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Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/17/2014 07:35:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book by Little Red Goblin Games clocks in at 172 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 7 pages of SRD (with some pages duplicating text from the adventure at the end of the book), leaving us with 163 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now if you've been following my reviews, you'll know that I usually take apart crunch for races and classes in a pretty detailed manner. The problem with a book of this size and my approach is evident -were I to do that here, the review would bloat beyond compare. Hence, I'll be somewhat less detailed than usual in this review, picking out the cherries and the less than awesome components and highlighting them. Got that? Great!



So after a short introduction to the topics and tropes of WuXia/Wushu and the implied setting of Dragon Tiger Ox, we delve into the basic supplemental pieces of information. A basic introduction to a third alignment axis in the guise of honor can be found here, as can be new uses for knowledge skills to identify styles. Unlike in a standard assumption of a setting, each character receives a favored style through which they progress, counting their class level as BAB-prerequisites for the purpose of taking these feats. A similar terminology is established for ki-level - that means it class levels in a ki pool gaining class.

Additionally, a new combat maneuver may be used to disrupt styles, canceling their benefits and allowing the maneuver's executor to increase the amount of time entering a style takes. While not particularly effective in itself, the maneuver lends itself to a versatile array of possibilities to follow up on. What rather impressed me with its simplicity and yet, genius, would be the diversified martial arts - headbutts, kicks etc. all get their own damage-columns and bonuses - kicks tend to do more damage, but inflict the new off-balance condition on a character executing them. This system not only immediately makes flurry of blows actually interesting, it turned out to work in a rather balanced and cool manner when I tried it out. These alternate rules indeed are glorious and should be deemed a nigh must to make monks and martial artists in general a more interesting playing experience.



Now if you want to go for full-blown WireFu WuXia à la "Hero" and similar movies, an array of solid rules to achieve just that would be provided as well. On the downside, the suggestion to default gestalt as monks with other classes makes sense and fits the tone, but the lack of advice regarding power-levels of characters and adversaries when implementing these rules make them feel more like an afterthought. And yes, gestalting is explained in x guides online, but I maintain that introducing a suggestion like this should also be accompanied by a thorough examination of its ramifications.



Now for the more light-hearted among us, the bad dubbing rules that have you pantomime what your character means and another player say the words might not suit my tastes for a prolonged and serious campaign, mostly due to me trying to explore questions of ethics and psychology as well in my games, but for a fun evening with sake or beer, I can guarantee that the results can be utterly hilarious.



Now race-wise, aasimars and vanaras may choose new alternate racial traits (including a draconic breath weapon). The Guaiwu, one of the new races herein, would imho be just a tiny bit too strong with both darkvision and low light vision, though not by much - still a good example why the RP-rules from the ARG don't work as smoothly as they ought to and by no means broken. That being said, one could nitpick a bit here and there. The second race, the Samebito can be rather overpowered in any aquatic campaign - gaining fast healing in saltwater, these guys are per se a cool race, but one DMs should be a bit wary of in the context of nautically-inclined campaigns. Shishi are awakened from statues of foo lions/dogs and are celestial guardians - and here, I have not even the slightest gripe. On another note - the Guaiwu remain the only race that specifies its RP-cost, in case you were wondering.



A total of 11 racial feats allow half-breeds to have two favored styles, Gaiwu to shoot elemental blasts (with a VERY high range), gain blindsense under water, wield larger weapons etc. -especially the Gaiwu gain the brunt of cool tricks here, with one-handing two-handed weapons and gaining regeneration temporarily for eating oni-flesh being two examples that skirt what is balanced and what is cool. Generally, I do like the feats on their own, but the concentration of awesome tricks for the Gaiwu and relative lack of coolness for other races bespeaks a kind of favoritism here. Seeing how the race already is powerful when compared to the base races, the damn cool and iconic toys might push them over the edge for *some* DMs, so please read this one carefully. The good news would be that the options provided by themselves are not broken.



A short primer on languages had the linguist in me excited, though the level of detail of e.g. Necropunk's supplements is not reached herein. Beyond a new wildblooded draconic bloodline for sorcerors to represent the eastern dragon's flavor and a new one for ki-centric sorcerors that helps them not suck at ki-tricks/unarmed tricks - at least not as much. The ki/metamagic synergy gained at higher levels also makes for an interesting design choice here. We also receive the ki domain, whose ki-powered channel and the potentially extreme increase of radius for it can easily break the balance when taken in combination with variant channeling or simply a powerful channeling specialist, so take that one with a grain of caution.



Next up would be the 3 new prestige classes – in all brevity, 2 are full BAB-progression classes, the third a ¾ BAB-progression. The Shifu would be a master of one style on the verge of developing his own style – hence, the PrC receives a secondary pool, so-called prowess points, to modify his strikes with. In an interesting take, some of the class abilities depend on the base-class used to class into this PrC. If you happen to know the movie tropes – these guys learn the hardcore martial arts – dealing the same damage as last round via mirror palm (explicitly working with vital strike!) and elemental blasts make for iconic techniques that are powerful, but limited by daily uses. Beyond these, the PrC also receives a disintegration-style killer strike and an insta-death attack – especially the latter is not something I’m generally a fan of in classes that are not the assassin. Yeah, it exists in the literature and movies, but still.



The second PrC herein would be the Jade Warrior, which can be summed up best as a kind of holy warrior that strives to become a balanced paragon of stoic virtues, a kind of anti-dishonor-paladin, if you will – though one powered by ki with quite a few more unique abilities than I would have expected – I particularly liked that their wounds inflicted on dishonorable targets resist magical healing and may leave jade green scars unless treated by restoration.



The third PrC herein would be the Wolong – a hardcore strategist martial artist that learns tactician and similar tricks. While I am not a fan of the general option of a mechanic that allows for counter-strikes and ties the mechanic to initiative (d20 vs. d20 minus 5 – too much variance), I do like the ability – for while I don’t enjoy this component of it, the option to pick their turn apart and e.g. take move actions at a different initiative than standard actions etc. makes for some very interesting changes in tactics. The ability to command allies pales in comparison and has been done in more interesting ways in other classes. However, with the very strong and iconic round-break-up, more would have been unbalancing. That being said – NOT a fan of adding int to damage, even with a max class level caveat – stacking up multiple attributes to base damage is too easy to game.



A couple of rage powers and rogue talents allow for the parrying of unarmed attacks via blades and even monk-style tricks for barbarians, just before we delve into the meat of the setting information with a general overview of the celestial bureaucracy under the emperor. An assortment of suggested deities and heroes is presented, alongside a massive chapter on the diverse sample of clans, orders and schools. If you have access to LRGG’s Heroes of the East-series, you’ll also notice some synergy with the styles established therein, allowing you to easier weave a tangled web of diverse martial traditions and ideologies competing for supremacy.



Of course, no such book would be complete without a new chapter on feats and Dragon Tiger Ox surely delivers in that regard with a massive chapter and MANY, many feats. Rather weirdly, the necessary index-table shows up after the first couple of feats, but that is admittedly a nitpick. The feats themselves, as befitting of the theme, make ample use of ki and allow non-ki-classes to wilder in this territory; It should also be mentioned that these feats have been built with regards to a kind of compatibility regarding the “Heroes of the East”-series, which generally is rather neat. The fact that the exceedingly cool upgrade to Ki Cannon does not feature the prereq-feat from the HotE-series may gall some people, though. Beyond a significant array of regular feats, we are also introduced to so-called Forbidden Feats – these feats come with significant benefits, usually in the guise of significant damage to the character, even attribute damage, but allow the respective character to regain ki-points. Surprisingly, I have found no easy way to cheese these feats – while it *is* possible, it would require some deep digging and uncommon race/ability combinations not usually available t PCs, so…well done. On another note – it is a bit weird that follow-up feats to Forbidden feats not necessarily are forbidden feats themselves – there seems o be some minor thematic inconsistency going on here, but once again, that’s a nitpick.



As a nice nod towards the glorious Ultimate Campaign supplement, we also receive some thematically appropriate story feats that let you prove that YOUR style is the best…or that your school should be considered supreme to your rivals. Another array of new feats would be introduced herein – qinggong-feats, which essentially represent spell-like abilities that are unlocked via taking the feats. These abilities, while powerful, are tied to ki and burn quite a lot of this resource. The dispelling strikes that allow you to counter magic via ki deserve special mentioning, though I consider the forbidden technique that allows you to convert incoming spells into ki a perpetuum mobile of a finite resource that does require careful oversight. And yes, THAT one can be cheesed, but only at high levels. So yeah, no significant issue.



A total of 5 new styles can also be found within these pages – from the elven Drambor that rewards tumbling through and over foes to the leg irons using Rattling Chain, the styles are one thing – unique. They breathe a kind of inspiration absent from quite a few published styles out there. Now personally, I consider the Sacred Lotus Style’s option to substitute caster level for BAB for the purpose of delivering touch spells to be rather nasty – while it allows for certain builds to actually work rather well, it also has the potential to go rather awry and become OP depending on the resources you allow as a DM – essentially, as soon as you have a touch attack based class like the warlock-variants (e.g. Interjection Games’ superb Ethermancer), you may wish to think VERY hard before allowing this style. It should be noted that this remains the exception in an array that is otherwise rather interesting – rope-darts, ki-draining – generally, this chapter deserves accolades!



Now the styles have been ample clue here – yes, there also is quite an array of new equipment herein, namely cool stuff like Bond-style throwing hats, flying guillotines etc. – the latter would constitute the one totally broken weapon herein – not only does it have an x5 multiplier (as if x4 wasn’t bad enough…), it also has a damage dice upgrade when used in conjunction with Throw Anything. And yes, it does require a swift action to retract, but still…I don’t see the fun in luck being rewarded this much. Other than that, Umbrella Spears etc. make for interesting options that even allow for some unique tactics.



Where there are mundane items, there are magical ones and this book does deliver in this regard as well – beyond jade and peach wood as materials, an array of ki-powered jade masks, fans with the powers of the wind, wooden oxen figurines, leadening weights, enchanted gourds – quite a diverse array, often with primary passive benefits and additional, active ones that require the expenditure of ki. New magical armor and weapon properties as well as advice on the pricing of these items can be found within this chapter as well.



Now remember those forbidden feats I mentioned? Well, there also are the immortal clans and styles – taught directly by the immortals, theses styles are very powerful, but have significant, story-based drawbacks that really have a massive oomph – from slowly turning into a tree to becoming utterly reckless, these styles work exceedingly well -why? Because they use the ROLEPLAYING aspect to codify drawbacks in rather unique ways that can enhance the game rather than only relying on sheer numbers. These are feats for mature groups, yes, but damn fine ones – powerful, narrative gold here!



Becoming immortals would also be a distinct possibility and perhaps, most appropriate when going Mythic anyways – yes, this also provides advice on mythic adventures in the cosmos of DTO – From Universal to path-specific abilities, a vast array of mythic versions of feats etc. mean that there indeed is *A LOT* of mythic content herein to use. That being said, the balance, even within the context of mythic rules, has been stretched very thin by some of these options – being treated as always having 1 ki point and adding yet another way of regaining ki can be combined with these abilities to make some truly fearsome combos – now don’t get me wrong; I don’t necessarily consider this inappropriate in the context of Mythic Adventures – but the options herein are powerful indeed and may be considered too much for some DMs not going balls to the wall-crazy with mythic adventures.



A total of 4 different mythic-exclusive styles further increase the fantasy-factor here – clad, for example, in righteous flames, delivering negative levels by the attack – the mythic styles are extremely lethal, but also risky – more so even than the regular immortal styles. Once again, the caveat that they’re intended for the higher power-levels of gaming applies, though these provide less potential for abuse than the vast assortment of path abilities due to story-based limitations of their accessibility.



The final pages of this book are devoted to different ready-made encounters, which, among others, feature the challenge of a 36-chamber pagoda – and generally, I do enjoy these encounters. Alas, the statblocks provided here are rather opaque and the one time the layout failed – no bolding, no clearly distinguished attack/defense-sections – mind you, the words are there, but presentation-wise, the statblocks feel jumbled when they’re not – a good example that layout *is* important.



Conclusion:

Editing can be considered very good; I noticed no significant glitches that would have impeded my ability to understand the content; formatting is less impressive, though – I did notice a bunch of glitches especially in the formatting department: From feat names at the bottom of the page, with the rest of the text on the next page to flawed paragraphs and the aforementioned statblock-presentation, this component is simply not that impressive. Which is especially surprising considering the layout – DTO features a beautiful, elegant full-color 2-column standard that manages to still be printer-friendly. However, the book also sports rather broad borders, which means there’s less text per page. Additionally, many a page sports quite a bit of blank space – some optimization there would have probably spared me quite a few pages when I printed this out. The artworks deserve special mentioning – especially the character art throughout the book is drop-dead gorgeous and on par with the awesome cover. The pdf comes with massive, nested bookmarks that allow for easy navigation.





Designers Dayton Johnson, Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby, Ian Sisson and Mike Myler have provided a massive, interesting book here – the love for the genre breathes from the pages and the fluff inherent in quite a few of these options remains compelling and cool. Now don’t expect a campaign setting here – this is a crunch-book with some setting-hints; If you’re looking for a setting, then this might not be for you. Continue reading, though.



Why? Because this massive book is essentially, for better and for worse, a huge grab-bag. Here and there, LRGG devises an alternate rule for something already codified by mainstream Pathfinder in another way, so an awareness and weariness of overlaps and stacking is required of prospective DMs. If you’re willing to approach Dragon Tiger Ox under this premise, though, you’ll be rewarded – unlike many books that feature complaints like the ones I fielded in the above paragraphs, Dragon Tiger Ox breathes the spirit of a true labor of love. In fact, rereading this review, it may even seem less positive than I intended it to be. Yes, there are potentially problematic options in here – but there is also a veritable treasure trove of options to scavenge, allow and use in your campaigns. From the iconic styles to the uncommon items, to the nice codification of ki that opens these tricks for a plethora of builds, Dragon Tiger Ox can be considered a great achievement and most importantly, a fun book.



Is it perfect? No. Do I consider all in this book good or balanced? No. Can I see myself using the vast majority of content herein? Heck yes! While not perfect, I do encourage any fan of WuXia or those wishing to run eastern campaigns to check this book out – it makes for a nice resource to have and its price is rather fair as well. Hence, in spite of some rough edges and the formatting glitches, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars with the caveat that a system-savvy DM should carefully contemplate the content herein prior to using it – some pieces might be inappropriate for some campaigns/rule-book combinations.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
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Tome of Twisted Things
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/15/2014 16:26:36
While not for every campaign, the Tome of Twisted Things is full of interesting and useful ideas and resources that could be easily incorporated into a campaign. Mostly they will fit into a campaign world where the fight between good and evil is brutal and where good is losing ground that is the sort of situation where the Darkborn and Avengers would thrive. My only real complaint is the pinkish background of the PDF which is a little disturbing to stare at.

The Tome of Twisted Things is a selection of darkness-tinged resources for Pathfinder, new prestige and variant classes, a new race and supporting feats. It begins with the Darkborn prestige class who draw upon the power of evil to defeat evil, a classic conceit. They must balance their dedication to good with their increasing urge to do evil. The class has powers called ‘darkweaves’ that are activated by bidding their ‘wickedness’ against the purity of their target, which is an interesting mechanic. They gain some interesting power but must always be fighting against the temptation to embrace the evil that fuels their abilities. Good stuff. But it seems that they should have knowledge (planes) as a class skill as they have several abilities that interact with outsiders.

