A dark star fell from the sky bringing with it the end of all things! The sanctity of the world known as Abaddon was shattered when a global apocalyptic event of a meteor impacting the planet causing a destructive ecological and eldritch change. But what really was the meteor that hit the planet of Abaddon? The H’Laqu were not present on Abaddon until the disaster happened. They came with it, were the progenitors of it, were part of the meteor itself. They were—and are—the engineers of Abaddon’s destruction. Now they’re found, increasingly, all over the world. Insinuating themselves into air, stone, flesh and plants, subverting and spreading, wandering far and wide and engaging in strange and unnatural behaviours that nobody can understand. They’re not of this world, not of this dimension, not of this reality in any way. Inscrutable, inimical to the very existence of this world, perhaps even insane, the H’Laqu are a growing presence, a growing influence and a growing concern to all the forces at work across Abaddon. A threat that can’t be understood, controlled or even directed, beyond the schemes and plans of man and undead alike.
Inside this book you will find all you’ll need to embark on adventures using the A Place Beyond Hell sourcebook including:
The History of the H’Laqu
Over 20 all-new feats including Black Blood, Horrific Countenance and Withering Stare
Over 20 all-new spells including Antilife Bolt, Immaculate Dissection, Mind Trap and Void of Despair
Ten all-new monsters and NPCs including Abyssal Arm, Infected Land and Nyxsus the Surgeon
Background of the Cult of Black Glass
Rules for the Breaching Points of H’Laqu
Written by James ‘Grim’ Desborough and Louis Porter, Jr.
This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 30 pages of content.
It should be noted, that although extensively bookmarked, the bookmarks don't work in my copy of the file.
The full-color book kicks off with 3 pages of artwork/introductory quote, adhering to the OT-layout.
After a bit more than 1 page of introduction to the H'laqu, featuring exciting and cool prose, we already dive into the creeping corruption of the H'laqu in the form of new Taint and Ritual feats. (~4 pages)
The feats are:
-A Stitch in Time (Ritual): Close an extradimensional rift. Damn cool feat, but I would have loved to see DCs for concentration checks to maintain the ritual while under attack, as this is exactly what I'd do with it: Make PCs defend the ritualist.
-Bait: With a Bluff check vs. Will save, you can anger enemies and provoke them into attacking you. Nice feat.
-Black Blood (Taint): Makes you immune to poisons and diseases, but the DM may choose a drawback. This would be totally OP, but due to the drawback as well as the fact that in OT, poison and disease are ever-present, this feat works.
-Black Whip: Use whip-like rifts in reality as weapons. Stats for the weapon are provided and the point is: Black Whips ignore armor and only the +X bonus of magic armor provides any benefits against them. While not entirely conform with PFRPG-design, this is also a nice throwback to the days of second edition and thus I can't really criticize it. If you're diehard-set on "new" rules, note this.
-Cult of Black Glass: Become a member of the cult and gain access to its resources. Standard membership feat.
-Empty of Life: You are soulless. Nice rehash of the "Hollow"-feat from RL.
-Experiment (Taint): H'laqu experimented on the character, giving him/her a monster ability, but also disfiguring him/her. This is actually a nice storytelling device as well as versatile as hell. Due to being subject to DM's approval, balance is fine, too. Great idea.
-Eyes in the Darkness: Gain true seeing due to a traumatic experience, but your will save may never be higher than your level. Due to Prerequisite: WIS 18+, this feat may actually work, although true seeing is still quite powerful.
-Eyes of Darkness (Ritual): Summon Corvidim to do your bidding. Nice.
-Fugue: Enter a trance-like state that grants bonuses, but after completing a set task, the DM gets control of your character untill the end of the Fugue. Awesome idea, nice mechanics (although I would have prefered them to scale with levels) - nothing to complain about.
-Full of Life/Unlife: Gain more HP, be repugnant to the H'laqu
-Hag-ridden (Taint): The character is inhabited by a contained fragment of the H'laqu, drawing on its power. Great roleplaying potential there! Two thumbs up.
-Hand from beyond (Taint): Gain an additional, incorporeal tendril-attack.
-Hidden Knowledge (Taint): Tap into H'laqu knowledge for bonus in skill-checks or augury. I like it.
-Hollow Man (Taint): Gain +2 AC and +5 HP, but be destroyed when you reach 0 HP due to being only the shell of what you once were. I can see this a consequence for resurrecting a PC in my homebrew campaign - Another great feat!
