From tropical coasts, where greedy colonial powers pillage the land, to remote jungles and rolling savannas of mystics and lion-riders, the Mwangi Expanse is a region of boundless opportunity. Underneath the steaming jungle canopy, the lost ruins of ancient giants shelter isolated tribes, bloodthirsty predators, and screaming hordes of demon-worshiping apes. Sites of ancient magic lie almost forgotten to the outside world, and a steady stream of bold explorers ventures into the trackless wilderness after legendary fountains of youth and cities of gold, never to return. For the jungle is a living, breathing entity, and it’s always hungry...
Heart of the Jungle is the perfect supplement for any jungle campaign.
Inside this 64-page book, you’ll find:
New rules for adventuring in the jungle, including hazards like diseases, fungi, poisonous plants, insect swarms, quicksand, and more.
Nine new jungle cities, from the colonial trade town of Bloodcove to the cyclopean astrologer-fortress of Jaha, complete with full statistics and maps.
Information on the many cultures of the Mwangi Expanse, encompassing both the major human tribes and the jungle’s more alien and monstrous denizens.
A detailed gazetteer of some of the Expanse’s most legendary adventure sites, from the crashed flying city of Kho to the City of Hungry Spires.
More than a dozen new maps of cities and jungles, each one highly detailed for GM reference or artistically rendered for player handouts.
Five new monsters, including the flesh-eating botfly, the ancient jungle treant, and the terrifying ape-men known as angazhani.
Massive random encounter tables for multiple jungle adventure terrain types.
by Tim Hitchcock, Jason Nelson, Amber Scott, Chris Self, and Todd Stewart
This book is intended for use with the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but it can be easily used in any game setting.
I was worried that this gazetteer would be a rehash of bad stereotypes about Africa, but was pleasantly surprised to see that Paizo drew upon all the complexity of that continent, providing a robust sourcebook. Not having read the Serpant’s Skull Adventure Path to which this ties, I got this book without that campaign to see if the setting would appeal to me. I found within the pages of this sourcebook an excellent balance of fluff and crunch; from the descriptions of lost kingdoms, to stats for diseases and quicksand – plus a nice selection of jungle monsters.
The book also includes random encounter tables divided by terrain (with monsters and events, such as flash floods) in the appendix. Even if you are not a DM that rolls encounters during the game, the random generator for each terrain provides a robust pool of ideas for building an outdoor adventure. One critique I have is that some of the illustrations for the cities and lost kingdoms were neither Paizo’s quality maps nor a drawing showing the location. Instead there are eight rough sketches of locations, covering nearly ¼ to ½ a page each, which did not add any extra detail to the description of these places.
Additionally, using Senghor as the name of a city was a big misfire. To those familiar with Africa, it is the equivalent of naming an NPC Paris (it jars the suspension of disbelief). Despite these last two critiques, the Heart of the Jungle provides an amazing amount of detail, and rich ideas for a sandbox-style campaign set off the beaten path. Although I highly recommend this guidebook for the wealth of fluff and crunch, I have rated it 4 stars for the approximately 2-3 pages that should have been used for more useful material, rather than being taken up by the rough sketches of locations.
Heart of the Jungle is a solid book, I just feel it could have taken things to the next level.
*Great details on the hazards of jungle travel, with some really nasty surprises.
*Wide variety of settlements and wilderness types (Senghor, Bloodcove and Usaro are some of my favorites)
*Awesome monsters in the back (though only 4!). Botfly's are nasty.
*Not enough art and too many maps. Now I love maps, I'm a map junkie, but I would have given up half those maps for art of the denizens of the Expanse. The 4(or 5) Mwangi people could have really befitted from art of them next to each other. (and hell the info on they and they other races is just lacking).
*Speaking of maps, as neat as the idea of the hand drawn maps are as a GM I would rather have detail maps. Even with my limited drawing skills I could still draw "tribal" maps like the ones that take up too much space in this book.
*This book could really use stat blocks for NPCs
*They talk about shamanism and animism but with out any real mechanics behind it. At least with the Dragon Empires we have Kami stated and talking about it but in the Mwangi Expanse it almost seems like a joke, like it's people are stupid for adhering to their taboos. That is very disappointing.
*It does an adequate job of setting a mood of the Expanse but other books do it better. Serpent's Skull(in particular the "Plague of Light" shot story) and River into Darkness does a better job of this.
In closing I'd say that I would have given his book 4 stars if I had bought and reviewed it when it came out. But now, it's lacking as a book in comparison to later Pathfinder Campaign books like the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Rule of Fear or Isle of Shackles. I wish this book would be redone in the current style, though I know that won't happen. I hope they make further books in the Mwangi Expanse so we get better representations. That said, it's still a good books if you love the Mwangi Expanse, but don't just stop with this book.
It's a Jungle, Running a Jungle. This makes it easier
Jungle Campaigns are different, and if you aren't prepared, your campaign can hit the quicksand of player apathy. This suppliment takes you through the pitfalls and really helps make a campaign memoriable. Check out my full review: Heart of the Jungle
I previously bought Osirion, Land of Pharaohs from Paizo and was rather disappointed--and thus almost made the mistake of not buying this top-notch work. My group just started playing the Shackled City adventure path, which is set in a jungle. Luckily for me, this book came out just after we started and it's perfect for really any jungle campaign. The wealth of detail on the many cities and key adventure sites is just right, plenty to explain what each is about but leaving room for the GM's imagination. There are also a lot of maps in different cool styles. The monsters at the back, unlike a lot of the new monsters I come across, are actually believable and useful and will definitely find a home in my campaign. The section on natural hazards is very well done and easy to use. The only bit I was left wanting more on was the info on various cultures of the area. However, the very wide coverage (with maps!) of the cities and sites more than made up for it.
I've been wondering how they were gonna tackle some of the more interesting things about jungle travel (insects, floods, etc..) and they seem to have covered almost everything that could happen. The art in the book is beautiful and the maps that look handmade and like something from Indiana Jones just add that much more flavor to the game.
The level of detail it has about almost every single location in the expanse has not only allowed me to make my current campaign far richer, but to create an as-yet-unused Mwangi-based character with a more interesting backstory.