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Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - here and there, the wording's flow could be improved, especially among the feats, which feel like 2 versions of rules-language collide for a section that is more confusing than it ought to be. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes bookmarked, though not extensively so. The pdf does come in two versions, with the second being more printer-friendly.
Okay, after reading this review, I'd really love to know what you think follows next. Admittedly, the vizier, to me, has a very much WiP-feel - the wording of essence-regaining/veil-redistribution could be clearer, feats feel a bit over the place regarding the system they utilize and one of the 3 paths is not only much more boring than the other two, it is also significantly weaker. So that would be the downsides.
On the plus-side - this MOPS THE FLOOR with Magic of Incarnum! The vizier is so much cooler than the incarnate, it's not even funny anymore. Seriously, it's so much better, it's not even funny! The fluff is better. The execution is better. The math is more elegant and if the wording issues are ironed out and there's no ambiguity left (especially re item interaction), this will be a total and utter blast. I honestly did not expect to like this due to several factors:
1) Fluff. Done. Not only is the new fluff cooler, the writing actually dares to be funny once in a while in an unobtrusive manner. Take this one: "Binding this wicked veil to your Shoulders chakra makes you slightly less cuddly than a rabid dire porcupine." Win.
2) Item-slot issue. Resolved.
3) Massive combo-potential requires plenty of foresight and solid math to prevent ridiculous abuse.
Number 3...oh, how I dreaded you. I had never before read a book by author Michael Sayre. Know what? This man knows his math. The vizier turned out to be a strong class, yes, but it is not overpowered - it requires continuous resource-management, is highly customizable and manages to maintain the gestalting capacities of the original system. Bonus-types are applied consistently. Options are cool, unique and fun. I did not expect to like this pdf to this extent.
The good news here is: Michael, you are talented indeed and I'm stoked for future installments of the series, though they are a colossal pain to review. The issues this pdf has can easily and quickly be fixed and boil down to wording, flow and making mechanics more explicit by establishing a slightly more concise terminology. For example, 24-hour-essence-storage = binding essence to; otherwise: investing essence into x. Simple, easy and once established and explained, prevents a lot of confusion and allows for easy streamlining of feats etc. and may actually save space regarding word count!
So yes, this pdf has some WiP-level rough patches. But its potential is GLORIOUS and exceedingly fun. The flexibility provided is glorious (and on par with PFRPG's versatility - no two viziers need to be alike!) and the veils are fitting and unique. Combo-potential galore rules. Were it not for the glitches and rough patches I complained about, this would be a no-brainer 5 star+ seal of approval file. The glitches would usually make me harp on this harder than I did here, probably for something around the 3.5 star-area. BUT: They can easily be fixed, mostly boil down to requiring slightly more precise wording and do not reflect badly on the system provided here. After using this and analyzing it, I can't, not for the life of me, bash this as something even remotely mediocre. It's not. This pdf is fun and I am stoked for future Akashic Mysteries and a cleaning of the glitches that still haunt this. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars, with an explicit recommendation for everyone who likes complex, customizable classes (and, of course, fans of incarnum!) to check this out.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.
I officially want more of this system and consider it a potential system to become a permanent fixture in my home-game once the rough patches have been ironed out. Impressive freshman offering, Michael!
The Hateful Abiliity isn't that much an issue balance-wise regarding sheer damage-output, but rather in that it pretty much streamlines towards one specific playstyle - high ini/ambush, free action declare as enemy, then asap, maximize. Then, 10 rounds no mayor ability for that one. Think of it as a micro-nova. It's one of the most efficient combos, but one that somewhat decreased the fun-factor in my tests. My players are all for power-gaming, but after 2 battles, the conclusion was that they'd not take the combo again, since it simply wasn't that fun for them.
I did think about it and will probably make a variant (if you don't do it) that instead provides a smaller either constant damage boost or a smaller boost that has an individual cool-down. That way, the intent of the feat and its synergies are maintained, but the micro-nova-issue goes away.
Posted here since I couldn't find it on Paizo.
This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of hyperlinked ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 41 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?
