Previous month:
February 2021
Next month:
April 2021

March 2021

Running the Campaign

We’re almost ready to play. We’ve covered everything that happens in the depths. Left for us now is to consider what happens when our adventurers are outside the dungeon.

I want only to cover aspects critical to the scenario. I intend to run The Deep Halls as a solo game, which also serves as an impromptu pick-up game for friends. In such games, the action is focused within the dungeon’s twisted corridors; “Base Town” is for rest and resupply, sometimes—as dictated by the scenario—with a loose connection between the two, which allows for further development in play.

“It isn’t so much the wealth as what the characters might spend it on that poses a problem. Assuming they invest it to ensure the success of further explorations, the obvious acquisitions are hirelings and spell scrolls.”—from “More XP for Treasures”

One critical aspect, in the case where treasures are generous in the closed dungeon, is that we may desire to minimize the impact of over-wealthy player characters. The following points are intended to accomplish that by extracting some gold and putting pressure on the characters to return to the dungeon.

Even with normal treasure amounts, such as when using the default Flying treasure sequence: 2-1-½, the following points are worth considering, if only to preempt the occasions when the party recovers large and valuable treasures. Such windfalls are not rare in the game, and you don’t want to surprise players with a sudden necessity to convert found coins to the king’s currency at a high rate.

We want to allow magic-users to make scrolls—it’s a special capability of the class and augments the magic-user’s often limited arsenal. But we don’t want them to be too comfortable while they do it.

Likewise, a few non-player characters round out the party’s range of abilities and give the party more tactical options. Not to mention the entourage is part of the old-school experience.

Though the treasures are well hidden and often trapped, adventurers should still find them, and though the gold is reduced by fees and conversion rates, the characters should ofttimes retain great wealth. All the while, there must remain a sense of wonder in its finding and a sense of satisfaction in its judicious spending.

Reading Map

Treasures, Hidden, Trapped

“…augmenting the whole by noting where and how the treasures are protected and/or hidden.”—Monster & Treasure Assortments on the disposition of treasures

Reading “protected” as trapped or guarded by a monster, a complacent DM might be satisfied to hide or trap treasures not in close proximity to an alert monster and leave treasures with monsters otherwise unprotected. This may be a mistake in any adventure and, in a game with extra treasures to be found, is sure to lead to “no challenge, no thrill…”

I have mentioned before that M&T provides tables  (reproduced in the AD&D DMG) to assist the DM in this regard. I suggest that most—if not all—treasures should be hidden or trapped and many hidden and trapped, especially those without monsters. Leaning heavy on the tables to begin, the DM will learn, I should think, to invent other interesting containers, insidious traps, and imaginative hiding places before the tables’ options become too commonplace.

Restocking the Dungeon

Monsters reinvest a cleared room in one to four weeks. You might inform the players of this fact or let the characters learn the frequency over the course of a few return forays.

One to four is 2.5 weeks on average. A party might risk one week, maybe two, for magic-users to make scrolls. By the third week, the party is likely to be anxious to get back. To increase this comfort zone, the DM may lengthen the period by rolling more or different dice, say d6 (mean 3.5) or 2d4 (5 weeks).

We might also say that when the party passes through a previously-cleared and still-empty room the period is reset.

Base Town

A brief interlude to discuss the other critical aspect concerning the scenario as a pick-up game, which is the development of the party’s operations base. We assume the adventurers return to a town or city to recuperate between dungeon expeditions. They find there the usual necessities: inn, tavern, markets, church or temple, magic-users and thieves guilds, and a local authority. For our purpose, other than exploiting any obvious connections between town and dungeon, the “Base Town” needn’t be further described.

Organic Base Town

organic adjective

2 c : having the characteristics of an organism : developing in the manner of a living plant or animal

Webster’s

A DM may add details before play begins as he or she sees fit or allow the base town to grow as the campaign progresses. That is, add details to the town only as necessary and only in play or as a direct result thereof.

This latter approach, in addition to reducing preparation time, allows the base town to be different only in ways that relate to the campaign and to the player characters. Moreover, ideas may come from elsewhere in the table’s brain array. The players then feel some agency in the base town’s development, and it becomes as much home as base.

Whether mundane or fantastic, if an element departs from the ordinary for a medieval fantasy town, it is somehow important to the story. This is not a rule but the result of the guideline: add details only as necessary in play.

The Church Connection

An obvious connection between Base Town and The Deep Halls we might make from the beginning is the local religious authority. To allow the seed to grow, we keep this connection loose. Let’s say the local clergy knows only that a sect of priests constructed a dungeon in the wilderness. The clerics do not know the dungeon’s exact location, the nature of the sect, or its goals.

Church or Temple

I use “church” for the local religious authority. In my mind, a church is dedicated to a monotheistic deity—or at least the chief among lesser gods—and a temple is dedicated to a pantheon of gods or a single god among a pantheon. The DM, of course, may use church or temple and define them as desired.

Wealth Extraction

“If the Gentle Reader thinks that the taxation he or she currently undergoes is a trifle strenuous for his or her income, pity the typical European populace of the Middle Ages.”—Gary Gygax, Advanced D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide (TSR Games, 1979)

In the DMG’s chapter on “THE CAMPAIGN,” Gygax devotes a section to the careful extraction of excess wealth from the game. Under the summary heading “DUTIES, EXCISES, FEES, TARIFFS, TAXES, TITHES, AND TOLLS” (90), he covers the diverse taxation practices of medieval Europe and gives examples from a town in “the typical fantasy milieu.” We may apply a few methods to our scenario.

The purpose of the Gygax tax is to remove some wealth—once we’ve got the XP out of it. To avoid tedium, we consider only methods that take large sums. We don’t mess with a few coins here and there or even percentages in the single digits. We target rather the tithe level and above, and we institute the methods from the first town visit. The extraction should seem to the characters normal and become routine. Players may learn to envision 90% of the great mound of treasure as they shovel coins into large sacks.

Parenthetical amounts below are suggestions only.

Magic-users Guild: An annual fee (100 g.p.) gives access to spells when gaining a level as well as access to a research library for free (10 g.p. per visit for non-members). At 9th-level and above, the fee is ten times the base rate (1,000 g.p.) and also grants laboratory space.

Thieves Guild: A thief character is expected to pay the annual fee (100 g.p.). Any who are not aware of the custom are reminded by a group of the guild master’s thugs in ungentle fashion. Among the typical benefits, a member may hire adventuring thieves and inquire about potential buyers for particularly interesting and valuable treasures. All “benefits” come at the price of bribes, payoffs, and kickbacks (100 - 1,000 g.p or from 10 to 50% of the transaction).

The Church: The devout, including most clerics, attend services and rituals, purchase holy water, and regular tithers may consult the small collection of religious texts. Regular tithers, moreover, may receive, at higher levels, special consideration when in need of healing or other forms of clerical aid, such as cures and curse removal, up to restoration of life.

