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Is multiclassing the kineticist now viable?El Ronza —
Tides of War: Kineticist/X Feats is a short supplement containing feats for multiclass kineticists. Much like the similar product I reviewed earlier (Bard/X Feats), it contains a page and a half of feats, all designed to be taken as early as character level 3rd. None are a simple “Count your level as X for the purposes of Y” – rather, they all add new ways to use a kineticist, in particular, the burn mechanic.
Many of the feats require you to accept burn to utilize them, with a note in the introduction of the product stating that the burn cost cannot be reduced by any means, including gather power. Examples include the ability to reduce the bonus to Constitution granted by a mutagen instead of accepting burn, add a hex to a kinetic blast, add the advanced template to summons, or funnel burn into one of many ‘pool’ class features to restore points to them. My personal favourite may be Raging Kinesis, which allows a raging character to form their kinetic blade as a free action and keep it activated for the duration of their rage!
Generally, the kineticist class doesn’t lend itself to multiclassing, but these feats provide new and interesting ways to do so. Pick it up if you’re interested in expanding your kineticist, or playing in a gestalt campaign – it’s cheap and worth it.
Fun feats at a low priceEl Ronza —
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest review.
Tides of War: Bard/X Feats is designed for multiclass bards, with most feats designed to be taken as early as 3rd level. It contains two pages of content after stripping out credits, cover, OGL, and introduction. They’re simple and straightforward, allowing combat bards easier access to Extra Performance and masterpieces, scholarly bards to stack class levels for Bardic Knowledge, and all caster bards to prepare bard spells as other class cantrips. Want to grant sneak attack to allies, boost performances while smiting enemies, or use percussive fists to increase your performance output? Does your bard have occult implements, a pet, or a favoured enemy? The last two talents allow extra uses of a talent, or – saving the best for last – allow a bard with the Order class feature to Bluff his way out of any consequences for violating the edicts of his order.
None of the feats particularly blew me away, but all are solid and work exactly as you’d expect. Fun options for multiclass bards at a low price makes me feel comfortable giving this 5 stars. Pick it up if you’re a fan of fun multiclass options.
Some underwhelming options, lots of amazing onesEl Ronza —
Dislcaimer: I received a free PDF of this product in exchange for an honest review. I am otherwise unaffiliated with Flying Pincushion Games.
As a music fan, I was excited to start playing bards in Pathfinder. The 3.5 class never felt satisfying, and Paizo really made the class interesting and appealing again. Since then, I’ve eagerly devoured every bard archetype and masterpiece I’ve come across, and while it’s taken me a while to write this (life happens, games start, summer hits), I finally sat down to write out the thoughts I had about this product.
I’ll be honest here, folks: I love it. Almost every archetype is mechanically solid and thematically inspiring. The first piece of content in the book, the Chronicler of Blades archetype, is the weakest point for me – available only to elves, it swaps out all spellcasting for bonus combat feats from a restricted list, allows full BAB to be used for swords for which the bard has Weapon Focus, replaces versatile performance with a +4 bonus on skill checks to learn or remember the features of swords, and replaces Versatile Performance with the ability to add half the result of a Knowledge check to an attack roll or combat maneuver check a limited number of times per day. It strips all versatility from the class, and plays into the hackneyed trope of elves being, like, just the best at swordplay, you know?
Thankfully, once the product moves past this weak point, everything is far more interesting. The Courtless Marvel, dancing on the edge of the fey courts, can mimic summon nature’s ally (scaling with level) with his performance, grant allies the speed of quicklings, and mimic the stunning glance of a nymph. He gains wild empathy, druid or ranger spells as spells known, and an expanded summon nature’s ally list. The Fabulist changes his casting stat to Wisdom, chooses an archetypal animal and can form a bond with it as a familiar (just don’t choose the wolf as your animal, because you get nothing in exchange), and learns spells from a domain, automatically gaining them instead of choosing his first spell known of each level. (Note: the four alignment domains are available, but without the expected caveat about the character’s alignment matching.) He can allow allies to use his own Wisdom bonus on Will saves, call extraplanar allies using a limited planar ally, and offer atonement to people with his fables.
