We recently got a review copy of the Dungeonology book by Candlewick Press and Matt Forbeck. It’s a D&D companion book aimed at a setting specific overview of the Forgotten realms and general D&D concepts. Written by Matt Forbeck with an introduction by Ed Greenwood, the book is a pretty interesting and interactive look at the Forgotten Realms and D&D tropes in general.
There are many pop up and interactive elements, including a gigantic map of the sword coast.Some of the elements are just for extra tactile effect and to create interactivity for a younger audience, while some like A Novice’s Spellbook or Volo’s Guide to the Forgotten Realms tucked away in the back provide a level of immersion if you were using it as an in-world supplement.
Art and Design Quality
The art is pulled from current D&D books and will look very familiar to anyone who has pawed through the PHB. I couldn’t distinctly pick out any unique or new art aside from some design elements or some interactive things like the 3D lenticular stuff. That serves the book well if it is used as a stepping stone/introductory element for new players. When they get to the gaming books with rules, things will have a familiar feel. The quality of the book is great, and that isn’t surprising as Candlewick/Templar does this sort of thing regularly with their other “OLOGY” book series.
There are a few interesting ways I can see using this book. It is aimed at being kid friendly, so as a way to introduce a younger child (ages 10 and up suggested on the back) to D&D/fantasy games, it works very well as an enticing and fascinating introduction. For a new player, unfamiliar with D&D tropes or concepts, this is also an incredible overview of the adventuring lifestyle. Sections like The Adventuring Party, Equipment, Magic and Magic Items, and Monsters (just a few), work very well to outline some gaming tropes and concepts in a way that is uncluttered by a need to teach the rules alongside familiarizing with the concepts. I’d liken it to reading the companion guide to a video game and learning about the world without having to learn what buttons do what. It’s more immersive and can help teach some of the less concrete gaming concepts.
One other way I could see using this book is as an in-game prop — something the adventurers find or have access to. There is a plethora of information in the book that would eliminate the “have you ever encountered a mimic, how do you know to check to see if the chest is one?” issues that players who have been playing for a while have. Embracing the concept that the book is the knowledge the players have can provide a good basic grounding for a game that isn’t zero to hero in concept. There are a few things in the book that might spoil published adventures. I found a spoiler for Storm King’s Thunder, a campaign I’m currently a player in, but that is a possibility with any supplemental product like this.
Final Thoughts and Get Our Copy!
Overall, the book is a very interesting concept and a beautiful art piece. For anyone with kids wanting to share the hobby, or anyone wanting to use the book to introduce gaming concepts, it is an excellent purchase. At $25 (currently cheaper on Amazon) it is a decent buy that comes in at far less than other gaming books and has a ton of interesting interactive elements for the price.
The Dungeonlogy book comes out on November 8th, but we’ve got the review copy sent to us and we want to send it to you! Just leave a comment on this post before October 21st and we’ll randomly choose (by dice roll, of course) one of the commenters or one of our Patreon supporters and send them the review copy of Dungeonology.
Update: Congratulations Seannachie! You came up as the winner in the random draw. We took our patreon list and the comment list, assigned them a random order 3 or 4 times to “shuffle the deck” and then rolled the dice (random.org) to get the winner! I’ll be contacting you via email to get shipping details!