Wicked Little Delves – Vol 1

By Joseph R. Lewis
Dungeon Age Adventures
Levels 1-3

These are three one-shot dungeon delves. Each delve features nine rooms or locations full of challenges and interactivity. Each delve has only one type of monster, but they are complex, and there are lots of them!

This 22page adventure features three little dungeon, each with none rooms. A cellar with spiders, a little prison with Boom Hounds, and a little sea cave with crabs. Lewis is a master of the craft, with great descriptions, interactivity, and organization. These are a little small for me to get completely behind, but, for an evenings entertainment as a stand-alone, I thin they set the standard.

A feel like I’m coming off of writing a thousand shitty little reviews that don’t go in to much detail about what is bad and why. I just say “they’re garbage” and move on. Now, I think, I have the opposite problem. I’m faced with something decent and all I can say is “Hey, it’s pretty good.” But, let us endeavor to persevere! (Also, it’s the Friday morning of GenCon and I’m finishing this up before heading downtown to the con, so, you know …)

Lewis knows what’s he’s doing. In every way. He consistently pops out decent product. He understands D&D, he understands writing, and he understands what is needed in formatting to tie things together. This particular product, a compilation of three short adventures, exemplifies his ability. I’m only regerting it because they ARE a little short for me I know its unfair, but, also, I think these set the standard baseline for what to expect from an adventure. If you’re not at least this tall then perhaps hone things up by writing for 5e or something. If I wanted to grab an adventure to run tonight I wouldn’t hesitate to use one of these as a filler. 

I guess I should start with the formatting. H’es using a three-column style, with one room per column. We get a little room name and the dimensions, a little door and light summary, then a little section hat could be read-aloud or a summary for the DM. A few words are underlined. Those are expanded upon below in bullets with their own descriptions in more detail, notes about interactivity and so on. There are cross-references to other pages where needed, and monsters noted in red to stand out. Bolding and underlining some in to play. In other adventures I could bitch about almost all of this. Room dimensions? It’s on the map! Light and doors? Pfft. But, he integrates them in to the text easily, not wasting space but instead using ALL of his whitespace to effect. The room name is short, so he puts the dimensions right after that. No wasted whitespace after the room name and the ability to insert the dimension without impact to the text. A billion different types of formatting? That can be confusing. But not here. He knows why and how to format to get his point across without it feeling like it so over the top tha the text is now confusing to read, distracting. Three rooms per page?! Heresy! But, his rooms are stuffed with interactivity. The column and bullet format makes it easy to run the room and find what you need. It doesn’t FEEL like a wall of text or useless trivia but rather that the room is stuffed with shit to interact with … and also without it seeming like it is useless interaction. It’s his format, he owns it, figuratively, and shows he’s the master of it.

He understands the dungeon interactivity. His anderers do something interesting, allowing the DM to brng some life to an otherwise what could be boring wanderer. It’s not overblow. It’s just a few words, but they are FOCUSED words. Spiders “sleeping in a flooded sinkhole in the floor, releasing bubbles.” You can run that as an interesting encounter, even though its just a wanderer. And he does this in entry after entry. Just a little, and enough to riff on and findf fun with the players. 

His treasure is great. A compass, a black leather tricorn hat, a silver cutlass. Gold-red coins … whose scent attracts predators! ANd likewise the magic items. A crystal goblet that purifies an liquid placed in it. Powerful. Not presented mechanically. It has wonder. And yet, it’s crystal, so, you really carrying it around the dungeon with you? People trip and fall all the time in the dungeon. A magic rabbits foot. You can reroll a save. But one of your items vanishes in a puff of rabbit fur and muted screams. Groovy! It’s short and oh so wonderful for adding colour to your games!

In one adventure, a sea cave full of crabs, you have the opportunity to get the blessing of the shark goddess. At least, the person who has killed themost crabs gets the opportunity. And if so then you might become a were-shark. And, in one room: “When a were-shark touches the skeleton, it whispers, “Who dares disturb my slumber?” If the were-shark speaks nobly and mentions the crabs, then the ghost of the giant shark appears and slaughters all crabs nearby.” Fucking groovy, right?! Not really hidden depth, but just below the surface and ready to go. These don’t exist all over the place, it’s not set piece after set piece or gonzo after gonzo.; There’s just shit to explore in the rooms and fuck with and it FEELs like you’re exploring. 

Lewis knows what he’s doing. Like I said, I’m being a little unfair here, because of the length of them. But, also, like I said, these are perfect little things for dropping in on a random night where you want a one and done and don’t need something overly involved. I wish all of those shitty little adventures I review were as good as these.

This is $4 at DriveThru. Preview is none pages, which gets you a look at the first adventure, the spiders in the basement. That’s more than enough to get a good idea of what you are buying and see what he does well.


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12 Responses to Wicked Little Delves – Vol 1

  1. Stripe says:

    Not only can he box like the devil, that ol’ Joe Lewis can sure write a dungeon!

    • oh gosh, when I was a little kid and I was introduced to adults, EVERY SINGLE ONE of them would make some joke about boxing that I did not understand at all. No one ever stopped to explain it to me. I had to look it up in a book about boxing when I was in elementary school.

      • Sevenbastard says:

        Sounds like you need to put out 5 more of these. Then smack them all down on a small regional map and make a “box” set.

  2. LOL, I’m only planning to put out 3 volumes of Wicked Little Delves for now, but if folks really like the format then maybe I will do more in the future. You guys need to let me know what works at your tables, or what you’re looking for these days.

    • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

      How about Wicked Not-So-Little Delves? So many designers these days are obsessed with tiny little dungeons. You seem to know what you’re doing so give us something larger and with more stuff.

      Oh and not made for 5e thank you very much.

  3. Reason says:

    Since creator has asked for preferences. And I know you’re not strictly making Lankhmar but if I’m paying I want to know your _city_. Random is good but Yoon Suin is clear what it is first and foremost. I don’t want a random city- I want YOUR city and some ability to riff of that…

    In a Lankhmar supp I don’t want countless factions to be all random tables. To run Lankkhmar I need several (5-8) existing factions pre prepped, with a detailed base (lair or quarter)/ crew numbers and a few key figures + modus operandi.

    Then I need a table to generate others. I don’t need endless, I need flavourful, within the theme. 10-20 options deep each segment. More is gravy. But in play I may need 5-8 more realistically.

    That’s years of play. If it’s good and each smacks of Lankhmar/your city.

    • Oh gosh, absolutely. My city is not random at all, including the factions, they all have names and locations, members and goals, and relationships to other things in the city, all specific and spelled out. That’s why writing it is taking so long!

      I think I’m only using tables for encounters on the street, and certain types of treasure.

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