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A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG) $4.99
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A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
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A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2013 08:52:28

Do you want to have something really weird going on in your campaign world?

If so, you might just find the resources, the tools to arrange for some serious oddness here, especially if you like Lovecraftian-style weirdness. Apart from a few references to the world of Abbadon, on which it is assumed this infestation of alien beings has landed, it is not tied to a specific location so it could come to a campaign world near you.

The resources provided are rich and varied. The core aliens, the H'laqu, that are bringing about the weirdness are gone in to in quite a lot of detail. There are new feats, traits and spells galore; even a new cult based around misperception of their almost god-like abilities deluding people into thinking they deserve or even want to be worshipped. A real gem is the array of 'new monsters' each of which has not only the usual bits and bobs you expect with a monster listing, each one also has its own selection of plot seeds to help you incorporate them into your game.

There's also an illness that can be contracted, and the way - through 'breaching points' - that the aliens arrive on your campaign world in the first place. These too come with masses of ideas on how to weave them into your plots or create whole adventures around them as the characters - and no doubt just about everyone else - battle to save their world from the infestation.

There's a lot of magnificent stuff here... but it lacks any overall coherence (hence 4 rather than 5 stars... it's so almost a 5* product!), rather its a toolbox that you'll need to sift through and work with to attain your desired outcome.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by William W. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/12/2012 11:09:10

This is an excellent supplement for any GM looking to add some otherworldly horror to a Pathfinder campaign. The H'Laqu are horrors from another dimension that are detailed here with ritual feats, spells, and lore, plus a list of adventure seeds for each of their different incarnations.

The production values are top-notch - the layout and art are beautiful, and the writing is clear, well written, and well organized. NOTE: The PDF appears to be bookmarked, but the bookmarks did not work on my copy. This is an issue that may have been updated.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2011 09:17:54

This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 30 pages of content.

It should be noted, that although extensively bookmarked, the bookmarks don't work in my copy of the file.

The full-color book kicks off with 3 pages of artwork/introductory quote, adhering to the OT-layout. After a bit more than 1 page of introduction to the H'laqu, featuring exciting and cool prose, we already dive into the creeping corruption of the H'laqu in the form of new Taint and Ritual feats. (~4 pages) The feats are: -A Stitch in Time (Ritual): Close an extradimensional rift. Damn cool feat, but I would have loved to see DCs for concentration checks to maintain the ritual while under attack, as this is exactly what I'd do with it: Make PCs defend the ritualist.

-Bait: With a Bluff check vs. Will save, you can anger enemies and provoke them into attacking you. Nice feat.

-Black Blood (Taint): Makes you immune to poisons and diseases, but the DM may choose a drawback. This would be totally OP, but due to the drawback as well as the fact that in OT, poison and disease are ever-present, this feat works.

-Black Whip: Use whip-like rifts in reality as weapons. Stats for the weapon are provided and the point is: Black Whips ignore armor and only the +X bonus of magic armor provides any benefits against them. While not entirely conform with PFRPG-design, this is also a nice throwback to the days of second edition and thus I can't really criticize it. If you're diehard-set on "new" rules, note this.

-Cult of Black Glass: Become a member of the cult and gain access to its resources. Standard membership feat.

-Empty of Life: You are soulless. Nice rehash of the "Hollow"-feat from RL.

