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#30 Alchemical Gadgets (PFRPG)
by Nick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2014 14:10:58
Your enjoyment of Alchemical Gadgets will depend largely on how you view such things. If you were looking for steam punk style devices, this product is for you. Alchemical gadgets has stuff right out of steam punk novel and comic books. Flame throwers and automatic weapons abound! It even contains an entry for a sonic screwdriver here legally distinct as the "Sonic Lockpick". If like me however you were looking for something more low key in line with more traditional fantasy you'll be pretty disappointed. Most of these entries are very over the top and don't really mesh very well into a game unless you are looking specifically add in an over the top steampunk feel.

It is a shame too because the book is very well written. Devises are lovingly described with and each entry includes a bit of flavor text. Further it covers a wide range of devices and functions, most of which are very cinematic in style yet seem very well balanced for game play. As a book of steam punk devices I give it 5 stars a really great and highly enjoyable resource, but as a book on alchemy I found it woefully disappointing so I compromise here with 4 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Alchemical Gadgets (PFRPG)
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2014 03:08:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive sourcebook for Erick Wujcik's Diceless system is 168 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page list of patronage/Kickstarter-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 163 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Born from Amber Dicelss Roleplaying, LoGaS depicts a setting which, unsurprisingly, makes use of countless worlds - the Gossamer worlds, made real by ethereal, true power. These countless worlds are connected to another via the Grand Staircase, an unfathomably huge staircase that features countless doors leading to countless gossamer worlds. Behind the screen, the forces of eidolon and umbra wage war eternal - eidolon being the force of supreme structure and organization, the ideal form of the multiverse, whereas umbra, its opposing principle, is essentially the chaos and entropy that seeks to undo all - the shadow lurking between gossamer worlds, constantly striving to claim worlds - whether temporarily or permanently. You are one of the travelers of the grand stairs, made aware of its countless possibilities, as mere wandering it starts to enhance your prowess to superhuman levels - the lords and ladies of gossamer are indeed powerful enough to change the destiny of whole worlds and have carved mostly secure worlds from the vast number of them. But balance demands duality and hence, there are the Dwimmerlaik, servants of the shadow that wage war unending on the self-anointed wardens of the great stairs.



Now after a short glossary of basic terms for newcomers, we dive into character generation - First, you choose a concept (more on those later) and then, you assign 100 points - you have to buy attributes, powers and extras from this array of points - the thing is, you may undercut or overstep this - earning good or bad karma. Rather cool! Also unique: All characters start at superhuman levels in all 4 attributes - you can get more points by cutting down to various mortal levels, though. Now attributes are handled via an auction at character creation - whoever bids highest, becomes ranked one - this character cannot be surpassed by the others in the given field, only approached. The auction per se comes with step-by-step guidelines, two alternatives/modifications to the system and easily and comprehensibly presented. Essentially, the player's bidding determines the relative power rank and how many points its costs to be up there -almost, for later buying attributes nets you .0.5 ranks on the ladder - you're almost, but not as god as the one that has the full rank. It should be noted that only characters who do not bid for an attribute can diminish it to paltry mortal levels, thus gaining more points budget. And you'll want those points, for powers, among which easy egress to the great stair, can be found, also cost points - a LOT points. Mastery of the power of eidolon or umbra e.g. costs a whopping 50 points. Now I mentioned bad karma - it's essentially what is called "Stuff" - having bad stuff means that the universe treats you rather badly: Rain, unpleasant reactions etc., while good stuff means the opposite. It should be noted that the book does something smart in offering players points for e.g. selecting background music, making quote lists, campaign diaries, quest logs etc. - which is awesome and a practice I'm using in a modular version in campaigns throughout the systems I play.



Of course, a Gamemaster also has some say regarding e.g. parents, allies, mentors and items - character creation is essentially a dialog here - which is great for storytelling and assures a more fulfilled playing experience for everyone. The 4 attributes (psyche, strength, endurance and warfare) are well explained and the powers also have a lot of material herein - from essentially having a list of magic (including words of power to utter when invoking the spells) to the privileges that powers grant, each has a lot of different options available - with the exclusion of hard numbers/dice, the sky is the limit for more than a few of these, including a very wide array of different modifications of creatures and artifacts, allowing you to essentially design beings and items to your heart's content - again, costing those precious points, though... And the interesting thing here is, that secret bidding and precise capabilities are not known to the other players - after all, much like in Amber etc., intrigues and yes, potentially even fighting among the player characters is a distinct possibility... - which also makes character advancement interesting - upgrading to the next rank on the attribute ladder is done by the GM (since you don't know the final results of the auction after the secret ranks have been added...) and may mean you incur bad stuff - rather interesting.



Of course, combat is rather different from most other settings due to a) the PCs being essentially demi-god-level paragons and b) there not being any dice around. Hence, GMs get a lot of advice and examples on how to handled combat, PC death and similar situations -and on how running a diceless game changes the overall tone of a roleplaying session. And yes, these are things to consider and make players aware of - with immature players, every situation could turn into an argument and much like in character generation, all is dialog here and hence, Gamemasters in particular should take a very close look at all those examples and take them to heart as well as explain to the players how different the experience will turn out to be.



