As a game- or dungeon master, sometimes you have more ideas than you could possibly use in one campaign. At other times, you’re stressing about some element of an encounter,
pulling an adventure idea together, or simply getting your act together in time for the next session. It’s at those times when a good old random table can come in to save the day. It doesn’t take much in those cases – roll some dice, look at the table, and then you’re back off to the races (or lather, rinse, repeat, and see if you like the next couple of options that come up better). And the Internet is full of random tables, right? It should be easy to hit upon the right one with a little Google-fu…
Well, in those cases where the Internet fails you, it’s good to have a backup (or two). One of mine will now be The Dungeon Alphabet (Expanded Third Printing) written by Michael Curtis and published by Goodman Games. Literally all I have to do is go to the table of contents, flip to the pages with the table(s) I need, and start rolling. Literally this book goes from A (Altars and Adventurers) to Z (for Zowie!), so I’m just going to hit a few of my favorite tables.
Curtis came up with some very unique (and humorous) tables, such as the one for Books. For example, one special property is “Book is enchanted to prevent theft. Screams ‘Thief!’ constantly while handled…” Another has the soul of the previous owner trapped inside and the book wants more…
Battles also has some fun “unforeseen developments” – everything from setting the battlefield on fire to shattering a collection of potion vials with unpredictable results to one of the monsters on the other side of the battle suddenly stopping, staring, and screaming “Father!?” Honestly I think just about any of my characters would be shocked into submission even if it was a battlefield distraction. In fact, I might have to do that the next time I’m playing in a battle.
Doors are always fun. The table in this case includes things like doors being one-way only, spiked from inside by previous adventurers, or even falling on anyone attempting to open them.
Hallways includes some good ones… Signs of a previous battle or campfire, or burn marks down the floors and walls, or the fact that the hallway is blocked by a massive creature (dead or alive).
The levers section is also fun, with characters gaining or losing abilities by pulling them, making the whole room move like an elevator, opening or closing gates or doors throughout the level, etc.
But beyond all the cool things in the tables, the art (like with the DCC RPG) is spectacular. A collection of terrific artists put together some simply gorgeous black and white interior art. Folks like Jeff Easley, Doug Kovacs, William McAusland, Erol Otus, Jim Roslof, and many more. It was quite the crew that pulled pictures together for the book.
So if you’re looking for a great resource to have around for inspiration on a great many topics, The Dungeon Alphabet should definitely find its way into your collection.
For more about the book…
- … check it out at DriveThruRPG for the PDF version.
- … and check out the Goodman Games website for many many more great products and adventures to inspire you!