Campaign Backdrop: Marshes and Swamps
This installation of the helpful environmental toolkit-compilations by Raging Swan Press clocks in at 87 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page stat blocks by CR, 2 pages of author bios, 1 page of advice for reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 76 pages of raw content, so let’s take a look!
Taking a cue from Raging Swan Press’ other, no less intriguing compilation books, this one features a table of all statblocks used herein by CR (spanning the range from CR 1/4 to 10) with accompanying page numbers and, as a nice service to the talented authors involved, we get a page of author bios, which is great to see.
But what is this? Well, the short answer, as already hinted at, is that this is basically a toolbox for a specific type of terrain, namely the swamps and marshes. Where other Raging Swan Press collections for example collected the significant amount of dressing files or village backdrops in a single tome, the goal of these books is to organize the tools for the GM by region he needs – in this case, that would be forests and woodlands, obviously.
The presentation of the content is exceedingly smart – we move from the non-specific to the specific, from the general to the detailed in this book; Hence, we begin with a 50-entry-strong table depicting an uneventful day’s journey in each entry before adding 100 minor events and 100 dressings, then move on to random encounters that don’t suck – a total of 14 such encounters have been collected from the respective Raging Swan Press pdfs, now available for the first time in print – and yes, the bonus enhancement encounters from the web-enhancement have been included. Beyond a fluff-centric table, we also get a nice GM-cheat-sheet for terrain.
After establishing the basics of the swamp, we move on to settlements inside – hence, the urban dressing for marsh towns would be next, providing tables galore to use and enjoy, with businesses, events and hooks – all in. The excellent lace of Power, the Mudded Manse, can similarly be found within these pages as a ready to drop in location and speaking of which – 4 sample villages from the village backdrop-series are included herein: Aldwater, Thornhill, Tigley and Vaagwol. It should be noted that I have reviews the constituent files that make up this compilation, so if you require in-depth guidance regarding one, you’ll find it in these reviews.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues apart from a cosmetic hiccup of a read-aloud text’s box looking weird and similar minor things. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard with solid pieces of b/w-artwork, The locations have some nice b/w-cartography as well, though in particular Thornhill’s map has since it was originally featured herein been used for several settlements I encountered; that may be an aspect you need to be aware of. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive bookmarks and the pdf comes in two versions – one optimized for the printer and one made for screen-use: Kudos!
This compilation of material by Jesper Andersen, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Denver Edwards Jr., Steve Hood, Greg Marks, David Posener, Jacob Trier, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham provides a great one-stop-shop-experience if you need the tools to make swamps and marshes stand out. Now whether you need this book ultimately depends on how big a Raging Swan Press-fan you are. If you already have all the GM’s Miscellany-books and the individual pdfs, this mainly will help in the discipline of organization.
Personally, I love having a book in my hands, but considering that I already have the dressing books and the villages, I’m not sure I’d get this. If, however, you only have one or two of the files herein and/or none of the GM’s Miscellany books that overlap with this, then this instantly becomes a must-have book that is extremely useful. In short: Whether to get this or the Miscellany-books depends on which organization paradigm you prefer. My final verdict for this compilation will clock in at 5 stars.
You can get this amazing collection here on OBS!
You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!