Now, of course, we also get the setting-information - R'lyeh, Valhalla, Hell - everything you can conceive exists on the Great Stair and the Gossamer Lords & Ladies and their war with the Dwimmerlaik as well as the opposing principles of eidolon and umbra already make for a compelling and rich tapestry of options before the sample lords & ladies of gossamer and the both named and generic dwimmerlaik are presented - the latter of which get access to a deadly tool called channeling, which does btw. an awesome job at keeping them a viable and deadly versatile threat to even the powerful demigods the player characters are. Add to that undead, minotaurs and similar mythic beings, shapechangers etc. and we have a nice arsenal of adversaries ready.



The book also contains a short introductory module, adventure seeds, a list of inspirations, a reference-appendix, a note of thanks by the author, an index and a total of 3 sheets, one of which allows a player to design his/her own domain. (Yes, I forgot to mention that one - you can, of course, have your own home-base/world/plane...) Oh, and the pdf comes with form-fillable char-sheets.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed scarcely any minor glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard with purplish/violet, unobtrusive borders. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Beyond the books initial patronage model, Rite Publishing ran a kickstarter for more art - and oh boy, does it show - this is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen a 3pp produce - the artworks are classy, awe-inspiring and make you want to craft the depicted characters immediately, evoking a wide plethora of associations and at the same time carrying a very distinct flair and unifying artistic vision. Glorious!



When I was a child, I played diceless with my friends - though not the system. We'd run around outside in the garden, venture into the forests, and our characters would have special powers, which we determined beforehand - thus, by climbing on top of trees, lying down on mossy earth, scavenging raspberries and evading noisy squirrels, we walked through a land crafted by our own imagination, a world layered atop our own, where wonder and endless potential loomed, where our fantasy was the only limit. Video-games proved to be fun inspirations for us, but nothing ever came even close to our holistic fantasy of universal wonder, the countless tales we had woven.



Then life happened - one can, alas, not remain blissfully ignorant and this world's gossamer weave clings closer and closer, until the doors of one's fantasy start slamming shut, becoming mere windows that still can provide a glimpse of the exceptional, but that's it. And sooner or later, we have to concede that "The kids aren't all right", as harsh realities come crashing down.



Roleplaying, to me, recaptures a tiny fragment of this spark of immediacy once lost, a means of weaving a yarn greater than the sums and ambitions of its parts. The catch is - ultimately, more often than not, the rules get in the way. "You can't do that." And while I love the thrill of the rolling dice, at times, I long for a storytelling where one jumped across a bed of flowers, imagining carnivorous plants or seething magma, one essentially all but unhampered by restrictions or balance-concerns - and this is as close as you can probably get to it. Jason Durall has created a setting that is similar enough to Amber's tradition to keep fans happy, while at the same time, at least in my opinion, expanding the possibilities - this setting transcends fantasy and sci-fi, horror even, as genres and allows you to tell YOUR story - with no limitations to your imaginations but those you and your players compromise to adhere to. This book does so much in inciting the imagination, it's almost unbelievable - this is collective storytelling, codified by a solid, easy to grasp ruleset that keeps balance sans impeding any sort of creativity. I am extremely positive that just about any DM (and even player) can benefit from reading this book, even if one does not intend to run a campaign - why?



Because this book makes it possible for you to experience once again the wonder, when you fought Godzilla with Excalibur, when your cyborg-buddy cast the spell to seal the devil in your lamp, when the power rangers duked it out with the Ninja Turtles and you were caught in between.

Oh, and one thing - this system does not require you to be at a table - provided everyone knows the rules, you could quite frankly play this system with tucked in char-sheets while hiking, camping and doing similar activities, perhaps adding a slight LARPish tint to it for additional fun ("All right, if you manage to jump across this little tree stump, then your character can do XYZ") - be responsible, though! I know that's how I will probably use this game.



If you haven't noticed by now - I love this system. Will I make it my dominant one? No, I love rolling the bones too much and a bit of roll-playing, frequent character deaths etc. are exciting to me and my players. But once in a while, a very pure ROLEplaying experience, one that omits the "roll", is glorious and quite probably might change how you think about our hobby, storytelling etc. Oh, and if you're like me, this book will open doors towards realms of inspiring, unbridled creativity you deemed once lost - recapturing some components of that magic, where everything, for a moment at least, is possible. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars +seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.l

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless)
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Monster Templates: Headless Horseman
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/03/2014 08:45:00
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41080.

This is a nine page supplement that contains four pages of actual crunch. In typical Rite Publishing fashion those four pages are overflowing with good and, more importantly, useful information. This supplement opens with the the Headless Horseman Monster Template which adds a plus two Challenge Rating (CR) to any creature it is placed on. Monster Templates: Headless Horseman includes the Headless Horseman fully realized as a Challenge Rating eleven creature. The headless horseman write-up includes statistics for its horse Stygian, which when included with the Horseman along with several other factors actually bumps the Headless Horseman up to a much higher Challenge Rating. Following the stat blocks is a detailed description of the Headless Horseman as well as an extensive lore section. This Monster Template includes two new monstrous feats, Come Back Strong and Strike of Sharpness. The new spell Animate Headless Horseman rounds out the crunch.