Restorative Spells: The progressive degrees of clerical aid are freely available to all faithful followers of the local religion. This, at the discretion of the clerics, who reserve their daily spells for the devout and hard-working local folk who don’t put themselves in harm’s way in dark places. Those who do not tithe, or who are less than devout, may receive such aid at the cost of a donation (1,000 g.p. × spell level or 1,000 g.p. × caster level or as high as 1,000 g.p. × the square of the spell level; raise dead then requires a 5,000 to 25,000 g.p. donation).

Money Changer: Assume any precious metal pieces hauled out of the dungeon are not “coin of the realm” but foreign and ancient monies. These are not accepted in local shops, for there is a steep fine (50%) for possession of foreign currency. To avoid the fine, holders of such coin, upon entry to the town, must declare the illegal tender at the gate and proceed immediately to the money changer’s office. The two are in close proximity. The money changer takes 10% for the local authority.

Buying and Selling Gems and Jewelry: Gems, jewelry, and other such valuables can be bought and sold at the money changer’s or at the markets. A luxury tax (10%) is exacted.

Robbery: The innkeeper advises against storing wealth in a “secret place” at the inn or elsewhere and declares the establishment free of responsibility. Assume that any treasure so hidden—and unguarded—will be robbed in the character’s absence 20% of the time.

Bank: More secure than under the mattress, renting a coffer at the bank is just as sure to be safe as it is to have a cost (10 g.p. per month for a small coffer—holds up to 300 coins; 100 g.p. per month for a large coffer—1,000 coins; and 300 g.p. for a chest—10,000 coins). The banker assures the characters that the vault, as the property of the local authority, is guarded by men-at-arms and magical wards. Any robbery attempt should prove the vault secure and put the criminals in another dungeon or under the executioner’s axe.

Upkeep: Taking as examples the Travelers Inn and the next-door Tavern from The Keep on the Borderlands, we may fix daily upkeep at one gold piece for lodging, another for food, and a third for drink. We might round that off to 20 g.p. per week, then raise it to 30 g.p. per week per character to include incidentals.

The Complaints Department

If players complain about the dwindling trove, you might simply explain the meta-game rationale: the dungeon is full of treasure to allow a clever party to gain enough experience to be viable opponents against deeper-level denizens; excess wealth is extracted.

If characters complain, you might give a name to the local authority, to whom they may direct their ire.

Hireling Health and Happiness

The number of hirelings is limited to some degree by the characters’ Charisma scores. Still, at five non-players for each character, we have a large troop blundering in the dungeon.

Hiring

“The player wishing to hire a non-player character ‘advertises’ by posting notices at inns and taverns, frequents public places seeking the desired hireling, or sends messengers to whatever place the desired character type would be found (elf-land, dwarf-land, etc.). This costs money and takes time…” (Holmes, 8)

Holmes proposes 100 g.p. × the roll of a six-sided dice for the inquiry alone. I have balked at this figure for going on 40 years. In the case where the player characters are in possession of such wealth, though, it seems not unjustified.

We might say, without getting into great detail, that each class type is found in different venues: fighting men at the inn or tavern, clerics at the church, and magic-users and thieves from the guilds. Further, to enable Holmes’s reference to elf- and dwarf-lands, let’s assume those races are not common in the immediate region and that adventuring hobbits are likewise scarce.

Holmes goes on to suggest 100 g.p. as a minimum incentive to join the party. If we borrow the HOSTILE/FRIENDLY REACTION TABLE (Holmes, 11) for the purpose (as in OD&D but not specified in Holmes), offers of 200 g.p. and higher garner a bonus on the roll, and “uncertain” reactions require the hiring character to “make another [higher] offer” before another roll is made.

Reputation

The party with a reputation for good pay and decent treatment finds hirelings when desired. A generous party or individual characters may find that hirelings seek their employ. Conversely, if the party earns a poor reputation, the hireling pool may run dry—the minimum offer doubles and trebles and penalties on the reaction table accrue.

Pay and Bonuses: In addition to the initial incentive, hirelings should be rewarded with an equal share of treasure. Extra coin and magic items are considered bonuses and increase the employer’s reputation.

Party Success and Hireling Survival Rate: An oft-ignored factor in considering a party’s reputation is their overall success in adventures and how often they return with a lifeless hireling over a shoulder or, worse, without the hireling at all. Adjust enticements and reaction rolls accordingly.

How Many Hirelings Too Many?

As long as everyone is having fun, it isn’t too many. Two points to be aware of are overcrowding and combat encounter length.

If the group enjoys a good long melee, they are well served by a large entourage. There is, however, a point of diminishing returns. As party size grows, so does the number of monsters per encounter. Space, determined by map scale, limits the number of party members that can get in the room. The party that cannot bring its full force to bear against the larger number of monsters loses the melee—though the door is well guarded.

For melee-loving groups, consider a larger map scale. Not by coincidence, at 30 feet per square, the scale becomes ten yards, and The Deep Halls a battlefield. The dreaming priests in their reverie now command an army, and your old copy of Chainmail gains new life.


Rules and Supplements

The Flying Dungeon Stocking Table reflects the stocking methods given in the Holmes edition with supplements Monster & Treasure Assortments and Dungeon Geomorphs. The idea that gets me further than the head voice saying, “Bluebook D&D!” is to use M&T for random monsters and treasures.

Basic D&D (1977) only goes to 3rd level though, and you might have another rules preference. These are my notes on using other old-school editions1 with the Flying Table.

The Bluebook for Higher-Level Play

Should your dungeon-level configuration go down to Level 4, rules for 4th-level characters are easily extrapolated from the Holmes edition. For deeper halls, the tunnel branches in multiple directions. One might recreate the experience of playing Holmes through the 3rd- and into 4th-level of play then switching to AD&D, as Holmes suggests, or adding the D&D Expert Rulebook. To ensure continuity with all these options, continue using the Flying Table with M&T.

Another alternative, beginning with the Bluebook, is to extrapolate rules for higher levels oneself. You might draw on OD&D and its Supplements I-IV in addition to your own inspiration. For suggestions and guidelines, if such are necessary, we needn’t look further than the Zenopus Archives. There, we find that many others have explored these tunnels before us. Zenopus links a number of resources on the Rules Expansions page.

Other Editions

Among old-school D&D editions, the rules don’t change so much the nature of The Deep Halls as do the contents-stocking method and the monster encounter tables.

OD&D

“Original” DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (1974) is Holmes’s source for Basic D&D, and the Monster & Treasure Assortments were made for the original edition. Therefore, the Flying Table meshes with OD&D as well as it does Holmes.

AD&D

With the Advanced edition (1977-79) you might use the Flying Table without risk of falling. For to get all the goodness out of those rules, though, consider using the AD&D DMG’s Appendix A, which provides a similar stocking method. Since you have the map already, ignore tables up to TABLE V. F.: CHAMBER OR ROOM CONTENTS (171). Rolling on that table leads you to other tables and other appendices to fill the rooms.

