Marienburg: Sold Down The River
Marienburg: the largest city in the Old World. The city where you can buy everything for a right price, be it legal or not. A city certainly worth describing. And I have to say Anthony Ragan did a nice job on this one.
First, let's talk about the most obvious thing, namely the layout. The cover of this supplement was made by Danny Willis, who specialises in computer graphics. He did a good job, even though the whole port looks a bit too sterile. And it's a bit strange that there are only a few people on the Great Bridge' which should be crawling with people, according to this book.
The art inside the book varies a lot. Several different artists were hired, and their styles differ notably. Ralph Horsley does a lot of inking while Pete Knifton prefers a more sketchy approach. But that isn't a flaw, not at all, all the artists are very skilled and their illustration give you a good idea of what the city looks like, especially Horsley's, who depicts a few crowded streets.
The map of Marienburg is placed in a sort of pocket at the end of the book. People have complained about past books, where the maps were 'put in' like other pages. The chance of wrecking your book while pulling out the map was rather big.
And now the map itself. To be quite frank, I didn't like it at first. It's far too dark, and not all too clear (unlike the map in Middenheim: City of Chaos). But in the book there's a more detailed map (with district borders etc.) which gives you a nice overview of the city. And the large map is well suited for showing players how the city looks like, and can be used during the adventure to show the pc's where they are. This can't be done with the Middenheim map, because all locations described in the book are shown there, along with those the pc's shouldn't know about (or at least not yet). So the Map isn't that bad after all.
The only thing I found rather annoying about the book was the smell of the glue. I advise you not sniff the pages too much, it made me dizzy. But apart from this little flaw, this supplement looks very nice.
But what about the most important part of a supplement, the contents? Here Mr. Ragan shows his talent for making great npc's. Unlike Middenheim: City of Chaos, there are more npc's described than locations. And here the book shows its largest flaw: many districts and wards weren't described. 'Left open for the imagination of the GM', it says. I think it has something to do with the fact Hogshead isn't allowed to describe parts of the Old World that haven't been described by Games Workshop first. So no Cathayan district, no description of the Tilean part of town, nothing really new. A shame. But still, the book is chock full of very detailed npc's and well-described locations. The illustrations correspond very nicely with the npc's, which gives you a good feel of their character. The statistics of the npc's are rather high, since Anthony used the career system to create their stats: they're just like advanced pc's. And here shows the (IMO) biggest flaw of the career system: characters get really powerful after three, four careers. But that depends on the way you play it.
The locations from Dying Of The Light, an adventure taking place in Marienburg, aren't described in this book. I can understand that, what's the use of describing something that has already been described. Nonetheless, it would have been nice if they'd at least be mentioned.
The book also contains a gazetteer and a handy map of the Wasteland, and adjusted character creation for pc's from this land of marshes. There's also a list of Wastelander names (very nice touch).
Marienburg is based on a Dutch portcity ( most probably Rotterdam or The Hague), so all the names and locations are in Dutch. And it's a blessing Anthony didn't continue GW's policy of giving everyone silly names. Reading the names in other books always gave me a headache. For players who knew at least a little German the names were a dead give-away. Thankfully this doesn't happen here.
Since Marienburg is a trading city, (shortened) rules for trading from Death On The Reik have also been added. It comes quite in handy.
Beside adventure seeds, there's also a full adventure from the hand of James Wallis, called the Lustrian Bubble. A very strange adventure indeed, and not suited for every set of players. I ran it with my friends, but they weren't ready for this kind of stuff yet.
Style: 5 (Excellent!)