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Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:46:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 255 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 248 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Okay, so this is a massive book for the...let's say, more unconventional races out there. The respective write-ups have a couple of things in common, so let's start with establishing that: For the most part, the races have either not been properly covered in the respective books that introduced them or get some additional coverage herein; the write-ups contain a well-written prose-introduction to the race at hand, proper age, height & weight tables (YEAH!), the basic racial stats, alternate racial traits, notes on society, nomenclature and the like and racial equipment as well as archetypes. A formatting peculiarity here would be that the archetypes specify an "Associated Class" instead of putting the class-name in brackets behind the archetype's name, but that's a purely cosmetic decision. It is a matter of taste whether you like that the archetypes herein list the abilities they replace and modify in their respective lists in the beginning of the archetype entry. The plus-side is that you quickly see whether the build is relevant for your concept or not. The downside would be that one loses the direct correlation between abilities gained and replaced...but since I figure that this is more important for me in a reviewer-capacity than for people using the options, I will not penalize the book for that choice.

Racial deities can also be found and the respective entries sport sample NPCs for your perusal, beginning at the low levels and scaling up to the higher CRs - while the levels are different from race to race, you generally should find a feasible build for each roughly approximated level-range. 5 such builds are provided per race.

The pdf also contains a MASSIVE array of favored class options for each of the races, covering the classes up to and including the ACG, as well as the Ultimate Psionics-classes - yep, fans of Dreamscarred Press, this book has some serious fodder. Fans of rogue Genius Games amazing Time Thief class will similarly love that the class gets its due here. For those of us who enjoy a dash of science-fantasy, the chapter on racial technology should put a smile on quite a few faces, with 9 spells interacting with racial technology provided for your convenience, taking some of ten classics from ten Technology Guide. Similarly, feats required for crafting etc. have been reproduced in this section and we get specific items for the "non-high-powered" (more on that distinction, or at least as how I see it, later) races that are featured in the book. These items encompass a serum that lets tengu spout wings, heavy gravity beam-weapons (really cool!) or microwave based charge-draining guns. Skinwalkers gain ferocity-enhancing implants as well as enhancer-drugs or claw plating as well as a skinwalker bloodrager archetype that modifies bloodrage to grant less potent numerical benefits, instead enhancing the Mark versions of implanted cybertech as well as floating charges while in his bloodrage. Interesting one!

Samsarans can implant a memory decryption device and I was rather intrigued by the Technology/Time-Thief crossover archetype they get - at the cost of massive set-ups, these guys get less motes, but can use them to grant herself instant turns...and surprisingly, it avoids the readying exploit . From context and logic, it seems like delaying isn't viable either, but as a nitpick, I think it would have helped to spell that out here. Very potent, but interesting option for the class.

Lizardfolk equipment sports selectively harmful poisonous gas thrower, underwater combat tech and internalized triggers, while gillmen receive 3 archetypes: Voidwright arcanists may dabble in the dark tapestry mystery for arcane exploits and can drain tech items. I would not allow this guy. He casts Sor/Wiz spells as divine spells, which is utterly OP. The samurai ancient infantry gains limited bloodrager castintg with a unique list as well as tech expertise instead of mounts and order, which works out surprisingly well - like it! The advanced error dread tech and dread tricks and gains a tentacle at higher levels, but loses 3 terrors and psionic manifesting. Elans gain 5 pieces of cool devices, including hard light thieves' tools and enhancers versus psionic assaults in a solid, if potent item array. The catfolk tech rigger is a modification of the investigator class, replacing poison tricks and the associated alchemy options with appropriate technological replacements. Oh, and no studied strike, but we do get tech bombs. Finally, androids not only receive a rogue archetype, but also ten Technology domain.

Speaking of androids: These guys would be the first race graced with a full entry, so let's move from the tech-guide appendix back to the start of the tome, shall we? One note here: While it would be possible t analyze the content in piece by piece, this would bloat the review to something in the vicinity of 30+ pages - this book is incredibly dense. In favor of readability and to give you a proper overview of the material contained herein, I will thus endeavor to remain brief in my descriptions of the material.

As you can glean from the introduction of androids here, the regular races featured herein rank approximately on par with the stronger core races and plane-touched races. The base racial traits don't tend to be modified, but it should be noted that this does not mean that you won't get new material out of the race trait section: Androids, for example, can benefit from the anomaly alternate racial trait, which eliminates their morale bonus lock-out, but at an appropriately hefty cost. Similar alternates are provided and include making them e.g. being potentially prone to being bluffed. The living weapon brawler uses energy weapons instead of unarmed strikes in his distinct fighting style, while the nanoshade is a ninja who replaces ki pools with nanite reserves and even potentially infuse them into targets. Thought scribe psions replace disciplines and discipline abilities with psionic circuitry and Scribe Tattoo, gaining psionic tattooing at increasing potency. Wiremind cryptics lose the trap-related abilities in favor of some skill bonuses, which sounds unremarkable - but 6th level's ability is somewhat potentially problematic, granting effectively a second psionic focus. Considering the vast combo-potential of quite a lot abilities, this is something I'd be incredibly weary of at that level -I'd frankly disallow it and consider it problematic.

