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Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
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Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
Publisher: RPG Objects
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/26/2013 09:27:54

This 37-page book provides a description of five racial neighbourhoods for fantasy cities - one for each of the major races of dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and half-orcs. Each community comes with a description of the local architecture, it's social atmosphere, descriptions of characters and businesses likely to be encountered there, what magic is likely to be in use, and a selection of plot hooks.

The dwarven and halfling communities are both fairly typical, the sort of thing that might be found in any generic, multi-ethnic fantasy city. Either could be taken out of the city, and used as the basis for a town inhabited by that race, and general guidelines for how they live. Thought has been given as to how underground communities will be structured, and there are some rules guidelines for moving around in halfling-sized buildings.

The half-orc community is also generic - at least assuming that half-orcs aren't a social elite in your campaign world, which seems unlikely - but is more tied to the rest of the city. Much of the description here would work just as well for any slum area that's more frequented by beggars than it is by the Thieves' Guild.

The other two, however, are more specific. The elven neighbourhood is a scholarly retirement community, and the gnomish one a Vegas/Blackpool-style gambling district. Both make perfect sense, but, in most game worlds, they're likely not the typical elven or gnomish quarter, merely one example of a specialised variant. That doesn't make them less useful, and the material on how, for example, high-class casinos might work in a fantasy world, could well be handy whether or not gnomes are involved. But it's worth bearing in mind.

The book is well written, and passably illustrated, and includes a lot of useful ideas and rules that could apply further afield than the dwarven equivalent of Chinatown or Little Italy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2009 11:52:51

In designing our fantasy cities, we generally think about merchant districts, where the rich live, a docks, maybe a slum or two, where the temples are and where whoever is in charge lives. This book suggests that, just as real world cities might have a Chinatown or a Little Italy, people of the various fantasy races might well choose to live in districts of their own; and presents five ready-made racial neighbourhoods for you to use or at least mine for inspiration.

The first is the Dwarf Burrow. These dwarves prefer, even in a city, to live underground. Their homes are accessed down a flight of steps situated in the middle of what looks like an empty field (why, I wonder, hasn't someone else appropriated this real estate?). But it's not just homes down there, dwarves also practice their trades - especially smithing and ceramics - and it's the best place to go to purchase weapons, armour, jewellry and other such items. They also maintain warehouses, train their militia and hold worship in temples to their gods. Some dwarves never bother to visit the surface at all! One nice touch is that the history of the typical dwarf burrow is recorded as carvings on the corridor walls. It tends to be dark in all but the places frequented by other races - odd, just because dwarves have darkvision, they do not have to use it all the time! - and can be prone to flooding, although dwarf miners are generally good at avoiding the sewers built by surface-dwellers.

Next comes the Mithril Heights, home to elves, providing an eclectic mix reminiscent of student quarters and retirement homes to the casual observer. It tends to be older - and wealthier - elves who live there, younger ones are more inclined to mix with other races. Many of these older elves are scholars, and any younger ones you encounter are likely to be their students. They often accept students from other races as well, many making a living as educators of the young. Art and music are well-regarded, and it's a good place if you enjoy the arts, or want your work to go on display or to perform. Narrow streets and tall buildings make it a complex place to navigate, and there's plenty of magic about.

This is followed by Halflingtown, quaint and picturesque home to local halflings. They value peace and quiet, a nice place to relax... and public bathhouses are popular. Other attractions include good restaurants, facilities for dogs and ponies, bandstands and at least one festival a week. Larger folks need to remember, though, that most buildings are halfling-size!

The next area to explore is Gnomelight, a sort of fantasy Las Vegas. Characters wishing to gamble, to seek that really special item, to take in a spectacular show or attend a flamboyant party will head here. There's loads of magic, mostly illusions or otherwise part of a show. Crime is low, especially where the gnomes themselves live (but outsiders are rarely welcome there). There's even a few rules for popular gambling games if your characters wish to try their luck.

Finally, you can drop by the Orc Trough. It's a slum neighbourhood, inhabited by the poor of all races, not just orcs. Still, there's a good animal market and other items may be cheaper than elsewhere in town. It's also home to slaughterhouses and other smelly crafts, a good place to find a fight and somewhere to hide. The city authorities rarely come round, so you will be on your own in terms of personal safety and protection from theft, though. If your city has any particular race - or other grouping - that's officially downtrodden and disenfranchised, this is where they live along with anyone else who is down on their luck. People who do have work are generally animal handlers, slaughtermen and butchers.

These five districts hang together well, with some interesting ideas. There are minimal plot hooks for each one, and some sidebar suggestions including ways of making your character a native of that district and how this could influence a city-based game. It's a good way of ensuring that the humanoid races are properly represented in your city, whether you use these districts as-is or mine them for ideas to inspire your own designs.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2008 13:01:53

It’s all too often a staple of fantasy communities that they all tend to look alike. While some famous NPC may live in this city, or that one’s sewers lead to the Dungeon of Even More Doom, for the most part, they all seem to be copies of each other. This is especially true in regards to their demihuman populations. Sure, elves live in forests, and dwarves live underground, but why is it that when you put these races in a human city, they’re living in houses just like everyone else? Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods presents demihuman populations as having their own ethnic districts in existing cities, shaping them to be more like their natural homes.

