Raptor's musings Another day in the dark beneath



Greetings and good day. Raptor has hit a creative roadblock so I wanted to pop this here and see if anyone else has had same idea as I and maybe brainstorm a bit.

I’ve been obsessing over Deep rock galatic (Who doesnt like dwarves and mining?) and during hottest days of summer I started a homebrew project to bring good old pickaxe wielding fellas to ICRPG. I call it

Another day in the dark beneath

My plan was to write “Employee guide” for players and “Employer guide” as toolkit for GM (Ie, for myself) but as said while working on later booklet I’ve ran into some creative troubles.

Base idea for this project is to bring in all the good and interesting stuff into ttrpg table in a way that it can be run as oneshots, has some replayabilty and encompasses three core facts I personally enjoy in Deep rock galatic. These are:

Comradery, nothing brings people closer than risk of death for faceless corpration after all. xD
Loot and gear based gameplay, Simple go down, dig some minerals, get up and get loot, simple and functional.
Fear of the dark, there is something primal about rummaging through dark caverns full of hostile lifeforms and other unearthly perils.

So how does it work out then and what I’ve got?

I have four kin (or bioform), Dwarves, Elves, Ratfolk and Kobolds. Each kin gets little background and “Family eirloom” a powerful item character starts game with. This varies from elven healing songs to kobold’s ancient scale.

Four classes. I personaly enjoy 1st edition approach on classes so I worked them little dirrefently. Each class starts with preset gear, including class specific gear (Like Hook shot for Recon) as well as single class ability (like Recon’ Darksight). My goal was to make class very specific in their workings but in a way that they support eachother. Current classes are: Miner, Runesmith, Guardian and Recon.

Bunch of gear. I have preset lists of weapons, common gear and items which character’s start with or which they can stock up if they go for another dive.

What I am working with.

Depth and darkness

Simple plan. For each mission, ie dive, party is sent down to multi level, semi randomized caverns to dig up x amount of minerals or collect other specialized loot. In 1d20 Turns, elevator returns to starting room and they can get up safely.

Room DC. My idea was that room DC follows two things. Depth and light. DC starts at 8 on highest depth and increases by 2 for every depth beneath it up to maximum of 20. Then there is light. In microsetting I have for this one, Darkness in the depths of earth is a living, hostile entity. It doesnt want intruders and will kill and harm those who seek to dvelve within it. This means that if party doesnt have enough light, Room DC increases and in pitch black the darkness begins to consume them but on flipside more torches they burn up or better lanterns they wield, easier things get to them.

Then there is swarms. Dark beneath is full of hostiles which I’m planning to group into four factions. While there is a risk that newly discovered room might already have say, bunch of vampires digging up old coffin, there is also risk that hostiles swarm up and go hunting the party. This is measure with a Swarm dice.

Swarm dice starts as 1d8 in second level and decreases in die size down to minimum of 1d4. At end of each Round, dice tics down towards one step or two steps if party performed any Noisy action, like blewing up that pesky coffin. When Swarm dice reaches 0, swarm appears to random room connected to the room party is currently in and begins to proceed down to end their operations while new swarm dice is rolled and threat continues…

That would be a brief sum up on things overall, but as said, I’m little stuck. xD Maybe I just need little slap on the head or sanity check but my employer guide has been collecting dust for a while now. I’m little itchy on enemy types or various methods of how to randomize the dungeons so it would be easy to just sit down, roll a grew, roll a dungeon and get to work.

If anyone has any input on this or guestions just hit me up. I’m happy to share and would really appreciate some feedback. Only reason why I’m not putting overly specifi stuff here is because this post is already too long and I dont know if topic is interesting to people but here you are.

Rock on and roll dem bones.


Loving the concept so far. :slight_smile:

The players have a clear senses of what needs to be done from the get go. This is great.

There is urgency (the swarm)and a clear time frame (d20 rounds)that encapsulates the diving/drilling mission for the corpo.

Procedural generation is great when you know how the dungeons or caves have to be like. So the first step is to create by hand a dungeon you like and find the criteria of why you like it or not. Then you can build some sort of dungeon/cave procedural generation algorithm. Don’t underestimate premade content.

Playtest it ! You didn’t mention any playtest so I assumed that you didn’t. If this is the case, this is clearly the very first step to restart your project !

What seems to me to be some weak points in my humble opinion :

  1. ICRPG already have elves and other less classical bio forms… take advantage of your setting and make a dwarven setting in the Warpshell univers. It could be so great to have versions dwarven ethnicity and background to pick from.

