Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Mysteries (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 8 ratings)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Mysteries (PFRPG)
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The Terrible Truth!

Every civilization has its big questions, those mysteries that have plagued generations of scholars. How did humanity rise from barbarism? Why did the gnomes leave the First World? Who are the string-pulling veiled masters? What is the Aucturn Enigma, and what strange powers did it grant the rulers of Osirion? What secret could be so great that it led to the suppression of volume five of the Pathfinder Chronicles? Within these covers, all these questions—and far more dangerous secrets—are explored at last.

Occult Mysteries shines a light on the darkest mysteries of the Pathfinder campaign setting. Within this book, you’ll find:

  • In-depth explorations of five of the most debated questions of the Pathfinder campaign setting, including the origins of life, the exodus of the gnomes, and the designs of the veiled masters.
  • Insights into the workings and agendas of eight secret societies like the Anaphexia, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, and the Knights of the Ioun Star, as well as rules for joining their hidden ranks.
  • Revelations on esoteric traditions such as astrology, numerology, spiritualism, and more, along with a host of new rules and character options to help integrate them into your game.
  • Entirely new ways to divine and influence characters’ futures with Golarion’s zodiac, the Cosmic Caravan, as well as a system for using the harrow deck to inspire game-changing plot twists.
  • Details on six of the most infamous texts in Golarion, along with the hidden powers that make them so dangerous.
  • Numerous options for players, including new feats and spells, ritual magic items, the pain taster prestige class, the occult oracle mystery, and more.

Occult Mysteries is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be used in any fantasy game.

Written by Jason Bulmahn, Crystal Frasier, Jim Groves, Brandon Hodge, James Jacobs, Erik Mona, F. Wesley Schneider, and Jerome Virnich.
Cover Art by Johan Grenier.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-649-2

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscription.

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****½ (based on 8 ratings)

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Fabulous tool for background information on the mysteries of Golarian

*****

Occult Mysteries has been great as a PFS GM understanding a bit more of the ongoing mysteries / controversies in Golarian's history. Does it answer the mysteries? No. And as a GM I'm glad. The mysteries of the setting are meant to be that. What it does is provide GMs with the tools and details to build upon these mysteries and intrigue your players into investigating them.

As far as I'm concerned, this book has exactly one usable piece of player crunch: the lucky number spell. On the other hand, it's a great spell that can be gotten in a wand and be used by most casters in PFS.

As a PFS GM (and a frequent player of Dark Archives characters), this book has provided material for me make several recent scenarios come alive for my players. It talks about the death of Aroden, the Harbinger of Fate cult and the Book of 1000 Whispers. It discusses the mysterious disappearance of the Number 5 issue of the Pathfinder Chronicles. It even has a chapter that compiles the theories of why gnomes left the first world -- a place perfect for creatures of caprice and chaos -- to come to the material plane with its order and mortality.

If you're looking for crunch, look elsewhere. If you're looking for real answers, look elsewhere. But... If you're seeking more information on the great questions of the Golarian setting, this is the book for you.


Unspeakable Dread

*****

Wonderful book devoted to secret societies & mysterious cults. This offers lots of adventure hooks and ideas that will feed PC paranoia. The astrology segment was welcome, offering a new set of traits based on constellations. The elaboration on the Night Heralds and Veiled Masters is a particular treat. There are a few new spells and haunts that appears useful, and the detailed description of several arcane tomes is incredible -- I only wish that reading them drove the reader a bit insane, a la Call of Cthulhu. (I house rule in insanity, no save, usually in the form of a simple phobia that is as fun to role-play as it is frustrating). If you enjoy Call of Cthulhu, you'll like this.


the flavor is great, but "scientific magic" is ruined forever.

**( )( )( )

This book contains a great deal of ideas to build upon. one could easily see a custom game centring around many of these mysteries. and makes for a good read in general

the problem comes from the crunch. every character option detailed in here is simply too complicated to be feasible in an in game setting. we are talking about taking on an extra 5 minutes for someone to take their turn just to calculate for a metamagic feat. it's not that the feat effect is bad. It's just that the actual steps to actualy use it are aggravating at best. the feats provided for numerology feel like they should have been part of the description of what numerologists do rather than something the player himself has to do. take the sacred geomery feat for example. it requires you to roll a number of d6 equal to your knowledge engineering skill, and do any combination of math with those dice such that they equal a number on a table. who in there right mind would take 10 minutes doing mid level algebra just to take your turn? why not just make it something like "roll a number of d6 equal to your knowledge engineering. If the total is above the number on the table the feat succeeds"?

the worst part is that I was looking forward to "science magic" for a while. This single book kills any chance of anyone ever playing with it unless Paizo fixes this at a later date.


Great book

*****

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

Occult Mysteries offers incredible insight into the beliefs of the people of Golarion, and into their thought processes. The book looks at a number of “mysteries” from across the world—the strange things that people haven’t quite been able to explain, but have many hypotheses about. These include creation stories, the exodus of the gnomes, and the missing Volume 5 of the Pathfinder Chronicles. The book also looks at traditions like astrology and numerology, secret societies, and infamous texts of great power.


Far too many ideas for one campaign to hold.

*****

So, I should definitely begin by saying that this publication is specifically helpful for Game Masters who use the Pathfinder Campaign Setting (Golarion, and its related mythos); other gamers might find it fun to muse on if they are unfamiliar, but not all that helpful as a player-option resource. This is definitely a storyteller-oriented publication, and not something you will want to encourage your players to keep on hand, unless they are involved in some of the books organizations and secret societies. This book presents more questions than answers, and I believe it may be impossible to verify/debunk every theory of every mystery presented here, in the scope of a single campaign. If you are hoping that this book will make you stop feeling the urge to find out the answers to questions you have from other related products, you are almost guaranteed to be disappointed. This product works really well if you have the Inner Sea World Guide, and is also helpful for those who use the materials for the Dragon Empires, Tian Xia; but for those who have none, you have the Pathfinder Wiki.

The inside front cover features an illustrated diagram of the Cosmic Caravan, Golarion's central zodiac; the back cover repeats the outside front cover illustration. One page of credits and table of contents.

Two pages are a 'Collection Memorandum' (Introduction), written in-character by Djavin Vhrest, an Absalom scholar, including fourteen listed texts and their descriptions the reader may find of alluring interest. This scholar also includes an introduction and postscript by the fictional author. Page 3 includes a sidebar listing the "Mysterious Occultists" who participated in the publication's writing, and the sections upon which they worked.

Chapter 1 is 'Mysteries of Golarion', and begins with an excellent image of two cosmic dragons fighting in a starry, nebulous space. All of the artwork in this publication is great. The greatest mysteries of Golarion are explored here, and the page 5 explanation of them includes 'The Ultimate Mystery,' referring to the death/disappearance of Aroden, and its effects on the campaign setting lands. Each topic in this chapter is summarized, and the 'Facts' and 'Theories' are presented for each of them, allowing GMs to tailor the plot hooks, adventure materials, and their own ideas to the players at the table, and the campaign at hand.

Chapter 1 mysteries include the Aucturn Enigma, Creation Myths & Origin Stories, the Exodus of the Gnomes from the First World, the aboleth Veiled Masters and ancient Azlant, and the infamous lost Volume 5 of the Pathfinder Chronicles.

Chapter 2 is 'Secret Societies', and features a wicked illustration of a few worshiping cultists, encircling some sort of tentacle creature emerging from a pool in a massive cyclopean architectural space - it's beautiful and freaky, all at once. A full page (p. 17) is dedicated to the idea of joining or leaving a secret society, and benefits of membership.

Chapter 2 secret societies include the Anaphexia, Conference Z, the Church of Razmir, the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, the Harbingers of Fate, the Knights of the Ioun Star, the Night Heralds, and the Way of the Kirin. Each of these are detailed, and certain benefits of membership are presented, as well as how GMs can use these organizations in their own campaigns. Great illustrations, all the way around; Paizo does a lovely job with this.

Chapter 3 is 'Esoteric Traditions', which begins with an illustration of Seltyiel (the iconic magus) performing self-mortification to gain arcane power - very creepy, no doubt about it, but still very cool. A page is dedicated to summarizing these traditions.

Chapter 3 esoteric traditions include Astrology (with two full-page tables for astrological elements), the Harrow (including three pages of descriptions of the deck cards), Mortification and the Pain Taster prestige class, Numerology, and Spiritualism. Each section is given a 4-page spread, wonderful illustrations, and a lot of options such as new feats and spells. The Numerology section could easily become complicated and could be a time-consuming mechanical aspect, and some people may feel a little over-informed about the Harrow because of other Paizo products; but for those who want it all in one place, this is a perfect solution.

Chapter 4 is 'Occult Writings', the final chapter of the publication, and features an illustration of Ezren, the iconic wizard, with his eyes getting zapped by arcane energies from reading a massive tome. Oh, did I mention the really nice artwork? A page is dedicated to describing occult writings, along with sixteen of those texts not detailed in this section.

