Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Wilderness Alphabet", a review

[Several months ago a kindly dude, James Pacek, asked me to proofread a project he had been working on.  A while after (but still several months ago) he sent me a gratis printed copy of his project, "The Wilderness Alphabet" (thanks James!).  I've owed him a review for a long while now (sorry it took so long).  This is one slick supplement, I would be enthusiastically reviewing it even had I not received a free copy.]

In the mold of "The Dungeon Alphabet"'s randsomely description of the dank below, "TheWilderness Alphabet" takes on the great expanse of adventure between civilization and the local mad wizard's dungeons.  The subtitle says what this fun, little book is all about.
"A Collection of Random Charts, Tables, and Ideas for use with various Games of Imagination."
[aside: Games of Imagination, that's pretty bad ass description of how I view RPGs.  Very much like that "game" is first.  Imagination encompasses much more of the fun I have than 'role playing' (which always made think of maid costumes...).]

Digest sized, little more than 60 pages, nicely printed and perfect bound by Lulu, $9.00.  The cover art is
 great.  In fact the whole design/art direction of the book is great.  One of the best "indie self-publication" (and I imply no belittlement by that label) I've seen.  The art is mostly public domain.  But there's lots of it and it has been expertly chosen/laid out. Greatly complimenting the various charts and tables.  Just like the in the best RPG products the art spurs the reader's imagination and gets their ideas flowing.  Included is a list of illustration credits.  It's not only classy to give attribution but also enables the reader to pursue a particular artwork or artist that caught their fancy.  A small touch, but a nice one.

"The Wilderness Alphabet" contains 26 "chapters". One for each letter of the alphabet (in case you were vague on the concept).  Not satisfied with just those the author included additional material at the end; Bonus Tables (undead, places, powers, weapons and the like), Colorful NPCs, Strange Sounds, Gods and Goddesses, Mines and an alternate letter 'L' is for Labyrinth.  Built into the Table of Contents for the 'letter' chapters is a d100 chart, very cool.  One feature I especially like is how the author has put little anecdotes from his own games/campaigns here and there. For example;
"... an annual tournament called the "Mythrilman" competition. Fighters Paladins and Rangers (some Monks too) would compete in a series of three events. Each event testing a different element of their martial prowess. ..."
Mythrilman, that's straight up cool.

Overall "The Wilderness Alphabet" is a great book/tool for DM's, I highly recommend it.  It's handy, short (not overwhelming), fun to read and use.  It inspires.  Immensely useful when creating a wilderness (I recently used it to help fill in some blank spots on my GnG campaign map).  Or even more so, for when your players take the "other" road.  The one that leads to "you have no idea".  Call a 5min snack/bathroom break.  Grab your copy of "The Wilderness Alphabet", some dice, and rock out.  Games of the Imagination indeed!

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