  2. What are there in those caves for the players ? I hope this is juste not dropping the poor players into a pit and see how they die… well that could be fun but sometimes a player needs to see what there are for them. I guess a lot of loots and not only ressources for the greedy corpo, am I right? You mentioned it I think but I prefere to ask you to be sur. :slight_smile: (not really a weak point when I re-read it haha)

Your project looks great, propose an alpha version on the forum and find players that will dare to live your madness ! :slight_smile:


Thank you for the kind words and some good feedback. I havent yet playtested this, because I originally started to plan it out as a oneshot but idea got bigger and bigger and then I hit the wall. xD My plan is to try and make this sort of a “beer and bretzel” scenario which would be easy to deploy for quick one night of fun.

To reply your notes.

  1. I was thinking of making this as its own setting as in scifi fantasy but with heavy inspiration of ICRPG and Warpshell. I havent thought of the lore too deeply but I had few concepts in mind and I sorta wanted to break a tiny bit away from the “all dwarf mining team”. Elves and dwarves can get together after all and cross bioform comradery is the most beatiful of them all. xD But then again it wouldnt be hard to have “just dwarves” as optional rule given how simple system is and how easy it would be to make, say separate clans with different bonuses and family heirlooms.
  2. As I was thinking this as one off or oneshot game, I havent honestly thought too much of progression and it honestly leans in towards more of a “get in, dig gold, get out” type for gameplay. One quick fix that comes to mind immidiately is having milestones as rewards for succesful missions but that alone doesnt solve the whole problem. Thanks for brining this up, I need to give it some serious thinking. :thinking:


No prob :slight_smile:

Playtest it and think after, you will have good data to base your réflexion on. :slight_smile:

I really like your idea, is it ok if a talk about it in my newsletter ?
I might even build my own little implementation of your idea. You will be credited of course. :slight_smile:


I’ll start piling up my notes and putting them into more orderly (and readable) state for playtesting. xD And sure why not? This is fan project after all so I’m not trying to cling onto any publishing rights so feel free to share and alter it as you like. I’ll try to put up some more solid concepts here for people to get a look at as well in mean time.


Yeah, well I really love the concept of -> get drop into a location, survive waves of monsters, drill and loot, evacuate when the elevator come get you back. :slight_smile:

It needs a catchy name. « Drill and survive » type of session or something else.

I won’t publish it either but if a can extract a specific type of session doing so, it is always a great « tool » to have in my DM’s toolbox.


I’m honestly terrible with names but you are right there. Another day in dark beneath doesnt roll off from tongue too well. xD

And I understand. I’ll try to get up some more solid pieces out here so there are some actual mechanics for people to “steal”. xD Seriously though, one of the good things about this forum is wellspring of ideas and inspiration to be found here.


I do as well, a good tight algorithm that lets you build various digs would be pretty cool. Sure, you could use any old random tables for ideas but something very specific to this game would be ideal.


I was thinking of doing some kind of random table to generate the caves and rooms but its still something under a lot of thinking. Here is something more solid though.


Caverns beneath are divided into 7 levels of depth, each having set room DC and other features.

1st depth. DC 8, Swarm dice -, Possible entrance to surface; yes.
2nd depth. DC 10, Swarm dice 1d8, Possible entrance to surface, yes.
3rd depth: DC 12, Swarm dice 1d6, Possible entrance to surface, yes but highly unlikely.
4th depth: DC 14. Swarm dice 1d4, Possible entrance to surface, No beyond this depth. Treasure keeper? 1/6 change.
5th depth: DC 16, Swarm dice 1d3, Treasure keeper? 2/6 change.
6th depth: DC 18, Swarm dice 1d3, Treasure keeper? 3/6 change.
7th depth: DC 20, Swarm dice 1d3, Boss lair.

My idea was that there is possibility that entrance or exit from the caverns could also be on second or third floor. Furthermore, there is always change for party to meeting Treasure keeper, some sort of miniboss who wields powerful loot which can be obtained by defeating them, haggling them or stealing from them. And like in all good dungeons and caverns, in bottom depth, there is a boss, might mega monster belonging to one of the factions, which party can choose to challenge in hopes for greater loot an glory.


Love it !
You could also place a vendor like in the “Rogue like” games. It doesn’t make sense but it is fun to encounter one once in a while. You could create cool room to discover also. Like an abandonne mine (some drwarf were already there at some point but were killed ! You get the idea, those room can help you drop some lore as well)

Juste a quick reflexion about the DC by deph, i’m sure the players will try to lure the monsters they encounter to another deph to lower the DC. The deph DC could be a “escalation die”, everytime you go in one deph lower the swarm react more agressivly which increment the DC by 2 permanently. :slight_smile:


Some predeterment “locations” ie specific premade rooms could work pretty well now when you mentioned it and I have to admit that I have idea for Raptor trio, group of oddly familiar merchants which party may encounter in the depths. xD

As for the DC, I was thinking to go with static, by depth DC for few reasons.

