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Village Backdrop: Lady Cross (5e)
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2021 12:06:25

A crossroads village surrounded by a stockade with a watchtower at each of the 3 gates. A brief history of the village and details of 9 locations are provided..

There is also a whispers and rumours table and a 'village dressing' table.

Very useful.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lady Cross (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Thornhill (5e)
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2021 08:57:35

A village on the fringes of a swamp, exactly what I was looking for. There are 9 locations within the village and a nearby isle of lizardmen (again something I was looking for).

Eight npc's are detailed and there are two event tables for the two locations.

Overall excellent value for money.

Would have liked more locations detailed, so still some work for me to do.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Thornhill (5e)
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Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands (5e)
by Ruth M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2021 07:49:39

Disclaimer 1: I received this product for free in return for a review. Disclaimer 2: I have only read through the adventure; I haven't run it. I say this because reviewers often praise an adventure that reads good on paper but is totally DM-unfriendly to run.

There is a lot of great content here! It's not just the Keep of the title; there's also a detailed town and a surrounding wilderness. The town of Dulwich has so much happening that you might never bother to go to the dungeon at all. It feels like a real place. The wilderness is less thoroughly described but full of good ideas that could be fleshed out, and they tie in well to the Keep's backstory. Also, the Keep itself contains several different zones each with their own flavour, so different characters and different playing styles each get a turn to do their thing. The basic concept is generic enough to find a home in any typical fantasy campaign, but the backstory is sufficiently well worked out to make the place interesting to explore.

There's good interface between story and mechanics in things like the lists of specialty foods and drinks at different hostelries, the graded DCs for remembering lore about a location (the higher you roll, the more info you get), and especially the location descriptions. Things like walls, floors, lighting, even staircases do come into play mechanically and the succinct but creative descriptions give the DM plenty of fuel for bringing the world to life as a realistic place that can be interacted with. Another interesting mechanic is the timeline of potential events at the Keep. The author specifically says that you can use as much or as little of this as you like, but it helps to locate the Keep in time as well as space (the other actors don't wait passively for the PCs to act; they have their own agendas).

Above all, what I really liked was the presentation. The layout is aesthetically pleasing but also very fit-for-purpose: typography that actually fulfils its primary task of helping you navigate the material. Unlike what a lot of writers think, RPG adventures aren't a subgenre of fiction, they're an instructional genre. Raging Swan actually gets this. Rather than swathes of descriptive text that swamps the important game details and makes adaptation/improvisation very difficult, the information about each location is presented in more tabular or point form. It informs the DM but allows them creative space.

The maps and B&W illustrations, too, are helpful for explicating the content but also engage you with it emotionally. (There's some nice player handouts too.)

Child-friendliness: there are a few unimportant details you'd want to skip and a major encounter that would probably be too disturbing for anyone under 16. Otherwise, I think this would play pretty well with kids aged 10+.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for this detailed, thoughtful review, Ruth. I much appreciate the time you spent on it.
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands 2.0 (P1)
by Ron W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2021 13:03:51

The stand-alone Shadowed Keep is a classic and the Ashlar version feels polished and complete. It's unfortunate some of the original (and excellent) artwork didn't make the final cut, but the result is a glabrous old school aesthetic that puts corporate mannerists to shame. The new maps are gorgeous. Previously, each area of the keep was paired with relevant stat blocks and a compilation PDF was mercifully included. The new edition organizes everything into one bookmarked PDF (plus a version for mobile contraptions) with all encounter stats compiled at the very end. It likely comes down to preference, but this GM appreciates being able to quickly eye a nearby room's contents without changing pages. There are two minor issues worth noting, both of which are in the statistics appendix: Braal's domains are inconsistent with his Deities and Demons entry and Firean's abilities and equipment don't reflect her newfound faith. These are very minor and shouldn't impact gameplay, but attentive players familiar with the setting might bring it up (usually at the most impractical time). The town of Dulwich now feels alive and vibrant: new locations, new nutters, adventure hooks aplenty, and East Gate's owner has finally crawled out of bed. I did notice a rogue copy-paste sitting in the Golden Skull, but what else should you expect from a den of thieves? Dulwich has the potential to rival Languard in opportunities should a group prove sufficiently nosy. Additional distractions can also be found in the nearby wilderness including a small settlement easily adapted to deal with nonstandard PCs that are otherwise accustomed to torch-and-pitchfork welcomes.
All in all, this is a massive improvement over the original work.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands 2.0 (P1)
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Creator Reply:
Ron, thank you for the detailed review. I much appreciate it. I'm making a note of the errors you mention now, and I'll add them to my master copies for if/when I issue at update. Thanks again! I hope your players enjoy the module!
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
by Brad F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2021 10:55:37

Oh my, it has ALL THE THINGS! Whether you need a description for a magical mace you want your PCs to find or something in a creepy graveyard, this book has you covered. This system neutral resource gets used at my table all the time. I fully recommend getting this book and its sequel The Thingonomicon II.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you, Brad. Keep smashing out the verisimilitude! Game on! (And thank you for the kind words).
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by Brad F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2021 12:08:54

Are you stuck for a description of a magical staff your PCs just found? Do you need a quick background of a random tavern patron the PCs have suddenly taken interest in? This system neutral resource has you covered. I fully recommend getting this book and its predesessor The Thingonomicon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you, Brad. I much appreciate the review and the kind words. I hope the book makes your game easier.
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by Lorenzo C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2021 05:32:42

I do not have time to prepare my games. If it wasn't for Raging Swan Press books I would not be able to run my sessions. If you have already purchased their books in the past, go ahead. This one is of the same superb quality. If you have not, you are missing out. You could also support Raging Swan Press on Patreon and at the same time receive a cool PDF every week.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you, Lorenzo. I am delighted we help you have fun with your friends. (And thank you for mentioning our Patreon campaign). ;-)
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by IAN D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2021 17:23:16

I love Raging Swan products for two reasons. Firstly because of the production values, either in PDF or in print these products look and feel like high quality products, it is always easy to find what you are looking for. Which segues into the second reason, they are just incredibly useful to have in a DM's armoury. Looking for ideas? Pick this book up and I guarantee you will find something to get your creative juices bubbling within seconds. Looking for a quick NPC, a bit of narrative detail, something to give your adventure depth - really make the players feel like they are "there". Well it is all here, The Thingonomicon II brings another huge spectrum of tools into one place. Superb product, superbly delivered.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you, Ian. I am delighted you find this book so useful. Thank you for posting your thoughts, and good luck with your game. Go create your socks off!
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by Craig F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/28/2021 07:16:20

Huge fan of the quick NPC descriptions and dressing details that are thematic but easily inserted into a wide range of scenes to add colour and immersion. Great asset for story telling for busy DM's.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you, Craig. I'm delighted you like the book so much. Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. Good luck with your game.
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by Clint B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2021 06:52:57

A second book of rollable charts for us DMs? Yes please! There are 30 +/- charts within and each one goes into specific details.

Example: Alchemists and their Assistants 6 NPCs 20 Things to See in a Laboratory chart 20 Alchemical Mishaps 20 Complications & Opportunities

There are 30 +/- of these in this book. For a DM that works fulltime, has a wife and kids, and other things that pull me away from the game, things like the Thingonomicon I & II helps with prep time.

Great work Raging Swan Press!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank you, Clint! We sound like peas in a pod--job, wife, kids and a game that needs prepping. I hope T2 (and T1) reduce the stress of game prep.
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon II (System Neutral)
by Andrea M. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2021 05:39:15

Only got it last week and I haven't read it all - too much stuff in there. And as the first tome it is full to the brim with useful stuff. My head is already spinning so much ideas I got. If you like to save time as much for preparing your next gaming session as building your world - this is the thing. A BIIIIG collection of useful stuff.

If you like it - let me know and tell me your favorites. Good or good? If you don't like it - let me know too and especially how YOU would make it better. Deal?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
by Andrea M. M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2021 05:32:15

Having discovered Raging Swan many years ago - can't remember since when - and finding their products more than a bit useful and especially matching my style and helpful in my worldbuilding with The Thingonimcon you get it all in one piece. A big bag full of more than thousand ideas which will spark your ideas - garantied. If you don't know Raging Swan yet, THIS is the product to get to give you an idea what they are doing and how good their are doing. I didn't regret a second to having bought it.

