When I received the Hammerfast product, I was quite disappointed. It’s a thin package not really much bigger than the character sheet folio. Still I decided to reserve judgment on it until I had seen the contents of it.
Opening up the package I noticed that is was indeed more like the character sheet folio with a wrap around cardboard cover, a battle map, and a booklet, that has no independent cover.
The cover is made of cardboard, with the inside front cover has a Hex grid of the surrounding area of Hammerfast and the inside rear cover has a map of the town with ward names on it.
The double sided battle map is what I have come to expect from Wizards. It’s printed very nicely, one side is a two story building, and the other is a map of Hammerfast you can show your players while they explore.
The booklet is almost useful. It has descriptions of the buildings of Hammerfast, the main NPC’s power bases and the surrounding area. The information is useful as a starting place, which I think is the idea, but you would still need to do quite a lot of work to make it a working settlement, it reads to me like a Dungeon Magazine Article.
Now I’m sure they have done this on purpose, to give more flexibility to the product, but for me it leaves it lacking something, it’s almost there but not quite.
In my opinion the best thing about the product is the battle map showing the town. There are not many products that give you a map of a town that you can use in everyday gaming. Also I noticed that the battle map does not say Hammerfast on it, so you could conceivably use it as any town you like.
Yes the product might be worth buying if you want a basis for a campaign, somewhere for the players to go back to over and over again, but again personally I think you would be better off buying something like the Forgotten Realms, Ebberon or the upcoming Darksun products, lots more backgrounds, so much more information and lots more options.
Still some people will find the information in the booklet useful to help write their own adventures or save time creating NPC’s. I think the product does what they say it will do, giving you a bunch of options and a safety net, but as always with this kind of product I think a lot more could have been put in to it, to give more value for money.
Overall the product is nicely produced, and has enough information in it for it to be of some use to DM’s, and enough flexibility to run a campaign out of the city of Hammerfest. I don’t think this is a product for me personally, but that has more to do with the way I like to run my campaigns. For me the Battle map is the only bit worth using from this package, although the overland hex grid on the inside of the cover is also useful if you’re going to base your campaign in the city.
So unless you’re looking for an expensive Town map, id give this one a miss…
Andy @ DMB