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Ladies and gentlemen,
While I was posting the reviews for today, a wonderful lady has catapulted the EZG-patreon over the third milestone! O__O
I am not exaggerating when I'm saying that this was only something I have dreamed about; fantasized in some moments about such a goal - and then discarded the notion. I did not dare to dream that so many of you fine folks would support me. I am exceedingly stunned and motivated to continue to bring you the quality reviews you deserve! You and your support, even if it is just spreading the word, means the world to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my now significantly less cynical heart!
Now while this week did not see too many "big" reviews, behind the scenes, I've been cranking away like a madman, finishing some freelancing assignments and doing extensive analysis of some BIG and work-intense books - the Dragon Companion's blocks, for example, were capital W level work. More are to come, ladies and gentlemen, and next week will see quite a bunch of bigger reviews - Path of Shadows, for example, will see a second playtest round this week-end, since I noticed some moving parts I need to see in action and the same holds true for certain Iron Titans. ;)
I also wanted to thank you for talking to me, spreading the word, for being awesome and I look forward and enjoy taking your suggestions and listen to what YOU want to see reviewed!
As an aside: Tomorrow is a holiday in Germany and I'll be spending the day, for once, not in front of the screen and instead go out - live, for the first time in months, without a gnawing existential anxiety at the back of my head - all thanks to YOU! You probably can't fathom how much that is worth to me! Regularly scheduled reviews will resume next Monday!
I remain, honestly humbled and happy,
This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So what is GlimmerGloam? The easiest way to describe it, would be to call it a realm of dark, dualistic whimsy – somewhere between the narratives of the realm of the fey and classic tales of Alice, albeit more akin to American McGee’s interpretation. It is a world, where different species of fey abound and the Umbra rules – where counting steps or latent attempts at cartography only result in the very land thwarting your attempts. It is also a place, where the only influence of eidolon manifests in groundhog-dayish repetitions of feuds, where adversaries conveniently killed the night before suddenly exhibit an improbable twin or downright ignore death or decapitation (and it’s rude to point that out, mind you!) – GlimmerGloam, in a nutshell, is insane and you better know what you’re in for.
Thank the stair, there is this nice BungleCat – not akin our classic Cheshire friend, but oh so much worse – much akin to Rite’s classic Smiles-under-the-Bed NPC, this beast may be nice, but seeing things in a different light, more often than not can be taken literally in GlimmerGloam – the realm is defined by a plethora of meanings being assigned in alternating and even simultaneous patterns to EVERYTHING, with lighting conditions often triggering a flux. Hence, the friendly cat may pretty quickly turn into a xenophobic stalker or even a dragon-sized demon-being trying to murder you and everyone that crosses its path – all in good fun, of course. For reliable information, you may instead wish to consult the jabberwock’s severed head, now employed as the realm’s most deadly jack-in-the-box. Much can be gleaned, if you can survive the deadly eye-rays, madness-inducing aura…you know, all in good fun.
Oh, and if you thought the red queen was bad – GlimmerGloam’s fully statted ruler, the white Rabbit Queen, is nothing to sneeze at – with various forms, an intelligent mirror aptly named delirium and a vorpal needle-cum-sword, she makes for a fearsome ruler – in spite of the half-crashed supposed-to-be-floating castle and similar oddities. Oh yeah, have I mentioned that the oddity of the realm also results in actually unique special properties for the realm?
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.
Matt Banach has a gift for providing environments, in which the imagination is incited, runs rampant and his experience with the realm of dreams (as in his Lost in Dream-novel and in the work for Coliseum Morpheuon-related products) and the odd, irrational logic which applies there. This can easily and perfectly be seen in this installment of Gossamer Worlds – when each character and locale not only resounds with literary quotations, but also with symbolic gravitas, we receive a rather interesting supplement full of entwined meanings, evocative connotations conjured forth by clever use of nomenclature and symbols. It’s also a nod towards one of the most influential, creative and complex myths in literature and I love it for that. So do yourself a favor, get this, use it, and if you have it, get your Norton Critical Edition Annotated Alice – with the latter, you can further amp up the already impressive content herein by at least a factor of threleven hundsand! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.
First posted on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.
Gutes Deutsch, mächtiger verlorener Leichnam - sogar ein korrekt verwendeter Umlaut! Nicht schlecht!