Random Treasure in the DMG

TABLES V. H, I, and J are copied word-for-word from M&T’s TREASURE IS CONTAINED IN, GUARDED BY, AND HIDDEN BY/IN tables. Only the dice roll and chance for each, adapted to a d20, is modified.

When I say “consider” above, I mean “consider carefully.” Where one roll on the Flying Table indicates basic contents, Appendix A requires a short succession of dice rolls.

More importantly, TABLE V. F. produces contents in proportions much different from the Flying Table. Fewer monsters inhabit the dungeon, for example. Furthermore, only 5% of rooms contain a “Special,” likewise for “Trick/Trap,” and fully 60% of rooms are empty. There is an echo in these Deep Halls.

DUNGEON LEVEL X

If you’re tempted by Appendix A, check out the DUNGEON LEVEL X encounter matrix (DMG 179) and consider a deeper configuration for The Halls. What might the priests be doing with demon princes, liches, and elder titans in the halls on the lowest level?

B/X

The Flying Table swoops within a few percentage points of the adored tables in Moldvay’s section E. STOCK THE DUNGEON (B52). Using these rules, either stocking method works with monsters and treasures from M&T.

B/X’s Wandering Monsters tables present different inhabitants, though they are not strangers to each other. It’s in determining treasure where B/X may present a problem. If you’re a DM winging it for a group, all those rolls on the treasure table plus division for smaller encounters can slow the game. On the other hand, if you’re flying solo, generating treasures can be an exciting part of the experience.


Notes

1 I refrain from a recitation of the litany of old-school “retroclones,” available thanks to Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game License. Popular clones include Swords & Wizardry (Frog God Games, 2008—for OD&D), Blueholme (Dreamscape Design, 2014—Basic D&D), OSRIC (Black Blade, 2013—AD&D), and (for B/X) Labyrinth Lord (Goblinoid Games, 2009) and Old-School Essentials (Necrotic Gnome, 2020). To all these, my notes for their source edition apply.

Holmes Basic  Monster and Treasure Assortment  Dice  and The Deep Halls Map by Dyson Logos
All You Need to Adventure in The Deep Halls: Holmes Basic D&D, Monster and Treasure Assortments, Dice, and the Map by Dyson Logos.

Channeling Amon-Gorloth

“Built by priests of Amon-Gorloth, this dungeon was constructed and adapted from existing caverns following their dreams channeled from Amon-Gorloth itself—making them a twisted and nightmarish version of the convoluted mausoleums under the desert sands where Amon-Gorloth sleeps and dreams.”—Dyson Logos on “The Deep Halls”

In 44 words, Dyson Logos describes the backdrop against which our adventures in The Deep Halls play out. While one might use the map and imagine a different scenario, constraint conjures creativity.

Let’s take a close look at what we know about Amon-Gorloth. In this analysis, I point up aspects that seem important. Where I speculate about consequences, a DM may be otherwise inspired.

Horror

Channeled dreams, twisted and nightmarish caverns, convoluted mausoleums—these cues set the tone. We explore a Lovecraftian underworld, where even our dreams may be assaulted.

Its Priests

That “it” has devoted priests implies the being is of a higher supernatural order. No mere demon or devil, whether lesser or greater, its status is divine.

We might take the label in the sense of the worshipers’ rank, but 3rd-level clerics are unlikely to provide adequate challenge even on The Deep Halls Level 3.

Construction

Much of the dungeon is finished in ashlar masonry. Where the walls abut natural stone, the rock may be rough-hewn. Unworked caverns, conforming already to the channeled dream, are no less invested by the priests.

With what labor or magical means did the priests effect the construction? Slaves may yet be chained. Thralls might still do their bidding. Former servants, their usefulness outlived, may now walk the halls as undead.

Halls and Mausoleums

As a general guide, any space two or more squares wide and at least twice as long is a “hall,” used by the priests to some devotional purpose, including entombment. A generous portion of chambers are dressed as mausoleums.

mausoleum noun
: a large tomb
especially : a usually stone building with places for entombment of the dead above ground

Webster’s

Under Desert Sands

The Deep Halls are a dream-conjured copy of the being’s current abode. Centuries or millennia have passed since it lay to sleep.

Dreams

As does the supernatural being, so do its priests. They channel its dreams through their own. Reverie is a form of worship, through which they acquire daily spells and commune with the god. But to what end…?


Dungeon Levels and Treasures

In our explorations we compressed The Halls’ seven levels to three, tugged them back out to four, and stretched the first level across colors like the Painted Desert. Then we chocked the rooms full of treasure and adjusted them for party size. All the while, we assumed beginning character levels, and we have yet to consider scale.

Here, I rectify the matter of scale and summarize the dungeon levels by color as well as the treasure sequences. With these, and variations as inspiration hits, we may create unique configurations of these Deep Halls. I present a few examples.

Reading Map

Scale

Like any Dyson Logos map, the cartographer lets us determine scale as we see fit. The scale changes not only the dungeon’s length and breadth but also its depth.

Five-foot squares make The Halls a bit narrow and less deep than the name inspires. Ten-foot squares are an old-school standard, and larger was not uncommon.

At 20 feet per square The Halls gain a more monumental aspect. Instead of 2-8 goblins scampering along the 60-foot wide entry hall, I see hordes of them crowding the stairs and clambering up columns. Perhaps larger scales suit higher-level dungeons. If you are drawn to things cyclopean, try 30 or 40 feet to a square.

When deciding scale, peruse your encounter tables for large monsters. Make sure they have room to maneuver or a reason they do not. The Monster & Treasure Assortments are fond of stone giants.

Mapping Colors to Levels

These are the level configurations mentioned so far and referenced by the examples below. Any combination of colors to levels is possible.

Dungeon Levels

Three Shallow Four Deep Color Areas
1st UP 1st UP 1st UP 1 Red 4
1A 1A 1A 2 Tan 15
1B 1B 2A 3 Light green 32
2A 1C 2B 4 Dark green 44
2B 2A 3A 5 Blue-green 48
3A 2B 3B 6 Blue 16
3B 3 4 7 Purple 20

Treasure Sequences

“A treasure sequence consists of the number of rolls on the Monster & Treasure Assortments’ treasure tables for double, single, and half treasures to determine the amount of treasure in an encounter area.”—from “More XP for Treasures”

Also referenced below, these are some possible treasure sequences accompanied by a number of adjustments for party size. A party size adjustment method is chosen independently from a treasure sequence. Parenthetical numbers are the XP award per g.p. where not one for one. See also Notation in “More XP for Treasures.”

Treasure Sequences and Party Size Adjustments

Treasure Sequences Party Size Adjustments
Name Sequence Method Sequence
Strict 2-1-0 A 1-0-0
Flying 2-1-½ B 1-1-0
Shard 4-2-1(2) C 1-1-1
Light “Haul” 5-2-1(2) D 1-1-½
Fibonacci 8-5-3    
Thrilling 9-4-1    
Monty 10-5-1    

Examples

“…a standard conceit of old-school dungeons: the strength of the average monster encounter on a given dungeon level matches that of a player party of the same experience level.”—from “One Deadly Dungeon”

These examples assume character and dungeon levels are equal, adhering to the standard conceit. I am uncertain whether the assumption holds for deep levels.

