Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wilderness Alphabet: A Review

James Pacek, of Carjacked Seraphim, recently published The Wilderness Alphabet, A Collection of Random Charts, Tables and Ideas for Use With Various Games of Imagination. As I had previously purchased Michael Curtis' well-regarded and commercially successful The Dungeon Alphabet, An A-Z Reference For Classic Dungeon Design, I was intrigued by Pacek's foray into similar territory. But while I was interested in purchasing The Wilderness Alphabet, its availability only through Lulu was a barrier, since Lulu is notorious for charging exhorbitant Canadian shipping fees.

Thankfully, Pacek came to my rescue, selling me a copy of The Wilderness Alphabet from his personal stash, only charging me the $9 Lulu fee for the book, plus a paltry $5 for Canadian shipping.

The Wilderness Alphabet is a 6"x9", 65-page A-Z reference booklet for wilderness adventure design. Amply illustrated with over 21 pieces of black & white art from the public domain, including liberal watermarking behind the text, Pacek's reference book is also filled with random tables to populate your wilderness environment. The sub-title of this book, "for use with various games of imagination" is, of course, code for "this book is system-neutral". Indeed, you won't find any reference to specific rule-sets or stat-blocks. Instead, you will find page upon page of intriguing wilderness landmark generation tables, around which to build interesting and surprising adventures -- for both the players and referee!

Among the interesting random tables: A is for Archway, C is for Chasm, E is for Edifice, G is for Graveyard, I is for Intersection, Q is for Quagmire, R is for Ruins and Residences, S is for Spring, and Z is for Ziggurat. In addition to 26 random tables, some of which allow you to generate 1000's of results, Pacek gives you several bonus tables, such as "colorful NPCs", "strange sounds", and "Mines". Pacek also provides his own "Appendix N" of additional sources of random table inspiration.

The Wilderness Alphabet is a handy little resource. Like The Dungeon Alphabet, this booklet provides you with both immediate inspiration for generating unique wilderness landmarks (when you are short on preparation time), but also provides the fodder to inspire the creation of your own random wilderness tables.

Considering how attractively presented the material is, and the booklet's utility and reusability, the $9 price tag on The Wilderness Alphabet seems quite reasonable.


Jim said...

Thank you for the kind review. I'm glad you received the book! :) If I'm ever in Calgary (or you're near Phoenix), we'll meet up for beers! Cheers!

Brutorz Bill said...

Thanks for posting about this. I too am a fan of the Dungeon Alphabet and was wondering about this product.