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Book of Magic: Pirate Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2012 06:09:13

This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page back cover and 1 page advertisement, leaving 6 pages of content, so let's check out these spells!


The pdf starts with spell-lists by class and includes antipaladins and the magus as well as the full APG-roster. After that, we are introduced to a tightly-focused roster of spells, which, surprise, center on pirates and privateering. The 24 new spells (including 2 mass versions) herein are interesting in that they might be changing how you view (under-)water adventuring: A major problem for low-level aquatic adventuring is the fact that the environment restricts players and the necessity for magic support to function properly. While Alluria Publishing's "Cerulean Seas"-setting somewhat addresses these, Pirate Spells herein are more centered on shorter sojourns and vessels. Indeed, it is in the vessel-focused spells that the pdf truly shines: From the ability to conjure up Sargasso-seas and barnacle growth to impede vessel-movement, make the floor of a ship shiver and influence the crew by temporarily giving them sea-legs or temporarily regressing them to being landlubbers, we are given a neat gamut of magical options. Two spells influencing the water, either making it more stormy or calming it are interesting choices as well. And vessel-grapples via kelp are a great idea as well, at least in my book.


However, not all of the spells herein are as innovative: Dwarven Stone Plating grants a ship MASSIVE DR and can be considered a kind of superior stone-skin for the whole vessel and unfortunately comes with a minor glitch, a misplaced "/" - I would have loved the spell to somewhat impede maneuverability of the ship it is cast on. Two other spells I didn't like are Floatsteel, which lets you ignore armor and shield penalties for swimming. I don't like this spell, because it opens up a logic gap - if this spell exists in your campaign (it's only 2nd level), why are there not more full-armored corsairs out there? Not my cup of coffee. The second is the level 1-spell buoyancy, which moves you towards the surface at 30 feet per round without mentioning how it interacts with diving sickness/pressure etc. Perhaps I'm spoiled by "Cerulean Seas", but in my opinion the spell does something complex and oversimplifies it.


Before you get the impression that this collection of magic is sub-apr, I'll mention my two favorites: "Sodden Ship makes" naval combat 3d in that it enables a ship to dive (and the crew to survive the experience). My only question is: Why is there no flying-ship-version of the spell? MY second favorite is the high-level shipgate, which teleports a whole vessel - mad captain leading everyone into hell, anyone? NEAT!
The pdf also comes with hero-lab files.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I only noticed one minor glitch. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is neat. Artwork, as far as I could tell, is stock and while I get the standard-cover, I wished JBE would use a more evocative font on the cover. The spells detailed in this pdf cover the range from being "ok" ideas to being awesome and iconic and, on a whole, this pdf has left me wanting more. To be more precise, more spells on the as of yet neglected vehicle-combat. Animating a figurehead is cool and all, but after reading about 2000 spells for PFRPG, I just don't require any standard spells and a brave innovation in focus is always appreciated. That being said, not all of the spells herein are as innovative and "Floatsteel" in particular, while I get the reasoning behind it, might wreck a crucial logical element of many a swashbuckling campaign, which seems contrary to the interests of this pdf. Generally, I think that filling up the pdf to 30 spells would have been a good idea as it felt a bit on the short end. These two being my only gripes with this installment of the "Book of Magic"-series, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: Pirate Spells (PFRPG)
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Book of Magic: Pirate Spells (PFRPG)
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2012 21:59:32

Opening with a breakdown of spells by class lists, It's more than fair to say there's some love for every class here. Presented in a dual column format with a total of 10 pages (with 2 covers, and 1 credits/OGL page). After the spell lists (2 pages), we're left with 5 pages total for spell descriptions for these 24 aquatically themed spells. To be fair, two of the spells are mass versions of two other new spells from this product. Internal artwork consists of one piece from Marc Raddle in B&W that is of fairly good quality. In reference to editing mishaps, there was the exclusion of the usage of a bold setting for the statblock of one of the spells making it stand out (as all other spells used a bold format to begin each section of the statblock).


As the preview already breaks down the names of these new spells, and I feel this many spells are far to many to cover in extensive detail, I thought I would follow with my standard of highlighting my favorite spells, and my least favorite. So, without further ado:


Shipgate is simply an awesome spell when you as a GM are looking to either terrorize your waterways with a crew that simply can not be tracked nor caught, or have a crew of adventurers that absolutely, positively have to get there overnight (sorry, couldn't resist)..But seriously, a teleport for an entire vessel, and all of its crew and cargo, has so many possibilities in the hands of a good story teller.


Sodden Ship took me a few seconds to really mull over, and I'll tell you why. When I first read this spell, and realized that I was essentially looking at the fantasy answer to the submarine, I knew I was looking at a spell I was going to love, I just had to stop visualizing a pirate frigate cruising under the armada hunting them long enough to go back to reading the spell...I mean come on, can't you see it??? A spell that lets you sail UNDER the water, how freaking cool is that?


Animate Figurehead spoke to me, pure and simple. There was a miniature put out by Reaper a while back, of an angel formed from the figurehead of a wrecked ship. I will be hunting that miniature down, solely so that I may do this spell justice when I unleash it on my gaming table. The concept of awakening the figurehead of a ship as a golem is fantastic, and I was very happy to see that a spell of this nature was included in this collection.


Shadow Sails adds that touch of darker fantasy back in for me, as up to this spell, where as there have been quite a few magical effects, in the end, when it came to the physical, it was still the boat and all its parts...but now, with this spell, the sails are replaced by creations of shadow and nothingness....and that just screams for an evil pirate captain and his crew of damned souls!!!!!!


OK, flipping to the other side of the proverbial coin here, Landlubber allows one to “remind” a target of their landlegs, effectively turning them into newbies on board the ship, at least for the duration of the spell. This spell has a mass version, and an opposite in the form of Sealegs. Where as they both fit the theme of this collection, when taking their duration into consideration, neither is really a useful spell until you're a much higher level spell caster. Not to mention neither live up to the bar set by the four previously mentioned spells.


Final thoughts....very soon a great many tables will be breaking out their nautical rules and undertaking a new path centered around a pirate's way of life....and it would be a great dis-service if this collection of spells were not available at everyone of those tables. Whether you plan to sail under the black flag, or are hunting those who do, these spells will vastly increase your options for naval adventure. Having only two true complaints when it is all said and done, I would have liked to have seen a few more pieces of art, as art is always good....and a release date for volume two.


Going with a full 5 star rating for this collection.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monster Variations (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/26/2012 16:01:44

This pdf is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 13 pages of content, so let's check it out!


The pdf kicks off with a page of introduction that gives us the basic premises of this particular book - born of monster-tweets, this pdf contains variants of monsters that include special modifications of the creatures and thus make them more unique. Reskinning monsters is a great practice to make the encounters more unique and keep the fear of the new in the game - take this basic principle, square it and there we are. But are these beasts truly novel or beings that you could easily reskin yourself? Let's take a look!


The first creature is the Attercope (CR 12) - a colossal spider that can attack not only via bites and slam foes with their legs. The second creature, the Bearowl (CR 6) is a avian creature with bear claws and bite-attacks and makes for a nice twist of the being, as does the roaring CR 5 Lionbear. The Bigfoot, a frightening CR 4-creature and a colossal CR 15 centipede - which comes with 22 HD and a hide of hairs that covers it from ranged attacks! There's also the Dragonsnake (CR 4) and the CR 8 Rage Giant. The former comes with a bite attack and the latter can cast rage on himself. The Rage Giant also makes for the first creature I didn't enjoy - adding rage powers would have been more interesting, but perhaps that's me. There are also two variants of the will-o'-wisps, the CR 6 goblin-o'-wisp and the CR 8 troll-o'-wisp.


The deadly CR 11 Hell Blob is a neat ooze with a corrupting aura and unholy acid - the infernal dragon snapper (CR11) on the other hand, is a rather boring variant of the dragon turtle and comes with a typo. The two mummy-variants, the CR 5 halfling mummy and the CR 7 giant mummy on the other hand, are rather boring and didn't excite me at all. The CR 8 Naiad is a variety of the nymph and while not too exciting, is ok. The reign of high-HD vermin includes the colossal Nightmare scorpion (CR 17) and the CR 18 Thundercrab. While the former is rather bland, the latter comes with a cool electricity-based bolt-attack. The CR 3 thunder lizard takes the monitor wizard and makes it elemental-themed, while the Roper Kind is a kind of super roper. The pdf concludes with two sample yellow musk zombies.


Conclusion:
Editing and formattingin the revised edition have been improved and are very good now. Layout adheres to a two-column standard and usually provides 2 monsters per page. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. Oh, how torn am I on this particular pdf. The design-advice is extremely useful and some of the monsters are on par with the best and coolest of the Book of Beasts-line. On the other line, some of the beasts herein lack cool signature abilities and feel like bland reskins that don't feature enough unique properties to feel truly different. The giant vermin rocks, but honestly, especially when taking a look at the thunder crab and comparing it with the Nightmare Scorpion, I can't help but feel that the latter falls short of its potential. I loved about half of the creatures and felt rather underwhelmed by the latter. I'd usually would have settled for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, perhaps even rounded up to 4 due to the low price and now that the editing glitches have been taken care of, I'll gladly round up to 4.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monster Variations (PFRPG)
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Riyal's Research: Traps (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2012 18:24:26

This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's check out what this pdf has to offer!


Riyal's list of traps begins with a page of aptly-written IC-prose that introduces us to the matter at hand, and takes two often neglected components into account - trap designers and their mentalities and bypass mechanisms. The pdf contains 24 traps ranging from CR 1 to CR 19, from humble poisoned spears used by kobolds and alarms to acid dumps preferably used to cover the retreat of snipers, secluded summoning circles and other classics are provided as well - from spinning blade-filled pits to drowning chambers to the magic missile-to-the-face traps, we get some of the tried and true, but not necessarily too exciting classics.


Just when I was ready to give up on expecting anything too exciting from this pdf, some nice pieces of prose lift my spirits and introduce me to alchemical frost bombs and truly deadly storms of shadowy arrows blasting forth from relics of old as well as providing exploding columns that detonate and can be considered a delayed rocks-fall-you-die that leave the players with time to do something about it. The most disturbing trap, though, definitely is the CR 19 Collapsing Wall of Skulls, which not only does insane amounts of damage, but also because just one animate dead spell by the opposition may increase its efficiency even further!


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly b/w-2-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks. In contrast to Riyal's research on haunts, this pdf is definitely centered on classic pulpy traps and while they do feature a certain iconicity, the sheer imaginativeness of the haunt-supplement does not suffuse this supplement. The IC-considerations on traps are smart and something to bear in mind when using traps and there indeed are some traps herein that are worthwhile. However, true genius or an eureka-effect like in "#30 Traps for Tombs" or NNW's "The Art of Traps" could not be found in this selection of humble traps. Don't get me wrong - for the low price, this pdf does indeed feature some traps you might enjoy and provides some quick and easy to use traps that can be used in almost any context. It's just that after reading the unique take on haunts in the other Riyal-book, I expected a bit more. For what it is, this installment of Riyal's Research is still an ok buy and thus I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Riyal's Research: Traps (PFRPG)
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Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
by Anton M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2012 09:59:12

I was intrigued by Paizo's "Kingmaker" adventure path, which transforms a D&D adventure into sort of a detailed cooperative "Settlers of Catan" or some other 'building' game, wherein each turn represents a month of world-time.


Unfortunately, my players are all too high-level to start at "Kingmaker's" level 1 adventure. Plus, would I really need to buy the entire Paizo adventure path, when I wouldn't be using their actual adventures?


Enter "Book of the River Nations." This book is inspiring, and condenses many many "Kingmaker" rules into its 52 pages. Most reviewers here mention it as a companion to "Kingmaker," but I want a replacement: how to create your own "Kingmaker"-like adventure.


Basically, your adventurers go out into the wilderness, fight monsters, discover valuable sites for resource creation and extraction, pre-existing abandoned facilities, and generally carve a kingdom out of the wilderness. The kingdom has several character-like stats, but there is a dark stat which brings down the other stats: "Unrest," or popular dissatisfaction.


I would really like some rules for map generation: how does one generate a "Kingmaker" wilderness, perhaps with some randomness. How much farmland is fair? How many windfall abandoned facilities are fair? How much mining is appropriate? In "Settlers of Catan" this facility is built in, but sadly, "Book of the River Nations" lacks this information. They do provide a page of hex paper, just no suggestions on what or how much to put in the hexes.


Another missing feature is some kind of straightforward "Unrest" calculator. Other people online have developed Excel Spreadsheets for calculating this, but surely this can be calculated on paper, and it would be helpful to see here. Also, it's not clear whether or how much unrest carries over from turn to turn.


Of course, this is specifically for "Players," and not "Game Masters," but the absence of a "Game Master's" guide makes the above gaps rather painful. I have to ding the book 1 star for that.


For all the complaints above, the book is swell, and well worth its now-reduced price. I just want the publisher to put together another "Game Master's" volume to cover the above-mentioned gaps. I'm willing to pay!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
I'm really glad you enjoyed the Book of the River Nations: Complete Player's Reference for Kingdom Building. I noticed you had a few questions and I would like to address them. First, Unrest is a cumulative stat so if you have 5 Unrest last turn, you will have 5 Unest the following turn until you build something or have some kind of event that reduces unrest. Second, why was the word "Player's" included in the title? There are alot of reasons but they can all be summed by saying it is as much for GMs as the 3.5 Player's Handbook is for GMs. While we have been working on a more GM's based book that would detail things like map generation and the like, we have not yet finished that yet. So take heart. We will get there.
Book of Beasts: Monster Variations (PFRPG)
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2012 14:50:56

Weighing in at 16 pages (with Cover, PID/OGl, and an Ad taking up 3 of those pages) this collection of creatures is not the typical critter collection, in that there's nothing technically new here. And that, in the end is why a product of this nature is a good product. In attempting to introduce variations and alternative approaches to monsters both GM's and players alike know inside and out, this PDF attempts to give you a useful solution to the ago old problem of what to do when they all become to predictable.


Opening with a one page explanation of the purpose of this book, as well as the mindset behind it, including a few basic examples of what one can do very easily to change a standard monster into something your playgroup may not be expecting, the concept of variety becomes very apparent immediately. Amusingly, my favorite example of a variant creature comes from this intro, with no statblock write up, as it is only an example, a suggestion of what a GM can do at their table. Simply changing the name of goblins to razortooth, and turning them orange gives you a creature that your playgroup will approach more cautiously, as they wont know what to expect from this, when they would normally run right over troves of goblins as cannon fodder.


We are given 21 variant creature builds, all based on well known monsters, and all familiar enough at their core, but definitely something new as they are presented here. Of these there are a few great ideas, and a few not so great, I'll touch on a handful of each.


Goblin-O'-Wisp - Your standard Will-O'-Wisp with its electricity damage swapped out, and the visual representation changed to be that of a floating goblin skull wreathed in red and orange light. OK, sounds really basic doesn't? But that's the beauty of this, small changes that allow the creature to remain the same basic creature, but at the same time something entirely new. Trust me on this one, the illustration will sell you on this creature.


Mummy, Halfling - OK, first off, (LOL)....OK...I'm better now...I promise...No, no, I'm good. When I first saw this header all I could do was laugh, I mean, seriously, a halfling mummy??? But then I thought about this, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much the idea appealed to me. Players are notorious for taking small creatures for granted, especially when we're talking about something like a halfling. So, what we have here is a creature that's going to force your group to rethink how they view the harmless, even if it kills them.


Bearowl - OK, ignoring the obvious attempt to invoke the Owlbear with the name, this creature is a reverse melding, with the head of a bear on an owl's body. The designer notes point towards the griffon, but I gotta say it feels more like a peryton to me, and those things just never found a place in my game as I thought they were amongst some of the worst designed creatures ever added to the game.


Bigfoot - Am on the fence when it comes to this critter, as in the end all he really is is a temperate yeti, but, this creature build is exactly what this book is about. It is a variant of a creature presented within Pathfinder's rules that was previously not there, and is not outside of the realm of a logical variant.


Centipede, Hulking House - Taking the concept of big bugs to a new level, this ones cool enough, but I'm baffled by one of its abilities, as the description makes no sense to me. The distraction SA for this creature is based upon the hair on its legs causing nausea....I don't understand. Perhaps I am not enough of a bug guy to understand why seeing a giant hairy bug walk by would cause nausea.


Presented in a two column format, this PDF could have used another reread from an editor before being released. In fairness, I did receive an email letting me know that a pre-final copy had been released by accident, and that a more editorially sound version was available. I re-downloaded the PDF, and this review is based upon that copy, which seems to me to still have several grammatical missteps, odd wordings and sentence structures. I am hoping that what I have downloaded is in fact still the prerelease copy, and that there was a problem with updating to the better copy, as this is a good PDF in the context of its material, it would be a shame if poor editing were to be held against it.


Artwork wise we get three pieces, all black & white. There of course is the cover art and the ad, but neither really qualify as interior art. Of the three pieces of art, one is essentially a line drawing, another was fair, and the art for the Goblin-O'-Wisp I am seriously thinking of having inked into my back between my shoulder blades. Yeah, its that freaking cool.


Looking over the 21 variations for monster ideas here, there are four right off the bat that I know I'll be using within the next week at my table, with a few others I'm keeping on the back burner for later purposes. Where as there are a few that, for me, will probably never see usage, that is true of almost any collection of creatures, so I'm not going to hold that against this PDF to much, as that comes down to personal taste and preference. All in all, the PDF set out to give some simple variations on easily recognizable monsters, and gives an insight into the design process along the way with designer's notes sidebars. More artwork would of have gone a long way towards helping this product, as all creature books in the end rely heavily upon the visual to sell the creature. Final tally I'm giving this one a 3 star as I would of liked to see more artwork, and less editorial mistakes.


If this copy I have reviewed is in fact not the final release copy, I will be happy to raise this review by a full star if the editorial mishaps are addressed.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monster Variations (PFRPG)
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Riyal's Research: Haunts (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2012 05:36:01

This pdf is 8 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 5 pages of content, so what exactly do we get?


The pdf starts off with an aptly-written IC-discussion on the nature of haunts, which might make for an interesting in-game hand-outs for your players, as it omits mechanics, but names spells and tricks to evade/counteract haunts. Especially when coming from 3.5 or another haunt-less campaign or system, the information could save a PC's life. After that, we're right into the content, 24 new haunts, spanning the CRs from 1 to 15 and organized by their CRs are presented.


The overall quality of the haunts can be considered quite high, as thankfully no "common haunts" are duplicated - these can already be found in Rite Publishing's excellent "30 haunts..."-pdfs by T.H. Gulliver. Which also brings me to what I consider the trademarks of a good haunt - a creepy atmosphere, a cool effect, a nice tell-tale sign and a logical way of destruction that could be deduced via a vision/divination/the haunt's manifestation or similar means.


The haunts herein provide an interesting angle in that some of them seem to be tied to fey for a wholly different feelings and derivation from the "spirit of the dead"-angle, which I consider nice indeed - why should only the undead have all the fun? Some of the haunts indeed feel distinctively fey to me - a flower with a vortex that sends you into a maze of bone and decay? Now if that's not unseelie, what is?
A sense of Karmic balance pervades some of the haunts, to much effect: Take for example an alley, where a blind leper died. Within, his rags still animate once in a while and curse others with his blindness. In order to get rid of the haunt, a person that has always been blind has to be cured of the affliction in the alley at a specific time. Or take the inferno in a cottage that was incited by a goblin - only if a goblin puts out all the fires inside does the deadly inferno finally stop.