Because Level 1’s number of rooms changes with the map configuration, so does the Deadly Dungeon Ratio, which is included in the sequence notation in braces. Where the entrance level is not Level 1, the ratio does not apply and so is omitted.

The Curates’ Halls

Scale: 10′
Dungeon Levels: Three, 1 to 3
Treasure Sequence: Thrilling 9-4-1{2:1}
Character Levels: 1st to 3rd

This is the default upon which are based calculations targeting a 2:1 Deadly Dungeon Ratio. Because Level 1 is noncontiguous, the party may be challenged early in the campaign. If they survive, they can make it up on the extensive Level 2 and be ready to face 2-5 evil curates on M&T’s Level Three monster table.

The Shrine of Evil Chaos

Scale: 10′
Dungeon Levels: Shallow, 1 to 3
Treasure Sequence: Flying 2-1-½{12:10}
Character Levels: 1st to 3rd

As a solution to “The Noncontiguous Problem,” we shifted the dark green level up to Level 1. For the example’s name, I am inspired by The Caves of Chaos from Dungeon Module B2: The Keep on the Borderlands. In that module, the clever party indeed must fight through and find treasures in two-thirds of the encounter areas before earning enough XP to gain 2nd level.

If we choose a more generous treasure sequence, say Thrilling or Monty, we might call it “The Shallow Hauls.”

Bishops of Amon-Gorloth

Scale: 10′
Dungeon Levels: Four, 1 to 4
Treasure Sequence: Shard 4-2-1(2){7:10}
Character Levels: 2nd to 4th

Level 1, spanning only two colors, contains 19 noncontiguous rooms. Its deadliness is reflected in the ratio—less than 1:1. Bumping the deepest color down to Level 4, the priests become bishops, and all bets are off with respect to survivability. Watch out for the stone giants.

Evil High Priests of Amon-Gorloth

Scale: 10′
Dungeon Levels: Deep, 1 to 7
Treasure Sequence: Shard 4-2-1(2)
Character Levels: 4th to 7th

We may yet preserve the true meaning of depth in The “Deep” Halls. At only four rooms on Level 1, the Deadly Dungeon Ratio loses meaning. On the lowest level, the dreaming priests are evil patriarchs. They might be accompanied by hydras and stone giants.

Start characters at 4th level, adding monsters to encounters on the upper levels as per Holmes (22). To Holmes Basic we have to add a supplement to reach levels so high.

The Lower Dungeons

Scale: 20′ if entrance is Level 4 or deeper
Dungeon Levels: Varies
Treasure Sequence: Varies to match existing campaign
Character Levels: Varies

Adapt the dungeon levels to the experience levels of existing characters. Use any configuration above for a three-, four-, or seven-level dungeon, beginning with the appropriate level for the party.

Amon-Gorloth Sleeps and Dreams

Scale: 30′
Dungeon Levels: Three, 7 to 9
Treasure Sequence: Strict 2-1-0
Character Levels: 7th to 9th

For a higher-level campaign, start characters at 7th experience level. At these depths, the dreaming priests employ stone giants to build the mausoleums—or they are themselves stone giants—and we fight demons and dragons and a 13th-level wizard. Mayhap we wake Amon-Gorloth itself.


These Deep Halls or Where to Start

Spread out over seven different depths, these caves, chambers and twisting passages provide an immense dungeon for exploration. So immense that I haven’t even considered how I would stock it.

Which is why I’m giving it to you.

This massive dungeon level is yours—released under a free commercial use or personal use license. Fill it up, stock it, throw adventurers at it until the floors are littered with their dead. Then do it again.

Dyson Logos

Providing a 179-room dungeon map and a one-paragraph description of The Deep Halls, Dyson Logos then invites us to stock it. In “Dreaming Amon-Gorloth,” we explore the dungeon to figure out how to determine its contents using a random method.

Notably, the Flying Dungeon Stocking Table is derived from guidelines given in the Holmes edition of Basic D&D with the supplements Monster & Treasure Assortments and Dungeon Geomorphs. Further, in “A ‘Monty Haul’ Dungeon,” we develop various methods to determine treasure size. Each method is abbreviated in a “treasure sequence” and not all are “Monty Haul.” We then expand the treasure sequence under the “Twisted and Nightmarish” umbrella topic, where we adjust for larger and smaller parties, consider awarding more XP for treasure, and examine how to further adjust the treasure sequence to suit different dungeon configurations.

Yet within its “convoluted mausoleums” there remains much room for a DM to make these Deep Halls his or her own. Whether stocking randomly or selecting contents according to strict criteria or a combination of both, the following articles may provide further inspiration.

Reading Map

Now we’re ready to roll characters and put them in the order of march.

The Deep Halls of Amon-Gorloth - Dyson Logos
“The Deep Halls of Amon-Gorloth,” Hand-Drawn Map by Dyson Logos.
Follow the image link to Dyson’s blog post to download the high-resolution image in four versions: color and black-and-white, with and without grid lines.

The Noncontiguous Problem

Merging The Deep Halls’ colored layers into a three-level dungeon, we noticed earlier that, because Level 1 is not contiguous, the player party, still 1st-level, is forced to descend to Level 2. One might avoid the problem by grouping the first four colors into Level 1. The dark green level, was 2A, becomes 1C. This adds 44 encounter areas to the first level.

Level Color Areas
1st UP Red 4
1A Tan 15
1B Light green 32
1C Dark green 44
Sub-total Level 1:   95
2A Blue-green 48
2B Blue 16
Sub-total Level 2:   64
3 Purple 20
Sub-total Level 3:   20

It is perforce less deadly. Still, using the default treasure sequence, The “Shallow” Halls’ Level 1 has a Deadly Dungeon Ratio of 1.24-to-1.

Experience Stocked

Applying the percentages from the Flying Dungeon Stocking Table to 95 encounter areas, Level 1 looks like this.

Percent of 95 No. of Areas Monsters and Treasures
10% 9.5 Monsters, double treasures
16% 15.2 Monsters, single treasure
5% 4.75 Treasure (half treasure)

Room monsters: 2045 XP
Wandering monsters: 790 XP
Treasures: 5,234 XP
Total: 8,069 XP
Deadly Dungeon Ratio: 8,069:6,513 = 12:10

Treasure Sequences

Taking again the treasure sequences, only minor adjustments need be made to accommodate the extra rooms. In most cases the adjustment is a reduction in the XP for gold awards. Note that, because we have nearly twice as many encounter areas, the wealth characters acquire is likewise increased.

Deadly Dungeon Ratio 1:1

For the more harrowing 1:1 ratio, reduce to the standard award one XP for each gold piece. The ratio is slightly higher.

2-1-½^1-0-0{12:10}[1,345 XP, 872 g.p., 1]

Sparse

To reach a Deadly Dungeon Ratio of 2:1 but still keep wealth down, instead of four, award two XP for each g.p.

2-1-½(2)^1-0-0{2:1}[2,217 XP, 872 g.p., 1]

Shard (Between Thrilling and Sparse)

For the middle ground between too-rich and sparse treasure, reduce this sequence, which I call Shard for a reason unknown to me, from two to one XP per g.p.

4-2-1^1-1-0{2:1}[2,217 XP, 1,745 g.p., 3]

Light “Haul”

Likewise, with the Light “Haul” sequence, reduce XP per g.p. to one for one.

5-2-1^1-1-0{22:10}[2,444 XP, 1,971 g.p., 3]

Thrilling

This sequence, already at one for one XP for gold, at 95 encounter areas approaches a Deadly Dungeon Ratio of 4:1.

9-4-1^1-1-0{38:10}[4,074 XP, 3,601 g.p., 5]

Take away my badge, but at such a high ratio, I suspect thrilling becomes boring. I recommend to the DM who chose this sequence for the three-color Deep Halls to go with the Light “Haul” above for much the same results between dungeon configurations.

The “Shallow” Halls a Configuration of The Deep Halls - Map by Dyson Logos
In this photo, all characters and treasures are on The “Shallow” Halls’ Level 1, which stretches across the map.

More XP for Treasures

Where t equals one roll on the treasure table or 143 g.p.,
(5 areas × 2t) + (8 areas × t) + (2.5 areas × ½t) = 19.25t = 2,752 g.p. and change

1,525 [from monsters] + 2,752 [treasures] = 4,277 XP

Therefore, the ratio of stocked XP to that necessary is 4,277:6,513 or 66:100—not near 1:1.

—from “One Deadly Dungeon”

Earlier, we presaged failure for an expedition into The Deep Halls based on calculations of stocked experience points. Simply, there aren’t enough XP on Level 1 for even three characters to overcome the challenges in The Halls’ deeper depths.

We went on to calculate how much extra treasure we should add to Level 1 encounters to enable a clever party to gain an experience level before descending the stairs. A DM might balk at adding extra treasure. Many balk at adding so much.

A DM might balk at adding extra treasure. Many balk at adding so much.

Even my “Monty Haul” sensibilities are challenged by the results. To reach a deadliness ratio of 2:1, the total gold-piece value of treasures stocked on Level 1 comes to 11,368. Expecting a clever party to recover two-thirds of that, by the time they gain the 2nd level of experience each character will have acquired 2,500 g.p.

It isn’t so much the wealth as what the characters might spend it on that poses a problem. Assuming they invest it to ensure the success of further explorations, the obvious acquisitions are hirelings and spell scrolls. By the time they descend to Level 2, the party, as a whole, can afford three dozen of each. At the head of such an entourage with a satchel spilling scrolls, the party, now 2nd level, far outmatches the dreaming priests and the dungeon loses its luster—“no challenge, no thrill…” (Holmes, 22).

A method, not uncommon in this century, to resolve the dilemma is to award two or more XP per g.p. Here I propose a few ways we might use more XP in lieu of more treasures.

Again, we are treating The Deep Halls as a closed dungeon campaign. The problem, too few XP on a level, does not exist in an open campaign, in which the party is not bound to the multi-level dungeon for all their experience.

In this article, I spare you the math.1 To some degree I spare myself the math as well; I made an electronic spreadsheet. Now I compute the deadliness ratio using combinations of the various treasure sequences and party size adjustment schemes using “Amon-Gorloth’s Twisted and Nightmarish Deadly Dungeon Calculator.” The machine uses the more accurate 51 encounter areas (instead of 50) and rounds fractions, in most cases, up from the half.

Reading Map

Notation

A treasure sequence consists of the number of rolls on the Monster & Treasure Assortments’ treasure tables for double, single, and half treasures to determine the amount of treasure in an encounter area. (See also “Flying Dungeon Stocking Table by the Bluebook.”)

Each proposal below is comprised of an expanded treasure sequence, which includes a party size adjustment method, and is accompanied by the average earned XP and wealth (in g.p.) of a single character upon reaching 2nd experience level and the number of magic items the party as a whole recovers.

Expanded Treasure Sequence {Deadly Dungeon Ratio} [Per Character XP, per character g.p., Magic Items per Party]

The expanded form shows the treasure sequence for the base party size (in our case three) with the XP award for each gold piece in parentheses, followed by a caret (“^”) and the party size adjustment sequence and, optionally, the deadliness ratio (hereafter called the “Deadly Dungeon Ratio”) in braces. In the discussion below, I bracket the average experience and wealth per character with the number of magic items acquired by the whole party. This bracketed information pertains to the base party size.

Number of Rolls for Double-Single-Half Treasures(XP per g.p.)^Adjustment for Double-Single-Half Treasure Rolls(XP per g.p. adjustment){Deadly Dungeon Ratio}[XP per character, g.p. per character, number of magic items per party]

D-S-H(X)^D′-S′-H′(X′){DDR}[XP/character, g.p/character, magic items/party]

Expanded Treasure Sequence Example

Long form: 

2-1-½(1)^1-0-0(0){67:100}[723 XP, 470 g.p., 1]

The default treasure sequence, awarding 1 XP per g.p., adjusted by one roll for double treasures per additional character, falls to two-thirds of a 1:1 ratio; a character earns 723 XP and has 470 g.p., and the party carries one magic item.

Since the XP for gold is one for one and not adjusted, the parenthetical notation may be omitted.

2-1-½^1-0-0{67:100}[723 XP, 470 g.p., 1]

Short form: 

2-1-½^1-0-0{67:100}

The short form shows only the treasure sequence, with XP for gold if not one for one, and the party size adjustment method. The Deadly Dungeon Ratio (shown here) is optional.

Unless otherwise stated, the figures for each proposal assume a 2:1 deadliness ratio and a clever party of three, which earns half the XP stocked.

Sparse Treasure

Using the default treasure sequence 2-1-½—derived from instructions in Monster & Treasure Assortments, Level 1’s 51 rooms contain 2,818 g.p.,2 which is, at one for one, a quarter the XP from treasure necessary and 8,700 XP short of the total needed to hit the 2:1 ratio.

2-1-½[723 XP, 470 g.p., 1]

Awarding 4 XP for each gold piece brings us neatly to a 2:1 ratio, only 238 XP short, while keeping treasure awards sparse.

2-1-½(4)^1-0-0{2:1}[2,132 XP, 470 g.p., 1]

Adding one roll per additional character to double treasures, larger parties earn somewhat less XP and gold, counted in a few tens per character.

Smaller Parties, Greater Risk, Greater Reward

Because we don’t reduce the number of monsters in an encounter below the given range or the treasure rolls below the default sequence, parties of one or two characters gain much more gold and experience. Such small parties, facing greater risks, earn greater rewards.

