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Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG) $4.99 $3.99
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Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player\'s Companion (PFRPG)
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Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/19/2013 18:24:38
A few weeks ago, I received a pdf review copy of Shadowsfall from the publisher. I’ve taken the time to digest it and expose my gaming group to the content building up to writing the review.

First Impressions and Design

Shadowsfall is a 34 page document, with 27 pages of content and the rest taken up with covers, legal notices, etc., written by Dale McCoy. My initial impression of the book was very favorable – the cover art is very appropriate (I particularly like the kobold – a variant introduced in the book). The content is broken down into bookmarked sections covering all the things a player might be interested in for play on the shadow plane – races, classes, animals, strongholds, feats, equipment, deities, magic, magic items, and altered items.

The inclusion of the Strongholds section in the middle of the book seemed a little odd to me, that it broke up the mechanical, player-side content in the way it did – but it’s certainly not enough to distract from the usefulness of the book – and serves as a good reminder that this is not just a supplement to Pathfinder, but has elements of setting ingrained in it as well.

Overall, the layout and the art are effective and visually interesting. Most of the art is black and white illustration, with two internal color images. The art was all well chosen and well placed to make effective use of space, and to illustrate something in the text – not just to put art on the page.

The Introduction and How to Use This Book sections set up reader expectation well, establish the nature of the book as a player’s guide with setting content, and set a good tone for the shadow plane as the author envisions it.

Races

The information on races provides notes on the core races (and some of the expanded selection of races) that live in the shadow plane, also providing a new racial trait for each. The traits all seem comfortably to follow the expected curve for traits and are interesting. Some are particularly notable for how they link that race to the changes wrought by their shadow existence but others seem less setting-driven and more because they needed a trait for each included race (I’m looking at you, Elf). I found it interesting that they chose to go down the path of “good drow” in this book – something which is dangerously close to cliché at this point – but I can’t really fault them too much, it is a character type which remains popular with players so, opening the door isn’t really all bad.

The book also introduces two new races, the Umbral Kobold and the Wanderer. The Umbral Kobold is interesting beyond the shadow realm. As a much more balanced and interesting kobold variant than the standard kobold in Pathfinder, this was a real treat. I think I would offer this kobold up as a playable race in any game I ran from here on out in place of the normal kobold. The Umbral Kobold has just enough information to make it a shadow plane race but still works beyond the setting, which is always a bonus in a supplement. And while the Umbral Kobold addresses the weakness of kobolds, the Wanderer seems to wander slightly in another direction. The Wanderer is representative of a celestial being who has chosen to live their life among mortals. They provide an interesting alternative option to the Aasimar for a player who wants to have a touch of celestial might or feeling to their character. The Wanderer is a little less powerful than the Aasimar as well (though not by much) which may provide an alternative a GM feels more comfortable with as well. Wanderers have evocative descriptive text and racial traits, which set them apart nicely and provide a race which will appeal to many players – especially a player who wants to experience a very long-term perspective to their character. That said, they suffer even more from the clash of rules and description in their traits because they are immortal, and carry all the memories of their past lives as celestials, but have no traits related to their previous knowledges, skills, or experiences beyond starting the game speaking celestial. I’ve always found this type of interaction frustrating as a player and I suspect I am not alone.

Classes

The section on classes offers new options for many classes, starting with a discussion of how each class fits into the setting and moving to new archetypes for the magus and fighter, as well as a new cavalier order, new sorcerer bloodline notes, a new school for wizards, new witch hexes, and new evolutions that summoners can use for their eidolons. More than anything, what I found myself wishing for in this section was a sidebar for GMs – despite this being a player book, several of the new options presented seemed tailor made for NPCs and could be used to craft some interesting encounters. A small – For the GM sidebar here would have seemed to fit very well and been a useful addition.

The actual abilities in the section are flavorful, some more expansive than others in how much they change or add to a character’s options, but they all seemed well thought-through. I cannot really say if they were playtested though as no mention of playtesters is made in the credits as far as I can tell. Obviously, I have not tried out all of the options in the book but they seem to remain within a good comfort zone for content to add to an existing pathfinder game.

Animals and Strongholds

While these two sections offer a few mechanics, they are primarily setting information – the animals are all designed to fit the dark theme and do so well – especially with the alternate familiars (I’d love a opossum familiar…). The Strongholds outline some locations of note in the Shadow plane for players to use as adventuring sites, bases of operations, or origin stories. The setting information focuses on a sliver of the Shadow plane called, The Southern Peninsula and provides, in a few pages, enough information to draw players into this world. More than anything, it would seem to me that the goal of this setting information (in a player’s guide) would be to inspire players and give them places they want to visit. In this regard, the chapter succeeds though, as someone who rarely draws upon “established” setting information, I found the fact that this was the largest section of the book to be somewhat surprising. And as I previously mentioned, it does break up the flow of character mechanics information in a strange way.

Feats

Two pages of feats follow the Strongholds section. These feats are introduced with some flavor text to contextualize the offerings. Here again is a decent selection of character options that seem to have well-thought out rules matter, make use of the teamwork feat idea, and are a good mix of shadow plane related and general. Some of the feats do seem a little overpowered – primarily because of a lack of appropriate prerequisites. The Shadow Style tree of Style Feats gives me pause as a GM. I’d look long and hard at these before allowing them into a campaign. The high level requirements of the feats do mitigate their amazing effectiveness somewhat but they still have the potential to be problematic.

Equipment

Two pages of equipment offer some new items tied to the stories and setting of the shadow plane and provide new options for weapons, alchemical items, drugs, and even vehicles. The Reaper land vehicle is a classic sword-and-sorcery style vehicle that just seems like a fun addition to any campaign world.

Religion

The section on the religions of the shadow plane offers new deities specific to the setting, a new philosophy, two new subdomains (one based on Kytons, which I’m actually excited to try out), and a new oracle mystery. The new mystery is based around the idea of Joy and is one that seems like it would adapt well to any setting, making it a valuable character option for Shadowsfall but also beyond.

Magic, Magic Items, & Altered Items

Six spells, six magic items, and an assortment of items with altered options round out the offerings of the book. The spells range from variations on existing spells such as a Greater Disrupt Undead spell to completely original offerings. If anything, I would say the spells are too safe in their power level and may be tough sells for players to take over other options. The new spells are clever and flavorful though will increases their interest level.

The magic items are also clever and well integrated into the tone of the book. That said, this section is cramped and doesn’t leave much room for flavor text so it might have been nice to cut an item to allow the author to really amp up the remaining offerings. This is a minor nitpick though as each item has everything you need to bring it to the table. I can’t wait to put a Kyton Slavery Whip in a treasure hoard and see what they players make of it.

The section on altered items is a nice add on to the book. I was surprised by this, though I shouldn’t have been, because of the planar nature of the setting material. More than the specific items though, this section shines for offering up a cool idea and giving it some mechanics and examples. This is something more books could do and when done well it is rewarding.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like the book. This is my second product from JBE (I purchased the Guide to the River Kingdoms when running a Kingmaker game) and I’m happy with the quality of the books, the quality of the content, and the options presented that I feel I can safely add to my games without too much oversight or worry. I could recommend this product to players and GMs, whether running a Shadow Plane themed game or not, and that more than anything means a lot to me.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Bryan M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/06/2013 19:40:04
The idea of shadowsfall being a lost and found collective across all dimensions is fantasic. It makes Shadowsfall the perfect campaign setting to plan a game from 1 to Epic. The exspansive world Shadowsfall can be allows any DM to create entire millenia of backstory to add endless flavor or twist to any campaign.

I like the new races; but Shadowsfall has nothing in the way of new classes, which is very odd for a shadow plane of everything forgotten or lost over the known existence of time. The Wanderer Race is especially intruiging. A fallen angel, Ill-suited to being a paladin or cleric; that can wield a holy weapon no matter what their actual alignment is. Seems like it could make a good reason to play an evil rogue sneak attacking with a holy avenger. Just because you can. Or perhaps a two weapon fighting Warrior with both a good and evil artifact sword, both with their own personalities and psychic voices so they can argue throughout the entire campaign.

