This massive supplement clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 57 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a brief introductory prose and a short history on alcohol, we begin this pdf with a chapter that is aptly named “How to get drunk” -and if you’ve taken a look at the GMG, you’ll know that the rules leave something to be desired there – hence, this pdf codifies drinks in sizes – basically, from shot to huge kegs, you get the respective number of shots contained. Much like Raging Swan Press’ excellent Barroom Brawls, this pdf focuses on stages of inebriation – but with a different emphasis. Where RSP’s booklet took a look at the slightly inebriated states, this one takes a closer look at truly plastered conditions, providing 3 additional grades of being utterly drunk. But wait, you say – there is a difference in potency! Well, yeah, and the pdf accounts for that and the pdf also presents guidelines for intoxication of creatures of unusual size – getting Colossal creatures drunk is hard…
The pdf also sports rules for hangovers (=fatigued), but provides no guidelines for the duration of such a handover, which is a bit disappointing. Oh well, the next component of the pdf is interesting in its details – we cover drinks, a lot of them. Each drink sports a source, a suggested supporting geography/culture, a cost, the serving size usually employed and a brewing DC to make the drink. The respective drinks feature proper elaborations and cover favorites of mine like Absinthe (Goth-cliché checked off!) and goes on to cover cordial, dandelion wine, mead, mezcal or various sorts of beer, the section is rather nice. As a born and bred Franconian, I could have used notes on more diverse beers, but then again, I’m a huge beer and whiskey snob…so no surprise there. ;P
Pretty cool, btw. – the pdf also covers a wide array of mixed drinks, with e.g. xorn vomit being a mixture of absinthe and brandy. I may be a bit odd – but precise measurements for the ingredients would have been fun to me…perhaps since, once in a while, when my PCs gather in a bar, we actually drink as players. The pdf also sports signature drinks – like my beloved doppelbock, dwarven stouts, hammermine porter, hobgoblin haggruh, melonmashs or yam beer – and that was only a very small look at the selection of beers! Mead types, wines and odd distilled drinks come in similarly detailed selections, providing a wide variety of cool subtypes, though these specialties sport no crunchy information.
Then again, we’re talking about drinking in a fantastic context -as such, magical drinks make sense and are provided. Each such drink sports a drink type, serving size, cost as well as a description and a note on popular brands – one star denoting 80% of list price, two and three stars = 100% list price and higher star ratings meaning that the drinks will be more expensive. Here’s the interesting thing, though: All fantastic drinks require Fort-saves – failing them nets the drinker the side effects noted for the respective duration instead of getting the benefits. The drinks also have a compounding line, which denotes the amount of times a character can benefit from the respective drink in a given 24 hour period. Oh, there is one thing I should note pertaining the side effects – they are kinda hilarious in some instances – when you drink, for example, cat fat tonic, it has a sequence of 6 failure – upon each failure, you permanently take on more feline features like whiskers or a cat’s tail. You wake up after a long night of boozing in a back alley. Suddenly you look like a catfolk. WTF has happened??? *That* does sound like a cool module to me! That being said, at the same time, this rare type of elixir can also be cheesed – its benefits are “Character gains a +1 towards Move Silently, Hide and Balance checks” – which is not proper rules language. Unfortunately, this does extend to a couple of the drinks herein. At the same time, it should be noted, however, that the drinks themselves make interesting suggestions regarding the effects – consuming a particular spirit can e.g. help you not be hampered by the miss chances of displacer beasts. While I really want to like these drinks, there is one rather glaring hiccup herein – all but 2 of the drinks lack the note on how long their benefits actually last. They lack the benefit duration-line. Basically, compounding this with the lack of bonus types etc., this makes the whole section not that useful, which is a pity.
Magical brews, then, as opposed to the former category, are somewhat more streamlined – the rules-language are significantly more precise and their formatting adheres closer to being uncommon potions: Bitter basilisk Ale lets you spit lancets of flame. That being said, the activation option of spitting the gouts of flame here is missing. That being said, this is still a rather cool selection -and yes, wine of sex shifting included.
All right, beyond all those drinks, this pdf also covers inns and taverns of different sizes and qualities, with a handy price-list , patron-maximums, costs to purchase, initial stock provided etc. Pretty cool, in case you’re looking for quick and dirty tavern management rules – by type and size, you get a nice daily spending vs. daily earnings table that can streamline day-to-day business to a single roll. Similarly, inns also receive this thoroughly detailed take. The final section of this pdf sports something most of us will have encountered at least once – the random drinking buddy/type of drunk – a total of 16 such archetypes, from the antisocialite to the bragger or spendthrift can be found within these pages, allowing GMs to quickly whip out a personality trait for the respective NPC, with quite a few of these traits also sporting rules for resisting their quirks.
Editing and formatting are ok, but not perfect – there are quite a bunch of formatting hiccups and typos in here and rules-language oscillates between being precise and opaque as well. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full color standard and the pdf sports numerous neat full-color artworks -as often with fat Goblin Games, this is a beautiful book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.
Rick Hershey, master of Fat Goblin Games, is perhaps most known for his prolific output of unique artwork, but it is evident that he also knows how to design some intriguing game mechanics. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this book, so here’s the deal – this is, in essence, a kind of Call to Arms-type of book for drinks and taverns: You get the level of detail the simulationalists among you will adore as well as a couple of rules-plug-ins one can easily use to supplement the game. I particularly liked the streamlined inn/tavern rules. I also really liked the level of detail regarding specialties, but wished they had a bit more details regarding their crafting. Similarly, I really enjoy the risk/reward type of magical alcohol.
I *really* like a lot of the components in this book, but when the rules-language is flawed in some of the components, it simply made my heart drop a bit. You see, I’d like to unanimously recommend this one, but ultimately can only do so to an extent -if, as a GM, you’re willing to take care of the rough edges and like the ultra-detailed approach, then I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy this book. As a general dressing/consideration-book, this certainly is a feasible addition to one’s arsenal, if not a perfect one – and while I want to round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars, I ultimately can’t – hence, for the purpose of this platform, we’ll arrive at 3 stars, but with the express caveat that this book can be a pretty inspired resource for certain groups.