A recounting of an unfortunate foray into the Shadowdark

Ran Shadowdark for 3 of my regular 5e fellas tonight.
We used the built in adventure the Lost Citadel of the Scarlet Minotaur.
The party? A half orc thief, a dwarven fighter, and an elderly human wizard…

We began as the dwarven fighter finished up his character creation (it’s so simple you can really roll one up while the game is going)
The thief easily scaled the 40’ columns to the roof and hooked up a rope, the wizard failed a dex check bad and even after a chance for their ally to catch them, it failed and they plummeted 40’ to their near death (having only 1 hit point).
The others climbed back down and managed to get him stabilized and decided to camp outside the dungeon and strategize.
The next morning they scaled the rope again and went directly to the central courtyard (where the main boss is 50% likely to be) and of course the minotaur was there. They waited until it pushed open a stone door and vanished into the citadel.
As they made their way in they tracked the minotaurs hooveprints as far as they could.
They encountered an injured beastman who came to consciousness swinging a sack of dead rats at them before running off.
They explored further before an ochre jelly took the fighter down.
He would last for 2 rounds before dying and they managed to stabilize him on their last chance just before he expired (the table
cheered lol).
The rules say once a character is stabilized they are alive but unconscious. Nothing about how LONG they are unconscious.
Rather than have the party all rest or wait for the fighter to come for hours I had him roll a DC15 Con check each turn and when he met it he came back with 1d4 hp (originally had 1d8).
They managed to kill the jelly and find some good loot before entering the twisting labyrinth (this is where it dragged, I rolled random encounters on a d6 but never got a 1 to trigger a random encounter.
They worked their way all the way through the labyrinth to an exit and thats where they made their fateful decision.
Rather than escape with their loot they decided to turn back and explore one more corridor, that just happened to be where the minotaur was.
It gored the dwarven fighter with a critical hit, killing him instantly.
The halforc thief snatched a piece of loot from the dwarf before fleeing towards the exit. The wizard cast Sleep and failed, then he too fled.
The minotaur charged after them and I had it attack the player with the lowest dex. It sliced the thief in half while the wizard narrowly escaped with his life,
Looking back to see the minotaur dragging the remains of his allies back into the dark depths of the labyrinth halls.
He took no treasure so I’m not sure how much XP he should gain, but he’s mapped out about 1/5th of the citadel.
Will he return? Who knows.

It was a blast, but I would definitely prefer to have something printed instead of flipping between the gm guide and player guide pdf to find rules.
The real time torch timer was great! Kept us aware of time and we played for about 3.5 hrs.
There was minimal role playing (which was fine) but our group is used to doing more of that generally.


Minotaurs didn’t kill them, hubris did.


Exactly true and they owned up to it haha. They knew, I knew, the dice knew.
Once they turned back for “one more round” and the Minotaur made its attack of COURSE it rolled a nat 20 doing 28 pts of damage to the dwarf with 6hp hahaha.
Suitably epic ending though



lol wonderful! I love it!

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Sounds awesome! How did everyone do with the rules and the general OSRishness of it?

The rules were no problem for the group! They appreciated the simplicity and the turn order going clockwise rather than popping around and figuring out initiative.

We homebrewed a pair of brass knuckles for the fighter who wanted them, just used the club (d4) stats but I let him roll 2d4 and take the best die yo represent two punches without having multiple attacks.
Homebrewed the “recovery” check to see how he came back after going unconscious.

They loved the OSRishness, said it was refreshing to JUST PLAY and not bog down too much.
We talked for about 30 minutes after about the concept of A dungeon and A city and the rhythm of delving and then going back to town (which everybody was intrigued by).
The lone surviving character with a chunk of a map led us to wonder what he would do back in town, would he recruit a new party? Super fun and I think gives some context to the tropes of quest givers and dungeons in general to the newer players. Like THIS is exactly HOW a random wizard ends up in a tavern sending you on a quest.


Sounds like a great time!


That might be a very underrated selling point for players that aren’t super into crunch!