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Adventure Havens: Library Lore $2.99 $1.50
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Adventure Havens: Library Lore
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Adventure Havens: Library Lore
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Christopher H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/14/2008 02:22:26

I've had very good luck with Bards & Sages products in the past, but this one was, frankly, much less impressive. The problems begin already on p. 4--the first page of actual content--where the author refers to a previously unmentioned "multi-library quest" to find "the Astral Fortress." Nothing in the document prepares readers for this; all that precedes this notice is an explanation of the library stat block format used throughout the product. The author doesn't even begin to explain this "quest" until p. 36 of a 42-page product. Perhaps the author wanted the DM to "experience" the quest in a manner that mirrors the PCs' experience in visiting various libraries and assembling various clues, but as a DM seeking to use this product in a home campaign, I would call that a very poor and off-putting choice. This feature was a disincentive even to read past p. 4.

Moreover--especially egregious in a product that's supposed to be about centers of learning--the product suffers from frequently errors in spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics. Already on p. 4, the reader encounters such mistakes as a reference to "story arches" instead of "story arcs" and the "peek times" (the correct phrase is "peak times") for library traffic. Later, readers encounter a library that has some books "for sell" (the author should have written, "for sale"). The formatting of the stat block varies from line to line, and various punctuation marks are either misplaced or missing. I counted five errors of punctuation or capitalization in the first three paragraphs alone. That sort of thing immediately removes all presumption of confidence in the quality of the work. I'm a college professor, and if a student handed in a paper with that many errors in the first three paragraphs, I would not even bother to read the rest of it; I'd give it back and insist on better proofreading and revision before spending my time trying to give it a grade.

Moreover, the author's assumptions about shelf space seem quite wrong to me. The author states that a "ten foot high, three foot wide, bookshelf can hold between 100 large tomes or 1,000 small ones" (p. 4; all grammatical errors in this quotation are in the original). I'm not sure what dimensions the author imagines for a "small tome," but I'm sitting next to a three-foot-wide bookshelf right now, and the top shelf has 31 books on it. (The thinnest is "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"; the thickest is the "Lord of the Rings" three-in-one movie tie-in paperback). I've been in quite a few modern libraries, and I've rarely seen one with ten-foot-high bookshelves, but let's work with that for a minute. If the vertical space allotted to each shelf is about one foot, that gives you ten of those three-foot-wide shelves on which to put your library books. Ten three-foot-wide shelves gives you, obviously, a total of 30 horizontal feet or 360 horizontal inches in which to store your books. In order to fit 1,000 "small tomes" into that space, each of those "small tomes" must average no more than 0.36" thick, less than half the thickness of the D&D 4e Player's Handbook. Somehow, I just can't picture many tomes in a fantasy RPG world being quite that small. The books in the illustration on p. 7 are certainly much thicker than 0.36"! The numbers at the "low end" of the scale work fine, but at the "high end," they're way off.

I tried to hang in with Library Lore a bit longer, especially because my current D&D campaign requires the PCs to search for a particular book--and what better place to look for a book than in a library? Frankly, my esteem for the product didn't grow as I read through it. I really wanted to like this product, but it's just not very well done. The artwork and layout are unattractive and, in some ways, not very useful; for example, the subheadings within a library write-up are larger than the type that introduces each library to begin with (in the stat block). Too much of the detail given about each library ties into the "multi-library quest," an element that isn't even mentioned at all in the product description!

But what about the libraries themselves? "Arnie's Library" has an entertaining patron, but otherwise offers relatively thin story possibilities unless the DM is using the "multi-library quest" (or the PCs try to break in when Arnie's not around). "The Corner Store" offers even less if you're not using the "multi-library quest"; the proprietor serves chiefly as a vehicle for inexplicably giving the PCs a magic item. The "Echo Library" offers some very interesting possibilities, if an enterprising DM chooses to develop one of the bullet-point adventure seeds. "Gadget Hall" is rather too "steampunk" for my tastes (one of the proprietors is close to inventing the parachute?). I like the idea of the "Grass Lot," but the product focuses on developing a link from the Grass Lot back to Gadget Hall in service of the "multi-library quest" instead of enhancing one's sense of the library itself. "Grom's Library" introduces a quasi-dungeon crawl into the product. The "Halls of Steel," a dwarven mining and stonecutting library, feels awfully stereotypical. The idea behind the "House of Cards" is pretty entertaining, but following the plot suggested forces the PCs to go to one of the other libraries. Using the "Knowwood Forest" as written requires the DM to insert a "Knowwood" and a "Darkwood" into his or her campaign, a proposition that some may find disagreeable; moreover, a forest library run by elves and featuring books written on leaves is every bit as stereotypical as the dwarven mining library. Similarly, using "North Legal South Law" in your campaign requires you to import a whole bunch of the author's campaign assumptions into your own setting. The "Rainbow Paradise" is apparently supposed to be set on a tropical island, but how you get it close enough to the other libraries (which don't fit naturally on a tropical island) to make the "multi-library quest" workable--in a way that doesn't stretch the imagination too far--is a little beyond me. Finally, one gets to the "Astral Fortress," the target of the multi-library quest.

