Goodman Games Dungeon Alphabet
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  1. #1
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    Goodman Games Dungeon Alphabet

    After reading several blogs talking about how good this is I decided to finally get it. Besides, the price was really good!

    Let me preface my opinion by saying that I have bought Toolbox, Ultimate Toolbox, Mother of All Encounter Tables, Mother of All Treasure Tables, and probably other books of Tables I cannot recall right now, and that is what I am basing my opinion of this book on, my experiences and expectations based on those previous purchases.

    Taking all of that into account, I like the art. There is a lot, I mean a lot, of good old school style B/W artwork all throughout. The layout is nice and clear, and the text is in nice big print so that I did not need my glasses to read most of it.

    As for the tables. Well, in comparison to the aforementioned products, they are extremely limited, unimaginative, short, very limited use. I was totally disappointed.

    I absolutely do not get the great reviews I read on several blogs, etc... I can only presume they did not buy the products I have previously mentioned, so their bars were set comparatively very low to mine.

    So if you are like me, and have bought the books I have mentioned, don't be surprised if your likewise disappointed.

    If you have not bought the products I mentioned, you will likely find this book worth getting. So get this book first! Then buy the other products I mentioned to find out what extensive, highly imaginative, and highly useful tables are like. Especially Ultimate Toolbox.

    Definitely the most disappointing product I have bought done by Goodman Games in the last few years.

    I do think it has to do with my regular use of Ultimate Toolbox. So if you have not bought, and regularly used UT, you will probably like this book much better than I do. However all I can see is how much they did not do.


  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Treebore
    Ultimate Toolbox
    Word.

    Thanks for the warning. Not that I'm likely to buy such a thing anyway, but you never know. Huh, well now I do actually.

    I have to wonder if the glowing phrases you might've encountered are at all due to the 'old-skool' art featured. But then, I haven't actually seen the thing in the flesh, or read any 'reviews' / reviews. So maybe not.

    I do know that some people out there go absolutely bug**** crazy when names like Erol Otus or whatever come up, but hey, might not be anything to do with that. . .

  3. #3
    Thanks Treebore. I have to confess, I totally thought this was a childrens book of some sort. I never bothered to read the advert text.

    I don't suppose you could upload a picture of one of the charts inside?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treebore View Post
    As for the tables. Well, in comparison to the aforementioned products, they are extremely limited, unimaginative, short, very limited use. I was totally disappointed.
    I remember early versions of the Alphabet, and it originally didn't have any tables (and doesn't need any as far as I'm concerned), and I thought it was so fantastic that I printed it out and inserted it into my GM Binder right away.

    I don't want to speak for the author, but my impression is that attempting to use the Alphabet as a reference book in the manner of the other books you mentioned is against the very concept of the work.

    It's an inspirational tool, not something that is supposed to do any work for you.

  5. #5
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    Well, if nothing else, it's nice to hear a dissenting voice. Everything else I've seen has been absolutely glowing about it.

    I was on the fence, and decided I would get it after reading that it had a lot of tables in it. However, I also have the ultimate toolbox (though I don't use it often), so now I worry that the tables might not be that hot.

    As JimLotFP mentions, I was under the impression that the book was not just about the tables, though. What're your thoughts on the rest of it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimLotFP View Post

    It's an inspirational tool, not something that is supposed to do any work for you.
    That was my impression as well- I do not own the new book, but having read through the author's "original" work published in Knockspell (#1, I believe) I found it very inspirational- in a minimalist sort of way.

    I'm not sure why anyone would have thought this product was comparitive to the "toolbox" books, or was simply a book filled with random tables???

    And FWIW- if you are the kind of person who loves random tables, you really need to check out the Beyond The Black Gate blog- Al is the second coming of Gygax when it comes to cool random tables.

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    Thanks for the warning, Treebore!

  8. #8
    The Grognardia review also points to the tables as the weakest part of it. The glowing praise for the book there is focused on the essays about evocative dungeon features. From my own experience, I find that it's pretty easy to make tables for my own use, and that the best published tables are less helpful in actual play than the half-baked ones I make. I think this is because the act of making the table forces me to imagine multiple possibilities that are appropriate to my specific game ahead of time, while using a Toolbox table means that I have to decide if it's appropriate and what it means in this situation only after I make the roll.

    So from this perspective, advice about what kinds of things might appear on tables is more valuable than pre-made tables, and if Goodman asked Curtis to provide some tables for the published book as an example of how you could take the advice and turn it into a table, it's actually kind of good if the results leave me fired up to do one that's better.

  9. #9
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    This book is pretty much nothing but tables, one table, or set of tables, for letters of the alphabet, and not all letters of the alphabet either. (Edit: I was wrong here, each letter does have an entry, just not all letters got a two page spread like I initially thought.)

    So other than the forward by Cook, and the intro section, I see pretty much nothing but tables, and Ultimate Toolbox is magnitudes more inspirational than this book is.
    Last edited by Treebore; Monday, 15th February, 2010 at 12:59 AM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Treebore View Post
    This book is pretty much nothing but tables
    I haven't picked it up yet, but that contradicts the impression I have from the Grognardia review:

    "The book presents us with 26 entries -- one for each letter of the alphabet -- each of which is ostensibly connected to some topic pertaining to dungeons, such as altars, doors, oozes, or traps. Each entry is a brief, two or three paragraph, meditation on the topic in question, providing both practical advice on using the subject matter in designing a dungeon and "philosophical" musings on the whys and wherefores of doing so. It's a potent combination and Curtis's writing is straightforward without being vapid and detailed without being pedantic. Each entry is rounded out with a random table of some kind to jumpstart one's imagination about the topic (such unusual jewel properties or thirty results of a pulled lever)."

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