20 Things: Fort on the Borderlands (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!
Now, borderland forts are usually bastions against the wilderness, savage humanoids and worse – as such, it should come as no surprise that we begin this supplement with 10 sample men-at-arm-write-ups. The write ups are, obviously, fluff-only, but they do note a suggested alignment, as well as the class and class levels intended for the respective soldier. Nomenclature-wise, the supplement adheres to old-school nomenclature, calling the “specialist” class thief, not rogue; analogue, the pdf references magic-users, making integration into OSR-games seamless – Grognards will certainly appreciate this! Nice, btw.: All of these NPCs have a kind of narrative angle to directly introduce them to the PCs and segue into adventures. For example, one of them mistakes one of the PCs for their contact, which may have all kinds of consequences. Or what about Frida, haunted by nightmares, who is experimenting with herbal remedies? Pretty cool list!
As a place of transition, the next page introduces us to 10 travelers with personality. A traveling bowyer/Fletcher in search of work, a disguised and rather effective serial killer, a celebrated singer of minor renown, besieged by admirers – once more we have an intriguing collection of NPCs here. If these character-specific angles don’t suffice to get your PCs into the fray, there are still 10 different, complex whispers of rumors on the next page – where we can btw. also find a GORGEOUS b/w-artwork of such a borderland fort. Really amazing piece! If you’re familiar with the GM Screen Inserts, you’ll notice some overlap here, though personally, I’d recommend this pdf over the screen-insert. The whispers include a stolen pig carcass, priests engaging in extramarital affairs…and some claim that the place is haunted, as corpses have gone missing from their grave…but is the necromancer, burned at the pyre, truly responsible? Neat angles here.
The final two pages of the pdf are devoted to a massive list of 20 entries each: The first of these pages introduces super-handy borderland fort dressing, focusing on the outside locales: One may hear the angry strikes of a blacksmith, see dilettantish graffiti and witness badly battered sparring dummies. Gallows and stocks also speak of the fact that there is law here, civilization…or at least, a semblance thereof. Complementing this further, the second such table provides 20 fort sights and sounds; Travelers staggering, exhausted, past the PCs in search of ale; a flag is torn from its tower, landing in a particularly large heap of horse manure; sudden, alarmed calls – a great little collection here.
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 dressing for borderland forts is a great little file: The tables and NPCs noted herein help add color to the locale. The grimy, quasi-medieval/Greyhawk-y flavor I enjoy so much thoroughly suffuses this supplement. It’s diverse, fun and well-written. Not, personally, I would have liked to see one or two slightly weirder entries to complement and contrast against the down to earth tone, but that may just be me. This is very much worth getting. My final verdict will be 5 stars.
You can find this neat dressing file here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!