The other day I received the .PDF version of the Tome of Adventure Design Revised by Mythmere Games, written by Matt Finch. Having given it a preliminary scan through, I am not in a position to fully review the book (although I hope to do so in the future) but I did want to comment on three things that impressed me about this revision.
First of all, while I own the original edition of this book, the Forward to the Revised Edition outlines the key differences between versions:
The major addition to the revised edition of Tome of Adventure Design is the inclusion of short creativity-prompts, which I had wanted to include in earlier versions of the book as word clouds placed here and there at intervals.Tome Of Adventure Design Revision, page 2
The explanation of the human experience of apophenia is direct, clear, and very useful. Essentially the book acts as an “apophenia engine”. The utility of the book is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of these new prompts. Here’s an example showing the left-hand margin of a page early in the book containing the prompts:
Once you understand the purpose of the book – not as a collection of simple random tables but as a sophisticated repository for feeding the “pattern-perceiving engine in our mind” – the Tome can be seen for its true value.
Secondly, the Introduction to the book remains one of the best general outlines of creativity in relation to roleplaying adventure design that I have read. Finch understands the way in which language – specifically words – help us to construct new visual images from which we, in turn, can organise a creative experience. Although the book is organised logically, you are immediately encouraged to use the book to generate abstracts, concepts, symbols, meanings, and pictures in your mind. The advice to, “Drift, and find” is imaginatively rich.
Thirdly, the first full chapter entitled, “Adventure Design” is the strongest and clearest expression of a methodology to design location-based adventures that I have come across. Although deeply rooted in the so-called Old-School Renaissance (of which Matt Finch remains a leading force), it is a detailed and practical guide that outlines the key elements which, when taken as a whole, can help you create consistently enjoyable dungeons.
This book is one to which I am glad to be returning. Just a simple scan through was enough to remind me of the richness of the original edition. This revision has new content and is beautifully laid out. Two column text with the added “apophenia” sidebars works nicely. Artwork, while nice, doesn’t distract from the core content. Overall, I find myself glad to be returning to Matt Finch’s great work.