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Book of Multifarious Munitions: 10 Pirate Ships (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/08/2013 05:23:38

This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC//introduction, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This is a book I've been waiting for, since it offers something essentially not really covered by any 3pp out there - new vessels! Furthermore, much to my delight, the book does not simply offer basic vessels, though these can be found in here:

The Dhow, Carave, Bilander and Dromond-ship-classes are fully statted as basic vessels and also come with miniature grid-maps of the respective ships that include all decks where applicable. Pity the book does not offer these ship-maps in large, though.

Where the pdf truly shines, though, would be with its modified vessels - The Good Weather for example is enchanted to be faster and accelerate faster, whereas the Iron Lightning trades speed and acceleration for enhanced armor. The Indefatigable caravel ship is also better armored and slower than vessels of its class and trades in cargo space for more weaponry, while the Night Star is a smuggler's dhow with secret compartments. The Horn of Doom is a minotaur dromond armed to the teeth and horns, whereas the terror trident is using water elementals as an uncommon means of propulsion. The description of the named vessels include enough material to serve as interesting hooks and the crew entries, while not delivering full statblocks, serve as a nice fluffy complement to the ship's crunch.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a very printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with the ship cartography being nice, though leaving me wanting for enlarged, proper maps of the ships. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com.

YES! A vehicle book! We need more of these, at least in my opinion and I REALLY like the modified vessels - more and varied vessels that go beyond the ship's standard array of capabilities are always appreciated and in my opinion, long overdue. That being said, While the content is top-notch and worth the low price of admission, I honestly would have liked to get larger versions for these ships. Seeing how this remains my only gripe with this otherwise nifty pdf, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Multifarious Munitions: 10 Pirate Ships (PFRPG)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to write such a glowing review. If you liked this one, you will really enjoy the next installment in the series later this month. Again, thank you.
Book of Magic: Insurgency of Summer (PFRPG)
by Aaron T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2013 21:04:07

What you get: You get two PDFs of the product, a printer friendly version and a tablet/laptop version and a Hero Lab file. The printer friendly version is 10 pages; 1 cover, 1 credits, 1 table of contents w/ introduction, 1 OGL, and 1 back cover, leaving 5 pages of gaming content. The tablet version is 15 pages; 1 cover, 1 title page, 1 table of contents w/ introduction, 1 OGL and 1 back cover, leaving 10 pages of gaming content.

Artwork: Artwork is all black and white, and is good to very good. Artwork was all tied to the theme of the book, and, except for one piece, tied back to the material that it was near.

Layout and Editing: Editing is superb, there were very few errors. Layout is two column standard in both formats. Tablet version is in landscape, but it fits nicely on a 10 inch screen that way. Special attention was paid to layout in the tablet version. Only one thing (the mechanical owl familiar) crosses onto another page. This makes reading much more comfortable and natural.

Overall Impression: This product provides summer/fire themed extras for your PC to use. Released to coincide with the beginning of another company’s very cold centric adventure path, your PC can have lots of fire spells and domains to deal 150% damage to cold creatures. This product is also useful to anyone who wants to have a fire-themed or summer themed character.

The spells are well balanced. Some of them are a little complex with more than one effect, or an effect that last while the charge is held, but lost when the charge is expended for a different effect. A little careful reading will solve any questions. One spell (Campfire Forge) lists two different durations (one hour per level and one round per level). The new Bard Masterpiece is fun, and will be useful against trolls! New subdomains are very summer themed, but not overpowered. The new item hearkens back to The Princess Bride, with a Holocaust Cloak. The familiars allow you to gain a Mechanical Owl or a Young Phoenix as a familiar.

That covers the content. I’d like to address the tablet format for a moment. Paizo and the Third Party Publisher (3PP) community should take a good hard look at JBE’s tablet format and imitate it. In my opinion, this format is the best development in digital gaming books since the watermarked pdf. This format provided the most comfortable reading experience that I have ever had on a 10” netbook screen. Every time I have looked through this product, I have done so on the tablet format. I glanced at the printer friendly version to confirm there were no content differences, but I READ the tablet version.

