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    Urban Dressing: Theatres $2.45
    Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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    Urban Dressing: Theatres
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    Urban Dressing: Theatres
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 05/06/2014 02:46:14

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Urban Dressing-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

    This pdf kick off with a table of 55 entries for external theatre appearances - from humble stands of a puppet theatre to circular halls and strange doors engraved with words that prompt the reader to sing to have the door open, we get a surprising array of external appearances that run the gamut from humble to easily inserted to tantalizing - neat!

    The second table, spanning 50 entries, depicts internal characteristics -which include illusions used for scenery, twisting galleries, blaring lights and weird occurrences, like apples bouncing down the stairs - quite a bit of interesting entries, though some feel more like "things that happen" than "characteristics/appearances of the theatre inside."

    We also get a table of 20 complications, which include couples fighting and full-blown fires breaking out as well as a sample list of 20 names for respective plays. Beyond these, a table of 50 sights and sounds provides ample food for further complications - from children trying to sneak in sans paying to actors being fitted for their costumes to mages testing their illusions, quite a nice table to add color to the theatre...though perhaps not a table to roll spontaneously on, since the respective happenstances diverge wildly from mid-performance to backstage. Smaller, more thematically limited tables would have probably helped here in making the overall entries easier to use for the DM.

    The final two-pages are devoted to fluff-only short write-ups of sample people to meet in the theatre - from stage magicians and actors to bards, they run a surprisingly versatile gamut and include even a doppelganger and a LIZARDFOLK ARISTROCRAT. Yes. Awesome. So far my favorite selection of such short NPC-write ups in any of the Urban Dressing-series' installments.


    Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    The Urban Dressing-series has often a problem with trying to fit a rather complex environment into a couple of tables and this one, partially, also suffers from this - the internal characteristics table feels a bit unfocused, with some entries depicting what happens rather than what's there - which becomes especially relevant since the sights & sounds-table already covers that ground. Furthermore, the latter table could have benefitted from being split up -why? Because, as a DM, were you to try to make the theatre in question on the fly and supplement it with this table, you could potentially encounter some issues due to entry/back stage etc. being not clearly separated. When used beforehand, it is great and works well, but still - a comfort detriment there. The writing by Liz Smith is actually really, really good, with the sample NPCs rocking and the overall entries also being quite nice. Still, I can't help but feel that, as a spontaneous generator, it could have been improved further. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin to 3.

    Endzeitgeist out.

    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Urban Dressing: Theatres
    Publisher: Raging Swan Press
    by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
    Date Added: 01/23/2014 07:45:31

    In the vaguely mediaeval world in which most fantasy RPGs are set, theatres were not frequently found... travelling players generally used whatever hall they could cajole their way into, or an inn yard or - in best mystery play style - performed on the back of a cart. Many earned most of their money appearing by request in some local lord's hall for the entertainment of his guests not a paying public. But this is fantasy, and theatres can be fun places for adventure, so it makes sense to include them.

    And given that you intend to have theatres a feature of your game, this product will help you design interesting and memorable ones for the party to visit - or even perform in, should they be that way inclined.It begins with a couple of tables that give ideas for characteristics and appearance: the first dealing with external features and the second with internal ones.

    The 'external' table presents a great variety of options from tents and puppet theatres to full-blown concert halls, playhouses and opera houses. Each is described in a sentence or so. Whilst you can roll dice, it is probably best to read them through and pick the most suitable one for the location and plot that you have in mind. Likewise the range of options provided for interiors needs some thought as some will not be appropriate for the setting you are creating.

    The next couple of tables cover assorted things that might be going on there and the actual shows taking place. Not all the action, after all, will be on the stage; and there are some twenty ideas, each with several options, which could prove adventures in themselves, never mind something which just happens whilst the characters are at the theatre.

    The last table is called Sights and Sounds, and provides seveal incidental events that might happen, all quite dramatic and both visual and audible... it all adds to the flavour of things.

    Finally there is a collection of 20 NPCs who may be encountered there. Many might be involved in all the events listed in the tables. Each comes as an outline (rather than a full statblock) with name, race and class, and notes on their appearance, mannerisms, personality and 'hooks' - suggestions on how to use them. Loads of flavour here.

    If the theatre is to play a part in your game, this will help them come to life in your shared alternate reality.

    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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