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Missing Magic: Potions for PFRPG
Publisher: Asparagus Jumpsuit
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/04/2012 21:38:51
Every once in a while, there is a little, low-cost gem thrown out into the RPG PDF sphere: and the Missing Magic series by Asparagus Jumpsuit is full of them. Potions is a great little book that does exactly what it claims to do.

Missing Magic: Potions claims to be a detailed look at 34 common potions for Pathfinder, and it delivers. The potions are common spells distilled into liquid form, and each has its appearance, taste and smell described. Some sound really nasty while some sound appetizing, but they all sound fairly realistic. What I mean to say is that they all sound like actual concoctions of some kind, and while the taste and smell is not always in agreement, one could easily use those clues…and make up their own based on them.

Each potion is a pretty useful spell in its own right, and It is really cool to see them done up with taste and smell. When a GM is running a dungeon crawl, these descriptions are a good way to give a PC something to see or smell before detect magic is cast. In fact, if you are consistent in your GMing, you could get players to recognize certain potions by those attributes!

The potions may not be as palatable as a fine wine, but they certainly sound like something someone might (or might not!) try to drink. If I were to learn that my player undid the stopper of something and smelled “beer and seawater,” I’d be hesitant for my PC to use it right away. Describing the tastes and smells is a really good idea, and makes the book well worth the $3.

I heartily recommend Missing Magic: Potions, and for the price you can hardly go wrong!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Missing Magic: Potions for PFRPG
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The Yaurcoan Empire
Publisher: Gun Metal Games
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/20/2012 00:51:48
The Yaurcoan Empire sourcebook is a fantastic resource for Totems of the Dead, especially if you want an Incan themed game. If I can put my historian hat on a for a moment, The Yaurcoan Empire won’t get you through a class on the Inca, as the Empire presented in the book is a mash up of the Incan Empire around the time of its “discovery” by Pizarro. I like to think of the Yaurcoan Empire as a bit of alternate history with the assumption that the Spanish never showed up…and it has Pterosaur riding warriors and Pleistocene animals wandering around (like Terror Birds). This, to me, makes it incredibly awesome!

The book itself is short but sweet, covering all sorts of material without bogging the reader down in minutiae. There is at least one adventure seed per page, and I’m not exaggerating about that. There is a part that covers the history, religion, and culture of the Yaurcoan Empire and its subject people. Like the Incas, the Yaurcoa dominate a bunch of local tribes, some of whom resent the dominance and others who are busily assimilating, as well as many shades of gray in between the extremes. The religion section is interesting and really illustrates this cosmopolitan atmosphere.

The Gazetteer section is also incredibly informative and useful for a GM who is going to run a game set in the cities of the Empire. Each city comes complete with a sentence or two of history, some cultural differences highlighted, and a little news (adventure seed!). The places are wonderfully thought out, and yet tease you with a lack of detail begging to be filled in! The entire book is written with an eye for tantalizing your imagination with ways to bridge gaps between short bursts of inspirational prose. There are neat details like a mention that there are hidden valleys in the mountains containing monsters, treasure, secret estates, and ancient ruins. They even mention a couple of peoples from the distant past (one a race of giants that still inhabit some of the valleys) to help you flavor your own ruins.

There is only a page of new crunch in here, which definitively shows that it’s more of a GM’s book than one for players. The new edges and equipment is still pretty cool, though. In the GM’s section of the book there are stats and backgrounds for a few major characters mentioned in the current events of the Empire, which does a really good job of showing you how to build a character from a similar background. Each description has a few good story hooks in it, too. There are two pages of “secrets,” which are really just adventure seeds, and they add a lot of ideas!

The bestiary section is really cool, too, which is really a feature of this line (the GM’s Guide has a massive bestiary). It has the stats you would need to run the adventure at the end of the book. The adventure is only a page, and would require a little bit of exposition on the GM’s part. It does a solid job of giving someone a good kick start to the two-fisted nature of the game.

Overall, if you like Totems of the Dead, pick up The Yaurcoan Empire. It’d be six dollars well spent, as at the very least it will keep you inspired to do something. The best praise I can heap on The Yaurcoan Empire is that it screams to be played. The entire time you read it as a GM your head will spin with ideas to run a game set in the Empire itself.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Yaurcoan Empire
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The Genius Guide to the Death Knight
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2012 21:46:44
I have heard a lot about the Genius Guides over the last couple of years. Even as someone who does not normally play Pathfinder, I am always on the lookout for stuff I can use in C&C. Having heard about them, and having a predilection towards undead things, I picked up The Genius Guide to the Death Knight.

This is a pretty cool book! The PDF I have for it is apparently formatted for easy screen reading, and it looks great on my iPad. The illustrations are very evocative, especially the severed head on page 17!

The book itself is devoted to a new base class, or at least a class that can be used as one, called the Death Knight. It’s a death-aspected anti-Paladin, of which there are two minor variants. The variants are based on alignment, (only Evil or Neutral allowed), and are mostly flavor distinctions. There are all sorts of cool powers available to the Death Knight. My favorite is every few levels the living Death Knight gains immunities usually reserved for the undead! They also have access to spells, which I forgot was normal in Pathfinder.

