Tome of Adventure Design PDF

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A fantasy adventure game, at its very heart, is about developing an open-ended "story" of the characters. The referee is in charge of the fantasy world, and the players direct the actions of their characters in that fantasy world. Neither the referee nor the group of players has complete control over what’s going to happen, and the result is an evolving set of surprises for both the referee and the players. Unlike the players, as the referee and creator of the game world, most of your “work” is done ahead of time. To some degree or other, you have to create the groundwork for the adventure before the game starts. Even though no battle plan survives contact with the enemy—and if you’re an experienced referee you know exactly what I mean—the game has to start...with a starting point. This might just be a vague set of ideas, or it might be as complex as a set of maps with a detailed key and well thought-out encounters for the players to run into.

The Tome of Adventure Design is organized as a series of "books," each one providing resources at every step of the way. The vast majority of the content of each book is made up of random generation tables that we created over a quarter of a century (sigh) for our own use. It shoud be said up front that these are tables for deep design—in other words, most of them are too long, and contain too many unusual or contradictory entries, for use on the spot at the gaming table. There are already many excellent books of tables for use on the fly; the tables in these books are different. They work best as a tool for preparation beforehand, providing relatively vast creative resources for browsing and gathering, rather than quick-use tables designed to provide broad, fast brushstrokes. Our shorter tables tend to deliver cryptic results designed to shock the reader’s creativity into filling in the gaps, whereas the longer tables are unusably vast for easy random generation, being designed to shock the reader’s creativity into operation by presenting a sea of possibilities.

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*****

Disclaimer: I purchased a hard copy of this book from a different website, although the PDF is entirely usable.

The Tome of Adventure Design is one of the most powerful tools that a GM can have. However, it's only meant for a certain kind of GM - the type who loves creating their own adventures, not just running pre-made adventure paths and leaving it at that. As described above, the main purpose of this book is firing up the reader's creativity by providing ideas that get the mind moving (through rolling for random results), and let me tell you, it works. It's almost frighteningly good at this sort of thing.

For example, let's take designing a city, following the author's suggested method of making a large open area the centerpiece of the city. Unfortunately, I don't think I can roll in this review, so I'll be doing it off-site, but the results are... *Shakes virtual dice holder*

An execution plaza as the centerpiece! Oh dear. And the area surrounding this is... *Rolls again* A slaughterhouse district. Well, this is already ending up creepier than I expected, but now I have a town whose entire core area is focused around killing things for various reasons. Let's see what's happening in the city by rolling for the latest news, shall we? *Rolls* According to this, a faction war has broken out - and I think it could be between religious executors (killing people) and businessmen (killing animals), with each bothered by the way the others are using city territory and perhaps offending each other's gods (who are unhappy about so much death of another type happening in close proximity).

Now, this result is just one of hundreds, even thousands of potential combinations - but you've already got a vision of what a place like that would be like for adventurers, right? That's the kind of book this is. All of those results up there were genuinely random, not selected from the tables. Now, the book as a whole is split into four major sections. The first focuses on principles and starting points (what players are doing, what the villain's plan is, etc.). The next part focuses on generating monsters (which is fun for surprising player with), the third part deals with dungeon design (from random furnishings to actually making one), and the last is for non-dungeon adventure design. The book is about 307 pages long, with a few more pages for advertisements, and includes a quick list of tables and a consolidated index (alphabetical, by subject) in the back to help you quickly find what you're looking for.

The bottom line is that the Tome of Adventure Design is one of the greatest tools for bringing out your creativity and creating unique, memorable things for your games. I give it 5 stars, my personal seal of approval, and an extra recommendation for any GM looking to truly flesh out a homebrew setting.


Random fun

*****

Now this is a great book. With 300+ pages of random tables this a great tool to kickstart side quests, and potentially larger adventures. My game is suffering from a bit of a dry-spell, so i decided to randomly generate a couple of side-quests to see where it led me. Each took about 15 minutes (including caffeine breaks) to generate and edit to fit my setting (a Jerusalem style city of crusaders).

