Kobold Press’s guides to helping burgeoning Dungeon Masters continue to impress. The latest offering provides a deep, pun intended, look into the creation and purposes of Dungeons., a seemingly obvious part of the hobby but one the average player might not think about. Rather than merely giving maps or outlining how to physically outline a dungeon their newest tome provides a deep dive into the how and why behind dungeons existence. This book is not for those who seek quick and easy dungeon creation but for the DM who instead seeks to make their worlds unique and lived in, placing interesting and well thought out encounters for their players to face in a context of verisimilitude for their setting. This focus on detail is both its greatest strength and its one weakness.
The Guide to Dungeons is far more concerned with the lore and the thought process behind creating an engaging dungeon than it is with pure mechanical utility. This means it covers almost every conceivable aspect of creating an interesting narrative, going so far as to offer ways to handle how escape routes can be subtly snuck into an adventure in a way that encourages your players to discover them on their own. This depth of detail allows a DM to make incredibly complex and meaningful encounters for any style of game, even giving suggestions on how to make dungeons for the local min maxer to enjoy. There is a wealth of information and suggestions that cover everything from the basics of why a dungeon should exist, the perfect way to introduce a boss, all the way to how to introduce unique spins on well worn concepts. The only major detraction this book has is that it is much more designed for the experienced DM seeking to expand their horizons with so much complexity that a new DM might feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. This book does not help create quick and dirty encounters; it is for building intricate confrontations with every aspect considered in advance. This may be intimidating for the up and coming DM but it provides a very powerful tool for those who want it.
For those Dungeon Masters seeking to create their own Moria, crafting fictional halls of stone with history and mechanics of a unique vision, The Guide to Dungeons is an invaluable resource. It may not be for new storytellers still trying to get their bearings but for those who are tired of using prebuilt encounters or modules this is the perfect tool to take the next step. With vast breadth for a book only about 100 pages long, the Guide to Dungeons serves a satisfying and in depth look into building one of the biggest staples in the Role Playing space. It offers suggestions that can be as equally applied to moldering fantasy lands as cyberpunk Mega Apartments and should find a place in any experienced DM’s toolbox. 4 out of 5 Dragons.