Review – Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Distant Worlds (PFRPG)
In February Paizo released a highly awaited supplement for their Pathfinder RPG, campaign setting Distant Worlds. This sourcebook deals with the solar system of Golarion from it’s sun to the farthest planets and asteroids, and their many inhabitants. Now it’s time to leave planetary boundaries !
I have to admit, that before reading this supplement I had no knowledge about the solar system around Golarion, so practically everything was new for me. Well, except where the connection to non-Pathfinder literature was obvious.
In the book the first and biggest chapter includes the description of the different celestial bodies , including it’s climate, denizens, important locations and some adventure hooks to take the players there. The next short chapter includes some rules for survival (gravity levels, travel methods, atmosphere etc), and the last chapter contains some aliens the players could meet in their journeys.
I think there is a surprisingly great quantity of inhabited places in the solar system, which includes eleven planets (including Golarion), several moons and asteroids, and even the sun itself. James L. Sutter went far to populate the world, maybe too far for my taste in some instances as practically every single corner is the home of some denizens of it’s own. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt many players feelings if the gas giants, the obliterated planets and the sun wouldn’t feature whole civilizations of their own.
But regardless, this is only a minor nitpicking, as the content of the book is excellent. Every planet from the mechanical Aballon to the gas giants and the living planet Aucturn are featured in detail, with an extensive amount of information condensed into few pages for individual entries.
It’s interesting to see, that many of the inhabited worlds possess a technology level far above Golarion, including rail lines, spaceships, mechanical augmentations and many other. Some of these technology is currently above understanding or abandoned, while other planets are constantly developing new technologies.
I think the adventure hooks provide enough ideas to run several high level campaigns among the stars, which is great. Both the challenges and the scope of these hooks are really suited for high level play. It’s entirely possible to save complete civilizations from destruction.
The second chapter of Distant Worlds is dealing with the adventuring aspects of the solar system, including travel and survival. I think while the chapter is definitely short, it includes everything we need to run an interplanetary campaign.
The last chapter show us some aliens which were mentioned in the book. It’s also feature a list of creatures from previously published materials about those things which we can find on celestial bodies other than Golarion. I think the aliens provided here are interesting and unique, but there are too few of them, compared to what is mentioned through the book.
So, what is missing ?
I think it would be great if we could see more denizens of the solar system detailed with game statistics. Also, a bigger list of items used by those intelligent creatures around would be great, especially considering the different technology levels these civilizations possess. This is even more true for weapons, as fighting with alien races is entirely possible.
I think that what we received here is an excellent supplement for Pathfinder. Distant Worlds includes an extreme amount of information on the solar system with top-notch quality. In the end, I give it 4/5 points, as while the background is nicely detailed, the Game Master often have to provide game statistics himself.
I highly recommend to Pathfinder players to take a look at this book.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros