Freeport
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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:56 pm 
 

Can anyone give me the lowdown on Freeport by Green Ronin Games?

Is it any good?  The setting appeals to me, and I'd like to start reading some of the material.

It looks like "Black Sails over Freeport" might be the right one to buy first, but I'm not sure.

Unfortunately, our only real RPG shop here in town closed its doors (they carried a lot of non-WoTC products) so I can no longer go and browse  :(

Thanks,
Keith


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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:18 pm 
 

Hi Keith:

There are some notes about Freeport over on the D20 Collecting thread, right near this one on the list.

If you scroll through some of our side chat, you will find my comments about Black Sails Over Freeport.

The Freeport line has a number of entries.  The city has been released to the public in a jauntily random manner, due to the demands of marketing and the timing of the appearance of the Open Gaming License back in 2001.

The Freeport publications include:

Death In Freeport (Lvl 1-3)
Terror in Freeport (Lvl 2-5)
Madness in Freeport (Lvl 4-6)
Hell in Freeport (Lvl 10-12)
Freeport, The City of Adventure (city sourcebook)
Black Sails Over Freeport ("Lvl 6 and up")
Creatures of Freeport (monster sourcebook)
Denizens of Freeport (NPC sourcebook)
Tales of Freeport (A compilation of four adventures)
Shadows in Freeport, DCC #20 (Lvl 6-8)
Crisis in Freeport (Lvl ?)

   I own all but the last of these and (if you wish to read) here are my comments about the city and its adventures:

   Freeport appeared on the market in a zigzag pattern because it was first rushed into print to sell at Gen Con in 2001, to take advantage of the Open Gaming License.  Pieces of the setting appeared out of the traditional order for city setting publications...with the city gazetteer actually appearing late in the series.  As a result, details about the city tend to be scattered willy nilly...in a manner that gamers openly hate, but secretly love.

Death in Freeport claims to have been the first D20 system module.  It was a bit of a rush job, which does not meet the standards of later D20 modules.  3rd Edition D&D is a difficult system to just "wing," and Death in Freeport was organized more like a traditional city adventure module and less like the format that would be standard in later publications.  It is not, however, a bad module.  

Death in Freeport, Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport comprise a series of linked adventures involving horror, lowlife and political intrigue in Freeport.  

Hell in Freeport is only loosely linked to the other three modules.  It has a lot more in common with other "trip to Hell" modules than it does with the Freeport setting.  Essentially, it asks the whimsical question, "What if Freeport were in Hell?"  It is an interesting module for those who like such things...and there is a picture of an Eyrinye dressed as a naughty secretary that always catches my eye.

Freeport, The City of Adventure is a hardback description of the city itself.  There is a large, detachable color map and much detail about how things in the city look and work.  Freeport is very much a product of the interest in pirates that was spawned by Pirates of the Caribbean.  Since pirates and ships don't really work without firearms and cannon, there are some rather shy and tentative rules about how to include firearms...and some magical cannon defending the city.

Black Sails Over Freeport is a mega-adventure ("Levels 6 and Up") that takes the party away from the city on a series of island adventures that loosely link together and end in a finale back at the city.  It is a rather thick perfect bound book...256 pages...that often carries a high price tag on Ebay.  (Got mine for a song from Titan Games.)  Like Hell in Freeport, it is only loosely attached to Freeport itself.  It also breaks a number of rules of the series...specifically, it gives hokey names to previously generic city gods in order to support a good pirate/bad pirate premise that does not really work.  Still, there is a lot to read and use, and a good DM could easily make it all work.  (Notice that in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, all of the characters are both bad and good...which is where a DM should start.)

Creatures of Freeport describes all of the monsters that are specific to the Freeport (and Green Ronin in general) setting.  It is actually a better publication than you might think.  Green Ronin really likes their race of "snake persons" (a hilariously PC contrivance...it would be too sexist to just say "snakemen") and they appear a lot in their modules.  

Denizens of Freeport is a roster of NPC's to add spice and detail to the setting.  These would have been better included with the city gazetteer hardback, but price was possibly a consideration.  The NPC's are pretty good, however.

Tales of Freeport, by Graeme Davis, is a collection of four adventures to use with the city setting.  It is probably the strongest module of the Green Ronin series, but it is intended to be used to supplement an ongoing campaign.  There are story hooks and extra rules as well.

Shadows in Freeport, Dungeon Crawl Classics #14 is a contribution to the Freeport setting by Goodman Games.  It is a haunted house adventure with a good story, strong supporting art...and some genuinely scary incidents.  Hell mouth, demons...all that...you get it.  I really like this module.  It could be used in any setting, but it works well as part of the Freeport series.

Crisis in Freeport is the most recent addition to the line.  I do not own it, so I cannot comment.  Interestingly...there are Ebay listings for this module with different covers...including the cover of Denizens of Freeport with the Crisis in Freeport title.

A compilation book of the Freeport modules also exists.  I cannot remember its title off the top of my head.

Strengths of the Freeport series:

1)  Generic...Freeport is made to drop into any game world.  Even the names of the gods are left up to the DM in order to allow for maximum usability. (For instance, there is a "god of pirates" and a "god of knowledge.") Freeport could be placed in any setting that has a large body of water and a slightly tropical climate somewhere on the map.  This is a refreshing break from a number of other D20 publications, which are setting-heavy and thus rather clunky.

2)  Good stories...the modules are all interesting and mostly useable.  There are a huge number of possible plotlines in Freeport...many of them suggested in the text.  Freeport is a storehouse of good NPC's and potential storylines to develop.  Tales of Freeport is a nice collection even without using the city setting.  Shadows in Freeport also stands pretty strong on its own.

3)  Pirates...and all that jazz.   The artwork is pretty good.  Arrr!

4) Inexpensive...you can often get them on Ebay for reasonable prices.

5)  Available...they are common items on Ebay.

6)  Still in print...the city setting grows and gains in quality with every new publication.  Green Ronin has stayed with the line and each subsequent publication is stronger in some way than the last.

7)  Horror...the Freeport series includes strong elements of horror fiction and role-playing.  There really is Madness in Freeport.  In the mid-80's, a guy named Kevin A. Ross created his own "yellow sign" from the Robert Chambers short-story collection, The King in Yellow.  Chaosium has used the "yellow sign" in some of their own products, and Green Ronin has appropriated it for cultists hiding around Freeport.  There is a whiff of H.P. Lovecraft (who looted items from Chambers, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allen Poe and Ambrose Bierce for his Cthulhu Mythos) on the streets and under the streets of Freeport.  Freeport could almost be a Chaosium product line, except that it is not gruesome and hopeless enough.


Weaknesses of the Freeport series:

1)  Layout...the pages of many of the publications are printed over the top of a nice ship/pirate/nautical gray-scale scene that is supposed to add scurvy dog charm.  What it does is make the pages hard to read.  The same goes for the sidebars with statistics and charts, which are white letters on black in some of the books...and thus hard to read.  There are also some amusing spell checker gaffs.

2)  Internal dependency...the various publications sometimes make reference to each other, which means you have to own them all or wing it.  (Not that any good DM couldn't wing the Freeport setting.)  This is a problem common to a number of D20 companies, and Green Ronin is no exception.

3)  No Pirates...Freeport is a city that used to be a pirate den.  Now, it is a merchant town strongly resembling Greyhawk.  This is a story problem that was forced upon Green Ronin.  How do you have political intrigue in a pirate city with no politics?  The denizens of Freeport had to settle down in order to start plotting against each other.  This is why a couple of the modules actually take the party away from Freeport to find things to explore and kill...thus Freeport in Hell.  Everyone used to be a pirate...but this, again, is something a DM could fix.  Green Ronin is reportedly planning publications with more piratey themes.

4) Generic...if you are not an imaginative DM, then you need things spelled out for you.  You need maps of ships and the names of gods and what kinds of favored weapons their priests wield.  You need your hand held...and the people of Freeport are not good at holding hands.  Go wet your bed, you weeny!

5)  Inconsistent setting...Freeport is a 17th century setting that somehow landed in a fantasy game that is usually 15th century in technology and outlook (with Ancient, Classical and Dark Ages anachronisms tossed in everywhere).  The writers are not always comfortable with the cultural alchemy and some DM's might not be able to mix rapiers and pistols with paladins on warhorses.  It reflects the generally more sophisticated worldview and knowledge of history typical of later D&D publications.  Sam and Frodo, however, might find the place puzzling.

6)  Political correctness...one has the feeling that the Green Ronin staffers are all graduates of the University of Washington.  They say silly and awkward things like "snake persons" and their politics are noticeably to the Left.  Everyone rich is either corrupt or incredibly stupid.  Freeport could easily be a parody of Seattle's University District, with a waterfront thrown in.  Then again, this might also be a product of the need to make the high and mighty into legitimate and open targets for downtrodden player characters.

   Overall, the Freeport setting is well worth your time and money.  Because my own game world setting has some similar elements to Freeport, I consider the city an open pit mine of good ideas to use.

   Any DM who picks up the Freeport publications will find at least something he likes and can use.  I recommend it.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:50 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:Death in Freeport claims to have been the first D20 system module.  


I think Three Days to Kill by Penumbra Atlas Games was the first Open Gaming Licence module.

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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:50 pm 
 

I have read a similar claim for Creature Collection by Sword and Sorcery.


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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:55 pm 
 

Interesting.  3 different companies making the claim.  I think that Three Days to Kill was first though.  I was told it was released at GenCon and I don't think the others were out then.

