This installment of the Languard Locations-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We return to Languard, and this time around, we take a look at the Styes…ähem, sorry, I meant at “the Wrecks.” The shambles were poor and cutthroat, the fishshambles dangerous, but vibrant. The wrecks, however, are categorized by their temporariness. As the pdf explains in vivid prose: “The Wrecks reek of it. Shipwrecks grip piers and boardwalks that cling to what little ground there is – and that is itself mostly transient, shifting with the slurry and still oozing unseen below…” Now *this* is a piece of introductory prose! This rotting stain upon the face of Languard is not a nice place to visit, and transit is never fast. Sinkholes, some of them with names (and minds!) of their own emerge and vanish. As many things come up as down – “things birth from seaweed-choked mires below, eyeless wan things flap into daylight.”
This has got to be one of the best introductory paragraphs I have seen for a neighborhood/village/region. The general sense of dilapidated decay and hostility is further enhanced by the presence of the Takolen, a massive clan of a family characterized by missing beards, stringy and sparse hair and being relatively chinless, these folks add an Innsmouth-style angle to the proceedings, and the write up does feature some intriguing angles. Do they perhaps need strong alcohol? Either way, they don’t like strangers. And everyone who is not from the Wrecks qualifies.
This relatively small section of Languard is expanded with 8 new locations, which, as has become the tradition with this series, lists notable folk in fluff-focused descriptions. These suggest a race and a class or combination of classes, as well as an alignment, but otherwise remain focused on flavor – and since I know that some of my readers want to know: Yes, the pdf has consistently applied references towards proper old-school class names: Thieves and magic-users are referenced. The locations each sports some hooks to kick off adventuring, and where applicable, costs for food, drink and lodging are provided. And believe you me, these locations do not make the region sound more pleasant to visit. There would be a fop-house, rum-den and place of sin crafted from dilapidated masses of dead ships, where ostensibly every sailor spends a night just before he dies. A huge, bloated effigy of a fat man acts as a grotesque beacon, and the labyrinthine place’s management is NOT nice…though a twisted kind of love does bloom here.
If you need a secret hold in your ship, you should definitely go to “The Cauldron”, which is also where you go when you need alchemical supplies – provided you can withstand the eye-watering miasma emitting from this place. In the infamous shackle, Acrobats dressed up as clowns allow the decadent public to watch the spectacles of bloodsport – or, if they’re unlucky, become part of it. The Devil’s Bridge Wrecks have built themselves from a grounded vessel, and now represent a shanty-town of brothels, dens of sin, and an elder of the Takolen family reigns over this architectural cancerous growth of the city with an iron fist, using the perhaps not all unfounded tales of demonic powers. Did I mention the semi-secret shrine of Dagon situated in a plague ship?
Only the most miserable, sadistic and merciless would visit Gulping Lyza – which may be the world’s sole mermaid brothel. No, the girls are not there by choice. The Faithless, when it ran aground, came with but a cargo of rats and none aboard…and today serves rum and food….but what really happened on the vessel’s last voyage? Finally, there would be the “Gape of the Eye”: At one point Languard resolved to create man-made isles, but said places all sank – and nowadays house sahuagin, associated with the cult of Father Dagon…
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-level. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a couple of nice b/w-artworks, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with most of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two iterations – one intended for the printer, and one for screen-use.
The association of the theme, the prose – you have guessed it by now, if my mentioning of the “Styes” wasn’t enough. Yep, this supplement was penned by none other than master of the macabre and grotesque, Richard Pett, and could almost be taken as a kind of homecoming, constituting a supplement that fits Languard just as well as it’d be suitable for the Styes or the Blight. This place is capital letters DARK and represents a quintessential chaotic evil environment. Here, misery and base impulses reign, half-heartedly painted over by the inhabitants with garish colors – serving to enhance, rather that detract from, the darkness of this place. The wrecks are pretty much the no-go-area that some big cities have, save that it genuinely and truly does not have redeeming qualities. Unless you need to go here, you shouldn’t. The atmosphere and prose are masterful, the concepts grotesque and odd – if you use this, you’ll have a thoroughly black stain on Languard, a place where life is cheap and dangerous. You don’t rise from this place – you are dragged down. Where the shambles and fishshambles represent poor neighborhoods that do have saving graces, this is the den of sin, vice and atrocious beings that a pragmatic would rather burn down and start fresh.
Obviously, I absolutely adore this region of the city! Dangerous, depraved and decadent, this is the place that should illustrate rather well what happens if good men and women don’t do anything. This region has enough hooks and evocative locales, that it could carry a whole campaign. The system neutral iteration is just as strong as the other ones. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars +seal of approval.
You can get this delightfully icky supplement here on OBS!
Missed Languard? You can find the city here!
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