DriveThruRPG.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse
 Publisher Info









Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
KOBOLD Guide to Magic
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/14/2014 10:09:01
First premise: I'm almost halfway in reading this book. My intention was to review the book after reading it cover-to-cover but it's taking me too long and I want to give a quick review in the meantime to share my thoughts with other buyers. I'll come back after finishing the book to give my definitive rating about it.

Second premise: I played a D&D Wizard character for 12 years, porting it from 2nd Ed. AD&D to 3.5 D&D as the campaing evolved. Magic is my dearest topic when it comes to gaming and as a GM I have a sweet spot for the argument, to the point that all of my efforts ever went in the direction of "bringing magic back into magic". This is not a trivial effort for an amateur like me, taking into account I'm probably not a good GM, nor a good game designer. But I had years to dissect the problem and I matured a polyedrical point of view. Maybe what follows won't apply to each and every reader, so please take into account I'm very demanding when it comes to magic in games.

MY TEMPORARY REVIEW:

So, two stars.
For a Kobold publication? REALLY?
Sadly yes.

I read both the "Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design" and litterally devoured the "KOBOLD Guide to Worlbuilding". Both are, IMO, must reads for any GM or GD, from wannabe to pro.
This is not the case with this new issue of the series. I won't go deep into details until I'll finish the reading. What I think sums up as follows:

* 99% of what I've read so far ends up in... nothing. Essays almost always pose a question and don't responde it. It seems that even skilled game designer can't give anything for sure (in game terms) when it comes to magic. There are a couple of noticeable exceptions (an essay by Ed Greenwood and one about secret magical societies which is very very good), but for the rest it seems the "Shoulders shrugging festival".
* Some of the essays are way under level if you compare them to other KOBOLD products. There is one on divine magic that I can't just read through to the end. I can't make heads or tails out of it and I got bored to death. Personal taste maybe but I didn't even got to understand what the scope of the essay was. Period.
* There is redundancy. OK, this is not bad "per se", since different points of view on the same central topic could be interesting to read, given they are actually different. And given they ends up in useful, practical advices for the reader. I already read three different essays in "how to bring back magic into magic" (which comes down to: when you have to give magic a structure to it like a tool, is there a way to recover the sense of wonder and the unexpected?). Actually it seems to be no real solution, but I had to read a lot of blurbs to find out that "I can do anything or nothing... who knows?". The Greenwood essay actually ended up into something but the solution boils down to "throw in some ancient magic that doesn't obey the system rules and go with it". Mmmh... It could be a starting point, but it's been widely ab... ehm... overused.

As I told, I could be too unforgiving, but after two weeks of reading I'm bascially muscleing my way to the end instead of enjoying a great reading. It may be me.

I'll be back to fix this blurb (and give more precise indication on what I found interesting and why) when I'll reach the end. In the meantime I beg pardon to the KOBOLD crew. I love you guys, and you always did a great job. I know this is not an easy topic to cover but I expected a bit more.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
KOBOLD Guide to Magic
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:11:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of the New Paths-series, including quite a bunch of new content), clocks in at 130 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 124 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, from the get-go - I did reviews for the arcane paladin-class, the Battle Scion, the Spell-less Ranger, Shaman, White Necromancer, Monk/Ninja and Gunslinger-installments of the series, so if you're interested in a direct breakdown of these, please take a look at the respective reviews. I will, though, mention the new content or fixes. I also did not review the elven archer-pdf (simply because I don't have it), so that one will get its breakdown. Got that? Great!



So let's take a look at the elven archer, shall we? A racially restricted class (only elves and half-elves may apply), it gets d8, 6+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light armors, bucklers, full BAB-progression, good ref- and fort-saves, prepared divine spellcasting of up to 4th level with wis as governing attribute and track/wild empathy at first level. Beyond that, the class adds so-called precision-damage, +1d6, against foes denied their dex-bonus within 30 ft., increasing this by 1d6 damage every 5 class levels. This damage also applies when flanking with the bow, which becomes possible at 16th level.



Eleven archers are bow specialists and at 2nd level, get a bonus feat (another one every 3 levels) and count as fighter-levels -3 for purposes of feat qualification. They also get a creature type à la favored enemy at 3rd level and gets +2 to several skills pertaining them, as well as +2 to damage and atk against them. This bonus scales up to +6 - but choose wisely, for the archer may choose only one such target! Beyond that, these archers may hide in natural environment sans concealment, ignore specific difficult terrains, leaves no trails, can track faster and later even no longer provoke AoOs with the bow in melee. Beyond that, the elven archer at 9th level learns to temporarily enchant arrows and imbue them with special magical qualities. The class later also learns to deal more devastating shots against stationary targets by taking aim - though this only becomes available at 13th level. Now the class also comes with 3 alternatives for other races.

For example, the halfling sling master, who is rather similar to the elven archer, but instead of bonus feats, the alternate class gets a special trick to perform with the slingshot at 5th level and every 6 levels after that. Trick shots include ricochets and detrimental conditions that can be exchanged for precision damage - sans saves. OUCH. They also get rapid reload for slings. They also are more stealth-focused.



Dwarven Crossbowyer can ignore partially armor, shield and natural armor bonuses, carry more equipment, get a favored terrain and essentially get the elven archer's bonuses in forests instead in caves/earthen environments. The final variant, the mystic archer, has no race restrictions. They are rather similar to the eleven archers (minus the foresty/stealthy components), but at 5th and every 6 levels after that, they may choose from a special array of tricks. All in all, solid, if a bit conservative classes.



Next up would be a new class, the savant. The class gets a d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and they start game with 3 knacks and expand that up to 8 at 20th level. Savants may assume a persona for 3+cha-mod minutes per day. A persona is just the name for a given combination of knacks. Some of these are spell-like abilities that duplicate arcane or divine spells and follow the usual restrictions regarding these forms of magic, including DCs - in stark contrast to the regular DC, which clocks in at the expected 10+1/2 class level+cha-mod.. Embodying a persona is a full-round action that doesn't provoke AoOs. The knacks allow the savant to temporarily gain access to proficiencies, items, +4 (scaling up to +8) bonus to attributes, spells (limited in level by the savant class level), skills, racial tricks (like scent or swim speed) and even temporarily boost his BAB. Now as if this kind-of-jack of-all-trades-style ability wasn't enough, a savant also has a notebook - by observing certain happening, he may enter specifics on equipment, feats, races etc., gaining power literally as he observes and travels - much like the emulation of abilities in Rite Publishing's Taskshaper, this means a DM ought to tell the player in question in detail to very carefully keep the books regarding this notebook. Now another interesting thing here is that the savant needs to observe at least a minute and then get to noting this fast - and there's a daily limit on what he can jot down, so some planning involved as well.



Later, the savant also gets advanced knacks with natural attacks, healing (also negative conditions), apply metamagic etc. further increasing the options available. They also learn to conjure forth so-called avatars of legends - essentially cohorts with access to knacks that can be summoned, but which remain only as long as concentration si maintained - cool! The savant later also learns to combine knacks into a so-called hyperbole, , switch knacks etc. and finally, the savant may even share knacks with allies and as a capstone, maintain concentration on their avatars as a move action. All in all, the savant may be a book-keeping intensive class, but also a rather rewarding spinner of tall-tales jack-of-all-trades-style class - that is also sufficiently different from Drop Dead Studios' Dilettante! Kudos for a smart design here! We also get advice for playing the character, as well as a sample character and 3 sample avatars of legend - neat! All in all, one damn fine example of great design, an iconic idea properly realized. Kudos, two thumbs up, great work!



The Spell-less ranger also gets a variant class herein, the skin-changer - this one's interesting: Learning to change into the forms and animals and specializes in better natural attacks. No animal companion, though, and a different list of talents. The skin-changer also gets natural armor etc. - per se a concept none too complex in what it tries to do, but remains very evocative in its versatile options - the variant class remains one of the more iconic ones I've seen and makes for a great addition - once again - fine work indeed!



The next new class would be the theurge - d6, +Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, good will-saves and prepared spellcasting -arcane spellcasting via Int and divine spellcasting via Wis - both from first level on. A Theurge gets a spellbook and a prayerbook and the latter requires the divine spells to be learned similar to arcane spells - from scrolls or levels. However, a theurge may wilder in e.g. druid or inquisitor spell-lists. Which leads me to a massive issue: Not all spells are available for all classes at the same level, making for possible cherry-picking (not only content, but also level-wise!) here, not to start with VERY powerful class-exclusive spells....Think Paladin, Inquisitor, Druid, Magus, Witch...ouch. Yes, there may be costs etc. While first, slots are distinct from another, starting at fourth level, arcane spells may be prepared via divine slots and vice versa, but at a penalty level-wise to the spell prepared, i.e. second level spells need to be prepared as third level spells etc. The capstone gets rid of this minor penalty, though. At 5th level, theurges may cast two spells at once - one arcane, one divine, both imposing a -4 penalty to saves 1/day +1/day 6 levels after that. They also learn to cast a select limited array of spells as SLs. So, I'll be frank here - this class is OP in my opinion. Being able to wilder in any classes spell-list, cherry-picking any exclusives sans penalties or limits is very powerful. A full caster that can cast both divine and arcane spells is a cool concept, but this class drops the ball hard regarding the balancing of spell-levels and spell-lists - there ought to be some kind restriction here.

And yes, the amount of spells cast (which never increases above 2 arcane + 2 divine per level (+ bonus spells via Int + Wis) is severely restricted. It means every spell needs to count. But for a class which may pick the best of the best of ANY casting class, with this amount of flexibility, that also means that every cast WILL count. Which brings me to another issue - I get that the general restriction on spells-slots is there for balance. I'm not sold, though, that it'll make for a particularly fun playing experience. Sure, once you hit out your crême de la crême spells, you'll own the game...but what about the other time? Unlike most other classes, the theurge has nothing but spellcasting. And you don't have enough spells for proper utility tricks, proper buffing, proper debuffing - essentially the class is geared very much toward being flashy super-spell nova-heavy. Which you *may* like, but personally, I think the class would have been more rewarding with more casts per day and a more restricted balancing via spells known. I was not sold on the class concept and playtesting it at level 4, 12 and 16 didn't help either - mainly due to 2 things - theurges at higher levels can be superb crafters - with access to ALL spells and the option to learn just about every spell, these guys can craft like crazy. They may also use just about every spell-in-a-can-item conceivable by virtue of their all-encompassing spell-lists, which means that theurges in game probably will resort quite a lot to wand/staff-slinging when not casting their flashy super-spells.

It's a glass pumpgun (also re buffs/debuffs) - two devastating shots and empty. Personally, I'd be not keen as a DM to structure my adventures to "empty" the super spell-arsenal of the theurge or to play one, trying to keep my super-ammo for the big bad boss. Now all of this sounds negative, but the class per se is not a bad design, it does have its niche in which it will excel superbly. While I'm not sold on the place in a regular adventuring group, I do think the theurge will work superbly in 1 on 1-adventures and small groups - especially if the DM modifies adventures accordingly, groups starved for players get essentially divine and arcane in one class without resorting to gestalting - so yeah, the theurge has its niche, though I maintain it could have been more versatile in its use.



Of course, we also get new archetypes - the elven archer gets the Royal Guardian, a more urban Night Watch-style archer and the Plains Rider, a mounted archer. Apart from that, all the archetypes you'd expect from the base-pdfs can be found herein. It should also be noted that the archetypes have been mostly cleaned up re typos in the originals etc. - nice to see.



In the next chapter, we get a whole slew of traits and feats - also fodder for the new classes, with feats to improve the savant's avatar of legend, leadership for animals - I've covered a lot of these in former reviews. Unfortunately, not all gripes I had with some have been fixed. Take Eagle Style: Upon a successful dirty trick, you can substitute making the target mute for your regular effect. Doesn't sound so bad? Well...no duration. The muteness is, as written, PERMANENT. Yes, this one was broken in the original and is still - but it should be noted that overall, cases like this remain the exception, rather than the rule. Generally, the feats herein can be considered worthwhile additions, with some of the more esoteric style-trees especially coming to mind.



Marc Radle's scaling combat feats from Gygax Magazine #1 are also included herein - and while I still consider them a good idea, I still think it would have been nice to have a note detailing handling the chain balance-wise - it's a slight shift - not a big one, but it exists. It should also be noted that, since the original inception of the idea, TPK Games have released two pdfs of scaling feats, covering the whole core-book and the APG, so if you plan on using scaling feats, make sure that it's clear which system you're going to use.



The spells herein provide rather iconic options - whether conjuring forth Rivers of Moonlight, weaving deadly magics into your arrows/bolts/sling-stones, cast cool bone-themed spells or rain fangs down upon your foes. All in all, a nice array of casting options. We also are introduced to a total of 7 weapon types, various pieces of equipment and magic items and also the 3 legendary items (the level-scaling variant, not the one from Mythic Adventures), depicting the regalia of Gax the Great.



The book concludes with sheets - for animal companions, arrow tracking sheets, favored enemies/terrain, prepared spell tracking sheets, spirit guide, summon monster-sheets and even a wildshape-sheet make for a massive array of neat sheets that will prove to be useful.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - there are next to no glitches in this massive compilation, which is quite a feat at this length. The pdf comes with a relatively printer-friendly two-column full color standard and the artworks in full color are neat and numerous and original/former cover illustrations - all in all, a beautiful book. The pdf comes with massive, nested bookmarks, making the book easy to navigate. I can't comment on the physical book, since I only own the pdf.



Designers Marc Radle, Ryan Costello Jr., Crystal Frasier, John Ling Jr., Jerall Toi, Wolfgang Baur, Matt Blackie, Charles Lee Carrier, Chris Harris, Stu Logan, Nicholas Milasich, Mitch Radle, Vincent Colon Roine, Justin Sluder and Michael Timpe have crafted a massive crunchy book full of (mostly!) awesome classes, several of which had player characters in my current campaign. The Savant is a glorious class, the theurge - well, as you've read, I'm not 100% sold on it, but oh well. The archer-classes are nice, if a bit conservative and linear for my tastes. The other classes - well, check the respective reviews for those.



The supplemental information and crunch provided also falls within this spectrum - mostly, the content herein ranges from good to awesome, but here and there, we can find a piece of crunch that could have used some streamlining. On the downer-side, I REALLY expected favored class options, at least for the Midgard and Core-races herein for the new classes and their absence is a bit of a let-down.



