Help Needed - Pace of Advancement

Looking for help. I am running a Dwimmermount campaign and we are about 16 hours in. At this point, the party has explored about 1/2 of the first level and none of the characters have hit level 2. I feel that the group is pretty balanced in terms of role playing (we aren’t spending hours in Muntburg talking).

Is this level of progression pretty normal? I feel like we are crawling at this point and I don’t want my players to become discouraged if they feel that they are not accomplishing enough. Just wanted to see if others thought this was typical, or if perhaps I am missing something.


I am not familiar with the level in question but do you feel they have “evaded” the treasure they could have picked up? How many PCs and how many henchmen do they have?

They entered Level 1 - Path of Mavors. There are 5 PCs with 2 Hirelings (So the total XP share is 6). At this point, they have found 1 of the 4 significant treasure spots on the level (the one they found is probably the smallest). They are about half way to level 2 at this point. I guess I was wondering if others are giving out more significant rewards from wandering monsters or more significant role playing XP rewards during play. Thanks again for any help.

No XP rewards from RP in my group, and no “extra” XP from monsters wandering or otherwise, although I am somewhat generous with monster XP as I award it simply for encountering monsters in dangerous situations and not for “defeating” them. This means that a good reaction roll and parley or a successful withdrawal still gives full XP.

However, monster XP is small potatoes. (20% of expected XP according to the guidelines in the book.) The bulk of XP comes in the form of treasure. Your group has advanced slowly because they’ve had bad luck stumbling across the hoards on the dungeon level.

Encourage your players by reminding them that the treasure is still there and every room they enter is statistically more likely to contain that treasure than the room before it was. The treasure is there and they will find it if they persevere! The wait makes it that much sweeter when they finally do hit paydirt.

Advancement in OSR games is meant to be slow. Remember that a lot of games at Lake Geneva went on for dozens of sessions without anybody reaching level 10.

In my own game, the PCs actually found the locked room 7 and the massive treasure it contained during their first delve. The thief was scouting and led them there by luck. The monster was very tough for a group of Level 1 characters but they used their heads and managed to prevail.

However, they followed that very successful delve with several that were much less profitable. That’s just the way the dungeon is designed. Some players do get frustrated by the “grind” but so far the occasional payoffs are enough to keep them interested.

Although your group has been less lucky than mine, the system is working as it was intended to, and they will find the treasure as long as they keep looking for it.

16 hours of gameplay without advancing to level 2 is a bit slow. It could simply be bad luck, if they’ve explored half the level but only found one-fourth of the treasure.

It may be that they haven’t fully grasped the implications of XP-for-GP. If not, then certainly encourage them to be looking harder for those treasure hoards.

Have they created a map? Maps can be sold in town for a respectable amount of GP.

Have they discovered any secrets of value so far? Again, that can be worth GP.

How many casualties has the group endured? In my campaigns, fatalities at 20-40% are not unusual in the ascent from 1st to 2nd level. If the group has played 16 hours (3-4 sessions) with few or no casualties, and also little to no XP, then they are likely proceeding quite cautiously. Cautious play tends to reduce the rate of leveling early on, though it keeps the group alive.

In any case, advancement in ACKS (and LL/BX/etc), especially in a megadungeon setting, will tend to be more “chaotic” than in games with encounter-based XP. It’s entirely possibly for the group to advance slowly for several sessions, then find itself with an abundance of riches.

Oh, one additional note. If your PCs are being cautious, one way to encourage PCs to become a bit more…aggressive…in their dungeon-crawling is to introduce rival adventuring parties into the mix.

In my “Bloody Band” Auran Empire game, I created a rival group of adventurers called “Imperial Vanguard”. Occasionally (random rolls) IV would beat the PCs to a dungeon and the PCs would find the whole dungeon swept clean of treasure (and, literally, swept, with clearly painted door markings warning of hazards, and neatly buried bodies outside with little gravestones. I Rped Imperial Vanguard as professional, perfectionist by-the-book paladins just to be more irksome.) The extent to which the adventurers would take risks ‘to make sure Imperial Vanguard didn’t get OUR treasure’ was awesome.

Dwimmermount has a bunch of pre-made rival parties to use.

I have a group of cautious PCs, I’m going to have to cook up my own version of IV to goad them along.

Be sure to have the rival group be irritating in some way. It really makes it more fun. Have them be really slobby, and litter the dungeon with graffiti, and crumbs and pee everywhere; or super-neat; or have them hire bards to publish manuscripts of their adventures, whatever.

Good luck!