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presented in Pathfinder RPG Occult. Adventures, and how prominently will the occult feature? How will the game world react to characters with psychic magic or . Occult Adventures is a hardcover core Pathfinder RPG sourcebook by The Occult Adventures Playtest document was released as a free PDF. The core concept that drives an occult adventure is that raw power isn't everything. .. Since death in fantasy roleplaying games is typically either the end of a.
Stakes are high in such games, and death is never the end. Rather than venturing outward to distant lands, your occult adventurers might turn their focus inward to the strange realms of thoughts, dreams, spirits, and the soul. When planning adventures along this theme, think about ways the characters can probe the realities before their eyes on a deeper level. For instance, as they investigate mysteries, you may want to occasionally provide ways for them to explore the Transitive Planes , and even the Outer Planes , to discover clues.
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A mindscape is typically a surreal puzzle environment where the characters accomplish their tasks by navigating the mindscape and deceiving or satisfying the controlling mind, overcoming its defenses, unlocking its doors, and learning the secrets buried deep within. GMs should be prepared to adjudicate scenes where the characters project themselves into nonphysical realms. Adventures along this theme might find the characters entering the twisted mindscape of an insane or possessed victim, or they might enter the mindscape of an enemy to steal hidden knowledge or implant subconscious suggestions.
Fear and Reverence of the Unknown The Mysteries within Mysteries and Unseen Realms elements emphasize the feeling of otherworldly awe that the occult inspires by showing how the everyday world reacts to eerie phenomena.
In occult adventures, ordinary people tend to fear unknown circumstances over which they have little control. Rumor and superstition only exacerbate their distress, and a frightened populace can swiftly resort to extreme measures, including holy inquisitions and witch hunts, in order to regain some assurance of security, no matter how short-lived it be. As a result of societal paranoia, the occult might be a forbidden art for the characters, and one that they must keep secret.
Adventures might involve finding and communicating with other occult initiates by signals, tokens, or a specialized cant, While the adventurers bravely fight a shadow war on behalf of a world that shuns them. As another take on this theme, the common crowd could develop a worshipful fascination toward people or entities skilled in the occult arts, consulting them for knowledge of the future or employing their psychic talents to quickly learn what ordinary folk cannot normally see or know.
On the other hand, twisted individuals who wield occult power often attract lackeys and slaves willing to serve the dark arts, and the ranks of wicked cults teem with dangerous, unscrupulous predators enraptured by their charismatic cult leaders.
Ultimate Occult GMs who wish to fully immerse PCs in an exclusively occult campaign will likely incorporate most or all of the occult elements, and brew multiple, overlapping themes to propel their campaigns toward darker realms. Without changing any game mechanics, arcane and divine classes can share in a game in which the characters are exceptional beings who dare to use powers beyond mortal ken. NPCs with supernatural powers should be rare, or should conceal themselves from the world at large.
Large and powerful churches may exist, exerting significant economic and political power, but only a few individuals ever perform miracles, and even these persons of extraordinary faith may fall out of favor with church doctrine. Perhaps in such campaigns there are no true gods, or their status as divine entities cannot be proven.
It may be that the so-called gods are actually various spirits and other inscrutable forces that occupy the space between dimensions. The Outer Planes and the gods who dwell there may be just a shared manifestation of the collective consciousness, which appears to exist only because people believe that it does.
Occult Adventure Seeds The following adventure seeds play on the elements and themes integral to occult adventures.
A Brace of Imps Rumors of the corpses of strange creatures appearing for sale in the city are confirmed with the display of a brace of dead imps in a local market. Where are they from, and why are they here?
Discovery: The characters overhear the rush of fear and excitement when the corpses of two imps appear for sale in a local bazaar. It is soon revealed that the source of the corpses is a local ragpicker with some knowledge of the occult, who discovered the imps discarded behind an old lodge building of a defunct fraternal society. Soon, another pair is discovered, and more pairs follow on its heels. What could be causing their appearance, and who is killing them two at a time? Adversary: The imps are actually the messengers of a powerful devil once in league with the defunct secret society.
A sorcerer recently took up residence in the old lodge, and the imps began appearing with tempting offerings from their diabolical master. The sorcerer slew the daily emissaries and disposed of their bodies. Does the ragpicker know more than he is willing to admit?
What dark secrets does the lodge hold that the devil may seek for himself? Someone, or something, is harvesting the souls of the deceased before they can reach their ultimate reward. Adversary: The seance circles began with good intentions, but one of them is unwittingly the pawn of a night hag , unknowingly concealing her dread ambitions. The guild is now murdering innocent victims so that she can bind their souls to her heartstone.
Perhaps she had captured the spirit of a powerful, corrupt entity that now threatens the city with darker strife after gaining its freedom. The PCs have brought peace to the community for a time, but at what price, and what deadly machinations await?
Discovery: The PCs are called on to investigate the murders and find the corpses brutally smashed and savagely disfigured in ways hardly possible for mortal man. Locals suspect a dimwitted strongman from a traveling freak show, but the true culprit is a deadly clay golem once built for protection. Adversary: The secret society responsible for the original purge is planning another. They decided it would be truly poetic if the same protector that stopped the previous purge became the spark for the new one.
After sending it out to commit murders of authorities and build anger against the slums, the young aristocrat plans to betray the golem and come out of that betrayal as the hero who stopped the murders, as he leads a second retributive purge of the slums. Will the PCs come to the rescue of those who cannot protect themselves?
Lost Souls When a wise and benevolent ruler mysteriously falls unconscious and begins to waste away, turmoil erupts throughout the land as various factions vie for power. If the PCs perish while on this journey, their bodies suffer the same fate as the ruler. Adversary: The ruler has no desire to return to the sorrows of life on the Material Plane , and opposes the PCs at every turn.
The procession visits the ethereal versions of three places significant to the ruler in life. If the characters travel to the Dimension of Dreams, these places are idealized memories rather than ethereal haunts. Regardless of the reality the PCs visit, the ruler resists them. And as the characters explore, they find the processions of other rulers heading toward Heaven or Hell.
Are these events all somehow connected? Farther from this place, in a hidden hillside glen, is a smaller circle of stones—one for every generation— with human bones buried below, the remains of offerings.
Discovery: The PCs stop at the village during the course of their adventures. The villagers abandon their homes and gather around the menhir, chanting words in a forgotten language.
The chosen monarchs are within the circle, seemingly unharmed. Adversary: A psychic ghost or aberrant horror bound to the menhir manifests every generation to feed on the offerings provided by the villagers. When the being feeds, the menhir glows with a soft golden radiance, and the land for miles around becomes rich and fertile for a whole generation.
If the PCs stake out the menhir during the night of the sacrifice, they have a chance to fight the creature, and if they rescue the sacrifices, the creature comes after them. Further Adventures: Creatures of psychic power are attracted to a ley line passing through the menhir.
Following the ley line leads to other villages with their own menhirs; those that were denied their sacrifices are now surrounded by dry and desolate land where nothing lives. Ley lines lead from these menhirs as well, on and on throughout the world.
Generation after generation, the beings bound to these menhirs feed and grow more powerful. How can the PCs release the common folk from these mysterious horrors? Mind Trap The PCs find a remarkable amount of success during their exploits, but all is not as it seems.
Discovery: After concluding a previous adventure, the PCs celebrate a job well done. During their revelry, they meet a woman who is excited for their success and invites them to her villa. She offers comfortable beds, fine foods and drinks, and the run of her abode. She tells them they are welcome to stay as long as they like, if they help her with a simple task. Adversary: The woman is actually the consciousness of an ancient being imprisoned within an immersive mindscape.
It long ago stopped trying to escape its mental prison, and now all it wants is some companionship. The consciousness creates whatever the characters desire, weaving a compelling tapestry of experience at first indistinguishable from the material world.
Eventually, the characters figure out that wealth, fame, and fortune are falling into their laps just a little too easily and realize they must find a way out of the mindscape.
Further Adventures: The PCs might decide to destroy the mindscape—perhaps by traveling to the Dimension of Dreams, and possibly even freeing the ancient consciousness in the process.
Index of /kts/DandD
Other trapped creatures might exist inside the mindscape, and freeing them might provide the characters with future contacts or adversaries. The Order Following a series of disasters or a virulent plague, the desperate populace places its faith in a fanatical faction of an otherwise reputable church. With great resources now at their disposal, the zealots promise to undo the curse by appeasing the gods through punishment of evildoers and heretics. Discovery: Witch hunters begin an inquisition and arrest anyone who dabbles in magic or the supernatural, including clerics of other faiths.
