20 Things: Sun-Scorched Desert (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!
We begin this dressing-file with 6 sun-scorched landmarks, with deep chasms cut by fast-flowing rivers into the desert, mysterious carvings of unknown hands and the bleached bones of an ancient dragon, silent testament to the prowess of an ancient battle mage. These absolutely rock, include the mundane and magical, and they sport prose even more efficient than usual for the series. These entries are followed by 6 sample ruins to be found amidst the blistering sands, where carven stone steps vanish in hillsides and shifting sands reveal ceremonial corpse ways. Truly inspired and captivating, these two collections of dressing entries deserve applause and set a high standard on the very first page.
Now, almost every desert adventure will feature a sandstorm at one point, though the particulars are often hazy there. … Sorry, I’ll punch myself for that one later. Anyways, the second page of this pdf provides 10 sample events to happen during a sandstorm: Dunes collapsing in torrents of sand, fine sand concealing deep depressions, and more…mundane complications, from horrid howls to zero visibility, similarly are found here. Super handy to have – I could have used even more of these!
Now, every GM who has run a prolonged desert or arctic adventure will know that, in the long run, it can be rather tough to come up with new ways to describe the endless heat, right? Well, the pdf does contain a table of 20 desert dressing entries, which includes barren, lifeless sections, purple-fringed towers in the distance or the remains of animals and beings fallen prey to the harsh climate. Even cooler, the table specifically calls out good candidates for mirages! Kudos for going one step beyond here!
The next table adds on top of the GM-convenience, big time – the final table provides 20 entries for uneventful days of traveling. As we all know, few things are as painful for the GM to describe as bland days – after all, we have to convey that nothing happened without boring the players, preferably while also foreshadowing/further emphasizing the atmosphere! As such, this final table is a super-handy tool for the beleaguered GM. Now, I usually don’t comment on the like, but this pdf is slightly shorter than usual: The final page is devoted to a gorgeous 1-page b/w-artwork that oozes Sword & Sorcery flavor. Usually, I’m more of a content guy, but the inclusion of this one? Totally in favor of it!
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 big one-page artwork in particular really grabbed my attention. 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.
So, I’m, and that is no secret, a HUGE Sword & Sorcery fan; I adore the genre and its aesthetics, and this pdf perfectly encapsulates the amazing atmosphere conveyed in the old Savage Sword of Conan comics, to give you an example. The harshness of the desert, the strangeness – it’s here, all without becoming high fantasy. The dressing within this book is inspired. Creighton Broadhurst has surpassed himself here. When I noticed the artwork taking up a whole page, I frankly planned on penalizing the pdf for this decision, but I can’t bring myself to do so. This collection of desert-dressing is simply too good, being one of the best in the whole series. And honestly, I’ll always take quality over quantity, and this delivers quality. Super handy for those desert-modules, this gets 5 stars + seal of approval. Highly recommended!!
You can get this great dressing file for just $2.45 here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!