@Insain: I did something unique with each race I developed for this product and playtested each of the designs with my group - their favorites were the rules for gradual gearforgification...and kobolds...they can for example now run through traps without triggering them with the right feat... (Scaling, of course, so they can botch...)
Thank you, everyone - this patreon indeed allows me to weather the transition I'm going through regarding my employment situation and look for proper jobs without having to resort to exploitative jobs or fearing whether I can pay the rent.
And yes, i am aware that there are bound to be fluctuations and the like - but I never would have believed that an outpouring of support like this would even be in the realm of possibility. I'm humbled beyond believe by this community. Thank you, each and every one of you - for each share, for each buck. Thank you.
@Thanael: Flaming Crab products will be part of the choices next week. (And yes, Once upon an encounter: Riding Hood is done and will be published soon!)
@Jeremy: Thank you so much for the donation! Tomorrow will btw. see the testrun of the intro-module in my group; after that, the review will follow rather soon. :)
F*** man, sorry to hear that. You're a pillar and a constructive influence for the community. Don't give up hope, though - as someone who has had significant health issues for most of his life, I can empathize. On the plus-side - modern medicine is making progress in leaps and bounds, so you may very well be lucky - so hang in there!!
I just woke up, did some chores and then opened my account - holy cow. I've been grinning like CRAZY. Literally, like a madmen. Then, I went outside for a second and took a couple of deep breaths. Then I returned and starter rolling will saves to disbelieve the illusion.
Holy moly. I am stupefied. I honestly expected cicadas chirping and tumbleweeds rolling - not this level of support. Wow. Just wow. Words fail me and my first reaction would simply be: "You're the best!!!"
Seeing how that is not adequate to describe my level of gratitude and capture the state of euphoria, I am just using the paltry words of gratitude available:
Thank you, every one of you.
From the bottom of my heart.
EDIT: Thanks for catching the typo, OSW - fixed!
Ladies and gentlemen,
apologies for the intrusion.
As you all may be aware, my situation is not particularly rosy to say the least - I've been asking around the boards, on my page, etc. for a quite long time and since the consensus was this step and since I'm always open to listen to you and your suggestions, there is now finally...
I have also endeavored to answer all questions you may have, so please, consider taking a look at the patreon, and also please consider reading the Q&A here on my site - whether and in what form my reviews continue to exist very much depends on you!
Even if you can't pledge (or don't want to), please consider spreading the word about my patreon!
Thank you for your kind consideration and all the support over the years,
Part II of my review:
Southern Gothic horror, absurd, but still exciting comedy or a means of teaching about the world - the module provides a lot of playstyles - and it ran completely differently both times I ran it, so it has replay value to boot! I *ADORE* this module. It is unique in every sense of the word and sports yet another facet of Richard's capacity that sets him apart as one of the few authors who push the boundaries and raise the level in the art of adventure writing. And yes, this module, in my opinion, can be called art...or proper literature. It is excellent and while the odd typo here and there may be slightly annoying; it is mainly due to the exceedingly high level of quality of the whole book this catches one's eye. Still, I implore you to get this awesome piece of adventure-writing. It is unique in all the right ways and acts as one glorious example of what adventures could be beyond rolling dice and slaying monsters. Highly modular, versatile and with replay-vale, oozing with details, this module once again receives my highest honors - 5 stars + seal of approval and since this was released in 2014, candidate for my Top ten of 2014-status.
Do NOT let this one slip by!
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.
Part II of my review:
That being said, this pdf does manage an utterly admirable job at rendering the respective halfbreeds distinct and culturally unique - to the point where some of the brief fluff-write-ups actually captivated me enough to make me consider playing the half-breeds - and that coming from a guy who went out of 3.X with a distinct oversaturation regarding fiendish/celestial creatures and half-dragons as well as a distinct dislike for mopey halfbreeds. So yeah, this pdf can be considered inspired in that regard - from the roper/dwarf bio-weapons created by the phrenic hegemony to the love-conquers-all children of merfolk and men to the inspired and monstrous ornibus, suffused with the essences of howlers, the halfbreeds manage to avoid redundancy. And, if the above exercises in racial nitpickery were not ample clue for you - over all, they tend to be *almost* awesome - during my analysis, I regularly found myself enjoying myself and getting ready to write a recommendation for a race, only to have some ability overextend what I consider viable. Generally, about 1 ability among the racial traits, more often among the alternate racial traits, can be considered too strong and in need of nerfing - or its balancing versus its replacement feels like it is wonky. That being said - both the ornibus and the half-satyr pipers, for example, can be considered generally well-crafted - provided you can see past the numerous small violations of rules-semantics that make the RAI apparent, but are slightly less polished than what one would like to see. If you e.g. nerf down the +10 bonus to disarm for the Rana-race that can be received per expenditure of the psionic focus, we'll actually have a great, interesting race. (Rana are btw. Ophidian/Lizardfolk hybrids that usually grow up with the less intelligent lizardfolk and thus develop interesting mannerisms...)And yes, if that and the examples above were not clue enough for you - there is yet another thing I need to address regarding the races - and it's a HUGE plus!
