Legendary Planet: To Worlds Unknown (PFRPG)

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A New Universe of Adventure Awaits

"To Worlds Unknown" is an adventure for 2nd to 5th-level characters which can be played as a standalone adventure or as the first main chapter in the Legendary Planet Adventure Path, bringing your heroes into the midst of a battle beyond the stars for supremacy over myriad alien worlds and alien cultures. Against the backdrop of great powers both ancient and new, small-time power players and petty criminals vie in the grungy back alleys of a crossroads world, and the heroes must discover who can help them find their way to safety through an impossible network of planetary portals before their erstwhile allies betray them to those whose secret schemes are far more sinister.

If played with the prelude adventure, "The Assimilation Strain", the heroes may hail from a typical fantasy world, dropping them like fish out of water into an amazing and exotic world beyond anything they ever knew existed, but it can be played just as easily with To Worlds Unknown as the starting point for adventurers who have long lived among the far-flung worlds of this interplanetary society. Either way, your heroes will be propelled into a fantastic universe of exotic pulp adventure as the sword and planet genre comes to life on Legendary Planet!

This 98-page PDF contains the following:

  • "To Worlds Unknown," a Pathfinder adventure for 2nd to 5th-level characters by Jim Groves
  • A "Planetary Bestiary" by Jim Groves and Thurston Hillman, featuring the ferocious bahgra, the mysterious elali, the cruel jagladine, the savage klaven slave-soldiers and klaven warbeasts, and the terrifying tauslek and tauslek matriarch.
  • A collection of "Alien Treasures" by Jim Groves and Jeff Lee, including mundane and magical items from deathbloom nectar to the rejuvenation vine and skystrider harness.
  • A gazetteer of the planet Argosa, "World at the Crossroads," by Jim Groves, Jonathan H. Keith, and Andrew Christian.
  • A detailed examine of the 20 deities of the "Planetary Pantheons" by Sean K. Reynolds
  • A downloadable PDF art and map folio, featuring unkeyed player-friendly maps and more.
  • And last but not least, "The Treasure Within," the first chapter in a 7-part short story by award-winning author Chris A. Jackson

The Legendary Planet Adventure Path includes the 1st-level prequel adventure The Assimilation Strain and the following adventures:

#1: To Worlds Unknown (2nd to 5th level)
#2: The Scavenged Codex (5th to 7th level)
#3: Dead Vault Descent (8th to 10th level)
#4: Confederates of the Shattered Zone (11th to 14th level)
#5: The Depths of Desperation (15th to 16th level)
#6: Mind Tyrants of the Merciless Moons (17th to 18th level)
#7: To Kill a Star (19th to 20th level)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The first „proper“ installment (if you do not count the optional introduction adventure „The Assimilation Strain“ clocks in at 98 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC,2 pages of introduction, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content. HOWEVER, this is not all – the module also comes with a pretty darn massive art and map booklet that offers 27 (!!) pages of handout-ready artworks AND full-color maps. Oh, and suffice to say, the full-color maps *do* come with player-friendly, keyless iterations – kudos!

This adventure is intended for 2nd level characters, Medium advancement track, and they’ll be 5th level by the end of the adventure – if they haven’t been squashed, that is. Legendary Planet is a sword and planet AP intended for the discerning PFRPG-connoisseur, and as such, the difficulty is nothing to sneeze at. The module is not unfair, mind you, but it *is* an adventure that the PCs will not cakewalk through.

I actually was a backer of this massive AP back in the day, and while since then, SFRPG and 5e conversions have been made available, my reviews of the AP will be based on the PFRPG-iteration, since that was the original system this was intended for. Structurally, this will be very familiar to anyone who has ever seen an AP: The module takes up the main meat of the pdf, and after that, we have supplemental material, save that there is more. Yep, much like the amazing art & map folio (which should be industry standard), we get quite a bit more – Sean K. Reynolds, for example, has penned a whole planar pantheon write-up (with each deity getting their own symbol), Chris A. Jackson providing a bit of prose, and a pretty massive gazetteer that deals with Argosa, a hub-world of sorts, including Zel-Argose the gateway city. The module also includes 5 new exotic weapons and 5 magic items – 3 of which do get their own full-color artwork. These include projection periapts, essentially two-way mago-holographic communicators, a harness that reduces gravity for the wearer and a vine that enhances natural healing. Sword and planet vibes are hard to nail down, but this delivers.

Okay, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.


..
.

