Colonial Gothic: Locations
Publisher: Rogue Games
Page count: 170
Price: $7.99 (PDF)
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
This volume is large, clocking in at around 170 pages, and is chock-full of…what else? Theme!
A Tale of Towns
This book concerns itself with four towns in the New World: Plymouth, Elizabethtown, Savannah, and Charlotte Haven. Each town has an extensive writeup of the history, the notable people and locations (Real? Fictional?), events (fictional) that occurred in the town and when they occurred, a section detailing the people and circumstances behind the events, and some adventure seeds (called â€œCampaign Startsâ€).
The historical part of each section is, as usual, fascinating and a good summation of the general course of events in the place and how it may look at the current time (that is, somewhere between 1750 and 1800). The other parts are good as well, especially the one detailing how the town is situated and important buildings that the town contains. For me, the people around town are not as important, as I can just see the scenario in my head of players meeting someone important in town and then doing something ridiculous to/with them. Basically, I’d rather have players know the important people of the town just by their fame and not actually getting a chance to stand within arm’s length of them. Call me paranoid.
Adventures in a Colonial Wonderland
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find adventure seeds to be hard to run with most of the time. In Locations this is no different. The first adventure seed in the book is about a local werewolf, and I just am not interested in werewolf-hunting. No, no, it’s not because of Twilight, it’s because I don’t like playing the game where the object is to defeat the â€œBig Badâ€. Can’t we make roleplaying more interesting than that? I would certainly like to try. The last adventure seed? Fighting a pirate ghost over his treasure. I’m not saying I could do any better, but dang I wish I could do better. I wish someone else would show me how!
I’m particularly interested in the intrigue side of Colonial Gothic, and that is where the â€œSocietiesâ€ section of each town really excites me. Each town has a section for each of the major societies that operate in it; some are benign, some are not. Some are malicious, some are merely powerful or power-hungry. For instance, The Women’s Quilting Circle in Elizabethtown? It’s sort of a gossip group, it might be a potential source of information, and it might be a cover for some witch’s coven that preys on the new folks in town. Of course, whether or not this innocent crafts group unsuspectingly holds a dark secret is up to the GM, but the descriptions of the societies in the book are detailed and give the reader great ideas for what people actually DO around here, and paint places for things to occur, such as secret witch’s covens.
The same goes for buildings. In a place like John’s Rest, a tavern, you might find some of the most affordable and decent food Plymouth has to offer. On the other hand, if you head down to the Harbormaster’s House, a bar, you might lose your shirt at cards and drink yourself onto a ship bound for a silver mine in Brazil. The descriptions of the places and what people do there are great, and they often include the sociological implications of frequenting such a place. As far as I can remember, sociology is a subject touched upon only very superficially in many otherwise great games; and yet, it has the potential to add so much more flavor if the GM and the players can grasp the subtleties.
The Good and the Bad
There isn’t much more to say about this volume except that it is full of information. It is a really great resource for GMs and players alike to get more familiar with the Colonial period of American history. Brozek does a great job of giving a feel for the place, though I feel like her writing is weak when it comes to adventure hooks. Just reading through the section for a town fills your head with so many things that can spice up and add detail to your Colonial Gothic game, I would recommend this for anyone who is having players spend some time in a town that isn’t one of the really major ones like Boston.
Production-wise, I continue to be disappointed that Rogue Games does not think it is important to add fresh and quality artwork to their books. It is a little disconcerting to see them charging $20+ (albeit for the print version) and using cliparts of varying quality that look like they either ripped them from Google Images or raided a library for old books and scanned the illustrations. Also, this book could use a little proofreading as I found more than a few typos and one place where it looked like information was cut and pasted, then changed slightly to accommodate the location. Besides that, if you are not on a tight budget and enjoy this game then I would definitely recommend this book, especially for GMs. I don’t know if I would pay what they are asking for the print version, but for the PDF I could spare eight bucks. Plus it’s good to support writers who make RPG content. As for Rogue Games…I don’t know what to do with you. I love your game, but the products you are putting out for it need more love and attention. Please take note.