Pathfinder Chronicles: Into the Darklands (OGL)

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Pathfinder Chronicles: Into the Darklands (OGL)
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At the World’s Core

Another world is hidden below—a world that slumbers under the foundations of mortal cities, dreams below the deepest roots of the oldest forests, and plots in hidden places as far below as the mountains are high. These endless caves have many names. Cold Hell. Evernight. The Hunting Grounds. Yet to those who dwell within they are known as the Darklands.

Into the Darklands explores this mysterious and deadly realm of caverns and secrets, from the numerous hazards that plague the deeps to the strange and sinister races that dwell therein. Within these pages you will find maps of the major entrances to the Darklands throughout Golarion’s Inner Sea region, as well as dozens of locations hidden within three distinct realms of the deep. Tables to determine random dangers and wandering menaces, new languages and exotic hazards, and all manner of monsters, including the degenerate morlocks, the wormlike seugathis, the destructive vemeraks, the blood-drinking urdefhans, and the sinister serpentfolk await discovery within!

Just remember—in the Darklands, the night lasts forever, and the denizens of the depths never sleep.

The perfect companion to the Pathfinder Second Darkness Adventure Path! This comprehensive 64-page sourcebook provides an overview of the cavernous realms below the surface of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-140-4

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscription.

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Flavourful Overview

5/5

In the official Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion, the vast subterranean reaches of ancient empires and degenerate monsters is called the Darklands (i.e., the Underdark for those of you who played a lot of D&D). Into the Darklands, published in 2008, was one of the early entries in Paizo's line of campaign setting books for Golarion--so early that it predates the actual Pathfinder RPG and instead references 3.5-specific rules elements (including psionics!). It's a 64-page full-colour softcover book that is really well-written, flavourful, and useful for a GM planning to set any adventures in the area.

The artwork, frankly, is a mixed bag: there's a cartoonishly busty Drow on the otherwise-solid cover, and the interior art ranges from fantastic to mediocre. The inside back-cover reproduces the cover art, while the inside front-cover is an extensive wandering monster table with columns for the three different "layers" of the Darklands (something I'll talk about in a moment). As with too many wandering monster tables, I think I'd find it useless because it includes such a vast range of CRs on the same table--if your chance of running into a few fire beetles is the same as your chance of running into a purple worm, there's going to be a lot of short-lived adventuring parties! On the other hand, I really liked the several maps that show how the surface world overlays various entrances and different areas of the Darklands.

The interior of the book is separated into five parts.

The first part, "Exploring the Darklands", takes up 16 pages and provides a good overview. It explains that Golarion's Darklands are best thought of as having three "layers," with the shallowest layer (Nar-Voth) less dangerous than the middle layer (Sekamina) and the rarely-visited and mysterious deepest layer (Orv). Connections between the layers are rare, and most surface-world expeditions to the Darklands go no further than Nar-Voth. Still, the layers, in a "horizontal" sense, can be as large as continents, so there's plenty of exploration to be done! After a brief list of common languages and terminology, the section spends several pages summarizing (with one-paragraph each) known points of entry to the Darklands. This part will be quite important for GMs, and the amount of flavour provided even in the capsule descriptions makes just getting into the Darklands seem like an exciting adventure in itself. I particularly liked the "Dread Dungeons" (a political prison in Galt that extends so far down that it reaches Nar-Voth), the Pit of Gormuz (an important site from a world-lore perspective as it ties in Rovagug, the Tarrasque, and more), and the Shadow Caverns (an important aspect of what's happening in Nidal). Next up is a section on hazards, including mundane dangers like getting stuck or lost, as well as more exotic threats like toxic fungi and radiation. This part is excellent, as it provides a wealth of detail to make travel in the Darklands really come alive--everything from travel time through different types of tunnels to dealing with bad air to navigating in total darkness (with a doubling of random encounter chances if the PCs use light sources!). Players will quickly realize they have far more than just monsters to worry about in a Darklands-based adventure.

The second part of the book covers Nar-Voth (the upper layer) in about 12 pages. There's an interesting, and coherent backstory to the Darklands that ties into other important aspects of Golarion history, including Earthfall, the Quest for the Sky, etc. The most common denizens of Nar-Voth (Derro, Duergar, Troglodytes, and Vegepygmies) each receive several paragraphs of description. Derro are still creepy as heck, but I was most surprised to read how something that seems really stupid like Vegepygmies can be given a surprisingly interesting backstory. There's also a couple of paragraphs each on other denizens of the layer: Dark Folk, Grimlocks, Gremlins, and Mongrelmen. The section concludes with several pages describing notable locations in Nar-Voth, and a useful map shows where these places are both from a Darklands perspective and from a surface perspective. There's some creative writing here, with my favorite location being the Court of Ether (an inverted-pyramid hanging from the ceiling full of dark fey!).

