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ZEITGEIST Add-on - Crypta Hereticarum (4E)
ZEITGEIST Add-on - Crypta Hereticarum (4E)
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Frozen Wind (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/20/2011 18:56:48
Overall Comments: This is a great single-evening adventure with a horror-centered plot, suitable for Halloween, a winter-horror themed event or whenever you want to scare your players. Yes, there are zombies, frozen creepy ones and much, much worse. It can be inserted into any oriental themed campaign; and is in fact specially designed to fit into any Kaidan-based campaign, per the trilogy of adventures from Rite Publishing.

I am not going into the details of this adventure to avoid spoiling this one for players. There are three acts and a sufficient quantity of different encounters to occupy any gaming group once the general feel of the adventure is realized. The adventure is run through the use of event-based acts, but is otherwise fairly sandboxy, at least inside the confines of the monastery. The GM might want to place a restriction upon simply leaving without first solving the mystery of this place to avoid players simply leaving. The weather limitations may not deter some groups; though a harsh GM dealing out frostbite to recalcitrant PC’s might do the trick.

Spoilers for my players: My own sense of hilarity wants to add humor to horror. So any delay by PC’s after killing a zombie or two would cause ones they just killed to reanimate and attack again. If they wise up and start to dismember the bodies, the arms, hands or bodies with legs would animate and probably be more scary (and/or laughable) than dangerous. Any player genius enough to try to burn a corpse would succeed in ending the reanimation. Obviously other GMs might not want to do this as it would defiantly delay the game.

Complaints: The existence of several typos, spelling errors and errors of usage indicate this product would have benefitted from another editing pass. But they don’t detract from the flow of the adventure and are barely even noticeable, unless you are like me. Plus this is free, a couple of typos can’t detract from the overall quality of this adventure, for free!

Cool Bonus stuff: For the players, there is a set of 6 pregenerated characters. For the GM there is a nicely illustrated appendix of adventure specific new monsters as well as several gamemaster aids; a temperature chart that helps the GM track the affects upon and times for saving throws, a countdown track to help the GM keep track of the time limit involved, and a score chart for those GMs who wish to reward the players.

Production values: As is typical of Rite Publishing and Kaidan materials, the appearance is standard and includes nicely drawn maps, original art, and some free domain art from old Japanese sources. Amazingly for a free product this is nearly all in color.

Did I mention this is free? Why haven’t you got it already? You will not be disappointed.
I give this 4.5 stars due to minor editing gaffs, rounded up to five because it’s free!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Frozen Wind (PFRPG)
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#30 Badges of Faith (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2011 14:32:04
Badges of Faith are magical amulets worn from a necklace enhanced with divine magic geared towards increasing the number of devotees of the faith. They provide benefits to the wearer which are mild, at first, but can be increased depending on the type of the badge and the activities of the person in possession of it. In order to increase the abilities of the badge, the wearer must perform tasks which are deemed appropriate by the deity sponsoring the badge. In this way the deities gain more followers and the followers gain access to more of the deity’s power. The way this is accomplished involves both the desire to do so on the part of the wearer and access to a temple devoted to the deity in question. The person is never tricked into it, though if they accept the quest assigned, they are geased to complete it.

I really love this concept of using a magic item for more than mere reward or fulfilling a certain level -recommended quotient of magic items. These Badges of Faith are more than mere magical trinkets. They are whole campaigns awaiting an adventurer. These badges are not specifically worn only by the divine class characters, though they are restricted to only being able to be created by a divine class having a particular domain or subdomain, see the list that follows:

• Aligned – Alignment domain required: chaos, law, evil, or good
• Caprice – Luck domain; or the curse or fate subdomains
• Destruction – Destruction; catastrophe, or rage subdomains
• Claw, Fang, Feather, and Fur – Animal domain; or feather or fur subdomains
• Gibbering and Wailing – Madness domain; or insanity or nightmare subdomains
• Glory – Glory domain: or heroism or honor subdomains
• Hearth and Home – Community domain; or family or home subdomains
• Industriousness – Artifact domain; or construct or toil subdomains
• Insight – Knowledge domain; or memory or thought subdomains
• Midnight – Darkness domain; or loss or night subdomains
• Relief – Healing domain; or restoration or resurrection subdomains
• Swirling Winds – Air domain; or cloud or winds subdomains
• Blessed Dawn – Sun domain; or day or light subdomains
• Bull – Strength domain; or ferocity or resolve subdomains
• Conflagration – Fire domain; or ash or smoke subdomains
• Crossed Blades – War domain; or blood or tactics subdomains
• Enchantress – Charm domain; or love or lust subdomains
• Green – Plant domain; decay or growth subdomain
• Shackle Breaker – Liberation domain; or freedom or revolution subdomain
• Skull – Death domain; or the murder or undead subdomains
• Wave – Water domain; or the ice or oceans subdomains
• Imbued – Magic domain; or the arcane or divine subdomains
• Inscribed – Rune domain; or the language or wards subdomain
• Liar’s – Trickery domain; or the deception or thievery subdomains
• Passport – Travel domain; or the exploration or trade subdomains
• Restful – Repose domain; or the ancestors or souls subdomains
• Royal – Nobility domain; or the leadership or martyr subdomains
• Stalwart’s – Protection domain; or the defense or purity subdomains
• Stone – Earth domain; or the caves or metal subdomains
• Tempest’s – Weather domain; or seasons or storms subdomains

