Climbing the stairs to the 1st floor (2nd for the metrically challenged), we have 4ish new factions to work with; There’s a goblin mage angling to usurp the goblins on the first floor, a witch, some evil clerics and the fae stewards of the garden. To match these factions somewhat, this floor is kindly split into 5 regions; the northeast, Lair of the Witch, the west, Inn of the Grinning Bear, and the Enchanted Garden.
Of mild annoyance to anyone using the & Mag versions, this floor’s map is flipped from the ground floor, which can be frustrating if the party is climbing and descending often. I’m of a mind to make my own compilation with cleaner maps and issues like this fixed.
This area is pretty standard dungeon fare, a couple of fun traps, and a weird wizard character. Nothing major to talk about otherwise.
The Lair of the Witch
Hedzel, the eponymous witch is a fun character, and could be a powerful ally for an exploring party if they’re able to meet with her (which may require entry from the Garden). I’d like to note how well written and described this area is, giving the impression that she truly has made herself at home here, rather than just being a "monster denizen". I also enjoy the color and tasting notes for the potions; generally I try to keep potions looking and tasting the same for a given spell, but I might be persuaded to only have look or flavor match, but never both, making identification slightly more difficult while still being entirely possible.
A return to traditional dungeon crawling, but with the addition of the Cleric "faction". Two clerics and a handful of zombies can barely be called a faction, but there are also 7 spare bodies here, and I would likely convert 1 to a zombie every week or so until they’re used up, adding half to this room and the other half to the wandering monster pool.
Deeper in the region, the bizarre beast in room 31 is a wonderfully evocative fight, should it be had, and the scroll storage is a wonderful time-waster that can provide the party with some great backstory and information that could be useful later in the dungeon.
The Inn of the Grinning Bear
The inn is a fun area, and very fitting for the "lived in" feel of the rest of the dungeon, but the real treasure of this area are the egg seller and the extradimensional chest. Discerning players would do well to use this chest as an almost a "portable checkpoint" should they be able to establish a way to ascend the well and prevent it from being a trash disposal by the residents. It is also a great staging area for treasure if a winch system is installed.
The egg seller is mostly just fun, but as a regular visitor to the gardens, he could act as a sage for information specific to it.
This is a gem of a gem of an area. Tons of fun magical odds and ends, several different subfactions, options to meet other denizens of the floor. If this section was packaged alone, I’d say it was a worthy adventure location in it’s own right. I love the statue effects, Jef is a treasure, and a tiny obnoxious unicorn can become useful later in the campaign, or just a fun NPC to play.
I’m still very happy with this dungeon and look forward to reading more! Next week we move on to Lower Level 01 & Outer 2.