The reverse is also true. As discussed in “Adjusting for Party Size,” larger parties have a wider range of special capabilities and more tactical options. The rewards per character decrease as the size goes up.

Deadly Dungeon Ratio 1:1

A DM more skeptical than yours truly about the necessity of overstocking a closed dungeon may target a 1:1 Deadly Dungeon Ratio by awarding 2 XP for each g.p.

2-1-½(2)^1-0-0{1:1}[1,193 XP, 470 g.p., 1]

In this case, the difference in XP and wealth per character as the party size increases varies even less.

Between Thrilling and Sparse

In “Adjusting for Party Size,” I used the thrilling sequence as an example. The expanded sequence looks like this:

9-4-1^1-1-0{2:1}[2,191 XP, 1,938 g.p., 3]

We can get a happy medium between the thrilling and default sequence by lowering the treasure and awarding two XP per gold.

4-2-1(2)^1-1-0{2:1}[2,131 XP, 939 g.p., 1]

The average wealth per character is twice as much but not extravagant. This sequence is notable in that the XP and g.p per character remains close to the same with increasing party size. Taking for given that larger parties have an advantage over smaller, clever players might take advantage of this, as there are only benefits to hiring non-player characters. The party of six recovers three magic items.

Light “Haul”

If you want to go a little “Monty Haul,” up the double treasures by one roll from the previous sequence. Note the Deadly Dungeon Ratio is 2.2-to-1.

5-2-1(2)^1-1-0{22:10}[2,375 XP, 1,061 g.p., 2]

The average experience and wealth drops slightly with each additional character, while the number of magic items goes up to three for a party of six.


Notes

1 Previous articles “One Deadly Dungeon” and “A ‘Monty Hall’ Dungeon” explain the underlying equations and show the math.

2 In earlier articles we rounded to 50 rooms and calculated 2,752 g.p. in total treasure.


Adjusting for Party Size

Previous experience-point calculations are based on a party of three. Larger or smaller parties must earn 2,171 XP—more or less—to advance an experience level.

I lead with a summary. Explanation and math follow. After a look at how a clever party of six makes up for fewer stocked XP per character, I close with examples.

Having been warned of the dungeon’s nature, we are not surprised when our Deep Halls explorations stray into uncertainty. “Twisted and nightmarish” as it is, we are thrilled at the risk.

Reading Map

Summary of Adjustments

  • For each additional character above three:
    • Add a single monster per encounter.
    • Add one treasure roll for each double and single treasure.
      • Do not add rolls to “half” treasures—those without monsters.
  • For each character fewer than three:
    • Remove a single monster per encounter.
      • Do not reduce the number of monsters below the given range.
    • Remove one treasure roll for each double and single treasure.
      • Do not reduce treasures below the default sequence: 2-1-½.

Larger Parties

For parties over three, we add single monsters and treasure rolls to double and single treasures.

Monsters

According to Holmes (10), we add a single monster (not a roll) for each additional character. The average XP value for M&T’s Level One monsters is 25. Don’t ask.

(22 room + 8.5 wandering) × 25 XP = 762 additional XP from monsters

Thus, 30.5 additional monsters add 762 XP to the count.

Treasures

Subtracting the monsters XP from the total additional XP necessary, we need 1,409 more XP from treasures, which comes to ten treasure rolls.

2,171 − 762 = 1,409 additional XP needed from treasures
1,409 ÷ 143 g.p. = 9.85 rolls

Looking again at the pertinent factors of the familiar equation, no matter which treasure sequence we use, adding one roll to each magnitude—double, single, and half treasures, yields 15.5 additional rolls.

(5 areas × t) + (8 areas × t) + (2.5 areas × t) = 15.5t

In other words, since an average of 15.5 areas on Level 1 contain treasures, one more roll for each treasure adds 15.5 rolls to the total.

We want ten more rolls. We could add one to the single and half treasures for 10.5. It’s awkward, though, since the half treasures are not guarded by monsters, and the double treasures, guarded by double monsters, should be more impressive in comparison.

In these uncertain tunnels, I think it not too generous to add one roll each to double and single treasures for 13 additional treasure rolls. At the risk of having my “badge of honor” revoked, I suggest we leave half treasures unadjusted.

Smaller Parties

Adjusting for smaller parties is much the opposite of that for larger parties with minimum limits.

Monsters

Following Holmes’s “roughly equal numbers” advice for balanced encounters (10), we subtract a single monster from the encounter for parties of two and two monsters for lone adventures. Though Holmes stipulates that the number of monsters “should not be reduced below the lowest number shown” in the range.

Treasures

Reduce by one roll per character, for smaller parties, any treasures to which you would add one for larger parties. Do not reduce the number of rolls below the default sequence: 2-1-½.

A Clever Party of Six
A Clever Party of Six is Better Equipped Against the Dungeon’s Challenges.

A Clever Party

We see in the example below of a party of six that more adventurers must earn a higher percentage of the stocked XP to advance. Despite the challenge, larger parties have several advantages over smaller.

Wider range of special capabilities: Of the four classes and three races with special capabilities, a party of three draws on, at most, five types: elf with fighting man and magic-user capabilities plus any two of cleric, thief, dwarf, and hobbit. A party of five can draw on all seven types, and six can double up on one or more.

More tactical options: A larger force, properly maneuvered, presents a wider front and blocks wider corridors. It can flank or surround the enemy, enabling more often a thief’s “deadly blow from behind.” Wounded characters can withdraw from melee, while more healthy companions close the breach. And magic-users are better protected.

More players: As additional party members might be non-player characters, a larger party doesn’t necessarily mean more players. But when more brains surround the table, they tend to generate more—and sometimes better—solutions to problems.

Examples

To give us an idea of how these additional treasure rolls effect survivability, let’s look at two examples, for a party of four and a party of six, each using different treasure sequences.

For example sake, we assume a clever party indeed, who defeats all the monsters and finds all the treasures.

Example: A Default Party of Four

Using the default treasure sequence from the Flying Dungeon Stocking Table, 2-1-½:

Where t equals one roll on the treasure table or 143 g.p.,
(5 areas × 2t) + (8 areas × t) + (2.5 areas × ½t) = 19.25t = 2,752 g.p.

We add one roll to double and single treasures for a party of four adventurers. The modified treasure sequence is 3-2-½:

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 areas × 3t) + (8 areas × 2t) + (2.5 areas × ½t) = 32.25t = 4,611 g.p.

Adding XP for monsters and treasures, each of four characters earns 1,724 XP.

30.5 monsters × 75 = 2,287 XP for monsters
2,287 + 4,611 = 6,898 XP total
6,898 ÷ 4 characters = 1,724 XP each

While a party of three earns 1,425 XP each.

1,525 + 2,752 = 4,277 ÷ 3 characters = 1,425

Example: A Thrilling Party of Six

Using the thrilling sequence: 9-4-1.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 9t) + (8 × 4t) + (2.5 × t) = 79.5t = 11,368 g.p.

