Monday, January 11, 2021

Monday Magazine Classics

 The Hall of Mystery

Don Turnbull

Dragon #21

December 1978

“A section deep in the Greenlands Dungeon.”

Don Turnbull brings another section of his Greyhawk/Blackmoor-esque Greenlands Dungeon to light. Unlike Turnbull’s previous entry on this blog (The Lair of the Demon Queen), he keeps most of the writing direct and to the point, only occasionally straying into commentary like, “Normally the main hall is guarded; in Greenlands the Guardians were two Umber Hulks.”

The monsters here are tough (Succubus, Night Hag, Mind Flayer, Flesh Golem, 4 Trappers, etc.) and the mechanism to “beat the room” will have players puzzling for some time. There’s teleporting to other rooms in this weird monster zoo – and even that mechanism is a trick of sorts... Treasure is frustratingly abstracted (again!). He suggests a monster called a Magic Absorber (From Alarums and Excursions 12...) as another “mess with the players” kind of monster... ugh...

This is another example of early dungeon design. It’s clear that this was played as a game – not as amateur theater or storytelling with dice or as roleplaying a character arc or whatever we do these days. Here’s an environment. Here are the obstacles. Your characters and your brains are the tools you use to overcome them.

So I would compare this to a less developed Tomb of Horrors or a more focused (but still less developed) White Plume Mountain. It’s clearly an artifact of its era – bringing with it all that that implies.

I don’t think I’d use The Hall of Mystery per se. Maybe drop it into something like the above mentioned adventures (because, you know, they aren’t gonzo and deadly enough by themselves...heh) or it could be a fun one shot – maybe at a convention or something.



Other reviews:

Not a lot out there:





No comments: