Pathfinder Chronicles: The Great Beyond—A Guide to the Multiverse (OGL) PDF

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The home of the gods. The essence of matter. The realm of demons. The birthplace of souls, and the cities of Hell. All these things and more await in the planes beyond Golarion. Brave mortals leave the cradle of their homeworld and cross the misty ethereal sea or the silver void to discover strange dimensions—some hauntingly familiar, others inherently deadly, and many alien beyond imagining.

Bargain with djinn over land rights ceded to the mephit king while fighting off roving patrols of the queen of the fire elementals. Sign treaties with the umbral dragons of Shadow Absalom. Join the archon armies on a sortie into the Abyss, or assist a cadre of devils guarding the winding river of souls through the Astral Plane. Invade your enemy’s dream realm, study your own past, or negotiate with a cannibalistic sentient demiplane.

This 64-page book describes all of the major planes of the Inner and Outer Spheres, as well as numerous demiplanes and lesser-known dimensions. It also provides maps of the nine planes of the Outer Sphere, and unleashes five new monsters unique to Golarion’s cosmology—soul-eating astradaemons, law-forging axiomites, trickster-fey that lurk in light, quasi-noble keketar proteans, and fox-bard vulpinal agathions.

Looking for more planar adventure? Check out Pathfinder Module J5: Beyond the Vault of Souls, where the heroes must retrieve stolen soul-gems to prevent the sudden destruction of the multiverse!

By Todd Stewart

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-167-1

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Solid Intro to Pathfinder's Planar Cosmology

4/5

I have to admit that planar cosmology is not one of my strong suits. Apart from a PFS scenario here or there, I just haven’t run any campaigns that took place in different planes. Still, I thought it’d be worthwhile to get the classic breakdown of the planar structure of the official Pathfinder campaign setting by reading The Great Beyond: A Guide to the Multiverse. This is a 64-page entry in what began the campaign setting line, and features glossy pages and full-colour artwork. The cover art is reproduced in the inside back cover and looks pretty awesome there—probably poster-worthy. The inside front cover is a visual diagram of how the different planes relate to one another in a “geographical” sense—frankly, I’m not sure how much value there is in something like this because how often do the “borders” between planes come into play? Anyway, the book is divided into five chapters.

CHAPTER ONE: THE GREAT BEYOND (6 pages)

This short chapter serves as an introduction and summary of the book. There are good capsule descriptions of the different planes and their planar traits along with a few interesting additional bits such as the relationship between souls and the undead, and the life-cycle of a soul. It’s clear that author Todd Stewart--and by extension Paizo--intentionally left a lot of mystery to some facets of planar cosmology, and I think that’s a good thing. PCs need opportunities for discovery, GMs need opportunities to create, and an exhaustive encyclopedia wouldn’t be practical anyway.

CHAPTER TWO: THE INNER SPHERE (14 pages)

The “inner sphere” contains the planes that PCs will probably interact with the most: the material plane, the ethereal and shadow planes, and the four elemental planes (it also contains the positive and negative planes). For the transitive and energy planes, the chapter gives a couple of paragraphs on “notable creatures” and “notable places”, though the elemental planes are covered in greater depth. It’s just enough to get a rough feel for each plane and perhaps enough to improvise with in a pinch, though I wouldn’t personally feel comfortable running long-form adventures in the planes without more setting info (I know, I know, I’m contradicting myself on the value of mystery). I really like the description of “Shadow Absalom”. I should note that the interior artwork isn’t the greatest—this was before Paizo regularly landed some of the best fantasy artists in the business.

CHAPTER THREE: THE OUTER SPHERE (26 pages)

This is by far the longest chapter in the book, and covers the astral plane and the aligned planes (Heaven, Hell, the Abyss, etc.) Each of the aligned planes receives a stylized map that includes keys to between ten and twenty locations discussed in the text—pretty good coverage for a book this size! There are some really interesting locations—Aroden’s Domain in Axis, Nirvana’s Hall of Slumbering Kings, Groetus orbiting the Boneyard, and much more. I think it’d be fair to say that the “evil” planes receive more coverage than the “good” ones (with Heaven getting barely a page and half, for example). On the whole though, the chapter gives a nice introduction and overview.