Beyond these archetypes, we get quite a few nice class options to evade at higher levels, for example, blindsight, add electricity damage to Elemental Fist, gain some resistances, extra race ability uses -etc. The philosophy, the Final Cause, and the associated inquisitor archetype are solid and the spells as well as the power presented herein (which allows you to Upload yourself into an android body) are intriguing. Items that allow androids to use nanite surges to generate antimagic shields (which are partially selective!) and such make for a cool array as well. It should also be noted that each of the races comes with a small chapter that deals with integration of the race into an ongoing campaign, its themes, etc. -which is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

The second races presented herein would be the catfolk, with the nine lives racial trait being worth of special mention - it can be sued exactly 9 times and can prevent death. This is, obviously, not intended for all campaigns, but depending on the type of game you're running, it can be considered to be amazing. Among the class options, we have the feral rager barbarian, who gains a mobility-focus (dodge-bonuses, Ref- instead of Will-save bonus in rage) in favor of the classic DR etc. Treedancer slayers get a modified talent selection and a replacement for tracking, moving stalker to 7th level and focusing on climbing etc. The race gets a whole array of rogue talents that include subtle communication via tails, fast squeezing, etc. The grymalkin bloodline gets a dazing touch attack. On the racial feat side, we get better flanking etc. as well as Copy-Cat, which allows you to duplicate of a feat used by an ally - its frame is that it requires the feat to be used in that encounter. And it has a per-encounter limit. sigh Insert here my rant on why per-encounter abilities make no sense whatsoever. On the plus-side: Low-range blindsense due to Sensitive Whiskers? Makes sense to me and the high-level Pounce and Rake option will find its fans. The racial deities number 3 this time around and the associated archetype this time around would be the ghost hunter paladin, who is, bingo a nemesis-type archetype focusing on the destruction of incorporeal foes. On the magic-side of things, we have a spell that allows the ignoring of circle of protection and protection from type spells (Yep, adding that to the arsenal of my nasties...) as well as an evil spell to cause toxoplasmosis and the conjuration of a semi-real, feral cat-swarm. A magical prayer kit and a wine that is potent, but used in religious ceremony, enhancing cleric abilities complement this section.

Changelings would be the third race herein and represent perhaps one of the most customizable of races I have seen - the alternate racial traits further diversify the array of choices the base race provides, with the option of Paternal heritage mattering (and replacing the hag heritage). This trait alone covers almost two pages, with races from drow to suli and the ARG-races covered alongside many herein. Kudos indeed! The Heartshorn witch is easily one of the coolest archetypes in the book: The witch removes her heart, making it into a stone - this acts as an Achilles heel, yes, but it also allows the witch to redirect (with restrictions) effects to the stone. This is simple and elegant and I really enjoy it. The incantrix sorcerer is a bit less cool, replacing bloodline arcana and the 9th and 15th level bloodline power with SR, arcane sight and Cha-based Knowledge and Spellcraft. The healing-themed Cleansed sorceror bloodline can mitigate some potent negative conditions and makes for an interesting take on the arcane healer. Some solid rogue talents and the accursed bloodrager bloodline (with limited use staggering gazes and horrific visage as well as other, neat hag-themed abilities) complement this section. We also get a Cleansed bloodrager bloodline that focuses more on gusts of wind to disperse miasmas or purification by fiery bursts, featuring more visceral and less angelic themes than the sorceror version -kudos for making these so distinct from one another.

The feats allow for the further development of the magical ancestry of the race...or for the storing of potions in your lungs (!!). Eye-dyes and 3 racial deities also are part of this chapter and we get no less than 4 archetypes associated with these deities, 2 for the cleric class, 1 inquisitor and 1 ranger, though apart from the caravan-master style ranger, I wasn't blown away by these brief tweaks of the base class. Hag Aspect spells and darklight as well as caps that make you hard to be remembered can also be found here.

Next up would be the elan race and it is one I have a love-hate-relationship with; on the one hand, I adore the race for its unique history and feeling, and on the other...well, if you've ever played a truly efficient elan, you know how potent they can be. The numerous traits featured herein do provide some nice customization options that stand out, providing e.g. temporary crystal armor, being breathless and the like - considering the power of the traits replaced, these make sense indeed. I am not a big fan of the alternate racial trait, which pays for +4 Str,D ex or Con with -2 Charisma, as that renders the race more min-maxy than it already is. This minor guffaw, however, is quickly remedied by one of my favorite archetypes herein, the ratha priest slayer psychic warrior, who specializes in hampering the abilities of the devout. Similarly, the creche defender fighter provides a nice, slightly psionic option - compared to the archetypes of the other races, these stand out via their conceptual strength and the fact that they offer distinct playing experiences. Some crossover rogue talents and the arcane elan bloodline for sorcerors allow for a wider focus for the race than before, which is another plus. The feats provide some nice expasnions for elan abilities in conjunction with psionics and from psiflares to mundane tomes that provide benefits, we have a strong equipment section as well. The racial deity is supplement by a psionics/oracle crossover that works rather well and the psychic domain. 5 solid racial powers can be found -and while one permanently degrades an item's hardness, its massive +5d6 damage boost can be a big issue with characters that have the option to create weaponry ex nihilo....so yeah, I'd strongly suggest banning that one. Speaking of which_: Crystals that can hold psionic focus for paltry +3K should die in a fiery blaze. Considering the massive combo-potential one such crystal alone can yield...