Seeing is believing, so without any further ado:

1) The Moneyleder's Message (Purpose based plot, title is mine but seem obvious)
A moneylender needs to bring a message to victim of slander, and presumably offer the characters the job.
The villain's plan is to destroy a good-aligned church, specifically anyone who participated in recent ceremony.
Obviously the victim of slander is being set-up as someone who would kill the participants of the beforementioned ceremony.
The villain has an unusual minon, an intelligent and charismatic peasant, who actually uses the villain for his own purposes.

Based on this I could easily assign a villain (foreign mages), mobs (sellswords), and a ceremony (a recent church meeting). I was stuck with only one loose end (the ectoplasmic vines). Great stuff, I never saw this coming, and it fits!

2) The Cursed Grotto of the Elephant-Brood (Event based plot, but started with a location)
A recent ceremony was disrupted, and the heroes need to expose the culprits, should they choose to get involved.
A potential patron is a landrights archivist, whose prime motivation is revenge on a political leader.
The archivist is probably misinformed however, because the villain acts on random, performing arcane rituals following the cycle of a magic device.
This villain has forced a highly superstitius expert the local area into his service.

This will somehow - based on title - lead the characters to a cursed grotto with an elephant theme. Oher notable landmarks in the grotto includes The Hypnotic Erotic Crypts, and The Occasionally Functioning Runes. The grotto's current state was set up by humanoid about 10 years ago, and feuding fractions hid a map in the grotto about at the same time.

Again I have to assign a villain - a deranged mage is tempting, but perhaps a bit cliche - and I have to come up with a few clues to actually lead them to the grotto itself. No loose ends, excepts perhaps the crypts - I have not figured that one out yet. The elephant theme is easy, what about an elephant ghost?

Need I say more? This book is highly recommended, but is perhaps not for everyone. Perhaps an old-school sentiment and a sense of humor is required. I KNOW I'm gonna enjoy this, and my players will give me numerous puzzled glances.


Incredibly useful resource, well produced

*****

It's a great book for generating ideas. The tables are well developed and contain a wealth of creative ideas. A quick read through the book sparked so many ideas. I often pull it out to help generate ideas in between major adventures, to flesh out NPC's, or add to dungeons. The ideas work just rolling off tables, but to make sense of most of it you'll need to add some work yourself. I highly recommend this to any GM. As for the book - having bought a few things from frog god I can say this continues the high quality production. Binding is excellent, despite having the book continually open wide there is no damage to the spine or binding. The print is quality and the covers are good thick stock (although the post from US to OZ still managed to damage the corner of the book, crushing it inwards - and that would have taken some effort)


Must have gm tool

*****

I ordered this at the same time I paid for shipping for the The Slumbering Tsar off of FGG's website. My review is off the PDF only.

If you take out the obligatory Table of Contents, Introduction, Credits, Table Lists, Indexes, et cetera, the Tome of Adventure Design (ToAD) is roughly 4 books.

Book One - Principals and Starting Points: Page's 5-53 (48 pages total). This book covers ideas on Creating Adventures, Locations, Missions, and Villain's Plan.

Book Two - Monsters: Pages 54-125 (71 pages total). This Book covers Monsters Generally, Monster Types and General Monster Tables.

Book Three - Dungeon Design: Pages 126 - 259 (133 pages total). Covers the Creative Process, basic Elements of Adventure Design, and Designing a Dungeon (including maps, areas, tricks, traps, etc).

Book Four - Non-Dungeon Adventure Design: Pages 260- 301 (41 pages total). This book covers Aerial Adventures, Castles and Ruins, Cities and Settlements, Planar Adventures, Underwater Adventures, Waterborne Adventures, and Wilderness Adventures.

The entire book is 307 pages long.

The book is a list of tables, often times 2-4 columns requiring a d100 roll per column. For example, table 1-1B Locations (Overview) from Book One Principles and Starting Points
, I just rolled a d100 4 times for the structure description--structure--Feature First Word--Feature Second Word. I got: Crimson Coliseum of the Guardian Nomads.

But the treasure of this book isn't in coming up with cool names or tables to quickly create a dungeon, but rather to educate novice and experienced DMs on how to get their creative juices flowing. The book is rife with advice on how to use the tables to get into a creative state where ideas start to flow.

AND IT WORKS!

