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GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
by Gareth H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/11/2017 12:29:26

A really fantastic resource for any GM running a wilderness adventure or campaign! Chock full of ideas of everything from caves to castles and bandits. The tables are detailed and easy to use. I think the finest compliment i can give this is that i will be using this frequently at my table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing
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Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs Collector's Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/10/2017 11:43:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The collector’s edition of Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page designer’s foreword (including stats by CR etc.), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so what do we get here? Well, first of all, we begin with notes on how to use the adventure properly as well as a page of advice on how to read statblocks – particularly useful in this module, since, let’s get that out of the way, this makes for a great first module – both for a new campaign and for completely new players. That out of the way, we get a massive page on general notes pertaining the eponymous valley: These include lore DCs for the PCs to unearth, a couple of hooks to make the PCs get into the action and 6 sample whispers & rumours for further hooks. Similarly, traveling to the valley from Dulwich, with different base speeds, and a couple of flavorful minor events during the journey can make for great supplemental material.

We also get an incredibly gorgeous b/w-map of the Duchy of Ashlar: The cartography by Simon Butler, Dan Dyson and Tommi Salama employed herein is...well glorious. Oh, and guess what? If you're like me and get a LOT of Raging Swan Press books to supplement your gaming experience...you'll notice something. The map tells you, which direction the lonely coast is, where Deksport can be found - and indeed, in this duchy, you can see Wellswood, Longbridge, Kingsfell, Ashford -some of the unique villages and places my groups have visited and come to love (or abhor) - oh, and the map also sports a wide array of as of yet unexplored places. And, in case you're asking - this whole region, contextualized, can easily be dropped into just about any campaign setting, though theme-wise, settings like Greyhawk, The Lost Lands or the like probably work best - and yep, the Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands is also mentioned.

Now, in the collector’s edition, we also get the complete Dulwich Town Backdrop penned by John Bennett – I wrote a review for this gem, so feel free to check it out, if you require further guidance. I should also note that the absolutely glorious Gloamhold region map can be found herein. So pretty…

This module is explicitly made for (relatively) new players and with the potential to use it with minimum preparation in mind- Core is assumed to be known, but that's basically about it. Hence, the challenges in this adventure are somewhat less pronounced than veterans would expect. At the same time, it should be noted that this pdf does not necessarily feature themes explicitly designated as "kid-theme" - it is not gory or grimdark or anything...it is just fantasy. I tested this module with kids and ran into no issues. This is very much an adventure that allows the GM to utilize tropes of adventuring and fantasy, but sans being inappropriate. So yes, I'd consider this appropriate for all but the youngest and most sensitive of kids. That as an aside, though – this is very much a traditional fantasy adventure intended for the usual demographic – but since some of you out there tend to ask whether “easier” modules are child-appropriate, I figured I’d point that out.

The pdf also provides extensive scaling advice for each encounter - by +1/-1, which means that you can also run this for more seasoned adventurers sans the players becoming bored. One more thing - while this module introduces PCs and players to some of the classic tropes, its structure allows the GM to include ample options for rest...or not, allowing for pretty concise control over the pacing of the module itself. And no, thankfully my most loathed adventuring clichés, the shadow and ogre bosses are absent from these pages. Thank Gygax!

All right, this is as far as I can get sans diving into SPOILERS. Potential players of this module should jump to the conclusion NOW.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Good.

The valley itself can be pictured as one that sports, obviously, multiple tombs - said tombs are the mini-dungeons in this book, but they are not the only graves there: Cairns can be looted and a table of items can be found there. Similarly, an 8-entry dressing table for the valley allows you to customized the dressing and generate more atmosphere. From the small waterfall to tracks, the valley has several interesting locations as such - but the interesting component, at least to me, would be that the mini-dungeons (usually only a couple of rooms) sport unique challenges: In the tomb of the stone woman, one can, for example, face an animated statue, with some traps that are painful, but not necessarily lethal, teaching this component of adventuring. And yes, from chests to sarcophagi, the level of detail provided in this pdf is excessive and makes running this very easy. This detail also extends to NPCs, with attitudes, distinguishing features, etc. all included.

The tomb of the champions features unique adversaries and has a completely different flavor - inside lie the now undead remains of two erstwhile champions of the hobgoblins, emphasizing the component of combat in the exploration here. Finally, there would be a third mini-complex, wherein an owlbear and its young lair - these caves can be seen as introductions to animals and terrain - with bat guano, a bat swarm, uneven footing and the like, the focus here is admirably different. It should btw. be noted that the owlbear is part of the dynamic aspect of the adventure: We get several “planned” random encounters that can be used to further control the pacing of the adventure.

This, however, is not nearly the extent of adventuring the pdf contains - the module also sports a rival adventuring group that can act as a major complication for the PCs, feigning friendship and loyalty, while waiting to backstab them. Beyond these low-lives, there is another optional encounter that will introduce the necessity of ROLEplaying to PCs and players alike: The ghost of a perished adventurer haunts this valley's lake and putting her to rest is one of the more unique and rewarding challenges in this pdf. It's not hard, mind you - but it makes it clear that sometimes, words are more powerful than thrown spells and drawn swords. The aforementioned add-in-encounters, including the potent owlbear, obviously can also be used to save the PCs - if the aforementioned adventuring group's too much to handle, for example...well, then the arrival of a pack of wolves or said owlbear may act as a save...and teach the valuable lesson of considering that the world is dynamic and that actions have consequences.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features copious b/w-artworks (some of which I've seen before). The cartography is excellent, though no map-key-less versions are included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer. Kudos!

Creighton Broadhurst’s Shunned Valley is a great introductory module – it is a bit creepy, but not overly so; it introduces a wide variety of challenges from all walks of the adventuring life and allows for sufficient control regarding the components of the pdf. The insertion of John Bennett’s Dulwich in the collector’s edition adds additional, quality bang for buck to the offering. Now, this module is honestly beautiful in its simplicity and level of detail. This is a great introductory module for the game we all know and love - and for this purpose, it should be considered to be a 5 star+ seal of approval module. Veterans and grognards who have seen it all may be slightly less intrigued, though the old-school vibe and aesthetic employed here may tug at one's heart's string. Still, for experienced and jaded audiences, this may be slightly less compelling and should be considered the equivalent of a 4 star module.

It should also be noted that fans of Raging Swan Press’ supplements and Duchy of Ashlar/Gloamhold meta-backdrop will certainly adore getting a nice way of starting the adventuring career in the duchy. What will be my final rating? Well, ultimately, I have to take all audiences into account, which is why my official final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs Collector's Edition
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for this review, End. I'm glad you liked the adventure!
Fane of the Undying Sleeper Collector's Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2017 05:50:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The Collector’s Edition of Raging Swan Press‘ „Fane of the Undying Sleeper“ clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first things first: It should be noted that this version of the module does come with 6 different pregens for your convenience. Also excellent: The adventure comes with a handy 1-page summary of the rules of water and movement. The pdf does come with a brief write-up on Dagon, the shadow in the sea; there also is the CR +0 deformed creature template with 12 rules-relevant and 12 cosmetic deformities. Moreover, the module is now contextualized within Raging Swan Press’ Duchy of Ashlar – to be more precise, the adventure now comes with the basics of the village of Coldwater (which I’ve covered in my review of that Village). That being said, I really liked how this not just copy-pasted Coldwater into the book: We not only get more hooks for the adventure, we get 8 entries in a gather information table. The pdf also sports handy sheets for facilitating play in the village, pointing towards the respective tables, summing up things to do, etc. – this enhances the Go-Play mission statement of the module.

What’s this? Well, the idea is that you should be able to run this with 0 or almost 0 preparation time. As such, each area featured in the module-proper does come with flavorful, well-crafted read-aloud text and there actually are multiple events for approaching Devil’s Cove by both boat and climbing. In devil’s cove, there are slimy stairs on a wind-swept beach, accessible only during particular low tides and sure to pique the interest of fortune seekers. 8 sample discoveries on the wind-swept shore add detailed dressing to the environment. The location also highlights a central tenet of the module – the tides wait for no man. Beyond this natural time limit, the attention to detail is as pronounced and well-developed as you’d expect it to be: Dripping water, smells, etc. – there is a lot of detail and even more rules-relevant material herein.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains some SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

But let me give you a sample here for the details- each room comes with a small description for the DM, followed by entrances and things players may perceive or miss, followed by read-aloud text and then features - from illumination, to terrain features and e.g. doors (including hardness/break-DC etc.) to dressings galore and infos gleaned via a vast variety of skill-checks, the level of detail is staggering and surpasses even most of Raging Swan Press' other offerings.

Throwing pews, looking at various carvings - there is a vast amount of mood-setting going on here that amps up the ante of what to expect from such a book by quite a bit. Indeed, the best thing here beyond that might be the fact that the presentation is so concise you can run this module sans preparation, just reading as you go. I did try that and it worked. The collector’s edition does cover e.g. even auras, provides details for carved runes and their identification, etc. Spell fragments, runes with latent energy that can be activated; tentacle-studded, strange pillars with weird dressings, tidal streams – the module manages to sport a surprising diversity of evocative dressing.

There are evocative guardian statues…and there is a truly powerful skeletal champion deformed half-fiend sahuagin oracle entrapped in a sarcophagus. Here, though, would be the truly cool component of this module: Beyond time and location as driving factors of this dynamic environment, the finale of the module is about the ire of dagon: A statue that may well hasten the rise of the waters – it can be defused and is presented as a skill challenge that is pretty interesting and not only sports an idea for further adventuring, but also involves the whole party. The concise summary of the effects of rising tide etc. make for a helpful further guidance for the GM.

Stats for Dagon cultists can be used to add further details and dynamics to the adventure. It should be noted that each of the combat encounters sports scaling advice for the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, is elegant, helpful and easy to use. The pdf sports some amazing b/w-artworks, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The module comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography of the short fane is excellent and in b/w, but we do not gain a key-less version of the map for players, which constitutes a comfort detriment that’s relevant to the rating.

Creighton Broadhurst has further refined the already neat original module: The contextualization in the Duchy of Ashlar helps to ground the module and its cool ideas in the context of the region, adding some serious flavor to the proceedings. The module already was extremely GM-friendly in its previous iteration; in this collector’s edition, the module is even easier to run than before – a big plus, as far as I’m concerned. You can pick this up and pretty much run it smoothly with just 5 minutes of prep-time (or none, if you can process information while GMing) – that’s a big plus.

That being said, this is a pretty highlight-driven adventure: Beyond the skill challenge finale and the heavily template boss, the other challenges feel a bit tame for my tastes. That being said, this version is certainly worth checking out – I love the dressing, environment, challenges; the module is pretty brief and imho would have benefited from some additional rooms and places: As written, the threat of tides only comes fully into play in the finale. The time-management aspect would have benefited from, well, a longer, more pronounced complex that makes the player-decisions matter more. If your players are quick, they can clear the module rather swiftly. This does not mean that this is bad, mind you – it just means that the premise, the details and unique ideas herein could have (and imho should have) carried a bigger dungeon. In the end, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars – but I can’t round up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fane of the Undying Sleeper Collector's Edition
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Creator Reply:
Glad you liked the adventure, End! I found your comments jolly useful. I did deliberately make the combats easier--I wanted to subtly encourage the PCs to be able to do the whole thing in one push. I'm sorry that didn't work for you 100% Thanks for the review, as always!
20 Things #19: Kobold Warren (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/30/2017 03:51:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin the supplement with 10 events to occur in a kobold warren – from furtive scratches to piping that may constitute a warning, these are pretty cool. Then, we get a truly cool table: 10 extra things to say when the PCs fail to find a trap. This table is extremely helpful: The entries generate paranoia and atmosphere. Two thumbs up!

Of course, when failure is an option, there ought to be traps, right? Well, 10 system neutral, description-only traps are provided – and they generally are pretty creative: Embedded bellows, jars containing green slime in the ceiling and so on – so yeah, while we do not get Grimtooth-levels of complexity here, I was still pretty positively surprised by what the humble array provided.

There is a second array with 10 more traps here as well – like cavern orb spider silks, earthen jars with fermented troll excrement etc. – the deadly and twisted playfulness of kobolds comes through rather well – kudos! The pdf also sports 10 entries of kobold warren dressing, ranging from mottled scales to crude drawings or coils of string tied to painted pegs – really neat dressing entries.

