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An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition
The revised edition of the second campaign guide for the unique What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page Kickstarter-backer-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
All right, this campaign guide begins with a recap of the story so far, before taking a look at a central component of the AP as a whole: The mysteries at the heart of the rather intricately-constructed plot of the series. Considering how the components of the storyline do hinge on investigation and smart players piecing together the truth behind several grander mysteries, this guide presents some trouble-shooting advice, if you will. These range from pretty straight-forward visions, to e.g. research in Anduria’s vast library featuring books penned by alumni of mythos-related writing – from S. Peterson to A. Blackwood. These, in parts, do even come with their own read-aloud text, which is a nice plus. On the downside, one of the read-aloud texts to be applied in “Ignorance is Bliss” does designate something obviously only intended for the GM’s eyes as read-aloud, so you should be careful with that one.
The book also presents different notes on magical research regarding e.g. the runestone necklace, which now is properly italicized, with a bonus type also italicized – those usually aren’t printed in italics, but that’s cosmetic. The numerous references to 5e-skills instead of PFRPG-skill notations have been duly purged by the revised iteration of this campaign guide.
Various means of learning a certain NPCS runic magic may be found – and yes, there is more than one way to potentially implement this into your game., and they cite the proper item creation means.
After this section, we get several additional bits of troubleshooting regarding evolving play, a section plenty of GMs will appreciate greatly – whether it’s handling PCs rejecting becoming semi-official law enforcement or some other components of the series, we have quite a few suggestions here to keep the gameplay smooth and the story on track.
The book then proceeds to present two new sample NPCs – the first of whom, Quintus, a sorcerer-turned-lawyer, can help the PCs navigate the intricacies of Anduria’s legal system. He also despises the Seekers and has a rivalry with Damien going on, so plenty of dynamics added here. He does come with a solid statblock. The second would be airship captain Octavio Velderve. Both NPCs not only come fully statted, but also with their own, really nice full-color artworks. Good ole’ Damien gets a CR 15 iteration as well. The statblocks, as a whole, while not perfect (you can sometimes find e.g. a missing comma and the like), are more ambitious than what we usually see in heavily story-centric supplements. You should run into no significant issues using these.
The book also contains a total of 4 different sidetreks designed for characters level 6 – 8. The individual locales don’t generally sport read-aloud text, but do come with surprisingly nice full-color cartography, which brings me to a big plus of the series as a whole: We get proper, handout-style jpg-renditions of all maps featured in the sidetreks, with one being an isometric overview map of a general region; the others, which are more suitable for combat scenarios, come with grids – and the maps included in the archive are completely player-friendly, making them not only great full-color handouts, but also facilitating online play. Huge plus there!
Anyhow, this is as far as I can go without diving into serious SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only GMs around? Great!
So, the first sidetrek would be “Airship issues” can serve as an introduction to the new NPC Octavio, and centers on the attempted theft of one of the cities’ few remaining airships, the Emerald Vision. On the plus-side, we do get proper stats for the ship and airskiffs featured in this swashbuckling encounter. In the first iteration, this whole section was basically non-operational, and it is my pleasure to report that the author has gone back and revised the entire section – aside from a single Strength check-reference to jump (which should be handled by Acrobatics in PFRPG), the airships featured now provide a ton of properly codified interaction points, with windows, doors, etc. all noted regarding break DCs, HP and hardness. Huge kudos for fixing this one. The inclusion of the proper airship stats now makes this section really shine, and PFRPG lends itself very well to the dynamic action here.
Bank heist centers around an item that can serve as a means of severing Eiria from the Echo of Faith – the horn of shackle breaking, and as such, happens off screen if the GM elects not to run the scenario. The PCs are called upon to defend the vault in the noble ward against hydras, elementals and the like, reaching the scene of a massacre in progress, as hopelessly outgunned watchmen struggle against the monsters. The heist also does make the PCs witness the warping effects of a particularly nasty component of the Machine. A reference to a 5e-condition in the previous iteration has been properly replaced, adjusted to PFRPG. As a small aside – conditions are usually not italicized in PFRPG, but that’s a purely aesthetic snafu and doesn’t impede the game.
The artifact in question, the horn, now also adheres properly to PFRPG’s conventions. That being said, while not perfect, the conversion here is significantly better, though e.g. the CMD-value of the officer statblock is off by 1, but chances are you won’t necessarily encounter this as an issue.
The third side-trek, “Beneath the Waves”, focuses on PCs being hired for a kind of treasure-hunt – potential proof that legendary hero Drexel has actually existed may have surfaced, and as such, are hired to travel to the Sunrise Isles and dive below the sea. The voyage is pretty detailed, and mechanical suggestions for tasks are provided – Reefing the sails or making fast the lines are tied to Strength and Dexterity checks here, when they probably should refer to skills, but as a whole, this is now operational. Nice: The rules for diving gear have been properly adjusted to PFRPG in the revised edition, and the glaring oversight of the boss of this sidetrek, a horrid monster crab, missing from the book, has been rectified. The crab btw. does have a unique rage-aura (Will save should be capitalized) and a displacement effect, making it more than just a big crab. Kudos for fixing this sidetrek!
This final side trek, lost souls, has the PCs tasked by Silvira to enter the nine hells through the gate in Silverton to retrieve the soul of the dragon’s mate. Yep, it’s a trip to Avernus, and an interesting one, as it basically is a mini-sandbox in a distinctly-different scenery that includes rules prohibiting mortals from flight, notes on how to handle death while in hell, and the like. This trip to Hell can be deadly for PCs, but is probably highly entertaining, making copious use of the hellish bureaucracy-angle that makes the DMV look like child’s play. This sidetrek made for a surprisingly fun and light-hearted change of pace that the campaign really could use before the final arc. Nice job, also for fixing the materials
Editing and formatting of the revised edition can be considered to be good, bordering on very good, on both a formal and rules-language level. The new version of the campaign guide can be considered to be in line with the entire series in that regard. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the book features solid full-color artworks. The cartography is well-done, full-color, and plentiful – I really enjoyed that aspect of the book, particularly the inclusion of the player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Micah Watt proved beyond a shadow of a doubt a commitment to do the right thing with this revised edition. Instead of shrugging and moving on after the botched first iteration of the guide, he went back with a fine-tooth comb and proceeded to fix the guide – and that, dear readers, is something I 100% want to encourage. It is evident that he cares about his customers, about his saga, and the revised edition of the second campaign guide can now be considered to be a welcome addition to the What Lies Beyond Reason AP. Bereft of all the issues that previously plagued this guide, my verdict for the new iteration of this supplement will be 4.5 stars, rounded up. Kudos and thank you for doing the honorable thing!!