Monday, January 25, 2010

The Dungeon Alphabet by Michael Curtis

I made the weekly pilgrimage to The Sentry Box yesterday, in search of my special-order of inexplicably elusive Pig-Faced Orc miniatures. I was disappointed, yet again, to find they had still not arrived, but I did make two other emotion-inducing discoveries.

The first discovery was the new Heroscape set. As evidenced by my "nonsensical doomsaying" yesterday, I was not particularly enthused by that D&D/Heroscape cross-over.

My second, far more pleasant discovery, was the last shelf-copy of The Dungeon Alphabet, which I quickly purchased. Though I am a strong proponent of the FLGS system, and make most of my gaming purchases that way, I always suffer pangs of guilt as I make my way to the till with my old-school treasures in-hand: am I depriving some other gamer of their chance to re-aquaint themselves with old-school D&D?

Authored by Micheal Curtis (The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope) and published by Goodman Games, The Dungeon Alphabet is a deceptively slim, 50-page hardcover, simply exploding with "system-neutral" tips and suggestions for adding unusual and unique elements to your dungeon-delve.

While sporting a full-color cover, it is also packed with new black and white artwork, produced by great artists, including Erol Otus, Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway, Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Jesse Mohn, Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, and Jim Roslof. A veritable who's-who of golden age and upcoming old-school D&D artists.

Each letter entry in The Dungeon Alphabet is a list for a particular dungeon element. A is for Altar. B is for book. And so on. In addition to a list of various game-elements, Micheal Curtis gives you an essay on the significance and uses of that dungeon element, as further inspiration in adding your own item or idea to the list.

My personal favorite from The Dungeon Alphabet: Q is for Questions. Everyone loves a good mystery, and Michael suggests that there should always be unanswered questions, about the dungeon and the surrounding world, to tempt the players into returning to the dungeon, delve after delve.

At $10, I know i'm not the only reader who is mystified by the economics of The Dungeon Alphabet. How can Goodman Games, and Micheal Curtis, possibly afford to produce and publish this amazing book, at that price? It's hardcover. It's packed with incredible art from some of the old-school greats. It's chock-a-block with insights and ideas for ramping up your role-playing campaign. This is a great value, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a system-neutral dungeon-design resource that is both entertaining and inspiring.


Dan of Earth said...

I need to pick this up. I keep watching the game shop but I may just break down and order it.

Jay said...

Good review. I love that everyone has their favorite letter! I think I need to update my own review now that I've had some time to read it and think about it.

Great stuff!!

Akrasia said...

I *must* get this...