Whispers & Rumours: Borderland Town (system neutral)
This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Once upon a time, rumor tables were a common thing you expected to find in a given module – while nowadays, they are, at best, rare occurrences. The pdf thus begins with a brief “how to”-list for GMs on how to employ these rumors with maximum efficiency – they can, if handled well, provide depth, make the world feel alive and steer the plot – or provide red herrings and local interests unrelated to the module. As such, the introductory page dealing with these and how to find them can be considered particularly helpful for GMs who missed the golden age of sandboxing, if you will.
After this, we begin with the first table, which spans no less than 3 full pages, delivering 100 local events that not only provide local color, they actually can double as adventure hooks: I mean, have you seen the town’s beauty wearing the red ribbon on her throat that means she’s spoken for? But who could the suitor be? And have you noticed those strange toadstools cropping up around the place? You know that they bespeak fey activity, right? More mundane rumors like local burglaries, domestic disputes or a recent call from the militia can be found, neck to neck, with the arrivals of tinkers in town. These would be the general, local color-type of rumors.
The second table herein, in contrast to that, does feature significantly more detailed hooks – basically adventure-igniting, very detailed set-ups: The table covers 20 entries and spans 2 pages: From gold being discovered and the springing up of shanty towns and such gold rush scenarios to human bodies being found in poacher’s pits (pits where animal carcasses are thrown) or talks of new ways to pubish criminals – these events are very much evocative and versatile.
The third table, once again spanning no less than 20 entries, allows for easy combinations with the former – here, local legends are depicted: From scarecrows animating to the Fall of Tears, ostensibly a gateway to the realm of fey on holy nights to a stream that ostensibly is capable of removing the weight of the years when drunk from near its source, these legends add the mythological dimension and the supernatural to the proceedings – which means you have pretty much everything you need to craft/improvise a module here.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions – one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use.
Neal Litherland’s collection of rumors, legends and events is amazing – the combination of local color, legends and events can result in truly inspiring environments or adventures. The respective entries are detailed and run the gamut from mundane to magical with panache aplomb.
The system-neutral version is 100% identical (apart from the cover) with the just as system-neutral black-covered version – but in this iteration I can’t well complain about an absence of mechanics now, can I? As a system-neutral dressing file, this very much excels and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.
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