Know how the ARG-races tend to feel somewhat sameish? How many races are just a recombination of the same tools, again and again? Not so here - every race herein has at least one unique trick that sets it apart - a racial signature ability, if you wish. I *love* this general idea, if not always the execution of them. - the half-gargoyles may e.g. use their wings to take 1/2 damage of an adjacent ally - think of it as a limited, immediate action-based shield other - interesting, though the wording could be more concise. Still, it is an ability like this that really sets the race apart and makes it feel distinct - also in a mechanical way. I have mentioned the tentacle-faced obvious heir to the half-illithids, haven't I? Yeah. The woodborn, which are just the race for anyone who ever wanted to tackle playing Pinocchio? Yeah, awesome. Even better - an alternate racial trait that nets you an assassin vine symbiote that deals more damage on a grapple just oozes style. Alas, it should have a slightly more precise wording: "This vine assists them during grapples, dealing 1d6+Strength modifier damage to other creatures in the grapple every round the woodborn maintains a grapple." - so does this mean that allied creatures in the creature/aiding also receive the damage? Why not go with a more standard wording for the damage? Winterwolf/Hellhound/Worg/humanoid half-breeds also deserve two thumbs up regarding their ability-suites.
Now this pdf does have more to offer than just a metric ton of half-breed races - namely templates - for bi/quadrupedal creatures, half-doppelgängers/medusas, half-elementals (!!!), half-rakshasas and also so-called titanblooded creatures - the templates are pretty solid all-around, with ample cool ideas and tools for mad scientists/transmuters to play with - nothing greivous to complain about here. The book furthermore offers a distinct array of feats, most of which have the [heritage]-descriptor. The feats run a wide gamut: We have for example one that substitutes a mental attribute for con - which would make me yell - however, it is restricted to bonus hp, not all the saves - which does, surprisingly, work for me. The presence of the Feral Fighter-feat feels a bit odd - it nets you claws or a bite as appropriate for your creature type. Why don't some of these races use this instead of the at times redundant or unnecessary-seeming amounts of natural weapons some receive - that would also put players agenda higher on the list. On the broken-side of thing, we can list e.g. bloodsong adept -which allows you to use bardic performance only affecting your type/subtype, but does not expend rounds of bardic performance. Urgh. Enter a party with the same race and we have unlimited bardic performance-rounds. Yeah. not gonna happen in my game and even feels cheap for NPCs - this one is hardcore broken and should imho get a serious nerfing bashing. On the okay-side, there are multiple SP-granting feats and some that e.g. net grab to add to bites and tentacle attacks - not a fan of the latter, but that is personal taste. Now on the other side, there is the Mixed Blood-feat, which is made of awesome and win - with a table of one whole page (!!!), it allows you to represent just about any odd bloodline/creature-type combinations - wanna go for a lawfully-infused orcish heritage? You can do that. This feat's concept is just great - and it's well-balanced to boot! Impressive one!
There also are 4 racially-themed PrCs - the brief run-down of them would be as follows:
The Bloodsong Heritor is the herald of his people - a solid, good bardic PrC with neat mechanics and not much but exceedingly minor nitpicks to complain about - were its prerequisite not aforementioned utterly broken unlimited performance feat, I'd be even more impressed - especially since the class does net more performance rounds and nice, unique performances that also include the expenditure of multiple rounds for interrupt-style effects while still maintaining the performance. Think of it as a less complex, much more limited and racially-themed take on what Interjection Games' Composition magic does. The Kith Hunter is an okay slayer-type 5-level PrC. Seen better, seen worse. The Kithlord can be considered a solid racial champion PrC with commander-style tricks/auras and even teleports at higher levels - okay, though I'd be wary of this PrC in a uni-race group - mostly great for NPC-adversaries, imho. The 5-level mongrel has the most choices among the PrCs, offering quite an ability-array to choose from and some rather unique bonuses - including ways of getting rid of ability damage by leeching off magic - nice one.
