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Rise of the Drow is a Mega-adventure/AP taking PCs from level 1 - 20, published by AAW Games. It imho mops the floor with Second Darkness (but could easily be enriched with some components from SD).
Here are the links:
I wrote extensive reviews for all of them, so yeah.
Part II of my review
Cantors and Maestros may also opt for the vituoso archetype, who may start bardic performances -and the interesting component here being that the class replaces spells with exactly that, rendering the virtuoso a truly unique combo of the composition system and the potential of the bardic performance-modifications introduced in ample 3pp-supplements. A total of 2 pages of feats can used to modify the tricks at the disposal of the classes further - for example, you can cast cantrips faster, add the effects of a melody to those affected by your channel energy, conducting both melodies and refrains at once - these feats add yet another layer of flexibility and trickery to the classes provided herein, including e.g. means for the breakdancer to bypass spell focus-requirements for compositions. Of course, more rhythm, longer composition and all the variable extensions you'd expect can also be enhanced with feats.
Now after massive lists of compositions, it's time to check them out - and there are *a lot* in here. As mentioned above, harmonicists often receive their own effects and handy compatible classes-lines help you navigate the respective compositions. The compositions...well, they are overall exceedingly awesome - from mass mirror image-like duplicates that sport a more concise wording than the spell (and have specific, distinct rules) to destructive dissonances that break foes apart to dodge bonuses called "Can't Touch this!", there are a LOT of cool tools that demand experimentation/stacking/recombination. What about melodies that can actually stave off starvation? Or the option to potentially modify the range of a composition by means of a chorale? Especially the latter, if used wisely, can be utilized to pull off some damn impressive stunts. Providing flanking immunity for all allies within a short-range unless all are flanked also makes for a neat option for higher level composers. Now the very interesting component that renders the compositions interesting would be that the crunch very much duplicates the notion of composing music - the system requires the players to take the compositions and combine them, re-align them, change them up - and thus create deadly combos. When a certain effect deals sonic damage depending on how long a composition has run and similar interesting efficiency-optimization-tricks allow and reward the experimentation and planning of one's musical magic, immersion increases and one truly feels like a magical composer. So yes, this is one of the few installments wherein the crunch actually helps the immersion, one of the rare, truly artfully crafted books.
Want to know what I mean by unique benefits? What about an ode that turns all alcoholic beverages of a certain power healing potions, but only while within a bar frequented by locals? Yes, this composition actually comes with a built-in reason why your players should open an extradimensional planar bar! I love it! What about hijacking mind-influencing effects? Have I mentioned the spectral literally fat lady? Yeah. Awesome. And I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with these...
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard with melody/music-themed, thematic fonts. The pdf remains printer-friendly and it sports a mix of neat original b/w-artworks and some stock art/graphics. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - with nested bookmarks etc.
Composition magic is one complex system that is easy to grasp and, much like the music it mirror, hard to master. Unlike many classes out there, the magic herein may not look too impressive at first glance - the components, like single notes, look fun, but remain that - single notes. Until you tie them together - then, suddenly, a player can fist-pump and intone the symphony of destruction, so to speak. The massive array of modification options of the simple 3-part base system should constitute the very dream of a player seeking to compose his/her own magic -the way in which the single elements come together can be extremely gratifying. Yes, composition magic is different. It is weird. It is also the music-system the bard should have had in the first place - it's simply more interesting, less linear and puts player-agenda very high on the table. If there is one thing one could complain about here, then that would be that even more combo-elements would have been awesome to see. Some players of the old Maestro-class may also feel slightly vexed by certain compositions now being class-exclusive for other classes: If you liked killing foes with "End with a Whimper" - well, that's now cantor-exclusive, much to the chagrin of one of my players.
It should be noted, though, that Bradley Crouch and Jason Linker have simply crafted the superb incarnation of the system, with the cantor in particular being a true masterpiece - a full healer on par with the cleric, but with a completely different tone and ability set. While the breakdancer may strike some as a weird anachronism, I encourage all groups to check out how it plays, for in that regard, it is an absolutely unique experience as well. This is, let me emphasize that, NOT a joke-class. And if you don't like the fluff, do yourself a favor and reskin it. Seriously, the experience is interesting enough to warrant it.
Ultimate Composition is a superb book, a glorious magic-system and has become a permanent fixture in my games - one that I hope will one day receive even more fodder. Its crowning achievement, to me, remains in its ability to make the mastery of the system mimic the process it seeks to emulate - a feat rarely seen in any supplement and one that must be considered superbly rewarding. Hence, Ultimate Composition receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and becomes a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine as well as Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and posted this here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.
The drow are the classic, evil antagonists (including spider-theme and riding lizards), however, there is an option to establish an alliance with particular drow in the module. Personally, I wouldn't suggest going "good drow" here - the saga takes much of its wonder from upperworlders venturing into the wondrous underworld. Just my 2 cents!
Edit to make it clearer: "Slay em all!" is not wise - so no, not always CE, but drow are not nice people.
Aw, you people make me blush! Seriously!
That being said: Never let me writing a review get in the way of a review of yours - I try to be as objective as possible, but I'm only human and thus prone to all the weaknesses that implies. If your opinion diverges, that doesn't make it wrong. If I've written a review, that doesn't have to be the last word on a given product - in the end, I'm very aware that what I provide is an opinion. And while I love this book, others may disagree or see issues that slipped past me or simply value certain components differently.
Tl; DR: You both have written good reviews in the past - don't let ole' me get in the way. :)
(This does not change the fact that I utterly ADORE this book, stand behind my review and never ever would want to miss it in any of my games! This is ridiculously good and if a Legendary Games/Everyman gaming add-on synergy ever happens, I might drop off the chair due to a sudden and unaccustomed endorphine-increase in my system...)
Economy handbook? OMG. Alex, you'd make me very, very happy there.
And I second Chemlak's suggestions: We need *a LOT* more perks. Multi-function perks (kingdom building/downtime/mass combat-crossovers), cohort-add-ons...and most of all: More loner perks. I love what's here, but there simply aren't that many to choose from.
I wrote this glowing review mainly because I used this in actual game-play and it works..OH SO WELL!
My main campaign uses mass combat, downtime and kingdom building (though it's more "taming the frontier", focus-wise) and so far, the respective systems did not gel well together. I had to wing rules for leadership influencing components etc and constantly stumbled over some rough edges. LG's upgrades helped make these less jarring, but did not address the leadership component at a character level.
That's the one problem of many cool Paizo-sub-rulesets: They are created and then exist in a vacuum. This blends them together. My players *ADORE* this book and yes, not all roles receive perks - that's why I wanted MORE. I'd definitely love a second book with more perks!
Btw.: Last Sunday, one of my players, a badass pact-magic half-orc-barbarian one-man-army'd an army of goblins, while the PC's cohorts and followers were running the operations.
Finally: I really enjoyed your review, Chemlak! We need more concise, well-founded reviews like yours!
Per default, a HD-increase increases all other abilities tied to it. Specific wordings may result in different results, so if you point me towards the respective abilities, that would help.
Per default, automatons act on the tinker's turn. Why? because they're dumb. They follow the commands upon being deployed and the programming - think of them as stupid, mindless programming-scripts. Hence, as far as I know, regular automatons may not perform *ANYTHING* they're not specifically programmed to do. No skills, no feats... etc.
Alphas are another chapter altogether, being autonomous beings. These guys, to my knowledge, can 5-foot step, execute combat maneuvers sans programming etc. Think of them as an animal companion/cohort/familiar - they essentially are extended, second characters and can do what characters usually would do.
(Mind you, this knowledge comes from my tinker-NPC-building-spree and I *might* remember something wrong/fail to take an expansion into account, but generally, that's how I run them.)
Amen. Races guided towards subsystems tend to suck in many cases. As much as I love psionics, for example, I consider 4 races of the base psionic races good...the rest. Well.
As an idea, especially for e.g. the atlan's - why not codify pact magic's racial bonuses along the lines of alternate racial traits for certain races? Or as a kind of ethnicity/cultural-template?
@ladydragona: I'm the bottleneck, I fear. I'm cranking hard away at editing Ultimate Composition and Truenaming as I type this. UComp will be completed this week, my aim is to get Ultimate Truenaming done as fast as possible as well. Thing is, checking these books takes time and I want to make sure the final book is as good as it can possibly be. So yeah, once I'm done, the final coupons will arrive.