Final Rating: This product is what it advertises: fire and summer themed options for a PC. It is balanced. Editing is good. The tablet format is superb. Overall rating is 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: Insurgency of Summer (PFRPG)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to write such a glowing review.
Book of Heroic Races: Half-Faerie Dragons (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2013 05:21:42

This pdf is 29 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So this is the pdf that allows one to play Half-Faerie dragons. If someone had told me I'd one day review such a book, I would have laughed that person in the face - which is thematically fitting, as few words describe this race's outlook as well as "whimsy". As the superbly amusing monologue that starts this pdf proves, Half-faerie dragons may not be too wise, but damn, they can be fun to play as a race - or can they? Well, let's take a look at the mechanics: Gaining +2 to Int, Dex and Cha, but -2 to Con and Wis, they are fragile. They also get the draconic subtype, slow speed, are small, get darkvision 60 ft., can cast prestigidation cha-mod times per day as a spell-like ability, +2 to saves versus paralysis and sleep effects and courtesy of their butterfly wings, +2 to acrobatics and fly-checks. They can also 1/day breathe a cloud of euphoria-inducing gas that staggers and sickens those hit by it, but also makes them immune to fear-effects, making it possibly to use it both offensively and defensively. Generally, the race feels like it belongs to the upper power echelon, but not necessarily in an unhinging way.

Taking a cue from the first book of the series, we go on to get extensive descriptions on the physical characteristics of the race, relations etc. - all in all well-written and compelling and also links the faerie-dragons with wishing. The 5 new traits allow you to customize your half-faerie dragon to be naturally adapt at magic, good at running away from angry tricked larger folk or better at acquiring things. Also, if you want to sparkle, there's a trait for that - just take care you don't become a vampire if you do! (Or wait, THAT would actually be damn funny...) . The race also comes with 5 alternate racial traits that exchange draconic resistance for the option to cast disguise self cha-mod times/day, for 1d3 claws and if you also lose the power to use prestigidation, you can belong to the dragon type. Alternatively, you can just sacrifice your capability of arcane whimsy for +2 to AC or sacrifice your breath weapon for the power to cast sorceror spells at +1 caster level. Favored class options for bard, cleric, druid, paladin, rogue, sorceror, summoner and wizard are provided as well, as is a discussion on Half-Faerie Dragon psychology that includes the Art of the Prank, their approach to technology and magic, love and mating, history and lore etc. - all painting a surprisingly logical, well-presented panorama of an uncommon race to say the least. Oh, by the way, age, height and weight tables are also part of the deal.

Three new racial archetypes are presented after that, with the bookwyrm (for the wizard) replacing his 5th level bonus feat with getting half his class level as bonus to all knowledge-checks and providing the option to make these checks untrained. Thieves with Wings replace uncanny dodge and a rogue talent with gaining the fly-skill as a class skill, the feat to allow them flight as a bonus feat and the flyby attack feat. Butterfly Troubadours may boast of their exploit to the extent where they believe themselves to be actually better, mock foes and subtly weave the usage of his breath weapon into his performance, which is perhaps my favorite piece of rules in this context. This chapter also provides the new faerie dragon bloodline for sorcerors, which allows for befuddling touches, the signature euphoric breath weapon, butterfly wings, swap locations at higher levels with other beings and finally become a Half-faerie Dragon/live up to your full draconic potential. Quite nice about the bloodline: Its abilities take half-faerie dragons also into account and expand their racial powers instead of granting them like the bloodline does for none-half-faerie-dragons. The pdf also includes a new PrC for the race, the Dappled Thurge, who gets d6, 2+Int skills per level 1/2 BAB-progression and medium will-progression. What's interesting about this PrC is that it grants full spellcasting progression to BOTH prepared and spontaneous arcane spellcasting classes, taking a holistic approach to both. Rather interesting is the ability to cast progressively higher (starting at first level and going up to fifth) spells she knows (but need not have the spell prepared) by sacrificing a spontaneous spell slot of one level higher. As a capstone, the class reduces the level-increase of meta-magic applied to spells by half to a minimum of +1 spell level Int-mod/day. A thoroughly interesting design and an intriguing PrC, though the editing glitch of "prepares [sic!] spellcasting" in every line of the PrC's table sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

