An Endzeitgeist.com review
This massive book clocks in at 216 pages, 1 page front cover, 6 pages dedications, editorial, etc., 5 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of author bio, and almost 40 pages blank – these are at the end of a chapter, or on the flip-side of maps. Maps? Yep There are 5 sample b/w-maps included herein. This leaves us with about 150 pages of content. Why am I rounding down? Because some pages at the end of a chapter are 2/3 empty. This does not matter, though. Why? Because we get versions without the blanks, for both printer- and screen-version. These, btw., still clock in at a 188 page total.
Anyways, this looks like much, but this book is laid out to work as a book – it also comes with a .mobi version in addition to the by now, standard print and screen-versions we expect from Raging Swan Press.
What is this, then? It is the single most comprehensive and helpful dungeon design guide I have ever read.
We begin with simple tips for beginners, contemplations regarding the name and the often overlooked (cough Prison of Meneptah /cough) purpose of a dungeon. From there, we move to the ecology, note dressing (You should definitely have Raging Swan Press’ GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing by now – it’s not only a Top ten-winner, it is, regardless of system, my most used game book to this day…)…and then things become interesting.
We start taking in the details: The importance of the dungeon entrance and its physicality, tricks to create the illusion of detail, contemplations regarding dungeon types and the surrounding wilderness, a “Don’t do this..:”-list…oh, and what about a list of things modern dungeons don’t have enough of anymore? This list is NOT a grognardian tirade against new school design – it’s a well-reasoned and concise series of observations.
Beyond all of these, we also talk about wandering monsters (yes, including a couple of motivations…) and it should be noted at this point that this book also contains quite a bunch of dressing tables to jumpstart your dungeon-design brainstorm and fill in spaces. Not as many as in RSP’s dressing books, obviously…but yeah. It’s still a TON and more than you’d ever otherwise find.
Oh. And there is a special series of considerations applied to mega-dungeon design, from unusual ways to get in/out to logic and particular considerations, with a few examples, we move on to a dungeon design case study and a two-page, concise manifest of sorts that lists the handy principles that underlie good dungeon design in the most concise way I have seen them ever spelled out in any supplement.
We also btw. discuss two awesome dungeons. Funnily enough, I really, REALLY hated both of them. Moathouse and Forge of Fury, fyi. I know. Sacrilege, right? ;)
Okay, I insulted the moathouse. I better grab my boots before the torch-wielding pitchfork-mob arrives, so let’s end this quickly, shall we?
The book is laid out in a 1-column b/w-standard with a few b/w-artworks here and there.
As a reviewer, I really hate the lack of bookmarks. But honestly, this once, I can live with it.
Why? Because you should have this in print.
You see, Creighton Broadhurst’s tome is basically the textbook for the course to make captivating dungeons. If I taught dungeon design in university (Hej, even scientists may dream, right?) instead of my usual subjects, this book would be at the top of the required-reading bibliography.
This book doesn’t waste your time with useless blathering, is remarkably bereft of annoying opinionated author-egos trying to jam down their ideology down your throat:
Instead, we get a no-frills guideline to improve your dungeon-design skills. This should be required reading for game-designers. Wait…do tons of dressing count as “frills”?
Either way, this represents one of the best design-guidelines I have ever read. Yes. That good. It doesn’t dive into system-specific nit and grit, sure, but as a universal manual? Phenomenal.
My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Oh, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017. If your dungeons tend to fall flat, this can help you make them legendary.
[5 of 5 Stars!]