Rolling Solo with Dungeoneer, Part 2, Exploring Port Blacksand
British RPGs Rolling Solo Fighting Fantasy

Rolling Solo with Dungeoneer, Part 2, Exploring Port Blacksand

Duncan Thomson

Part 2 of 3-part series playing solo with Dungeoneer. Part 1 was RPG and Character Introduction.

Dungeoneer solo - intro | partway | finish

Thoughts on Dungeoneer

The game is quick, skill resolution is also fast being mostly 2d6 under a skill, with modifiers. Or an opposed roll.

The slower part is finding the relevant rule, as information is spread across the particular situations.

Having the world lore in two adventures is useful for nicking bits and making your own rules. And there are enough beasts in the bestiary to get a sense for the Skill and Stamina of monsters. And maybe a special ability or two. The City of Port Blacksand is a good place to set a game, being fairly dangerous with adventure sites nearby without additions needed. And more lore is easy to find.

Combat in dungeoneer is dangerous. Every swing basically has a 3% chance of taking an opponent down. With characters and two foes in melee this would be about a 1 in 8 chance of a combatant going down at random. Every round!

It should also be quick but isn't really. Although most rounds one opponent or the other will be injured, you roll for damage each time. Each damage roll involves a d6 and comparison on a table. And most of the time 2 damage is dealt, meaning it takes a while for foes to go down. Taking far longer with multiple foes. It's still quick in comparison to D&D 1st to 5th Editions though (and the many variants).

Thoughts on Solo

I changed a skill on Fireborn after playing for a bit. It made no sense for her to have Thrown Dagger as well as Bow and spellcasting. So it made sense to change it to Lockpicking (a random roll), and fits in with Ridlaire training her a bit.

Every solo game is your own, so as long as you are enjoying it, make whatever changes you feel are needed. Changing a minor skill makes Fireborn feel more defined but makes no difference to Fireborn's power level (she still struggles at everything).

Using Rory's Story Cubes for events and as an ideas generator worked really well for me. It often lead down unexpected avenues, and each image can have several intepretations. If I had any queries I would usually roll one or two more cubes for more clarity and inspiration. I will start to look for more cubes to fill out my collection (I have about 20 currently).

I was also using my own homebrew d20 tables for Yes / No questions, Events and Altered Scenes. These have evolved with use and I'll cover the most recent versions in another article. I'm looking forward to trying other oracle systems in the future!

I also created a couple of d20 tables for city locations and NPC details. I often create custom tables for a particular solo game, but this is what I do for a living!

Finally I tried using the Fantasy Deck from GM's Apprentice. This time I was only using the descriptions, and found it didn't always have information I was looking for around NPCs and places, often pulling multiple cards to get an answer I wanted. I've used the sea deck before to good use and the fantasy deck as my oracle, but this time I felt it wasn't enough. Or I preferred the story cubes!

Adventures of Ridlaire and Fireborn (and One More)

From our Starting Out part last time our two elves are house-sitting a mage's garden in Port Blacksand. And now they're following up a lead on the Axe of Shipbuilding, an item somewhere in the city that can help with Fireborn's fear of trees.

Ridlaire knows people in the city, and they speak to a "sage" in a mouldy basement. The actual font of knowledge is a psychic fungi that connects to the sewers, that connects through a mystic, Maglyn. Demanding stories of elven forests from Ridlaire, they are given a location, the Seat of the Sea, a ruined theatre, on the shore outside the city walls.

They head out the gates using a pass Ridlaire has, but someone is there to meet them at the Seat of the Sea. A seaweed-covered cyclops , lurches from the water, crushes Ridlaire with a single blow (that double 6 thing) and advances on Fireborn, only to be distracted by strange music from the theatre...

Fireborn drags her wounded and unconscious mentor back, an amulet of his to get past the gate guards. By the time she returns to the house, Ridlaire has died, and Fireborn is distraught. Their friend Clover, who is working on a project for the house's owner, comforts the young elf.

They give Ridlaire to the plants and Fireborn rests for a few days. Clover knew Ridlaire of old and says he should never have come back, mentioning a magic crown and old enemies in the city. A delivery of a magic Ramshorn Cup comes with a note to Ridlaire apologising for it taking so long to return. Clover makes a pact with Fireborn, abandoning his research (which wasn't going very well) to avenge her old comrade's death. The half-dwarf is an experienced and opportunistic warrior.

Together they make their way back to the Seat on the Sea, sneaking up, and Clover takes it down with a single crossbow bolt (another critical - double 1's). Hacking off its's head to bury among the rocks. So Ridlaire was avanged.

