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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer (PFRPG) $2.95
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer  (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/15/2013 15:38:07
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=34250.

He’s just a good ole’ boy never meaning much harm… A Dwarf Bard, this is the Souk, you shouldn’t be surprised, a Dwarf Bard that parties hard and drinks too much; no surprises there. His mood swings range from jubilant to destructive and he does it all with aplomb.

OVERALL

While not many think Dwarf Bard, it has been done before and it will be done again. Where the folks at Rite Publishing did this take right was making him a singer and a dancer – sure he is a drum beater, but I’m glad he wasn’t a one trick pony.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
No surprises when it comes to this supplement’s layout, print quality or formatting. The Faces of the Tarnished Souk supplements are a very established brand, and while some would ding Rite Publishing for not changing things up, I commend them. They are a small company who knows how to stretch their dollar and still put out a high quality product. I enjoyed the cover art, it let me know who Balduros Thundrsen is with one look. In past reviews I have asked Rite Publishing for additional pictures of the character the supplement is covering and they did, well they did or they used the picture of another similar looking Dwarf, but I think they went the extra mile and included a picture of Balduros Thundrsen wielding a hammer. The rest of the stock art didn’t feel cohesive, but it is stock art.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Balduros Thundrsen is no push over, but he felt like he would not be difficult to run as an NPC. Even at level 16 with very minor preparation, a GM could improve any game with the inclusion of Balduros Thundrsen.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
Bards tend to be a polarizing class; people love them or they hate them. If run properly, Balduros Thundrsen could be that NPC that might bring a few players to the bard side. Outside of the Souk he would be a powerful warlord, who happens to have musical talent, but in the Souk he is just right.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Even with some of the typical elements that are included in the Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer he is still a really well executed and realized NPC. His templates are not too complicated and his backstory is interesting. Some of his motivations and reasons for his actions are diminished when he is out of the Souk, but lets face it, artsy folks tend to be eccentric so some of his normal behaviors in the Souk wouldn’t be too far off in other settings. As an NPC, Balduros Thundrsen brings the noise!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/10/2012 06:40:08
The latest installment of the FoTS-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's check this out!

Following my format of FoTS-reviews, I'll start by talking about the supplemental material contained herein:
Template-wise, we get the two advanced creature and charming creature simple templates, both of which clock in at CR 1. Among the new items, we get the stats for the new armored kilt armor and on the magical side, we get 3 new magical items: Donkey Boots (coming in 3 versions) enable the wearer to deal force damage via his/her kicks and a touch attack, potentially pushing foes away. And before you ask: they have a limit on how often they can be used per day. The Dust of Sobriety makes people that consume beverages laced with it actually become sober, while the dwarven brewing barrel is essentially a magical cool keg, which also makes alcohol stored inside more intoxicating.

We also get a new racial trait that reflects dwarven magic resistance as well as a new archetype the Thunder Dancer - thunder dancing is a subtype of bardic performance that does not benefit from the lingering performance feat, works only when the bard is not wearing armor or light armor and changing a performance is a move action. Thunder dancers may also emit hurtful soundwaves, hasten themselves etc., being essentially a battle-centric bard focused on mobility, ending in a capstone that enables the dancer to essentially move and make a whirlwind attack against any foe in range during the move. The pdf also includes 5 new feats: The feats cover the ability to throw hammers at foes, rebounding the hammer to your square or even your hand. Other feats enhance the new archetype's abilities and the final one enable you to add your Cha-modifier to all attack by expending 3 rounds of performance. We also get 2 new traits and 6 new bardic masterpieces and boy, they are neat:

The Cat-step allows you to decrease falling distance after completing the steps, while the defensive dance of 23 steps makes you harder to hit at the cost of attack efficiency and the need to succeed concentration checks to cast spells. The Depths of the Mountain essentially lets you duplicate the effects of a resonance catastrophe, doubling as an earthquake effect. Minuet of Midnight Ivy is perhaps my favorite among them: The masterpiece enables you to gain a climb speed as long as you move laterally, making this a smart version of the wall-walking trope. The Quickening Pulse damages foes by forcing them to literally sweat blood, while Triple Time allows you to increase the movement of your allies.

Now to Balduros' 3 incarnations: At CR 6, he is simply a Thunder Dancer 6, while in his mid-level incarnation he gets the charming template and amps up his levels to 11, clocking in at CR 12. His high-level incarnation is CR 18 and adds the advanced creature template as well as even more Thunder Dancer levels, clocking in at 16 levels.

What about his background story, then? Extremely charismatic, Balduros is the rising (rock) star in the Tarnished Souk, rumored to even know a tune that forces the Khan to dance - good-looking, charming and swooned over by countless admirers, he also hides a shameful past: His drunken stupor resulted in his former adventuring party partially losing their lives, the rest abandoning him to his fate in disgust. Prone to mood-swings between mania in depression, he suffers from borderline in all but name, trying to use alcohol to quench the worst lows and highs. The write-up also includes information for the DM to insert Balduros in his/her game as well as dreamburning information.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's old, rune-covered b/w-2-column standard and the artworks are mostly stock, but that's ok. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Balduros is an interesting character, hitting a bit close to home for me - I've had enough experiences with people like Balduros and suffered for it, so a slight tingle of being uncomfortable remains with me. But isn't that what a good character is about? The dwarf is a tragic figure hiding behind a joyful facade and crunch-wise, I really liked the new bardic archetype and what was done with the new rules as well as his magical items and unique combat style. That being said, I still feel that his overall build is simpler than most comparable FoTS-installments, offering only two simple templates in addition to the complex archetype. In the end, that remains my only minor gripe against the dwarf, though, and thus my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeigeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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