I called 100 Street Vendors "meaty" and so it is. Consisting of 60 pages of the densely packed text for which Mishler's products are well known, it presents, as its title suggests, 100 different NPCs, each one a vendor on the winding streets of the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Now, that probably sounds a lot less interesting than it is, for the real genius of this product is that it's far more than a mere rogues gallery of non-player character names and statistics (though it is that as well). Each entry is a kind of "mini-sourcebook," providing information about the City State and the Wilderlands in general, along with numerous plot hooks and rumors for the referee to use in creating his own adventures. For example, a fishmonger by the name of Ferka is described as being of the
Great Black Bass Clan, the most prominent fisher-folk of the western Roglaroon (though the Great Blue Bass Clan would deny that at the point of a dagger); he is one of several fishmongers of the clan, as he is more capable of interacting with the "land lubbers" than most of the clansfolk, which tend to be ornery, xenophobic, and inbred (after long ago absorbing a bit of Merfolk blood, to be sure.Later, the same entry notes:
An ancient temple of the Sea God has been discovered in the fens of the Mermist Swamp; it is said to be overrun by trolls and giant toads that guard a gold-plated statue at the heart of the temple.Between those two small sections of one entry, there are lots of ideas a clever referee can use in creating his own adventures and in fleshing out the Wilderlands setting -- and there are 99 more entries of similar or even greater detail. I don't use the Wilderlands for my OD&D campaign, but I've already found lots of inspiration in the pages of 100 Street Vendors. If one is running any kind of city-based campaign, it's even more inspiring, as it goes a long way toward making a seemingly ordinary trip to hire a locksmith or employ a sage into something memorable. If one is running a campaign that involves the City State, it's even more valuable, as Mishler has helpfully included several excellent indices of the vendors (by street, by market, and by quarter), along with discussions of local coinage.
If 100 Street Vendors of the City State has a flaw, it's that its bare bones, illustration-free presentation might be overwhelming. The information contained within its 60 pages is vast and the text uses a very small point size, which might by off-putting. These would be unfortunate but understandable reactions and I have to admit that, before I started reading the book, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about doing so. But I am glad I did and this book will now enjoy a place of honor in my collection, along with a very small number of other useful referee tools. I consider that very high praise and a fitting conclusion to the Wilderlands of High Fantasy line. Grab a copy while you still can.
Presentation: 5 out of 10
Creativity: 8 out of 10
Utility: 8 out of 10
Buy This If: You're looking for a vast collection of idea fodder in the form of NPC descriptions, rumors, and setting details.
Don't Buy This If: You never use prepackaged NPC descriptions.