The gillmen section provides claws, among other things, as alternate racial traits (as often, you have to defer to the default rather than having the type of natural attack spelled out), though the angle is interesting - as presented here, the race has been freed from the dominion of their erstwhile masters, which is represented in a more wholesome flavor. Archetype-wise, we get an aqautic monk, the wave crasher, the lightningcaster magus (bingo: electricity specialist) and the tentacled horror bloodrager, who provides the eldritch flavor that you'd have expected, with tentacles that can hold but not use) items and higher-level off-hand tentacle attacks. The precise rules-interactions here can become a tad bit wobbly, as tentacles usually are natural attacks. The section also provides the nice catshark familiar as well as new options, once again including psionic ones and even a temporal talent and the order of the sinking ship, which is a bit problematic: When issuing an order, he is not affected by environmental damage, which RAW would include pits of acid, lava, etc. - it's pretty clear that that's not meant, but still - a more concise wording would make sense here. On the plus side, from giant seahorses to snapping turtles and manta rays, the new companions included are neat. The feats are okay, but I'm not 100% blown away by them, Racial deity wise, we get a good deity and Cthulhu, who also gets Bringer of Insanity warpriests, which tie into the Madness domain and replace sacred weapon with sneak attack - not blown away here. The depths shaman spirit is, on the other hand, pretty cool - and speaking of which, the racial spells this time around are nifty: Conjuring forth basically weaponized salmon to bludgeon your foes is cool. And yes, you can fence with a swordfish. Wall of water is also pretty classic. The magic item section this time around is decent, but not universally so: Adding + casting ability modifier to damage (even possible for SPs) can be rather potent, particularly underwater, when you also add the spell-level of the highest spell/SP known to damage dealt. Yes, it can only be used on melee weapons, but I can get past that as well.

The next race within would be the lizardfolk, who get a potentially diseased bite, chameleon scales, bulky or small physiology - some cool alternate racial options here. The tribal defender fighter would be a defensive fighter who gains several nice abilities that enhance the protection of allies, though the competing attack roll mechanic introduced at higher levels is not something I'm fond of. The cannibal bloodrager bloodline makes for a cool and well-crafted one, though, once again, a high-level option isn't perfect and can be (slightly and not too efficiently) cheesed. The chapter also contains the Anointed One PrC, which provides full BAB-progression as well as 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression and 2 + Int skills per level. The PrC focuses on an anointed weapon and the use of oils to enhance it, dabbling a bit in mutagens and discoveries for an alchemical fighter. The option to lock weapons with an attacker is interesting and concisely presented, making use of AoOs and the weapon in question to negate hits, which is per se, damn cool. A GM should just be weary to not let an indestructible weapon such as an artifact fall into the hands of the character. The serious array of racial feats allows for the expansion of the potency of the natural attacks. Personally, I am not a fan of yet another feat to increase the damage output of Vital Strikes. Two racial deities and 3 subdomains can be found, and no, I don't have any issues here. Oracles may choose the albinism curse, which is pretty cool The anti-fire battle-magic squall makes for a potent and neat spell and the magic items, for the most part, are neat - though once again there's an option here to further increase Vital Strike damage. As always, I'd advise caution here.

Among the merfolk, we gain two full-blown subtypes in addition to the alternate racial traits, with the angufolk and the octopi adding some nice visuals, though the latter, with +2 Dex and Con, are a bit lopsided on the physical side for my tastes. Still: Octopi-merfolk. Cool. Archetype-wise, the cyraniel bard is an investigator crossover with diminished spellcasting and an inspiration pool to enhance skills. The thematically-fitting aegan sorceror bloodline, which draws upon the Sea King's powers and the carcharodon bloodragers that tap into the wrath of megalodons, make for solid options, though the former has a purely cosmetic hiccup in the capstone header, sporting the "20" from the level it's gained. I really like the feat that lets you see better in murky water and mud and the swift octo-trip option among the racial feats. Edible cork and coral armor make for nice pieces of equipment. A new power lets you form legs on land and there are some nice utility underwater spells. The iconic belt of the land walker also provides a nice option to allow merfolk to adventure on dry land. I also liked the ink-grenades here and the artifact, the trident of the 7 seas, is appropriately potent!