The table of 20 things to loot from a kobold warren has been reproduced from the first 20 things-compilation. Finally, we get an “abnormal X”-generator: 10 different appearances for uncommon kobolds, 10 battle tactics and 10 sample treasures to be found on the foes can all be used to customize the kobolds encountered.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Aaron Bailey, Creighton Broadhurst and Paul Quarles have created a fun, creative dressing file. Compared to e.g. the goblin installment, it feels a bit more creative in the respective entries and while I would have liked a new table instead of a reprint of the looting material, the pdf is inexpensive and definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #19: Kobold Warren (System Neutral Edition)
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20 Things #18: Troublesome Treasures (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/19/2017 03:41:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We all have been there: The point where the treasure to be found in a dungeon just becomes gems, coins etc. for convenience’s sake. One of the best things about RSP’s dressing files is that such aspects of the game, which generally hamper immersion, are reduced – and this is where this pdf comes in.

We begin with 10 difficult to sell treasures that include depictions of nasty Nosferatu-style vampires, bulky, but supple bundles containing high-quality torture equipment, a poisoner’s dagger and sealed boxes that may well contain magical remnants of creatures. Another aspect that often falls by the wayside would be that magic items often don’t feel unreliable, raw, magical – too scientific, sterile, if you will. 10 minor curses that may lurk in a magic item help here: Minor interference with healing magic, increasing obsession, susceptibility to bright light, a remnant werewolf’s taint…

Also a favorite of mine, since it can really test a group’s mettle and even create an adventure of its own: Bulky treasure. It can make for really hard decisions: Carry the treasure and accept the encumbrance? Or opt for quickness? What about carting all the loot back? Bulky treasures can be amazing and the 20 included here are diverse, ranging from steel cages to ball gowns or silver display bowls. Similarly fun, but for a different reason, would be the 20 fragile treasures included in the pdf – and here, we have truly amazing ideas: For example a laughably huge quill made from a roc’s feather with a silver tip. Purely ceremonial weaponry, glass chandeliers…really neat table here.

The final table once again taps into the aforementioned sense of the magical, sporting 20 minor drawbacks for items, which include inheriting gluttonous tendencies from the crafter, glowing in random lights, being bad for the user’s hair (a bane for dwarves!) or being imprinted depression/negativity – the pdf sports a neat variety here and as a whole, this section

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst’s treasure-dressing file is a definite highlight in the series, taking some of the most variable dressings you can ask for – from the mundane to the wondrous, this covers all bases and provides a surprising amount of cool material for such a small dressing file. Highly recommended! This receives 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #18: Troublesome Treasures (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Thank for your this review, Endzeitgeist. I'll treasure it! ;-)
20 Things #17: Goblin Lair (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2017 04:14:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All righty, we begin with 10 sample goblin personalities: From matron Ghalga Many-whelps to long-armed Fongoa Strangelsgood, these are pretty cool gobo-ideas – I know they made me want to generate stats for them, which is always a good sign regarding dressing.

After these, we take a look at 10 looting entries – goblin common room and goblin chieftain’s room each get 10 entries. The former can e.g. sport rickety pseudo-thrones, curtains of small bones…pretty cool. The commoner rooms can sport black cauldrons, barrels of spirits – all in all, both lists are cool. However, there are 10 more such entries for goblin guard rooms and 10 things that can be found outside a goblin lair.

The former may contain piles of firewood rigged to collapse, crude carpets, etc. – and, rather cool: There are some suggestions to add traps to the dressing pieces – big kudos. Outside of goblin lairs, tracks, trees with observation platforms – some of these dressing bits can actually make for cool complications to spontaneously insert into modules that are too easy on the PCs.

There also are 20 things to be found in a goblin’s pouch – including snacks from toasted scorpion on a stick to pickles in string. They also contain crude jewelry, teeth – weird stuff, appropriate for goblins. Sounds familiar? Well, that’s because this table uses entries from Dungeon Dressing: Goblin’s Pockets. Finally, we have a page featuring 10 basic descriptions, 10 combats and tactics and 10 sample treasures, allowing for an easy generator to create a vast diversity of goblins – including some hilarious peculiarities.

