Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review - Lich Dungeon Level II - A Dungeon Out of Time

When I say that Lich Dungeon Level II is "a dungeon out of time" what I mean is that it doesn't fit into modern gaming sensibilities, even those built around the OSR. It is a product of the late 70's / early 80's, even if it was written in modern times.

What are some examples?

Boxed or highlighted text for the DM to use as a memory refresher / quick description for the
party? not present. You better have a full working knowledge of every nook and
cranny of this level before running it, or your players are going to go back to texting / surfing / talking amongst themselves as you read a single room's complete description to yourself to refresh your memory. Actually, back in "the day" I don't recall many dungeon rooms having paragraphs of lengthy description, which is probably why we didn't need boxed and / or highlighted text for the most part.

A pole-arm random table with 16 possible pole arms? Present. This is more like a small gem and makes me want to break out my AD&D 1e books to see what each one looks like.

No blank spots on the map - every hex is used. Sure, that's how I drew dungeons when I was 15 - but then again, I was 15.

Doors. WTF is it with all of the doors? Level II is the level of doors it seems.

Fun. I can tell Frank had fun writing this. There are many parts that I had fun reading. The thing is, this is one of those "silly" dungeons, and unless your players are in the mood for such, it will get old - fast. If they are in the mood for such, there's lots to like.

Gygaxian ecology explained? Yep

So far for me, it's a mixed bag. The problem I have with mixed bags when it comes to gaming is sorting it out to the point I can comfortably use it. Time to dig deeper for that.

Lich Dungeon links at The Tavern


  1. Why the hostility toward space-filling maps? That seems like the way buildings are built in real life. There aren't "empty spaces" in my house that are full of solid rock or wood. I don't see any good reason why that would be a mandatory feature of a lich's architectural style, either.

    "Space-filling" says to me that something is an artificial structure, so it wouldn't make sense for a set of natural caverns. But it makes sense to me for the decidedly unnatural floorplan of a dungeon.

    1. your household walls arent meant to be load bearing of stone and granite (which most dungeons are made of)

      and i dont see load bearing columns to make up for such

      hostility? no

      lack of common sense when building a structure made of stone with paper thin walls? perhaps ;)

    2. I'm not sure that's the problem you think it is.

      We have a lot of industrial cave complexes in my part of the world. The typical packed full single page dungeon on 5 to the inch graph paper is about 150,000 sq. feet of dungeon with lots of floor to ceiling walls. I think at the scale of those maps its safe to say that paper thin is 6 inches of solid stone (at least as thick as my 2X4 and sheetrock house walls).

      I have been in 250,000 sq. foot industrial caves with almost no solid walls and the system of support posts are a lot more widely spaced than the walls on the typical crammed page dungeon, even if they do tend to be closer to 3' sq.

      As I understand it from the engineer I talked to in the caves, the amount of support needed is heavily dependent on the rigidity and movement characteristics of the rock the caves are carved out of.

    3. An interesting perspective, and I certainly don't doubt it. But are those industrial caves stacked 13 levels high, right on top of one another, with between 3' and 10' of stone floors/ceilings between levels? I'd be interested to know what that does to the overall structural strength.

      Then again, it's an effing lich, and he can certainly have researched the spell "force stone reinforcement". In fact, I might just put that as a bonus spell in Castle of the Mad Archmage.

  2. No, the caves are all one or two levels only. Unlike a house though, carving additional levels out of the rock removes weight rather than adding it. I agree that the distance between levels would be relevant to how well the overall weight load can be distributed to the surrounding rock. I don't remember much attention being given to the distance between levels though I suppose it can be inferred from the length of the various ramps and stairs connecting them.

    It would be interesting to have a mining engineer's take on the whole thing. At what point when building downward does the overall weight of the capping rock cause the the complex to collapse?


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