What I like the most about the Badges represented is that in order to activate the abilities of the badge, certain tasks must be performed by the PC. The successful accomplishment of holy quests needed to add to the powers of the badge offer up some really interesting possibilities for role play. I like it when I can tie a player of a priestly class into his character’s chosen god in this way. It becomes more than merely a power build option. For me, anything which pulls the game away from pure metagame and into roleplay is ideal.

I love the Badges of Faith. This is an amazing concept which can be expanded upon into a full-blown campaign. It gives me some ideas of how to add to the badge’s power. I can turn it into a customizable unique lesser artifact through the actions and faith of the possessor and into a deity-inspired high level campaign. Well done, Michael Welham and the folks at Rite Publishing.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Badges of Faith  (PFRPG)
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101 New Skill Uses (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2011 23:36:56
Skills are a very useful feature of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, one that is often overlooked for splashier spells and feats. While not all of these 101 new skill uses will be useful for my own campaign and some of them I have already conceived on my own, I find many that hadn’t occurred to me. Many are useful as suggestions on how to extend the core skills further. Players are always trying to do more with the skills anyway, at least mine are. This book gives the game master many really good ideas. I already found one in the free sample that I already copied and sent to one of my players. It was perfect for his PC. I am certain that more will appear equally useful for my other players. These new skills offer a great deal of potential for many styles of gaming.

As with most of these suggestions, I recommend adding minimum ranks a PC must have in a particular skill prior to being able to perform the specific actions listed. That is really the only thing I see missing in this otherwise excellent supplement. I am not going to judge balance issues with each new skill use, that is subjective for the most part and easily resolved by setting prerequisite minimum ranks in a particular skill prior to allowing the PC to attempt it. I had considered dinging my rating for this lack. But then I realized something, this is very personal for each game master and the style of their campaign differs greatly. How much or how little the GM in question wants to emphasis pre-requisites in skill level is a decision best left to them.

This book was a surprisingly interesting read and gave me some ideas for skill usages I intend to use as certain NPC antics. It is also fully bookmarked per skill, which is extremely useful despite the smallish size of this pdf. There is a wealth of excellent ideas and added support for game masters when players attempt crazy maneuvers. I can’t recommend this supplement enough. For the price you will gain many useful ideas for your own campaign and players, even if you don’t use them all. This is worth four and a half five stars which I am rounding up to a full five for excellent layout typical of Rite Publishing’s products.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 New Skill Uses (PFRPG)
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#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2011 10:53:04
First off, I absolutely love the picture of Pandora opening the box on the cover. It is an excellent bit of art and sets the tone for the remainder of the product. Once again, this newest addition to the #30 series has all those little touches which delight the reader, whether the contents are ever used in a campaign or not. I do recommend, though, that you find a way to add these haunts in your game. Just as with the Haunts for Ships and Shores, I intend to find a way to include some of these in my game, though I will have to include a side-trek adventure to do so.

As has become tradition, this addition to the Haunts series includes an in character discussion which is entertaining for the game master. In this is a note, which could be provided to players whole or in pieces as a prop for an adventure. What follows is a brief set of notes on types of haunts in this booklet, the most interesting one being the Gaze-Triggered haunts, which add to the types of haunts listed in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide. This type of trigger makes it more difficult for cautious PCs to avoid and thus more interesting to me as a GM.

What follows are a series of 27 Haunts of varying difficulties from CR 1 to CR 9, some of which are associated with one another. I need to find a way to add “The Cruel Crop” and “The Determined Device” as well as a number of others which are not really very dangerous for my players, but will add some fun to otherwise ordinary encounters. “The Fascinating Flute” is another one that I want to include, if only because flutes have become somewhat of an in-joke amongst my players. Any chance I get to personalize adventures for my players I will take. Short of actually designing adventures around them (something I have limited time to do), using things like these haunts is the next best method.

