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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles $2.00
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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World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles
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