Hollowfaust: City of Necromancers



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Hollowfaust: City of Necromancers

Author: Various
Publisher: Sword & Sorcery Studios
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 1-58846-163-7
Pages: 133
Rating: 10 out of 10
Retail Price: $19.95

 

I’ve had this book on my shelf for two years now and I never got around to reading it until recently. I picked it up at a convention because the name and the dark cover art drew me in, but once I got home, it got lost on the bookshelf. It was published by Sword and Sorcery Studios, the same people that produce White Wolf materials. I’ve never been a big fan of White Wolf game products, but I’ve always said they could tell a very good story. This book is no exception.

Hollowfaust is a city in the Scarred Lands campaign setting, a place where gods and titans literally warred on the face of the world, altering the landscape, decimating the populace and almost destroying the world in the process. Civilization is just getting back on its feet and where once mighty empires ruled, only small city-states remain. Hollowfaust is one such city-state. The preface of the book takes great care to point out that if you’re looking for the stereotypical necromancers who brood over cadavers in dark towers and plot to take over the world, you might want to try reading elsewhere. The necromancers of Hollowfaust are as human(oid) as anyone else and have no designs on world domination.

The first chapter opens with a history of the city of Hollowfaust. Before the Godwar, it was called Sumara, and was one of the cultural epicenters of the world. During the titanic clash of deities, a nearby mountain expoloded with volcanic eruption and buried a great deal of the city under hot lava. Some time later, a group of seven necromancer pilgrims arrived to begin salvage operations. Not too long afterwards, refugees began arriving, begging to shelter themselves within Sumara’s ancient walls. Before too long, ancient Sumara was once again a full-fledged city, Hollowfaust.

The second chapter gives details about the city itself. Only a third of the total city area is actually inhabited, as the other part is too dangerous, what with the ghosts of the people of Sumara, slain in the volcanic eruption, still wandering around. Patrols of skeletons walk the streets, keeping the population safe and enforcing a curfew. People sleep soundly knowing that the undead watch over them, which is a very odd departure from the standard view of the undead. Every aspect of the city, from how a funeral is observed, to what kind of holidays the people celebrate to a full accounting of each inn and chapel in the city is given, all woven together by a talented writer.

The third chapter deals with the necromancers themselves. Seven guilds (one for each of the original necromancer pilgrims) contain roughly 200 necromancers that act as the city’s ruling body. Living inside of the now-inactive volcano, the necromancers spend their time in study and pass their knowledge on to apprentices and journeymen. Details about how the necromancers live, how they represent the city and what plans they have for the future are the bulk of this chapter.

Chapter four was the shortest chapter, and dealt with potential adventures linked to the city of Hollowfaust. Hollowfaust generally doesn’t have much to do with adventurers. The city’s remote location and quiet stature means that adventurers generally look for action elsewhere. However, this is not to say that there is no work for those looking for action. Several good suggestions for including Hollowfaust as a stopping point or even a home base for an adventuring group are presented.

The final chapter was, frankly, somewhat of a disappointment. The first four chapters contained very little in the way of game mechanics, and were completely story-driven. The final chapter details new weapons, monsters, magic items and the like that can be found in or around Hollowfaust. Most of the monsters and prestige classes were, frankly, sub-par and not very well-designed. It seems that Sword and Sorcery Studios is best with the non-crunchy aspects of the game.

All in all, I think this was a very good book. Reading through it has inspired me to read the Scarred Lands Campaign Setting book next, as it seems like an interesting setting. While I was disappointed by the final chapter in the book, the first four chapters definitely help to make up for it. I’d recommend Hollowfaust, City of Necromancers to any DM looking to add a very non-standard style of necromancy to his game. It wouldn’t be very difficult to transplant the city from Scarred Lands to any other setting, so anyone not interested in using the setting won’t have to completely rewrite the book to make the city useful to them.