I see no true flaws with this book or the campaign setting. It's more vast and open ended than any other world, which for any other setting would make it seem incomplete; but with Shadowsfall it sparks the imagination into the possibilities of the forgotten past and actually encourages DM's to spend months {or even years} creating a unique version of shadowsfall, with special qualities from forgotten pasts that hint at forgotten wars covered up by powerful magic and ancient devices with unknown purposes from unknown planes of existence.

The possibilities with Shadowsfall are truly endless, and as a DM who tends to create campaigns from scrath {or even creat new games altogether} Its nice to finally have a concrete setting with a very changable world.

As a side note to players; look up the sword and socery: relics and rituals core book. The Penumbral Lord Prestige class is an excellent choice for spellcasters in Shadowsfall, if your DM will let you use it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Aaron T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/17/2012 21:36:17
Disclaimer: I was given a reviewer’s copy of this book. However, I am not paid for this review. That said, prior to being asked to review the book, I had already preordered it.

What you get:
This document is 34 pages long: one front cover, one table of contents, one page of OGL with an add, and one back cover leaving 30 pages of plane of shadows content. The physical book has a color cover with a black and white interior. The digital copy comes with two pdf’s: one is a printer-friendly black and white with color covers. It is basically almost exactly the dead-tree print version in pdf form. The second is a beautiful full-color pdf with parchment background. The digital copy also comes with Hero Lab files to allow you run Shadowsfall classes, races, deities, and all the options in Hero Lab. The digital copy also has hyperlinks to the PFSRD website to allow for easy access to all open Paizo content that is referenced. Now that we have the indisputable facts out of the way, let’s get down to my opinions!

Artwork: Jon Brazer Enterprises did not skimp on the art budget for this book. The artwork is mostly black and white and is good to excellent. The most of the art is better than what was in the [i]Book of Beasts Monsters of the Shadow Plane[/i]. There are two pieces of full color art that are very good. The picture of the wanderer is as good as the Player Class artwork that I have seen in the Pathfinder books or in the 3.5 Player’s Handbook. The black and white artwork is still black and white in the full-color-parchment-background pdf, so it sticks out a bit, but the quality of the majority of it is high enough that it doesn’t detract from the reading experience. Some of the highest quality art was of the Shadowfall iconics; I assume that this artwork was commissioned for the Shadowsfall products.

Layout and Editing: Layout adhered to a two-column standard. Editing was top notch. I tip my hat to the new editors at Jon Brazer Enterprises! There were very few errors that I noticed.

Overall Impression: This book is designed to give players and GM’s options for running an adventure or campaign in the plane of shadows. Everything that gets lost on the material plane ends up on the plane of shadows. Undead are much more common on the plane of shadows, and they are less limited there. This is [b]not[/b] a nice place to live. All light sources are cut in half, fire and light spells are harder to cast, shadow spells are easier to cast. Zombies are everywhere.

The plane of shadows slowly changes everyone who lives there, so many of the playable races (pulling lots of material from the Advanced Race Guide) are somewhat modified. Halflings are more like Gollum than Bilbo, Elves grow more Drow-like with each generation, and Dwarves slowly turn into Duergar as the generations go by. Some races are playable that would not normally be played: Dhampir, Drow, Duergar, Hobgoblins, Orcs, and Ratfolk are all common races. There are racial traits for all the races.

Two new races are included: The Umbral Kobold and the Wanderer. Umbral Kobolds are, well, Kobolds. They are small, quick, have darkvision and light sensitivity. The Wanderer is a celestial who has lost their immortality and looks human. I like the flavor of the wanderer race a lot.

Archetypes: Dusk Stalker is a magus archetype that allows a kobold magus to be a bit more roguish. Radiant Knight is a fighter archetype that allows a wanderer to use their Vestige of Holiness to provide themselves with some holy light themed abilities. The Radiant Knight archetype really makes me want to play a Wanderer when I play in Shadowsfall.

There is a new cavalier order, modified dragonblooded bloodlines for sorcerers, new evolution point options for the summoner, a Shadow elementalist school for wizards, and a new Witch hex. There are new animal companion options, including the Riding Dodo. It makes sense that an extinct species would end up on the plane of shadows. There are also new options for familiars; Pathfinder wizards can finally pull a rabbit (familiar) out of their hat!

Seven Strongholds (and the area outside the strongholds) are detailed, getting a half page each. Each also has associated traits for adventurers coming from that stronghold. Each stronghold is unique and well written. The traits do not seem to be overpowered and fit the flavor of each area. Room is left in Shadowsfall for an intrepid group of adventurers to establish their [i]own[/i] Stronghold.

Thirteen new feats are provided, one of which allows any character to gain 30ft. Darkvision (must be taken at first level). There is a set of feats that amount to a Shadow Style for the monk, allowing you to move faster, bypass a portion of enemy armor and deal strength damage. Combat, Teamwork, and Metamagic feats are all represented.

Some new equipment is available, including two new vehicles using the vehicle rules from ultimate combat. Deities across the alignment spectrum are well written and thematically appropriate. The Oracle’s Joy mystery is interesting; it requires a level of bard to access one of the revelations. The capstone ability is very powerful, but not unbalanced for 20th level play.

There is one page of new spells, which are mostly shadow related. I was a bit surprised at the first level spell Flicker, which functions like Invisibility but lasts only until the end of your next turn. The spells seems pretty powerful for a first level spell, but I would have to see how it played out. I can see Wizard/Rogues abusing it.

There is one page of new magic items, that are mostly shadow or undead related. I like the salve that gives you darkvision! I also liked the cloak that operates differently (and more powerfully) on the plane of shadows. Neat stuff here.

The two pages of “Altered Magical Items” is my favorite part of this book. In the same way that the plane of shadows corrupts all creatures that live there, it corrupts the operation of magical items. My favorite is the Ring of Troll Regeneration, which operates exactly like a Ring of Regeneration, except that it slowly changes your appearance so that you look like a troll.

I read all my gaming products on a netbook which has limited processor power; I found that the black and white version had less “lag” than the full color version. I found that I preferred reading the black and white over the color, though if I were to print it out, I would print the color version.

Final Rating: The purpose of this book is to provide options and background for players rolling up PC’s to run in Shadowsfall. It succeeds in that purpose. There are options for all of the PC classes, there are new races (designed according to the Advanced Race Guide rules) for players (and GM’s) to use. Layout and editing were great. I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this book. 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/29/2012 08:48:09
The Shadowsfall Shadow Plane Player's Guide from Jon Brazer Enterprises is one of those pdfs I have been looking forward to, and initial scans through the book do not disappoint, as this is one very professional looking project. Filled with a blend of color and B&W artwork, and one piece of B&W cartography that very much reminded me of long ago days of drawing up maps of fantastical lands for games with friends, the formatting adheres to the standard dual column approach. 34 pages total, with only four of those going to covers, OGL and TOC...leaving 30 pages to the material itself. Well, almost, there's an intro, and a cool coversheet of sorts (a “letter” with illustration) that starts us off.

So...Shadowsfall. Much anticipated as a setting, and here I have yet another piece of this puzzle, this time in the form of a player's guide. And what pray tell does Mr. McCoy choose to cover in this guide? Read on my friends, and I will do my best to cover the pertinent reasons you NEED this book.

Right off the bat it is important to understand that in the Plane of Shadow we are not the top of the food chain when it comes to playable races, nor even the densest population factor. To put it short humans are pretty much outnumbered. In terms of most per capita, the title belongs to the walking dead, as the Shadowsfall setting is about as close as one can get to playing a zombie apocalypse setting without abandoning the fantasy genre. There is a very real underlying threat of the undead permeating this setting, which brings with it the obvious darkness that makes this setting a real treat for those looking to add some Gothic horror to their standard campaign. Second, Shadowsfall, or the Plane of Shadow if you prefer, is an immense realm filled with the forgotten and lost material, places and people of countless worlds and realms. The possibilities for a campaign are insane in that there are so many different cultures worth of items, material and locations all tucked into one place, just waiting to be discovered.

Introduced in the player's guide we finally get stats for the beautiful Umbral Kobold that graces the cover, and that Dale has been teasing us with. An offshoot of the standard kobold race, they are the descendents of a clan of kobold who found themselves trapped upon the shadow plane, and with no heroes to cull their numbers grew and evolved to survive their new home. Also introduced here is the Wanderer, an intriguing player race for a fallen angel essentially...but think more in terms of City of Angels as opposed to Fire and Brimstone here...these celestials asked to leave service for whatever reason, and were granted their leave. Both new races are also accompanied with an archetype suited not only for them, but the shadow plane specifically.

