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Thursday, 8th July, 2010, 05:54 PM #1
Novice (Lvl 1)
Rel-Draxa—Dark Throne of the Western Shore
This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page credits, 1 page ad and one third page OGL, leaving about 10 and two thirds of a page for gaming material.
The cover artwork is nice, the interior b/w-art is also ok (albeit not as good as e.g. in the Raging Swan books).
I found only 2 minor glitches in the format and no glaring typos or mistakes.
To the content: Rel-Draxa is a supplement about a city, and an interesting one at that. The city is presented as having a turbulent, troubled past that lend themselves towards intrigue and could be described as a "Dark trade-hub built on ancient ruins with a swashbuckler-gone-paladin-mariner-queen and several unique and flavorful bits and pieces that serve to make the city unique, e.g. that 'Sair, abbreviated from corsair, is an honorific in the city.
The city features enough ideas and unique places to stand on its own, even when compared to other hubs like Freeport and Sasserine, which is not that easy. Rel-Draxa manages this via cultural bits and pieces, a slightly horror-themed nudge here and there and its rich history, as well as the 2 maps.
I love the maps. They are of a surprisingly high quality and very detailed, something I did not expect to get for 2 bucks. Each map takes up one 1 page, 1 showing only the village without quarter or street names, the other one including street names (Something I personally look for in any city supplement!), quarter names and the like. The bane of my existence as a DM, letters and numbers in my maps (I HATE THEM!), have been thankfully omitted, leading to beautiful maps you can hand out to any player.
The pdf also features some really cool ideas on how to make Rel-Draxa a planar hub.
Rel-Draxa is a beautiful pdf, especially for such a small publisher. It's expertly done, has an evocative flair and succeeds in the make-it-or-break-it-quality of any such supplement: Has it made me want to implement the town in my campaign and find ways to use it? The answer is yes. While the artwork could be a bit better, I won't complain about it, as the maps are superbly detailed. The prose and history of the city are engaging and deliver abundant hooks to draw in your PCs, including a tale of an artifact and an ancient evil.
However, if you're looking for some serious crunch, this is not the place to look for. If you're really into that, detract one star from the score, as the pdf doesn't really offer anything beside the city's stats.
If you need a hub-city to plug into your campaign, check this one out. It's well worth the two bucks. I'm definitely looking forward to the next Sagaworks adventure.
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