It's a campaign setting! It's a bestiary! It's a whole new way to handle magic in your campaign setting! It's a low-calorie dessert topping! It's Chthonic Codex!
The DIY/manapunk aesthetic of Lamentations of the Flame Princess meets Potter-style wizard school shenanigans. The closest RPG supplement I can think of to the Codex is GURPS: Illuminati University, another book about students at a ridiculous university where hoary old traditions hold sway but limitless power and ineffable weirdness wait in the wings.
You get a couple of things suitable for plugging into any OSR-type campaign:
- About thirty new monsters, ranging from animated blobs of magical tar to origami golems to animated lecterns made from and powered by the corpses of dead apprentice wizards.
- Multiple new schools of wizardry, including the old standbys of "necromancer" and "fire wizard" but also some more interesting options like astrologers and artificers. Includes spells, research rules, etc.
- Pages upon pages of random charts to generate locations, quests, magic items, and the like.
If you're like me, and wanted to build a campaign world from scratch by bolting together a bunch of Weird OSR content that appealed to you, this is a must-get. The magic system is fantastic, the creatures are clever, and the general aesthetic of the thing is entertaining.
About the only real issue here is that the layout is kind of weird - bestiary up front, magic schools in the middle, everything else kind of shotgunned here and there.
[5 of 5 Stars!]