Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

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Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Havard » Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:02 pm

I usually say that I never played 1st Ed, but I guess what I think of as my first experience with AD&D 2nd Ed was actually more of a 1st Ed/2nd Ed hybrid. We were using alot of 1st Ed material back then. The Survival Guides were surprisingly popular among us players. I think we liked the Wilderness Survival Guide better, but I was also fascinated with the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide. Especially the idea of 3D-mapping dungeons. I don't think I ever sat down and made a 3D style map of a dungeon using the ideas from the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, but I always wanted to try it.

Who else have the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide? What parts of it did you use, if any? :)

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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Falconer » Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:45 pm

I don’t have it. I’ve flipped through it before, because it’s obviously easy to find. But, it always just seemed too textbookey for my tastes. Between the core books, I figure that’s enough textbooks, and beyond that I’d rather see raw adventuring material that I can run straight or mine for fun bits. I’ve always said I feel the D1-3 series did a better job than DSG simply by using a “show me, don’t tell me” approach.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby RobJN » Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:17 pm

I have a copy of the DSG that I picked up at a either a Half-Price Books or one of the mom-and-pop used book stores here in town that had pretty extensive role-playing sections. Been a long while since I flipped through it, though. I, too, loved the isometric dungeons/cavern building stuff, but never dared try my hand at it. I think the DSG survived the "sell-the-top shelf-of-the-bookcase-so-we-can-eat-this-week" purge many years back.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby BotWizo » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:34 pm

Havard back in the day I was a big 1e player.

we had the survival guide but didn't use it much.
I may be the opposite of you we didn't switch over to 2e. (various reasons not point of this thread)

Many of the rules the good dungeon masters were really already using, and this seemed like a compilation and standardization of the house rules the team of dungeon masters in our group were running.
Maybe that was the point of the book was to give all DMs a good set of rules for those that hadn't thought of it.

The mapping portion was neat I never really did it in 3d but I had to have my lower level maps line up with my upper level maps it was a pet peeve of mine. That is you could lay maps of levels on top of each other and stairways etc would line up.

All in all a good book when I flip through it now, but it didn't get worn out like my other 1e manuals.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Havard » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:34 pm

Come to think if it, the biggest thing I got out of this book was inspiration. Ideas to what a dungeon might really look like. Even though I never used the 3d mapping style, the example maps sparked my imagination about what the characters really might be exploring, not just the simple dungeon levels anymore, but descending and ascending tunnels, natural caverns with stalactites and stalagmites, climbing and traversing a difficult terrain in utter darkness. Pretty magical :cool:

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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Angel Tarragon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:22 am

Havard wrote:Come to think if it, the biggest thing I got out of this book was inspiration. Ideas to what a dungeon might really look like. Even though I never used the 3d mapping style, the example maps sparked my imagination about what the characters really might be exploring, not just the simple dungeon levels anymore, but descending and ascending tunnels, natural caverns with stalactites and stalagmites, climbing and traversing a difficult terrain in utter darkness. Pretty magical :cool:
I quite agree. I love[d] the book for that aspect.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby BlackBat242 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:35 am

I always used both Survival Guides as game-prep resources, not for "in-game session" rules.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Morfie » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:53 am

I remember using the Mining rules, and the Caverns.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Havard » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:37 pm

Morfie wrote:I remember using the Mining rules, and the Caverns.



Oooh mining!

I have just started playing Skyrim again. Always wanted to make mining a part of my pen & paper RPGs as well. Ideal for a Dwarf campaign especially :)


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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Big Mac » Sat Mar 12, 2016 12:30 am

Is there any sort of underground campaign setting in this book? If so, how does it compare (in scope) to the amount of campaign setting material there is about Nentir Vale's Underdark in the 4th Edition Underdark book (or any of the various other TSR and WotC books about the Underdark)?
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby ripvanwormer » Sat Mar 12, 2016 1:37 am

Big Mac wrote:Is there any sort of underground campaign setting in this book?


Yes.

It's generic, as presented, but Maldin made a map that places the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide realms in Greyhawk, beneath the Yeomanry region connected to the realms from the GDQ series and Carl Sargent's Night Below. He summarizes all of the DSG realms on his webpage there.

If so, how does it compare (in scope) to the amount of campaign setting material there is about Nentir Vale's Underdark in the 4th Edition Underdark book (or any of the various other TSR and WotC books about the Underdark)?