CHAPTER FOUR: OTHER DIMENSIONS (6 pages)

This is a sort of grab-bag of all sorts of minor planes—prominent demiplanes, the dimension of time, the pit of Gormuz, and more. There are some awesome concepts here, with some clever little planes that are perfect sites for adventuring parties to explore. Sometimes starting small and mysterious is good, and this is probably my favourite chapter in the book.

CHAPTER FIVE: BESTIARY (10 pages)

The book’s bestiary includes five two-page entries of new monsters. The CR13 astradaemon is a sort of “soul predator”, with cool artwork and an effective description. The CR 8 axiomite is a LN resident of Axis—they’re not exactly exciting, but it’s probably good to have their nature solidified in case the PCs ever visit there. The CR 5 lurker in light is one of my favourites--scary fey who thrive in light instead of darkness, and with a special ritual that gives the GM a built in story-hook for introducing them. The CR 17 keketar protean has some very cool abilities. The CR 9 vulpinal looks exactly like a kitsune to me; it’s a type of wandering agathion. I’ve used astrademons, axiomites, and lurkers in light before in games, and I’m happy with the results. My guess is all of these creatures have been included in various Pathfinder bestiaries over the years, but perhaps in only single-page condensed versions.

It's a little challenging to give a verdict on a book that is long out-of-print and that has been supplanted by more authoritative sources like the Planar Adventures hardcover. Nonetheless, this is where it all starts in a way, and Todd Stewart has made a real contribution to the setting with The Great Beyond.


Portuguese (Br) review

3/5

Eu gostaria muito de dizer que este livro vale a pena, mas mesmo não sendo um livro ruim e de certo modo cumprindo a sua proposta de satisfazer a curiosidade sobre a cosmologia de Golarion, ele sofre de alguns problemas graves. Talvez o maior deles foi ter sido lançado entre edições, o que causou pouquíssimo conteúdo mecânico (algo que nem sempre é ruim, mas no geral aventuras planares carecem de auxilio mecânico devido a realidades muito diferentes do mundo natural). A falta de vontade da Paizo em se aprofundar muito em conteúdo que ela não estava preparada para se comprometer ainda (provavelmente haverá muito retcons quando o assunto planos voltar a vanguarda) e a arte não estava nada inspirada para um assunto tão transcendental quanto esse. Compre apenas se você gostar muito do assunto aventuras planares e realmente esteja querendo idéias que voce mesmo irá desenvolver, no resto o livro ainda continua muito bem escrito sendo uma leitura interessante para qualquer fã.


Great ideas skimmed over too quickly

2/5

I'm huge fan of planar gaming, so I was hoping we'd be getting something meaty. Sadly this product is too short for it's own good. You end up feeling like you're reading a prologue to a book where the rest of the book after the prologue is missing. This is an introduction and that's it.

The ideas are great, but they're just skimmed over. This supplement needed to be far more detailed and meaty than it is to be useful. Over all it's just not worth the money as it currently is.




a great planar book

5/5

An excellent take on the planes, typical pathfinder twist, familiar yet still wonderfully detailed.

Overall, it packs a ton of flavor and detail into a short supplement.

Some of the artwork is breathtaking.


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The Exchange

Ok, I just have to start the ball rolling on this one too. How many different detailed parts of the beyond will there be?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Is it just me or does that kinda look like Diterlizzi (sp?) artwork?

Chad

Silver Crusade

Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

spews drink

pre-orders


Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

Correct, though he doesn't seem to use that avatar/persona on these boards. Regardless, he's the perfect author for something like this. Should be great.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

You know, as a hard-core Planescape fan, I was somewhat uneasy about the Pathfinder planar setup. It's not as bad as the cluster**** that is 4e's planes, but still, there's a bunch of changes being made that don't really "need" (IMO) to be made. I was willing to accept what Paizo was going to do with the planes, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to it.

The twisted mind behind the online presence of Shemeska the Marauder, the King of the Crosstrade herself though, him I'll give every benefit of the doubt. Can't wait for this one to come out now.


Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

Sweet!!!

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Todd Stewart! Excellent! I am a big fan of his 'loth stuff, so I am hoping to see some of that sneak in :)


exile wrote:

Is it just me or does that kinda look like Diterlizzi (sp?) artwork?

