Monday, November 12, 2012

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Review & Commentary

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque

"A Gothic Fantasy Supplement for old-school fantasy role-playing games. Contains house rules, random tables, new spells, new monsters, and a campaign setting for Gothic Fantasy adventures in the old-school fantasy RPG system of your choice."
Clocking in at just under 164 pages Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque is the sort of book that I wish was available when I was running Ravenloft. The book is a sort of look into all things Gothic for an OSR horror retroclone of your choose.
The book is entirely system neutral which is this reviewer one of its fore most strengths. The book starts off with a serviceable table of contents. Everything is laid at your feet. The material is taken nor ripped from the pages of Gothic movies, literature, & the very classics from whence came that entire period of material.
What about the Material itself? Its brutal,vicious, & nasty as the gates of hell itself. There's even a campaign background lurking in the background. The world is very "Old World Europe" though & with some teasing this material could be used in an alternative world modern setting with little effort.
What do you get? Well the first book has new spells, dozens of Npc and their lands, some really interesting classes that over lap the Npcs, & a boat load of monsters, options on the entire pantheon of regular OD&D or AD&D usual suspects.
I spent part of last weekend printing this & the rest of the 
Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque family of books out. Mostly because I didn't want to wait for lulu to send me a copy. The softcovers are only 9.00 to 12.00 dollars each. I suspect that Mr. Shear the author is an authority of Gothic literature. Each & every entry has an example of the genre right next to the various tables
There are myriad examples of each & every piece of horror found through out to perplex, dazzle, & disgust your players. 

Using Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque In Your Old School Horror Games 

There were reasons for me printing this monster along with the others in the series. I've been seriously testing the waters when it comes to designing an alternative world horror campaign. The book clocks in at 164 pages as I said earlier. The material within the pages is definitely "Old World Europe" in fact I suspect that Mr. Shear is a War Hammer Fantasy player. The material of Tales reeks of the game. That's a good thing because its one of my favorites. There are several reasons to get TOG&D 
  1. The book has a ready made campaign & cosmology within its bounds & does an excellent job of getting PCs in the thick of it. This is a horror game so expect a body count. 
  2. The whole book could be used as tool kit & a DM could easily cherry pick what he wants from it for a horror game. 
  3. The material is dark but not so dark that a DM will horrify his players. The adult material ( what there is of it) is handled easily & at a level for play. The whole horror aspect is entertaining not juvenile
  4. The book is designed for dungeoneering & adventuring not investigating which is a key thing that many players forget. The game on a whole has some great ideas & plot hooks built right into the system. Just add adventurers & gothic horror. 
  5.  The book has made me go back & look at Gothic literature as possible source material & as blue print for designing horror filled games even modern ones. There are suggestions for pacing, encounters, npcs.
  6. The book is edition neutral & does its job of enfolding you within its world as DM & that's excellent. 
There have been many, many reviewers of the game besides me but in the coming days I'll be going over the second volume. You buy the book right Here or visit his blog where he continues to pour out more material  for this fantastic system. Look you can even go there & download a FREE COPY Here  Do yourself get a print copy. Between ink & paper its worth it.


  1. Thank you so much for this glowing review! (And your instincts were right--I'm both a Warhammer player and I teach Gothic literature at a university.) But really, thanks, this review made my day.

  2. Glad you liked it Jack. Thanks for all the work & a great product but I'm not yet done. We've got 2 more of your efforts to go through yet. There's more to come. Glad you liked it & thanks for taking the time to comment.