The cardstock screen is a robust heavy-duty one, a full four panels. The 'player side' has a beautiful painting of Lake-Town spreading across all four panels with a couple of marauding seagulls that look about ready to fly out around your ears! The 'loremaster side' is jam-packed with useful tables and vital page references to the core rules, with evidence of thought having gone in to the selection and arrangement of tables - should come in handy when running a game.
The sourcebook contains heaps of information about Lake-Town and should also prove useful should the characters visit there - which, as it's a major settlement (at least as far as Men are concerned) in the region of Middle Earth in which the game is initially set, should be quite a frequent event. Now you'll have the resources to cope with their visits.
Opening with an exerpt from a letter written by no less than Glóin son of Gróin which paints a vivid picture of a burgeoning township teeming with trade, it begins with a rundown of the various districts and what is to be found there. This is followed by some ideas of things to do when visiting, built around the Fellowship Phase concept from the rules. There's a note about money, relating the more abstract concept of Treasure as given in the core rules to actual coinage for those who prefer a more tangible wealth. A extensive discourse on the main annual festival, Dragontide, which includes a prestigious archery contest (for which the rules are given) follows: if any of your characters fancies his skill with the longbow, encourage them to participate at least once.
The centrefold of the book is devoted to a detailed image/plan of Lake-Town with many important features labelled: this is a visual treat as well as very informative for those who want to know their way around.
The next section looks at the flora and fauna of the surrounding marshland. Plants are described realistically, and many are worth collecting as they have in-game effects. Going botanising is one of the activities suggested for a Fellowship Phase spent here. The fauna, however, are hostile monsters in the main, and if the characters meet them they are likely to be in for a brawl. It might have been interesting to include a few mundane plants and animals, the ones of interest when preparing food perhaps, as this can make a place really come alive.
Finally, should you really be taken with the place, you are provided with the resources you need to create local characters, the Men of the Lake heroic culture. There's an example (who despite being a Man of the Lake is actually a lady, and very handy with her bow!) complete with description, illustration and character sheet; and there's a blank character sheet for anyone fancying a character from here.
Overall, this is a useful addition to knowledge of the area as well as a handy play-aid.
Return to Loremaster's Screen and Lake-Town Sourcebook page.
Reviewed: 24 May 2013