Doodle Temple and Gormand’s Larder, both illustrated by Cédric Plante, are two of the coolest gaming books I’ve bought in recent memory.
They’re both dungeon generators, but instead of random tables, they consist entirely of Cédric’s beautiful illustrations. And they’re weird. I love weird! Mundane dungeons are boring, and neither of these books will turn out a mundane dungeon.
Doodle Temple is for making a peculiar temple, while Larder covers a small dungeon/lair. There are no stats or rules, just pictures of what to roll and indicators for what die roll produces what result. Totally system-neutral.
But oh, those pictures! They’re creepy, esoteric, graceful, twisty, sometimes quite dark, and above all they’re imaginative. I can’t flip through these books without thinking about what they might mean in-game, and how my players might react to them.
They’d work well in just about any old-school fantasy campaign, and probably in other genres, too — there’s nothing about the temple, for example, that wouldn’t fit right into a sci-fi game. Fantasy-wise, they’d be a perfect fit for a darker setting, which I wouldn’t have guessed beforehand.
(I didn’t have great light for these photos, so please ascribe any oddities to me, not Cédric.)
Doodle Temple opens with rooms and dungeon dressing (larger version):
What do the doors and windows look like?
And what lives there?
This is my favorite creature in the book, but it was by no means easy to choose just one. The temple denizens are all equally strange and wonderful.
The Larder is in black and white, and ups the creepy factor quite a bit. Here’s the foyer and its potential denizens and dungeon dressing (larger version):
You don’t need a written room description — it’s all there, clear and detailed, including the contents of the chamber.
What happens when you eat that weird thing in the recipe room? Why, this, of course!
This dude hangs out in the meat zoo. The meat zoo. I’m going to have weird dreams about this room.
On the whole, Larder feels more distilled. It’s denser with ideas, and the skin-crawl factor appeals to me, as does its strong sense of place. Doodle Temple is more loosely themed, and instead of lots of small pictures, you get fewer illustrations, but they’re larger and in color.
For Doodle Temple, Cédric collaborated with Benjamin Baugh, Ian Reilly, and Edward Lockhart; for Larder, Baugh was his sole co-contributor. Hats off to all of these folks, especially Cédric, for coming up with such a nifty idea and executing it so well.
If I had to pick just one, it’d be Larder, but I’m glad I don’t have to pick just one. Gormand’s Larder and Doodle Temple both get starred entries on my big list of Lulu RPG recommendations. I highly recommend them both!
The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.