Not all of the haunts are up to this quality, though: Two specific ones represent pet-peeves of mine: They specifically mention that a war between elves and drow and humans and orcs has happened at this place. As a DM, including even an ancient skirmish, let a alone a war in the past, can have repercussions for a certain area, somewhat limiting the appeal of these two haunts for me. Haunts work because they are little stories/tragedies within an adventure. They flesh out the main storyline and provide additional insight. The more cumbersome a haunt in its background, the harder to implement it becomes. That's just my 2 cents, though.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, easy to read 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. The pdf features no artworks, but at this very low price point, I expect none. All in all, I have to admit that I did quite enjoy this installment of Riyal's Research. While the IC-introduction didn't teach me anything new or offer mind-blowing DM-wisdom, it does provide a purpose and the haunts herein feel surprisingly organic. While some means of destruction resort to "dig up bones, bury with rite x", there are enough unconventional haunts and associated means of destruction herein to make this a good read, especially if you're looking for haunts that could also be some nasty tricks fey would pull off. However, none of the haunts are tied together (via e.g. associated haunts) or follow a narrative. While this makes it easier to drop them into an adventure, I would have liked to see e.g. 3 or 4 connected haunts to form a more complex encounter - the potential is definitely there! In the end, while not completely blown away by the pdf, I still consider it a good purchase you won't regret at the low price point and thus will settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Riyal's Research: Haunts (PFRPG)
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Book of the River Nations: Exploration and Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2012 07:44:55

A nice set of supplemental rules for Pathfinder that bring mechanics for wilderness exploration, and kingdom and city building. Includes leadership roles (and the benefits for each, and penalties for not assigning them), the kingdom as a "character", building types, kingdom events, and more.


This is a great supplement for any GM wishing to add an element of empire building to their campaign - the possibilities for developing characters and storylines are very good (even if they're not the ones in charage of the kingdom!). This PDF is fully bookmarked for ease of reference.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the River Nations: Exploration and Kingdom Building (PFRPG)
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Shadowsfall Legends: The Gem That Caught Fire - Kurdag's Tale
by Aaron T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2012 20:25:48

Kurdag is a male umbral kobold alchemist with a penchant for explosions. He owns an alchemy shop called The Exploding Herb in the town of Blackbat. When a human adventurer comes to his shop with questions about a gem that caught fire, he ends up in a struggle for his life. That's fine with him, though; it means he gets to throw his beloved bombs.


The pdf is 14 pages long:
1 cover
1 title page
10.5 pages of story,
1 page talking about Shadowsfall and the author


This story deals with a main character who is not especially well liked by the people around him. They tolerate him because of his prowess at making (and throwing) bombs and other alchemical creations. Like all kobolds, life is a struggle, but Kurdag has done better than most. Despite that, he is still discriminated against by a human adventurer (though not for too long).


There is a fast paced, exciting battle between the kobold and some enemies. It will certainly keep you turning the pages (or scrolling down) to find out what happens next. The story gives you a good feel for what towns and cities in Shadowfall are like. Although the citizens band together for safety from the undead that stalk the wilds of Shadowsfall, the citizens are also their own worst enemy, quarreling amongst themselves when not combating hosts of undead.


I enjoyed the story enough to read it through more than once. I will be sure to come back to it as the other Shadowsfall Legends come out. The Shadowsfall Legends are shaping up to be high quality short stories. These compete with Paizo's Web Fiction for quality of author, story and characters. If you enjoy the web fiction, I highly recommend picking this story up.


Editing was top notch. I did not see any spelling, grammar or punctuation errors in the entire piece. Priced at $0.99, this is a perfect impulse buy, especially if you are planning to pick up the Shadowsfall campaign setting. I was very pleased to note that it came as an ePub, PDF and mobi (Kindle format) file.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: The Gem That Caught Fire - Kurdag's Tale
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Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2012 15:30:40

A collection of five colorful NPCs that your Pathfinder players can encounter during a dungeon delve. All characters have a profile pic and personality description, and each appears on a full page, for easy printing, if desired. The PDF is bookmarked for ease of browsing - a feature that I wish more publishers would use.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Friends and Foes: Under the Mountain (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2012 12:20:27

