Urban Dressing: Marsh Town
This installment of what I’d tentatively call the “new” Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We take a step on the soggy soil of a town in a ague-infested stretch of land -and as we do so, we look at a 100-entry strong table that tells us exactly what we can see and hear: From the dark, we may see red, bulbous eyes watching us, as frogs lend their cacophony to the dismal creaking evoked by the dilapidated state of the town. Boardwalks show signs of charring, speaking unheard tales of strange rites or punishments, as strands of thorny vines seem to move of their own accord just at the edge of one’s vision.
Sagging willow trees filter the light of the sun falling through the curtain of branches, as enormous lizards lounge and bask atop piles of rotten wood and townsfolk, under their stern, unimpressed gaze, cultivate gardens of vibrantly colored mosses. Yes, we seem to have stumbled into one intriguing place! Thus, we take a closer look at what this town offers – and indeed, businesses do exist here -a table of 50 of them provides more than ample opportunity to flesh out the unique inhabitants of this place.
If you’re looking to make it here, in this frontier, you may want to visit Pylough’s deeds, where you can purchase untamed swampland to cultivate…or perhaps, you are looking for fishing supplies? If more adventurous pursuits are what your heart craves, both mercenaries and archaeologists seem to always be looking for your type…just make sure you don’t end up in the local jail, aptly called “The Sinkhole.” If you risk going there, better visit “Stick in the Mud” before you do – that would be the local legal expert. And if something ails you…well, there obviously is a leecher to be found here!
But, as the old saying goes, it is the people that make a town, and as such, a table with 50 entries provides ample folk to meet: On these drenched streets, you may meet dwarven explorers looking for fabled treasures, traumatized and volatile ex-military half-elves, wanna-be-witches, alchemists who have lost their hair due to some sort of mishap and if you take a while and sit down, that disfigured gent may tell you all about how exactly he has lost both nose and ear.
Now all of this will undoubtedly occupy you for quite a while, but in case you are looking for something more, a total of 20 events and complications can catapult you and your friends right into the actions: See those will-o’-wisps flickering in the distance? Have you heard about the trapper who isn’t picky about the meat he sells? Heck, beyond these, the very construction of the town may provide an angle for you – after all, there is a real chance that buildings may start collapsing and sinking into the lightless depths where only the gods know what lurks. On a more lighthearted note: Have you heard the talk? The mud-run is almost upon the town and competing there would be pretty fun…right? At least if someone can take care of this plague of giant mosquitoes that suck people dry and then lay eggs in their corpses…
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. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions – one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.
Josh Vogt has taken the Urban Dressing series from being the one of the dressing-series I’d not consider perfect and expanded it far beyond its humble origins. Practically system-neutral, this exceedingly evocative dressing file is one inspiring array of options just waiting at your fingertips, sporting a great blend of the beautiful and horrendous, the mundane and the magical. I expected the whole theme to make this installment rather grim, though there is certainly beauty galore to be found in the marshes.
Well, turns out master Vogt seems to agree and does not fall into the classic issue regarding the trope of the marsh town: There are hints of the dark and horrific here, yes, but the pdf similarly provides enough material to make the places fleshed out not feel like hell-holes; instead, this provides a well-rounded, evocative trip through a marsh town, one that is guaranteed to enhance the game. And yes, basically everything I quoted was adapted directly from the tables herein. What more can you ask of a dressing file that such a broad scope of evocative prose? My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can get this cool, inexpensive dressing-file here on OBS!
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