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Castle Gargantua $6.90 $5.00
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Castle Gargantua
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Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by J.S.A. L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/18/2017 05:19:33

This is a wonderful little toolkit for building your own megadungeon, and I can say from personal experience that it works really well at the table to generate a dungeon on-the-fly. Some caveats: I would recommend reading the whole thing through first and being very familiar with the material. Also, there is a really nifty "roll all the dice" mechanic to generate each room, and that eliminates the problem of rolling on multiple tables. However, I would highly recommend using different brightly-coloured dice to make reading the results as smooth as possible.

From experience, it also helps to tell the players that the dungeon is randomly-generated ahead of time. Also: There is a great "snakes and ladders" worksheet that helps generate different-flavoured environments within the dungeon. I would print that out and put it in front of the players, so they can see the mechanics at work. It means breaking immersion slightly, but I believe it's worth it; showing players what's going on "under the hood" adds to the excitement at the table, and makes it clear that both the DM and the party are exploring the castle together.

Castle Gargantua has a very distinctive grim (Grimm?) gothic fairytale feel to it. It also makes reference to real-world locations and characters (e.g. the Duke of Parma, the Crucifixtion of Jesus(!), etc.). It's fairly trivial to strip that all that out and reskin it, however, and even the size of the dungeon could be modified relatively easily (just count each square as being 10 feet instead of 60 feet, and ignore all the stuff about gigantic enemies and furniture). However, it's obvious that Castle Gargantua would work best "out-of-the-box" in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, with the setting assumption of a pseudo-historical 16th century Europe. Nevertheless, as I said, it would be pretty trivial to run it in any old-school system, in any fantasy setting.

Finally, Castle Gargantua can be used away from the table to generate a dungeon room-by-room ahead of time, helping the DM to design the dungeon themselves. Seasoned DMs may not need this kind of structure, but novices will learn a great deal by going through the book this way. And the castle itself is so flavourful and distinctive that even an experience DM might appreciate chanelling their creativity through ideas that Castle Gargantua brings to the table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/22/2016 05:42:01

---- original review: http://dieheart.net/castle-gargantua/

This is a guest review by my awesome friend Claytonian! Enjoy!

Background

Castle Gargantua (hereafter CG), by someone that goes by the nom de plum of Kabuki Kaiser (real name in the work if you really want to know), is the self-proclaimed biggest mega-dungeon in the history of the OSR. Well, the size is much more an issue of the fiction than of anything that might be quantifiable if we compared the thousands of dungeons in the nebulous movement that is the OSR, but what I discovered in my read-through is that CG does represent something epic and interesting in scale, and it will most likely keep your players occupied for quite some time.

I have heard of the literary classic Gargantua, and even included a book about toilet paper substitutes as an homage to it in one of my own dungeons. However, I must admit to not being overly familiar with it, so I think some of the references included in CG will continue to go unnoticed by me until I read CG's appendix N. Any product with an appendix N is already ahead in my esteem, and CG has 10 works as recommended reading, including R.E. Howard's Red Nails and E.E. Gygax's Against the Giants. The product feels like it draws from a lot of sources, and, to its benefit, it comes across as a fairy tale straight out of the early modern period of European history.

CG doesn't really mention it on its RPGnow (Onebookshelf) page or inside its covers, but it really seems like it was written with Lamentations of the Flame Princess[^1] in mind, considering the setting details, but it could just be a bit of a coincidence considering the classic Gargantua was published in the early modern era. Whatever the intention, it would fit really well in an LotFP campaign, due to things like the languages and adult themes that pervade everything.

Usefulness

I had heard that CG was a good mega-dungeon generator, something that might even be used on the fly. How successful is it at those goals? I'd say it does a pretty fair job at such a gigantic task. The innovation is that CG has no set map (rather one will be generated by play if at all). Instead, there is a generator that is laid out much like a board game, but I'll try to not give away all its secrets. Suffice to say, the board tells you what section of the book to pull rooms from (there are four categories), and you improvise the little details based on the rooms. Rooms are peopled with combinations of monsters, weirdness, traps, and treasures, but only half the time. 50% of the room will be empty, save for furnishings, which might be of fantastic scales, but improvisation will be helped by thinking about the room's purpose.

The board includes tiles of a color that indicate special sections, and they each have an actual map, history, and denizens. As these are like small dungeon products on their own, a good GM will want to have at least one read ahead of time, so they can manage the game without slowing everything down.

There is a bit of concern that GMs might have to slow down to read individual monster, trap, and treasure entries outside of the special sections too, but the creativity of all of these things make the extra effort worthwhile. There are a lot of clever monster abilities and puzzles for the players to figure out.