How to rate this, then? The New Paths Compendium is a nice resource, if not a perfect one and while the book can be considered mostly awesomeness, the few rough edges standout all the clearer. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars - with e.g. savant and fixed typos etc. pointing towards the 5, theurge and the few flaws pointing towards the 4. In the end, I will round up due to the majority of the content being problem-free and the good outweighing the slightly problematic by quite a bit and my general maxim of in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Richard H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2014 15:02:28
I was very impressed with the Deep Magic product overall. The spell content was great and will provide rare spells for the players to discover. The book also provides ideas and concepts for various magical forms, such as ley lines and glyphs.

The production quality of the book was also impressive. The hardcover is solidly constructed. The layout includes sample magical tomes, background materials, and game suggestions amidst the spells.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Chris K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2014 02:24:11
Look at that page count there...378 pages. If you you are a magic user of any type, there will be something in this book for you. Rune Magic, Ioun Magic and much more. IMO this is one of the best products Kobold Press has ever published. Seriously, the chapter on new spells alone would be enough to fill at least two other books!

My only negative comment about it...it's going to take me a looooong time to read and process all the new toys i have to play with :-p

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Bradley M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/22/2014 15:03:56
I have been reading through this book off and on since it was released and I have been greatly enjoying it. The added versatility has made the game much more enjoyable for me and given me many new options that I have been wanting for a long time. My personal favorite of all the new spells is Heart Skewer.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2014 16:03:48
Deep Magic is an amazingly innovative beast of a sourcebook. Deep Magic boasts almost 400 pages of extremely thorough content, including hundreds of new spells, dozens of new ways of wielding magic, several innovative new schools and subschools of magic, as well as pre-generated spellbooks you can toss into your campaign as treasure. Kobold Press has always had really high production values, but the art in this PDF is among the best I've ever seen, from them or any other company.

I hope there's a POD edition of Deep Magic coming soon- I want a copy of this on my bookshelf.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Tales (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/16/2014 07:45:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive adventure anthology is 198 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page backer-list/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 192 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Midgard Tales...an anthology with the goal of creating adventures to talk about. Not only are these supposed to be exciting, they are supposed to resound with the stuff of mythology, of being iconic in the truest sense of the world. This anthology is one massive book and thus, I will not go into as many details regarding the modules as usual, instead giving you a short heads-up regarding the respective modules. Also: I was a backer of this on kickstarter, but did not contribute in any shape or form to it. Got that?



Awesome! The following thus contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion, mostly because, believe me, you don't want this spoiled.



Tim Connors kicks off with the weirdest, most glorious 1st level module I've read in quite a while: Set upon the infinitely delayed Great Old Ones in eternal struggle, the PCs awake in "Atop the Warring Blasphemies" in essentially a nest...of one weird, semi-cthulhoid dragon-like being. Escaping from their predicament, the PCs have to navigate the gigantic bodies of the old ones and the politics of the weird goblin-tribes that worship and live among them. Worse, there actually are pulpy pieces of technology that keep the aura of bloodlust emitted by the huge creatures in check. Navigating the strange vertical settlements, shooting ballistae at adversaries, climbing, betrayal - this is one damn furious first module for any campaign and should be considered a true gem - it's only downside being that it will be hard to trump this tour-de-force.



Next up would be Morgan Boehringer's "Curse of the Witchkeep". Intended for 2nd level, the PCs are introduced to the village of Loshtadt in the Krakovan hinterlands. Intended as a horror adventure, a sense of desolation suffuses the area. And indeed, a dread curse has fallen upon the xenophobic settlement - biological time is passing exceedingly fast and this amplified ageing process may actually hit the PCs as well. Beyond this curse, not all is well - the village suffers from a powerplay between the lady of the area and the deadly cult of the harbinger, and at night, fear of the "night beast", which is in fact an eidolon, reigns. Undead witchwolves roam the countryside and in order to break the curse, the PCs will have to infiltrate the local keep's dungeon and put an end to the powerplay and deal in a great puzzle-combat with a semi-sentient orrery. Have I mentioned the antipaladin that may actually not be the worst possible ally or the other factions involved in the power-play? This is relatively complex and one of those deceptive modules that don't look that awesome on paper, but running it actually works exceedingly well and remarkable. Again, two thumbs up!



The next module, Ted Reed's "On the Fourth Day, We Kill Them All", for level 3 characters...is downright glorious. You may know that I have a soft spot for stories in the northlands, but all too often, the issue is that the authors don't get the mindset. Well, Ted Reed does. Set against the backdrop of a feud at a Þing, i.e. the kind-of-somewhat-democratic meetings, the PCs not only get to embark in simply superbly fun mini-games that breathe social flair and fluff, in order to persevere, they have to explore a fortress once swallowed by a living glacier and return, triumphantly, with an army of lost ancestors to prevail in a gambit for power. Have I mentioned the diverse political intriguing? Even if you don't like the Northlands, this module remains among the apex-modules in iconic imagery and things to do and should be considered a must-run masterpiece. I bow to the author! If all modules were this good, I'd be out of reviewing.



Chris Lozaga's "Bloodmarked of White Mountain" deals with a village under a strange curse - it seems like the dread ghost folk have bloodmarked a whole village to fall victim to their depredations, sending the whole village into a deep, unnatural slumber. What are the ghost folk? Essentially inbred, white face-painted orcs that ignite in white fire thanks to their strange customs and alchemy upon being slain. In order to lift the curse, the PCs will have to unearth the traumatic history of a hermit, climb a dread idol of the white goddess and finally enter an abandoned mine and defeat the ghost folk in their own environment. Sooo...this is the first module herein I consider good, but simply not that awesome. Yeah, orcs in Midgard are rare and the ignition-upon-death angle is nice...but I can't help but feel I've seen this exact plot before. Feeling more like a post-apocalyptic module, I was reminded of some classics of the genre (brownie-points if you can recall them). Now don't get me wrong - this still is a very good module, but in direct comparison, it somewhat pales.



Module number 5, Michael Lane's "Dawnsong Tragedy" (also for level 3) see the reappearance of a fabled yurt in the Rothenian plane...and the potential for sinister influence. Entering the yurt, the PCs find themselves trapped in a demiplane-style environment, requiring them to defeat a coalition of 3 agents of gods most foul, who, as it turns out, were responsible for the disappearance of the yurt. Each comes with its own, deadly environment and minions, making for a fun romp through uncommon areas. While there is not much going on beyond combat in the respective areas, their iconic layout helps make this module remarkable. Somewhat similar to Legendary Games' "Baleful Coven", this module is great, but not as 100% iconic as I would have liked. Primarily, I think the respective areas of the adversaries could have been a bit more far-out and feature some more unique terrain features. What I do really enjoy is that the respective areas are presented as hexes, though going full-blown hexploration, including random encounter tables, weird weather etc. could have made this very good module into a true legend.



