Planet Apocalypse 5e Source Book
Designer: David N. Ross, et al.
Artist: Graey Erb, et al.
Publisher: Petersen Games
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 2+
Playing Time: NA
Main mechanic / Theme: TTRPG for 5e / Cthulhu Horror
The gates to Underhell are open. Can your party stop the invasion before all is lost?
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Sandy Petersen’s Planet Apocalypse for 5th Edition Fantasy Gaming provides a unique method of introducing a campaign setting into your existing role-playing game (RPG) world. Your game world that you as the game master (GM), and your players, already understand and know. The world now threatened by an apocalypse of such magnitude that only the player characters will be able to save it from absolute destruction.
Planet Apocalypse is designed for use for a fantasy 5e RPG (I think it can be used for other 5e genres also).
Introducing the Apocalypse to Your World:
No matter the fantasy setting you are running for your RPG Planet Apocalypse can be used. The clever design of this setting developed by David N. Ross and an outstanding crew allows for it to be used as an overlay to an existing campaign. They accomplish this with new monsters from the Underhell and how they arrive in the prime material world of the players through Doomgates.
This information can be introduced over time as characters adventure as ancient lore being discovered. Or by suddenly appearing and throwing the world into chaos. Major powers are thrown down. The demonic beings swarm out and the world is being twisted. Yet in this time of strife, at least some of the party members have a Sanguine Ward that defies the power of these creatures from the outer darkness.
The adventurers, with their unique ability, must step forward and lead to save the people, the country, the world.
Advantages From The Authors:
The authors point out a couple advantages of using Planet Apocalypse as an overlay to your existing campaign. I have experienced both the scenarios in extended campaigns and see where Planet Apocalypse could provide a fun addition.
The first is when players get reliant on being given “traditional” tasks to complete. The party goes out and slays the evil and returns to the Lord to find out what new evil has arisen. At first you might be thinking that setting is just providing a new evil. However, the use of the Doomgates and the Sanguine Ward means the party is left without the overreaching level of the established monarchy. The characters must become the leaders and the heroes of legend to defend the light against the dark.
Planet Apocalypse is designed to allow for the world to survive if the characters succeed. The demons’ presence has a way of twisting the world to reflect their own evil designs, but once they are vanquished back to the Underhell the destruction the world ends, and life continues. This gives GMs and the players the opportunity to add, subtract, and alter the world in ways for whole new settings of adventuring. This can be used to address GM burnout on a setting.
An Additional Advantage:
If you have a campaign that has “run its course” and the players want to keep playing the characters, Planet Apocalypse can provide that extension. They don’t have to have heroic characters to play this campaign. It can be scaled for them, so those higher-level characters have the challenges they are looking for. It can also be for those lower-level characters wanting more out of their adventuring careers.
Planet Apocalypse is written for playing in the multiverse of fantasy. I think it can also be easily adapted into other settings. Sandy Petersen Games has a board game of the same name in which the main setting is more modern. There are also scenarios and expansions that provide more futuristic settings. The information in this book can be adapted to all if not most of the 5e setting variations I have played. I really think this would provide an amazing story arc for a space opera to turn into a darker horror.
This setting ties in very well with the information from Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos which isn’t surprising. Together they can make a wonderfully horrific setting for those wanting to do dark fantasy or introduce Lovecraftian horror into an existing, or new game.
The Content of the Book:
Planet Apocalypse is a 358-page book. There is an introduction to give an understanding and a feel for the horror that is being introduced. This is mostly for the GM to have advice on how to introduce the setting to their existing campaign.
After the introduction there is player information. This section provides some alternate choices for character creation and development. There is even good information for how to modify existing characters after the beginning of the apocalypse.
The main part of the book is for only game masters. This section includes the expected new monsters and magic. Along with that is a great template for an entire set of adventures GMs can use to run a Planet Apocalypse campaign. You don’t have to come up with it on your own. These adventures can be slotted into the warped landscape being developed by the devils from the Underhells. You may want to alter some of the setting dressing to match what you have been running.
These are major plot point adventures. You can run smaller adventures for the players between each one to give your story the rise and fall that makes stories so good. You can also start into these at different levels. Afterall, this is your existing game world.
There is plenty of information for scaling and adapting the adventures to fit your game and your gaming group.
Although the “campaign” may end when the last Fiend Lord is exiled Planet Apocalypse provides enough information about monsters and other aspects of what they have done to the world to allow the now familiar and new monsters the party and players have to contend against.
As with the other works from Sandy Petersen Games the artwork is wonderfully, fiendishly delicious. The cover is by Graey Erb and interior work is provided by a team of artists.
Sandy Petersen Games shows once again why they are a go to place for Cthulhu horror.
Fans of dark fantasy, Cthulhu, and horror in general will find this to be a great source book for running it as an apocalyptic event in their existing fantasy campaign or additions to a horror campaign.
The unique design of providing the entire campaign that can be used as an overlay to any setting has the advantage of not having to start a new setting for a campaign. It can also provide a new life to that existing campaign or one that has ended, and the adventurers are looking for the new challenge.
I highly recommend Planet Apocalypse.