"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Verbosh


After I put my kids to bed lastnight, I pulled out my copy of Verbosh and read it through. It reminded me what a great accessory it is. Next to the Keep on the Borderlands, Verbosh is one of my favorite D&D items. I think Verbosh is one of the great examples for new DMs of how to develop an open-ended sandbox setting of limited scope for OD&D, B/X and/or AD&D.

The book cover states, "Approved for use with Dungeons & Dragons" and it makes use of all of the supplements.

The first section of the book has information on the "homebase" town of Verbosh giving on average about 6 lines of detail for about 55 locations for the walled city and adjacent village. Some of the details are a bit goofy or humourous which some DMs may not take to but many of the details, especially the rumours, are great for developing adventure ideas. It also includes brief encounter tables and information on the garrison.

A typical entry is:
Flying Falcon Inn - Marish the Mangy, AL LE, Fighter, Level 4; Marish has the ability to communicate with birds. A very nice place actually, prices are reasonable. One of the present visisotrs in this inn is Broar the Bear, friend, AL CG, Berzerker, Level 10; Broar is a were-bear. Rumors: 1) Fisherman claim to have seen a sunken ship off the point just down river; 2) A wererat was seen crawling out of the well. (I omitted stats because I didn't feel like typing them).

The next section is about the sewers and crypts below the city. It uses the now-common trope of were-rats under the city. It is an old-school dungeon but I think that it is lacking a bit in terms of the "Empty-Room Principal" as nearly every room has an encounter of some kind and most of them are likely to develop into combats.

The third section is a great underwater location, "The Wreck of the Iron Griffon".

The next section is the beginning of the wilderness descriptions. This has brief descriptions of a number of encounters, lairs, strongholds and settlements. A DM can look at these and pull out numerous adventure ideas but many of them will require some work on maps and numbered keys to flesh them out.

The remainder of the book covers the fortress of Warrenberg, the Tower of Balthon the Phantasamist, the Dead City of Haygaras, and the deadly Schuwang-Nau Tower. My only real complaint is the same as I made for the sewers below Verbosh in that there is a likely combat encounter in nearly every room.

I think that for what Verbosh does, it does very well. I can see in a alternate universe a scenario where an OD&D boxed set was published with Verbosh as the B/X box set was done with the Keep on the Borderlands. I am going to use Verbosh as a template for my development of my Northern Marches if I can ever get it going. I can picture a DM sitting over his copies of Monsters & Treasure and The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures and using the tables therein to develop the wilderness descriptions. It makes me want to play OD&D/Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox.

5 comments:

  1. Verbosh and the other JG modules that focused on a few hexes of the Wilderlands City-State map are great for exactly the reasons you state. I picked them all up on DriveThru and love them to death.

    Shield Maidens of Sea Rune and Modron from this series are also very good.

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  2. I agree that they are great as well. I do love me some Wilderlands.

    The one thing about Verbosh though is that it is really a standalone product. It doesn't fit into the Wilderlands. It is really just some valley kingdom. It doesn't have the enormous scope of the Wilderlands, CSIO and CSWE nor does it have to mesh with something larger than itself. It is a very manageable size and scale.

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  3. Verbosh is one of my favorite non-TSR goodies from that period. In TX back in the day we had very limited distribution of Judges Guild items, and Verbosh was one of the few that made it down to our neck of the woods. I remember using the setting as a base of operations in one of my campaigns; very adaptable and extremely useful with any sort of simulacrum game!

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  4. I love Verbosh with the exception of the wilderness map. I really need to redraw it on numbered hexmap.

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  5. I pretty much agree with you on the wilderness map. It took me a bit to figure it out.

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