Three weeks ago at Rincon ’09, I had the opportunity to play in Wil Wheaton’s Dwarven Dungeon Delve of Doom benefiting Child’s Play, a charity that provides games, toys, and other items for sick kid’s in children’s hospitals around the world. I had a great time and wanted to share the experience. I hoped to get this post out earlier, but real life often gets in the way.
First, an overview: Wil Wheaton came up with this idea to run dungeon delves (short dungeon crawls that last around 2 to 3 hours) for charity. He ran the first two delves at Rincon ’09, one on Friday and Sunday. Five people participated in each delve. It was a $50 donation to play. Players had to show up at the registration desk when the con opened to sign up for the Delve.
When I first read Wil’s announcement on his blog, I thought, “I’d love to do this.” My first hurdle was what my friends and I call the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). Now, up until this point, my wife has been accepting of this new Dungeons & Dragons hobby of mine. Actually, besides some good-natured ribbing, she has been very supportive. But, I was worried I was pushing the limit because I was already planning on spending much of the weekend at the con while she was at home, pregnant and watching our 18 month old daughter. So, I didn’t know what to expect when I told her I wanted to spend $50 to play Dungeons & Dragons with the guy who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek. When I told her what I wanted to do, her response: “Oh my gosh! I used to have the biggest crush on him!” She didn’t have a problem with it.
My second hurdle was to actually get into the delve. I knew I had to get there early to get a slot. To complicate things, I had a 11 am dentist appointment to finish up a root canal. The procedure ended earlier than I thought and after a quick (but, carefully eaten) lunch, I got to the con a little after 1pm to try to secure a spot. I was the ninth person in line and got into the Sunday delve. It’s funny because if not for that root canal I probably wouldn’t have gotten there early enough to get into the delve. I’m chalking it up to some cosmic karmic balance thing.
On to the delve. I get to the table a little early. A couple of players are already there and Wil is setting things up. First, I had to pick my character from the pregenerated characters. Every character was a Dwarf. This the first of several good tips for running a delve that I picked up from this experience. Since this was a dungeon delve at a convention, the time constraint, combat heavy orientation, and players unfamiliar with each other can make role play difficult. Since every character is a dwarf, it opened up some easy RP opportunities. I chose a warlock because that was the class I was most familiar with of the ones remaining and named him Darbin Darkboot.
I also perused our generous gift bag. From Wizards of the Coast we received the Player’s Handbook 2 and Monster Manual 2 (neither of which I had) as well as the mini we used. From Gamestation dot Net, we received a set of dice, the D6 was engraved with “W2D2 Rincon ’09″ to commemorate the event. Wil had also gotten a set of crayons for each of us because the numbers on the dice weren’t colored in. From what I’m told, in the old days, you old-timers had to color in your own dice with crayons. I’m also told you tied onions to your belts, as it was style of time. I was already excited to just be in the delve and contribute to a great charity. The nice gifts were more than I expected.
Then, we dove into the game. We were all members of the Swackhammer clan. We found ourselves at the Adventure Hook inn. The problem: We had drank our way through all the ale. So, we needed to raid a dungeon in order to free up the supply. (Or something like that. My memory fails me a little on this point.) This was the second good tip I picked up for a delve. Using a simple and fun adventure hook like dwarves questing to get more beer opens up RP possibilities. There were several funny jokes and character moments that came out of it.
The first encounter was a tense, close quarters battle with some skeletons and ghouls. I had some trouble getting away from monsters to fire off eldritch blasts. The second encounter involved some zombies who dispensed cold damage which prompted one of the players to comment, “If we kill these zombies and take them back to the pub we could have cold ale all the time!” +2 to his next attack. The third encounter was the finale. It took place in a large room with brazier traps. The Big Bad was an evil necromancer brought to life by Wil’s appropriately evil cackling whenever the necromancer spoke. There were even a few references to Jim Darkmagic in there. The necromancer was protected by a huge zombie hulk. My warlock dealt a devastating blow with a fire damage daily power. You see the effects of that blast here:
Wil describes a devastating blow against the zombie hulk.
In the end, the Swackhammer clan defeated the necromancer and got back to what dwarves do best: drinking.
All in all, it was a great time and Wil really hit on a great idea with this charity delve thing. I am sure he will continue to do at future cons if possible. Mr. Wheaton is every bit the cool, gracious, and funny geek that he comes across as in his blog and podcasts. He’s a helluva DM as well.
This really was the perfect end to my first ever gaming convention.
Here are the stats for the magical item Wil Wheaton was wearing: