|Cover by Becky Munich|
Reviewer Note: I played in a session of Krevborna and I am mentioned in the credits under Dedication. So, if the dear reader thinks that makes my review bias, then I guess it does. I'll be sure to knock it down a halberd or something when we come to the end.
So, What Is It?: Krevborna is a system-neutral campaign setting by Jack Shear (Gothic literature professor and writer for the 'Tales of Grotesque and Dungeonesque' blog). It comes in around 126 pages and serves partly as a very bare bones, to the point gazetteer to the world of Krevborna and towards the end a series of ideas, tables, and notes for adding gothic horror elements to your games. While Shear does note his personal partiality towards 5th edition (to the world's most popular role-playing game) and even has some background tables you can use with 5e. There is literally nothing that is connected to a system.
As for Krevborna itself? It is a blend of Eastern Europe (kind of, sort of) crossed with a touch of fantasy, a lot of folk lore, and bit of literature (I imagine Lovecraft, Poe, and Walpole are sitting in the afterlife either aglow how their ideas and genre are still beloved, or sighing at how much money their stuff brings in that they never saw- well, maybe not Walpole). The interior art by Becky Munich (who did the cover as shown) is great. A series of evocative drawings, typically of ladies doing something horror related (also one awesome looking, but bloody skull towards the end).
The Map by Michael Gibbons is, to me, one of the greatest fantasy maps out there. It is not a hex-map, it is not a distance where we really are needing to measure inches between point-A and point-B. It is great piece of art that evokes the setting.
Your Mileage May Vary: Is there any criticism I have about the book? Not really, I will come out and say that your mileage may vary depending on what you are looking for in a campaign. Obviously, some kind of affection towards horror (especially Gothic Horror) is required. There is hardly any chaff, it is all wheat, when you read the entries you typically get a small blurb (usually smaller than the blurb I am writing right now) and a couple of bullet points. The book gets right and right out. Which, for someone like me who prefers the bigger picture, I get a lot out of it. If you like your campaign settings a little meatier, then the Krevborna Gazetteer may not be for you. I will say, the Gothic Horror plot generator and more generic material towards the back are worth the price of admission.
What Formats Can I Get It In?: Either as pdf or a softback book. Link below.
Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera - HERE
Tales of Grotesque and Dungeonesque Blog by Jack Shear - Here