New class options include a new order for cavaliers, new bloodlines, evolutions, hexes and schools continue to provide more options to truly fine tune your character to the shadow plane before delving to deep into these lands. Of these options, the new school of elemental magic was probably my personal favorite, Shadow. Quoting straight from the text, as I think this really speaks for itself...”Shadow represents the memory of what was, the loss of what is, and the broken dreams of the future. It is the lifelessness and despair that comes from a former glory wasting away...” Starting to get the idea that perhaps the term Shadow Plane is referring to more than just that thing you cast on the wall yet?

New plane of course gives us new familiar options, some being shade variants, others being new to the list entirely...giant nightcrawler anyone? Or perhaps a riding dodo?? Nothing says don't mess with me like riding into combat on a dodo...lol

As is the standard within a player's guide for a setting, we are given a brief description and write up for several communities and settlements, their people and basic traits. The immense difference here in looking at how these communities interact is that they essentially don't. Outside the walls of fortified structures lies the undead hordes. Wandering through what is known as the Outlands, or the lands between strongholds, the zombie population and random critters make sure that travel between strongholds is a dangerous enough proposition that one does not partake of it for no reason short of dire importance. Which is why it is easy to see how each of these stronghold settlements have become as vastly different as they have. Each coming to be as a means of defending a place to settle and live against raiders, monsters and the undead in general, they all have adapted a different outlook on what is the best path to take in doing so. Strongholds such as Blackbat – in business with vampire lords trading captured zombies to be used as labor in mines collecting material; Bloodchain – ruled by kytons, the humanoids within these walls pay for their safety by giving in to the sadistic desires of their masters; Kingsgrave – a once mighty stronghold complete with magical orchards providing plentiful food and a contingent of golems protecting them from the undead hordes. All was perfection until the golems turned on their masters, leaving this once mighty region into a ghostland still filled with plentiful foods and treasures for those willing to brave the still patrolling golem guardians. These are but a sampling of the settlements and strongholds detailed here, and truthfully, each has an interesting enough flavor that I would love to see them all expanded upon in future volumes.

Thirteen new feats flesh out the next section of the book, with such offerings as Shadow Style (Combat, Style) – increasing base land speed, and adding your Wis bonus to Fly and Stealth checks. Additionally we are given 2 feats that chain with this combat style to further add to the enhancements. Augment Undead does exactly what you might be thinking it does, adding to STR and HD for undead you create. Fighting Retreat stood out to me as one of those feats that I can see a great deal of intelligent players taking, as it allows for an attack action during a withdraw action...and let's face it, sometimes you just have to run rather than die. And it is always a good idea to be able to fight as you go until you are clear enough to run.

New equipment options include the wartrident, a variant pike style weapon, and several alchemical items like the deathburn and holy orb. Deathburn is a liquid that after application to an undead will change their physical damage to acidic, or cause acidic damage when applied to living tissue. The holy orb is essentially a glass grenade filled with holy water. Two vehicles are presented here as well, one strictly realistic in its design, the other following the eldritch/alchemical route.

Four pages are dedicated to laying out the pantheons of the Shadow Plane, explaining the portfolios of the gods, the viewpoints of their followers, and the subdomains associated to the former. Here within are the Kyton subdomain (Evil, Law) and the Shadow subdomain (Darkness). We're also given a new mystery for oracles, Joy.

Six new spells are introduced with a section opener explaining that within the shadow plane many spells more common on other planes are less effective...I would have liked to have seen perhaps more detail to this statement in game mechanics. It states that fireball would be one of those less effective spells, but does not give us any stats to show this. I am assuming this information will be within the setting guide itself for GM's, as opposed to the player's guide...so I shall be looking for it. If the statement is going to be made that common spells are less useful, and the subschool of shadow is in fact more powerful on this plane (which makes perfect sense) I would think some form of demonstrating this would be extremely useful.

