Hammerfast isn’t your everyday adventure module, in fact it’s not really an adventure at all if you wanna’ get technical. Think of Hammerfast not as a blank canvas for your campaign world, but one that’s been penciled in lightly for you to alter as much as you want. It’s a great backdrop for setting up an entire campaign or at least a major city. The contents state it is optimized for taking players ideally through levels 1-10, however I think a little ingenuity could push it a bit further than that.
Without giving away the back story from the book verbatim I’ll just say that the city itself has a lot of history, to say the least. Ghosts walk the streets alongside the living and no one thinks anything of it, some of them even hold places in society – acting as teachers instructing those in a craft they excelled in during life like blacksmithing perhaps. There are some tensions between those devoted to Moradin and Gruumsh who basically hold dominion over the cities and it’s ghostly inhabitants. There is a lot of room for tension and treachery in a city like this, which is great for your campaign world and creating player intrigue.
The bundle itself comes with a full color softcover and within it is a 36 page booklet all done in black and white, as well as a full color fold out map containing an overview of the city and the Foundation Stone tavern on it’s flipside. The artwork hearkens memories of the old school and in my own personal opinion rather reminiscent of some certain 3rd party sourcebooks for 3e. The overall appeal is great, though the map is just a basic matte finish like the softcover and will likely show wear at it’s creases easily after some use. It would have been nice to see this done in a gloss finish or even laminated but hey, if you wan’t something done right do it yourself! I’m going to have mine laminated soon.
The booklet is full of backstory and endless ideas for adventure hooks, note I said ideas not actual hooks although there are a few of those in the back of the book. Each building is explained in detail as to what is inside, how it looks, who resides or frequents it and things that have gone on or may go on in it. There is a section dedicated to the towns major NPC’s including backstory and motives. In the back end of the pages you’ll find adventure examples in varying level ranges for use to get you started or hooked into major plot points, though everything is left open ended which is great. You can really tell the whole thing was written with freedom in mind for DM’s which Is why I really find it awesome. Before picking this up I really had no good idea of how to go about building a massive city other than ripping off district names from Baldurs Gate so I’d say it’s a good starting point
For me, Hammerfast would be a good read if nothing else, just if you like to read about fictional places and it’s inhabitants and you don’t even plan on using it for your D&D game. Also again in my own opinion I think it really helped get some creative juices flowing for me with running my games, it’s hard to find time to really sit down and just think up great stuff when you have a busy life like most of us do so I’m going to say it was 15$ well spent.
In summary if you’re looking for something to up your campaigns appeal, indulge in a good read, or maybe lay out your first big city as a dungeonmaster I think Hammerfast is a great place to start.