Going into the ruined threatre, they find people in ragged costumes dancing around glowing webs, praising a giant spider. Fireborn discovers a replica of Port Blacksand made of webs, but then her fear is triggered by a man dressed as a tree. They are seen and a bloody fight ensues, with the spider-mage retreating. Clover and Fireborn take down five of their assailants, but that last, dressed as a cyclops, refuses to surrender, instead taking them both down with desperate energy (two double-6's in a row!)...

The two wake up on a beach, with none of their gear, charmed by the spider-mage in their mind. They are filled with the urge to get sunflowers from Emberfall's garden (the one Fireborn is looking after) and have a bag of gold to help them. Struggling with the change in circumstances, the two stumble back to Blacksand. Getting in is easy as the gates are open for a big festival. See familiar figures in costumes strung up, executed for being part of a plot. They grab food from the festivities and find that someone has already stolen their gold!

Back at the garden and house they scavenge a dagger and a halberd, tending plants before compelled by the spider's magic to find the sunflowers. The sunflowers are atop a tower, through a door guarded by a symbol of red eyes. Beyond they find a shifting mass of plants and bark, a forest spirit. After an attempt to get past, Fireborn gets Clover to retreat, and they let the spirit out into the garden. Looting some silver chalices, they scale up and get the sunflowers from atop the tower.

Back in the garden there is trouble, as it is being absorbed by the forest spirit they released. After trying to get aid from the spirit, both are bound in vines and it takes their sunflowers. A while later a nosy neighbour, Imani the Herbalist, lets them go. When the vines fall away, the spirit's gift is revealed, a bow that can become a club. Fireborn abandon's looking after the house after the mess and unexpected capture forest spirit they found within.

Looting the house, they find a couple of potions and a cache of weapons and armour, as well as a glowing gnarled staff of Carsepolis, which speaks in their minds of changing Port Blacksand. As they investigate further, a quake foreshadow's doom, the staff starts to glow and they have visions of the Seat of the Sun answering, starting to be restored.

They agree to move the crabs from the garden to the sea, getting there without problem. Only they find the staff conversing with the spider-mage, and a figure emerges from the staff, starts to bring back the Seat of the Sea as a towering magical lighthouse, heralding a new age for Port Blacksand, rebuilding the ghost of the past. Both Clover and Fireborn manage to break free of the spider-mage's control, passing out.

When they reawaken, surrounded by vines and plants they find themselves in the Blacksand Public Gardens, where an elven spirit has turned it into elven forest, and the city of Port Blacksand is in a panic...

Characters Updated


Elf female. Unpredictable, afraid of trees, mourning mentor. Skill 5, Stamina 15, Luck 8

Special Skills - Axe 6, Bow 6, Dark Seeing 6, Lockpicking 6, Magic 8, Wood Lore 7

Spells - Fear (1), Mirror Selves (2), Sleep (2), Ward (1)

Equipment - Damaged dagger, armour, Bow +1 of the Sylvan Spirit (can be used as a club), axe, lockpicks, elven silver charms (very valuable)


Half-dwarf female. Opportunistic, strange projects. Skill 9, Stamina 19, Luck 11

Special Skills - Axe 11, Crossbow 11, Dark Seeing 10, Etiquette 11, Sea Lore 10, Underground Lore 10 (1 XP spare)

Equipment - Axe, crossbow, armour, 2 potions of stamina

Current Threads and Extras

The Extras is a list of NPCs, factions and locations which are part of the story.

  1. Emberfall, elf plant mage. Crab pet, owns house, cousin of Fireborn, tall, one arm is vines.
  2. Hiro the Crab, claims to be a seer, manipulative, talks telepathically. Guardian
  3. Maglyn, fungi grower, knows lots of people, greedy, no belongings
  4. Seat on the Sea, Carsepolis ruined theatre, restored as a strange lighthouse, outside Port Blacksand. Spiders
  5. Spider-Mage, charms, spies in city, map of Port Blacksand
  6. Lanric,, servant of spider-mage, cyclops costume, magnetic personality
  7. Imani the Herbalist, thief, neighbour of Emberfalls, spying, nosy
  8. Blacksand Public Garden, elven forest like, elven plant tower.

The Threads are questions, plot hooks and ongoing threads.

  1. Overcome Fireborn's fear of trees by finding Axe of Shipbuilding
  2. Find the Axes of Shipbuilding in the Seat of the Sea
  3. Find who mysterious benefactor of Cup is
  4. Regain equipment from theatre
  5. Discover why Emberfall had plant spirit imprisoned
  6. Find out what quakes foreshadow

Finishing Up

Looking forward to seeing what ends up happening in Port Blacksand, with raised stakes!

Then onto another British RPG, but quite a different one!