An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ classic Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Now, the name “Tibol-Korrin” did evoke an expectation of elven settlements for me, perhaps due to being close to the Tiri Kitor of Red Hand of Doom in the melody of the word; however, Tibol-Korrin is something else. It’s something genius that I haven’t seen done in any comparable supplement. This place is a strait, important for seafaring merchants, as it is one of the few ways to access the landlocked baronies of Tibol and Korrin in a relatively safe manner. As is the wont with channels and straits like this, there is a lot of gold to be hand, and as such, it should come as no surprise that, sooner rather than later, violence erupted. Indeed, as the PCs visit this place, relationships between the baronies are stressed, to say the least. Officially, the baronies are in a state of war after disputes over tariffs…but, unlike what we’d expect, the strait is actually open! Yeah, I know, right? We all kinda expected that to be the task of the PCs here, but it’s not!
You see, a combination of economic necessity (wars are expensive) and burgeoning romance between two commanders has managed to put the place into what amounts to a fragile equilibrium that may well pave the round to peace…or escalate once more. On the Tibol side, the strait only sports a single permanent structure, Fort Teggin, whereas on the Korrin side, Korrin bastion looms, with both sporting towers with spyglasses and fire pits, mirroring ancient lighthouses. As an aside: I really like that these are firepit-based. It adds a gritty, grimier, medieval/antique feel to the place.
Now, as always, there are quite a few crunchy bits spliced into the description of this place. We get a brief section on local lore for PCs that do their legwork, notes on local dressing habits and nomenclature, as well as 6 different whispers and rumors for the PCs to unearth. The system neutral version sports a sensible marketplace of goods to purchase, adjusted to the realities of old-school gaming. The pdf also provides some suggestions on how to best use this.
Now, if the big picture situation on its own were not interesting enough, the pdf also provides detailed fluff-only write-ups for the romantically-involved commanders that have bridged the gap between baronies, of sorts at least. There is more to note here. A mad hermit has his own cove here, and while indeed insane, he once was an extremely potent spellcaster, driven mad by apocalyptic visions. Nowadays, the hermit (who also gets a detailed write-up; class references have been adjusted to reference old-school classes) considers himself to be the guardian, someone to stem the tide of darkness to come. Indeed, a subtle chthonic leitmotif can be found here and there in the supplement. The keyed locations sport read-aloud text and adventure hooks, both of which are utterly inspired. For example, a local diver is paranoid about a discovery he made. Beneath the waves, there are two jade fortresses, mirroring those atop the sheer cliffs…but what’s their significance? That is excellence, right there.
The pdf does more. It describes the vicinity of the strait in detail, and comes with a massive 20-entry global hook-list of dressings and events to bring the place to life. A rare fruit is watching hereabouts, nourishing and conveniently spiny, making for nice improvised weapons. A catapult remains peacebound for now…and amid gorgeous coves, the place where lovers jumped into the waves, ostensibly becoming merfolk, remains – legend, superstition, or dire foreshadowing? Beyond the global dressing/events table, we also get two localized event tables, both 6 entries strong, for two of the keyed locations.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports gorgeous b/w-artwork I haven’t seen before. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is great and the pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Mike Welham’s name on a roleplaying supplement is a pretty good indicator that you’ll receive something that is AT LEAST good, quite probably excellent. Tibol-Korrin belongs firmly in the latter category. Beyond the already intriguing basic set-up, the book goes one step beyond, time and again. We have a personal level; we have the potential for horror, for tragedy, for war, for peace. This supplement manages to marry a sort of melancholia inherent in the geography and situation, with an after-war world-weariness that is sharply contrasted with the presence of clear peace-indicators and the joys of burgeoning love. We add a sprinkle of sword & sorcery, a dash of what may be a fairy tale or a gothic tale of woe and tragedy, and have a location that manages to serve a vast variety of functions in your game. It should be seen as testament to his talent that the author managed to construct this place in a way that makes it possible to employ all these disparate elements at once and even brew them into a concise whole, all without making the place feel disjointed or artificial.
In short, this is an absolutely inspiring, glorious supplement that oozes flavor from each word, an exercise in super storytelling. The system neutral version, surprisingly, does not lose any of the small, compelling details and minor injections of rules material that made the other two versions work so well. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.