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Stronghold Builders Guidebook (3e)


Defenses Wrought of Mortar and Magic

Heroes need impregnable fortresses to assault, wondrous towers to explore, and majestic castles to protect. This book is stocked with everything needed to design any fortified structure imaginable, including:

  • Over 150 new magic items.
  • More than two dozen magical augmentations for stronghold walls.
  • Rules for magic portals, mobile strongholds, and trap creation.
  • Five complete strongholds, including maps, ready for immediate use.

Players and Dungeon Masters who want to create customized strongholds will find all the construction materials they need within these pages.

To use this accessory, a player or Dungeon Master also needs the Player’s Handbook.

Product History

Stronghold Builder's Guidebook (2002), by Matt Forbeck and David Noonan, is a sourcebook for D&D 3e. It was published in May 2002.

Continuing the 3e Line. In the earliest days of D&D 3e (2000-2003), Wizards of the Coast began publishing a series of brown-colored guidebooks, handbooks, and splatbooks intended for players — most of them trade paperbacks. Hero Builder's Guidebook (2000) was the first, but it was followed by many others, most of them in a series of paired class splatbooks (2001-2002). Stronghold Builder's Guidebook was the last of these softcover player's books — though it was followed by the hardcover Epic Level Handbook (2002) and Savage Species (2003) before 3e came to a close.

A History of Strongholds. Strongholds had a long history in D&D, in large part due to the game's origins in miniatures wargaming. The first system for constructing strongholding appeared way back in OD&D (1974), which included beautiful diagrams for building the major parts of a castle. Top-level fighters (9th level Lords) could become barons and collect 10 gold per inhabitant of their barony, while clerics got to build castles for half the cost thanks to help from the gods and earned double the income. Generally, the purpose of strongholds in OD&D was obvious: more loot!

AD&D 1e (1977-1979) provided even more detailed rules for castle building, listing the individual cost of everything from arrow slits (3 gp) to stone gatehouses (2,000 gp). More importantly, this new core rules revealed the two core purposes for strongholds in the AD&D game. First, they were a source of adventure, as players were required to clear the nearby wilderness to build a stronghold. Second, they were a source of NPCs, as they were required for ninth-level fighters (and certain other classes) to gather armies of followers — another element that was more important in the game's early days, nearer its miniature dawn.

Shortly afterward, the second and third editions of Basic D&D (1981, 1983) provided their own interpretations of player strongholds. David Cook's Expert Set (1981) offered strongholds at ninth level, as usual; then Frank Mentzer's D&D Companion Rules (1984) took things to the next level by letting players rule over entire dominions — an idea that would later be repeated in AD&D's Birthright line (1995).

In AD&D 2e (1989), castle construction rules disappeared, but there was still plenty of needs for strongholds, as they were still required for bards, clerics, and fighters to attract followers. Though the rules for strongholds were scant in the core rules, DMGR2: The Castle Guide (1990) gave more details than ever. Much of the book focused on adapting the medieval milieu to D&D, but it also included a castle creation system and a section on unusual castles. Castle Sites (1995) then featured floorplans for seven more castles — making the 2e era (1989-2000) a great time for fans of strongholds.

In D&D 3e (2000) strongholds were mostly gone, appearing only in a very short section on "other rewards". The Stronghold Builder's Guidebook (2002) changed that by offering the most extensive rule system ever for constructing castles. It also placed heavy emphasis on the fantasy elements of D&D castles, which made it quite distinct from The Castle Guide that preceded it.

Whoops! Unfortunately, there are some discrepancies in the pricing of items in the Stronghold Builders Guidebook. Sometime item prices differ between the book's text and its tables, and sometimes between individual items and clusters. No errata was ever issued, though 100 gp is known to be the right price for a 10x10' wall (not 600 gp, as is suggested at another place in the next). Otherwise, be aware that clusters may not have totaled the prices of their parts up correctly.

Future History. Dragon #295 (May 2002) was full of articles about castles. The two most relevant ones are "Every Home a Castle" by Darrin Drader and "Mortar and Stone" by Mat Smith and Matthew Sernett, both of which include new elements to buy for the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook system.

Wizards also released a web enhancement for this book, "Construction Journal: the Alqalinde Guildhouse" (2002) by David Noonan, which gives an example of using the system to create a wizard's stronghold.

About the Creators. Noonan started writing for Wizards of the Coast with the dawn of the D&D 3e line (2000). He'd previously worked on a few of the earlier player-oriented books, such Hero Builder's Guidebook (2000) and Song and Silence (2001).

Forbeck had been writing in the industry for a decade longer than Noonan and was probably best known for his Brave New World (1999) RPG. This was his first work for Wizards, though he'd previously contributed to third-party d20 books.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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Seth D March 13, 2023 10:13 pm UTC
Further request for this as Print on Demand
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David S December 17, 2017 12:59 pm UTC
Please make this book available on Print on Demand.
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Timo J March 08, 2019 12:50 pm UTC
Heartily agree.
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October 14, 2019 12:40 pm UTC
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