The fine folks over at Double Proficiency have seen fit to send us a review copy of their PDF, Globetrotter’s Guide to Greenery: Freshwater Marshes, and I’m very into it.
The GGG “is a series of guides to biomes and plants that populate them.” Specifically, they focus on sensory descriptions and pictures for 10 plants from their specific region. Today we are reviewing a guide to freshwater marshes, and so it includes things like cattails, reeds, lilies, and other marshland plants. The GGG pamphlet is 12 pages long, and available on their Itch page for purchase.
Page layout is very nice, and you can tell that at least one member of the Double Proficiency team is a professional editor and layout designer. I gripe on this aspect a lot in other reviews, but this is a really clean, easy to read design. Well-sized art, plenty of space for words instead of trying to jam as many words onto a single page as they can, and just letting it work for what it is. Each entry gets two paragraphs: one on physical description, focused on habitat, and a second focused on the plant’s uses and more “science-y facts”.
This is the sort of book more GMs should have piled all around their house (or now-a-days virtually filling a hard drive). The Guidebook doesn’t have any mechanics that are really going to help you with a combat or anything, but that’s a good thing. This is a world and atmosphere building book. What it has is great, evocative text describing each plant. Reading that sort of thing is invaluable to even experienced GMs. There is a noticeable difference to players when they ask you to describe a clearing, and you can even half remember that the Marsh Hibiscus are a “big-leaved plant” with “rose-like flowers, ranging from white to deep pink with maroon centers” attracting “numerous bees and butterflies”. Even better if you’ve got time to prepare an encounter and want to write it up with some nice read aloud text. Although, in my experience these things get made up on the fly because the group went off on a wild hair and you’ve got to have something. Having read this sort of thing recently, or at all really helps add the details beyond “I dunno, it’s got some flowers” or going to your old standby of the 3 types you personally can remember. I imagine if I had a bunch of them, I could bring the one that makes sense for where my current game is at, flip to a random page and simply read the prose description for the scene.
The Science-y portions are great as well. Personally, I get more out of this portion, and that probably means I should be practicing the other portion more. These explain that sawgrass is used by alligators to build nests, and that “a sudden hole in the field of grass can mark the animals’ habitat”. I didn’t know that about alligators, and literally picked some sawgrass this week to show my son. I have slashed my hand apart on it far more often than is reasonable for an intelligent human, and yet here I am, learning about sawgrass from a two sentence paragraph. I’ve got ideas for stepping up my next alligator random encounter: a fundamental requirement for this sort of book. What I also have though, are some ideas about incorporating it into alligator/humanoid clothing, and maybe some sort of house topped with it. Those sorts of inspirational hooks are gold for a believable campaign. I flipped randomly to one of the entries, and it was crazy how well that worked. But that’s how they all are. Well written, evocative, and practical.
I talked earlier about the layout, but I want to spend some time on the art as well. I’m starting to love people’s use of old, public domain, stuff and this is no exception. Overall the book reminds me of the old field guides I would read about plants, and animals and stuff, which I guess is the intent. The art is color throughout, and fairly detailed, adding a nice step up from the descriptive prose below it.
Overall, this is certainly a great TTRPG supplement, and I’d very much recommend The Globetrotter’s Guide to Greenery: Freshwater Marshes. It fills a niche that most Monster Manuals and setting guides ignore, and can really help flesh out your GMing skills, or cover for gaps. Its also only $3.50, which is pretty much a steal for anything, let alone something that’s actually good. It’s so good in fact, I’m going to be keeping an eye on their potential upcoming Kickstarter for the Herbalist’s Primer, which appears to be this book but more, and with fantasy stuff. I am literally working on my own fantasy fauna book as part of my heartbreaker TTRPG, and will probably slide it down the priority list in favor of just buying that. Maybe at most writing a conversion guide. I’d also recommend you check out their Patreon so they can keep doing stuff like this.