The chapter on samsarans has the unfortunate handicap of having to compete with the Dynastic Races Compendium, though one should mention that it doesn't do a bad job at it - the alternate racial traits are solid and tie in well with the reincarnation-angle of the race. The pdf takes a different approach here, focusing more on the aspect of time, with the chronomancer wizard (who basically replaces schools etc. with spell echoes and customized bonus spells, arcane bond, etc.), the anti-evil knight eternal paladin and the timeless warden druid, who emphasizes the cyclical nature and is more a guardian-style priest of nature than a wood-stalking hermit, gaining channel energy, but losing wild shape, woodland stride, etc. The Panacean sorceror bloodline would, bingo, be another arcane healing option - their touch can provide nourishment and they even receive some lay on hands and mercy-tricks. Depending on your attributes, you may select feats to retain some knowledge from previous lives and some samsaran priests may even use channel energy to heal ability damage and drain - though thankfully with proper prerequisites and ratio - kudos! On the faith-side of things, the deity presented here is supplemented by the dreams mystery and the vision subdomain, both of which are solid options. I am particularly partial to the nonlethal damage causing touch that comes with a free merciful upgrade at later levels. Showing the truth of a soul via a polymorph-effect or gaining flashes of insight from previous lives are some examples for the spells featured herein...and there is a blade to grant final death to reincarnating creatures. It also makes sense to me that there are capsules that contain information from past lives. All in all, I liked the chapter, but compared to the in-depth look in Dynastic Races Compendium, it was shorter and thus had less space to develop its take on the race.

Next up would be the pretty potent skinwalker race, who gains alternate change shape options among the alternate racial traits and traits to ignore a single 5-ft.-square of difficult terrain while running or charging. The archetypes feature the beastwalker druid, who gains the ability to assume hybrid forms via wild shape. The kinetic assailant replaces the mind-blade enhancing options with the means to use move actions to store kinetic energy in unarmed or natural attacks, increasing their damage output. While generally functional, the core ability of the archetype deviates significantly in the way it is presented from how such rules-operations are usually phrased. As such, there are a couple of rough patches here. The rougarou witch replaces patron and may choose the governing attribute for her magic. With diminished spellcasting and familiar as well as a natural spellstrike variant, the archetype is really intriguing and provides an interesting playing experience - two thumbs up for this one! The wild stalker hunter is a minor tweak. Cursed scars and wounds and new animal foci make for more compelling options. The racial feats focus on enhancing natural attacks (such as using a swift action to add a grapple attempt to a bite), tripping foes that run from you, etc. - all in all an interesting selection and one that thankfully hides pounce behind a sufficient level-cap. Beyond 3 sample deities, we also get a new shaman spirit, who focuses on the moon - including "lunacy" to confuse targets - and yep, that's where the word comes from -in German it's "mondsüchtig" - moon-addicted, but that as an aside. I like the spirit! The moon/hunter-theme also extends to the spell-array, with one allowing for the sharing of the skinwalker's bestial form...The magic items cover an iteration of the classic lycanthrope-mantle, transformative masks and shape-locking arrows.

Next up would be the tengus, who can hail from ravens and sports a rather nice assortment of traits and solid alternate racial traits as well - no complaints here! Aerialist swashbucklers focus on jumping over foes, attacking them from above, etc., while crow shamans get modified class skills and spells as well as some trickster style at-range theft...and item-cloaking. Nice one! Kite fighters specialize in the war kite (!! - That's a new weapon herein, btw.) weapon, while raven knight cavaliers get a raven that can carry them at 1st level at 1/2 speed (important note, considering the limitations of aerial mounts - but I still wish it didn't use an absolute value and instead employed proper carrying capacity and size-interactions. Spell scavenger wizards can use left-over magic to power spells and siphon off magic from dispels - interesting. A critical Eye Gouge feat is interesting...though move action combat feat duplication once again suffers from per-encounter mechanics. Using filth to make weapons infectious is...disgusting, but cool. The pdf contains two racial deities as well as an OP damage channeler, whose channel energy damages both living and undead, excluding the character. Yeah, no. Full untyped damage there? Nope. The spying subdomain is nice and so are the new magic options, which include the long nose curse, sword snapping bite and the theft of eyes. The magic items include geta that allow tengus to walk through hurricanes and warkites that help jumping or call down lightning. Pretty cool chapter!

The final two races herein would be more potent than the others, which is why I considered them to be worthy of extra mentioning - the wyrwood has full construct immunities (but also their instantaneous 0 hp destruction), while the wyvarang begins play with unassisted personal flight. Both are imho aspects that require some GM-consideration. But both also have in common that we have basically heard and seen nothing about them or their respective culture before, with the wyrwood entry making pretty clear that they can be an intriguing option when handled with care. Their crafted nature and stone-based variant, the latter provided in the alternate, make for an interesting background. Similarly, there is an option for a wyrwood to have emotions, unlocking them for a variety of options. The character options have a really cool tactician, who gains 3 unique strategies as well as the option to act as full cover for allies and some free-form temporary hit points that are shared among the collective - I assume that these are replenished after a rest, but I'm not 100% sure - they could also manifest upon forming a collective. The golembreaker would be anti-construct/undead/etc. rogue - nice! Alchemists can gain construct-healing options via a discovery and there is the eldritch bloodline, which, for bloodragers, features shield and low-range force damage for those nearby while in a bloodrage. The sorceror iteration of the bloodline instead features at-range Sleight of Hand, spying, etc., focusing on arcane subterfuge. Feats to craft Wyrwoods and repair them are neat, but I am particularly impressed by the ability to hold positive or negative energy for a limited time and deliver it to targets - the two feats here are really intriguing. A form of variant channeling for constructs and two philosophies can be found alongside the amaranthine mystery, which focuses on knowledge and construct mastery - including flooding the minds of foes with information. Construct-affecting cure-variants can be found, and the remainder of the magic and psionic options is decent, with e.g. a psionic shield other variant. In the magic item section, an item class that can absorb energy damage to regain spell levels deserves some serious warning, as the item class can delimit spells. The massive price is what keeps me from complaining more here - not broken, but potent.

