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Dungeons & Dragons: Common Ground 1 - Churches, Inns and Merchants

Common Ground 1: Churches, Inns and Merchants

This product is designed as a half-way house between a pure random 'location' design system and a fully-detailed one to drop in, the aim being that you can create detailed locations at the drop of, if not a hat, a player-character hint that they wish to visit a local temple or tavern when you've not had time or thought that you needed to create one in advance.

It breaks down the design process into several stages, giving you several options for each choice that you make. These options are presented in considerable detail, so that if you are actually in the middle of the game the encounter is just about ready to run by the time you are finished.

The sequence is straightforward. Begin by deciding how big the establishment is (and there are guidelines based on town size to help you) and then select one of the full-colour maps for it. For religious sites, you'll need to choose the general alignment, while for inns and merchants' premises you need to decide how well-off they are. From this you are then led to a selection of generic NPCs who can then be tailored to suit your particular purposes. To make this easy, there are 'worksheets' on which you may record your choices, both to aid you if you need the place straight away and to provide a permanent record of what you chose so that you may add it to your notes for the next time the PCs pass this way. (Very useful, this last: I always end up scribbling notes to myself while running games, so that I'll know who my players have met after I've made things up mid-game!)

Although the authors claim this is a tool for use during a game rather then when you are planning it, I would tend to disagree. Players may get impatient if you take 5 minutes out to mutter your way through the generation of a church or whatever in the middle of a game; whereas when you are planning it could provide a useful starting point - no giant casinoes in tiny villages that could never support them... unless of course you deliberately choose such, with the backstory to support it.

Recommended, particularly if you find it hard work to make up the little incidents of day-to-day life to populate the grand sweep of your campaign.

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