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Saturday 1 November 2014

RPGPundit Reviews: The Dungeon Dozen

This is the review of the Dungeon Dozen book, a collection of random tables for fantasy RPGs; in theory, it could be used for any fantasy RPG, but it is very clearly made with an OSR aesthetic in mind, and a fairly gonzo one at that.  It is written by Jason Sholtis, and self-published (being a collection of material previously posted on his blog).  The book has a very fanciful black and white cover, of what appears to be some kind of wizard summoning or dealing with a monster/demon with a dodecahedron for a head.

The interior art is also black-and-white, and done in a similar style, reminiscent of the weirdest and most gonzo styles of OSR art.  All the art in the book (and there's a surprisingly good amount) is excellent.  The book is 214 pages long, including the index, and everything from page 1 to page 195 is random tables. Being in the theme of "dungeon dozen", all the tables are for d12s.

How can I even effectively review this?!  The tables are all made for fantasy play, some ranging from generally descriptive, all the way to downright wacky, with everything in between; but the slant is certainly, in my opinion, to the more gonzo 'weird fantasy' type of play.  The subject matter of the tables are crazy in scope and specificity.  I think that the only way I can really do this product justice and create a clear impression on the reader's mind as to what they'd be getting would be if I provide a sample of some of the subjects and some of the possible results.  So here goes; the following are all real tables and real results from these tables:

Almost Indestructible: Villain Death Requirements

1- Must be immersed in sanctified wine not less than 10 minutes

Before First Level: Magic Users
2- Woke up to find self fully vested member of arcane secret soceity after lengthy black lotus bender

(note: there's a "before first level" table for each class)

Campaign World-Threatening Emergencies
3- Rotation of the planet magically halted by misguided vampires desirous of a dark side

The Dragon's Formerly Secret Weakness
4- Inflamed intestinal blockage from hastily devoured iron-clad warrior: constitutionally compromised

Events in the All-Humanoid Olympiad
5- Cockatrice round-up

Found Strapped to the Paladin's Warhorse
6- Decomposing head of former villain for return to patron lord

Gentle and Kindly Abominations
7- Death yak: wouldn't hurt a fly (on purpose) despite venom-dripping recurved horns, gouts of flame from nostrils and stampeding hoofs, somewhat easily rattled.

Hard Times for the City Folk
8- Poor attack strategy by city guard = black pudding infestation, population has grown used to it

Ill-tidings from the Cleric's Patron Deity
9- Automatic writing assignment, addendum to scriptures required for new converts, deadline: tomorrow

Just Getting in the Dungeon is Brutal
10- An arch-devil must agree to show you the way

Knights Best Avoided
11- The Dead Knight: seemingly animated by pure devotion to duty, continues to serve crown and country despite having fallen in battle long, long ago, martial skill unaffected by advanced state of decomposition.

Lesser Known Pocket Universes
12- The Dungeon-verse: near infinite network of doors, corridors, rooms, tricks, traps, monsters, and treasures without intelligible purpose, the sub-creation of a capricious god since assassinated by his peers

This Monster's Got a Charming Side
11- Has a pet that it cherishes (see Unusual Dungeon Pets - pg.170)

Now Occupying the Recently Depopulated Dungeon Area
10- Swarm of hideous dungeon fairies busily constructing a new hive out of chewed bones and saliva

Occupants of the Colossal Ancient UFO Anchored to the Mountaintop
9- Countless broomsticks hover nearby: site of the First Annual World Witchcraft Convention, by clandestine invite only

Planets in the Vicinity of the Campaign World
8- Gas giant w/solid islands, ramjet propelled space crustaceans, inscrutable gas bag beings

Quick Cultural Quirks: Deep Forest People
7- Heavy animist thinking: constant awareness of the spirits that inhabit everything

Raise Dead: Weird Side Effects
6- Heavy conversion experience to deity represented by presiding cleric, featuring full-on zealotry, unsurpassed fanaticism

Security Measures at the Sorcerer's Tower
5- Encircling garden of giant hypno-flowers tended to by giant dragonflies

Things Washed Up on a Subterranean Beach
4- Deranged merfolk beaching themselves

Underworld Afflictions
3- Cavern fever: mounting compulsion to return to surface

Vengeful Shades
2- Disembodied head of court jester inaudibly gasps out lame one-liners

Wandering Treasure

1- legendary ivory-tusked white under-mammoth

Xenophobia in the Underworld
2- All surface dwellers hated in descending order by height, the tall produce the staunchest fear and loathing, wee ones might be alright

Yeah, but THIS Vampire...
3- Has swollen to gross immensity after gorging on village

Zealots in the Streets
4- Thooloo's Witnesses politely inform all encountered of imminent doom and inescapable damnation, distribute pamphlets loaded with scary woodcuts

There you go. A random assortment of the 200 or so random tables.  As you can see, the subject matter tends toward the weird.  There's some tables that even I can't imagine ever using.  There's others that could become a regular feature in some of my campaigns.  This product would be especially awesome for Dungeon Crawl Classics, and I'm sure it will become a standard reference-book for my "Last Sun" DCC campaign (which is filled with insane uber-weirdness as it is).

Obviously, if what you're playing is a gritty quasi-historical game, this will not be the right book for you.  I don't think I'd be able to use MOST of these tables in my Dark Albion game, for example. But even there, a couple might be decent enough for use in the right circumstances.

Is this book worth the price of entry? I certainly think so.  I'm predisposed to love random tables, of course, but besides which (and unlike some other books of random tables), you don't find a bunch of dry predictable results here.  You won't get a "random encounter: humanoids" table that will have "1d4 bugbears" as an entry. Instead, you get something like:
Random Ooze:
5- Silver: as golden ooze, but less valuable


The Humanoids Seem a bit Weird Today
6- Wounded, divided and demoralized after rather violent internal squabble

So yeah. If you run anything even mildly gonzo, you'll probably love this book.


Currently Smoking: Masonic Meerschaum + Image Perique

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