For a party of six, we add three rolls each to the double and single treasures. The sequence becomes 12-7-1

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 12t) + (8 × 7t) + (2.5 × t) = 118.5t = 16,945 g.p.

Adding XP for monsters and treasures, dividing among six characters, each earns 3,459 XP.

30.5 monsters × 125 = 3,812 XP for monsters
3,812 + 16,945 = 20,757 XP total
20,757 ÷ 6 characters = 3,459 XP each

While a party of three, using the thrilling sequence, earns 4,297 XP each.

1,525 + 11,368 = 12,893 ÷ 3 characters = 4,297

The results show that, using the default treasure sequence, each member of a party of four earns 300 more XP than members of a party of three. While in a party of six, using the thrilling sequence, each member earns 838 fewer XP than if they were only three. Twisted and nightmarish.


Twisted and Nightmarish

“The difference between courageous and foolish is knowledge of risk.”—Adventurer Handbook

Early in our Deep Halls explorations, we were careful and systematic. Lantern overhead, we probed with pole into the advancing pool of light.

It was in making adjustments for experience stocked but unearned that we first diverged from the central hall. The way less certain, we made use then of the notion of a clever party. In brief, the amount of experience stocked in a dungeon level enables a party of average cleverness to be successful, while allowing some room, on one side, for a more clever party to achieve greater success and, on the other side, ample room for failure.

Upcoming explorations take us farther into The Deep Halls’ convoluted caverns. In upcoming articles, we adjust for party size, consider awarding more XP for treasure, and propose solutions for the noncontiguous problem.

Having determined the deadliness of The Deep Halls Level 1 and adjusted to a ratio of 2:1, stocked XP to that necessary for a party of three to gain 2nd level, we now consider it fixed. That is, regardless of further adjustments, we do not recalculate the deadliness ratio. This because each adjustment increases uncertainty, and with increasing uncertainty, the meaning of a “deadliness ratio,” already tentative, is drained. Therefore, where we must consider earned XP, we assume the raw value without multiplying by the ratio.

Furthermore, though Levels 2 and 3 have differing numbers of rooms, each inhabited by stronger monsters and more valuable treasures, we leave the math for deeper levels undone. Instead, we apply the treasure sequence that enables success on Level 1. Leaving open the question of survivability, we descend into The Deep Halls with the thrill of risking our lives.

The deadliness ratio serves as a warning. Knowledgeable of the risk, we dare to enter, if acceptable, or, if not, chose adventure elsewhere without questioning our courage.

Having decided the endeavor is not foolhardy, we delve deeper, keeping in mind the clever party. It is by ability that players must overcome the challenges of this “twisted and nightmarish” dungeon. Where further adjustments seem to invalidate the deadliness ratio, we examine how the clever party compensates.

Reading Map

Let’s hire a light bearer and give him the ten-foot pole. From here on: weapons in hand.

A Party of Three in the “Twisted and Nightmarish” dungeon
A Party of Three in the “Twisted and Nightmarish” dungeon.

A “Monty Haul” Dungeon

This is a continuation of a previous article: “One Deadly Dungeon.” It is the sixth in a series in preparation for a Holmes Basic D&D campaign Dreaming Amon-Gorloth.

Problem: Whereas, a party of three 1st-level adventurers needs 6,513 XP to advance a level, the maximum they might extract from The Deep Halls Level 1 is 4,277 XP.

Solution: Add more treasure.

Reading Map

While probing ahead with the ten-foot pole, do not be alarmed by any clinking noise.

How Much Gold

Exploring Level 1, our clever party of three should earn 6,513 XP. Of that, 1,525 come from monsters. The balance of the necessary XP must come from treasure.

6,513 − 1,525 = 4,988 XP from treasure

Previously, we found that the average value for a roll on the M&T Level One treasure table is 143 g.p. As a “single” treasure on the Flying Dungeon Stocking Table, one roll is not enough to achieve a 1:1 ratio, experience stocked to that necessary.

To find out how much treasure is needed per single treasure, we reverse the equation, substituting t′ for one roll on the treasure table. Again, I add parentheses around each treasure denomination, unnecessary in mathematical notation, for the sake of readability.

(5 areas × 2t′) + (8 areas × t′) + (2.5 areas × ½t′) = 4,988 g.p.
19.25t′ = 4,988 g.p.
t′ = 4,988 ÷ 19.25
t′ = 259 g.p. (dropping the less precious metals)

So, to get a single treasure worth 259 g.p., we need to roll 1.81 times on the treasure table.

259 g.p. ÷ 143 g.p. = 1.81 rolls

If we round up to two rolls on the table for a single treasure, we roll four times for a double, and only once for a half treasure.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 areas × 4t) + (8 areas × 2t) + (2.5 areas × t) = 38.5t
38.5t = 5,505 g.p.

Now our party of three earns a total of 7,030 XP or 2,343 each.

1,525 + 5,505 = 7,030 XP ÷ 3 characters = 2,343 XP per character

Everyone, save the magic-user and any elves, advance one experience level before proceeding downstairs with some confidence.

Adjustments

“We should consider that some monsters prove too tough and some treasures go undiscovered. Further, attrition extracts earned experience from the pool.”—from “One Deadly Dungeon”

We aren’t done yet. Remember the clever party. It is a clever party indeed which defeats all the monsters in the dungeon and finds all the treasures. Furthermore, if we stock only just enough experience, then the DM may be tempted to fudge combat rolls and to hint and cajole less clever players into searching where they would have gone on to the opposite door.

Instead of treasures, it’s the clues to the treasures, but it’s the same “give away show” the editor warned us about. Players learn to look for the DM’s cues and

“seldom become truly able, often losing interest in the game because there is no challenge, no thrill of ‘risking your life.’” (Holmes, 22)

Too-tough and Undiscovered

By how much should we pad the ratio to account for too-tough monsters and undiscovered treasure? I’ve no idea how to calculate it. But “a clever party” provides a different approach.

Using the rule of thirds, if “a clever party indeed” finds all the treasure, then “a clever party” finds two-thirds of it, while “a less clever party” finds only one-third.

In other words, where the clever party is successful, the less clever party fails, and the clever party indeed clears the dungeon and carries the dagger +1 hidden in the spider’s abdomen back to Portown.

So, by multiplying stocked XP by 1.5, we enable success for the clever party, while allowing room for the clever party indeed to be more successful. Needing two-thirds of stocked XP ensures the game doesn’t become the give away show.

Attrition

Another consideration, as important, is attrition. Slain player characters take earned experience with them beyond the veil. Again, the factors involved are beyond calculation. Let’s apply the rule of thirds one more time.

Twice The Rule of Thirds

On the rule’s first application, the clever party needed to find two-thirds of the treasure. A second application reduces that number by one-third again. Now the clever party needs 44% of stocked XP to advance a level.

