Recently, Simon posted a great temple crawl with a Dyson map, following close on the heels of a lovely tomb raid (again with a Dyson map.) As I was admiring his easy-to-use handiwork, I got nostalgic for another wonderful project he posted.
The Mirrored Hall is a fairly unique beast, in my experience. It has elements of a megadungeon; connected areas discrete to themselves, themes, no expectation you’ll clear it all out, etc. It also has elements of a sandbox setting; multiple locations that the players can choose to explore as their cunning and luck permits, different authority figures and their spheres of influence, travel and resource management.
I like the way this massive scenario balances giving the player characters tools, and denying them a railroad. I like how Simon’s voice balances evocative description and brevity, with stats included where needed but only the barest suggestion of how the DM uses the tools at hand.
Very little is handed to the players (or the DM) pre-figured-out. This is frustrating as the DM preparing to run the scenario, to a point. Then you tip over to the different style of the thing, to the sense of wonder that is built into going through the looking glass, through the mist, through the waters, and coming out somewhere new without trusting there’s a door at your back when you arrive.
While you could break any of the settings out to run on its own, taking them together is a courageous act of trusting players to engage in the mystery and do their best, and trusting the setting to provide them with wonder and challenge.
I think the best use of this setting would be on a lazy summer, with gaming once a week with the same group, where you just sit back as DM and let them explore. Let them generate consequences. Let the thing take on a life, let the world do something unexpected, let the players decide what mysteries, injustices, threats, and rewards they want to engage.
Good work, Simon! Thank you for sharing all your creativity with us.