Sunken Empires
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    Aug 2007
    Deep in the Text Mines of Upstate NY.
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    Sunken Empires

    This product was provided for review purposes-- though I was a patron, I had little input on this project, other than doing some magic item review on about a half dozen items. This was the first time I truly saw the material.

    The book is broken into 6 chapters:

    Lost Cities of Myth and Legend
    Pelagic Characters
    Aquatic Equipment and Lost Tech
    Spells and Magic Items
    The Sunken Environment
    Creatures of the Deep

    The intro is done by Zeb Cook, giving us the old school origins of the Aboleth. He was one of my favorites (Go "Earthshaker!") and how can you not enjoy this sort of look into the murky past of a monster? Cook is engaging and does a great job of firing me up to continue.

    The artwork and cartography is great. Hugo Solis has some excellent action pieces, the chapter headers are nicely detailed, and the city map is gorgeous. Almost every piece is black and white in the PDF, with one color 1/3-page illustration in the Sunken Environment chapter.

    This book is *packed*. The first chapter talks to the gamemaster, discussing the legends of sunken cities, how to incorporate them, what to consider when making them a part of your game, and real world myths that might provide additional inspiration. It's a great starting chapter, because it doesn't give anything away-- a player might flip through these first 10 pages and a GM doesn't need to worry.

    Chapter 2 gets into the real meat for players, providing a half-merman race, modifications for the core classes, six domains, 3 bloodlines, 2 schools of magic, and a moray in a coral tree. To top it off, there are more underwater feats than you can shake a gaff hook at.

    Salvage and equipment junkies are going to love chapter 3. Brandon and the patrons went overboard here, giving us normal equipment, special materials, relics, NPC briefs, and a variety of strange oddities. Who hasn't wanted to buy a shoggoth polyp? Then the treasure chest is thrown open, and we're given a score of "lost technologies" you can work into a game, showing barnacle encrusted loot sold in the shadows of the docks.

    Spells! And Items! Wow! Ordinarily, you might get what? 10 spells? Maybe 20? The same with items? Yeah, not today. Today, we dumped the whole net for you. You've got 39 spells and more than 40 items in here...I'm honestly blown away at the amount of material in this Gazetteer, even for just tossing out some one shot items you can later destroy or offer as the gear an NPC might lend. Combine that with the fourteen monsters with unique statblocks and you're literally swamped with goodies. Hodge doesn't stop there, he also gives you ways to convert monsters in the Bestiary to undersea variants and a full-fledged aboleth ecology.

    Finally, there's the section on sunken adventures, which discusses hazards, poisons, and considerations for heroes of various levels in this underwater environment. I like that Hodge has broken things down by level bands, taking into account what groups at different levels will worry about or have available.

    Overall, this is a great book because it's so chock full of material. This has the right amount of stuff that allows you to build a long arc, slowly dolling out the weirdness, the magic, and monsters over the course of several sessions, building up to a deep-sea finale against whatever bubbling foe you desire.

    What would I have liked more of? Color art-- but I know that's a limitation on a patron project. Really, a little more color art and a few sample, color maps would have put this over the top. When you combine this with the material from KQ13, the week of bonus material from the website (which is now available as its own pdf for $2.95!) and bundle it with Shore to Sea? Yeah, we're easily at 10+.

    If you're looking for a definitive water-breathing, coastal mayhem supplement that's sure to put the salt in the air and the brine in your clothes, then look no further. Sunken Empires is a solid win!

    EDIT: Added fact that bonus material has now been collected into a pdf.
    Last edited by terraleon; Monday, 21st June, 2010 at 05:01 PM.

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