Review: Imperial Gazeteer  

Posted by Spenser Isdahl in , ,

I recently received a review copy of Kobold Quarterly's Imperial Gazetteer, a 68-page tome detailing the undead domains of Morgau, Doresh, and the the subterranean Ghoul Imperium of the Free City of Zobeck campaign setting. While this review is of the Pathfinder version (available in print or PDF), the Gazetteer is also available for D&D 4e (print/PDF).

If you're a fan of Zobeck, or even just a KQ subscriber, you're probably somewhat familiar with the empires detailed in the Gazetteer: Realms ruled by the undead. While kingdoms fitting this general description aren't uncommon in fantasy settings (I remember the one I made for my first homebrew setting, the oh-so-originally named "Vampyria"), there are a number of great things about Morgau, Doresh, and the Imperium that caught my interest.

First, authors Wolfgang Baur and Scott Gable go to great lengths to give each faction within the empire a face, detailing many specific undead nobles' and generals' personalities and motivations. As a whole, this gives the empire a lot of personality, but these villains are also easily transplanted if you're running an undead-heavy campaign in another setting.

I also liked the faiths if the empire; Marena, the Red Goddess, and her matriarchal clergy. Goddess of death and lust, her priestesses (and priests) are the arbiters of justice in the empire. Mavros, The War God, is also interesting because his clergy is the source of many of the more powerful magical weapons, so enterprising PCs may have to seek out this cruel order.

There are also plenty of undead items and mundane details of undead society that really help a DM flesh out such a society, such as how much a zombie costs and how fast ghoul armies travel underground.

The only part of the empire I didn't like was Baba Yaga; this legendary, setting-transcending witch is portrayed as being the fear of god and mortal alike, with no possible rival. While sort of interesting, it adds little interest to campaign to have a challenge that cannot be overcome, and, at best, can only serve as a deus ex machina (and as a TPK machine at worst).

There were also a few editing errors that I noticed; there's a chart that listed "Endurance" check DCs that seemed to be leftover from the 4e version, and the 'PC' classed NPCs didn't include the –1 CR that Pathfinder introduced (though, oddly, the NPCs with NPC classes included the appropriate –2 CR).

I'll give the Imperial Gazetteer a 6 on a d10; like I noted above, there are a few mechanics-related errors, but the majority of the stats are solid and the fluff is great.

This entry was posted on May 28, 2010 at Friday, May 28, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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