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Lord Soth

Beckett's page

RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. FullStarFullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 4,825 posts (20,284 including aliases). 49 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 28 Pathfinder Society characters. 6 aliases.

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It just doesn't live up to the Arcane Anthology. From premise to fluff to crunch I think that the authors just really missed the point. Almost the entire book revolves around what to me feels like a very lackluster in-setting manual with a heavy snowflaky sort of backstory. I didn't really check, but I'm pretty sure that the setting material used here is mainly something just made up rather than using existing material.

I was hoping more for either A.) some sort of Divine/religious themed artifacts or tomes or B.) maybe something like the religious teachings of the Godclaw, combining a few deity's tenets together. I don't know, I was hoping for a Divine version of Arcane Anthology, and this is nothing like it. While it does have some good stuff in it, I also feel like there is way too much that should have been put in other books, like the Paladin Codes, especially when the Patron's are not even otherwise touched on in any meaningful way. Perhaps I had my hopes up too much, but this one just doesn't really do much for me.

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I'm running this via PbP, and honestly, this has got to rank amongst the most dull scenario's I can think of. The missions are very unintuitive and it's an enormous sandbox at the start leaving everyone just waiting for something fun to start happening. Now that the appeal of playing monsters is beginning to wear off, I just don't know. PLEASE DO NOT CONTINUE WITH THIS TREND IN THE FUTURE. No, honestly, please.

Will update once completed.

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I didn't care for the book, but it's really hard to place a finger on just why. Part of it is I just didn't think it did a great job of including options for a lot of classes to take on Horror or Haunted elements. Some, like Spirit Ally sound really cool, but become available so late game it's questionably even worth it, just to get a sort of limited version of a Spirit pet/Haunted Curse without having to take or dip those classes. If this would have been a level 1 option that upgraded or grew stronger, this would have been amazing. But having to wait until 8th level just makes it feel like a wasted potential option.

I didn't care for the Haunt Spells, partially because they seem to be there to both steal a lot of the character's that focus on or are strong against Haunts thunder or just seem very odd mechanically.

Part of this might be related to my disappointment with both Horror Adventures (lack of player material and poor mechanics like Sanity) and also Occult Adventures awkwardly cramming in themes and mechanics that just don't work well in the preexisting setting and material, and Haunted Heroes sort of ramps that up. While Haunted Heroes does offer a lot of Archetypes, it just felt like they ignored some of the classes that actually needed them for ones that didn't. I also found the religions chosen, (and the options given to them specifically) very curious. So many of them seemed out of place, and then the unique options to replace a given Domain power, while cool, also felt like a huge missed opportunity to make those things options that other's could take and make a lot more sense in doing so. For instance, Irori followers get a supeup Channel to Harm Undead Haunts ability, but Iomedae, Sarenrae, and even Pharasma don't (despite it actually making sense for them to and Irori not).

The Possessed Hand chain is very interesting and fun, and generally open to everyone, but it's also very odd. Does Channel Energy/Alignment Channel kill it permanently?

Spirit Ridden and Channel Spirit I think would have been much better off as, similar to Spirit Ally, (or even better upgrades for Spirit Ally) options for all characters to be able to dip into getting a spirit-like pet, but instead it is kind of a lackluster séance thing that realistically takes a character 3 hours per day to prep between spells (if a spellcaster) and then an hour long séance for each.

This was not really a good book for all the lacking player content from Horror Heroes, but instead seems to follow in the same footsteps in a lot of ways. There are some good options in here, but in my opinion too much of it is arbitrarily limited to make sure only some classes take options or that the flavor, it's stronger point is not really that supported by it's crunch.

I liked the art overall, and particularly LOVED that it didn't focus on the annoying icons often.

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Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with this one. Reading through it, I think I actually lost interest in the AP instead of building towards it. It felt too much like product placement for the Occult Adventures material instead of focusing in on Lovecraftian or Horror concepts, and a great deal of the advice comes down to trust us and trust your DM, which would have been better, I think as a discussion aimed at the DM in the product itself, and how to talk to their groups up front, rather than a plea towards the potential players.

It offers a heck of a lot of suggested options, but very little reason why they are good, how they will matter, or ways to really help other than just a name. It also seems to ignore, (maybe they forgot they existed) others which one would imagine would be really good fits. Too many suggestions also make it very meaningless.

Reading through it, it also really seems that whoever wrote the guide also has little idea of what is coming, and the later sections and mechanics/options seem to strongly disagree with a lot of the flavor and mood that early sections suggest, (or at least implied). All in all, this was a very weak guide that seems to miss the mark.

