Discover Umberwell, a fantasy metropolis of stunning strangeness and decadent splendor. Explore a city of urban dungeons, encounter marvelous artifice, and hear the prayers offered to the six goddesses of the City of Exiles. Tour the city’s island sprawl, its underground warrens, its undersea domes, and the rusting towers that lead to its skyward reaches. Mingle with devious wizards, thieving gangs, and creatures drawn to the city from across the planar multiverse. All you have to do is learn to survive the streets, crypt-kicker! Beautiful fiends, deadly assassins, scheming secret societies, raucous cabarets, and horrid monsters await just beyond the harbors. Embark and taste the impossible fever dream.
Umberwell: Blackened Be Thy Name is a system-neutral city campaign setting for picaresque urban fantasy adventures inspired by New Weird fiction. The book includes:
- Art by Tenebrous Kate.
- Details on the city of Umberwell, including information on its demoness mayor, its worm trains, its dangerous gangs and cults, its interplanar zones, and much more.
- Information on the myriad races who populate the city.
- Ideas for genre-appropriate characters and the reasons that brought them to the metropolis.
- Eleven factions and twenty-six NPCs to involve your players in intrigue.
- Advice and tools for running a fantasy RPG in an urban setting.
- Tools for use in game, such as copious adventure seeds, random tables, and a comprehensive adventure generator that gives you the basis of a scenario with little prep.
- A full index of subjects, an index of adventure ideas, and an index of the book's random tables.
- A design philosophy that prioritizes ease of use and speed of play. All "lore" entries are easy to scan, and make use of bullet points and bold text to draw your attention to the important bits so you can get on with your game.
- Bundled with the pdf is a free supplement, Scardogs and Scapegraces, which expands the detailed NPCs to fifty characters that can act as contacts for player characters in the city.
Let's take a look at the printed book:
Not gonna lie: I love this cover image of fantasy ne'er-do-wells up to no good on the streets of Umberwell. There is also some caveat emptor here: if your idea of fantasy doesn't include a goblin, a ravenkin, and a gnome teaming up, Umberwell isn't for you. Umberwell is a decidedly non-Tolkien and non-traditional fantasy city. Imagine the cantina scene in Star Wars and you've got a bit of the vibe.
A sample of the way the setting is described--with a heavy focus on the gameable bits. Note that the entry ends with some adventure ideas; Umberwell is filthy with seeds to build setting-specific scenarios around. There are twenty-eight adventure seeds as examples of the kind of trouble characters can get up to in the city. (And there is a separate index of adventure ideas.)
I heard you like random tables, dawg. There are more random tables in Umberwell than I've ever put in one of my setting books. Included are tables explaining why your character has come to Umberwell, who they've pissed off, random encounters, a neighborhood generator, an adventure generator, a cabaret generator, and more. (There is also an index of random tables.)
What's the chapter art look like? Let's just say that Tenebrous Kate was sent by a dark god to destroy. I mean look at the image to the right: slyly diabolique, decadently Weimar-esque, a bit blasphemously ecclesiastical...it's perfect. Kate was a dream to work with; she took my ham-fisted descriptions, went in, and did work.