The PCs enter the scene when the witch hunters attempt to arrest them or their allies, or when family members and close associates are captured by the order. Adversary: Outwardly, the leader of the order, the Truthseeker, appears to be its most rational and penitent member.
In truth, this person is a psychic tyrant who uses his abilities to read minds and expose enemies of the order. The very locations adventurers investigate may themselves be intrinsically linked by mysterious ley lines to other locations with similarly disturbing histories. As characters in an occult campaign start to discover the hidden strands that connect seemingly unrelated events, they begin to interact with the bizarre, esoteric trappings of occult stories, including the following elements.
Standard adventures present a problem, obstacles in the form of monsters and traps, and a resolution. By comparison, occult adventures are subtler. Strange phenomena, bizarre murders, and eerie occurrences are regular hooks in occult adventures, and the characters must peel away layer after layer to find the truth. The Mysteries and Investigations rules provide advice for structuring a mystery adventure; occult adventures use a similar structure, intermingled with the atmospheric clues and story trappings of the occult elements detailed in this section.
The occult elements in your story might also fade in and out of a campaign with an altogether different main theme, recurring every few adventures as side treks that at first have little to do with one another—or so it would seem.
The further the PCs progress in the campaign story, the more clearly they begin to distinguish the patterns underlying all of their adventures. For example, the PCs might discover that all of the unearthed graves they encountered throughout several adventures were the resting places of an order of scribes who penned a tome foretelling the apocalypse. Piecemeal Mysteries: Mystery adventures can be tricky to write, as the GM cannot always foresee when clues are too obvious or too obscure, and either case may be frustrating for the players.
Bringing the occult into the campaign one small piece at a time creates the illusion of unseen forces moving in secret, even if neither the GM nor the players know the nature of the mystery at the beginning of the campaign. As the campaign progresses and more pieces fall into place, the mystery reveals itself and takes a definite shape.
Clues Only for the Initiated: Game Masters often try to conceal vital information in games to preserve mysteries for fateful, well-timed reveals. While such reticence may sometimes be necessary to preserve intrigue and guide PCs, occult games dole out information more readily and more frequently, but in a slightly different manner.
Because the most significant clues in an occult mystery may be hard to even recognize as clues, such methods can not only more easily screen the key bits of information that do propel the plot forward, but also create a more mysterious atmosphere. Red herrings should not always be dead ends. Instead, they may serve to set up further adventures for the PCs, leaving them with the uneasy sense that strange events driven by bizarre, eldritch motivations are hidden in the world all around them.
For example, while the PCs are on the trail of a murderous demon cult, misinformation might lead them to a secret society involved in unusual initiation rites. Building PC Involvement: Sometimes the best way to involve the PCs in a campaign is to ask them what they want.
At the beginning of your occult campaign, ask each player to come up with a personal mystery for his or her character, such as having witnessed an unusual phenomenon or having experienced an inexplicable event as a teenager. A PC may have brief flashbacks to her childhood of visits by men in blood-red robes and disturbing animal masks, for example.
It may center on a certain location, like a place seen in recurring dreams or the ghost-haunted gardens of some overgrown manor. It could have to do with a mysterious object, such as a locket that throbs painfully in the hands of a psychometrist or an ancient tome containing twisting, backwards writing in which a new word is scribbled each day.
Some hooks may play major roles in the campaign, While others turn out to be minor anecdotes. When running an occult game, consider replacing some of the NPCs who broker information with spirits, daemons , otherworldly entities, and mortals who traffic in the occult, such as a medium who channels spirits from a ramshackle wooden hut at the edge of a misty bog.
Occult adventures emphasize the search for obscure, hidden knowledge beyond the ken of mortal minds. Some buildings may have mysterious symbols hidden in their architecture, or were designed to attract or channel occult power. For instance, adventurers who disturb the cairn of a powerful sorcerer might soon discover that the occult nature of the structure itself kept his soul in check. And, of course, GMs should design interconnected webs of intrigue that subtly display these patterns, daring PCs to pull the loose threads of reality and unravel all that they know, exposing the terrible secrets that lie beneath.
In a campaign steeped in occult lore and practice, spirits and demons might be the major questgivers, regular allies, foils, or adversaries, and their machinations pull the PCs in multiple directions.
They might all seem virtuous, or may all seem reprehensible, but they all want something, and they are willing to use the PCs as pawns to achieve it. An uncooperative angel may give the characters information only grudgingly, Whereas a devil who wants something might be more forthcoming.
The quest for knowledge features prominently in occult adventures. Calamity strikes when mortals rush blindly in, throwing open the doors to powers that they do not yet comprehend. As the characters begin to perceive the occult world that surrounds them, consider the dreadful fates and terrible sacrifices that they might face as they immerse themselves ever deeper into the occult. In the depths of the occult underworld, initiates barter for the true names of demon princes, exchange rare formulae for the creation of artificial life, and broker in corpses that conceal terrible secrets.
Such mystical bargains are rarely fair trades of power, and hermetic orders and cults manipulate these exchanges to devalue the knowledge traded away and inflate the value of the knowledge earned. Strange Rules and Peculiar Patterns the behavior of occult denizens often falls into unusual patterns. As discussed above, these patterns often manifest in architecture, but they also show up as odd coincidences that have significance for occult investigators, such as corpses discovered in symbolic patterns.
Occult creatures themselves are beings of eccentric habits, and PCs may exploit their patterns of behavior to expose or confront them, perhaps discovering the celestial alignments that must happen in order for some diabolical plan to finally come to fruition. But occult knowledge could give investigating player characters unusual opportunities to learn more about their foes.
Perhaps divinations or phrenological readings reveal multiple weaknesses characters could exploit, though not all of them are real, and some may even empower the antagonist.
Ultimately, the only way to find out may be to encounter the antagonist directly, but putting the acquired knowledge to the test may be a more dangerous affair than the PCs initially realized. When death is final and unknown, it is as mysterious to living beings as it is terrifying. Characters accustomed to communicating with spirits, however, know that death is not the end.
In fact, characters skilled in the occult might willingly wander the Ethereal Plane to quest, converse, and mingle among the bodiless spirits that reside there. In these games, characters usually have a pretty good idea of what fate awaits them, and what the final reward—or punishment—will be for their actions in life.
In occult adventures where characters can leave their bodies, travel in dreams, and project their forms onto the Astral Plane , the death of the physical body could come to hold less significance. Therefore, present the characters with fates worse than death. This might amount to a torturous —living— death, such as the eternal enslavement and torture of the soul or a debilitating madness that gradually renders a psychic creature mindless and insane.
Setting the scene is important in occult adventures, which rely upon creating an eerie atmosphere of tension, dread, and wonder in the presence of the supernatural.
GMs can use props and tools to create a physical atmosphere around their players that draws them in to the emotional realm of the adventure.
A room illuminated by flickering candles suggests darkened seance chambers or occult rituals, and a prepared library of sounds and voices brings settings and characters to life. If the characters are occult initiates or psychics, or they consult a fortune-teller or a medium, consider using cards , crystals, talismans, talking boards, and other such items as props in those scenes.
Challenge yourself to give the players goose bumps a few times over the course of your campaign. The following campaign themes combine the elements of occult adventures in different ways, and are meant to serve as packages to help GMs open the door of the occult in their campaign worlds.
The Unseen Realms and Strange Rules and Peculiar Patterns elements introduce an occult underworld that operates beneath the veneer of everyday life. Members of the occult underworld masquerade as the ordinary folk who occupy every stratum of society.
In adventures that use this theme, an air of paranoia and dread looms as the characters investigate dark mysteries. No one is safe. No one can be trusted. Not every secret society holds a dark agenda, however, and indeed some secret orders exist to oppose the machinations of evil cults. In time, the characters in an occult adventure might join such an order, or the party itself may come to be recognized as its own faction amongst the occult underworld.
Another way to impress the theme of a ubiquitous occult underworld upon the characters is to hit them close to home. Choose an important NPC dear to one of the characters to be a member of a secret society or a cult that the characters oppose. Consider the scenes in which your NPC has appeared and create an ulterior motive for the character within those scenes that advances the agenda of the secret society or cult to which the NPC belongs.
Occult elements such as Mysteries within Mysteries , the Price and Power of Knowledge , and Fates Worse Than Death can combine to create a powerful overriding campaign theme highlighting the struggle for dominance between the worlds of the living and the dead. The veils between the worlds are worn thin. Haunts , ghosts , and lost souls are commonplace, though they are not the true antagonists; in such campaigns, the real villains are often powerful outsiders with legions of minions who specialize in the harvesting of souls for a profitable black market in the nether realms.
Spirits who seek rest are a common occurrence, and PCs are tasked with discovering the means to help the dead move on one way or another, either through completing tasks a soul left incomplete in life, or by laying the spirit to rest permanently through force of might.
Stakes are high in such games, and death is never the end. GMs who explore the Power and Price of Knowledge and Unseen Realms elements will eventually reveal the presence of parallel realities to this Material Plane. Rather than venturing outward to distant lands, your occult adventurers might turn their focus inward to the strange realms of thoughts, dreams, spirits, and the soul. When planning adventures along this theme, think about ways the characters can probe the realities before their eyes on a deeper level.
For instance, as they investigate mysteries, you may want to occasionally provide ways for them to explore the Transitive Planes , and even the Outer Planes , to discover clues. A mindscape is typically a surreal puzzle environment where the characters accomplish their tasks by navigating the mindscape and deceiving or satisfying the controlling mind, overcoming its defenses, unlocking its doors, and learning the secrets buried deep within.
GMs should be prepared to adjudicate scenes where the characters project themselves into nonphysical realms. Adventures along this theme might find the characters entering the twisted mindscape of an insane or possessed victim, or they might enter the mindscape of an enemy to steal hidden knowledge or implant subconscious suggestions.
The Mysteries within Mysteries and Unseen Realms elements emphasize the feeling of otherworldly awe that the occult inspires by showing how the everyday world reacts to eerie phenomena. In occult adventures, ordinary people tend to fear unknown circumstances over which they have little control. Rumor and superstition only exacerbate their distress, and a frightened populace can swiftly resort to extreme measures, including holy inquisitions and witch hunts, in order to regain some assurance of security, no matter how short-lived it be.
As a result of societal paranoia, the occult might be a forbidden art for the characters, and one that they must keep secret. Adventures might involve finding and communicating with other occult initiates by signals, tokens, or a specialized cant, While the adventurers bravely fight a shadow war on behalf of a world that shuns them. As another take on this theme, the common crowd could develop a worshipful fascination toward people or entities skilled in the occult arts, consulting them for knowledge of the future or employing their psychic talents to quickly learn what ordinary folk cannot normally see or know.
Pathfinder Unchained. Artwork from Occult Adventures. Open Your Mind! There is an unseen world all around you.
On the streets and in the halls of power, in your dreams and across the bizarre planes of the multiverse , there are those who walk among us like giants among ants, twisting reality to their wills in their search for ancient knowledge.
Now pull back the curtain of the mundane world and learn the secrets of these occult masters—if you dare! Six new occult base classes—the energy-shaping kineticist , the spirit-calling medium , the deceptive mesmerist , the mind-bending psychic , the uncanny occultist , and the phantom-binding spiritualist.
Archetypes for all of the new classes, as well as a broad selection of strange and mysterious archetypes and class options for existing characters. New feats to flesh out your occult character, plus a whole new way to use existing skills to become a master of faith healing , hypnotism , psychometry , and more!Most occult classes possess more mental abilities than physical, and they have the tools to peer into thoughts, ask for aid from the beyond, and unravel mysteries.
Self-doubt, lack of concentration , and fear are the enemies of a psychic caster, not the depredations of the physical world. Whether your character is a professional truth-stretcher, a habitual embellisher of tales, or just a pathological liar, he will love exploring the possibilities For example, while the PCs are on the trail of a murderous demon cult, misinformation might lead them to a secret society involved in unusual initiation rites.
The PCs might simply rescue their allies from the order, or they might expose the Truthseeker. If the PCs stake out the menhir during the night of the sacrifice, they have a chance to fight the creature, and if they rescue the sacrifices, the creature comes after them. A PC may have brief flashbacks to her childhood of visits by men in blood-red robes and disturbing animal masks, for example.
Each one of these classes presents new options and features to incorporate elements of the occult into your campaign! In a campaign steeped in occult lore and practice, spirits and demons might be the major questgivers, regular allies, foils, or adversaries, and their machinations pull the PCs in multiple directions.
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