PC Advice: Blitzdelve

Based on speed, co-ordination and devastating attacks, adventurers employing blitzdelve hit hard and move on instantly. Sowing panic among a dungeon’s defenders and causing doubt and confusion among its leaders they deny their enemies time to mount a meaningful, coordinated defence.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)



In my experience, dungeon-based adventures can turn into a bit of a grind. Adventurers often obsessively clear each level before descending ever deeper toward their goal. There’s nothing wrong with that approach as such – after all you can gain loads of XP and find tons of treasure that way – but sometimes it’s not the right strategy. (It can also be quite boring).

Sometimes you just want to crush your enemies’ will to resist and slaughter their leader before they know what’s going on. That’s where blitzdelve comes in.

There are three distinct phases, of blitzdelve:

  • Breakthrough: Once you’ve got into the dungeon, move faster than the enemy. Exploit weaknesses and act before the defenders can mount a defence. Use their shock and surprise against them. Action is always better than reaction.
  • Crush or Bypass Pockets of Resistance: Destroy enemies in your way, but ignore those requiring too many resources to destroy or whose position has no tactical value.
  • Mop up: Once you’ve achieved your objective, mop up any remaining pockets of resistance and comprehensively loot the dungeon.

To successfully wage blitzdelve, you need to use the following:

  •  Speed: Strike quickly. Don’t sneak about searching everything for traps. Don’t spend minutes or hours searching a room after you’ve slaughtered its inhabitants. Grab any obvious treasure and move on.
  • Overwhelming Force: Employ overwhelming force at the decisive point to eradicate your enemy. The dungeon defenders are almost certainly more numerous than you, but by controlling the time, pace and location of the attack you can achieve tactical superiority.
  • Initiative & Flexibility: Don’t blindly follow the plan. If an opportunity presents itself that furthers your objective, take it.
  • Self-Sufficiency: Carry everything you need with you. You don’t have time to stop and rest or retreat. You should have everything you need to crush your enemy.
  • Coordination: Coordinate each party member’s efforts to greatest effect. Be aware of your companions’ abilities and create tactical situations in which they can use them.

Help Fellow Players!

So that’s my concept of blitzdelve. What did I miss? Have you tried something similar? Leave a comment below and help your fellow gamers crush their enemies more effectively than ever before!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

4 thoughts on “PC Advice: Blitzdelve”

  1. We actually did something like this years back. Not in quite such an intentional and organized fashion. Back when character death was a more common thing and you didn’t name a character until 4th level because … why?

    So we figured that life was going to be short anyway, instead of crawling through the first level, we’d move light and fast and find a way to the second level where there was more risk but more experience points to be had. The idea being that if we could push to 2nd level quicker we’d be in a better position to go back and clear things out later.

    Due to some good rolls it worked better than we had hoped. There wasn’t a boss monster to get to as we frequently have now, but it threw the DMs plans into disarray. We cleared the wandering monster chart, slew the creatures who were set to raise alarms before the alarms could be sounded, and found the stairs down before the session was half done. Much of the second level had been designed predicated on the notion that the denizens would be warned by the monsters of the first level. We tore into them and only relented when the hit points were very low and most of the arrows expended.

    Thankfully, as the dungeon was designed with fixed numbers of monsters, the random encounters on the way out didn’t exist and we found ourselves 2nd level with a dungeon reeling behind us. Great fun!

    Would love to try this with my current group, but several of the players are either younger and headstrong or focused more on individual feats and less on group tactics. Without more cohesiveness a blitz is pretty much beyond what our party can do right now.

    1. I’ve run into the slow turtling problem with my current group, and while playing safe can be useful I find it generally too slow for me. So I just use my high-action, low-wisdom monk to charge forward, pushing the plot forward and dragging the group along with me. Sometimes it backfires – bear traps are the bane of my existence – but generally speaking it makes for a fast, brutal, fun campaign.

  2. A previous gaming group of mine employed this technique in a PF game about a year ago, only they referred to it as the “murder train.” Essentially the mission was to leave a safe zone of the dungeon where they’d made an alliance with a band of Fetchlings in order to enter a sub-level where other Fetchlings were being held captive.

    Their foes were the mites, vermin and some undead. The players had previously encountered the fey and understood them to be highly perceptive so they basically figured that if they just stealthed around clearing room by room they would be found, robbed (Mites have racial bonuses to Sleight of Hand) and ultimately the party would suffer.

    They got to the mouth of the sub-level, took out some guards and an alarm trap, and then… “whoo whoo! All Aboard!”

    Now I hadn’t realized their plans (made while I was upstairs getting drinks) so all I saw was these poor fools buffing themselves to the 9’s for the very first room in the sub-level. What transpired was a feat of speed, terror and devastation such that I’ve not witnessed since.

    The party exploded into the room, the sorcerer using a scroll that granted him a +4 to initiative. With sudden and deliberate intent the sorcerer unleashed a Mass Dazzle; not much of a debuff but helpful against creatures with sensitive eyes. The inquisitor followed this up with a light effect from her Domain that completely blinded all the monsters in the room. It was the fantasy RPG equivalent of a swat team tossing a flash-bang grenade.

    The monsters went next but they attacked feebly and began to scatter. The fighter and ranger unleashed a wave of devastation and used their moves to begin heading down the hall after stragglers. The alarm was effectively raised but the party didn’t care. They simply followed the blinded foes to the next room, unleashed another wave of eye-shattering strobes and continued the brutality.

    In this fashion, even after the 3 blinding light effects had been used up they continued through roughly 7 chambers hewing their way through skeletons, giant centipedes, and mites. They were confronted by the mite’s leader, a powerful mite witch who had the captives and a few guard monsters but since the party had taken almost no damage and the sorcerer had a few scrolls left at his disposal the negotiations were painfully short and the fight was a pitched battle in favor of the heroes.

    When all was said and done they’d swept through about 1/4 of the sub-level but achieved their objective. In game time it took them under 3 minutes. Their buffs hadn’t even worn off from the first room. Needless to say I was floored as the GM but nevertheless I actually clapped and applauded them.

    1. Mark, as a long-term GM (decades!), I just loved reading this. I always find it a real pleasure to be made to “keep up” with the players and party rather than sitting there at least three steps ahead. Thanks for sharing a great tale.

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