20 Things: Fallen Dwarven Hold (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!
In this installment, we take a look at dressing to flesh out a dwarven hold – and the “dwarven” is not just window dressing here: The first table features 10 workshop features that include anvils shaped like clenched fists, shelves cut into the living rock or intricate plans for a dwarven masterpiece, never realized. The plans may be works of art themselves, or they may well hold the potential for new weapons, all depending on what you’re looking for. Bars to seal the workshop may make it safe to rest – all in all, a cool table. The next page features dressing for 10 dwarven statues (like a realistic dragon with a crossbow bolt jutting from its eye), as well as a mini name-generator table to supplement it or the dungeon exploration/notes – 20 male, female and family names are provided.
From here, we move on to 10 dwarven temple features, with carvings depicting processions and the like – perhaps an exodus of sorts? The quest for the sun or depths? Dusty, orderly pews and ornate braziers, still lit with magical glow, constitute a fine collection of dressings. 10 minor dwarven treasures are also provided, including spice jars and perfumes, finger bands with inscriptions and iron knuckledusters can be found here, among other things. Now, while personally, I’d have enjoyed to see gp values here, I won’t penalize the pdf for omitting those, considering that this is system neutral.
Of course, the adventurers are bound to not be the only ones lured by the siren song of dwarven ruins – as such, we get two cool foreshadowing tools for the GM that can really help set up further encounters and complications: 10 signs of previous exploration, and 10 already triggered traps similarly are fun. A capable GM can thus warn the PCs about trap presence and present hints that help dealing with them – particularly if you’re like me and enjoy complex traps and prefer them to be resolved with roleplaying rather than rollplaying. Kudos!
The final page deals with dwarven hold dressing, featuring shattered remnants of once proud, stout doors, battle-prayers etched into the walls, rusty iron chains vanishing in the ceiling and clan sigils on the ceiling: These breathe a sense of antiquity and age I enjoyed, though not all of these have as strong a dwarven tie-in as I’d like to see. A ceiling obscured by dusty cobwebs, for example, would have been better placed in a more general dressing book, but that is me complaining at a very high level.
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 knows how to write evocative, flavorful dressing. The master of Raging Swan Press once more delivers an inspiring pdf. Particularly the previous exploration/triggered traps angle is really amazing, and was something that I think could be developed further. At the same time, there are a few entries that could have been dwarfier, and the absence of any reference to dwarven brewing and the like was surprising to me. As a whole, this is a very good, inexpensive dressing file, though – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
You can get this neat dressing-file here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!