I was in a bored rut dming, and now I am teaming with ideas I am excited to try. Seriously, looking at the table of contents does the book no justice. When I first opened the Table of Contents and saw a section on monsters, I just sighed. I mean really....I have three bestiaries and the Tome of Horrors. What a waste! And then I started reading and I started to get excited about designing a unique monster to mix in the story, and then I started to see adventures and side quests I could do. It is a book on innovative thinking.

Every DM or person wanting to take a hand at dming should at the very least read pages 127-128. It is the most concise description of creativity and how to get your mind "there" that I have ever read. That should have been next to the Introduction at the beginning of the book, but it is nice to see practical advice peppered through-out the tables.

I was also pleased that the Dungeon Book was the longest section. Reading that helps me come up with ideas for stories--and that is ok.

ToAD is not a random adventure generator. It is a comprehensive tool used to get your creative juices and excitement flowing when you sit down to create an adventure, and when it starts working you stop rolling and reading and sit back and surf the creative wave you forgot you had in you.

Edited to change "Tome of Horrors" to "Slumbering Tsar" in the first paragraph. I already received that big 'ol TOME.


A fantastic resource for GMs!

*****

This is a great book of random tables AND a great book of tips on the creative process and adventure design. There are a lot of clever little ideas in here, from how to get started on the process (actually that's a big idea) to how to make plausible arcane symbols to how to flesh out a map. Very highly recommended for anyone looking to GM or design a fantasy game - Pathfinder, Swords & Wizardry, or anything else.

Please see here for a much more detailed version of this review.


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Contributor

Now available for preorder here at Paizo!

Frog God Games

Thanks Liz!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dawn, any idea how long until the preorders ship?

Dark Archive

I so want one of these, still need to buy ToH though. I think I might need to sell a kidney to keep up on my RPG buys. Now to find some young athletic person to steal a kidney from...

Frog God Games

Justin Sluder wrote:
Dawn, any idea how long until the preorders ship?

Bill is expecting them to arrive at his place before the end of the week, next week. I am not sure how long it will take to get them all out to pre-order customers. I may not be around to help if they arrive too late next week.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dawn R Fischer wrote:
Justin Sluder wrote:
Dawn, any idea how long until the preorders ship?
Bill is expecting them to arrive at his place before the end of the week, next week. I am not sure how long it will take to get them all out to pre-order customers. I may not be around to help if they arrive too late next week.

Excellent! This means I will hopefully have it for when I get snowed in at work. :D

Scarab Sages

Having perused the PDF of this product, I have to say that it is a tremendous resource, and well worth the cost.

Thank you, FGG!

Grand Lodge

definitely something I'm interested in picking up, although the PDF price is a little steep for my liking.


How many pages long is this book? Any chance of a preview?

Dark Archive

Denim N Leather wrote:
How many pages long is this book? Any chance of a preview?

308 Pages and you can see a preview HERE


Wow, thanks! I will have a look at this!!


Andrew Betts wrote:
definitely something I'm interested in picking up, although the PDF price is a little steep for my liking.

Pre order the print an you get the PDF for free.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If I pre-order, is there anyway to hold and merge the shipment with my next monthly Pathfinder subscription?

Contributor

Brutal Ben wrote:
If I pre-order, is there anyway to hold and merge the shipment with my next monthly Pathfinder subscription?

When you place your order, you should get an option to move the new order to your sidecart. Sidecart orders ship with your subscription if the items are available.

Frog God Games

I'm looking at my copies from the printer now and I can't believe how excited I am to be holding this book of tables that I spent so much time on. I thought that I'd not want to see another table for at least 2 more years! <grin>

I love, love, love it!

Can't wait for you guys to all get your copies and hear what you have to say!

Matt Finch is a table-master.

Frog God Games

Thank you for your in-depth review on RPGGeek, Caelum!


Chuck Wright wrote:
Thank you for your in-depth review on RPGGeek, Caelum!

It's a pleasure to write a review for a great product like this one!!!

Frog God Games

caelum wrote:


It's a pleasure to write a review for a great product like this one!!!

Caelum, I'd like to thank you for that review also -- I know that it's an odd and quirky book when you read it closely, and I was worried about how people would react to tables that are "processes" rather than lists. I think you did an incredible job (better than I've been able to write) at describing WHY the tables are so unusual compared to the normal approach.

