City Guide Volume 1: Everyday Life is a fantasy role playing game supplement and GameMaster's (GM) resource published by Dark Quest Games and written by several authors. This is not, as might possibly be inferred from the title, a guide to a city, but instead contains descriptions of thirteen different shops that can be found in many cities, as well as a story. Cities, and other urban areas, whether commercially published or the GM's own design, often need fleshing out beyond the original material, especially if players decide to go somewhere different. This is a resource providing a number of different businesses in a city that players could visit. This supplement, therefore, aims to make it easier to add additional businesses to a city.
Credit: Gillian Pearce/Dark Quest GamesCity Guide Volume 1: Everyday Life is available from RPGNow as a 72 page PDF, including the covers, index and copy of the Open Game License. It has a colour front and back cover and black and white internal illustrations. The book is written for the d20 System and, as such, parts of it are covered by the Open Game License.
The book describes thirteen shops of the following business types: herbalist, brewer, scribe and paper manufacturer, potions, clothier, stables and blacksmiths, weapon smith, cobbler, armourer, woodworker, outfitter, bowyer/fletcher and inn, as well as an introduction and a story.
Each described business contains various sections, although these differ depending on which business is covered, but each has details on the various rooms in the shop and of the non player characters (NPCs). There are descriptions, that can be read out to players, of the different rooms or different room types to be found in the business, as well as a description of the exterior. These are accompanied by GM's descriptions as to what can be found in the various areas. Each also has at least one, and in some cases several, NPCs, with accompanying d20 stats, descriptions and, frequently, background information. There are also new items, both magical and non-, and adventure hooks provided with some of the covered shops, and some also have additional information that can be discovered about or from the shop owners, some of which is secret.
The initial story is Coins of Silver and Gold. The shops are Mirialle's Herbs, Blithe Spirits, Scribes and Paper, Gizzele's Fine Herbs and Potions, Silken Dreams, Traken Brothers Stables, Ringing Steel, di Carpolis Shoes, The Armourium, Reston's Wood Creations, Expedition Outfitters, Stormfeather Fletchery and Blue Flame Inn.
The range of businesses is wide enough, and they are different enough, that they encompass many types that players are likely to use, especially those that provide equipment that adventurers are likely to need. Prices and effects, if applicable, for any new items are provided, as well as descriptions.
The shops do not have a consistent layout as to how they are described, which gives the impression that different authors were responsible for the various described locations and, indeed, this is the case. This is a fairly minor niggle, but it would have been better if they had all worked from the same template. For example, some shops have a section entitled Character Hooks or Stories, whilst in others it's Plot Hooks and in others there is no section of that type. Some of the shops have NPCs described at the end, others throughout the descriptions. It is not clear what purpose the included story serves.
The PDF is bookmarked, but with only a bookmark for each different business covered. This is sufficient for most need, though. There is also a table of contents at the beginning, which also lists the page numbers of each different section. There is no further index, which could have been useful, especially for easily finding the new items, both magical and normal, described.
None of the described businesses have floor plans provided, which may be a disadvantage to some, but the lack of floor plans does mean that it is easier to slot one of the described businesses into an existing building of approximately the right type, making it more flexible.
This supplement is most useful for d20 System and compatible games, due to the quite extensive stats provided for the NPCs, new items, and certain system-specific items that are usually owned by the NPCs, but these can always be converted to other game systems, which will add a bit of time on the shop's integration, depending on the ease of conversion. The adventure hooks, for those shops that have them, provide the potential for quite a bit of adventuring to be based simply around the shops themselves.
Whatever some drawbacks may be, City Guide Volume 1: Everyday Life is still an excellent, and quite comprehensive, resource for expanding a town, as there is a good amount of provided information, and it should be easy enough to drop any, or all, the shops into most fantasy settings.