Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lich Dungeon Level II From Eldritch Enterprises Has Hit The Streets !

Frank Mentzer's  Lich Dungeon is now for sale on Drivthrurpg right over

 The description from Drivethrurpg 
Lich Dungeon, a city unto itself.
Level One was simple, just enough to introduce the place.  This is Level Two.  The real challenges start here.

On Level 2 you'll find apartments & shops, churches & cops, and... well, monsters of course: norks, gunges, geeps, Draugur, plus the usual suspects.
For business & residential opportunities, please see the management (Chagur the Lich). You might even survive.
Prepare to laugh.  Prepare to fight.  Hope to survive.  Have a good game.
A year in the making, this addition to the Lich Dungeon line is packed with new monsters, new treasures, and detailed maps of all areas (there's a lot of maps).  Designed by best-selling fantasy author and designer Frank Mentzer, this adventure is easily converted to almost any fantasy rpg gaming system.  At 134 pages, this is far more than a 'quick trip to the dungeon'.
It is designed for exploration by parties of three or more characters of moderate levels of experience (and equipment)

I've already got my copy on order and there are three very interesting things in my mind. This book clocks in at 134 pages. The fact that this is one of Frank's campaign modules that from what I understand he's run at various conventions over the years and its very well done. And this module has a vast tie in with his work with Mr.Gygax to me is very interesting.

From the pen of Mr. Mentzer himself. 
"So what's this 'lich dungeon' stuff?

As I explain in Lich Dungeon Level One, it's my first dungeon. And it sucked, of course. It's okay now; I fixed it up a bit, over the years. You can buy it safely. It's not a bunch of rough notes, like the dungeons we used to run.

Gary's famous Castle Greyhawk was just rough notes and some maps. (Great maps btw.) He didn't write things out long-form unless it was for publication. And when he did that, he changed stuff, added stuff, tossed out bits that didn't work...

You know how it goes. Your dungeons are probably the same, rough notes and a map.

I couldn't perpetrate that on anybody. Not only is it embarrassing, it's pretty hard to run in that state... unless you know what's going on and just didn't get around to writing it down. Which was the case here, but you can't read my thoughts, so some writing was definitely in order.

So we all created dungeons. The trick is turning 'em into publishable dungeons.

* * * * *

Where'd the new bits in Lich Dungeon come from? Lich Dungeon. Y'see...

Back in the 1970s, I developed and ran the thing for my Philadelphia area players. Worked fine. Then I moved to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, restarted my campaign, and ran it for the designers, editors, and artists of TSR. Some of the regular players (not counting Gary, since he rarely had time) included Jim Ward, Skip & Penny Williams, the late super-artist Keith Parkinson, the late Jean Wells, and many more.

I didn't develop it any further while I worked for TSR, but I did run my campaign, of which LD was a notable part. The memories stick around. So later, after I left TSR, I resumed the campaign and started revising, tweaking, updating bits of LD, including things the players had done, and some new ideas. I had learned a few things under Gary's wing, as it were.

So all that 'new stuff' in LD1 (and now LD2, freshly released) wasn't there in the 1970s version. It was in later incarnations of LD, though, so it's Authentic Lich Dungeon nevertheless.

Why mess with it? It was all rough notes before I started writing it for publication, and as long as I had to do a bunch of work, I figured I might as well update it a bit. (The Eldritch Ent.s have discussed a 'deluxe version', including the really-and-truly raw L1 notes & map. We'll see.)

I'm okay with changing it some, as long as the 'new' material is authentic, historical, "Hey I remember that" Lich Dungeon history. And with the newer bits, it makes the whole thing more fun... and more complete as a 21st-century publication.

Some reviews of Level One were, um, lukewarm. Yes, it's repetitive; that's the way it was, originally. Didn't change that part.

Here's the secret: things don't get interesting until L2 and below. You can think of L1 as an intro, the lay of the land, the basic geographic template for what will come later.

But before you can hit L2 you have to hit L1, and before that you have to figure out how to get INTO the place, and... well, you see the results.

Level One came out a year ago, but Level Two just got released. Sorry, it took a while to get things in shape. L3 shouldn't take a year like L2 did.

Here are just a few 'Designer's Notes' -- spoilers sorta but not severely -- about Level Two.

Norks: These orc-nole hybrids are trying very hard to rise above their beastly origins. To maintain thair 'advanced' status, they combat their inner chaos by working within a rigid system of daily chores, even using water clocks to nail down the timing. I included 2 pages of timetables for those who want to keep track of the 100 or so on Level 2... and I also included a note saying "If you don’t want to precisely handle Nork locations and activity, then DON'T." In other words, have 'em your way.

Loot for Brains: These are tough brain-teaser puzzles. Very tough. My partners think they're TOO tough. A long time ago I solved the puzzle problem: never put 'em in the way, always make 'em optional. These follow that system. You get a free magic item if you can figure out a puzzle. They're tough, very tough. Included only for that one guy in the group who loves 'em (while the others hate 'em). Good luck, smart guy.

Homework: As usual, I leave some areas for the Game Master to customize. You can leave 'em empty if you don't want to do homework.

Tocsin: This is the most dangerous thing in the whole dungeon, and it isn't a creature; isn't even magical. You'll have to read LD2 to find out the details.

Souvenirs: Ever mindful of the value of good Public Relations, Chagur the Lich (boss of the place) has approved the manufacture and sale of various ‘Official Souvenirs' of Lich Dungeon. You'll find them in some of the 6 Shops.

Shops: Okay, I confess; the proprietrix of the Textile Shop is a new creation, a skinny but pretty little gal named Taylor Quick. All the other shopkeepers are original, including the guy with Phoenix blood who comes back (in flames) if you kill him. No, he doesn't know where the Egg is.

Gunge: In the original Fantasy game, we all love goops, globs, blobs, amoebae, and similar critters. The scientist within me was always bothered by this category; weren't they all variations on a theme, sorta? So I created Gunges, the "goop group" all in one bucket. Some of 'em do things you've seen before (paralysis, cold, poison, etc). Some of 'em do new things, like the nasty one that sucks the water out of your body before you even get close enough to whack it. Watch out for gunge, and remember the colors, so you'll know which does what.

That's enough for now. An old friend named Angelia is in here (in masquerade), as is a robot (which needs repair), an in-joke about pole-arms, and a guy who's been stuck for 5 days 7 hours (another new addition; just think about it for a bit). The place is jam-packed with 'Easter eggs', bits that seem innocuous enough until you think about them for a while, other bits tied to the good ol' days at TSR with Gary, and more and more.

Oh yeah, one last thing; WE FIXED THE MAP PROBLEM! I was running this back in March at GaryCon, and I got lost in the dungeon; couldn't remember where the party was, and was flipping back and forth looking for maps. Now, if the *author* gets lost in the place, what about YOU? Bad news, had to be fixed.

So I came up with a helper, which I like a LOT: Every 2-page spread has a map, illustrating all the rooms on those pages. Makes it HUGELY easier to find where you are on the big, detailed Master Map (which you can also photocopy for easier reference). Instantly shows you what's on the other side of all adjacent doors, that sort of thing. We'll continue this in Lich Dungeon Level Three and beyond, and prolly also when we do the versions optimized for 1e, B/X, Hack, C&C, and more.

We have plans... keep an eye on EE.
Who has first watch?"
This little blurb actually reveals quite a bit of the design ethos that went into the older TSR products and the new adventures such as Lich Dungeon and its sister.
Because of the nature of Lich Dungeon I'm going to be covering this over at the Dark Corner Blog when it comes out! Its out now but the physical copy is going to be unveiled at GenCon 

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