On the Best Books Released for Dungeons & Dragons part II

Dungeons and Dragons has been around long enough for people to notice it taking a few aspirin every morning for its stiff fingers. This continues our look at the best things ever published for Dungeons and Dragons. Part I is here.

The Dungeon Alphabet

Beyond the fact that this book combined with Stonehell gave us the gift of Michael Curtis writing full time; it's his way with words that makes this book so very, very good. In a time when third edition and Pathfinder had sapped the life from Dungeons and Dragons, reducing adventures to linear combats and leaving no room for old-school type play, this book stood out (and sold) like a beacon to all those who remembered the weird and exciting play of mysteries below the ground. A solid source of ideas on each page, all of which will make the game more exciting.

Book of War

There have been many attempts at modeling mass battle for Dungeons & Dragons. This masterwork put together by Delta Collins is the best of them. It allows you to simply resolve mass combat that the players are involved in, and is designed to match the statistical outcomes of any monster as a unit in the game. It's fast, quite nice, and really makes running into 30-300 bandits a fun time for you as the Dungeon Master.
It's designed to take into account the percentages of actual game statistics, requires no conversion for pretty much any version of Dungeons and Dragons and smoothly scales for various sizes of armed conflicts. Additionally, the system encourages smart tactics, making large battles a strategic challenge for both the Dungeon Master and the players.
The ability to allow your players to command 100 footmen and 50 archers, fighting 300 orcs in a massive battle without slowing everything down to a crawl is worth the price of admission and something you should do at your table as soon as possible.


Tome of Adventure Design

Gamers are a particular bunch, often concerned with minutia. At some point, everyone has thought, what if you just put all the ideas ever into one book.
This is that book.
It's top selling, because it's useful. It's an exhaustive collection of plots, ideas, schemes, structures, ideas, traps, substances, and more. It's intentionally designed so that random results work in tandem, providing the structure and inspiration to make creativity easy.
Finch outdid himself with this book, and it will far outlive our generation of resources. It sits next to me now.

Grimtooth's Traps

Early traps are a strange thing. Often teens running games would submit breathless descriptions of traps that involved no agency of the players as well as a plethora of run on sentences.

This presented traps as they were in the original megadungeons. Not gotcha hit point taxes, but each a strange occurrence and presentation.  The traps become the encounter. How do you get that gem off that pedestal without getting slammed into the ceiling or smashed by an absurdly large hammer? They are presented tongue in cheek, but it doesn't matter how silly a trap is, when it's doing 57 points of damage to your fighter it's deadly serious.

It's lovingly illustrated by Steve Crompton and is full of ideas you'll find yourself struggling to figure out how to integrate them into your next dungeon for a fun puzzle.

Creature Catalogue

The Creature Catalogue was a british release, but it was a monster manual for Basic/Expert, forming a weird patchwork of monsters that were representative of Mystara, the crazy high-fantasy setting of basic expert.
At a certain point in your gamemaster career, you realize that monster books are worthless for the stats—monsters provide particular combat or encounter effects, the actual hit dice and armor class are not nearly as important as the idea.
And the thing about the creature catalog is that it is the best type of setting book, you can just through using the monsters in that book, immerse your players in a specific weird ecosystem.

The Wilderness Alphabet

Not nearly as popular of the Dungeon Alphabet, but instead written by a blogger in the old school renaissance, this provides a wonderful character to the overworld, ladening hexes and areas with imaginative description and mystery. It's idiosyncratic, and yet, very universal. I use it for all my wilderness expeditions.


Rogues Gallery + Geomorphs

This combination of supplements at first seems as though it's nothing but meaningless lines and numbers. And it sort of literally is. And yet, you can use those arcane numbers and lines to create adventures remarkably similar to the ones that took place in Castle Greyhawk, by virtue of the fact that the gemorphs are from Castle Greyhawk, and the encounters matrix was the one in use for dungeon play. Sadly, I don't think they are available online, but any traditional geomorph will do.
The fact that the Rogue's gallery has write ups for a dozen classic non-player characters, along with a bunch of pre generated classes with relevant equipment made it useful in play.

Metamorphica

A lot of these products take it to the bone. This is one of them. This is bar-none the resource for mutations. Running a campaign with mutations, want to hand out random effects? Is somebody touching the altar of Jubilex? Boy do I have the solution for you. Never leave home without it.

On the Non-Player Character

I know this is self-promotion, but I'm talking about all the books I use for a game, and I wrote this to be one of them. It's an objective answer for non-player character interactions. It uses player skill, not magical tea parties to determine the outcome of conversation and social conflict. The non-player character descriptors aren't a random list, they are specifically selected to be immediately accessible to the players in play. This may not belong on the list, but it's a book I'd never run a game without, the back page is always open during play for me as a reference.

That's the list. Find what you wanted?

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