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Castle Builder Volume 2: Manor Houses $1.99 $1.33
Publisher: Skirmisher Publishing
by JK R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/01/2012 04:31:24
The first volume in the Castle Builder series provided the basic rules for designing and constructing buildings, as well as an overview of the role of fortifications. This second volume focuses on two specific types of building: inns and secure (but not truly fortified) wealthy households.

After the introduction (reprinted from volume 1), the book gives a general discussion of the roles of these buildings and considerations of their design and how they can be described in game. This is generally helpful if you're thinking about designing and placing such things, if a little repetitive in places.

This is followed by floorplans and details for an inn and a mansion house. The plans are drawn with the basic version of CC2, which is perfectly fine for their intended use, although they aren't top-of-the-range battle maps.

The descriptions that go with them are suited to their purpose, and include some useful ideas for what you might want to put in your own designs. Each room is accompanied with a summation of the design cost, calculated using the rules in volume 1, all of which is summarised and totalled for each building at the end - very useful, considering this is essentially a design book.

There are a couple of problems, however. Firstly, the Castle Builder series was clearly originally intended as a single book with seven chapters, rather than as a ten volume series, and somebody has forgotten to change some of the text accordingly. Thus, the introduction to this book states it has seven chapters (it doesn't), and there are references in the text referring to "chapter one" that are apparently meant to refer to Volume one.

Secondly, the actual design of the buildings, as shown in the floorplans isn't quite up to the level of thought that has gone into the accompanying text. The floor plans don't show windows (why they probably should) but, even so, it's obvious that a number of rooms can't have any, because they have no external walls - something that often seems at odds with their intended purpose.

On a similar note, the inn does seem implausibly large. For example, the innkeeper's bedroom alone has three times the floorspace of my entire house in the real world. I know I'm not rich, but that seems rather excessive, and the rest of the inn is on a similar scale. The mansion is, after all, a mansion, so no such issue there, although I'd also have liked to see something the size of a real-world "manor house" as well (say, 6,000 square feet), which, being smaller than what we do get wouldn't have taken up much of the book.

Having said that, for $2, and 22 pages (excluding the cover) this is a good guide to the general concept of imposing houses/inns in fantasy, and I'll be buying future volumes in the series.

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Castle Builder Volume 2: Manor Houses
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