As with the spells, we are given six new magical items as well, with a brief intro stating that very few magical items are actually created within this plane, as most people are concerned more with the task of day to day survival. Amongst these items we have a Cowl of Undead Command, a Kyton Slavery Whip and a Cloak of Darkness. Now in direct contrast we close the book with a chapter detailing several common magical items that have found their way to the plane of shadow, and been altered. And by altered, well, I mean altered...lol. Take the Necklace of Exploding Beads for instance, appearing as a standard type IV necklace of fireballs the beads on this necklace explode instantly upon removal from the strand, not giving you the chance to throw them at a foe....I so want to drop a few of these for my PCs to find...(insert evil laugh)...But, as cool as this section is, I think it further supports my problem with the new spell chapter. The plane changes things, and the time was taken to show that for a few magical items to help clarify this, but the same level of attention was not afforded spells. By stating that spells don't work as effectively, but not detailing any of what is meant by that, I feel a little shortchanged...especially after reading through the excellent magical items section.

OK...final tally of thoughts here. PDF is fully bookmarked, which always makes me happy. TOC was not linked, which makes me frown, but truly, that is a personal thing since bookmarks handle that anyway. I managed to find one editing error in 34 pages...one. That's pretty good, good enough I'm not even considering it as a negative. The art ranges in quality, with a few pieces being truly excellent, the writing was all of good caliber. The idea that has grown into Shadowsfall is interesting and original enough in its approach that it feels brand new without losing the touch of familiar that a setting needs to truly be inviting. That alone deserves it high praise, as that is not an easy task to pull off. So...my feeling that a more expanded explanation of why/how some spells are not as effective would be helpful being my only true negative...and seriously, if that's all I can find to dig at you should have realized by now that this is an excellent player's guide to a fantastically written setting.

I am going with a rating of 5 for this book, as my only complaints came down to personal preferences, not actual issues with the product itself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/16/2012 07:25:38
This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After a nice parchment-like page of fluff, we are introduced to the plane of shadow, respectively its characteristics. After a short description of the planar qualities of the shadow plane, we delve right into the section on playable races. Not only the standard races, but also the drow and duergar, dhampirs, fetchlings, hobgoblins, orcs, ratfolk, tiefling and wayang are covered - all with a new racial trait to reflect the hardening effects of the plane of shadows. There also are two alternate racial traits, one granting halflings darkvision and one granting wayang negative energy affinity and after that, we get even more racial options with new races, first of which would be the umbral kobolds:
Umbral Kobolds get -2 to Str, 2 to Dex and Int, darkvision, 1 natural AC, 2 to Perception, Profession (Miner) and Craft (Trapmaking) with the latter and stealth always being class-skills, are light sensitive and small. The second new race are wanderers, mortals spawned from angels who abandoned their duties to become mortals looking slightly like humans, but being shrouded by an intangible aura of loss and sadness. They get 2 to Con and Int, -2 to Cha, darkvision, are ageless, treat any weapon as good-aligned, get resistance 5 against acid, electricity and cold as well as a 2 bonus to saves against emotion effects they can also extend to allies within 10 ft. The two new races rock hard, can be considered iconic and balanced and are neat, but unfortuantely lack age, height and weight tables, which is a major bummer in my book.

The second chapter talks about the respective classes and their roles in the eternal twilight of the shadow plane. We also get new archetypes, starting with the Dusk Stalker. Presentation-wise, the Player's Guide does something awesome here: Each entry features a short list of associated class, races (i.e. these are exclusive to the respective races), modified abilities and skills before going into the rather major modifications of the base-abilities of the respective classes. The Dusk Stalker is a variant of the magus that gains stealth-based abilities like silent spells, the option to use arcane feints, can expend arcane pool points to potentially silence foes and also get sneak attack. Neat! The radiant knight, especially suitable for wanderers: These fighters may harness their lost angelic heritage, gaining a vestige of divinity. This vestige can be used in a neat variety of ways and a dazzling burst of holy glory, ignore miss chances and aid allies with a bonus to AC and against fear. Also, the radiant knight's light is not dimmed by the darkness of the plane. We also get new class abilities: Cavaliers now can join the order of the blackened heart, an order seeking to cut away any weakness and inflict pain to purge weakness from the cavalier. Interesting, especially since the order is not necessarily exclusive open to evil members, allowing you to play a flagellant-style fanatic just as well as a kyton-worshipper. Sorcerors of the draconic bloodline may now benefit from umbral and quake dragon breath weapons, while summoners get 2 new 4-point evolutions, allowing their eidolon to create deep shadows that block even darkvision or add a touch that deals str-damage that can be used a limited amount of times per day. Witches gain the new blinding light hey, inverting the usual dark connotations of the class, while wizards now can also take the shadow elemental wizard school.

