Bards and Sages RPG Resource
DriveThruComics
DriveThruFiction
Powered by DriveThruRPG


Home » Epic Level NPC, LLC » Occult Rituals of the Necronomicon Vol. 1: Undead » Reviews
Browse Categories













Back
Other comments left by this customer:
You must be logged in to rate this
Lore of the Gods: PFRPG Edition
Publisher: DragonWing Games
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/25/2017 15:15:28

That moment when you write your piece, misclick, and watch your whole review get sucked into the aether

T-T

But, I've got a book to review and things to say, so lets try this again.

Big, Beautiful, and Tragically Baroque, Dragon Wings' Lore of the Gods is an amazing tome that is a good book so close to being great that it almost kills me. A conversion of their 3.5 book of the same name, Lore of the Gods is an awesome book that is hamstrung by amazing content that is attached to what appears to be old production decision on information layout, art, and pdf design that don't destroy the book but do keep it from being the absolutely amazing piece it should be. This leaves you with an amazing pathfinder pdf that feels trapped in a web of layout and design decisions that are left over from the maelstrom of the old 3.5 days and in ways that don't help the book.

The book itself is broken into 10 chapters which can really be broken into about 4 sections the pantheons and all their ephemera (including artifacts associated with them), prestige classes, the bestiary, and Avatars. To start, the pantheons, the thing I assume a lot of you are here to see are, to be blunt, fucking fantastic. Each pantheon gets its own chapter and each chapter feels like a boulder of information that could literally kill someone if you smacked them across the head with it. Each god gets an information block so dense that it puts everything even Paizo's put out on their pantheons to shame, giving you everything from their portfolio, alignment, and holy symbols to things like sacred colors, allies, true form, forms most associated with them, sacred animals, enemies, and even things like SACRED MINERALS. In all my years I would have never thought that Amon thought Nile River Clay would be something special, or that Nergal loved fungus and obsidian. Now, I know that might sound dumb but it gets me excited, it gives me ideas on how to design their temples, how to use sacred animals as omens and signs with the faithful, what colors the clerics wear and how to use that to code scenes so that players can know which NPCs are allied with who just by telling you what colors their clothes are, and gives me a rubric on what offerings someone would have to give a Hound Archon working for Anubis to show them devotion and fealty to the judge of the dead by looking at that list of sacred animals, minerals, and plants (p.s. the answer is dogs/jackals, natron, and gum myrrh). And I wouldn't know any of that, let alone think to even look for some of that stuff like sacred minerals without this book. In this way, Lore of the Gods sets the bar for what to expect when a publisher wants to release a comprehensive guide to their religions of choice and I want to see others follow suite.

Unfortunately, though this stuff is great and trust me, I could sit here and GUSH about this level of minute and absolutely laudable detail I feel like I'd be doing the reader both as customers and designers of tabletop content themselves a disservice if I didn't talk about some of the real issues this book has.

First, as of this writing the pdf version I have downloaded lacks any bookmarks. Now, this might be okay in a small, 5-10 page supplement covering a single topic like say a single archetype or maybe a brief new race with just some stats, art, and a brief description but Lore of the Gods is a 340 PAGE BOOK with 10 chapters, 4 different pantheons, a bestiary, a whole chapter devoted exclusively to the items and artifacts of ALL THE GODS in it, and an opening chapter about designing divine avatars for ANY AND ALL THE GODS HERE AND BEYOND. Having to fish through this monster of a book with nothing but a single table of contents who's page I have to remember and bounce back and forth between in a pdf is unacceptable, and more often than not leaves you forgetting what you were even looking for in the first place. For example, say you flip to the bestiary and find this cool monster called Asag and you want to know more about the gods that made him. Usually, you'd read through is entry, see the name Anu, and be able to just click the bookmark button and be on your way. But instead, in Lore of the Gods you are going to have to memorize the page you found Asag on, fool around trying to find the table of contents again, fish his divine dad out of that list, punch in the printed page number and hope it lines up, and then have to vacillate between the two memorized page numbers until you finally get exhausted and realize you really don't want to keep doing this. And realize that this problem only GETS WORSE the more parts you add, such as needing to look up multiple gods, artifacts, prestige classes, and a couple monsters to understand how they interact. The thing is like a giant chinese finger trap that locks you into basically memorizing every page you think is relevant to whatever you're looking up as a matter of course in order to not have to waste your whole reading section constantly having to bounce back to the table of content and then onto whatever you were looking at. And with how many times a lot of the proper nouns and other key words in this book pop up control f searching it is just not an option, you'll end up searching 55 different references to Anu before you find the one you're looking for that way. This pdf NEEDS bookmarks like a fish needs water, and without it the thing feels way too cumbersome especially considering the sheer density of content it wants to you absorb.