The book is divided up into five sections, one each for elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and orcs. Each section goes over the role the district plays in the larger community, a description of the general appearance and architecture found there, the history of such an area, some of the inhabitants you’d find there (these are described in terms of roles, rather than individuals: e.g. “instructor” rather than a specific NPC), magic (this is just a brief listing of some existing spells and items with one-sentence descriptions of what they’re used for in the community), special rules (the crunch of the book; this has things that grant small bonuses or penalties, new equipment, etc.), and plot hooks. Most pages also have small sidebars covering a related topic in a few sentences.

Overall, the book does a good job of making each district have its own feel, while still making them easily referenced by using the same format for each. Dwarves, for example, tend to create an underground community that often grows into a city in its own right over the centuries, whereas orcs tend to be pushed into the slums, creating a “ghetto” area that’s often the target of harassment from law enforcement.

However, the book isn’t perfect in what it does (and doesn’t do). Many of the mechanical aspects of the book – the “crunch” – felt tacked-on, offering bonuses or penalties seemingly so as to make sure there was enough of that present overall. PCs take a -2 circumstance penalty to “gambling checks” involving mechanical gambling devices built by gnomes? That seems a bit…specific. Also, speaking of mechanics, it would have been nice if there were bookmarks here; weighing in at almost forty pages, something to make navigation easier would have been helpful. I won’t mention the lack of a printer-friendly version, as there is a decent amount of art to be found here.

Despite these little things, however, I found myself liking the book for what it presented as a whole. After all, while cities do tend to be melting pots, they shouldn’t all look so similar, despite the different races living in them. Presenting racial districts that “feel” elven, halfingish, etc. is a great idea, and this book does a nice job in making that apparent in what it presents.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2008 10:43:05

Living in a major city, you experience the significance of a multicultural environment. That feeling of diversity is often void in the fantasy world. Too often are a population’s denizens all human or all of one race with various racial NPCs sprinkled in to show a faux bit of diversity.

Cities of Fantasies Volume 2: Racial Neighborhoods incorporates another depth of realism into your campaign world by presenting several neighborhoods to introduce into any village or city. This product could have taken a simple route by presenting a few descriptions and NPCs. However, the authors and RPG Objects infuses a great amount of detail into each community, making them incredibly believable and far more useful than most city supplements.

The book is 37 pages and presents 5 communities. There are community descriptions for Dwarf, Halfling, Elf, Orc and Gnome. The descriptive fluff is well written and adequately encompasses the nuances of the race within the atmosphere of the community. Surprisingly, however, there is more to the communities than just nice descriptions. Each contains a thorough amount of mechanical simplicities and a handful of adventure seeds. The General Role section of each community notes purposes for the communities existence within a city. The Description portion describes architecture and notable places. The author does a balanced job of being vague enough to place these boroughs in multiple cities in your world while still giving enough detail to guide the dungeon master. The History section provides a history of the community. The Inhabitants section contains the same balance as the Description portion, not naming specific NPCs but general roles you would find in such a community. The Magic and Magic Items section not only lists common spells in the community but how they are utilized. Finally, the Special Rules section establishes mechanical changes in the environment of the community. Though the mechanics look as if they lean toward 3.5, they are again vague enough where any system could be used with them. There is also a list of plot hooks at the end of each of the communities.

For the Player Racial Neighborhoods feels like an extension of the racial descriptions in the core rules book. Players interested in enhancing their characters racial heritage would find the magic and magic items sections very useful from a mechanics point of view. Also, the well-written descriptions would be good inspiration for background.

For the Dungeonmaster Racial Neighborhoods is a cornerstone tool for dungeonmasters who like city building or need a city on the fly. You could easily take two or three of these and form a city out of them. You’ll find all of the communities as different as the races themselves. My personal favorite is Gnomelight, which contains all of the uncanny shenanigans I expect from gnomes. Illusionary magic for no good reason, illegal casinos set up in basements and street performers.

The Iron Word Cities of Fantasy Volume 2: Racial Neighborhoods is an inspirational plethora of building blocks for creating realistically diverse cities. The bountiful amount of information packed in each community description for just one neighborhood could motivate two or more campaign arcs.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cities of Fantasy 2: Racial Neighborhoods
Publisher: RPG Objects
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/05/2008 18:09:09

Use them as is, or take what ideas you want for an elven quarter, an illegal shantytown, a tanners' and stockyards district, and so on. Plenty of interesting development. The timelines of changes in each quarter by age are a particularly nifty idea.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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