While most people might think of the Headless Horseman as just a Halloween monster that only belongs in a Halloween-themed game, Rite has come along and proved them wrong. Sure the tale of the Headless Horseman is classically associated with Halloween and any respectable game played on Halloween should include an encounter with one, there is much more to this type of creature than tangling with an awkward academician. What Steven D. Russell and the folks at Rite Publishing have done with Monster Templates: Headless Horseman is take this well known seasonal tale and turn it into a challenging creature. A creature which has thematically appropriate powers that not only have the potential to own a party of Player Characters if they are not careful, but has the potential of creating an ongoing conflict with a powerful creature that requires “quests” to defeat.

The cover art is solid and seeing a Headless Horseman in broad, bright daylight was a refreshing change. At first I was going to comment that it should have been set at night time, but by achieving cranial rectal separation, I realized it was a smart and unique move. The ethereal pumpkin page borders were unique and wonderful. I would have liked to have seen Rite play with the whole concept of the pumpkin head a bit more and would have loved to seen some “other” suggestions, but I in no way felt cheated on that front. The formatting was up to Rite’s normal high standard, but I was distressed to see a grammatical mistake on the first page. Rite normally catches stuff like this. In their defense they are human and I’m sure they will have it fixed soon. There was the usual mix of original and stock art and as usual it met with mixed success. All of the art was relevant, but still felt disconnected.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Templates: Headless Horseman
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1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2014 09:44:01
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=41122.

1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells is a collection of 134 spells for the Pathfinder Magus base class. These spells are presented in playing card format, essentially making them a utility accessory. Additionally, you are presented with all 134 powers in a single location that is also very easy to read.

1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells is a very interesting product. I’m not exactly sure where all 134 spells comes from, but judging by the quantity of products listed in the OGL (a reference of where the open content came from), these spells came from all over the place (around 50 if my count is correct). If you want to play a magus and like to have loads of spell options, the utility value of 134 Magus Spells is incredible; you only have to buy the one product (of course, you don’t get whatever options also appear in all those products). Additionally, the cards are color-coded according to their ‘School’. The PDF is organized by spell level, which is indicated in the upper right-hand corner. There’s only one problem, the cards are one-sided and a bit boring.

Aside from its very valuable utility use, the spell cards are a bit drab. With the single-sided design, options are limited and when the text gets long, the font gets small. These aren’t playing cards in a game where the opponents can’t see the back, they’re utility cards that are used as a reference. There’s no reason why the front and back cannot be utilized to allow for a larger font and maybe a more exciting design.

The design is one of simplicity. If you like simplicity, then these are perfect. For me, I’d like to see something a bit more fun so that I would actually want to use the cards and not just write everything down on a note card, making it easier to read (due to font sizes). There’s also the occasion where the space provided wasn’t fully utilized, but the font size was decreased, making it that much more difficult to read. In these cases, it would make sense to fill the available space by adjusting the font size, which also makes it easier to read.

I should note that each card contains a full description of the spell. Rite Publishing didn’t skimp on the content by short-cutting the description, meaning you’ll always know what it is and will never have to reference another product for that description. Again, this adds to the immense utility value, but does little for the visual appeal. There’s no artwork (although I honestly would never expect that from a utility product as the cost would sky-rocket) so plenty of space is given to the description area. Thus, you are given everything you need in one place. If this is all you care about, then you should definitely buy this to make being a magus that much easier.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
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Gossamer Worlds: Brokeworld (Diceless)
by Thierry D. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2014 15:08:56
A very short PDF, 4 pages of text, describing one Gossamer world, Brokeworld is the kind of world that can be easily used in any type of Lords of Gossamer and Shadows campaign.
It has the potential to become one of those iconic stops where everyone ends up at one time or another.
It's also full of story ideas, very colourful in its descriptions and is perfect to get the imagination juices flowing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Brokeworld (Diceless)
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Fantastic Maps: Pirate Ship
by Scott F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2014 13:38:18
The ship is 5 stars. If you only need it for online play, buy this ship; the detail is awesome.

The dark blue seascape is 1 star. I've printed other ship maps that did not eat my entire blue ink cartridge by filling out the page with huge swaths of dark blue. A light blue ocean, or the option to print without the ocean backdrop would have saved my ink!

average the two and you get a 3.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantastic Maps: Pirate Ship
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1001 Spells (PFRPG)
by Trev W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2014 22:55:27
1001 spells is the type of resource that both dms and players can really appreciate. It can add fun, grant new combat options (consuming line of acid), offensive spells (giant boulders), aid negotiation (zone of parley) or sabotages an enemy’s roll (utter failure). There is a lot of flavour here, and even if you don’t want to add all of them in, you will find some that are useful and others that you just have to let into your games (wildblast, when you want the element of a blast spell entirely randomized).

I question that some may be over-powered (a level 1 cleric spell that grants +2 bab to a target); but this is always inevitable in these types of books. I say this because the typical 3.5-pathfinder spell list, is a bit bland and some spells are better than others, so good new spells with effects we aren’t familiar with may seem too powerful. The standard spell list, after a few years of gaming is old, regurgitated and boring. Add over a thousand spells, and magic gets interesting. Because of these new spells, they may not always be the right level or may be more powerful than a group or dm is used to. So when introducing these spells, I recommend a dm takes care and chooses which ones come in and adjusts spell level as need be. This doesn’t have to be done though, as it is well organised and there are sections for alchemists, witches and magi spells.

