Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Review: Barrowmaze

Three+ years ago I did a review on a newly released OSR mega-dungeon called, Barrowmaze by +Greg Gillespie .  I'd bought the PDF and did a review of it then.  I really dug the it.  Still do.  Recently I had a transaction with +Harald Wagener and he generously threw in a print copy of the original Barrowmaze.


My apologies to +Stefan Poag for blinding his beautiful cover with the flash.  I was thumbing through it again and found myself wanting to integrate into something I was running.  The whole mega-dungeon is basically a tomb and my favorite monsters/adventures to run involve undead.  A few years ago I ran it with two different groups.  While I did keep it intact, I ran it as a 'thing that was out there'.  Not the entirety of a campaign, but a significant landmark within the campaign.

My memory is not the greatest, but for me, it was the first OSR mega-dungeon I remember or at least the one the kindle my liking of mega-dungeons all together.  Greg developed a few interesting sub-games such as bashing in walls and looting burial coves.  A sledge hammer will fast become your friend.  Both these are time sinks, each time you do either you may cause that evil bastard behind the screen to roll another random encounter to gobble you up.

Here's how I used Barrowmaze.  In both instances Barrowmaze was well known and a hotspot for adventurers, and not just the party.  I played it like a boom town during the gold rush.  Secondary business sprung up around the known entrances.  Business folks knew adventurers were going to need things such as sledge hammers and healing potions, weapons and armor repair, booze, women, and some good old fashion religion.  And you could get it all outside and in the a few of the rooms inside Burrowmaze.  You just had to pay for it.  Basically I multiplied the standard price by ten.  Had one party become enterprising and they bought extra sledge hammers to sell to another set of adventurers within the crypts. 

I also did not play it as a mega-dungeon, but I let the mythology of the place speak of its size.  Usually the players would enter and explore a dozen or so rooms before exiting.  With so many undead around it was nearly impossible for the party to recover.  I used Barrowmaze to plant certain things to recover.  Maybe a magic item, or family heirloom or maybe Timmy fell down the Barrowmaze well and needed saving.

Barrowmaze was a place to get a lot of loot quick...or die quick.  Both happened.  Either way it provided a great setting to use.  I've always been a big fan of Barrowmaze.  The only fault I see in it is it needs a separate map booklet.   To solve that issue I was able to print the maps from the PDF and I taped them together.  I then used colored pencils (I know your shocked to hear I use those)  to assist me with keeping track of their trek.

Greg now sells Barrowmaze Complete over at RPGNow.  This includes the original Barrowmaze and the second Barrowmaze.  I can't comment of this book, but I have both the first and second Barrowmaze so I know the content is great.

And that is my Friday Feature this week.  I hope to be back next week and do a little something on a little something call a zine I recently received.  Time to sign off.  It's Friday.  And remember, the best thing about a cell phone is you can order your pizza to be delivered ahead of time so when you get home your pizza guy will be there already so no waiting.