Speaking of arcanists: There are 4 new familiars (rabbit, opossum, pale fox and shadow terrier) as well as 8 new improved familiar option (but sans stats) that actually include the flumph! Neat! Neater, though, are the new 4 animal companion stats included: From a giant nightcrawler to an umbral vulture, we also get 2 stellar ones: Riding Dodos and shade ferrets (which can stand on their hind legs). Awesome!

Now Shadowsfall is anything but a safe haven, yet the intelligent races still prosper in their enclaves - thus, like points of civilization in the dark lands, we get not only a nice, one-page spanning b/w-map, but also 8 regional entries on the grand city states and boy: From the bullwark against the ever-present undead, Bastion, to the arcanocracy of Gear's Gate to the Kyton-stronghold of Bloodchain, the golem-patrolled Kingsgrave that provides shelter for those who manage to evade the constructed guards to even the outlands between the city, we get a nice overview-primer of Shadowsfall. Between 2 and 3 regional traits are provided for each area to customize your characters with backgrounds tied to the setting. Better yet, the traits actually are interesting, providing a minor edge against negative energy or even a DR against non-lethal damage. Nice!

We also get a selection of 13 new feats that allow you t enhance the undead your create, granting you better servants, increase your caster level checks when casting darkness and shadow-spells, a teamwork feat to channel cooperatively, increased accuracy with shadow walk, improved guerilla-sniping, improved dirty tricks etc. The truly interesting feats herein, though, would, at least in my opinion, be the feat-tree for shadow style that increases the movement of the user as well as adding your wis-bonus to fly and stealth. The subsequent feats of the tree allow you to ignore up to your wis-bonus of armor and shield bonuses or use a standard action to deal str-damage to opponents, thankfully with a respective scaling save to prevent attribute damage. Nice, well-designed, no balance-concerns. The final feat I really consider interesting is the Blind Targeted Spell metamagic-feat. You can hit foes with your spells even if you don't have line of effect anymore, as long as the target is still in your spell's range and has been in your line of effect no longer than int-bonus before you cast the spell. At 1 spell-level and the restriction of not allowing the feat to work with touch attack-spells to give away enemy locations, I can only consider this feat to be an excellent piece of design I'll continue to playtest in my home-game - from my vantage point, it looks like a rather cool option and actually one of the rare metamagic feats that doesn't suck.

Of course, adventurers in the Shadow Plane also have their unique, distinct tools of the trade and thus the item section comes with a wartrident as wella s some interesting alchemical items: Cover your undead minions in deathburn to convey the damage of their natural attacks to acid or throw the vials at your foes or pepper your foes with glass orbs filled with holy water. Now, if you cover your body with a paste that contains Kyton-blood, you may convey 1 point of damage per attack to non-lethal damage (can we have more of those?) and another salve allows you to better resist the cold of the plane. Speaking of cold-resistance: Feyschroons (not sure whether that should read "-shrooms") also protect you against cold ina limited manner, but are an addictive, two-edged sword. I'd love to see more drugs in PFRPG and I'm glad the item was included in the section. And now, oh boy, did I grin from ear to ear when I read about the two new vehicles included herein: Reapers, vehicles designed to mow down legions of zombies, propelled by muscle-force would be the first, while the Scout Guardians of Gear Gate's arcanocracy would be the second: Propelled by an eldritch receiver within a certain area (and beyond, at lesser capacity with an alchemical battery), these vehicles are one-man arcane walkers with a ballista strapped to the side. These vehicles are PLAIN FRICKIN' AWESOME! Seriously, can you see Pcs escaping through the woods, running from the city's elite and their walkers, hoping to outrun the arcane warmachines? I can and boy - excellent!
A total of 14 short, primer-entries of the gods of Shadowsfall introduce us to the umbral pantheon (including domains and subdomains) of Shadowsfall as well as new philosophy to adhere to. Speaking of subdomains: We get a new shadow subdomain (though we already have a couple of these, this one is rather neat) and the kyton subdomain as well. The old Ravenloft-truism that the darkest worlds are most in need of heroes holds true in Shadowsfall as well and the joy-mystery for the oracle makes you a beacon of hope and light in this dark lands, including the ability to inflict foes with crippling sorrow and gaining access to limited bardic performances as well as gaining enhanced euphoria-induced healing and the ability to make instant friends. Awesome mystery!

