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Class Options Volume 4: Brutal Barbarians
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 18:31:46
Brutal Barbarians is another great product in the Class Options series. Four appropriate and cool pieces of artwork, bookmarks (not something you always see in a 12-page PDF), and lots of good options for building alternate barbarians.

Black Rage is an alternate Rage similar, but different from, the old Frenzy option. The Wild Shaman feels something like a Barbarian-meets-Cleric or Druid, granting orisons, the domain powers of one nature-themed domain, and either Command Undead or Turn Undead instead of gaining the standard rage benefits. It's not an option for every character, but it definitely fills an interesting niche mechanically and flavor-wise.

Several new Rage Powers are introduced, including Brute Charge (count as one size category larger when bull rushing or overrunning), Enchanter's Foe (bonuses against a foe that tried to use an Enchantment spell against the Barb), and War Cry (grant self and allies an effect similar to the Bless spell with a shout). Great Hands may be a little too powerful, allowing a Barbarian to wield a weapon one sizes larger while raging, but this will depend how loose your group is. There are also a few options for a barbarian who wishes to have a mount here.

Which is good, because the very next thing we get is an alternate class feature called Horse Lord, adding to the movement speed of any mount the Barbarian rides instead of the Barbarian himself. Other options here include a weaker version of Favored Terrain or bonuses to Handle Animal, Knowledge (Nature) and Survival instead of Trap Sense, which always felt a bit weird on the Barbarian to me anyway. Mage hunting Barbarians may prefer Spell Resistance to Damage Reduction, and as in previous Class Options, we get alternate capstones. Painless, Spell Breaker and Battle Weaver are all very cool alternates to Mighty Rage.

The next idea is very interesting - Barbarian Bloodlines. Basically lists of specific rage powers based on the idea of a monstrous ancestry such as Basilisk, Cyclops, Genie or Troll, they also have Heritage Marks that are active even when not raging. I'm sorry to say I have to reduce my rating to 4 stars because some of the Heritage Marks seem too good, a +1 to natural armor or Cold Resist 5 for no apparent trade-off. I suppose the downside is that you HAVE to take a Rage Power associated with your Bloodline, which sometimes include subpar options like Low-light Vision or Raging Climber... actually you know what, forcing me to take Raging Climber in exchange for +2 AC at 11th level is totally fair. 5 stars it is.

Finally we get some feats, some relating to the bloodlines. Interesting ones include Iron Vitality (increase Str and Con even further while raging, but take Str and Con damage at the end of the rage), Naked Savage (intelligent foes take a penalty to hit you if you wear no or light armor), An Ancient Heritage (a bonus to knowledge skills for Barbarians?! I like it.) and a few more options for mounted Barbarians.

All in all, a great product, with lots of useful and flavorful options.

EDIT: Also a few nice options for unarmed Barbarians, if you're into that kind of thing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Options Volume 4: Brutal Barbarians
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Class Options Vol. 3: Rangers Renewed
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 18:08:48
I've gotten to the point where my biggest complaint about Gun Metal Games is that they don't release Class Options more often. Then again, maybe the long time between releases is part of what makes these PDFs such high quality. Rangers Renewed in particular includes options to make a LOT of things possible that I've either always wanted, or didn't know I wanted until I saw it.

First are a series of alternate class abilities, including Favored Companion (get an animal companion from first level, but no Favored Enemy), Favored Weapon (focus on a combat style to the exclusion of a Favored Terrain - powerful, but very cool), Urban Rangers, alternate options for Hunter's Bond, options to focus on a single Favored Enemy or Terrain for additional bonuses but less variety (again, maybe a bit powerful if your campaign is very centered, but probably a fair trade for the lack of versatility in most games), and several others. There are also two alternate Capstone abilities, which means this PDF provides good options for all 20 levels of a Ranger's career.

Next we're introduced to some new combat styles, something I've always loved to see for rangers. Greataxe Fighter, Rapier and Spear-Fighter each open up a new specific weapon for the Ranger, Mounted Combat will be great for any plains outrider types, while Beast Master and Runner each focus on less combat-specific applications of the Ranger. There's also the Trapper for bolos and nets, a Mage Killer, and the Wild-Born Ranger which actually gains a bite attack.

Spell-less Rangers are another personal favorite of mine. Rangers Renewed presents an option reminiscent of something I once saw a 3.5 3PP: the Ranger gives up spells to gain additional abilities related to their Combat Style. Each option is very interesting, great flavor and appropriate power, and are rarely something that can easily be reproduced by just another feat. On the downside, they don't kick in until 11th level, leaving a Spell-less Ranger between 4th and 11th levels in something of a lurch.

Finally we get new feats, mostly animal companion-related or to fill out combat styles such as Spear Fighter or Wild-Born Ranger that didn't have enough appropriate feats in core. That said, there are options for traditional rangers as well, including a few fun things for archers.

