This installment of the Languard Locations-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. It should also be noted that some nice author bio sections are provided – kudos for including these! The net content remaining would be 6 pages, so let’s take a look!
And you thought the shambles were bad. North of Cheap street, right next to the water front of Languard, there sprawls the reeking, tangled labyrinth known as fishshambles. A rickety network of jetties and tottering, desolate warehouses are used for purposes that are often, if not mostly, illicit and dangerous. While a relatively small section of Languard, as the excerpt from Tommi Salama’s map shows, the place is rife with danger and adventure, and 9 new locations are provided to add local color and hooks to this section of the city.
As in the previous installments, we have the respective key NPCs associated with locations within noted with alignment as well as suggested race/class combo and an inkling of the power they ought to have, but said NPC notes do not contain stats or the like. Each of the locations sports one or more different hooks for potential adventuring. Run aground slightly outside what is considered to be city proper, the Castoff’s Sanctuary sports folk with the haunted Gloamhold Look, watched over by father Uklo – this is the Castoff’s Sanctuary, and a selectively mute paladin and an ancient half-orc preacher tend to those traumatized and perhaps, broken. It s here that favors may earn even utterly coinless PCs some respite. Moss-covered and obscured by seaweed and shellfish, a wrinkled old mage with a penchant for the underwater world is peddling healing, narcotics and the like. (If you are up for a bit of conversion, you may want to check out Necrotic Gnome Production’s Wizardzine #1 – I got a vibe from this fellow that would make the spells from said supplement a natural fit…but I digress.) Did I mention coral zombies?
A barren, broken chapel, now known as Kingsfall, was once prophesized to be the birthplace of a messianic figure – but now, it is foreboding, twisted even. It is a testament of a promise unfulfilled, of a world unraveling. And I love it to bits. Of course, many folks frequent the fishshambles to vanish, at least for a bit – for such folks, Molley’s Bearded Lady is perfect: An inn specially designed to be rickety and chock-full with escape routes, this place just begs for a chase, conspiratory meetings, and more. And when no one is selling to you, you may want to contemplate checking out Aalto Ruusu’s dilapidated laboratory, commonly known as Ruuse’s rathole. Provided you can stomach the…sound…coming from the cellar. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess…
Sea’s Bounty is always bustling – it’s here that you can eat the cheapest meals in all on Languard – for a cp, information, favors…whatever you’re peddling. It is testament to the city’s state that it’s always booming. And yep, the food is called “Grey” – you probably don’t want to know the ingredients. A dingy taproom in a basement houses the neighborhood’s most famous fighting establishment: the 5 cuts. Five cuts – no more, no less, is one of the rules, which are explicitly stated. Yes, you can die here – but you could, you know, also make enough to get back on your feet… The most NPC-heavy of these locations would be the Arches Bazaar, set under a large building’s support beams – no lss than 8 different peddlers of wares and services are covered here.
If you’re in the mood for dark and dingy, but don’t want to compromise regarding food quality and grog, then you’ll want to check out Sandu’s grog and grub, a place that unrepentantly pretty much asks to become your adventuring group’s new favorite stomping ground. Sandu is lavishly illustrated, and hails from an exotic land – as such, his cooking is utterly unique, spicy and neat. Of course, foreigners in a city like Languard, ultimately will at one point or another be pretty grateful to have adventurers among their acquaintances…
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The excerpt from Tommi Salama’s map is neat, and as before, the City Backdrop does contain the player-friendly version of the full map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one for screen use, and one intended to be printed.
Beth Breitmaier, Dave Breitmaier, Rachel Cruz, Steve Hood, John Large, Stewart Moyer, Tyler Omichinski, Rob Smith – quite a few new names among this list of authors, but surprisingly, the locations presented within nonetheless manage to evoke a unified aesthetic that situates the fishshambles firmly as part of Languard, while managing to provide a distinct identity. In short, this is a great little dressing file. While poverty is certainly a leitmotif, the pdf manages to paint a picture that is not simply a series of hopeless causes – while this place is poor, it’s not necessarily depressing. That is perhaps what struck me most about this. In contrast to the shambles, this feels a bit more cosmopolitan, as befitting of the dockside. A bit rowdy, a bit dangerous, but a place of life, where darkness and light are sharply contrasted, and perhaps just one alley away. A highly recommended addition to Languard, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.
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