Thursday, February 23, 2017

Doors of Stonehell

Image result for stonehellWith my younger kid busy preparing for an upcoming ballet, our weekly RPG schedule has been disrupted for a couple months.


My older kid decided that it was time to play the Michael Curtis megadungeon, "Stonehell" until her sister can join us again.

I'm a big Curtis fan since grabbing my copy of The Dungeon Alphabet ... certainly one of the coolest RPG products I've ever purchased.


I started her out with a stack of index cards, and she gleefully rolled up eight characters (3D6 in order).  Stonehell doesn't play nice, so I told her to not bother naming any of them until they reach second level.  Sure enough, despite careful tactics, an unlucky surprise roll saw two of the fighters slain in the very first encounter.

The dungeon runs fast and light compared to the gravitas of Dwimmermount, but isn't any less strange and has a creepier, grimmer vibe.  I've got say that it's a heck of lot easier to run on the fly, with much friendlier organization for the DM (at the cost of some depth, but not atmosphere).

One rule from older editions of D&D that I've never used, nor been interested in, is having dungeon doors stuck fast as a default, requiring an open doors roll to force each new portal discovered.  On a whim, I decided to implement it here in Stonehell where it certainly fit the tone, where the sprawling  layout means that a stubborn door doesn't threaten to end the exploration, and where a decent-sized party is likely to have a few characters with exceptional strength (and a corresponding bonus to their checks to open doors).

Image result for castle doorI did permit repeat checks if a character had a suitable tool (I've seen enough actual castle doors to know that a sword isn't going to get the job done) at a one-turn cost in time and a wandering monster check.


I found that the results hit just the right note and made the dungeon feel far more claustrophobic.

Are the doors in your dungeons generally stuck fast?

Have you ever gotten mileage out of this dusty, old rule?