Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Mysteries (PFRPG)

4.30/5 (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 Lost Omens Subscription.

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4.30/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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Fabulous tool for background information on the mysteries of Golarian

5/5

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

5/5

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.

2/5

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

5/5

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.

5/5

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

That's what I recall.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bellona wrote:

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.

To your first point: the problem with answering that question is that we know almost nothing about the Night Heralds but for what was told back in the Elaine Cunningham short story The Dark Tapestry that ran in Legacy of Fire. They were name dropped in Distant Worlds, but only as far as that quote I posted above. There is also very little known about the Dominion of the Black. As of now we cannot say with any certainty that the two groups are or are not connected - just not enough info.

To your second point...

spoiler:
Dragon's Demand does indeed feature the Dominion of the Black, but in a very ambiguous way. It's more a teaser than anything. In short, we know for a fact that the Dominion utilizes vespergaunts (from Doom Comes to Dustpawn), neh-thalggu (from Dragon's Demand and Demon's Heresy), and yangethes (from Dragon's Demand). Yangethes are challenge rating 9 aberrations that resemble alien tree things and were bred by the Dominion.

Based on the info from Dragon's Demand and Demon's Heresy, I would tentatively say that the Dominion is primarily a neh-thalggu organization. The biggest piece of evidence comes from the upcoming oh-my-god-I-can't-wait adventure Valley of the Brain Collectors, which is confirmed to feature the Dominion of the Black. You'll note that "brain collector" is the fitting nickname for neh-thalggu. Also, neh-thalggu are noted as having "living ships" in their Bestiary 3 entry, and the illustration of a Dominion of the Black ship in Distant Worlds is very... organic.

All the speculating aside, we'll know much more about the Dominion this time next year.


Speaking of cults, the Night Heralds, and the Dominion of the Black- I wonder if Occult Mysteries will give any more tantalizing hints (or outright info) about the strange recurring theme of Black Goo in Golarion's universe (underneath Golarion's surface, as well as that of Aucturn)?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

Yes, it is this book.

*sigh* Pre-ordered.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Speaking of cults, the Night Heralds, and the Dominion of the Black- I wonder if Occult Mysteries will give any more tantalizing hints (or outright info) about the strange recurring theme of Black Goo in Golarion's universe (underneath Golarion's surface, as well as that of Aucturn)?

Getting off topic? Sorry:

Don't forget the Nameless Spires at the north pole! The place is literally oozing with black goo, which is hinted at being connected to the stuff in the Land of Black Blood. There's also "...oceans of sentient oil that slobbers and gibbers to the creatures that live parasitically in its depths" in the Tian Xia region of Orv (possibly a reference to a Mythos god-thing whose name I can't recall).

As for Aucturn, it's almost-but-not-quite stated outright that acidic black goo serves as the planet's blood.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Erik Mona on Facebook said they were working on something about Aroden in a at the time unknown campaign setting book. Is it this one?


He confirmed that it is, yes. In this thread, at that.


.


I'm REALLY looking foreword to information on the Night Herlads and the Dominion...can't wait for this one to come out ;)


What can we expect on the Harbingers of Fate? That's a group to with I added more flesh in my homebrew and I feel treathened by the canon information that is coming...

So anxious!

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

3 people marked this as a favorite.
PartTime GM wrote:

What can we expect on the Harbingers of Fate? That's a group to with I added more flesh in my homebrew and I feel threatened by the canon information that is coming...

So anxious!

No need to feel threatened. You are always welcome to keep your own interpretation. I don't say that just to offer easy trite advice, but it really is just that simple.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Will this book reprint the Occult Mystery from Reign of Winter 5?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jadeite wrote:
Will this book reprint the Occult Mystery from Reign of Winter 5?

Doubt it. Stuff like oracle mysteries typically show up in the Companion line. Plus, that mystery was really about Earth's take on occultism - by Golarion standards, things like Ouija boards and so-called mediums are fairly mundane. A Night Herald would probably be bored out of his mind by 20th-century occultism.

"You can talk to the dead with that planchet? That's alright I suppose. But just watch what I can communicate with by reading from this freaky book - no wait, I'll just go ahead and show you. You might want to put on a poncho or something, this will probably be messy."


Liz Courts wrote:
Announced! Product image is a mockup and subject to change.

This just made my week! This plus the Mummy's Path AP -- fantastic!

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Things That Go Bump In The Night. Yaaaaay!

Aroden. More Yaaaaaay!


It's gunna be a LONG wait for May :(

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I look forward to updates on this book (cover, contents). I expect it to rock! :)

Webstore Gninja Minion

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Updated product image and description!

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wonder if this is going to be the same Occult Mystery of Rasputin Must Die! fame?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Awesome, I have been waiting for an update on this!

