This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD (which also contains a new spell…not the best decision to cram that in the SRD…), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Situated in the dullest part of town, a corner lot with a perfectly manicured lot, there is a place with potted flowers and a little sign that reads “Simon’s” – once you enter the place, you will be in a foyer and need to pay an entrance fee that includes a meal, a drink and entertainment – for beyond the foyer, there is a main room that features a stage. Started by a young playwright named Simon Marlowe (nice nod here!), the playwright has since then met his fate in an unfortunate carriage accident, but thankfully, his nephew Augustus took over…while his existence was nebulous at best prior to his arrival, he seems to be a capable playwright of his own…the show must go on, right?
Servers don’t take orders, but ask for dislikes and everyone gets the same food at a given table and while the quality is superb, as a person (and by proxy, as a player), that would still elicit grumbling from yours truly. 😉 A total of 6 brief rumors and 12 sample plays with small synopses can be found as well, adding a nice detail to the proceedings: “Dungeon Crawl – a Satire” and its sequel “Total Party Kill” certainly look like adventurers may enjoy them… 6 sample events, from ill actors that need a stand in (bard – step forward!) to an actor needing his trusty bag o’ shrooms to act, the events are creative and nice.
Augustus Marlowe, just fyi, would be an NPC who gets a full statblock – he’s a bard (celebrity) of 15th level, so better don’t mess with the playwright! Speaking of playwrights: Finnley “Finn” McEwan, an inspired blade swashbuckler 7 would be another individual whose plays regularly grace the stage – and yes, he actually knows what he’s doing! Ina fantastic context, you can obviously expect more from a play than what we mortals on our good ole’ earth are accustomed to – and it would be Flibbidus Starriwynckles task to provide just that: The gnome acts as the trusty illusionist that keeps the plays engaging and action-packed.
Of course, the play does have actors as well – Corah Bousaid, Eldrin Semarantha, the platin-blonde tiefling Talia – these would be some of the fluff-only entries that paint a surprisingly diverse picture: Eldrin, for example, copes with her shyness by staying in character and actually is hinted to be bisexual. Kel Kellsen, a somewhat arrogant dwarf, but capable actor, makes for a nice twist of the self-proclaimed “lady’s man” – trope…and he actually has a secret that is decidedly non-sinister for a change. Of course, plays do require music and Curulaeron Meadowpane (“Please call me Cerulean.”), the elven musician does provide just that. Pretty cool – he actually is no bard…no siree, he is a druid with a penchant for plants, including a fully statted carnivorous plant he dotes on to accompany his stats. Oh, and his predilection towards plants extends to growing his own sort of “entertainment” – you know, he likes his home-grown… *cough* means of extending his consciousness.
Now, in the beginning, I mentioned the spell – you whisper a question to an arrow or bolt, which then spins to point in that direction. I like the visuals, but at 2nd level, it may be a bit high – I’d have made that a 1st level spell or cantrip.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Dire Rugrat Publishing’s two-column b/w-standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf’s cartography of the tavern is solid, though I wished a bigger version for kind-of-handout use was included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and art-wise, this deserves special mention: Each character herein gets a nice b/w-mugshot – particularly cool considering the low asking price.
Ken & Kelly Pawlik deliver in this tavern: Simon’s is an unconventional, interesting place full of quirky characters and a nice change of pace from more traditional taverns/restaurants. There is quite a lot of adventuring potential to be had here and the characters feel dynamic, alive and interesting. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform – an establishment well worth visiting.
You can get this flavorful, cool tavern and its colorful NPCs here on OBS!