A downloadable game

Buy Now$7.00 USD or more

DELVE: A Solo Map Drawing Game is a map drawing game that puts you in control of a dwarven hold as you discover the horrors that lurk below. This 44 page zine has everything you need to generate natural formations, forgotten ruins, enemies, wyrd magics, and ancient monstrosities. It has a simple turn-based combat system, rules for building your hold and optional challenges for a harder experience.

Inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress and Dungeon Keeper, DELVE aims to capture that feeling of building and protecting a fortress in an unforgiving subterranean world.

All you need to play is, a pencil, paper (preferably 1" grid), and a deck of playing cards.

The Under-King has put out a bounty to all the holds demanding a Void Crystal, a rare and powerful gem found only in the deepest caverns.

Each round your dwarves will mine another square of the grid, you draw a card from your deck of playing cards and see what they found. Hearts ♥ and Diamonds ♦ are resources and trade goods that you'll use for building and hiring units while Clubs ♣ and Spades ♠ are natural formations and forgotten ruins. From ancient libraries to goblin lairs, these subterranean locales will become part of your hold's unique layout and may provide unexpected benefits. Or you might just unleash a horde of ravenous insects in which case, you'll need to fight.

Combat in DELVE is designed to allow for forward planning and strategic thinking without weighing you down with book-keeping. Enemies follow a tower-defense style path towards your hold's entrance while you move your units in simple turn-based tactical combat. Utilise traps, ranged attacks, and special units to face deadly foes or record your hold's epic demise.

DELVE will also be supported with ongoing updates and expansions which bring new features such as farming, trading, the Cave Sea, and more. Or you can check out RISE (a dungeon building variant which tasks you with keeping your mutinious minions happy) or UMBRA (a sci-fi variant with challenges you with colonising strange alien planets).

Sidebar images provided by, in order: Ed-Lynden Bell, @Unmech, @Shanice_Fagan, and myself.

Join the Discord - https://discord.gg/GygdYnA

Physical Copies can be ordered from https://www.blackwellwriter.com/

Expansion Links:


Q) What are the max ♥ and ♦ limits?

A) 50 for each until you build Stockpiles or Treasuries

Q) Can you build in unexplored Grid Spaces?

A) Yes

Updated 5 days ago
CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(133 total ratings)
Tagsartgame, Drawing, dwarf, fortress, Management, Print & Play, Singleplayer, solo, Tower Defense, Tycoon
Average sessionA few hours


Buy Now$7.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $7 USD. You will get access to the following files:

DELVE Pages.pdf 3 MB
DELVE Spreads.pdf 3 MB
Dwarf ID Mini Zine 2 MB
Dwarf ID PDF 322 kB
Dwarf ID Extra Sheets 124 kB

Exclusive content

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

DELVE Community Copy

To celebrate DELVE's success and my temporary soujorn from poverty I've put up a bunch of community copies. If you can't afford the game at its regular price for any reason, feel free to take one of these copies.

Development log

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I have wanted to play this game ever since I learned about solo dice games!


I purchased the game a couple years ago. Building out your own dwarf fortress is really enjoyable.  It has a good balance between creative interpretation and mechanical structure. If you like the idea of a "create a map" game but are overwhelmed with choices/interpretation in something like Ex Novo, this gives a more narrow focus and is worth a try.


Fuck yeah! Finally got a copy! ^o^

Thanks guys!!


Are there ever going to be more community copies?


I just played this together with my SO and immediately had to come buy a copy for myself! So much fun! What a great game!


Hi, is there any chance of getting one community copy? This games looks awesome!


I made a short review of the game on my substack: https://abstr.substack.com/i/100521089/rpg-delve
To summarize:
( + ) The systems successfully drive a specific narrative without being too hands-on.

( - ) It's hard to be emotionally invested without a central figure. (I let you judge if that might apply to you.)

Just bought everything for Delve, Rise, and Umbra. What happened to Quests though??


It's been taken down until I can rework it as there were daily questions about certain mechanics not working.

thanks for the quick reply! i look forward to when it comes out again


Love it!! Combined it w/ To Care Is To Cairn and now I'm basically got an archaeology plotline for my campaign. Excellent. 

Hello, could you clarify one sentence, I am confused by it's meaning. "Dorms: Increases the max number of Units each adjacent Room can house by 50% per grid of Dorms". Not sure what is meant by "per grid of Dorms". Thank you


The Dwarf  Generator supplement doesn't have the name "Urist" in it.  Other than that, REALLY COOL!


Link to "Quests" expansion looks like it's broken :/

Maybe not broken, but the page is private... So we don't have access to it...


I really do love this game, but how does the pdf NOT have bookmarks, in a game that requires constant flipping back and forth to look things up? It was such a nightmare I added bookmarks myself in Adobe Acrobat.
That said, fantastic game!


No bookmarks because I had no idea how to add them in. Glad you enjoyed it despite the egregious flipping :)

How do I use the Wyrd page?


