This installment of Raging Swan Press’ system-neutral #20-series 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!
Okay, we begin with something I really appreciate – namely a contextualization, location-wise, of a marketplace – there is a reason for them being at one point or another, after all, and the pdf starts by providing 5 different suggestions – from dock and bridge to churches and ruins and the underground. While it may sound obvious, such a context adds quite a bit of depth to the proceedings, so big kudos there! It’s also interesting to see how the explicit consideration here can already spark some ideas.
Next up would be 10 merchants with a personality – as befitting of the system-neutral line, we don’t get statblocks or the like and instead focus on the respective merchants’ personalities: From extremely vain and self-conscious haberdashers to alchemists skeptical of magic-over-dependence, these are actually winners with intriguing and memorable personalities.
Need some hooks? This pdf has got you covered: 20 deals too good to be true are just that: Too good to be true! From angry wizards looking for spell books to items acting as a beacon to the friends, galleons with press-ganged slaves – there is a catch in these and the respective issues are intriguing and diverse, ranging from the mundane to the magical.
We move on to 20 interesting stalls – and they truly deserve the “interesting” moniker – when, for example, a fat dwarf with a melted sugar and apple juices-dripping beard is carrying a ton of rotten caramel apples, when elven kids sell beaded talismans or when tall, impossibly gaunt humans sell “fresh” “animal organs”, a prospective GM has his work cut out. Once again, we oscillate between the wondrous and mundane, between the potentially dark and whimsical. Big kudos!
If all of that does not yet suffice to kick the group into adventuring mode, it’s quite possible that 20 rumors will do just that: Some of them pertain where to find rumor-mongers, while others speak about pickpockets, comment on certain people being charlatans, etc….or where to get magical tattoos from a savant halfling of the art. The direct follow-up would be yet another 20-entry-strong list of things you can see while exploring such a market-place: From bards hawking wares to wealthy women strolling past with their retinue, there are quite a few intriguing events – basically, you can just spring these upon your players and watch them interpret things…chances are, you’ll have a hook on your hands!
We end this pdf with more notes to bear in mind when making a marketplace that feels alive – and a list of 20 general types of goods (with ample subtypes!) of things that may be for sale…and 10 brief characteristics for respective stalls to flesh them out on the fly.
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. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use – kudos for going the extra mile there!
Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez and Alex Riggs deliver a humble, amazing pdf here: The hooks are well-crafted and flavorful, the respective NPCs evocative and the additional considerations go one step beyond, making this pdf a truly inspired little piece of dressing, guaranteed to enrich any game. 5 stars + seal of approval for this very impressive and well-made supplement.
You can get this glorious little dressing-file here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!