Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stonehell Dungeon - Review

Stonehell Dungeon is an old school mega-dungeon by Michael Curtis. When I say mega-dungeon, I mean MEGA-dungeon, this is one huge adventure packed into a 134 page book. Stonehell is a fantastic product that can be purchased at Lulu.com, there are also a number of other suppliments available for it which I will discuss a little bit later on.

The first eleven pages start off with some general information on Stonehell which give the GM a bit of back story and get him caught up to the current situation, there are also sections on customizing the dungeon and dungeon rumors, then the a dungeon proper starts. Each area or level is shown as a whole and then divided up and dealt with separately. For instance, there is a Surface Level master map and on the following page is the Surface Level overview which provides basic information regarding the maps and then a Surface Level monster list. The next few pages take that master map and break it into separate sections, now instead of the Surface Level Master Map we have levels 0A-Canyon East and 0B-Canyon West, each a smaller section of the master map reproduced and shown with more detail and additional notes, new monsters and new magic item stats. The levels are divided into four quadrants, so you get one overall map that shows how everything fits together and then four small maps that include all of the details you need to run the dungeon. Quadrent example:

The layout is certainly not pretty, it fact I found it to be very cramped and a little tough to read in some sections. That said, I cannot image any other way that this could have been put together without it being 300+ pages, there is SO much information crammed into this book. There is enough material in this book to run a campaign for years, it really is am amazing product. The art is sparse but good, I don't think they had much room for art, this book is all about content. There is a very handy Dungeon Dressing and Container Contents Appendix in the back of the book with 100 separate entries, it seems very useful especially for a dungeon of this size. There are new monsters and magic items sprinkled throughout the book, it would have been nice to see them all pulled together under a New Monsters section, but they are all referenced in the Index under Monsters, New for quick look up.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several suppliments for this dungeon, they can me found here: Michael Curtis Lulu Store. They include a free Stonehell Dungeon Preview, a free Brigands Cave adventure with new monsters and the $2.99 Buried Secrets supplement, which includes adventures for low level characters.

This is honestly one of the best OSR products that is available right now, its packed with information and lots of usable material. Even if you do not intend to run the entire adventure, the individual quadrants can be broken off and used separately in any campaign of your own design. If you do not own this product go out and get it now!

3 comments:

  1. Stonehell is splendid. After over a decade away from RPGs, last July I managed to get a posse together and I thought I'd run The Keep on the Borderlands using Basic D&D. Then I got Stonehell and changed tack. Replacing the Caves of Chaos with Stonehell Dungeon was effortless. So now we've played 19 sessions of "Stonehell on the Borderlands" using B/X and it's been a total blast.

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  2. Sounds like you guys are having a good time. Do you intend to use the whole dungeon or just parts of it?

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  3. The whole thing, unless we get bored, which doesn't seem likely given the variety in Stonehell's levels and quadrants.

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