Weighing in at 52 pages this PDF presents us with a core bestiary for the Shadowsfall setting, and one seriously twisted collection of critters. The page breakdown is as follows:
Covers, Front & Back: 1 page each
Blank pages: 2, 1 after front cover, and 1 before back cover
SRD, TOC: 1 page each
List of suitable monsters from other sources: 1 page, and an interesting idea to support core products in a very useful manner. Extremely helpful list for a GM.
Advertisement: 1 page, showcasing the Player's companion and Gazetteer for Shadowsfall
New Material: 30 pages of new or variant monsters
Appendices: 14 pages of variants, CR listings, universal rules, new feats, etc.
Formatting follows the standard dual column look for monster statblocks we've all come to know, with embedded artwork that ranges from really spectacular to OK. All interior artwork is B&W, with a few pieces of stock art that prove perhaps the stock pool needs to be replenished (I've seen a few of these pieces elsewhere, several times). Grammatically there were a few missteps, but nothing that couldn't be worked out for meaning quickly enough (i.e. Black work poison instead of Black worm poison or a racid stench for a rancid stench).
Now, before I go into detailing any of the creatures within this collection, I want to point out one of the cooler features of this book in my opinion. The creatures are presented with advice, words of wisdom if you will, from others who have encountered them. The inclusion of this really helps sell the immersion factor, and added a very cool factor to this book making it more than just another collection of monsters. There are also many, many references to pieces of literature detailing these creatures within the Shadowsfall setting, which I love, because it's another immersion technique, and a great way to introduce tomes to our players.
So, let's take a look at the beasties, shall we?
Black Worm: A colossal beast, think the shadow planes answer to the purple worm...on steroids....pissed. At a CR18 this monstrosity can swallow you, that town, and the hamlet on the other side of the river..whole....It's fricking huge, and has a breath weapon to boot. One seriously wicked worm folks.
Centaur Raav: A skeletal abomination built from the bones of a centaur and armed with bone spikes and blades protruding from its extremities, this is one seriously wicked looking creature.
Clawed Kadian: An interesting take on a ghost, the creature is a ghost who is still corporeal, with incorporeal attack options.
Darkling: Now this, this is how dark fey should be presented. The darkling actually accelerates its healing by licking the blood of its victims from its axe or claws....that's just so twisted. Well done.
Deathhand: The ferryman's personal hunting dogs, a deathhand would be the last thing you ever want to stumble across. Charged with collecting those who have tasted death, these are seriously dangerous opponents to have to face in combat. Also presented within this entry are several Deathhand Captains, while no stats are presented, more than enough adventure hooks and thoughts on their advanced nature is provided to use them easily enough.
Quake Dragon With how often we see a variant dragon show up in a new creature book, it is always a pleasure to find one that really is good, and manages to feel fresh and new without departing from the concept of what a dragon is. The quake dragon is presented with a full age progression chart, as well as a couple of full statblocks for various points in it's lifespan. A well thought out creature, with some interesting abilities, like Earth Glide – allowing it to essentially swim through earth, leaving no tunnel or trace of its passing.
Dread Gargoyle: A larger, more dangerous variety of the standard gargoyle with the ability to manipulate its own body to always have stones ready to throw.
Dull Mite: The shadowplane variant on the material plane's Mite, these little fey have been drained of their color, and have the ability to steal their targets, resulting in Charisma penalties.
Shadow Elemental: Detailing a standard as well as a range from small through huge, greater and elder, this entry gives you a total of 6 variations of this elemental.
Great Dodo: Gargantuan in size and pissed that your grandpa ate its cousins, this giant bird has a score to settle.
Headless Hunchback Skeleton: Both a standard and a champion variety are presented.
Helblar: 3 full statblocks for a standard, greater and champion are presented for this odd guardian of the dead and their resting places.
Kyton, Dermistide: Wrapped in bandages that it can control to grapple and flay its targets with, this particular kyton variant is twisted in it's sadism.
Kyton, Noxil: Only as large as a halfling, these wretches have their heads encased in a spiked harness whilst a pendulum blade hangs suspended from their necks.
Monkeybat: So, channeling their inner Oz, this creature not only satisfies those looking for winged monkeys, but goes that extra mile and gives us the adventure hook of the entire arrival of Dorothy (now renamed Dorhana Breeze). Liked the creature, would have liked it more without the over the top references to Baum's characters. It was strong enough to stand on its own, it really was.
Nightshade, Nightstalker: A commander of skeletal armies, this undead lion of shadow hunts the negative plane for the living.
Onyx Ooze: killing with a “cold acid”, the Onyx Ooze is a far more cunning predator than your standard ooze.
Phantasm Swarm: A collection of souls denied an eternal reward after death, this collective rages against religion, and those that serve it.
Psychopomp, Memitim: A collector of souls essentially, the memitim's purpose is to make sure that powerful souls pass on, and do not end up as undead.
Shade Anuran: A frog like race with an interesting ability to utilize the shadows around them.
Spectres: Stats presented for both a spawn and a lord, as are enough fluff to work two epic spectres into a campaign.
Spiderbear: Remember that spider you squished in the shower? Pray these never find out. All the abilities and poison of a giant spider merged with the power, strength and claws of a bear.....dear lord forgive us our spider squishing, we know not what we might be pissing off.
Starak: The ShadowPlane's answer to the Tarrasque, a colossal beast that sleeps for centuries, eats and demolishes nations, and is pretty much an all around bad ass. Add to that a deafening roar, and you have yourself a contender for that massave monster fight you've always wanted to stage (tarrasque vs. starak anyone?)
Unquiet Giant: Ok, I love me some undead, I do. But this feels like a template, not a monster. It's cool, it is, but in presenting it in this manner I am left wondering, if this is an undead giant, what race of giant was it before it died? What happened to those abilities it had in life?
Vampiric Tree: darting its targets with poison sap covered bark, this tree then “bites” into its prey with it's roots, draining them of their blood.
Appendix 1: Shadows - statblocks for variant shadows, who ever said shadows are only human?
]Appendix 2: Skeletons- variant skeletons, including the monkey and minotaur skeletons
Appendix 3: Zombies- variant zombies including a bulette, a basilisk and a gnome.
Appendix 4: Darkened Template- template to transform any creature into a being embraced by the realm of shadow. Example creatures include the Darkened Giant Centipede and Darkened Kraken.
Appendix 5: Universal Monster Rules- 4 pages detailing the universal abilities found within statblocks, helping to keep the statblocks more streamlined and clean looking by organizing all of this information together.
Appendix 6: Feats 1 ½ pages detailing the new feats scattered through statblocks throughout this PDF. Appendix 7: New Creature Subtypes- small paragraph covering the Shadow subtype.
Appendix 8: Creatures by CR- ½ page list


