Douglas Cole’s Gaming Ballistic has previously announced a very interesting project: Delvers to Grow. Douglas has published prerelease versions to his patrons, and Exxar has decided to toy “with stress testing delvers to grow with a trench warfare like meatgrinder where replacement characters are made on the fly during the game”.

DtG mockup from the kickstarter page. Art by Ksenia. Used with permission.

The first run happened with a private group and wasn’t deadly enough - but he did promise us to increase the deadliness for our run.


We started by building characters, at the 125pt power level. With people dropping in a bit later and everybody gettig ready, we started actually playing about an hour after “official” game start.

I built a Thief, with the Backstabbing Artist upgrade module. All the trap-finding and sneaking of a thief, plus vanishing and striking from stealth. Took me ten minutes to build it (and another ten minutes to build it again because GCS crashed). We ended up with the following initial party:

  • Thief (Me)
  • Wizard
  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Swashbuckler

The Session

Norðlond is falling. After years of harsh winter and fae incursions, a massive army of demons and dragonkin has breached Audreyn’s Wall. As months go by, more and more ground is lost to them. In a desperate attempt to turn the tables, a daring attack on the demon stronghold of Skogurenda is launched. If this vital supply line to the invading army is cut off, there may still be a glimmer of hope for Norðlond.

You are among the several hundred brave individuals who signed up for a secret assault with no more information than “this is a rare chance to score a critical victory in Norðlond’s defense”, “if we succeed, you will be hailed as heroes” and “however, most of you will die”. You embarked on a small fleet of longships at Konungsborg and set sail to the northeast.

After a perfunctory motivation speech by a general, the party had to carry ladders to the city’s walls. Two pairs carried a ladder each, and only the Bard was free. On the way, fireballs and arrows started landing close to and on the party - two were hit for slight damage, while the Bard was hit more heavily, almost crippling his arm. He did point out he could drum with one hand if necessary, just as he was hit by another arrow to the torso. Despite him having a healing potion ready, two characters tried handing him another one, almost coming to blows. Sense of Duty (Adventuring Companions) in action.

Finally, we reached a trench in front of the wall - about 7-8 feet deep, 4-5 yards wide. Fresh earth and old bones on the ground, probably from the initial fighting. We started laying our ladders across the trench to use as bridges as arrows rained down upon us. The GM asked us for tactics rolls, but nobody had tactics.

After finally laying down the ladders, we started crossing. Acrobatics checks to cross quickly, or DX to avoid falling into the trench - it turns out ladders are difficult to use horizontally as the tactics roll could have told us. The Bard was the first one to fall into the trench, tweaking his back badly. That wasn’t the bad part, though - those were five skeletons rising from the ground. (Quote Bard: “NOW THERE ARE SKELETONS!? COME ON!”).

While the others tried crossing the ladders, my Thief - with Sense of Duty - decided it’d be a good idea to try and rescue the Bard and vanished. In the meantime, our Swashbuckler charged towards the wall, not seeing the small pit trap. He did dodge the spikes on the ground, but that left him exposed to arrows.

In the meantime, the Wizard had an excellent idea for rescuing our bard: Levitation! Indeed, casting levitation on the Bard succeeded. Unfortunately, it didn’t immediately rescue the Bard: Rising would only start the next turn.

On the front lines, the Swashbuckler had his leg stuck in the pit long enough to be hit by an arrow with maximum damage, bringing him to -2 HP. The Barbarian (who suffered from connection issues) simply tried hitting the skeletons. “Thwock thwacks thkeletons!” One of those skeletons struck back with a major wound, stunning him and knocking him down.

Back in the pit, the Bard cast sound jet at a skeleton - and critically succeeded! Unfortunately, that skeleton made its HT roll and wasn’t afflicted. Even more unfortunately, there were two skeletons attacking him and hitting. First death check of the evening, which he made. My Thief/Backstabber reappeared behind one of the skeletons and cut its head off. That was a nice moment.

Up on the ladder, the wizard was hit and unfortunately had to drop the levitation spell. The Bard wasn’t floating yet, so didn’t take fall damage. He was, however, still in the pit.

At pretty much that moment, Douglas commented over in Discord “There seems a lack of grinding in the meatgrinder. Kill harder!” Not to disappoint him, the Bard died a minute later. Then, the Wizard was hit by another two spears and down into negatives, while the Swashbuckler lost consciousness on the turn he wanted to drink a healing potion.

In the pit, my Thief was cornered by the remaining four skeletons. He shouted “I’ll hold them off and catch up with you” to the others (he had overconfidence, did you notice?) before being knocked down, stunned, and killed.

At that point, we paused for a few minutes while everyone continued building characters. All were built in between ten and twenty minutes, and so the next party ran up to the trench.

We now had a Knight, another backstabbing Thief, a Druid, and my Holy Warrior of the Thunder God. For the latter, I used one of the abilities from Hand of Asgard, which allows throwing a thrown weapon and it returning back to my hand.

The Druid first cast fog into the pit, obscuring all vision of the skeletons. Then the Thief, arguably our most agile character, failed his roll to cross the ladder and fell down onto the Bard’s corpse. My Holy Warrior jumped in rather than climb down slowly (then had to spend more time than that would’ve taken to stand up again). Same for the Knight. Luckily, my Holy Warrior contributed to the fight immediately, by having one of the skeletons stumble over him while in the fog. We were then joined by the Druid, who fell down and broke his hand. At some point during that time, the Barbarian who’d managed to hang on to consciousness died.

A confusing melee ensued, partly in the fog, in which everyone swung blindly at skeletons and delvers respectively. Among others, our Knight conducted an awsome shield bash against one of the skeletons. Skeletons are vulnerable to crushing damage, but unfortunately all the damage was absorbed by the skeleton’s armour…

My Holy Warrior stepped back from the fog to throw his weapon (the only time I got to use that ability) and maybe hit something in the fog.

That was the moment I had to leave, unfortunately. The others continued and reached the wall later, with the Knight killing two skeletons on the way.


That was immensely fun as a scenario and - even more crucially - was great from a character-building PoV. Everyone was done with their first character an hour after the official game start - pretty impressive considering people were still arriving half an hour before.

Second character generation was even faster, with times ranging from ten to twenty minutes. That’s incredibly fast. At least for me, most of that time was spent clicking and dragging in GCS; the actual character building should’ve taken even less than that.

While character creation was fast, I cannot yet comment on DtG’s spell or equipment packaging. Those weren’t complete yet, so we used Exxar’s own lists. So we might expect the creation time to get even faster.

I really liked the Holy Warrior, which felt useful and strong despite having spent 25 character points on an ability I used once. That was on me, though. The Thief had a great moment - reappearing behind one of the skeletons and cutting its head off in one swoop. If the tactical situation would’ve been better, he might even have survived it.