So, what does this book cover? well, obviously not spells from one big hardcover, but instead spells found in: Animal Archive, Demon Hunter & Dragon Slayer Handbook, Distant Worlds, Faction Guide, Inner Sea Gods, Inner Sea Magic, Inner Sea World Guide, Mythic origins, People of the Sand (& stars) and the rival guide as well as the osirion sourcebook. (The new one, not the 3.X Player's sourcebook).
Now I can't cover every spell herein without bloating the book. So I'll give you a selection. Additionally, I should mention that I do not endorse all spells mythified - indeed, I do consider some of the books from which the base-material for the mythic spells herein not particularly well-balanced. This will have no impact whatsoever on my analysis of the mythic spells herein - I am taking them completely on their own ground. To help orientation regarding source, concise superscript abbreviations help the reader's orientation. As always, if you do not have the books this is based on - fret not, for the spells herein tend to show up on the respective SRDs and sites like the useful archives of nethys. Got all of that? All right, then let's dive in!
The anti-summoning shield, for example, can have its summon-failure chance enhanced by 5% x mythic tier and, as an augment, be cast as an immediate action. Rolling craft twice per day when utilizing arcane reinforcements also can be considered a nice trick up one's sleeve - crafting two items at once can be pretty powerful, especially when used for magical items. Of course, plenty of spells deliver solidly scaling numerical escalations based on mythic tier and mythic power, but that is a given at this point in the series. More interesting, at least to me, would be enhancements like Baphomet's blessing now also granting the powerful charge ability and immunity to maze-spells.
When a mythic version of a monster or spell manages to actually render a base version more flavorful, more exciting by expanding the very concept of the base version into something more unique - that is when mythic rules shine in my book. From a rules-perspective pretty impressive would be Blade Snare -with increased benefits, interactions with non mythic creatures and weapons etc., the base version is beautiful. While the nitpicky guy in me wants to complain about a missing minus-sign in the augment-section of the spell, the option to maintain the snared weapon and even snare 1/2 mythic tier weapons at once for 2 mythic power makes for a pretty damn neat option.
Terrain-control via Brittle Portal, instant mythic mummification via canopic conversion and curse based control as an augment to the creation of such mummies make for rather iconic options that can be used for narrative purposes as well - not only do mummies freed from such a control gain free will back, they also receive a rather nasty buff. Can I hear mummy-revenant crossovers approaching? Yes, I can.
Channel vigor's flexibility is also pretty nice, with unique effects depending on the limbs into which you channel the effect. Other modifications are small, but still flavorful - adding blightburn sickness to cosmic rays? Heck yes! Discharging dazzling flashes to blind adversaries would also be a rather neat option. Diverse additional options, both in the regular mythic spell's text and the augment option of deadeye's arrow also provide some neat bonuses and added condition-penalties. While everyone who regularly follows my reviews knows that I'm not a big fan of detect spells, at least detect demons receives a pretty unique augment that turn demonic auras clearly visible, helping against foes shrouded in deceptive magic et al.
The defensive excellent enclosure is also pretty interesting in its concise interaction with other spells - the various effects of mythic geniekind also fit thematically seamlessly and organically within the context of the base spell while increasing its potency by means of added spell-like abilities depending on the geniekind chosen. The increased incremental control of fractions of heal and harm also can be considered a pretty cool way of tackling the base spell's concept and making it more flexible. Now this is a very personal preference, but the augment to make the mythic ghoul pack summoned by the spell of the same name subject to haste fit thematically very well within the frame of my own conceptualization of ghouls.
The low gravity options added to the cool gravity sphere should also be mentioned. Now personally, I consider the temporary dexterity penalties imposed by the mythic gravity well slightly less interesting than the concept deserves, but that may just be me really liking. Now perhaps it's due to my favorite in-game card-game being Tarokka or due to the superb "Harrowing" module by Crystal Frasier, but the spell never clicked with me and the relatively conservative card-discarding/numerical escalation of the mythic variant, alas did not change that. Now where things turn interesting once again would be with imbue with flight - the option to utilize mythic power to make objects of huge, gargantuan and colossal size to fly, including the option of sharing the mythic power required, ritual-style, between characters. It's a small thing, but a glorious one that resonates well with quite a bunch of cool fantasy tropes.