Chad

It's not the final cover. The picture used in the mock-up is from Gallery of Evil.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Deleted...dupe post.

Hopefully Todd can share some more tid bits on this one!

Contributor

BenS wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

Correct, though he doesn't seem to use that avatar/persona on these boards.

Yep, that'd be the name I've snagged in one form or another on a number of various boards (Shemeska, Shemeska the Marauder, Shemmy, King of the Crosstrade, etc). I honestly can't say why I went with my actual name when I registered here, but it works even better I figure. :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Todd Stewart wrote:
BenS wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

Correct, though he doesn't seem to use that avatar/persona on these boards.
Yep, that'd be the name I've snagged in one form or another on a number of various boards (Shemeska, Shemeska the Marauder, Shemmy, King of the Crosstrade, etc). I honestly can't say why I went with my actual name when I registered here, but it works even better I figure. :)

Especially because I can add the (Contributor) tag to it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

All I can say about this book is 'Score!'

Contributor

Kvantum wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:

Todd Stewart is Shemeska correct?

I'm looking forward to this :)

You know, as a hard-core Planescape fan, I was somewhat uneasy about the Pathfinder planar setup. It's not as bad as the cluster**** that is 4e's planes, but still, there's a bunch of changes being made that don't really "need" (IMO) to be made. I was willing to accept what Paizo was going to do with the planes, but I wasn't exactly looking forward to it.

The twisted mind behind the online presence of Shemeska the Marauder, the King of the Crosstrade herself though, him I'll give every benefit of the doubt. Can't wait for this one to come out now.

Without actually spilling the beans on the cosmology or getting into what would amount to design notes on the stuff that currently sit on my desktop, the back of napkins, and the back of a few nitrile gloves from my lab where I made notes during work, I can only barely repress my own giddy enthusiasm over this project and ask that folks trust me on this. Please trust me. *insert a yugoloth grin on that if you want as well* More seriously, for folks familiar with any of my prior work on planar stuff or Planescape proper, both published or just released online because it's fun, you'll find plenty of thematic overlap in places.

It's not Planescape, and there's lots of non-open content that precludes using some iconic aspects of my favorite setting, but from looking at any stuff I've done before, you should have a clear idea where I'll be coming from. In this case however, even though I'm playing in Paizo's sandbox, I've got a lot more creative freedom on this, so I'm having a blast. And I say fun as a guy who made his players cry during an encounter with a fiend in a previous campaign. A cosmology should be evocative, mysterious, and filled with wonder and terror at the same time, and I hope to capture that sort of feel in what I come up with.

I would love nothing more than to gush over this in public, but I can't till it hits the press, and prior to that I have to actually write it. As it stands, it's on my plate after another project, and it's difficult to keep myself from leaping into this one early.

And as for the yugoloths that I'm somewhat known for: 'loths are WotC IP, but hopefully you'll enjoy my spin on Pathfinder's daemons. Not the same critters, but you'll catch some thematic overlap certainly. Once the campaign setting hardcover comes out, you'll have a pretty good idea of the basics and I'll be able to chatter a little bit more I'd figure.

And yes, I can say as much that the cover art up there is a placeholder. I know what it'll end up being and who is doing it, but it's probably not my place to say (so bug James or Wesley and they might hint). I'm being as dim on specific details as I can, but it's hard. :)

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Todd, I have absolutely no doubts this book is in the best of hands. It'll be kinda hard letting the Planescape stuff go, but that's yet another downside of the 4e debacle. I just wonder if there'll be characters in Paizo's cosmology as unique as Shemeska or my personal favorite, Xan'xost the Slaadi Sage.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

finally...a place where flumph pods can meander to their heart's content

Liberty's Edge

Being a Planescape fan, I admit that I have to hear more about this before I get excited.


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

I just had a DMgasm....

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

This I am really looking forward to... Is this just the planes or does it also include the planets of the Solar System?


BenS wrote:
Correct, though he doesn't seem to use that avatar/persona on these boards. Regardless, he's the perfect author for something like this. Should be great.

Todd is the Man!

This is definitely going on my must buy list. Awesome!

Liberty's Edge

Todd, awesome to hear that you're writing this.

