Monkey-brained Musings

Saturday, April 11, 2009
 
Ptolus



I finally made my way through all 670+ pages of Ptolus. It is quite an impressive work, and Monte did a great job addressing many of the genre conventions of fantasy gaming. In particular, I liked his explanation for many of the dungeons underneath the city.

Still, the work has more than the whiff of a fantasy heartbreaker. There is just so much going on in Ptolus. While there is some hand-waving to justify why this is so, the rest of the setting, Praemal, suffers. I would much rather have seen a more conventional presentation of Praemal with a separate city book for Ptolus and a separate book for the Spire itself. The book is so large that it was difficult to hold and carry around the house, let alone put in your bag and take to a game.

The overall physical presentation, though, is fantastic. Presenting much of the information in the style of a travel guidebook was an inspired idea. And the generous use of annotations and cross-references in the margins makes the wealth of material accessible and easy to use. About the only negative thing that I can say is that in the discussion of the Spire, it is assumed that you have the fold-out maps to reference. It would have been more helpful to have copies of those maps in the book.

While Ptolus is a very impressive work, I can't say that it is the best 3d edition city-book. Famously, Ptolus was designed for Monte's campaign during the development of 3e. In that regard, it is much closer in spirit to what came before than much of the material that we now think of as 3e. Which is why Ptolus is really the best 2e city-book.
 

5 comments

Comments:
Although I have been using the same game world for decades, and have cities already set, things like this are alway fun to read.

Are there a lot of ideas that could be plugged into existing cities?
 
Definitely. If nothing else, his ideas on how to arrange and construct a city in a setting where the D&D rules are real, as opposed to a historical setting where a fantasy gloss has been applied, are quite interesting. One of the things that he did particularly well was to justify having dungeons underneath a city and to describe the interactions between above and below (though I'm not a believer in his description of the commercial adventuring based out of Delver's Square).

Ptolus is also filled with places, organizations, and people that could be used in many other campaigns. In addition, my current GM has liberally borrowed information on chaostech and the Gallchuts for his Forgotten Realms campaign.

This looks like an interesting fan site with additional information:
http://www.delverssquare.com/
 
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The scattered musings of Jeb Boyt, Austin Texas. A collection of the random bits that scamper through my monkey brain. This blog is my personal record. The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way associated with any employer, board, commission, organization, or other entity that I may be affiliated with. So there.

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