-Experiment (Taint): H'laqu experimented on the character, giving him/her a monster ability, but also disfiguring him/her. This is actually a nice storytelling device as well as versatile as hell. Due to being subject to DM's approval, balance is fine, too. Great idea. -Eyes in the Darkness: Gain true seeing due to a traumatic experience, but your will save may never be higher than your level. Due to Prerequisite: WIS 18+, this feat may actually work, although true seeing is still quite powerful. -Eyes of Darkness (Ritual): Summon Corvidim to do your bidding. Nice. -Fugue: Enter a trance-like state that grants bonuses, but after completing a set task, the DM gets control of your character untill the end of the Fugue. Awesome idea, nice mechanics (although I would have prefered them to scale with levels) - nothing to complain about. -Full of Life/Unlife: Gain more HP, be repugnant to the H'laqu -Hag-ridden (Taint): The character is inhabited by a contained fragment of the H'laqu, drawing on its power. Great roleplaying potential there! Two thumbs up. -Hand from beyond (Taint): Gain an additional, incorporeal tendril-attack. -Hidden Knowledge (Taint): Tap into H'laqu knowledge for bonus in skill-checks or augury. I like it. -Hollow Man (Taint): Gain +2 AC and +5 HP, but be destroyed when you reach 0 HP due to being only the shell of what you once were. I can see this a consequence for resurrecting a PC in my homebrew campaign - Another great feat! -Horrific Countenance: Gain a Fear Rating. This feat is problematic, as its only benefits refer to a mechanic originally from "Darkness & Dread", reprinted in "Horrific Fears". If you don't own one of these books, the feat won't do anything for you, as the Fear Rating rules are not summed up in this book. Usually I wouldn't be bothered if that's a part of the setting, but the rules are not in the Campaign Setting book for OT, which somewhat limits their availability to OT players and DMs. -Mark of Darkness (Ritual): Only for H'laqu cultists, this feat lets you call the attention of the dread H'laqu. -Numb the Mind (Ritual): A ritual to steel one's mind against the darkness, this unfortunately also uses the Fear rating mechanics. -The Bitter End (Ritual): Prepare a shard of Obsidian to summon a Abyssal Arm. Nothing to complain, cool concept. -The Gap of Worlds (Ritual): Ritual that helps H'laqu create a new breach. -The Gone (Ritual): Summon a black man of the H'laqu. -Withering Stare (Taint): Stare at an enemy to give him penalties. As there is no save against this penalty and no drawback, this feat seems kinda strong to me.

After that, we get new spells: -Antilife Bolt (Wiz/Sor 3): Temporarily reduce maximum Hitpoints of enemy. Cool spell! -Antilife Ward(Clr/Pal/Wiz/Sor 4): Create a warding zone antithetical to creatures of this reality. -Become Shadow (Sor/Wiz 6): Sperate one's shadow from the body and send it towards enemies. -Beyond Alignment: Ignore alignments and its restrictions for some time - might have consequences. Unfortunately, this spell only lists as level 8, but does not say for which spell-lists it's supposed to be. -Black Meteor Shield (Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a shield that damages attackers and gives a bonus to AC. -Black Meteor Strike (Sor/Wiz 6): Damage spell that creates damaging terrain. -Black Pit (Hiding place between the Planes) (Sor/Wiz 6): A sanctuary that might be invaded. Cool spell. -Black Sand (Sor/Wiz 5): Engulf and suffocate enemies in damaging sand. Cool terrain control/battle magic. -Black Talons (Druid/Ranger/Sor/Wiz 3): Ignore the additional protection offered my magic items. This spell can, depending on the setting, be extremely powerful. In OT it works, but I'd caution anyone to use it in another setting. -Dark Eye (Sor/Wiz 5): Nice Scrying spell. -Emptiness (Brd/Clr 2, Sor/Wiz 3): Automatically fail the next will save or save against H'laqu infection. -Face of Fear (Brd/Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 4): This spell once again utilizes the Fear Rules mentioned earlier in the review. -Immaculate Dissection (Brd/Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a bonus to damage and attacks against a creature. more importantly: Be able to look up the write-up of the creature. I hate metagaming feats, spells and mechanics like looking up critters, knowing the abilities of enemies etc. and thus loathe this spell. -Insignificance (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Makes one experience the horror of one's insignificance, temporarily shaking the target and planting suicidal tendencies in them. Great concept for a spell, cool execution. -Life Sign (Clr/Pal/Sor/Wiz 4): Essentially a circle of protection against H'laqu. -Mind Trap (Brd 4, Sor/Wiz 5): Create either the illsuion of a fighting challenge in one's mind or a puzzle for the recipient to solve. Quick and dirty rules for the fight and puzzle are also given. NOW we're talking. This is what a spell should be: Iconic, cool and versatile and full of nice potential. -Planar Shears (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Shear connections of planar creatures - Great storytelling device and useful in battle, although stripping planar creatures of all supernatural abilities, albeit temporarily, might seem a bit harsh. -Shardstorm (Drd/Sor/Wiz 5): Both shield and a way to attack enemies. -Squirming Maw (Clr/Sor/Wiz 9): Combination of Swallowed by Darkness and some Abyssal Arms. I like it. -Sterilize (Clr/Drd 3, Sor/Wiz 4): Kill all germs in an area, curing diseases, but also weakening the immune-system of the recipients. -Swallowed by Darkness (Sor/Wiz): Massive Annihilation spell that DOES conform to PFRPG standards and instead of insta-killing recipients, deals massive amounts of damage. This spell rocks. -Void of Despai (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Grants penalties to enemies, does not specify which kind of penalty though. I guess that's the reason for this spell being such a high level - it's supposed to stack with other spells. -Whirling Void (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Burst Swallowed by Darkness with a sucking effect. Nice. -Whispering Madness (Brd/Sor/Wiz 6): A curse that slowly drives the target insane. Very cool. There is also another nice sidebar with aptly written prose, granting us more glimpses at the world of OT.

