Ssethregor the Serpent Empire is a soft-cover accessory for the world of Arcanis.
159 pages (including one for the OGL and one advertisement), B&W
Author: Duane M. Choquette
Table of Contents:
- Chapter 1 ? History
- Chapter 2 ? Geography
- Chapter 3 ? New Races
- Chapter 4 ? New Classes (including PrC)
- Chapter 5 ? New Feats & Skills
- Chapter 6 ? Religion & Magic
- Chapter 7 ? Flora & Fauna (descriptive, no stats)
- Chapter 8 ? Technology & Magic Items
- Chapter 9 ? Bestiary (the ?monster manual? part)
This book is what sold the world of Arcanis to me. I confess that when I saw the cover for the Player?s Guide, years ago, I wasn?t even tempted to look inside because it gave me the impression that this was a ?patchwork? setting where Ancient Rome meets Medieval Europe meets the Three Musketeers. And, make no mistake, it is. But it?s also so much more.
Anyway, when I found a copy of Serpent Empire, Paul Herbert?s cover drew my attention and what?s inside gave me the desire.. nay, the need to know more. Yes, it?s that good. The author?s knowledge of reptilian biology is impressive and it shows.<br><br>
<b>LIKED</b>: The good:
- The (inside) art is exceptionally good. I have since then acquired other accessories from PCI and, honestly, the quality of the art is sometimes lacking. Not so here. Herbert and his colleagues really brought the various reptilian species to life with their drawings. The hulking brute standing boldly on page 9 alone would send any sane player screaming back home. In the whole book, there was only one ?bad? picture IMHO and it was more comical than anything else (I refer the curious to page 85)
- The history of the reptilian empire (I should say empireS) is thorough and well-documented. Combined to the info found in Chapter 3, it?s more than adequate to give a DM an accurate picture of both the whole and the components. More details about the short-lived Valusian Empire would have been nice but I guess it will have to wait for a future accessory about the Pirate Isles or the Hinterlands
- The various prestige classes are well-balanced for the most part and I appreciate the fact that only five are restricted to NPC. Of course, I regret the inability of a Ss?ressen player to become a Ssethric Elementalist but some things are best kept out of PC?s hands...
- As a fan of Robert Howard, the references to Valusia and Jeggal Sag made me smile. They were a great part of the Kull/Conan saga, so being able to use them here only made sense. Furthermore, the author didn?t just rip them off Howard?s work. He made sure they ?fit? Arcanis, something I am grateful for. I don?t know how he pulled it off copyright-wise but I am glad he did
- The short pieces of fiction introducing several chapters and various PrC help bring them to life. They really set the tone for the book<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: The bad:
- This accessory (as all PCI accessories, alas) suffers from poor editing. Spelling mistakes are all over the place. They aren?t numerous enough to lower substantially the quality but they will make people who care about such niceties grind their teeth in frustration more than once
- While the art was of (mostly) outstanding quality, it was also lacking in quantity. One gets the impression that most of it was devoted to the Races and Classes chapter and, as a result, there was precious little left for the rest of the book. I would have loved to see the creatures from Chapter 9 illustrated for instance. Instead, all we get is the picture of a giant insect.. in a book devoted entirely to reptiles!
- I understand that the accessory is already packed full of info as it is but the font used could have benefited from a slightly larger size. No wasted space here!
- Chapter 7 should have been entitled ?Fauna? alone as I found no trace of flora in it.
- The stats for several creatures of Chapter 9 are incorrect (but, to PCI?s credit, they have already provided an erratum for some of these on their website)
- I realize the focus of the campaign staff is to maintain some mystery (& fun) for the future of Living Arcanis but would it have hurt to include more info about the recent Abessios revolt and the Battle of Semar? After all, some DM do run private campaigns set in Arcanis too and one can?t expect them to go fishing for info on the LA forums all the time
- I regret that (because of WotC) the Slaadi from Codex Arcanis were replaced by the Varn as the upstart deities of the corrupt leaders of the Serpent Empire. Same thing for the Mind-Flayers/Voiceless Ones mess. Can?t blame PCI for it of course but I thought it needed to be said.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>