It's also very nice to have the distinctions between ToAD and the Ultimate Toolbox spelled out; I think several people have wondered whether it makes sense to have both books or not.

It's an incredibly in-depth review, too!


Matthew Finch wrote:
It's an incredibly in-depth review, too!

Yes, I am nothing if not long-winded!!!

Seriously, I'm very glad you liked it, and congrats on an excellent product. I can't wait to receive my hardcopy!

Matthew Finch wrote:
It's also very nice to have the distinctions between ToAD and the Ultimate Toolbox spelled out; I think several people have wondered whether it makes sense to have both books or not.

Yes, that is a bit of a tricky area, but they are very different books indeed (quite complementary. I do think you spell it out well in the book itself. You might also find this thread entertaining - an attempt to generate an entire adventure from Ultimate Toolbox. It works, but not as easily as I think ToAD would. I'll try a similar exercise with yours once I have the hardcopy!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Any update on when they start shipping? :D

Frog God Games

Justin Sluder wrote:
Any update on when they start shipping? :D

The Frog God says they start shipping today.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dawn R Fischer wrote:
Justin Sluder wrote:
Any update on when they start shipping? :D
The Frog God says they start shipping today.

Fantastic!

Dark Archive

Got mine a a few minutes ago, nice and slimy new.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The T.o.A.D has landed. I repeat, the T.o.A.D has landed! :D

Contributor

If you ordered from Paizo, we should begin shipping the print edition today.


Received T.o.A.D. today from mail carrier. No dirty look as when Tome of Horrors Complete arrived.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Will the interior art be color or black and white?


Interior art is black and white.

Frog God Games

silverhair2008 wrote:
Interior art is black and white.

Until Frog God Games has the resources and sales figures of Paizo or WotC that's going to be the answer for any print product.


Why is the Print/PDF combo so expensive? Other Frog God combos aren't nearly as much.

Dark Archive

Twin Dragons wrote:
Why is the Print/PDF combo so expensive? Other Frog God combos aren't nearly as much.

That is the price of the book, the PDF is free.


bigkilla wrote:
Twin Dragons wrote:
Why is the Print/PDF combo so expensive? Other Frog God combos aren't nearly as much.
That is the price of the book, the PDF is free.

Add Print/PDF Bundle: $42.00

Add PDF: $21.00

PDF is not free.

Dark Archive

Twin Dragons wrote:
bigkilla wrote:
Twin Dragons wrote:
Why is the Print/PDF combo so expensive? Other Frog God combos aren't nearly as much.
That is the price of the book, the PDF is free.

Add Print/PDF Bundle: $42.00

Add PDF: $21.00

PDF is not free.

You asked
Twin Dragons wrote:
Why is the Print/PDF combo so expensive? Other Frog God combos aren't nearly as much.

The price for the book alone is 42.00. Frog God games always gives you a free PDF with all of their books (if you buy them directly from their website, and a few of their bigger books here). So if you buy this book the PDF is free.You did not ask what was the price of the PDF if you bought the PDF without the book which is 21$.

Frog God Games

Twin Dragon — It's a 300-page hardback book, most of our other products are softcover adventures.

Also, if you buy the book for the price of $42 you get the PDF for free. "Add Print/PDF bundle" means that you can add the bundle option of Book + PDF to your cart. "Add PDF" isn't required if you opt for the bundle.


Sounds like an excellent deal to me. If you get the print/pdf bundle, its as if you are getting the book for half price if you choose not to think of the pdf as free.

You know you want it, nay, need it. Pick yours up before the only way to get one IS the pdf. :-)


I'm curious, should this be listed as an OGL product? As far as I can tell there isn't any open content in the book, and I didn't see a copy of the license.

Not that it matters I guess, it's just that I saw the designation and it got me curious.

I'm totally digging this book! It's a greatly inspiring read, and really does the job of getting the creative juices flowing. I'm going to send my players to the Curious Tower of the Brain Golem once they fight their way free of the Decaying Asylum of the Feathered God. ;)

Frog God Games

You are correct, SolitonMan, it shouldn't be listed as an OGL product as it's rules independent.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Perhaps in this case OGL is just an abbreviation for ogle, which is what everyone is doing who received a copy.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Chuck Wright wrote:
You are correct, SolitonMan, it shouldn't be listed as an OGL product as it's rules independent.