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Post Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:57 pm 
 

I picked up a Diomin module for free at Gen Con 2001.  It was also an OGL module.

Which one came out first might come down to which day it was shipped from the printer.


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Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:12 am 
 

I'm sure it was probably a crap shoot as to who was first.  I wasn't at GenCon so I don't really know what was available there.  But, I seem to recall that I ended up buying TDtK and had to wait for Freeport and Creature Collection.

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Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:22 am 
 

The first available d20 product was Necromancer Games' Wizard's Amulet .pdf, which went on "sale" (it's free) at 00:01 on whatever day that the GenCon vendors were allowed to sell books.  

I believe that the only d20 print products at GenCon 2001 were Green Ronin's Death in Freeport and Atlas' John Tynes adventure.  No one else had taken the plunge yet, IIRC.


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Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:51 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:  Horror...the Freeport series includes strong elements of horror fiction and role-playing.  There really is Madness in Freeport.  In the mid-80's, a guy named Kevin A. Ross created his own "yellow sign" from the Robert Chambers short-story collection, The King in Yellow.  Chaosium has used the "yellow sign" in some of their own products, and Green Ronin has appropriated it for cultists hiding around Freeport.  There is a whiff of H.P. Lovecraft (who looted items from Chambers, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allen Poe and Ambrose Bierce for his Cthulhu Mythos) on the streets and under the streets of Freeport.  Freeport could almost be a Chaosium product line, except that it is not gruesome and hopeless enough.


Mark,

Thanks so much for the incredibly thorough insight into the settting.  It has definitely piqued my interest, especially your quote above regarding its horror elements.  I'm a fan of Lovecraft and while I was reading about Freeport on Green Ronin's website, it called to mind Innsmouth.

With regard to the politics of the city, I could see how a DM might be able to create a mafia-type setting, with each former-pirate "Don" (for lack of a better term) ruling over an area of turf.

It looks like I'm going to be curtailing spending on RPG stuff  :( for a while, but I think Freeport may be my next area to explore once finances are back in order.

Thanks for the great post.
Keith


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Post Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:50 pm 
 

Another good pirate city is Privateer Press: Five Fingers Port of Deceit http://www.privateerpress.com/default.p ... cts/pip404

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:55 am 
 

Keith the Thief wrote:
Mark,

Thanks so much for the incredibly thorough insight into the settting.  It has definitely piqued my interest, especially your quote above regarding its horror elements.  I'm a fan of Lovecraft and while I was reading about Freeport on Green Ronin's website, it called to mind Innsmouth.

With regard to the politics of the city, I could see how a DM might be able to create a mafia-type setting, with each former-pirate "Don" (for lack of a better term) ruling over an area of turf.

It looks like I'm going to be curtailing spending on RPG stuff  :( for a while, but I think Freeport may be my next area to explore once finances are back in order.

Thanks for the great post.
Keith


You're welcome, Keith.   8)

It gave me a chance to sound off about gaming products...something I like to do.

I'd say that Freeport has been worth my money.

Mark  8)


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Post Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:55 am 
 

Anyone fancy posting some pictures of maps and text?

Has anyone looked at Thieves' Quarter from The Game Mechanics?


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Post Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:03 am 
 

Mbassoc2003 wrote:
Has anyone looked at Thieves' Quarter from The Game Mechanics?


Yep, got that and Temple Quarter, I quite like the books as they seem more like the Citybooks by Flying Buffalo then anything. Course I think the others are not coming out, But I haven't really checked on The Game Mechanics in some time.

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 9:50 pm 
 


** expired eBay auction **




Instant Freeport collection.  Only a couple of books missing.  Dead cheap.  



(Dang!  Where was this lot when I was collecting the books?  Seems illogical and greedy to snap up this lot too.  Any takers?)


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 1:07 am 
 

*Bump*

*Points to the above post*

I know there were some people on the Acaeum interested in Freeport.

Anyone interested in the above lot?

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:04 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:*Bump*

*Points to the above post*

I know there were some people on the Acaeum interested in Freeport.

Anyone interested in the above lot?

*shhhhhh . . .*  I'm still the only bidder on the lot.   :D

  

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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:36 am 
 

No international shipping. No replies to e-mails. The guy obviously doesn't want much money for the lot.


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:58 am 
 

JohnGaunt wrote:*shhhhhh . . .*  I'm still the only bidder on the lot.   :D


Oh...that's you... :oops:


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Post Posted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:28 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:Oh...that's you... :oops:

What, you can't pierce my veil of eBaynymity?  :D  It's fairly transparent on both the buying and selling sides.

[edit: Don't sweat it, because . . .

(1) I wouldn't have found the auction in the first place if not for your post.
(2) My eBay accounts aren't eponymous.
(3) My bid tops out at a low amount, so someone will undoubtedly outbid me.

/edit]

  

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Post Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:48 pm 
 

oh well, I tried :wink:

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