It looks like it is an off-shoot of one of the natural formations results if you are deep enough.


Legend! Thanks so much


Wish I could buy it, I've heard great things about it but it costs money XD


I've searched through the rules again and again, and I can't find anything about the default maximum amount of ressources and trade goods one can have. I assume it's either 50 or 100 but nowhere does it say anything about a maximum amount of them outside of Stockpiles and Treasuries which only specify by how much the maximum is increased. I'm a bit lost here.


50 for each. I saw the developer comment on a YouTube play through.


how much extra do you got to pay for the exclusive content and what exactly is it?


That's just a weird bit of itch's formatting. Normally there are some community copies available that it counts as "exclusive content" so don't worry about it.


I want to buy one to try it but I'm not sure which one. Delve or Umbra. Is it more or less the same game with a different skin or there are significant differences?



Go for DELVE, it's the most straightforward. UMBRA takes the same system and adds a bunch of new mechanics on top.

Delve is a solo map-drawing game. Inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress, you are the Overseer of a dwarven hold. You send out dwarven units to explore the vast underground world for treasures and fight subterranean monsters.


Playing my first game and have a question.

My second turn I drew a King of Clubs. "Burrowing beast (20). Dig a tunnel straight up from this space. When it reaches one of your rooms,  combat starts and it moves normally towards the Entrance. Can be tamed, does not burrow"

This is on my first floor. Does it just burrow up out of the Hold and is gone? I know burrowing enemies usually turn around and dig back down but this description says "does not burrow" at the end. Do I now have a hole in the roof that needs to be barricaded?

If it doesn't dig straight up but goes for the entrance since it is already on the top floor, since this is only my 2nd turn, does it just fight immediately  and I lose 4 of my starting Soldiers at the Entrance?


I actually had the same thing happen in my first layer. I interpreted it as having dug straight up and out of the fort. I then spent resources to patch up the hole it made.


I interpret that it just goes straight towards the entrance. I think events like this are the purpose of the starting soldiers.


This game looks fun


Hi, is the discord server still active? The link above does not work and I’d love to chat/interact with fellow Delevers.  


Hi Fiorina, the Discord is still active and can be found here: https://discord.gg/GygdYnA

I'll get that other link fixed, thanks for letting me know :)


Yay, thank you for the quick response…and for this awesome game, of course.  :)


if we purchase the physical copies, are the PDFs included? Thanks!

This game is the best rpg I have played. 

It gives this feeling of just nostalgia of simpler times of just doing things without a complex story. 

This game also gives the feeling of real adventure. You never know what is happening next.


I've posted a devlog which covers the weirdness of buying physical copies on itch, if you've bought a copy or are looking to, please check above for the "Physical Copies Buying Guide" :)

Basically, I need your addresses to actually ship them, itch should prompt you for it. If not, please let me know by replying to this and I'll email you.

I didn't get an address prompt so I'll need to give you that! Thanks! Looking forward to try it out! 

Hi. I just purchased a physical copy - wanted to make sure you received the address I submitted. Also, I've not paid the shipping (don't know what World Zone I'm in - I'm in the United States).  Thanks!

Hey, thanks for letting me know :) the US is in World Zone 3 which is the last column. If you'd like I can send you a paypal request for the shipping cost?

Yes please do. PayPal “reynoldspix@gmail.com”


Started playing this tonight with my partner - we are both drawing our own Holds, but using the same explore cards as we go. We're both absolutely in love with the game you've made here.

We had an entertaining turn 1, when we explored into flammable gas, which immediately killed our 5 soldiers at the entrance.

We're looking forward to playing this more, and trying out your other games in the future! :)


This game is amazing! I am really enjoying it so much. The way it captures the organic feeling of something like dwarf fortress without the complexity is something I never imagined.

However, I'm discovering some problems with the layout. For instance, it would be great if the quick rules had page numbers for all the different charts. Or if the charts you needed to use all the time (the club and spade charts) weren't right in the middle of the book. There's no subheader for repairing and draining rooms, which makes it hard to find.

Also, why I'm commenting; I've also seen some errors "page X" errors as mentioned below, and the non-existant "wolf cannon". I also see that an "Inspiring " legendary find (pdf pg 35, row 8) makes units fight with 50% of their strength. Perhaps this should be +50%? In the quick reference rules, under draining rooms, it says units in flooded rooms are destroyed... but that's the only place I can find that rule.

I hope these small issues can get fixed, because I'm really looking forward to playing more of this awesome game, in an even more polished state.

(1 edit) (+2)

Another small thing. Prisons are way too good. 20<> each turn per full prison? And the only drawback is if they get disconnected you end up with a tiny cluster of angry prisoners? It's twice as good as the "Creation" legendary find, which gives 20 <3 per turn, and the drawbacks (seem) very easy to mitigate.

Mechanics aside, I'd also prefer if the best room in the game wasn't an overflowing prison. The idea that you can't really build a successful dungeon without prisons... weird and feels like it's something better for RISE where you're trying to be evil.

