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Colonial Gothic: Locations

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Colonial Gothic: Locations
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Colonial Gothic: Locations
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/30/2012 08:20:31

Originally Posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/11/30/tabletop-review-colonial-gothic-locations/

Continuing the series of reviews of supplements for Colonial Gothic, today’s item is Locations. Be sure to check out The French & Indian War and The Templars as well.

This volume is large, clocking in at around 170 pages, and is chock-full of…what else? Theme!

A Tale of Towns

This book concerns itself with four towns in the New World: Plymouth, Elizabethtown, Savannah, and Charlotte Haven. Each town has an extensive writeup of the history, the notable people and locations (Real? Fictional?), events (fictional) that occurred in the town and when they occurred, a section detailing the people and circumstances behind the events, and some adventure seeds (called “Campaign Starts”).

The historical part of each section is, as usual, fascinating and a good summation of the general course of events in the place and how it may look at the current time (that is, somewhere between 1750 and 1800). The other parts are good as well, especially the one detailing how the town is situated and important buildings that the town contains. For me, the people around town are not as important, as I can just see the scenario in my head of players meeting someone important in town and then doing something ridiculous to/with them. Basically, I’d rather have players know the important people of the town just by their fame and not actually getting a chance to stand within arm’s length of them. Call me paranoid.

Adventures in a Colonial Wonderland

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find adventure seeds to be hard to run with most of the time. In Locations this is no different. The first adventure seed in the book is about a local werewolf, and I just am not interested in werewolf-hunting. No, no, it’s not because of Twilight, it’s because I don’t like playing the game where the object is to defeat the “Big Bad”. Can’t we make roleplaying more interesting than that? I would certainly like to try. The last adventure seed? Fighting a pirate ghost over his treasure. I’m not saying I could do any better, but dang I wish I could do better. I wish someone else would show me how!

I’m particularly interested in the intrigue side of Colonial Gothic, and that is where the “Societies” section of each town really excites me. Each town has a section for each of the major societies that operate in it; some are benign, some are not. Some are malicious, some are merely powerful or power-hungry. For instance, The Women’s Quilting Circle in Elizabethtown? It’s sort of a gossip group, it might be a potential source of information, and it might be a cover for some witch’s coven that preys on the new folks in town. Of course, whether or not this innocent crafts group unsuspectingly holds a dark secret is up to the GM, but the descriptions of the societies in the book are detailed and give the reader great ideas for what people actually DO around here, and paint places for things to occur, such as secret witch’s covens.

The Good and the Bad

There isn’t much more to say about this volume except that it is full of information. It is a really great resource for GMs and players alike to get more familiar with the Colonial period of American history. Brozek does a great job of giving a feel for the place, though I feel like her writing is weak when it comes to adventure hooks. Just reading through the section for a town fills your head with so many things that can spice up and add detail to your Colonial Gothic game, I would recommend this for anyone who is having players spend some time in a town that isn’t one of the really major ones like Boston.

Production-wise, I continue to be disappointed that Rogue Games does not think it is important to add fresh and quality artwork to their books. It is a little disconcerting to see them charging $20+ (albeit for the print version) and using cliparts of varying quality that look like they either ripped them from Google Images or raided a library for old books and scanned the illustrations. Also, this book could use a little proofreading as I found more than a few typos and one place where it looked like information was cut and pasted, then changed slightly to accommodate the location. Besides that, if you are not on a tight budget and enjoy this game then I would definitely recommend this book, especially for GMs. I don’t know if I would pay what they are asking for the print version, but for the PDF I could spare eight bucks. Plus it’s good to support writers who make RPG content. As for Rogue Games…I don’t know what to do with you. I love your game, but the products you are putting out for it need more love and attention. Please take note.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Colonial Gothic: Locations
Publisher: Rogue Games, Inc
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/11/2012 08:46:49

The Introduction sets the scene: this book contains four very detailed locations, settlements within the Thirteen Colonies and elsewhere on the North American continent that can provide suitable settings for your adventures. The descriptions include each place's history as well as notable current inhabitants, mysteries and intrigues - plenty to spawn ideas for adventure there. The first two - Plymouth and Elizabethtown - have previous Colonial Gothic supplements dedicated to them, but even if you already have them the information is expanded on here, and of course there are two new places as well, Savannah and the new settlement of Charlotte Haven in Florida, a territory only recently acquired by the British.

