This installment of Raging Swan press’ Campaign events-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We begin this installment with a massive table of 100 entries for general prison break dressing: Rust-corroded door-hinges, greasy fingertips on iron bars, barely perceivable cracks in the perimeter, grids on administrative desks with hundreds of numbers, emptied iron flasks, detailed codices with prison numbers, metal mouthorgans left on prisoner cots – the table generates some nice dressing, though I do have a bit of a complaint – some entries, to me, feel more like they are relevant for a prison break that has happened some time ago, whereas others feel more “fresh” -splitting the table may have been a prudent move here.
A table of 50 minor events to encounter during a prison break, on the other hand, feels firmly rooted in the present: Barking dogs, prisoners frenetically tapping on doors, corpses of inmates on carts, fire pits in common areas growing cold… the table feels properly focused. After a cool b/w artwork of a tree with hanged men dangling from it in b/w, a total of 50 prisoners would be next – these fellows are fluff-only, obviously, and come with alignment notes as well as brief notes on race, class and level – and they include gnolls, kobolds and the like, although a doppelgänger deserves special mention as an entity that can switch sides. From master forgers to counterfeiters or musical inmates, we get a lot in the less pleasant alignment spectrum, sure…but good folks can be found here as well.
Finally, no less than 20 complications and hooks can add some further dynamics to the proceedings – arrivals of new prisoners, discreetly distributed shivs, a subdual of a particularly cruel guard – there are quite a few intriguing angles to pursue here, even when they technically fit imho better in the range to lead up to a prison break.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ neat two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports multiple artworks: While fans of Raging Swan press may know one from before, the others are original, evocative pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and comes in two versions – one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use – kudos.
Christopher Wasko’s dressing tables per se are pretty great – they manage to evoke a sense of desolation, of despair and the notes on prisoners helps make a prison come alive. Which brings me to the main weakness of this pdf – de facto, I don’t think it’ll help me particularly run a prison break. As a dressing-only file, it allows for excellent prison dressing, but neither for security measures, nor for encounters, skill challenges, etc. – a prison break is a dynamic affair and this enhances dynamics, yes…but it does not emphasize the dynamics of the prison break. We get to know things about prisoners, but not in the context of the prison break in process. Basically, my reasoning is that this is Campaign Events: Prison and not Campaign Events: Prison Break. Now I know, I should rate what’s here and what’s here is nice – but ultimately, I went into this expecting more, something different, and ended up being disappointed. If you’re looking for a good prison dressing file, then this certainly delivers in spades; if you’re looking for a prison BREAK dressing or gaming toolkit, then you’ll be disappointed. For the former, I’d consider this to be a 4.5 stars-book, for the latter a 3-stars-offering. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. Just please note that this is NOT a prison break themed file.
You can get this little pdf here on OBS!
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