Game: New Glory Naval Base
Series: Urban Designs: d20
Review Dated: 18th, February 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Just a little disclaimer to begin with; this review is based off a PDF copy of Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base and the New Glory Navy Base you’ll buy will be a paper product. What does this mean? Very little. I’ve seen PDF copies of print products before and know what, if anything, is likely to distort the fairness of the review. In the worst case scenario the printed version of New Glory Navy Base ends up on tissue paper or is missing a page – but that’s unlikely. This is especially unlikely since Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base is a Darkfuries RPG product and that’s a company I associate with perfection and meticulous planning.
Darkfuries publishes RPG cartography; floor plans especially, and this presents me with the single biggest challenge in this review. What is Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base? The keystone to any GameWyrd review is the measure between what the product promises to deliver and what it actually manages to deliver. New Glory Navy Base could be an adventure with a formidable collection of maps. On the other hand, this edition of Urban Designs might equally be a highly focused cartography collection given the additional perk of being packaged alongside an adventure.
I see Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base as a cartography product. That’s what Darkfuries do. Darkfuries excels at cartography. Experienced GMs use Darkfuries’ floor plans. Okay. New Glory Navy Base is as focused as it sounds; you’ve floor plans applicable to a US naval base – but you’ve a great selection of them.
You’ve a two paged Aerial Map of the base and the scale of this birds’ eye view is just perfect; you’ve room to clearly mark the naval buildings and room enough to include the surrounding cityscape and landscape. The buildings are marked with a three or four digit code. You can tell the general function of the room by just looking at the code (how very naval) and this is ideal for a GM in a rush. The inclusion of the nearby city and landscape is important too since the product’s 96 pages includes plot and NPCs from here too.
You have floor plans of all the penitent labelled buildings and their levels. Darkfuries floor plans are line drawings in what I imagine as an “architect style”. Tables and chairs are marked on the map, as are the arcs of opening doors and the map grid suitable for the d20, and other, square based combat systems.
When it’s necessary for completeness (I did say Darkfuries was one for perfection) landscape areas are given the “building treatment” and drawn out in a similar style and scale. We’ve trees and bushes instead of tables and munitions stores marked on the grid in these cases.
There’s more than just a map for each location. There’s an extensive description too. Buildings have names and if you can’t find their building code on the two pages of birds’ eye view map then you can check their location from the description. The Hillside Sentry Post can be found at M1 on the Aerial Map, for example. We also have a note when the Sentry point is in operation and how many personnel staff it. We’ve the naval grading for these personnel too. The naval grading codes are explained elsewhere in the book too! We know what rank the OIC is (Officer in Charge, ah, see how I talk as if I knew all about the US navy already) and details about the Watch. We know if there’s a telephone junction box or an electrical power panel available too. We know if there’s any ventilation and, if so, what the physical specifications are. Urban Designs tells us what the construction materials are and what added security features might be present. In fact, I can safely say that there’s more detail than you would ever need to know about every listed building in the product. All this is in addition to the extra information about the location; it’s history, who has keys for the doors, which roads connect to it and where they go. I fancy my chances of bluffing my way onto CNN as a civilian expert on the US Navy security if I could just memorise all of this.
I’m not sure I want to memorise all of this though. It’s all well and good having this impressive array of detail available – but do I want it? Yes and no, I suppose, but mainly no. There’s too much detail here. I’d probably decide that a building or outpost has a telephone exchange as and when the plot, pace and tension suggested it would be a good idea to have that option available. That’s a personal choice and one made to suit my GMing style though, other GMs may well strive to be as accurate as possible and I’m sure all GMs would happily take the option of having all the detail at hand and being able to cherry pick from it. Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base certainly gives the reader the latter.
Already noted is the handy square map grid. This suits the d20 battle grid, specifically it suits d20 modern. New Glory Navy Base is a d20 modern product. You can use the maps and the impressive detail for any modern setting game but Urban Designs includes NPCs (officers to criminals) and they’re statted for d20 modern.
New Glory Navy Base could be anywhere. That’s the plan. You just need to have an excuse to have an old naval base at hand. I think we can safely assume we’re talking about a costal city. Implicitly we’re also talking about an American city since the structure of the New Glory Navy Base matches the US Navy although the base itself isn’t so large that you couldn’t imagine it was a foreign outpost somewhere. If you did decide to go with the foreign outpost then you’d probably also have to ignore the background that the book provides from New Glory and invent your own too. The Darkfuries supplied background is good enough not to re-invent unless you have to.
Oh. Um. Given that there are elements of adventure in the product you should turn away now (and buy something through the shopping links instead) if you’re worried about spoilers.
Actually, there isn’t much to spoil for the base’s background but I dare say players will prefer to discover the details themselves especially in the face of a possible haunting. One of New Glory’s surprise successes is the “possible haunting”. It’s up to you. If you’re running a d20 modern game with ghosts and goblins then you can go with the supernatural route. If you’re playing a strictly real or otherwise low FX modern game then the plot only involves drug smugglers. Excellent. It is with this criminal element that New Glory begins to chain together as an adventure. There are criminal dealings in the base; one of the officers isn’t as loyal to Uncle Sam as could be. There are gangs and crimelords in the district outside. What do you expect? Where there are sailors there are bound to be dance clubs too.
Even after I settle on describing New Glory Navy Base as a cartography product with added plot I still find it hard to address in a review. There’s no question, I feel, that the product is of excellent quality, that its attention to detail is impressive and the mapwork superb. I’m just not sure how useful an exactly detailed US Navy base is for me (even one that tries to be as generic as possible). I suppose that if I wanted to run an adventure or even campaign in or around a US Navy base then New Glory would be invaluable for me. It takes a second look at the stalwart golden rule of “Does it do what it says on the tin” to help me finalise the review. Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base promises all the cartography you need for a naval base and supplies that without question and without shortcomings. As an addition, as a bonus, there are the plot threads which loop through the base and this takes the RPG product from the passing B grade to the added extra A grade.
Urban Designs: New Glory Navy Base will most appeal to those gamers who like to play in military adventures and who like the details to be as precisely accurate as possible.