The Underdark presented in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide is more like a generic (though vast) dungeon. There's less attempt to stretch typical D&D assumptions. If there's a drow settlement, Niles describes what a drow settlement looks like, but he doesn't give it a name or attempt to come up with a distinctive twist that would set it apart from other drow settlements. That doesn't mean it's not useful; the DSG might actually be more useful to you because by being less specific and idiosyncratic it might be easier to fit it into more campaigns. Niles' style manages to be very detailed and, unlike 4th edition's Underdark, there's a map in isometric perspective that shows how all the various locations fit together. Underdark is less detailed in some ways and contains no maps (though there are illustrations, and the illustration of Erelhei-Cinlu is very detailed), but everything has a proper name and there are wild, big-picture themes that make its locations memorable and distinctive. Underdark tells you a story, while Dungeoneer's Survival Guide gives you the basic hum-drum details and leaves coming up with a story to you. Which one is useful depends on your style as a DM. Do you want supplements to give you story ideas and leave creating maps and small details to you, or do you just want maps and the basic details for you and your players to fill in with stories? If you're good at stories but bad at maps, something like the DSG may be more useful. If you enjoy making maps but you're short on ideas, Underdark may be more your speed. Or you can purchase both, or neither; you don't have to be bad at ideas to be interested in having more.

I suppose another way to compare the two products' geographic scope is that the Underdark in the DSG is a single mass of tunnels and caverns, on three different levels of depth, all in the same relatively small region about 84 miles across (on a rough count), roughly equivalent to three 30-mile hexes on the World of Greyhawk map (on Maldin's map it spreads across almost the whole of the Yeomanry). The locations in 4e's Underdark are given two levels of depth (the Shallows and the Deeps) but since they have no canonical relationship to one another they could take place in a similarly small region or sprawl across the entire world. Underdark also describes Shadowdark and Feydark locations, referring to the Underdark equivalents of the Shadowfell and Feywild, while the DSG is entirely on the Prime Material Plane (but has some planar portals on its map).

Here's a description of a drow settlement in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide:

Realm of the Drow
This vast realm contains many excavated caverns that link a number of large living caves. The area is the high point of drow culture in Deepearth.

Central to the drow realm is a perfectly circular chamber that has been laboriously hollowed out from the rock. It is over a mile in diameter, and the ceiling rises to a dome 1,000 feet from the floor. Many massive columns support the dome. In its center, a vertical shaft through the ceiling leads to the matriarchs' council hall. It is accessible only by flight or levitation.

Drow dwellings are located throughout the hundreds of linking caverns in the area. The drow cities, towns, and villages are unlike those of the duergar or svirfneblin; instead of living in side tunnels bored through the walls of large caverns, the drow erect buildings in the caverns. If not for the encompassing darkness and looming ceilings overhead, these communities would resemble the communities of surface dwellers.

Water flows plentifully here, and the drow have created huge reservoirs in several places. Wide, placid waterways connect many of the caverns, and boat travel is nearly as common here as walking.

The realm of the drow includes caverns on many different levels, but all of the connecting passages have been meticulously sculpted. Elegant spiral stairways circle around shafts in the rock, and occasionally miniature versions of the matriarchs' council chamber allow access only to drow of 4th level or higher, since that is the level at which levitation ability becomes universal. In times of dire emergency, rope ladders can be used to lift the rest of the population into these refuges, which are virtuously impervious to attack.


The description goes on to give information on population, agriculture, resources, and unique features like "soaring columns, elegant buttresses, and huge domes" and phosphorescent fungi. It's all very thorough and well thought-out. The writing is competent and even evocative in places. It's also very, very generic: the realm of the drow has no name and it could be placed virtually anywhere the DM needs a drow realm to be. There are no named NPCs, historical details, political conflicts, or plot hooks; all of that is left for the DM to devise.

Contrast that with the description of the City of Anathema in Underdark:

CITY OF ANATHEMA
For epic tier characters

This fallen drow city in the Deeps of the Underdark now serves as a torture den of Torog. It contains yuan-ti tied to both Torog and Zehir.

History: Erelhei-Cinlu was not the original drow city. When they first arrived in the Underdark, the drow constructed the majestic terraced city they called Erenira. Today, it's better known as the City of Anathema, and it serves as one of Torog's torture dens.

When the drow settled in Erenira, the River Ghal flowed clean, and food was plentiful. It was a time of prosperity for a beleaguered people, and they soon began to conquer nearby realms at Lolth's insistence. Torog, enraged by the drow's contentedness and Lolth's intrusion, attacked Erenira. As he crawled through the city, he upended its terraces, twisted its road, and crumbled its temple. He transformed the River Ghal into a foul, stagnant lake.

To Torog's pleasure, the drow fled into the cold and damp, once again a paranoid people without a home. He had shown Lolth that despite her power, in the Underdark she is still merely a spider hanging from a web in the corner of someone else's house.

