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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles $2.00
Average Rating:3.0 / 5
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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles
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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Pete S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2011 17:44:37
The Canterbury Isles is a setting supplement for the World of Arkara fantasy setting designed for the OSRIC™ system. I reviewed the overview for that setting HERE: http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?t=18407

Technical Details
The Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles is only 17 pages, with 3 of those pages being the cover, OGL, and map, so there are actually only 14 pages of content. Artwork consists of a few character poses, an area map of the isles, and a map of the largest human city of Bondaea. The area map is very good, in full color, and depicts several islands of various size surrounding the Sheltered Sea. The map of Bondaea City is functional, but not nearly as attractive.

The writing throughout is fairly clear. There were a few minor typos, the most jarring of which lists the Canterbury Isles as part of the World of Ariakus line (I’m assuming the world underwent a few name changes before publishing), but nothing that detracts too much from the reading,

Content
Despite its small page count, the Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles contains a lot of useful information. The Canterbury Isles are a frontier region once inhabited only by elves until humans came along and were allowed to settle. The humans immediately started logging and cultivating the land, which angered the elves and has led to raised tensions and even armed conflict.

Details for the major areas and settlements are provided, with enough information to get you started, but not so much that you feel cramped when designing adventures. These regions include a large mountain range, several forests, an abbey, a monastery, and several human cities and towns, including the city of Bondaea which is mapped and described in greater detail than the rest, and large enough to accommodate most urban adventures.

Lots and lots of adventure ideas are scattered throughout the text. Some of them are fairly standard (elves and humans not getting along) while others are pretty interesting (like the dwarf queen who bound her clan to a dragon in exchange for the dragon’s help taking revenge for her husband’s death). Other possible adventures include a band of malicious Quicklings, manipulative succubi, marauding ogres, lizard men, and batrachians, and a growing anti-nonhuman sentiment fostered by priests of an intolerant god. One thing I noticed is that some of the adventure seeds seem to enter that “gray area” some GMs like to avoid in their games. Subjects like racism (we’re talking “real” racism here, as in dwarf vs. human vs. elf, etc.) as well as dubiously heroic deeds such as poisoning the ogre clan’s food supply so that they die out during the winter may not be for everyone and are easily ignored.

Major NPCs such as the human duke, the elf queen, and others are given full writeups in the back of the book. These are good for inspiration, but I would probably modify some of their motivations and personalities if I were to use them. There are also two new classes, the Guardsman (a new specialized fighter-type class with its own abilities), and the Cloistered Cleric (a variant cleric class more like a scholarly monk).

Overall
This is a good product for any fantasy campaign setting. All of the conflicts are relevant to the isles, and the islands contain a good range of monsters and threats. You could easily begin a new campaign here and have the characters rise in level without ever leaving the isles. In fact, you don’t have to know anything else about Arkara to use this supplement. The fact that it’s self-contained makes it extremely useful and easy to drop into an existing campaign world. Of course, if you are using the World of Arkara, this product is a must-have as the maps, NPCs, and backgrounds all add depth to the setting.

At $2.00, it's well worth the download price.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles
Publisher: Vigilance Press
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/06/2009 10:00:17
The Canterbury Isles is a 17 pages PDF describing a region of the World of Arkara (which is a fantasy campaign setting for Osric and other retro-clones and simulacrum games).

The only map is the one shown on the book's cover. As in the Known Wold gazetteer review, I will say that the drawing is okay, but the lettering ugly. Then, the map could have included more information, at least it could have some roads indicated. Now I understand that the author may have budgetary constraints; however, in a perfect document, I would want a detailed black and white, line art map for this region.

Then, onto the PDF content: The first thing I read is a typo (or seems to be): "... the first supplement in the world of Ariakus". Is it not Arkara? There is a few areas described, with plot devices included that may help a DM generate some adventures. Then, there is the description of a city, though the (ugly) map depicts a small village in size. Afterwards we find several NPCs and two additional classes: the Cloistered Cleric and Guardsman. Overall, I am not really satisfied. So we have a generic setting, which is a good thing there, as far as I am concerned. However, I think it could have been implemented better. It seems to be mid-way between a fantasy world description and an adventure module. For example, there is no description of the region's climate, trade, main roads, statistics of population, various settlements' stat-blocks, etc., and of course there should have been random monster encounter tables for the region. On the other hand, description of NPCs are too long, fitting more a module format than a setting; in a setting I would have rather three lines for each of the few important NPCs, with vague descriptions such as "Fighter 7th", in order to have DMs tailor this as suits their needs.

Presentation: I don't know if it is me, but I found the writing style better than in the precedent PDF (Gazetteer of the Known World). However, I am still not in love with the art and layout of Arkara supplements. This light gray background brings nothing to the otherwise bland layout. There is two pics of dwarf and elf that are okay, but nothing that would represent the region (some landscapes, forests, castles, etc.). Then, the city map is just plain ugly. If I ever run the setting (which I very well could if I am to run a generic D&D setting), I just will have to re-draw that map entirely.

So, overall I am a little disappointed with this book. It has potential, but still lacks in its current form. Also, given it's 2$ per booklet, how much will cost the final setting when it will be completed at around 200 pages or so. 20$ for a PDF with so little artistic value is too expensive for me. Despite this, I would like to see this setting brought to completion with the stuff I expect in a campaign setting, with cool old-school b&w art, a nice color cover by some of the great DF artists, all of this in printed book available on LuLu.

I know I want much, but this setting has the potential for it. It just needs more work.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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