The middle of the book fittingly details the middle layer of the Darklands, Sekamina (14 pages). This can be summed up as the most "civilized" layer, as it's home to empires of Drow, surprisingly organized cities of ghouls, and more. The Drow are described in ways very similar to how they are in the Forgotten Realms, and I think there are some links provided to the Second Darkness AP. The stuff about ghouls was fascinating, and I could imagine some excellent adventures using their cities as a location. Other important races to receive focussed-coverage are Skum and Svirfneblin, with about a paragraph each devoted to driders, gugs, morlocks, ropers, Serpentfolk, and Seugathi. There's a really interesting mix of cultures and creatures in Sekamina, and lots of potential for a wide variety of stories taking advantage of the relationships and tensions between them. As with the previous section, this one ends with several pages detailing particular locations on the layer. Most are interesting, but I would have liked to see some adventure-hook ideas to help GMs provide reasons for PCs to visit them.

Orv, the lowest layer, is covered in ten pages. I thought this was the most original and interesting take on the Darklands. Orv is known, even to most inhabitants of Nar-Voth and Sekamina, only by legend. It consists of a series of immense chambers, some as large as surface nations, called Vaults--and they're full of different environments that could never plausibly exist through mundane means. Thus, they're thought to be almost terrariums of a sort, built by the mysterious and now-absent Vault Keepers. The only widespread inhabitants of Orv today are a scary race called urdefhans (detailed further in the next part of the book), but particular Vaults are home to creatures like neothelids, intellect devourers, and aboleths. There's even a "Lost World"-style Vault full of prehistoric creatures and dinosaurs. Orv is a strange and dangerous place, and perhaps a good alternative to plane-hopping for high-level groups of PCs who outmatch most things on the surface world.

The last section of the book is a bestiary. Five different creatures each receive a full two-page spread: Morlocks, Serpentfolk, Seugathi, Urdefhan, and Vemerak. All of the entries are well-written and the creatures fill a useful role from a GM's perspective. Because they each get a two-page spread, there's plenty of room to discuss the ecology of the creatures and detail a host of special abilities.

In sum, I would say the book is excellent and almost indispensable for adventures set in the Darklands. It's also one of those RPG books that can be read just for pleasure even if there aren't any particular games on the horizon planned.


Portuguese - Br

4/5

Com excessão de algumas meta tramas do cenário, mestres narrando Second Darkness ou fãs do Underdark (os fãs de drows conseguem melhores informações comprando as aventuras de SD) as darklands são um cenário bem aparte do Inner Sea e portanto bastante opcional. No entanto este livro contem praticamente tudo necessário para fazer campanhas em ambientações subterrâneas e isso o torna uma fonte de referencia necessária (já que a maioria da informações com excessão das fichas das criaturas, não se repetiu em mais nenhum livro). Também é importante para saber um pouco mais sobre raças e criaturas que são grandes antagonistas e outros cenários e que em Golarion até agora apareceram pouco.


Golarion: A World with a Chewy Lovecraftian Center!

4/5

Once again, Golarion breaks from the pack. Detailing the lands below, a complex somewhat orderly ecology exists miles below the surface. Serpent Men and the Culture of Ghouls replace the Mindflayers as rivals for Drow dominance. A must have suppliment. Check my full review: Into the Darklands


If you're a Lovecraft fan...

5/5

Then you will love this book. It takes the very best hollow earth 'bits' from the past hundred years or so and brings them all together in the vast, sprawling, and maddening Darklands of Golarion. It has ghoul kingdoms, demon-worshipping drow, hollow earth vampires, Howardian/Clark Ashton Smithian serpent people, massive caverns with dinosaurs, and even gugs. You can't go wrong with this!


Good structure

3/5

The first thought on Paizo's underdark treatment is they've done a very good job of keeping things segmented/customizable. The division of three layers, and regions reminded me a little of Ravenloft domains in a good way. The GM is not obligated to have everything in the mix but rather to focus on what they want.
Now to the content itself. There's some neat stuff, love the treatment of the derro, the Lovecraftian/Hodgson touches of the the third layer with gugs, ghoul empires and prehistoric beasties. Oh, and neothilids!
A great hollow earth pulp feel.
My main issue is with the Sekamina, the 2nd layer. Paizo's done a commendable effort with the drow but I think they would have been better to jettison entirely. Yep they're an iconic villain but thanks to Salvatore and FR I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.
Still all and all a good starting document to springboard ideas for campaigns/adventures. Recommended. PDF is good quality.