Second is the art. Varying across each chapter as each pantheon is covered by a specific artist and each opening with its own piece from an entirely different artist from the one covering the pantheon in question, the art in Lore of the Gods often comes off as inconsistent both in style and tone. The Egyptian chapter opens with a piece of 3D art that looks like something from a Playstation 2 game that was inspired by Heavy Metal and then slides into black & whites of Amon, Sobek, and the rest of the chapter that look like they were done by Rob Liefeld at the height of the 90's. Seriously, Bes looks like he could bro fist the 90's version Cable a la handshake scene out of the original Predator and the only thing missing would be Bes' color palate. Neither of these things help sell the chapter on what it's about and feel more distracting than evocative of the content, as you find yourself wondering why Horus looks so ripped or completely thrown off by how the Egyptian Priestess in what is basically a slutty Egyptian Halloween costume doesn't match the content that follows it. The later pantheon art gets much better, with the full color Mesopotamian chapter getting some really beautiful and stylized full color art that really sells the world in this thick lined comic book esque way that really works for it, but this inconsistency in the first chapter really does get in the way and the terrible CGI art, which continues throughout. The latter is even worse, as it feels like it not only looks bad, but begins to have less and less to do with the actual content of the book as you read along. One example of this is page 193, when we get what is essentially a naked white lady straight out of the 80's animated movie Heavy Metal in nothing but metal pasties in the middle of the artifacts chapter and 0 context for what item she's even supposed to be showing off. Is it the Garments of Ladyship on that page, the Girdle of Rapture on the other, is it actually the feathered cloak of Journeys and we're supposed to be looking at her red cape?! The image gives no context to what item she's supposed to be showing off and what's worse she doesn't look like she belongs to ANY of the settings any of these pantheons this book is about, so I the reader can't even use the information from previous chapters to help me figure it out. All the CG art comes off like this and it hurts the book, distracting you from the actual mechanics of the book with art that makes no sense with it either in tone or style.

Final for this piece is the general layout of the content. Pathfinder is now nearly a decade old and the 3.5 system it is based on pushing towards two, and both have begun to get us all accustomed to a certain layout for how the content is presented, a format that keeps all the content easy to read and reference because the flow of the content naturally passes from the first line to the next. Dragon Wings unfortunately makes a few decisions though that go against this paradigm and they tend to work against them. One of the biggest ones is the way they handle favored weapons. Generally included in the big block of text at the start of the deity's entry, favored weapons are instead segmented off from the list entirely, wedged into the text fore each individual "Devoted" boon the god offers. Though the Path of the Devout is a really cool idea in concept (basically creating a minor paladin's code for each god that faithful can follow in exchange for some god specific powers) putting favored weapons here buries them in the sea of other content surrounding them, making this often key information for character design almost invisible to anyone looking for it. To make matters worse, the Path of the Devout concept is really only explained in a single paragraph at the beginning of the book and then never again, which meaning the only people who are really going to know where to look for this stuff are going to be those who read this book from cover to cover, something that few really do with a reference book like this that almost begs you to just look up that cool god you just heard about or flip to that cool name you saw in the table of contents. This issue is compounded when you consider the idea of extended use, as even players and GMs alike who would read this thing cover to cover run the risk of forgetting this little tidbit after they sit the thing down for a few months and then return to build that priest of Ishtar only to find they either can't find what her favored weapons are or have to potentially read the thing all the way through to find out where the authors put that information and then get to look it up, and in something as big and dense as Lore of the Gods that fact is a killer.

Now, all of these critiques aside, what works in this book fucking works. You have never had a book that so meticulously details every little thing you ever wanted to know or didn't know you needed to know about these ancient pantheons or really ANY pantheon quite like LotG does and that detail will set an expectation bar that others will have a hard time leaping over. But, when you have a book this big, with this much technical and minute detail for us as GMs and Players to pour over, the layout, structure, and navigation needs to be tight, otherwise people will get too frustrated navigating your product to ever use it, and that's the biggest tragedy here. If they clean up the layout of some of this information, maybe change or pull some of this art like the CG work to help each chapter at least have a uniform artistic aesthetic, and DEFINITELY PUT IN A BOOKMARK SYSTEM this monster might actually be able to really sink its teeth into the audience that really wants it. But until then, I feel like Lore of the Gods will be relegated to only the smallest list of consumers who are willing to overlook these problems.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lore of the Gods: PFRPG Edition
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Occult Rituals of the Necronomicon Vol. 1: Undead
Publisher: Epic Level NPC, LLC
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:43:16

Copies provided by Fat Goblin Games.

Bloody, Gross, and I'm digging it.

So, before I begin this I have a confession to make. I love the Occult Ritual system. Presented in Occult Adventures about 2 years ago, the ritual system has in my mind helped go a long way toward solving one of the greatest problems the magical system has in the OGL/3.5/Pathfinder system, that is, making magic feel well... magical again. As it stands, magic really doesn't have any unknown elements, there's no mystery or surprise inherent in casting a spell like magic missle or dumping a bag of diamonds on the floor and trying to raise your friend from the dead. Everything does exactly what it says on the can, nothing inherent to the spell causes a change, and everyone goes on about their lives. Now, this might be nice for new players but in my mind that makes it math, not magic. Magic needs chaos, it needs uncertainty, and it needs risk for it to FEEL like the spellcasting we all know from myths and stories. Magic missles need a chance to explode to life with more power than that neophyte expected and raise deads need to be able to fail spectacularly as demonic enemies take the opportunity to use this freshly prepared corpse to crawl into the lands of the living. This is part of what makes "magic" as a concept compelling to introduce in mechanics, and it is in part what makes the system we have often been saddled with so uninspiring after a while, it becomes routine.

And magic should never feel routine.

Now though, with the Ritual system in Occult Adventures we, the consumer have finally got a REALLY solid system for presenting increadibly powerful magic, both new ideas and spins on old, as something strange and fantastic again. Something that I as a GM could give to ANY PLAYER and watch as the party now looks for an opportunity to literally call on the Gods of old to smite their enemies while simultaneously dreading what happens to them if they succeed, or worse, if they fail. That makes me as a GM and a player giddy.

Now, with that in mind lets dig into this piece.

Presented as a 15 odd page folio of new occult rituals wrapped around a specific theme, Occult Rituals of the Necronomicon Vol. 1: Undead focuses on rituals aimed at, well you guessed it, Undead. Filled with about a dozen new occult rituals, Undead Volume 1 presents a rotting smorgusboard of fun, bloody, creepy, and spiteful new rituals for you to scatter amongst the musty tomes and crammed shelves of some spiteful necromancer or ancient nosferatu's library and just leave players reeling over.

And spiteful might be the keyword here, because if their is one theme that runs through these rituals more than anything it's spite. Spite for the caster's enemies, spite for the dead, spite for time, nearly every single ritual in this thing feels like something you cast to spit in the face of the forces the caster rallies himself against. Unnatural Appetite has you cooking a person into a meat pie and serving it to someone to turn them into an insatiable cannibal that can't enjoy the taste of anything but the flesh of his own kind, Worm Feast gives the target freaking piles of tapeworms that wreak all kinds of hell on their innards until they somehow... remove them through either magic or a lot of traditional medicine, and Curse of Binding Rot raises the target corpse as a Juju Zombie with all of its skills and abilities it had in life and completely under your control.

Again, spite seems the apt descriptor for this thing, and with that bloody, squirming, and gross.

But that's not all. You also get rituals like Flesh of Sand, which takes the Mummy Lord and gives you a ritual to transform yourself into one a la Occult Realms Eternal Apotheosis and the 90's classic The Mummy. Unfortunately it doesn't go into as much nitty gritty detail as either of those sources do, which is a shame as having to have your party collect swarms of scarabs and/or remove their organs and embalm them as part of the casting would be super cool, but having another ritual to create super undead added to the list is a nice bonus and one I'm happy to get on my shelf. We also get Under the Skin, which has the caster painting a portrait of the person they are wishing to target that with paints made from crushed up spiders and a brush made of the victim's likely stolen hair. When completed, the painting turns hellish and the victim has an experince that literally makes their skin crawl and reads like something from a medieval Kronenburg film and an arachnaphobic alien remake that is best left to them to describe. Suffice it to say, it's the beginning of your grossest Halloween special game encounter and you'll be looking for an excuse to do it. Land of the Damned basically drops a necromantic nuke on wherever the hell you put the focus and makes sure that EVERYTHING that dies or is buried there rises as a walking corpse set to wreak havoc on whatever poor sods live within sight of the damn thing, and Walk of Ages literally DECOUPLES YOUR SOUL FROM THE CYCLE OF LIFE AND DEATH and just lets you return to life over and over again, being reborn to different, unnoticable parents of whatever race you want as whatever sex you want and do it all over again.

The stories I want to build around whoever's stupid enough to try that last one are freakin' epic.

Now, amid these horrors of necromantic spite and bloody, wriggling awesome we also have some options that are far less... evil? Maybe the better word is maliciously spiteful. Anyways, among all these great balls of Ewwsome we also get stuff like Eternal Slumber, which lets you annoint a corpse so that it doesn't rot and can be transported to wherever you need to take it in order to raise it from the dead or perform last rights (and makes it smell good). We also get things like Rise from the Grave, which lets you bring back people a la Raise Dead but turns them into Undead if the ritual is failed or Vampire's Flesh, which, for the simple price of a drink of wine, going a little Ozzy on some ground up bat, and having to gnaw through some zombie fingers grants you the defenses and healing powers of a vampire for a limited time. Finally, we get Ward of Pain, which lets the casters draw an intricate ward that causes a constant ball of damage on anyone who tries to stay within the warded area without having been cleared. All of these make fine rewards for any white necromancer or pious follower of a church looking to get access to any of those great secrets of the faith that might deal with life & death without having to worry about whether or not it fills their friends full of worms.

All that said, this book still has some problems. Walk of Ages has some DCs so incredibly low they make me think they have to be a misprint. Even with 9 saves across a wide array of skill checks a DC 12 feels waay too low for what this spell is going to give, and with the relativley innocent nature of most of the checks (like having someone pen a geneology and make it into a book) the chances of a caster passing this with just a bookbinder and geneologist he hired in town are way too high. Second, a lot of these rituals NEED the evil subtype. Now, don't get me wrong, I like unaligned spells of dubious moral use but some of these like the aforementioned Unnatural Appetite, Under the Skin, Curse of Binding Rot, and Flesh of Sand just scream to have that [evil] subtype tacked onto them right beside their necromantic school and not having it just seems like a rookie mistake that shouldn't be made by a dev house who's now on their 4th or 5th book of rituals like this. My final real complaint comes with the Crafted Companion ritual. A rather standard rit, Crafted Companion lets you upgrade a construct by 1 CR and give it all the commiseruate parts therein, including a new universal monster ability. It sounds cool, but the idea of giving just ANY universal monster ability feels a bit too powerful on its own and what's more there's this giant text block that explains the Bezerk rule but really doesn't make sense within the context of the book. It doesn't make sense as a support text to go along with the Failure state of the ritual since anyone who's casting a ritual to upgrade a construct/golem should already have access to a source that explains Berzerk and as something that only happens on a failure just clutters the page. By sticking it on the page it makes me assume that it's supposed to be something that any construct gains as part of undergoing this ritual rather than a side effect of things going horribly awry, and that busying of the page is the kind of stuff that just creates unnessecary confusion at the table.

These complaints aside, this is truly a stellar, if not perfect, addition to the rituals system and something any table that uses the ritual system would be happy to have, both as rewards for players and dark weapons for the vilest of villains. I know that at least 3 of these feel like something that would totally fit into any church as sacred mysteries and having that side by side with a bunch of awful curses gets me excited to crack these open and look for ways to add them into my home game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Occult Rituals of the Necronomicon Vol. 1: Undead
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

The Gardener Base Class
Publisher: Glenbuckie Publishing
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2017 20:07:59

Built like nothing you've ever seen in the Pathfinder system, the gardner is equal parts half-tank, harasser, and Magic: The Gather counter deck, giving the whole class a design philosophy and play style that truly is all its own. Starting from a base build similar to that theorhetically tankier rogue, the Gardener gains access to newly designed plant powers, supernatural abilities that allow them to transform harmless seeds into deadly plant based weapons that function like nothing seen in the game. Difficult to describe in depth without explaining nearly the whole book, what makes each of these powers; from giant smashing vines and spiny cactus limbs to health choking nettles so interesting is not just their ability to cause trouble for your enemies but the fact that ALL OF THESE POWERS CAN BE ACTIVATED AS IMMEDIATE ACTIONS in response to enemy actions. Now, on the surface that might not sound that devastating compared to the host of options floating around in Pathfinder but when combined with extra abilities of each plant like Crushing Cactus' ability to interrupt and potentially negate any action that provokes an AoO, the Dynamite Seeds crippling penalties to the ranged attacks of those shooters who triggered the action, or the Briar Break's ability to generate living hard cover whenever an enemy attempts to charge you, potentially locking themselves down on the wrong side of an angry wall of thorns you begin to realize that not only is this class an absolute blast to play but through its playstyle it fundamentally changes the nature of any combat it shows up in. Watch your player's Wizard's jaw drop when the Gardener interrupts his spellcasting with Crushing Cactus, forcing a save that if he fails not only fizzles the spell but costs him the action or when a PC Gardener saves his buddy by literally shooting plant shrapnel into a would be assassain that causes his sure hit to veer wildly and you begin to see the potential. Players begin to play games of hunt down the Gardener while PC Gardeners try to play this deadly game of skirmisher keepaway, always trying to be close enough to the action to trigger their deadly counter plant attacks but far enough from the heavy hitters to not get steamrolled by whatever angry monstrocity you just Cactus Slapped across the face. And to top the whole package off the entire system is balanced by limited number of actions that already exist in the rules! Allowing each of these powers to be amazingly powerful and capable of flipping a fight on its head but at only 1 a turn forcing the Gardener to pick and choose whether to throw that seed and intervene against the one horrible monster or another, easier target but potentially leaving themselves or their party open to an assault.

