Midgard: Alleys of Zobeck (PFRPG) PDF

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The mean streets just got meaner! This collection of 17 pages of additional NPCs, locations, and magic for urban adventure expands any city adventure or adventure path.

Alleys of Zobeck includes the Rampant Roach—possibly the vilest tavern in fantasy—plus the Lust domain and granted powers for priestesses of the Red Goddess, plus much much much more:

  • "Nothing to Declare" mini-adventure
  • Vralgor Szarn's territory, a CR 6 encounter
  • Clockwork Abomination, a new CR 5 monster
  • Infernally-possessed creature template
  • Goldscale the kobold paladin, with his dire weasel mount and animal companion stats
  • The Gutter Prophet and a barge-captain NPC
  • 5 new feats and 7 new traits for city characters
  • The Clockwork Hand magic item
  • Incantation of Memories Lost
  • New gear and the small treasures tables
  • Ulmar's Rare Books and Rampant Roach locales, both complete with map and NPCs
  • Blackeye's Carriage
  • And more!

This is an astonishingly good deal of adventure and recurring characters and new crunch for fans of the Streets of Zobeck adventure anthology, or a great introduction to urban adventures suitable for play anywhere!

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An RPG Resource Review


This work is a collection of additional enhancements for those using Streets of Zobeck (or indeed the Zobeck Gazetteer) in their campaign. It opens with a short scenario 'Nothing to Declare' which should be run the first time that the party arrives in the Free City of Zobek, an adventure that sets the scene and flavour of the place ready for whatever you have planned for later. It's a neat introduction to a place which runs on favours and reeks of corruption, and provides a lead-in to whichever of the adventures from Streets of Zobeck you intend to run.

This escapade is followed by a selection of rules material, each keyed to one of the Streets of Zobeck adventures but of potential use in their own right whether or not you are going to run the adventure in question. Clerics may appreciate the Lust domain - whichever deity they worship does NOT require celibacy of devotees! There are creatures, templates, the odd encounter... plenty to spice up whatever adventure you are running in Zobeck or, for that matter, any equivalent city. Or perhaps you'd like to introduce Goldscale the kobold and his dire weasel mount...

There are other NPCs too, new feats (including some dirty fighting moves!) and traits, magic and mundane items that might come in handy, and more. There's a rather odd incantation called the Incantation of Memories Lost which quite frankly baffles me. It's not clear what the purpose is, the benefit of casting it. Better are some tables for generation the sort of odds and ends the party may find in the pockets of the next body they find in the gutter. If it's fine dining you are after, the Rampant Roach (a kobold-run resturant) is best avoided, but there's a description and floor-plan for those unwise enough to go in. Ulmar's Rare Books may be worth a visit, and there are adventure ideas both for these places and for some of those mentioned in other Zobeck books. Finally if the party finds the city confusing, they might want to engage the services of another kobold called Blackeye who has a carriage for hire, taxi-style. He makes a good ally - provided you are happy with the army of cousins he recommends and the never-ending chatter about Zobeck and its inhabitants.

Overall, a nice addition to the other two Zobeck books, but of less use if you are not using them.

Must-have web-enhancement with original artwork


This web-enhancement for Streets of Zobeck is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover/editorial, 1/2 a page SRD, leaving 15 1/2 pages of content to add to the adventure anthology, so what exactly do we get?

First of all, we get a great way to introduce the PCs to Zobeck's corrupt side - coming to the city on board of a boat, Jaroslav Strauz, a corrupt city official who tries to have the PCs set up for alleged smuggling/similar crimes - even better, the set-up makes for a great introduction of the PCs to one of the adventures.

We get an alternate form of lust-domain for Marena and additional encounters for the respective adventures: The Fish and the Rose gets an added encounter with two barghests. The First Lab is expanded by full rules for the creation and modification of clockwork modifications and "Ripper" gets a new template.

Then, there are new characters (all with their original artworks!): We get Goldscale, a kobold paladin, a crazy gutter prophet and a river captain who struck a deal with the unseelie.

Players get even more tools with 5 new feats and 7 new traits as well as grafts - additional dirty fighting feats and rules for grafting clockwork hands etc. on your body. Even cooler, we get 4 new magic items (like a deceptive scarf) and a new incantation to steal memories. The true winners here, though, are the alchemical smoke bombs and the clockwork caltrops.

