Monday, March 4, 2013

The Dungeon Alphabet Review

This was released during my hiatus from posting and I've been meaning to get to it for a few weeks now. The Dungeon Alphabet is an A-Z resource that explores the major fantasy tropes most gamers encounter in the dark places of the world. This book has actually been out for a few years now; this is an expanded third edition with about 30% more content.

Players and GMs will be familiar with most of the topics covered in this book. Altars, dragons, gold, traps, undead, pretty standard dungeon-defining elements. Each entry provides a summary, why players fear them, and the role role they play in a dungeon. The meat of each entry is the random table. If your eyes go wide at the sight of random tables, this is the book for you. This slim book is packed full tables to spruce up these well-worn dungeon elements. Essentially, this is a "how-to" manual for making your encounters interesting.

While some of the entries are going to be more useful than others, this book is really indispensable for game masters. Entries like the "100 Random Book Titles" are a great way to add detail on the fly to the otherwise nondescript musty brown tomes crowding the Wizard's bookshelf (they can't all be full of spells!). The entry on Kobolds, for example, is just one of many that add flavor to an enemy that is often encountered but seldom interesting.

Even if you don't end up using the tables as presented, just flipping through the pages of this book will have your head swimming with ideas. This is due, in part, to the absurd amount of old-school fantasy art. As with the DCC RPG rulebook, this book is a lot of fun to just aimlessly flip through due to the variety of pieces presented.

I went for the limited edition cover. The production quality of this book is similar the limited edition DCC RPG, which is to say, worth it. I tend to shy away from such purposes, but these are reference materials built to last and will look great on your bookshelf. Also, I find the original cover a little too crowded for my taste. At this point, the limited edition is probably long gone from your FLGS' shelves but I would definitely snatch it up if you happen upon this gem.

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