Dragon Issue #41 The Halls of Beoll-Dur

The Heretic

Should be playing D&D instead
Dragon Issue #41 The Halls of Beoll-Dur (September 1980)

Oh sorry. I'm having trouble getting through this one. It keeps putting me to sleep.

This one was the third place winner of the first IDDC and I have to say there was a precipitous decline, even worse than the one between Fell Pass and the Pit of the Oracle. Oracle at least had some fun stuff to work with, the dumb local yokels and such. This has...nice looking (yet linear) maps?

The first sign that this isn't going to go well begins in the introduction. There are no hooks to speak of. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since this is a location and nothing more. But the introduction begins with this snippet: "The goal of the players (which should not be revealed to them beforehand) is to slay Searazul and free Beoll-Dur from the clutches of the Salamanders". Oh really? Shouldn't the players have their own goals (loot the place and survive, for instance)? Not far past that paragraph is a fun one about how 'a dwarf can only be a Cleric if the character in question is a non-player character whose role (as in the case of Duinor, the High Priest) is played by the DM."

After this you get the background of the place. The most powerful dwarven cleric of all time (dunh dunh dunh) decided he needed to build an isolated clerical training ground. Using his dwarven knowledge of stone to good use, he decided to build it into the side of a dormant volcano. Oh yeah, you see where this is going. It wasn't that dormant after all, and some salamanders from below invaded the place and took it over.

And now the dungeon begins! Oh hey, I mentioned that this module has nice maps, right? Gotta say SOMEthing nice, right? So anyway this begins with the entrance, on the inside rim of the crater. The stairs to the platform where the front doors are has collapsed, so the PCs will have to climb down by rope. There are two large metal doors and...wait, this is a school, right? In front of one of the doors is a pit trap that dumps the victim into the volcano. Doh! I'm not sure I'd put that at the entrance of my school.

From there you get the awfully boring first level of this place. A few monsters here and there, who apparently do nothing all day and don't need to eat. Lots of locks you can't pick. A pillar with the aforementioned dwarven priest's soul in it. He tests you! Yep. He talks to you and once everyone's in the area he causes a pyrohydra to come out and attack you. Yay. And when you win you get some awesome stuff to finish the adventure (like a hammer that does 4-40 damage(!), maybe only towards salamanders? it's ambiguous) (or plenty of fire resistance gear, cuz the lower levels are 400 degrees F. Ouch). There's an arena! With a minotaur, that pyrohydra, and a cockatrice! The doors lock you in and if you don't slay them, you're stuck here! Tons of stuff like this over the first level. Oh, and plenty of descriptive text about what the rooms used to be. One of the more perplexing is southeastern balcony of the arena. The text states that this was for lower level dwarves, an that their living quarters were found not far off. But if you look at the map, that balcony connects with a bunch of crypts. Oh I get it, they were undead dwarves*! That must explain the hidden sanctum of the chief priest, which has a statue of an evil looking deity and an altar that looks to have taken sacrifices. Wait, wasn't the dwarven high priest supposed to be a good cleric?!? Just like in Oracle, if you try to desecrate it you end up summoning an angry Type VI demon. Hmm. These dungeons seem to have a thing for Type VI demons.

The second level is no better. Or even worse. There's a treasury here! But its filled with gems, and when you reach for them your hands are repulsed! I, uh

I give up. This thing isn't good.

The third level has the salamanders. 45 in total. You don't know it yet, but you have to kill them all to free the halls from their influence. Ugh.

The Rest of the Issue: Hmm, a bunch of articles about some game called Melee. A few new monsters and magic items. Tom Moldvay and Ed Greenwood feature prominently. An article by a methodist priest (Arthur Collins, who wrote the article about gem dragons) on religion and D&D. Yeah, this *was* 1980 and they had to fend off attacks by religious nuts like Jack Chick. There is an article in here about writing a Basic program to roll random monster encounters for you (lol!). No Sage Advice in here. This issue is a snoozer. Oh wait! Here's a letter from EGG himself! And he says:
Angels will never be part of D&D/AD&D as
long as I have anything to say. That treads too
The anti-paladin is as useful as a third leg.
Paladins were designed to counter balance the
weight of evil monsters in AD&D. If DMs must
resort to such, to control their games, why not
use a 16-ton block instead? It is at least as subtle
and rational.

<hmph, was he born a curmudgeon?>

* Nah, we're not so lucky.