Review: Dragon's Gate

Copyright Sean McGinity © 2004

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

"I cannot overemphasize the level of detail here."

BACKGROUND

Dragon's Gate is a supplement to the San Angelo: City of Heroes setting, put out by Gold Rush Games. Please note that this review is of a preview of the supplement, not the final product. When Wizards of the Coast started the Open Gaming License, it prompted a glut of d20 products using the Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition rules. One of the genres that embraced d20 was superhero gaming, which for the longest time had been the dominion of the Champions RPG. There are now a multitude of different "supers" games out there using the d20 system, most popularly Mutants and Masterminds(M&M) and Silver Age Sentinels.

M&M, a tight and comprehensive affordable supers system with beautiful illustrations by comics industry big shots, started their own open gaming license of a sort called Superlink. Superlink allows for anyone to publish supplements to M&M within a set of legal rules, much like WotC's own Open Gaming License.

Superlink has been a great way to get more supplements out than Green Ronin has the time to put out themselves. Of course, this brings into question the quality of the products released under Superlink. Although there have been some dogs out there, Dragon's Gate delivers.

The San Angelo setting was originally set to be used under the Action! Gaming system. Since Green Ronin's creation of Superlink, Gold Rush has jumped on the bandwagon, making their San Angelo system compatible with M&M. Although the entire book is written with the Action! rules, it only affects the NPCs listed throughout the book, and there is a section at the end of the book that converts it over to M&M.

THE BOOK

Much as M&M is easy to use, rounded and completely compatible system, Dragon's Gate follows in the same vein. Although designed for Action! specifically and M&M secondly, this supplement can easily be used for a variety of other systems AND genres. As noted in the introduction of the book, the system can be the setting for genres like Science Fiction, Westerns and of course Supers. As a sourcebook, just about any campaign could at least use parts of this book as a setting in their own game, regardless of the system.

Dragon's Gate is replete with information providing the history, economics, mysticism, politics, religion, media, and the criminal element, among many other aspects, of this self-contained city. Being self-contained, the city can easily be deposited into any world.

As well as containing a wealth of information, the supplement also includes a detailed map listing the location of every reference in the book. If the PC's had a fight at the Yong Lung Club, you know they are only a couple of blocks away from the Wayne Street Free Clinic to tend to their injuries. Each entry in the book also lists the people that work at each location, including their physical descriptions, their standing in the community, as well as any connection they may have to the criminal element in Chinatown.

This type of detail takes a lot of the onus off the GM for the small details, so he or she can concentrate on other aspects of the game.

But it doesn't stop there. There are dozens of little plot hooks and ideas littered throughout the book to help kickstart campaigns or even to build whole new campaigns around.

NOTABLES

The whole point of using a Chinatown setting seems to be the use of Martial Arts, Mysticism and Tongs. As mentioned earlier, this whole supplement is about detail, and the section on Martial Arts is no different. There are many dojos in San Angelo's Chinatown that teach martial arts. There are the secret ones that only teach the worthy as well as the commercialized ones who take advantage of the ignorant with lackluster martial education. There are those that actively teach members of the Tongs and those that refuse. The city has its masters, with skill so high it borders on the superhuman. At the end of the supplement is a section called Martial Arts Styles and Maneuver Lists which covers a variety of standard Kung Fu, Karate, and Tai Chi moves to implement into the combat.

San Angelo's Chinatown also has a wealth of mystic power and locations. Mysticism plays strongly in the community here, what we in the real world would call superstition. There is a ghostly long-dead spirit named Li's Ghost that wanders Chinatown, the haunted Jade Dragon Warehouse, artifacts of great power such as The Talon of Yama and The Bow of the Archer, and mystic traditions like Acupuncture, Alchemy and Chi.

The biggest aspect of this supplement is the Tongs. The Tongs rule Chinatown with a steel grip. The supplement provides a full description of the three most powerful Tongs in Chinatown: The Wing Chao Tong, the Choy Lok On Tong, and the Qi Leong Tong. The description of each Tong is comprehensive. There is a description of the history of each, their influence in Chinatown, list of the prominent members (with stats) within each organization, each Tong's particular influence within Chinatown, each Tong's activities- legal or not, and the street gang that represents each. I cannot overemphasize the level of detail here. A fresh-faced GM can walk into this supplement with a full listing of the villainous organizations and their agents and start a campaign instantly with what's available.

TIMELINE

A concise timeline is also included in the supplement, listing the important historical moments of San Angelo's Chinatown: founding of Chinatown; first appearance of Li's Ghost and the history around the character; the beginnings of each Tong; the first superhuman; the great fire that burnt down much of Chinatown; the infamous "hatchet wars" that was the most dangerous time in Chinatown; historical ties to Asia; and U.S. history's affect on Chinatown.

FINAL WORD

San Angelo's Chinatown is a great supplement, not just those playing the M&M and Action! Systems, but to any role-playing system out there. With enough plot ideas and detailed information, this supplement is a must-have for those wanting to expand their campaign cities to include their very own Chinatown. This supplement has all the right tools for the fresh-faced GM and the long standing GM just looking for new ideas.

Editor's Note: Dragon's Gate is produced by Gold Rush Games and retails for $24.95 USD. For more information go to http://www.goldrushgames.com/ or your local gaming store.