A total of 9 racial feats have been included in the book to develop the race further: Temporarily blinding foes with light reflected from your blade, beast-shaping into a faerie-dragon, chameleon scales that allow you to use stealth even when observed and unable to hide, telepathy as a spell-like ability and at 7th level a fly-speed are some of the new options. Breath weapons may be augmented to use them once every 1d4 rounds and via other feats, add the confused effect to the others AND even get an option to make the breath weapon make foes staggered, confused and sickened for 1 round EVEN if they save. And honestly, that is where the pdf kind of underestimates the power-level: We are speaking of a 30 ft cone every 1d4 rounds that has a save of 10+ 1/2 class level + con-mod and inflicts move OR standard actions (No more full-round actions), -2 to ability, skill checks, saves, atk and damage and the effects of confusion - for 1d6 rounds per application, at least 1 even on a successful save. As a supernatural ability that CAN'T BE DISRUPTED. This is the pay-off of 3 feats. This is insane on so many levels: Once every 4 rounds would be insanely strong even sans the confusion added. Making it apply even if foes save is really, really bad. And offering no way to counter it (it doesn't even count as poison) is just the icing on my personal Broken-rules-cake. Yes, I get that the con-penalty is significant regarding the DC, but for e.g. martially inclined half-faerie-dragons this mini-feat-tree is rather powerful and unbalanced. Either a fixed limit, getting rid of the effects even on successful saves or a way to counteract the breath weapon are required to salvage this. A feat that lets you cast any prepared spell spontaneously by sacrificing one prepared spell of one level higher would also set off my radar, but its limitation to being usable once per day saves it and makes it an actually rather interesting idea.

Among the new items introduced in this installment, we get a kind of hookah that mixes multiple breaths for a more hilarious story-telling, globes containing bottled breath, swords that deal less damage than similar ones, but count as cold iron and have a threat range of 18-20, timed purse-shaped color-bombs to stain potential thieves, laughing poison, patchwork armors and arrows that essentially are stinking bombs of the most disgusting variety. All in all, cool items!

The pdf also includes write-ups of Half-Faerie Dragon theology and 3 racial deities as well as the new butterfly and wish subdomains and 4 new spells that allow you to conjure up butterfly swarms, plaguing victims with a chaotic (and funny) curse that changes properties each day, conjure a phantom crowd to mock your foes and transform just about anything into a pile of apples or a giant apple. Why? Half-faerie dragons LOVE apples, as the flavor-text in the book shows... Thus, we also get 3 magical apple tree tokens and the "Bag of Awesome", a bag of holding that can vomit forth items in a belch of euphoria-inducing gas, has a tongue-like rope (that can be used for rope tricks) and can blast foes (while in rope-trick-form) with euphoria-gas. There is also a foolish cape and a fitting rakish hat you can use to disappear in - when the fickle magic works... The two artifacts are also neat: One straight-forward crown and one an artifact-level rod-of-wonders-style item that can summon giant squirrels to do your bidding or rain frozen apples from the sky or turn foes into dark chocolate...

Dms daunted by integrating this race into their campaign will welcome the 4 sample communities (sans settlement statblocks or the like, but full of ideas) as well as the advice given for both players and DMs to avoid turning the inclusion of this race into a kender-fiasco V.2.0. Be sure to read this chapter carefully! We also get sample NPCs, with the first being a straight-forward bard level 1, the second being an illusionist/sorceror 4/dappled thurge 2 and the final one being truly interesting: At CR 11, the character is a bard 2/fighter 2/oracle 2/ranger 2/rogue 2/sorceror 2 - a jack-of-all trades, indeed, though one that uses all the broken breath weapon feats.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are not as good as in the seedling book - I almost overlooked the header for one of the magic items since a blank line is missing and I encountered numerous minor glitches here and there, some of which (in e.g. the case of the breath weapon-mixing hookah) make the entry harder to understand than it should be. Layout adheres to JBE's no-frills two-column standard and the b/w-artworks (one in color) are to my knowledge original and nice, though they don't reach imho the awesomeness of the seedling-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and as per the writing of this review, herolab-files have not yet been provided. The pdf is hyperlinked to d20pfsrd for your convenience, but e.g. "Good" in "for good or ill" is hyperlinked as well though it does not refer to the alignment, there are not many of these hyperlink glitches.

