The Alexandrian

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE

Prelude 2C: The Awakening – Agnarr

In which our hero awakes on the softest bed and pillow he’s ever laid his head upon. (Could it really be stuffed with feathers?)  And many other astonishing sights and sounds are to be seen and heard.

One of the advantages of using Ptolus as a setting is the wealth of graphical resources available for the setting. The big book itself is packed full of full-color illustrations, maps, symbols, and all manner of such things.

For example, there’s the Ghostly Minstrel — an inn and tavern specifically designed to service delvers, wanderers, and adventurers of all sorts. Here’s what it looks like:

Ptolus - Ghostly Minstrel

Illustration from Ptolus: City by the Spire

It’s located in Delver’s Square, a plaza of small businesses dedicated to profiting off the gold-rush explorers of the caverns and complexes beneath the city. It, too, is illustrated. And so, when Agnarr looked out the window in this week’s installment, I was able to show his player:

Ptolus - Delver's Square

Illustration from Ptolus: City by the Spire

I also spent $5.00 to pick up the Ptolus: Deluxe City Map supplement, so if I wanted to I could print this out as a handout for my players:

Ptolus - Delver's Square Map

Illustration from Ptolus: Deluxe City Map

(When snipped out of the deluxe map, that defaults to a 7.5″ x 7.5″ image.)

And since I was planning to use the Ghostly Minstrel as the initial homebase for the campaign, I also spent $4.50 on Ptolus Adventure Maps: Ghostly Minstrel. This wonderful product gave me beautiful, miniature-scaled maps of the Ghostly Minstrel. Since the campaign has moved to the table-top, these maps have proved ridiculously useful over and over again — whether the PCs are getting ambushed in their rooms or surprising gangsters in the entry hall.

And most of the time, it’s not even about combat: Being able to show the crowded common room by actually showing the crowded common room is delightful. And just having this kind of visual reference, I think, helped to make the Ghostly Minstrel feel more like home.

It also meant, as the PCs were waking up in strange rooms with no memory of how they had gotten there, I could pretty much instantaneously prep handouts like this one:

Ptolus - Agnarr's Room

Agnarr’s Room

“Here’s what you see. Now, what do you do?” That type of handout immediately raises questions. What’s in those dressers? What’s beyond the door? What can I see out the windows?

Even if I had the artistic chops to pull off this kind of work on my own (and I don’t), it’s still incredibly rewarding to have this kind of graphical panoply to draw upon. To be sure, the Ghostly Minstrel is an exceptional example of what Ptolus offers as a gaming resource — but the detail of the Deluxe City Map alone (which may be the best $5 I’ve ever spent) is enough to guarantee that, if I want it, there’s no place in the city that I can’t give some sort of visual reference for.

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One Response to “Ptolus: Running the Campaign – Graphical Resources”

  1. Justin Alexander says:

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    I’m not really wild about the inconsistency between the illustrations- they seemed to be detailing three different places. Not an issue of the level of detail, so much as the wildly changing details.
    Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 2:47:30 AM

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