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MMMMMM Underdark ala Pathfinder, I think im in love.

Liberty's Edge

I know the cover art is just a placeholder, but quite opposite of what you would expect for a Darkland book... not exactly blue skies down there, right?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Stegger wrote:
I know the cover art is just a placeholder, but quite opposite of what you would expect for a Darkland book... not exactly blue skies down there, right?

Correct. The place holder art is from Pathfinder 7's article about the Varisians.

That said, the Darklands are a big place. Who knows what's hidden down deep?


mmm...memories of tromping arround the underground forest in Undermountain are bubling to the surface...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Gosh, I hate to say this but I just don't like the name "the Darklands." I mean, I 'll live with it or tweak it for myself, but it's the first Pathfinder name that just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe just "the Dark" or "the Darkhollows" or "the Darkrealms" or (taking a cue from Bastion Press) "the Black," but the word 'lands' suggests above ground to me.

Like I said, I'll can deal with it, but is anyone else feeling the same way?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

So how does this product differ from the Pathfinder Companion for the Second Darkness AP?


Mosaic wrote:

Gosh, I hate to say this but I just don't like the name "the Darklands." I mean, I 'll live with it or tweak it for myself, but it's the first Pathfinder name that just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe just "the Dark" or "the Darkhollows" or "the Darkrealms" or (taking a cue from Bastion Press) "the Black," but the word 'lands' suggests above ground to me.

Like I said, I'll can deal with it, but is anyone else feeling the same way?

Yes, Into the Dark. Does sound a bit more ominous and foreboding. However, the title is not that important to me, at least. I'm sure the content inside the book will be the hidden treasure. I have to say, I'm so very looking forward to it.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Rusty Ironpants wrote:

So how does this product differ from the Pathfinder Companion for the Second Darkness AP?

The Pathfinder Companion is 32 pages, of which probably less than 4 pages or so (estimated because it hasn't been written yet) cover the Darklands to any degree.

This book is 64 pages of all Darklands goodness.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Thanks Vic.

So if I understand correctly, Into the Darklands is a regional source book and the Pathfinder Companion is more like a player's guide?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Yes, but in this case the "region" is all over the underground of Golarion.

--Erik

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Rusty Ironpants wrote:

Thanks Vic.

So if I understand correctly, Into the Darklands is a regional source book and the Pathfinder Companion is more like a player's guide?

Correct—also, the Second Darkness volume of the Pathfinder Companion might not even have much at all about the Darklands in it; the Second Darkness Adventure Path DOES take place in other locations as well... it won't even enter the Darklands until adventure #4 at the earliest.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

James Jacobs wrote:
Rusty Ironpants wrote:

Thanks Vic.

So if I understand correctly, Into the Darklands is a regional source book and the Pathfinder Companion is more like a player's guide?

Correct—also, the Second Darkness volume of the Pathfinder Companion might not even have much at all about the Darklands in it; the Second Darkness Adventure Path DOES take place in other locations as well... it won't even enter the Darklands until adventure #4 at the earliest.

Thanks, for the clarification guys.

I guess when the description said "The perfect companion to the Second Darkness Adventure Path", it made me think there might be alot of overlap with Pathfinder Companion: Second Darkness.

Crazy, huh? :P

Liberty's Edge

Well, reviewing the list of books coming out, I have to say, I'm pretty glad I subscribed to this series. The only book that doesn't excite me right away is Dragons Revisited. I kind of doubt anything can save dragons from being, well, dragons, but given Paizo's treatment of humanoids, I'll give it a shot.

But really, this is the book I'm most excited about. I lurve the underdark. Even if they call it the darklands -- I agree, that name kinda blows (a bit on the nose, don't you think?), though at least it makes more sense than "underdark".

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

We've just added the finished cover. If you don't see a drow, reload your browser's image cache.

Liberty's Edge

Abberations and Drow. If I had to sum up the Darklands/Underdark/whatever other names it has with one picture, it would be that. Great cover.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Great cover

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Can I have two of those drow hotties? :)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Cover art - Wow...just wow!!!

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

blackcat wrote:
Cover art - Wow...just wow!!!

That's my avatar, buddy!

