Monday, December 07, 2009

Dungeon Geomorphs


This product is the first released by TSR that does not pertain to the rules directly. Instead it is a game aid intended to help DMs design their dungeons. What it consists of is a number of sample dungeon sections that can be combined together into various forms to make a complete dungeon level. This is another product that I have never toyed with myself. I can certainly see its usefulness for running games off the cuff, and the dungeon layouts look varied enough that exploration of them would be interesting.

(It should be noted at this point that I'm working from the compilation of Dungeon Geomorph Sets 1-3 here, rather than the original OD&D version. I'm not sure what differences there are in the maps between the two versions, but I do know that there are some minor variations in the text. The original text can be found here.)

The obvious way for me to incorporate this product into my campaign is by making a dungeon level out of the geomorphs. That leaves the question of where I should place this level, with the answer being the Sample Dungeon from OD&D Vol. 3, somewhere on level 1 or 2. It's open-ended enough that I know I won't be contradicting any D&D canon here, and Gygaxian enough in origin that I will feel justified in combining the two.

That leaves the sample encounters, all designed by Gary himself. I'll be leaving them where they are placed on the geomorph maps, and I don't feel the need to change anything here. With traps, holy men and giant spiders, they have the sort of D&D flavour that pleases me.


Given the shortness of these entries, I figure I'll tackle all three geomorph sets at once. Now for this one I do have the original. A cursory comparison of this to the later compilation shows that the maps are the same, which pleases me greatly given that I don't own the other two sets. This is basically the same product as Set One, except that the maps are primarily made up of natural caverns instead of straight dungeon corridors.

As with the first set, I'll be making a dungeon level out of the geomorphs to be included in the sample dungeon from OD&D Vol. 3. The 6th level is denoted as being 'Caverns', so that's where I'll place the geomorphs.

The sample encounters given here are a lot more deadly than those of Set One, and to my mind a bit more interesting. We even get a brand new monster, the Aurotyugh, a sort of living treasure pile. The similarity of the name to the more famous Otyugh monster may be coincidental, given the unlikelihood that the two are related. Or perhaps they both stem from the same language, with a similar meaning despite their differences?


It's back to dungeon rooms and corridors with Set Three. I'll be placing the level created with these geomorphs below the cavern level of the sample dungeon; a look at the cross-section will show that further levels are implied by the word ETC. and an arrow.

Again the sample encounters increase in deadliness, and they also start to take on some of the key Gygaxian tropes, most notably in the inclusion of an evil temple. This temple is dedicated to the demon Sha-Hec'urah. It's not a name I've encountered in other D&D books, which is not to say that it isn't out there somewhere. Barring further details, I will be making Sha-Hec'urah a minor Demon Prince, and this temple his major site of worship in the World of Greyhawk.

Next: The Dragon #5! Witches! The Anhkheg! And a big helping of Metamorphosis Alpha!

1 comment:

  1. Got a shitload of use out of these. I particularly remember showing them off to other geeks (although I have to admit I played sports as well, so I was a minor geek compared to the rest of the library crowd) in the Jr. High School library when I first got them.