EZG reviews Urban Dressing: Parks
This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page foreword/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After having dealt with the places of the dead, this installment deals with a place for the living to mingle – parks. We kick off with 4 different general types of parks – which is a bit basic for my tastes, but ok – after that paragraph (and don’t expect any crunchy bits this time around regarding general park types), we kick off with the first, massive table – 100 different parks await you using them:
There are secret gardens decorated with the statues of soldiers (or are they golems or petrified people?), boggy deer parks, parks containing shrines or temples (see the respective urban dressings for those) and parks containing amphitheaters.
Beyond this table, we gte 100 things to stumble over in a park – from silver bells to feathers to even a tarnished emerald (sans GP-value – why?) and baby chicks or explosive rune-protected treasure maps. Which omit the caster level.
After that, we get half a page DM-cheat-sheet – trees, cover, hedges, undergrowth -and all the resulting bonuses and penalties. Nice! The second half of the page is taken up by a d20-list of events and complications, ranging from drunken dwarves, mad beggars and overflowing sewers to “vicious animals” on the run. Neat!
As has become a tradition with this series, we also get 10 write-ups, fluff-only, of sample NPCs the PCs may encounter to drive your plots and create adventures around – or just act as scenery. These characters are fine, but after the installment on graveyards, they feel just not as inspired, which is a tad bit of a pity. There are some characters here this time around that simply aren’t as evocative.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. Both are fully bookmarked for your convenience.
It is a good thing author Brian Liberge waited with this installment for some others to release first – drawing in elements from the pdf on shrines, temples or graveyards is a smart move when taking care of a complex structure like a park. Unfortunately, it is not executed to the point where you’d consider it thorough. Parks contain A LOT of things and first of all, are defined as offering some nature, tamed and domesticated in the area of civilization. And there’s the problem. While the TYPE of park is covered, while things to stumble over are detailed, the things that MAKE a park are curiously absent: Where’s the vegetation? Is there weird grass? Flower beds? A pond? A lake? What kind of plants can be found? How are the park’s borders established? Is there a public well? A monument of the city’s founder/a noble? What type of ways are there? May anyone enter it?
Yes. Yes, I’m aware that my criticism may sound harsh, nitpicky and unfair towards the format – but I maintain that within the context of this series, this pdf fails to be a good park-generator. It’s a generator for what’s IN a park. The things PCs will stumble across anyway – from NPCs to items, these are not bad, not wrong – but they have derailed the focus of what this pdf should have accomplished. For me personally, this pdf fails completely to set out what it tried to do – painfully so, since it is simply not bad. But the fact remains that for people like me, expecting a generator for PARKS, not for things to meet/do IN PARKS, this doesn’t work – and while some of you will still enjoy this for what it delivers, I still can’t justify rating this higher than 3 stars – if this ever gets into a compilation, it is an easy and prime candidate to be expanded by 5 – 10 pages towards being the proper coverage of the topic – the talent’s there, now we need the scope.