“I have often wondered if the majority of mankind ever pause to reflect upon the occasionally titanic significance of dreams, and of the obscure world to which they belong.” Beyond the Wall of Sleep, HP Lovecraft
Any book that starts with an HP Lovecraft quote is a winner in my book! It’s a tribute to the enduring influence of his work in our hobby. This is a review of the Rite Publishing’s high level sourcebook and adventure for the Pathfinder RPG, Coliseum Morpheuon. This is the result of a patronage project written for levels 16th to 20th, a 127 page full color electronic book. I received a copy for review purposes and I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of material, details and extras in the package.
It’s not easy to create challenging, engaging adventures for high level characters. The players might have grown too large in power and importance to thread the same places where they earned their power. What is a GM to do? Well Rite Publishing provides you with a wonderfully imaginative setting the Plane of Dreams, where these larger than life heroes may embark on larger than life adventures. I was intrigued by the concept and the product did not disappoint.
I love that the Plane of Dreams as a concept is kept simple and open. Enough details are provided to spark your creativity and get you going; it’s up to the GM to give the plane his or her own spin. This I think is ideal and fits my style of Game Mastering. If you like ultra detailed setting, then your mileage may vary. The accompanying series of adventures are an excellent collection set in a location on the Plane of Dreams, the coliseum in the title. What to learn more? Read on…
Chapter 1, the actual description of the Plane of Dreams takes up merely four pages, but there are plenty of ideas in there, tidbits to fire the imagination. Chapter 2, Dreamburning presents an interesting concept of dreams as power, something that makes perfect sense in this plane of existence. I like the mechanics and agree with the decision to use Traits and not Feats. The authors recognize that this adds more rules to an already intricate system at these levels, but I think they are worth it. If you are willing to play a game of high level Pathfinder, which no matter how much I like the system I admit is complex, then the added rules won’t bother you.
The discussion of monsters on chapter 3 is excellent. Some of the newer monsters are of a lower CR that I would have expected but they fit the flavor of the work thematically and mechanically. The actual setting for the adventure, and a location in this Plane of Dreams, the Island of the Coliseum Morpheuon is presented in chapter 4. The realm of the Khan of Nightmares was strange at first, the idea of gladiatorial combat is often overdone in games, and to use it as the setting for a high level game seemed an odd choice, but it works. And there is so much more, chapter five, where the personalities of the island are presented is my favorite part of the book. From the descriptions to the illustrations, I had a hundred different ideas on how to use them and I had not even gotten to the adventure. This lengthy chapter will be useful to any GM playing a high level game even if you choose not to use any of the setting.
The adventure itself, The Damnation Epoch, is presented in a modular way that gives the GM many details and ideas to adapt it to his or her group. This may not be an ideal arrangement for a beginner GM, BUT this is after all a high level adventure and it is safe to assume most GMs running this game are experienced enough to handle it. The authors give enough guidance to make this relatively painless.
I don’t want to spoil the adventure, so I won’t go into great detail. Suffice it to say that it builds of the personalities I liked so much in the earlier chapter and really caught my interest. Some conceits are difficult to pull off at higher levels but in the context of the tournament it works. Some parts may not appeal to all groups but there are enough ideas in here as to allow a GM to pick and choose what fits their game best. The handouts and maps are excellent, and I was so pleased that Rite Publishing made the most of the electronic format and included maps of the specific locations that you can print out for play.
Let me not forget the layout of the book, it is very pleasing to the eye, and the art is top notch even if some of it is reused through the book, specially the personality illustrations, but it makes sense in the context they are presented. The book also includes paper minis you can print out and these have perhaps my least favorite art in the book. They are too cartoony for my taste, but very professional and embody the characters they represent.
I was pleasantly surprised by the book, I love setting books but typically avoid adventures, and this were some truly fun and interesting adventures. Even if I don’t ever play them as presented there are so many ideas to mine in this supplement, from antagonists, to locations to rules, this is one book sure to have something for everybody. The electronic copy is available from RPGNow and is well worth the price. Go on dear reader, wander into the land of dreams, it is full of wonderful adventure!