There is a series of associated haunts which go specifically with the letter hand out at the beginning of this booklet. The Temple of the Worm God is in fact a mini-adventure and could be used to spice up an otherwise boring over-land trek through farming communities from one adventure site to another. This includes short background story and 4 haunts of CR 10 to CR 11. I love to surprise my players with something they were not expecting and the Temple of the Worm God does this well.

As in the rest of the #30 series by Rite Publishing, Trevor’s prose is fun to read. These haunts for objects do an excellent job of making an otherwise mundane scene more interesting for both GMs and players alike. I can see my players becoming wary of any object they might come across as a result of this book. Only a few such instances of a haunted object and months, perhaps years, of cautious behavior and entertainment for all could result. I can’t wait to spring these on my players.

Excellent layout, interesting art and wonderfully well-written and designed haunts receive 5 of 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Haunts for Objects (PFRPG)
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Fold-N-Go Singles: Altar
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2011 10:47:01
The Fold-and-Go series is an interesting concept and definitely somewhat cheaper than purchase of a metal or resin miniature item of similar type. Unfortunately, I am disappointed in the lack of content in the Altar, for the price. While you don’t need paint, you do need ink and cardstock paper, neither of which are cheap. The only additional thing of interest is the layers which allow you to alter the color of the optional cloth piece that can be placed atop the altar. Although advertised as not requiring glue, the candelabra optional piece absolutely requires it. This isn’t a huge problem, particularly if you don’t want the optional pieces. However, if you just want the bare altar you are paying a rather hefty price for just that tiny bit. A pair of black dice used as a prop would work as well. I am not overly impressed with this Fold-and-Go product. It works well enough for what it is, but isn’t really worth the price.

I assigned this a rating of 3 stars, though I wanted to assign it only 2 when I first reviewed the piece. I increased my rating due to the fact that the fold and go series is an interesting concept. The only thing I can suggest is more content for the price.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fold-N-Go Singles: Altar
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101 Magical Armor and Shield Properties (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/09/2011 17:55:13
101 unique properties to apply to magical armor or shields comprise the entirety of this book with the exception of some very nice interior art. This book begins with a table listing each property with its price modifier, either in gp or in equivalent magical bonus (utilizing the costs for such in the Core Rules). I like the ability to pick from this chart some nice armor properties to make my home campaign rewards be unique. This book is pure gold for those wanting to add a unique property rather than the old, overused, and rather boring +1 (or higher) AC.

One huge negative for me was the complete lack of some explanation of how or why each property works the way it does. For example: the first property described is the Absorbent Resistance. This is a property added to a shield that allows the shield to completely block a single melee attack using the combat maneuver rules. If the CMB succeeds the attack is negated and the opponent’s turn is ended, (in addition to other features). What I want to know is what about this magic shield causes this to occur? Is there a magical force field that extends outward from the shield to engulf the opponent, at least temporarily? It is made of some special sovereign-like glue that impedes the opponent’s actions? Why does it work this way? I know for my own games I do not and cannot simply hand wave things. The “it works because it’s magic” explanation doesn’t work on them. I’ve tried that in the past and it was met with scorn and indignation on the part of my players who (bless their greedy souls) want reasons for things. Some call that fluff or something similar as if to downgrade its importance. I consider these to be more important than any mechanic or rule. Now, I can make up my own reasons, but I might not have the time to do that. I realize that this would add to the book and potentially make it impossible to do 101 of them, thus negating the reason for assigning it to the 101 series. So I suspect that I will have to be content. And add content as I pick and choose the properties to apply to the rewards I hand out to my players.

I do realize that not everyone plays with my types of players. Most are content with the cool factor of what the property does and won’t ask why. For the GMs of those kinds of players this supplement is worth every bit of 5 stars. The artwork inside is nice and makes me want to print, cut out and post to 3x5 cards to write the armor descriptions, make up a few names for them and hand them out to my players as they find them. I am really not a big fan of the cover art however. It looks a bit too World of Warcrafty in the impossibly huge armor pieces. So I’m not a fan of that piece of art.