Dark Archive

Yeah but the PC brigade is going to come out and cry foul on the use of cleavage, we all know it!

Liberty's Edge

yoda8myhead wrote:
blackcat wrote:
Cover art - Wow...just wow!!!
That's my avatar, buddy!

And you both have the superscriber box and tag too . . .


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
yoda8myhead wrote:
blackcat wrote:
Cover art - Wow...just wow!!!
That's my avatar, buddy!

yea but it's actually a drawing of my head :-P i was under the impression you shouldn't have a head thanks to yoda...soooo who's the impostor! ;-)

Scarab Sages

Aarontendo wrote:
Yeah but the PC brigade is going to come out and cry foul on the use of cleavage, we all know it!

To be fair, that cleavage is kind of scary, they're so... unnaturally spherical, they look like someone's pasted a couple of honeydew melons to her chest and painted them blue... her pose is a bit bizarre too...

still an awesome cover besides that, lots of awesome details, and it's always nice to see a well-drawn Merisiel

Dark Archive

Got something against honeydews and their shapes? *^^*

I'll take 'em any day. Living in Asia you come to appreciate the variety of melons in the ol' USA.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

Drool...

Oh...I meant about the cover art and the upcoming release of the Darklands book. (Mostly...)

Dark Archive

Nice cover! I can see the request for fan art of Seoni and Drow women now...

Sovereign Court

No, Mosaic. Darklands sounds just fine.

Also, I might just need to subscribe to the Pathfinder companion series, since I've ended up purchasing all but one of them so far, and this Darklands item is a must-have. Nice job, PAIZO!


Well both 'The Darklands' and 'The Dark' are used in my novels, so I'm a bit non-plussed by that, but hey, what are they going to do change it just for a published author?

> gritting my teeth <

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

MMMM...poster map of the darklands...

Scarab Sages

Kyrinn S. Eis wrote:

Well both 'The Darklands' and 'The Dark' are used in my novels, so I'm a bit non-plussed by that, but hey, what are they going to do change it just for a published author?

> gritting my teeth <

*blinks* are you thinking it's a particularly original name? I've seen the name used plenty of times before, hell I'm sure there are books and series of books titled "The Darklands" or some variation thereof, since it sounds cool and can refer to some classic tropes (darkness=evil and so forth). I'm also pretty sure I've seen the name used in RPG settings before.

Plus it's a Jesus and Mary Chain album title :).

I think it's a cool name, but I seriously doubt Paizo believe the name to be any more original than the concept of societies of evil humanoids living in vast subterranean caverns. Golarion is a setting for classic fantasy stories, it's all about new spins on old concepts, and I'd rather those concepts have classic evocative names, than silly unpronounceable ones (pet hate alert) just because it would be more original.

Liberty's Edge

DROW? On the cover? Pttthhhpppppttttt!!!!

-2 points for OBVIOUSNESS.

Should've been Derro.

Seriously, Derro get no love.

WHY DOES PAIZO HATE DERRO?

Is it because they are weird, creepy little mustachioed men?

Weird, creepy little mustachioed men need love too!!!

Scarab Sages

Gailbraithe wrote:

DROW? On the cover? Pttthhhpppppttttt!!!!

-2 points for OBVIOUSNESS.

Should've been Derro.

Seriously, Derro get no love.

WHY DOES PAIZO HATE DERRO?

Is it because they are weird, creepy little mustachioed men?

Weird, creepy little mustachioed men need love too!!!

Derro are awesome! I'm really hoping for a whole ton of Derro love in this book, even if they're not on the cover (I imagine the honeydews sell better :P).


There's a new picture up in the blog... wow.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Gailbraithe wrote:

DROW? On the cover? Pttthhhpppppttttt!!!!

-2 points for OBVIOUSNESS.

Should've been Derro.

Seriously, Derro get no love.

WHY DOES PAIZO HATE DERRO?

Is it because they are weird, creepy little mustachioed men?

Weird, creepy little mustachioed men need love too!!!

I think it's mainly got to do with the fact that drow on the cover of books moves product. No sense in relegating a book as awesome as Darklands will certainly be to the bargain bins in a few years.

Paizo Employee CEO

yoda8myhead wrote:
Gailbraithe wrote:

DROW? On the cover? Pttthhhpppppttttt!!!!

-2 points for OBVIOUSNESS.

Should've been Derro.

Seriously, Derro get no love.

WHY DOES PAIZO HATE DERRO?

Is it because they are weird, creepy little mustachioed men?