Then Torog struck a pact with Zehir. He gave the shattered city to the snake god's people, the yuan-ti, and they promised to oversee it as a torture den.


The description goes on to give a vague description of the city (built on to six terraces, warped into impossible shapes by Torog, mazelike streets, thirteen districts each with its own torture pit, run by a different yuan-ti anathema, which must constantly be fed human sacrifices or Torog will return to destroy the city). There are also two adventure hooks, suggesting the characters might be questing for a drow relic or that they might accidentally become rulers of a city district after slaying its previous ruler.

Compared to the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide realm, the Underdark realm is sparse on precise details of what the city is like beyond a general impression of its mood (warped, mazelike). On the other hand it goes deep into the lore of the city, with named deities and cosmological elements that paint a distinct picture of what the greater universe around it is like. Anathema isn't just a former drow city, it's the first drow city, and it exists in a world where a god like Torog can destroy an Underdark city on his whim and show Lolth up as a mere interloper. This may be very different from other D&D campaigns. The Realm of the Drow in the DSG doesn't even require its drow to be worshipers of Lolth. Yet it's hard to deny that Anathema is a more vivid and memorable read than the generic description the DSG supplies.
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Havard » Sat Mar 12, 2016 11:18 am

interesting analysis and comparison between these different products Rip!

Maldin's work is really cool :)

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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:58 am

Havard wrote:
Morfie wrote:I remember using the Mining rules, and the Caverns.


Oooh mining!

I have just started playing Skyrim again. Always wanted to make mining a part of my pen & paper RPGs as well. Ideal for a Dwarf campaign especially :)


I missed this earlier.

How easy is it to use the Mining rules with other editions of D&D? I need to go through Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn and give it a Spelljammer reboot, so that I can build a dwarven culture on the planet Reorx that has linked up around the entire equatorial region. Mining is going to be something that could really help me "evolve" the culture to what it is in SJR7 Krynnspace. :)
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Re: Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:24 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Is there any sort of underground campaign setting in this book?


Yes.

It's generic, as presented, but Maldin made a map that places the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide realms in Greyhawk, beneath the Yeomanry region connected to the realms from the GDQ series and Carl Sargent's Night Below. He summarizes all of the DSG realms on his webpage there.


Thanks for that. I really like Maldin's Deep Oerth maps. I had heard rumours that Dungeoneer's Survival Guide described a different kind of underground setting, but the fact that this is a "Greyhawk" product adds value to me.

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:If so, how does it compare (in scope) to the amount of campaign setting material there is about Nentir Vale's Underdark in the 4th Edition Underdark book (or any of the various other TSR and WotC books about the Underdark)?


The Underdark presented in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide is more like a generic (though vast) dungeon. There's less attempt to stretch typical D&D assumptions. If there's a drow settlement, Niles describes what a drow settlement looks like, but he doesn't give it a name or attempt to come up with a distinctive twist that would set it apart from other drow settlements. That doesn't mean it's not useful; the DSG might actually be more useful to you because by being less specific and idiosyncratic it might be easier to fit it into more campaigns. Niles' style manages to be very detailed and, unlike 4th edition's Underdark, there's a map in isometric perspective that shows how all the various locations fit together. Underdark is less detailed in some ways and contains no maps (though there are illustrations, and the illustration of Erelhei-Cinlu is very detailed), but everything has a proper name and there are wild, big-picture themes that make its locations memorable and distinctive. Underdark tells you a story, while Dungeoneer's Survival Guide gives you the basic hum-drum details and leaves coming up with a story to you. Which one is useful depends on your style as a DM. Do you want supplements to give you story ideas and leave creating maps and small details to you, or do you just want maps and the basic details for you and your players to fill in with stories? If you're good at stories but bad at maps, something like the DSG may be more useful. If you enjoy making maps but you're short on ideas, Underdark may be more your speed. Or you can purchase both, or neither; you don't have to be bad at ideas to be interested in having more.

I suppose another way to compare the two products' geographic scope is that the Underdark in the DSG is a single mass of tunnels and caverns, on three different levels of depth, all in the same relatively small region about 84 miles across (on a rough count), roughly equivalent to three 30-mile hexes on the World of Greyhawk map (on Maldin's map it spreads across almost the whole of the Yeomanry). The locations in 4e's Underdark are given two levels of depth (the Shallows and the Deeps) but since they have no canonical relationship to one another they could take place in a similarly small region or sprawl across the entire world. Underdark also describes Shadowdark and Feydark locations, referring to the Underdark equivalents of the Shadowfell and Feywild, while the DSG is entirely on the Prime Material Plane (but has some planar portals on its map).

