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.
[5 of 5 Stars!]