I didn't expect to like this pdf half as much as I did. The writing by author Todd Stewart is compelling and makes reading this supplement an actual joy, with all the information provided making the unlikely race actually come to life and feel feasible, intriguing even. I really, really liked this pdf and it would be a 5-star+ seal candidate were it not for the editing glitches and the horribly broken breath weapon-feats that need a serious beating with the nerf-bat. Still, overall a solid addition to the series and worthy of a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Half-Faerie Dragons (PFRPG)
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Book of Heroic Races: Half-Faerie Dragons (PFRPG)
by Derek B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/02/2013 00:09:01

Play a Faerie and a Dragon at the Same Time

Ever wanted to play a fairy or a dragon? Well, Jon Brazer Enterprises has come up with a way you can play both. Sort of. Don't think about it too much, but they're actually a half-breed of each race. The book explains how it's possible, and that it's actually based off of the actual faerie dragon itself, and another humanoid, such as humans or elves.

I'll admit that I was originally incredibly skeptical of this book simply because I wasn't sure that this would be a viable race. And to be honest, while I still don't, it'd be a fun ride if I was given this at a convention, or playing a high fantasy campaign. That is of course if my GM allowed the race in their campaign. This is specified at the beginning in the disclaimer that GMs might not use everything, but I'd certainly hope they would. The pdf is apparently Hero Lab compatible with a free download available for those that get this pdf. This is a great benefit to GMs and players alike.

The one thing that immediately grabbed my attention when I was first skimming through it was that layout. It's got a great set of bookmarks and a very easy to follow Table of Contents. Lately, 3rd party products have been either skipping this altogether, or it's incredibly vague about what details you'll be seeing. It was nice to see that these guys took their time with this product to make everyone happy.

As you read through, you're invited to visit the world of the half-faerie dragon, and gain an insight as to how their personality might work. There's a brief short story that introduces you to a captured half-faerie dragon, and he goes on about how it was a big mistake, only to reveal later that it really was his own fault for what ended up happening, but to please rescue him. I found this rather cute, and actually compelled to want to see how this played out in an actual scenario with my own PC meeting this NPC half-dragon. That's a sign of a good writer.

The art, while infrequent, is wonderful to look at. Kudos to the artist and colorist. I actually found the line art in the pdf itself to be more of a visual grab than the cover itself. It's probably because there's more tendency to show off the different looks and styles a half-faerie dragon might have, and that not all of them look the same, just like standard half-dragons. This is complimented by the very extensive descriptions of how they look, standard ways of parentage, variances of appearance, etc. It also includes the typical hair clothing styles.

Now, let's get into the actual race itself. Is it that great? Well, to be honest, I wasn't a fan of the stat bonus and penalties. It's... interesting, but there's too many. You gain +2 to A, B, and C, but have -2 to X and Y. What, no Z too? I guess I can understand why they are what they are, but still. Having that many stat bonuses and penalties to remember makes it overly complicated. It's also very limiting for what classes you're going to take. Being small size, and having a penalty to both Constitution and Wisdom, you're not going to be the front line fighter, and you're not going to be the divine caster unless you're an oracle. And because of their incredibly random personality (i.e. they basically personify chaos), the chances of you being a paladin are going to be even less. This is essentially confirmed by the description of their society and personality. Now, does this mean you can't be one? Absolutely not, you'd just be the black sheep of the race for doing so. However, the write-up on religion makes one wonder how often one would be a divine class anyways. Which is ironic considering they have both cleric and paladin as favored classes for gaining bonuses.

One thing that stands out about the race though is their breath weapon. It's a gas that while titled "euphoric" actually causes you to be staggered, sickened, and feared. Given the name you'd think it'd be the equivalent to something like Hideous Laughter, but apparently not. While they have butterfly wings, they can't fly with them. At least not without a feat and 7 HD. They also have Prestidigitation as a spell-like to add to help aid them when pulling pranks. It's not hard to see why so many races don't really care for these guys.

This book is fairly extensive in what options it gives you. It's almost standard to have it added in nowadays, and these don't disappoint. They have their own bonus traits to choose from, alternate racial traits that you can swap out if you're not a fan of what's in the original write-up, favored class options, racial feats, clerical subdomains, new spells, base class archetypes, and prestige classes.