The whole thing is this perfect blend of simple concept with immeasurable depth of play that has so far set the bar for what I expect of new class design going forward, as Glenbuckle brings us not onlay a new class that is fun to play, but completely changes the way players have to think about action economy and designers should think about building classes in relation to the d20 system.

In short: This, designers do more of this. You've left an avid talker and writer at a loss for words in all the right ways.

Note: If there is one flaw to this book that I'd have to mention it's the cover. I like the art but with it's busy green background and the elaborate title font the the cover ends up being both a little too busy and the words themselves troublesome to parse out without a bit of squinting. I like the idea, but it's so busy it unfocuses the eye. Eitherway, that minor quibble does little to dampen my absolute surprise at the rest of the content and new ideas bursting out of this little out of left field folio. If this is what I can expect from Glenbuckle going forward I am all too excited to see what comes next.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gardener Base Class
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/05/2016 07:52:46

One of my greatest frustrations in Pathfinders classes has been the cleric. The holy man empowered by his god to do his work on earth, the cleric class has been the go to choice for anyone looking to play a suite of characters from divine scholar to holy sword for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, its design from the beginning has always been a problem. Born from an age when that single class was meant to be both the transfer class of players looking to move their cleric from 3.5 and fulfill every possible permutation of "holy man" regardless of style, theme, or faith the cleric has always felt far more bland and strained as compared to the other classes, with a lack of class abilities and player options pigeonholing the class into a play space that has always felt powerful, important, but overall uninteresting to play. Domains on their own never feel like the awesome power of an omnipotent being, channel energy doesn't feel like the holy hand's miracles restitching bones, and the spell list never feels quite like the same thing Moses uses to call down the 10 plagues or that Thoth-Amon uses to summon that horror from beyond space and time to destroy his enemies with. This disparity between the expectation of the class and the reality only gets worse as you start to try to build something outside the spectrum of buffing battle cleric/healbot (especially that of the unarmored divine scholar) as the design strains against its need to be appeal to every possible permutation of the holy man. With all that said this paucity of memorable abilities and exciting options has only worsened with time, as Paizo's design staff have become more comfortable with the system and with that mastery designed some truly amazing classes that build on those specific niches that used to just be the purview of the cleric. Inquisitors let you live out your dreams of Helsing like investigators of the occult and enemies of the faith like divine rangers, Oracles create the ur text on how to build a flavorful divine class that oozes style and theme that feels like an oracle out of myth, and the warpriest presents an amazing holy sword that stands tall right next to the paladin as an interesting (and different) holy warrior all in its own right. With all of these new divine classes now filling our hardcovers the weird lack of class abilities with the cleric just becomes all the more glaring, and what's worse, all those concepts left unfullfilled by new options feel even more unsatisfying to play.

Of those unmet options one of particular note has always been the divine scholar. The holy man who expresses his faith through study, doctrine, and spellcraft moreso than sword and layers of armor, this character concept has always suffered the most under the cleric design. Unable to take advantage of armor but stuck with a terrible suite of skill points and lacking class abilities to lean on, the character has always felt flat and underserved with the current options as they are and often misunderstood when it comes to any archetype that tries to tap that vein (looking at you cloistered cleric). But now, with the Kobold Press and the Priest class I think those of us who have been looking for that option and maybe even a replacement for the cleric itself have had our prayers answered.

Coming in at about 8 pages of content, the Priest is a divine dynamo of scholastic theme and design, with class abilities that evoke the vibe and style of not just the scholastic priest but the raw might of the gods issued from humble hands. For the cost of your armor proficiencies, weapon proficiencies, and a Wizards BaB players gain access to more domains, a whole new system of casting, and miracles. Now the first two are pretty self explanatory, with the extra domain, extra domain spell slot at each spell level, and the new spont prep casting fusion lending a new and unique style to the Priest class in terms of play but the real star here is the miracles. A new mechanic reminicent of smite in terms of power and progression, miracles are the divine favor of the Priest's god acted out large, allowing the priest to summon up powerful boons upon his companions and himself in order to carry the them to victory. These miracles run the gamut from annointing a spell with holy power to boost the save DC and calling down holy auras of protection upon the priest allies to literal divine intereventions that allow players to reroll saves, become invisible to their enemies, or even grow wings for short periods of time. The whole thing reads like a dream and feels amazing to play out on the table, with your priest channeling their gods powers to defeat enemies one minute and then shouting out prayers of safty that literally enwrap their allies in protective wards or bend fate to turn mortal wounds into near misses. The whole thing makes you feel like an utter badass and honestly makes you wonder how the hell no one thought of this sooner.

