Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitality and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well.
A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.
The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste…and one nasty hook pertaining spiced ale is particularly interesting. That being said, this is almost system neutral in that there is e.g. no lock quality noted for a locked door, no DC to break bars, etc. – this may or may not bother you, but it is worth noting.
Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. There is, however, also a component here that, well-implemented, could have elevated this further – magic. The issue with this type of narrative lies ultimately in the fact that there are plenty of ways to detect foul shenanigans, and a sidebar of counter-measures or the like, customized for the system, would have significantly enhanced the immediate usefulness of the pdf. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended and the mechanical aspects are a bit sparse for my taste. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.
You can get this set-piece here on OBS!
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