Shadow Planes & Pocket Worlds: A Dark Roads and Golden Hells Supplement (PFRPG) PDF

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Infinity Just Got Bigger!

This 25-page supplement for Dark Roads & Golden Hells provides one exotic plane of horror, plus dozens of wondrous items, planar hazards, and 6 clever afflications, and a section on Gamemastering Infinity. It includes:

  • Mora, the Children's Table, a plane of truly disturbing horror
  • 17 magic items from dead man's eyes to the Egg of Worlds, liquid miracle, and soul lamp
  • 15 new planar hazards including non-Euclidean angles, waters of Acheron, tesseracting terrain and liminal slime, among many others
  • 7 drugs and poisons from amrit to dream spittle, and from Lethean Ale to angel's tears
  • Three new monstrous, including Arachne and Cicerone the Upfallen
  • A short-short story of the Plane of Rusty Gears, a mechanical plane with a twist
Pick up your copy of Shadow Planes & Pocket Worlds! today, and expand your infinite horizons!

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****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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An RPG Resource Review

****( )

Designed as a supplement to Dark Worlds and Golden Hells, the planar sourcebook for the Midgard campaign setting, the Introduction notes that most of the material herein just didn't fit into it or, in one case, was thought maybe a bit too dark for the main book. So if you fancy sending your party to explore the wonders and wierdnesses of the planes and want even more to put before them, jump right in.

It opens with that problematic item (apparently one individual disliked it so much that they dropped out of the project altogether!), which is a new 'other location', a plane of sheer horror which it is likely the party will end up in by accident as you cannot really imagine anyone wanting to go there. Called Mora, it is evil-aligned and takes the form of a rocky island in a dark sea. It is filled with female spirits, porportedly neglectful mothers, and riven with fear. Brooding lonliness and sheer panic await those who venture here, a madness that traps wanderers and is hard to escape. Here too, stolen children are auctioned off by bogeymen. It's a vivid reminder that there's a lot of nasty stuff out there... whether you want it in your game is up to you, but it should only be used with care and full knowledge of your players. Someone with childhood trauma in their past might find this too challenging for something that is, after all, supposed to be fun.

There's a brief piece of fiction associated with the Rusty Gears locale described in Dark Worlds and Golden Hells, then it's on to a collection of planar traps, hazards and afflictions that you can place as appropriate when your party is wandering the planes. Perhaps you want to confuse with some non-Euclidean angles, strange shapes your eye slithers off as your brain fails to understand what's going on; or maybe pass around some dead stone, rock from which the very essence of being a stone has leached away. Its very touch is said to make a dwarf cry. There are strange diseases and poisons here, and if you don't find the planes wierd enough, mind-bending drugs.

Then there are magical and wondrous items - some cursed, of course. One catches my eye (because I'm going to be marking some exam papers after my lunch break): a bottled memory. I wonder if any of the students have remembered what they needed to know? They can be useful, entertaining or informative... and then there's faerie food. Many will know it's not a good idea to eat it, but here are the relevant game mechanics to deal with those who do.

Finally there's a Bestiary (which includes a template for creating an Imaginary Friend) and some NPCs.

If you already have Dark Worlds and Golden Hells this could prove a useful adjunct but if you don't it makes far less sense. I don't think I want to actually visit Mora, but it could spawn a few good legends and tales to scare any would-be planar travellers: something that lurks in the shadows rather than occupies centre-stage. The items and traps and other perils are particularly good, they are the real reason to add this book to your library.


Even on its own a stellar supplement at an unbeatable price

*****

This web-enhancement to "Dark Roads and Golden Hells" is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This pdf kicks off with a controversial domain - Mora, The Children's Table has, according to the introduction, actually made a patron quit his patronage of the project. Born from the remains of a celestial mother figure that devoured instead of nurture. Thus, today the island is haunted by memoriasma, a deadly mist that might catch you in a perpetual nightmare and the inhabitants are not better - parasitic vampyric dryads, boogeyman and all things abominable that may haunt childhoods and be considered darkest possible representations of the worst fears. Mora is a dark and twisted place, somewhere between fairy tale and hell, twisted and tainted, vile even, but is it tasteless or particularly explicit? Not in my opinion. Personally I loved this twisted realm and don't get what's particularly offending about it, but I guess for some people, the theme of the realm might hit a bit close to home. Mora is definitely not a place that should be introduced into a campaign featuring kids, but for mature or adolescent players and GMs, a vast wealth of twisted imagery can be found here.

After that, we are get the fluffy story to supplement Rusty Gears, the tale of Arachne and Charun and after that we get a selection of planar hazards, traps and afflictions: From Alephs, chaotic motes of planar conjunctions to non-euclidian angles to flowers that can hasten you, but age you and may enable you to relive memories, we are in for quite some awesome hazards. Better yet, the Ever River also gets its hazards, from Phlegethon to Styx and Lethe, Gjoll and Acheron, the write-ups rock.

6 new planar diseases and 7 planar drugs and poisons (including Angel's Tears and Lethean Ale) are also part of the deal, as is something utterly awesome: 7 different kinds of planar effects - from xaosiana, an insanity inflicted by prolonged contact with chaotic planes to temporal distortions between planes - stellar!

We also get an infinite pit trap, stats for the food of the dead, the fractal shield ability and the impossible weapon quality to 12 new excellent magic items, this section of the pdf once again can adhere to the highest standards - from the egg of the world to faerie food, the items are not only cool, they evoke a sense of wonder.

The pdf also provides a bestiary that kicks off with two different templates: The imaginary friends (CR +2)of those damned on Mora and the She-template for the dark female masters of the land (CR +2) are included and then there are new monsters: The CR 12 legendary Arachne, who is on a never-ending quest to replace Ariadne as the weaver of fate gets her stats, as does the narrator of the books, Cicerone the Upfallen, a fallen deva bard (CR 19) as well as the beautiful, deadly angel of revenge, Lady Liliam the Black Avenger (CR 14) complete the additional information contained herein for the stellar "Dark Roads and Golden Hells".

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the same beautiful 2-column standard of "Dark Roads & Golden Hells". The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity, but comes with quite an impressive array of beautiful original b/w-artworks I didn't expect to find here - Kudos!

Let me come right out and say it: If you only slightly enjoyed "Dark Roads and Golden Hells", you definitely need this. If you're looking for a smörgåsbord of planar options to add to your campaign and don't plan to use DR&GH, you may still want to check this out. Why? Because it's probably the highest quality content you'll find for such a low price. This pdf is a stellar example of writing, of crunch-design and fluff-writing and is completely on par with the main book, which ranks imho among the best planar sourcebooks ever penned. My final verdict will thus, of course, be a full 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


Contributor

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Dark Archive

Sounds like a nice little add on.

The Exchange Kobold Press

It really, really is. There just wasn't room to put everything in the print book, so the editor was faced with some tough choices about cuts.

It really says something about the talent of the designers that the editor said "I don't really recommend cutting anything, but if we have to.... Here's what I'd recommend."

I like the magical items and the planar diseases quite a bit.


Adn reviewed here, on DTRPG, posted about it on RPGaggression and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!


The brief description of Mora by End makes this sound like one of the creepiest places for kids I've heard of in a long time. Like My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic as run by Pennywise the Clown.

Heck, I'll probably get this just for that, as I've long loved dark fairy tale type places.


Eric, from what I can recall of your different posts, I think you will definitely enjoy this one!


Endzeitgeist wrote:
Eric, from what I can recall of your different posts, I think you will definitely enjoy this one!

I have to agree, I just read it and it's very well done (though really, someone quit over Mora? Why? It doesn't strike me as all that horrific.)

Also, just one question for now. The price listed for the Angel Mask (and it's one of the best magic items I've read about in a long time --- the materialized guilt felt by a celestial at using a mortal form to lie to people? Brilliant!) seems a bit high at 30,000 GP for something that basically works as a continuous one-form version of Alter Self. Or was that price a typo?

Or is it more a case of the things being so very rare that people would pay more than normal for them simply because, how often do you find physical evidence of the stain on an angel's soul?

The Exchange Kobold Press

RE: Mora, I think the use of children in fantasy is sort of a minefield. At the TSR periodicals, there was a total ban on children as victims for this reason. Yes, it can be well done. Yes, it is common in fantasy literature. But clearly, it really upsets people sometimes. I suspect that was the trigger in this case, though it is only a suspicion.

That price... Seems really high, though a permanent item is always pricey. I'll ping the editor and designer on it, see if they visit this thread about it.


Wolfgang Baur wrote:
RE: Mora, I think the use of children in fantasy is sort of a minefield. At the TSR periodicals, there was a total ban on children as victims for this reason. Yes, it can be well done. Yes, it is common in fantasy literature. But clearly, it really upsets people sometimes. I suspect that was the trigger in this case, though it is only a suspicion.

I can get that. I remember wincing myself when the little wendigo-possessed kid bites it in the movie PET SEMATARY. Needle in the throat, shudder.

But I remember several Paizo authors doing some horrible things to kids. Like in 'Crown of the Kobold King', where they may have gone overboard. I think every one of the kids rescued in that adventure ends up insane, a thug, or better off dead in the long run by the notes in back!

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
That price... Seems really high, though a permanent item is always pricey. I'll ping the editor and designer on it, see if they visit this thread about it.

Okay, thanks.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Crown of the Kobold King is pretty awesome. But I admit all my old editing instincts did seize up when I realized it was crossing the old "kids in danger" line.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Endzeitgeist wrote:
Eric, from what I can recall of your different posts, I think you will definitely enjoy this one!
I have to agree, I just read it and it's very well done (though really, someone quit over Mora? Why? It doesn't strike me as all that horrific.)

Believe me, it's been toned down so much from its initial incarnation that it's almost a different place. I haven't read it through, just scanned it, but near as I can tell, none of the frequent images that caused such discord have remained part of the final version.


gbonehead wrote:
Believe me, it's been toned down so much from its initial incarnation that it's almost a different place. I haven't read it through, just scanned it, but near as I can tell, none of the frequent images that caused such discord have remained part of the final version.

Any chance we can get an inside scoop what kinds of things were cut?


Paramo wrote:
gbonehead wrote:
Believe me, it's been toned down so much from its initial incarnation that it's almost a different place. I haven't read it through, just scanned it, but near as I can tell, none of the frequent images that caused such discord have remained part of the final version.
Any chance we can get an inside scoop what kinds of things were cut?

I'm curious about this myself.

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