Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers (PFRPG)

4.80/5 (based on 20 ratings)
Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers (PFRPG)
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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.

by James L. Sutter

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-248-7

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscription.

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4.80/5 (based on 20 ratings)

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My favourite PFCHR to date!

5/5

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

4/5

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.


You should buy this right now, do not wait.

5/5

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.


Den of Theives, at best. Kaer Maga

5/5

This is the least standard Companion; it is a complex web of tidbits and oddments and strange wonders. This makes it one of the most interesting. Check out my full review: City of Strangers


Amazingly good.

5/5

This book is amazing and interesting, one of the best settings I have came across in years.


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Contributor

Dryder wrote:
Will this also contain a map of the city?

You bet! The city map is far and away the most detailed one I've ever made... there'll be a big map of the whole ground floor, district call-outs, a schematic of some of the dungeons beneath the city - the works.

Dark Archive

Arnwyn wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:

Awe. Some.

I already know which city in the Forgotten Realms I will include this as.

Ruins of Zhentil Keep?

No. Zhentil Keep has long since been detailed and mapped.

This is going to become the city of Three Swords, in the Shining South, sitting on the edge of the Landrise.

Oh, alright. Even after all these years as a FR fan, I'm not familiar with that one (I know where Landrise is). I did not mean to imply you would use Kaer Maga "as is" for ZK, but rather (mis)understood you would just "cannibalize" the book for NPCs, locations and other stuff.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

June can't come quickly enough!


Asgetrion wrote:
Oh, alright. Even after all these years as a FR fan, I'm not familiar with that one (I know where Landrise is). I did not mean to imply you would use Kaer Maga "as is" for ZK, but rather (mis)understood you would just "cannibalize" the book for NPCs, locations and other stuff.

Simply cannibalizing products provides me little value for the money.

And a great thing is that a lot of Paizo's stuff is too good to not use as much as possible! (It just has to be a very good fit for my setting... so regional products = thumbs down, but city-related products = instant buy!)


This cannot come out soon enough. I'm looking at running Seven Swords in May!

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Beautiful anarchy, bloatmages, and troll augurs!

Dark Archive

Adam Daigle wrote:
Beautiful anarchy, bloatmages, and troll augurs! Oh my !

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

baron arem heshvaun wrote:
Adam Daigle wrote:
Beautiful anarchy, bloatmages, and troll augurs! Oh my !

You're damned right.


[Fingers Crossed] Oh, I hope there will finally be some more information on the Council of Truth in there. Once I run SSoS, I won't be able to keep my players away from researching those folks... [/Fingers Crossed] :D

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dalesman
Bringing Big D**n Justice to the Bad Guys Since 1369 DR

Contributor

The Dalesman wrote:

[Fingers Crossed] Oh, I hope there will finally be some more information on the Council of Truth in there. Once I run SSoS, I won't be able to keep my players away from researching those folks... [/Fingers Crossed] :D

There's definitely some information on the Council in there. I think I can safely say that everything that gets mentioned in SSoS or the Pathfinder's Journal in Hook Mountain Massacre is expanded upon, along with a bunch of new stuff as well.

Silver Crusade

James Sutter wrote:
I think I can safely say that everything that gets mentioned in SSoS or the Pathfinder's Journal in Hook Mountain Massacre is expanded upon, along with a bunch of new stuff as well.

Including the Tallow Boys?

I need to let another GM know, because if so one of his PCs is going to derail his campaign by making a beeline straight for Kaer Maga.


James Sutter wrote:
The Dalesman wrote:

[Fingers Crossed] Oh, I hope there will finally be some more information on the Council of Truth in there. Once I run SSoS, I won't be able to keep my players away from researching those folks... [/Fingers Crossed] :D

There's definitely some information on the Council in there. I think I can safely say that everything that gets mentioned in SSoS or the Pathfinder's Journal in Hook Mountain Massacre is expanded upon, along with a bunch of new stuff as well.

Yay!!! Now my only problem is having to run the module in the next few weeks, and not getting the book until July....

[Insert shameless begging for teaser information here] :)

Your Friendly Neighborhood Dalesman
Bringing Big D**n Justice to the Bad Guys Since 1369 DR

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am so bloody happy this book is gonna turn up before I start CotCT (which I plan to do in August) ! Kaer Maga sidetrek during History of Ashes ! Yeeeah !

The Exchange

Dennis da Ogre wrote:

A little nit pick about the descriptive text:

"In the outcast city of Kaer Maga, your business is your own, and no ware is too dangerous or taboo to find a buyer."

Yes...ware is correct!

Sovereign Court

Whose bright idea was it to put Seoni in charge of the anti-tentacle device?


Generic Villain wrote:
Wow. Of all the new Paizo products that have just been announced, this is definitely the one I'm most looking forward to. I love "monster cities" like James Jacobs' Scuttlecove, and am especially looking forward to the bloatmage PrC. I've wanted to see those guys since Eando Kline met one in the Pathfinder fiction.

Yes! - at last the Bloatmage! :)

Contributor

Mikaze wrote:

Including the Tallow Boys?

I need to let another GM know, because if so one of his PCs is going to derail his campaign by making a beeline straight for Kaer Maga.

