This is the second part of the extremely detailed and comprehensive gazetteer of Ptolus - part of the full campaign setting book or available as a separate PDF. The districts covered are the Nobles' Quarter, the North Market, Oldtown, the Rivergate District, the South Market, the Temple District, and the Warrens. There's a big map of Ptolus to help you get oriented as well.
Each district is covered in a standard manner. Firstly, there's flavour text that helps you get under the skin of the district in question. It explains where it is and what place it plays, how you get there... and why you might want to go there. There is a more detailed map showing significant locations, and notes to aid you as DM in running visits - how best to give the general impression of the place, how people behave towards visitors and more. Remember that, like its companion volume, this book is aimed squarely at the DM. Even players whose characters hail from the districts covered here should stay out - there's plenty that even they won't know, as well as plot seeds galore, laid out for the DM to make use of during the game (and more importantly, during the planning of the game!).
Whilst there is loads of background detail to absorb, there are also things of more immediate use. A sample 'man in the street' the party can accost. Rumours that they can pick up. Many snippets will spawn adventure ideas just as you read through. Then we move on to detailed location-by-location information about notable places that the party may see or have occasion to visit. Residences, businesses, places where you can get food and drink, and more. There's still space for you to add your own as need arises, though. The people to be encountered are also described, with everything from notes on what interests them to full stat blocks and often a sketch. Everything's awash with hints and tips for using whatever you're reading about and, of course, even more plot hooks and ideas. Major buildings have descriptions and floorplans, too. There is plentiful cross-referencing, based around the full Ptolus sourcebook, but also to the separate PDFs if that is how you are working.
Particularly fascinating are the sidebar notes 'From my campaign to yours' - this is not an exercise in world-building, a snapshot in time, but the carefully-crafted campaign of a master DM that has actually been running for many years and has developed a history of its own over and above the timelines presented elsewhere in this series. You may choose to pick up on these ideas - what a power-hungry fellow did to try to cement his position, for example - or perhaps take them in a different direction. Many of these almost throw-away comments could build an entire campaign, never mind a side-adventure or two.
There's just so much here! Whether you want to use Ptolus as is, in its own world, or find a suitable location in your own campaign world, there is just so much going on that you could run entire campaigns without setting foot outside the city walls - especially if your group enjoys interaction and intrigue as much as they enjoy swordplay and spell casting.
Return to Ptolus: Districts of the City Volume 2 page.
Reviewed: 31 January 2018