Languard Locations: High City (5e)
This installment of the Languard Locations series, which details the different districts of the city of Languard in more detail, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We have taken a look at where the unfortunate dwell, so let’s move to the other side of the Svart that almost bisects the town, let us take a look at where Languard’s elite dwells – and as such, we begin with an overview of the noble families of Languard, supplement by a half-page b/w-artwork. This section is followed by an excerpt from Tommi Salama’s excellent map of the city, which notes the respective points of interest of this section of Languard.
The pdf contains no less than 10 locations, depicted in detail, following the formula established by the series. Beyond the description of the respective locations, NPCs encountered are noted (in 5e, these mostly point towards the default NPC statblocks) in a fluff-centric manner, and the locations all come with their own adventure hooks, should PCs wandering into them not suffice for you to jumpstart your adventuring impulses.
All right, but what sights are there to be seen in the High City of Languard? Well, there would an immaculately pristine jeweler’s shop for the upper class – though, if you do dig a bit deeper, there will be plenty of adventuring possible here. As the center of commerce in the Duchy of Ashlar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that there indeed is a proper bank to be found here – which, if you’ve e.g. played the classic entries of the once-great Thief: The Dark Project franchise, should immediately get your creative juices flowing. Yes, it has underground vaults. Of course, it would be unseeming to bring animals to certain locations, and a proper member of the well-to-do will want a steed representative of the proper status. Well, a prized horse from Miya’s stables would be the Languardian equivalent of a proper sports car – and yes, stabling costs are noted and account for more exotic companions.
Utterly hilarious would be a fine bakery for the distinguished, which would be a prime target for assassination attempts, were it not for the fact that those that know how to ask can actually gain the attention of special employees. Excess breeds demand and decadence, and as far as culinary delights are concerned, you probably can’t do better than the Dragonheart tavern in Languard. Here, bulette flank, cockatrice eggs and the like may be ordered – which, obviously, results in a rather major demand for adventurers willing to risk life and limb to acquire these exotic oddities for the distinguished gourmands among the city’s populace.
A local favorite, part baker, part alchemist and weird, with alembics and cauldrons, Old Mother Grumm’s sells everything from fruitcake to elixirs of love, all made by the matronly and kind-hearted old lady-wizard the shop’s named for. This place btw. also notes proper magic items for sale, which have been properly adjusted for 5e, though, alas, the flavor text here hasn’t properly adjusted the names of the potions it refers to.
And yes, if you are looking for a fine yarn and have the coin to spare, then you’ll find a place that caters to these demands in the High City as well: Needle’s Poise provides just that – supplemented by a proper b/w-artwork, btw. Easily one of the most outré places in the whole city, the “Emerald Medusa” is a multi-decked sailing ship turned festhall/eatery. The intricately-carved medusa emits beams of colored light from its lenses, and it is here that decadent nobles come to politick, weave intrigues or impress adventurers. And yes, there is a means to actually make the obvious disco-angle narratively-relevant. Kudos!! Pharran’s Shroud, then, would obviously cater to another sort of vice: Run by a silk-shrouded lady of unknown origins, this place would be Languard’s high-class brothel – and in an interesting twist, said shrouded mistress is actually not an entity with a petrifying or similarly devastating gaze attack, but something more rewarding to unearth…
The Ruby Plate would be another culinary establishment, but one that focuses on showmanship, a place where experimental foods may be ordered. What about an assassin berry vine, for example? I know I’d try that…
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports quite a lot of rather nice b/w-artworks. The excerpt from the map is neat, and since the city supplement itself featured the key-less player-friendly version, none is required here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use, and one for the printer.
Languard’s High City, to me, felt, in an interesting twist, distinctly American in its focus on consumption. “Are you still hungry?”, the question for ambition, for success, uses an obvious simile with consumption, and indeed, consumption, if anything, is the leitmotif of this district, which should make for a rather sharp contrast in comparison to the poorer regions of the city. The map, with its broader streets and less cramped environments, also emphasizes this – but perhaps that’s just me. I’m still flabbergasted and blown away by the vastness of the US – both in landscape, and in the sheer availability of pretty much anything the heart could desire. But this could just be my own interpretation of the pdf penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham.
And, to make that clear, I do think that this fits in PERFECTLY within the context of Languard. The High City is unique and has its own flair, one that manages to be both part of Languard and distinct from its other components. The city, as a whole, is enriched by the thematically-stringent focus on the Leitmotif – and in a world where magics exist, the presence of a place like the Emerald Medusa, easily my favorite place alongside Grumm’s, makes sense on so many levels, and also allows you to inject a bit of the weird into the grime and grit of the poorer regions. It generates a contrast that highlights the global motifs of Languard even better. It works because it is this weird place in an otherwise rather grounded area, and because it is rather realistic in how it presents its weirdness. I love it. In short, the High City of Languard is a great place to dive into some serious intrigue, to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, and to shake your head at the decadence of the aristocracy. A great and unique region, this retains the exceedingly high standard of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, only omitting my seal of approval for the 5e-version due to the missed references in the flavor-text mentioned above.
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