Matt Hewson's "The Tattered Unicorn" (again, for level 3), kicks off with an unicorn ghost herding the PCs toward the village of Astig, where further issues ensue. Delving into the social dynamics of the small place and trysts long gone, the PCs have to find out, what has happened to the unicorn... and during the investigation, also manage the dynamics between a nymph and her forlarren sister as well as prevent a bound demon from being released by the mastermind of the unicorn's demise. All in all...an okay investigation. It's background isn't too special, the means of research not that pronounced, the plot ultimately somewhat simple. It's one of the modules where your PCs are most likely to stumble across the solution without getting all the details. Also: The final ritual, while called incantation in the text, does not get a full incantation treatment, which is somewhat of a pity. Now don't get me wrong, this module isn't bad in any way, but it also could have used more research consequences/pieces to put together. The threat promised by the set-up isn't really followed up on and while timeline etc. help, overall, it is a rather simplistic scenario for an investigation.



Ben McFarland's "To Resurrect the Steigenadler" (intended for level 4) is a whole different beast: When a bone-storm downs the airship the PCs boarded to traverse the wasted west, not only do their actions determine whether NPCs survive the crash, they also find themselves beseiged by mad cultists, terrible beasts born from insanity and in an area that simply is one of the most iconic, deadly ones in Midgard. In order to make the ship once again rise to the skies, brains, brawn and stealth are all required in a tale of survival, madness and consequences. Breathing the flair of the wasted west, this module is superb and ranks among the finest crash-landing scenarios I've seen in quite a while - once again, one of the legends and befitting Ben McFarland's superb resumé.



Erik Freund's level 5 module, "Masquerade", takes a different approach: Two-star-crossed lovers on different sides of a war, a forced marriage looming...realize something? Yes, this module is essentially "Romeo & Juliet"...much like some other modules I've read. But don't skip! Why? Because it is distinctly NOT "Romeo & Juliet" - the player characters first have to brave the seedy underbelly of Capleon for legwork and to acquire an elixir that is supposed to put Seletta, the Baron's daughter into a coma. In order to deliver the elixir, the PCs have to infiltrate a masque ball (complete with a SUPERB mini-game between Exposure and gaining enough clout to approach Seletta) - upon delivering the assassination attempt, a wild chase resumes, the after math of which is depending on the PCs managing exposure versus subtlety. Trying to retrieve her comatose body by breaking into the cemetery, the PCs finally have to flee the city and intrude into a realm in-between of Hellraiser-like madness between pain and insanity to finally face an ending that may be resoundingly triumphant or just as heart-rending bitter-sweet as its literary inspiration. The premise made me groan, the execution is so utterly ultra-glorious, though, that I can simply only slow clap to the ambition of the author. One legendary, smart epic indeed and one of the best modules I've read in ages.



Mike Franke's level 6 module "Whispers in the Dark" is more conservative in the ground it treads by having the PCs explore creepy mines and finally brave the derro-incursion beneath Breccia. Overall, a weird little crawl that, much like the second module, doesn't read as exciting on paper. However, Mike Franke seems to have a gift for fusing encounters and traps into a cohesive whole that works surprisingly well when run, creating an atmosphere beyond the sum of its parts.



Next up would be a module by the master of the macabre, Richard Pett: "Sorrow", for level 7 characters. The module kicks off with the PCs being invited to a "royal" wedding in the backwater town of Twine. As tradition will have it, the King in Rags, a debased Dark fey-lord is out to take the lord's daughter to claim his prize for services rendered in the past and thus, the PCs get to participate in a forced marriage-ceremony, where dancing with baccae, succeeding at fey-tasks and generally breathing the palpable sense of dark fantasy grit is tantamount - even before the lord tries to kill the King in Rags, thus sending his whole county into the fey's domain, where in a race against time, the PCs have to do some hasty hexploration to track down the King in Rags before the entity can consummate his marriage...potentially dealing with former brides and similar fey creatures and only, if they can stop the king's mantle of living crows from stopping their best attacks. The master of horror and dark fantasy at his finest, on par with the legendary "Courts of the Shadow Fey" in delightfully evil dark fey-flair. Another legend!



"Among the red monoliths" by Brian W. Suskind (level 7-9) caters to my preference of shades of grey morality - the city of Bourgund is a radiant place and when the PCs arrive there and have items confiscated, they probably will be rather grumpy, with those white knights mumbling something about primal giant slaying...and they'd better. The order of white knights has fallen victim to the very human sin of hubris and an ally of the most uncommon kind, the dread church of Marena, may all that stands between the city and utter destruction. In order to prevent the immortal primal guardians from escaping the monoliths that litter the city, the PCs have to help the dark cult get their hands on various items and finally, conduct the rite...which adds another issue...it requires human sacrifice. Shades of grey are not for every group, but this module makes a great stance for a module that does require adventuring on the darker sides of morality. As soon as the constantly regenerating giants get free, that ought to be rather clear. Uncommon and a type of module I haven't seen before in commercial publishing and surprisingly in line with how my campaigns tend to run, this one is rather fun, though players who see everything as black and white might disagree.



Thankfully, Brian W. Suskind also gets another module to show off his versatility as an author with the "Five Trials of Pharos", intended for level 10 characters. The premise is as uncommon as they come - Mharot dragon Yiraz invites the adventurers alongside some competing teams to embark on a race to 5 trials, each of which requires the solving of mundane, riddle-like instructions and ultimately is designed to realign ley-lines towards one nexus. The race comes with a vast array of different challenges and the symbolic power of the respective challenges also resounds properly. After a glorious, breathless race, the PCs will even have to save their draconic patron, who has been duped and thus had her body taken over by a grisly, legendary dragon/aboleth hybrid thought long-since perished. Yes. EPIC FINAL BATTLE indeed!



The final module, "The Stacks Between" is penned by no other than Crystal Frasier and takes place in our favorite clockwork-city of Zobeck, to be precise in the legendary, teleporting library Bibliolethe, last repository of so much lore of the reviled Stross family. Entering the precipice on the trail of a vanished mage, the PCs have a scant few 10 hours to navigate bound azata and their contractual obligations to a bound contract devil, avoid the groundkeeper and golems, navigate a cool puzzle-floor and finally defeat the spirit and madness of the library's former master, split in twain by the dread artifact that is responsible for the Bibliolethe's planehopping - if the shadow fey or former victims turned dread undead don't get the PCs first! Success may actually return the legendary library to Zobeck! Gloriously wicked, dark dungeon, somewhat reminiscent of Frog God Games' super "Black Monastery", but unique enough to exist alongside it.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are one of the unfortunate weaknesses of this book and one reason it did not score even higher on my Top Ten list of the best of 2013 - from bolding errors, wrong page-headers and typos to even map-glitches, one more thorough editing pass wouldn't have hurt this one. Layout adheres to Midgard's two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The same holds true for the extremely evocative, cool b/w-artworks throughout the book that convey so much better the darkness and grit of these modules than the deceptively light cover implies. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Speaking of artwork and maps - there is a second pdf that contains look-see-handout versions of the superb artworks and maps and while I'm not a big fan of non-KS-backers paying extra for them, I wouldn't complain, after all the maps are awesome. Or rather, I wouldn't complain, for the second gripe I have is that, once again, we get no player-friendly maps of the places, not even in the extra, for-sale handout-pdf! That's NOT cool - had I paid extra for handouts, I would have at least expected to have the maps sans letters, creature-markers etc. So yeah, that was the second factor that brought this down a notch. On the plus-side, the hardcover I got from the KS is a solid beauty with good paper and solid craftmanship -it certainly looks awesome and production values are top-notch here!



