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Thursday Treasurepile #2: Classic Play Book of Adventuring

Written by MythicParty - Published on February 28, 2013

cpadventOur 2nd giveaway.  To review the Legalese:

Every Thursday has a short summary of gaming product.  If there are at least 20 unique comments under that review, we’ll give away whatever we’ve reviewed to the reader who posts a ‘+5 comment’ for it.   i.e. based upon whether the staff here either got something useful out of reading your post or maybe just LOL’d at your reply.  And yes, employees of DMing or their family members are not eligible, although their comments do count towards the 20 minimum requirement.  Readers can post multiple times- say if responding to another post- but still only get counted once towards the 20.  Contests run for a full-week, so if a book reviewed doesn’t get the full 20, it’ll stay eligible until it both does & the next review comes out.

The 1st book to be given away- Love & War- The Sourcebook of Knights & Chivalry– still has not been given away, so please check it out & go post there as well.  Need a few more posts there before its eligible to be won by a reader.

So Mongoose Publishing Classic Play Book of Adventuring by Adrian Bott & Alejandro Melchor. A 256-page perfect-bound hardback book from 2004 (MSRP $34.95) that aims to add depth to the  adventuring process through 3 parts.  The first is the “Adventurer’s Craft” which are ways the characters can prepare for their trade, through smarter equipment selections as well as their non-standard uses- 4 knives lashed together in a star shape might make a giant-appropriate caltrop. Rules for various ‘pocket contents’ like a plug of tobacco, oily rag, or a fork, can be handy.  We get advice & rules for group tactics for traveling, such as a wedge formation (echelon) or pincher attacks for combat. There are spell lists for certain common situations: Deception/Concealment, Movement/Travel, Communication/Information Gathering, etc.  Then we move on to spell lists by roles: Artillerist, Booster, Defender, Counter, etc.  Lastly we have home bases like in a castle or a ship, which examines aspects like Lines of Defense or Provisioning.

The second is “A World of Adventure” are those environmental aspects the characters have to adapt to such as terrain but also social situations.  We get Challenge Ratings for various outdoor travels, meaning the journey can now earn players XP, not just the destination.  However to qualify these must be done in game time as well as have a danger factor.  For example a CR 6 Encounter would be to climb a steep mountain or evade a major pursuit, while a CR 1 would simply be pilot a ship 60 miles or more across water or go 30 miles on foot overland; 10 miles if through swamps or desert.  But again, to earn XP there has to be some significant risk, & there are rules for making outside expeditions risky- such as how windchill or even simply being wet can have adverse effects.  Finally, there is some advice for Planar Travel whether through ships or portals but the bit about introducing Alternate Realities &  even travelling through time & space has the most possibilities.  Put simply, this is where the DM can introduce all sorts of his own ideas & personal creations.

Lastly, “Playing the Adventurer” is advice for the players, focusing on 14 different character motivations, from the service minded ‘Duty Calls’ to the ‘There Has to Be More To Life!’ of someone who wants to see the world.  Each has a specific memory associated with it to explain the motivation to the character’s past. It is these character motivations that are the Platinum Pick from the book, as these drives & ambitions help explain why an adventurer goes adventuring.  There are several ways to have an in-game focus for these such as having scars or dreams or a small totem-like object like a childhood toy.  However it is the in-game story examples; “I remember finding the dragon scale wrapped in soft cloth among my late uncle’s effects,” which can provide instant interesting background stories for PCs or NPCs.

Alright DMing Readers, get those comments posted.  Remember, we need at least 20 before we can select someone’s to be the ‘+5 comment‘ & win this book for themselves!


Written by MythicParty

Dog-loving, movie-watching, pizza aficionado. Content Editor for DMing.com, Project Manager for AvatarArt.com, & player of the coolest characters in a weekly D&D game. Halflings are the real heroes.

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Thanks for reading.

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Thursday Treasurepile #2: Classic Play Book of Adventuring, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings » Leave a comment



25 Responses to “Thursday Treasurepile #2: Classic Play Book of Adventuring”
  1. River Curtis-Stanley says:

    So here we are with Yet Another Book with Yet Another Cover assuming that *of course* every single party member is male – and has white skin, to boot. Want to know where the women are in this cozy testosterone-steeped scenario? Easy … we’re right behind the DM screens, just waiting for the TPK that will ensue when the ambush comes from behind, or from overhead, neither of which this particular party is bothering to check.

    That said, a book that gives players food for thought when it comes to their characters’ backstories is not necessarily to be scorned; I only hope the contents are a bit more inclusive than the cover. Me, I’m just sitting here behind this innocuous-looking screen wearing my best deadpan. Trust me, I’m the DM! heh heh heh heh heh…

  2. Hermeticgamer says:

    As someone who’s written a dissertation about women in gaming I hear ya River.
    Mongoose is not well known for their gender sensitivity. Their Slayers Guide to Female Gamers, though written as a humor/spoof of their other Slayers Guide was not exactly the height of feminist sensibilities. One of their major people is often caught up in the gender wars in various online discussions/forums.

