Borderland Provinces: a Review

About a month ago, I entered a contest for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day by writing a blog entry, and recently I received a free PDF copy of Frog God Games Borderland Provinces. Currently, I am about seventy pages into its two hundred and fifty two pages, but there is enough good stuff already that I have to share.

This was a great win, and one that became more poignant to me when I found out that the Art Director and Layout Artist for the project was Chuck Wright.  He has recently been going through a lot, and the link connects to his gofundme pages, set up by his work family at FRog God Games. They are selling a product to help support him. I was minimally involved, as were a great many, through Erik Tenkar, whjo heavily promoted the charity, encouraging many publishers to contribute incentives to donate to Chuck’s cause.As soon as I get contact info from Erik, I will be sending out someveral of my Stock Art PDF’s.

borderland Provinces is one of the most detailed Gazetteers I have ever run into, and I had both of the boxed sets of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms.  The layout and use of font sizes flows smoothly and the charts are well placed and readable. While being highly detailed, it is not overly restricting, and has tons of customizable territory.

The two features that are most appealing to me are the use of Tech Levels and the format of the Stat blocks for the territories and Cities.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I primarily play GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, and while I love S&W, my interest is largely larcenous.  Rarely do I find a feature that translates so neatly into GURPS.  Tech Levels have been with GURPS for a very long time. They both indicate the availability of specific types of gear, and also describe a little of the world of the setting.  The tech levels in Borderland provinces are a little bit finer that the general TL3 to early TL4 that is the default for Gurps Dungeon Fantasy, and I think it helps.

The Stat blocks for Cities seem to be a good fit for GURPS City Stats, which I do not own, but have seen previews of.  These stat blocks, which while expanded into specifics in the body of text, give quick insight into the degree of lawlessness, civic corruption, population demographics and monthly purchasing power of the area. The last is significant, as it indicates how much of the dungeon spoils can be sold in the area without having to travel.

The flavor text is useful, and had me thinking a little of Sprague De Camp, who I am reading concurrently.  There are cities where you cannot engage in commerce without a hat of the right sort, and hamlets where they only trade in chickens because any other barter is sinful. The heraldry has literal significance also; don’t attack the town with the dragon on its flag if you know what’s good for you.

For conversions, I make a lot of use of Peter Dell’Orto‘s DF 15:Henchmen in populating my gameworld, using the five tiers of fighter type: Men at arms grade 62 point guard,  3rd to 5th level equivalent 125 point Squire or brute, 5th to 7th level equivalent 187point Veteran Guard,  7th to 8th level equivalent PC grade 250 point knight,  and Name level equivalent 375 point veteran knight.

There are one or two other areas that need addressing in this way, such as 1st-3 level fighter types, who I build by adding the following 30point template to Guards:

Battle Hardened [30pts]

combat reflexes [15] 8 points to primary weapon skill, 4 points to secondary weapon skill or shield, 2 points to background skills( probably tactics) and 1 point toward guard perks like teamwork, shieldwall training and sacrificial block.

The listed leaders (Overlords, high Sheriffs, Barons) would also tend to have 50-125 points worth of IQ+1 [20], Born War leader [5/+1], Status [5/+1], Rank [5/+1] Wealth [10-30], Allies [in groups of 10+ at 62 point or greater level] and skills in Diplomacy, heraldry, Politics, Leadership and Strategy.

One thing that Borderland Provinces does is slip in non combatant classes indicative of personal power, like HD in Aristocrat or commoner. These are a fairly easy conversion.

Most of the 4-6 HD aristocrats would be built on the Agent Template, with Politics, Heraldry and Diplomacy as the primary skills, and Merchant, law and leadership as  secondary, adding in Riding and falconry into background skills.

Overall this a worthwhile sandbox to own, whether you are looking for a broader world to embed Rappan Athuk into (it’s on the map) or even B2.

 

 

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

 

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