“Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.” ~ Eric Hoffer
Once upon a time, back in the dim and misty, there was a young AD&D Dungeon Master who loved to make, buy, and use random tables -for EVERYTHING! Whether it was tales heard while drinking in a tavern, or monsters that wandered into camp at night, or even the auspiciousness of a birth sign, he designed, bought, or borrowed d20 or d100 tables for it all.
And back in the day, there were all kinds of products on the market with piles of random tables in them. From Game Lords’ Thieves Guild, to Judges Guild’s City-State of the Invincible Overlord, to just about anything from Role Aides, game designers were making tons of random tables for everything and anything. And TSR’s old AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide started it all, with appendices stuffed with enough random tables you could create an entire adventure, complete with map, monsters, treasure, and traps with a few dozen die rolls.
Subsequent editions of D&D have moved away from those piles of random tables, putting more and more emphasis on dungeoncrafting, but to D&D gamers who remember the “old ways”, those random tables were a great way to keep Heroes amused in “the sandbox”. Players could never take their Characters go so far afield that a random table couldn’t keep up with their adventuring.
And now it seems that Zodiac Gods Publishing have a brought us a blast from the past, and created a collection of random adventure tables called DDS1: Temple, Castle and Wilderlands.
DDS1: Temple, Castle and Wilderlands
- Designers: Jarrod Camiré
- Cover Illustrator: Mark Hughley
- Publisher: Zodiac Gods Publishing
- Year: 2010
- Media: PDF (33 pages)
- Cost: $2.95
D100 Discovery Series (DDS1): Temple, Castle and Wilderlands is a collection of six random encounter tables which can be used with any medieval fantasy role-playing setting, including D&D 4E. The random tables cover six different locales, and provide a variety of events which can occur in those locations.
The overall quality of DDS1: Temple, Castle and Wilderlands is good, with a no-frills, easy-to-use format, and straightforward writing for each of the 600 events’ descriptions. The encounters range from simple to detailed, but remain system non-specific to allow them to be used in a variety of Fantasy RP games. However, while the PDF does contain a Table of Contents, the lack of bookmarks for an ebook of this size is a bit cumbersome. The interior artwork is provided by outside sources, such as the Alea
Publishing Group Studio Companion Volume I and the Caves & Caverns Series, and is fitting for the supplement, but not exceptional.
The Author is clearly a big fan of the random encounter/event tables, and offers some insights on how the book can be used in the Introduction:
If, like us, you are a huge fan of random encounter tables that cover a vast array of environments, sites, and possibilities all at once, this book is for you. Inside this first compilation you will find no less than 600 entries that will in turn amaze, challenge, and perhaps even dumbfound your PCs; you will discover places where the common events from day to day life may hide a deeper meaning, perhaps even led the unwary into a trap, or simply entertain the players for a moment before the next d100 throw.
While it is true that random encounters and “winging it” are counter to the core philosophy of preparedness which many D&D 4E Dungeon Masters follow, the book still offers something to the Players and DMs of the most recent version of Dungeons & Dragons – adventure hooks! Literally speaking, this book contains nearly 600 potential adventure hooks and encounters just waiting to be developed by an industrious Dungeon Master.
The Author of DDS1: Temple, Castle and Wilderlands provides six locales where the random events can take place:
- Castle Encounters
- Dock Encounters
- Temple Encounters
- Swamp Encounters
- Park Encounters
- Mountain Encounters
And while many of the events and encounters are mundane on the surface, they still hold the possibility of an adventure lurking within them:
#14 A wizard surreptitiously etches a symbol upon a wall of the main keep.
#78 The chaplain is involved in a fight before the chapel.
#17 An old crone sells bottles filled with sands of various hues.
#62 A training ship pertaining to the nautical school is reported missing.
#28 All kinds of bones are tied to the branches of a tree.
#79 A thicket of dead trees surrounded by water appears out of the mist.
#34 A black crow follows a hooded figure that clumsily tries to hide behind a wall made of mortared stones.
#61 A splendid, bi-colored feather lies upon the ground.
Those are just 8 of the 600 possible random events contained in this ebook, and it is clear that the Author offers DMs a chance to befuddle the Players with a mundane event which has no significance, or to draw them into an encounter which may seem simple, but could lead to some profoundly important adventure. Using an ebook like this can offer greater detail to an otherwise dull locale, even if the event/encounter has no major campaign significance whatsoever.
Overall Grade: A-
DDS1: Temple, Castle and Wilderlands has a lot of potential in it, even though it is not specifically written for D&D 4E. Great adventures can be grown from the simplest plot seed, and this book certainly has plenty of those. With up to 600 potential events and encounters, DMs can pick and choose which ones they want to develop into full-fledged adventures and mini-campaigns, and which ones they want to use to merely add color, flavor, and mystery to their campaign locales. The price is very reasonable for the sheer volume of content and adventure hooks, and is a purchase well worth considering for DMs looking for ideas and plotlines.
So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!
Editor’s Note: This Blog’s Author received a complimentary copy of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.
- Presentation: B+
- - Design: A-
- - Illustrations: B-
- Content: A-
- - Crunch: [NA]
- - Fluff: A-
- Value: A