Let me know if you are the same opinion and if not - I am curious what didn't suit you.

Cheers Andrea



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: The Thingonomicon (System Neutral)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you, Andrea, for your review. I'm delighted you've found this book so useful. I hope you get tons of use out of it and its brethren!
The Lonely Coast 2020 (5e)
by Ruth M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/19/2021 09:45:40

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the pdf of The Lonely Coast in return for reviewing it.

The Lonely Coast is not somewhere you'd go for your summer holidays. Rather than beaches and resorts, it has windblown cliffs frequented by smugglers and flesh-eating monsters, and seedy villages whose inhabitants are tired, inbred and frequently deranged. It's a nasty place full of people with nasty secrets and nasty habits. If you're finding the standard 5e setting a bit anodyne and can handle something that ventures into the darker corners of (fantasy) human nature, this may be the setting for you. Just make sure you have a frank discussion with your players ahead of time about comfort levels.

The Lonely Coast is most successful in its realistic evocation of small pre-industrial communities. Each settlement has its own distinct personality; the NPCs are well-drawn and interact in believable ways. Even when things get weird and creepy, they remain compelling because these still could be people you know. The occasional forays into cosmic horror, though, are out of scale with the rest of the setting.

What you get:

  • a map of the Lonely Coast and areas inland of it
  • information about the overall location, and suggestions for campaign use
  • charts of distances, the local calendar, weather
  • detailed content on each of five settlements (map, NPCs, local conflicts, adventure hooks...)
  • lots of tables for the Lonely Coast as a whole, and for each locality (rumours, events, set dressing...)
  • stat blocks for significant NPCs, a new playable race, a monster template and a couple of monsters

What you don't get: The blurb led me to expect much more detail on the Tangled Wood and some adventuring locations therein. Actually it gets very little coverage.

What I liked:

  • The layout is very nicely designed, and it works for its intended purpose. Good design aids communication.
  • Descriptive prose that paints evocative pictures without drawing attention to itself.
  • Generous amounts of line art that supports the text.
  • Weather tables that hit a good balance between detail (seasonal variation) and ease of use.
  • Tables, tables and more tables! Even if you don't use the setting as a whole, there is a lot of detail here to flesh out any town or village and make it feel more realistic.

What could be improved:

  • Some of the 'old school' tropes being employed are a bit icky. I tried not to be hyper-sensitive, but I do feel that more discretion could have been used in the hot-button areas of gender and race.
  • There are a lot of typos and similar infelicities which a solid proofread would have identified and dealt with. Most of them are minor but some of the more significant ones are: a 1e rule not converted to 5e; spelling of NPC names not consistent; one location flipflops between being a galley and being a gallery; an NPC is described in most places as human but in the main description block they are a half-orc; one list of NPCs is keyed to its map incorrectly.
  • The main map doesn't have a compass rose.
  • It would be handy to know (1) which previous Raging Swan publications are incorporated into this one; and (2) which separate adventure modules are keyed to Lonely Coast locations.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lonely Coast 2020 (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this thoughtful review, Ruth. I much appreciate you taking the time to post it. I'd love to know a bit more about what didn't work for you in regards the old school tropes. I believe you have my email addy so if you fancy dropping me a line I'd love to get your thoughts. (And perhaps a list of those typos you mention so I can fix them when I next update the book!) Again, thank you for your review!
Languard Locations: Beyond the Walls (5e)
by Clint B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2021 07:31:12

The party is finally leaving Languard by road and traveling across the nation, fortunate for them they found Jokinen Passenger & Freight just outside the city. Keep up the great work Raging Swan Press! Your suppliments are helping me bring Ashlar to life!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Languard Locations: Beyond the Walls (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Awesome! Thank you for the kind words, Clint. I much appreciate them! Good luck exploring Ashlar!
20 Things #64: On the Road (System Neutral Edition)
by Clint B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2021 07:28:14

We are hitting the road in my campain and this is packed full of what I needed. People they might pass by, Hazards they will come across, camp sites, and weather conditions. A perfect pickup for a few bucks that helps get the creative juices flowing to put it into my homebrew game. Keep up the excellent work Raging Swan Press!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #64: On the Road (System Neutral Edition)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for the kind words, Clint. I much appreciate them!
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