The pdf goes on to provide us 50 common items on a list and 50 valuable items - neat!
Seeing how important locations are in Streets of Zobeck, the addition of two fully mapped locations is great - the rampant roach and Ulmar's rare book shop. Even better, several scenario ideas are provided not only for these new locations, but also for ones from Streets of Zobeck. The final cool NPC introduced is the loyal kobold, Blackeye, proprietor of Blackeye's carriage.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the artwork sets a new standard for any web-enhancement out there - all original and of the highest quality - very impressive. The pdf has no bookmarks, my only and very minor gripe. The bits and pieces contained herein add even more value to the anthology and the new characters/introduction encounters are top-notch. Seeing I have nothing to complain and that the quality is as stellar as possible for the low price, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars - if you own Streets of Zobeck, you need this.

Endzeitgeist out.

Alleys Are Even Darker and More Wicked


As this is a compilation of work created by several persons, I will attempt a short review of each element in the Alleys of Zobeck. Please note that this material is really meant to be used specifically with Streets of Zobeck and while some elements can stand alone or be pulled out to fit in some other setting, others cannot.
• Nothing to Declare – an introductory adventure to introduce the players to Zobeck. This assumes the PCs have never been to Zobeck before. For those who grew up here obviously this little short bit isn’t needed. It provides an adventure hook to other adventures and NPCs within the city.
• Alternate Lust Domain – a domain specific to a deity in the Midgard Campaign setting. It works well with the adventure “Flesh Fails,” but is easily modified to similar deities in any campaign setting.
• Vralgor Szarn’s Territory – featuring an encounter with Barghest gang members of Vralgor Szarn, an NPC from Streets of Zobeck from the adventure “The Fish and The Rose”. There is no stat block provided here for this pair of Barghests and a GM must have access to the Pathfinder Bestiary that contains it.
• Clockwork Abomination – a CR5 new creature for use with the adventure “The First Lab”. This evil fiendish construct is an easily portable monster and can be inserted into any campaign the GM wishes.
• Template: Infernally Possessed Creature – This monster template is for the adventure “Ripper” in Streets of Zobeck. A partial stat block is also provided for something called an Ice Devil (Gelugon) Spirit. It isn’t clear if a gelugon-possessed creature is the same thing as an infernally-possessed creature.
• Goldscale – Male kobold paladin. This full stat block includes not only background, motivations & goals and schemes & plots notes, but also Goldscale’s bonded mount – a dire weasel and includes stats for adding dire weasel as an animal companion.
• The Gutter Prophet – the cleric benefactor of the streets of Zobeck. This includes his full stat block along with notes for background, motivations & goals and schemes & plots.
• Sam Nesclem – NPC stat block for use with Streets of Zobeck. A low level NPC with full stat block and an interesting connection to the river traffic around Zobeck.
• New Feats – 5 feats: Cheap Shot, Eye Gouge, Graft Clockwork, Low Blow, and Underhanded Strike. Except for the item creation feat, Graft Clockwork, the other feats listed all require the first, Cheap Shot as a prerequisite.
• New Traits – 4 regional traits and 3 religion traits that are specific to Open Design’s Midgard setting.
• New Magic Item – The Clockwork Hand is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a handy item. This and the magical and mundane items in the New Gear section fit well with the setting.
• Small Treasures – An extremely useful table of random treasures, just perfect for the enterprising sneak thief or pick-pocket.
Locations – What follows next are a few locations detailed for GM use in the city complete with descriptions and maps.
• The Rampant Roach – A seedy inn with local color in the form of personalities, locals and some scenarios to use.
• Ulmar’s Rare Books – A book store run by a dwarf who is also detailed with stat block and a few scenarios. What is missing is a nice randomized list of books available for purchase.
• Other Location Scenarios – a couple of scenarios for use in the locations described in the Streets of Zobeck supplement.
• Finally, not so much a location as a way to travel between them, Blackeye’s Carriage is a useful and occasionally informative way to see the streets of Zobeck. This section includes background material and a stat block for Blackeye the kobold coachman.

Like Streets of Zobeck, I am rating this at 4 of 5 stars as the material within is strongly tied to the City of Zobeck and works closely with the Streets of Zobeck supplement. If you are running a campaign set in Zobeck, or have purchased Streets of Zobeck to pull out some useful personalities, adventures or settings, then you should consider this one as well.

Watch out for that guy on the left


The tone for “Alleys of Zobeck” is set right on the cover: The faces of the three characters featured there (if you can say the one on the left even has a face!) are sketched in harsh lines of black and gray, echoing the harsh nature of Zobeck’s hidden recesses. Not only would I never want to meet these unsavory characters, I wouldn’t even want to pass near the places they came from.

On the other hand, I do want my players to meet them….

