Gloamhold Campaign Guide by Creighton Broadhurst is a role playing game supplement published by Raging Swan Press. This is a system-neutral supplement and is the first supplement published specifically for the Gloamhold megadungeon. The supplement is covered by the Open Game License and therefore some of it is considered to be Open Game Content.
The supplement is available as a bookmarked PDF from RPGNow at the regular price of $5.95 but was purchased at the reduced price of $4.16. It is also available as a print on demand softcover for $11.64 or both PDF and softcover for $13.63. The PDF is the version reviewed, and this comes in two formats, one optimised for print and the other for screen.
This is a sixty page PDF, of which two pages are Raging Swan’s standard plain front and rear covers, in a new colour, dark grey, presumably indicating a Gloamhold-specific supplement, one page is a full page ad for the publisher’s Patreon campaign, one page is front matter, two pages are the Contents, one page the Foreword, one page the Open Game License and one page is an advert for the Raging Swan website.
The Foreword covers what the campaign guide contains, why it was decided to be made system neutral (Gloamhold was originally intended to be for Pathfinder) and why it is old-school. This is followed by a full page perspective map of Gloamhold and the surrounding area.
Themes & Design covers the design principles for Gloamhold, its layout, history, denizens and challenges and what lies nearby.
Gloamhold and the Old School explains the author’s definition of old school play and game design.
The Duchy of Ashlar begins with a full page title. This section describes the area surrounding Gloamhold. It begins with a single page overview of the duchy in a system-neutral version of a standard Pathfinder description as well as geographical features and adventure sites of note, followed by a full page map of the Duchy. An extract of this can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: June 2015.
There are then two pages of details on the country’s history, trade and industry, law and order and notable organisations and NPCs, as well as a d12 table of whispers & rumours.
Two more pages are on five Nearby Adventure Sites. One of these appears to be new but the others are already covered in Kobolds of the Fallen Halls (an extract of which can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: September 2014) , Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands, Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs (a sample of which can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: February 2016) and Fane of the Undying Sleeper all have their own supplements.
Folk of Ashlar is a single page on the major fantasy character races found in the area.
Adventurers in Ashlar is another single page, this time on the primary fantasy character classes.
Deities & Demigods is a single page and describes six deities, at least some of which will be familiar to readers of The Lonely Coast and its related supplements.
Gloamhold begins with another full page title. Getting started covers two pages and covers running Gloamhold and initial hooks to get players in the megadungeon.
What’s a PC to Do in Gloamhold is another two pages and gives reasons for exploring the dungeon.
Two more pages cover Generic Dungeon Features, the appearance of much of the area, The Gloamhold Look, a curse which affects explorers, and The Illusion of Detail, making a dungeon appear designed even when players go to an area not currently detailed (this section references Raging Swan’s book on dungeon dressing, GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing).
Two more pages have a 2d20 table of minor events and another on dungeon dressing, helping to flesh out the dungeon.
Another two pages have 20 sample room descriptions and 20 sample corridor descriptions, again intended to help flesh out the dungeon.
Two more pages detail three example adventuring bands which players could encounter both within and without the dungeon.
One page on Wandering Monsters covers what such might be doing, with tables for organised denizens, scavengers and other explorers.
Powers of Gloamhold is a single page and describes two more deities, these connected with the dungeon. These are Amon-Pyr and Dagon, the former a god of the troglodytes who has cropped up in other supplements and the later a Lovecraftian god.
Gloamhold at a Glance is a two page overview of major locales in the dungeon (some of this was in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: January 2015) and a side-on map.
This is then followed by the final part which is two page overviews of the following areas within and without Gloamhold: Hard Bay, The Mottled Spire, Greystone (covered in more detail in Village Backdrop: Greystone), The Shard, Rivengate (some of which can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: February 2015), The Murkwater (some of which can be found in GM’s Monthly Miscellany: March 2015), The Twisted Warrens, The Breathless Narrows, The Twilight City and Below & Beyond the Twilight City. Lore and Whispers & Rumours are in all of these, as well as such as area descriptions and details of points of interest and inhabitants.
Gloamhold Campaign Guide in Review
The PDF is not quite as well bookmarked as some Raging Swan titles, covering only the major sections, but the Contents is more thorough, covering minor ones as well, although it isn’t hyperlinked, again, unlike some Raging Swan titles. Navigation is therefore decent but not quite as good as is typical for the publisher.
The text maintains a two column format throughout. It is mostly error free, but one discrepancy was noted about the Mottled Spire. In the section The Mottled Spire it is described as being made of granite whilst everywhere else it is limestone. Granite admittedly seems more likely. There are a number of black and illustrations, including area maps, which would appear to have been custom-created.
Although this is described as being system-neutral, there is a definite, and possibly unavoidable, connection to Dungeons & Dragons and derived games, including Pathfinder. Indeed, the back covers says that is suitable for all editions of world’s most popular role-playing game. It could be used with other systems, but the D&D influence is definitely there.
This may be the first official supplement for Gloamhold itself but there is a fair amount of detail on the Duchy of Ashlar, with various towns and villages already being described as well as adventure sites, some of which predate even the earliest mention of Gloamhold by some time. As well as the sites mentioned earlier, The Sunken Pyramid is also located in the Duchy of Ashlar. All of these are available for Pathfinder and, depending on the supplement in question, may also be available for D&D 5E or system neutral.
Both the Duchy and Gloamhold can run without the other; Gloamhold could be dropped in somewhere as a megadungeon and the Duchy could simply be another adventuring locale. Ashlar is remote enough and separated from other areas by natural features that it can be dropped into a setting without too much difficulty.
This is definitely not a supplement that can be used by itself without a lot of work – but that doesn’t appear to be its purpose. There is absolutely no “crunch” in the book, to make it flexible, but the descriptions are very evocative. Gloamhold is essentially a background work of flavour and fluff. None of the dungeon areas are really described in enough detail to use them as-is; doing so would require extensive work, possibly more than some GM’s can cope with. However, this is only the first in a series, and later ones will presumably start to flesh out the dungeon more. As it currently stands, the countryside around Gloamhold is the most detailed, with villages, towns and adventure sites.
Gloamhold is intended to be the focus of an immense sandbox campaign, where it is possible for players to overstep themselves, potentially fatally, rather than being shepherded through a series of level-specific encounters. The who setting is intended to have a gloomy feel to it and it does. This is an excellently written piece of background material for this sandbox setting, and it is a good start to the series, but it isn’t finished by itself nor is it intended to be. It will be interesting to see what future developments and releases hold. Gloamhold Campaign Guide can be found by clicking here.