    So I’m glad you are there behind the DM screen, and hope you sometimes get to come out despite the lack of gender inclusiveness in our hobby. The general sense is it has and continues to improve, but there is still a long long road ahead.

    As far as the product, I guess as someone who’s gaming was always more character focus I would guess I would gain little from a book like this. It would take quite a bit for me to feel like suggestions about how to play a character were valuable but that’s having grown up literally and figuratively in the hobby. Some newer folks might want to avoid the school of hard knocks and hopefully find things in this book jump start them to deeper character play.

  3. Darkwarren says:

    Anything that would give a player inspiration for their character is a good way to go. Seems this book tries to balance min/max roll-playing (smart/effective equipment purchasing) with role-playing (character motivations). Would be a good addition to any gamer library.

  4. Though I don’t know whether I would benefit from something like this as a player, I can see potential for a DM. I like my NPCs to feel like something other than a cookie cutter template that serves only as a source of XP and loot. But coming up with large numbers of such characters can be time consuming. If this book helps jump start that process, it could be handy.

  5. Fullovstars says:

    I’m with Chimeric on this. I think for my group and I it could be a better resourse for adventure or campaign ideas and for taking the work out of npc creation. But maybe it would help new players get a feel for what is expected or possible in their characters and breath life into a blossoming rpg career :-)

  6. francesco says:

    Do we really need character motivation? I mean, every character that I’ve made had an already estabilished background, with clear reason of why he/she/it was adventuring. Introducing charater motivation seems an easy way to let the book do the thinking for you, instead of coming out with an interesting backstory

  7. Liselle says:

    I guess I wish there were a little more in this post about the types of things contained in this book. There just isn’t enough information for me to determine whether I’d find it useful or not. I’m usually the DM, so I might find some things interesting. With my group, I find that it’s often much like pulling teeth to get them to come up with a decent backstory, so having 14 motivations to pull from could help to focus the discussion. Maybe I could even have them roll to determine which one they get, making it a random stat thing. Then it’s up to them to play it and develop the details.

    My husband and younger son are pretty good at telling stories about their characters, and my husband really enjoys the roleplaying and improv side of gaming. The other players mostly want to maximize their powers and kill monsters. Which is fine, but it doesn’t give me the more collaborative world and story I’m working towards. I’ve really been trying recently to move them more towards thinking about their characters as an integral part of the game world, created by it and capable of affecting its direction, rather than actors thrown in front of a static backdrop.

  8. MythicParty says:

    @River Curtis-Stanley: you’re right, sadly, too many RPGs don’t have (appropriate) gender or racial diversity.

    @Hermeticgamer: is your dissertation on women by chance available online?

    @francesco: having some other ideas for backgrounds or motivations can’t hurt right?

    @Liselle: noted- I’ve tried to add some more info. However, really hoping that the other give-away (which had a TON of details) gets more posts.

  9. francesco says:

    @Mythic The fact is that “more ideas” can quickly become “let’s choose one of the book ideas so I don’t have to come up with a compelling backstory”. also I think there is an high risk of the player not really “feeling2 his backstory. I mean, if you got it from an external source you do not feel it like “yours”.

  10. Hermeticgamer says:

    It is indeed!

    Thanks for asking. I’d be happy to chat about it any time. It is by far and away the strangest piece of research that has and likely ever will be accepted in clinical psychology at Miami U. or maybe anywhere.

  11. Chris says:

    I typed a really long comment and then technology cast invisibility on it making it vanish and i did not mirror the post so not ability to restore the original so this is a retry to the best of my ability to recall all that I said.

    Mongoose books usually have a couple of gems with a great deal of fluff but they can serve well for ideas when the well is dry.

    In my games I have also moved towards a more collaborative approach to back story creation. Each person has to come up with two relationships to two other players in game, along with a relationship to a NPC, an important location in the game world to the character, and some sort of hook through quirk, secret, or disadvantage. This provides a starting point for how the group knows each other and what they may have worked on in the past, a story is woven together before the first session. But as I said before always nice to have ideas if the well is dry which it sounds like this book may have.

    Not sure if this post is better or worse than original but it is the best a meager technomage can do.

  12. Liselle says:

    OK, those additions do help. It does sound like it could be a useful place for mining ideas and concepts.

    Chris, I did much the same thing with my current campaign. I required everyone to give me at least one goal they wanted to accomplish, something they were keeping secret from the rest of the party, and one to three NPCs with whom they were connected. Then, when we all sat down at the table together, I asked them to develop relationships and conflicts with one another.

    Unfortunately, life keeps getting in the way, so we’ve really only had one session with these characters. For this campaign, I created a setting with a number of mini-adventures they could go on. I started off with some river pirates attacking a cargo ship right in front of where they were staying. The characters found some beach chairs and watched, so that’s the kind of group I have. They did eventually agree to hunt the bandits down (for a price), but it ended up that the first session was entirely roleplaying. I was actually glad of that, since it was a nice change from the hack-and-slash games I usually run. It also gave the characters a little time to figure out who they were and how they interacted. The youngest player wandered away, but the others seemed to enjoy it.