And while (not a complaint directly about the guide itself) it's cool we are finally going back to Ustalav, we are also told up front not to expect to stay there long, and again seems to strongly imply the goal is to focus on Occult Adventures aspects rather than Horror Adventures.

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A huge missed opportunity

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For the most part, I liked this product, though I do have a few concerns. I was a little disappointed that so much of the material presented is for the DM only. There is some stuff for the Players, and plenty that Players could use if they wanted to, but it's clearly there for the DM's to use against them.

One of the main issues overall is that this book, designed for running horror games or introducing horror elements into gaming just doesn't stand out from other products from other systems well. For DM's that do have other experience and products to draw from, there just isn't much here that is needed or that they couldn't do themselves with relative ease, or just port in. However, for DM's that don't have much experience with horror games, I could see this being a decent intro guide. Not so much for players though.

Primarily that there just are not a lot of options for Players to fight against "horror" monsters or encounters, and in particular one would think that there would be plenty in here for Clerics and Paladins. Unlike many other hard cover products that introduce a new system or theme of play, this one is pretty lacking on ways and methods to incorporate the basic game into the style of play, except for some very basic RP suggestions, (what is your character afraid of?).

I was also pretty disappointed that so much Occult Adventures material was included here, especially when there really isn't a great deal of crossover themes between the two products and Occult Adventures was already kind of poor at doing it's own thing or being very inclusive of much of the core material itself. It really felt like Paizo couldn't get a lot of the Occult Adventure's stuff finished on time for that product and so sort of inserted it here, except a good deal of it arbitrarily has "psychic" prereqs, meaning only some of the Occult Classes can take those options, which is stupid.

I also found it kind of annoying that there was little for the CRB classes, but also just gear in general, magical or otherwise was pretty uninteresting.

All in all, these things just make the book feel very incomplete, which is a trend I see being repeated in Pathfinders Hardcovers since the ACG was rushed out.

I wasn't terribly impressed with the Insanity Damage concept, and I don't really see how looks, power of persuasion, or book learning relate to your sanity or resistance to loosing it. I thinking going off of Con would have been a better idea than Int or Cha, and the system is just odd, because really, even in the book, it seems the only attacks that relate to insanity deal Wis damage, (or as an alternative Sanity Score Damage). I'm not a fan of either implementation or the intention here. It really felt like someone had a pet peeve that their high Cha or high Int character didn't want to worry about Wis, (or maybe to show that high Cha characters are more sane?), and tried to force the system to work around that, but it doesn't actually seem to work. Why wouldn't a high Int and/or high Cha be a NEGATIVE insanity modifier.

The book kind of comes in as a combination of 3.5's Book of Vile Darkness and the more DM focused sections of Heroes of Horror and Ravenloft, (the later two I'm extremely bias towards, so that is certainly boosting this books star rating, maybe more than it deserves). The main problem though, as that it really takes a bit more from the former, which was, well, not so great. The later two are some of my favorite d20 based books out there, but I think this could have used an injection of player options to make it glorious rather than good.

As a Player Book, this one is a 1/5, though as a DM book, a solid 3/5. The lack of much for Players, the majority of the population just really hurts this book a lot, and honestly, I think that it would have been better to focus on the Player's side for this book, and break tradition to make the normal Player's Guide that follows (Haunted Heroes in this case) the DM focus book for this case. Especially as it would have done a lot to keep the DM tricks and tactics concepts out of the Player's hands in general.

I'm just going to go ahead and say it. I hated Occult Adventures, on it's own merits. It felt forced, unready, and didn't mesh at all with Golarion, much less generic fantasy in the same way that non-transparency Psionics didn't. A lot of the issue was how little interesting material, or how incomplete that book was for it's own new classes. Horror Adventures was mainly a hugely missed opportunity in that it seems Paizo tried so hard to fill the gaps from Occult Adventures by putting them in here, except for, well it doesn't work. Too little, too late, and too not for players.

EDIT: Honestly , this is probably my 4th or so edit of this review, and the more I read it, the more the stars just keep dropping (4 to 1 at this point). I want this to be better. I really, really do. But after further reading, giving things little time to sink in, and reexamining it, (and this is including with Strange Aeons), this book just doesn't hold up. For either Players or DM's. It's doubtful, but hopefully Paizo will take this all into consideration, and just redo the book. It's very hyped up, but just doesn't deliver. You CAN do so much better.

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