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Tavern Denizens-Book I: The Dives
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 11:20:13
Intended to be the first part of a series that, so far as I can tell, never got any further than this, this is essentially a collection of 25 NPCs. They have no stats, although some are rated as above average for combat ability and the like. For many of them, you probably wouldn't need stats anyway, since they'll mainly serve as background flavour. Each typically has one or two paragraphs of description.

They are all of the kind that might be found in cheap taverns, whether because they're career criminals, outcasts of some kind, or just poor labourers. There's a good variety here, and plenty of ideas. Many of them could be used as NPCs in other contexts, although a tavern is as good a place as any to meet them. The book rounds out with a list of 20 plot ideas, some generic, and some tied to specific NPCs in the book.

A useful set of NPCs when you need to come up with some quickly.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tavern Denizens-Book I: The Dives
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Agouri's Scriptorium
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 10:58:09
This, the last in the City Streets series to date, describes the business of a scribe and translator, a somewhat unusual service that PCs might nonetheless find themselves in need of. The artwork is unusually good in this one, which is 5 pages in length, and everything else is up to the usual standards. There isn't really any kind of dark secret going on here, although there are six suggested plot hooks that can make use of the business and the diverse range of apprentices that the owner has gathered together. All in all, a useful product that should fit in almost any fantasy city with little, if any, modification.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Agouri's Scriptorium
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The Mug and Bottle
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 10:38:59
One of the darker entries in the City Streets series, this describes a drug den and brothel with some rather unpleasant goings on. The owner is suitably unpleasant, without being over-the-top, and it's likely that, in most campaigns, he'll be a minor villain rather than a helpful NPC. The descriptions are atmospheric, the artwork isn't bad, and layout, writing, and hand-drawn maps are all good, as usual.

Obviously, the fact that the place deals in drugs, and that these are a major element in what's going on, may not make it suitable for all campaigns, but it's more alluded to than described in detail, and certainly isn't glamourised, so I have no problem with it. A few drugs are described in general terms; two of these are real-world medieval drugs, and three are fictional, but quite plausible, even for a low-magic campaign. It should be easy enough to drop into most fantasy cities without modification.

(As an aside, contra the previous reviewer, there's no mention of heroin in my copy. Perhaps it was edited out at some point).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Mug and Bottle
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Brandy's by the Bay
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 10:22:34
A description of a relatively generic dockside tavern, this 6-page booklet is nicely done and can easily be dropped into any city that actually has docks, whether they're on the coast or just a large river. There's good descriptions of the proprietors, who, while with less of a dark secret than in other instalments in the City Streets series, still have potential to generate stories. Seven are provided at the end of the booklet, and there's plenty of opportunity to expand on them in a number of weighs. The use of old copyright-free art, rather than low quality drawings, is an improvement over some other booklets in the series.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brandy's by the Bay
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Siarl's Herbs and Elixirs
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 10:08:55
This 6-page instalment of the City Streets series provides a herbalist/alchemist's shop that, as usual, has a bit more going on behind the scenes. The artwork isn't quite up to the standards of earlier booklets in the series, but otherwise, it's well written and laid out, with decent hand-drawn maps. The secret in this case is one that makes perfect sense, while being fairly unusual, although it's arguably one that's slightly harder than usual to work into a game.

The booklet includes a brief description of some of the potions that Siarl can make, but this isn't really a book of potions, and most are fairly mundane (healing potions, for instance). Nonetheless, it's all good flavour, and some are a little unusual. There are, as usual, a number of plot hooks provided at the end to fit the shop into your campaign - and it shouldn't be a problem doing so in most settings. One of them does seem to come a little of left-field, as I'm not entirely clear what the motivation of the NPC is, but it should be dramatic if you can find a way to fit it in.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Siarl's Herbs and Elixirs
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Zinia's Spa
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 09:52:52
This is one of the longer offerings in the City Streets series, at nine pages. It describes a spa on the outskirts of town, and, since it relies on the presence of volcanic springs, might be harder than some others in the series to just put down in a random city. The quality of the writing, layout, and maps is about the same as usual, although one of the two pieces of artwork is pretty dreadful.

Although there is a theme to the location, it's perhaps less dramatic than for some of the others in the series, although certainly useful nonetheless. The booklet is longer than usual because of the large number of staff in the building, each of whom gets a short description. (And, it should be added, this is quite specifically a spa, not a brothel).

However, there is also an alternative version of the spa for use in higher magic or higher level campaigns. This is less developed than the main version, but the central theme is much the same, so a lot of the information in the main section will work for both versions. Each version of the spa also comes with five suggested plot hooks.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Zinia's Spa
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Miel's Curios
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 09:19:15
Another top quality instalment from the City Street series, this one covers what is essentially a jewellers' shop. As always, it's well written and laid out, with a decent quality hand-drawn plan of the building. The shop itself, isn't so much the point of the 5-page booklet, which is really a description of its mysterious owner and what he is up to. It's this that provides the real interest, and the six suggested plot hooks at the end. All of this is generic enough that it will fit into any city that has at least some kind of wealthy elite and a criminal underclass - which is surely most of them.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Miel's Curios
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Kagen's Books and Knowledge
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2013 09:06:00
A 5 page booklet describing a bookshop run by an elderly wizard with somewhat suspect dealings with the rich and powerful. It's simple, well-written, and with a decent hand-drawn plan of the building. It should generally be quite useful, and easy to port into most settings. It includes some suggestions as to how the location could be used in adventures, and provides a real spark of interest, without obviously being over-powered.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kagen's Books and Knowledge
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The Green Dragon
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2013 11:28:57
"The Green Dragon" describes that staple of fantasy gaming, a good quality inn with a mixed clientele. The inn is moderately sized, although not exactly large, and has a number of amenities in addition to the large tavern room. If you're looking for an inn to add to a city, or possibly even a more out-of-the-way location, this is a supplement, as with everything I've seen so far in the "City Streets" series, that's well worth the price.

