Review: Just Insert Imagination – Winter Eternal (Pathfinder)

Winter Eternal
Winter Eternal is an post-apocalyptic urban fantasy campaign setting for Pathfinder, written by Morne Schaap and published by Just Insert Imagination.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Winter Eternal is something of a mash-up setting taking urban fantasy, sprinkling it with science fantasy and dark fantasy, and then placing it in a post-apocalyptic frozen planet. Pathfinder is home to a plethora of epic fantasy content and has become one of the staples in the epic fantasy world of tabletop role-playing. Not many publishers go out on a limb and present something in the fantasy genre that is a significantly different feel than the staple environment of Pathfinder. Although originally written for Savage Worlds, Just Insert Imagination is taking their unique world and pushing that Pathfinder envelope into new, exciting territory.

So what makes Winter Eternal so different? For starters, the setting takes place on a planet who’s local start has exploded… yes, exploded. Shards from the star have made their way planetside and are being used to heat the planet; albeit in very limited areas. The heat from these shards only extends so far, so civilization must find a way to survive within close-quarters. The planet has rebuilt enough so that pockets of urban areas survive thanks to these shards, magic, and weird science. Knocking on the door of these urban centers is a wealth of dangerous, frozen creatures all ready to kill anyone brave enough to confront them. The good news is technology has created these walkways between urban centers, but those are some dangerous walkways that definitely need to be protected.

Understanding this setting and what makes it tick can probably be better done by breaking it down into its influential subgenres.

  • Urban Fantasy: The main feature of the setting is the urban centers that have developed around the shards to allow all humanoids to continue surviving in a world with no local star. This means encounters will be close encounters as opposed to venturing off into the wilderness.
  • Post-Apocalyptic: The local star exploded and now the aftermath is the eternal winter. Actually, outside of the urban centers where heat exists, it’s probably more like quick death. Survival is very likely to be difficult at best.
  • Dark Fantasy: The world outside of the urban centers is filled with horrific beings. The setting clearly does not want humanoids to live!
  • Epic Fantasy: You still have your standard fantasy races and magic.
  • Science Fantasy: Weird Science is a staple of this setting, but in a science kind of way (as opposed to technology that is solely powered in a fantasy-like way by magic or magical objects). I’m not 100% sold on how well Pathfinder handles weird science though. I think many other games do it much better than Pathfinder.

There is one major drawback with Winter Eternal in the context of Pathfinder – you have to want something different. Winter Eternal is not your standard vanilla fantasy that runs rampant across the gambit of Pathfinder publishers. It is a very unique, niche-like setting that incorporates many different elements. I personally don’t care for vanilla fantasy and have always been a fan of mash-up settings.

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