Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Treasure Stocking Part 1: Stonehell

I've found Stonehell a little treasure-light. I did a quick count of gold on the first level. There's about 22,000 gp worth of treasure. Labyrinth Lord doesn't give XP for magic items. With XP for killing monsters, we'll call it around 25,000 available experience points.

(Also, treasure in Stonehell is distributed unevenly. Most treasures in a quadrant are very small, but one or two are large. Further, there's a great disparity of wealth between quadrants. The least lucrative quadrant has less than 1,800 gp. The most lucrative has 10,200+ gp. This is in line with the megadungeon design precept that well-traveled areas have already been looted, but it may not be obvious from a player's perspective.)

The average number of experience points necessary to reach second level in Labyrinth Lord is 2,234.

This will vary a bit from group to group, but figure that a quarter of first level PC's will die and the players will miss or bypass a quarter of treasures. Assuming players explore a very large chunk of Stonehell's 140+ first level rooms, there's enough experience for 5-6 characters to reach second level. And, assuming your group clears 6-8 rooms per session, it will take them about 20 weeks to get there.

Stonehell has been touted as the first published campaign megadungeon—something on a scale Gary's players might find familiar. Men & Magic says, "from four to fifty players can be handled in any single campaign, but the referee to player ratio should be about 1:20 or thereabouts." Those twenty players would find Stonehell a hardscrabble place.


  1. Wow. You know, I have a 'megadungeon' on old notebook paper and graph paper that probably isn't publishable anyway, but I never did a mathematical analysis of how much XP was in it vs how much players were going to need. I haven't had players in it since the 80s, but, if I remember right, there was sometimes a mix of levels in those early games. One of our assumptions was that you HAD to start you player character at level 1... so everyone had multiple PCs of varying levels and you were always trying to 'work up' the weaker ones by sending them along with their betters but this often also ended in the low level PCs getting splattered or deep in debt for all of the 'raise dead' spells. Maybe we were also more generous with the XP than we should have been.

  2. I prefer to err on the side of too much rather than too little.

  3. Yeah, especially when one meets less often to play. Back in the old days we played a LOT because we had the time --- no jobs, no responsibilities and the single-mindedness of the teenage brain meant we could play continously for days... if I tried "the XP grind" with my current game group, I think they would revolt.

  4. Thanks for publishing a number - I'd worried about this myself, and analyzed a few quadrants, but not finished before the game was backburnered. Now I know I need to tweak things when it starts up again.

  5. I wouldn't worry about it too much. If the players hit a dry patch and get frustrated, maybe throw them a rumor or a map to one of the bigger hoards.