With all these spells there is certainly plenty to add as scrolls or in old wizard books in long sealed away dungeons. Or, to make available only to secret orders (until the players kill them and take their stuff). Some like wildblast are begging to be added to wands, and others could be attuned to amulets (wall of light), gloves (unarm foe, a disarm via blast spell), or even a musical instrument (stunning note). I was surprised there wasn’t a section discussing the spells or making suggestions on which ones would make excellent magic items, but it is the type of book to give you the tools and let you experiment.

If spellcasting is getting a bit repetitive with the same old spells used over and over, 1001 spells will liven up spellcasting in your games. You could also try to use this book to the fullest and throw out the standard spell list and only use what is in here. Ha! That will make the magic of a game original, that is for sure. Now I just have to work out which ones I am going to add in.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1001 Spells (PFRPG)
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Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
by Mark K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/23/2014 02:41:45
This is the first material to come out for Rite Publishing's new RPG line, The Lords of Gossamer and Shadow written by Jason Durall. It was created as a stretch goal to the final kickstarter for the game and was released early in January for sale as a PDF from DrivethruRPG.com for around $5 USD. I managed to get a free copy from my Kickstarter involvement but for that price it is certainly an accessible supplement.

The booklet is 24 pages of information that ranges between stylised letters from Lucien to one of his companions through to new rules and mechanics that will expand the game from the core rulebook in new ways. For the most part though the book covers the letters and theories of Lucien that surround details of the Grand Stair. I have to say that this is a welcome addition because the main rules set the stage of the Grand Stair but do not really talk much about it in specifics which can be daunting for a new GM. How do you represent one of the largest portions of the game with little to go on. It does dwarf a bit when you are making the jump from a dice heavy system to a diceless system so my first game was daunting for a different reason but this was certainly in the back of my mind as we played.

I really think that this is a valuable addition to the game. There is one thing that I would have liked to have had included and that was a foreword. Perhaps from Jason Durall giving his comment on the addition and giving a brief word on what to expect. As it is you look at the credits and you leap straight into a letter from Lucien to a person by the name of Luke. As I did not really know what to expect from this addition I actually had to read it twice to get much from the first few letters included in it. Had I had a brief word of warning I think I would have been in a much better mind to soak in the bits and pieces of details that those letters contain.

The letters do contain some really interesting detail too. What is even more impressive is that I am sure with some of the letters that some of the readers will take away different information that is interesting to them. This will create interesting dynamics in play between GM and players as this book contains nothing in it that is illicit to the players (and I strongly suggest the players have a look at it) which is as it should be for this style of product.

There are several additions to the rules as they stand which is great. Jason Durall has stated in several forums and locations that there were more rules that he would have liked to have added to the game but space in the book did not permit it. I think this supplement will go some way to showing how this will be addressed. Every new addition to the core rules may come with a few rules. I have a player in my game who wanted to play someone completely new to the stair but the way the rules for character generation are it makes it hard to represent. In this supplement we see some rules that offer us some abilities to traverse a door without being a warden. Excellent addition. It is an addition that shows me that Rite Publishing are not going to leave us hanging for intermediate, beginner and hopefully advanced powers and they want to grow the line in a sensible manner.

Not only does this booklet offer us the new rules for walking the stair it offers us new cantrips and sorceries! What is more, they are Grand Stair themed (of course) that make you think more about how the stair operates. I love these so much I am already thinking about new NPC's and also adjusting the thirty that I already have! Along with these we also have some new powers for handling expanses (sections of the Grand Stair that you attune to) and Carta as equipment (think of an Atlas for doors and their connections.

Finally we also have two new NPC's. A young Lucien and a shield maiden if you will! Gretchen is the most interesting of the two of these (trust me, I know my NPC's) and the layered history of how she built up to become a warden of the stair makes me want to play her. She is a great addition to the stable. The smart alec Lucien NPC is kind of cool to compare to the Lucien of the main book but he is a bit of a novelty. For me anyhow. I am sure that it may be of interest to a GM to run a campaign that covers Lucien's earlier travels and having the PC's as his companions.

Overall I really like this little book. It fleshes out my thinking on the stair and gives me new, solid rules to play with. It also is something that I can hand to new players to give them an idea on what the Grand Stair can be like. It needs a little love and care so that it does not make you have to read it a couple of times to get the value but this little baby makes me a very happy boy. It shows that one of my big investments on Kickstarter last year is ticking along nicely and that it is heading in a direction that I want to find out more. I give this 4.5 Dwimmerlaik Folk Tales out of 5! Whatever you do, do not keep rolling!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
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1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2014 09:19:13
Some 30 years ago, I painstakingly transcribed every Advanced Dungeons & Dragons spell I could lay my hands on onto 5x3 index cards which I could pull out during play... and now here is much the same concept only far prettier and beautifully laid out ready for use.

Hopefully this is just the first of many sets: here we have 134 magus spells from Bash to X-Ray Vision with all the details you need to cast the spell or, if you are the GM, adjudicate the results. A handy table tells you school, level, components (with any material ones you need listed), casting time, range, effect and what save if any your target may try to make; and then there is a more detailed 'flavour' description that explains what happens when that spell is cast. In most cases, this is all contained on but one side of a standard 'playing card' sized card, occasionally it spills over onto both sides for those spells for which there is a lot of description or options.