Now don't get me wrong - I've been at my top-notch complaining level throughout the whole review - there is not a single bad module herein. Not one. There isn't even a mediocre one in here. the worst I could say about any given module in this anthology would be that a module is just "good". But how is the ratio? 7 of these modules, on their own, would have me gush, grin and heap superlatives on them. 7.

That's more than 50% A++-modules, of which, I guarantee that much, you won't be disappointed. Add to that that the other modules all occupy slots at the higher echelons, never dipping to mediocrity, and we have an anthology that succeeds at its lofty goal of proving modules that players WILL talk about. That, ladies and gentlemen, is superb density regarding quality and sheer narrative potential. Have I mentioned that most modules herein coincidentally also make simply good reading material? To cut a long ramble short:

This anthology is well worth its place on my Top Ten of last year and 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Tales (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
by Corey D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2014 04:45:08
One thing I love most is that occasional 3rd party piece of material for my favorite role playing game to come out and sweep me off of my feet. Kobold Press has definitely made that happen with their latest book, New Paths Compendium. I myself have been following their New Path character releases for some time when I stumbled onto their Spell-less Ranger class they released a couple of years ago. While I myself may never play some of the written characters, that does not mean they are not well written or mechanically stable, it just different strokes for different folks people. However I must say that all of their classes to this date have impressed me nonetheless and offer a wide range of options. Since we are discussing the classes, I will go ahead and start breaking down my review chapter by chapter.

Chapter One of the book opens up with a full-page art depiction of each character along with their class descriptions and some flavor to boot. There are seven new classes in the book and they are as followed: Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Savant, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger, Theurge, and White Necromancer.

1) The Battle Scion or the “arcane paladin” as per Kobolds description is a neat mesh of Paizo’s Magus and Paladin classes. The Scion carries a full BAB with the ability to launch a Force Blast that grows in power with level, can enhance their weapon like the Magus, along with a few other nice abilities.

2) The Elven Archer is a class based on the iconic image of elves being read about in fantasy novels, which meant a forest dwelling, bow wielding elf. The class plays much like an archery Ranger with a long-range sneak attack ability that scales with level along with an arrow enhancement ability. Kobold has done a fine stand up job by not limiting us with having to actually be an elf if you do not want and can instead opt out by trying out their variant archer designs. These are the Halfling Slingmaster, Dwarven Crossbowyer, and Mystic Archer and they all play similar to the Elven Archer but they have their own unique ability and flavor.

3) The Savant easily has the greatest versatility to ever be laid out in a character. There has never been a truer form of a jack-of-all-trades character than the Savant. The Savant is a character who adopts various persona by using knacks written in their notebook. Knacks can range from weapon proficiencies, to spellcasting, to skill knowledge and come together in unique custom combinations to create the personae the Savant feels is necessary to meet any situation that encounter. This is a class that requires A LOT of prep time and recommends that you have multiple persona written out ahead of time so you will not slow the game down, making it harder on the GM. There really is so much to this class that I find it to really explain without giving away most of its details.

4) The Shaman in a nutshell is a Druid with healing powers. The Shaman bonds with the spirit of an animal that takes a physical form when summoned and acts as an animal companion. The Shaman is also a spontaneous caster using the druid spell list which gives a great option for those who enjoy spontaneous casting, because I know I do.

5) The Spell-less Ranger is easily my favorite class written by Kobold and it was the class that got me interested in the New Paths characters. This class takes all of those iconic Ranger characters such as Aragorn and Robin Hood and makes them playable because magic was not something those guys used…ever. The Ranger gains a few new toys in exchange for losing his spells but the important ones are Stealth Attack, which is essentially a Sneak Attack against favored foes or while in favored terrain, and Ranger Talents. Ranger Talents play much like Paizo’s Skirmisher archetype’s Talents, but these are actually worth losing spells for and are balanced well with a few particularly good choices. There is also a variant for this class that was released with this book called the Skin Changer and it is one that I have been wanting to try out so badly. This variant trades out the favored enemy, combat style, and animal companion of a Ranger with the ability to essentially wild shape into that animal instead that scales like a druid so it actually feels pretty balanced and a ton of fun if you are into playing a shifter without contracting a terrible were- disease.

6) The Theurge is an amazing spellcaster that allows you to cast divine and arcane spells right from the get go, without having to make that climb into Paizo’s Mystic Theurge prestige class which typically took at least 10 levels to get to and the character feels gimped the entire way there. Well fear no longer, because the Theurge can do that from level 1 and can even cast two spells at the same time given that one is arcane and one is divine. Their only downfall is how many spells per day they can actually pull off but then again, if they could cast all day like other classes, then it would be broken and probably banned from tables so I find it very balanced in that fact.

7) Finally to wrap up this chapter we have the White Necromancer, which is not bad per se, but it is probably my least favorite of the six. Essentially this class is a “good” necromancer that studies life and death instead of exploiting it for their own nefarious purposes. If necromancy is your cup of tea, then this class has a lot to offer. At first they cannot cast “evil” necromancy spells as well as a necromancer and this costs them two spell slots to do so which can make tough goings, but later down the road this is negated. They have a pretty decent spell list that consists of a mix of cleric and wizard/sorcerer which rounds out their arsenal.

Chapter Two contains the Archetypes section of the book. In it, eight classes are given new archetype options. Some of them are the New Path classes: Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger and White Necromancer, while the other three, the Gunslinger, Monk, and Ninja, are some of Paizo’s own.

1) The Battle Scion features two new archetypes. The first is the Bonded Scion, which lets him take an Arcane Bond, though it must be a weapon, and improve it further. There are also a few sweet abilities that go along with it. The other one is called the Force Blaster and it does just that, removing the focus from mainly melee, and instead opting for a blaster type role that boosts the Scion’s force blast capabilities.

2) The Elven Archer got two new archetypes as well. First is the Royal Guardian, which removes the wilderness feel, the Elven Archer brought with him and instead incorporates him into a more societal class by taking on things such as social skills and useful urban environment abilities. Second is the Plains Rider, which is essentially an Elven Archer with a mount and some abilities to go along with it. Not a lot of crazy cool things going for it but it is more options, and that is never a bad thing.

3) The Gunslinger got quite a few new options in this book and scored seven new archetypes, and honestly they are some of my favorites in this book. First is the Black Hat, which carries a really fun “gun witch” feel. The archetype gets abilities that debuff opponents, cause mechanical malfunctions, and still pack the full wallop of toting a gun in PFRPG. Next is the Black Reaver, which is in fact a Barbarian archetype, but it being the only one, would have been a waste of space and ink for unnecessary text. This archetype gives a Barbarian the Amateur Gunslinger feat and various deeds that work with firearms. Really there is not much to say on this one. The next one though steps up it’s A game for sure. The Coilgunner is an archetype that drops the traditional firearm, and instead expands into the science and ancient artifacts side of guns. This archetype uses a coil gun rather than a standard firearm, which essentially can fire two types of ammunition. The first is the standard projectile like other guns can fire, but the classes deeds can change that up and allow a Coilgunner to overcharge their guns and hurl bolts of electricity instead. The only real problem with the class is it is dependent on a cooperative GM to gradually help you keep it upgraded by implementing other lost technologies into his/her campaign, otherwise I can see this archetype falling behind. The Futurist is a Witch archetype but totes firearms which are a really cool option. The Futurist can enchant their bullets with hexes thus causing the creature to take the effect of the hex along with the damage, which is awesome. They also give up their patron/familiar for some really cool effects. The Gunfighter is next on the list and is a Fighter archetype. This one like most Fighter archetypes, allow the Fighter to focus more on guns and thus gain additional abilities for them. If you like feats and guns then this option is for you. The Hellfire Preacher is a Cleric archetype and is full of broken faith flavor. This Cleric archetype is one who is on the edge of renouncement of their faith so in exchange for a weakened connection with their deity, they are granted firearm usage and a really nifty smite ability that looks to be pretty strong but is only applied to one attack. Finally in the Gunslinger department, we have the Noble Shootist and this one is a Gunslinger archetype. This is the personable Gunslinger with social skills to boot. This one seems pretty fun if you are into the whole bravado feel that a Gunslinger can have.

4) The Monk, like the Gunslinger got quite a few options to play with. First is the Beast-Soul Monk, and the first thing I thought when reading this was “Altered Beast” from the 90’s arcade games. This archetype scores the Monk and animal companion and allows them to later transform into their animal companion so it’s like a wild shaping monk with no spells. Next is the Clockwork Monk, which is a racial archetype for the Gearforged race. This is one of the only classes I cannot truly review just due to the face I have never really read up on the Gearforged class itself. But the archetype itself seems very strong. The Monk of the Compliant Style Rod is the bo staff monk that people enjoy playing. If you are a fan of the bo or quarterstaff then this option is for you. Next is one of my favorite Monk archetypes, and that is the Monk of the Glorious Endeavor. This archetype is all about focusing on one weapon of the users choosing and is given appropriate monk abilities that make that one weapon better. Personally I have always loved the flavor of the wandering swordsman in nothing but robes and a katana on his side and a ki pool attached to such a character just gives it so much flavor. It’s just a great archetype and even gets to use feats the affect unarmed attacks with their chosen weapon…Stunning Weapon!!! The Monk of the Peerless Mountain is the kicking monk. Finally an archetype that focuses solely on using their feet, and I must say, they can be quite effective. Focusing on the Cleave feats to deliver their main source of damage opens up new possibilities for Kobold to expand on other feats like this and expand them through a class. The Paper Drake Monk is next on the Monk’s archetype list. This is a monk whose martial arts style revolved around origami and the form the paper itself takes. All in all it is a pretty cool archetype. I feel like I saved the best for last, or I guess I should say Kobold Press did, but we have the really cool Six Talismans Monk. I feel like this is a monk archetype straight out of an anime. The Six Talismans Monk is an archetype that takes pieces of paper known as talismans, and attaches various effects such as exploding fire damage, hold person, and flesh to stone, and slaps them onto an opponent who then takes the damage or effect. If anyone is familiar with the anime Outlaw Star or even Naruto, it is easy to see there are semblances in place that are quite noticeable.

5) The Ninja got two new archetypes in this book and both are as follow. First is the Elemental Ninja, who essentially takes on an element like fire or water and they gain abilities like a wizard of their elemental school would. It’s a fun option that is there for sure. Secondly is the Mist Stalker who gets certain bonuses while standing in fogs, gases, or mists. This is almost a must if anyone wanted to focus on striking from forms of concealment. I hope in the future we get some more Ninja archetypes, because even though these are pretty cool, I have a strong appetite for more.

6) The Shaman is next on the list of classes with archetypes. First is the Elemental Shaman which allows the shaman to form a bond and wild shape with an elemental rather than an animal which is great since I typically prefer elementals to animals personally. The Primal Shifter is next on the list, and this archetype focuses more on the wild shaping factor. The Primal Shifter takes diminished spellcasting in exchange for extra wild shaping goodies. Later they perform a ritual dance that takes their wild shaping even further with really strong buffs that cannot be missed. Finally we have the Witch Doctor who takes diminished wild shaping in exchange for spells and abilities that focus on healing and the undead.

7) The Spell-less Ranger only has two options this time as well but both of those options are absolutely fantastic. First is the Dual Style Ranger who can only take a single Favored Enemy but in exchange can take up two combat styles and the Ranger gets free feats for both styles at the appropriate level. The other archetype is the Companion-Bound Ranger, and they only take a single Favored Terrain in exchange for a very strong animal companion. The companion comes from the Druid companion list and even levels with the Ranger like a Druid’s companion does. This leads to a very strong animal companion for a Ranger. I personally run a Spell-less Ranger in a campaign that has sadly halted due to life getting in the way but I must contest that this is easily my favorite 3rd party class I have ever toyed with and actually play using BOTH archetypes due to them stacking and I must say it was a blast while I was playing it.

8) The White Necromancer is the last of the classes to get archetypes. The first of two new archetype options is the Necrotic Healer. This archetype focuses more on the healing aspect rather than the summoning and controlling of the undead. The Necrotic Healer is seen as a “self-sacrificing” character that strives to ease the pain of others and divert it into them. The other archetype is the Grave-bound, and this one is pretty cool. The Grave-bound take on an undead companion that varies from ghosts and zombies to mummies and vampires and they gain new abilities as the Necromancer gets stronger. It’s a really cool aspect on companions that has not really been toyed with much and has earned my seal of approval.

Chapter Three is the Feats and Traits section of the book. Kobold has released a good 20 pages worth of feats and traits that should not be passed up on. There are plenty of options in the book that relate to a bunch of the new classes that have been introduced in this book. Feats and traits are not something one person can really review on since like any good food, game, or gadget, they are built for taste and not everyone will like every little thing detailed. One thing I can hit on however is at the end of the chapter, Kobold introduced scaling combat feats which essentially allow the user to take one feat such as Cleave at a higher prerequisite than normal and when the users BAB reaches a certain number, they then gain the effects of the next feat in the chain. This is great for those who do not want to take every feat in a chain to be effective and allows a character to expand and try other new feats. I know personally this is great because typically when I plan out my builds, the first 12-15 levels are planned out to a tee for maximum survivability and I never get to toy with other flavorful feats.

Chapter Four is the spells section. Like feats and traits, there is actually not a lot I can talk about without giving away information involving specifics, plus there is that whole certain spells are not for everybody thing. I can say this however, you will not be disappointed.

Chapter Five is the Magic Items and Gear section. Kobold added seven new monk weapons to the list and gave us some new arrow and bolt options which are pretty cool. We got five new magic items and for the most part they are pretty cool as well including a collar for your animal companion that acts as armor. Finally the last section talks about three legendary magic items and base rules for making your own legendary magic items. There is a write-up on those three particular items and the requirements to attune said items to a character of your very own. That section alone had me wanting Kobold Press to do another companion piece that focused on legendary items such as these and maybe included stories of how those owners reached legendary status. It was only two pages of the book, but I felt it was the most open ended section of the book that had me craving more.

Chapter Six is the final chapter of the book and it is the tracking sheet section. From animal companions to prepared spells tracking sheets, there are plenty of sheets for any character. Some of the positioning feels a bit weird on a few of the sheets, but they really are streamlined to minimize the number of sheets needed to run your character effectively.

So all in all my experience with Kobold Press’s New Paths Compendium is nothing but positive. This is easily the best 3rd party book to come out in the last little bit and I strongly recommend anyone interested in anything mentioned in this review to give this book a shot. You will not be disappointed at all. I cannot wait to read and hopefully review the next book produced by them. My hat is off to Marc Radle for leading this book to perfection and with the help of an amazing staff.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2014 13:29:05
Whether you are after a unique item for your combat wardrobe, want to know just what to do with the remains of the last creature you slew or have designs on a profitable sideline selling helmets and shields, this might prove of interest.

