||The 6th issue of RiP's free e-zine is 43 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 17 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 23 pages of content for your perusal.
The magazine opens with an open call for submissions for Pathways, so if you're in for the challenge, go on and design away - you actually might get published!
Mike Welham provides us with an excellent template for monsters, the CR+1 dichotomous template that merges two creatures of opposite alignments (like e.g. angels and demons - the sample creature being an CR 15 nalfeshnee/trumpet archon)and forces them into a state of enforced balance, the only way of which to release it, is to slay creatures of one of its base-creature's alignments. The one who loses the race for the alignment-point threshold is obliterated in the end. The design here is very smart - in order to win the struggle, good creatures have to slay other good creatures and e.g. evil outsiders will have to refrain from slaying them, offering a nice asynchronous twist to the mechanic and opportunities for roleplaying galore. The article also comes with an aptly-written IC-section, a new monstrous feat and an ecology encounter. Unfortunately, no lore-section is provided this time, which is a (very) minor bummer.
T.H.Gulliver, author of the excellent haunt and trap-books for RiP offers us a glimpse into the design-process of haunts vs. traps while providing a reverse gravity CR 8 trap and haunt as well as a two part haunt that puts you in a coffin and might even mummify you via the lvl 9 spell canopic conversion (also provided) into an Osirian mummy (whose template is also included). Nice!
Rob Manning offers us a truly deadly and complex web-enhancement for ECS: Eiffelmacher estates, a half giant/half orc distortion creature barbarian/weapon savant called Lukas "The Beast" Denvoreau, who clocks in at a painful CR 19 - PCs should think twice about taking the spotty bottle gang head on when this behemoth is present. His spatial and temporal distortion abilities combined with his fighting prowess make for a dread juggernaut that might make the venture to the estates a desperate flight/guerilla war against a foe that could make Jason Vorhees cry for his mother.
Creighton Broadhurst's contribution to this issue of Pathways is a selection of ready-made lists in line with his latest "So what's for sale anyway?"-pdf, offering the beleaguered DM sample magic item-lists for the PC to procure along all their base-prices. The item-lists are presented by size of the settlement, which makes navigation rather easy.
Next up is an interview with Ben McFarland, lead designer of Streets of Zobeck and the upcoming Breaking of Forstor Nagar. Short and sweet!
Next up are reviews covering the best of current 3pp-products by Dark_Mistress, Dawn "Dark Sasha" Fischer and yours truly.
Finally, we get another interview, this time with Emily Kubisz of Alluria Publishing.
Editing and formatting are good, although I noticed some minor glitches, none truly impeded my enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to the beautiful full-color two-page-standard used in most recent RiP-publications. The pdf , in contrast to older issues, does not have bookmarks, which is a bit of a pity. I would also have loved to see the creepy, cannon-studded foe on the cover get his own stats/one-page artwork like in other issues of Pathways, but hey. Once again, we get a smattering of excellent content that expands upon released products, offers us insight into the design-process and, more importantly, is free. Rob Manning's beast is my personal favorite in this installment of pathways, as the creature features the complex statblocks Rite Publishing is known for and adds a whole new, creepy dimension to the Eiffelmacher estate-pdf, greatly improving the potential genres you can cover with the installment and practically forcing you to consider a desperate guerilla-warfare scenario of the PCs trying to whittle down the beast and finally culminate in a showdown in the haunted arena. Gold! This being free, high-quality and offering some pieces of neat design, my final verdict for this installment of Pathways will again be 5 stars - you have no reason not to pick this up.
[5 of 5 Stars!]