The bestiary section includes the playable bhagra dogfolk, who receive +2 Charisma and Strength, are Medium, get a 1d6 primary natural weapon bite, low-light vision, and a bonus teamwork feat. Beyond these, we have the peaceful CR 4 Elali, psychic shepherds of the Accord, and the jagladine – which are a serious threat. Think of these fellows as particularly nasty, smarter thri-kreen that can absorb diseases and poisons and excrete a liquefied version of the poison or disease. They also have created the Klaven-species, deadly shocktroops with an inherent, nanite-based status. They are essentially a conversion tool that bestows powers, but also quasi-undead characteristics on the target, and as such are represented by 2 statblocks (one for a foot-soldier, and one for a wolf-based war-beast) and a template.

Okay, so far so good, so what about the adventure? Well, we start off in medias res (as a linguistic aside – English “in the middle of things”, commonly expressed by “in media(s) res” as an idiom, unless my Latin deserts me, would actually be closer to “in medium rerum”), with the PCa awakening from a fugue state as abductees housed in an alien prison on the planet of Garsilt – not that they’d know that now. The vicious Jagladine have abducted the PCs to extracting special information encoded in the PCs’ genes. Good news here –a rogue meteorite contaminated with akata has smashed into the facility. The PCs thus awaken into chaos, as the prison riot-like release of them and others throw them right into an ongoing fray – the PCs will have to contend with the dog-like bhagra before recovering their gear. Of course, there will be an issue regarding communication – but this is circumvented in a smart manner without handwaving, with a friendly aasimar called Andretta offering her translation services.

Speaking of trouble-shooting – monster identification and means to handle it are also talked about, as the PCs try to best the deadly Klavek. The custom monsters and NPC guidelines certainly go above what we usually see in Paizo APs, with plenty of custom creatures – like a melancholic ooze swarm, mindslave mimics, and the like. The module also allows for more social problem-solving, in spite of its action focus – there is e.g. a comozant wyrd the PCs can ally with, and ultimately, the PC’s goal will become clear – reach the stargate, and escape the facility. A task that is btw. made easier if the PCs befriend the little robot BR-N3R. The whole action is intended to be pretty relentless, and the section offers several timed events – with a touch of horror, we have a tauslek matriarch as a first “boss”-like encounter; facility power will be compromised, with aforementioned wyrd as a unique ally that fills the PCs in on the chance of their imminent demise by being struck by meteorites – and in the end, the true boss? A frickin Klaven inquisitor! This boss fight is brutal at this point, and the PCs should be able to finally escape by the skin of their teeth.

The transition through the semi-malfunctioning artifact-level Stargate here will double as the justification for mythic ascension, granting the first tier – and it is assumed that the PCs gain the Morphic Nature feat that automatically adapts the players to the local environment of a planet – this does not allow them to exist in vacuum, but it gets rid of one crucial issue that the genre would otherwise face. The PCs will exit the gate in a fully-mapped lost temple, and also hear, for the first time in a while, the Common tongue. The PCs thus encounter friendly faces – individuals press-ganged into helping the Jagladine , who are seeking a way out of their deal with the Jagladine and their Klaven. The module thus changes gears from a pretty tech-themed dungeon to one that feels more relaxed, more classic fantasy – and after this one, the PCs are off to aforementioned city of Zel-Argose, faced with the vast amount of wonder the setting offers.

The city features guilds, water treatment plants, battle pits – and here, the so far linear story allows the PCs to bask in the wonder that is so central to the sword and planet genre: The PCs can fight in the arena, attempt to find the jagladine prison commander Lomrick, get involved in the city’s politics…and ultimately, Lomrick’s trail will lead them to a seedy (and dangerous) cantina…which can be rather challenging. Their target’s mansion, though, will be an even greater challenge – including a cerebric fungus sorcerer ally of their former jailer, and the means to save one of the elali Relstanna and defeat Lomrick – Relstanna also tells the PCs that Lomrick was a member of the Scions of the Celestial Helix, a sect of fanatics seeking to return an elder evil to the multiverse…it seems like the heroes have their work cut out for them!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ elegant 2-column full-color standard, with a LOT of text per page. The module is also decadent in its massive amount of original, top-notch artwork and full-color cartography. The map-support is excellent – full-blown, detailed full-color maps, with player-friendly versions included? Heck yeah! The module is fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks making navigation simple and painless. The art and map folio is superb and should be industry standard.