Looking at the PDF version, the one thing that is missing is a nice 'back' to print out just to make your spell cards look nicer (I've not seen the actual cards), but it ought not to be too hard to make one. But for beautifully-presented and very useful spell notes, this is definitely the way to go.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
1001 Spell Cards: 134 Magus Spells (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Fey: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2014 08:44:34
The following review was originally posted at Rolepalyers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=40932.

In The Company of Fey is a wonderful sourcebook for those gaming groups that want to really run a fey-inspired campaign rather than just inserting fey type things into their games. This book starts out as a narrative overview of the fey lifestyle by an enigmatic figure named Red Shuck. This narration covers things like Physical Descriptions, Fey Society, Relations, Alignment, Religion, and Naming Conventions. The standard information one would expect. Following this is a racial description of the First Folk. After the description of the First Folk, the creators move into describing 2 Class Archetypes, The Solstice Pariah (Taskshaper) and the Wild Hunter. Next comes an extensive and compelling description of the Fey Racial Paragon Class, taking a character from level 1 to 20. This book closes with six fey feats.

This is by far the most stunning book I have reviewed from Rite Publishing! In the past I have been critical of their use of stock art and flirtations with color art. My only complaint with this product is I wish there had been more art. The cover of this book while Drow worthy, was hauntingly beautiful, just like the Fey themselves. The page borders (which Rite has always chosen well) – a woodland scene that is museum quality. What makes this product even better is that it’s much more than just a pretty face.

I have seen the fey get different levels of treatment from fantasy RPGs for years; as you can imagine some of those treatments have been overwrought, while others have seemed like an afterthought. This book hits that sweet spot; it is dead center and spot on. The introduction and its narrative form are compelling. I felt like I was being treated to the introduction to a really good novel that happened to contain some really solid, rules crunch. I was slightly distressed that the abbreviation Dr. was used in the introduction as I think that is a more modern term for someone who is learned, but that was minor, really minor. This product had its hook into me quickly, after just a few pages of the background information I was already formulating ideas for a fey campaign.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Fey:  A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to do a review, Special Note: The term Doctor is older than you think and was in use in the 11th and 12th century (thanks to places like the University of Oxford and the University of Paris among others). Steve Russell Rite Publishing
Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
by Bruce B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/11/2014 00:12:34
This is a couple dozen pages' worth of commentary on the Grand Stair, the liminal space that links worlds in the setting. The bulk of it is the correspondence and lecture notes of a particularly talented traveler and observer. Rob Donoghue does a good job capturing the voice of a smart, capable jerk here - Lucien is what a lot of net flamers fancy themselves, but with the accomplishments to justify a good measure of self-confidence. There are also some very nifty new sorcery spells, suggestions for new uses of existing cantrips and such, and a very sensible framework for allowing characters to develop individual aspects of the Grand Stair powers.

All of this does the most important thing a setting book like this can do: it opens up possibilities rather than closing them off. Every statement about "this is how the Grand Stair works" comes with an acknowledgement of the variety innate in a basically infinite setting, and every speculation about why the Grand Stair works like this comes with some frank acknowledgement of the limits to anyone's knowledge. If you want to establish the essence of the Grand Stair as an unsolveable mystery, this book has your back. But it also supports you if you want to use one of the theories presented here or invent some of your own. It's useful.

Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
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Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
by Kristin H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2014 22:41:01
The Good: A wonderful minor splat book giving us incite into characters like Lucien (a Master of the Grand Stair in his younger days), and some of the people he had contact with. Also extra 'sub powers, such as parceling out some of the Abilities of the Warden & Master of Grand Stair, to be given in part to characters. Magical Maps & Guidebooks ( Moonletters Maps from Tolkien?), and a few other nifty bits.

The Bad: The 'Letter' Format of the writing is in DOUBLE columns. Its more an annoyance than a deal breaker forcing the reader to do reading on a single column and then going to the top of the page, in a letter fashion that is... awkward and unnatural if it were an 'actual letter'. Its annoyance, but not anything to loose a star over.

Overall: A good first 'Splat', having things fan had spoken of, and some had House ruled into their games on the Rite Publishing Forums, apparently made it into the book- which is kinda cool. Its realtively short at around 26 or so pages, but a good one.
The Letters give us a snap shot into the enigma character of a man who in the Core is... hazy at best. This gives us a sense of who he may have been and how he's become who he is.

Hopefully there will be more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Kristin, Thanks for taking the time to do a review. Steve Russell Rite Publishing.
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless)
by Mark K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2014 20:23:02
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is the new diceless RPG from Rite Publishing. I was a backer of this game via Kickstarter and it has now come to fruition after being released on the 1st of December 2013.

Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is essentially Amber with a new setting. It has been called the "spiritual" successor to Amber which is something I can't really comment on. As much as I have wanted to play Amber I never actually got around to it. I can say that the new Rite Publishing game is right on the money though. I have often wondered how a dice-less system worked and I have to say that it works well!