The maps are hand-drawn, and not quite up the standard of those in the previous two entries in the series, but they're perfectly good for their intended purpose, showing all the key locations and giving a clear idea of scale. For some reason, each floor plan is repeated twice in the book, but even ignoring the duplicated bits, you have nine pages of content here, which is slightly more than in the earlier entries in the series.

Unlike those previous two, the plot hooks here aren't in the inn itself, or its history, but in the mixed bag of characters who call it home. They are well described, although statless, as this series is system neutral. For most, writing up stats shouldn't be hard in any system, but it's their backgrounds and personalities that make the place interesting. And, of course, that provide for the potential plots. Some are implicit simply in who they are, but a selection of plot ideas is provided for those who want something more explicit.

More than just a regular inn, this one provides plenty of opportunity for your PCs to get involved in the lives of its inhabitants, and get a short adventure or two out of it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Green Dragon
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The White Tankard
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2013 10:51:58
The fifth in the line of "City Streets" supplements, this follows the same format as its predecessors, including the duplication of the first four pages, explaining the method used to describe characters and locations. This is over a third of the content, and rather unnecessary, bearing in mind that you can get it free with "Gior's Glassworks". Failing that, it could at least be at the rear of the book as an appendix rather than appearing before the main content.

The remaining six pages make up for that, although not quite as well as in the second and third volumes. The sketch map floor-plans are good for their purpose, although, for some reason, they all appear twice. The location itself is a slum tavern used by the Thieves' Guild to make deals and by the scum of the city because there isn't anywhere cheaper. It's well described, coming across as a truly horrible place. Indeed, the fact that the depravity here sinks to child prostitution might be a little much for some groups.

Having said that, while it's a great as a ghastly hangout that even rogues would want to avoid if they had any alternative (which they may not, it being a Guild meeting place), it lacks the spark of originality in "The Lord's Kennels" and "The Black Ape". It's a good location, and a useful addition to any city that has a suitably large slum area and active criminal gangs, and it does include some good plot hooks, but this series has done even better.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The White Tankard
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The Lord's Kennel
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2013 10:21:19
The first booklet in the "City Streets" line after the free taster "Gior's Glassworks", this manages to improve on that initial effort. There are seven pages of content here, plus four pages explaining the generic system used to describe characters and locations in the series. These four pages are duplicates of those in "Gior's Glassworks", and, again, most of the information in them isn't really used elsewhere in the book (and is, by and large, fairly obvious anyway).

That aside, the rest of the booklet is of high quality. The artwork is greatly improved over that in the free taster, and the floor-plan of the building is also well drawn. The location itself is simply a dog's kennel used by the local nobility, and from which it is possible for PCs to buy dogs of their own. That might not seem very interesting, but it's woven in with a plot about the building's former purpose as a gaol that provides immediate fodder for a short scenario or two. Whereas "Gior's Glassworks" was a well described location that happened to have some plot hooks bolted onto it, here, the potential scenario is worked directly into the concept. And it is quite a good one, although it might need some tweaking depending on the nature and history of the city you wish to place it in.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lord's Kennel
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The Black Ape
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2013 09:51:39
This follows the standard format of the "City Streets" line, with four pages describing the generic system used to describe characters and locations in the remaining five. The layout is nice and clear, and the artwork is top quality. The floor plan of the location is also very nicely done, a good piece of hand-drawn mapping.

The building in this case is an inn on the docks, frequented by pirates and rowdy sailors. It is raised above the merely average by two key elements. Firstly, the Polynesian theme of the tavern is likely to be memorable in itself, and is described atmospherically. This alone makes it more than just another dockside tavern. And then there's the plot background, explaining how the inn came to be, which provides plenty of opportunity for a short scenario or two - a couple of specific story hooks are provided, if needed.

On the whole, an excellent booklet that describes a rare thing in urban supplements - a unique and memorable inn. It should slot neatly into any seaside fantasy city.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Ape
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Gior's Glassworks
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2013 09:15:26
This describes a typical glass-worker's business suitable for any fantasy city, and the people who work there. There are only 5 pages of actual content, with a further 4 pages explaining the generic terms used in the "City Streets" series (most of which is either fairly obvious, or not actually relevant to this product). The artwork is generally poor, but otherwise the editing and layout are competent, and the hand-drawn sketch map of the building shows all the salient points.

The actual description of the place and its inhabitants is the point of the booklet, though, and this is well done. The NPCs are well-rounded and believable, and should slot effectively into any fantasy urban setting. Three plot suggestions are provided at the end for using the location in-game, although the main purpose of the booklet is probably providing local background and rounding out a city setting.

On the whole, a good systemless product and worth picking up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gior's Glassworks
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Brandy's by the Bay
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2010 02:05:35
An attractive more-or-less systemless description of a welcoming dock-quarter tavern (including sensible suggestions to place it by many different docks) with a few secrets behind the scenes ready when it's time to make things more exciting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Brandy's by the Bay
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Summer Tavern Special
by Robert M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2009 02:03:36
I am very glad to see a compilation of these start to appear, hopefully this means a POD versions is coming soon. The good thing about this compilation is it cuts down the overall page count by giving the SPARKS info only one time. If you already own some of these take note of the little blurb to e-mail GU about getting a coupon of some kind.

For those of you who have yet to check these out, check the individual products for my reviews.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Summer Tavern Special
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