Tattlebox: The Dungeon Depths
By Thilo Graf
The latest installment of Zombie Sky Press‘s tattlebox-series is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page of editorial, 2.5 pages of advertisement and 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with 13 2/3 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This pdf kicks off with John Bennett, who introduces us to Gormaduc, an interesting concept: Essentially, the idea behind this dungeon-level-concept is that dungeons can use a garbage-level where all the refuse, litter, etc. goes. Inhabited by otyughs, kobolds and ghouls the concept is introduced to enterprising DMs to develop and introduce to their dungeons as they see fit. The entry also features collapsing piles of rubble as crunchy hazards as well as Ryburn Rot, the disease named after the creator of the dump-level and finally a new creature, the stone aratronus, which is essentially a 6-legged stone golem with an integrated battering ram that may use trash to regenerate damage caused to it. NEAT! If you liked the idea of Dungy in Rappan Athuk, I’d check this out and give the critter its very own realm – at least that’s what I’ll do. (I’ll also make Ryburn’s psyche captured in Dungy, making the thing intelligent. Oh yeah!)
James Thomas’ Mines of Madragar is another idea for a location/dungeon: Once a dwarven city with mines, the place has been overrun and now dwarves make a living off operating the entry-lift and selling ways out for the adventurers set off to explore the location. Per se a nice idea, though I prefer the proving-ground approach of Rite Publishing’s Ruins Perilous as presented in AQ#2 in concept for a controlled environment-dungeon.
Dungeons get stale after a while, let’s face it. John Pingo’s “Not your Daddy’s dungeon”-article seeks to remedy that be providing some ideas: The first has the PCs delve into the belly of a gigantic beast like a dragon as well as ideas on how to change existing critters to suit the locale. The second idea is the tower of terror – wall and ceiling-less, this dungeon impedes any flying and levitating, but is a set of platforms and stairs leading up to a djinn and thus a wish at the end. Other ideas include delving into a mad hermit’s dreamscapes and psyche or living dungeon-constructs created by godlike artificers.
Beyond all these nice ideas, want some additional hazards? Thomas LeBlanc has you covered with new hazards ranging from CR 1 to 6, include ceilings that drop stones, intense magnetic fields, swarms of all-consuming gobbler-insects and the deadly Xukolic Weed. Jesse Benner’s against the wall-article presents us with 6 new feats: Brutal rush lets you bull rush foes for damage into walls (HELL YEAH!), while compacted eidolon allows summoners to refit the eidolon to help adventuring. Bards can now essentially become daredevil and use bardic performances to find cracks etc. (but not necessarily secret doors) and get a mental image of their surroundings, while spellcasters of all breeds may now reinforce spells, granting them extra damage when cast in tight spaces! Brilliant, since e.g. the behaviour of fireballs in close quarters always felt illogical to me. Faster character may now rebound from walls to enhance your charges and avoid attacks via feint to have foes hit the walls, thus potentially sundering their weapons.
Thomas LeBlanc also has some nice tools for MITES for you with vermin-themed weapons like sting-daggers, silk nets, wasp gliders etc.! We also get invisible ink that glows in darkvision, filament glue, stink pellets and quick ropes. Plain awesome and win, as it greatly adds to the unique feel of mites. Highly recommended for e.g. Kingmaker I.
The final article by John Bennett is on dungeon equipment and includes retractable 10-foot poles, magnesium-style torches that may dazzle foes, glasses to grant darkvision, door jammers, portable drills, sounding rocks and spiked boots. Neat!
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: the ToC, for example has switched letters in one of the entries. Layout adheres to ZSP’s 3-column landscape-standard in full colour, though the pdf is relatively printer-friendly. The pdf is fully bookmarked.
This installment of Tattlebox is once again a nice collection of ideas, crunch and content, though this issue suffers a bit from it chosen topic: The lack of maps and detailed information due to the presentation of the ideas and the relative shortness hurts the per se neat ideas to develop dungeons: More crunchy traits like hazards, mini-templates, sample-DCs etc. would have gone a long way there. On the other hand, the ideas are solid and e.g. the items for mites are plain genius: I hope we’ll get more unique items for humanoids in future installments. This issue feels good, though not as well-crafted as the two predecessors and thus, in the end, I’ll settle for a good, solid verdict of 4 stars for this installment of Tattlebox.
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