Now on that alone I've already added the Priest to my roster of playable classes in my home game and have begun seriously contemplating just axing the cleric altogether, but as of right now the Priest still has one flaw that holds it back from being as good as it should be, the lack of proficiency with their god's favored weapon. Now I know how this might sound but trust me, all of us who've played clerics in 3.5 have done this dance before and always found it unsatisfying. The favored weapon is as much the symbol of the faith as the symbol itself in many cases and lacking that proficiency feels jarring in nearly all respects like somekind of odd punishment for leaning into the lore and specialized options for the character itself. It feels off that somehow my Zon-Kuthon Priest who wields a spiked chain rosary, my Roman Judge with a Fasces, or my Artemis worshipping archer somehow didn't get any sort of training in the use of their god's weapons as a matter of course when every other class that requires a god does and the need to take a feat at 3rd to gain access to most of them feels like an unnessecary tax on the players when one looks at the amazing job Marc Radle has done balancing the Priest out of that martial self-buff role. In short, the Priest doesn't need to have the proficiency removed to balance it martially, the class does that already with the no armor, bad BaB, and lack of free feats to improve it.

This point aside, The Priest has likely become one of my favorite new classes going forward and sets a high mark for whatever paizo or other 3rd party publishers attempt within the realm of both divine scholar and the cleric itself. From a focus on skill points, domains, and more divine agent like class abilities to the just sheer fun of throwing a miracle on a friend and watching the GM have to suddenly pivot as that miss becomes a critical hit or that NPC dying of the black plague suddenly gets a second chance at that last save stave off his affliction or throwing fireballs imbued with holy energy at a pile of fiends, the Priest class as a whole feels like a marked improvement over both the divine scholar concept in specific and the vanilla cleric as a whole.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 9: the Priest (Pathfinder RPG)
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Village Backdrop: Umelas
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/16/2016 17:41:21

Haunting, horrifying, and darkly moving, Umelas might be one of my favorite village backdrops to set upon us in a long time. The small town of Umelas presents an amazing atmosphere of this town who's had it soul sanded away and wrapped in a porcelin veneer of smiles and prosperity. The whole write up is an interesting walkthrough of what happens to a town that trades away their morals for safety and prosperity to an entity that isn't just a fiend. And the ending! I'm sorry if this review sounds sparse but I'm trying to not say too much to avoid spoiling the ride. The ending alone is worth the price of admission.

So in short, if you like horror or dark tragedy check this out. The town of Umelas is a land begging to have heroes trounce through, and see the consequences for their deeds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Umelas
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much, Tyler. I much appreciate the review and I\'m delighted you enjoyed Umelas so much!
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/11/2015 22:28:21

For those of you who don't know I'm a big fan of the technology guide. I love that we have rules for adding things like lasers, robots, rockets, and power armor to my fantasy setting. I love that it grants us the chance to insert a little more mystery into our worlds than just "it's magic" and make our players a bit more intrigued by the dungeons and worlds that exist in their lands both in Paizo's home setting and our home games without having to write a book myself to do it. What's more the style in which it was presented was amazing, a fusion of classic scifi tropes like laser pistols and death rays with a healthy dose of 40k future diesel punk and grim dark thrown in for some amazing options (looking at you chainsword, monowhip, and rad grenades) that really scratch that itch and make these options feel grimy and brutal in all the right ways for a world with Conan style barbarians rubbing shoulders with robot titans.

But with all that in mind it wasn't enough. We got a lot of the good starters but we were left with far more questions. How the hell does all of this fit into a world like golarion where stuff like a toothed sword that screams as it saws a man in half is far more likely to be attributed to being possessed by a demon than it is to a microprocessor? And for that matter what do they do with all the broken pieces, do they just leave them lying around, what do they think happens when one finally shuts down, and do they ever try to fix them or more try anything more interesting? Well it seems Fat Goblin has heard me, since with this book I get new tech, an answer to some of these questions, and oddly enough a tech tree system.

First lets talk about the biggest addition and the bulk of this product for most consumers, augmentations. An answer to my biggest question about what the hell all these primitive societies do with all this broken or discharged tech that is lying around in places like Numeria's rust fields or other worlds where these things are ancient technology left behind that they barely understand, augmentations are weapons and armor that have had used, broken, and discovered technology incorporated into their design to help improve their function or capitalize on the remains of destroyed tech. Augmentations let you do everything from repairing armor by lashing it all together with ion tape (basically duct tape) to attaching chainsaws to your greatclub to give you a baseball bat that will chew through your enemies like a wood chipper. In short they are amazingly inventive and already have me and my players chomping at the bit to play with them at the table, from our warpriest wanting to wrap a chainsaw blade around his holy weapon to both of them wanting to buy a pack of cylex rounds (ammunition coated with impact activated C4) to help them even the odds against a morlock tribe they ran afoul of in a local dungeon these things get me amped to not just incorporate them but use them as ways to explain how this midevil culture has started to incorporate them into their world beyond sacred relics. It lets me have blacksmith who make full plate out of rare plastics scraped from the machinery of ancient dungeons, weaponsmiths who craft greatswords around damaged graviton engines to impart "the thunder of the gods" into the wielders stroke, and to have kobolds that craft uranium laced longspears from broken rad grenades to permanently cripple any foolish long shank dumb enough to try and break into their lair. And all of it is done with a fusion of old gear and the pieces they would naturally find. That is awesome and what's more those are just some of the examples I could pull from here. On top of all that the rules for crafting them allow you to use old, burnt out, and discarded tech to create these augmentations, turning that timeworn chainsword you picked up and burned out a few sessions ago from a worthless piece of junk and into a key component for turning your humdrum greataxe into a howling toothed chainsaw greataxe that would make Kharn the Betrayer proud.

The next big thing in here is the tech tree system, oddly something designed for of all things the kingdom building system presented in Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign. With this system you get what is essentially a civilization style tech tree system that allows you to invest build points into furthering your nations understanding of technology, granting basic things like learning physics and basic biology at the start to eventually crafting things like orbital space stations, airports, and hospitals that can replace your arm with a top of the line cybernetic replacement at the highest end of the trees. The investments are steep for each facet of the various trees you invest in and many require investing in multiple trees to qualify for options (i.e. pharmaceuticals requires you have invested in biology and chemistry in order to begin studying it) but having a way to not further your nations education in a tangible way and see the fruits of it start to show up is just icing on the cake. The system even helps incorporate things like firearms into the equation, offering them up as some of the first pieces of advanced technology your budding nation can produce. The examples here go on and trying to lay them all out could take pages but suffice it to say if you would like to add a little more Civilization to your kingdom building this is a great place to start.

Finally you get the actual new tech of the book which is surprisingly sparse, in total numbering out to maybe a half dozen or so new items that are not examples of augmented tech but all of which are pretty cool. Ranging from a set of adamantine piston knuckles a la fallout that let you roll twice for damage to a nanofiber vest that can expedite healing and even grant fast healing but has the wearer risk cardiac arrest if the push the system too far. Each one is interesting, well priced, and easy to insert into any campaign alongside the tech guide with little problem.

Now the book is not perfect. It's got some formatting errors that drive me crazy like notes for where bullet points are supposed to be that haven't been added (part of why it's not 5 star as of this writing) but overall the book is an absolute treat for those looking for more ways to incorporate the options introduced in the technology guide in more interesting ways. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to design a gnoll barbarian with a radioactive axe.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Dhampir: Scions of the Night
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/05/2013 08:33:57

So I picked up this book after learning that a friend of mine wanted to gm pathfinder for the first time and start with running Carrion Crown and invited me to game. Now considering that I have basically gm'd solely for the better part of 5 years now getting the chance to play an rp heavy gothic horror game with ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and Cthulhlian horror all thrown into the mix I couldn't do anything but say yes and getting a chance to finally run my dhampir witch that had been rolling around in the back of my head for the better part of a year was just too good to be true. So looking for more sources to add give me ideas after Blood of the Night didn't meet my expectations I picked up Scions of the night hoping to find some compelling and balanced options built around the idea of playing a vampires bastard spawn and I have to say this book hits the nail on the head.

To start with Raging Swan builds an absolutely excellent list of viable and balanced replacement for every single racial trait the Dhampir has. Want to build that Nosferatu born who always suffers from that wasting malady but feel like the undead resistances sort of work against the whole "is easily sickened" idea? Flip the bonuses to something new like channel resistance and mind-effecting affects. Want to play a Jiang-shi born dhampir fighter who's a little crazy for portents and isn't really interested in the skill bonuses the manipulative trait gives? Give him paranoid for bonuses in sense motive and perception or take the undead skin option and get some DR/silver for your trouble with your gm maybe even altering the dr to make it more in line with that of the jiang-shi. Want to build a Svetocher (moroi/vanilla vamp) dhampir bard who's obsessed with the stage and beguiling but think that the light sensitivity or postive energy weakness BotN gives really give you something cool to play with? Give them a water weakness that makes them treat it like holy water, now you have an excuse to only drink the finest wines let alone why they choose to bath in it (or how hard they are since when they bathe like normal people it could really kill them). Now the list goes on in on giving you option after option to create a really interesting and unique variant all your own. I mean in this example alone I haven't even gone over what I've changed to fit my with lol. Special mention should also go to the random tables to help give backstory to the events of your characters birth, I know for myself I had always had trouble thinking of many options for the vampire parent being female but the idea that your character is literally the result of a miracle spell cast by an unholy priest of undeath just gives me too many ideas to not want to use it for something (let alone reevaluate what one might want to do with that spell).

