3 Dice Dungeon, A Solitaire Dungeon Crawl Game

Posted by on December 29, 2011
'P1050124' by indiepants on Flickr

'P1050124' by indiepants on Flickr

Nearly a year ago, Greywulf posted RPG Solitaire Challenge: 3 Dice, a simple solitaire game of dungeon exploration. In his game, you roll 3 dice for your adventurer’s stats, then for each room in the dungeon, roll 1 die to determine the room’s type, 1 die for a monster, and 1 die for a treasure.

I played the game a couple of times, and while I had fun, I found two major issues:

  1. The game is very swingy. I played several games where I died within two encounters, and others where I could’ve continued playing forever.
  2. There’s nothing to do except trade blows with monsters.

There’s a tantalizing possibility resting in the rooms, though. So, let’s add some design and map the dungeon as you go!

3 Dice Dungeon

3 Dice Dungeon is an expansion of the rules in  RPG Solitaire Challenge: 3 Dice.

You create a character by rolling three six-sided dice (re-rolling if your total is 10 or lower). One die roll represents your BODY, another your MIND, and a third your SPIRIT (or magic). These represent both your current and maximum points in these attributes. You’re now ready to adventure!

Create each location by rolling 3 dice (one for each column) and consulting the table below.

Result Location Monster Treasure
1 Corridor (straight or curved) Goblins None
2 Small room (1d2 exits) Orcs Healing potion
3 Large room (1d3 exits) Ogres Magic sword
4 Vault (1d3 exits) Giants Tome of Enlightenment
5 Temple (1d3 exits) Dragon Spell scroll
6 Great Hall (1d3+1 exits) None Map fragment

Mapping: Draw this location on a piece of paper. Each location takes up about the same space on the overall map, and can have exits to the north, east, south, and west. You must mark the exits logically (an exit cannot lead to a room with no entrance on that side), but otherwise exits can be wherever you want.

How Many Exits Is That? The number of exits in each room includes the one that you entered from, so each room may be a dead end.


Attacking: If the room contains a monster, you must attack it! Pick an attribute and roll a die. If you roll less than the attribute, you hit! Turn the monster’s die so that it shows one point lower. When you hit a monster that’s at 1, it is defeated. If you roll equal to or greater than the attribute, the monster hits you; decrease the attribute chosen for this attack by 1.

Bleeding Out: If an attribute is reduced to 0, you take -1 on all attack rolls. If all three attributes are reduced to 0, you’re dead.

Crits: When attacking, a 1 always hits and a 6 always misses.

Training Wheels: In your first location, if you roll 4 or 5 for the monster, re-roll (multiple times if necessary). In your second location, re-roll any 5’s for the monster.


Once a location’s monster is defeated, you get the location’s treasure.

  • Map fragment — When you’re in a vault, you may use up a map fragment to unearth a powerful ancient artifact (see below).
  • Healing Potion — Increase one attribute by 2 points, or two attributes by 1 point each, up to their respective maximums.
  • Magic Sword — +1 on all BODY rolls. This is cumulative, so if you have two Magic Swords, you add +2 on all BODY rolls.
  • Tome of Enlightenment — +1 on all MIND rolls. This is also cumulative.
  • Spell Scroll — Use this scroll for a +3 on one SPIRIT roll. The scroll disappears once used.


When you defeat a monster (or if there is no monster in the room), total the value of all three dice rolled for the location (room, monster, and treasure). Add this to your XP total.

Leveling Up: For every 50 XP you earn, increase the maximum of one attribute, and return all your attributes to their maximum values.

Moving Around The Map

Returning to Danger: When you return to a room you’ve already visited, you run the risk of encountering a low-level monster who’s sneaked into the room. Roll a die for a roving monster. If you roll 3–6, there’s no monster.

Temple Teleportation: From a temple, you can teleport to any other temple already on the map. When you do, roll for a roving monster. You may only teleport after defeating any monsters in the room.

Descending To The Next Level: You may only descend to the next level of the dungeon from a Great Hall, and only after you have collected one artifact on this level.


Roll a die to find an artifact:

Result Artifact
1 Jade Idol (+2 on an attack roll)
2 Crystal Pendant (+3 on one MIND roll)
3 Boots of Swiftness (run from one fight per player level into a random adjacent room, with no penalty)
4 Scroll of Teleportation (after clearing a room, teleport to any other explored room; use once)
5 Sleeping Salts (cause one monster to sleep; no XP for the monster, and when this room is next visited, it is awake again)
6 Shielding Charm (ignore one hit against you)

Multiple Players

To play with others, each player rolls their own stats. In each location, roll one monster die per player. The highest monster die determines the type of the monsters in the room; sum all the monster dice rolled for the monster’s hit points.

