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Axebeak

Brekkil's page

399 posts. 21 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.



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*****

Before reading my review, you should probably know that I've been collaborating with the great guys at Purple Duck Games on several projects and that I received a free copy of this product. I did contribute to this small product, but only one single feat (Sculpt Spell, and even that was changed radically from my original idea) so I feel that I can review this product freely. If you don't feel that way, feel free to disregard my review entirely.

Feats are an important feature of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and as such, it becomes important to have a few to choose between. The core rulebook and Advanced Player's Guide presents a lot of feat options, but with time, players will want more and different options. As the title proclaims, this book presents 80 awesome feats... and two crappy ones. Honestly, I've been looking for the two crappy ones and haven't been able to locate them, well, perhaps there are a couple that are overpowered, but crappy ones? No, certainly not.

Lets have a look at some of the feats. First up are the very cool Totem feats. These feats are each tied to a different animal, from the Ape, Aurach, Giant Gecko to the Hawk and Hippopotamus (and others). These feats can be taken by any character and can be taken at first level. They give a character the power to summon his totem spirit which, while possessed, offer the character a small power (like a Swim speed of 30 ft. to the Lunge feat) as well as a simple +2 bonus to a single skill check. These feats can be used a number of times per day equal to 1/4 the character level + Charisma modifier, which means that they are quite useful. I love the flavor of these, and while a few seem a bit overpowered for the level that the player can take them, they are mostly balanced and...awesome.

You'll find a lot of feats useful in combat, but also a series of feats that makes the channel energy feature of the cleric even more useful. Some feats are only useful for characters of the dragon type and some are only meant for monks (there is even a single psionic feat in here), but overall, you'll find a little bit for each of the classes. I especially loved the Abundant Magic feat which makes spell-like abilities even more useful (as you can now cast them more times per day) and the Beast Senses feat which gives barbarians, druids or rangers the scent ability. Simple, full of flavor and just... awesome.

Need more feat options? Well, you should definitely check this product out, and for the very low price, you simply cannot let this one pass! I am settling on a 4.5 verdict, rounded up for the purpose of this format.


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****( )

I honestly don't know why I purchased this book, since I rarely play in northern settings, but something about it just intrigued me, perhaps because I come from the north myself and wanted to see how Open Design had handled Odin, Thor and Loki. Looking at the cover, how can you not be drawn to this book?

The first two chapters present the Northlands setting and the myths on which it was built. I love the nordic mythology and have read plenty of stories in my day, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the designers had changed certain things, like names, to give the setting its own feel. For one, Odin and Thor are nowhere to be found, but is probably hiding beneath the names, Wotan and Donar. These two chapters will probably get the least use in my own games, but are really well-done and did inspire me while I read them (especially the strange world of Hyperborea!). I should probably also mention the awesome map whose cartographer is not mentioned in the credits (I am guessing Jonathan Roberts?)! Shame on the person who did the layout, big mistake, or maybe I am just blind?

Chapter three presents new options for players, like the various northern races, new class options (for nearly all the core classes), expanded skill options, feats, character traits and new (northern) equipment. Most of these options are useful in games outside the Northlands, and I just want to mention a couple of my favorite options. First there are the two Hyperborean races, the dayborn and the nightborn, these have a really cool Sword & Sorcery flavor and will definitely find their way into one of my games (they felt slightly like those two races in H.G. Well's The Time Machine). I also want to mention the two new sorcerer bloodlines, Giant and Hyperborean. The giant is just shear genius and I love the flavor and especially the signature ability at 20th level. The achievement feats are just cool and if one dares introduce them into a game, will offer so much flavor and challenge to the players. The equipment section is probably my least favorite, but that is probably because it will see the least use in my games as they are highly tied to the Northlands setting. And really, snowballs deal 1d3 nonlethal damage? I could really do without the whole snowball theme that is scattered throughout the book.

Next up is chapter 4, magic of the north. Having read the small section on Grudge magic, I am still not sure why it is there or what purpose it serves, but I did like the rune magic section. The spells were not that interesting and I could probably have done without half of them, but a few were really cool and inspiring, especially Jotun's Jest (which causes a weapon to increase in size, becoming fit for a colossal creature) and Wolfsong (which allows a person to howl like a wolf, sending a message that can be heard up to 5 miles away, outdoors, of course). Most of the magic items are highly tied to the Northlands setting and even carry nordic-sounding names such as Hringhorni, Lævateinn, black lavvu, eisenscham and raidho sled. There were a couple that I didn't understand the purpose behind, like the World Tree (I understand the whole Yggdrasil thing, but to make it an artefact? I think not.). How is this supposed to be introduced and even used in a setting? I am also unsure about the Warning Wolfband, while I really like the idea (the wearer cannot be surprised), I dont get the pricing of this one (321,300gp). How did the designer arrive at this number? Rather make it an artifact or lower the price considerable. I would definitely go for the last option, as the ring isn't that powerful when compared to other items such as a Vorpal blade. Among the items that I thought were really cool, were the feather of huginn (break the feather and create a raven messenger) and the bitter horn (a drinking horn that can tell friend from foe, how cool is that!?)

The last two chapters presents optional rules for the frozen north and, of course, a bunch of new (or rather old) monsters. The rules chapter was well written and useful if you are playing in the Northlands setting, but also a little crammed and chaotic in its structure (while reading about natural hazards, we are certainly presented with Fate Afflictions and then, the hazards continue afterwards, as if it was just thrown in there at random). The monsters were just cool and useful. The only monster that I thought was missing was a low-level monster (CR 1-3). Aside from that, we get monsters for both epic, high-level and mid-level games.

Overall, a surprisingly good book with lots (and I do mean lots!) of options for both player and GM. My biggest concern is the layout. There are lots (and I do mean lots!) of small mistakes scattered throughout the book (spelling mistakes, font mistakes, font size mistakes, text placement mistakes etc.). It would have greatly benefitted from a couple of proofreaders before hitting the market. I own the softcover, so I am particular sorry to see so many mistakes, as it can't be updated along the way (as a pdf can).

I am going to settle on a 3.5 star verdict, but since the material is just so good, I am going to round up to 4 for the purpose of this format.


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***( )( )

Better people than me have already reviewed the adventures and since I haven't read all of them, or even played one of them, I am not going to review those. I should probably also mention that I participated in the open design of this one, but contributed nothing.

No doubt that the meat of this book are the 7 adventures, but since I rarely play any adventure as it is written, what really interests me about Streets of Zobeck is the rest of the book. So lets take a look.

First off we get a chapter called Faces of Zobeck which presents a bunch of NPCs from a strange fey called The Dragged Woman to a corrupt captain and an undead merchant from the Cartways. I loved most of these as they inspire a lot of adventure, but felt that perhaps the descriptions were a little short for my liking. I would have loved a little more detail about some of them, but since some of them are used in the adventures, I guess more information are presented there. I especially liked the Dragged Woman, who has a really inspiring power; the power to open a magical passage to somewhere else. I could easily see this fey creature come alive in a different type of setting as well, like a wilderness setting.

Next up is a chapter called Places of Zobeck. This chapter was a bit more hit and miss for me. As ideas, the locations are all really cool and gave me a strong feel of the city, but unfortunately, not all of the locations had enough detail to make them really useful. Let me give you an example: Hommal's Botanical Rooftop. This place is what? A botanical garden at the top of a building, owned by someone named Hommal who makes and sells drugs (I think). Instead of focusing on the botanical rooftop and the plants that we find here, we get a lot of useless information about the lower areas and for what reason? I could understand the point of reading about the tenements, if the people who lived there were somehow connected to the botanical rooftop, perhaps they were all additcs of the drugs produced by Hommal. I really appreciate what these locations are trying to do; give us a feel for the iconic places of the city, but I would have liked a few more interesting features. I did love the Silk Scabbard and how it allows the PCs to buy the gambling den and run it themselves. A really cool idea.

After the adventures, we get some crunch for the players. First up are a handful of feats. Most of these are plain and simple, but one of them struck me as pure genius. I like to play in urban settings and sadly wizards rarely gets the chance to cast fireball, but now, with the Urban Spell feat, they can. This feat modifies a spell so that it only damages living creatures. Yes. Your fireball will no longer set fire to half the city! Genius. This chapter also presents 16 new traits. I found a lot of these useful and will be introducing them into my own campaign setting. Lastly we get a couple of spells and magic items. These seem balanced and I really loved the magical items.

Lastly, I want to mention my biggest complaint about this book. It really needed another look by a couple of proofreaders. While the layout is really nice (cool illustrations, ok maps), there are just too many strange mistakes that bother me while I read the book. I own the softcover version so if the pdf has been updated to fix these, I am sorry that I haven't noticed. I would also have liked it if all the crunch had been collected in one place/chapter, instead of scattered throughout the book.

I'll settle for a 3.5 verdict, rounded down. If I owned the pdf and had an updated version, I would probably have settled for a 4 star verdict.


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Cool creatures, lacking a couple of things

****( )

Before I write my review, I should probably tell you that I received a free review copy of this product.

An Infernal Index? Yes, sounds awesome doesn't it. I like demons, devils and daemons as much as the next guy, but I've also seen (and used) far too many of these, and while they seem to be one of the most complex and interesting type of creatures, there is also the danger that they might look (and feel) alike. This index presents us with 6 creatures from the Infernal Nether Realms, and they aren't all devils, demons and daemons.

No reason to beat around the bush, lets get to the creatures! The first creature is an ungudaemon, a weird-looking and vile creature that loves to force others to kill (as the book writes, the embodiment of serial killing). This is the weakest creature in the book and I would have liked it to have some powers of persuasion, how cool would it be to have a daemon that created serial killers of ordinary (and weak-willed) human beings? Next up is the feathered devil, infernal accountants and treasurers. I really like the thought of hell as a bureaucracy! Only thing I would change about this creature would be to give it the ability to fly. It has wings, and while there is something to be said for cheating the players, I think this would have been cool. And while I am nitpicking, I would also have given them some abilities to instantly count coins and locate treasure (detect magic at the very least). Yes, these would merely be flavor.

Then we get the Khorkhore, a creature that is the embodiment of gluttony and excess. I really liked this creature, and from looking at the rather stupid-looking illustration, I didn't think I would. This creature has a really cool ability that will make a small village into a disturbing community of gluttonous freaks. Awesome! After the khorkhore, we get what I would describe as a cool mix between sweeney todd and edward scissorhands: the baboulas kyton. I loved this creature, which might not work in every type of game.

Then we get an oni called a hanadaka oni. These creatures are excellent swordsmen, cunning tricksters and are somehow tied to tengus. I am not a big oni fan, but this one actually looks (and feels) cool. The last creature in the Infernal Index is the piasa. The thing that makes this CR 17 creature interesting for me, is that it is not very intelligent and hardly understand its own powers. It's a nice setup. However, I would have liked this creature to have a couple of powerful signature abilities to match its CR.

Overall, this Index presents a lot of interesting and original creatures. My favorites were the khorkhore, feathered devil and baboulas kyton, but honestly, all the monsters have something to offer. I would have loved to hear a bit more about the sources that the author talks about in the introduction.

Lastly, I just want to acknowledge the very cool (and colourful) illustrations. These, together with the cool ideas and low price makes this a must-buy for any GM. For the price, I can easily forget the small changes that I would have liked. I am going to settle on 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this format.


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****( )

Mimics are often used in Roleplaying Games, and yet, I don't think I've ever used one . I've met a couple as a player, but somehow they have escaped my gamemastering grasp thus far.

Darkness Without Form (Secrets of the Mimic) was actually one of the first Pathfinder compatible pdfs that I bought and I've read it several times (it ain't that big, merely 24 pages). So... lets see what it contains.

It starts out with a short history of the mimic, which is also a history of the aboleth, as the two are tied in with eachother. It's a nice history, dark and fleshy, yet, I started to get annoyed by the end of it, as it merely paints a picture of the mimics as servants of the aboleths. I would have liked a slightly broader perspective. Perhaps a few escaped their master's grasp and made a 'life' for themselves somewhere else.

Then we get to the section on mimic symbiotes, which are fleshy mimics that capture a host and dominates them. These symbiotes come in two different shapes (templates, actually), the Puppetmaster symbiote and the Warhulk symbiote. I actually like these and could easily see both used in my current campaign setting, both gave me a very alien feel. By the end of this section, we are also presented with two new mimicky monsters, the lair tyrant mimic (a huge mimic that is often tied to a single location over many years... they also tend to bind themselves with other creatures), and mimicling swarm (not a fan of the name, but it is just that, a swarm of diminutive mimics. In the description they are described as coins). I really like the flavor of the lair tyrant and there are three really nice sidebars that will give your game a lot of flavor.

The last thing we get in this small pdf is a short toolbox on how to give mimics a different feel and power level (imagine a flying mimic...) It is easy to use and probably the thing that I liked the most, since it allows you to create mimics of you own that will definitely surprise your players.

Overall, this is a nice book on mimics, if a little singleminded. I remember a short article on the KQ site that painted a very different picture of the mimics and I would have loved a greater variation. In these days, a lot of 3pps tend to publish pdfs that appeal to both GM and players, but beware, this is a "GM's Only" type of book.

I should probably also note that it has excellent artwork and a very nice and easy to read layout. However, because it is so single-minded, I am going to end at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this format.


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