Next we get some new class options including some new things for the cleric, oracle, rogue, sorcerer, and witch. The Cleric gets 2 new subdomains, one for the death domain called Graveborn and another for the Luminous Subdomain for Sun. Now the Graveborn one is kind of like a white necromancer or becoming more human option with the domain granting positive energy healing and some more powers based on controlling people and undead (dominate person, control undead, etc.). Now I will say I really like this subdomain but felt like it fit more with the repose domain then the death domain and would allow someone to take both this and the undeath domain on one character which seems to be what they intended in the writing with some special interplay for being healed by both positive and negative energy. The Luminous Subdomain is okay with a focus on the aspect of light rather then fire. It's pretty interesting even if it doesn't call out to me. The oracle gets a few new revelations for the bone mystery including the ability to channel negative energy and drain blood. The rogue really gets some fun options with rogue talents letting them play dead after taking damage or sap life from a target and gain temp hp a few times a day. The sorcerer gets a few replace options for the undead domain to make it more vampire like including gaseous form and the ability to dominate others. Finally we get hex options for the witch including the ability to cut off targets from cure spells as well as an option called soul drinker which lets you slap negative levels on enemies.

After that we get the feats. Some of them are pretty standard fair like blending in with humans, getting some more race traits, and more alternate spell-like abilities but amongst them we also get some real gems a feat that gives your familiar or animal companion undead traits or the ability to substitute your hp in place of black onyx gems when creating undead.

Finally we get some sample Dhampir in the back. All in all we get about 6 different stat blocks for various characters ranging from antipaladins to rogues running the alignment gamut form LG to CE. One of the really cool things is that even though there are only about 6 or 7 stat blocks we get 11 unique characters out of all the stats with Raging swan giving us 2 completely different characters with write ups motivations, and goals and only having to really change the name and alignment on the stat block. I know I loved this since it gives me a wide range of interesting and compelling npc's to use in my home games while finding a way to compress the stat blocks so that they fit into this slim folio which I have to applaud them for.

So in closing this book is excellent, an absolutely wonderful supplement for any group looking for more options for their dhampir characters or just more options to add onto those given to us by blood of the night and if you can believe it there is still even more stuff for players to look into.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dhampir: Scions of the Night
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Creator Reply:
What an awesome review. Thanks so much for posting it, Tyler.
Bleached Skull Gnolls
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2013 20:51:47

Unfortunately the internet ate my first writing of this so I'm going to try and keep this one a little bit shorter.

To sum it up this book (and those in the tribes line) is meant to turn your random encounters battles into something like a mini campaign/vacation game for whatever big adventure you may be running allowing you to do everything from spice up your random encounters during a long trek in between dungeons to create an interesting jump off point for a gm looking for an interesting antagonist to kick off a homebrew campaign.

Now with that being said Raging Swan really brings it with the Bleached Skull tribe, giving us an ecology, stats for gnolls from various positions and rolls within the group, a whole new creature, encounter tables ranging from ambushes to shaman's and their vile retinues, and whole new magical items to really give the tribe its own distinct style. By the time your parties done they will know what it means when they find those terrible glyph carved skulls amidst the forests and learn to fear a gnoll brandishing a shriveled chicken leg. That being said the fact that those magical items that can be used as weapons count as masterwork for the purposes of attack and damage rolls seems odd to me and makes me wonder if they were meant to be treated as +1 items. Luckily that is but a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent book with this being able to be dropped into near any session in a forested area from the darkened forests of Ustalav to the gnarled jungles of your home campaign. I know for me I'm already looking for ways to bring the bleached skulls against my own party at some point in the future, maybe using them as a nasty horror to waylay them on their way home through primeval forests or see my own gm drop them in when we begin to roll out of civilization and our first time players begin to get their first exposure to what horrors the wilds of the world can hide. In the end if you whether you're looking for a way to give some organization to your random encounters or just give you a jump off point for your home game the Bleached Skulls are a great choice if your looking for an interesting take on the dark cult in the ancient woods.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bleached Skull Gnolls
Click to show product description

Add to Bards and Sages RPG Resource Order

Displaying 1 to 8 (of 8 reviews) Result Pages:  1 
Back
0 items
Powered by DriveThruRPG