There also are 6 new spells included in the guide, which let you create black, clinging snow, get a miss chance via blinding shadows, grant darkvision to multiple allies, a greater version of disrupt undead, a lesser invisibility effect and a shadow-based enhancement to speed. Finally, we come to the topic of magic items: 6 new ones are included, including a rope that rings its funeral bell when crossed by an undead, a cloak that enhances stealth vs. undead foes, a cowl to better intimidate undead, a kyton's slaver whip and a salve that grants darkvision. Cloaks of darkness in shadowsfall work differently, merging you with the plane and making you invisible to darkvision, but not to regular sight - interesting indeed! Speaking of "working differently" - the final two pages of the pdf are devoted to a selection of 11 magic items that work differently on the plane of shadows, having been changed by the latent energies that suffuse the plane. Rapiers of blood drinking allow the wielder to make a touch attack to drain con from foes, but suffer half the drain themselves. Belts of mighty constitution 4 may now also impart a -2 penalty to Str and result in physical deformities, while necklaces of fireballs can end up as necklaces of exploding beads that immediately go off when removed from the string, necessitating the wielder taking the damage him/herself. I wish this section was longer, I really do - the idea of tainted items and inherent drawbacks as well as their design is excellent.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting can still be considered very good, though not perfect: While I did notice some minor glitches, they did not impede my understanding of the content herein and were few enough and far between. Layout adheres to a parchment-style look, 2-column standard and comes with a plethora of neat b/w-artworks as well as a neat piece of cartography. The wanderer-race and one of the AWESOME new vehicles even get their own neat full-color artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked with extensive nested bookmarks, comes with a plethora of hyperlinks to d20pfsrd (which are not highlighted in the text) and comes with an alternate printer-friendly version that omits the parchment-background. Neat! Hero Lab users should also know that the pdf comes with herolab-files as an additional comfort!

This player's guide is a comprehensive, smart and well-written introduction to the plane of shadows that will whet your taste for the darkness of Shadowsfall. From nice racial options (with full ARG-support, if you like that book) to expertly-written, evocative primers on locales, this book has more to offer than the usual player's guides - While not all feats or spells are drop-dead-brilliant, there is at least one piece of crunch, more often than not multiple ones in each chapter that I'd not only consider innovative, but rather cool or even downright genius. My personal highlights of the book, though, would be the items and cities: Where the cities and areas drip with flavor and coolness and make you want to explore them, the items not only display a grasp of balance, but provide ample rules-representations for the taint of the plane and the resulting double-edged nature of magic items, a trope near and dear to my heart. Add to that the new vehicles and I'm all gushy about this product! After reading the entry on the walkers (which remain deeply entrenched in fantasy and don't become scifi-ish) and reapers, I so hope we'll see more vehicles and perhaps even vehicular combat supplements (adventures, all-out warfare anybody?) for the setting in future supplements.
This pdf would be a prime candidate for the full 5 stars endzeitgeist seal of approval, were it not for one crucial oversight: Neither the umbral kobolds, nor the wanderers get an age, height and weight table and while one could just orient one at the human or kobold entries, I still feel that by making umbral kobolds e.g. especially light or wanderers significantly heavier than humans (weight of sin, anyone?), the two races could have been further improved. This remains my only gripe in an otherwise excellent offering, though, and thus my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, still rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. This is not only a great purchase if you're into the plane of shadows, but e.g. also to scavenge ideas for Carrion Crown APs or any rather dark setting really.

Endzeitgeist out.

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[5 of 5 Stars!]
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