This installment of Dire Rugrat Publishing’s cool Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.
So, fans of the Wayfinder magazine may be familiar with the basic set-up here; the Hut was featured originally in that publication, though in a basic version – and for the first time, this time around, we get the establishment with all shiny 5e-rules!
Amidst the marshy expanse, propped up by stilts, there is a weathered hut awaiting the weary traveler; several mooring posts allow for the safe tying of boats for the travelers and from its inside, delicious smells waft forth – smells I can almost taste. The steps leading up may seem rickety, but they are safe – and inside a weathered woman ushers guests in with a smile of a life well-lived; this is Mama, and she is one tough cookie, as they say: As the rumors tell (8 are provided), she single-handedly fought off river pirates…and she also makes a mean fried crocodile! Her portions are huge, spicy and full of flavor and made my mouth water for the time when I visited NOLA – I can almost taste the delicious food…
And yes, this being a swamp refuge, there are ample adventuring ideas here – 8 sample events can help you jumpstart adventuring if the rumors alone don’t suffice. It should btw. be noted that, where applicable, the respective creature-stats referenced are hyperlinked for your convenience to the SRD.
Now, the hut itself does come with a solid full-color map that actually comes with a gridless version that’s suitable as a player’s handout – big kudos there! Speaking of big kudos! The picture of the hut, Mama greeting travelers with a pot of Jambalaya, is really nice and captures the heart and soul of the place perfectly – a really nice piece.
That being said, Mama is not a cliché provider; quite the contrary. In the detailed and well-written background, we learn about her interesting life story and also, just as an aside, receive even more angles for adventuring. This tale also serves as a great justification for Mama’s unique abilities: Dire Rugrat’s 5e statblocks tend to feature really nice, custom abilities and her statblock (challenge 3, btw.) is no exception.
She is not the only NPC who gets a detailed and sympathetic account of her life; the hermit/hunter Dexter Cloves, makes for a powerful guide/hunter (challenge 4) and the good-hearted, if socially awkward and silent man, has actually fallen head over heels for Mama – a fact to which she is utterly oblivious…so yeah, if you’re so inclined, PCs playing Cupid would most assuredly make for a nice change of pace. There also would be Turk Krager, beloved half-orc son and twin, looking for his missing family – who may be on the run from rather nasty money-lenders…or worse. Beyond these interesting individuals, we also get a cool magic weapon – the Titanfaller, deadly and very useful against giants. This potent blade is currently wielded by Tryali “Tryx” Bannialtyn and her boon companion, the wild cat named Astra – and yes, we get stats for the duo.
The final NPC within these pages would be Rolf Gunderberg – a kind, good dwarf with some magic talent- but not too much. Instead, he makes up for this by being almost obscenely lucky – he can use reactions to burn spell slots to avoid damage and negative conditions (the rules-language is tight!), and even better, he gets his own 12-entry table – Fortunate Fool. These happenstances are implausible and ridiculously funny in some cases; in fact, I smiled pretty widely while reading this.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in rules or statblocks – kudos. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard with full-color artworks and maps; particularly the inclusion of the player-friendly maps would be a big plus for me. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Kelly and Ken Pawlik’s Tangible Taverns have a distinct style I like: They are adventuring supplements bereft of mean-spiritedness; even bad guys are not cynically so. NPCs feel like they are good folks with their own wondrous stories, they feel very much PERSONAL. We have a ton of adventures and supplements that deal with the big picture, that deal with the weird and horrific – The Hut herein is a refuge from that; it is a place that oozes heart’s blood, warmth and kindness. It is obvious that the authors lovingly handcrafted these folks. They created a refuge that warms the heart, a place where adventuring, as epic as it is, mingles with the potential for doing good, for providing a heart-warming solace from the rigors of the adventuring life. The hut, in short, breathes a spirit of positivity that I enjoy and frankly, can’t write well myself. It’s harder to get right than you’d think – and this does it. What do I mean by this? Well, in spite of this being very much a feel-good supplement, it has adventuring potential galore. The hand-crafted, numerous NPCs are not only solid, they are flavorful personalities that can make for great companions for adventuring parties.
In short: This is a great installment, particularly in the season where bleak weather drags down the spirits of folks; it is a little, humble book for an extremely fair price that put a smile on my face and the desire to use location and NPCs in my game. What more can you ask of such a place? Now, excuse me – I need to scrounge together the ingredients for some delicious Southern cuisine…
Forgot the verdict? Well, obviously 5 stars + seal of approval. Highly recommended, particularly if you need a genuine ray of goodness and light in a bleak, hostile swamp/marsh adventure!
You can get this cool, heartfelt little tavern and the colorful folks associated with it here on OBS!