In the outcast city of Kaer Maga, your business is your own, and no ware is too dangerous or taboo to find a buyer. Within the walls of the ancient, ruined fortress, refugees and criminals from every nation disappear into the swirling crowds of gangs and monsters. Here leech-covered bloatmages haggle with religious zealots who sew their own lips shut, while naga crime lords squeeze self-mutilating troll prophets for protection money. And these are just the city’s anarchic residents, not the fearsome beasts barely contained in the mysterious dungeons beneath the streets, held at bay by the elite rangers known as the Duskwardens. Welcome to the City of Strangers, a haven of freedom and independence—assuming you survive.
Inside this book, you’ll find:
Detailed gazetteers for all 11 of the city’s districts, from the fabled Balconies of Bis to the necromantic paradise of Ankar-Te.
A history of the city and the bizarre, ruined monument that houses it.
Thorough briefings on the most important gangs and factions within the city, such as the golem-crafting Ardoc family and the abolitionist Freemen, as well as how they interact with each other.
The bloatmage prestige class, in which spellcasters use their own blood to empower their spells—but at a terrible price.
Statistics for the caulborn, a mysterious new race of telepathic, memory-eating monsters.
A layer-by-layer guide to the dungeons beneath the city, and the echoes of lost races and magic that still guard them.
New magic items, random encounter tables, and more.
City of Strangers is intended for use with the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but can easily be used in any fantasy game system or setting.
I finally made it around to picking this product up in preparation for a campaign that is starting up shortly. This is the bar for all city book supplements to meet. With the city of Kaer Maga brought to life this book was an excellent read with interesting districts, factions, people and geography.
Kaer Maga - City of Strangers is one of the best setting books of any game that I read in the last several years.
It is PACKED with great ideas, odd little facts, adventure hooks, interesting organizations ....
The writing is superb and the locale would merit a much more detailed treatment like one of the classic box sets from the early 90ies - owing to its format the book falls a little short on art / mapping and in many cases more detailed elaborations would have been great. Sadly, that will probably not happen. Still: Get this book!
A Worthy Product Marred by Inadequate Visual Representation
I would love to give this product the 5 stars that it would deserve based on the detail and creativity compacted into its pages. Sutter really pulls out all the punches to create a unique, but still fantasy-based, city of oddities. However, the product needs a lot more visual aids to make sense of the city's structure.
The city is not just surrounded by a wall, but is mostly made of a giant thick wall structure ringing a smaller core area open to the air. Within the wall's expansive breadth are enclosed city districts that typically reach up to 8 stories. At least, that is what I gather from the description. Unfortunately, the few bits of art within the piece don't seem to reflect this description and actually create more confusion for me. We have a single map of the ground floor, which is helpful in some matters, but not in the understanding of the entire city's structure.
I don't think we need several maps showing all 8 levels - in fact, I don't think that would help. However, adequate artistic representation - perhaps an overhead shot or some kind of cross section of part of the wall - might have solved this problem.
Ironically, the map of the Undercity is excellent, one of the best visual representations that I've seen of an elaborate underground structure. I wish such pains had been taken to show the actual city itself.
I know I've spent the majority of this 4-star review complaining, but I became increasingly frustrated by the high quality of the writing being unmatched by the visuals. I knew Kaer Maga to be a great place because of the details, but I felt like I wasn't really grasping the overall structure of the setting.
City of Strangers doesn't seem like one of those products that's likely to get a second printing due to the specificity of its subject. However, if one were to come about, I hope some of the art would be replaced with something with more clarity. Then I would be happy to come back and give this the 5 star review it would deserve.
Kaer Maga is something different, something almost unique, original, fresh and complex. James L. Sutter has done something here that has to read to be believed. A city based on a functional system of near anarchy, one that has survived for so long that it precedes the timelines of the campaign setting. The book only scratches the surface of what is possible in a single location. I've reread it three or four times now and feel confident that it is one of the best RPG books I've ever read. Even if you never buy another item in the campaign setting line,even if, for some reason, you dislike Golarion this book will not be money wasted. It is not without flaws; It should have a higher page count; It has a remarkably small amount of interior art; The maps are rough and not nearly representative of a city that is largely housed within it's massive multistoried walls. None of this however detracts
from what is actually here, a setting that is as remarkable as Planescape or Eberon or Darksun yet strangely not as divergent from the soul of Pathfinder.
City of Strangers shows what Paizo is truly capable of, it's strength led me to subscribe to the Campaign Setting line, for fear that something, like this, might slip under the radar and I'd miss something great.