Interplanetary teleport now does feature several benefits for its augmented version, helping you survive in less than hospitable environments. Orchid's Drop now allows for the free allocation between regular and ability score healing - pretty sweet. Speaking of pretty sweet changes - shared sacrifice not only has its casting time decreased, it also does not end with the target moving outside of the area of effect, instead being suppressed to kick in once the target is in range again. Siphon spell also receives a nice upgrade that lets you roll twice on dispel checks and continues until you have siphoned a minimum amount of spell levels, with the high-level augment allowing you to ignore the cap at the significant investiture of mythic power - cool! Spawn Calling is also rather epic - why not call the tarrasque or another spawn of Rovagug instead of the Star-spawn? Summon the tarrasque. Yeah. Awesome. In a nice bit of synergy, summon accuser ties in with Mythic Monsters: Devils, but also provides a nice alternative. Sustaining Legend feels a bit strong, with healing and condition negation/decrease added to targets using mythic power in any shape way or form, but that may be me.
More deadly teleport trap may be nice, but transfer tattoo is imho more interesting - you can essentially store an inoperable tattoo with this for some time - can you see the narrative potential? "Your task is to bring the tattoo of power to the missing grand master..." Face theft via transplant visage has also not been this nice for a long time... Well, that came out wrong...
Vision of the Beast Mother's mythic version makes followers of Lamashtu much more fearful...why, you ask? Well, what about sending other spells along with the nightmare? Yep, really, really nasty and once again sporting quite an array of cool story-telling options.
Editing and formatting are good, though quite a few minor typos and various superscripts that have not been superscripted slightly mar an otherwise well-edited book. The pdf adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though oddly, once again, we have additional out of order bookmarks in the beginning, this time duplications of two spell-bookmarks. Since this does not impede functionality in any way, I will not hold that against the pdf.
Okay, after having reviewed 6 Mythic Magic-pdfs by now, I can somewhat fathom how Jason Nelson must have felt: While design is fun, doing so many mythic spells might also be considered one thing: exhausting. This must have been serious *work* - that being said, I can see another thing about this pdf: In spite of the vast amount of mythic spells before these, there still are simply unique tricks herein. A lot of them, actually. More so than I expected to find herein.
While one can see that, unlike in the great mythic magic installment for the APG, this is the work of one designer, the job Legendary Games' chief has done is not only thorough, it is more varied and interesting than one would expect. When it would have been easy to just phone in augments to spells like detect demons or duplicate and recolor spells à la "works like this, but with acid"; when formulaic numerical escalations would have been the easier route, this instead goes the extra mile by providing unique little tidbits to enhance the flavor of the spells. Not all are winners, but in the face of this many spells, that should be no surprise; the quote of cool and imaginative spells is definitely much higher than I anticipated, though, and thus, this can be considered a superb offering. While slightly below the superb APG-installment, this still is one of the best of the all-but-required mythic magic-pdfs; my review will hence clock in at a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the small glitches here and there.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.
Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting is okay - there are various italicization glitches and on a rules-language level, the pdf falls on its face pretty hard. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' 2-column full color standard and the pdf does come fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is a combination of re-used artwork, neat glyphs and the cover of KP's awesome planar book.
What has happened here? I've read a bunch of pdfs by author Adam Roy and while he is not the most precise of authors out there regarding rules-language, I can't really fathom what has happened here. The fluff and ideas herein are, as almost always in his writing, top-notch and inspiring and there are some true conceptual gems in here. I *do* enjoy the idea of making the larger-than-life nature of aasimar tied close to mythic rules and the focus on a more extreme aasimar-kind akin to myth's nephilim is pretty awesome and I do like the concepts of the items...
Damn, I can't find much more positive to say. The crunch herein is a total cluster-f***. Imprecise bonuses, wording issues, blatant power-escalation among spells, cloned spells sold as something new and archetypes and don't get me started on the feats. If I didn't know any better, I'd assume that this was the work of a total rookie. The fluff and often, the concepts herein - these are *awesome*, but balance is nowhere to be found herein and the crunch more often than not feels phoned in, like it cannot live up to the evocative concepts promised by the fluff...or like it did rule of cool everything. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for breaking the rules if it does add something to the game, but what is added should better be up to snuff. This is not. It should be noted for everyone NOT using mythic rules, that all components that do not suffer from massive issues are mythic. The sudden focus on the mythic rules, while thematically fitting, feel a bit awkward and may result in unsatisfied customers who assumed they'd get more non-mythic oomph, so caveat emptor.
