Now here is a good innovation -- a well-described city usable for pretty much any fantasy game system. Since there are no statistics, no numbers to crunch, etc., you can use this city in almost any game, assuming of course a "standard fantasy setting".
To start with, you get three files -- a cover, the description of the town, and a map. The map itself is no great shakes; it is fairly simplistic, but it does get the job done. Probably the biggest falldown with the map, other than the very simple graphics, is the fact that every building is numbered -- while this is great for a GM map, I prefer a "blank" map for my players.
The main file about the town itself, however, is a GREAT deal. It is 40pp long, no extra illustrations to cut into the text, and pretty standard borders, double columned, black & white and very plain. In other words, barring the TOC at the begining, you have 39pp of useful material.
The file starts with general information on the town -- economic and criminal activity, how "outsiders" are viewed, a short generalized history (no specific dates, so you can fit it into any timeline), and then a general run-down of the sections of the town and its major streets. Quick, to the point, easy to flesh out if you want more -- in many ways this part reminds me of the Harn supplements in that you can add in extra material with ease and the material that is there is useful without being "system intrusive".
The third part, starting on p5 of the document, gives details of each of the structures numbered on the map. Some of the places are called "A Large Farmhouse with Two Stables" or "Establishment of the Leather Worker and Tanner"; others are identified by signs (Thread & Needle, Image of a Blown Glass Vase). Some of these places list general kinds of goods available while others have more specific items. I might quibble that some of these shops, such as the armourer, seem overly well stocked is easily remidied. Personally, I love the write-up on the Sign of the Pickled Cucumber with its many vats of different kinds of pickled goods!
In addition to the goods sold, you find out about the look of the shop (or farm or house), as well as the attitude of the shopkeeper (or resident). Several of the shops also have notes tying their owners to other establishments, the criminal activity in the town, and other points of interest, thus making the town feel more "connected", rather than a random collection of shops.
Even if you don't like the town of Riverporte, per se, it is very easy to port businesses out of this town and put it in one of your own (again, the Sign of the Pickled Cucumber has just been moved into my own game world!). And since the only "mechanical" aspect of the game is prices listed in "gold coins, silver coins, and copper coins" (with broad definitions to transfer these prices into your own games currency), there would be very little lost in the translation.
The last two and a half pages is taken up with personalities of "The Homeless and the Destitute", thus moving you from merely having "street beggars" to instead dealing with Billford Norris or Carly Soote who have real personalities and aspects that you might like or dislike as individuals.
So, overall I'd say this product is a darn good bargain. It would make a great "base of operations" for many fantasy campaigns!<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Generic basis, no wasted space, connectedness of town, many personalities. <br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: Simplistic map<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>
[4 of 5 Stars!]