One of the sections deals with the cruder aspects of human nature and has lots of sex and bodily functions mentioned. CG itself points out that most mentions of sex have been confined to just the one section, and you can skip it, but be wary of the occasional one outside of it, and know that you'll be triggered if you are the type of person that gets triggered by triggery things.

All things considered, you'll probably want to read all the entries for each section before you run it. That could take a lot of time, but as I said, it's a worthwhile endeavor. CG is filled with interesting things. I got a bit of the same vibe that I got when reading another OSR work, Deep Carbon Observatory, in the sense that there is a wistfulness to the things you are reading about. However, CG is far less personal in tone and thankfully has fewer typos.

The dice will also tell you useful things like when to add halls, stairwells, and more. All the usual polyhedral dice get employed in CG.

So I don't think it will be the fastest you've ever spun out a dungeon room at the table in real time, but good things come to those who wait. The innovations and creativity spun into CG make me really want to give it a go at the game table sometime.

Nitpicks

There are a couple typos. Nothing major, but one table (page 8) did have a result follow directly after it's preceding result without a new line to denote it.

There are some descriptions that carry over to a new page, but nothing confusing. The layout of the special rooms section is a bit confusing at a glance because what look like headings are actually subsections of the numbered paragraphs they follow. However, once you are aware of the format, it is no problem whatsoever.

The thing about flipping a coin to decide furniture sizes is a bit odd in a game where a die could decide things with equal probability.  I'm really just nitpicking now.

The vocabulary includes some old and obscure terms. The GM will probably want to look these up ahead of time and hope to remember what they mean. It would have been nice is some of them had parenthetical information. For instance, instead of just saying a guard is wearing a "morion", it could say "morion (helm)."

Aesthetics

The art is not really a selling point in my opinion. The text stands on its own, thankfully. In any case, art is subjective, and you can see how you feel about it on the RPGnow page, but <b>don't let it keep you away</b> if you don't like it. The art seems to be dispersed in a semi-random fashion. For instance, the image of porcine orcs appears six pages before they are detailed.  The special section maps will appeal to any fans of Dyson Logos' style, but they are, ironically, very concise things compared to the usual sprawling works he is known for. I'm happy to see them there, though!

The text and its layout are very pretty. It uses colors, sizes, and font choices that make it easy on the eye. I was able to read it all on my computer, and that is not usual for me. The dungeon generator board shares the color scheme but opts to have weird shapes for each of its sections. This seems to have no game function, and it just looks kind of silly in a faux-edgy kind of way. The room record sheets at the end are crisp and lovely looking, though.

Other Considerations

The text is probably not great for pre-teen DMs. Not just because of the sex, but also some of the hard to understand vocabulary for rooms and items. Well, I say that, but maybe our culture has too many hangups about sex and maybe kids could afford to learn ten dollar words every once in a while. Overall though, this is a product for a mature and self-sure GM that can handle lots of little processes.

Buy this if
  • You are looking for something that will surprise and delight you and your players for countless hours.
  • You are looking for a good, self-contained campaign with a cohesive theme and goal (let's get to the end and make Gargantua suffer!).
  • You are looking for LotFP, Against the Giants, and Dungeonland feels.
  • You are looking for the fun of a fun-house dungeon, but with the logic of a fairy tale.
  • You want to challenge jaded players bored by all the Monster Manual's usual fare.

[^1]: It does suggest Labyrinth Lord and LotFP as exemplars of OSR rules sets.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 07:49:22

Excellent production value, design and writing. The game offer you a randomly generated and ever changing MEGA dungeon and totally deliver it. Generating the dungeon on the fly while playing also work well and better than the previous books of the same collection. Castle Gargantua contain a meta map and several special encounters maps, naturally since you randomly generate the dungeon you will have to map the rest of it yourself (work as intended). The themes are dark but this is included in the description. Quite a inspiring product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Eric H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2016 05:35:23

+Kabuki Kaiser has hit it out of the park again with the latest release of Castle Gargantua. Castle Gargantua builds on some of the mechanical ideas of procedurally generated adventuring that were featured in Ruins of the Undercity and The MadMonks of Kwantoom, although neither of those are required to use this product to the fullest.

The book is written for Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules but is generic enough that it could be used as is, or easily converted, to any OSR rules system. I personally think this would make a terrific Dungeon Crawl Classics setting as well.

Where Castle Gargantua departs from the previous works is that this time the sourcebook is intended to be used by a standard group of players with a GM. Of course, as the author contends you could run this with a solo group with little in the way of conversion. All of the tools are presented to organically develop an adventure that has the ability to surprise both players and Judge alike!

The setting for these mechanics is the eponymous Castle Gargantua, a giant magical castle of unknown origins that changes for each group that dares venture through its corridors and chambers. There are some general themes that tie the whole structure together, including guardians, beginning entry points and the sometimes giant structure of the place. For instance, instead of the standard 10' square, a grid square is assumed to be 60', creating a rather large adventuring environment.