23 × 23 = 49 or 44%

By the equation below, a clever party of three finds 44% of 14,803 XP, which is 6,513 or 2,171 XP each.

Where s is the number of stocked XP,
44% × s = 6,513 XP
    44%           44%
s = 14,803 (rounded up)

Rolls per Treasure or Treasure Sequence

So, we have to recalculate the number of treasure rolls based on 14,803 as the target for stocked XP. We remove the XP from monsters, which doesn’t change,1 and recalculate t′.

14,803 − 1,525 = 13,278 XP needed from treasure
(5 areas × 2t′) + (8 areas × t′) + (2.5 areas × ½t′) = 13,278 g.p.
19.25t′ = 13,278 g.p.
t′ = 13,278 ÷ 19.25
t′ = 689 g.p.

To get 689 gold, we roll 4.81 times on the treasure table for a single treasure.

689 ÷ 143 = 4.81 rolls

Rounding up to five rolls for a single treasure, a half treasure would be 2.5 rolls. When we round 2.5 to three, a Fibonacci sequence appears ahead in the shadowy limit of the lantern’s glow. Let’s look at that in a moment.

Preliminary Sequence: 10-5-2

With a single treasure of five rolls, we have before us a double treasure worth ten rolls.2 If we round down half of five to two rolls for a half treasure, we have a treasure sequence3 of 10-5-2, which shoots 307 g.p. over the mark.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 10t) + (8 × 5t) + (2.5 × 2t) = 95t = 13,585 g.p.
13,585 − 13,278 = 307 g.p.

Base Sequence: 10-5-1

Since the party finds it in a room without a monster, I favor reducing a half treasure (though hidden and trapped) to a single roll.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 10t) + (8 × 5t) + (2.5 × t) = 92.5t = 13,227 g.p.
13,227 − 13,278 = -51 g.p.

It falls just short of the mark, but it puts the party within “a 10 foot circle of protection”—to use a Holmesism. Let’s call this our base sequence.

Fibonacci Sequence: 8-5-3

By adjusting the number of rolls for each of three magnitudes of treasure—double, single, half—many variations are possible. As an example, let’s have a closer look at the Fibonacci sequence.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 8t) + (8 × 5t) + (2.5 × 3t) = 87.5t = 12,512 g.p.
12,512 − 13,278 = -766 g.p.

We fall 766 short of the target for XP from treasures. Considering the target XP, including monsters, of 14,803, we’re looking at a 5% difference—I’m guessing, well within a margin of error.

A Party of Three Discovers Treasures in The Deep Halls of Amon-Gorloth - Map by Dyson Logos
A Party of Three Discovers Treasures in The Deep Halls of Amon-Gorloth. Map by Dyson Logos.

Deadliness Ratio

Using the base sequence above, we come to a stocked-XP to necessary-XP ratio of 23:10.

13,227 + 1,525 = 14,752 stocked XP to 6,513 necessary
14,752:6,513 or 227:100 or, rounding further, 23:10

Lest players be too comfortable with all the padding in the dungeon, we may preserve some “thrill of ‘risking your life’” by rounding down the ratio to an even two times the necessary XP.

6,513 × 2 = 13,026 stocked XP
13,026 − 1,525 = 11,501 XP from treasure

Recalculating t′:

(5 areas × 2t′) + (8 areas × t′) + (2.5 areas × ½t′) = 11,501 g.p.
19.25t′ = 11,501 g.p.
t′ = 11,501 ÷ 19.25
t′ = 597 g.p.
597 ÷ 143 = 4.17 rolls for a single treasure

Thrilling Sequence: 9-4-1

Plugging in a treasure sequence of 9-4-1, we’re only 133 gold short, which is a stocked-to-necessary XP ratio of 198:100 or as close to 2:1 as makes no difference.

Where t equals 143 g.p.,
(5 × 9t) + (8 × 4t) + (2.5 × t) = 79.5t = 11,368 g.p.
11,368 − 11,501 = -133 g.p.

11,368 + 1,525 = 12,893 XP
12,893:6,513 = 198:100 or rounding to 2:1

We could have saved some calculation by adjusting to 50% from 66% on the second application of the rule of thirds. Now we know, though, that the difference between 44% and 50% is near 2,000 XP.

12,893 − 14,803 = -1,910 XP

Our clever party, earning 44% of stocked experience, may struggle.

12,893 × 44% = 5672 ÷ 3 = 1,890 XP each

Only fighting men with a high Strength score (10% prime requisite bonus) advance an experience level along with clerics and thieves.

Treasure-to-Monster Ratio

With a 2:1 stocked-to-necessary XP ratio, our 9-4-1 sequence yields a treasure-to-monster ratio of 75 to 10.

11,368:1,525 = 745:100 or rounding to 75:10

This is almost two times Quasqueton’s ratio and three times the ratio (25:10) calculated using the simple treasure sequence, 2-1-½, from the Flying Dungeon Stocking Table.

“Monty Haul”

Jim Ward is a legend in the role-playing game industry. His design credits include Metamorphosis Alpha (1976), Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes (1976), and Greyhawk Adventures (1988). Ward learned to play D&D at Gary Gygax’s table, exploring the co-creator’s Greyhawk city and dungeon.

Ward describes, in “The Origin of Monty Haul,” his first experience as a Dungeon Master, running the group gathered at the Gygax home through his own creation. On the dungeon’s first level, the low-level adventurers find an ioun stone and “special sashes that give the wearer martial arts powers,” with which they easily defeat the level’s biggest challenge—three bugbears. Afterward, Ward writes:

“Gary critiqued [the dungeon] by calling me a PRICE IS RIGHT Monty Haul style DM. I gave out too much treasure for the effort.”

With a treasure-to-monster ratio between 7- and 8-to-1, we may, without unreason, expect similar critique.

Proceeding in this “Monty Haul style,” we should wear the term, as Ward does, “as a badge of honor.”

The lantern wanes again, and we’re out of oil. While we make our way back to the entrance, we’ll talk about awarding more experience for gold and look at adjusting for party size and the noncontiguous problem.


Notes

1 In these Deep Halls, we don’t up the strength of monsters to compensate for increased treasures, as Holmes advises. For extracting XP via more slain characters defeats our purpose. If we did increase monster strength, I expect The Deep Halls, though rich in rewards, would become known as a “killer” dungeon.

2 We might think ten rolls is a lot just to get a treasure. Consider, though, that a special or selected monster (as are the double treasures monsters) in any dungeon likely has a lair-type treasure. Take orcs, for example. To determine Treasure Type D, we make at least six rolls—if the orcs have already been cleaned out—and up to a maximum—if the orcs have been lucky—of 15 dice rolls. Then we must multiply by the fraction of the lair’s inhabitants.

3 What I call a “sequence” here is properly a ratio. I use the former to avoid confusion; we have already ratios for deadliness and treasure-to-monster. Further, where a ratio uses colons between terms and a sequence uses commas, I use dashes, again for clarity.