[5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

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shesheyan
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[5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by shesheyan »

I'm considering this product, Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition, for a potential recurring city in my campaign. Can anyone tell me more about the city and about the Gazetteer itself? What size is the city? etc...

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by Tim Baker »

Zobeck has a population of 14K. It sits at the edge of several kingdoms/states including those ruled by dwarves, vampires, and humans. It sits near (and above) the subterranean empire of ghouls. It's on a major ley line, which allows travel to the plane of the shadow fey. It's also near the ancient and mysterious Margreve Forest. It sits on the River Argent, the Sultan's Road, and the Great Northern Road, earning it the name Crossroads of Midgard. This gives parties an immediate excuse to be comprised of various races.

Zobeck is a free city, with a lord mayor and consuls. This is a sharp contrast to the city's feudal history, when its citizens suffered under the reign of the Stross family. After a successful rebellion against the aristocracy, the people have vowed never to accept a lord's yoke.

"Free" is a relative term, however. The Gearforged are mechanical, magical constructs that house the souls of those who gave up their lives (in an organic sense, at least) to help win the rebellion in the body of a Gearforged. Kobolds populate their ghetto and remain second-class citizens. Ravenfolk are assumed to be up to no good, and their rookery is referred to as "Robber's Roost." Dwarves from the nearby cantons raid Zobeck for captives, holding their slaves for 10 years.

Zobeck is the center of clockwork magic. The goddess Rava seems to pay special attention to its School of Clockwork Magic. It not only produced the Gearforged but soulless automatons. These aren't truly steampunk, as they aren't steam-powered. Instead, they're infused with magic to give them a semblance of life.

This area of Midgard has much more of an Eastern European feel than the typical fantasy city. Margreve Forest is right out of the dark fairy tales. The monsters are based on the equivalent myths, too. It provides a different feel than most other settings.
Last edited by Tim Baker on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by shesheyan »

Thank you for all the details Tim. Very rich and interesting.

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by Tim Baker »

shesheyan wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 1:32 pm
Thank you for all the details Tim. Very rich and interesting.
I'm happy to help. If you have other questions, let me know.

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by agathokles »

Tim Baker wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 3:45 am
...
Zobeck is a free city, with a lord mayor and consuls. This is a sharp contrast to the city's feudal history, when its citizens suffered under the reign of the Stross family. After a successful rebellion against the aristocracy, the people have vowed never to accept a lord's yoke.
...
From your description, it reminds me a bit New Crobuzon from the Bas-Lag novels (although New Crobuzon is likely larger and nastier, and does not have the Eastern European feel).

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by Tim Baker »

agathokles wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:03 pm
From your description, it reminds me a bit New Crobuzon from the Bas-Lag novels (although New Crobuzon is likely larger and nastier, and does not have the Eastern European feel).
Very interesting. I had to Google that one. You're right, the city being on an important crossroads, having a mix of magic and technology, and mixing various races are common themes.

I don't want the presence of the clockwork constructs to make it sound overly sci-fi or steampunk, though. It's more of a small fantasy city (e.g., 1/10th the size of Waterdeep), with lots of interesting things going on, both inside and in the surrounding area. Clockwork constructs and gearforged give it flavor unlike most other fantasy cities. This definitely isn't Eberron. There are no massive skyscrapers/towers. Technology doesn't address common problems. The technology may be slightly more advanced than a typical D&D setting – perhaps early Renaissance – but that tends to be rare and expensive.

I like that the gazetteer points out important places on the map, provides some interesting NPCs, and offers several delicious plot hooks, but doesn't try to define every nook and cranny.

Switching back to the Bas-Lag novels, did you enjoy them? Would you recommend them to someone who enjoys fantasy novels?

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by agathokles »

Tim Baker wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:46 pm
Switching back to the Bas-Lag novels, did you enjoy them? Would you recommend them to someone who enjoys fantasy novels?
Yes, I enjoyed them quite a bit -- they are probably my favourite in contemporary fantasy. I wouldn't call them precisely steampunk, but there is a heavy presence of weird elements and technology (railways figure prominently in Iron Council).
The tone is rather dark -- there are no "heroes" or "good nations" in Bas-Lag -- and the plots are often heavily political. The writing is much more flavorful than most fantasy novels. D&D influences appear in the wide number of races (although none of the classical ones is used) and in some locales (no spoilers, but one of the books has a primary location that is very similar to that of a BECMI module).

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by Tim Baker »

agathokles wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 9:48 am
Yes, I enjoyed them quite a bit -- they are probably my favourite in contemporary fantasy. I wouldn't call them precisely steampunk, but there is a heavy presence of weird elements and technology (railways figure prominently in Iron Council).
The tone is rather dark -- there are no "heroes" or "good nations" in Bas-Lag -- and the plots are often heavily political. The writing is much more flavorful than most fantasy novels. D&D influences appear in the wide number of races (although none of the classical ones is used) and in some locales (no spoilers, but one of the books has a primary location that is very similar to that of a BECMI module).
Thanks for the additional information. My wife and I like to listen to audio books when we travel, so I'll check to see if these are on Audible.

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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by ben_mcfarland »

I tend to think of it as a combination of a fantasy Budapest/Vienna
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Re: [5e Midgard] Zobeck Gazetteer for 5th Edition

Post by Isuru »

On a side note, one of the last Paizo era Dragon Magazines (#352) had an article about using Bas-Lag and New Crobuzon as a D&D style setting, by none other than Wolfgang Baur himself. Here is some information on the article: https://www.dndarchive.com/content/dragon-352

There was a thread here on the Piazza on a New Crobuzon based RPG: viewtopic.php?t=7505
Unfortunately, it seems this became vaporware along the way.

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