I just got a copy of Dungeon Alphabet in pdf from Joseph Goodman. The product hasn't been released yet. Because of my work on Points of Light he wanted to me to one of the few people to look it over and comment on it.
I have to tell you that I am not a fan of Erol Otus art. I know, I know. Put your pitchforks down. I do appreciate the appeal for many. He just not one of my favorites out of the original gallery of artists. (Although the jester/Cthulu monster cover for Dragon I liked). This cover just has too many primary color and looks cartoonish.
But then I looked inside of the PDF.
4 stars WOW.
What is Dungeon Alphabet?
It is a series of Random Tables on topics ranging from A to Z;
Altars, Books, Caves, Doors, Echoes, Fungi, Gold, Hallways, Inscriptions, Jewels, Kolbolds, Levers, Magic, No Stone Left Unturned, Oozes, Pools, Questions, Room, Statues, Traps, Vermin, Wierd, Xenophobia, Yellow, Zowie!
It pretty much Old School in tenor and tone.
The tables are well done and evocative of the various subjects. If the product has a flaw is that it left me wanting more of Micheael Curtis charts and tables.
But where the product goes from nice to a sublime WOW! is the interior art. There are 13 interior artists and they all do a hell of a job. (Even Erol Otus ;) )
More than anybody else the 13 captured the feel, tone, and tenor of the art that graced the original 3 AD&D manuals. From the crisp yet silly Holloway illustration to the creepy Otus pieces.
My favorites are
A full page Jeff Easley illustration on page 15 showing a shadow of a orge/troll thing around a corner of a vermin filled passageway.
A Holloway illustration on page 20 showing a bunch of kobolds beaning a flop in the head with a sling stone.
A even more funny picture on the next page by Jeff Wilson showing why you should be careful pulling levers.
A two page spread by Peter Mullen on page 44-45 showing a overview of a very nasty dungeon. I have say this is best one in the book. It so good that I feel it should have been in the original DMG at least.
To top it all off Goodman Games is selling it only for $9.99
I have to admit I was kind of rolling my eyes at the enthusiasm of James Raggi's review. But now that I have seen it I think this product is a outstanding achievement in both content and art. At it's price it is a great value.