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Imperial Gazetteer (PFRPG)

***** (based on 2 ratings)
OPDIMPGAZPFE

Add Print/PDF Bundle: $18.99

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Vampires and spectral knights long ago claimed the country of Morgau & Doresh as their own, leaving the ghouls their empire deep beneath the earth. Both realms are fully detailed in this volume by award-winning Open Designers Wolfgang Baur and Scott Gable.

Travel deep within the palatial crypts of deep realms of undeath and learn the secrets of the vampire-princes and the ghoul emperor. This gazetteer provides rich new Pathfinder RPG material including:

  • A history of the undead nations above and below the earth.
  • A giant cast of undying antagonists and allies.
  • A new undead race of necropolitan ghouls for PCs to join the unliving.
  • The subterranean realms of the Emperor of the Ghouls.
  • Undead-themed gods and magical items.
  • More original, inventive undead than you can shake a stake at.

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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Any fan of gothic horror must own this;Gold for Ravenloft and Carrion Crown-DMs

*****

I only own the dead-tree version for this book, thus I can't comment on bookmarks and the like. The dead-tree copy is soft-bound, has 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page blank inside the back cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages ToC and kicks off with a short introduction to the topic at hand by Wolfgang Baur himself before going on to provide 68 pages of information on the undead lands.

As you should know if you've read my review of Liber Vampyr, I have very distinct opinions about how/what vampires should be like and subsequently, I was rather skeptical about the principalities of Morgau and Doresh, to which the first half of this gazetteer is devoted. Loosely inspired by classic Transylvanian cliché of Dracula and his lands, the principalities are ruled by the undead - but not as some all life eradicating tyrants, but as "realistic" rulers, i.e. creatures, who, though they might demand a price in blood and dead flesh, still are the leaders of their countries and not some cutboard evil psychopaths. The mixture of religion, tradition and everyday life serves to provide an interesting glimpse at a society that might be a dark place to live, but still remains a place to live rather than be undead or meat.

Meat is a good prompt, as it's the true currency of the next chapter - the subterranean ghoulish empire led by the high ghouls (called Darakhul, template provided) and comes, as does the Principality, with a nice 1-page map of its expanse. In contrast to e.g. the principality, we get more information on the goods, strange structure etc. of the empire and its feeding laws, allies and enemies, military organization and even some new items, spells, etc. Darakhan, white city and capital of the empire gets its own section, albeit no map of its own.

The gazetteer closes with a massive bestiary-section containing e.g. bone-collectives (undead swarms that can form humanoids, the ghoul's war beetle-steeds, a smattering of ghouls and vampires with class-levels, lich hounds, bone-powder ghouls (which are both deadly and cool - Ghouls that have existed so long/starved/been ground to pieces so that they become strange, deadly piles of dust - until they rise), deadly Mycolids and the Gynosphinx. Many of the creatures get their own, stunning b/w-artworks.

Conclusion:
Layout adheres to the two-column standard, is clear and straightforward, the b/w-artwork is nice. Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch or mistake and the same holds true for formatting. I was quite skeptical whether the vampiric principalities would appeal to me, but let me say so much: Wolfgang Baur and Scott Gable did an awesome job of making this gazetteer appealing to fans of Ravenloft, classic vampires and just about anyone who likes the idea of INTELLIGENT, sophisticated yet decadent and evil creatures.

The chapter on the Ghoul Empire is absolute gold, too - the subterranean dread lurking below the surface is simply disturbing in its commoditization of human flesh, military relentlessness and prowess as well as its capability to assimilate their enemies into their ever devouring ranks make for a more than disturbing nation to test the wits of PCs -for brute force will get them killed. I gather that one of the early, limited ODs I missed alongside Castle Shadowcrag was about this empire and thus don't know how much material has been recycled/updated to PFRPG and whether this section is interesting to people who own the OD, but I gather the update itself should be worth it. Apart from that, we get several stat-blocks and cool critters, imaginative magic and alchemical items and all of that for a relatively low price - as you can see, I have nothing to field as a complaint apart from wishing the book was about 150 pages longer - thus, the Imperial Gazetteer gets full 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval for being an outstanding product. If you haven't checked it out and even remotely like undead, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

Endzeitgeist out.


An RPG Resource Review

*****

Set in Open Design's campaign world that has already explored for both the 3rd and 4th Editions of Dungeons & Dragons, this Gazetteer describes the Principality of Morgau and Doresh and Realms Subterranean; the powerhouse of the undead in this setting. In the Introduction, Wolfgang Baur explains his fascination with death and the undead and their suitability as major-league villains within role-playing games. Highlighting the tendency of many games to restrict them to skulking in crypts, here is presented undead society in all its glory, princes and lords of their lands, at least as potent as any mortal monarch.

Chapter 1 tells of the Princes of Morgau and Doresh, once as unremarkable as any noble but now exclusively drawn from the ranks of the undead: ghouls, vampires and other undead with sufficient intelligence for the role. Always a bit of a haven for bandits and the lawless, things started to go downhill with the arrival of an exotic nobleman who just seemed to... take over.

Chapter 2 explores the Ghoul Imperium. This lies under Morgau and Doresh, with the ghouls generally only coming above-ground to feed. They fight a fair bit when below ground as well, amongst themselves and anyone else they encounter. The place is a swirling maelstrom of intrigue, individuals and religious cults vying for power; with slaves an important currency - even if frequently eaten by hungry ghouls. There is much here that is unusual and fascinating... if you can stay uneaten long enough to discover it.

Chapter 3: Underdark Locations and Encounters provides an underground gazetteer for anyone tempted to visit the Ghoul Imperium (or who survives being captured and taken there by force). It could be quite interesting to go spelunking here, but fairly deadly as well. NPCs you are likely to meet and rumours you might hear are well-described, fertile material for interaction for those brave enough to venture down here. Not everyone down here is undead, and apart from the Ghoul Imperium described in the previous chapter there are other settlements and groups who may prove somewhat more welcoming, or at least unlikely to eat you! One brilliant aid for the GM is that the distinctive smells of each place are described - most fairly vile and the well-prepared traveller might want to take a nosegay or improvise a gas mask (such a device is detailed as a magic item available in the Ghoul Imperium, although I didn't think bad smells bother them...). The smell of a place can be very evocative and potent in setting the scene, so it is good to see it mentioned here.

Continuing the exploration of subterranean realms is Chapter 4: Darakhan, the City of White. Capital of the Ghoul Imperium, it's a hard and unforgiving place, under the sway of undead legions, much of the population impoverished and scavenging for scraps, filled with intrigue and endless striving for advancement and advantage.

Finally, Chapter 5: Monsters, provides details of many new underground denizens, mostly but not all undead, who can provide extra challenges to unwary travellers. All are described with great attention to detail - society, appearance, habits - as well as the information necessary to use them in a fight. Whether your characters wish a brawl or a conversation, you have what you need to run them effectively. Strange indeed are the mycolids, for example, sentient mushrooms that farm and trade far underground.

Above ground and below, this book provides a wealth of resources, places and people to bring undead - well, I was about to say 'to life' but that doesn't sound right - into prominence in your game, whether in the intended setting or transplanted to a suitable location in your regular campaign world. Undead can be a whole lot more than combat fodder, and this work gives you ideas and tools to use them to full effect.


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