The wyvaran, forged by the Tinkerer from kobolds and wyverns in the magical forge known as Cauldron (no, not the city in the Volcano!) come with a slew of alternate racial traits that include honoring the trapmaking of their kobold forebears, poison glands, better darkvision and fast healing when taking electricity damage - thankfully with a daily maximum to avoid infinite healing exploits. The class options include the intuitor investigator, who replace Inspiration with Intuition (which is governed by Wisdom, as are other class features). Regulator rangers replace the druid-y components of the ranger with warpriest tricks, while stormlancer cavaliers gain either the Air or Weather blessing and flight-enhancing tricks instead of the whole mount/charge-tree - cool one! Skylord monks lose fast movement and slow fall in favor of better flight options. The wyvern bloodline allows, among other things, a bite and the option to assume a semi-wyvern form at higher levels. Including poison. The racial feat array includes several ones that enhance flight as well as options to use wings defensively and the option to use tail or wings for attacks - cool: These are properly codified as secondary/primary natural attacks. The equipment section sports shrieking armor (which makes a ruckus when charging) and there are two racial deities provided. Reaper clerics can deliver inflict spells via weaponry and they can use their scythes to generate arcs of energy that are half negative energy and half "pure force" - does that mean force damage? I'm honestly not sure, but either way, losing a domain and channel energy makes for a viable trade-off for these potent tricks. The racial spells include the 9th level pillar of doom, which is pretty damn badass (it can explode or topple) as well as the updraft cantrip, which can help while flying. The magic items this time around are less interesting in my book, offering a crown that causes panic, a morningstar with form of the dragon I - you get the idea.

It should be noted that the book contains a massive spells & powers appendix by class and level, as well as a massive 5-page index that helps navigating this massive tome.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are impressive for a crunch-book of this size. I mean it. The bonus and damage types are admirably, impressively consistent, the rules-language and narrative voices of the respective chapters have been brought together into a concise whole - the editors Richard Moore and Kevin Morris have done a really good job here. Considering the number of authors involved, that's an impressive accomplishment! Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the book sports a significant array of full-color artwork, both original and stock pieces. The book comes with EXCESSIVE, nested bookmarks for your convenience - in conjunction with the appendices, this makes navigation of the tome very comfortable. I cannot comment on the physical version, since I do not own it.

My heartfelt congratulations to the cadre of authors: Michael Eshleman, Joel Flank, Sasha Hall, Maurice de Mare, Dale McCoy Jr., Matthew Ryan, Richard Moore, Ken Morris, E. Steev Ramsdell, David N. Ross, Rachel Ventura and Goerge "Loki" Williams. Racial books have a hard time convincing me of their reason to exist - you see, I expect more from a race than stats - I expect a culture, an interesting roleplaying angle. That alone is, for many races, a hard task. This book had an even harder standing. I never made any pretensions of liking the ARG - I hate the book with a fiery passion. This tome is largely based on races from the ARG - but it manages to make them feel like more than the sum of their mechanics, adding depth and dimension to them. Now, I consider the wyvaran and wyrwood races, balance-wise, problematic; same goes for the skinwalkers, but it would not be fair to penalize this book, as it was crafted to build on the existing races. To cut an already oversized review short: This massive tome manages to add much-needed depth to the respective races. The racial class options, while not all pure amazing, most of the time tie in with racial options and forma concise whole that makes it pretty clear how they tie in with the race in question. This focused identity adds further dimensions to the races in question. The fluff serves to enhance the individual entries as well.

For a book of this size and depth, let it be known that the crunch is impressive - while there are some instances where I can complain and nitpick, as a whole, the book holds up really well. My gripes come mainly from my knowledge of combos, from minor nitpicks and a rather conservative power-aesthetic. I think, for example, that psionic options herein tend to severely undervalue the massive power that more psionic foci can net. It should be noted, that crunch I'd consider problematic remains the exception in a massive book.

Most folks probably will encounter no issues with the material herein and it should be strongly emphasized that the majority of the material herein works smoothly - to the point where I was honestly impressed. This may not be perfect, but it most assuredly is a high-quality compilation and an incredibly tightly-packed book of crunch that brings to life races that were nothing but pale stats before. What more can you ask for? If you hated these races before, then this book may change actually that! If you wanted more detail, then this book will deliver. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet (PFRPG)
by Rick H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2017 18:25:28

I got to run though part of this adventure at an event this last weekend, and consequently purchased it to use in my home game. As a player, the parts I played through were hugely enjoyable, and reading though the rest I'm not disappointed. The adventure is fairly straight foreward-on the surface. There isn't great complication in information to track or maps to explored. There are, however, many out-of-the-box problems that need to be carefully considered. I really liked this approach- the information the characters require is readily available, but making sense of it is key. Further, the encounters mix monsters with hazards in interesting environments. There's a lot of content for the price, and I look forward to using it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for taking the time to review. I really appreciate it. And I am glad you enjoyed it so much. I hope you have fun running it for your own group.
JBE'S Big Book of Everything [BUNDLE]
by Troy D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/03/2017 10:00:47

::pushes button...damnit... :: pushes button again....damnit.