Were it not for the items and the glorious fluff, I'd bash this down to 1 star, comme un beau homme sans merci. It is explicitly and only due to the great fluff and damn awesome concepts and cool item-ideas, I will instead settle on a final verdict of 1.5 stars, BARELY rounded up to 2 stars.
Posted first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here.
I'm aware of that, Insain! Thanks for pointing it out, though!
The pdf reads:
"This additional damage only applies to spells that deal hit point damage, and the additional damage is of the same type as the spell."
That over-rides sneak attack's precision damage, changing it to the spell's damage type and if it doesn't, it should clarify it.
Edit: Not saying that your reading of the ability is wrong, mind you - just saying that it's confusing and could be interpreted either way.
I'm looking forward to Questhaven, more than any other RiP-book pending. I'm also looking forward to Kaidan's final release and the martial arts guidebook. Beyond that, I'd love to see:
-more material on the plane of dreams; perhaps crossover with teh upcoming ItC:Dragons-mini-setting?
And since my players specifically asked for it, unlikely though it may be:
As always, just my 2 cents.
Part II of my review
Still here? All right! The first mission is all about two cults warring on Altair, both of which have purchased a biological weapon that now kills the primitive inhabitants. In order to stop the plague, the PCs have to unearth the origin of the plague, its design-specifics from a cell-phone, and request help from Hazioth. In the next mission, they are to follow up on this issue and thus defeat lizardfolk, kobold tinkers' berserk reverse engineered Cyborgs and finally defeat the Kurion spy and his evil druid assistant. The next mission sees the PCs stranded on Tajano, a Kurion-controlled planet, where they'll have to survive in the wasteland, deal in trading bunkers and scavenge in hostile terrain featuring both living machines and marauders - fully mapped, btw.! Finally, the PCs will need to travel to the city of Lixian, where they'll have chances to interact with a living machine nursery and even infiltrate a military base before finally repairing the ship and escaping first the world, and then the system- I would have LOVED this mission being depicted in full-blown mega-adventure-detail - it is rather fun, but due to its format also requires severe work on behalf of the DM to flesh out. The next mission is more straight-forward and has the PCs hired to deal with pirates attacking a particular asteroid-colony -when properly played up, this one may become VERY creepy. Neato. The next mission has an uncommon target - the PCs are to crash a Kurion series and prevent psionic rift drive components from falling into the hands of either competing Kurion nobles. This, of course, is harder than it seems at first and includes infiltration and finally entering a huge ice-lump in space (with ship to steal the prize. Again, neat!
The massive appendix includes fluff-only write-ups of sample NPCs, random encounters (CR 6 - 15) and an example for ship to ship combat to help you get how the rules work.
Benjamin Martinali's "Between Chains & Starlight" is an extremely ambitious setting - and in its first iteration, it failed to realize to unify all of the copious components, which was to be expected for a project of one man. Still, it did show promise galore and know what? After my admittedly very critical review of the original pdf, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had abandoned the project. It is my utmost pleasure to report that this reviewer at least is very glad he didn't. My criticism, unlike in most books I review, wasn't directed (primarily) on the rules, though some remnants were there that required revision. Instead, the main issue of the first iteration of this setting was simply that its internal logic and writing didn't gel well together.
This is almost an impossible feat to fix and it didn't expect the focus of the revision to actually lie on making the whole setting more consistent.. Benjamin Martinali has done it. I can actually see myself running this system, this setting, with its nigh infinite possibilities. The formal issues of the book have almost completely vanished and version 2.0 does not have any need to hide behind the big setting. From all original full color art, to much more believable, ultimately more interesting renditions of the factions, to better prose and additional content, this is one of the most significant improvements I've seen in my whole career as a reviewer. Now it should be noted that ships and vehicles sport their own rules, so there's not much overlap in that regard with Paizo's take on vehicles - and in this case, this is probably a good idea. What really made me grin from ear to ear were the small parts -the fixing of special energy weapon types, the more "realistic", less stereotype laden-portrayal of societies, the very fact that this massive book simply reads infinitely better than its predecessor.