Weird, creepy little mustachioed men need love too!!!

I think it's mainly got to do with the fact that drow on the cover of books moves product. No sense in relegating a book as awesome as Darklands will certainly be to the bargain bins in a few years.

Exactly! We found out when working with Dragon and Dungeon that putting a drow on the cover meant we sold thousands upon thousands of more copies of the magazine than almost any other topic except dragons.

-Lisa


Mosaic wrote:

Gosh, I hate to say this but I just don't like the name "the Darklands." I mean, I 'll live with it or tweak it for myself, but it's the first Pathfinder name that just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe just "the Dark" or "the Darkhollows" or "the Darkrealms" or (taking a cue from Bastion Press) "the Black," but the word 'lands' suggests above ground to me.

Like I said, I'll can deal with it, but is anyone else feeling the same way?

Actually I kind like it. The Underdark has been so overused and overdone that I am just kind of sick of that name. I feel like "The Darklands" is a refreshing change. You know something that I am noticing is that Paizos world building and adventure writing goes waaaaaaaaaaay beyond anything that Wizards of the Coast ever dreamed of doing. I am liking the PFRPG better than standard 3.5 D&D t he Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting better than anything that Wizards has published the Eberron Campaign Setting comes kind of close in my opinion but it is not classic fantasy the way that Golarion is. In my opinion Paizo has surpassed Wizards of the Coast in quality on every front.

Charles


Yeah but it's too late to do anything about it. The way I see it if the one negative I've found about the pathfinder world is the name they give the underdark then I think I'm in good territory. :-P


Absolutely love the dinosaur on froghemoth action in today's blog. I love froghemoths . . .

Dark Archive

I just needed to say how much I am looking forward to this product.

This thing looks wicked awsome! The art and other blog posts about the Darklands have gotten me very excited!

At first I was kinda like "OK Paizo's coming out with the obligatory underdark source book, I'll buy it but no big deal"...Now I cant wait for this thing!

Once again you guys at Paizo have gone above and beyound recasting somthing that had become a little hum drum and making it fresh,exciting, and wonderous again.

Keep up the great work!

PS. what is that monsterous tentaclely thing fighting the dinosaur in this pic?


Savage_ScreenMonkey wrote:

PS. what is that monsterous tentaclely thing fighting the dinosaur in this pic?

I think that it is a froghemoth... though I don't know what froghemoths are, that seems to be the general consensus regarding that picture.

Dark Archive

whatever it is its awsome!

Frog God Games

The froghemoth first appeared as an alien monstrosity in the classic Gary Gygax 1e adventure S3: Expedition to Barrier Peaks. Most recently, I believe, it appeared in the Age of Worms adventure path. It comes to us in the OGL through The Tome of Horrors by Necromancer Games.

Liberty's Edge

Mosaic wrote:

Gosh, I hate to say this but I just don't like the name "the Darklands." I mean, I 'll live with it or tweak it for myself, but it's the first Pathfinder name that just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe just "the Dark" or "the Darkhollows" or "the Darkrealms" or (taking a cue from Bastion Press) "the Black," but the word 'lands' suggests above ground to me.

Like I said, I'll can deal with it, but is anyone else feeling the same way?

Actually, well no, I am not feeling the same way. Underground is land, the same as above ground is (unless it is air or water...lol), just much more treacherous and sinister.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the product description to match the back cover copy.

Sovereign Court

Lisa Stevens wrote:


Exactly! We found out when working with Dragon and Dungeon that putting a drow on the cover meant we sold thousands upon thousands of more copies of the magazine than almost any other topic except dragons.

Just like gorillas and comic books!

http://www.superdickery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&a mp;catid=31%3Amonkeys-index&id=636%3Awhy-is-this-chimp-crying&Itemi d=24

Dark Archive

Mosaic wrote:

Gosh, I hate to say this but I just don't like the name "the Darklands." I mean, I 'll live with it or tweak it for myself, but it's the first Pathfinder name that just doesn't sit well with me.

Maybe just "the Dark" or "the Darkhollows" or "the Darkrealms" or (taking a cue from Bastion Press) "the Black," but the word 'lands' suggests above ground to me.

Like I said, I'll can deal with it, but is anyone else feeling the same way?

I agree. I would prefer Evernight.


Is this coming out late?

Liberty's Edge

wspatterson wrote:
Is this coming out late?

Late November!

Product Schedule

Paizo Employee CEO

I believe that this product is scheduled to arrive in the middle of next week.

-Lisa

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