Today we head into the chapter of equipment, and with any luck the bestiary. So far the book has been fantastically to my tastes, handled well for the most part, and makes a good addition to my RPG collection.
We start the equipment chapter off on a selection of torture implements. Be forewarned if you’re at all squeamish. Some of these are historically accurate; some are from the misunderstanding of history that permeates popular horror. None of them are something you want in your vicinity if you’re anything other than a sadistic murderer.
Alchemical items follow this up; we get two in this book, in the form of plague powder (just as horrible as it sounds) and reanimating fluid. The latter is excellent if you need a distraction, as it essentially makes a corpse get up and shamble around for a minute or so without being any danger otherwise. If you don’t mind essentially desecrating the dead and you have a carcass handy, it might be for you.
Magic items are next, broken up into categories familiar from the core rulebook. Magic armor comes first, with a couple that let barbarians become temporary shapeshifters; magic weapons give us weapons with the vampiric property. We also get a few specific weapons, like the hangman’s noose and the screaming blade.
Rings include the heavenly aegis ring, which offers a nice mix of protection and GET OFF ME smite for those willing to stand up against the forces of corruption, and the rings of alien geometries, which are there for anyone who wants a ring that does a creepy dimension door effect. Staves are on display, too, with fantastic names like the cephalopod staff, the hungering staff, and the many-eyed staff.
Wondrous items have quite a few new entries; the black heart has a nice touch to it, being able to detect good creatures and deal damage to non-evil ones, while the mantle of life makes anyone wearing it immune to energy drain effects from the undead and prevents corpses from being raised as undead. If you’ve got a zombie horde around, you want a necromancer’s beacon, which forces mindless undead to approach (and intelligent ones which fail a save), dealing positive energy damage to any of them it shines on. We also get a pair of delightful cursed items – a book of perilous journeys and a needful doll. Both have nasty effects without being too disruptive at the table.
We also get a few artifacts; the cup of forbidden knowledge saps Wisdom (or sanity) in exchange for a permanent insight bonus on Knowledge checks, while the dark grimoire allows anyone to cast a spell if they’re willing to commit the kind of nightmare acts that Mythos lore requires. And, of course, there’s the Elder Sign, an excellent tool for dealing with eldritch horrors and blasphemous entities.
There’s a section on possessed items, which amount to self-animating intelligent items that have their own motives and may well go out of their way to torment the players if they tick the possessing entity off.
Bestiary-wise, we get a small assortment of new creatures; the dread lord template starts us off for those looking to make such creatures to deposit in domains of evil, Ravenloft style. For those looking for alien horror of the starry void, there’s the Hive – which comes with larva swarms, hive queens, and hive warriors that are pretty much “So you want to do Aliens in Pathfinder, right?”
Implacable Stalker is another template, and if you’re intending to do slasher horror where the PCs have an unstoppable foe coming after them it’s exactly what you want. We also get a new kyton, a murderous construct painting, and a creepy faceless mind-eater. Topping it off, we have waxwork creatures – so you, too, can send a horde of waxy lookalikes of the loved ones of your PCs after them, only to have them horrifically melt from any sources of fire and become nightmare grotesques!
Lastly, we get a selection of simple templates, covering most of the things from earlier in the book; this includes a familial lich, which uses its own living relatives as its phylactery. This makes an excellent foe for the family-hunting archetype of the slayer, since killing it more or less requires murdering the lich’s entire family tree. Terrible shame that there’s that sweet, innocent one that’s quite taken with the slayer, right?
That wraps up the book! I give it 7.5 tentacles out of 8; the only problem I have is that a couple segments deal a little too lightly with serious mental abuse and mental health issues. Outside of that, though, I recommend this to anyone looking to run a horror game – the non-system-specific material is a gold mine.