Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Towers of Krshal review

Towers of Krshal is a setting from Albert Rakowski described in a couple dozen random tables.

Take the Rumors table, for example. What does it tell us about Krshal?

There's steampunky stuff around, like difference engines and railroads and gaslights. The city is huge—both wide and deep. All the cemeteries, ghouls, lunatics, wizards, and demons lend the place a Zothique feel. Krshal boasts countless towers and wells.

You get this info from little adventure seed table entries rather than a big block of expository text, which is a win in my book.

6. City is ruled by a council of necromancers. Nobles we can see are just animated corpses, used to confuse people.
7. There is psychic vampire living under the Krshal Lunatic Asylum.
8. There are over 1000 towers in the City.
9. People disappear without a trace in the Hangman Alley.
10. Huge sinkhole opened up in the Grey Stele Cemetery.
11. Tentacled horrors live in the sewers of the Tanners District.
12. There is more deranged people in the City than in any other place.
13. Dead bodies crawl from the graves in the Last Whisper Cemetery.
14. Strange, deformed corpse was found in the Chapel of the Lost. It was really huge and didn’t looked like human body.
15. Everyone on the Boggy Square saw man falling from the window in the Bat’s Tower but no corpse was found.
16. There are many mutants living in the sewers of the old military district.
17. They say that people are eaten alive in the Centaur District prison.
18. Blood-red leeches fall from trees in the Heaven’s Park.
19. Railways connecting districts of the Krshal are forming occult or even magical symbols.

Not every table ties as tightly to the milieu as the rumors table. Any world can use 50 Drunkards, Six Lethal Molds, or Ossuary Random Finds. But the strongest material links closely to Krshal.

Some of the tables evoke the world more vividly than others. The 20 Towers table is awesome, but the Names of the Citizens table does nothing for me. Although the 20 Chthonic Gods table is little more than unpronounceable names with epithets, ones like "Annra, Goddess of Empty Cradles" or "Uu'rraa'l, Trapped in the Living Crystal" are enough to start me writing adventures.

Towers of Krshal won't be all things to all people. It has no ready-to-run material, and Krshal is more of a parts bin than a toolkit. Nevertheless, I recommend Krshal as a must-buy for three reasons: it's only $3.50 for the PDF, the list items offer tons of creative kickstarters, and it succeeds as a formal experiment by making you want to try the form for a setting of your own.

3 comments:

  1. I really like Towers of Krshal.

    It's also in digest size, which makes it convenient to read on a tablet.

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  2. I got a print copy and I love it. The rumour that says "The City of Krshal is just a nightmare. You must commit suicide to wake up" is the best random rumour I've ever seen. I know that one of my players wouldn't be able to rest until his PC tried it.

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  3. I thought it was awesome myself...

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