There's only three pieces of artwork, but all three are PRETTY. Format's clean, wording is clear, and overall this is just a great product. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Options Vol. 3: Rangers Renewed
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Feats 101 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 17:51:34
As you might expect of a product with over 100 feats, Feats 101 is a bit all over the place. Quickly - formatting is good, grammar and spelling errors are minimal, and the artwork is good though not exceptional. The feats themselves range, some perhaps a bit too powerful, some a bit too weak, but none of them are awful. I'm personally a big fan of some metamagic feats like Shocking Spell which add a rider effect to a spell requiring an additional save instead of increasing the spell level. Some of the Sorcerer Bloodline feats are especially powerful, allowing you to substitute other ability scores in place of Charisma for ALL Sorcerer abilities, though with drawbacks such as giving up an entire school of magic, which do balance it somewhat. Still, something to be careful of when allowing feats from this book. There are also a few new combat maneuvers introduced via feats, Bonded Feats offering more options for animal companions and familiars, two Spell-touched Feats (a 3.5 concept that gives characters supernatural abilities based on their exposure to certain spells), and Talents (special feats only able to be taken at 1st level). Be careful of the Monstrous Physique Talent which allows a PC to increase their size by one category.

Overall a good product, even if there are a few things that might be a little too easy or too good, and well put together, so 4 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feats 101 (PFRPG)
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Ironborn of Questhaven (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 17:43:05
I like this product a lot as an alternate take on the Warforged from 3.5. It has a lot of flavor information specific to the Questhaven setting and is partially written in a first-person perspective from a member of the Ironborn, which honestly was less useful to me. However, if you ignore the fluff and focus on the crunch, what you have is a VERY flexible system for creating a variety of constructs, either as variations on a single race or as entirely different creatures. With rules for small, medium and large Ironborn, 20 or so Ability Packages ranging from Acrobat to Divine Mark to Mountain Design for a variety of abilities, and variable ability score modifiers, you can create nearly anything you want with Ironborn. In fact, that may be one failing - if your group is more focused on pure optimization than anything else, a player can probably find a way to make an Ironborn fill any role they like, but playing a living construct will not appeal to every player, so this probably isn't an issue. Some of the Ability Packages such as Secondbuilt even have options within options, allowing for a high degree of customization. In my game, an Ironborn with +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Str and the Acrobat Package is doing a great job filling in for a player who always wanted to play a Nimblewright PC.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ironborn of Questhaven (PFRPG)
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Undefeatable 10: Rogues (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 17:36:34
A great resource of new and expanded options for feats. A PC in my current group literally could not exist without this PDF - it includes six feats that expand on the Minor Magic and Major Magic rogue talents in various ways, and they have defined the theme of his character from the get-go. He's an absolute blast without being overpowered, and definitely feels different than a standard thiefy rogue. Cornered Rat and Bite Back let you build a rogue that fights best in desperate circumstances, Improved Trap Sense actually makes me interested in Trap Sense as a class feature, and Single-Blade Style offers a boost to a rarely used combat style. Very good product with lots of options, including a few non-Rogues might find interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Undefeatable 10: Rogues (PFRPG)
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Undefeatable 4: Barbarians (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2011 17:31:47
In short: lots of fun options, generally good mechanics, and some great flavor on a few (Bestial Challenge grants you bonuses against a single opponent, but forces you to "spend a full round tearing at their corpse to make sure that they are dead" if you kill them). Iron Stature and Mighty Blows might be a little too good, but it depends how your campaign is run - the halfling barbarian in my game LOVES Mighty Blows (well, Might Blows, one of the only typos in here). Animal Aspects offer a nice set of alternate rage abilities, I imagine Bull and Tiger aspects will be especially common, but there are other good options as well. Spelling and grammar are good, language is clear, format is clean.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Undefeatable 4: Barbarians (PFRPG)
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Finwicket's Bestiary: Along the Faerie Path
Publisher: Clockwork Gnome Publishing
by Timothy L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/01/2011 15:53:45
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purposes of this review.

If I could, I'd probably give this 4.5 stars, but eh, let's round up.

Finwicket's Bestiary: Along the Faerie Path (is that a hint that Finwicket is going to have more entries on other creature types? Because I'd love to see that) is actually more than just a few new creatures. It begins with a fairly detailed (4-5 pages depending how you count it) description of Faerie as a plane overlapping the Material, with information on traveling to and from the plane of Faerie, how its portals work, and the way the plane is split into Dominions. It's all very well done and fits well with fey lore. I especially like the art on page 4 that shows how the overlapping looks. Were this a larger product, or if Clockwork Gnome has any interest in expanding, I'd love to see a product with details on specific Dominions and their Overlords, including more examples of geasa (each Fey Ruler must abide by a rule specific to that individual, or suffer drastic consequences). I'm not sure I necessarily like the idea of Faerie having normal time flow, but at least it's explained well and still allows for mortal confusion.

After this section we get 4 new creatures. Each is introduced with a page of in-character diary by Finwicket, as the first section was. I like these little vignettes, they're interesting and give me a good idea of the flavor of each fey and how to use them in my game. The Faerie Seer is a great option for the next time your game needs an mysterious oracle or sage, the Harvest Haunt is a good example of the curious mix of benevolence and malice that define many fey legends, as is the Spindler. The Spindler is also a bit goofy, but in a successful way, and in a way that fits. Finally we get the Thin Man, a wonderfully creepy fey assassin for those PCs too used to helpful nymphs and dryads.

All in all a high quality product, few spelling errors, layout was clean and easy to read. I liked most of the art, though the Harvest Haunt and Thin Man pictures are a little... weird. Admittedly, Along the Faerie Path is a bit niche, fey are a less often used creature type, but it does a good job expanding your options of them and maybe inspiring you to use creatures you wouldn't have thought of before.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Finwicket's Bestiary: Along the Faerie Path
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