First up we get straight to the bottom line: how much do monster hide helmets and shields cost? Important for both buyer and seller, or even if you are finding the raw materials and want to know how much to charge the craftsman who wants them. Or of course, if you are dividing the spoils of an adventure and include stuff you can make helmets and shields out of.

Next are three feats: Monstrous Aspect, Taxidermic Crafter and Terrifying Trophy. Interestingly, only Taxidermic Crafter is for the would-be craftsman, the other two are for people who choose to wear items made from monster bits, enabling them to draw on them to gain special powers. This might at least get some people think about getting such items...

The next section looks at different kinds of helmets and what you need to make them. A few completely developed examples are given, but the main strength is giving you the tools (game mechanical tools I mean, not craft ones!) to design and make a helmet out of whatever monster parts you can obtain, and deduce appropriate special properties or characteristics. Finally, shields get the same treatment.

Perhaps this is a rather specialist niche area. Many characters won't be particularly interested. But even if they don't want to start crafting or commissioning monster hide helmets and shields, they could make interesting items to fill out a treasure horde.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 2: Helmets & Shields from Monster Hides
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Midgard Tales Map & Art Folio (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/14/2014 10:57:17
If you are running Midgard Tales and like showing your players what their characters see, grab a copy of this...

It's packed with maps, floorplans and illustrations apposite to each of the Midgard Tales adventures - each one occupying a full page (so no trying to hide other things when showing the players something) and unlabelled so that nothing is given away.

The plans are particularly useful as many of the complexes visited in the course of these adventures are of unusual shapes and prove quite tricky to describe in words. What is it that they say: a picture's worth a thousand words?

The illustrations, in a range of different styles, will also help you bring various scenes and characters to life as the game proceeds.

OK, you don't need this to run Midgard Tales, but using it to effect has the potential to enhance your adventures with some quality visuals.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Tales Map & Art Folio (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Party of 1: Elgar Fletch and the Dark Army (solo adventure)
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2014 02:44:43
This is my favorite of the Party of 1 adventures, probably because the hero is a ranger, and ranger has been my favorite class for years. The game plays like a Choose Your Own Adventure book and is quite entertaining. Elgar is a likable character and with stats for him at both 1st level and 3rd level, he can be added to a tabletop game with only minor tweaking.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Party of 1: Elgar Fletch and the Dark Army (solo adventure)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Compatible Edition
by Sylvain B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2014 00:10:27
I have received this pdf by purchasing the print + pdf bundle for an extra $10 from Kobold Press' website. Here are my first impressions of the pdf as I await my printed copy.

This 110 pages file (104 of which are actual content) is packed full of flavorful creatures statted for the 13th Age RPG. Most entries contain a handful of variants, at least one of which is well-illustrated. Lists of carried items and adventure hooks are also provided along with the usual background and description. The association of some new magic items with many of the creatures is an interesting approach. Additional PC races are also offered although the treatment given to some of them is somewhat brief. The book then closes with Icons linked to the Midgard campaign setting and proposed as substitutes to those in the core book.

All in all, the new creatures, magic items, PC races, and Icons contained within can be ported to any game and make for a worthwhile supplement to the 13th Age line even if Midgard is not used as a campaign setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Bestiary: 13th Age Compatible Edition
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Advanced Races 5: Ravenfolk (Pathfinder RPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/06/2014 04:34:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press' Advanced Races-series is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC,1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



All right, let's get one thing out of the way - I LOVE Tengu and I adore the Midgard Huginn - blending one of my favorite races with a distinct Germanic/Scandinavian tone, the fluff of this race is simply glorious. Idea-wise...but can the content stand up to the concept? Racial trait-wise, Huginn (or Heru/Heruti, as they are known in the South...) get +2 Dex and Wis, - 2 Con, 30 ft movement, low-light vision, +2 stealth and perception, +4 linguistics (and two languages per rank invested) and are sword-trained (read proficient) with ALL sword-like weapons.. A list of examples are given and honestly, I don't get why punching daggers have been included in it. Seeing that weapons like elven curve blades and kukris are included, I think a slightly tighter set would have been still enough. They also get a 1d3 bite attack, which I assume works as a primary natural weapon, though the pdf does not explicitly specify that. Fluff-wise, the insights into Ravenfolk culture, psychology, nesting as well as the unique concepts as conveyed per their intricate Feather Speech, which contains otherwise untranslatable concepts - this chapter is just awesome. Did you for example know about the Huginn rookeries and ghettos, about the tsar of Vidim using the Huginn as elite-soldiers and spies? We also get to know about the Huginn of Zobeck as well as those of Nuria-Natal before being introduced to the Ravenfolk's take on various adventuring classes.



A total of 13 alternate racial traits are provided, allowing you to flavor your Huginn as servants of Horus, Wotan etc. Huginn blessed by Wotan may for example learn to speak with the dead, southern mystics arcane sight (though the spells are not properly italicized). Another trait allows the huginn to get a 1d8 claw attack in lieu of being swordtrained - I assume as a primary natural weapon, but I'm not sure since the pdf fails to specify. Also: Does this claw attack qualify as improved unarmed strike? While from the standard-rules it of course doesn't, it would be kind of cool as an idea. (And no, I won't hold that against the pdf.) Another trait allows for the investment into the fly-skill (and said skill as a class skill) sans having access to a fly speed as well as for the diminishment of falling damage via the fly skill.



A total of 6 racial feats allow for further customization, with those born from the bloodlines of Huginn and Muninn, the ravens of Wotan, being able to reroll saves versus enchantment or transmutation-spells 1/day - neat! The other 4 feats unfortunately offer cool fluff, but also rather lame +2 bonuses to skills as well as bonuses to e.g. damage versus aberrations, saves versus necromancy etc. Oh well, the fluff of the feats at least is rather cool.



We also get new archetypes: Wotan's Doomcroaker-oracle get clairaudience/clairvoyance as a spell-like ability (AGAIN not italicized) or contact other planes. The capstone allows for legend lore AT WILL as well as automatic stabilization and immunity to fear effects, though at least the stabilization will be all but inconsequential at this level. An ability for more negative HP until the oracle perishes would be neat... Marc Radle's excellent spontaneous caster, the Shaman-class, gets new fodder with the Black feather, which nets the shaman not only relatively fast flight and the ability to assume avian shape, but also feather fall at will and the new corvid spirit guide. Sea Ravens are essentially huginn vikings that can forego basic weapon dice (i.e. dealing only str-mod damage plus similar modifiers) for free intimidates as well as bonuses while at sea and later the rapid attack quality of the mobile fighter archetype. Tomb Raven Wizards double numeric effects of spells targeting undead, which makes them superb slayers of undead and deadly necromancers - to the point where I'm not sold on the effects - doubling? Seriously?. They also get an additional attack on the turn after an ally's been reduced to 0 hp or fewer - though this ability needs specification: Is this attack an action? Is it executed at the highest BAB? What if there is no eligible target? This one needs cleaning up. The final archetype would be the Thief of Secrets is an acolyte of the teaching of Thoth-Hermes and gets detect magic at will as well as 1/day obscuring mist and passwall. They also are specialists of fighting with quarterstaffs. Okay, I guess.