All parties begin able to enter through the giant front doors of the fortress, but from there, things can go anywhere. Each time the party enters a new room the GM throws all the dice and consults a very concise and tight table that gives him the type of room, exits, contents, ambience and specifics on monster, treasure and, of course, weirdness. There is a meta tracker called The Big Picture, that gives the GM an easy mechanic to tie a cluster of rooms together with various themes such as Stone, Blood, Lust and Wine.

As if this wasn't enough there are also random Gold areas that can be encountered. A Gold area differs from the rest of the dungeon because they are mini adventure/lair areas that are completely stocked and ready to go. In fact, these can easily be pulled out of the implied setting and run as mini-dungeons, or plopped down into your favorite megadungeon.

I am no art critic, but I know what I like. and I like the art in Castle Gargantua. The cover is by Jeremy Hart who also does some interiors along with David Bouchacourt de Puytorac. The illos are clean and very evocative of the dungeon themes where they are presented. The cartography for the Gold encounter areas is done by the unparalleled +Dyson Logos .

The only negative I could say about Castle Gargantua is that it looks like it could play a little over the top with the weirdness, and that may not be a fit for every group out there. On the other hand, Kabuki does give advice on how to tone down some of the more adult themes that can present themselves, and those same restraints could easily be applied to tone down the weird.

Full disclosure; I received a gratis .pdf copy of Castle Gargantua but ordered the premium color hardback on my own dime cuz it is that good!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Don F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/26/2016 14:13:48

It's in interesting idea, but I didn't care of the actual implementation. I wanted more ACTUAL maps. I doubt I'll use this.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/01/2015 01:17:14

If I could've given this book 3.5 stars, I would've. I was intrigued by the idea of a large dungeon generated by tables. In real life I didn't enjoy it so much. It turns out that the things I enjoy most about traditional mega dungeons are the connectedness between encounters, integrated traps, and factions within the dungeon. Which you can't really get with a random dungeon. There are certainly some good ideas in here. I liked the idea that the players were essentially on a giant snakes and ladders board. I didn't like the pink zones (lust) as I have a young player in my group and would have to heavily adapt / put another theme in there to run this. Generally the encounters weren't quite as interesting as I'd hoped.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/15/2015 08:52:34

A review aimed at those who enjoy solo play:

I played a solo session of Castle Gargantua this morning. Unlike Kabuki Kaiser's previous releases specifically designed for solo play (Ruins of the Undercity and Mad Monks of Kwantoom), Gargantua is geared towards group play with a GM. That said, the procedurally generated method of creating the castle works beautifully for solo play. There is a bit of creative modification needed though for some sections of the castle that have prebuilt areas with static encounters.

Castle Gargantua is not a megadungeon in the classic sense of the word. The book eschews pages and pages of prebuilt maps and encounters in favor of generating the castle on the fly.

Gargantua uses a color coding system (blue/stone, pink/lust, red/blood, purple/wine and yellow/gold) to organize generated content into thematic "regions" of the castle. Players start in area 1 which is a blue "stone" section of the castle. Dice are rolled to generate a room or chamber and the players explore the area and then proceed to the next area. By default this is done 4 times and then the GM rolls a D6 to move the group along a chutes and ladders style board to a new region. The color coded board has "chutes" on it that further randomize exploration of the castle.

All of the color coded regions follow the same procedurally generated method except for yellow/gold, which is a series of pre-mapped rooms and pre-stocked encounters. This is the one area where you must get a bit creative for solo play as there are some secrets in these areas that are designed to be presented by a GM.

The dice generation system for the rest of the castle is very clever. You roll one each of a d4, d6, d8, d12 and d20 and each die corresponds to a result on a table. Each color coded region of the castle has its own table. This is a really neat method because in a single roll you generate all of the details about the room and what it contains.

Castle Gargantua is compatible with any number of OSR games (he suggests Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess). I used the ultra light Into the Odd playing two characters. It ended up being a deadly choice for me as I only explored one blue/stone section and a yellow/gold section before being slaughtered and eaten by cannibals :-)

I'm part way through a second solo play right now using two level 1 DCC characters.

All in all I think this is a really neat procedurally generated dungeon that lends itself to solo play as long as you're comfortable adjudicating results in a handful of areas. Given the way everything is randomly generated, you'll be exploring new weird areas even after multiple plays.

I should mention that some of the content is clearly aimed at adults so bear that in mind.

5 out of 5



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Rachael S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/11/2015 11:06:41

This product produced a strong emotion in me.

I expected a dungeon, a MEGA dungeon.

What I got was 114 pages of half book sized print. 12 pages of full page color artwork of good quality but not of a subject/style of my likening 7 pages of forms 20 or so pages of random charts 7 pages of maps showing 39 encounter areas plus one full page color "map" of how the 'areas' (not mapped) connect together..... it says "Each square represents 4, 6, or 8 rooms and a few corridors."

