The Little Book of Dungeons is not a collection of printable battlemaps to be placed onto your tabletop and used with miniatures. Rather, it is a collection of maps that can be translated onto a erasable surface, referenced on paper, or simply dictated during game-play. These maps are designed as dungeons for fantasy play, but are drawn generic enough that they can be used outside of fantasy systems and settings. In fact, they can easily be translated into building schematics for sci-fi games or mines or temples for pulp games. Essentially, The Little Book of Dungeons is actually filled with a collection of maps that are drawn simple enough to be translated into multiple genres.
There are nine total maps all drawn as 35 tiles by 50 tiles. Don’t mistake these for simple, hand-drawn maps using graph paper, these are beautifully created maps with dungeon tile and cave floor textures. In addition, the walls have a bit of 3-D rendering through the use of shadowing, doors are properly represented, pillars are found throughout, stairs are properly designed, and even tunnels are marked on the map. These are truly extraordinary maps! Because the rooms are completely empty and devoid of designation, you can make these maps be what you want them to be. So do not be scared away by the word dungeons as they could easily call it The Little Book of Awesome Maps!
The Little Book of Dungeons, Volume 1 is a great collection of maps for Game Masters running any type of adventure or campaign where the PCs are lead into the bowels of some establishment filled with hallways and rooms. This could be a dungeon, military camp, engineering facility, Mayan temple, or whatever. While you won’t be printing it so miniatures can be placed on top, it is a great, quick reference not only in a pinch but also for planning the next game session.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The Little Book of Dungeons is very simple, but clean and effective. The only improvement would be a better use of margins, making the maps a little larger. Otherwise the details of the maps come through crisp and clear, especially the great use of shadows.
Visual Appeal: 10 out of 10
Color battlemaps can be beautiful, especially when they’re filled with great details like properly placed furniture and common goods. However, when you switch to a grey-scaled, generic map designed to inspire creation, it is much harder to create the same level of visual appeal. The Little Book of Dungeons meets that level of visual appeal with all of its little details. At first glance, you may only see a set of dungeons with surrounding walls. Look closer and you will see shadowing along the walls to create a 3-D rendering, hallways that are darker than open spaces, door representations, stairs that visually rise or fall, and caves that look awesome. It’s these details that make the maps so visually appealing.
Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
These maps have a wide variety of uses, look great, contain plenty of usable rooms, and can be connected to each other or other designs in any method desired. The only small drawback is that they have to be re-drawn on the tabletop or simply described to be understood. If you understand the intended design of the maps, this is really a non-issue.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Designing dungeons or even other convoluted facilities can be a daunting task for a rushed Game Master. The Little Book of Dungeons, Volume 1, can alleviate some of that work by presenting the GM with pre-designed layouts for quick insertion into many adventures and campaigns. For those looking to dungeon delve, simply add the monsters and treasure. If you want an underground science lab, just add workers, engineers, technicians, scientists, and psychotic robots! This is a beautiful collection of maps and I highly recommend them for any of the previously noted uses.