Review: Kobold Press – Dark Roads & Golden Hells (Pathfinder)


Dark Roads & Golden Hells
Dark Roads &amp Golden Hells is an epic fantasy supplement for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game written by Dan Voyce and published by Kobold Press.
By Cape Rust

Learn more about Dark Roads & Golden Hells here
Purchase Dark Roads & Golden Hells here
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Trying to explain the outer plane is like trying to hold water in your hands while running a marathon, without spilling any of it. How do you describe a place that is formed of and whose laws are based off of the concept of anger? How do you describe a building or a city on the plane of fear? Dark Roads & Golden Hells does a really good job doing just that!

CONTENT

This 111 page supplement contains 106 pages of content. Included in this product are 14 new planes, 6 new planar monsters, 3 new player races, dozens of bizarre and deadly planar hazards.

OVERALL

This book is one of the best supplements I’ve seen when it comes to explaining and providing modular planar concepts that can be used in almost any fantasy setting.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Dark Roads & Golden Hells’ cover reeks of the planes. The best way to describe the angel depicted on the cover would be a planar mongrel angel. She has aspects of several different planes, but still manages to feel coherent. The page borders are clean and the circle and cog design are elegant and understated in their ability to convey the abstract concept of the planes. The interior art is black and white and, overall, is well done. There were varying degrees of quality in the art work, some pieces just really stood out. The fonts and colors used in this product are easily read and help to create a flow that can only be achieved through meticulous attention to detail. The placement of the chapters in this book makes sense and adds to the overall smooth feel of the book.

Mechanics: 9 out of 10
The only place I questioned the mechanics in this book was the player races. The Devas seemed to have quite a few traits and qualities for creatures that have no racial hit dice. Other than this minor point I think the folks at Open Design/Kobold Press have really achieved something special with this product. This book tackles the difficult task of providing structure to worlds and concepts that are amorphous. The authors were smart by using a light hand with the rules; I would say these rules are closer to guidelines. By taking this light-handed approach the creators have made this supplement much more universal than it would be if they had stuck to more traditional entries.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
I’ve run around the planes in several past games and I wish my GM had Dark Roads & Golden Hells as a reference. I have always understood the concept of the planes, but this book really brought it home for me. Even if you never run a game that has planes travel, this book has value. I really feel like I have a better idea of where the Gods in my game actually live. I was surprised at the amount of insight I gained from this knowledge. The modularity of this product allows it to be used in many settings with little or no modifications, which really increases its value.

Overall: 9 out of 10
This is one of those rare supplements that will not get all of the credit it deserves. There are things here and there that could be improved, but the content is meaty and meaningful. This book is the type of book that should win awards. The concept is a difficult one to tackle and these folks really did it right. I was pleased with the cohesion that was achieved even when using multiple authors for different chapters. Open Design/Kobold Press are gaining a reputation for being the biggest small kid (creature) on the block!

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6 Comments

  1. Doomedpaladin says:

    Are the Deva the only reason this book didn’t score a 10 in mechanics? What specifically is so bad about them?

  2. Cape Rust
    pemcorgi69 says:

    First, Doomepaladin, thanks for reading our reviews and taking the time to comment on them. The Devaswere the example I used but I feel like each of the player races could have been CR 1s. I fully understand that characters are more powerful in Pathfinder than in other games but when you have a race that has 5 resistance to acid, fire and electricity as well as other abilities, the CR really should increase. Please don’t get me wrong I love being able to get away with playing races like this, but a few of them were a bit over powered. Were there any other aspects of the mechanics that you thought were off kilter?

  3. Doomedpaladin says:

    No, I designed the Deva and I hate to think that they’d keep the book from earning a 10. This review and one other has singled them out and I’m afraid
    I might be getting a little defensive. PF also doesn’t use Level Adjustment for its races. Tieflings and Drow (Common and Noble) just come with a warning that they might be unbalancing to a game and that they should be used with caution. Our races might be considered similar, though I’d consider the Deva and Warpling to be more equivalent to a dwarf or elf, a strong base race, rather than an overpowered one, especially on a planar adventure.

  4. Cape Rust
    pemcorgi69 says:

    Your entire team did a great job on the book overall, You’ll notice I dinged the publication value as well. I don’t think you are being defensive I think you want to do the best you can and I respect that. There might be some value in placing that same warning on these races. Feedback is a good thing and I know that you realize that, keep up the good work, it matters!

  5. Doomedpaladin says:

    Thank you.

  6. gbonehead says:

    @pemcorgi69: Thank you very much for the positive review. I’m extremely pleased that people find the book to be setting-neutral. I was a minor contributor (Dan deserves the vast quantity of the credit), and joined this project for that very reason – to turn out a setting neutral book rather than one tied to Midgard, or Golarion, or whatever, and I’m very happy with what Dan did with the material.

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