Places of Power: The Last Resort (system neutral)
This installment of the Places of Power-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, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
What is “Last Resort”? Well, picture a clutter of inns, held together by walls – in the middle of nowhere, it represents a collections of truly eclectic inns, a place that is in-between, in a way. Haven represents “ a little slice of haven”, with soothing music; the preserve, managed by Fenric Vogelsong (Vogel =bird, in German, fyi) sports an impossibly large interior, characterized by flora and fauna present, while the Diablo Inn offers all vices you could ask for. The ostensibly cursed (but hey, FREE!) Bleak House (nice nod to Dickens…), the chaotic Wherehouse that is rumored to allow for the finding of lost items…at a cost….you’ve probably guessed it by now.
In a way, the Last Resort represents a last resort for the desperate, sure, but it also is a purgatory of sorts, a neutral ground where the cosmic ideologies fight for the souls of stragglers, all under the auspice of an exceedingly potent, genderless wizard, Harlan Arbiton XVII – which reminded me of the foundation trilogy, obviously. Anyways the locale does contain Perdition’s Rift, a fissure in the planar fabric that has potent creatures emerge from it (great way to introduce odd beings!) – and 6 sample events are associated with this rift.
The 12 keyed locales all get brief lines of flavor text associated with them, and, as always, PCs that do their legwork can unearth rumors and lore pertaining the place. Notes on the surrounding area and the eclectic habits of the even more eclectic customers complement the write-up, and 6 whispers and rumors are provided. I was particularly smitten with the massive selection of 20 dressing entries for events regarding the place, which, thanks to the planar nature of the locale, are very diverse.
Speaking of diverse: This pdf follows the expanded formula of the newer Raging Swan Press offerings, meaning that we get tailor-made adventure-hooks for a wide variety of the different locations. What about a quest to get a lily straight from the abyss or a murder investigation, which certainly should be interesting in this place? With the chiefs of the inns being high-level beings, magic is pretty dominant, and the place actually does represent that in a few details, which can offer tangible benefits. In the system neutral version, it is obvious that these, much like everything else, is left closer to the preferences of the GM. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that this renders the pdf slightly less meaty.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports really nice b/w-artworks and cartography. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use. Kudos! Both pdfs are fully bookmarked for your convenience. References have been properly adjusted to reflect old-school terminology, i.e. “magic-user” instead of wizard, etc.
Mike Welham’s Last Resort is a pdf that, once I had realized what it was, made me groan a bit. The “microcosm of macrocosm” regarding alignment trope has been done before, and in a way, this collection of inns did feel a bit like Planescape-lite to me, at least in its theme. That being said, the actual execution of the trope is handled once more with the panache, subtle allusions and captivating prose that Mr. Welham always brings to the table. Moreover, the eye towards immediate usefulness at the table does make the Last Resort stand out – unlike similar solutions, it does not require a change of scenery, a big meta-setting or the like. This place could easily and seamlessly be slotted into just about any setting and environment, with the rift as an obvious way for the GM to eliminate it once more as soon as it has served its task. The captivating prose, eclectic and eccentric characters and the focus on making this as simple to use as possible, are what sets this apart. The fact that it also is slightly meatier than the often purely fluff-centric Places of Power adds to the appeal of this supplement.
So yeah, all in all, I heartily recommend this if you need an unobtrusive minor planar hub/means to get the PCs somewhere/way of introducing strange critters. Now, relevant for old-school groups that play a bit closer to the gritty edge of the spectrum, would be the note that this is very much high fantasy, if the summary did not drive that home. That’s not a bad thing in itself, and personally, I do enjoy this – but if your gaming world is rather low-key, then you should be cognizant of this very much being planar in power-level and scope implied for the respective innkeepers. All in all, I do consider this to be a very good system neutral version, one that only leaves me with cosmetic complaints in direct comparison to the other versions, which is why my review will clock in at 5 stars.
You can get this supplement here on OBS!
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