Review – The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide
The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide
Writer: James D’Amato
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
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Last year, James D’Amato released The Ultimate RPG Character Guide, a book that seems like the be-all, end-all character creation book for RPG characters. It was chock full of useful information and it was one that I reviewed here at Outright Geekery. I was a huge fan of it and saw the practicalities of such a book and for those interested in that, it’s highly recommended. But to the world of role-playing, there’s more than just setting up the perfect character. You still have to have a world for that character. You still have to move the story in the proper directions if you want to succeed in your missions.
So much of making a quality campaign comes down to writing and it’s the job of a good DM, or Dungeon Master, to craft his story for the players in a compelling way that keeps them coming back. As much as I liked the preview book, I didn’t pay enough attention to whether D’Amato would make another book or whether it could be as useful as the first. The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide is every bit as useful.
As stated before, crafting a challenging campaign isn’t a simple task. The characters need something formidable to tackle. They need a land that’s had thought up into it. The gameplay itself needs to be engaging and to keep you on your toes. I found that The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide really does a splendid job of showing the game-runner ho to spice things up when explaining an action. The Character Guide was almost like a work book you would have gotten back in school and had lessons-of-sorts where you’d add so much character information. You’d know everything possible about your character. The Gameplay Guide has this, too, but it seems like with this volume, it’s teaching you more about implementing a variety of skill and strategy into what your story is.
There’s 3 main sections: Basic Storytelling, Advanced Playing Techniques and Playing For Experience. Each has various chapters that deal with so much valuable information, such as Delegating Creativity, which talks about having a DM delegating more to the players to enrich a collaborative gaming experience. Or, Finding A Voice, which is a drill for helping your players do just that – find their alter ego’s voice. There’s a lot to this book and that’s just a few.
I have been writing my own campaign and when you start to plan the adventure, it’s a bit difficult to make it from imagination to an actual working story on the page. You try finding voices for the NPC cast and going through storytelling progressions. You start putting though into the pace of the adventure. Reading through The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide makes me want to rethink so much that I’ve already written down due to how much helpful material is presented here.
I believe my only negative here with The Ultimate RPG Gameplay Guide is the same one I had with the previous Ultimate RPG Character Guide, in that I’d like to see a bit more imagery with these books. I guess my reasoning is that I buy enough D&D books that have fantastic art to accompany it and having a book like this without it just feels a tiny bit off. That said, I’m also trying to be critical of this and that’s my only complaint and it’s not much of one at all.
I have no idea if James D’Amao has another one of these books up his sleeve but if he does, I have a lot of faith that it’ll be something just as resourceful as this book. I know there’s a bit of a vague nature to this book review but if the world of Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder or any of the multitude of tabletop RPG games is your specialty, this is a book you’ll get hours of helpful enjoyment out of and like the previous character book, I feel it ends up as a required resource for proper game mechanics. I’d rather not spoil too much about it.