The characters are made in a group setting and an attribute auction is held with every player having a set number of points to spend on these attributes. In game play the actuality is all actions are referred back to the attributes and in essence the highest wins (of course tactics and circumstance have a role to play). In essence, the system is elegant and streamlined. It is quick and painless and allows for a focus on story.

This game is a story tellers wet dream. For both the GM and the player it offers an open set of realms to play around with. This game is GURPS except you play with one character across as many settings as you want to! It is a version of Rifts or the TV series Sliders with much, much more powerful lead characters! The setting of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is that of the Grand Stair which in essence is a realm that exists between realms! It is a stairwell that alters its appearance and structure throughout its entire length (not that anyone has found a top or a bottom to it) and the Lords and Ladies of Gossamer and Shadow travel its paths to enter realities that are connected by doorways.

A Lord/Lady of Gossamer is what the players are. They are beings capable of finding, and opening, the doors to different realities on the Grand Stair. They may only be new to the stair or have had the ability to traverse it for some time. They are an elite few among all of the realities and they see the forms of power that create the realities in the form of the Eidolon (structure and form in magic) or the Umbra (Chaos, destruction and wildness in magic). Players can draw from either aspect but generally a Lady of Gossamer is a follower of the Eidolon or Umbra whilst a Lady of Shadow would be something more sinister altogether.

The lords and ladies of shadow are a race of creatures known as the Dwimmerlaik who use a power separate to that of the Eidolon and Umbra. They war with the Lords as they see the Grand Stair as theirs and theirs alone. They had recently been thought but a myth by the travellers of the Grand Stair but have made attacks that cannot be explained away recently.

So, you have a meta-plot (the Lords of Gossamer vs. the Dwimmerlaik or Lords of Shadow) and you have a Grand Stair that has doors to an infinite number of realities. Realities with any setting and any genre to play with. Same characters for the players and an infinite number of realities. I can see why I love this game so much. I wander the internet and see so much good stuff going on and right here is a system I could use to represent it all, in one game! The book is beautifully written and is a great system for those of us who are story tellers at heart. It talks more about the way to weave a good story and tackles some big topics in its pages.

It is a game that focusses on players and their wants and needs. It seeks to generate conflict and drama for the players and may often even pit them against one another with crossing one players goals with another. The attribute auction from the very get go points to the possibility of this as the players compete against one another to develop their character. So although they may align and travel the Grand Stair together it is quite possible that they will end up at odds with one another in the long run.

The illustrated PDF that I have is lush and filled with full coloured gorgeous artwork with lead artist Jason Rainville . Most of these images focus on one individual giving a feel for them and the world they may come from. You feel like you know these characters immediately and the images help you overcome the initial shock of "so many genre choices" as they are laid out across many genre fields. You may laugh but when I read the rules as a straight pdf I was a little numb to how I would GM this game because of the immense scope of the realities! The artwork really helps me factor all this in to the game as a whole. The small game I did run all occurred on the Grand Stair so I could avoid putting it in a setting! The art is not on every page though and you will get runs of up to six or seven pages at a time where you will see no art at all.

This game will of course not be for everyone. I have had some very strong reactions when I have talked about the dice-less nature of the system and how it works. There are a large number of people that believe that what happens is purely up to the GM which is simply not true. I have had people say that you might as well have no character sheets at all and sit around a circle and tell a combined story. Again not true. I really wish that this game would appeal to everyone but if you are a player that must hold on to the random element or loves the tactile nature of dice and will feel lonely without them then perhaps this is not the game for you.

I do implore anyone though that has a slight interest in this system to give it a go. I love this game and its possibilities. I will eventually run a campaign with this game. It will not be immediately but it will happen. The beauty of the setting combined with the elegance of the rules is just fantastic. I am keen to build a story in this world that centres around the characters and their abilities. The book is beautifully presented and I can not wait to get my game provided by one of the developers that is on offer as part of my Kickstarter backer level.

This game is for me (and see above about dice-less systems that will cause some to turn away from this) a five out of five star game. It ticks every box for me and is written in a readable and interesting format. Once you get your head around the rules and the setting you will see the infinite possibilities that this game brings to your table. No more rolling!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless)
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In The Company of Fey: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2014 05:53:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's "In the Company of"-series is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



As has become the tradition of the series, we kick off with an aptly-written frame-narrative, this time even featuring a nice, disturbing poem - from the perspective of Red Shuck, we are introduced to two different origin myths - one brighter, one darker, both including nods to Auberyon, the fabric of dreams and tying superbly in with Rite Publishing's established canon - disturbing and whimsical, both are well-worth the read. Now physical-description wise, the First Folk have three distinct shapes - their "original shape", the human/elf-like "seeming" and the at times beautiful, at times disturbing "aspected form", which most First Folk consider their original form that reflects their nature. Born from the material of dreams, the first folk may create new individuals by giving up a part of their very being. Bonds with other races, their take on alignment and religion and their roles as adventurers and of course, nomenclature are covered as well in this supplement, featuring a selection of nice, flavorful insights into First Folk psychology.