We also get 6 new spells - an improved level 3 version of fox's cunning (and its mass version), a cantrip for strange obscure pieces of knowledge from Mimir's Well. Mine! makes an object of your desire (at close range, but the spell lacks the precise range usually included in spells) insubstantial. This spell is a can of worms - when cast on magic gear, for example, does the wearer becoming incorporeal prevent the item from falling? What about cursed items? Those that require attunement periods? The idea of the spell is cool, but the execution would require a significantly more detailed text. Ravenfolk's Revocation allows the caster to prevent creatures from flying, but thankfully only works on creatures already on the ground. Cool one! Finally, Shrieking Flock acts as Mislead + a frightening effect for targets with not that many HD. Nice variant.



We also get new pieces of mundane/alchemical equipment herein - from putty that allows Huginn to disguise themselves as other featherless, beakless humanoids, feather dyes and bleaches (with their meanings!), lozenges to alter voices, a guide of feather speech, a quill that may contain elaborate messages and a particularly effective cloak make for culturally distinct, cool pieces of equipment. On the weapon-side, we get beak razors, fighting spurs and wing razors - making bleeding more painful, working better with called shots (and having an alternate bonus if you don't use called shots) - all in all, cool secondary benefits to these weapons.



Finally, we get 4 new magic items - Wotan's Whisperers are stone ravens that unerringly find their targets via the ways of the world tree (no tracking these!) and deliver their messages exclusively to them - which oozes the stuff of myths. The Sword of the Sea Raven allows Huginn to determine whether a vessel carries valuable cargo, whereas the Spear of the Sun Hawk is particularly effective versus evil, undead, can be whirled to generate true sunlight. Good huginn may does something that requires careful thought - they may throw the spear at a target and ignore any range penalties - the spear has essentially unlimited range, with only visibility limiting its range. Upon being used this way, the spear turns into a regular masterwork spear for 3 days, though. This is awesome! Finally, a minor artifact, the Thief of Many Things, a carved wooden raven. Whisper to the raven and it will steal something for you - something which will potentially endanger you, be not applicable to your situation or be just the thing you needed. Great storytelling potential here!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but far from perfect - while there are not that many issues in the rules-language as in the Dragonkin-installment, the amount of avoidable italicization-glitches is a bit annoying. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard for Midgard and the artworks in full-color and b/w are universally awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author Wade Rockett has delivered a compelling supplement here, but one that sees me torn - the crunch herein, while not flawed, just isn't that inspiring - rules-wise, you will not be wowed by this supplement. Where he instead excels is with the fluff - the insights into Huginn society and psychology, the fluff behind many of the pieces of crunch - they are awesome and make the at times downright bland bonuses e.g. a couple of feats deliver seem almost jarring. Where the blending works best, superbly so, in fact, is with the items, both mundane and magical - they are universally awesome, cool and fun and deliver an eclectic blend of storytelling potential/narrative-driven options, unique weapon-enchantments and culturally significant items - were this just about the items, this would be 5 stars + seal of approval.



Alas, it isn't and I have to take the relatively uninspired feats and archetypes, the problematic spell, the formatting glitches etc. into account - and, unfortunately, they do drag the pdf down from the heights that the information on Huginn culture, the items and superb coolness of the fluff would deserve. In the end, I will settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform because though personally, I value ideas above everything else, the minor issues add up. However, one can still design/assign other rules to the ideas herein, whereas ideas are what inspires one to do so, and idea-rich this indeed is - the author has taken more than a tiny sip from Mimir's Well. One final caveat: When not using this in Midgard, i.e. ignoring the fluff, detract 1 star from the rating.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 5: Ravenfolk (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/05/2014 11:55:08
Whether or not you have been collecting the 'New Paths' series, if the idea of being something just that little bit different appeals this is well worth a look... and there is new content as well as an efficient reorganisation of the material to make this a very useful reference, be you a player looking for a novel character or the GM who has to handle him in play.

The first chapter looks at the new base classes introduced in this series: Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Savant, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger, Theurge and White Necromancer. Each comes with a dramatic full-page illustration of a member of that class and extensive game mechanical and flavour details about what it is like to follow this profession and all the rules you need to do so. As well as the Class Features and necessary tables, there are also notes on how best to play one, role-playing ideas to help you bring the character to life, and a sample character - use it straight off if you are in a hurry, or as a template to build your own.

The next section provides a whole bunch of archetypes for each of the new classes as well as for the existing ones. Excellent for those of you who like to plot each and every element of your advancement - and if some of my players are anything to go by, this is something that is growing in popularity. So even if you are not looking to play one of the new base classes, there are still plenty of ideas for new and fascinating directions in which to take your Gunslinger or Monk or... and of course, if you are willing to take levels in more than one class it can get even more interesting.

This is followed by a mammoth collection of new Feats and Traits - put it this way, the one-line summary chart runs to 3 pages before you even get to the detailed write-ups. Again, this is well worth looking over whatever class you play, there's bound to be something that will give that tailor-made twist to your character.

The next chapter has a selection of new spells. Many are referenced in the spell lists available to the new classes, but most can be used by anyone with the necessary casting abilities. Finally, there is a catalogue of new magic items and magic gear for anyone who has the shopping (or crafting) urge. The highest level group of my players has just started to get into magical item crafting big style - they even asked that I held off the next adventure for a couple of weeks game-time so that they could finish making what they wanted! - and this can be an exciting angle to develop as characters get to sufficiently high levels. Even if you are not so much into the magic, there are some new weapons and other items of equipment to consider.

OK, you now have all these exciting abilities at your disposal, so you may find the bunch of Tracking Sheets provided of use to, well, keep track of them - everything from tracking your arrow use to keeping a tab on what your summoned creatures are up to.

If you like pushing the limits and trying out new character concepts and ideas, this is recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2014 10:32:43
If you cannot get enough adventure on the high seas (you are not alone), this work contains four complete new islands in Midgard's Western Ocean (already featured in Journeys to the West and Pirates of the Western Ocean) along with a glorious 2-page map, more monsters, a selection of NPCs and more.

The islands are described as 'lesser' but come provided with a wealth of information on history, geography, interesting locations and notable inhabitants. There's a nice colour map too... everything you need to facilitate a visit by the party to the island in question. Even better, there are interesting features to investigate and full-blown adventure hooks to kick matters off to a flying start. Snippets of poems and songs, and exerpts from the journals of one Bellalucca Caravicci adorn the pages too, building up a rich and living background that you can present to your players.

If you enjoy Bellalucca Caravicci's contributions, she is also written up as a full NPC, perhaps the party will meet her - maybe even feature in future journals!

The monsters are fascinating and unusual... the Diving Bell Spider (which traps air in its webs so as to live underwater although it's air-breathing!) and the Carnivorous Ship stand out, but there are other intriguing creatures there to meet/fight with.

Finally, there's a full plan of a galleon: views of each deck from above and a side elevation which helps you make sense of the layout.

A good addition to the Western Ocean, and even if you don't play in Midgard the islands could be located in any suitable sea with little modification - and of course the NPCs, monsters and the galleon are useful wherever you play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 16 to 30 (of 255 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates