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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Average product rating:

4.30/5 (based on 8 ratings)

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good, but perhaps not quite as advertised

3/5

This book is very good for certain things. There is a lot of interesting information in it. There are a number of new systems that I look forward to implementing in campaigns, and perhaps Society play, should any of them wind up legalized. The secret societies are fun, and it never sucks to read some more about the thought process behind a fantasy world.

However, I believe that the advertising text for this book is misleading. It says, "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." This is true, but only literally. These questions are explored. They are not answered. The answers are not even hinted at--instead, there is a bit of background, and then are suggestions of what certain people in the world might believe.

This is disappointing. I understand the value of maintaing mystery, but I would've preferred to know that I wasn't getting answers *before* I paid for the book.


Occult Mysteries - Harrowed Out Yet?

4/5

...In this case, players and GameMasteers (GM hereafter) are treated to 64 pages of content that jump off the pages and embed themselves into every campaign, mystery, or character background imaginable. In fact, I had a hard time making it through the book without my mind racing on the last topic that was covered and how I wanted to fit it into the game world...

Read the full review at: http://www.gamesontables.com/2014/05/pathfinder-occult-mysteries-review/


Weird, Wild Stuff

5/5

Every once in a while a product comes along that strikes a perfect balance between mystery and discovery. The sort of thing that hands over all sorts of enticing facts and even more enticing hints, but never goes so far as to show you the whole, naked truth. This would be one such book.

Divided into four chapters, Occult Mysteries begins by detailing six of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting's biggest enigmas. There is some rehashed info for those very familiar with the world of Golarion, but even so it's nice to have all that material collected together in one place. And while we never learn for sure why the gnomes left the First World, or how life began, each of the Big Six mysteries has its own "theories" section that offers excellent new avenues of possibility. It would be tough to read through this chapter and not walk away with a half-dozen awesome new ideas for your campaign.

I found the second chapter to be my favorite. Here we have eight secret societies, each with a two-page writeup with details on joining and operating within the cult. The mechanics are the same as those used for organizations such as thieves' guilds and mage colleges. Although most of these cults are evil - or at least freakin' creepy - there is one group where paladins would feel right at home. I was particularly delighted with Conference Z, and all its subtle and not-so-subtle nods towards that 90s phenomena, the X-Files. I'm only disappointed that the mad scientist illustrated along with this group wasn't smoking.

Chapter 3 has the most new rules and mechanics. Five esoteric traditions are presented, along with ways to incorporate them into your game. I have to say I was a little annoyed to see Harrow (Pathfinder's answer to Tarot) get yet more coverage, and would have much preferred some other weird tradition in its place, but oh well. My favorite bit of crunch was the section on self-mortification, in particular the Pain Tester prestige class. This guy/gal absolutely oozes with creativity and potential. Really disturbing, icky potential.

The final chapter was a stroke of brilliance. In the tradition of games like Call of Cthulhu, we are given details on six infamous and forbidden tomes. If you aren't a Lovecraft fan, don't worry - only one book is Mythos related. Others deal with subjects such as diabolism, prophecy, and the mysteries of the human body. There's even an Osirion Book of the Dead! All in all, a very neat chapter.

A book like this can only succeed if its source material is sufficiently appealing. It is very much "meta," working because Golarion's creators have carefully developed all sorts of mysteries in their fictional world over the course of years. The fact that something like the Aucturn Enigma, first mentioned six years ago in the Entombed with the Pharaohs module, has drawn enough attention from fans to warrant its very own product, just goes to show you how successful they have been.

In closing, this is not a book of solving mysteries. It is a book that delights in the power of the unknown.


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Duncan7291 wrote:
2.5 weeks since last post. Still looking to see if any of the material will be allowed in PFS.

The PFS staff are shoulder-deep in GenCon prep—I would not expect anything until after that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Does the same apply for clarification of the new Pain Taster prestige class' abilities?


So they expanded Pain Taster to a 10-level PRC, but they nerfed Cruelty in the process. In the earlier version you got Cruelty damage on sneak attacks with slashing weapons or on every attack with a whip, but now it looks like Cruelty damage is only applied on sneak attacks with a whip.

Kinda makes the skill a lot less appealling.

Pain Taster in Second Darkness wrote:

At 2nd level, a pain taster gains the sneak attack ability, but only when using slashing weapons. This additional damage stacks with any sneak attack damage he may possess from other classes.

A pain taster is particularly adept at delivering cruelty damage with a whip. As long as he chooses to inflict lethal damage with his whip, he inflicts cruelty damage on every strike. If he has sneak attack as well, the additional sneak attack damage only applies if the conditions for a successful sneak attack are met as well. When attacking with a whip using cruelty, the pain taster ignores the restriction on damaging creatures with high armor or natural armor bonuses.