Now crunch-wise, the First Folk gets +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, +2 to saves versus illusions and may automatically disbelieve any illusions within 10 ft., are treated as both fey and humanoids with the shapechanger-subtype, heal +2 points when benefiting from magical healing and twice as many hit points from natural healing, but may not heal naturally damage inflicted by cold iron weapons and may assume the "Seeming" as a polymorph effect, a fixed humanoid form that can't be changed later. I assume at will, but unfortunately, the ability fails to specify the type of action that changing shapes is. Oh well, at least it does mention the effective spell level. They also get a special sight that works like low-light vision and automatically pierces seemings of other First Folk. The unique lack of aging in the prime material plane is covered thankfully in the age-height and weight-table as well.



Of course, we also get a wide array of alternate racial options: +2 Con and Dex, -2 Int or +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str would be alternate attribute modifier-sets and a total of 12 other ones await as well: From being better skirmishers, three arrays of minor spell-like abilities usable 1/day, a resistance to negative energy, darkvision and light blindness, improved DCs for curses and hexes, energy resistance 5, bonuses in the shade or fey-like resistances/immunity to sleep. you can also play First Folk that have been exiled or First Folk that may change alignment every level. The latter is particularly cool, though it also opens some questions: Does this alternate racial trait allow a First Folk to e.g. take a level as barbarian and next level, change alignment to lawful and become a monk? I assume that's not possible as per the text of the respective classes. Still, even if that's not possible, the trait is roleplaying potential in gallons - Seriously, think about the story-telling potential. This one is VERY fun!



We also get an array of favored class options, covering barbarian, bard, druid, ranger, rogue, sorceror, summoner and witch as well as the 3pp-classes shaman, time thief, taskshaper and luckbringer - all of which are nice and balanced.

Of course, there also are new archetypes for your perusal, first of which would be the Solstice Pariah for the TASKSHAPER! Yes, my favorite shapechanging class gets new fodder! These beings, cursed by Auberyon to become Taskshapers essentially blend the taskshaper and the new racial paragon-class contained herein - interesting archetype!



The Wild Hunter archetype for the witch gets a hound of the hunt as a familiar - complete with unsettling aura and may conjure forth steeds from the hunt and later even hunters in the guise of a wolfish spiritual ally -rather cool high-concept archetype here!



Now I've already mentioned the racial paragon class - which has no name beyond "First Folk Paragon" - a bit of a pity there. The class is not available for lawful characters and crunch-wise nets you d6, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 1/2 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Yes, no spellcasting. But let's take a look, shall we? At first level, the paragon chooses one particular aspect of the prime material plane - a total of 6 different aspects are there for the choosing. Each aspect comes with two skills that henceforth get an untyped bonus of 1/2 character level, min 1 and the aspect also offers a unique ability: Wild Empathy, Favored Terrain, environmental adaption versus deadly terrain/climates. Alternatively, one aspect allows for a sense motive check to " learn a creature’s biggest and most immediate fears and concerns. When this ability is successfully used on a shaken, frightened or panicked target, the first folk paragon also learns the target’s surface thoughts" - per se cool, but what do surface thoughts entail? As per detect thoughts? Is this a mind-influencing effect? It ought to be, I guess... Improved saves versus fey are offered by another aspect and a third allows for an emotional surge that nets + 2 to Str and Con, +1 to will-saves and -2 to AC like a barbarian's rage or alternatively gain +1 to atk, damage and skill-checks and can be maintained as a free action. It can be used 2xlevel+cha-mod rounds per day, but unlike a rage, a surge is a mind-influencing effect that does not impede concentration etc.



First Folk Paragons also get DR scaling up to 5/cold iron and at 2nd level and at every even level after that, the First Fold Paragon learns a fey power. Unless otherwise noted, the fey powers use a DC of 10 +1/2 class level + cha-mod if applicable and some, those marked with an asterisk, can only be used when is aspected form. Aspected Form? Yes, before I cover the Fey Powers in detail, let's take a look at the aspected form ability gained at first level: Depending on the aspect you've chosen, you'll also get aspected form abilities. Unfortunately, once again the pdf does not clarify which action the changing of forms is, just what level the polymorph effect to change shapes is. Depending n your shape, you get natural weapons (like claws, a bite or even hooves) or may even shape large swaths of terrain, potentially entangling adversaries or grant other creatures luck bonuses or penalties. Also interesting - one aspect form allows them to unleash specific bolts as a standard action that deal 1d6 (+1 1d6 for every two levels) and may deal either fire, cold or electricity damage. or nonlethal damage, which should be a bane to ranged fighters, as it affects the target with severe winds for a round. The effective spell level of this ability scales up to 9th and the damage to 10d6 at 19th level. I'm not a fan of this ability. Unlimited touch attacks are an unpleasant thing to contend with, even before adding in the elemental flexibility. That being said, the bad BAB and limited range keep me from breaking into one of my OP-rants. Still - a generous limit (like 2xclass level + cha-mod) would see me much more comfortable with this particular aspect form.



