By Thilo Graf
This web-enhancement to “Dark Roads and Golden hells” from Open Design is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This pdf kicks off with a controversial domain – Mora, The Children’s Table has, according to the introduction, actually made a patron quit his patronage of the project. Born from the remains of a celestial mother figure that devoured instead of nurture. Thus, today the island is haunted by memoriasma, a deadly mist that might catch you in a perpetual nightmare and the inhabitants are not better – parasitic vampyric dryads, boogeyman and all things abominable that may haunt childhoods and be considered darkest possible representations of the worst fears. Mora is a dark and twisted place, somewhere between fairy tale and hell, twisted and tainted, vile even, but is it tasteless or particularly explicit? Not in my opinion. Personally I loved this twisted realm and don’t get what’s particularly offending about it, but I guess for some people, the theme of the realm might hit a bit close to home. Mora is definitely not a place that should be introduced into a campaign featuring kids, but for mature or adolescent players and GMs, a vast wealth of twisted imagery can be found here.
After that, we are get the fluffy story to supplement Rusty Gears, the tale of Arachne and Charun and after that we get a selection of planar hazards, traps and afflictions: From Alephs, chaotic motes of planar conjunctions to non-Euclidian angles to flowers that can hasten you, but age you and may enable you to relive memories, we are in for quite some awesome hazards. Better yet, the Ever River also gets its hazards, from Phlegethon to Styx and Lethe, Gjoll and Acheron, the write-ups rock.
6 new planar diseases and 7 planar drugs and poisons (including Angel’s Tears and Lethean Ale) are also part of the deal, as is something utterly awesome: 7 different kinds of planar effects – from xaosiana, an insanity inflicted by prolonged contact with chaotic planes to temporal distortions between planes – stellar!
We also get an infinite pit trap, stats for the food of the dead, the fractal shield ability and the impossible weapon quality to 12 new excellent magic items, this section of the pdf once again can adhere to the highest standards – from the egg of the world to faerie food, the items are not only cool, they evoke a sense of wonder.
The pdf also provides a bestiary that kicks off with two different templates: The imaginary friends (CR +2)of those damned on Mora and the She-template for the dark female masters of the land (CR +2) are included and then there are new monsters: The CR 12 legendary Arachne, who is on a never-ending quest to replace Ariadne as the weaver of fate gets her stats, as does the narrator of the books, Cicerone the Upfallen, a fallen deva bard (CR 19) as well as the beautiful, deadly angel of revenge, Lady Liliam the Black Avenger (CR 14) complete the additional information contained herein for the stellar “Dark Roads and Golden Hells”.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the same beautiful 2-column standard of “Dark Roads & Golden Hells”. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity, but comes with quite an impressive array of beautiful original b/w-artworks I didn’t expect to find here – Kudos!
Let me come right out and say it: If you only slightly enjoyed “Dark Roads and Golden Hells”, you definitely need this. If you’re looking for a smörgåsbord of planar options to add to your campaign and don’t plan to use DR&GH, you may still want to check this out. Why? Because it’s probably the highest quality content you’ll find for such a low price. This pdf is a stellar example of writing, of crunch-design and fluff-writing and is completely on par with the main book, which ranks imho among the best planar sourcebooks ever penned. My final verdict will thus, of course, be a full 5 stars + Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
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