We were in the castle of mirrors



I’m running a medieval campaign, and last week the PCs travelled to a plague-stricken city to visit its library. What also has a library? Castle of Mirrors. So I decided to use areas 2-6, in combination with what I had already prepared to allow for more choices.

Since we use minis and grid, I combined 2-4 into one very neat room, with the courtyard in between, an arbalest firing from the watchtower on a d4 timer, and 2 heart locked doors to leave, enter the watchtower, etc. It worked excellent.

I changed 5 to have several locked chambers besides the gallery, and gave the specter a mini-exile power where it would make its target immaterial with a grapple attack and move them through the wall, to separate the group. This never saw action, because the specter was turned immediately.

For 6, I removed the vine since this was their prize.

What I liked:

  • Great aesthetics and clear concepts make the rooms easy to memorize
  • Clean theme makes the rooms easy to fit into any campaign. No weird laser bugs or stuff you need to re-skin. Even most names work.
  • Good assortment of rooms. If you ever feel “I need an X in my castle”, chances are you will find X here.
  • The point of interest system is great. It’s concrete enough to give a sense of spatial relations, but abstract enough for when you want some but not all rooms. (Or want to add).
  • Rooms are generally well crafted, with good use of terrain, distance and line of sight, despite no maps.
  • Concise descriptions.

What I didn’t like:

  • Situations are static, in a way that sometimes breaks immersion. Even something simple like “50% they are not here when the PCs arrive”, a chart of wanderers, or a line suggesting what happens if re-visited would have helped a lot.
  • Few secrets to uncover.
  • Short on tinkering. I know HF hates puzzles in RPGs and that’s fair, but a) I don’t, and b) they don’t have to be the main thing. For example, it doesn’t bog down the courtyard fight to say “statues are missing heads, if returned and placed correctly, secret door opens” or whatever. But each such tidbit is worth gold for the referee, because that’s the icing on the cake that you always skip whan pressed for time.

In total, I think its very useful.


If I may: The more a designer adds into the bones of an encounter, adventure, location, etc. - the harder it is to mod that thing to your own needs. On the other hand, if those things aren’t included, DMs can easily port in any of their existing resources (%chance present or absent, random encounters, game-specific logic about what might happen in revisited [though that is almost entirely based on what happened the first time the players went there and what they did before/after going there, very difficult to pre-write]).

As for the tinkering, as above: It’s much harder to remove those things, because they may become crucial to the encounters/locations, than it is to add those things on a table-by-table basis.

Since you noted them as things you didn’t like, I’m sure you had ideas on how to implement them easily enough, and whatever you made, custom-tailored to your table, was likely better than anything pre-written.

</defense of not front-loading>