Given my reservations, but taking into account the nice array of properties nicely presented, I am giving this 4 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Magical Armor and Shield Properties (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Henge: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/03/2011 21:34:44
Here again as with the supplement In the Company of Tengu by Rite Publishing, we have a fully-fleshed society of beings for the use of both players and game masters. Rather than being a single identifiable anthropomorphic creature, as with the Raven-like Tengu, the Henge are a collection of beings. They are spirits and legends from ancient Japan outfitted for use in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The Henge exist in clans divided by their association with and resemblance to certain animals. These clans (Batsu), the Dog (Inu), Badger (Mujina), Cat (Neko), Rat (Nezumi), Monkey (Saru), and Raccoon-Dog (Tanuki), all form the greater society of Hengeyokai. This book gives a full, in-character dissertation on the ways and beliefs of the Henge. The descriptive prose felt like the voice of one of the Henge actually speaking to me. It had a believable resonance. It reminded me of the Hopi elder I once heard speak on the Hopi Mesas of Arizona. This is the kind of material any good GM wants to have at his or her disposal, something that adds depth and verisimilitude to the campaign.

In addition to detailing each of the different clans, this supplement also details relationships with other races, alignment, religion, and languages. Next follows a description of the Hengeyokai who might become adventurers, the types who either become PCs or encounter them. Full notes on how to create Hengeyokai characters along with ability adjustments, racial traits, alternate traits, notes on age, height and weight, and a comprehensive set of notes on the different classes and whether or not they would be appropriate as Henge, and other important details.

It is important to note that Henge are a race of shape shifters. This is a curious aspect and it is absolutely not considered to be a curse, unlike the were-creatures of Western tradition. Henge can take three forms. Their true form is that of a humanoid with the face of an animal. A Henge may also appear as a human or in the natural shape of the animal of his or her clan.

Favored Class options are provided as well as class archetypes for the Barbarian, the Druid and the Ranger. As with the Tengu, the Henge have a Racial Paragon class, which I found most useful in the book on Tengu for creation of the NPC leader or other important individual. There is a full, class write-up for the Mushakemono, the Henge Warrior Racial Paragon. At the end a list of feats provides interesting possibilities for a Henge character.

Whether you are a GM who wants something unique to use in your campaign or you are a player in a campaign that allows or encourages different and interesting character options, you will want to take a look at the Henge. If you intend to run an oriental-based campaign, you will need this book. Even if you are just interested in different character books or like reading about different societies, there is something in here for you. Like the others of the Kaidan series, typical bamboo borders and neat two-column layout is sprinkled with appropriate art, some of which is obviously taken from ancient Japanese open domain sources, and some in color as well. I find this book to meet the high standards set in the other Kaidan supplements and well worth the price. I rate this at 5 of 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Henge:  A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Belladonna, the Face of Love Unrequited (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/01/2011 23:29:14
There is something inherently intriguing about the femme fatale. She is a figure difficult to render as a believable character yet most satisfying when accomplished well. Poignant and free-willed, Belladonna is a character that will provide players much enjoyment and their PCs much frustration in the Tarnished Souk. Belladonna has a secret, more than one, and not all her own. She earned these secrets like the scars across her soul and heart over the many years she dwelled in this place. She began her stay in the Coliseum Morpheuon as a slave. Now, she is a power in the Tarnished Souk. As the hostess of the Souk’s most popular tavern, she knows everything about anyone that is worth knowing. It is a certainty she will immediately seek to find out all she can about anyone new, like the PC’s. Yet her greatest power is not her knowledge of the secrets of the Souk, it is the nightmare itself. For some, Belladonna is their worst nightmare.

As with all of the Face of the Tarnished Souk, Belladonna has three builds at different levels. They include shapechanging and other abilities related to the Taskshaper class. Note: the Taskshaper class is found in a separate supplement by Rite Publishing, but it is not absolutely necessary to run Belladonna. All the needed information to run her is found in her stat blocks. Also included are special feats, such as the essential seduction feat that she uses to affect the reactions of those around her. She comes with her own set of magical items.

In addition, and this is worth the price of admission all on its own, a fascinating array of magical libations fulfill the exotic desires of the denizens of the Tarnished Souk; from Ambrosia, nectar of the gods, to Roggut Whisky, to the official beer of the Coliseum Morpheuon: The Wise and Eternal Khan’s Chimeric Beverage of Ten Thousand Enlightened Victories. In all, there are eleven magical beverages for your use or manipulation to fit within your own campaign.

As has also become typical of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, there are new templates, the Nightmare Creature and the Nymph Child. What is not included is the NPC mentioned as having a close personal relationship to Belladona, Le Loup Solitaire. This NPC is found in his own edition of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk. He isn’t absolutely necessary, but his presence does fill out a bit of her background and story. I heartily recommend if you purchase this supplement, you get the other one as well. As a pair, their story is that much more meaningful and has an important part to play in the landscape of the Tarnished Souk.

I have come to expect the typical high standards for character concepts, builds, interesting new feats, spells, templates and the like, out of Matt Banach, Justin Sluder, and Rite Publishing in their Faces of the Tarnished Souk series. Though there are a couple of minor editing errors, none detract from Belladonna’s usefulness and fascinating story. With highly appropriate art sprinkled throughout, Belladonna does not disappoint. She earns a 4.5 of 5 stars from me, rounding up to the full five for a fascinating character concept full of roleplay potential.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Belladonna, the Face of Love Unrequited (PFRPG)
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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Magnus Thrax, Sculptor of War (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/26/2011 18:27:28
Spoilers below:


A supreme gladiator and owner of his own gladiatorial school, Magnus Thrax can be used in a number of ways depending on the play style of any group and the needs of the Game Master. His role in the Coliseum or gladiatorial campaign is fluid. He reacts to PC actions. He does not directly oppose them unless they give him a reason. Woe to the PC who opposes him or the Khan. For good-aligned PC’s he provides an essential obstacle, for the members of his stable of gladiators are not free. They are slaves, some forced against their will to fight at the whim and profit of Magnus. Neutral characters may see him as a useful albeit cagey fight promoter and supplier of gladiators for a price. Magnus possesses marvelous special abilities he uses to crush his opponents on the arena and maintains a firm commitment to the Coliseum and the Khan. Magnus may be used to field opponents from his ludus (gladiatorial school) to fight against PCs and remain in the background as an enigmatic figure. If the players wish, he provides support as a trainer or a promoter. And if the PCs determine it necessary to eliminate the Khan of Nightmares or if they directly oppose his ruthless use of slaves in the Coliseum, he becomes an implacable enemy. To Magnus, there is no greater feat than winning at whatever cost, with no remorse or recrimination. Included in this supplement is a full character background for Magnus, complete with dreamburning notes, Lore notes and suggestions on how to use this highly flexible NPC in your campaign.

As with the other the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series, a full high level stat block lays in wait for any overconfident PC. Magnus’s stat block contains new feats, traits, magical equipment, and special abilities. For those who wish to add clockwork components, particularly prostheses, this supplement contains rules for such builds. Magnus’s own prostheses have magical properties and their own backstory to boot. In addition to the now typical complete stat block, this supplement contains lower level builds that may either be younger versions of Magnus or one or more of his underlings and gladiators. In addition, a boxed note on Magnus’s school, The Ludus Thraxus give GMs ideas how to use this as either (or both) an ally and tool or an opposing force. Finally, for both players and GMs there is a new Fighter Archetype, the Trick Fighter. For GM’s who like to step up the difficulty in their own game, this comes with two templates, the Dreadnaught and the Element-Infused creature.

I personally love flexible NPCs that allow for multiple roles depending on how the players react. For roleplayers this guy is a gold mine of possibilities. For action-oriented players he is an extremely tough opponent that may not be necessarily directly fatal, depending upon the circumstances of the encounter. Perhaps he is a behind-the-scenes manipulator for lower level parties attempting to make a name for themselves as gladiators in the arena, where he fields one after another of opposing fighters. Perhaps he is the slave master from which the PCs will seek to free themselves. He can be the tough-as-nails, remorseless trainer for wanna-be gladiators. Of course the GM may just make use of the builds present here. An extremely tough melee character is not always easy to build and the combination of special templates and abilities make Magnus a challenge in the arena or outside of it, should the PC’s give him cause.

Magnus is another NPC essential both inside and outside of the Coliseum Morpheuon and greatly contributes to making the Tarnished Souk a vibrant and exciting place to adventure. Magnus Thrax gets a full 5 of 5 stars from me. Good work Matt Banach, Justin Sluder and the folks at Rite Publishing!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Magnus Thrax, Sculptor of War (PFRPG)
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The Breaking of Forstor Nagar (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/24/2011 10:51:21
First impressions: the layout and art is absolutely gorgeous. Little touches like frost on the top of every page give the impression that Jack Frost caressed it. The dragon head and wings, clearly intended to be the Oracle of Forstor Nagar, is a nice addition at the top of each page. The blood-red flags obviously intended to be banners of the Hungering Legion bracket the text at the bottom of each page. Absolutely gorgeous maps make it very clear and easy to run the important scenes of the adventure. Maptool users will love that it is fully supported in terms of map files for GM use, including player handouts, and map tokens as well as maps. There is even a pdf on how to use the Maptool elements, very handy for a GM who is new to that format.