First up, Plymouth. One of the oldest settlements in the Colonies, and the place where the Pilgrim Fathers first settled, it's to the south of Boston and serves as a major port. We first read of the town's history, a rich and detailed one, and learn of the original inhabitants, the Native American tribe the Wampanoag. It makes for fascinating reading, and the historical material is accurate and informative. Ironically, it appears that the original Puritan settlers, despite being motivated by a desire for freedom to practice their chosen faith, had little tolerance for anyone else's religious freedom! By the 1770s, the period in which Colonial Gothic is set, most had moved elsewhere and the predominent denomination was Roman Catholic.

The history section is followed by one about the people and places of note in the 1770s. There are a lot of well-developed people who will prove invaluable as NPCs whenever your characters visit, all with their own lives to lead and ambitions to pursue which adds to the sense of reality. This leads on to a section on Societies, the various groups which meet or associate in the township to various ends. Some have both overt and covert intentions, you'll generally only find out about the latter if you are invited to join.

Next is a section on Events and Mysteries. Whilst at least some of the earlier material could be made available to players, this is definitely 'GM only' stuff, things that can take place during play, perhaps spawning whole adventures of themselves. The ideas are presented as letters, which could be sent to the characters (or found by them) as a jumping-off point, although you will need to develop the events mentioned in each letter to make a full adventure of them. Even if your plot deals with other matters, throw a few in as background events to help the place come alive.

This is followed by Mysteries Revealed. Herein lies all manner of truth about the people, societies and events that have been mentioned earlier, so as to inform the GM's development of plotlines and adventures. To round up the information on Plymouth, there are two Campaign Starts - actually outline campaigns based in and around Plymouth for you to use as a basis for your stories. Each has several hooks, details of what is going on and a basic timeline of events.

Next comes information on Elizabethtown. Opening with a map (something lacking for Plymouth) and the history of the town, this part of the book follows the same pattern as that for Plymouth: history, people, places and so on. Elizabethtown has its own character, well-developed and distinctive, with its own secrets and scope for adventure... and, it appears, more of a penchant for evil! Perhaps that's why there is a list of monsters including in this section, one of which features in the associated campaign outline.

We then move on to Savannah, in the colony of Georgia. It is but recently established, in 1733, and has been laid out according to a definite plan. It is a trading centre, quite cosmopolitan and a place where the devout of several faiths can find a place to worship.

The Savannah section includes some notices and graffiti found around the township, an interesting and colourful addition to the rumours and events also presented. Several strands come together in the campaign outline, giving you scope to embed it well into the ongoing story of the settlement as well as making it the focus of your adventures.

Finally, the settlement of Charlotte Haven in Florida is presented in similar detail. Originally colonised in the sixteenth century by Spain, Florida was ceded to Britain in 1763. Charlotte Haven is a fishing port, the local soil is not conducive to food production although mangrove trees grow well and the wood is exported. It is, however, a nodal point for spies and conspirators with everyone - Spanish, British Loyalists and budding revolutionaries - wanting a foodhold in Florida, as well as being a known refuge for escaped slaves. Plenty of scope for those who thrive on intrigue! The Events and Mysteries in this section are presented as snippets of conversation: GMs who like role-playing their NPCs could have the characters overhear these as starting points for adventure. The campaign outline is a fine romp concerning pirate treasure and 'Siempre Protege' - a mysterious person (or is it organisation) that seems to have a hand in just about everything that happens in town.

Beautifully presented with a wealth of period-style woodcut illustrations and snippets of period maps, there are signs of a lack of proof-reading, as if the author got carried away scribbling ideas as fast as they occurred and never read it over throughly. However, that's a niggle rather than a real flaw (the teacher in me!), and this is a fine work providing four well-detailed towns for your characters to visit or even settle in, scattered around the America of revolutionary days, thoroughly recommended!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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