Speaking of spells, I am totally going to steal some of these for evil necromancers in my D&D-like games. The Grave Summoning spells allow a Death Knight to summon undead creatures from a list. I can think of all sorts of horrible misdirection possibilities with Mask of Life, which hides an undead’s true nature. There’s also a cool spell that allows for the caster to hide in the Low Road, which is a sort of path to the underworld. The same spell allows them to travel the Low Road from corpse to corpse.

The Low Road is a really cool concept, basically a plane of existence in which only the recently dead can go. The soul of the intelligent dead from all over the multiverse funnel through it, and it is completely inaccessible by the living or the dead who inhabit their final reward or punishment.

The Genius Guide to the Death Knight is a really cool little sourcebook that has a ton of neat ideas in it. I really enjoyed reading it, and my players may see a Death Knight or two in my next game!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Death Knight
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Background Noise
Publisher: Second Rat Games
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2012 21:22:05
I have always loved random tables in my RPGs. I enjoy random games and random happenstance. Some of my favorite products are the random dungeon and character decks from Gamers Rule. I recommend you check them out if you also like random generators, but I’m mostly writing about a book I was recently directed to: Background Noise.

It is available as both a PDF and iPhone app, and although I have an iPad, I haven’t tried the app yet, although I imagine it’s awesome! The book itself is a series of random tables that determine a fairly detailed back story for a character. There are 40 tables in this thing, each cross referenced to one another. Some are used for every character, but many lead to other tables depending on result. If you’re born a slave, for instance, there’s a Slavery Event Table (Table X), but not everyone would roll on that one. All 40 tables are based on percentile, although some have as few as 6 entries. The ranges are not uniform though, so while you can use a d6 in the aforementioned table (Table B Family Wealth), you’d be much more likely to be born wealthy in that case.
I will give you an example of a character background generated using the tables, so you have an idea of what this book can give you. The author considers the work “…a springboard for your imagination,” and I think the following example illustrates that very well!

So, my unnamed character starts off rolling on the tables, and I come up with the following list of things:

Family Satus: Middle Class
Family Wealth: Want for Nothing
From a sub-arctic cliffside city
The Father was a candle-maker
The character was basically raised in a Convent
Born in his home
Firstborn of two children (has a sister)
Parents are respected and feared in the community for unknown reasons
The Mother was a Cleric
While cleaning out a back room of the church, as a lowly acolyte, the character discovered a previously unknown text that sheds light on some previously confusing passages. The find is heralded as the harbinger of great things to come for the character
The father thinks the child belongs to someone else. His thoughts may or may not be correct.
Character used to be infamous for some early mistake. He is forced to change his coat of arms (if any) and change his appearance to avoid recognition and ridicule
Character is a hobbyist actor
He’s a Liar

It took about 7 minutes to roll up that background, including typing it all onto the list. That’s pretty quick considering. Not everything will make sense when you roll, but that’s the nature of random tables. I really enjoy looking at some of the events, many of which can easily provide a nice character hook for GMs to use. Products like Background Noise are a springboard for creativity, something that can offer that little bit of needed inspiration for a player or GM. I plan on using this to create some Fantasy NPCs, and I would not be surprised if my players want to use it, too.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Background Noise
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by 2 G. 1 M. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2012 18:03:11
In the beginning of the book is a very short article on running monsters with their own motivations and it succeeds rather well in a fairly short amount of space. In fact, I’d say that this primer is very much the heart and soul of the work. The monsters are meant to be a little different, and most certainly meant to be generally intelligent opposition. There’s a repeat of the “how to read the monster stat blocks” section in the Monsters and Treasure book, and then the monsters!

The Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters Manual has over 200 monsters, all of them with C&C statistics. About half of the monsters come from the Tome of Horrors by Necromancer Games, which in turn contains a bunch of monsters that had only shown up previously in modules (Vegepygmies, for example). I happen to own Tome of Horrors, and so I can tell you that this book is not a reprint of it. Not every monster in Tome of Horrors is in Classic Monsters, and many (at least half) of the monsters are original creations, or at least original to this book. Of course, the utility of this book is pretty much restricted to people who use Castles and Crusades.

However, if you are like me and enjoy seeing all sorts of monsters, and mining ideas of them for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Assuming you are not interested in the creatures that have appeared previously let me illuminate some of the cooler original monsters for you. The Bendith y Mamau is a fae type creature that resides in a house to protect it from evil. They are easily insulted and wreak havoc on people and places which do insult them, often require greater offerings to appease them. That is one hell of an adventure seed right there.

Another example is the Chawl Witch, a creature that is really entertaining to a polyglot like me. They are basically language masters, able to understand and comprehend languages after only a few hours with them. They are always female, but reproduce with a male of any humanoid species. They lay eggs, and the eggs and young are coveted by wizards who want a servant/slave. Once again, an adventure seed that is not to be sneered at.

There are some really cool werecreatures in the book: werefoxes, werespiders, and werehounds. Each is given a description which includes a solid adventure seed like in the previous examples. Having devoured this book, I can say with authority that every single creature listed has an adventure seed in the description in which an entire night’s play can be thought up by a competent GM. There are some really fantastic ideas in here for using unusual creatures in unusual adventuring circumstances, as well as just some cool stuff to fight.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters The Manual
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