Each player earns the XP total for each location (so, if a location provides 10 XP, each player gets 10 XP).

Note that playing with multiple players is harder, because you’ll have to share the rewards.

The Undead Level

Finally, just for the fun of it, here’s an undead-themed level:

Result Location Monster Reward
1 Corridor (straight or curved) Skeletons Map fragment
2 Small room (1d2 exits) Zombies Healing potion
3 Large room (1d3 exits) Mummy Magic sword
4 Crypt (1d3 exits) Vampire Tome of Enlightenment
5 Temple (1d3 exits) Lich Spell scroll
6 Great Hall (1d3+1 exits) None None

Crypts? A crypt acts just like a vault.

The Undead Are Weak Against Magic: A SPIRIT attack against undead does not automatically fail on a 6.

That’s it. If you play 3 Dice Dungeon, please let me know in the comments!

59 Responses to 3 Dice Dungeon, A Solitaire Dungeon Crawl Game

  1. greywulf


    Very nicely done, sir!

  2. Brent

    Thanks very much!

  3. Ben

    Slick stuff. Thanks for posting. Our local game store had some 1:1 (one player/1 DM) modules that were in the 3.5 set. I wish they would have done them for 4E too:(

  4. Brent


    There is at least one D&D 4E adventure for a 1-DM-1-player situation (D&D Insider subscription required): http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/duad/20091201

  5. Jasales

    I was inspired by what you and Greywulf have done. I was also working on a solo space exploration game. Hex Ranger was born! Please check it out and let me know what you think. You can find it at http://www.explodingdice.com on the downloads page.

  6. Brent

    Jasales: Awesome! I’m printing out Hex Ranger now and will try it out. :-)

  7. Jasales

    I started a thread here for folks to make suggestions. http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?610704-Hex-Ranger

    I’d love to here about your experiences with it an any suggestions you may have. I’m finding it way to addicting.

    Hexplore the Stars!

  8. Enlightened Wookie

    here’s variation (almost completely different) that i came up with:

    STR – the amount of damage dealt if you hit
    DEX – you must roll this or lower to hit. if you miss, get difference between die roll and DEX and

    subtract that amount from your HP.
    MND is used to perform special abilities.

    STR = 2
    DEX = 3
    MND = 3 + 1/level
    HP = 18 + 1d6/level

    STR = 1
    DEX = 3
    MND = 4 + 1/level
    HP = 14 + 1d6/level

    STR = 1
    DEX = 4
    MND = 3 + 1/level
    HP = 14 + 1d6/level

    Barbarians, Rogues, and Elves may use 1 MND to re-roll an attack.
    Dwarves and Wizards use 2 MND to re-roll an attack.
    Dwarves and Rogues may use 1 MND to pick locks.
    Picking locks is a roll against DEX. Dwarves and Rogues get a -1 bonus to their roll.
    Doors may also be ‘attacked’ and broken down. Doors have 6 HP. Failure to hit the door
    only costs 1 HP.
    Wizards and Elves use 1 MND to cast known spells.
    wizards know 3 spells. elves know 1 spell.
    one additional spell can be learned per level but must obtain a scroll
    containing the spell to learn it.

    1 – Sleep —– Foes falls into deep slumber allowing you to escape.
    Each foe attacked will wake up. Roll against DEX to steal
    treasure without waking up a foe.

    2 – Heal —— Recover 1d6 HP.

    3 – Unlock —- Unlock any door.

    4 – Teleport — Teleport to the entrance of the current dungeon level.

    5 – Shield —- When used, reduces damage taken by 1 point during your next encounter.

    6 – Fireball — Distribute 1d6 damage to multiple foes as desired.

    Exploring the Dungeon:

    Step 1: determine the layout…
    1 – dead-end, locked door, treasure, no monsters
    2 – choose 2 exits to close
    3 – choose 1 exit to close
    4 – close 0 exits
    5 – close 0 exits
    6 – dead-end, stairs, bosses

    dungeon cannot be deeper than your level. treat #6 as #1.
    explored rooms and map borders will choose which exits are closed
    for you.
    if you work yourself into a dead-end without rolling a 1 or 6,
    treat as if you rolled #1.
    if stairs have already been found, treat #6 as #1.
    cannot start a new dungeon until current one is fully explored.