All in all, a fantastic collection of creatures. There are a few that did not grab me, and this is normal in a collection of this nature, as the standard right off the bat was set pretty high with the Black Worm, raising the stakes for all creatures after it. As a sourcebook for the Shadowsfall setting, this book is a must, but even without using this specific setting, this collection of creatures is a treasure trove of diabolical deliciousness. Giving this book a solid 5 stars rating, and highly recommending it to any and all GM's out there.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/09/2012 11:22:50

Book of Beats: Monsters of the Shadow Plane by Jon Brazer Enterprises


This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, OGL, and credits. (4 pages)


Monsters(39 pages)
It starts off with a list of monsters from the 3 Pathfinder Bestiary's that also fit the plane of shadow. There is 57 new monsters in this book so no way I can list them all. They range in CR from ¼ to 21, and they seem to be fairly evenly spaced out in CR ranges over that range. This includes the first four appendix's which included several types of shadows 5, skeletons 6, zombies 6 and a new Darkened Template with 4 monsters having it applied to them already. Below is a few of my personal favorites.
Darkling – evil fey that look wicked cool and are wicked cool. They can self heal by licking blood from their fey axe.
Deathand – think of them like soul stealing grim reapers.
Dull Mite – I love them just for one of their special abilities. Color steal, yes they drain the color from stuff and do Chr dmg. Gnomes of Pathfinder shake with fear.
Elemental Shadows – Something needed.
Great Dodo – It's a giant Dodo being shown eating a man, what more need I say?
Monkeybat – it is a monkeybat that flings … filth... your players will HATE them.
Nightstalker – a Shadow undead lion thing, that causes desecration and fear.
Onyx Ooze – A ooze long ago trapped on the plane of shadow and transformed and spawned a new race.
Phantasm Swarm – tiny undead swarm, one of the coolest monsters in the book.
Vampiric Tree – despite it's name it is just a tree that eats living things.


Appendix 5-8 (8 pages)
Appendix 5 is a copy of the universal monster rules. Six is copies of feats used by the monster within this book. Seven is a new subtype of monster the shadow subtype and Eight lists the the creatures by CR groups.


It ends with a ads and back cover. (3 page)


Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white and range from meh to pretty good. Editing and layout is very good. I didn't notice any errors at all. It is well bookmarked which is a big plus for a PDF this size. There is a whole host of varied and well done monsters, with new and interesting abilities, how they fit into the plane of shadow ecology, etc. While not all the monsters where great, there was very few bad ones and the vast majority where very good to outstanding. If this is the type of product we can expect from the rest of the line I really can't wait for it. I should note I am somewhat biased. I love the plane of shadow and have been looking forward to this book and the rest in the series since I heard about it. Plus I live there, so I am curious to see how well mere mortals get it right. So what's my rating? I am giving this a 5 star review. If you want monsters for the Plane of Shadows or more options from that plane then pick it up. You won't regret it.


Trust me, I'm a Succubus.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2012 11:55:51

The first of the supplements for the upcoming Shadowsfall-prodcuts centered on the shadow plane, the latest Book of Beasts (the predecessor made it on my top-10-2011-list) is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page containing suitable monsters from the core-books (nice support for the DM!), 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving 44 pages of content, so let's check this out!


After the lists in the beginning, we are introduced to the first new beast, and glorious it is: The Black Worm (CR 18) is essentially the shadow plane-version of a purple worm, just...well...worse - add negative energy breath weapons, insane SR etc and you're in for a good example of what to expect from this book: While the beasts herein are thematically linked and shadow-plane-themed, they do feature massively different abilities from their prime material counterparts, if such exist. Also, each entry features a descriptive fluff of the beast and some text by one of the survivors or other players of the setting. The CR 7 Centaur Raav is an undead centaur with scyth-blades at the arms and bone-spikes protruding from their skeletal frames. While cool, the semi-incorporeal Clawed Kaidan (CR 9) features an aura of lethargy and feature not only a disturbing artwork, but also abilities to match and a neat weakness.


Truly disturbing and one of my favorites in this book is the (blandly named) CR 6 Darkling - Troll-like fey with an aura of silence, the ability to spray deadly snow and wicked stone axes - awesome creatures supplemented by a stellar b/w-artwork. The CR 17 Deathhands, hunters of Charon seeking to kill people who cheated death also make for a neat take on the Grim Reaper-trope. The Quake Dragons (3 sample stats) are also a neat new creature and actually a kind of dragon that does add something to the draconic family. Dread Gargoyles, essentially CR 10 more badasss gargoyles, are the first creature that somewhat fell short for me personally, in spite of its disturbing ability to form the stone of their own body. Then, there are the Dull Mites (CR 2), shadow plane versions of the mites that can steal your colors! Of course, we also get shadow elementals, rather tricky customers (6 statblocks) and while there's nothing bad about them, they fall terribly short of the...


