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The Dungeon Alphabet $7.99 $4.00
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Joe K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/06/2010 11:16:35
The Dungeon Alphabet is a call back to old school methodology in filling a dungeon. Not necessarily with specific monsters, but more importantly with the character of old school. This is literaly, an A to Z reference, with each letter getting its own single entry. The print version clocks in at $9.99 in hardcover, so I'm scratching my head at the $7.99 price for the PDF. It's almost like Goodman is daring you to buy the print version in hardcover.

One of the biggest nods to the old school direction, has to come in the artists picked for this project. I'm no lore taker of the old school, but I've been playing since 85' and recognize the very distinctive cover art of Erol Otus. While I'm not sure of the credentials of many of the interior artists, I instantly recognized Jim Holloway's art work. His many illustrations back in Dragon magazine were an easy catch. Other artists may not fit that old school in terms of their origin point, but most of them do a great job of giving the book a fairly coherent look. For example, Peter Mullen has a two page interor cover shot that mimicks the style of Otus quite well. Other interior illustrations are done in the style of old school art. For example, a group of adventurers opening up a chest is a classic iconic image from the older days. On page 19, we get a solid full page illustration of that very event.

After skipping introductions, cover splash pages and other goods, the book's meat is roughly from page 6 to page 46. The text is relatively light in the book on many entries. For example, under D is for Doors, the table is a roll of a d20 taking up probably less than half the page if adjusted for the large text and the spacing. If the reader is looking for a massive reference work, AEG's Toolbox and Ultiamte Toolbox are far more useful for such projects.

However, if the reader is looking for a light hearted book that has a lot of charm of old school, without relying on any rules, this book is a hit. For example, we get W for Weird and Z for Zowie. In today's modern gaming, those two elements aren't necessarily embraced as they once were. With a quick roll of a d20, you could find a gallery of bear statues that resembles the party. It's touches like these that make the book well worth reading all the way through and finding the bits you'll be most likely to use. With its short tables, it's not likely that the book would see much use before duplicates start cropping up. Using it instead as a guide for your own imagination is the far more suitible use for this book.

The other huge benefit is the art work. While it may not be for everyone, it does scratch that old school itch.

It is my hope that Goodman Games produces other Alphabet books of a similair size and price; Wilderness Alphabet, Urban Alphabet, and others, all done up in this style, could easily be well worth the investment.

If you're looking for a long term utility book that is mostly text and light on the art, this product is not for you. If you're looking for a product where you can roll a d20 on the hallway table and find that it's chocked with dusty webs and obscrues all vision with some old school art sensibilites, this book is for you.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dungeon Alphabet
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