Next up is the Avenger, a paladin variant that serves the god of retribution and is focused on settling scores, injure them and get stronger against the thing that injured them. The Ruiner is an anti-paladin archetype who just wants to tear down the world and gains bonuses when doing so. The Tyrant prestige class wraps up the class section with someone who wants to rule and will crush any who oppose that vision, an interesting option for lawful villains.

The new race is the Warped, children of a summoner and an eidolon, these are the definition of unusual but interesting. They gain access to a very limited amount of eidolon evolution but have no place where they fit in, being so rare and strange, making them a perfect sort for becoming adventurers. The warped also have access to two class archetypes: the Bloodborn (summoner) who summon creatures from their own blood, and the Monk of the Flowing Form, who master the adaptability of their own body.

Twenty new feats, and one new trait, round out this work, all but one dealing with class or race abilities from this product, but they provide a variety of interesting -if niche- options.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Twisted Things
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Necropunk Ewgee Source Book
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2014 03:09:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This sourcebook for Little Red Goblin Games' glorious, innovative Scifi-setting clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf in style, with a fully-depicted Battle-march for the Sentinels - "O, Death". And yes, I tried singing it and it does work, cadence-wise. We hence kick off this pdf's coverage of the Ewgee with a survey of the sentinel organization - from ranks in the military, to training and even including their oath, this one oozes flair and style.



The Psychic rules of Necropunk also get suppelmental information here, with the Psyoff. While nomenclature may sound none too impressive here, these guys essentially generate a tactical grid, in which allies can share senses, memories and even have PPI assigned to them - the storytelling potential, beyond the combat potential, for this one is vast. And yes, entering the mind of hostiles and talking to them, soothing golems - possible. A power is also tied to the new crown of god weapon, which can be made to fire lines and yes, bursts.



The Living Saints of the (in my opinion) somewhat creepy Prime Bloodline get a wildcard archetype that gets a free perfection at 1st level and may spend potential points on a number of unique Perfections -essentially, their potential is more geared towards becoming an Übermensch - enhanced immune systems, perfect immune systems, eidetic memory, truly superb vision, including the option to see e.g. x-rays and similar usually invisible forms of radiation and spectrums. Nice, even though an explicit mention of "this modifies Genius" etc. would have made the archetype somewhat easier to use. Sentinels of the Prime Bloodline may opt for the new Father archetype, which represents veterans of countless battles fought, with arrays of tricks that allow them to provide combat support to allies - think teamwork-enhancing commander. Solid one.



Sisters are the immaculate seductresses of the Prime Bloodline - while sterile, these wildcards can adopt personas - adopting these allows her to e.g. borrow the diplomat's social competence, sneak attack and trap sense, bombs, monks etc. - cool idea for a jack-of-all-trades-class that actually has a distinct fluff, if not perfect balance between personas.



Engineer-members of the Necromancer's Guild may become Devs -addicted to change exists here as well as gaining a retractable tendril that can grapple foes, may biohack others and also get to choose from an array of controlled bio-mutations that allow you to hyperstimulate allies with your tendril, deliver poison etc. Phagen of the assassin's guild provide a cool dichotomy - they've got the license to kill and extract the problematic elements from the Necromancer's Guild.They also recieve a kind of pet ghoul slave made from a convicted serial killer that they can unleash on their foes and upgrade over the levels via body mods - powerful and something for everyone who wanted a summoner-style class for Necropunk - with the conundrums we've come to expect from the setting. No less than 13 new body mods, from doll skin to grappling rocket fists, frog skins, skin that can see, detachable eyeballs - the amount of strange options is cool and awesome and the potential complications reflect that.



What about a disc that can heighten bad moods and interrupt sleep? (I guess I have one of those implanted into my neocortex...). Beyond these, we are introduced to 10 exile shards, three of which come with their own racial stat modifications, one with an alternate racial trait and teh Gravs, born and bred for space, being particularly adept in Zero-G-environments - including two new armors/suits and a new weapon/tool.



While primitive in comparison, the gunslinger archetype space cowboy will find its fans among Cowboy Bebop fans, with a vehicle to represent the nomadic ways of the class being sponsored in the beginning - though, as fans of Firefly or said Anime may attest, these things may break down...



We also are introduced to the assassin's guild's tomb foot style and its 4 follow-up feats, one of which ought to point out whether the bonus it grants also extends to potential AoOs, but apart from that, an interesting, defensive style. If a sister chooses, she can learn the psychotic Bathory persona, which not only may sever limbs and is a deadly combatant, but also simply...dangerous. Familiarity with bioskins, improved awareness and control of one's body - solid feats here. We also get three cool new campaign traits - one that represents being in service to the planetary defense force and one *I'd* choose - unchecked ambition in the Byronian sense. And there would also be an antiquated sense of honor, from which I probably irl also suffer - so much roleplaying potential in these and solid benefits as well.



Engineers may learn a nigh perfect sense of time or a kind of echolocation that helps in total darkness, Magpies may learn to change minimum damage to maximum damage, Stalkers may use skills instead of teh steal maneuver in combat to deprive foes of their tools.



Finally, the linguist in em rejoices as we're introduced to the language of money as well as see Esperanto enter the fray and a total of 5 new dialects.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are this book's weaknesses - the sourcebook sports quite a few bolding-glitches and minor formatting issues and minor rules-editing issues, though never grievous ones, can also be found herein. Layout adheres to Necropunk's simple, relatively printer-friendly b/w-2-column standard and the interior artwork deserves special mention: Don't be fooled by the cover, seriously, the b/w-line-drawings herein are plenty, gorgeous and downright awesome. This is a beautiful book on the inside! The book also comes fully bookmarked with extensive, nested bookmarks.



Okay, let me get one thing straight from the get-go - the crunch herein is good, but not always perfect - designers Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby and Dayton Johnson have overall done a good job, but at least for me, Necropunk was never about playing the "I got better crunch than you"-game. Necropunk is about the setting, the ideas - much like an alien-less, thinking man's Warhammer 40K, it is a dark vision of the future, but not a grim one. Nor is it a rip-off, it has its own, distinct identity that appeals greatly to me, because it's for once a scifi setting that is not illogical or been there, done that. It's innovative.

The questions posed by each class, the conundrus, they are alive and the base campaign setting provided more ideas to me for any campaign than just about all campaign settings I've read in a while. This sourcebook proudly follows in that tradition by creating more content, more information, more philosophical questions to explore via classes and playstyles, should you choose to. Necropunk is about ROLEplaying with a heavy emphasis on the ROLEplaying - more so than just about all Pathfinder settings. The ideas herein - they are simply brilliant. The sisters with their personas, the serial killer-enslaving assassin that may end up on the other end of the leash - these are concepts so glorious, so exciting to explore, that I was grinning from ear to ear. Yes, this book may not be perfect, but it incites the imagination in glorious ways. Usually, I'd rate this down further for its avoidable glitches here and there, but after much deliberation, I can't ever justify this - the Ewgee sourcebook is too rich in ideas you can scavenge even if you don't use the necropunk setting. There are too many cool concepts herein. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Here's to hoping we'll see much, much more Necropunk in the years to come - this has all the makings of a cult setting in the making.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Necropunk Ewgee Source Book
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A Dream of Mars
by David J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2014 22:01:11
A quick PDF (just a few pages), but if this is what we can expect from Little Red Goblin's vision of Barsoom, this is in good hands.

You get stats to make a Green Martian as a playable race, a few pages on "Pathfinder-izing" E R Burroughs' Mars (changes that need to be made--including races and classes, money, psionics, and a quick word about firearms), stats for a thoat, and a few Martian-specific feats.

It's quick'n'dirty, but in 8 pages this product made me happy.

I hope to see more, as I'd fork over money for additional products in this line.

And the cover? Look at that kick-arse cover!!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Dream of Mars
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Goblin Rations: The Lard Golem
by Christian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2014 06:58:40
A beautiful beast.

A nice take on the classical golem. Well written, nice picture. Ready to include in your campaign.

However no imediate scenario pops up, where a lard golem would be the first choice enemy. In my view it would be better if the lard golem was (instead of a fully grown CR 11 golem) a cheap and unstable version of a golem for the less experienced magic wielding fiend - and thus a challenge for a party in the starting range.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Goblin Rations: The Lard Golem
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Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
by Nick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2014 14:33:04
Dragon Tiger Ox is equal parts brilliant and underwhelming. When LRGG just goes off the rails and starts making stuff up, I really started to enjoy DTO.....however there are several parts in the book where I feel LRGG dropped the ball. Stuff like simply recommending every player a be gestalt X/Monk. That seems like such weak design, I don't understand why Little Red Goblin didn't just offer us some alternate base classes which include some martial arts elements, particularly when they put a whole lot of effort into some of the prestige classes and feats which are really good. Even when retreading some ground we've seen before LRGG managed to find a way to do many feats a little bit different and little bit better...but then there are so many odd design choices like encouraging people to do bad lip syncing at the table. I just wish DTO had been able to keep up consistent quality through out the book and I wish they had included guides for players to introduce their own fighting styles and the like as the hero developing a new style is such a big theme in the genre.

The author info lists four different people as having authored this book and that is certainly the way it feels. Not quiet a campaign guide to the world of DTO but not quiet just a cut and dry book of character options either it falls somewhere in-between. GM's looking for hand holding better look to other books, but groups looking for a good starting point to start crafting their own adventure will find a pretty good jumping off point here.

If you are a fan, looking for a some options, feats etc. etc. to spice things up for eastern MA style characters, you will find some good stuff here, some really good stuff in fact particularly when combined with some of the excellent adaptations we've seen for the monk from other publisher; and GMs can certainly use some of the setting elements in a game. But that said I can't see myself playing DTO on its own with a party full of gestalt monks as its authors intended and certain parts of this PDF will likely never see play at most people's game table.

In the end I give Dragon Tiger Ox 3 stars as a general Pathfinder product but 4 if you are a hard core Wuxia/Wushu fan.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
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Tome of Twisted Things
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2014 02:48:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick this pdf off with the Darkborn-PrC - essentially a character who opts to take the wickedness into him/herself, slowly becoming the monster they ought to destroy - in the words of "The Dark knight" -either die a hero or become a monster. The PrC spans 10 levels and ofefrs d10, 4+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 7 levels of spell progression and medium ref-saves. Unlike many other PrC, this class comes with a fighter/melee-centric alternative that offers full BAB-progression, but no spell-progression. Rules-wise, darkborn get a wickedness-pool of 3 x HD. Which brings me to two concepts - wickedness and purity: When the Darkborn uses his/her Darkweaving ability, a non AoO, non-touch SU with range, both s/he and the victim wager purity versus wickedness-points and the creature that wagered less is afflicted with the darkweaving. While said points do regenerate, they don't do so particularly fast, so a poker-face is helpful indeed. From exiled outsiders to walking on spiritual shards of glass to damage bonuses and negative energy damage, the 8 different effects truly are intriguing and fit thematically well with the PrC. On the downside of the doomed hero-angle, the PrC exudes a seductive draw - every level may see the hero slide closer towards the evil they seek to combat and an alternate rule may even make taking class-levels in other classes harder... Darkborn also learn to suppress darkweave effects that affect them, detect evil and undergo at later levels essentially an evil outsider apotheosis. Oh...and the capstone...you better quit before the capstone, for it has you transform into a truly vile monster, consumed by the darkness - of course, the lure may prove to be too great and still see you become an NPCs, perhaps even the final villain of the campaign? (And yes, there is an optional rule to avoid this depressing fate - but honestly, I think I'd omit that one - I'm into bleak, dark endings. Still, its presence is awesome!)This PrC does a great job at handling the doomed antihero-concept very well and while the purity-score determination may be a bit extra work for the DM, the formula is easy enough to do it on the fly - so all in all: One superb PrC!



The next class we get herein would be the Avenger, an alternate take on the Paladin that is not restricted in their alignment, gets no spellcasting and channel negative energy. Being all about revenge, they learn to place marks on designated prey and deal more damage (cha-mod) versus foes that have injured him/her. Foes designated as targets of this retribution also heal the avenger by cha-mod whenever he manages a crit versus the target. The avengers also learn so-called reparations - effects in addition to retribution, which come from a wide variety of selections that scale up over the levels and the class also nets auras that extend powers to the avenger's allies, allowing them to provide bonus damage to allies helping them with their revenge. They also learn to imbue their weapons with weapon qualities and finally, as a capstone, their get a kind of semi-apotheosis with DR and max negative energy channeling and all and their prey becomes almost impossible to resurrect. Again, a quite awesome class- the avenger makes for a flavorful, cool, alternate class!



Third among the offerings herein would be the Ruiner, who replaces touch of corruption with the option to supplement the damage dealing spells he casts with additional damage and may also thus increase the damage dealt via channel energy as soon as s/he gain it. At 3rd level and every 3 after that, the Ruiner may choose a Ruin, their replacement for cruelties. - essentially, being all about pain, they are focused on dealing painful and bleeding wounds, penalizing foes' saves against pain and yes, they may even negate morale benefits with their dread auras. A deadly, cool concept for an avatar of the blackest, most destructive nihilism. Neat!



The Tyrant PrC offers d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB, medium fort- and will-saves and essentially is a non-good, extremely lawful and honorable, but potentially twisted individual, fuelling his power with conviction (of which he gets 2+cha-mod +2 per class level): Tyrants are specialists of demoralization and may even demoralize the mindless and later even use conviction to prevent foes with a readied action to attack them - this is AWESOME! Stacking dominate person effects on the demoralized and smiting chaos to finally become a larger than life sovereign of his/her own domain, this PrC could have easily been a lame anti-chaos-borefest and instead proves to be a rather cool little PrC, albeit one that could have used a tad bit more versatility.



We also get a new race with the warped -offspring of mortals and eidolons, these folks replace the attribute modifiers of their base-race by +2 Con, +2 Wis and -4 Cha, get darkvision 6o feet, are treated as aberrations for effects and spells (but don't gain the benefits of the type) and get an evolution pool of 1 + 1 for every 5 character levels. Said evolutions follow their own distinct rules, preventing e.g. the skilled evolution from becoming overbearing. Only 1 and 2 point evolution are eligible and transforming costs a full-round action that provokes AoOs and leaves the Warped sickened - and is limited to the amount of times per day it can be used."We should wait before returning to the city, gotta get rid of that claws...wait, the paladins are around the corner?? Oh damn, better scram..." While they may Disgusie self as if not having any evolutions, still - quite some roleplaying potential there! They also get +4 to saves versus polymorph and +2 to Knowledge (planes) and Intimidate. A strong race, yes, but their social stigma should make sure that they remain a balanced and cool option. Two thumbs up!



We also get 2 new archetypes - the Bloodborn Summoner , a racial archetype of the Warped, who prepares spells as a witch, substituting his/her eidolon for a familiar and uses the magus' spell-list as well as Int as governing attribute. However, the eidolon is also changed: d8, -2 Wis, Int and Cha and 1/2 str and dex-bonuses over the levels. In order to unleash the eidolon, the summoner has to cut himself and let the beast gush forth from his/her wounds - interesting concept, especially since the archetype allows the warped to slowly partially ignore the restrictions imposed on their own mutable forms. We btw. also get 4 favored class options for the Warped.