When you get this pdf, you're immediately introduced to the fact that these little guys love apples. Like, LOVE apples. If your GM allows flaws in their game, take Addicted: Apples. It's like showing a crackle something shiny and sparkly. It probably helps that the legend of their deity ate a golden apple and became a god. I'd probably be inclined to do the same thing. You never know. It also gives you full details on their society, religion, arts, courting rituals, what technology they might have access to, their hippy style love over war (never a bad thing), aging, their grand history, languages, deities, and economy, just to list a few things. There's even a way to implement them into your particular campaign, various locations that you can meet them, and even pre-written NPCs that you can introduce your party to. The guys at Jon Brazer Enterprises spared no detail in making sure you, the reader, are fully involved in their conception, and this race has been around for a very long time, and will not be going away any time soon. To everyone's delight, I'm sure.

Before I continue, I just want to say that I love, love, LOVE the Dappled Theurge prestige class. While it saddens me that it's so hard to gain access to, it's quite worth it. At least to me personally. It pays tribute to one of my all-time favorite arcane prestige classes from 3.5, the Ultimate Magus, from Complete Mage. This allows you to have both a prepared arcane caster and a spontaneous caster go up the same as the Mystic Theurge does for the arcane/divine casters.

The archetypes aren't half bad either. The sorcerer bloodline that you're given is one of the better ones that have been presented to us in both 3pp and official Paizo books. If you're anything other than the half-faerie dragon or a regular faerie dragon, you need this in order to gain access to the prestige class I mentioned above. Thankfully the bloodline itself is worth taking even if you're not taking it specifically for the Dappled Theurge.

The feats presented in the book compliment the race nicely, regardless of how you're building the character. There seems to be more options if you're playing the original race, and don't take alternate racial traits, but there's still something for every version of the race. It's nice to know that you're not penalized.

It's a little light on the equipment, but again there's still a little something for everyone. There's one particular weapon, the laughing blade, that I'm a little confused on. It's not explained why it's called that. Maybe because it counts as cold iron so you laugh at fey who think they're immune to it? Or maybe because it's a martial weapon to the half-faerie dragon, but an exotic weapon to everyone else? No idea. A little insight into this would have been nice. The magic items aren't half bad. I liked the descriptions of the artifacts that were presented. If the GM wanted, they could make entire campaigns around locating them, or protecting them from the outside world.

While there were a few snags here and there, overall, I was much more impressed by this product that I ever thought I'd be. This just goes to show that you can never truly judge a book by its cover. If you can use this in your campaign, whether current or future ones, I recommend getting this.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Seedlings (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2013 04:25:48

This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Kicking off with in-character journal entries that depict the life of one of the race of seedlings, thois book introduces us to the new race called Seedling: These beings get +2 to Con, +2 to Wis, -2 to Dex, low-light vision, +1 natural AC, +2 to con to avoid suffocation, drowning and starvation as they can draw sustenance from photosynthesis, can as a standard-action treeshape (and gain tremorsense 30 ft.), +2 to saves versus mind-affecting effects and paralysis, and 1/ day speak with plants. As you may notcie, seedlings get the distinct fluff of being plant-like creatures and appropriate benefits wthout succumbing to gaining the subtype and its associated benefits, going thus a similar route as RiP's Ironborn did for constructs. If you want more alien plant-beings, I'd point you to Purple Duck Games' Fehr's Ethnology: Xhesa.

The race is extremely detailed and up to current rules-developments: From favored class options, alternate racial traits (which include resistance to fire and electricity, having thorns, hailing from the underdark with darkvision and burrow speed and resistance to disease and poison) to favored class options, all niches are covered. Better yte, I don't have anything to complain about!

In stark contrast to many race-supplements, we get quite extensive pieces of information on seedling-culture-lore and land and of course, also on their takes regarding other races and classes - two thumbs up for these avidly and well-written pieces that make the race stand out and feel integrated into a campaign world, not just some addition. The race also gets two racial archetypes, with the first being the Switcher, a fighter that uses the new weapon of the seedlings, the signature switch whip (which is essentially their hair) and allows it to be used to inflict bleeding damage, ooze a poison that makes its victims flat-footed, grow razor-sharp leaves on the head etc. VERY COOL! The second archetype, the tree spirit druid, is extremely adapt at scrying via trees by focusing senses into trees - again, very cool!

The race also gets an exclusive PrC, the negotiator. The PrC gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB and medium will-saves as well as a gamut of abilities that allow them to form binding agreements and make them superb "face"-style negotiators. Nice! The 9 new feats allow seedlings to further expand their switch whip powers and also do some interesting things via their rooting-ability, allowing them to better weather assaults and also increase their healing/photosynthesis.

Beyond aforementioned switch whips, we also get a new armor, glow moss and a serum the seedlings use for ritual scarring and healing. Beyond these crunchy bíts, we also get a massive genesis-story told in captivating prose, a write-up of their 4 deities (with appropriate domains, subdomains and mysteries - nice indeed!) and 4 cool new spells, themed for plants and seedling flavor and anatomy. Among the new magic items we get explosive seeds, the dread aurora pendant, heartwood, two iconic artifacts (one of which can grow a forest - over night!) and even more:

5 fluff-only community-write-ups (I.e. no settlement-blocks, but ideas galore) provide further ideas for GMS and players alike to capitalize on and the write-up also features extensive advice for DMs to fit this race into a campaign.

Finally, the pdf includes 4 sample seedling characters, using the content herein, all ready to be dropped into your game and spanning CR 1/2 to Cr 14.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are impressive, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly b/w-no-frills 2-column standard and the pdf comes with extensive nested bookmarks. The pdf also features gorgeous b/w-artworks, all of which are original and up to the cover's excellent quality - two thumbs up! Finally, we also get herolab-files for the seedlings.

If you're following my reviews on a regular basis, the you know that races are a hard sell on me: I require interesting cultures, solid, well-balanced rules and a place and reason to exist in a given world for a race to be even considered for making an appearance in my game. Seedlings did it. This race is interesting and feels alive, with their unique cultural items, the great prose and the balanced, well-crafted rules, we have an excellent supplement for a great new race that is perhaps one of the best takes of a floral playable race I've seen so far. Iconic, full of details and cultural tidbits, this supplement misses nothing and is a joy to read as well. Congratulations to author Marie Small for a thoroughly enjoyable, well-made race. My final verdict is rarely seen upon race-pdfs, but here it is justified - with every little component feeling balanced and like it brings something to the table, I feel justified in giving this 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Seedlings (PFRPG)
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Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2013 18:24:38

A few weeks ago, I received a pdf review copy of Shadowsfall from the publisher. I’ve taken the time to digest it and expose my gaming group to the content building up to writing the review.

First Impressions and Design

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

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

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

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

Races

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

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

Classes

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

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

Animals and Strongholds

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

Feats

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

Equipment

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

Religion

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

Magic, Magic Items, & Altered Items

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
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Book of Magic: Insurgency of Summer (PFRPG)
by Bryan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2013 22:56:10

Insurgency of summer is much shorter of a book than I had originally anticipated. It provides some very nice new fiery spells, creatures and Magical Items; but lacks any form of charcter options. I had expected at least a short five level prestige class that would be beneficial to fire casters. That being said, the new damage spells herein pack a nice punch, but I had expected Insurgency of Summer to at least list spells from other books that could be useful to fire casters. All things considerd the material in this book is a useful add on for a character who needs a bit more and has failed to find something elsewhere that fits what they wanted.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: Insurgency of Summer (PFRPG)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for downloading and reviewing this. I would like to mentioned that your review is not entirely accurate. You mentioned it "lacks any form of character options." However, it does cleric subdomains, witch patrons, animal companions, improved familiars, a bard masterpiece and a magic item. I understand your desire for more, be we did list what was in it in the description. Thank you for your feedback. We will be sure to incorporate it into future book.
Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
by Aaron T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2013 21:03:02

Disclaimer: I was given a reviewer’s copy of this book. However, I am not paid for this review.

What you get: This pdf is 14 pages long. Cover (1), Title Page (1), Table of Contents w/ introduction (1), Universal Monster Rules and OGL (2), leaving 9 pages of beasts. At one monster per page, that buys you 9 monsters for $2.99.

Artwork: The artwork was okay to very good. Some of the art looked like a doctored photograph of something holiday themed (nutcracker, gingerbread cookie, meringue cookie), some looked like holiday cartoons, and some was exactly what you expect out of quality monster books.

Layout and Editing: Document is laid out in a standard two column format. Editing is superb. The only error I could find was a missing period in Appendix 2, Psychopomp Subtype.

