This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial (including author bio – nice!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 1/2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
If you’ve read the title, you’ll have an inkling of what this is about – a book that is an artifact holds images, rendered in lavish detail -these offer direct portals to luxurious retreats for the hounded adventurer in the guise of different demiplanes. The author should be commended here – the crunch of the artifact is rock-solid – from taking items from the retreats to smuggling persons and items, the rules of this tome are surprisingly rock-solid – including even a means of destruction that can be considered logical within the framework of a magical world, so kudos!
This level of care thankfully also extends to the planar traits provided for the eight realms contained herein – all waited upon by spectral servitors and explained/detailed: Beyond better healing, both natural and magical, each of the realms comes with its own lavish benefits – ever ready mounts, a rowboat to tour the lake of a paradise of an oasis, cabins in lush perpetual autumn, a tower filled with vast arrays of tomes, tropical islands, a rider’s perfect retreat, a manor with a huge maze – even ruins for the more misanthropic are provided – the perfect holiday retreat in a pocket…
… There’s a catch, isn’t there? Yes. There is the Beast of the Realm – every time one of these luscious holiday retreats is entered, there’s a slim chance of the beast spawning – which is represented by the new “Beast of the Realm”-template – at CR+2, it can be applied to whatever you wish, makes the beast more deadly than its natural brethren…and worst of all, a superb hunter that is tied to the realm – the more targets it eliminates, the worse off are those remaining in the tome – first, healing boosts cease. Then, all in the realm have to save daily to avoid becoming shaken and further saves add to that and increase the penalty to the save…If you can’t craft a compelling yarn from that, I don’t know what to do – seriously, the idea is simple, yet glorious and reflecting a mounting sense of dread is…interesting. Plus – the beast can never truly be destroyed…it just returns in another form… A sample Beast is provided with a deadly CR 9 elder worg for your convenience.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf actually has two nice old-school full color illustrations by Indi Martin – not something I expected to see in such a small pdf – nice! The pdf also is fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Ian Harac delivers an iconic artifact that takes a cool, very magical concept (“I wish I could carry my holiday trips with me!”) and translates it into a cool artifact that your players will love – the benefits are tangible, yet will not break a campaign and the inherent adventure hooks are plentiful. Especially in e.g. dungeon crawl campaigns or those, where the PCs just need a change of scenery, this ought to be a godsend. Fun, full of cool adventure hooks and available for a very low price, this is well worth a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can get this flavorful, inexpensive artifact/environment here on OBS!