Let's get that out of the way: "Between Chains and Starlight V.2.0" is a damn good book and even more impressive as the achievement of a single author. It is a labor of love and it shows in all the right ways. Beyond the inspiring ideals and streamlined mechanics, some rough patches can be identified, but a system that, from currency to politics, manages to cover such an extent is damn impressive. Now who does this compare to Necropunk or Amethyst Renaissance? It doesn't - the two are completely distinct entities at this point, with BCaS setting the focus much closer to blending scifi and fantasy...and actually achieving that. Where the former two focus on real world issues, philosophical ideas and transhumanist concepts, struggles between ideologies etc., BCaS is more focused on portraying a fantasy-like take on a scifi setting, moving away from this gravitas into the realms of space opera; mind you, this does not mean that the setting can't support these themes and does touch them, just that it's focus it completely different. Now I *could* nitpick components of the world-building here and there, but that wouldn't do this book justice.
There is one more factor to consider - this is a "Pay what you want"-book on OBS. That's a pretty powerful enticing factor for it. After carefully considering the book's virtues, I can definitely recommend spending at the very least 5 bucks, probably even 10 - 15 on it. Why? Because even if you only end up using some customization options, the weapons or the monsters (or the modules!), you'll get your money's worth.
This is the scifi/space mash-up quite a few people demanded and V.2.0 makes for a compelling, massive and unique setting that has greatly matured since its first iteration. The incorporation of the material from "Dragons in Space" also helps the book alongside added art, maps, expanded space combat etc. Never, for the life of me, would I have imagined this revamp improving the first book to this extent. And know what? I actually might use quite a bunch of the material herein - whether for Iron Gods or one of my numerous scifi-infusions in regular gaming. My final verdict will hence clock in at a very warm recommendation of 4.5 stars; I'd usually round down here due to some unnecessary deviations from the base system and some minor rules-relics, but seeing the amount of bang herein and the generous gesture of making this "pay what you want", I'll instead round up to 5 - people, take a look and give this a read. It is worth your time.
Oh, and my heartfelt congratulations to the author - it takes true dedication to provide such a massive overhaul.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.
Thank you, Greg.
One of the reasons I love FGG (yes, even more than NG back in the day) is that you guys don't rush things and still get them done - I'd rather see any and all projects delayed than compromise in that regard.
I am waiting on a couple of projects and all of them started *way* before SoA, so in the meanwhile, I'm happy to read SoA.
Also: Northlands Saga + Blight, plus the options you hinted at to only get the new material in upcoming KS...you, sirs, are awesome.
Hmm, I assumed they had no counterspelling schools. Eye strain has pretty conservative benefits, Night terror has a lot of descriptors people can be immune to; Insult to injury pretty much is just a ray, nightbreak an AoE and not as powerful as the arsenal of many straight casters, so I thought that was intentional... I *assumed* that would be part of the balancing, but in case you want them counterspell'd, I'd go for:
Eye Strain = Conjuration
Hope that helps, Tyjoba!
Jep, ran it. Beginning is pretty simple if your players are competent; There are some minor bottlenecks for the DM - at one point, the PCs can (and should) enter an alliance with a dubious person, which might not gel with paladins if you have the lawful stupid kill em all fanatic type in your home campaign. Generally, good PCs should have no issues in that regard. Suggested leveling by area can be found in the product discussion. Middle part is a huge sandbox - so if your players are only accustomed to linear, story-driven parts, that may be a bit overwhelming; that being said, as a DM you can easily get them on track. The final module is HARD. Not unbeatable, but not something for the faint of heart; The finale is damn epic and pretty much one of the coolest drow-related modules I've read. The Epilogue...is a brutal meat-grinder/war of attrition and optional; if your layers are bad at puzzles, that one may be frustrating - that being said, the final boss of that one has super-boss qualities and is a true beauty to behold. The prologue is fast-paced and deadly, but damn cool - I'd suggest playing it and adding some small modules to supplement it if your PCs are overwhelmed by it.
I dd write reviews of all of them, so if you have any precise questions, feel free to ask.