The Grotesque was the first archetype that not only intrigued me but really won me over for sheer cool factor. Based on the idea of carnival “freaks and geeks”, he is less knowledgeable overall than the vanilla bard, having fewer spells known (but not spells per day), no lore master, and no bardic knowledge. Instead of inspiring his allies, he disturbs his foes, through a modified “reversed” inspire courage, two new performances that can sicken and nauseate (without replacing any other performances, it should be noted), and his unique Disturbing Acts – sideshow performances that grant him a bite attack, use his extensive body modifications to distract foes, vomit the contents of his stomach, or cover himself in swarms of vermin that attack indiscriminately. While this archetype is hilarious and awesome, it needs clarification – do disturbing acts count as bardic performances? Some allow him to start a performance as part of a special action linked to the act, others don’t, and one seems to imply that it is its own performance. The product would benefit from this clarification.
The Jester gains Antagonize for free and adds half his level to select Perform skills, as well as the ability to substitute them for social skills. Giving up spellcasting for evasion, improved evasion, and half-progression sneak attack, he plays very differently to your average performer. Thankfully, he can cause foes to become flat-footed by hurling japes at them, ensuring he’ll have plenty of chances to deal that sneak attack. Next, the Lifeweaver is a healer bard, adding restorative and raising spells to his spell list (not spells known), granting allies fast healing (capping out at fast healing 6), dividing all damage and healing received between bonded creatures, granting energy resistance and DR/-, and gaining the ability to channel energy. It’s a simple but neat archetype.
I’ll be honest about the Matchmaker: I don’t know what to do with it. While the increased save DCs on emotion spells and the (Ex) charm person-esque Serenade ability are cool, the archetype seems for NPCs only. I’m not against the idea, but I’m not sure how I can use this (as a player or a GM). The Prop Comic is an entirely different matter – a master of slapstick performance. Ever wanted to force an enemy’s allies to move away from them, provoking attacks of opportunity? Stick an exploding cigar in someone’s mouth? Deal damage to swarms with a comically-oversized mallet? Convince an injured foe to open what looks like a healing potion, but actually contains a snake swarm? Two bonus feats (Catch Off-Guard and Throw Anything) and a scaling bonus to attack and damage rolls on improvised weapons are icing on the cake. This archetype had me literally laughing as I read it!
The Rookery Master replaces bardic knowledge, well-versed, loremaster, and two versatile performances to gain a total of four bird familiars, which can (one at a time) share his bardic performances. He can always speak with birds, use feathers from these familiars to craft magic items, and (my favourite) use augury by interpreting the flights of birds. The Skirling Adept focuses on the oft-ignored totem spear, allowing him to deal large amounts of sonic damage to enemies, deafening and dazing them, gaining a unique familiar, and gaining the ability to use call lightning and wind wall at higher levels.
The Song Bow is proficient with all bows and slings and treats them as musical instruments, using whistling arrows and groaning bullets as the designated originators of his performances. He can deal extra sonic damage with his shots, grant bonus damage to allies, and knock enemies prone with the sonic force of his arrows, even gaining the ability to create earthquakes at high levels. The last archetype is the exhaustive Squad Leader, who gains Urgent Commands instead of bardic performance. These commands include Move Out (allies can immediately move a short distance), Hunker Down (gain bonuses to AC), Suck It Up and Get Over It (make an additional save against some conditions), and the delightfully-named Do I Have to Do Everything Myself? (gain the Solo Tactics class feature).
While that’s it for archetypes, the product contains many more class options: next is the Holy Rhapsodist, a 5-level prestige class for paladin/bards. It gets 4 + Int skills per level, good Fortitude and Reflex saves, and four levels of spellcasting. They can turn their untyped damage from smite evil into sonic damage, heal a number of allies by expending Lay on Hands (which seems to work out to be less healing than channelling energy, oddly), apply mercies by expending rounds of performance, grant fear immunity to allies, cause her bonus damage from smite to strike an opponent at range for as long as a performance persist (awesome!), cast searing light, summon choral angels, and grant extra damage to allies striking the target of her smite. While it’s a decent and evocative prestige class, I’m underwhelmed by the Psalm of Healing class feature – allies up to your charisma modifier, for half the healing of a lay on hands, is worse than affecting all of them for the full amount, for the exact same cost. The only way I can see this edging out is if you didn’t take selective channel.
The Mime, an alternate class for the bard, is an interesting beast. Limited to humanoids and native outsiders, he gains no proficiencies, and the ability to cast arcane spells, but only by using performance rounds to mimic what he sees other creatures doing. This is the mime in a nutshell: he has no unique class features, but can mimic his allies to become a hyper-versatile member of a large party. His copycat performance allows him to duplicate the actions of allies – if a fighter ally attacks an enemy with a +1 flaming longsword, the mime can also attack that ally with an invisible +1 flaming longsword, using his own modifiers. He also gains the Mimic class feature, which he can use to conjure his own copies of other people’s armor, emulate class features such as bombs or sneak attack, gain the use of feats, or copy the effects of wands and potions. The mime seems to be at his best when part of a large party, and near-useless in a small one. Still, it’s certainly fun, and I’d like to be able to try one out with a permissive GM.
Next are the rules for fairy plays, single-use magic items that require the performance of a short and whimsical play to activate. The rules for creating your own are included alongside three examples – my personal favourite is “The Haunted Dooryard”, which grows and animates spooky, glowing pumpkins!
Finishing off the product are 6 new wondrous items, each of which functions as a masterwork instrument for a different Perform skill. For example, the mask of cowardly courage renders a performing wearer immune to fear, “as long as he incorporates theatrical, buffoonish cowardice into the performance”! And my favourite of the items, the Hell’s hurdy-gurdy, can cause devils to summon their allies, before engaging in randomized acts of debauchery (a handy d% table is provided).
In short, this is a very fun product with some very cool options, plenty of solid ones, and a few underwhelming ones. I’d appreciate it further if there was a consistent two-column layout throughout – the class options all follow two-columns, but the rules for fairy plays and the new magic items are single-column, which isn’t as friendly on the eyes. This is, ultimately, a minor quibble, and won’t subtract from my final verdict of a healthy four stars. Great job, pincushions!
Interesting concept let down by errorsEl Ronza —
$2 Generals: Deiro Domine earns points for being a cool concept; prepackage a powerful NPC that can be dropped into any game quickly and effectively, or woven in from the beginning. However, the actual construction of the product leaves much to be desired.
Deiro's statblock is confusing in a lot of ways, ranging from an unclear indication of how he was built to numerous formatting issues such as spells not being presented in italics. Paizo uses its format, and other companies copy it, because it works, and Flying Pincushion took a big risk by not following the standard. Additionally, it's difficult to tell whether or not Diero's statblock is pre-buffed, and with what.
Diero seems to be a caster magus, but no spellbook is included in his statblock. This is frustrating, as many GMs would like to customize while remaining true to the NPC's concept. This lack of information further hurts Diero, and by RAW, leaves him unable to prepare spells.
Tactically, Diero *can* present an interesting challenge in the right environment. However, apart from his mimic rogues, his other help is vague - referred to as “his men” or “bandits” throughout the product, and only at the end given levels and classes - and he doesn't stack up very favourably without backup. His saves are quite low for his level, which makes him dangerously vulnerable to an optimized party, and he lacks the ability to deal with multiple enemies by himself effectively.
