Travel to the North and find adventure (or live there and try to survive)! The Northlands is an amazing supplement for Pathfinder packed with useful information, ideas and rules. If you are thinking of having a Norse-like area in your game world, this product will provide everything you need to make it a rich land for adventure. Even your campaign is not heading to icy lands, this product is packed with so much useful information, new toys and interesting challenges that it is a worthwhile sourcebook for those alone.
Northlands: Roleplaying in Winter’s Chill is a 114-page PDF (111-pages if you remove the covers and OGL page) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Dan Voyce (with a lot of support) and published by Open Design. This is part of Open Design’s Midgard campaign setting line.
The layout is primary traditional two columns, with some of the introductory bits in single column, and the various tables are easy enough to read. The cover and maps are beautiful full color creations. The interior art is black and white with an original piece for each new chapter and much carefully chosen public domain art to support the theme though the new monsters do each get their own new illustration.
Northlands opens with a discussion about life in the cold lands of the north is hard and dangerous, a world of destined fates and a hero is someone who challenges all risks. Cultural norms and themes are discussed along with adventure ideas, gods and more (including a glossary). It is a good introduction to the setting and its dangers and rewards. Chapter two details the physical lands, and seas, of the setting complete with intriguing locations begging for adventures to come and explore them. These thirty-odd pages provide a wealth of setting and background material.
Chapter three moves into actual game rules with races both variant (human, dwarves) and new (hyperborean, trollkin), the variants on the classes to fit with the culture of the Northlands (including new clerical domains and such), and new uses for skills. A wide variety of new feats are present, including achievement and monster feats, that build on the setting and culture. Along with a good group of setting specific traits to properly embed a new character in the land and culture of the North. Lastly, a brief discussion of the economics of the Northlands and a collection of new equipment, including weapons and armor, but also dog sleds, drinks and special materials.
Chapter four is magic, starting with grudge magic, for using magic for hatred and revenge is powerful but dangerous. Next is the magic of the runes, which are mastered primarily through feats, and are an important part of the magic of the north. There are new incantations, including curses. A considerable number of new spells, including such lovely ones such as: Mosquito Bane (that kills bugs), Rain of Blades, and Triumph of Ice (which transmutes the other elements into ice). An impressive collection of new magic items, including artefacts from Norse myths and a lovely selection of cursed items.
Chapter five is the frozen land and contains rules for traveling and more in such, including: arctic chases, expanded environmental effects, new hazards, rules for bringing the hand of the Norns into play with Fate and Hero points and afflictions, and Northlands haunts.
Chapter six is the bestiary with new monsters, starting with the various names the creature may be known under to encourage wonder and fear. Most of these monsters are not for the cowardly as they range from a CR of four up to a 20(!) for the Jotun Giant. A good mix of interesting and straightforward beings to allow for a variety of adventures.
Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
[5 of 5 Stars!]