L3 Deep Dwarven Delve is an adventure module written for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, by Len Lakofka. It is a sequel to L1 The Secret of Bone Hill (1981) and L2 The Assassin's Knot (1983).
Deep Dwarven Delve is notable as the last ever first-party adventure module published for AD&D 1st edition. Originally written in 1979, its publication was delayed by twenty years due to various issues at TSR. It was finally revised and released in 1999 as part of the TSR Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition (1999), shortly before the release of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition.
- Spoiler alert: The following article contains spoilers for a Dungeons & Dragons product.
L3 Deep Dwarven Delve is an AD&D adventure module for characters between 3rd and 6th level. The adventure module is preceded by a foreword from writer Len Lakofka.
Both the cover art and the internal illustrations are provided by Wayne Reynolds, who would become well known for his work throughout Dungeons & Dragons third and fourth editions. Deep Dwarven Delve was his first cover for a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook. According to the preamble in the boxed set, the original manuscript was found with no accompanying art, necessitating the creation of new artwork; however, the style and high quality of Reynolds' art is uncharacteristic of an AD&D adventure written in 1979.
This adventure module has no ISBN, as it was not released in print outside of its inclusion in a boxed set.
Two hundred years ago, dwarves mining an underground seam of mithril accidentally tunnelled into an ancient temple to the archdevil Baalzebul, and were all slain. When the dwarves who financed the expedition realized contact was lost, adventurers were sent to investigate, but they too were lost. The dwarves decided to abandon the mine and erase all written record of it.
Recently, orcs have been raiding the towns of of Restenford and Lake Farmin. Three days ago, an unusually well-equipped squad of bugbears and other humanoid creatures assaulted Restenford, killing and injuring townsfolk and burning down the town hall. A ranger tracked the assailants to their lair and reported back with their location, but was badly injured in the process. Now, the elders of the village have put out a call for aid.
This adventure is a two-level dungeon crawl. The player characters must enter the former mine, now lair of a band of orcs and other creatures, and defeat them. Below the lair is an ancient temple, home to even more menacing creatures including the barbed devil Vezenor, an iron golem, and the animated undead dwarves of two hundred years ago.
Development and release
The L series adventure modules were written by Len Lakofka based on his home campaign, set in the region known as Lendore Isle. Two groups of players played what would become L1 The Secret of Bone Hill (1981), L2 The Assassin's Knot (1983), and Deep Dwarven Delve.
Lakofka was asked to write up a series of adventure modules based on his own game world. He wrote up versions of L1, L2 and L3, running Deep Dwarven Delve at Gen Con XII in August 1979. The manuscript for L3 was completed in 1979, and Lakofka sent all three modules to TSR at the same time. L1 was subsequently published in 1981, and L2 in 1983.
The original version of Deep Dwarven Delve was edited by Jeff R. Leason, Harold Johnson, Mike Carr and Lawrence Schick, with development by Lawrence Schick, Dave Cook, Allen Hammack, and Timothy Jones.
However, TSR did not release L3, a decision which Lakofka attributed to "turmoil at TSR". Gary Gygax was forced out of the company in 1985, and Dragon Magazine did not publish any further articles by Lakofka, a long-time friend of Gygax, after 1986. Internal politics at TSR thereafter hindered works and writers connected to Gygax, with the result that L3 went unpublished.
Following TSR's bankruptcy in 1997 and its acquisition by Wizards of the Coast, the company made the decision to release L3 at long last, with an editor at Wizards of the Coast working with Lakofka to revise and update the module. WotC subsequently lost Lakofka's revisions, and without informing him, made other revisions based on the original 1979 manuscript.
While the Silver Anniversary boxed set described the work as being filed away in TSR's archives for twenty years until it was rediscovered, according to Sean K. Reynolds, all of TSR's copies of L3 had been lost or destroyed. Rather, in 1997, Lakofka found a copy in his possession and sent it to Roger E. Moore, who passed it on to Reynolds in 1998. Wizards had considered publishing it as a free PDF or in Dragon Magazine.
Deep Dwarven Delve was finally released in 1999 as part of the Silver Anniversary Collector's Edition boxed set, celebrating 25 years since the game's release. In 2010, Lakofka estimated that 80% of what appeared in this release was based on his original draft, with the rest provided by Wizards of the Coast. The Wizards of the Coast writers credited on "polishing" this version were Ryan S. Dancey, Keith F. Strohm, and Christopher Perkins, and new art was commissioned from Wayne Reynolds.
A digital download copy was released through DriveThruRPG on Feb 19, 2013.
Reception and influence
Following the publication of L3, Len Lakofka eventually wrote up the sequels L4 and L5, along with additional supplements, released for free on Dragonsfoot's First Edition AD&D section. These included L4 Devilspawn, which was downloaded over 34,000 times as of 2020; L4C: The Lendore Isle Companion; L5A The Kroten Campaign Guide, L5B The Kroten Adventures, L5C Thre Kroten Campaign Companion, and an L5 Map Pack.
- Kobold Quarterly 2, p.17.
- Interview: Len Lakofka (Part II). Grognardia, Nov 18, 2009.
- L3 Deep Dwarven Delve (1999), p.2.
- L3 Deep Dwarven Delve (1999), p.1.
- Interview: Len Lakofka (Part III). Grognardia, Nov 19, 2009.
- L4 Q&A With Len Lakofka. Dragonsfoot, Jan 25, 2010.
- "The version in the Silvers Edition is the orginal or is it the rewrite that i did with one of the WofC editors. that rewrite got lost. It is about 80% of what the first draft of the module was." L4 Q&A With Len Lakofka. Dragonsfoot, Jan 24, 2010. This contradicts a popular misconception that TSR lost the original L3 and Wizards of the Coast rewrote it from scratch.
- Deep Dwarven Delve, DriveThruRPG.
- L3 Deep Dwarven Delve (1999), p.24.