Jim Groves penned this adventure, with Thurston Hillman, Jeff Lee, Jonathan H. Keith and Andrew Christian, Sean K. Reynolds and Chris A. Jackson providing additional design and content – and this is genuinely one of my favorite modules from the author’s pen. Jim has managed to deliver a consistently-challenging, exciting action romp that does not let up; the first section of the module is challenging, brutal and simply amazing in how its timed encounters can help you add up the tension and maintain high pressure. After that, the change of pace to a more free-form and relaxed adventuring is very much perfect, as it allows the weirdness of the PC’s situation, the “fish out of water”-angle, to fully develop. Now, it is pretty important that the GM reads the gazetteer to make this section work, but f properly executed, it will elicit a sense of wonder reminiscent of the Outcast videogame, John Carter, etc. – in short, pitch-perfect sword and planet. Add to that the neat set-ups for the remainder of the campaign, the rather detailed notes for the NPCs, the creative builds and the well-tuned difficulty-curve, and we have a pitch-perfect starting point for the main part of the Legendary Planet AP. This is a thoroughly superb adventure, and I’m glad I waited for the AP to conclude, because I seriously would hate to wait for a continuation of this unique yarn. If you even remotely like Stargate, Flash Gordon and the good ole’ classics, check this out! 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation!

Endzeitgeist out.


A Strong Beginning to a Great Adventure Path

4/5

To Worlds Unknown is the remarkably fun first full installment in the Legendary Planet AP from Legendary Games. Written by Jim Groves and developed by Neil Spicer, both the author and developer have long experience in writing Adventure Path installments for Paizo. With To Worlds Unknown, Groves and Spicer show off what they have learned over the years writing as freelancers for Paizo. The results are surprisingly good.

To Worlds Unknown begins with a classic in media res premise of the heroes finding themselves imprisoned and they have no idea where they are or why they are there. If the GM runs the players through the prequel adventure The Assimilation Strain, the PCs will have a somewhat better idea of perhaps how they got to wherever it is that they are – but they still won’t know what the hell is going on. As it turns out, this mystery is a significant part of the first part of the AP and its works quite well.

Of interest to those who may have played the first Starfinder Adventure Path Dead Suns, the premise and some of the encounters in the first part of To Worlds Unknown tie directly in to the events which form the backstory to Incident at Absalom Station, the first Volume of the Dead Suns AP. Put simply, the Drift Rock makes another appearance in an Adventure Path, this time as the off screen explanation for what triggers the PCs to wake up and break out of their cell in To Worlds Unknown.

In terms of the magic vs tech feel of the AP’s setting, this is left deliberately fuzzy by the author and developer. It certainly feels more magic, less tech in the Pathfinder version of the product; however, the scope of interpretation of just how much tech there is in the game world is left wide open to GM interpretation. Similarly, the appearance of firearms, which are quite limited in To Worlds Unknown, is also left open to GM interpretation and implementation. In this, Legendary Games is trying to be all things to all people. It doesn’t perfectly work – but it mostly does – and whatever way you choose to flavor your game with in terms of magic and tech, you will find a canvas in the LP AP volumes that will accommodate whatever shades of tech paint you want to slap upon it.

If there is any aspect of To Worlds Unknown that I found somewhat lacking, it is in the description and explanations of Zel-Argose, the city which appears in most of this installment of the LP AP and makes regular return appearances in subsequent volumes. This is the sort of city which craves more detail, more maps, more explanations of who lives there. Don’t get me wrong, the first volume does provide a 9 page gazeteer to the city of and its environs. It’s just not enough. I want 96 pages on the city, not 9. As the publisher admits, the feel to a “Sword and Planet” campaign has the planet upon which the players find themselves in a leading role within the AP. The planet in a Sword and Planet AP has character, oddities and differences which can overshadow many other aspects of the plot or any other NPC. I agree with this view. Which is why I craved more detail on Zel-Argose in this and subsequent volumes of the AP.

In terms of adventure flow, To Worlds Unknown begins on very tightly constrained rails. The PCs are all about escape. Ultimately, there is only one way out and so the first part of the AP will play on those tightly plotted rails. However, when the PCs reach Zel-Argose and get off the wagon that brought them to this grand alien city – the feeling of “Oh crap, What do we do now?” should be palpable at the table. For those who complain about a railroaded adventure path – that moment should dispel any anxiety you may have over the “railroad” nature of To Worlds Unknown.

Of course, there is a plot and the PCs will, at some point, choose to get back on the choo-choo and head off to their final destination with Volume 1’s BBEG. Still, by that time, it seems more like a desperately sought after railroad – a plot rails where the catch is “Can the PCs even find the tracks?”