I can't get the thing to do six stars no matter how hard I try. Oh well...

Well...

I just downloaded the bundle. Out of the 90+ files, 76 of them are PDF's. The others are mobi, epub, and hero lab extensions. Since I am a PDF guy, I am going to focus on those.

Out of the 76 PDF's 6 of them are printer friendly versions (nice!) of previous works. That leaves us with 70 PDFS. For 20 bucks. That's .29 cents a PDF.

It gets better. 1385 pages worth of content. All of them have a cover and at least one page of OGL, so subtract 140 pages. That is still 1245 pages of content. Actual, usable content.

Now, when you take into account that you are getting compendiums, races, adventures, monster manuals, and beautiful full-color maps...

This bundle is a no brainer. There were bundles like this last year that were no brainers. This is the first no-brainer of the season. If you have not already put your hands on this beast, then you need to. Well worth the average of THIRTY CENTS a book. Well done JBE!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
JBE'S Big Book of Everything [BUNDLE]
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I'm really glad you liked this so much. Thank you for taking the time to review!
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (PFRPG)
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2017 14:01:42

Spoilers Alert

This short adventure is intended to be played over one session, two at the most. It starts with the characters being sent to the town of Mossdale to bring a shipment of spidersilk rope, a rare alchemical item that is only found there due to the village proximity to the Webmoss Woods. However, Mossdale was overrun by spiders and while battling the stragglers from the spider “army” the characters discover a few survivors and learn that the spiders captured many villagers and amongst them is the alchemist they are looking for. What happened is that an entity of pure thoughts managed to slipped to the Material Plane and took control of a giant assassin spider. Curious, it wants to study and control more advanced beings, so it ordered

While tracking the spiders through the Webmoss Woods, the characters may encounter other denizens that can provide a bit more information about the spiders and their strange behavior. Depending on the information they get, they may find or stumble upon an ancient rock monument where the spiders converge and there, have their showdown with the “possessed” assassin spider.

Overall, the module is well made despite its brevity. One has to keep in mind that it is intended to be brief, so it is not a bad thing. The idea is good and while I would have liked a bit more information about the being called the Great Hive or on the town itself, the module’s goal is not to provide a long campaign or a complex adventure. It does what it intends to do: provide a challenging and fun adventure for an evening of gaming. Drawbacks? Well, two of the encounters are a bit strange to me. The first one is the wererat living in the wood with his giant rat friends... It is not a bad encounter, but there is really no rationale as to why this particular wererat would choose to live in nature as opposed to their normal habitat. Any good GM can come up with a reason, but it still feels strange to me. The other weird encounter is with a summoned dretch who has been trapped in its summoning circle for centuries. I get that the encounter adds to the strangeness of the ancient ruins the characters are visiting, but at the same time, I have trouble understanding why Drothic barbarians with the power to summon would waste their resources summoning a dretch. Of course, the reason why is lost to time and the creature may have been summoned as a mere messenger, but the encounter just feels out of place. It just feels as if the encounter was added to provide more challenge for the characters rather than to add flavor to an otherwise interesting locale.

Despite these two little things that may not bother someone else, I think this is a good module and one that not only reaches its goal, but that offers many possibilities to expand on the material presented here.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (PFRPG)
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Thank you for taking the time to review. I really appreciate it. Please feel free to check out our other adventures and share your thoughts on them as well.
d66 Compendium
by James J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2017 12:43:56

Solid product. I bundled this and Compendium 2 into a binder to take with me to Traveller sessions as Referee. Great stuff for ideas.

This also works as a brainstroming setup for writing. looking at the names, events and places, then with it all in your mind get a flavor.

Easy enough when printed out to change up some details by crossing out and writing in new ones. can't wait to make up some of my own tables. This product and compendium 2 would be well served by including a few table blanks numbered 11 to 66.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
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Thank you for taking the time to review. I really appreciate it.
Scenes of Space Hex Battle Maps
by James J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2017 12:36:00

I liked this a lot. I used the asteroid map in a recent Traveler Session. nice big hexes on four sheets. I like that there are ifferent sizes. No problems printing and cutting these pieces to fit together with some tape.

Price was good at 2$

I would buy more if there were more in the series.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scenes of Space Hex Battle Maps
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (5e)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2016 15:09:31

Disclaimer: I received a review copy.

Now, I have to say that I am massively impressed with this product. It is not a bestiary so much as it is an ecology primer on a bunch of new creatures that are original, inspiring, and effective. Ranging from animal to elemental to monstrocity, there are plenty of interesting and original creatures to use in your campaigns. For each creature or type we are given a wide number of alternative builds, whether they be stronger versions of the base creature, or full distinct variations on a similar theme. For instance, we get young, adult, and elder spider bears, while the druidic guardians are varied by elemental type.

