MUTLTI-GENERATIONAL GAMING: Running Dyson's Delve for my brother & nephew

I decided recently to approach my brother and nephew about playing a D&D game online since we all are scattered across 3 states of the US and span 30 years of time.

Two key things to appreciate about this, which is why it's so heartwarming, is that: (1) my brother is 10 years older than me. I remember walking into his room at 4 and seeing him playing D&D with his friends. I never really knew what they were doing, but I did watch the D&D cartoon with him. It would be 1989 and buying 2e AD&D for I really took a step into D&D. (2) When my nephew was growing up, I introduced him to videogames, anime, and board games, turns out what stuck was a love of "retro" videogames-- now he's interested in how D&D influenced them. And his dad never played D&D with him at all.

So to unite the generations, I decided to run a BX D&D (1981) game (using Old-School Essentials) and, since my brother said he didn't think he could do anything too complex other than like a Caves of Chaos run, Dyson's Delve (2019). I also decided to continue to lean old-school by just slowly building out the world as their interest lead- no planning way ahead or trying to set up some grand storyline.  And I even sent them dice from Roll4Initative- my brother's first set in ~35 years.


I was going to have them roll 3d6 down-the-line and run with what they got. Initially, I pushed for them to run 2 characters, but they opted just to start with one each. As a small bit of prep, I read through Dyson's Delve and wrote a small table of motivations for adventuring.

The guys end up rolling two clerics as below:

Generated with 3d6 down-the-line

I also started them out at 2500 XP, which is enough for most classes to be level 2, but not all classes.

The guys also ended up rolling a "1" on the motivations table below:

  1. PCs quest to retrieve bones of famous adventuring family ancestors & inter them in the family crypt
  2. PCs owe d6 x 10,000 GP to local crime lord
  3. A family member of PC afflicted by a disease only cured by well or spring water from the underground
  4. The evil duplicate of one PC has kidnapped the princess and fled to the dungeon
  5. The "Curse of Sait Ulther" has returned! Five fantastical monster parts are needed to complete the spell that will vanquish it
  6. At the end of 10 flights of stairs, there is a dragon who grants wishes

Their goal morphing slightly into this:

The Abbot, a gentle but financially oriented man, and the Prior, a stern and pious man,  have decided to build a reliquary to encourage pilgrimage to the abbey. They decided the task of retrieving the bones of early saints from the local dungeon belongs to members of the clerical order- Bros. Phellinus and Cadfeal.

As so off they go!


The brothers skirt the goblin camp in the ruins and head for the cave entrance to the south. Br. Cadfeal used his background in animal handling to intimidate the giant ferrets, fat on killed giants rats, therein. 

From there they delved further into the cave structure and meeting Baron Zigfried, a regal ghoul looking for manners and meat. The clerics were full on the former but lean on the latter. The Baron was stingy with its information but directed them lower into the crypts. And followed.

After finding the tombs of some monks, but no saints, the clerics decided to grab what they could of the humble relics and make it back to the surface. However, the stalking Baron had to be dealt with.

The two clerics took up positions on either side of the tunnel, covering their lantern with a sack, and making loud small talk to confuse the ghoul. The ghoul was not surprised, but the clerics seized the initiative and Br. Phellius landed a critical hit- cavitating the skull! After scooping up the jewelry and magic relics, the clerics made way for home. And level 3.


Since the previous session was a hit, I decided to create an abbey proper (see fig 2). To hopefully encourage role-play, I also created the “90-10 Edict” to establish some outlines of cleric behavior and provide links with the abbey hierarchy. I also established that the abbot wants to build two things: an ossuary to saints and a reliquary to humble monks-- because they want to attract religious pilgrims for the gold.

Our two brothers set off once again, but exciting more cation brought along two hirelings lured more by the promise of gold than the clerics’ inspirational speeches (both have a CHA of 7 & 8).

This time the clerics decided to avoid a tussle with the giant ferrets in the south cave and instead build a stake and rope ladder up the west side of the ruin. With amazement in the DM’s eyes they were able to quietly slip up and over the wall and down into the first level.

Luck ran out here as both hirelings missed the two goblin guards and one escaped to find their hobgoblin bosses-- the clock was ticking. With some quick scouting, they found the tomb of St. Ulther! Praise be to AZLAN! And they also found a couple of other sealed tombs that the goblins had marked as containing undead. Not ones to take their eyes off the mission, the brothers Phellius and Cadfeal beat a hasty retreat with bones and hirelings in tow just as 3 hobgoblins reach the top of the stairs.

They drenched the stairs with oil and toss down a torch to erect a flaming barrier to guard their retreat. Up and over they make it again, but now they are caught by a goblin patrol! Gaining the initiative, Br. Phellius charges forward, mace in hand, and with AZLN in his heart. Dice are rolled, bounce, bounce...natural 20!

Eleven points of damage certainly converts the goblin to a corpse and the sight causes the others to flee. The return home is uneventful.

Next session we will see if this particular ossuary can attract pilgrims.

FIG 1: What they have explored in the first two sessions of Dyson's Tower

FIG 2: Since the game seemed to have legs, I whipped up a quick abbey & edicts for the cleric order


  1. Sounds like a neat campaign! That goal reminds me of a visit I did to the capuchin crypts in Rome:

    1. Nice link! It is exactly that type of thing I had in my head. I was mainly thinking of the French catacombs, but I should have known humans might actually do something like this.