A few comments about the design choices made by Legendary Games here which are worth pointing out and highlighting.

Firstly, the pacing is mostly very good.

Secondly, the use of NPCs and stat blocks is worthy of special mention and is repeated throughout the LP AP. Legendary Games makes repeated use of stat blocks from the Gamemastery Guide, the NPC Codex and even the Monster Codex to provide both bulk and a richer detail to the game world.

This is an excellent design choice, as To Worlds Unknown and later volumes of the LP AP are bulging with meaty game and NPC descriptions and crunchy information that you simply will not find in any Paizo AP product. Of course, to get the most out of them, you will need access to those books – but Legendary Games makes it easy for thise who don't have them. The stat blocks in the PDF version are hot linked to the D20PFSRD repository for that NPC stat block. Click the link in the PDF and the stat block is instantly on your screen. I use a VTT to run my games and so instead of using the D20PFSRD entry, I just called up the stat block in Herolab and used that version of the stat block to build my encounter files and ultimately place them on my map. Very handy.

From time to time, Legendary Games will change one or two aspects to the NPC stat block and its name is always changed. This approach made the underlying NPCs and monsters far more interesting and far more detailed than in any Paizo AP, bar none. BIG THUMBS UP for this design decision from Legendary Games. I hope Greg Vaughan et al uses the same approach again in the next Legendary Games AP, too.

Of course, not every stat block is a generic drawn from another product. There are lots of new custom monsters in To Worlds Unknown as well as races and templates. Point is, those new NPCs and monsters together with the brevity – and detail – which comes from using stat blocks in other Paizo products bring a massive feeling of magnificent depth to To Worlds Unknown.

The artwork and maps are much improved over those which appear in The Assimilation Strain. The maps are now much higher resolution as well. Once again, LG supplies a separate Map and Art Folio PDF and provides two copies of the maps, one with a room key/secret door displayed, the other version of the map without this detail. Annoyingly though, LG continues to keep the compass rose and large name of the map are on the player’s version of the map, which serves only to obscure detail when the map image is used in a VTT. My guess is that the developer and publisher just don’t have much first-hand experience in playing or GMing with a VTT, and so there is no intuitive appreciation within LG on how this was a lot opportunity for them to easily do more with less. Hopefully, they will get this figured out on a go forward basis.

The bottom line is that To Worlds Unknown is a fun and great AP installment which hits most of the right notes and will entertain you and your players. While I could not recommend The Assimilation Strain without reservation, I certainly can recommend To Worlds Unknown without reservation. The good news? It just gets better as the sequel to To Worlds Unknown, the Scavenged Codex is even better and a true gem of an adventure.

- Steel_Wind


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Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endzeitgeist wrote:
@Neil: There'll be a LOT of Legendary Planet hitting sites!

::big thumbs up::

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Neil Spicer wrote:
Endzeitgeist wrote:
@Neil: There'll be a LOT of Legendary Planet hitting sites!
::big thumbs up::

Likewise delighted to hear it!

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Neil Spicer wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
Will have a pf2e version of this ready soon?
That's a question for Jason. I know we have PF1, 5e, and Starfinder versions, but I'm not sure he's gone down the PF2 route yet.

At the moment that's a definite MAYBE. :)

We'll continue to see how sales on our other PF2 products go before we dive into something as big as converting Legendary Planet. I think there's a good chance we'll make a PF2 version of The Assimilation Strain, as it certainly can stand on its own. We'll see about the rest of the series. It's *A LOT*.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2009, RPG Superstar Judgernaut

Jason Nelson wrote:
...I think there's a good chance we'll make a PF2 version of The Assimilation Strain, as it certainly can stand on its own. We'll see about the rest of the series. It's *A LOT*.

Go big or go home? ;)


Neil Spicer wrote:
deuxhero wrote:
Is there a non-divine caster source of water in part 1?
I'm not sure I quite understand the question. Are you asking if there's a mundane source of water in the jagladine prison? If so, yes. Water is a key building block of life. The Jagladine are masters of manipulating and experimenting upon various lifeforms. They deal in diseases and poisons, all of which often rely upon water as an incubator or source of dilution. So, the various storerooms...the klaven vats...and the laboratories...would all almost certainly have containers of water available. Resourceful PCs would just need to locate them if they want to make use of them.

That's indeed what I was asking since I couldn't figure out what the PCs could drink if the party didn't have someone able to cast Create Water. Thanks.

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