Overall Impression: This book of Christmas/winter-holiday themed monsters is the first published material (I know of) from JBE’s new editor, Richard Moore. As you might suspect from the Santa hatted lich on the cover, there is significant selection of silliness in this book. You get constructs like the clockwork nutcracker and a golem made of gingerbread. You’ll find singing undead and Santa’s elves and Reindeer as you’ve never seen them before. If your party is hungry for more, you can serve up a killer fruitcake and wash it down with eggnog pudding. Although the theme of the book is silly holiday spirit, these monsters are still deadly serious. Any GM could easily strip the holiday out of the description and serve them up to players. CR’s range from 1 to 13. So, what’s the verdict for a rating? I like silly, so that was a mark up in my book. The monsters are well written and usable (and deadly!), even in a non-holiday themed campaign or adventure. The writing was pleasant to read; instead of slogging through a bunch of monsters, I was excited to see what made each one special. On the down side, it IS a specifically holiday-themed product, which could limit its usefulness for the less creative GM. It is also rather short for the price at 33 cents per monster.

Final Rating: That brings me to a rating of three and a half stars, rounded up to 4. If there’s one thing JBE writes well, it’s monster books!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
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Shadowsfall Legends: The Gem That Caught Fire - Kurdag's Tale
by Bryan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2013 10:32:40

The Gem that Caught Fire Sports your typical nonhuman mad scientist type of Chaotic Neutral tinkerer's mayhem. Alchemy, if I do say so myself, is an under-utilized craft throughtout Pathfinder games; and a goblinoid throwing bombs like Link in a china shop reminds me in particular of how a little chaotic comical mayhem can really make a game interesting. I'm already liking the overall nature of the Umbral Kobold now that I've seen it fleshed out in a story like this. The taunting demeanor mixed with a need to sow a certain amount of chaos makes any character more fun to watch. I particularly like the imagery I get from the description of the city buildings here; very Tim Burton esque. Shadowsfall is really shaping up to be a nightmare before christmas meets assassin's creed type flavor; and that's always the best kind of city to play in. I whol-heartedly approve and I intend to share Shadowsfall with any group I can get my hands on.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: The Gem That Caught Fire - Kurdag's Tale
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Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
by Bryan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2013 10:21:29

Pawn, Deception and Sacrifice is an interesting short story That I feel only scrathces the surface of What Shadowsfall has to offer. While the story here could be used as an interesting moral dilemma for a plot twist; the aspect of death, decay and demonic taint is not so uncommon in normal Material Realm Pathfinder Adventures. While it can be argued that this story is as vague as it is to avoid giving away too much about Shadowsfall; it is my opinion that such stories exist to reimagine and give life to the grim truths about such worlds. Even for a cliffhangar of a short story, I feel this book is somewhat undercut from what Shadowsfall has to offer. The actual characters were given distinct, if not cliche' personalities that made the story sound more of a copy-cat circumstantial cardboard cut out from pretty much any additive that came anywhere from videogame fetch and go missions to good old D&D misdirection. That being said; Pawn, Deception and Sacrifice {while being somewhat underdone} shows that it has the promise to evolve into a proper Shadowsfall novel given the right creative process that allows more and more of the denizens of Shadowsfall to find their way into the story.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice—Valdia's Tale
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Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
by Bryan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2013 19:40:04

The idea of shadowsfall being a lost and found collective across all dimensions is fantasic. It makes Shadowsfall the perfect campaign setting to plan a game from 1 to Epic. The exspansive world Shadowsfall can be allows any DM to create entire millenia of backstory to add endless flavor or twist to any campaign.

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

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

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

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player's Companion (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/30/2012 08:43:26

This is a short bestiary of very silly Pathfinder compatible holiday themed monsters. You get the Aberrant Fruitcake, Clockwork Nutcracker, Gingerbread Golem, Eggnog Pudding, Dreidel Swarm, and four others in this collection.

As silly as they are, each entry is given a bit of background info that is well written, and will make it a bit easier for you to find a place for these creatures in your campaign. Just be sure to expect some eye-rolling from your players once they figure out what they're fighting next.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
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Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
by Joshua G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2012 01:54:08

OK...let's begin with the statement that I am not a fan of humor in my game material. I know, I know, how very grinch like of me, but there it is. That being said, a product that is in fact a humorous product is not quite the same, now is it? I knew the second I saw the cover that what I had in my hands was a tongue in cheek collection of creatures...something for those looking to inject some holiday humor into their gametop...what I was not expecting was the solid design behind the creatures.