Encounters are staged events with full map and Maptool support and as such not terribly flexible. However options offered for various PC actions give the GM additional support, such as suggestions for the GM when the players attempt certain “out of the box” thinking. One example of this is during the first encounter while the PCs are approaching the city in the ship tunnel through the glacier. Unfortunately there is really no support given to a GM whose players my utterly refuse to approach the city via the main approach. It is assumed that they will all have chosen to go one route and the beginning descriptions at the start only support this choice. For some groups this works out quite well. Most love to hop right into the action.

I know my own players would be seeking an alternative way inside the city than the obvious approach. Personally I’d not presume they go the route provided in the first encounter but simply explain the horde on the surface of the glacier, perhaps bombarding the city using siege engines guarded by hundreds of legionnaires. Then if the players look around for alternatives, in passing mention the ship tunnel at water level and the fully loaded fire ship entering the tunnel and let them make the choice to go the route that leads to the first encounter. If you have players like I do, it is often best to let them “discover” the way you want them to go and act as if you are bummed that they thought of a clever solution.

I am not going to delve into analysis of each and every encounter. Suffice it to say that they are fully detailed and provide the essential information the GM needs to run each one. There are also notes on how to scale the adventure for a different level of difficulty. I personally like all the suggestions for the GM on what to do if the players choose B over A, move invisibly or aerially, or delay acting. Three different end game scenarios are offered depending on what choices the GM and PCs make in the course of the adventure. The appendix provides information on new magic items, the Hungering Creature template as well as pregenerated characters for player use.

Conclusion: Ben McFarland and Jonathan Roberts make a fantastic combination of skilled adventure designers, clear and descriptive prose writers and crafters of clear, colorful and excellently supported maps. Combined with the gorgeous layout and nice little graphic element touches, such as tokens for cardstock whether for Maptool or not, make this a must-buy adventure. This well-crafted adventure scores a full 5 of 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Breaking of Forstor Nagar (PFRPG)
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Evocative City Sites: The Crossroads
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2011 12:03:41
Alert! Spoilers follow: unless you are a GM looking for cool ideas on a crossroad locale, skip to the conclusion to not ruin surprises.


Frequently mentioned in literature, the fact that certain crossroads have some mysterious power associated with them hasn’t been delved into much in RPGs. The question of where the power comes from and why a particular Crossroads has a vague power which keeps people from wanting to use it or even think about it is dealt with in this latest addition to the Evocative City. A knot or tangled confluence of ley lines is an interesting concept, though I wish there was more information on what ley lines are. I have a vague idea from the descriptions of the nexus detailed in this supplement.

Detailed within are a pair of interesting NPCs. Grandmother Lytokus is the divine guardian of the nexus. Clifort Ray, the creepy insane earthbound dwarven resident, is a murderer with a, “the voices made me do it” vibe. As well as complete stat blocks for both, there are extras such as Grandmother Lytokus’s candles. Interesting concept of a Divine Guardian, with a template that can be used to apply to any being a GM should need. Oo! A Divine Guardian dragon would be extremely useful.

Conclusion:
Visual elements such as layout are typical for the Evocative City series. The Crossroads has okay maps, not eye-poppingly gorgeous but clear, easy to read and serviceable. There is decent art, some of which is Public Domain. I like art and I don’t personally mind Public Domain sources. In addition to the NPCs mentioned above, the write-up includes a nice detail of an encounter at the Crossroads and possible missions to send the PC’s to this locale. Writing is effective though there are a few awkward sentences here and there. There are no real errors or glitches in layout until you come to the advertisements at the end of the document. One page looks like half of it, the half that includes who and what essentials, is missing.

All in all, this is a useful tool for GM’s. It isn’t perfect but it sure does give me some good ideas to use for my own campaign. Good work Rob Manning and the folks at Rite Publishing. I rate this at 4 of 5 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Evocative City Sites: The Crossroads
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Dark Path: Curse of the Golden Spear Part 3 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2011 10:49:54
As with the first two parts of this series, Dark Path is well-written. Since it is rather plot driven, there is an element of railroading. However there are plenty of options if players refuse to take the expected route and some thought given to what the likely results are for a number of alternative actions. It is more necessary that the players have played through at least the second part of this series. What drives the PCs is a result of occurrences in the second part.

--Note: some spoilers exist in this review, potential players should not be reading.