The second racial archetype for the Warped herein would be the Monk of the Flowing Form - these monks blend their own shifting powers and natural weapons with the training of the basic monk-class. Again, a compelling, neat little archetype!



Finally, we get 20 feats, one of which is a story feat and one campaign trait - the feats per se are cool, offering e.g. synergy for avenger and rogue-builds, cavalier/avengers, more options for darkborn and even more tools for the warped. Whether by evoking the Lex Talionis ("An Eye for an Eye"), adding judgments to retributions, swearing dwarven blood oaths or fueling your meta-magic with wickedness - the feats one and all work rather well and even a feat the offers synergy between noble and Tyrant-classes is provided - overall: Kudos!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting has traditionally not been Little Red Goblin Games' strongest suit. Since their imaginative, intriguing campaign setting Necropunk was the first indicator on what they can do, I'm happy to report that the team of editors Dayton Johnson, Christina Johnson and Jeremiah Zerby have done a great job here - apart from the fluff-text in a couple of feats not being italicized and similar inconsequential nitpicks like "immediate reaction" instead of "reacting with an immediate action", I have the pleasure to report that LRGG have not stepped down from the level they've reached with Necropunk, instead applying the vastly increased standards to "regular" publications like this. Tl;dr: Editing and formatting very good, though not yet perfect.

The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Layout. OMG. With a slight purplish tint, black borders and SUPERB, original and copious b/w-interior art by Tamas Baranya and Nathan Winburn, this book is a beauty to behold and ranks simply among the finest examples of b/w-art out there - aficionados of dark fantasy tones and artworks will love these evocative pieces.



Ian Sisson, Caleb Aylsworth, Christos Gurd and Scott Gladstein have created herein the BY FAR best book in their "Tome"-series I've read so far - while the purity-mechanic may be a little bit clunky in the beginning and not for everyone, it is a daring design - and one that does not extend to the other classes. The variant classes capture their respective topics well, their rules-language is rather polished and oftentimes simply INTERESTING. Imaginative, daring even. The avenger especially is a cool character and probably my new go-to class to recreate Guts from Berserk. By the way: If you haven't read this milestone of dark fantasy manga, go out there and get it NOW. (The anime is essentially btw. ONLY the extensive flashback!) Where was I? Oh yes, Tome of Wicked Things. Sorry there - this book just felt like it would seamlessly fit in one of the darkest and coolest sagas I've read so far and its content is overall...well, just awesome.

The new race is working surprisingly well, its restrictions preventing the "overpowered-omg-eidolon-evolutions" aspect I dreaded, while providing a great way to play a character that looks normal, but has a monster waiting just below the surface. Thematically, content fits seamlessly with presentation - from conan-style headers (with swords through letters) to the artworks to the content and we get one crunch-book aficionados of dark fantasy should not let slip through their fingers. While I could complain about the aforementioned minor glitches, that would by hypocrisy at its finest and simply not do this awesome pdf justice - The innovative ideas herein are more than enough to let one see past the exceedingly minor, almost non-existent little issues and hence, my final verdict will clock in at a heartfelt recommendation of 5 stars + seal of approval.



Congratulations to the crew of LRGG - if this is what we can expect from them now, then start saving and keep an eye on them, ladies and gentlemen!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Twisted Things
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AntiMagic Source Book
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2014 07:56:48
Just how accepted is magic use in your campaign world? I don't mean is it possible, if you are playing Pathfinder - indeed any fantasy RPG - it's likely that there is at least some magic around; but how does society react to the use of magic? Consider the plot potentials of there being at least somewhere in the campaign world where magic is feared or even forbidden. Then crack open a copy of this book.

First up is a new base class, suitable for use when established religion (perhaps in league with civil authority) has taken against magic use... it's a Mage Hunter, a Paladin retooled for the purpose of stamping out magic wherever it rears its ugly head. An alternate use is also suggested, that mages themselves might use them to deal with rogue magicians who refuse to abide by the rules of whatever body controls magic use, perhaps a powerful college of magic which holds sway over magic use in the area, requiring its graduates or indeed anyone using magic there to abide by its codes of practice. They tend to a professional approach and often do not hold any actual emnity towards those who practice the arcane arts.

Next is a prestige class, the Spellweaver. This individual is an arcanist himself, but enjoys dissecting spells, analysing in great detail how they work... and can disrupt and manipulate the arcane energies that others have brought into existence. The description of how this works is a bit muddled, but it's a potent concept.

Another prestige class follows, the Arcane Luddite. This fellow distains any magical assistance, as a warrior he relies on his own prowess alone. Or at least that's what he says. Many use magic if they must, but only with the ultimate end of ridding the world of its taint.

Next comes a collection of feats to use against arcane magicks. They are quite interesting, and have a range of prerequisites, so carefully planning is necessary to ensure that you can qualify for the ones you fancy. There are also some new class options - for example a Ranger may take 'Spellcaster' as a favoured enemy - and a new weapon enhancement, spell void.

This supplement opens up some quite interesting possibilities. Most campaigns delight in magic use, so you could turn things on their head and run a game where the characters are determined to stamp it out. Or you may choose to equip the NPCs in a particular magic-hating area with these abilities and harry the party when they, all unknowing, trespass...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AntiMagic Source Book
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En Garde! More Martial Classes for Pathfinder
by havok m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2013 11:13:02
Like many players and GMs, I've been looking for a fix for the cavalier. When this caught my eye, I thought perhaps I had found a reasonable fix for the worst class in the Pathfinder game.

I will say that the Fencer is a good choice for anyone interested in playing a Cavalier. It is significantly better, faster, and stronger than the base Cavalier. However, there are some issues with it in terms of game balance. There are also a couple wording issues and typos to hammer out, but an attentive player/GM should be able to catch these.

Pros

Grit: The addition of the Grit mechanic to the class is well done and much needed. It doesn't take away Challenge, but gives the Fencer additional options during combat for that much needed flourish and unique attack options that a Fighter can't access. Basically, it's the thing separating the Cavalier/Fencer from being replaced by a Fighter.
Rapiers: Since the Fencer is somewhat based upon European archetypes, it is reliant upon rapiers as a weapon. This is a much needed reason to use a rapier as a full BAB class, when previously there was none.
Colors: While somewhat similar to the Banner class feature that it replaces, it's far more useful in that it replaces a bonus on charge attacks with a bonus to CMD. That's more useful to EVERYONE in the party rather than just the Cavalier.
Ace of Blades: A definitely needed ability for the Cavalier in general, which makes the Fencer the preferred archetype for Cavalier. HOWEVER, it does not say it replaces Supreme Charge explicitly, so GMs be prepared for a potential loophole.
Cloak Style: This is actually a pretty clever way to handle a cloak as a weapon. But there is one issue, so look below in the Cons section.
Included Racial Favored Class Bonuses: I cannot stress how nice it is to have additional Favored Class bonuses for the archetype when it has removed all the things that the original class's racial favored bonuses affected.

