Chronica: Age of Exploration Review

by | Apr 12, 2016 | Book Reviews

It was an age of exploration; the Spanish were discovering new lands filled with old empires, the Ottoman Empire was declining just as Russia was expanding, the Holy Roman Empire was entangling itself in nearly every facet of politics, the elves formed their own city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Rakshasa of the Gold Empire were at war with the Egyptians, the Mongol Empire was making a comeback after a resurrection of the great Genghis Khan… Wait, what?

Chronica: Age of Exploration is a Pathfinder campaign setting for those of you who love alternate history to the extreme. Taking place during the 16th and 17th century, this setting takes some staples of Pathfinder – elves, gnomes, halflings, and magic – along with new and unique creatures specifically for the world – avitu (aarakocra on steroids), hematu (lizardfolk), and half-rakshasa (pretty self explanatory) – while also introducing diverse technologies and combinations in science and magic that give this world a rather interesting flavor. They don’t just attempt to dump their fantasy into the real world with little to no reasoning however, but instead alter the history of the world to make the inclusion of magic and the fantastical more entrenched. In fact, magic plays a major part in the regional development of the Asian and African continents that causes it to diverge greatly from true history.

The resurgence of the Mongol Empire to battle for territory against a rising Russian society and a declining Ottoman Empire is definitely not the only thing that will provide a conflicted campaign in this setting though. A deep and dark battle in Africa between the Egyptians and the half-rakshasian Gold Empire is sure to keep Anubis busy, while the Holy Roman Empire is sure to keep the French and Spanish on edge. And speaking of Spain, I’m sure the Olmec won’t be too pleased when Spanish Conquistadors (one of the many prestige classes available, by the way) show up on their shores in search of riches.

This campaign setting doesn’t stop itself at simply supplying you with some regions, religions, and an alternate history; every region comes with it’s own bonuses, favored classes, feats, and languages. In terms of feats, there are (at this moment) 24 that are new to the setting that provide skill bonuses and unique benefits. Each region comes with its own religions that have pantheons, domains, favored weapons, and everything you’ll need to create a cleric worshiping a monotheistic, polytheistic, paganistic, shamanistic, or any -theistic religion you can think of. Prestige classes abound in this setting as well, giving each region somewhat of a hero class to exemplify their identity. And while magic doesn’t play a huge part in the world currently, it’s importance and impact within the world is certainly not diminished. The existence of magic has effected the development in science which, while not slowing down the inevitable invention of firearms, has lead to the creation of some interesting and almost steampunk-like tools and weapons that fit surprisingly well with the setting. There’s nothing quite like a half-orc explorer waving a Spanish flag while waving around a sword that arcs electricity from a battery pack on his hip.

Races, classes, religions, weapons, feats, all in a single book. And throw on top of that the fact that it is all wrapped up in a unique and enticing world setting makes for a very interesting investment. Where this product will really begin to soar is the fact that it sets up what is potentially a very exciting campaign investment. While this serves as the base for the world, I would love to see individual adventure modules and more narrowly focused products that could really help a DM create their own campaign within this setting. Overall, this product lays a very good foundation for what could possibly be a great setting and line of adventures and expansions.

So head on over to the Chronica: Age of Exploration Kickstarter to get your hands on this very enticing campaign setting.