  13. Waffledragon says:

    RIver: Well, to be fair, my group has 3! Females who join our 2 – 5 males for our weekly gaming session. With that in mind, they don’t remotely care that the books are, in general, male oriented. Of course, many books, noticeably D&D DO provide female and male examples and genderizations. For the most part though, you really shouldn’t make gender-comments, unless you have a VALID reason. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover! ;)

    As for the book, I think it would a be a wonderfull resource to provide beggining RPGers a chance to flesh out their character(s) and experiment more with the storytelling side of the game.

    Many GM’s I’m sure would be interested in fleshing out their game with smaller rewards to keep the players motivated and ‘into the game’ so to speak. And, it really adds to the realism for some players when they have to traverse difficult landscapes, fighting the enemy that is second only to Time and the Gods: Nature and it’s Fury!

  14. Jay says:

    That pole-arm guy taking up the back on the cover looks like he’s going to be taken out any second by something that goes-bump-in-the-woods :P

  15. James says:

    Nice! I should have picked this book years ago. I usually have a problem of the party taking for granted that the traveling to the dungeon will usually event free (except for the occasional gaggle of wolves whilst the party sleeps in the woods). This adds a dose of epic level adventuring, by that I mean what you would imagine while reading LOTR or anything by RA Salvatore.

    Introducing this in my current campaign, I hope, will start to get my players to think outside of the box when it comes to challenges.

  16. Mason says:

    I look forward to reading through this and seeing what I can steal for my players. Having someone that reads all the same books as you kind of ruins your ability to find a surprise.

  17. Caddoko says:

    This book seems really interesting, I could definitely see my players using the motivations as they aren’t always the best role-players (My one PC has been thinking about his character’s background for 6 weeks now even though he’s played him for two full sessions already.)

    I also love the idea of a characters getting experience for simply travelling – it sounds like it really reflects what they’re doing: experiencing the world. Every step in a journey can be a lesson so it makes sense that you learn constantly from your travels.

    Not sure if I’d directly use the pocket content statistics but it’d be nice to see what they think of the stats on simple items – especially since my GF is a very creative gamer, last session I ran with her she stole the paladin’s lantern oil and used it to hold back ghouls for a couple rounds while the pally healed another PC.

    Also I’d just like to put my two cents in on that gender conversation up there: I really don’t think it should matter all that much who the books are geared towards as nobody is stuck without the game stats and as long as your players and GM are decent people there shouldn’t be any issues about how many girls are playing. I’m not trying to sound apathetic, I just don’t think people should let such a minor detail cause them so much stress.

  18. Tony says:

    This is one of those books that I’d hide from the players, and never let them know about. There seems to be a lot for the DM to take out for a spin versus the PCs, but it would probably ruin the effect if they accessed it also. All in all, it looks like it would be a good resource of stuff to do to them.

  19. Sean Holland says:

    Options for making travel interesting sounds very positive and adventurer advice is almost always amusing.

  20. Adam says:

    This book sounds like it may be of more use to a DM or new players to the game. It may also be useful in spurring some of the outside of the box thinking that makes sessions unpredictable and fun.

    I would be interested in the attempts to turn travel into an encounter all in itself rather than just a series of descriptions with the occasional random encounter.

  21. EdTheMad says:

    The king asked the players to find five rare and hidden ingredients that were necessary to make the cure for his daughter illness. He promissed riches if they were to return with the ingredients and gave them, to help with the mission, a ring, and said:
    – This is a ring that will grant you a wish, and only one. Use it with well.
    – Surely! – Said the leader, taking the ring. – “I wish that the daughter of this king in front of me to be healthy and well living once again, making her to be immune to the illness that afflicts her.”
    After claiming the riches the group continued from the shortest adventure they ever had.

    Well, DMs need that book.

  22. Annie Malmstrom says:

    Anything that helps balance the game and the players would be useful to player and GMs alike.

  23. Ben Allred says:

    This book sounds great! Not only does it push roleplaying and getting into a character’s head, but it also has a section about how to improv things with the contents of an adventurer’s pockets? sign me up!

  24. Kitsap Charles says:

    I sense an inherent contradiction in this book: the players who most need it are least likely to get it, while those who buy it are least likely to need it.

    In my experience, there’s a broad spectrum from being highly character-oriented to highly (for want of a better term) battle-oriented. The former are quite happy to play session after session where not a single d20 is rolled in anger, whereas the latter are only happy when the first words out of the DM’s mouth are “Roll for initiative.”

    Of course, most players don’t go to either extreme; most of us like a mixture of role-play and combat. But at the endpoints of this spectrum, it’s the combat monkeys who most need help in fleshing out their PCs, and for whom this book would be highly useful — whilst the heavy role-players most likely already have a detailed history of their PC and family for seven generations.

    So. My opinion, take it with a kilo of salt.


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