Friday, September 28, 2012

Frank Mentzer's Lich Dungeon Level 1 Review & Commentary

Welcome back to the 1970s.
This classic dungeon from Frank Mentzer is packed with twisting passages, devious traps, hideous monsters, and fabulous treasures. Lich Dungeon Level One will provide multiple sessions of gaming fun; for 3 or more characters of novice to low experience.
And you'll probably survive. 40% Fatality Rating.
84 pages, soft cover.  First in a series!
This is another one from Eldrith Enterprises & this one I've got a grudge against. This is the adventure that recently killed a PC of mine. The deed happened quick, quietly, & without much fuss last year over Larry's house. Lets dive right into Lich Dungeon. This adventure weighs in at 84 pages & the layout for the pdf is cool & crisp. The whole thing is very well done. This is one of the strongest entries into the Eldrith line up that I've seen. According to the advertising its "
" This classic 'old school' dungeon from industry legend Frank Mentzer is generic, usable with all FRP games. The style is from the early days of role-playing, the 1970s.  This massive dungeon is packed with twisting passages, devious traps, hideous monsters, and fabulous treasures, Lich Dungeon Level One will provide multiple sessions of gaming entertainment for 3 or more characters of novice to low experience"

Yeah right. Sure it is. This is an adventure in the old school tradition meaning one wrong step & your rolling a new character up. There's lots of personal touches in this adventure from the mind of Frank Mentzer. The whole adventure feels like a walk through a campaign of his. As if you've sat down at his table, brought your dice, & he's Dming. 

This one is customize city. The dungeon is a personal statement on the design of the Megadungeon on the whole. The dungeon itself has balanced encounters & the sort of balance that one finds in early Dragon magazines. This is only level one of something that could become not only an on going adventure but a total introduction to a complete campaign world. I think I see more products coming from Mr.Mentzer's mind here.
This has the writer's touch all over it. The whole adventure is DM customize city. You can go to town & really stock it the way you want it. This isn't simply a low level adventure this is a tool kit.
Frank Mentzer's Lich Dungeon Level 1  As Old School Tool Kit

The Lich Dungeon is a more then simply an adventure. This is an old school primer & tool kit. Basically the author is guiding the DM with a design philosophy  as clear as day. This isn't so much a rail road job as a statement of intent.
The fact is that this adventure could be dropped anywhere & still retain the author's voice & works so that the location can be expanded & built upon. This adventure hearkens back to a time when the game was free wheeling & fun. Sure you could place this dungeon in the Forgotten Realms but really this feels like Greyhawk or Black Moor. The dungeon is more then adventure & 84 pages of encounters. This is a fun experience that can actually challenge even the most jaded players of the hobby. It solidly put together, well written, concise, & easy to adapt to any fantasy system. This could be drop into an existing campaign or adapted as the start of a brand new one.
Frank_Mentzer is well known for his approach to game design, writing, & all sorts of OSR related activities before there was even an OSR. You can find out even more about this great module right Here
And even check out a sample ! Click on the download link to get the preview PDF. Lich-Sample.pdf (816.07 kb)


  1. What do you make of the 'Godzilla' random encounter at the dungeon entrance?
    How about the gold coins that are minted in the dungeon and disappear when removed from the underworld?
    How about the construction crews?

  2. I think that the adventure is really a throw back & the encounters are about as balanced as anything that you'd find in some 70's or 80's modules.
    There's a good deal of details that are left to the Dm's imagination & desecration in the adventure..
    The ideas of the "whole ecology & sociology of the dungeon idea" is really a DM call & I really think gets woven into the campaign as a whole on a dungeon by dungeon basis as the needs of the campaign dictate. This is a throw back adventure & as such the kitchen sink approach that we've seen time & again back then is really evident in this one. As a landmark of the adventure I think its a strength. We've seen much of the ideas in this one time & again. That's not a bad thing however.. The ideas of consistence in design is really part of the charm. There are several dungeons over at Dragons foot & other OSR sites that use these same conventions.
    Thanks for the comments Rob S


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