Four Nights at the Orc’s Head (5e)
The first of Raging Swan Press‘ “Eventures“ (not a typo) clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, what is an eventure? Well, know how much or modern gaming is about tactics and combat? Now, I LOVE that, I really do. I enjoy brutal combats that are essentially numbers-puzzles. HOWEVER, this has become a very dominant paradigm, to the point where many modules consist solely of such challenges. But roleplaying is more. If you recall some truly remarkable sessions and things your players talk about, there’s a good chance that some NPCs and interactions are remembered fondly because they were NOT combat.
This is what an “eventure” is – a module or mini-event-booklet focusing on roleplaying, and NOT on combat. Okay, so what does this one offer? Well, context-wise, this is somewhat akin to a scripted mini-sandbox, and features the boardgame/mini-game “The Dragon and the Thief” – if you’re new to this, I’ve covered it before. The supplement does cover the rules and provides a proper playing board. It’s a fun change of pace. Location-wise, the “Orc’s Head” tavern is an adventurer watering hole situated in the amazing city of Languard in the Duchy of Ashlar, and since this eventure features essentially 4 fleshed-out nights, it can easily be spliced into other modules for a change of pace. Adapting the eventure to another city or setting is btw super easy – as long as you can fit a tavern in your game, you’re good. As the eventure focuses not on combat or the like, it is useful for a relatively broad range of levels – it best works at low and mid levels, as high level gameplay and the relatively gritty aesthetic clash slightly.
All right, and this is pretty much as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only GMs around? Great! A chunk of local limestone cut in the shape of the eponymous Orc’s Head clearly designates this place as the infamous tavern run by former adventurer Einar Salonen. Drink is cheap, music is loud, and people are partying. The common room is in the cellar (actually rather common around where I live) due to the original tavern burning down; guests lodge on the ground floor, Einar and staff on the upper floor. The supplement provides prices for food and drink and accommodations, and presents 5 nice hooks to get the characters to check out the place.
Which brings me to a HUGE plus: The tavern is fully mapped in a gorgeous, super-detailed manner – you can see the patterns on wood and tiles, individual crates, etc. The b/w map is STUNNING, and better yet, it’s a 100% player-friendly map!! The map is fantastic, and getting one sans labels etc., with grid and all? AMAZING. I mean, Raging Swan press usually has damn fine maps, but this one? Really nice.
But I digress: The book then proceeds to present customers via a d10 table supplemented by a whole paragraph of flavor contextualizing these individuals. There are no stats provided for them, instead referencing 5e’s default NPC statblocks. 5 members of staff are presented in a similar manner, and there is a pretty neat d20-generator that lets you determine mood, level of inebriation and activity of the individuals. A bit of a bummer: Raging Swan Press has this great Barroom Brawl supplement for PFRPG, and this version references it as the supplement to get to run such brawls. While said supplement is not exactly super-crunchy, its levels of intoxication don’t work that well for 5e. Bit of a bummer there.
So that’s the general set-up. From here, we move on to the four nights. These are presented in a nice manner: We get a list of 10 whispers and rumors, as well as 10 brief dynamic minor events to flesh out the proceedings – these sections apply globally. Beyond these, we get fixed events to make the night interesting. In night 1, we have, for example, a good teetotaler priest preach against the vices of gambling and drinking – which’ll potentially necessitate him being thrown out. We have a traumatized adventurer seeking to sell a mysterious dagger, and there’s a young girl, recently orphaned – she needs a roof over her head and food, and wants to stay off the streets, so finding a solution there (Einar will hire her) is the right thing to do.
Night 2 features three adventurers inviting the party to a game of The Dragon and the Thief, and otherwise is pretty quiet, which means that Einar has time for a conversation, if the PCs are so inclined. Night 3 is packed due to the performance of the troupe known as the Yellow Rose – fully depicted, and the 4 performances they put on actually all are adventurer-relevant and explained – kudos! A minor brawl may also break out. The fourth night features two adventuring parties, including one having their loot under the table. As before, these NPCs are explained and feature descriptive paragraphs, but no stats.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The b/w-cartography of the Orc’s Head is phenomenal AND player-friendly – huge plus there! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and in two versions – one optimized for the screen, and one for printing it.
Creighton Broadhurst’s first eventure is a SUPER-useful supplement. Getting a compelling, interesting tavern, with several fleshed out nights for the GM? That’s awesome, and nigh universal in its applicability. I adore this supplement as a person. As a reviewer, there is but one real complaint I have: The supplement is essentially system neutral. There is not a single DC for social skills, hearing rumors or the like herein. The reference to a supplement for the wrong system also bothered me – a quick sidebar with rules for 5e wouldn’t have taken up much space.
That being said, this is still an excellent, super-useful supplement, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, but rounded down for this iteration.
You can get this supplement here on OBS!
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