A recent release on the DMsGuild, the Longsaddle Gazetteer is a creation of Matthew Whitby, an accomplished guild writer and the host of the Dungeon Master’s Guild House podcast / YouTube series (it’s the same thing, but maybe you want to watch or just listen). By asking nicely, I was lucky enough to get a review copy of the Gazetteer, so here’s what I think.
First of all, wow. It looks really nice, with a cover reminiscent of (and inspired by) the alternate cover for Candlekeep Mysteries, which I really like. There’s also a great map of Longsaddle in there with some really nice touches. Picking up the book is worth it for the bunny art alone.
The thematic handwritten notes from Malchor Harpell, one of the family who spends a lot of his time near Neverwinter, are a really nice touch, and the use of stock art throughout is well done, though maybe not as thematically tied together between full colour and line art images (I know this was the budget-friendly way to go and means the book doesn’t cost an exorbitant amount, and it’s what I would have done, but it’s just an observation. If you’re expecting lots of amazing new art for everything, you won’t get it at this price point).
So, what do we get for $7.95? Well, there are 65 pages to start with – this is a very impressive project. We have some character options with two backgrounds for those coming from Longsaddle, either as Rachers or Harpell Family Members. I really like the Harpell Family background and what it could bring to a player character who’s not a magic-user!
Next there’s a short history of the town, a lot of information on the Harpell family including a family tree and information of members both living and deceased.
The information on the locations and characters found in Longsaddle takes up the majority of the book, as we’d expect from a good gazetteer. We get information on the Harpell family home, Ivy Mansion, along with various taverns, stores, and other important locations. I really like the idea that wild magic suffuses the town because of the Harpells, and that there are effects similar to the Wild Magic table that can happen when a spell is used – and boy there’s some good ones. I hope no one fails their saves and starts floating, or gets set on fire!
Each location contains a good description, a list of any important NPCs, the services that might be offered at the location, and a series of plot hooks clearly labeled for expected party level. There’s also a longer section of the other big families in Longsaddle.
The plot hooks are where the product took off from – Matthew wanted to write an adventure in Longsaddle and couldn’t find enough information on the setting that was easily accessible and more importantly wasn’t outdated, so he wrote his own! The idea for the adventure can still be found in the book – he tells me it’s the plot hook for the butcher and the goblin meat scandal… Which is a terrifying read.
I particularly liked the plot hooks for awakened horses, and I’ll definitely be borrowing them in a future game (especially Chestnut, the evil horse). A magical roadside inn with animated broomsticks and an overenthusiastic firemage staff member might also have to make an appearance, as might the summoned fiendish sheep.
The last section of the book deals with encounters in and raids upon Longsaddle (neatly arranged in random tables) and includes dates and plot hooks for festivals.
I like the feeling of the festivals, and they really enhance the frontier feeling of the location. The encounters are well thought out and very interesting. But the raids are definitely where this section shines.
Raids are great multi-wave encounters where the antagonists have an objective in mind. Waves of different enemy groups, such as a tribe of different kinds of kobolds, attack in small groups using varying tactics to achieve their goal.
You know, like real life.
I also like that a lot of the rewards for encounters are non-monetary as well, such as free lodging at various ranches, or the reward of finding interesting trinkets among a goblin raiding camp.
All in all, I’d say it’s well worth your money and time to pick up this product. And I’m not just saying that because I have previous form for writing Wild West / D&D mashups.