Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Scarrport: City of Secrets

Cities have always held a special part in my campaigns. It started off innocently enough when one of the players in my first campaign wanted to spend some of the gold they had liberated from an evil wizard. This was over 30 years ago but I still remember it.

At this time city settings were few and me being 12 years old I didn't have the money to buy one. I had to ad-lib. As time went on, and I had managed to save a few bucks, I started to purchase a few supplements. From Waterdeep to Sanctuary I enjoyed running adventures in these exotic locations.



Fast forward to present day. I recently added Scarrport: City of Secrets to my collection. I managed to score a printed copy of Scarrport, which since has gone out of print. The only way you can get now is as a PDF.

Scarrport weighs in at only 112 pages not including the index which is 3 pages. The actual description of the city takes the first 37 pages. This section provides a description of the four boroughs of the city, the Underwarren which is the city under the city, the surrounding area and NPCs, which includes descriptions of some of the cults of the city. Initially I thought this might be too short to be useful. After having read the city description, I found this was not the case. The descriptions provided me with enough information to run Scarrport out of the box and at the same time, allowed me the freedom to add my own flair to the city. The biggest complaint I have with this part of the book was the size of the maps. There is one full page map of the entire city. The borough maps are much smaller. They range in size from less than 1/4 of a page to the largest which is 1/3 of a page. This is unfortunate, and the biggest issue I have with the supplement. I would have hoped that I could somehow find them on Gun Metal Games website which was not the case.

The second section of the book details three new races, the Ghodan, Gremlins and Otterkin. The Ghodan are a race of large humanoids descendant from giants. Gremlins and Otterkin are pretty much what they sound like. I must admit I rarely use new races in my campaign but these races could add some interesting elements to my campaign, particularly the Gremlin and otterkin.

The third section contains new character options including a new class, the Elementalist. The Elementalist is someone who has control over one of the four elements, fire, water, wind or earth. I found this class to be interesting and I will be adding it to my list of accepted classes for my campaign. The rest of this section contains paragon paths and feats which are useful if one of the players builds a character from Scarrport.

The fourth section adds new equipment to the game. This section also adds two somewhat controversial elements to the game. Firearms and Steampunk themed items. Personally, I have always had an issue putting firearms into a fantasy game. The book only spends little more than a page to them. The rules presented here are very well balanced and would not turn a player into a one man army. The firearms section includes a description of how firearms were invented. This allows for them to be found only in Scarrport and no where else. So if you wanted to use them in your campaign, players would have to travel back to Scarrport to purchase ammunition. This has the potential to continue a Scarrport based campaign without much prodding by the DM. The included Steampunk items could also add a unique feel to your campaign. I have no problem adding Steampunk elements to my game, in fact, the first steam powered device was invented by Heronas in the first century BC. As with firearms, the description of the Steampunk items allows the DM the ability to restrict it to Scarrport.

The fifth section includes new creatures and threats. The creatures include some interesting demonic entities, a new take on werewolves and an assortment of Steampunk themed creatures. Also included are a few new hazard options and a new disease. The hazards are clever and well thought out and would make an excellent addition to a DMs toolbox of tricks.

The book also includes three appendixes. The first is an introductory adventure which is quite short but serves as an excellent way to introduce some of the new elements from Scarrport to the players. The second appendix provides the DM with a few short encounters that can be used when the DM needs to fill some time. The third appendix contains three games of chance that can be played by the players. All of these games enhance the unique flavor that is Scarrort.

Overall, Scarrport would be an excellent addition to your campaign world. It is one of the most unique city supplement I have discovered in my lifetime of gaming. The city has elements of a dirty,seedy underbelly and clean and civilized elements as well.

My final verdict on Scarrport: City of Secrets is a must have supplement. It provides a number of interesting options and could be dropped into almost any campaign. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The map issue prevents me from giving Scarrport a perfect rating.

Rating: 4 out of 5

4 comments:

  1. Hi There!

    I totally agree with pretty much everything you have to say about Scarrport. It's a real shame that there was no real follow-up to this release. Also, while I'm not a 4e player/GM myself - I picked the setting up on its potential - I did read or hear somewhere that the stats given in the book aren't exactly right in places.

    On a personal note, I hope to run a Scarrport game or two using a different set of mechanics. Have you had a chance to run it yourself?

    Thanks!

    Marcus

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  2. I have included it in my campaign as a starting point for my players. To be honest, they really haven't explored the city. I am using Scarrport in the Forgotten Realms.

    I was thinking of converting it to work with my Pathfinder group.

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  3. I just happened to find this review of Scarrport and wanted to say thank you for the kind words. I was one of the writers on this book - responsible for the borough descriptions, the elementalist class, and the games of chance - so it's nice to hear someone enjoy playing with the character of Scarrport. Like you said, I tried to pack the description of the city with hooks, but allow DMs to fill in the gaps.

    Glad you liked it!

    Greg Tito

    PS. if you're interested, I'm publishing a game that's more derivative of old school D&D called the Adventurer Conqueror King system. You can check it out here: http://www.autarch.co/

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  4. Thank you for reading my blog. Adventurer Conqueror King seems very interesting. I will be sure to review it as soon as it is released!

    ReplyDelete