Part one of the Dark Path assumes the PCs either want to or must (due to circumstances in Dim Spirit) either sneak or fight their way into the daimyo’s treasury. If events at the end of Dim Spirit occurred per script then the PCs have access to allies who can help. Otherwise the PCs are on their own. Although I wouldn’t stop PCs from attempting a frontal assault, with sufficient preparation on the part of the GM, it should become obvious this tactic is too dangerous. Certainly any allies would refuse a frontal assault as they would see it as suicide. Negotiations and discussions with the potential allies on how to break into the treasury provide ample opportunity for role play.

The second portion of the Dark Path assumes the PCs are eager to get away with their prize, should they linger there are numerous encounters suggestions to convince them it is a bad idea. Again it is assumed that the PCs will choose to take the Dark Path. Once the PCs have their prize from the treasury it is just as difficult to get out of the place as it was to get into it. It could be even more harrowing if an alarm has been sounded. I appreciate the notes for the DM on how to proceed if the PC’s choose not to head straight for the route advised by their allies, the Dark Path for which this adventure was named. And suggested encounters the PCs will encounter should they choose any other method of returning back to Gaijinoshima and a ship to take them away from Kaidan (assuming this is where they wish to go). Again there is a grey box of text detailing weather conditions and a wandering encounter table, useful whether the GM is running the particular adventure detailed within or one of his or her own devising in Kaidan. This last part of the adventure seems fairly flexible. The GM could order the encounters in any way as long as the PCs meet suitable resistance and encounter those who are eager to take the prize from them. The Dark Path being essentially a series of lava tubes, the branches of the path could pop out anywhere along the PCs chosen path back (or wherever) if they do not choose to travel the direct route.

The final conclusion of this adventure occurs back at Gaijinoshima and the ship the PCs used to travel to Kaidan. It seems the PCs enemies are not interested in allowing them to leave Kaidan.

Several appendices include a note on PC reincarnation in Kaidan. There are two new monsters. Next are notes on the Danmatsumabatsu, a group of specialized assassins, who attack the PCs in the treasury and after as well as a grey box text on the necrotic warrior class abililties. Also there is a set of pregenerated characters should the players loose a PC due to the fact that raise dead and resurrection do not work in Kaidan. Alternatively they may be used if new players join or as NPCs for the GM’s use. Finally there is the glossary of words, names and a pronunciation guide.

As is typical throughout this series the art gives a good feel for the setting and the maps are fantastic. There is even a map of one encounter scaled at 1 inch = 5 feet for use with miniatures should the GM wish to print it out in color for such use.

This product is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to run adventures in this well and lovingly researched Japanese Horror story style campaign. The Curse of the Golden Spear campaign as a whole makes an excellent story and Dark Path is a thrilling conclusion to the trilogy. My rating is 5 of 5 stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Path: Curse of the Golden Spear Part 3 (PFRPG)
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Fantastic Maps: The Watchfire Keep
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2011 10:19:48
A gorgeous map of an infrequently detailed location, Watchfire Keep provides a useful tool for Game Masters. As is typical of the Fantastic Maps series, this pack contains full size color maps and black and white printer-saver versions of the same maps. Also there are files for maptool use as well as A4 files for folks with European printers. The only thing extra this pack comes with is an additional stack of wood to be place where the GM likes. This map works directly and specifically for a 4th edition D&D adventure in Kobold Quarterly #18, “Who Watches the Watchfires?”

The map artistically shows the keep from a bird’s eye view. The only thing that I can complain about is the lack of detail showing the height of the surface. It would be nice to know how steep the hill is. Either a small cross section view or isolines showing 5 or 10 foot vertical contours would help a great deal in determining the height of the hill on which the keep rests. The adventure in Kobold Quarterly tells how high the walls and towers are. But if a person just purchased this map pack and not KQ #18, he or she would not have access to this information. I know for myself, I would probably print out the whole thing and tape the pages together. Then I would draw out the contours myself using the obvious artistically rendered cliffs and slopes as guides. Mapping and cartography is second nature to me. This isn’t the case with everyone. Most GMs have players who will ask them how high the hill, walls and towers are.

Gorgeous map with handy full size sheets to print for use with miniatures and tools for computer map sharing make this product a good one to have. I am assigning Watchfires a 4 of 5 due to some desired but lacking information of the vertical height of the hill, walls and towers.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantastic Maps: The Watchfire Keep
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#30 Traps for Tombs (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/02/2011 15:16:22
If you are a Game Master who wants to include traps that are different from the typical ones in the Pathfinder Core Rules and are like me and simply don’t have the time to come up with clever ones, this is your book. Although this book clearly emphasizes tombs, treasure and the attempt to keep said treasure out of the hands of opportunistic thieves. There are enough ideas within to use for other settings. A GM can never have too many traps to throw at the players. Using the same old traps again and again gives the players too many chances to recognize the signs and use the appropriate skills to remove or circumvent them.