You should know that “Alleys of Zobeck” is only one part of a larger adventure series. It is intended to introduce your players to “Streets of Zobeck”, showing them that this city has as many dangers as any dungeon. It is also intended to provide supplemental material that will be useful when running adventures from “Streets”. As such, there are some references here in “Alleys” that will only make complete sense if you also own “Streets”. On the other hand, if you are planning to use “Alleys” as inspirational material for your own home-brew campaign, these are simply opportunities for you to link in your own material.

Curiously, there is no Table of Contents. Probably because “Alleys” is such a mixed grab-bag of material that a Table of Contents would have been more confusing than helpful. “Alleys” opens with a two page set-up for an encounter with a corrupt constable. Literally the minute they step off the boat, your players will get a first-hand look at the city’s seedy underbelly (why do I suddenly feel like Dashiell Hammett?). This encounter is also intended as a reminder that successful city adventuring does not lend itself to the same “kill everything” tactics which work so very well in dungeon and wilderness environments.

In its carnival mix “Alleys” also presents us with an Alternate Lust Domain, a new creature type (Clockwork Abomination), and a template for Diabolic Possession. The Clockwork Abomination is not simply one new creature, but rather a blueprint for creating a whole slew of unique living machines, with Challenge Ratings from 2 through 6. The section on Diabolic Possession is tantalizing, but far too short!

We get full stats and background for three colorful NPC’s that the players in your game will no doubt have a good deal of fun interacting with: Goldscale the Paladin, a fellow called The Gutter Prophet, and Sam Nesclem. That Sam has led an eventful life will be obvious from the moment he appears – part of his body has its own description in the New Magic Items section a few pages later! However, my favorite of this trio is Goldscale the Kobold Paladin. You might be tempted to think of a Kobold Paladin as comic relief, but one look at him (his full-color portrait is on page 7) and you will know that he is a deadly serious character. The kind of hero I’d want on my side if I was in trouble.

Making the mixed bag even more mixed, we get five new feats, four new magic items (one of which is currently owned by Sam Nesclem, above), and seven new traits. “Alleys” also describes some noteworthy mundane items: Alchemical smoke bombs and Clockwork Caltrops.

There are two tables of fifty entries each, describing “Small Treasures”. I particularly like these two tables as they have immediate application throughout my campaign, and I’ll bet they will be immediately useful in your game as well. A “Small Treasure” is something that has some value, actual or potential, which you might reasonably expect to find in someone’s pouch or pocket. The next time your players search someone, they can find something better than the routine handful of coins. There are all manner of items on these lists; a tin of fine confections (5 sp), a monogrammed snuff box (empty 2 sp, full 5 gp), and even a severed finger carefully wrapped up in cloth!

No city would be complete without a few colorful shops, and “Alleys” delivers here as well: On page 13 is a description of “The Rampant Roach”, a restaurant by kobolds, for kobolds. Not only do we get a flavorful location (with map, of course!) but we also get three potential adventure hooks. By the way, these adventure hooks have something going for them that I appreciate: They are not connected with Saving the World. Yes, saving the whole world can be grand, but sometimes saving just one person can be satisfying too. (Also, your players need something to do between those world-spanning quests, don’t they?)

Following The Rampant Roach we get Ulmar’s Rare Books. This shop is run by a dwarf, and after interacting with him for a few minutes your players will probably begin to realize why so few dwarves make a living as shopkeepers. There are three plot hooks here too, of a nicely intermediate level between World Saving and Person Saving.

“Alleys” closes with a detailed description of Blackeye and his carriage. Blackeye the kobold has converted an old hay wagon into a quite serviceable carriage, and if you know where you want to go, he can get you there – for a fee, of course. Like most of the NPC’s described in “Alleys”, Blackeye is fully developed and ready to use. He also has the potential of lifting your game out of the old “go to the local tavern to collect knowledge” rut. Blackeye has a lot of connections, and he can direct people to a variety of non-tavern locations where information might be found.

In summary: There is no doubt that “Alleys of Zobeck” will shine brightest when used in conjunction with “Streets of Zobeck”. After all, that’s what it was designed for! However, it passes my main test for a well-designed supplement; it contains a significant amount of material that can be ported to other settings with a minimum of work. The 100 items of Small Treasure on page 12 are a great example of this.

I think the only way you would be disappointed is if you purchased this booklet with the expectation of finding it filled with fully-developed stand-alone city adventures. That it does not have, because that is beyond its intended scope.

A nice addition to Streets of Zobeck


Alleys of Zobeck by Open Design

This product is 17 pages long. It starts with a cover and credits. (1 pages)

Nothing to Declare (2 pages)
Streets of Zobeck starts off assuming the PC's are already in the city. This little short adventure is made as a introduction to bring the PC's into the city for the first time.

