Saturday 6 August 2016

[REVIEW] Towers of Krshal

Towers of Krshal: Disturbing Supplement About the Sinister City (2012)
by Albert Rakowski

Creativity aid, not creativity replacement.” This slogan was coined on the Knights&Knaves Alehouse a few years ago to articulate what might make a great product for OSRIC, and it is a summary describes this product very well. Towers of Krshal is a 32-page supplement of random tables, and an implied city setting described by the results of these random tables. On the first table, presenting rumours of the city, the first three entries read:
1. Krshal is ruled by sapient Differential Engines.
2. City was build [sic] on the ruins of the “grave temple” of immense size.
3. There is no other place than Krshal – the city covers the entire world.
Towers of Krshal

Krshal is built entirely from these odd bits of information; going from ”30 random towers” to “12 sinister sorcerers”, “Trash pit random finds” and even peculiarities like “20 magic keys”. From studying or rolling on these tables, we get a picture of the city. It is vast, ancient and very strange, mixing exotic fantasy with being the scrap yard of what seems to be a runaway pseudo-Victorian civilisation. What is it about those Differential Engines? What lurks in Hojen’s Mortuary? What’s the deal with Ral’ran, a chthonic god who “feeds on those who have died in collapsed buildings”? And how do these disparate things interrelate?

This method of conveying world information is familiar from settings like City State of the Invincible Overlord or Vornheim. Krshal is decidedly more odd than CSIO, and would stand its own against Vornheim in a weirdness contest, so the utility of the supplement limited for people preferring something nicely and unobtrusively pseudo-mediaeval. This supplement has a strong flavour of its own. But it is an intriguing grab bag of imaginative content that could serve as the loose master document to an entire campaign if the GM wanted to use it that way. We even receive a map that serves as a side cut of the city and the things beneath it.

I would like to hold up Towers of Krshal as a short but sweet utility product that fulfils the promises of old school gaming. Sure, the production values could not be more Spartan – it is a bunch of barely formatted lines of text, written in sometimes dodgy English and laid out in a way that could have been condensed into a lean, mean 16 pages – but that should not matter. This product is rooted in tradition, but uses it to create something exciting and new. It is about content, not presentation. It gives you information efficiently and flavourfully. It is full of wahoo enthusiasm. It is good for you. And it is very, very cheap at $3.50 for the PDF. Go out and buy your copy today.

Rating: **** / *****
(Originally posted on TheRPGSite)
(Note: thanks to Blair for bringing it to my attention on the Planet Algol blog)

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