EDIT: what about keeping prisons, and splitting the money into a seperate workshop room (which makes 5 <> per turn, or 10<> when adjacent to a full prison)?


Completely Agree - I was carefully planning using Storehouses, Overseer's Offices and Shrines of Fortune and could barely get by.

Then in another game, I just created 3 prisons and that was enough for me to just load my dwarfhold with fully-housed cannon outposts, just one straight ladder going down, and on each layer 2 outposts and a dorm. That's 150 ranged attack per layer with no reset cost between combats. All sourced by prisons, and my resources would just be capped constantly.


Another item I found. The Burgalar Alarm Invention gives you a bunch of benefits... but they don't match up with the Thieves event it references. Alarms say you don't lose half your treasure, and are treated as rolling a 4 - while Thieves say on a 1 you lose half your treasure and on 2+ you have to chase them or they steal half. I'm fine if burgalar alarms mean I just bypass the roll, but how much do they steal if they don't steal half?


Found Another typo: on PDF p37, Twinned Ancient Monstrosity has text that says [eye icon], rather than the actual icon.


I found another typo, Units connected to kitchens "get 50% STR". presumably this is a bonus of 50%, not set to 50%.


Me again, I came across an edge case: what happens when you draw a joker when you're not exploring? For instance, I build a library and draw a card to see what spell I get - and it's a joker.

Obviously, I can decide what to do with that draw - I can say my researchers developed a legendary find - but given most other cases are covered in the rules I figured I'd ask about this.


Hey Ronar, wish I had you looking at it before it got printed.

Normally I'd say just ignore the joker and take the next card but your interpretation is a great example of Rule #1: Have fun!


There's a law of the universe that if you get something printed, the first thing you will do is open it and find a typo. 

Honestly, despite all the small errors in the world I can say one thing: this game is amazing. I look forward to whatever you make next. :)

Thank you so much :)

Next in the pipeline is the UMBRA: Stations expansion which is shaping up to be pretty cool.

If you haven't already, ratings are much appreciated as they help DELVE climb the algorithimic ladder.

(1 edit) (+2)(-1)

There doesn't seem to be stats for the wolf cannon in the pdfs. I also can't seem to find a mention of what the starting caps for resources and trade goods actually are, only that they can be increased with certain rooms


Hi Steven, wolf cannon is a typo, just follow the rules for cannon there :) Starting caps are 50 and 50.


I wish there were community copies


Backer from Kickstarter here. Its a real interesting game.  If you need a solo game to kill some time with I'd recommend it. Also the authors other projects. It's a laid back game that gets your creative juices flowing and if you play ttrpgs you end up with a neat map you can use. 

I've read were people use it as a journaling project. Writing as they go. In the persona of a dwarven mine boss. 

Or we're some one wanted a bigger deeper map when they were done so they made each sheet of grid paper a lvl of the mine. Expanding across each sheet as one level. Then  moving to a new grid sheet for the next lvl down. Use your imagination a little and it can turn from a fun and interesting little game into a fun personal project. I'm sure it'll have you coming back again and again 😊


I also backed this project on kickstarter. My wife and I are playing the game together cooperatively even though it's pitched as being a solo game. She's been drawing and making decisions while I flip through the rules and figure out what our options are.

I came across two places where the rules point to "page X". I found the rules in question, so I'm only pointing this out to make sure the error doesn't slip into the print version.

We discovered a volcanic shaft right away and built a draw-bridge across it, but so far haven't had the chance to drop any enemies to a fiery demise. We've lost two of our dwarven soldiers in a fight against some golems, but are otherwise in good shape. It's a new style of game for us, but we're having fun!


Oh no :O Can you email me where you found the errors at annablackwell1994@gmail.com

I'm glad you're having fun with it and that sounds like an amazing defense! Hope you manage to drop an ancient monstrosity down there >:)

Sent :)

hello Anna

i actually had a similar setup (drawbridge on volcanic shaft) but I don’t really understand the mechanic of when I can activate it (it just says during combat)

if it’s an attack, then I feel my fortress is now impregnable as I can just activate it as soon as an enemy steps on it. If it’s just a a case of closing at start of combat, then it’s much less good as I will lose  a good section of the fort to takeover.

Do you have any advice? I’m on turn 5 and have a 135 str lich king to deal with so serious business :)

ps - I absolutely love this game.


Really nice game! I was a backer, and have been playing this for a while. It's a solid game that leaves you with a really pretty dungeon at the end. What was so amazing to me - I'm definitely not a drawing wizard - is that you're busy filling out these small boxes, and when you sit back and look at the whole you're immediately surprised by how cool it looks.

Good to note that this is not just about drawing: there is a "tower defense" element to the game as well where you have your dwarves and beasts battle it out against monsters coming u from the deep (colored cubes in my case).

Can't wait to see the other titles in this series!