Wednesday 3 February 2010

Purest Essence of Dungeoncrawl

"...light threaded the ceiling... Drops of water danced and sparkled like diamonds."

I have recently taken delivery of a book which I can only describe as dungeoncrawl in its purest form. What? Mike who? Goodman what? I'm talking about an overlooked classic entitled Dark Dungeon Adventure by Paul Sellers.

This slim little 32 page volume has it all. Survival in a hostile wilderness; a ruined castle; a subterranean underworld filled with monsters, wonders and unexplained noises; loss and rescue; fear and courage; and a dog. There is no flab or excess to the tale. No Monty Haul 'treasure for the sake of it'. No playing the system, rather than the game. The protagonists are elated simply to escape the dungeon with their lives.

There is much we can learn from this book.


Ok, low comedy aside. My copy of the (justly praised) Dungeon Alphabet finally arrived this morning.

On first reading it would appear that the phrase "ne plus ultra of the OSR" can be applied without accusations of hyperbole. This is the sort of book I'd have killed for as a proto-DM. The art is evocative, the content is thought-provoking, and the whole is an adornment to the hobby. It looks, feels and even /smells/ like a proper hardbound gaming book should. And the price is an achievement in itself: $10+p&p. I paid the equivalent of $16-20 dollars for books of a similar quality 20 years ago!

Can't talk now. Geeking out. ;)

edit (17/02/10): Purely in terms of game utility Stonehell probably trumps The Dungeon Alphabet at my table. TDA is a thought-provoker and a beautiful thing, Stonehell is - to my mind - more immediately useful as a dungeon builder's toolbox.


  1. Book smelling is a fiendish and corrupt practice. Please desist immediately.

  2. @Thomas: Ours is an ancient and sophisticated culture, we do not expect you to understand (let alone approve of) all our time-hallowed practises. :p

  3. My daugther loves Cuckoo Car adventure, and looks forward to your review of Dark Dungeon.


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