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The City of Raven's Bluff
Ed Greenwood
AD&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Expansion module, 160 pages

The City of Raven's Bluff
Module Details
In a city where adventurers are the rule rather than the exception, things can get rather lively. Recovering from a recent war, Raven's Bluff is a city in transition, with power shifting from feudal landowners to the rising merchant class. Although it lies in the Forgotten Realms, Ravens Bluff will fit well into any campaign world.
Author: Ed Greenwood
ISBN: 0-7869-1195-6
Format: 8-1/2" x 11-1/8" book-160 pages, perfect-bound
Age Level: 12+
Designed for: Forgotten Realms players
Price: $24.95US; $32.95CDN

TSR Catalogue

Past Feature Reviews
A review by S. Kay Elmore

This sourcebook is the culmination of the Role Playing Game Association (RPGA) Living City tournament adventures. It brings together the lore, legends, personalities and maps created by the writers and gamers that have designed the city over the years. Even with the detail provided by the book, it's open enough to allow for future changes or additions, which is very much in keeping with the traditions of the tournament games. Written in TSR's usual tiny typestyle, there is a wealth of information packed into these pages. The tiny type size is my only complaint. When you get old and crotchety like me (i.e. thirty), it hurts deeply to have to get out a magnifying glass to read.

The book begins with a history of the city, beginning with its earliest incarnation as the Dwarven city of Sarbreen. After its abandonment by the Dwarves, it served as a colony of Chauntea clergy and after an influx of nobility and money, slowly grew into a walled city. Its defenses and history were shaped by attacks from land and sea. To protect the city and its inhabitants, the city became a magnet for mercenary troops. Noble families paid good coin to keep their mansions and mercantile interests well-protected. There is also an account of the recent "Six-Day Battle" that shaped the city's current political and adventuring character.

From there, it moves into the daily life of Raven's Bluff. It gives a general view of work and education, as well as leisure activities and the manners expected of you in public. The section also covers dark secrets and secret societies active in the city. The public societies and guilds are described in fairly good detail. There is an in-depth description of the Wizard's Guild but the Bardic Guild and the Silent Network (sort of a Raven's Bluff No-Such-Agency) get only a few pages worth of mention. More guilds are discussed later in the book, but none of them have as much detail as given to the Wizards Guild and the orders of Knights. The Government and City Watch of Raven's Bluff are also well represented. This usually dry section is interspersed with bits and pieces of personalities, politics, and posts left vacant. Where some sourcebooks can be dry and mechanical, the gossipy style leaves you with a very good impression of the character of the city and its inhabitants.

My favorite part of the book is a walking tour. Over forty pages of eye-scrunchingly tiny text lead you along nearly every alley and byway in the city. Along with black-and-white detail pictures to complement the full-color pull-out map, the tour really brings the city to life. It's written in the first person, and your tour guide, nobleman Raraerdo Moonspring, passes along his observations of the city and notes on its more famous inhabitants along with an entertaining description of the surroundings.

There's also a brand-new description of the Vast -- the sparsely populated farmlands that surround Raven's Bluff. Ancient history and modern life of the area is presented, though very briefly. There is also an adventurer's guide that offers a quick summary of some of the region's points of interest.

If you're looking to design an adventure around a living, breathing city, this book is a valuable source for inspiration. The history, legends, laws and day-to-day life of the city are summarized in exhaustive detail. It also gives creatively leading hints about dark secrets, enemies, political problems and secret societies. Any gamer worth her salt will find ample fodder for campaign creation, including local monsters and unique magic items.

If you're an RPGA tournament player, the thickly detailed walking tour gives a wonderful sense of atmosphere for the city you've been imagining for so long. The information on guilds, noble houses, personalities and societies is perfect for getting that role-playing edge over your gaming buddies. I will also hazard a guess that if you are interested in writing Living City modules for RPGA tournament play, this book is essential. My crowd of usual suspects was very excited about the publication of The City of Raven's Bluff, and I've had to deny many requests for its loan. I have a feeling that I'll be seeing this book more often at RPGA tournaments as the word gets around.

Overall, it's a great book to add to your AD&D collection.

Copyright © 1999 S. Kay Elmore

S. Kay Elmore is a graphic artist, writer and corporate wage slave. She edits The Orphic Chronicle, an online magazine, and tries to make ends meet by writing and developing corporate newsletters and web sites.

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