One bright spot for Diero is his backstory, which offers a glimpse of how Diero came to be and what his motivations are. He seems to be an interesting character, and it's a shame that the crunch doesn't do him justice.
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Haunted Places (PFRPG) PDFFlaming Crab Games
Our Price: $2.99Add to Cart
Four-stars of creepy awesomeEl Ronza —
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Haunted Places is the third offering in the monthly ‘allsorts’ Letters from the Flaming Crab series, focusing on spooky, scary haunts and associated material. It includes four haunts, each of which has an extra association – three archetypes, and a new spirit for the medium class. It opens eerily, with a letter from the ship’s doctor aboard the UCS Flaming Crab to the captain, providing a bit of narrative on the discovery of the content within, before launching into the first haunt.
The Chimney Coffin is a CR 6 haunt that brings creepy flavour immediately, being the lingering spirit of a chimney sweep’s apprentice who was stuck, and subsequently died, inside the chimney in question, spreading suffocating soot to those foolish enough to light the fireplace beneath. It introduces the Child medium spirit, which has some delightful taboos – such as refusing to eat anything even remotely healthy, or not staying up past your bedtime. The spirit abilities allow the medium to gain increased bonuses from the aid another action; gain improved evasion; be contrary to adults by making additional saves against mind-affecting effects; or limited wish upon a star.
The Shifter’s Stone is a loci spirit that allows participants in the associated ritual to take the form of wild beasts – however, when corrupted, this benevolent spirit becomes a haunt that causes afflicted creatures to believe they’ve been transformed into harmless critters. Wonderful job linking the benefit and corruption! The Primal Spirit archetype for spiritualists accompanies the loci/haunt, with an altered class skill list, summon nature’s ally instead of summon monster on her class spell list, and a hunter’s animal focus ability instead of a phantom. She can manifest ectoplasmic claws, which gain further power as she levels, and wild empathy as a druid. Instead of spiritual interference, she gets a scaling insight bonus to AC and saves; and instead of several phantom features, she gains Wild Shape at a diminished level (she can assume animal and plant forms, but not elementals). She gains some very cool abilities while in wild shape – such as permanent air walk, phase lurch, and horrifying ooze. It’s an unusual archetype that doesn’t feel much like a druid by the time you’re through with it, but it’s certainly interesting.
The Stable of Despair, a manifestation of the tortured spirits of mistreated horses, causes those nearby to see their own flesh rotting and melting away, and is accompanied by the Rider of the Dead archetype for antipaladins. Diplomacy replaces Stealth as a class skill, and a scaling bonus to social skills against undead replaces aura of cowardice. The rider of the dead can also command undead (as the feat) by spending extra uses of touch of corruption, gain bonuses against undead’s abilities and can give extra bonus to undead allies with aid another, and gains a skeletal mount (which has undead traits and cold resistance) that replaces the standard fiendish boon.
The final haunt, the Unfinished Painting, is created when a painter dies before finishing their masterpiece, and the twisted soul infuses the unfinished creation with suffering and obsession. The victim of the haunt becomes determined to finish the painting, with whatever materials it can use – including, in the end, their own blood. This is accompanied by the Mad Painter archetype for the Mesmerist, who replaces his hypnotic stare (!!!) with the ability to distract or fascinate enemies (as the bardic performances) by painting hypnotic patterns in the air (which gains more effects at higher levels, including mass suggestion), and can’t implant mesmerist tricks unless he paints symbols over the recipient’s eyelids (no word on what to do with eyeless creatures, though). He can implant spells in his paintings, which are activated when a creature examines the painting, and takes a penalty on their saving throw. As a capstone, he can create paintings so terrifying, they cause those gazing upon them to die of fright!
At the end of the day, this is a solid little product that delivers what it promises. The haunts are interesting, the addition of the loci is a great touch, and the supporting archetypes are flavourful. My final score for this product is four stars – it’s definitely good, and I would have liked to see more, but the Primal Spirit seems bizarre and dissonant to me.