This installment of what I’d tentatively call the “new” Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
First: What do I mean by “new” Urban Dressing? Well, the first run of the series had a certain hit-and-miss quality; It endeavored to take components of the city and use the Dressing-formula to depict them. Alas, cities are complex and organic and the success not always guaranteed. Then, with a certain pirate town, the series changed – away from describing a single component (like a park/temple etc. and failing to take some moving bit or another into account), instead focusing on a general theme and the means for the DM to evoke this theme. This, then would be the second of these new Urban Dressings.
We kick off this UD with a massive, 100-entry-strong table of sights and sounds – from taskmaster’s whips a-crackin’ to prostitutes, desolate picks and wheel marks embedded deep in the mud, to essentially miner gangs/factions or just singing people – there is a lot to see and embellish here.
Now the business-section deserves special mention in this file -a total of 50 different entries can be found herein and range from guild halls to shoemakers and drug dens to even people where you can buy bad luck and curses to get rid of your rivals and foes – and yes, the latter example just screams murder-investigation to me and immediately made me come up with a complex module.
Now if you’re like me, there is one thing annoying about designing settlements – the non-story-relevant NPCs. You know, the guys that have a name and look only so that your plot points don’t stick out like sore thumbs. Well, this pdf provides a total of 50 short fluffy descriptions of sample characters, with suggested alignment/class/race info in brackets. Why do I consider that awesome? Because, apart from making the world more dynamic and believable, it helps add a sense of momentum to the game – what may just have been a note may resonate with your players, resulting in extensive development of such a sketch and adventures beyond that – and this organic growth is what makes a town come to life. It does help that the characters here run the gamut from bitter, old crones with a slight magical aptitude to philanthropic ladies of the elven aristocracy. Two thumbs up!
The final page, then, covers different complications, which range from eerie green mist rising from the ground to cave-ins, mysterious perpetrators breaking every piece of mining equipment in town to gas explosions and troll/bugbear bouncers/suppression tools – each of these is varied and should at least be able to spark one full session of adventuring, perhaps even more. They also run the gamut from relatively common to weird and span thus a range for various playstyles.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions – one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.
Josh Vogt’s Mining Towns are in one word, awesome. The plethora of local color one can add via this pdf to any mining town is impressive, diverse and just smells of grime, dust and hard work – and I love it! This is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval for its creativity and diversity.