The final page of the pdf is devoted to goblin past times: 20 general activities and 10 minor encounter-set-ups complement the pdf. The general activities are solid, but not necessarily inspired – it’s more of a basic series of entries for spontaneous use at the table. Entries contain e.g. “loitering” or “arguing” – I wished this was a bit more evocative.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst, Eric Hindley and Alex Riggs deliver a solid dressing file here. The entries are diverse and cool, generally well-written and cover a broad spectrum of fun entries. At the same time, I couldn’t help myself and felt that the book didn’t exactly reach genius-levels. It’s well-made and worth getting, if not necessarily brilliant. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #17: Goblin Lair (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the review, old chum. Much appreciated! Glad you liked Goblin Lairs.
20 Things #16: Necromancer's Lair (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2017 04:08:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, we begin this dressing file with a definite winner: 8 blasphemous tomes of forbidden lore, ranging from the Libermorbus to the Sable Flame, these are evocative and really capture the reader’s attention – oh, and as a further bonus, we get 6 cool and disturbing bookmarks suitable for evil masters of magic.

Beyond these, we move on to horrible sounds and sensations – 10 of both are provided and they are really cool: From sudden out-of-body experiences to feeling watched or a miasma of vile mists…really neat. From the distant clanking of bones to sounds from previously cleared rooms, these are similarly neat.

While we’re at the subject of blasphemous things: What about spell components? 20 are provided and range from jumbled bones of mass murderers to shriveled, desiccated hearts, gems to enhance undead-animating spells, horribly disfigured rats…Really cool!

Next up would be 20 things to be found in a necromancer’s sanctum and 6 pickled and preserved things – these, however, have been previously released in 20 Things: Wizard’s Tower and the associated compilation.

The final tables sport 10 basic descriptions, 10 battle tactics and 10 pieces of treasure, which allow for the quick combination of a variety of undead: One page devoted to skeletons and zombies each is provided, allowing for a vast variety of combinations to enhance the descriptions of the undead legions.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice – I particularly liked the component pouch. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst and Jeff Gomez provide one amazing, excellent dressing file here – the respective tables are inspired, the dressing is diverse and e.g. the books can inspire whole stories. The dressing herein also makes for a great supplement for pretty much any horror context you can imagine, so yeah -this is useful beyond the confines of its theme. That being said, I would have wished for an new table instead of a reprint regarding the sanctum, though I understand its presence here. Even taking this into account, the pdf is really good, though – hence, the final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #16: Necromancer's Lair (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Hooray! Thank you for the review, End. Glad you enjoyed the book!
20 Things #15: War-Ravaged Land (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/13/2017 04:24:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As the PCs wander a war-ravaged land, as the butchery and death have abated, they may wander the fields of war - and as such, 10 detailed pieces of battlefield dressing kickstart this installment of the 20 Things-series, depicting feasting crows,, ragged and blood-spattered standards and worse. Tragedy stalks these fields and the pdf's flavorful entries capture its facets well.

The next section is all about signs of war - for this scourge leaves its traces on the landscape, as smoke smudges the horizon and bloody remnants speak of minor skirmishes in yet another great little selection of 10 such signs. From here, we move on to 20 things you can see in war-ravaged villages: From collapsed buildings to gaunt dogs, starved by famine and wounds, darting across the street to the scattered remains of pillaged kitchens, this dressing selection is versatile and atmospheric.

Of course, chances are that, at one point, the PCs will be part of a siege - hence, 20 entries show us different things that can be seen during such a perilous time - and yes, the identity of attackers is left deliberately vague. Servants hustling around with drinking water, huddled guards, sudden influxes of arrows, conscripts in armor, all too young for the grisly death-dealing about to commence...the pdf offers a lot in this section as well.

The final table, alas, is a reprint from GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume I - in that book, it was a designated table for orc raids and while its name has been changed, in a minor complaint, a reference to orcs still can be found here, when more general humanoids would have made sense. That being said, only one entry is thus affected.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks deserve special mention - we get a great full-page b/w-piece as well as some nice supplemental pieces. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst's latest 20-Things-dressing file is evocative, well-crafted and captures the horrors and desolation of war in a diverse and well-rendered manner, with crisp prose and a plethora of well-written entries. In short, this is a great little dressing-file for a more than fair price-point. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #15: War-Ravaged Land (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End! It's much appreciated!
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:14:35

An ENdzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Speaking of danger: The PFRPG-version does come with settlement stats and a market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have.

