A Review of the Role Playing Game Supplement Dwimmermount

Dwimmermount published by Autarch is a megadungeon for the Labyrinth Lord system As such, it is covered by the Open Game License and some of it is considered to be Open Game Content. As well as the Labyrinth Lord version the supplement also comes in a version for the Adventurer Conqueror King System. There are three other supplements available for it, which can be used for any system, the Dwimmermount Dungeon Tracker, the Dwimmermount Map Book and the Dwimmermount Illustration Book, although these are not necessary to play the dungeon.

DwimmermountThe supplement is available from RPGNow for $10 but was purchased at the reduced price of $7. It is also available as a hardcover print on demand book for $78 or both PDF and book for $78. This is a 414 page bookmarked PDF. Two pages are the colour front and rear covers, four pages are the front matter, four pages are the Table of Contents, eight pages list the project’s backers, three pages are the Open Game License and there is a final blank but decorated page. The various chapters and sections also have multiple pages used at the beginning which are largely blank, bar titles.

The supplement is divided into three sections.

Section 1: Outside Dwimmermount does not concern itself purely with the exterior, as it also considers various elements of the dungeon itself, such as its construction and inhabitants.

Chapter 1 Introduction has the Designer’s Notes on the creation of Dwimmermount, How to Use This Book gives different ways of using the dungeon, from using it in its entirety in its game world of Telluria to using parts of it to using the entire dungeon as a template for creating others and the Publisher’s Notes on the published version of the megadungeon.

Chapter 2 History of Dwimmermount has The Putative History of Dwimmermount, which is what is generally believed to be true, and The Secret History of Dwimmermount, which is what actually is true. The latter is divided into seven eras with each era containing various numbered facts that may be discovered from a variety of different sources during an adventure, which together give a different picture to the generally believed facts.

Chapter 3 Adventuring in Dwimmermount has Creating Characters for Dwimmermount, which covers how the races differ from those in the standard Labyrinth Lord rules, and Classes, which does the same for classes. There are only three main player races, Men, Dwarves and Elves, and two offshoots of Dwarves, Kobolds and Gnomes. Spellusing classes do not get the higher level spells from the standard Labyrinth Lord rules. In this chapter are the beliefs about Dwimmermount held by the three races, how players can sell knowledge they acquire and gain experience from such – this is old school adventuring, where treasure earned XP – motivations for adventuring and adventure seeds.

Chapter 4 Vicinity of Dwimmermount is the area around the megadungeon. There is a hex map of the area, descriptions of the major terrain features and then overviews of various locations on the map. Some of these have sidebars suggesting other supplements that can be used to further develop these (although these supplements will need finding).

Chapter 5 Muntburg covers the fortified town of Muntburg, which is only a few miles from Dwimmermount and the most likely base of operations for players, at least initially. This fortified is described in detail, both NPCs, and locations.

Chapter 6 Overview of the Dungeon covers the various barriers blocking passage between and into the dungeon and their current state, the dungeon’s construction, which includes a variety of new materials, and the environment, such as lighting, machinery, noise, transport between levels and machinery. How the Labyrinth Lord stat blocks are laid out is in this chapter, as well as various house rules, such as awarding experience for spending treasure, not simply acquiring it, and customising the dungeon.

Chapter 7 Factions in the Dungeon covers the various different factions that currently have power bases in Dwimmermount. There are 30 of these, divided into different types, and their allies and enemies amongst the other factions. The various levels are then covered with regards to which factions are active on each level. The final part of this chapter summarises what the different factions have been doing in the run up to the campaign starting.

Section 2: The Dungeon of Dwimmermount starts describing the dungeon itself. There is a side view of the dungeon showing the position of the levels and the relevant page number for the start of the chapter for each level. Usefully, these page numbers are hyperlinked.

This section has thirteen different chapters, each of which describes either an entire level or, as three levels come in two sections, a section of a level. Each begins with map followed by an overview of the level as well as a d12 wandering monster table. One of the levels, Chapter 19 City of the Ancients is a bit different to the others, as it is considered to be a separate area that simply happens to be attached to the rest. The map scale is 20′ per square, rather than 10′ as it is in the other levels. In addition, much of the level isn’t described in detail – for all the others, every room is covered – with three tables for randomly determining what an ruined building that hasn’t been described is. There are also exits to the rest of the planetary underworld and some adventure hooks.

Section 3 Appendices is, as the name suggests, the appendices.

Appendix A New Magic Items describes the various new magical items found in Dwimmermount. There are really two categories of these; magic items from other D&D games that have been converted to Labyrinth Lord and brand new items. Many of the new items emulate technology in their nature, requiring such as power cells (itself a new magic item) in order to function. There are items such as magical light bulbs and what certainly appears to be a lightsaber.

Appendix B New Spells contains various spells, all of which would appear to have been adapted from other D&D systems for Labyrinth Lord.

Appendix C New Monsters is similar to Appendix A, in that it appears to be a combination of new monsters and existing ones adapted for the system, with the latter applying to the majority of the monsters. There are a couple of monsters that would appear to be the illithid and the githyanki, although under different names as these are two of the monsters considered to be Product Identity by Wizards of the Coast and are therefore not available under the Open Gaming License.

