Into the Darklands: Another artistic look at the 'Underdark'
On occasion, and primarily during the five times I’ve either run or played Against the Giants, I’ve traveled to the Underdark. It isn’t that I abhor the idea of adventuring there, but instead it often seems too foreign and dangerous to set a functional campaign in such a place.
For that reason, I’m often drawn to gaming supplements that feature realms that reflect Greyhawk’s famed Underdark, both for the chance that they can shed new light on the possibilities of the setting and also for the art involved for inspiration.
Thus, it was with great pleasure the I got a copy of Paizo’s, Pathfinder Chronicles: Into the Darklands by authors James Jacobs and Greg A. Vaughan. Created in 2008 as a probable addition to the adventure path Second Darkness, this 63 page setting supplement does a great job re-detailing and further fleshing out more common player and DM knowledge of Paizo’s version of the Underdark, in this case titled Darklands [special note here, in my long running campaign in my Nameless Realms this place is called the DelvingDark, and I’m sure countless DMs have unique names of their own]
I found the supplement to be both intuitive and creative, and if you are looking to expand your current world or create a campaign from scratch featuring Drow, Duergar, Derro, and all that lurk in the empires beneath the surface I highly recommend checking this piece of work out.
Ok, but down to the nitty gritty of art! As this is my first Paizo review here on Art of the Genre [I’ve done many over on Black Gate] I’d like to first state that there are two kinds of RPG companies in the world, Wizards of the Coast and everyone else. That said, if anyone can rival WotC for product caliber, it is Paizo. They’ve done an absolutely brilliant job building their Pathfinder brand, and I give them incredible props for being able to create such incredible and polished artist vehicles.
Into the Darklands was art directed by longstanding Paizo alum Sarah E. Robinson, and the book combines a nice mix of new and also repurposed art [something Paizo makes very good use of throughout their books].
The cover was an automatic ‘win’ as it is done by artist Wayne Reynolds and anytime you put him on a supplement it adds value just as putting an Elmore on a D&D supplement did in the 1980s. Reynolds does a nice job featuring a Drow caster here, and the morphing of her outstretched hand is a nice add when you see the tentacle spell being cast on one of the Iconics featured on the cover.
Inside, Sarah utilizes the Concept Art House for some work as well as freelancers Torstein Norstand, Warren Mahy, and adventure path alum and outstanding talent Ben Wootten.
In all I’m taken with most of the art, although a few pieces come across as rushed or just lacking the focus I’m accustomed to with these products.
Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]