This work is an attempt to get around that common problem of your character knowing more about his surroundings than his player does! Distributed as a free PDF or sold as a bundle to pass around the table so that each player has a copy, the purpose is to provide sufficient introduction to the Ptolus campaign setting (calling it a mere 'city' does it a disservice) to enable the play of character who are either natives of the city or have at least had time to look around a bit.
But first, there's a bit of an introduction from author Monte Cook in which he explains how this is a true D&D city, designed from the outset to inhabit the same world governed by the D20 ruleset, where people expect magic and monsters to exist, and where delving into dungeons can provide great rewards as well as great perils.
The book goes on to present overviews of the districts of the city (and where to get the best pastries as well as other commodities), the important families and personalities in town, and a wide range of organisations. You can also read about the local religions, the main one being the worship of a lawful good deity called Lothian, whose church is embedded in the structure of the empire in which Ptolus (at least nominally) belongs. There's a growing tolerance of other faiths, and - fortunately - of arcane spell use, which the early Church of Lothian attempted to ban as deviltry! There is also a 2-page map showing some of the more important locations your character may wish to visit.
Looking wider, there is a very brief survey of the land in which Ptolus is set, including history and other background material. Characters in the campaign may well come from other lands.
The final part of the book looks at how to create a character for the Ptolus campaign. There are background details of the races available, including variations on the standard rules for elf and some dwarf characters. There are also some minor races, of which it is advised that there should only be one representative in your playing group. These include Aram (centaur-like beings), a feline race called the Litorians and the lizardfolk or Assari. Race settled, characters will need names (suggestions are provided) and backgrounds whether as natives of Ptolus or from elsewhere - these last will need to determine what they are doing in the city. Your background can include what you did for a living before becoming an adventurer, coupled with likely character classes you might choose given that background and providing minor benefits and the district you probably hale from. Finally, there are notes about the various character classes and a character sheet.
Overall, this is a very good introduction to the city and will be very useful to anyone whose character is going to visit (or come from) Ptolus - and well-nigh essential if you are going to participate in the Ptolus Campaign.
Return to A Player's Guide to Ptolus page.
Reviewed: 24 July 2006