But of course! There's quite a bit of information about them in there. What's a city of corruption without some information-brokering prostitutes? :)


James Sutter wrote:
Mikaze wrote:

Including the Tallow Boys?

I need to let another GM know, because if so one of his PCs is going to derail his campaign by making a beeline straight for Kaer Maga.

But of course! There's quite a bit of information about them in there. What's a city of corruption without some information-brokering prostitutes? :)

The players in my game hated the Seven Swords of Sin, mainly because I ran it during RotRL between 3 and 4. The dinosaurs stat block has been affixed to my homemade screen and used as a grudge monster should a player get stupified during the game.

Paizo rocks.

Silver Crusade

James Sutter wrote:
Mikaze wrote:

Including the Tallow Boys?

I need to let another GM know, because if so one of his PCs is going to derail his campaign by making a beeline straight for Kaer Maga.

But of course! There's quite a bit of information about them in there. What's a city of corruption without some information-brokering prostitutes? :)

Unfortunately for his party the PC in question won't be going for the info so much as the wares.

Calistrian to the hilt, this guy. Damn near Slaaneshi.

Personally, I'm really interested in what's causing all those birth defects down in the Warrens(and if it's a good place to spawn certain sorcerer bloodllines and tieflings).


Man, I wish I had this when I ran the Crimson Throne AP. No matter, when I return to that group and run them up to 20th level, I'll have to make use of this one. Definitely.

Dark Archive

This is the best ever. I can't wait to get my hands on this.


I have a campaign set on the Storval plateau and our HQ is Kaer Maga. I hope this book is great!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I believe it should actually be "no 'wares are' too dangerous", et al. Personally, I'd have just said "nothing is too dangerous"...

=+Aerlyinth

Silver Crusade

LOVE the artwork posted in the blog,

Awesome work of art!!

RM


Crap. Twice I've run side adventures in Kaer Maga, too bad this wasn't out sooner. Well, I'll just have to find a way to get my kingmaker group over to Varisia.


Skade wrote:
Well, I'll just have to find a way to get my kingmaker group over to Varisia.

Warp stone.

Silver Crusade

New cover!

Merisiel: You fat, bald, fatty-fat....fat fat!


Gorbacz wrote:
I am so bloody happy this book is gonna turn up before I start CotCT (which I plan to do in August) ! Kaer Maga sidetrek during History of Ashes ! Yeeeah !

You and I are on the same page, Gorbacz. In order to give the path a bit of a boost along the way, my conversion of Curse of the Crimson Throne is going to include a full conversion of Seven Swords of Sin, which is set entirely within Kaer Maga. I'm running my playtest group through it now. I'll try and take a look at this book and see what I can use from it.

Sovereign Court

The new artwork is HAWT! I am going to start a new campaing in August that is based smack dab in Kaer Maga. My players also play in the PFS so I think most of their characters are going to be affiliated with the Society. There should be plenty there to keep them occupied for a long time. I am not sure if the PFS has a very big presence in Kaer Maga, if so, that will be so much the better! This is a big "MUST HAVE"!!! I think it would be fairly easy to tie the PFS into the Seven swords of Sin as well.

Dark Archive

I love the new cover art.


Dennis da Ogre wrote:

A little nit pick about the descriptive text:

"In the outcast city of Kaer Maga, your business is your own, and no ware is too dangerous or taboo to find a buyer."

Lemme guess... you think it should have been "nowhere" ?


Shiny cover art...

The Exchange

I don't think those planks are going to hold up under their combined weight, if Merisiel is leaping forward instead of backwards. I'm curious to find out where exactly this fight is taking place, though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What's with the bloatmage's face? He looks like he's wearing a yellowed mask.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Everytime this thread gets bumped, the eagerness returns.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Bump.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

That tickles.


bundled bump.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Now you're just being naughty.

Silver Crusade

Bump with a reminder that this book offers the opportunity for some bloatmage fanservice.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Okay, I threw up in my mouth a little.


Snowball bump

Dark Archive

I'm kinda interested in seeing what is done with the bloatmages, anyway. The Bloatmage Initiate feat, IMO, is kinda junk.

Some sort of PrC or alternate option, perhaps taking damage to enhance spells (by drawing upon the excess reserves of blood), either nonlethal damage for minor effects, or Con damage for greater effects, and / or perhaps tapping into a set number of 'Heme points' stored up, could be intriguing. Not every spell would be enhanced, but when the bloatmage is willing to tap the resources they've stored up, they could boost a casting in some way.

The parallels between this sort of 'heme casting' and the use of 'stored rasa' in Tantic practices just occured to me.

.25 seconds later it squicked me out.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the product description. (We snuck the final cover image in as part of a Paizo Blog entry last month; it hasn't changed since then.)

The Concordance RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

So very cool... i need it now!!!

The Exchange

Drool.


Just ran PFS #51 set here - was Awesome! If the details in there are any indication of what we'll find in this book, this will be the best release since Guide to Korvosa (if not better)!


This is the base city for my campaign and I would love to see if any of my ideas for the nastiness that is underneath the city is similar to the ideas of the writers.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Yes! Finally!!

This looks awesome. The maps are completely amazing!

I already liked the text, but it's so much better seeing it all shiny and prettied up.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I received my PDF copy yesterday and have been reading it voraciously. So far, among my top 3 Paizo publications of all time!

BrOp

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