Cast off for adventure with the members of the RPGA Network. Get to know one of the busiest ports of the Sea of Fallen Stars, where adventure awaits on land, at sea, and below the waves. Pirates, honest sailors, smugglers, fishermen, and water creatures rub shoulders with stalwart adventurers bent on exploring the ships in the harbor, businesses on the waterfront, and a few mysteries less audacious locals prefer to ignore.
This product contains new buildings and personalities for the Forgotten Realms Living City campaign setting, and your own 3-D fold-up ship.
LC4: "Port of Ravens Bluff, the Living City" (1991), compiled by Jean Rabe and Skip Williams, is the fourth and final of the Living City supplements for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in July 1991.
About the Title. The cover just says "Port of Ravens Bluff", but the title page adds on "The Living City", matching the other three "LC" adventures.
Origins (I): The Shared World. The shared world of the Living City of Ravens Bluff was extensively detailed by the members of the RPGA through Polyhedron magazine and through the four "LC" supplements. Like its predecessors, "Port" is a compilation of the work of numerous RPGA members.
Origins (II): Another Contest. How do you get a ton of RPGA members to all write on the same topic? You hold a contest! The RPGA asked for help to "populate Ravens Bluff's harbor" in Polyhedron #56 (November/December 1990), even before the publication of LC3: "Night Watch in the Living City" (1991). They announced the contest results in Polyhedron #62 (August 1991). The winners were: Zachary M. Drake for "Asharkar's Accessories"; Rob Nicholls for "Cat and Mouse"; and Andrew Kruh for "Wreck of the Sea Lion". All three of these winning entries appear in "Port".
Origins (III): An Old Ending. Though the shared creation of Ravens Bluff would continue in Polyhedron magazine, "Port" marked the end of the wider publications about the RPGA's city.
In actuality there are four more Ravens Bluff supplement. They don't officially bear the "LC" module code, but they have been identified as LC5-LC8. The first two were RPGA-only releases, which are largely unavailable today: "A Player's Guide to the Living City Campaign" (1995, 1996) and "Living City Campaign Procampur Expansion Pack" (1997). The other two are mass-market Wizards of the Coast publications, The City of Ravens Bluff (1997) and Kidnapped (1997) — both of which also bear an RPGA logo.
Origins (IV): A New Beginning. Though the Living City originated as a shared world in Polyhedron magazine, that's only half the story. It also was the heart of four Gen Con RPGA tournaments, from 1987-1990 — tournaments that were growing increasingly popular because of the ability to carry the same characters from one con to the next.
The Living City tournaments really took off shortly after the publication of "Port", beginning with Gen Con '91; it was the first convention to have two Living City adventures: "Day of the Raven" (1991) and "Downunder the Living City" (1991). The problem was that characters were starting to diverge in level, depending on how many of the tournaments they'd played, so the RPGA offered one tournament for first-level and second-level characters, and one for third-level characters.
From there, the Living Tournaments exploded. By 1992, the RPGA had been running the Winter Fantasy convention for a few years, so Winter Fantasy 16 (1992) got its own Living City event, "Eye of the Leviathan" (1992), which was also the first two-round Living City tournament. Conn Con then ran the first New England Living City adventure, "The Curse of Red Death" (1992), a couple of months later, and then it was back to Gen Con / Origins '92.
The Living City events continued to spread in 1992 and 1993 to the point where there was even a hullabaloo about "False Prophesy" (1993), which ran at Ohio's Club Con on February 7, 1993 … but was non-sanctioned. Meanwhile, two other signs revealed that the Living City had come of age. First, it got its first spin-off, Sarbreenar the Living City (1992), which ran in the UK. Second, the number of Living City events actually surpassed the "classic" RPGA tournaments — possibly as early as late 1993.
Origins (V): It's All About the Characters. The ultimate success of the Living City can probably be attributed to its close attention to characters and continuity. These ideas had been with events since players in the second tournament, "At Last, Ravens Bluff" (1988), were told that they could bring back their characters from the first event. However, just before the events really exploded in 1992, it was increasingly obvious that the series of Living City tournaments had become a massive campaign.
While previewing the "Eye of the Leviathan" Winter Fantasy tournament, the RPGA suggested that players might "want to improve [their] Living City characters by playing them in the Living City tournaments at the GEN CON®/ORIGINS™ Game Fair" so that they'd be ready for Winter Fantasy. Meanwhile, the Chemcheaux magic shop began to appear alongside Living City tournaments, allowing players to trade their gold and unwanted magic items for stuff they actually liked. By Gen Con '93 Living City characters and their stuff had become important enough that the RPGA started logging what people had earned, to prevent cheating. (More rules would follow.)
Meanwhile, continuity was coming into the Living City tournaments too, truly making Ravens Bluff "alive". That too began with "Eye of the Leviathan", which was all about replacing Lord Speaker of the Advisory Council in Ravens Bluff. The position was won by James Alan of Ohio and his character Melissa Eldaren, who appeared in Polyhedron #84 (June 1993).
By the time that the Living City events surpassed the "classic" RPGA tournaments, they had become a very different sort of tournament. They were focused on continuity of characters and continuity of setting, with adventures that were widely available and which would be run again and again all over the world. This would be the model that would take the Living City successfully into the 21st century and that would be repeated many times over the years, for Living Death (1997-2007), Living Greyhawk (2000-2008), Xen'drik Expeditions (2006-2008), and others.
Components: Cardstock Bits. "Port" includes a very complex cardstock boat on the inside cover of the adventure, but it's not nearly as useful as TSR's cardstock models of the '80s. Not only would you have to destroy the cover to put it together, but it wouldn't be the right size! A photocopier was needed to enlarge the ship to 25mm scale!
Exploring the Realms. As promised, the adventure details the port of Ravens Bluff, including ships, business, proprietors, and other oddities.
About the Creators. Once more, "Port" was put together in house by the RPGA. Jean Rabe and Skip Williams compiled it, with editing by David Wise. However, the content is primarily the product of RPGA members.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.