We also get new monsters, prefaced by the H'laqu creature type, which is surprisingly well-thought out: They are susceptible to normal weapons, but resistant to spells and magical weapons. Nice idea to make PCs drop that killer blade and take up the pitchfork. I really like that each monster comes with three quite extensive adventure seeds that are more detailed than "Kill X" - a nice innovation I hope will continue in future books of OT. Each monster comes with its own, original and simply gorgeous artwork. Even for the beautiful OT-line, these artworks rock and are on par with Paizo and WotC. -Abyssal Arm (CR 6): Thorny, dark appendages that seek to crush and draw the mortals to their doom. The seeds are very good. -Bacterial Macrobe (CR 3): Giant floating bacteria. How cool is that? Oh yeah: The adventure seeds rock, too! -Black Glass Mites (CR 2): Actually a swarm, this vermin is a nice way to slowly introduce the H'laqu at lower levels. Their adventure seeds are nice. -Black Man (CR 8): Fully infected creatures, these could work as a kind of H'laqu boogeyman. Their adventure seeds are once again, top-notch. -Corvidim (CR 2): A take on crows with a hivemind. Ok and has some nice story-telling potential. -Infected Land (CR 5): A quite versatile piece of H'laqu-tainted land, this mobile piece of corruption ranks among my favorite critters from this excellent bunch. The adventure seeds once again provide ample inspiration. -Meteor Golem (CR 15): Quite powerful and cool take on the Juggernaut-from-the-stars-trope. -Nyxsus the Surgeon (CR 30): This is it. The major player of the H'laqu. The one to stand up against Calix Sabinus and the like. Of all the high-CR-major-players of OT, this is by far my favorite. Why? Well, because his mechanics are interesting. This CR 30 guy has an AC of 10. And under 200 HP. And is still a credible and terrible threat due to the cool defensive abilities and the feeling that he is truy unique. Great job! His seeds rock, too. -Viral Macrobe (CR 4): Big, bad flying viruses that can reproduce. Fast. With your HP. Damn, I love them. Once again, the seeds are inspiring. -Void Elemental (CR 5): Free floating holes in reality that are sentient. Nice, but my least favorite of the critters. The seeds, again, are imaginative, though.

After that, we're introduced to the cult of black glass, the aforementioned H'laqu cult with information of the H'laqu as deities for clerics as well as three more adventure seeds. The H'laqu-infection their very presence may bring to mortals, is detailed in a three-stage process, resulting in verious bonuses and penalties and culminating in a kind of new racial template, the so-called "Shattered". I like how the infection is handled and how at the last stage, there is a sliver of hope to retain a piece of one's personality when becoming one of the shattered. Once again, rules for immunity as well as adventure seeds are provided. The final two pages of the book detail breaching points and their mechanics, I.e. places where the H'laqu have rent time, space and magic. Characteristics are provided and sufficiently creepy, as are the adventure hooks.

Conclusion: This book is beautiful and follows the nice Obsidian Twilight layout and the monster artwork ranks among the best I've seen in any 3pp's books and even on par with some Paizo/WotC-artwork. Editing and formatting have improved significantly in contrast to the older OT-books, I noticed no formatting errors apart from the one spell and almost no typos. More importantly, though, there is content: Expertly written fluff that gives one glimpses of the world of Abaddon and the H'laqu. Plus: This book actually IS rather horror-themed and the monsters reflect this: PCs have to fight intelligently to defeat these critters.

So let's get to the crunch: Some of the feats, especially the rituals, can be considered plot-devices and I actually like them for what they do. They would have benefited from more concrete rules to disrupt the rituals/keep them up while being attacked/shot. I would have liked to see more taint-feats in place of the ones that use the Fear Rating mechanic, which I quite frankly think, shouldn't be in this book, as it's not part of the standard OT-rules. What I was missing, were psionics as an established part of the world of Abaddon that just, at least to me, scream H'laqu. Now, with Psionics Unleashed out, it would have been awesome to see them get some Lovecraftian love. Perhaps in an additional pdf? The spells are vastly superior to those in the campaign setting: They have their unique flair, some are downright clever and I enjoyed most of them. The true stars of the book, though, are the new monsters, the new H'laqu-type, the information on the cult and especially the adventure seeds that are enough to design a whole campaign on the creatures. The biomechanics of the H'laqu are iconic, cool and use some very imaginative mechanics, especially in the case of Nyxsus. I would also have loved to see more biomechanics. The prose is great and I'm looking forward to reading more. So what's my final verdict? While I love most of the content of the book, I have to acknowledge that there are some glitches and some of the feats as well as the metagamey spell don't appeal to me. However, what really irked me, was the usage of the per se great Fear mechanics without specifically mentioning it or including it in the basic OT-rules canon. Considering these downsides, I'd settle for 3 stars, but the amount of adventure seeds, the quality of the prose and the inspiring artwork, I'll settle for a 4-star final verdict. If you're thinking about a semi-lovecraftian (in the pulpy style) invasion of strange beings into your campaign setting, give this a try. For the low price, it's worth it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2011 09:17:54

This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 30 pages of content.

It should be noted, that although extensively bookmarked, the bookmarks don't work in my copy of the file.

The full-color book kicks off with 3 pages of artwork/introductory quote, adhering to the OT-layout. After a bit more than 1 page of introduction to the H'laqu, featuring exciting and cool prose, we already dive into the creeping corruption of the H'laqu in the form of new Taint and Ritual feats. (~4 pages) The feats are: -A Stitch in Time (Ritual): Close an extradimensional rift. Damn cool feat, but I would have loved to see DCs for concentration checks to maintain the ritual while under attack, as this is exactly what I'd do with it: Make PCs defend the ritualist.

-Bait: With a Bluff check vs. Will save, you can anger enemies and provoke them into attacking you. Nice feat.

-Black Blood (Taint): Makes you immune to poisons and diseases, but the DM may choose a drawback. This would be totally OP, but due to the drawback as well as the fact that in OT, poison and disease are ever-present, this feat works.

-Black Whip: Use whip-like rifts in reality as weapons. Stats for the weapon are provided and the point is: Black Whips ignore armor and only the +X bonus of magic armor provides any benefits against them. While not entirely conform with PFRPG-design, this is also a nice throwback to the days of second edition and thus I can't really criticize it. If you're diehard-set on "new" rules, note this.

-Cult of Black Glass: Become a member of the cult and gain access to its resources. Standard membership feat.

-Empty of Life: You are soulless. Nice rehash of the "Hollow"-feat from RL.