-Horrific Countenance: Gain a Fear Rating. This feat is problematic, as its only benefits refer to a mechanic originally from "Darkness & Dread", reprinted in "Horrific Fears". If you don't own one of these books, the feat won't do anything for you, as the Fear Rating rules are not summed up in this book. Usually I wouldn't be bothered if that's a part of the setting, but the rules are not in the Campaign Setting book for OT, which somewhat limits their availability to OT players and DMs.
-Mark of Darkness (Ritual): Only for H'laqu cultists, this feat lets you call the attention of the dread H'laqu.
-Numb the Mind (Ritual): A ritual to steel one's mind against the darkness, this unfortunately also uses the Fear rating mechanics.
-The Bitter End (Ritual): Prepare a shard of Obsidian to summon a Abyssal Arm. Nothing to complain, cool concept.
-The Gap of Worlds (Ritual): Ritual that helps H'laqu create a new breach.
-The Gone (Ritual): Summon a black man of the H'laqu.
-Withering Stare (Taint): Stare at an enemy to give him penalties. As there is no save against this penalty and no drawback, this feat seems kinda strong to me.
After that, we get new spells:
-Antilife Bolt (Wiz/Sor 3): Temporarily reduce maximum Hitpoints of enemy. Cool spell!
-Antilife Ward(Clr/Pal/Wiz/Sor 4): Create a warding zone antithetical to creatures of this reality.
-Become Shadow (Sor/Wiz 6): Sperate one's shadow from the body and send it towards enemies.
-Beyond Alignment: Ignore alignments and its restrictions for some time - might have consequences. Unfortunately, this spell only lists as level 8, but does not say for which spell-lists it's supposed to be.
-Black Meteor Shield (Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a shield that damages attackers and gives a bonus to AC.
-Black Meteor Strike (Sor/Wiz 6): Damage spell that creates damaging terrain.
-Black Pit (Hiding place between the Planes) (Sor/Wiz 6): A sanctuary that might be invaded. Cool spell.
-Black Sand (Sor/Wiz 5): Engulf and suffocate enemies in damaging sand. Cool terrain control/battle magic.
-Black Talons (Druid/Ranger/Sor/Wiz 3): Ignore the additional protection offered my magic items. This spell can, depending on the setting, be extremely powerful. In OT it works, but I'd caution anyone to use it in another setting.
-Dark Eye (Sor/Wiz 5): Nice Scrying spell.
-Emptiness (Brd/Clr 2, Sor/Wiz 3): Automatically fail the next will save or save against H'laqu infection.
-Face of Fear (Brd/Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 4): This spell once again utilizes the Fear Rules mentioned earlier in the review.
-Immaculate Dissection (Brd/Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a bonus to damage and attacks against a creature. more importantly: Be able to look up the write-up of the creature. I hate metagaming feats, spells and mechanics like looking up critters, knowing the abilities of enemies etc. and thus loathe this spell.
-Insignificance (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Makes one experience the horror of one's insignificance, temporarily shaking the target and planting suicidal tendencies in them. Great concept for a spell, cool execution.
-Life Sign (Clr/Pal/Sor/Wiz 4): Essentially a circle of protection against H'laqu.
-Mind Trap (Brd 4, Sor/Wiz 5): Create either the illsuion of a fighting challenge in one's mind or a puzzle for the recipient to solve. Quick and dirty rules for the fight and puzzle are also given. NOW we're talking. This is what a spell should be: Iconic, cool and versatile and full of nice potential.
-Planar Shears (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Shear connections of planar creatures - Great storytelling device and useful in battle, although stripping planar creatures of all supernatural abilities, albeit temporarily, might seem a bit harsh.
-Shardstorm (Drd/Sor/Wiz 5): Both shield and a way to attack enemies.
-Squirming Maw (Clr/Sor/Wiz 9): Combination of Swallowed by Darkness and some Abyssal Arms. I like it.
-Sterilize (Clr/Drd 3, Sor/Wiz 4): Kill all germs in an area, curing diseases, but also weakening the immune-system of the recipients.
-Swallowed by Darkness (Sor/Wiz): Massive Annihilation spell that DOES conform to PFRPG standards and instead of insta-killing recipients, deals massive amounts of damage. This spell rocks.
-Void of Despai (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Grants penalties to enemies, does not specify which kind of penalty though. I guess that's the reason for this spell being such a high level - it's supposed to stack with other spells.
-Whirling Void (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Burst Swallowed by Darkness with a sucking effect. Nice.
-Whispering Madness (Brd/Sor/Wiz 6): A curse that slowly drives the target insane. Very cool.
There is also another nice sidebar with aptly written prose, granting us more glimpses at the world of OT.