Well this is probably the toughest review I have ever written. Not because English is not my mother tongue, but because this product is far from easy to rate. When you review a RPG core book you can give the pros and cons of the game system, or the universe presented if there is one. When you present a module you can rant on the maps, or praise the NPCs, or just present the nice village that will become the base of operations of the characters of your fellow players.
No here, you just have 28 pages of tables, all with long paragraphs of explanations, some very nice drawings, and few dungeon maps (one complete, some partials, some rooms/passages) and that’s it. Some of you must remember the Appendix A of the GMG of the first edition of ADD. In a few pages, you could find the random dungeon generator of Mr Gygax. Just imagine that you have this, but with more flavor, the Troll way… in a way
So this small book propose you to create your personal dungeons, but not just the map, also its purpose, its origins, its content and lots of flavor bits to make it more ‘believable’. To give a better understanding of what this product has to offer, I’ll give you one example of what I’ve generated with it. This way you’ll know a little bit more of what you’ll get with it, and without a preview. Everything here is the result of the roll of the dice. I’ll present you the general description of the dungeon, and 2 rooms. You’ll see with the rooms, that sometimes, you’ll probably have to tweak the numbers… But bear in mind, that even if the book is published by TLG and has the C&C colors, this is completely generic material. Of course, the monsters in the tables are the one from M&T, but otherwise, it is good for every Hack’n Slash Fantasy Game.
So, here is the general characteristics of my dungeon. I won’t explain them all, you’ll have to buy it for more information.
Purpose: Economic and Shelter (I chose to roll 2 purposes as proposed in the book).
Builder: Natural conditions.
Location: Terrain, Hot desert.
Size: 1 level, with 2 entrances, both known (but one is hidden so very few must know of it). First entrance is a shaft, second is a door.
Age: 2 millennia.
What can I make out of that. I immediately thought about a desert smuggler cache (due to the purpose), probably in a rocky desert, in some natural caves. The entrances can be easily placed this way.
Then I rolled for the layout. My opinion, is that people should probably use their own dungeon design, but it can give some really nice ideas of layout. Lots of advices are given concerning the result of the table and how to interpret them and adapt them to your design. I will just give you two examples of room I got. Once again, all the information come from various tables.
This is a rectangular room, of 15ft x 30ft, built for medium sized creature/persons, with 1 other exit, no doors, not trap and no treasures. This is a unoccupied ramshackle Arboretum, where venomous snakes are hidden. There is a really softly glowing light, and some debris around (where are the snakes, in the debris or the trees, it’s up to the GM).
Room 2: This one is not usable as is, it will need some work, but the ideas are great, you’ll see. I’ve given some ideas in parenthesis (so they are not from rolling on tables)
This is a rectangular room of 10ft x 10ft, built for medium sized creature/persons, with 2 exits, with doors neither locked or trapped. The room looks like a cell. There is a tricky non-lethal trap in the room, it looks like a confusion one, but it is a movement trap that will take the character/party up to 50ft away. The difficulty level of the trap should be 3 below the average party level. There is a functional object in the room (the lever to disarm the trap?). The room also gives mild vertigo (maybe a side effect from the movement trap, teleport?). There is an NPC in the room, with a party of 6 other character. The NPC is a level 18 elf with a class (wouah!!! High level, probably a fighter in this place…) possessing a level 2 treasure (that one is cheap…)
OK, what is doing a high level elf, with 6 other persons in a 10 by 10 cell…? This is where the GM will have to do some work. The first room was quite good and would fit this place (with a small irrigation system for the trees), but for the second room, it will be harder. Let’s say that there are several 10 by 10 cells, where the elf and his party are trapped due to the movement trap. The characters may be able to help them, thank to the object in the guard area. You see even if the rolls were strange, the result can give nice stuff. And for the level of the NPC and his party, I’ll adjust it to the characters’ level.
Two last things to add to this book, two really great ‘tables’. One gives you 100 object to fill the chamber of torture. This is really great inspiration. The other, is in fact a set of tables giving lists of monsters depending of the location of the dungeon (swamp, desert, planar, etc.) and the monster commonality. 5 pages of list to keep your encounters consistent.