15 October 2018

Kellri's 18 Module Challenge - Day 14: Starstone by Paul Vernon Lydiate

Day 14 - A Module I Would Run for First-Time Players:  Starstone by Paul Vernon Lydiate

Starstone by Paul vernon Lydiate (Northern Sages, 1982)

My first-impressions/gut-reactions in response to today's topic are that I would prefer to run "Castle Greyhawk" or the DMG Monastery dungeon for first-timer players, but since I've already covered the latter, and ruled out the former, I've dug around for some high-quality alternates, and Starstone landed on top.

Paul Vernon's Starstone was published by Northern Sages out of the UK in 1982.  If you're not already familiar with Starstone, Matthew Pook's retrospective review can get you up-to-speed.  Vernon also wrote several good articles in both White Dwarf---"Designing a Quasi-Medieval Society" (2 parts) and "Town Planner" (3 parts)---and Dragon Magazine---"First, Spread the Faith" and "Travel Works Both Ways"---that are worth looking up.    

Disclaimer:  I haven't played or run Starstone, so read my thoughts with a healthy critical eye.  Using Starstone, I'd like to build a small, local-focus campaign where Starstone's NPCs can shine, and where the players and their PCs know the names of the random citizen they're salvation for, and why they're worth saving. 

Why I Like Starstone

Starstone is a well-designed sandbox campaign setting that Vernon brings alive through:
  • The County of Starstone's Northern Region, a small and localized wilderness environment spanning 10 miles N-S by 11 miles E-W (in 1/2 mile hexes), containing a fair number of homesteads, monster lairs, and other features of note
  • Nine small settlements; for the larger ones, Vernon employs a series of tables similar to those in Midkemia Press' Cities supplement, but without as much detail
    • Branstead, a deserted hamlet
    • Cragley, a hamlet (37)
    • Dolgold Village and Castle, with nearby dwarven mines
    • Ganby, village (128)
    • Longbottom Down, village
    • Sardkirk, a gnomish village
    • Spoylesham, a hamlet (87) 
    • Starston Bridge
    • Verbury, village (206)
  • Two dungeons:
    • The Broch Caverns, a three-level dungeon with 133 keyed encounters, inhabited by ~500 goblins and their allies
    • Dolgar's Hold, a two-level dungeon with 45 keyed encounters, inhabited by trollings and morlocks
  • A broad tapestry of inter-related NPCs who are all-too-human in their ambitions, petty squabbles, and other relationships:  this is where Starstone really shines (and could, in fact, use a matrix of NPCs that would help make the interconnections more manageable)
Ristenby Town (population 2000) is the unpublished sequel to Startone, and details the small fishing port town.  Embertrees was lightly detailed in White Dwarf #34 (October 1982), along with a small temple dungeon (33 encounter areas).

Three Runners Up

I've also already written about L1 on Day 6, or it would appear in the list below, too:

My other posts in Kellri's 18 Day Module Challenge:

  1. Day 13:  "The Ruins of Andril" by Ian Melluish
  2. Day 12:  "Treasure of the Dragon Queen" by Rutgers University Gamers
  3. Day 11:  S4 Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax
  4. Day 10:  Return of the Eight by Roger E. Moore
  5. Day 9:  Pavis and Big Rubble by Greg Stafford, Steve Perrin, Oliver Dickinson, & Diverse Hands
  6. Day 8:  Angmar, Land of the Witch King by Heike Kubasch
  7. Day 7:  X2 Castle Amber by Tom Moldvay
  8. Day 6: DMG Monastery Dungeon by Gary Gygax
  9. Day 5: S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by Gary Gygax
  10. Day 4: "Deep Shit" by Jeff Barber
  11. Day 3: A Fabled City of Brass by Anthony Huso
  12. Day 2: Masks of Nyarlathotep by Larry DiTillio
  13. Day 1: Empire of the Ghouls by Wolfgang Baur
  14. Day 0: These are a Few of My Favorite Things...



  1. I had wondered about the upswing in interest in the review. Thank you for the mention.

  2. You're quite welcome, Matthew! :D



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