An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of the Legendary Worlds-series, which highlights unique worlds found in the setting of the Legendary Planet AP, usable as complements or as a stand-alone supplement, clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, which are, as always, chock-full with content.
I was a backer of the Legendary Planet AP, but I have not been involved in the creation of this supplement. My review is based on the Pathfinder-version of the supplement, since that was the original system for which the Legendary Planet AP was designed. Aethera or similar settings are also natural fits for this supplement.
All right, so, we begin with a well-written account of the final recording of Ouven the Mad Grinner, as he came upon Calcarata, the World That Dreams….and at first, one would not expect Calcarata to be a place anyone would want to visit: The surface of this planet is characterized best as a blighted wasteland, with an atmosphere that, while, breathable, is full of…things you don’t want to breathe. And yet, Calcarata is the home of a thriving and lush ecosystem – it’s just not in the material plane, for Calcarata’s nigh-human inhabitants, the Penthe (nice nomenclature there!) have a civilization focused in the plane of dreams!
That right there is a unique twist on the old Lotus-eater trope – Calcarata is a vibrant, shared, massive dreamscape, with the Penthe there characterized by an impressive vibrancy of their tones; in the dreamscape, the collective is surrounded by personal dreamspaces (frays, rules included), and then, the sheer raw untapped potential of possibility – unique in many ways: The massive wonder available, must, by necessity of collective civilization, be subject to some rules one usually does not have to conform to. Exploring this unique perspective most assuredly is a worthwhile and utterly amazing roleplaying angle!
Even before the horn-like progenitor-technology, before the dream-fauna, and the Penthe themselves, who can btw. exchange the skilled racial trait in favor of a +4 racial bonus to CL-checks to prevent magic and SPs from going haywire due to wild magic. Alternatively, they can opt for +1 to the DC of divinations and sleep effects, with sorcerers with sufficient Charisma gaining dream (not italicized properly) 1/day as a SP. Alternatively, they could also choose a +2 racial bonus to saving throws versus mind-affecting effects, or the ability to manifest dream-crafted weaponry ex nihilo…including weapons “conjured by impossible” – this is correct rules-verbiage, even though it might not look like it; it refers to the morphic plane characteristic, and not a feat. Figured I’d mention that and spare some less experienced people a bit of confusion. (And yes, the penthe get a bonus to atk here, and the weapons become magic at higher levels.)
4 feats are provided: Lucid Crafter lets you craft things in dream and take it to the material plane; Endless Arsenal adds to the weapons you can conjure ex nihilo per day; Fantastic Bullet lets you conjure ranged weapons, including ammunition, and Penthe Thoughtwalker nets you dream travel 1/day as a SP, with a personal range. In aforementioned frays, crystallized potential may be mined and refined into a drug called pink bliss, which allows you to perceive creatures both ethereal and in adjacent dreamspaces, which can be a super-interesting angle and validate the need to risk the threat of addiction – particularly in bleak Calcarata’s landscape. And yes, this obviously is nigh perfect for Dune-style plots revolving around spice…
Speaking of which: The supplement comes with not only a couple of exiting points of interest, but also a fully-depicted adventure location, one of the Wakepoint Stations – the primary (and very small) landing site. The map provided is full-color, really nice…but no player-friendly version is provided. Boo. On the plus-side, we do get adventure hooks, suggested encounters – and a new creature.
That massive beast on the cover? That’s a Havriveen – a draconic CR 12 apex predator that not only effortlessly manipulates dreamscapes, its plasma breath dissolves dream-equipment, it can tranverse dream and reality, and being killed by it in dream? Rather strenuous… Did I mention the aura that hampers your abilities in dreamscapes? NICE! And the nature of dreamscapes, their emphasis on creativity, the potentially thus decreased lethality of encounters with this CR 12 beast and the like – perfect reason to use it versus, say, level 3 characters and see how they can handle these beasts as looming threats.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, with only a very minor cosmetic glitch. Layout adheres to the series’ nice two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is great. The map is similarly awesome, I just wished a full-color version had been provided. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, but doesn’t need more at this length.
Wren Roy delivers a cool twist on the Dune-style planet, save that she goes one step further, adding genuinely thought-provoking angles regarding the nature of dream and reality to the game. You don’t have to explore these, mind you, but the very set-up of Calcarata inspired me big time to contemplate how e.g. people forced to dream in unison with a shared reality will behave…and what they might do if they wake up. Sounds like a great villain-angle…or culture-clash to me! In short: This humble supplement delivers some genuinely inspiring angles, which is why my final verdict will be 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only because I’d have loved to see more on the interaction of dream, culture and reality, and due to the lack of a player-friendly map. Still, highly recommended!