What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekend R&R: Free City of Eskadia - The Jack of Lies

As mentioned in recent posts, Troll Lord Games is doing a series of pre-orders for the new Jack of Lies book.  Now titled the 'Free City of Eskadia- The Jack of Lies', the book is more than a detailed adventure, it is a city sourcebook!  Realizing the error I made with regards to shipping, and then seeing the advantage of ordering it as opposed to waiting for it to show up at my local game store, I decided to open up my wallet a bit and pre-order a physical copy of the book along with the PDF.  For the record, I still disagree with paying for the PDF if ordering a physical copy but the book itself was very reasonably priced.  For those curious, a PDF only option is $10 and a book only option is $20 and $30 gets you both.  Since the book is essentially finished though not yet printed, I was able to get my PDF copy within a day.

Now, I'm familiar with other city setting material such the City State of the Invincible Overlord, Sanctuary (Thieves World), Yggsburgh, Freeport, and even Waterdeep -- all of which I've enjoyed for various reasons.  Having to choose a favorite amongst these would be a challenge since there is something I can say about each of these that make it stand out for me.  And that's what surprised me about Eskadia -- it seems to be a bit of fusion of many of the things I liked about all the others.  That's not to say that it's scattered as I believe it does a good job standing out as well.

There are essentially three sections to the book (totaling 136 pages).  The first part spans 50 pages and does an excellent job at concisely detailing the city, section by section.  It details various Trade Guilds and Houses and provides a history and briefly mentions the political and religious backdrop of the city.  This makes it ideal to drop it into other campaign settings and easily adapt the material.  The city itself is examined ward by ward detailing notable sites and characters as well as tables for various features to help flesh out each of them.  In short, plenty of information to run a sandbox style game if one decides to use the Jack of Lies adventure.

The section part is the adventure portion of the book and while the core scenario is a mere 28 pages, an additional 28 is devoted to supplemental material which can be used with the main adventure.  Beyond that, I can't comment much on the adventure itself as I haven't had the time to read it yet.  From what I have been able to see, it isn't an adventure meant to be run on rails -- a group of players and GM will be able to weave in and out of the adventure and do as they wish should other things in the city catch their eye.

The rest of the book is more setting material ... things like NPCs, Magic Items, Monsters, and even Commonly worshiped deities span these pages as well as a new race, some new classes which could be deemed 'NPC classes', as well as some Black Powder rules all help to round of what seems to be an excellent supplement!

Overall, I really like Eskadia and want to run a campaign in it.  As much as I like some of the other city settings I mentioned earlier, this new setting is a very strong contender as well.  Why do I like it so much?  I guess the setting feels accessible somewhat and not as daunting of trying to run a campaign in something like the City State for example.  Maybe it's because it just doesn't have the same sort of history attached to it.  The book is certainly well organized and probably one of the best products that TLG has put out in the past couple of years.  I think it's certainly something that warrants a look if nothing else.

Another nice thing about this book is that, even if you don't run a Castles & Crusades game, the system is simple that using the material in another similar system (Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, most iterations of D&D, etc), it can be done quickly and easily.  I think this sourcebook is a great example of a gaming book that many would appreciate and adapt for their system of choice.

If you would like to know a bit more and possibly pre-order yourself, you can find more information HERE.


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