Cons

Parry and Riposte: I liked the idea upon reading, however the mechanics behind it are a little less than viable. Only the Shield bonus from wearing an actual shield or the class feature from rapier usage applies, not magical equipment like a Ring of Shield. Enhancement bonuses are taken into consideration though, so perhaps it could be more viable at the higher levels than I give it credit for.
Deeds: The Fencer, like the Gunslinger, gains access to a list of Deeds. Unlike the Gunslinger, they have a set list that they gain at specific levels with no real choice. This isn't such a bad thing, as it limits the potentially fatally stupid choices a player could make, but it does feel a little less like Deeds and more like Class Features since all of them are Extraordinary ability.
Weapon Expertise: Just as I said that the Cavalier/Fencer should have an edge over the Fighter, the Fighter should retain their edge over the Cavalier/Fencer. Rather than give it equivalent Fighter levels, simply give it Weapon Focus/Specialization and their Greater versions as Bonus Feats and skip the equivalency. It will limit potential loopholes. It also crimps the Single Sword style when they gain those feats in their progression.
Team Work Feats: If you're like me, you don't care for Teamwork Feats. The Fencer simply loses them, which isn't a really big deal, but it does get away from the idea of the Cavalier/Fencer as the Tactician of the party. It's more of a thematic than actual issue.
Parrying Dagger Style: This does not gain Two-Weapon Fighter, so the Fencer must pick those feats up themselves if they want to be able to even think of hitting a target with their offhand. Otherwise, it's based more around using the dagger as a shield, so there isn't much need to attack with the offhand.
Cloak Style: While clever, there is a wording issue. Veiled Intentions in the style needs to be explicitly worded and show the sneak attack progression rather than simply say "equal to a Rogue half their Fencer level." And even then, it seems a bit too
Loss of the Orders: Again, this isn't a huge loss, but it is a loss. They do however gain the 8th level ability of their Order, even if it is at 14th level.

While my Cons list might be larger than the Pros, I actually do like the class and the idea of it. The implementation seems pretty decent enough that a group could play using it without too many problems, it just needs a little bit of polishing so it can shine. I personally would prefer to use the Fencer as the base rather than the base Cavalier. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


As for the Magebane archetype, I'm not a fan of it. Mostly because it is far too specialized against casters with ray spells, which very few of my caster villains use when there are perfectly good minions to throw at the party.


Onward to the Meister.

THE ABSOLUTE MAJOR FAULT IN THE CLASS: The write up for the book says it's a Fighter archetype, while in the text of the book it says it's a Cavalier archetype. THIS IS A MAJOR ISSUE. While I'm absolutely sure that it's a Fighter archetype, I needed to point this out so nobody else thinks it is for Cavalier.

Basically, by sacrificing Armor Training and Armor Mastery, they gain increased skill with a select weapon group. This is more or less, a waste of printed space and kind of a let down given the name. The main reason it is a letdown is because there are already Archetypes out there that pretty much do this specialization, so I'm not going to go into a list of pros and cons for this one. I give it 1 out of 5, it's just not needed.


The Myrmidon

Really, this is just the hybrid of a Fighter and a Monk. Flurry of Blows with "bladed weapons," (thankfully, the Designer Note does clarify this so there won't be too much arguing over what it means) and an increase in Monk and Fighter level equivalencies. Really, this is only for that special multiclass combo. I'll give it 2 out of 5, mostly because I don't see it being for anything OTHER than Monk and Fighter.


The New Weapons section is a good addition and will hopefully give your history/weapon buff player something to halt their talking your ears off about "real historical weapons and usage" vs "RPG weapon choices." All the weapons are also equivalent to others in terms of feat specialization, thankfully. No need to worry about your +3 Spadroon being sundered and leaving you with three feats utterly useless forever on. I give it 4 out of 5 stars because its always nice to have variety with weapons for players without removing the need for Exotic Weapons.

The New Feats section is also a good addition. Thankfully, none of the feats are too overpowered or particularly underpowered. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars just because nothing stands out in a good or bad way.


Overall, I say that the Fencer is a much better alternative to the Cavalier and that it alone makes this book worth the price. The rest of the things in it, you can take or leave. But make sure you check out the Fencer.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
En Garde! More Martial Classes for Pathfinder
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ODYSSEY A Greek Source Book
by Danyel W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
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Cyclops, manticore, medusa, hydra... Greek myths and legends gave ‘the world’s oldest role-playing game’ (and its successor Pathfinder) some of its most iconic monsters and creatures.

*Jason and the Argonauts*. *Troy*. *Clash of the Titans* (either version). Greek myths and legends have also given the visual imaginations of modern culture, and modern *gamers*, some of their most iconic images and scenes.

Now, this reasonably-priced release by Little Red Goblin Games has given the PFRPG community the tools and gear they need to portray the iconic heroes who fought those monsters and ‘lived’ those scenes. ;)

Personally, I find great appeal in the images of a band of heroes in bronze breastplates, wielding *hoplon* shields and armed with spears and *xiphos* shortswords, especially if they’re duking it out with a hydra, or shooting arrows at a chimera while riding a pegasus or griffon, so having the tools to replicate those images is a great satisfaction to me. I’m even tempted to use this toolkit to overlay Greek trappings onto the famed *Rise of the Runelords* AP.

Fair warning: there are some minor typos scattered throughout the text, and one occasion where a piece of crunch is cut-off mid-sentence, apparent victim of a cut-and-paste error. Speaking for myself, I’m OCD enough about such things that I can’t give *Odyssey* the full five stars; at the moment, I’m awarding it four-and-a-half stars, rounded down to fit within DriveThru’s set-up. (If LRGG release an updated/corrected version, I’ll re-assess then... /subtle hint ;) .) That said, I’m one of those grammar-enforcers that everyone despises; if your primary concern is finding tools for adding awesome Greek flavour to a Pathfinder game, you really should pick up this supplement. ;D

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ODYSSEY A Greek Source Book
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Goblin Rations: Bokor Base Class (Voodoo)
by Jeffrey T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2013 16:52:35
THE GOOD: The class has some creative ideas behind it. It essentially uses an extra pool of HP as a spell point system, using the HP instead of spell levels. This gives it enviable flexibility, and the added benefit of some resilience, as the extra HP can be used to avoid death blows. There are some interesting limitations on when the pool can be formed and how it can be replenished when spent. (The usual method of replenishment is an at-will ranged touch attack that drains the HP of the target into the pool.)

THE BAD: The class is missing too much information to actually be used. Hit dice, class skills, weapon & armor proficiencies, even the key ability for the spellcasting is all missing. Most of the extra abilities key off of Intelligence, so presumably that would be it, and if the base attack can be trusted for the hit dice, it would be d6. The Soul Ward ability (the spell point pool) mentions that it starts half full each day, but then later says it can only be replenished via soul drain and consume soul. This same section also mentions preparing spells for the day at the same time as the soul ward is reformed, but the spellcasting section states that the class is a spontaneous caster rather than prepared.
The class is also incredibly strong; the spell point pool means you can use higher level spells more frequently, but having a ranged touch attack that restores "spell slots" on a 1-for-1 basis with damage dealt is incredible, even if the ranged touch attack itself isn't badly damaging- by the time you can quicken spells, you can fairly consistently get back your spell's points the same turn you cast. This also breaks one of the limits on metamagic- since there isn't a limit on how much HP you can spend to cast a spell, you can use powerful metamagics like quicken on your highest level spells as soon as you get them, instead of having to wait until you had a higher-level spell slot to spend.
The at-will touch attack deals "unholy" damage, which isn't resisted by any creatures, spells or magic items that I know of, and on a failed save, it inflicts a negative level (and does this at level 1). Negative levels stack with one another, kill just about anything when equal to their HD, and are generally wicked business. The ability also doesn't state whether the negative levels are permanent or temporary- for NPCs and monsters this won't really matter, but for PCs facing an enemy bokor, this difference can have serious consequences.
The class also gets the ability to consume souls at 4th level, which allows them to replenish their spell point pool when a nearby creature dies. Normal enough, but it also prevents the creature from resurrecting without 9th level magic... more of a danger to PCs if facing an enemy bokor at low-level, or DMs partial to returning villains.
They also get the ability to create undead rather cheaply, paying 1 spell point per HD to cast animate/create undead as a spell-like ability, therefore bypassing the need for the usual onyx gems.
The class is remarkably spartan for a Pathfinder class, as well- there are four dead levels where nothing is gained, and most of the levels are simply increases to the touch attack damage or new spell levels.

