Disclaimer: Kobold Press provided a complimentary PDF copy of their latest release to shadomain.com for use in this review.
Kobold Press has a new book coming out, and at only 110 pages, it’s sure to be a quick read for anyone looking for information about dungeons!
Kobold Guide to Dungeons is the latest in their Kobold Guide series of books. It contains 17 essays by authors such as Keith Baker, Keith Ammann, Erin Roberts, Frank Mentzer, and more. The short nature of these essays make them quick reads. Readers can jump around and read them in any order, or only read the ones most interesting or needed at the time. Priced at $12.99 for PDF or $19.99 for softcover, it’s an affordable book to add to your collection.
The first essay I read was “No Empty Rooms” by James L. Stutter. The essay talks about building dungeons so that the rooms are full, not necessarily with combat encounters, but full in a way that makes them feel interesting. There are ideas for what to include, whether it’s hazards, treasure, or a menagerie of monsters. Perhaps most importantly, there are tips for how to design your dungeon so players don’t skip most of it.
The second essay was “On Questionable Naps” by Basheer Ghouse. The essay discusses parties that decide to nap in the middle of a dungeon, and why they decide to do it. There are several reasons discussed and potential solutions discussed. The potential solutions provided might be “inconvenient” (Ghouse’s word, not mine) for GMs, but make a lot of sense, and provide great thoughts for all GMs, but as a newer GM myself, provides great ideas we can start with.
Finally, I read “Dungeons by Design,” written by Keith Baker. This gives some really good points about dungeons overall, especially if adventurers are going to be exploring what they believe to be an old ruin, for example. Baker talks about designing your dungeons in a way that makes sense. If there’s valuable treasure and the ruins are ancient, how have they not been completely cleaned out over the years already? Embrace the classic dungeon crawl, but bring some new ideas into them. What if the dungeon isn’t what it appears to be? There are some thoughtful considerations that will affect both how I approach a dungeon as a player, or, in the event of GMing one, gives ideas to make the dungeon more memorable.
Overall, this book is worth the money and time. It’s not written specifically to use with any one game system; the ideas are generic enough to be compatible with any TTRPG system and provides ideas that can shed new light on the classic dungeon crawl, both for GMs and players.