    Step 2: determine the foes…
    1 – Orcs (4HP)
    2 – Goblins (3HP)
    3 – None (recover 1 HP & MND)
    4 – None (recover 1 HP & MND)
    5 – Zombies (2HP)
    6 – Skeletons (1HP)

    Dead-Ends with stairs contain ‘Bosses’ and extra treasure…
    1 – 1 Mummy / 2 Treasure
    2 – 2 Mummies / 3 Treasures
    3 – 1 Ogre / 2 Treasures
    4 – 2 Ogres / 3 Treasures
    5 – 1 Vampire / 4 Treasures
    6 – 1 Dragon / 5 Treasures

    Vampires regen 1 HP for every 1HP you lose.

    if there was a monster…
    Step 3: Combat
    Roll against DEX to hit. If you hit, reduce the monster’s HP by your STR score.
    If you failed to hit, subtract your DEX from the die roll. This is how much HP
    you lost.

    if you defeated a monster…
    Step 3: determin the treasure…
    1 – Nothing
    2-5 – that number of coins
    6 – Special (roll 1d6 again and see below)
    1- Key
    2- Potion of Healing (recover 2d6 HP)
    3- Potion of Enlightenment (recover 2d6 MND)
    4- Spell Scroll (1d6 and consult spell list)
    5- 30 coins
    6- Artifact (1d6: 1,2=Topaz; 3,4=Amethyst; 5,6=Sapphire Pendant)

    Topaz and Amythist: Only one of each can have effect (not cumulative).
    Sapphire: cumulative

    Moving through previously explored rooms requires the same ‘monster check’
    as moving through unexplored rooms.

    Returning to entrance of level 1 allows you to ‘return to town’.
    while in town, you may spend 5 coins to recover 1d6 HP
    and MND as many times as you want as long as you can afford it.

    Advancing Character Levels
    It costs 100 coins to advance your character to the next level.
    When advancing a level, add 1 to MND and add 1d6 to HP.

    Mapping Paper:

  9. Brent

    Wow, very nicely done, Enlightened Wookie! I’m impressed.

  10. Enlightened Wookie

    -use MND to modify an attack roll, not re-roll.
    -no rolling for lock picking, only dwarves and rogues can do it, they just use 1 MND

    it seems i didn’t save those changes in my text file :(

  11. necro

    “Map fragment — When you’re in a vault, you may use up a map fragment to unearth a powerful ancient artifact (see below).”

    You never explain this.

  12. necro

    when i was creating the stats i rolled an 18 and i used it as my mind valour. when I leveled up I added a +1 to mind so now i have a 19, and I can roll less and i will win every time.

  13. Brent P. Newhall

    necro: What’s confusing you about the Map Fragment rule?

  14. Enlightened Wookie

    i have updated my variation and now call it 3RD6 Dungeon (third-six dungeon). everything you need to play is here:
    3RD6 Dungeon

    • Fishsticks

      404 Not found, do you have a link to this that’s working? =) We’re interested in trying this.

  15. Enlightened Wookie

    ha! i just realized…i never named my monsters in the rules LOL
    Minions: Skeleton, Zombie, Goblin, Orc
    Bosses: Mummy, Vampire, Undead Knight, Orclops, Gargoyle, Dragon

    when rolling the stats, one die = one stat. 3 die for 3 stats. each stat will have a value ranging from 1 to 6.

    map fragment rule: notice the ‘(see below)’ you posted? that refers to the Artifacts section.

  16. Agust

    What happens when there’s no where left to explore? I ran out of exits. Is this game over or did I do something wrong?

  17. alan

    I like this ALOT! I tried to link it to the wayback machine at archive.org for people to find your page. I;m currently working up a two page streamlined tabletop fantasy rpg system using 3 sixe sided dice. My name is Alan. my blog is at 2or3d6.blogspot.com but I’m just starting to put it together.

    • Madeline

      Any update on that system? Nothing new on your blog about it.

  18. FIshsticks

    I’m curious what “Descending to the next level of the dungeon” means… you never explain that. We’ve been playing as if that means all the monsters are tougher, but I was wondering what you actually had in mind as far as that goes.

    • Brent

      I meant that the players should start generating a new level using the same rules. You can absolutely make the monsters tougher, if you want; that’s a cool idea!

      • Fishsticks

        For every dungeon level we descend to, we add another hit point to the monsters. It makes things more even, rather than blasting the monsters into oblivion once you’ve leveled all your attributes to at least 6. =) Especially since we seem to level several times sometimes before we have a “great hall” to descend from. We also started using an increasing level scheme: From 0-1 is 50exp… From 1-2 is 100exp… from 2-3 is 150exp, etc. It depends on whether we play where you keep all your rewards permanently, or whether you lose everything every time you level up (and with each new dungeon level). (It doesn’t seem to specify, other than the one-time-use items, how long rewards last.)

        • Fishsticks

          We actually level our player and the dungeon separately. From your answer, I gather that’s not what you meant by the next level of the dungeon. Haha. HOUSE RULES. =P SO for us, once you get the requires exp, the character automatically levels up. But you have to get the Artifact from the Vault, and make your way to the Great Hall to actually descend into the next layer of the dungeon where the monsters get +X per dungeon level.

  19. nazerock

    on the items it all says +1 on the treasures. does that mean all the treasures harm my roll by making them bigger or does it actually mean -1 so that it makes my roll smaller thus far away from my max attribute value.

    Another question. If there are more than two players, do we have to stick together at all times? or can we roam to different rooms separately as if both of us were playing single player.

  20. Alvin

    My wife and I played two levels of this game and had a blast doing so. We collected so many magic swords and tomes that we quickly became OP to the monsters we were fighting. We did add:
    Ability to rest in a temple (4-6 on a 1d6 raised an attribute by 1). A 1-2 on a 1d6 caused a monster to show up when we woke up from resting.
    An escape (1-2 on a 1d6 to successfully escape a room without having to fight the monster.)
    We tinkered with lowering the base attributes by 1 for each level of the dungeon we were at so we wouldn’t be too OP.

    • Nerun Immersea

      Good rules.

      About escape, Brent P. Newhall’s expansion removed one rule from combat that was in Robin V. Stacey original version. It is about flee:

      “Your character can flee any Encounter, but this reduces all three attributes by 1. Running away is for
      cowards, not heroes!”

      Sounds like “attack of opportunity” from d20 System. You run and enemy hits your back!

      But i have liked your version, let’s combine both?

      “Your character can flee any Encounter but monsters will try to hit his back! Roll 1 dice: 1 he flees and takes no damage, 2-3 he flees and takes 1 damage, 4-5 he flees and takes 2 damage, 6 he flees and takes 3 damage. Subtract this damage from your character attributes the way you wish. Running away is for cowards, not heroes!”

  21. Marius

    I’m confused with regards to the doors. What do you mean by “an exit cannot lead to a room with no entrance on that side”?

    • Brent

      I mean that, if you’ve built 4 rooms in a square going top-left, top-right, bottom-right, and bottom-left, and you’ve established that the top-left room has no southern exit, then when creating the bottom-left room it can’t have a northern exit.

  22. kungfubarbarian

    This was seriously cool. I just played my first game (er, second.. I died in the first room last time, that didn’t count!).

    I actually combined your game with another dungeon crawling solitaire game http://www.instructables.com/id/Dungeon-Crawl-a-better-game-than-solitaire/ (for character creation and combat only) and then added a few of my own rules:

    A 3 level dungeon, the goal being to collect 3 artifacts, 1 from each level, before you die.

    I found vaults pretty quickly on levels 1 and 2 and scored some decent treasure that kept me barely alive. Level 2 was a crypt level. Level 3 ended up being several rooms long before I finally found a vault, but when I did it was guarded by a HP 10 dragon and I only had 3 HP left… it slaughtered me. Just one artifact away!

    But this was great, thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely be playing again.

  23. Isaac

    I’m mildly conufusex regarding the magic sword, the tome of enlightenment and the spell scroll. If the roll is to be aimed to land less than the atribute why give it an added bonus making the roll bigger. Isn’t that counter productive?

  24. Isaac

    Or does it mean +1 to the attack?

  25. Isaac

    Or + to the atribute the roll is for?

    • Brent

      Yep, your last message is what I was aiming for. It’s an addition to the difficulty, so if you rolled 3 (Ogre), with a magic sword you’re trying to roll less than 4 instead of 3.

  26. Alex Scarborough

    This is amazing I’ve been looking for and developing my own solitaire pocket RPGs and this one is great. But I think stats like mind and especially spirit need more usage and example. Also some rules on puzzles, obstacles, and exploration would really complete this game. Thanks for sharing this for free!

