This installment of the Urban Dressing series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, so what one may easily forget these days would be that once, not all too long in the industrious past of us homo sapiens, rivers presented significant obstacles – I think it may take a hiking trip and stumbling over even a small river to drive home the importance of bridges for commerce and traveling – much more so when water may hide fantastic threats! Thus, it should come as no surprise, that at least partially the first 100-entry strong table of sights and sounds herein is devoted to the aspects of commerce and traveling…and, surprisingly, with an entry that should resonate with everyone: A sign ” You must be this tall to cross.” What’s obvious racism versus the small folks resonates because it quotes the “Must be this tall to ride”-signs we loathed in our childhoods. VERY smart! Similarly alive bridges that ask you to get off their back (or is it a camouflaged creature?) add a sense of the weird to the plentiful entries sporting more grounded, mundane things to behold.
The second table deals with businesses that can be found in bridge towns and from city engineers to rickshaws, tax offices and similar places, we have a nice array of diverse places that emphasize the theme and add dimensions to it – as soon as a bridge can only be covered by rickshaws, for example, you may wonder why…and perhaps your mind goes down the same paths as mine and thinks about aerial security like wyverns or manticores eating horses…
Now if that doesn’t do the job, then you’ll be very glad to see the deviation from the formula exhibited herein – for instead of fluffy NPC-write-ups, this installment features no less than 50 unique sample bridges: Whether one constructed from a huge skeleton, gargoyle-nests or bridges with central gongs – the entries are thoroughly inspired, remarkable indeed, and deserve being called great – personally, I hope for future installments to feature similarly evocative lists.
Finally, the book closes with 20 complications – which include the customary troll demanding payment to an odd phenomenon, where the PCs cross a bridge…and end off getting off a completely different one! This phenomenon alone is an adventure or even campaign in itself. And what if the mayor asks the PCs to round up homeless people? Do they accept for safe passage? Only you and your players will know once you visit these bridge towns.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ crisp two-column b/w-standard with nice, thematically-fitting b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions, one intended for screen-use and one intended for the printer.
Josh Vogt has turned the mixed bag of a series that urban Dressing once was and turned it into a reliable source of pure dressing-excellence, never really hesitating to try to one up himself. The deviation from the established formula of tables exhibited in this one further refines the series in my book, rendering this installment quite frankly pure, inspiring excellence – with his curious trademark blending of quasi-historical realism and the fantastic and yes, in instances, the weird, Josh Vogt delivers a furiously excellent Urban Dressing that stands out even among the numerous great installments he has crafted – my final verdict will hence clock in at five stars + seal of approval, granted without even the smallest semblance of a doubt.
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