20 Things: Curio Shop & Pawnbrokers (system neutral)
This installment of the #20 Things-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Curio shops are laces I really adore IRL – there is something I enjoy about the uncertainty they represent in our structured “everything-always-available” world that makes them appeal to me; in media, there are plenty of examples wherein curio shops and pawnbrokers represent plot points, angles and exciting environments. As such, it’s pretty odd that so few supplements capitalize on how cool these can be.
This pdf begins with a nice little introduction + designer’s commentary before introducing us to 6 sample customers to encounter within a curio shop. As always for the series, the write-ups are depicted as a fluff-only write-up, noting suggested races and classes in brackets alongside the suggested alignment. A minor inconsistency here would be that the classes referenced here represent a blend between the old-school and new school monikers: We read, for example, “thief” instead of “rogue”, but also “wizard” instead of “magic-user.” Personally, I consider this to be a cosmetic glitch and not of particular importance, but some folks might mind.
The 6 customers presented include, obviously, petty criminals, but also the desperate and the devious – this is an interesting cadre of folks, and all have their own encounter/adventure-hook hard-coded into their write-ups. Speaking of hooks and the like: The pdf then proceeds to provide an array of no less than 10 different hooks and complications. These include being accused of theft, the owner closing shop soon and more…let’s say…direct encounters, like raiding thieves, discovering something unique, etc. The selection here is pretty diverse and nice.
Of course, such shops always become lively and plausible by the knick-knacks to be found within, and every GM is bound to run out of them sooner or later; thankfully, the pdf does offer plenty of unique odds and ends: From well-worn rabbit’s foot to desiccated spiders and black patches with maps drawn on the inside, these are truly inspiring and most of them honestly would be things I’d get for decorations IRL. 20 pieces of bric-a-brac and useless junk and 6 weapons to be found complement the array of items to add some rich color to ye olde curio shoppe. This is not to mean that these are truly useless, mind you: A charred credit note lacking the section where it reads who extends it would be interesting and anything but useless – at least in a world where magic can repair items…And a holy symbol of a local deity may hint at a weird heresy hiding nearby…And what sword once featured that onyx-skull pommel? The value of these is contextualized and not necessarily immediately apparent, but from a narrative perspective, they are gold.
The same, obviously, may be said about the actually valuable final 20 items within – here, gp values are often provided, and a choker with an inscription hinting at an abusive relationship or juicy master/slave-play could very much provide an interesting find for more than one group.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an elegant, minimalist 2-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports a couple of really nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one of which is optimized for screen-use, and one is optimized for printing it out.
Creighton Broadhurst’s take on curio dressing is truly inspired: All those weird little items and strange finds tell of old stories, opportunities and possibilities. Considering the wealth of information properly running a curio shop can require from the GM, this dressing file constitutes a godsend for most folks and lives up to its potential. I, for one, would love to see a sequel, perhaps even a larger book with magical curiosities? Oh well, as a whole, this is definitely worth getting. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can find this great little dressing file here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!