Oh, and one more complaint: there are too many dragons in this product! "Arnie's Library" involves a red dragon; some patrons suspect that the proprietor of the "Corner Store" has dragon blood; "Gadget Hall" involves a blue dragon; a half-dragon is on the staff of "Grom's Library"; a green dragon figures in one of the "Knowwood" adventure hooks; and a "redeemed" red dragon apparently lives in the "Astral Fortress." One dragon might have been okay, but this is overkill.

I had high hopes for this product and ended up very disappointed.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Havens: Library Lore
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/13/2007 00:00:00

I like an adventure that encompasses more than hearing a rumor at a tavern and going into a dungeon. Adventure Havens: Library Lore, adds another location element to your Dungeons and Dragons games by providing 12 stocked libraries ready for implementation into your games.

Though not the most well designed book, the writeups of the various libraries are distinct and detailed enough to break the rutt of the Tavern to Dungeon highway.

Adventure Havens: Library Lore, a follow up by publisher Bards and Sages to their equally as informational Tavern Tales, is 50 pages of solid writing. Each Library entry begins with basic stats for the library including owner, floors and number of books. From there, they go into the history and regulars in the library. The writers do a nice job of introducing a feint adventure hook into every few paragraphs. Towards the end of the description, each entry contains one or more adventure seeds that can be used to sprout off adventures. Some seeds area bit more detailed than others, whereas the Gadget Hall had an unexciting seed about Halfling rumormongers, the Grom?s Library had the pretty cool trials in Quest for the perfect Thief.

Hampering the reading of Library Lore, the books layout is most unimpressive. Though it appears to be a similar layout to Tavern Tales, it seems that the entries are more bunched together and hard to distinguish from one another. The book is well-bookmarked with the entry and its elements all just a click a way. If not for this, it would be difficult to maneuver around the book.

Also, enlight of the adventure hook elements of the libraries, descriptions and people, there does not appear to be a ton of stuff to aid in the main purpose of the library, finding and retrieving books. It feels like the libraries are there to generate new stories instead of help move old stories. I would have liked to see a listing of more books, perhaps some new methods to aid current adventures.

For the DM The North Legal South Library is a different kind of building for a fantasy genre. It houses legality for several regions and could easily fit into a dozen different campaigns. There are several research methods provided as well. This is one of the most well balanced entries. Those looking for a good adventure hook will also enjoy the Astral Fortress, which contains a series of arcing adventure plots. The descriptions are written as such that you can easily place your own items and flavor inside.

The Iron Word Design snafus aside, Library Lore provides a dozen sound libraries that will bring a unique flavor to a game dulled by the same old thing. Several of the libraries are designed finely enough that they would be worth integrating into a current plot line as well.
<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: - Each library is written and described as so to be unique from the others. YOu get 12 different flavors

  • some of the entries reallys and out, and are worth putting in multiple adventures asdifferent versions
  • I enjoy the direction of the Adventure havens lines, there are some nice seeds in them<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: - the layout was hard to read
  • I wanted more research methods and book information
  • Too much cartoony artwork came off as cheesy. I don't mind the cartoon stuff in moderation, but some different artwork would have brought out the unique flavor of each entry. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Havens: Library Lore
Publisher: Bards and Sages
by Brian C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/02/2007 00:00:00

Library Lore is worth the price just for the NPCs alone. There are dozens on NPCs in this book, from challenge rating 1 all the way up to 30, and it even includes some dragons as NPCs. Some of the NPCs are generic guards, commoners, and such that are meant as background characters. But most of them come with not only full stats but also detailed histories. There is a nice index that sorts them all by name, race, and level so that if you need an NPC for an X level encounter quickly you can just find it no problem.

But the purpose of this booklet is to make libraries exciting. I think a lot of DMs handwave it when PCs say they are going to gather information or research something, and don?t much think about where they are going to get the information in the first place. This product does a nice job of giving you a reason to actually go to the library and explore it. Some of the libraries, like the Corner Store, are more like a fantasy version of Borders. They serve as an information gathering place for the locals to read books, gossip, drink coffee, or whatever. Gadget Hall is less a library than a gnomish workshop, with not only collections of books but rentable work benches to run experiments and such. Many of the libraries double as something else. Grom?s Library is actually a giant underground proving ground for rogues, as an example. The Halls of Steel are built above a dwarven mine. Which kind of makes sense, since I don?t think a fantasy world would often have a dedicated library system.

Oddly, I guess I was expecting a librarian NPC class or something, but the product doesn?t offer any new classes, and only a handful of new feats. The bulk of the product is to provide locations, NPCs, and ideas. In that, it does a good job. Each library has a listing of seed ideas, and the NPC histories include are sure to inspire ideas of their own. The mini-quests are interesting, though some feel slightly contrived. Many of them are suppose to tie in to a multi-library quest that leads to the discovery of a library on the astral plane. It?s difficult to pick up the clues at first, though thankfully the writer included an appendix that actually spells out where the clues are and how they all connect.

I really liked the art in this. It?s sort of a fantasy cartoonish feel that works with the concept. Layout was nice and easy to read. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Plenty of NPCs and ideas. Very nice artwork.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: multi-library quest a bit hard to follow.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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