Spectacular Settlement was marketed by Nord Games as “the ultimate guide to creating compelling locations for your adventures and campaigns….. devoted to various settlement types, from the smallest trading posts, to massive capital cities. Within these chapters are all the steps needed to craft a settlement with both depth and originality”.
So how did this Kickstarter project that raised more than USD$100,000 from more than 2,700 backers turn out?
In a nutshell: If you like the idea of designing your own custom villages, towns, cities, and fortresses and would like a toolkit of great ideas and a structure to build them around, this book is for you. It is purely focused toward the Dungeon Master looking to build and create their own world and at 482 pages – it is a hefty tome.
Spectacular Settlements gives you plenty of thinking material to allow you to conceptualise your location and breaks your locations into four key features:
- Basic Information. creation of broad or fundamental details about your settlement.
- Community. creating details about the people that live here and certain aspects of society.
- Points of Interest. Identifying key locations are in your settlement, including shops, services and places of worship.
- Extra Intrigue. An optional element additional flavour to the settlement.
As an example I was able to use the ideas in the Villages section to create:
Village of Therlamere:
- Medium: up to 60 standing structures
- Dilapidated: Village is in a state of disrepair
- Located adjacent to a vast swamp
- The villagers harvest a flatworm from the pith of swamp trees which is a delicacy in the nearest town
- The harvest in recent years has been poor resulting the wealth of the village decreasing. Some say that a hag as taken nest in the swamp and is reducing the harvest but not have seen her
- The majority of the population is human, and they are unfriendly due to the woe that has worn down their community
- The hall which functions as the local Inn burnt down last year so the community have no place to gather and no resources of spirit to build a new one
Nord Games provides examples of each community type you can use in your game. As the community increases in size the complexity of offerings and number of features increases with having examples makes it easier to see how your ideas can play out and be structured.
For those unacquainted with Nord Games although they are incorporated in the US they are also strongly British. This heritage is reflected in the information provided about fortress design and construction and is a nice touch.
Art and layout are both excellent, as is readability – Nord Games sets a high bar when it comes to quality.
My only negative observation is that the PDF version doesn’t do it credit – if you can purchase a hard copy as it is the kind of book that you will enjoy best if you can flip forwards and backwards whilst creating.
This book was designed towards 5e Dungeon and Dragons however it is in the main system agnostics and is suitable for any fantasy campaign.