"There Are More Things In Heaven and Earth..."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the past few weeks we've talked and teased a lot about what's in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover. There have been mentions of peoples and races and countries and organizations, but what's beyond that? In fact, what's beyond Golarion? Does "campaign setting" have to mean just one land, one world, one planet? Or might it mean a whole reality?

The Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting tackles just that question. Personally, I've always been fascinated with planeswalking, and my favorite adventures usually take place in realms beyond the mortal world... and I think James wrote something about a demon once somewhere. It also turns out that the credits for this monster feature Todd Stewart, a modern expert and the go-to guy for fantasy cosmologies. So we got Todd to tackle a new take on the realms beyond the mortal plane. Welcome to the Great Beyond.

Chapter 3 of the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting delves into the realities beyond reality, the domains of the gods, and the organization of the spheres. Aside from deities both familiar and new, there are discussions of new races, non-godly powers fit for worship, musings on planar dragons, a complete map of the spheres, and details on more than a dozen planes (each an entire realm brimming with planar adventure). Looking through the chapter, a few tantalizing headers scroll by: "Norgorber: The Reaper of Reputation," "Sivanah: The Seventh Veil," "Thirteen Demon Lords," "Six Empyreal Lords," "The Whispering Way," "The Maelstrom"—the list goes on and on. In fact, for all you planeswalkers out there, here's a taste:

The Maelstrom/Limbo
Collectively referred to as the Maelstrom, vast swathes of uncharted, unclaimed terrain borders and surrounds each of the Outer Planes. Mysterious and dangerous wild lands untouched by the gods, these regions lack the cohesive stability present in all of the other planes; even the hellish depths of the Abyss possess a structure that the Maelstrom does not. Rather than some ever-changing sea of randomness, when viewed from the edge of another plane, the Maelstrom appears much like that of its adjacent neighbor. The differences grow more profound further away from the stabilizing anchor of the borderlands, eventually falling back into the mutable freedom of perpetual change. The Maelstrom defies the efforts of mapmakers, as its very character shifts and flows like the tide of an unseen ocean, to which the borderlands are but shores and calm shallows.

Crystalline forests melt like candle wax into shallow brine seas with jewel-like icebergs, and then sublimate to vast parched deserts, all within the stretch of days. Still, islands of stability do exist within the depths of the Maelstrom. These islands are ruled by petty gods, exiled fiends, and fallen celestials, and even the rare stronghold of a mortal wizard or priest-king can be found holding itself against the metaphysical lapping tide.

Creatures wandering in from the structured planes, long since grown native, populate the Maelstrom's borderlands, often possessing characteristics and behaviors at odds from their origins. Deeper still, chaos beasts, chaos incarna, and the mysterious serpentine proteans thrive within an environment of plastic potentiality. Claiming to be the first children of the Outer Planes, the keketar, imentesh, and naunet proteans worship godlike beings they refer to as the Speakers From the Depths, whom scholars speculate to be something akin to a pair of conjoined gods or a single dualistic entity.

The Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover and several infinities worth of new adventures hits shelves this August!

F. Wesley Schneider
Pathfinder Managing Editor

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Tags: Dragons Monsters
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