SotSB: Dungeoneering

I’ve finally made it through the mines to what I assume to be the start of the game’s real dungeon. Secret of the Silver Blades is definitely a lot more dungeon-heavy than the previous two games, and I hope I’ve been clear by now that this isn’t a compliment. This is easily the most slow-moving game in the series so far.

In third edition D&D, there is a trainable knowledge skill called “Dungeoneering”, which is used both for knowledge of dungeon-dwelling creatures and for things like identifying important features of mines and caves: unstable areas, unnatural rock formations that may be concealing something, etc. Second edition didn’t have knowledge skills of this sort, or at least the Gold Box games don’t. Dungeoneering knowledge is instead the inherent province of Dwarves. And it happens that, even though I didn’t know how dungeon-heavy this game was, I have a dwarf in my party — a fighter/thief. (Despite the advice of others, I simply wanted a thief in my party, but making a pure thief seemed a waste, and combining it with a fighter seemed like a good idea. And in fact this is a combination recommended in the manual. In fact, the manual contains a couple of complete recommended party rosters, one of which is, strangely enough, identical to what I came up with independently: fighter, paladin, fighter/thief, cleric, and two magic-users, all human except the one dwarf.)

There have been a few occasions where my dwarf has had a visible impact on what happens. Obviously the designers don’t want to make this stuff too critical — some players won’t have a dwarf on their team, especially now that we’re at the point where the level caps for nonhumans really begin to hurt. But he spotted a trap door at one point, and there’s a repeated feature where you’re offered an opportunity to dig for gems, with the gems invariably spotted by the dwarf. I kind of wonder if there are similar special opportunities for the other nonhuman races, but really, this isn’t an environment for elves to do much (apart from exercise their natural ability to find secret doors, of course).

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