The Book of Lairs
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (September 2013)|
|The Book of Lairs|
|Author||Jim Ward and Michael Breault|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
REF3 The Book of Lairs was first published for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game system by TSR in 1986 as a ninety six page book. Michael Breault and Jim Ward designed the original The Book of Lairs, which features a cover by Clyde Caldwell.
REF4 The Book of Lairs II, designed by various editors, features a cover by Larry Elmore, and was published by TSR in 1987 as a ninety six page book. The book features a cover by Larry Elmore, and authors included David Cook, Paul Jaquays, Anne Gray McCready, Bruce Nesmith, Jeff O'Hare, and Steve Perrin.
REF3 The Book of Lairs contains a series of one- and two-page adventures centered around various AD&D game monsters. There are over sixty mini-scenarios, indexed by monster type and terrain, designed to be inserted into other campaigns or adventures.
The original The Book of Lairs contains details of the lairs of various monsters drawn from the AD&D Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, Monster Manual II, and Oriental Adventures books. Each mini-scenario includes a brief encounter with the creatures, which is designed to be used as a short adventure or as part of a campaign, at the Dungeon Master's (DM's) discretion. Each also has an introduction detailing basic information on the type of terrain, total party levels, and experience points involved, plus rumors designed to bring the location to the attention of the player characters. In addition to the monster lairs, there are a few NPC hideouts. The bulk of the encounters are meant for parties of 3rd-7th level, although some are for any level, and a few go as high as 12th level.
REF4 The Book of Lairs II contains over sixty more mini-scenarios organized in the same way as the first book, and designed for instant use in wilderness or other campaign encounters. It also includes monsters from Oriental Adventures. The encounters are classified by terrain type, each one starting with a little block of information detailing suggested party level and experience point awards. Seven of the encounters are for Oriental Adventures and the rest are for mainstream AD&D: 52 encounters use creatures from the original Monster Manual, 5 use Monster Manual II, and one uses a mixture of both sources. Most encounters are for level 3-7 parties, with a few going down to level 1 or up to level 12. Each encounter gives possible terrain, party level minimum, experience points, set up, and lair deployment.
Graeme Davis reviewed The Book of Lairs for White Dwarf No. 86. Davis observed the lack of maps—only six in the whole book—saying, "most [of the encounters] suffer from the lack of a map" and stating that most of the encounters would require additional preparation by the DM before use. He noted that the encounters range from the fairly straightforward (such as encountering one bear) to the "positively frightening" (one with 876 Undead creatures). While "Not everybody's cup of tea", Davis felt that the book was "a very useful source of ideas and material for any AD&D GM" to develop into longer adventures or fill in gaps, or for "those dreadful Oh-God-I've-Forgotten-the-module moments". Davis was reminded of the old Judges' Guild Book of Treasure Maps series, and with the number of adventures contained in The Book of Lairs, he felt the book would be an excellent value for its price. He noted that the encounters can be suited to the players' style of play, but felt that some of the encounters with larger numbers of creatures felt more random than planned. Davis concluded that "even if you only use half the encounters... you'll get a fair run for your money".
Graeme Davis reviewed The Book of Lairs II for White Dwarf #91. He pointed out that the first thing he noticed was that the book "boasts an impressive credits list". His first impressions on the book "from a quick flip through was that this was simply more of the same. Someone at TSR saw that BoL I was doing well, made a few phone calls to writers and the whole thing was cranked out in a few weeks." He was disappointed by the artwork saying "there is very little of it, and almost all comes from old sources, mostly the Monster Manual. Of course, this doesn't include the Elmore cover, which is well up to his usual standard". Davis did feel that "in many ways, this second volume is an improvement on the first - it's certainly more than just a five-minute sequel. The encounters look good for the most part, with none of the '876 Undead' excesses of BoL I. [...] The encounters struck me as better planned and with more good ideas than many of those in BoL I. This may be a result of having so many contributors - even a creative genius can't possibly write 30-odd encounters, as Ward and Breault did, and make each a gem. There are more notes on lead-ins and setting up in this volume, which cuts down on the GM's preparation work without affecting the deployability of the encounters - the only thing you are constrained by is the terrain type. BoL II includes all the terrain types covered in BoL I, plus clouds and other planes." Davis concludes the review by saying: "The first Book of Lairs was a good idea, and I think Book of Lairs II is an improvement. The value for money is good, and if you're running an AD&D camapaign below 10th level it's well worth looking at as a source of drop-in encounters and short adventures, or simply as a source of ideas that you can steal and develop in adventures you design yourself."
Errol Farstad reviewed City of the Gods for Polyhedron #37, rating it as a 7 out of 10 overall. Farstad felt that this book would be good for anyone needing a quick set up for random encounters, or a mini-adventure to keep players entertained. He also thought there should have been more maps, but considered the explanations "fairy understandable" and commented that the DM can insert these encounters anywhere the campaign "needs a quick fix".
Ken Rolston reviewed The Book of Lairs and 3for Dragon magazine No. 125. He felt that the encounters in the first book were "pretty conventional AD&D game problems rather than ingenious explorations of the personalities of the creatures involved", continuing, "Though they might be entertaining as gaming challenges, they are short on charm and character". In comparing the two, he felt that the second book benefited from having multiple authors, who wrote their adventures in different styles. He added, "The narrative values are also generally better served, with nice bits of plot, character, and setting to add flavor to the basic encounter problems. In general, not bad at all and occasionally delightful — Allen Varney's little bits in particular". According to Rolson, the books contained "oddball critters" players would never want to use, but that "you might get a kick out of seeing how a clever and dedicated soul could bring them to life." He felt the second book was handled considerably more successfully than the first on those accounts. Rolston considered both books "graphically disappointing", in that the first book "brings to mind the old days of TSR illustration—not a positive association" and that the diagrams in the second book were "remarkably primitive", taken directly from old Monster Manuals and adventures.
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