Thursday, September 27, 2012

Augury - Shadow Planes and Pocket Worlds (Pathfinder)

Shadow Planes and Pocket Worlds is a small PDF with bonus material for Dark Roads & Golden Hells. Like its title indicates, it presents planar locations and mechanics for the Gamemaster perusal.

The location described is the demiplane of Mora, the Children’s Table, a forlorn island with a surreal Brothers Grimm (nightmarish) flavor. The place is ruled by the myriad manifestations of a chthonic female entity imprisoned due to her crimes against children. Hags, bogeymen, harpies and other terrors are spread accost Mora, slaving children from other worlds. The entire demiplane can be used for an adventure or even an entire campaign, with each location providing various ideas for quests and challenges.

Overall, Mora is excellent, and almost lyrical in its descriptions of adventuring locations, like the Shadowbox and the Isle of Rood. It shows what could have happened if Planescape and Ravenloft decided to have a baby. The Children’s Table leaves you wanting more (in fact I got the feeling that the text ends quite abruptly).

The next location is actually just a 1 page game fiction. I’m not usually a fan of them and this one was no exception. The fact that the fiction also reads like the introduction to a proper description text of a Plane of Gears (that doesn’t exist in this product) doesn’t help.

The next part of the PDF presents new planar hazards, traps and afflictions. I really liked them. The authors managed to cleverly mix cool ideas/concepts with simple mechanics. Things like the alephs (or the Aleph), non-Euclidian angles or even dead stone are great add-ons to any planar (or non-planar) adventure. I also really enjoyed the various effects taken from myths (with playable mechanics), stuff that you usually don’t see in RPGs, like food from the Underworld, infinite pits, the fact that any oath “sworn by the Styx” and henceforth broken has a 50% chance of cursing the subject, or metaphysical hazards like Abstraction. These various mechanics are in fact so damn cool that they should have appeared in Dark Roads & Golden Hells.

The new magic items are top-notch in terms of flavor; my favorite is the cloak of fallen feathers (although the entire idea of the remnant pearls is also awesome).

Shadow Planes and Pocket Worlds has 2 new temples (imaginary friends and she) and 3 NPCs (Arachne, Cicerone the Upfallen and Lady Lilliam).

This PDF is worthy because of the new demiplane (Mora) and the planar hazards alone. You can see the magic items and the bestiary as small bonus. The new planar stuff can be adapted to all kind of adventures (Lovecraftian terror, Underdark, wizardly demenses and temples of gods of the dead are just a few examples) and the various otherworldly substances described make up for perfect relics and one-use artifacts (like a gallon with waters of the Lethe). And all of it for just 2.99. Perfect.