But back to the fey powers, shall we? Let's take a look at the captivating tail power - usable only in aspect form, the tail allows for the fey to fascinate nearby creatures, even so far as to have them follow you - Hameln's (or Hamelin in the English-speaking world) famous Rat-catcher, anyone? Especially since, much like the legendary flutist, there is no caveat of not following into dangerous areas... Another ability allows First Folk paragons to curse buildings to curse all who spend a prolonged time inside to be hounded by hostile animals -as a supernatural ability, which means no break curse. OUCH. Here would also be a good place to mention fey powers with a certain affinity - a total of 13 of the powers come with an affinity - for all intents and purposes, Paragons with the appropriate aspect for the affinity treat this particular power as if they were two levels higher. Have I mentioned the ability to actually EAT non-instantaneous spells? Enchanting dust (with mania-inducing and AoE-upgrades and even blindness + bleed damage/ undead-sanctums or aging foes as possible effects!), splitting into two (one of which is an illusion, but tangible enough for flanking), taking on the aspect of eldritch plants (6 different effects!), producing a confusion-inducing toxin, growing wings, poaching in the druid and sorceror-spell-lists (or rogue's sneak attacks or stacking benefits with bardic performances), additional prowess versus undead foes jumping impossibly high, highjacking curses or exploiting the law of sympathy between creatures (or creatures and objects) - the powers offer a complex and interesting array of options for first folk to pursue.



That's not all, though - starting at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that, the First Folk Paragon unlocks an ability called aspect endowment - these grant the first folk additional powers usable exclusively when in aspect form. Especially the environment-aspect endowment, which provides a vast array of different benefits depending on the terrain they find themselves in - neat!



At 7th level and again at 13th and 19th level, the First Folk Paragon also learns a type of spelltrick from either the sorceror or druid-list as spell-like ability. Starting at 9th level, the paragon also learns to create complex illusions (dubbed waking dreams) at will, fitting nicely with the theme of glamers. The capstone essentially allows for a type of immortality - only in the primal world can the character henceforth be permanently slain.



We also get 8 new feats herein - improved disguise via seeming (important in investigation/socially-strong campaigns), making your seeming blend in with the surroundings, making untrained knowledge checks, gaining bonuses versus those affected by polymorph effects (and even suppress them), gaining a sidhe-form or the skill bonuses (but not the other benefits) from a second aspect - all in all, solid feats.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from one ability being wrongly italicized and very minor glitches, I didn't notice any issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with borders that reflect a nice old painting of nature. The artwork deserves special mentioning - while fans of Rite Publishing will recognize e.g. the artwork of Auberyon from Coliseum Morpheuon, but most of the artworks I've never seen before and they universally are beautiful full-color pieces. Impressive! The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Speaking of impressive - author Wendall Roy has created a supplement here that is a joy to read indeed - the race per se is awesome and the racial paragon class complex. Half BAB, no spells, all tricks - can it work? Surprisingly, yes - but it's a class that REQUIRES careful deliberation: taking e.g. only the natural attacks will make you terribly ineffective. This class is all about smart playing and properly using the abilities, which in another class I'd often consider unbalanced - here, they are the tools that ensure survival. While I'm not sold on the unlimited ranged touch attack, the overall class, when run in my simulations, worked rather fine and offers intriguing roleplaying potential indeed without resorting to tried and true ability-suites. The taskshaper archetype is exceedingly cool to see, as is the glorious writing and in the end, my only gripes are that the alternate forms don't really do that much to influence crunchy abilities - a tighter synergy would have improved this even further. That, combined with the minor glitches here and there unfortunately keep this pdf from reaching the highest rating echelons: As written, I will settle on 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Fey:  A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Monsters (PFRPG)
by Trev W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2014 23:13:43
In the Company of Monsters is a book that has background & fluff, mechanics and options. It is all about making monsters playable at first level, trying to balance them and presenting monster or “racial paragon” classes to enable monster-pc play. Organized into six parts, providing new options to take monsters from levels 1 up. Not all go to 20, but most do. Steven D. Russell is the main contributor (there are others); and it is a solid book for playing monsters with their special abilities and bonuses developing as you level, without having to worry about leveling in specific classes (unless of course you want to just level your jotun giant for three levels and then hop over to barbarian), although of course you can mix the paragon classes with existing classes and other homebrew options.

As I read this, quite a few things caught my attention. The spells in the gargoyle chapter could make a potent stone sorcerer. There are magic items, feats and other options. In the giant chapter, the feats like stomp, quick at hand and night stalker could help a DM to make ogres or other giants a bit more dangerous. Pinning throw could be very strong and allow giants to use more in-depth tactics than charge, full round attack or grapple. These feats suit giantkin quite well, and can make such monsters a little more appropriately designed rather than just having the same feats as other monsters and the same build load-out all the time. Beware of the giant foot ogre clan, all with stomp and whom may truly challenge a party of tanks.

The minotaur and giant chapters are my favorite, but I have high praise for the diverse feat options for the restless souls. The customization options are high, and then they have a small collection of spells to make use of to boot!

Curiously, the illustrations are black and white. This gives the book an old school feel. The pictures are largely consistent in style, being dark and foreboding and some with plenty of action being shown. I especially liked the minotaur vs. centaur picture in the minotaur arena. Good illustrations like this can give a DM plenty of ideas. Unfortunately, they aren’t the best color designs out there.

The book comes in at 94 pages, and I heartily recommend it. It isn’t very large (a slight flaw, there could have been some more monsters) so reading through it won’t take very long for a dm or player eager to design a new monster paragon pc from the options within.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Monsters (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for taking the time to do a review. Steve Russell Rite Publishing
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