Friday, March 29, 2013

Tomb robbers are in your dungeon!

This post is inspired by Ivan Sorensen at I love his posts and have started using his ideas in my home game.

As the mists part, you see looming ahead the object of your long journey. The Great Barrow, ringed with ancient standing stones, rises from the soft turf. Your relief soon turns to apprehension however, as you spy a group of rough looking men with a train of pack mules surrounding the shattered stone doorway.

Seeing your party emerging from the mists, the group hastily draw swords and nock arrows, while the best armed of the group spits into the ground and snarls at you in heavily accented common “Well what do we have here?”

Meeting groups of NPC’s in a dungeon or adventuring area can be a great source of tension, conflict, treasure, or even allies. Whether they are adventuring parties or simple tomb robbers, potentially adversarial groups of humans & demi-humans make for exciting, complex, and dangerous encounters.

Using a “roll all the dice method” you can use the tables below to generate a group of adventurers or treasure seekers in moments.

Roll d4:

Leader level
Group Composition:
1-3 Tomb robbers (1 leader and 5-10 robbers)
4: Adventurers (1 leader and 3-8 adventurers of ½ level of leader round up)

Roll d6:
Add 4 to get party size if Robbers
Add 2 to get party size if Adventurers

Roll d8:
Leader Class
Adventurer Types (if Adventurers - roll for each member of party)
1-4 Fighter
5-6 Thief
7 Cleric
8 Magic User

Roll d10
Treasure Table
1-5 Just got here, nothing besides personal loot
6-8 Nothing to see here - Medium amount of loot (1-2 leader level up to 2500gp, 2-4 up to 5,000gp, in various coins/gems/valuables/magic items)
9-10 We’re just leaving - Monty Haul in the house (1-2 leader level up to 5000gp, 2-4 up to 10,000gp, in various coins/gems/valuables/magic items) +2 modifier to initial reaction table

Roll d12
Initial Reaction Table
1-2: Hostile, Attacks
3-5: Unfriendly, may attack
6-8: Neutral, uncertain
9-11 Indifferent, uninterested
12: Friendly, helpful
(+CHA mod may be applied)

Roll d20
Group Motivation:
1-11: Search for loot
12: Obtain fame
13: Kill a particular monster in the dungeon
14: Find a person who went into the dungeon
15: Find a person that was abducted by monsters
16: Make the surface world safer
17: Scout out the dungeon and report back
18: Obtain a specific item
19: Unhealthy level of curiosity
20: Religious or cultural imperative

Racial Composition
1-15 Human
16-17 Dwarves
18-19 Elves
20 Halflings or special (gnomes, drow, duergar, whatever you want to throw at them)

So an example roll of d4 (3), d6 (6), d8 (7), d10 (10), d12 (5), d20 (9) would result in :

10 Human Tomb Robbers
3rd Level Cleric leader
leaving the dungeon loaded with up to 10,000 gp in loot
Unfriendly, may attack (makes sense with the size of the group - perhaps the cleric is chaotic?)
Motivated by search for loot


  1. Thank you for the really, really cool tables!
    I'm printing these out and putting them on my DM's Binder.

    I totally agree with you that a party of adventurer's/dungeon robbers are a great source of tension. One of the tenses moments my group went through when I ran Raggis' The Grinding Gear was an encounter with another adventuring group. It generated so many questions: "should we join forces," "can we trust them," etc.

    Keep up the good work! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    1. Hey thanks a lot Tony!

      I see from your G+ profile you are playing Dungeon World. I'm going to read up on some of your experiences, as i'm thinking about introducing it to my group at some point soon (although hoping one of them will run it).

  2. This looks great.

    Can you pdf it so I can put it on

  3. Absolutely! Thanks for checking it out. I love your module.

    Here is a link to a pdf on Google Drive..If that's not downloadable let me know I can also email it to you.