I would suggest a normal book sized production (about 50-ish pages) Ideally make several versions, letter, halfbook, A4, & A5 formats. Honestly I think all RPGNow pdfs should come in all four of these sizes as just an industry standard to allow for printing worldwide in home and travel formats.

All in all IF the description had said "Assembly Required" I still May have purchased this. As a kit to build a dungeon this is good but as it was marketed as "a MEGA DUNGEON" this utterly FAILS to live up to that.

I don't mean to speak bad of this product my anger is in the utter failure to write-up this product for what it really is. I feel lied to.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Gargantua
Publisher: Kabuki Kaiser
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2015 09:44:49

There are mega dungeons, mega adventure locations, then there's Castle Gargantua a gigantic sprawling location with incredible campaign exploration potential straight out of the twisted fairy tales of the early days! This is one of those magical locations that sets up everything straight out of the the gate, I mean everything there are remours tables for each of the playable races about the castle, rooms, weird events, etc.. But what is the set up for the adventure location: "Whoever built Castle Gargantua is long gone. It could have been a mad wizard. He would have been called Gargantua and lived in a tower looming over the castle. Or it could have been a giant so tall that when his shadow was cast, people thought it was the night falling; a giant so primeval that he could barely be distinguished from nature itself, his feet like the trunks of sequoia trees—a primeval ur-giant from a time bygone. Since your players will roll for rumors known by their characters, they will come with their own version. Let them, just remember that whatever created this place, it's gone.Time has passed since its creator vanished and the castle has been plundered several times. There's nothing much left of its original riches and most of its legendary monsters have been dispatched by past heroes. An awful lot of adventurers and bandits still roam the castle halls, often butchering each other and shaping opposed factions where they’ve taken over. In many areas, these ruffians are the real threat. In other places, lingering Chaos magic has turned harmless critters, animals, and normally trivial monsters into gruesome gigantic creatures in proportion with the castle." This place is sprawling, massive, and incredibly complex as large as the Empire State building and the design here is tight. Basically this is a mega dungeon is the love child if David Lynch and The Brothers Grim had sex and Tim Burton was the nurse maid. Then raised the same adventure location and its made to be cross compatible with almost all OSR system, well not quite. It's made to be cross compatible with Labyrinth Lord, Labyrinth Lord Advanced, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. And its made to be different each and every time because the burden to roll up the contents of the place are on sort of on the DM but this is in keeping with the DYI D&D aesthetic of the OSR authors. Lay out here is top notch, maps and cartography are by Dyson Logos, lots and lots of art throughout the adventure. Here's the thing this adventure goes with the early D&D and AD&D trope that no adventure location is going to be abandoned for long. I'm all for this bit of dungeon adventure ecology and this adventure takes that to its extremes. There are dozens of halls, rooms, treasures,etc. that have been passed around and over here. There are themes to room and complex weirdness waiting to twist PC's into knots and whatnot. There's lots that can happen to them. And the maps are concise enough to make it happen. Did I mention the gorgeous and more then slightly disturbing artwork? The entire adventure location gives a sense of helplessness and being caught in a trap that has been sprung. Castle Gargantua is the type of place that exists in some ancient fairy tale as a rumor or legend but the reality is that much more dangerous and nasty. This is one of those adventure locations that's going to change a party seriously they will not be the same after a trip to Castle Gargantua. Page after page of incredible description and weird rooms, this isn't a fun house dungeon its a weirdness sink with your PC's names on it. Its all here and waiting for the PC's. There is a story to this place and throughout the 114 pages of the place you can see bits and pieces of the castle's tale here and there just as all of the best tales of dungeons and mayhem. This isn't a place for the faint of heart.

This is a dungeon or adventure location as wilderness setting, something out of the sprawling tales of giants and they're left behind one incredible location! And this is one place that can take on all comers, your levels and skills don't count for anything when a giant sized curtain is falling on your PC's head! You get dust storms rolling across floors and terrifying wilderness encounters with all kinds of horrid monsters from myth and legend against a wilderness background of a giant's former playground. One really nice part to this one hundred and fourteen page book is the price point the pdf is five dollars! Is there anything that I don't actually like in this adventure? Not really it clicks all of the right buttons for a grand style dungeon romp through one of the most complex dungeons I've seen. The tone, horrid fairy tale feel gone wrong and more is perfect for a dark game of Lamentations of the Flame Princess or a huge sprawling game of Labyrinth Lord. Its all there waiting for your PC's and they're not going to know what hit them. Grab this one! Five out of five stars! Highly recommended!

Eric Fabiaschi Want to know more? Then check out the Swords and Stitchery blog



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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