Each cluster of creatures comes with plot hooks, potential treasure (when it makes sense), and pointers for how a creature might behave in battle. This, coupled with the brief but comprehensive descriptions give creatures a depth that is not conveyed in a 1 page stat block. And although the hit point values are a bit low for a given CR, the creatures themselves are excellently represented for 5th edition statistics.

I very much look forward to seeing more books like this, and it has even changed my view on what shorter bestiaties should be. Without the history of older and established monsters, every new beast needs to be as fleshed out as the ones in this book.

5 out of 5 stars, and my royal seal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods (5e)
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d66 Compendium
by Daniel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2016 01:27:13

I purchased the Compendium 2 first. I really liked it, so I figured I should return and pick up the original. I have not been disappointed. It too is filled with lots of great d66 charts. But to be honest it also is a gold mine of great ideas. Just looking over some of the lists causes ideas to spring up in my mind. Not just a great place to randomly select a name, but to look at a name and begin to build out who or what it is. I have had fun just reading various entries and charts. I strongly encourage any GM to pick both this compendium and the 2nd one as well. They are both great additions to my collection and will be very helpful resources in my creative efforts.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
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Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)
by Gaetan V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2016 03:06:39

Nice depth of content.

If you add up all of the PHB pages dedicated to race, you get 25 pages across 9 races. And those PHB pages are heavy in pictures. This one is about a dozen pages for 4 races (Hagborn, Samsaran, Tengu and Catfolk). With limited art, there is a serious amount of content here.

I really love the core structure of how the races are detailed. Each race has sections like "Love & Mating", "Alignment & Religion", "Clans & Families" and "Aging & Death". These are all thought through quite carefully, the races go well beyond just a simple stats list.

From a design side, all of the races are reasonable and seem pretty balanced. The Catfolk grant +2/+2 instead of the usual +2/+1, which is a little odd, but the overall design is still solid.

There are some extra sub-races at the end, but these are really just a bonus. The list price is worth the while.

The key spots for future are the one that are hard to do on a small budget. More artwork would definitely be nice, especially for the Catfolk where the two distinct sub-races look very different but we only have a picture of one. The book could also really use a designer's touch. Page numbers are hard to read. The core racial stats are "cut into" the descriptive text about each race, so you have two columns bleeding into one column without so much as a horizontal rule to cut them up. The text is all straight black, no color variation, almost no font variation, it's all a little hard on the eyes.

Overall though, I'm impressed. There are lots of "freebie" races out in the wilds of the internet, but very few of them have as much detail as these ones.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)
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Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (5e)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 02:55:40

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this product.

Along Came a Spider is an excellent and unorthodoxed adventure. It lets spiders take the center stage as the villains for a low level adventure, rather than as the rabble and fodder that are encountered incidentally on the way to the true threat.

This product is chock full of spiders, of all sorts. You have a young ettercap, swarms of spiders, and even a few new spiders designed just for this book. The adventure starts out pretty straight forward, but begins to take a strange and interesting twist. I won't say much for fear of spoiling, but I was impressed with the adventure, and I can't wait to run it.

This adventure is thorough, and has some varied locations. This is definitely an excellent introductory adventure. It is balanced to help survivability, as it is a bit of an issue for 1st level players in 5e. It also has great sensibilities for adventure design, such as appropriate traps and encounters as well as appropriately low ability check and save DCs to ensure you don't hurt or hinder the players too bad out of the gate.

All in all, this book benefits from the author's considerable talent and understanding of the system and of adventure design. This is an excellent 5th edtition module, and I look forward to seeing more! 5 out of 5!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (5e)
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Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (5e)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2016 01:54:02

Firstly, the background for the adventure is very well written, and seeps out character and flavor. It was plainly well thought out and very developed. It is excellently layered with a hook that does not belie the true nature of the adventure, and a twist that should keep player interest throughout the endeavor. Good setup and thorough execution of initial hook. Also, there is good characterization of various expository NPC's that promises a memorable session if a GM is willing to act them out.

From the first encounter, it seems like encounter design and balance are well done for the sensibility of 5th edition. The initial combat is meant more as a test of the character's sensibility than their combat prowess, and could lead to some interesting decisions later. Statistic blocks are handled rather nicely, and are concise and readable. The next few encounters are a bit standard, and probably a sync for a 2nd level party to deal with, but it really builds up the atmosphere, especially with the special glyphs that seem to permeate the enemy lair. Room and encounter design do a nice job of setting the tone of the adventure by slowly introducing a creepy undertone.

There are interesting little details peppered within the room descriptions of the enemy lair, including some interesting moral choices regarding enemies that do not resist or fight.

The inclusion of a new creature (the negative energy elemental) is refreshing, and a bright contrast against the relatively mundane hobgoblin foes, as well as foreshadowing the nature of the lair itself.

The methodology for controlling the number of creatures in a later encounter was interesting as well; depending on player actions, they could fight more enemies at once, or fight a few with more enemies entering per round. This seems to reward players for circumstantial actions rather than punishing them for making an unknowable mistake.