Overall: I like the *feel* of the core mechanics and would love to experiment with the spell point system, but it's missing too much info and is far too powerful for me as it is. If the info gets fixed, my rating goes up to two stars for being fairly interesting.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Goblin Rations: Bokor Base Class (Voodoo)
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Noble & Skirmisher Base Classes
by Michael P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2013 21:56:03
This product contains two new base classes with full 20-level progressions -- the Noble, a master of rhetoric and charm, and the Skirmisher, who prides himself on fighting creatively.

Before I explain my rating, I want to note that LRGG really does deserve some credit for making this product "pay what you want," in that even supporting the developers just a little bit can't hurt you that much and is worth doing if you're the least bit curious about the content of this rules packet. On the other hand, though, it's also a gesture that says "we're not really confident in estimating the value of this product, and we hope you have just as bad an idea as we do." The danger of selling products like this on a pay-what-you-want basis is that you could pay a little and feel like it was money well spent to sate your curiosity, but you could also overpay significantly and feel a bit slighted. Having a discrete price point would give potential readers a much better idea of what they're getting into.

So, what WOULD be a good price for this product, then? I'd suggest about $2.50, give or take, as it has a bit less content and much lower production values than other base class packets available from DrivethruRPG, like LJP's Machinesmith, or TPK Games' Deductionist. To be specific, there are two classes contained in this packet, but neither of them is accompanied by any supporting material; there are no archetypes or even any racial favored class bonus options listed. The Skirmisher has a few feats, but otherwise this makes both classes a bit thin on options compared to other products and Paizo's own base and core classes, and thus a bit of a hard sell. I feel like I'd have preferred it if each class were sold separately in their own packet, with expanded supporting material included to make them more fully-featured. As this product is currently sold, I feel like I've bought a half each of two different products.

Meanwhile, the writing and formatting are a bit on the sloppy side. To give an idea of how bare-bones the packet is, there is no introduction -- it drops you right into the Noble's class entry as if you'd paged to the middle of a core rulebook. The body content of the packet takes a two-column format with a neat, period-appropriate backdrop and font -- the graphic design is just lovely -- but the sidebars are denoted by the same headers as class abilities, with only the word "Sidebar>> " to denote otherwise. It seems like a bug, like whoever was editing this just didn't get the memo to apply the "Sidebar" style to everything marked "Sidebar>>". Apart from that, the ability descriptions are mostly clear, but then after having these very elegant line breaks to put the reader in the Noble's cultured mindset, the level-up tables are unformatted, basic, solid black line tables. It all gives the impression that the editing and formatting are all somehow half-finished.

To discuss further we need to look at both the classes in turn.


NOBLE
The Noble is a class based around wit, charm, other social skills, and morale. It features a d8 hit die, good will, bad reflex, bad fortitude, 4 skill points per level, and proficiency with light armor and everything through martial weapons. Perplexingly, despite having a d8 hit die, it has the bad base attack bonus progression -- +10 at level 20. For those wondering exactly what I'm harping about, one of the conventions Paizo established in the transition from 3.5 to Pathfinder was to tie base attack bonus to hit die, meaning that d6 has +10, d8 has +15, and d10/d12 have +20. It might seem like a nitpick, but the discrepancy feels a bit sloppy. Even disregarding the convention, it feels like a mistake given all of the Noble's combat proficiencies and abilities, and this class should be operating on the +15 attack bonus.

The Noble's role otherwise is very strongly skill and social skill-based, benefiting strongly from a high Intelligence for more skill points and a high Charisma for better Diplomacy. The core of a Noble's class abilities is the use of social skill checks, including the ability to impose morale damage on an opponent as a sort of alternative rule to nonlethal damage; thus, demoralizing an opponent into dropping their weapons is not only a possibility, but key to how a Noble operates in a fight, essentially monologuing his opponents into submission. Otherwise, it gets substantial bonuses to social skills, a number of social feats, and a few perks regarding teamwork feats, operating as a leader-type in a similar position to a Bard.

This class leaves me a bit torn. On one hand, I like the idea of having a class that can represent a social character like this, and I'm a sucker for a class that can literally monologue opponents into submission. I think the concepts behind morale damage are very applicable, and I think the foothold on Teamwork feats is very strong. On the other hand, the mechanics behind how the Noble does morale damage are either extremely weak or outrageously broken, depending on how a GM chooses to run the game.

For instance, it specifies that the "Talk Down" ability requires the Noble to simply make a Diplomacy check, DC of 15+target's hit die+target's Wisdom modifier. Opponents need to be able to hear and understand you for it to work, and they need an intelligence greater than 3 to appreciate your scathing remarks. If it succeeds, they deal a number of morale damage depending on their level, comparable to a Rogue's sneak attack damage in scale. There are no limits to how often this can be done, and the rules packet doesn't specify what kind of action it is -- simply that it DOESN'T count as an attack action, but does count as a Diplomacy check. So, either this is a standard action, per the "Request" use of the Diplomacy skill, or it's an "Influence Attitude," and therefore takes a full minute to do. Or, since talking is a free action, that might mean this, too, is a free action. It's all very unclear, but given how enormous skill check bonuses can get even WITHOUT the Noble's perks to Diplomacy, you're almost guaranteed to nail an opponent equal to your CR every time. Morale damage compounds with lethal damage the way that nonlethal damage does, so even at low levels a Noble with a stiff tongue can tear through opponents' morale quickly.

What's especially troubling is that there's no supplemental material for the morale mechanics apart from all the ways the Noble does damage. There's no way to heal morale damage, for instance, and there's no way to protect against it or reduce it. Other classes have nothing to contribute in the way of doing morale damage (though lethal damage is complimentary to it). Maybe worse than ANY of that, try and imagine turning the tables around and pitting a party against a Noble and some flunkies, and inflicting morale damage on the party -- how do you explain the party just dropping all their weapons before the scathing rhetoric, even if they wouldn't NORMALLY be in danger of losing? Shouldn't that decision be up to the players, and not this mechanic? If you rule it that way, then who's to say the Noble's word has any power anywhere?

Bear in mind that this is regarding just one mechanic introduced via the Noble; there are several other abilities that raise questions, like "Disarming," which allows the Noble to attempt a disarm maneuver using Diplomacy instead of CMB. Rules-wise this is explained clearly, but in-character there's no explanation given.

All in all I like the flavor and the idea of the Noble a lot more than I like LRGG's execution of it. It's nothing if not extremely creative, and the class is about well-rounded enough for play, but the holes in the morale system and the use of social skills in combat leave this in need of another design pass.

I could suggest two changes that would make this feasible to run, both in different directions:

A) Drop the morale damage system and instead impose a morale penalty system, making the Noble an offensive equivalent to the Bard, who imposes morale bonuses. This would be a lot more consistent with established conventions for the use of "morale" in combat, and when you want to go really extreme you can have the Noble cause opponents to become frightened, sickened, or shaken. Leverage those status conditions -- the idea that you can nauseate someone by talking at them is hilarious and fun.

B) Keep morale damage, but make it so that the Noble can only use it once per opponent in a day -- regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, the Noble can only attempt it one time on an opponent, and then can't do it again for 24 hours. What this does for the morale damage system is turn it from a nonlethal sneak attack damage crank with no limits into something that requires timing and precision to do effectively, the idea being that you want to try and use Talk Down SPECIFICALLY to finish an opponent off. This can be likened to how a Rogue needs to either get a solid flank or else get an opponent flatfooted in order to rack up sneak attack damage, which is an apt comparison since Talk Down's damage goes up the way Sneak Attack damage does. Otherwise, it would be a good idea to find some kind of rhythm to how the Noble is able to deliver morale damage; right now it just feels like a big beatstick.

Either of these would be a good start, though I'd lean towards dropping morale damage entirely as it's just too abstract and uneven. If I can't confidently or fairly apply it AGAINST players, then it probably shouldn't be a mechanic.