At 4th level, the pain taster inflicts +2d6 points of damage whenever he strikes with cruelty.

Pain Taster in Occult Mysteries wrote:
At 2nd level, a pain taster gains the sneak attack ability, but only when using a whip. This additional damage stacks with any sneak attack damage she possesses from other classes. The amount of damage dealt by cruelty increases by 1d6 every 2 pain taster levels thereafter.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Does anyone know who was responsible for the Pain Taster prestige class' revised write-up in Occult Mysteries? I would really like to get some answers to the questions above ...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bellona wrote:
Does anyone know who was responsible for the Pain Taster prestige class' revised write-up in Occult Mysteries? I would really like to get some answers to the questions above ...

Since the Pain Taster is found in the Mortification article, it seems likely that it was written by Jerome Virnich. At least he is credited with writing the Mortification article, among others.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the info! Although it appears that Jerome Virnich is not reachable as a "user" here on paizo.com.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Bellona wrote:
Does anyone know who was responsible for the Pain Taster prestige class' revised write-up in Occult Mysteries? I would really like to get some answers to the questions above ...

As the lead developer on the project, I'm the one ultimately responsible, and those questions should come to me. Since I'm here, I can answer them! (Note that I already wrote a really long post doing just that, but RPG Superstar voting knocked the site out just prior to my finishing the post. I hope my repeated effort is not wasted.)

”Bellona” wrote:

The Disciple of Pain class ability refers to daily hour-long self-torture routines, both the more intentse "starter" versions and the less intense "follow-up" versions. But nowhere do I see the hit point damage and other damage caused by these routines. And there must be some, considering both the descriptions and the reference under the Pain Mastery class ability.

Did something get left out, or am I suffering from selective blindness?

The ritual involved in the disciple of pain class ability does not deal hit point damage. To do so would make it one of the few class abilities that came with a built-in burden to characters who take levels in the class. The rituals are meant to be primarily flavorful means by which a character gains the benefit, similar to deific obediences from Inner Sea Gods or to a wizard preparing spells for the day. If a GM wishes to play out this hour-long ritual, she is welcome to do so, but we didn’t want to hard-code a penalty or hit point tax into the rules for all players. The reference to hit point damage in the pain mastery description is a legacy from changes made to the class last-minute that slipped through the cracks (see below).

“Bellona” wrote:


And why did the authordeveloper (fixed that for you) remove the reference to the Fortitude DC 15 (or Will DC 20) saving throw needed to survive the initiation rite into the prestige class?

Because a character shouldn’t risk death when attempting to level up. As with many special requirements for entry into a prestige class (such as a Hellknight killing a devil or a Pathfinder Chronicler selling a written work for a certain amount of money), they are primarily flavorful elements to further cement the character into the theme of the prestige class in question. Individual GMs may choose to make this ritual into a much larger part of the campaign, and by not hard-coding how it works into the class, it gives GMs the freedom to push the boundaries of what her players are comfortable with as she sees fit. As written, the ritual may be attempted many times in the lead-up to a character’s entry into the prestige class, and a failure should be an opportunity for a more intricate story rather than an opportunity to make a new character.

”Set” wrote:

In addition to that, I observed earlier that the 5th level Pain Mastery ability appears to be designed around the Disciple of Pain class ability, but instead refers to the Masochism ability (both in name and mechanics, sacrificing hit points for a bonus).

I imagine that, during conversion / updating, something got changed in mid-design, and not all changes were propogated successfully.

Your assessment is correct (see above). In order to fit the class on a single spread, we had to make some adjustments to its text in the late stages of editing and development, and this ability in particular changed pretty significantly. Pain mastery should work in conjunction with disciple of pain rather than masochism, as a result. If we ever pick the prestige class up elsewhere, we’ll aim to make the necessary adjustments to the language to clarify this.

I think that’s all the actual questions that remained unanswered. Sorry for the long delay!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thank you for the answers! :) (I only just found out that there had been answers, hence the delay in my own reaction.)

The Pain Mastery clarification is indeed helpful, and I hope that Set sees it. The rest of your answers also make sense from a meta-game perspective.

However, I still do find a dissonance between the graphic descriptions under the newer Disciple of Pain class feature and the actual consequences of those rituals. Personally, I'd be inclined to go back to the original Disciple of Pain description in SD 3, but as the wise say: YMMV. The same goes for whether or not death should be a risk when qualifying for this prestige class.

As a whole, the prestige class seems to have moved away from its original "target audience" (Barbarians and Fighters) and towards any class that feels comfortable trying to sneak attack a foe with a whip.

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