For those of you who haven’t being paying attention to the fantasy table top roleplaying game scene (like all the cool kids do), then you may not know about Pathfinder. In short, Pathfinder is the game that challenged (and won) Dungeons & Dragons for top slot as most played fantasy RPG. This pretender to the throne won the crown by simply being comprehensive and widespread. It took the things that people loved about D&D and simply did them better.
These days, of course, D&D is making a plucky comeback with its latest edition, but that’s another story. Paizo, the people behind Pathfinder, excel at the thing makes tabletop gaming works: adventure! For a good game to work, the story ideas behind it need to be strong and engaging. The idea is to throw as many good ideas at the Dungeon Master in the hope that they can come up with something to entertain the players. Pathfinder’s latest entry, Horror Adventures, tackles one of the hardest things to do on the gaming table: scary stories.
Horror Adventures is a 254-page toolkit detailing rules, ideas and horrible things to creep out your players. From the get-go, it reminds the reader that Pathfinder isn’t designed as a horror game. The core goals still involve beating up monsters and looting them. Instead, what it does is provide lots of resources that will allow a Dungeon Master to give his players a little thrill of terror.
Much of rules are what you expect. The fear and sanity rules are pretty much the sort of thing you will have seen before in mainstream horror games. Where it excels is everything else; we have guidance on corruption, madness, lycanthropy, possession, and so on. Want your characters to slowly be tempted by demonic forces or alien hive minds? This has rules and guidance on how to play that sort of plot, with entertaining bonuses and penalties to bolt on to the character.
Horrorific diseases, cursed items and twisted magic are also detailed here. It’s set up in a pretty flexible way as well; if you want your game to go into a more Hammer Horror direction, then there’s plenty of magic and monsters to assist you. If you are more into slow and creepy drama, there are rules for that as well. The rules really excel when it comes to buckets of blood and gore, however.
This is very much a book for games masters; players looking for the next cool ability or ruling to make their hero extra interesting are looking in the wrong place - horror doesn’t lend itself to world-beating heroes, after all. If you’re a Pathfinder Dungeon Master looking for a tightly written, beautifully illustrated collection of ideas, however, this is pretty much perfect.
PATHFINDER ROLEPLAYING GAME: HORROR ADVENTURES / AUTHOR: JASON BULMAHN / PUBLISHER: PAIZO PUBLISHING INC. / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW