Languard Locations: The Shambles (5e)
The second installment of the more in-depth look at specific neighborhoods and regions of the city of Languard 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!
Claustrophobically huddled within the southern part of the city, the region known as “The Shambles” lies close to the Svart, between Cheap Street and Low Gate, an area of narrow, twisting alleyways, tottering buildings and desperation. Here, the city’s poor huddle together in unsanitary, shoddily cobbled-together wooden constructions, with upper levels jutting over alleys, dimming what little sun makes its way down below. 3, sometimes 4 stories high, these structures rise, creating a general atmosphere of a labyrinth, a maze, a hive.
A total of 8 different, new locations are depicted in lavish detail within – as before, each of these places notes the respective people in the locale, depicted in brief, fluff-centric write-ups (usually 2 per locale), and additionally, each of these receives 2 or more adventure hooks to jumpstart adventuring. If there is gold to be spent at one location, it’ll state as much, noting e.g. the buy-in for arm wrestling and prices for drink, and one location even has some minor magic to be purchased. The references towards NPCs and the aforementioned magic items for sale have been properly adjusted to represent 5e’s dynamics.
That would be Kardagg’s discount emporium, where failed adventurers come to sell off their remaining gear. You know, this is really appealing to me. Adventurers are bound to fail often – all those dead guys and gals in dungeons throughout the world speak of this; ditto for “retired” barkeep adventurers. But what about the survivors who realize that gold and glory may not be as glorious, perhaps not worth the trauma adventuring can invariably bring? It’s a small thing, but I very much enjoyed this place.
Veera is similarly pragmatic: Her shop is called “Corpsewear” and certainly makes no excuses or pretenses where her clothes come from. And indeed, I do enjoy this as well – there is a lot of roleplaying potential here, from old legacies to items associated with haunts and the living dead. If you’re more in the mood for aforementioned arm wrestling, then you may want to take a look at “The Broken Elbow”, a rough and tumble tavern known for cheap beer and cheaper women. Not everyone is gracious in defeat, though – and someone may know about Gloamhold…but will only part with information if beaten in arm-wrestling. A small mini-game for arm wrestling would have been nice to see here.
At the intersection of Cheap Street and Cross Street, the crier’s corner sees heavy traffic, with doomsayer Kuura spreading proclamations of doom. A once reputable sage has been affected with a strange ailment that manifests as faint trembles and even mild hallucinations, but what is plaguing the poor fellow? Oh, and if you’re nice to the poor here, they may well warn you of Mongrel Alley – the darkened street, barely touched by the rays of the sun, is home to wild creatures…and, as they say, an unnerving vagrant wrapped in dirty rags. A scrupulous pawnbroker may make for a valuable asset for certain PCs, a foil to others, while “The Stone Cauldron” is never truly emptied of cider, its dubious brew bubbling constantly.
Crows and ravens perch atop a crumbling stone building, with branches of nearby trees hanging overhead; this is the Rookery, where a druid with a penchant and preference for corvids offers a unique service. Finally, there is the well of dreams, where some wishes may well be granted – though in a potentially grisly manner.
It should be noted that we do get a detailed, enlarged map of the region of the city that is “The Shambles”, but no key-less iteration of this enlarged section. That being said, since the city backdrop already offered that, it’s easy enough for players to fill that one out.
Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has solid, small b/w-artworks and an excerpt of the great map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two versions – one for screen use, and one intended to be printed out. Kudos!
It is puzzling to see how many people worked on this: the Shambles are penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham – and it is testament to the prowess and skill of al of these authors that this supplement feels, this multitude none withstanding, like a concise and unified whole. Despite of the nature of the Shambles and the intentionally evoked, cobbled together, ramshackle sense the district creates, the entirety still gels together as an organic neighborhood – not only within its own framework, but also within the context of Languard as a whole. In short, this is one amazing little supplement that works just as well in 5e, and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.
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