SKIRMISHER
The Skirmisher features a d10 hit die, a +20 BAB progression, good reflex, bad fortitude and will, 4 skill points per level, and a mess of skills to go with it. They've got light armor, bucklers, and anything up through martial weapons at their disposal. It's essentially a mobility-based fighter class, designed to run around a battlefield and hit as many different enemies as possible, as hard as possible.

The crux of this class lies in two mechanics: Skirmishing, and Creativity. Skirmishing is essentially a series of bonuses applied to attacks and damage done while the Skirmisher is moving. Unlike other classes, they can spread their attacks between as many enemies as they can run between on a full action. The Creativity ability is perhaps not so well-named, but interesting. Essentially, when you roll an attack, you can turn the die to a side adjacent to the one you rolled as long as it's lower. In exchange for taking the lower roll, if you do hit, you get a special bonus depending on which number you picked -- usually bad status... so long as you can substantiate the attack with a bit of roleplay explaining how you do it.

Oddly enough, neither of these aspects are the Skirmisher's problem. Over time a Skirmisher can get up to an 80 foot move speed, and the bonus they get to damage while skirmishing gets to be +10. In the meantime, they also get a goodly selection of combat feats as well as an innate bonus to critical hit range and multipliers. They get the benefits of critical focus while skirmishing... so, at level 1, with an un-enchanted scimitar, they've already got a 15-20/X2 critical. Over time, this'll become a 13-20/X4 and they'll be doing four attacks at everything within a generous 80 foot move speed.

This is all without anything done on the player's part to commit towards their character build. For a fighter to be comparable, he'd need dodge, mobility, spring attack, a set of boots of speed, a specific weapon with critical focus, and a pile of feats focused on amping up damage. This class can forego all of those and just go straight for power attack with a two-handed weapon, or two-weapon fighting to add more targets. Toe to toe on a full attack they're more powerful than a fighter by a ridiculously wide margin, so it hardly matters.

What I'm saying is that the concept is solid but the passives are all way too much, especially the crit boosts. It was MORE than enough to just have a fighter and add Skirmishing bonuses to damage and the Creativity ability. It'd make a great archetype. It DOES make a great archetype, in fact, called Mobile Fighter, which presents both a more flexible and more balanced means of doing the same thing. As this class is, though, it's outrageously overpowered.

CONCLUSION
If you're curious about the Noble it's worth putting down a few bucks, but as it is neither of these is something I'd recommend for anybody to use in a game. While not for a lack of effort on the designers' part, the rules for these are either too broad or too powerful. In the case of the Noble there's not enough support outside the Noble's own abilities for the morale mechanics and too many things about them are ambiguous; in the case of the Skirmisher, well, look at the math -- what it'd take a fighter many levels to do it's already capable of at level 1, and in the meantime you don't actually need the Skirmisher in order to create the type of character presented.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Noble & Skirmisher Base Classes
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Tome of Ingenuity
by Jeffrey T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/24/2013 02:43:12
THE GOOD: The concepts in this tome are excellent. The Noble class, unlike many other attempts at social-skill classes, actually has something it can contribute in combat encounters instead of sitting them out or trying to short-circuit them. The idea of morale damage as nonlethal damage that merely ends aggressive action (but doesn't leave them helpless or unconscious) is inspired, and has potential to create situations both players and GM can work with. The Skirmisher's Creativity ability relies on interesting descriptions of what you are doing in combat, which several players I've had have already insisted on doing, so they'll probably like this. The art is also quality work, which is impressive for this price point.

THE BAD: The classes were revised in a second file, but the text of the Noble class rebuild conflicts its class table a few times. It isn't clear exactly which one should be followed. The Noble rebuild breaks Pathfinder convention by having a D8 hit die but poor base attack (though the original followed convention). Battlefield Mobility for the Skirmisher might also benefit from clarification- it seems like it's basically Spring Attack for a full attack sequence, but that's remarkably powerful for an ability granted at 3rd level. It also states it can only be used when skirmishing, but the only way to engage skirmishing (and therefore qualify to use it) is to 5' adjust- which can't be done if you move in a round. Both of the rebuilt classes have some skills on their class skill list that seem very odd for the concepts- particularly the Skirmisher.
There are a few minor editing problems in the class rebuild document- mostly just sidebars that weren't formatted properly.

OVERALL: Definitely worth the price for the concepts alone, but some ambiguous wording and mechanical conflicts make it difficult to use without a bit of patching.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Ingenuity
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Battle Chef
by Jeffrey T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2013 13:45:35
THE GOOD: The class makes for a semi-magical melee combatant, using "recipes" as boosters to attacks with various effects like elemental damage, condition infliction, and even a bit of healing or self-buffing. Chaining meals together sacrifices flexibility for enhanced effects as the chain progresses. The class also gains quite a few little side benefits like fire resistance, resistance to poisons (and the ability to ID them with a small sample), a bite attack, silvered weapons, a swallow whole attack, the ability to prepare Heroes' Feast, and resistance to slashing weapons (from knicking yourself so much).
This is great for friends of mine who get bored from constant seriousness in games and want things a bit silly, but still playable. It looks to have a good mix of clever, usable mechanics and enough novelty over the levels to keep them from being bored with it.

THE BAD: It has a lot of editing mistakes. Abilities and items are referenced by names that are just slightly off, sentences are incomplete, capitalization is inconsistent on the class table, and the occasional word substitution creeps in. The PDF is understandable and useable, but the mistakes are distracting. The class also breaks Pathfinder convention by having a D10 hit dice and a 3/4 base attack bonus; it might have been better to have a d8 and a hit point bonus ability if having more hit points was a priority. I'm sure they could have made the ability hilarious.

OVERALL: A class I'm happy to have, and a purchase I'm quite satisfied with. A pass through an editor would probably make this the shining example of how to do a Pathfinder parody class with flair.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Battle Chef
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The Medjay (Character Class)
by Russel M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2013 20:31:22
Let me start by saying that my four-star review misses the fifth star based only on the fact that I tend not to give five-star reviews for anything that isn't absolutely perfect in every regard. If I was only to rate the idea and 98% of the execution, I'd have given five stars here, but a couple of minor details held it back from that point.

On to the good stuff: First, check out the art. Little Red Goblin have stepped up more than just one step here. As a talented group of game designers, I gave a pass on much of their prior products' art because I loved their dedication and the quality of their game content so much. The art is finally getting in line with the quality of the rest of the product and I'm really happy to see this. Secondly, spell checking and grammar are greatly improved, although there do remain some few errors here and there, but far fewer than in previous products, and few other people may notice them. Thirdly, the concept is near and dear to my heart and I love the points of flavor that they have provided, including providing damage bonuses only with thematic weapons, the ability to curse opponents, thematic dependence on a god-king, and undead command (to name just a few). And lastly, who in the world would have thought that Little Red Goblin (or anyone else, for that matter) would be able to come up with a full-BAB, 9-level caster that was somehow balanced? I'd hate to give away the show, but the quick gloss is that they can trade in their martial power to cast spells, bit by bit, eventually giving up all extra base attack bonus (beyond what a Wizard would get) in exchange for the ability to cast no small number of pretty cool divine spells. Kudos, too, for making Charisma the primary casting stat and keeping the presence and bearing of the character so central.

And the bad stuff: Frankly, there's not much here. One thing that I did notice is that the Medjay (a limited-list spontaneous caster like the Bard, Sorcerer, or Oracle) can eventually know up to nine (9) 0-level spells, but only five (5) are listed as being available. Beyond that, there are pretty much only the minor spelling and grammar errors, and I'm sure most people won't even notice them (I tend to be REALLY nit-picky here, so feel free to ignore this criticism).

Frankly, I'm excited about this new caster in a way that I rarely have been about new spell-casting base classes. Here's a big, "Thanks!" to the guys at Little Red Goblin Games for yet another great base class.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Medjay (Character Class)
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