Dark Archive

DO WANT.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

There will be a little bit about the solar system and the universe in the Material Plane section... but not much. You'll want to check out Pathfinder #14 for the info on the 11 planets and other neat stuff associated with them...

Liberty's Edge

These chronicles just keep getting better!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
There will be a little bit about the solar system and the universe in the Material Plane section... but not much. You'll want to check out Pathfinder #14 for the info on the 11 planets and other neat stuff associated with them...

Awesome James - I have been waiting for this since I knew about Green and Red planets. Thank you and I want to put in my vote for a Red Planet AP - that might even be a great Epic Level AP to take a group right into after they finish more terrestrial matters. I cannot wait...


James Jacobs wrote:
There will be a little bit about the solar system and the universe in the Material Plane section... but not much. You'll want to check out Pathfinder #14 for the info on the 11 planets and other neat stuff associated with them...

Interesting...

Any chance that the solar system might get its own book in the future?


WOW ... all I can say is WOW ... As a big fan of the Planescape setting I am very glad someone with the "street cred" Todd has is doing this. Once again I am blown away...

marks calendar


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I'm kind of sad that this is part of the Chronicles line. Planar adventures have their own needs in terms of spells and equipment and feats and possibly even prestige classes. These game mechanics aren't important enough to be included in core rules but get used pretty heavily in a planar game. As a Chronicles product doesn't it mean that we won't be seeing a lot of game mechinics in here?

Dark Archive

Well, I can't imagine that the fact that this book will be a Chronicles product will prevent the Paizonians from including necessary and/or useful feats, items, spells etc. . As long as they don't release a Player's Guide To The Great Beyond, I expect stuff like this to show up in the book.


Shemeska, all right!

I am really looking forward to your twisted ideas on the multiverse. Just a few questions, to get you in the teaser mood:

Will it have wars between the different fiendish races?
Will it have the struggle for the 'right' philosophy?
Will it have a city at the center?
Will it have an Orroloth?

Liberty's Edge

Todd Stewart wrote:
A cosmology should be evocative, mysterious, and filled with wonder and terror at the same time, and I hope to capture that sort of feel in what I come up with.

Consider trust gained. Really looking forward to this.

-DM Jeff

Sovereign Court

Todd, without spilling the beans... doth thou see a Great Wheel rollin' 'round thy countryside? :P


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Absinth wrote:
Well, I can't imagine that the fact that this book will be a Chronicles product will prevent the Paizonians from including necessary and/or useful feats, items, spells etc.

Isn't the whole point of the Chronicles line that it doesn't include a lot of game mechanics? I thought that this was a key selling point.

Regardless, I'm very excited about this produce. :) If I weren't already subscribed I'd have pre-ordered this one on sight.


Really looking forward to this -

Shemmy, will it be backwards-compatible with the Great Wheel?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

The Great Wheel is WotC IP.

It has been announced that there is one plane for each alignment, so in that sense it is similar to the great wheel, but that doesn't mean that those planes will be similar to their Great Wheel counterparts or that they will be laid out in a ring.


Yeah I'll miss Sigil, but the new infinite city of Axis sounds like a lot of fun as well. Plus, no one says you can't still run old-skool Planescape. I find it translates over quite easily enough.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

tbug wrote:
Isn't the whole point of the Chronicles line that it doesn't include a lot of game mechanics?

Not necessarily. Products in the Pathfinder Chronicles line are about building the setting, and where a product needs mechanics to build the setting, it will have mechanics.

That said, since we're switching over to the Pathfinder RPG in August 2009, we're making sure that the products we release before then *don't* need a lot of mechanics. So, you can expect this product to be rules-light not because it's part of the Pathfinder Chronicles line, but because it's coming out before August 2009.

Sovereign Court

tbug wrote:
I'm kind of sad that this is part of the Chronicles line. Planar adventures have their own needs in terms of spells and equipment and feats and possibly even prestige classes. These game mechanics aren't important enough to be included in core rules but get used pretty heavily in a planar game. As a Chronicles product doesn't it mean that we won't be seeing a lot of game mechinics in here?

Remember, it's all backwards compatible. Which means, you could use any mechanics that you find in the Planar Handbook.

