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    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises $0.00
    Average Rating:4.4 / 5
    Ratings Reviews Total
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    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
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    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 05/09/2013 13:30:20

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Dungeon Dressing-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover,1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let us take a look, shall we?

    As with many installments of the dungeon dressing-series, we kick this one off with an array of basic stats that provide us with hardness, AC, HP etc. of varying types of portcullises, covering this time around even adamantine, mithril, stone and similar exotic materials as well as the more common wooden versions. Oh, and necromancers will want to take a look at those made of bone. Further modification of these basic characteristics is possible via 5 conditions and 3 mechanisms,rope/chain pulleys, the winch and the weight-based mechanism to lower and raise them.

    So far, so good, let’s look at the tables! Unless I miscounted, we get 46 entries on the first table and includes basic twinned portcullises, surrounding dressings in the shape of demonic maws and even being made of magnetic ore (which is twisted and a VERY cool idea) – there are also portcullises made from mildly poisonous tropical wood and some additionally secured with bolts. While some of the dressings are cosmetic, e.g. said bolts actually modify the portcullises rules and thus make them more versatile also on a mechanic side.

    The second table of the pdf provides us with a full array of 100 different entries that cover being half open, dripping with ooze-like substances or being rusted into place. Again, the massive amount of entries here and there features entries that influence the respective rules.

    The final two pages are devoted to 3 sample traps involving portcullises – from teh CR 4 basic falling portcullis to ones that also topple (whether by intention or neglect) as well as a deadly CR 15 portcullis that has the spirit of a banshee (!!) bound to it – with deadly consequences. It should be noted that we get these via multi-rounds effects, variants and an extremely handy sidebar that covers being attacked by a portcullis depending on size – can the hardy dfwarf survive being squashed by it?

    Conclusion:

    Editing and formatting are top-notch as we’ve come to expect from RSP, I didn’t notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen use and one to be printed out.

    Portcullises are one of the most underused features in any roleplaying-game fortress and dungeon – they are iconic and foreboding and provide some nasty tactical advantages when used properly. Hence, I was rather glad to see this particular installment of the line come out and what can I say – author Aaron Bailey delivers with a great installment that should have you all covered regarding teh defenses of your structures. One of the finest installments before RSP made it free – and even FOR FREE NOW??? An easy, no-brainer candidate for 5 stars + seal of approval – congrats to the author!

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Jeff L. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/30/2013 14:15:54

    This product harkens back to the days of 1st edition AD&D, where the Dungeon Master's Guide had appendices full of random tables providing details for the DM making up a dungeon on the fly.

    Raging Swan has taken one particular feature, the portcullis, and provided the mechanics (in game features of the portcullis, variances for construction materials and the conditions they're in, as well as lifting mechanisms) along with two mechanical traps (the falling and toppling portcullises) and a nasty magical trap in the wailing portcullis (every evil necromancer on the block will want one for his inner sanctum).

    And, of course, the flavor. The bulk of the pdf is a random table with a hundred different details that can be ascribed to a dungeon portcullis. These could leave PCs scratching their heads, or inspire a GM to produce an encounter to await them beyond the barrier. All in all, very good stuff.

    If I have any complaints about the product at all, it would be the wish for a bit more art. If nothing else, there's a lot of white space on the title page that was begging for something to be placed in it. Even a simple portcullis design centered above the title would have been sufficient. Still, for the price tag, this can't be beat.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks very much, Jeff. I'm a bit of an Old School chap myself, so I'm glad you got that vibe from Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises.
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Stephen S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/30/2013 06:27:28

    This is a product that make me as a GM have dozens of cool ideas on how to integrate the contents of it into a cool encounter, adventure, and even sometimes a whole series of adventures. I loved the different materials used to construct some portcullises, the mechanics behind if/when a portcullis falls on someone or some people, the traps involved in other portcullises and the ideas presented in how much visibility there is from behind one. This is a no-brainer to me (especially as it is free!) as it will save me a ton of prep work, enhance my games, and encourage me to use a fairly standard bit of dungeon dressing in a much more creative fashion. Well worth the $1.99 that this was priced at. The only real drawback to me: it hurts my heart to print the solid black cover and last page but I needed to for the total effect. I would have knocked it down to a 4.5 or 4.75 but I discovered a alternate cover 3 pages in that is better for printing so a 5 is well deserved. Excellent design, well put together and something that every GM can use. I believe I am going to be a Raging Swan fan now....



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks, Stephen! I'm absolutely delighted you enjoyed Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises. I'm particularly delighted also to welcome you into the Swan's lair...
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Adam C. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/29/2013 09:40:58

    While not the last word possible on the subject, the six pages at the heart of this document provide ample to make a portcullis a more interesting part of the dungeon.

    Its main lack is that the artwork while possessed of a certain charm does not add much to the information content. A diagram showing the various methods of raising and lowering a portcullis might give a better feel for the amount of space and support such a device needs.

    That one understandable lack excepted this is a competent product produced in a workman like fashion. I especially appreciated the inclusion of the Attacking with a Portcullis table.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thank you for the comments, Adam. the diagram idea is a great one. I wish I'd thought of it.
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Glen L. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/28/2013 11:14:06

    Aaron turns the simple portcullis - a glorified door sometimes used to crush people - into the centerpiece of any dungeon.

    Presentation Although the art asset in the introduction could surely be improved, that's just an art asset in the introduction. It doesn't interfere with the use of the product at all; I've found Raging Swan's formatting consistently easy to use and effective.

    The Meat This is the most boggling part: how many ways a portcullis become an object of beauty, fear or wonder - who tried to besiege it with a battering ram? A number of materials that a portcullis could be made of (including bone), the different ways one can be operated, states of dilapidation or excellence are all considered (and more), as well as two d100 charts of interesting descriptors and modifications to bring the dungeon to life. Then there's the three trap types (my favorite being the Toppling portcullis - squash the PCs!).

    An all round wonderfully executed and clearly well thought out piece, Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises is bound to give any GM at least a few "oh, that's going to be fun" moments. Exactly what I'd expect from Raging Swan.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks, Aaron! I much appreciate your time spent writing this review. I'm delighted you enjoyed DD: Portcullises so much!
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
    Date Added: 04/28/2013 10:35:35

    I'll be honest, this was a surprisingly good product considering it's superficially a stupid idea. Who wants to bother with "Sourcebook: A Particular Kind of Door"? But the author clearly put enough thought into the use of a portcullis in one's game to give you a few guideposts to more than that. Only a few, unfortunately. The bulk of the real content (which is only half the page count) is composed of typical D&D random qualities tables and charts. To be fair, I'm not a big fan of that kind of stuff in the first place, so to someone more friendly to the format it shouldn't be remarkable. The most interesting aspects of the product are the hints here and there of how and why you should care to deliberately use a portcullis in your game, beyond its simple door-y nature. It can be a receptacle for strange enchantments and art, and it can be an avenue of attack.

    The reason I'm reviewing this product at all is because of a little tantrum thrown by somebody completely unrelated to this product. While their weird accusations were laughable on their face, Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press took the time to show up in the midst of it, acted kindly, and then changed this product's price from $2 to free. Classy.

    Pros:

    • It might spark interesting ideas for new obstacles in your games, by transplanting what's in it or modifying it to fit things other than portcullises.

    • Raging Swan Press' Mr. Broadhurst seems like a chill dude. By supporting this product you are supporting chill folk.

    Cons:

    • The PDF is listed as 10 pages on DTRPG, it contains 13 pages, and only 6 of its pages are really game material. There's a lot of white space.

    • One of those pages is a product checklist. Antiquated and a little weird in itself, it might not be worth mentioning except it's one of the first of the many pages that pad out the PDF before you get to the real content. This is kind of ugly and raises an eyebrow.

    • Considering how the formatting works out you're paying more than you might think per page of—oh wait no it's free nevermind.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks for the comments, Charles. I take you point about the product checklist and I'll ponder what else I could put on that page instead.
    Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 04/25/2013 07:48:13

    I never thought you could find so much to say about a mere portcullis! Shows just how wrong I can be...

    OK. We all know what a portcullis is: a barrier that can be dropped from above to block an accessway (gateway or corridor), and which has a relatively open construction so that you can see through it even when you cannot get through. They have a real-world origin in mediaeval castle design, they were popular additions to a gatehouse to deal with anyone who'd negotiated your drawbridge and moat; and were designed as a 'quick reaction' defence, they could be dropped in an instant when the need arose and - just to be on the safe side - were heavy and tended to have points on the bottom so if you timed it just right you might even squish some of those pesky invaders, not just keep them out. Sneaky castle designers often installed two so you could trap intruders between them, maybe dropping something down on them through 'murder holes' in the roof of your gatehouse passage, or just shooting arrows through the portcullis at them.

    Anyway, this product begins with the common characterists of any portcullis. They provide partial cover, do not detract from line of sight (useful for spellcasters...) and wll not obstruct your detection spells. Oh, and due to the lattice-style framework, they are easy to climb. There are suggestions as to construction materials and condition, as well as the mechanism used to raise them... lowering them is easy, let gravity do its job!

    Then comes the first table, which gives a selection of features you can add to your portcullis, anything from quirks in the construction like fancy decoration to large spikes protruding from it, linked systems involving more than one portcullis or an rather spooky one which never makes a sound as it is lowered or raised.

    Next is a table of 'Dressings and Features' which in a way is more of the same. Maybe someone has left a wreath hanging on it, or a pair of metal gauntlets grip the bars... don't look inside them if you're squeamish, skeletal hands are within!

    Finally, some traps and tricks. The trap may be what causes the portcullis to fall, or something else may be going on that makes it a lot worse... I still remember one nasty trap which involved a very strong wind and a portcullis in a passageway - the way round it was to have found a potion that turned you ethereal before the wind got up. My character didn't, and that was the end of him!

    Another inventive little treat to have to hand when designing fortifications or indeed dungeons.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Thanks, Megan. Jolly decent of you to take the time to take a look at Dungeon Dressing: Portcullises!
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