GREAT DODO (CR 7)! Yep, you read right, there are still giant dods on the plane of shadows and they subconsciously know that your ancestors have hunted them to extinction on the prime material, thus making them even more ferocious and fueling their rage of extinction. Fast, deadly, cool and a little bit silly, the Great Dodo is a prime example of stellar monster design. For those discerning liches who are truly equal-opportunity, we get 2 stats for hunchbacked skeletons and then there are the Helblar (3 statblocks) - these undead guardians of the graveyards adhere to special ethics and woe to any who disturb their chosen fields....


On the iconic and truly disturbing side of things, we get two new kinds of Kytons -the CR 11 Dermestide (who skins foes alive and wears the straps like a mummy) and the CR 1 Noxil Kyton, who wears a spiked head mask and a heavy pendulum blade attached to it, forever suffering under its weight - very cool idea and features a unique fighting style - especially awesome for a CR 1 creature - they feel wholly distinct from any regular creatures of the same CR. Kudos!
The shadowplane is not Oz, yet there are Monkeybats (CR 1/4) as well and the filth is both a carrier for diseases and a great component for wizards. Not so great for wizards (or any other living being) is the new Nightstalker (CR 12), a lion-like Nightshade of black flames that heals via inducing fear while it leads its undead armies. The Onyx ooze (CR 8)on the other hand is a rudimentary intelligent predator that will make your PCs double-check any source of water.
The Phantasm Swarm, a conglomerate of dissolved souls forever barred from the afterlife (CR 12) seeks to wreck its vengeance on any priests and pietous characters (and comes as an undead swarm with an awesome artwork). The new Memitim Psychopomp (CR 14, I still can't get over the creature class-name - not the fault of this book, though) is a kind of reaper-angel that tries to escort powerful beings into the afterlife. When compared with this array of awesome beings, the CR 3 Shade Aurans, amphibious frog-like humanoids fall somewhat short, but this is offset a bit by two new statblocks on spectres and information on legendary spectres of the Shadowsfall.


Grognards like yours truly get a nice blast from the past/homage in the form of the Spiderbear, a CR 9 magical beast that had me remember Mishka and his dread demons. The CR 19 Starak is not even a bit cute - a class of legendary beasts, their control of the earth itself makes them for dragon-strength foes below the surface - very cool. The Unquiet Giant (CR 13) has a nice twist on the trope of the undead giant: They rhyme while squishing foes! While the idea is cool, I have some problems with this creature: a) I think it should have been a template. b) Been there, done that - x times. c) with exactly that (admittedly gorgeous) artwork - I've seen it 5 (!!!) times in different publications - we need a new undead giant artwork out there! The final creature of the pdf is the vampiric tree, an iconic CR 10 blood draining, voracious part of the flora that ensures that going to the deep dark forest is nothing to laugh about - they stun you via bark darts and then pummel you into submission to ram their blood-draining, fang-like roots into your body - ouch!


The appendices provide ample additional undead for your campaign, i.e. 5 different shadows (including a titan centipede shadow!), 6 sample skeletons, 6 sample zombies, the darkened template (CR +1), 4 sample creatures and for your convenience's sake, reprint some universal monster rules and monster feats as well as the rules for the shadow subtypes and a list of creatures by CR.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches, which is quite a feat over so many pages. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard that features awesome artworks - kudos to the participating artists. The pdf is extensively bookmarked, adding to the usability of the book and the overall organization of the content is awesome. The bits and pieces of information on the settings, specific individuals/advanced creatures etc. made me anticipate more books from the line and the overall standard of the critters, their signature abilities and sheer iconic qualities has baffled me - while there were 3 creatures that felt like falling a bit short of the standard of the book, said standard is so high that this was to be anticipated. In fact, I was rather baffled that this book turned out not to be another selection of easily exchangeable undead/dark creatures, but rather contains a wealth of cool creatures and ideas. If I had to voice one gripe I have with this book, then it would be that it does not include hazards and sample NPCs like its predecessor, but I gather that's because of the other books in the line. Thus, I look forward to seeing more supplements for the plane of shadows and, taking the more than fair price into account, remain with a final verdict of 5 stars and a definite recommendation for this excellent bestiary.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane (PFRPG)
by Alfred B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2012 10:34:34

Dale and Jon Brazer Enterprises put together an excellent product every time and this is no exception. Monsters of the Shadow Plane is a great first step into the world of Shadowsfall or just the Plane of Shadows itself. The monsters here are balanced and represent a wide range of CR’s so any GM will find a good use for this book. If you are interested in running your players through a Plane of Shadows adventure or maybe just mixing up the standard bestiary line-up, this is the book for you.


Read my full review here: http://www.thea-
lfredeffect.com/?p=879



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
by Wesley R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/07/2012 12:53:19

I am not very good at writing book reviews, but I enjoyed reading it. It was a nice introduction to the kind of stories that would fit well in a shadowsfall game. Kind of short, but very enjoyable.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
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