  27. Brandon Campbell

    Would it be possible to do PvP? If so, how?

  28. Firebolt

    How do you determine the monsters HP?

  29. Firebolt

    Oh do you just role it?

    • SorgUR

      I suppose the Monsters’ HP is the number itself they refer to in the table. E.g. Goblins (1), Orcs (2), Ogres (3), etc.

  30. Firebolt

    Can you run from monsters?

  31. Firebolt

    We made each level of the dungeon have one more monster (of the same type). My friends keep on dying but I somehow stay alive.

  32. SorgUR

    Could you please explain the Boots of Swiftness in detail? I understand that you can run away from a fight, but what exactly does the “per player level” part mean?

    • Nerun Immersea

      Means that if this is the first play of your character so he has 0 XP and Level 1. If he has Boots of Swiftness he can run away from ONE single fight! If he reaches 50 XP he is now Level 2, and Boots of Swiftness let he run away from TWO fights. I think this presupposes that boots are consumed (wasted, destroyed) after the maximum use.

      • SorgUR

        Thank you, sir Immersea! For some reason I kept thinking about dungeon levels. Now I see how dumb I was…

  33. Nathaniel Knox

    What do you mean by ” 1d_ exits”? I am a bit confused on only that part. Thank you!

    • SorgUR

      It means what it seems to mean: you roll for a room, and then roll for the number of exits it has (1d2 or 1d3). This adds some diversity: the same room type may have different number of exits.
      You can also add some more diversity with open/locked doors (even/odd) or adding the Key instead of “none” (result 1), etc.
      As for 1d2 and 1d3, you can use a coin and a regular 1d6 (re-numbered as 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3) or simply just halving the roll’s result; respectively.

  34. SorgUR

    Just discovered a Japanese game called Dice Quest (だいす☆くえすと). Published in 1990, pretty much the very same mechanics as 3 Dice, only with custom dice instead of charts. Also, it has some interesting advanced rules, too.

  35. Madeline

    The swords and tomes are a nice boost at first, but it doesn’t take very long to max out my stats and become way too overpowered. I had to end a game out of boredom because I had 9 swords and 7 tomes. There should be some kind of inventory limit (maybe you’re only allowed to carry 6 items?) Then there’s the question of if you can go back into old rooms and pick things up/drop items.

    Also: what should happen when all rooms lead to a dead end? This game is too fun to give up on outright, so I want to iron out these wrinkles.

    • FuMei

      The inventory limit is a godd idea. Going back and picking up / dropping stuff, too.

      As for dead ends, we invented the option of searching. Whenever you run into a dead end, you can search for secret doors. Pick 3 numbers (or just guess the result for odd or even), and if you succeed, you can go on, marking it on the wall of the room. Once we also added an extra rule for a result of 1 being a trap causing 1 wound.

      This neat little system is really easy to house-rule! We have a plethora of add-ons and variants for it, like quests (inspired by D100 Dungeon), room events, co-op rules, re-themes, etc. In fact, I have been thinking about collecting them together, and uploading it to the game’s BGG profile.

  36. lasemoco

    Are all Artifacts a single use?

    Do they get destroyed if I use it before reaching a great hall?

    Do I still have to have one in order to exit to next level?

    • Peter Piers

      Re your last question, if we take the rules at face value…

      “Descending To The Next Level: You may only descend to the next level of the dungeon from a Great Hall, and only after you have collected one artifact on this level.”

      …the word is “collected”. So even if it’s used (and, I guess, destroyed after use?), you still did collect it, and still can go down.

  37. Peter Piers

    Are all Artifacts a single use? (I want to know too). On your rules you only mark the scroll of teleportation as “use once”; that implies that the others are NOT “use once”. If it weren’t for those two words I could assume all artifacts are use once (except for the boots, which would be “use as many times as the player’s level”).

    Also, XP: “When you defeat a monster (or if there is no monster in the room), total the value of all three dice rolled for the location (room, monster, and treasure). Add this to your XP total.”

    Let’s say I roll 1,6,1. Corridor, no monster, no treasure. Does that mean 8 XP? Because if so, since the “no monster” item is listed 6, I get more XP from an empty room than I get from slaying a dragon! Can this be right?

    Apart from this – wonderful adaptation! And gets me itching to find a system to give it even more flavour…

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