Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stonehell: Halfway

I am halfway through reading Michael Curtis's Stonehell and it has ruined me. I have always hated reading dungeon adventures, and now I will hate them twice as much. Nothing irritates me more than having to flip back and forth between the map and the entries. It makes it very hard for me to enjoy reading map heavy modules, even campaign settings. I keep getting yanked out of the flow by having to flip back. It will be even more irritating going forward, because I now know that IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

If he has done nothing else with this book, and trust me he has done other stuff, Mr. Curtis has set a new standard for how dungeon adventures should be presented. Each chapter starts with a map of a whole level of the dungeon. There is also a brief discussion of the level and a list of all the monsters, with stats, on the level. This is followed by four sections, each detailing 1/4 of the level. Each of these sections starts with a more detailed description of that quarter and then discusses anything that requires extra description like stat blocks, traps, special rooms etc. The next two pages consist of a half page map of the quarter with a wandering monster table and the keyed entries for all the rooms. That's right you can always glance over at the map while you read the entries.

I have to admit that the quarters seem a little bit artificial at this point and they seem unnecessarily walled off from each other at this point. I am sure that will improve as the format gets used more. There is no reason that it has to be this way, I am sure a more organic feel will develop over time.
I'll have more to say about the content of Stonehell when I finish. For now, the presentation is awesome.