Yeah, I said it, solidly designed critters. Now, granted, their are a few here that will probably only ever exist in a game meant for laughs, such as the Gingerbread Golem, Eggnog Pudding, or even the Aberrant Fruitcake...but their designs are still logical and solid enough to field them, with effectiveness. That spoke through, loud and clear.

Taking a step towards the undead side of things I have got to say the Dirge Caroler is hands down my favorite creature in this collection, and oddly invokes some nostalgia for classic Doctor Who in me...not sure if it was just the feel of the creature or if there was something similar in an episode, regardless they are a cool concept. Leading a "caroling choir" of well dressed zombies, the dirge carolers enchant and devour to their heart's content within communities, adding a serious level of creepy to those annoying folks wandering around singing.

And the Dreidel Swarm, now that is an interesting concept, and a well executed one at that. That is easily something I can see getting some mileage at a gametable, showing up perhaps in the lair of a demented toy-maker....hmmm, excuse me, need to make a few notes....

Point being, if you are looking for a cool little collection of holiday inspired creatures, you've found them, period. There's something in here for any play style, and then some.

Now, did I have issues with a few things? Yeah...the art is all over the place, some pieces being extremely cartoony, perhaps even childish...but for what this collection is, that oddly added to the charm of the product. Which brings me to my only true complaint in regards to design, and that is the Clockwork Nutcracker having no form of bite attack. It seems an almost given that there would be some special linked with that gaping maw of his.

All in all though, as I stated, the creatures here are a good collection of holiday inspired weirdness, ready to bring a few smiles to the table as you roll some dice with friends under the tree.

A 5 star rating for a rather unique collection of oddities.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2012 05:45:38

This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 10 1/3 pages of content, so let's check out these holiday-themed creatures!

The first would be the Aberrant Fruitcake (CR 5),a feline-looking, sticky conglomerate of fruitcakes, taken from the world and lost in the shadow plane, infused by dread entropic energies.

Bloodhoves are CR 8 flying reindeers that could have been part of the woodland critetr christmas of South Park - deadly, and while a herbivore, prone to putting hooves and muzzle in the blood of vanquished foes.

Now the CR 4 Clockwork Nutcracker with its oversized hat (providing cover for allies) and blunderbuss makes for a great creature that could be considered an excellent addition to e.g. the Zobeck-setting - combine the Mouse King and the nutcracker and you get a cool idea for a module...

The CR 11 Gingerbread Golem comes with a neat spicy breath ability and a cool weakness - they are penalized if you steal their gumdrop buttons - and yes, they are fast!

The CR 3 Dirge Caroler is an undead, impoverished halfling, featuring wis-penalizing deadly dirges and the option to command the undead servants of his.

The CR 2 Dreidel Swarm is an uncommon swarm of miniature constructs that come with cool signature abilities galore, even beyond sneak attack and tripping capability - draining e.g. constitution, flat-footing foes, fascinating them or dealing more damage.

On the more weird and funny side, the Eggnog Pudding (ooze), which is not only highly flammable, but also comes with a nauseating slam and the power to split and cling to walls and ceilings.

The most powerful critter herein is the Psychopomp Wild Hunter (CR 13), who would also make for a great cadre of servants of Oberon/Auberyon with their ghostly servants, spiritsense and final death waiting at their hands...

More on the trickster-side of the fey-spectrum, we get the Scandinavian Totemnisse, tiny boot portal teleporting and jinx-using mischievous and benevolent fey.

The pdf closes with universal monster rules and the clockwork and psychopomp-subtypes being detailed.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting, while not top-notch, are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column standard with a parchment-like background and the (stock) artworks are ok at this price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is commendable. The pdf is also hyperlinked.

Author Richard Moore has actually created a neat little array of funny monsters that not only are amusing to run, but actually come with intriguing signature abilities that make me want to use some of these and even brought me inspiration to develop some adventure-ideas. At the low price, a solid offering of neat critters that deserves a final rating of 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval.

Merry Christmas/whatever you celebrate! Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: War on Yuletide (PFRPG)
by Nick F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2012 08:58:13

Buying this collection of creepy holiday creatures is the best way to get over your disappointment that the world didn't end this morning.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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