-Experiment (Taint): H'laqu experimented on the character, giving him/her a monster ability, but also disfiguring him/her. This is actually a nice storytelling device as well as versatile as hell. Due to being subject to DM's approval, balance is fine, too. Great idea. -Eyes in the Darkness: Gain true seeing due to a traumatic experience, but your will save may never be higher than your level. Due to Prerequisite: WIS 18+, this feat may actually work, although true seeing is still quite powerful. -Eyes of Darkness (Ritual): Summon Corvidim to do your bidding. Nice. -Fugue: Enter a trance-like state that grants bonuses, but after completing a set task, the DM gets control of your character untill the end of the Fugue. Awesome idea, nice mechanics (although I would have prefered them to scale with levels) - nothing to complain about. -Full of Life/Unlife: Gain more HP, be repugnant to the H'laqu -Hag-ridden (Taint): The character is inhabited by a contained fragment of the H'laqu, drawing on its power. Great roleplaying potential there! Two thumbs up. -Hand from beyond (Taint): Gain an additional, incorporeal tendril-attack. -Hidden Knowledge (Taint): Tap into H'laqu knowledge for bonus in skill-checks or augury. I like it. -Hollow Man (Taint): Gain +2 AC and +5 HP, but be destroyed when you reach 0 HP due to being only the shell of what you once were. I can see this a consequence for resurrecting a PC in my homebrew campaign - Another great feat! -Horrific Countenance: Gain a Fear Rating. This feat is problematic, as its only benefits refer to a mechanic originally from "Darkness & Dread", reprinted in "Horrific Fears". If you don't own one of these books, the feat won't do anything for you, as the Fear Rating rules are not summed up in this book. Usually I wouldn't be bothered if that's a part of the setting, but the rules are not in the Campaign Setting book for OT, which somewhat limits their availability to OT players and DMs. -Mark of Darkness (Ritual): Only for H'laqu cultists, this feat lets you call the attention of the dread H'laqu. -Numb the Mind (Ritual): A ritual to steel one's mind against the darkness, this unfortunately also uses the Fear rating mechanics. -The Bitter End (Ritual): Prepare a shard of Obsidian to summon a Abyssal Arm. Nothing to complain, cool concept. -The Gap of Worlds (Ritual): Ritual that helps H'laqu create a new breach. -The Gone (Ritual): Summon a black man of the H'laqu. -Withering Stare (Taint): Stare at an enemy to give him penalties. As there is no save against this penalty and no drawback, this feat seems kinda strong to me.

After that, we get new spells: -Antilife Bolt (Wiz/Sor 3): Temporarily reduce maximum Hitpoints of enemy. Cool spell! -Antilife Ward(Clr/Pal/Wiz/Sor 4): Create a warding zone antithetical to creatures of this reality. -Become Shadow (Sor/Wiz 6): Sperate one's shadow from the body and send it towards enemies. -Beyond Alignment: Ignore alignments and its restrictions for some time - might have consequences. Unfortunately, this spell only lists as level 8, but does not say for which spell-lists it's supposed to be. -Black Meteor Shield (Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a shield that damages attackers and gives a bonus to AC. -Black Meteor Strike (Sor/Wiz 6): Damage spell that creates damaging terrain. -Black Pit (Hiding place between the Planes) (Sor/Wiz 6): A sanctuary that might be invaded. Cool spell. -Black Sand (Sor/Wiz 5): Engulf and suffocate enemies in damaging sand. Cool terrain control/battle magic. -Black Talons (Druid/Ranger/Sor/Wiz 3): Ignore the additional protection offered my magic items. This spell can, depending on the setting, be extremely powerful. In OT it works, but I'd caution anyone to use it in another setting. -Dark Eye (Sor/Wiz 5): Nice Scrying spell. -Emptiness (Brd/Clr 2, Sor/Wiz 3): Automatically fail the next will save or save against H'laqu infection. -Face of Fear (Brd/Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 4): This spell once again utilizes the Fear Rules mentioned earlier in the review. -Immaculate Dissection (Brd/Sor/Wiz 4): Gain a bonus to damage and attacks against a creature. more importantly: Be able to look up the write-up of the creature. I hate metagaming feats, spells and mechanics like looking up critters, knowing the abilities of enemies etc. and thus loathe this spell. -Insignificance (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Makes one experience the horror of one's insignificance, temporarily shaking the target and planting suicidal tendencies in them. Great concept for a spell, cool execution. -Life Sign (Clr/Pal/Sor/Wiz 4): Essentially a circle of protection against H'laqu. -Mind Trap (Brd 4, Sor/Wiz 5): Create either the illsuion of a fighting challenge in one's mind or a puzzle for the recipient to solve. Quick and dirty rules for the fight and puzzle are also given. NOW we're talking. This is what a spell should be: Iconic, cool and versatile and full of nice potential. -Planar Shears (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Shear connections of planar creatures - Great storytelling device and useful in battle, although stripping planar creatures of all supernatural abilities, albeit temporarily, might seem a bit harsh. -Shardstorm (Drd/Sor/Wiz 5): Both shield and a way to attack enemies. -Squirming Maw (Clr/Sor/Wiz 9): Combination of Swallowed by Darkness and some Abyssal Arms. I like it. -Sterilize (Clr/Drd 3, Sor/Wiz 4): Kill all germs in an area, curing diseases, but also weakening the immune-system of the recipients. -Swallowed by Darkness (Sor/Wiz): Massive Annihilation spell that DOES conform to PFRPG standards and instead of insta-killing recipients, deals massive amounts of damage. This spell rocks. -Void of Despai (Clr/Sor/Wiz 5): Grants penalties to enemies, does not specify which kind of penalty though. I guess that's the reason for this spell being such a high level - it's supposed to stack with other spells. -Whirling Void (Clr/Sor/Wiz 8): Burst Swallowed by Darkness with a sucking effect. Nice. -Whispering Madness (Brd/Sor/Wiz 6): A curse that slowly drives the target insane. Very cool. There is also another nice sidebar with aptly written prose, granting us more glimpses at the world of OT.

We also get new monsters, prefaced by the H'laqu creature type, which is surprisingly well-thought out: They are susceptible to normal weapons, but resistant to spells and magical weapons. Nice idea to make PCs drop that killer blade and take up the pitchfork. I really like that each monster comes with three quite extensive adventure seeds that are more detailed than "Kill X" - a nice innovation I hope will continue in future books of OT. Each monster comes with its own, original and simply gorgeous artwork. Even for the beautiful OT-line, these artworks rock and are on par with Paizo and WotC. -Abyssal Arm (CR 6): Thorny, dark appendages that seek to crush and draw the mortals to their doom. The seeds are very good. -Bacterial Macrobe (CR 3): Giant floating bacteria. How cool is that? Oh yeah: The adventure seeds rock, too! -Black Glass Mites (CR 2): Actually a swarm, this vermin is a nice way to slowly introduce the H'laqu at lower levels. Their adventure seeds are nice. -Black Man (CR 8): Fully infected creatures, these could work as a kind of H'laqu boogeyman. Their adventure seeds are once again, top-notch. -Corvidim (CR 2): A take on crows with a hivemind. Ok and has some nice story-telling potential. -Infected Land (CR 5): A quite versatile piece of H'laqu-tainted land, this mobile piece of corruption ranks among my favorite critters from this excellent bunch. The adventure seeds once again provide ample inspiration. -Meteor Golem (CR 15): Quite powerful and cool take on the Juggernaut-from-the-stars-trope. -Nyxsus the Surgeon (CR 30): This is it. The major player of the H'laqu. The one to stand up against Calix Sabinus and the like. Of all the high-CR-major-players of OT, this is by far my favorite. Why? Well, because his mechanics are interesting. This CR 30 guy has an AC of 10. And under 200 HP. And is still a credible and terrible threat due to the cool defensive abilities and the feeling that he is truy unique. Great job! His seeds rock, too. -Viral Macrobe (CR 4): Big, bad flying viruses that can reproduce. Fast. With your HP. Damn, I love them. Once again, the seeds are inspiring. -Void Elemental (CR 5): Free floating holes in reality that are sentient. Nice, but my least favorite of the critters. The seeds, again, are imaginative, though.

After that, we're introduced to the cult of black glass, the aforementioned H'laqu cult with information of the H'laqu as deities for clerics as well as three more adventure seeds. The H'laqu-infection their very presence may bring to mortals, is detailed in a three-stage process, resulting in verious bonuses and penalties and culminating in a kind of new racial template, the so-called "Shattered". I like how the infection is handled and how at the last stage, there is a sliver of hope to retain a piece of one's personality when becoming one of the shattered. Once again, rules for immunity as well as adventure seeds are provided. The final two pages of the book detail breaching points and their mechanics, I.e. places where the H'laqu have rent time, space and magic. Characteristics are provided and sufficiently creepy, as are the adventure hooks.

Conclusion: This book is beautiful and follows the nice Obsidian Twilight layout and the monster artwork ranks among the best I've seen in any 3pp's books and even on par with some Paizo/WotC-artwork. Editing and formatting have improved significantly in contrast to the older OT-books, I noticed no formatting errors apart from the one spell and almost no typos. More importantly, though, there is content: Expertly written fluff that gives one glimpses of the world of Abaddon and the H'laqu. Plus: This book actually IS rather horror-themed and the monsters reflect this: PCs have to fight intelligently to defeat these critters.

