iron spikes to trap the skeletons in the room and discusses what to do next.

That is all for today, I am out of time. I hope this wasn’t too confusing to read as I did not go deeply in the mechanics. I would love feedback on this. Would you like to see more? Should I show more mechanics? Less? Something different?

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Until tomorrow’s regular post, be excellent to each other!      

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