Be Awesome At Dungeon Design (Augmented Edition) (system neutral)
#3 of my Top Ten of 2017
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.
You can get this amazing book here on OBS!
Want to take a look at the basics? there’s a FREE edition (little edition) here as well!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!