While orcs are furnished with elaborate stats for building a lair or caravan expedition, goblins get short treatment in both  #DelvingDeeper  and the original game.  Time to amend I say! Here are some (totally unofficial) ramblings on goblins to tinker with:

The GOBLIN-KIND include goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. These are found together in underground cave complexes; they see in normal darkness as if it were light but must subtract 1 from morale checks and all other dice when fighting in full daylight or bright light.

Regular goblins are the smallest and most numerous variety, able to ride upon the backs of giant wolves–albeit reducing their speed to 12″. Hobgoblins are large and fearless goblins, having +1 morale. Bugbears are the greatest hairy goblin giants but, despite their size and loping gait, they move very quietly and will surprise enemies with a throw of 3-6 on a six-sided die.

Unofficial Stats

  • Goblin [AC 8  MV 6″  HD 1-1  AL C],
  • Hobgoblin [AC 6  MV 9″  HD 1+1  AL C],
  • Bugbear [AC 7  MV 9″  HD 3  AL C].

(Note slightly weaker ACs).

The Lair

The goblin lair will be a sprawling cave complex of several levels where 40-400 goblins dwell. 10-60% of these will be hobgoblins and for every 20 hobgoblins there will be an additional 1-6 bugbears. For every 50 regular goblins present there will be an additional 3-30 giant wolves serving as mounts.

If there are fewer than 100 goblins all told the lair is two-thirds likely to be subjugated by a group of ogres, or giants, or by a powerful Necromancer, anti-Superhero, or Evil High Priest; each with his attendant entourage. Otherwise there will be a 4 HD goblin King with all the advantages of a bugbear and a Hero (including the possibility of possessing magic items). He will have a bodyguard of 8-28 mail and shield armored hobgoblins. If there are at least 300 goblins present the goblin King’s bodyguard will have an additional 1-6 ogres, or 1-6 werewolves, or 1-6 trolls. The goblin treasure hoard will comprise types D+B.

Outside the Lair

10-60% of liar numbers–excluding the goblin King and his bodyguard (or the lair subjugators)–are wandering outside the lair at any time (presumably by night). If 60% are found outside the lair then they will be a single army and will include the goblin King and the entirety of his bodyguard (or all the subjugators and their entourages). Otherwise, it is 50% likely that any group outside the lair will be split into two equal subgroups, with a like possibility that each subgroup will be repeatedly split until further subdivision does not occur.

The Number of Monsters

An opportunity for improvement for the next iteration of #DelvingDeeper is in the number of monsters appearing. #DelvingDeeper V4 assumes around 8 players, whereas recent polls show that 4-6 players is now the norm.

According to the original game, a group of 4-6 players can expect to run into 2-12 bandits, goblins, orcs (or similar) on the 1st dungeon level. Or 3-18 on the 2nd dungeon level. And so on. Those are some tough numbers for a group of six players–let alone a group of four.

A magic-user may be able to nuke a few groups, but eventually it will come down to fight club with the players outnumbered. This is where player strategy is paramount. Retreating to choke points, use of missiles, spears, and plate armor really counts.

This is also is where morale is the players’ supreme advantage.

#DelvingDeeper V4 recommends non-player morale should be checked at one-third numerical losses across the board.

This means a dozen bandits might be defeated by the loss of just four men. Well now… this is beginning to look more plausible for our group of 4-6 players.

Assuming a morale check is called, the bandits (or orcs or whatever) would require a throw of 9+ on 2d6 (28% likely) to carry the fighting to the players. On a roll of 6-8 they would hold their ground; presumably only attacking if attacked. On a roll under 6 they would retreat, flee, or surrender. Now it’s starting to seem almost too easy!

But it won’t be. The dice will be fickle, and opponents such as berserkers–who need never check morale–are all the more dangerous. Beware of these!

Delving Deeper V1 + V2

Version One

#DelvingDeeper first appeared in October 2012, some 10 months after I joined the team, as three digest-sized booklets comprising the so-called #DelvingDeeperReferenceRules. These were immediately available as PDFs at no cost–and still are today.

The #DelvingDeeperReferenceRules V1 comprise:

  • Volume I: The Adventurer’s Handbook
  • Volume II: The Referee’s Guide
  • Volume III: The Monster and Treasure Reference
DD V1 Three Booklets
Delving Deeper V1: Three Booklets

The title page of each booklet identifies it as “Version 1 October 2012” and bears the publishing marks of Brave Halfling Press (John Adams), Immersive Ink (Simon Bull), and Wobbly Goblin Press (Cameron Dubeers) being three of many collaborators on the project.

The cover art on the booklets (by Mark Allen) are the only illustrations (excepting maps) in the set. The interior typeface is a densely set 9pt Futura, with the copious tables having questionably bold borders and heavy shading.

Heavy duty tables
Delving Deeper V1: Heavy Duty Tables

V1 contains a few curiosities that have vanished from subsequent revisions, including:

  • A table indicating dice to roll for common number ranges (I:p5),
  • Two full page examples of play (I:p6 and II:p15),
  • Wisdom contributing to languages known (I:p8),
  • Attack Matrices covering AC range 0 to 9 (I:20 and II:p17),
  • A number of imported player spells (I:22-23),
  • A sample dungeon cross-section (II:p6), and map and key (II:p10-11),
  • A very brief treatment of hex-crawl exploration (II:p18-26),
  • The alignment triangle diagram (III:p3),
  • Monster ACs to -3; a number with exaggerated HD.
Delving Deeper V1: Sample Dungeon
Delving Deeper V1: Sample Dungeon

The V1 Errata Sheet

V1 also contains a number of editorial errors (wholly my own responsibility!) which necessitated the release of a four digest-sized page Errata Sheet in March 2013.

V1 Errata Sheet
V1 Errata Sheet

Version Two

V2 of the #DelvingDeeperReferenceRules was issued in March 2013, simultaneously with the V1 Errata Sheet (show above).

This release is essentially identical to its predecessor, differing only insofar as the then-known errata are integrated into the three booklets.

The title page of each booklet now identifies it as “Version 2 March 2013”.

Delving Deeper V2 Title Page
Delving Deeper V2 Title Page

Here’s a Thing

(That’s never likely to be seen beyond this post).

Two Copies of Eyre Tor
Two Copies of Eyre Tor


So what the frig is Eyre Tor?? Or more appropriately, what was it?

Way back–before I’d ever heard of the #DelvingDeeper project–I apparently had a bit of time on my hands. Around 2007-2008, I was running a D&D campaign that included face-to-face play with a couple of disconnected groups, as well as some play-by-email. Fair to say, I think, this campaign was part of my early “retro” gaming scene experience. I was already prone to assembling detailed rules booklets for passingly interested players, but here was a new opportunity to indulge two of passions at once: a retro-rules booklet? I was hopelessly into it.

Between 2007 and 2010 there must have been six incrementally more complete drafts of Eyre Tor, culminating in a version 6.1 (depicted above) with its glorious cover and interior art by Tim Ide. But now I have just the two hard copies.

It’s kinda fun to browse thru it, looking back at how I must have been thinking about OD&D and house rules back then. Check out the audacious caption younger-me put on the inside cover of the final draft (2010):

Eyre Tor Inside Cover
Eyre Tor Inside Cover
Campaign Setting & Supplementary Rules Options
 for use with
 The Original 1974 Fantasy Role Playing Game
 and its Modern Simulacra

I’ll have to remember that 🙂

Inside there are some rules I question now, but there are also some that I’m still using today. The 10 second flyby of my then-house-rules:

* Three alignments (good, selfish, evil),
* Fauns as a player race,
* Rangers, Barbarians, Templars, Men of Faith/Sisters of Mercy as player classes, including new level titles for all player types,
* Silver standard, 1gp = 6sp = 36cp,
* Expanded equipment lists, poor/good/exceptional quality gear,
* Imperial loads/coarse-grained encumbrance,
* A bunch of complicated (and unnecessary?) combat rules,
* Whole new lists for spell levels 1-4 with spells such as The Irreproachable Susurrus ,  The Fiat Libation, The Inconceivable Perspicacity and The Confabulation of Lucid Colloquy to name but of few from a list of 70-ish mysteriously named incantations.

So still some potentially interesting stuff in there.

Perhaps ironically, I did approach both Matt Finch and John Adams with the prospect of pushing Eyre Tor as a S&W or White Box supplement, but neither had capacity to take it on back in 2009-2010. In retrospect, that may have been quite fortunate–ultimately, it meant that I had capacity to help on #DelvingDeeper V1 in 2012.


Early Hint of V5 Cleric

Because #DelvingDeeperReliquary will be the first time I’ll need to ask “real” money for #DelvingDeeper (true, the Lulu softcover was a “real” $4.95, at/just below cost price), I want it to genuinely be a step up from where DD is at today. There are dozens of retro-clones out there, so why would anyone bother themselves with another revision of Delving Deeper?

Sure, there will be beautiful illustrations. Sure, there will be a beautiful hardcover edition. But what about the content ?

I’m not ready to let the genie completely out of the bottle just yet, but I can say the content will be beautiful too. I’m eager to share the joy of what’s shaping up so, without giving too much away, perhaps a little preview is in order so you can get an impresion of the obsessive detail that’s going into Reliquary?

Here’s the annotated first half of the cleric entry for your reading pleasure (Reliquary itself will not include annotations in its main text):

Clerics must only be Men [1] of law or chaos [2]; they cannot remain neutral [3] in the eternal struggle [4].

Clerics are fanatically religious [5] missionaries [6] or templars, hospitallers [7], or other brothers [8] of a monastery or Order [9] guided by the Powers “above” [10]. They desire to establish temples [11] and to tithe money and jewels for their Order [12]. In performing their duty clerics have some of the advantages of both fighters and magic-users [13]; they are allowed shields and armor and non-edged weapons (excluding arrows) [14] and need never check morale [15]. Moreover, a lawful cleric can turn the undead [16] and has a repertoire of clerical spells [17].

(And of course it continues on in this fashion…)



[1] M&M p6: “Clerics are limited to men only.”

[2] M&M p7: “Clerics are either Law or Chaos” (1st-4th prints). From December 1975 (5th+ prints) this restriction was delayed to the 7th level.

[3] M&M p9: Patriarchs and Evil High Priests are listed under law and chaos, respectively. No cleric is list under neutrality. Note especially that a cleric cannot remain neutral.

[4] CM p28: The “epic struggles” of fantasy literature are cited.

[5] CM p19-20 describes “Religious Orders of Knighthood” which appear to be represented as Dervishes in D&D, who “will always be led by an 8th-10th level cleric”. M&T p6: “Dervishes are fanatically religious nomads” and (of nomads): “These raiders…” so dervishes are effectively “fanatically religious raiders” whose leader-types are always clerics. I.e., those clerics associated with dervishes are themselves among the “fanatically religious”. Since all DD-clerics will ultimately attract (and be leader-types of) dervishes, it seems reasonable to apply their fanaticism to the clerical class.

[6] The word “missionaries” is an introduction, surmising the 1973 draft Vol2 p3 which has (of Clerics): “The object of a Cleric’s life is to be accepted in and work through a monestary or an Order” and: “Their adventures are more on the order of quests”. Moreover, U&WA p15 also has: “the Cleric will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task, under Quest”. DD characterises these quests as religious missions.

[7] CM p20 (Saracens): “They will take no prisoners from religious orders of knighthood (Templars and Hospitallers)”.

[8] The word “brother” is an introduction. “Knight” would better reflect CM’s “Religious Orders of Knighthood” (cf note [5]), however “knight” also carries broader secular implications. Arneson described the “Brothers of the Swamp” (BM p28-) as a “religious order” (albeit, an evil one) and has a cleric “Brother Richard, the Flying Monk” in his Adventures in Blackmoor. Moreover, “brother” is a term easily associated with monasteries and orders (cf note [9]), and which features in DD’s clerical level titles (cf the Brother, Brother Sergeant, and the Brother Knight).

[9] CM p19-20 discusses “Religious Orders of Knighthood”. Also, 1973 draft Vol2 p3 has the term “Monastery or Order” four times in the one paragraph defining clerics.

[10] M&M p7 “Clerics … receive help from ‘above'” and M&M p33 (Communue): “A spell which puts the Cleric in touch with the powers ‘above'” and also (not seminal to DD, but FWIW) GH p8 “All cleric spells are considered as ‘divinely’ given”.

[11] M&M p12 (re NPCs): “Clerics want some assurance of having a place of worship in which to house themselves.”

[12] U&WA p15 (castles): “Clerics will require passersby to give a tithe (10%) of all their money and jewels” and 1973 draft, Vol2 p3 (Clerics): “The object of a Cleric’s life is to be accepted in and work through a monestary or an Order, and therefore gold pieces are only as important as a tribute or tithe.”

[13] M&M p7: “Clerics gain some of the advantages from both of the other two classes (Fighting-Men and Magic-Users)”

[14] 1973 draft, Vol2 p3 (Clerics): “They may not use edged weapons.” and M&M p7: “they have the use of magic armor and all non-edged magic weapons (no arrows!)”.

[15] Clerics can occur as players or non-players, and as normal or heroic types. DD presumes clerics have the same fanaticism ascribed to dervishes (cf note [5]) who “fight… never checking morale” M&T p6.

[16] M&M p22: “Clerics versus Undead Monsters”.

[17] M&M p7: “they have numbers of their own spells”.


Well folks, that’s where this boat is headed. There’ll be hardly an idle phrase or casual word to be found. Long live OD&D!

Thanks especially to +Daniel Boggs for his keen-eyed review, and who remarked to me “by far the best, most accurate rendering of the 3lbb + CHAINMAIL Cleric class”.  I’ll admit that made me feel a wee bit proud of what’s coming.