It’s basically a giant book of dungeons (some of which even have dragons in them). And really, what could be more perfect than that?
At last year’s Origins, my wife and I tried out 4th Edition for the first time by participating in the many “Dungeon Delves” Wizards was sponsoring. It was a great introduction to the 4E combat rules – a party of five would use premade characters and fight their way through up to three quick encounters. No one ever really made it to the third encounter, but killing monsters earned you tokens that could be turned in for special limited edition repaint D&D minis and some RPGA goodies. It was so much fun, we probably played in a dozen of them (and were completely won over by 4E in the process).
Now Dungeon Delves have come to your tabletop. Want a quick encounter to insert into a campaign when the players go off the rails? Dungeon Delve has you covered. Feel like rolling up a few new characters and hacking your way through some dungeons just for fun? Got that too. Want to try out DMing without investing the effort in a campaign world? This book is like a DM’s Swiss Army Knife. It slices! It dices!
What exactly will you find in this book? Thirty dungeons, one for each level. Each dungeon contains three encounters. The dungeons are completely self-contained, but also have tips for expanding them into larger adventures, or for linking them to an existing campaign.
One of my favorite things about Dungeon Delve is that each dungeon is built using D&D dungeon tiles, and it tells you exactly which set the tiles came from, so you don’t have to approximate the rooms or draw them out with your wet erase pens. The designers seem to have leaned heavily on the Fane of the Forgotten Gods set, so if you pick that one up, you’ll be able to exactly duplicate about 90 precent of the dungeons.
While the dungeons are stocked with critters from the Monster Manual, more than 40 new monsters appear as well, with full stat blocks scattered across the encounters (there’s a handy index chart at the beginning of the book). If all that isn’t enough, the book offers some ideas for playing Dungeon Delve as a sort of standalone game. The DM controls the monsters and faces off against the players. Instead of role-playing and storytelling together, they compete against one and other. This is the perfect book for those nights when you just want to play out a tactical combat game without sitting around the common room at the inn or negotiating rewards with the local petty lord.
I’m definitely going to keep this one with me at the DM’s table every week.