So let's get to the crunch: Some of the feats, especially the rituals, can be considered plot-devices and I actually like them for what they do. They would have benefited from more concrete rules to disrupt the rituals/keep them up while being attacked/shot. I would have liked to see more taint-feats in place of the ones that use the Fear Rating mechanic, which I quite frankly think, shouldn't be in this book, as it's not part of the standard OT-rules. What I was missing, were psionics as an established part of the world of Abaddon that just, at least to me, scream H'laqu. Now, with Psionics Unleashed out, it would have been awesome to see them get some Lovecraftian love. Perhaps in an additional pdf? The spells are vastly superior to those in the campaign setting: They have their unique flair, some are downright clever and I enjoyed most of them. The true stars of the book, though, are the new monsters, the new H'laqu-type, the information on the cult and especially the adventure seeds that are enough to design a whole campaign on the creatures. The biomechanics of the H'laqu are iconic, cool and use some very imaginative mechanics, especially in the case of Nyxsus. I would also have loved to see more biomechanics. The prose is great and I'm looking forward to reading more. So what's my final verdict? While I love most of the content of the book, I have to acknowledge that there are some glitches and some of the feats as well as the metagamey spell don't appeal to me. However, what really irked me, was the usage of the per se great Fear mechanics without specifically mentioning it or including it in the basic OT-rules canon. Considering these downsides, I'd settle for 3 stars, but the amount of adventure seeds, the quality of the prose and the inspiring artwork, I'll settle for a 4-star final verdict. If you're thinking about a semi-lovecraftian (in the pulpy style) invasion of strange beings into your campaign setting, give this a try. For the low price, it's worth it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Place Beyond Hell (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2010 10:58:03

2010 Halloween Review I am often critical that LPJ Designs takes way too long to get back to a campaign setting. As a writer, I get it. You get so many ideas sometimes you stray away from others a bit longer than you want. It is nice to know that despite the rewrite of Neoexodus and the push for the upcoming Pirates of the Bronze Sky that Obsidian Twilight is still getting some love.

A Place Beyond Hell, an adventurous expansion that, instead of expanding on the already deep mythos (it will be nice to know more about the undead kingdoms), expands it with the inclusion of the H’Laqu. The risk certainly pays off, as it adds a eerie alien element to a campaign world filled with werewolves, vampires, blobs and zombies. As usual, LPJ Designs utilizes its amazing fluff writing skills to carefully integrate the H’Laqu into the campaign world. For that matter, the writing is crisps enough where you can easily take the H’Laqu and place them in your campaign.

The entire book revolves around the H’Laqu’s involvement with the apocalypse. However, they are not evil. Instead they are a truly neutral class, whom are only interested in studying this strange dimension. Those who have been touched or manipulated by the H’Laqu are welcome to use a bounty of ritual feats (feats for those who worship the H’Laqu) and taint feats (feats for those who have been experimented on by the H’Laqu).

Other H’Laqu inspired additions like spells and creatures build on the alien’s mythos, setting a theme of emotionless madness that is their essence. At only 32-pages, you can not believe how much information you get.

The only negative is that the PDF does not touch on any of the previous material, nor try to integrate it in any way. This makes it easy to port into another setting, of course, but leaves my players wishing for more things for the characters they already have. Also, call me selfish, but I wanted more of the H’Laqu. More substantial information like habitats and world relations.

For the Player After presenting the material, one player immediately asked implemented the H’Laqu into their character background as the reasons behind his recent illness. This allowed him to build his character with the cool taint feats. Withering Stare is cool, and finally defines “stare” a little more than the normal rules do. Of course, players have the option to go full on “H’Laqu” and replace their character with the Shattered Template, which replaces their race and links them to the hive mind.

For the Dungeon Master The Bestiary shows the negative effects the H’Laqu have on the land. Each creature entry is just plane weird. I have already decided to use the Black Men as foot soldiers for one of my big bad, with their ability to step between the planes. Another creepy baddie is the Abyssal Arm, which are 30-foot long coils of abyssal negativity. LPJ knows that its strength is in writing strong prose, and each entry contains at least one strong adventure hook to use the monster.

The Iron Word A Place Beyond Hell gives readers an alien race to add to Obsidian Twilight or any campaign world. There is a great amount of effort in the writing to display how “different” the H’Laqu are and insure that their motives are truly research motivated. Though it does not do too much with previous Obsidian Twilight material, it creates a strong enough product on its own to satisfy.

Disclaimer – LPJ Designs is a sponsor of the Iron Player Tournament, of which I am the lead organizer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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