-== What is it? ==-
Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds is a sourcebook for Fantasy Hero from Hero Games that was written by Allen Thomas and Jason Walters. It contains detailed descriptions for three fantasy genre related locations and briefer descriptions of eight others.
The book has a color cover and an entirely black and white interior. Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds is 8.5? x 11? and is 127 pages in length. There is a fairly detailed table of contents but no index. I have used Wickshine’s Last Inn in my Fantasy Hero campaign but the other locations I have only read at this point. I purchased a printed copy that I will be reviewing.
-== What I Like ==-
The first of the more detailed locations covered in the book is titled, “A Night Out Of The Rain”. It details the Wickshine’s Last Inn, the staff and guests, as well as a great mystery story. This one might be my favorite in the book for several reasons. First I really enjoyed the NPC presented in this section. The staff and a set of guests are each given quite a lot of detail and many are very original. The story and background of The Wick, as the locals call it, is also very nicely done and could easily be snapped into any campaign world. I made just slight changes and I was able to port it directly into my Spirit Storm campaign which is a bit different from many fantasy settings. The maps are also extremely useful. The main inn map can be used over and over again. (If you pick up a copy do a quick search on the Hero Games forums and you can find a link to a graphic version of the maps in full color that is just great. )
The third long location covered in Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds is called “Eisburk-Beyond-The-Shoals”. This setting is a castle and nearby surrounding area. The adventure involves the castle being besieged while the PC are visiting. I thought the NPC from Eisburk were fine but not as original as those from “A Night Out Of The Rain”. The castle maps are nice and could be reused with little to no changes. I was not so happy with the adventure. There are some moments of intrigue but I wanted to see more player focus and less mass combat. I’m not sure I would have picked a setting with a mass combat adventure for likely the only location book that I might produce.
The other eight locations that are covered in less detail include an abbey with a dark secret, a noble manor, an ifrit’s bottle, a raucous taproom, a potion shop, a prison, a farmhouse, and a mage tower. I particularly liked the abbey, ifrit’s bottle, and prison. The abbey has a neat twist and felt like it could easily be slipped into any campaign world. I liked the ifrit’s bottle because it is really original and tons of fun. This location is not about the reuse but more about the associated adventure. I like the way the ifrit’s bottle adventure sets up rooms to test the party physically and mentally. Very nicely done. I thought adding a prison was a nice touch as it instantly made me think about fantasy setting prisons in my own campaign. This place is waiting to be broken in to or out of. I was not so happy with the taproom or mage tower. I thought the taproom was too over the top. The NPC feel like someones party and it doesn’t sit good. The maps are fairly useful though. The mage tower was not one of my favorites because of the NPC. The NPC are “goody-goody” and the adventure suggestions are too much like “Kindergarten Cop”. I would have rather liked to see an evil mage tower with all the trappings.
As you might imagine cartography is important in a book where the focus is on locations. The maps were done by Keith Curtis and they are excellent. There is just enough detail and texture without going overboard. I also really like the fact that the maps are repeated at the end of the book for easy reference.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
The second of the detailed locations is called “From Out Of The Depths”. This was my least favorite setting in the book. The setting involves a mine with an alien ship at the bottom. That’s right…an alien ship. Putting a crashed alien ship at the bottom of your Fantasy Hero dungeon crawl may work for some campaigns but for most it will fall very flat. As it is one of the detailed settings there is also a lot of details on each room. Boy it really feels like wasted space to me. Along similar lines these maps have little to no reuse value. I would have rather have seen this be one of the shorter locations and have the prison or abbey given more pages.
Even though I really like the cartography in Fantasy Hero Battlegrounds I am not super happy with the color cover art. Keith Curtis did not only the cartography but the cover art as well. In my opinion the cover feels a bit juvenile and does not catch one’s eye from across the room. The interior art is done by different artists and it fine to good.
-== Summary ==-
If you are looking for some well done fantasy locations for your Fantasy Hero campaign I would definitely give this product a look. The cover price is $24.99 which seems just about right for this page count and content. You can get it in PDF format at DriveThruRPG at this URL for $16.99. Here is a link to the product at Noble Knight Games for $18.00. FInally you can get it at Amazon.com for $24.99 at this URL.
I give it 7 out of 10 paws.