  1. Its just simple. Party knows that deeper they go, more hairy things will get.
  2. Illumination. I’m still mulling over illumination system but idea is that having light or no light will have effect on DC like making certain stuff easy and others hard, that could be monkey wrench of its own.
  3. Tunnels and spawning. I’m planning that traversing from room to room might not always be so easy. First you need to find connecting tunnels and then depending on tunnel, moving through them is another ordeal of its own. This taking into account that spawn point of swarm is always random means that if party manages to lure and beat the lethal swarm by going up and luring them in, then its a reward of its own. Furthermore because whole point is to go down with limited resources, dig goods and get out, party might not want to or spend too much time kiting swarms by going up and down. Their resources are limited but the darkness is eternal.


Also something to add while I’m still up and on my pc, monster.


“If you ever hear sound of footsteps and rock scraping against rock, brace yourselves miners. Boulderheads are one of the nastiest inhabbitants of the depths. These blood elementals resemble humans clad in grey robes but have rather signifficantly noticeable boulder as their head. Not only these creatures go after your gear but as incident in bathroom 13 unfortunately informed us, once they set sights on prey, they follow miners even to surface.”

Hearts: 4


+6 STR and CON, +4 ULTIMATE Effort

Actions: One per round


Relentless: Once Boulderhead sets their sight on miners, they pick one of them as their target. From there on, Boulderhead will single mindedly seeks out and attempts to kill its target until either target or it meets its fate. This single minded pursuit comes with advantage though as Boulderhead never attempts to hide its presence, its eerie scraping signaling coming doom.

Smashing boulder: As action Boulderhead strikes Close target with its head. This attack deals ULTIMATE effort and automatically breaks one item from the target on hit. If target possesses extra Hearts, Boulderhead always breaks them first.

It wont stop: Once Boulderhead is on pursuit of its target, its movement cannot be hindered by any means. Magical binds sizzle away, walls turn to ash and bedrock opens like flowing waters to ease its passage to its target.


Very cool ! :slight_smile:


Thanks. I’m still mashing boulders with the question of how to reasonably and quickly craft dungeons but I have something new. Light.

Light in dark beneath

Light in dark beneath is not only requirement for mining crews to operate but essential for most creatures to survive. Nature of darkness beneath is still mystery but it can be treated as living entity, hostile to most life. Bring your lanterns.

Various lanterns

Emergency lantern: Small electronic lantern to be used in a pinch. Duration 8 rounds, Maximum illumination level Gloom. Doesnt stack with other lanterns. Cannot be put out unless destroyed.

Good old oily: Small oil lantern. Duration 8 rounds. Increase light level by one step per lit lantern up to Daylight. Can be snuffed out.

Runic lantern: Small metal lantern crafted with ancient runes. Duration 6 rounds, Increase light level by one step up to Daylight. Only magic can snuff it out.

Pack of flares: Consumable, 3 uses. Brightly burning and throwable alchemical rods. Increases light level by two steps for 1 round.

Levels of light

Darkness: Abyssmal darkness. Miner non-attack checks and Defense checks become Hard. At end of each round, all miners suffer 1 damage. If miner falls to 0 hit points, they die instantly and rise in 1d4 rounds as one of the lost.
Gloom: Faint candle light. Miner non-attack checks become Hard.
Dim: Faint flickering lights. No effects.
Illuminated: Good torch or pair of lanterns. Miner non-attack checks become Easy.
Daylight: As bright as it gets. All hostile checks become hard. Miner non-attack and Defense checks become Easy.


Cool idea ! I really like the different types of lanterns. These are essentially timers. You can create a Lantern D4+2 timer for each scene depending on the lantern that is used by the player group.

I have a concern about the game becoming a little to focused on lantern but we can’t know if this is the case without testing it.

Invoke a playtest session ! :slight_smile:
Do you need someone to make a pdf of your cool idea ? (I can be that someone) haha


Thank you and focus on the lanterns and other light sources is slightly a point. xD Not only party is racing against hordes of enemies, they must treat light as valuable resource. They’d have to manage between how much light they use and in what given moment to get most out of it and things could get especially hairy if they loose lantern due to mishap or monster attack.

I am still not sure if this has yet enough meat and bones to play test, plus I am little in a pinch with freetime so i dont know when i could arrage session so atm I’m mostly just trying to get stuff written down for use. x.x

And you can if you want to, its free eastate after all. I’m actually making player and GM booklets by hand while I’m posting stuff here but thanks to my horrible hand writing, I likely need to make cleaned up version on pc eventually.