This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patrons.
So, what is the Brass Drake? Well, the simple response would be that it’s an adventurer’s shop/tavern crossover. The more accurate sentiment would point out the owner Maurice’s unique position – you see, the Brass Drake does not exist in a stable timeline – while visitors do not need to fear falling by the wayside of the time-stream – thus, you can benefit from some rather unique options in the Brass Drake. Similarly, Maurice has his own gold limit, which means that if you’re taking careful tabs on the like, this is something to be aware of. As a collector of memorabilia related to time, sample items and their gold value to Maurice is provided.
However, the pdf also introduces two particular subsystems: Number one would be the patronage system. Unless otherwise noted by the shop in question, buying or selling an item nets you 1 point of patronage per visit and the more you have, the better the prices and perks you receive will be: Selling/Buying bargain tables based on percentile values. Additionally, unique benefits can be gained for patrons with a high patronage – like free meals or the option to get a magic item now that you’d find later, capitalizing on the unique nature of the Brass Drake’s time-distortion. The pdf also provides a bartering system based on Appraise and Knowledge (local) – these items can be used as currency, but with a limit of one item per transaction. The systems both work relatively well and are not too complicated – which is particularly important for the bartering system. the patronage system imho should have a shop-based minimum-value caveat for patronage point gain, to avoid PCs selling paltry items all the time and then expecting patronage gains – which RAW works. Still, the pdf at least acknowledges that some shops have limits, minimum values.
Now back to the Brass Drake itself – conveniently, we get a short selection of magical goods for sale (though no menus or lists of beverages) and the place also unlocks a unique magic item for its most faithful patrons – a doorknob-like amulet that allows you to create a door to the Brass Drake in any alley or teleport to the original door. The most compelling aspects of this shop, though, lie in the small details – there are some basic shop-tasks that specialized adventurers can fulfill to gain further patronage points and additionally, no less than 5 sample quests provide for interesting hooks – Maurice, for example, asks the PCs to check in with his supplier of ogre moonshine…
Finally, the pdf also features a more detailed encounter, basically either the end of the Brass Drake’s storyline or the beginning of a larger quest – in this encounter/adventure, the shop’s unique nature draws the attention of dread hounds of Tindalos – defending Maurice from them can also earn patronage, 1 – 5, depending on how hurt Maurice is during teh fight. Still, more precise guidelines here would have been nice, though the encounter, on the plus-side, comes with scaling advice to increase the CR to 12, 17 or decrease it to 7. The pdf also provides the stats of Maurice – capable, yet old and fragile, he is a Knife Master/Scout 10.
Editing and formatting are rather good, I noticed no glaring mistakes, though organization could have been smarter – putting the rules for the new systems at the end of the pdf creates some initial confusion and makes the content seem a bit opaque in the beginning. Similarly, the wording of them could be a tad bit more nuanced and precise. Layout adheres to a full-color 1-column standard with a nice selection of fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Frank Gori’s Brass Drake is a nifty place to shop and hang out with: The patronage system and its unique perks have potential galore and the Brass Drake’s unique concept is captivating and evocative -fluff-wise, this is great, though it perhaps could have used a bit more descriptive text to shine…particularly since the place sports no map. This is perhaps my biggest gripe with this book – while interesting and concept-wise awesome, the lack of description on what the store truly looks like, its layout etc. made it more opaque to me than it should have been. Granted, this may be by design, but at least a general array of features and/or dressing would have catapulted this up in the rating scale. My second gripe with this book is that I really would have liked to see a sample menu, a more detailed list of goods available…or at least goods pertaining more to the topic of time.
If that sounds overly negative, then rest assured, it shouldn’t be – the Brass Drake offers an evocative place for a fair price-point. It can be considered an interesting first offering in the series, one that I hope will spawn future installments. My final verdict for it will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.