Contributor

There's a lot of stuff I'd love to babble about, but can't for obvious reasons, at least not yet. That said, a lot of questions folks are asking should be answered by what you'll find in the Campaign Setting book's cosmology section once it's out (hopefully at GenCon?). At that point I can probably comment within reason on what's in that book itself without getting into details from the full multiverse book itself.

I will give a hint on one thing however (without actually telling anything): there's an archdaemon who's a direct take on an archfiend from my home campaign (similar I suspect to how the details and history for Obox-Ob started with how James used that particular abyssal lord in his home game). And to save anyone from searching through a frightening number of pages of storyhour material over on Enworld, they're not mentioned in anything I've put online before (though a sibling of theirs might).

Geez I can't wait for the PCCS to be out. I'm in the dark as much as anyone else on most of the contents except for the few parts I worked on, and I -really- want to read more about the world. They've got me hooked something fierce at this point. Curse you Paizo! ;)

Dark Archive

Ok, one more for Mr. Stewart:
Will I be able to add my own planes to the mix or use "beyound countless doorways"?
What I mean: Will it be to add new planes to the cosmology?

Dark Archive

I'm not Mr. Steward, but I can't imagine why it shouldn't be possible to customize the Golarion multiverse to your liking...


Neat to see that this subject is getting covered for Golarion.

(Not that I'll buy it, as we're sticking with Planescape and the Great Wheel for as long as we'll be playing...)

Dark Archive

Absinth wrote:
I'm not Mr. Steward, but I can't imagine why it shouldn't be possible to customize the Golarion multiverse to your liking...

Yeah, just read some more stuff on the multiverse and that answered my question.

It seems to be eay to add different planes to the setting, without changing much of the "canon".


OMG OMG OMG OMG

Shemeska rocks.
Paizo just keeps on scoring one coup after another.
All the best things about D&D living on- now Planescapey goodness too.

Can I get a 'huzzah!' ?

Dark Archive Contributor

Todd, I look forward to reading this book. I hoped Paizo would tap you for something like this.

I know I'll be buying a copy. ^_^

Contributor

Mike McArtor wrote:

Todd, I look forward to reading this book. I hoped Paizo would tap you for something like this.

I know I'll be buying a copy. ^_^

*diet code red mountain dew enhanced bliss*

I'll be honest, right up there with getting to write a 3.x Fiendish Codex III (fat chance), this is a prime example of my idea of a dream writing assignment. Oh man, several weeks since I got handed this and I'm still grinning like a fool. I just need to try not to feel overwhelmed against expectations, and try to come in under the word count. Almost certainly I'll end up trimming stuff because I'll grossly write above the limit after the initial draft. Lots of ideas for this baby.

And I have every intention of snagging a copy of your Dragons Revised book as soon as it's out. :)

Btw, you going to be at GenCon?

Dark Archive Contributor

Todd Stewart wrote:

*diet code red mountain dew enhanced bliss*

I'll be honest, right up there with getting to write a 3.x Fiendish Codex III (fat chance), this is a prime example of my idea of a dream writing assignment. Oh man, several weeks since I got handed this and I'm still grinning like a fool. I just need to try not to feel overwhelmed against expectations, and try to come in under the word count. Almost certainly I'll end up trimming stuff because I'll grossly write above the limit after the initial draft. Lots of ideas for this baby.

And I have every intention of snagging a copy of your Dragons Revised book as soon as it's out. :)

Btw, you going to be at GenCon?

I'm glad you're looking forward to writing this and not totally burned out on the planar stuff. :)

I will not be going to Gen Con. If you are, have fun! :D

Sovereign Court

Memorandum

To Paizo art director:

re: The Great Beyond Cover

Please put Lini the Gnome Druid on the cover. Paizo needs more gnomes, please.

Sincerely,

cappadocius

The Exchange

Todd,

Not sure if you or anyone else can answer this, but will this book (or the Pathfinder cosmology) include the Demented? If not, why?


cappadocius wrote:

Memorandum

To Paizo art director:

re: The Great Beyond Cover

Please put Lini the Gnome Druid on the cover. Paizo needs more gnomes, please.

Sincerely,

cappadocius

Sarah, but can she have pigtails?

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