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
ritual magic items

O_O

Wait, does this mean?

YES


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
the pain taster prestige class

now many more shall open their eyes to the beauty


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Zon-Kuthon wrote:
Quote:
the pain taster prestige class
now many more shall open their eyes to the beauty

{scribbles notes for NPC pain taster inspired by Paul Giamatti's character in Sideways}


Liz Courts wrote:
Updated product image and description!

Now I'm concerned.....

Everything that I was actually interested in has been pulled from the description :(


I'm really hoping that the Whispering Way is included in here :D


Tirisfal wrote:
I'm really hoping that the Whispering Way is included in here :D

And the Night Heralds....

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

I would not worry. An update to the product description doesn't usually signify a change of content, it's an opportunity to reveal new things that'll be inside the product.


nighttree wrote:
And the Night Heralds....

I wouldn't worry just yet. Only two of the eight organizations in the book have been mentioned by name in this final product blurb. :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The contents of the book haven't changed. I suspect what happened was we just synced up the actual for-real back cover text with the blurb above... and that back cover text is less specific by design than the blurb above, because it has to appeal to a wider audience than folks like all of us who know the difference between a Night Herald and a Veiled Master.


Wheew....I was getting a bit worried there.
I'm REALLY looking foreword to this one, based on the original description...so hopefully not to much got cut ;)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

All shall be revealed.

I must have this!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Pain Taster? Yeesh, I never thought I'd see that PrC updated. Hopefully it gets 10 levels this time. Kind of surprised about the occult oracle mystery, considering it just came out like 6-8 months ago. Pretty fast turn-around.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am especially interested about the gnome's exodus from the first world.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There is something about Aroden in here.......Anyone have a Scepter of Time I can borrow?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
I am especially interested about the gnome's exodus from the first world.

Maybe it has something to do with why some fey also speak Aklo? Another mystery of the PF setting...

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Ah, gnomes. The wretched refuse and huddled masses of Golarion, unceremoniously kicked out of the First World, and washed up on the shores of our dimension.

If they wanted to be taken seriously, they need to step up and assimilate. Dye that outrageous hair a more appropriate color! Drop that accent and learn to speak proper Taldan!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Please god let us get a new Cavalier Order (aka the Order of the Green Feather) and a Monk of the White Feather archetype! Also wouldn't mind any possible additional info on the Angel Empyreal Lord Tolc! ^_^


Or the Peacock Spirit!
Or Count Ranalc!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Geez guys, do you want all of Golarion's mysteries to be revealed in this one book?

...

Yeah, me too.


Generic Villain wrote:

Geez guys, do you want all of Golarion's mysteries to be revealed in this one book?

...

Yeah, me too.

I've been waiting for what seems like an eternity for more information on the Ulfen children that where sent to Frosts End as part of their bargain with the First World.....betting I'll be waiting longer :(

Editor-in-Chief

Jadeite wrote:
Will this book reprint the Occult Mystery from Reign of Winter 5?

Take a look at the freshly updated product description above.


I can't wait for this book.

Dark Archive

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Jadeite wrote:
Will this book reprint the Occult Mystery from Reign of Winter 5?
Take a look at the freshly updated product description above.

Is this the same mystery or a new version like the juju mystery from Faiths and Philosophies?


Generic Villain wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Speaking of cults, the Night Heralds, and the Dominion of the Black- I wonder if Occult Mysteries will give any more tantalizing hints (or outright info) about the strange recurring theme of Black Goo in Golarion's universe (underneath Golarion's surface, as well as that of Aucturn)?
** spoiler omitted **

That would probably be Ubbo-Sathla.

I always thought the Black Blood of Orv was some kind of Black Blood of the Earth (ala Big Trouble in Little China) with a heavy mix of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thoroughly intrigued by the Knights of the Ioun Star, mostly because I love Ioun Stones. Have they been mentioned anywhere before and I just missed them?

Paizo Employee Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Robert Jordan wrote:
Thoroughly intrigued by the Knights of the Ioun Star, mostly because I love Ioun Stones. Have they been mentioned anywhere before and I just missed them?

They've been mentioned in Erik's Kings of Absalom campaign and appear in another upcoming book that I don't want to spoil.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Ok good to know I wasn't crazy thinking I had missed something.


Robert Jordan wrote:
Thoroughly intrigued by the Knights of the Ioun Star, mostly because I love Ioun Stones. Have they been mentioned anywhere before and I just missed them?

Knights of the Ioun Star. Hmm- what else do we know that is star-shaped and uses Ioun stones?

(Looks at his Shattered Star AP suspiciously.) (˚ㄥ_˚) ???


Knights of the Ioun Star, how did I miss that one when I read the description last.


Do the Eagle Knights of Andoran have a mention?

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