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, crunchy tidbits or dressing?

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Thank you very much for the review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Dunstone so much!
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:12:58

An Endzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The system neutral version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the old-school crowd!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As a minor note for the system neutral version: While the pdf correctly references thieves as such, it does use “wizard” and “bard” as viable notes for the fluff-only NPCs – personally, I don’t mind that, but someone is bound to complain when I don’t mention that it doesn’t say “magic-user.” So yeah, there you go.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

There’s another thing to be aware of, and this requires a MAJOR SPOILER. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Only referees around? Okay, so the BBEG is an intellect devourer, not exactly the most commonly available monster. While MOST folks will know what this is and should encounter no issues, I figured I should mention that for the context of the system-neutral edition.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a proper marketplace is a big plus for the SNE-version – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
Click to show product description

Add to Twin Rose Software RPG Downloads Order

Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:09:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The 5e version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the 5e-crowd. While this section is almost identical with the SNE-version, it deserves special applause: In old-school games, one spell that’s available is called spiritual hammer – in 5e, the spell obviously is spiritual weapon. The pdf gets this right. It’s a small thing, but it shows attention to detail and care, when cut-copy-pasting would have been simple. Kudos!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place (as always, you can unearth these via Intelligence checks), provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors (as always, you can unearth these via Charisma checks), that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

The NPCs of the town refer, where applicable, to the bolded sample NPCs and creatures.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a properly modified marketplace is a big plus for the 5e-version and as a whole, it has been done with the care I expect – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to Twin Rose Software RPG Downloads Order

Town Backdrop: Dulwich
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:54:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, as always in these settlement supplements, we do get settlement properties for the PFRPG-iterations, though this time around, a couple of plusses (before Economy, Lore and Law) are missing, alongside the +5 before the danger modifier. These represent mostly cosmetic hiccups, but yeah. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street. A big plus: We do get a properly codified marketplace section that mentions locally-sourced, adventuring-relevant items that may be purchased.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gunslingers running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

While the forgotten plusses in the village-stats annoyed me, they are not enough to tarnish this great, evocative town. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich
Click to show product description

Add to Twin Rose Software RPG Downloads Order

Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:52:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley (as per the writing of this review, only available in PFRPG), where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

The system neutral iteration of this supplement does not sport, obviously, the settlement stats, but it also gets rid of the marketplace, which constitutes of a minor bummer for me – some dressing/hooks/weird items in its stead would have been nice. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. It should be noted for absolute purists, that these fluff-only write-ups do properly note the thief class, but instead of “magic-user”, the notes refer to wizards and clerics. Personally, I don’t mind that, but since one of my readers complained about me not mentioning that once…well, there you have it.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The system neutral version does not have the minor settlement statblock hiccups, but loses its marketplace, which evens, as a whole, things out as far as I’m concerned. Still, considering how much I enjoyed this, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
Click to show product description

Add to Twin Rose Software RPG Downloads Order

Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review, and for the reviews of the other versions. They are much appreciated!
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:50:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place – though this module, as per the writing of this review, has not yet been converted to 5e.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, the 5e-version does not have settlement stats and thus, also no missing plusses there, but much to my chagrin, the marketplace section of adventuring-relevant goods to be purchased has been eliminated as well – understandable in the system neutral version, but less so in the 5e-iteration. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. The 5e-version of these folks sports references to the relevant statblocks – no conversion relics.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The 5e-version of this town, as a whole, is just as compelling as the PFRPG and system-neutral iterations, but personally, the lack of a marketplace sans replacement annoyed me a bit. Hence, my final verdict will “only” clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
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Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:18:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs with the proper social skills. These, obviously, also can also be used by the Gm to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a proper marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar. The inn comes with proper prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artwork of the lighthouse and environments is an amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. As a very minor complaint: This is, to me, technically closer to a village (or rather: thorp) than a Place of Power and as such, the place could have used settlement stats, but that may be me. Similarly, I would have loved to see magical properties for the place. Don't let that keep you from this cool locale, though: This promontory is an amazing set-piece that breathes the spirit of Raging Swan's flair in all the right ways. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
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Creator Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this Places of Power, Endzeitgeist. Thank you for the review.
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