Ultimately, the adventure is very short, and could serve as an excellent set piece to be fit into a larger campaign. There are a lot of loose ends presented within here that could either be tied to your campaign, or simply expand the adventure to interesting directions. This adventure will most likely take your 2nd level group to 3rd level (depending on how many there are in your party), so that makes it ideal for moving your characters into an ideal starting point for a full on campaign (given that the accepted wisdom states that adventurers are more sturdy and defines at level 3).

All in all, this excellent and short adventure is a showcase of an excellent understanding of 5th edition design and low level balance! 5 stars and my royal seal!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (5e)
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d66 Compendium
by Michael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2016 09:37:52

Warning: don't buy any of the individual d66 lists if you buy this. This is purely a compilation of all the d66 lists. I made the mistake of buying it all thinking it was different, and ended up paying for the same content twice (more, really, since the individual lists cost more than this collected version).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
d66 Compendium
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Publisher Reply:
I can understand your frustration with buying the same material twice, but that is a compendium. Having said that, about a third of the book is comprised of lists that do not appear elsewhere. I hope you found it useful to have all the lists released up to that point in one place.
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2015 17:37:03

Disclosure: I received a free review copy.

Let me begin by saying that this product impressed the hell out of me.

It clocks in at 16 pages with 12.5 pages of content (1 page for cover, 1/2 a page for credits, 1 page for OGL, and 1 page for an ad). Formatting and presentation are excellent, with every usable part of the page being well utilized for space.

Additionally, the content is excellent. The races provided are not only fitted with sound rules, but also with excellent exposition that makes the races stand out.

Provided within are Catfolk, Hagborn, Samsaran, and Tengu, and sub races for each. Also, the book provides number of new sub-races for dwarves, halflings, elves, and gnomes. Though the latter is a lot more brief, it is an excellent example of what a sub-race can be.

The highlight of this product is the showcasing of the racial write ups, giving the utmost attention to the society and background considerations for the new races. While the mere fact that this product provides new races at all is amazing (considering the hitherto infancy of 5th edition), this product blazes a trail and leaves an example of what new race books for 5th edition should be, and look like.

Bravo. 5 out of 5!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)
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Thank you for taking the time to review!
Book of Friends and Foes: Ratfolk of the Ruins (PFRPG)
by Richard B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2015 11:07:32

This product is a NPC supplement of Ratfolk. There is a basic write up of the Ratfolk race, but most of it is NPC write ups. If you want more material for Ratfolk, this is not the item for you. If want NPCs with interesting backstories, this IS the product for you. The Hero Labs files do not appear to work with Hero Labs, being .por files and not .hl files.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Friends and Foes: Ratfolk of the Ruins (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review. The included hero lab file is the ratfolk NPCs. This is not new material that is loaded into the program but profiles that are opened with File>Open Profile.
Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword (PFRPG)
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2015 14:25:55

***This review contains spoilers****

This short adventure is intended challenge characters of 1st. A logging company is looking for a group of adventurers to investigate a series of mysterious happenstance at one of their logging camps and determine if the site can be reclaimed. The city in which the adventure begins does not have stats and the trip to the woods where the survivors of the incident are encamped is not covered, but a random encounter table is provided. I do not see this as a flaw because the adventure does not take place in the city and the trip can be as long as you want it to be. Deadly Delves are intended to be short and to the point, so there is no sense in adding that much details. You can create them as you see fit. It also allows a GM to place the adventure anywhere in his campaign as long as there some logging going on.

After meeting with the foreman of the camp to gather more information about what happened, a half-day journey takes the characters to the abandoned site of the former camp and with a little investigation, they can find tracks leading deeper in the woods. Since it is a logging camp, many tracks will lead to the forest and back to the camp. The odd thing here would be that these tracks originate from the camp's smithy. That could be seen as a minor flaw in the plot since this clue may be overlooked by players, but I do not think it would impact the adventure that much as any capable GM can get the players to follow these tracks with a few additional clues.

Following the tracks will lead the party straight into an ambush. If the characters do not kill outright the men assailing them, they will learn a lot of invaluable information about the who is behind these strange occurrences and where to find their lair. Even if the trappers get killed, the party can follow their tracks back to the caves where they lair and where lives the main antagonist. The cave system is the former lair of coven of troll witches, and as such, they left some traces of their occupation as well as a few unpleasant surprises. While exploring the caves, the characters can confront the huldra behind all the occurrences and figure out the fate of the missing loggers. Several scenarios are provided based on how the group meets the huldra and how they resolve the situation; some of these include peaceful solutions which I find very refreshing from most nodules I read.

Overall, I really liked this module as it is challenging, but all challenges require brute force and spells. The fact that it can be resolved peacefully and that the dangerous areas do not need to be explored makes it a great module for 1st level parties. I did njot get a chance to playtest it, but it seems well balanced. No suggestion were provided to expand the module or create other adventures based on this story, but I do not feel like it diminishes the quality of the module. I really, really liked that it can be resolved without much bloodshed if your players are so inclined.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review. I really appreciate it.
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