The book also sports a small selection of new spells, which can generally be considered among the more powerful examples available - they are not bad, mind you, but the option to e.g. have earthskin and stoneskin overlap may not fit well with some groups. That being said, spells that provide minor bonuses versus e.g. kobolds and goblins will not break anyone's game. The spells are solid.
Finally, the book provides new magical items, including 4 new special abilities, one of which nets you a standard action in a surprise round for just the equivalent of +1 - which seems too cheap, considering how pricey in terms of feat/ability-investment the like usually is. A +1 enhancement that bypasses the DRs of elementals and constructs essentially renders golems utterly useless at +1 enchantment - ridiculously OP and should be torn to smithereens. On the plus-side, conjuring forth a red blade of flame via bracers is pretty cool and the traveler's backpack will be a favorite for most wilderness adventures. So, all in all, solid section with some winners and some that obviously require significant nerfing.
Editing and formatting are not on par with what Dreamscarred press usually delivers. If you're picky about proper rules-semantics, you'll find a lot to nitpick, which I tried to showcase in my excessive and nasty picking apart of sentences in the first section of the review. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has copious full-color artworks - as mentioned above, ranging from gorgeous to horrifying. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
You may have gotten a wrong impression from this review - I actually like this book.
No, really. I was honestly positively surprised by this pdf.
The signature abilities provided for the races, the unique, non-redundant fluff and the overall balancing of the races is great. No, really, I mean it. Alas, this book is also the very definition of flawed - almost every race had either a wording hiccup or one ability that just went beyond what would be considered balanced in all but high-powered tables. Essentially, I could play "look for the bit that's too strong" with a huge array of races I otherwise loved - races that feel more organic and viable than they have any right to, provided the limited room they each have. SO let me state this again:
This is a good book. The thing is, it could have easily been an OMG-HOW-AWESOME-IS-THAT-book. Literally all races and quite a bunch of the non-racial supplemental material borders on the awesome, only to swerve on the finishing line and get an unnecessary bent. The rules-language per se makes RAI clear in most cases, but also allows for copious misinterpretation due to being a tad bit less precise than it could be. Matt Medeiros, Jade Ripley and Andreas Rönnqvist have ultimately crafted a massive racial book that can be considered a nice addition to a given campaign - and one a moderately system-savvy DM can render utterly awesome by ironing out the rough patches. This book has all the potential you could ask for. At the same time, though, it has several supplemental components in dire need of nerfing, some races that obviously could have used some streamlining and is marred by craftsmanship that, while not bad in the traditional sense, does exhibit some flaws and deviations from the target goal.
What I'm trying to say is: I can see people hating and loving this book. If you tend to get hung up on peculiarities of rules-language, then this will provide some frustration for you. Same goes for groups seeking for a book to drop in as is - while that can be done, I'd only recommend it unsupervised for high-powered games. On the plus-side, the races do feel iconic, they can be cleaned of the problematic bits and a capable DM can adjust them with relative ease to a lower power-level. Oh, and they, and that cannot be under-emphasized, do not suffer from the sucky bloat of skill-enhancer racial traits (Get +2 to Skill A and B) that hound so many races since the ARG, instead providing something unique.
How to rate this, then? Well, honestly, I should probably go with 3 stars for this - the flaws are numerous and pronounced and then there's the inclusion of some broken pieces among the supplemental materials that are OP by any standard applied. However, at the same time, this book is much more inspired that I ever had hoped it would be. Both in its design and its concepts. And there are MANY awesome ideas, both in the fluff- and crunch-departments to be found. The downright brilliant mixed blood, the non-sucky blinkling...and so many more do not deserve a mediocre rating. And ultimately, I enjoyed this book too much for that, in spite of its flaws. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4, with an explicit caveat emptor for anyone picky about rules-language. DMs willing to do some tinkering will find a nice treasure-trove here - one that needs polish, yes, but one that can, eventually, be brought to shine.
Posted here, submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.