Extra adventure Info(6 pages)
This section has extra information for many of the adventures in the Streets of Zobeck. Within you will find a alternate Lust Domain, a single encounter to add to one of the adventures, 6 full stat blocks for some of the adventures, and a single new monster template.

Feats, traits, and gear. (3 pages)
There is 5 new feats in this section, 7 new traits, 4 new magic items and a new incantation. The section ends with two list of items, one for common items and one for valuable items. I loved the lists and they was well done, but they go from 1-50 which makes using them as a random list to roll off of problematic. I which they had been listed at 1-100 with 2 numbers for each item on each list. You can do it yourself of course but it would have been handy if the book was done that way already.

Locations (2 ½ pages)
This section has several new locations to be used with the main book. Each one has a one page write up with information and a small map. They are...
Rampant Roach – restaurant
Ulmar's Rare Books – A book store.

Adventure Hooks (½ page)
Additional adventure idea's for some of the locations in Streets of Zobeck. There is three additional adventure hooks.

Blackeye's Carriage (1 ½ pages)
This is a carriage that goes around the city. It can be used to help the PC's out as the coachman knows a lot, can help with information, finding locations, getting the PC's in touch with other NPC's and of course as a means of transport around the city.

It ends with a OGL. (½ pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is a mix of black and white and color, it ranges from ok to good. Layout and editing was well done. The book is well done all and all, it is meant to compliment the Streets of Zobeck book so is less useful to those with out that book. But there is still enough quality useful information to be handy for anyone that runs a urban based game. For those that do have the book then I highly recommend it. So what's my rating? Well I liked the book but I couldn't help but feel it just didn't quite get there. It needed just a bit more, like the list being made into random charts for example and a few little things like that would have really helped. As it is I am going to settle on a 4 star review.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Dark Archive


The Exchange Kobold Press

Thank you for the review, DM!

Here's two further reviews worth mentioning:

The review at Stargazer's World mentions the "lots of little details I'm sure to lift for my games." And it reviews Streets as well.

The review at Tower of the Lonely GM calls out the "a set of very useful tables for picking up "Small Treasures" (almost worth the PDF's price alone)".

It's definitely a collection of useful tools and elements for urban gameplay. I could see it used with Council of Thieves, or Black Company, or Thieves' World or Lankhmar, or Riddleport or Freeport or... Well, it's generally useful, is what I'm saying.

I totally agree with Tower of the Lonely GM: "Small Treasures" is a wonderful addition to the game. It definitely falls into the “why didn’t anybody do this before” category.

Overall, “Alleys of Zobeck” put me in mind of the old Judges Guild products. (Judges Guild was, I think, the first non-TSR company to produce supplements for D&D.) Their “Ready Ref Sheets” booklet was also an eclectic mix of interesting and useful stuff, which I still occasionally use even today (most recently, about two weeks ago). May Alleys of Zobeck have an equally long and useful life!

The Exchange Kobold Press

A nod to Judge's Guild? I'll take that!

Thanks for the kind words, Charles, and I agree, this really is a little gem.

I'll second it-- thank you both for taking the time to review this. It's greatly appreciated. And Wolfgang's very right. I'll take a reference to Judge's Guild or Thieves' World any day.



And reading the previous posts, I would agree here that Zobeck reminds me of a Thieves' World story I once read.

Dark Archive

Nice review Sasha, but you forgot to click the star rating on the review.

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Nice review Sasha, but you forgot to click the star rating on the review.

Thanks D_M. I thought I had, but was having problems with my dsl connection last night.

Reviewed here, sent to GMS magazine and will post it on RPGaggression.


Thanks for taking the time to review the Alleys of Zobeck, End. I appreciate the words and your commentary.


Thanks for the kind feedback, Ben! You should check out my top-10-list of 2011 in the upcoming Pathways, btw. :)

Now also posted on NERD TREK!

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

This book now has Hero Lab support via the Zobeck Package from Lone Wolf.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Charles Carrier wrote:

I totally agree with Tower of the Lonely GM: "Small Treasures" is a wonderful addition to the game. It definitely falls into the “why didn’t anybody do this before” category.

Overall, “Alleys of Zobeck” put me in mind of the old Judges Guild products. (Judges Guild was, I think, the first non-TSR company to produce supplements for D&D.) Their “Ready Ref Sheets” booklet was also an eclectic mix of interesting and useful stuff, which I still occasionally use even today (most recently, about two weeks ago). May Alleys of Zobeck have an equally long and useful life!

I too remember the cool lists from JG Charles. It may interest you to know I was channeling JG when I was designing "Small Treausres". Thanks for your accolades!

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