Here's a description of a drow settlement in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide:

Realm of the Drow
This vast realm contains many excavated caverns that link a number of large living caves. The area is the high point of drow culture in Deepearth.

Central to the drow realm is a perfectly circular chamber that has been laboriously hollowed out from the rock. It is over a mile in diameter, and the ceiling rises to a dome 1,000 feet from the floor. Many massive columns support the dome. In its center, a vertical shaft through the ceiling leads to the matriarchs' council hall. It is accessible only by flight or levitation.

Drow dwellings are located throughout the hundreds of linking caverns in the area. The drow cities, towns, and villages are unlike those of the duergar or svirfneblin; instead of living in side tunnels bored through the walls of large caverns, the drow erect buildings in the caverns. If not for the encompassing darkness and looming ceilings overhead, these communities would resemble the communities of surface dwellers.

Water flows plentifully here, and the drow have created huge reservoirs in several places. Wide, placid waterways connect many of the caverns, and boat travel is nearly as common here as walking.

The realm of the drow includes caverns on many different levels, but all of the connecting passages have been meticulously sculpted. Elegant spiral stairways circle around shafts in the rock, and occasionally miniature versions of the matriarchs' council chamber allow access only to drow of 4th level or higher, since that is the level at which levitation ability becomes universal. In times of dire emergency, rope ladders can be used to lift the rest of the population into these refuges, which are virtuously impervious to attack.


The description goes on to give information on population, agriculture, resources, and unique features like "soaring columns, elegant buttresses, and huge domes" and phosphorescent fungi. It's all very thorough and well thought-out. The writing is competent and even evocative in places. It's also very, very generic: the realm of the drow has no name and it could be placed virtually anywhere the DM needs a drow realm to be. There are no named NPCs, historical details, political conflicts, or plot hooks; all of that is left for the DM to devise.

Contrast that with the description of the City of Anathema in Underdark:

CITY OF ANATHEMA
For epic tier characters

This fallen drow city in the Deeps of the Underdark now serves as a torture den of Torog. It contains yuan-ti tied to both Torog and Zehir.

History: Erelhei-Cinlu was not the original drow city. When they first arrived in the Underdark, the drow constructed the majestic terraced city they called Erenira. Today, it's better known as the City of Anathema, and it serves as one of Torog's torture dens.

When the drow settled in Erenira, the River Ghal flowed clean, and food was plentiful. It was a time of prosperity for a beleaguered people, and they soon began to conquer nearby realms at Lolth's insistence. Torog, enraged by the drow's contentedness and Lolth's intrusion, attacked Erenira. As he crawled through the city, he upended its terraces, twisted its road, and crumbled its temple. He transformed the River Ghal into a foul, stagnant lake.

To Torog's pleasure, the drow fled into the cold and damp, once again a paranoid people without a home. He had shown Lolth that despite her power, in the Underdark she is still merely a spider hanging from a web in the corner of someone else's house.

Then Torog struck a pact with Zehir. He gave the shattered city to the snake god's people, the yuan-ti, and they promised to oversee it as a torture den.


The description goes on to give a vague description of the city (built on to six terraces, warped into impossible shapes by Torog, mazelike streets, thirteen districts each with its own torture pit, run by a different yuan-ti anathema, which must constantly be fed human sacrifices or Torog will return to destroy the city). There are also two adventure hooks, suggesting the characters might be questing for a drow relic or that they might accidentally become rulers of a city district after slaying its previous ruler.

Compared to the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide realm, the Underdark realm is sparse on precise details of what the city is like beyond a general impression of its mood (warped, mazelike). On the other hand it goes deep into the lore of the city, with named deities and cosmological elements that paint a distinct picture of what the greater universe around it is like. Anathema isn't just a former drow city, it's the first drow city, and it exists in a world where a god like Torog can destroy an Underdark city on his whim and show Lolth up as a mere interloper. This may be very different from other D&D campaigns. The Realm of the Drow in the DSG doesn't even require its drow to be worshipers of Lolth. Yet it's hard to deny that Anathema is a more vivid and memorable read than the generic description the DSG supplies.


Wow! That's the best review I've seen in ages.

You covered both the pros and cons of each product style. I can see that I'm really going to like things like the drow living in conventional buildings (something I've never really noticed in later products) but I can also see I'm going to find things missing.

And the description of Erenira in the 4e Underdark makes me realise that the 1e and 4e books can be used together to give you things that neither book gives you on it's own.

I think I'll start looking for a copy of DSG. Thanks for your help.
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