Adjusted. Thanks!

Frog God Games

Thanks Vic! :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just got this and am thumbing through it now. Looks like an amazing resource, and I'm already having fun using the tables to come up with names of locations like the "Silent Pagoda of the Smoke Tyrant." I can see this book living on my GM desk for quite a long time.

Frog God Games

Glad everyone's liking it so much!

Frog God Games

Wow! Thanks leem for the glowing review! We at FGG think that TOAD with TOHC together make an effective arsenal for creative GMs.


Dawn R Fischer wrote:
Wow! Thanks leem for the glowing review! We at FGG think that TOAD with TOHC together make an effective arsenal for creative GMs.

It was my first review. :) Wasn't there a game that was suggested on these forums by someone at Frog God Games where you combine random tables from ToAD and random pages from ToH? I am trying to remember where I saw it now that I have both books.


Does anyone have both this product and AEG's Ultimate Toolbox? How do they compare? I have the Ultimate Toolbox, but wonder if there's any point in also getting the Tome of Adventure Design?

Frog God Games

leem wrote:
Dawn R Fischer wrote:
Wow! Thanks leem for the glowing review! We at FGG think that TOAD with TOHC together make an effective arsenal for creative GMs.
It was my first review. :) Wasn't there a game that was suggested on these forums by someone at Frog God Games where you combine random tables from ToAD and random pages from ToH? I am trying to remember where I saw it now that I have both books.

That was by the author of TOAD, Matt Finch. Here's the link

Frog God Games

TwiceBorn wrote:
Does anyone have both this product and AEG's Ultimate Toolbox? How do they compare? I have the Ultimate Toolbox, but wonder if there's any point in also getting the Tome of Adventure Design?

I can't speak with any authority on the Ultimate Toolbox by AEG as I don't have it.

Tome of Adventure Design is intended primarily to "get the creative juices flowing" of game masters or even adventure or story writers. It isn't intended as a toolbox to come up with stuff on the fly during game sessions, as many of the toolboxy products do.

Frog God Games

Thanks Cat-thulhu for taking the time do do a review!
Sorry your book got damaged on the way. One has to wonder sometimes if the odd mailtruck gets picked up and tossed about by a tornado the way some boxes get thrashed.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

So I played my first round of "Two-Tome Bingo.

I rolled a 172 for the Tome of Adventure Design, and I got the NPC Interaction Table. My three d100 rolls for the table got an NPC as a Infiltrator that is inimical to the party but has benefits to the party and treachery down the road. It is as suspicious to the party members as they are of it. And finally it holds a key to a treasure, obstacle, or inaccessible area.

I rolled a 355 for the Tome of Horrors and got Grimstalker--an elf-like fey creature that is evil, lives deep in forest, and represent nature at its' worst. It gets sneak attack damage. They work with traps, nets, and sometimes work with Redcap (from ToH) or are summoned by evil druids. They employ trained plant creatures and attack from ambushes using the advantages of the terrain.

Here is my result: A very powerful hermit druid is believed to live deep in a forest. He has restored/brought forth vibrant wild life and a rain forest ecosystem to to what was originally grass plains. His desire for the immensity of nature a rain forest has to offer has resulted in him directly and indirectly killing off entire nomadic tribes that were living on the plains.

The druid loves the bloody part of nature's survival of the fittest and is happy to see people die or be displaced. He has summoned Grimstalkers to protect his hide out and to harass the people who adapted to the new environment.

The forest is dark, deep, and filled with the worst nature has to offer.

Lately desert has started to encroach on the area and nature is dying. The forest is already starting to succumb to this erosion. THe surrounding area is already lost.

The characters must find and confront the Grimstalkers, live through the encounter, and have someone convince them (or one of them) to guide them to the Druid. Is he dead? Is he causing it? Has his tampering backfired? Will a Grimstalker eventually help the PCs so it can protect it's dark forest? Or will it just verify the druid is ok (is he?) and then kill the PCs?


I have owned this book for about a year and I've just recently come to realize it is probably in the top 3 most valuable RPG books I've ever used.

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