Chapter 4 occult writings include the Aleh Almaktoum (includes the spell, spectral saluqi), the Book of 1,000 Whispers, The Inward-Facing Circle, the Lost Gospels of Tabris, the Secrets of the Dreaming Dark, and Uniting the Flesh. I don't even know how to summarize how much awesome is in this section, and each of the one-page detailed sections includes an illustration of the tome/text.

An advertisement accompanies the Open Gaming License, with a standard outside back cover design about the publication. 64 lovely pages of wonderful excellence, and it is definitely possible to have an overdose of awesome on this product; proceed with caution, readers.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Announced! Product image is a mockup and subject to change.

Liberty's Edge

That thread about the veiled masters a few months back should be mandatory reading material before picking this up.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's all lies that the Veiled Masters are feeding us to throw us off the trail.

;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

CRAZY excited for this one! :DD

Contributor

I approve.


*sad face*

Feels like price/name tag put on Imagination.

Ruyan.

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Isn't that essentially how to sum up everything Paizo sells?

Not sure that's a bad thing, either.

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.
RuyanVe wrote:

*sad face*

Feels like price/name tag put on Imagination.

Ruyan.

Some people want answers. Other people like to dream. You are ultimately in charge of your Golarion's canon.

Personally, I'll probably end up picking up this product based on the quality of its crunch. I prefer to run my homebrew setting so I can throw all of those delicious occultist options I create at my players before they're released. ;-)

Contributor

Nice! :)

Dark Archive

WANT!


May is so far away...


They had me at volume 5 of the pathfinder chronicles!!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaant.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Definitely one for the "maybe" pile.
Not that it doesn't sound interesting, but I only have so much money so campaign setting has to take the back seat.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32, 2011 Top 4

I don't know that I've ever before seen an upcoming product and immediately thought: "Ooh, sexy."


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If only I'd had this one now. Occult Mysteries seems like an excellent companion for certain parts of the Carrion Crown adventure path.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hm. Is that "veiled masters" or "Veiled Masters"?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oooh, nice! Veiled masters and Night Heralds, all in one book? Sign me up :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My guess is we aren't getting info on the veiled masters of the aboleth race. This looks to be about secret societies, cults, etc. - aboleths aren't any of those things. I've been dying to get more info on them and really hope they get their long overdue time in the spotlight, but I just have a feeling this book won't be it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

How did I miss this one.


NIGHT HERALDS.....YES

Paizo Employee Creative Director

10 people marked this as a favorite.
Generic Villain wrote:
My guess is we aren't getting info on the veiled masters of the aboleth race. This looks to be about secret societies, cults, etc. - aboleths aren't any of those things. I've been dying to get more info on them and really hope they get their long overdue time in the spotlight, but I just have a feeling this book won't be it.

Well... if that's the case, I'll have to retract the section I wrote for the book about the veiled masters then! ;-)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
My guess is we aren't getting info on the veiled masters of the aboleth race. This looks to be about secret societies, cults, etc. - aboleths aren't any of those things. I've been dying to get more info on them and really hope they get their long overdue time in the spotlight, but I just have a feeling this book won't be it.
Well... if that's the case, I'll have to retract the section I wrote for the book about the veiled masters then! ;-)

Gee...Thaqnks Generic Villain. See What you did there.

;)


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
John Kretzer wrote:

Gee...Thaqnks Generic Villain. See What you did there.

;)

Totally my intention all along. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Oh, and there's no way an aboleth AP is right around the corner. No siree.


Oh how I can't wait for this book.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just wondering, will this book explicitly answer these mysteries, or will it just have hints or possible explanations for them. Or is it a bit of both?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Blackfingers wrote:
Just wondering, will this book explicitly answer these mysteries, or will it just have hints or possible explanations for them. Or is it a bit of both?

A bit of both.

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Blackfingers wrote:
Just wondering, will this book explicitly answer these mysteries, or will it just have hints or possible explanations for them. Or is it a bit of both?

It'll probably be like Mythic Origins; just enough info to please you while brewing a thousand new questions that never existed before.

Example: Tar-Baphon's phylactery.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Generic Villain wrote:
John Kretzer wrote:

Gee...Thaqnks Generic Villain. See What you did there.

;)

Totally my intention all along. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Oh, and there's no way an aboleth AP is right around the corner. No siree.

I should have known given your name...Generic Villain indeed. Probably one ofg the veiled masters trying to make sure their secrets never get out.


So we get a new Harrow deck?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
xavier c wrote:
So we get a new Harrow deck?

Nope!

Liberty's Edge

xavier c wrote:
So we get a new Harrow deck?

There is a new Harrow Deck being produced, along with a Harrow focused Player Companion.


I remember a little while ago there was a comment from somebody at Paizo (Erik Mona?) that they were writing something on Aroden and the mystery surrounding him for an upcoming not-yet-announced Paizo publication (so not Inner Sea Gods).

I wonder if this is that book?


Is the enigmatic Harrow deck a new type of Harrow deck


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
xavier c wrote:
Is the enigmatic Harrow deck a new type of Harrow deck

No, it'll have the same artwork as the original set; they will just be Tarot-sized and feature new backs.

Check out the link I posted in my first reply to you to read more about it.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Yes, it is this book.


Tirisfal wrote:
xavier c wrote:
Is the enigmatic Harrow deck a new type of Harrow deck

No, it'll have the same artwork as the original set; they will just be Tarot-sized and feature new backs.

Check out the link I posted in my first reply to you to read more about it.

Sorry I was mixing up a (Harrow Deck of Many Things) with a Harrow deck


Erik Mona wrote:

Yes, it is this book.

And now I'm intrigued.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oh, do I want this product!


Oh wow. This... this is something I want very much.

Any chance of any bits about the Old Cults in this book? (Aside from the full-on Lovecraftian Golarianian Aboleth.)

Pretty please?

Either way,I am pretty certain I will very much enjoy ths book.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Anytime you list information about Aroden in a book you will be sure to get a lot of buyers for any information about the dead god.

Though I wish he was alive because I love him :)

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

Oh my god. Oh my god.

This is amazing!

Kudos to the writing team putting this one together, I would've given a limb to work on this. I am so excited for this book!


Old Cults would be amazing! Hope the Dominion of the black is in there as well.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Izar Talon wrote:

Oh wow. This... this is something I want very much.

Any chance of any bits about the Old Cults in this book? (Aside from the full-on Lovecraftian Golarianian Aboleth.)

Pretty please?

Either way,I am pretty certain I will very much enjoy ths book.

The Night Heralds are Old Cultists.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Generic Villain wrote:
Izar Talon wrote:

Oh wow. This... this is something I want very much.

Any chance of any bits about the Old Cults in this book? (Aside from the full-on Lovecraftian Golarianian Aboleth.)

Pretty please?

Either way,I am pretty certain I will very much enjoy ths book.

The Night Heralds are Old Cultists.

Not quite...

The Night Heralds are not Old Cultists, but that's a common mistake!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

Not quite...

The Night Heralds are not Old Cultists, but that's a common mistake!

Hmm, I was going off this passage from Distant Worlds: "...groups like the Night Heralds in Garund continue to seek a dark apotheosis through communion with the void." I suppose that means they don't worship the Great Old Ones/Outer Gods per se, but instead to harness them as a source of power. That fits with what we read way back in "The Dark Tapestry" that ran in Legacy of Fire - which I guess means they were trying to

spoiler:
bind/control Tylicharius.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Generic Villain wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Not quite...

The Night Heralds are not Old Cultists, but that's a common mistake!

Hmm, I was going off this passage from Distant Worlds: "...groups like the Night Heralds in Garund continue to seek a dark apotheosis through communion with the void." I suppose that means they don't worship the Great Old Ones/Outer Gods per se, but instead to harness them as a source of power. That fits with what we read way back in "The Dark Tapestry" that ran in Legacy of Fire - which I guess means they were trying to

** spoiler omitted **

There's far more in "the void" (aka the Dark Tapestry) than Great Old Ones and Outer Gods.

And...

Spoiler:
... Tylicharius is not a Great Old One or Outer God. That's why it wasn't mentioned in the article about the Old Cults in Pathfinder #46. Tylicharius is something else.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm AFB at the moment, but don't the Night Heralds have something to do with the Dominion of the Black?

... And do we get to learn more of the Dominion? For various reasons, I don't think that I'll be purchasing The Dragon's Demand (among other things, I'm not a dragon-fan), but I would dearly love to get the Dominion-related material in that module.


Part of me wishes for a Bigfoot cult.

So does this mostly give adventure seeds for PCs to interact with these cults and their activities?

Is there anything like archetypes or traits?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Andru Watkins wrote:

Part of me wishes for a Bigfoot cult.

So does this mostly give adventure seeds for PCs to interact with these cults and their activities?

Is there anything like archetypes or traits?

I'm not entirely sure you're prepared for the answers that you seek, Andru...

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