The element of tongue-in-cheek celebration of popular “geek” culture within Rite’s books always gets a chuckle out of me. The cover page has a quote from Renee Belloq of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Next is a highly appropriate quote from the real Howard Carter when he first entered King Tut’s Tomb from The Tomb of Tutankhamen. Trevor’s artful in-character letter to Owain Northway, a fictional character well-known to those who read Rite Publishing’s products; and his use of clear descriptions sprinkled with advice for GMs on how to use the traps is fun to read. It is little extras like these which help to make the 30’s series of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game supplements worthwhile purchases.
The supplement gives a useful setting for those who don’t already have something in mind, Rafikabeer a necropolis encounter location. The story behind Rafikabeer is an interesting one and leaves questions to be answered by the individual GM in a manner that best fits his or her campaign. Tantalizing hints of something darker at work in the city prior to its existence as a necropolis are wonderful tools for the GM to fuel the imagination. This is not an adventure, yet with a few additions of encounters, characters and plot it could easily become one.

Whether you use the background material or not, the traps described herein can be used by any GM who needs to provide a not-to-pleasant surprise for players. Some traps are interconnected. These give players fits when they think they have discovered the trap and proceed only to get caught by the next trap. A whole range of magical and mechanical traps, hazards, haunts, and monsters (via summon monster spells) fill this supplement. As mentioned above the descriptions of traps, there are far more than 30 traps. Many work in conjunction with other and frequently different types of traps.

Combined with Trevor’s clear entertaining prose, this is a must have for any GM who wishes to include extra spice to his or her adventure. The only complaint I have is that some of the maps would be brutal on my ink supply in my printer to reproduce for game use. That is insufficient reason to downgrade my score. I could simply describe the location and allow my players to draw it as they choose and see what happens, sort of old school style. That could quickly teach them the value of asking the right questions and taking initiative to draw things properly themselves, hmm… Now there’s a thought. Anyway, I digress, five stars out of five from me. Thank you Rite for providing yet another excellent resource.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Traps for Tombs (PFRPG)
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Evocative City Sites: Eiffelmacher Estates (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Dawn F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/28/2011 16:30:41
This is a perfect location to have on hand if your PCs decide to take a sudden left turn in your adventure, explore a house or area that is not a part of your campaign or decide to surprise the Game Master by spending the night in an abandoned manor that you know you didn’t have detailed. I love the duality of this location. No matter where the players may decide to investigate or sleep through the night, there is something waiting for them. I love the haunts in particular. But anyone tough enough to take on the bandit gang would likely not find them very challenging. Conversely, anyone finding the haunts to be challenging would be hard pressed to survive an encounter with the full gang of thieves. Knowing this ahead of time is the key to deciding how difficult you wish this encounter location to be. You may decide your players need to encounter something just a little bit too difficult for them, inculcating in them the value of running away when the situation calls for it. Of course the flexibility of an encounter site that is not tied to any adventure plot means that what the PCs discover here is up to the GM.

Art is clearly taken from Public Domain sources and this is clearly stated in the cover page. The maps spaced in the text of the house descriptions and encounters were in full color. If I had to guess, I’d say they were hand drawn. But that doesn’t detract from the adventure at all. In fact I rather like this. The maps show the manor house and environs very simply and without fluff, yet are very easy to read. I like the black and white printable full size additional maps for use with miniatures or just for showing the players. The maps also come in the A4 sized pdfs as well.

I love flexible locations with encounters or NPCs I can yank to use for other things if I need them or to surprise players who thought to surprise me by taking an unplanned siesta or turn left when they were really supposed to turn right. Eiffelmacher Estates provides this for me. Icing on the cake is the nice bundle of printable maps set at an appropriate scale for miniature use. This is a nice supplement. The only quibble some might have about the encounters described herein is the slight imbalance of difficulty between the haunts in the house and the Spotty Bottle gang’s leader. I don’t mind this for my own players, though. A little challenge is a good thing, a lot can make for the most harrowing and best remembered gaming experiences. I do wish that there had been some description and encounter suggestions for the greenhouse, for completeness. The lack of details on the interesting-looking greenhouse keeps this from being a full five stars, four out of five.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Evocative City Sites: Eiffelmacher Estates (PFRPG)
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