Appendix D Rival Adventuring Parties describes six parties of adventurers. Each of these parties is a different level, and they can be used as rivals, or hired by the players. Each party has an overview giving their plans and specialities and several sample jobs. The various non-player characters in each party are then described, with their stats and personality.

Appendix E The Four Worlds gives an overview of the four different worlds, including Telluria, where Dwimmermount is located, and the other three with which it traded and which can be reached from Dwimmermount, using either portals or an astral ship. The Astral Plane itself is also described, as are other planes and the zodiac. These are all only overviews.

Appendix F Azoth covers the substance azoth, a new substance found in substantial quantities in Dwimmermount. There are notes on using it in a GM’s own campaign, in order to preserve game balance, and the various substances it can be turned into, as well as other uses in equipment and immortality. Azoth is potentially unbalancing, which is noted, and dangerous. Raw azoth is worth 200 gp a gallon – and there are hundreds of thousands of gallons of it, which makes it potentially unbalancing simply from a cash point of view, assuming buyers could be found. Refined, it is even more valuable.

Appendix G The Secrets of Turms Termax covers what is potentially the most dangerous and somewhat immortal opponent who can be fought in the dungeon, his history, powers, methods of defeating him, how he could gain true immortality, if wished, and how players could do the same.

Finally, Name Tables is not in any section and is a list of suitable names for characters and non-player characters divided in races and sexes.

Dwimmermount in Review

The PDF is very well bookmarked; not only are the various chapters, sections and subsections bookmarked, but all the different rooms are as well. One area that isn’t bookmarked though is the Table of Contents. The Table of Contents is not quite as thorough, as the rooms aren’t listed, and it seems to be hyperlinked; unfortunately, these links do not appear to work. Navigation is above average but not quite as good as it could have been.

An Inerior Image from DwimmermountExcluding the first page of each chapter and section, the text maintains a two column format. There are some minor errors in the text, usually grammatical in nature; the wrong word, wrong tense or a word that is missing, but these aren’t bad for a supplement of this length. There are a number of illustrations, which are perhaps intended to illustrate nearby text; some of these definitely do so whilst others are less clearly appropriate. The maps are definitely reminiscent of those found in early modules. There are also some copies of the original designer’s, James Maliszewski, notes.

Dwimmermount is a coherent dungeon, rather than being a fairly random collection of different levels that just happen to be connected. It has been created, expanded and modified with definite purpose by the various primary occupants, and this influence can be seen in the result. In its current state, it isn’t under the sway of one faction, and many don’t even dominate their primary level, but the coherence can still be seen, even with the various current occupants. With the various factions, the dungeon can also be made into a living thing too.

There are a few sidebars throughout, some of which are from the original designer, although more of these would have been appreciated. There are various references in the text that can be spotted, such as the Tulgeywood – referencing Lewis Caroll‘s “Jabberwocky” – and the monastery of St. Gaxyg the Gray – an anagram of Gary Gygax, as well as an appearance by Zod and two compatriots.

This isn’t really a pure fantasy location (and this is actually stated in the book). Instead, it’s a combination of various things, including Renaissance science, Victorian occultism and pulp. As a result, the finished dungeon is not terribly similar to many typical fantasy settings. Dwimmermount is reminiscent of the old AD&D module S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, only larger and steampunk/magic rather than science fiction in nature. There are even various items, similar to the old access cards in that module, that are required to gain access to certain areas.

Inside the dungeon can be found many maps giving the locations of various treasure outside of Dwimmermount. These are not described in any great detail, bar what the treasure is, but these could be used to expand the external campaign if desired.

Dropping Dwimmermount into another setting will not be the easiest task to undertake, as it is very tied into the provided setting and the history of the setting is tied into Dwimmermount. Character classes and races have been changed from the standard. This doesn’t even consider to high prevalence of magical technology inside the dungeon which could be looted from it, which has the potential to unbalance another setting. Using Dwimmermount anywhere else would probably require a major rewrite of large portions of it.

One of the biggest problems is azoth. As mentioned earlier, this substance has the potential to unbalance any campaign, something that is acknowledged in the text. Suggestions are given on how to deal with this, such as increasing the danger of handling it but, reading what happened in the original Dwimmermount campaign, it definitely sounds like azoth was starting to unbalance it even after all the precautions. This is a definite problem, as azoth is an integral part of the setting and using Dwimmermount in another setting could cause problems due to azoth. Players could get hold of a substance that gives them effectively unlimited money; there will be others trying to get it too, but an early success could be highly destructive (as can azoth itself; if the amount in the dungeon detonates, it’s stated that it will cause a massive thermonuclear explosion destroying the mountain and the surrounding area).

Dwimmermount is best run the way it originally was, as a setting and connected megadungeon, if it is run. The setting could be expanded more, using some of the notes given, making a much more full featured campaign, but what’s already provided is quite extensive. Dropping it into another campaign is going to be tricky at best. Dwimmermount is, as a result, a good example of a rather different style of megadungeon and setting, but perhaps not as flexible as some are.

 

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