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Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting is okay, but not that great - there are quite a few editing/formatting glitches to be found herein, sometimes acting as slightly detrimental to the rules-language. Layout adheres to RC's per se beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks are almost universally completely awesome. The hardcover book's cover-artwork is not as blurred as the one of FaSB. Paper is rather thin in the physical version.
Lou Agresta, Tim Hitchcock, Tom Knauss, John Ling, RA Mc Reynolds, Rone Barton and Greg Vaughan are all talented designers and authors and it shows in the compelling narratives herein, in the setting-flavor that oozes in buckets from these pages. In the brightest moments, this guide indeed captures well the flair and panache of Razor Coast and showcases their capabilities. Unfortunately, that does not extend to the whole pdf - there are quite a few issues with the rules-language herein, filler-feats, massive issues with the Yohunga base-class... all of those accumulate.
Another issue would be that this pdf endeavors to be a player's guide and partially succeeds at its goal - at the same time falling flat of guiding players regarding the tone the campaign shoots for, which approach (as per the RC-book) to take etc. - if one player shoots for a Disciple of Dajobas, another for a Tulita and a third for essentially a colonialist pirate, as a DM you have an issue on your hands. Especially the former class does simply not belong in a player's guide - or at least requires a massive caveat. As a sourcebook, it fares slightly better, though e.g. the decision to include the player-material indulgences in the campaign setting instead of in this book should be considered slightly unfortunate. Personally, I also would have loved to see a slightly tighter synergy with FaSB, but that's okay and just a nitpick on my part. In the end, the Freebooter's Guide to the Razor Coast makes for a valid companion for a RC-campaign, but one that should see careful DM-oversight due to some problematic options/balance-concerns (*cough* Pele Liberator /*cough*).
In conclusion: Some light, some shadow - a mixed bag - final verdict: 3 stars.
Posted first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine, then posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop. And yes, the Rest of RC-books will follow soon.
Editing and formatting are one of the unfortunate weaknesses of this book and one reason it did not score even higher on my Top Ten list of the best of 2013 - from bolding errors, wrong page-headers and typos to even map-glitches, one more thorough editing pass wouldn't have hurt this one. Layout adheres to Midgard's two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The same holds true for the extremely evocative, cool b/w-artworks throughout the book that convey so much better the darkness and grit of these modules than the deceptively light cover implies. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Speaking of artwork and maps - there is a second pdf that contains look-see-handout versions of the superb artworks and maps and while I'm not a big fan of non-KS-backers paying extra for them, I wouldn't complain, after all the maps are awesome. Or rather, I wouldn't complain, for the second gripe I have is that, once again, we get no player-friendly maps of the places, not even in the extra, for-sale handout-pdf! That's NOT cool - had I paid extra for handouts, I would have at least expected to have the maps sans letters, creature-markers etc. So yeah, that was the second factor that brought this down a notch. On the plus-side, the hardcover I got from the KS is a solid beauty with good paper and solid craftmanship -it certainly looks awesome and production values are top-notch here!
Now don't get me wrong - I've been at my top-notch complaining level throughout the whole review - there is not a single bad module herein. Not one. There isn't even a mediocre one in here. the worst I could say about any given module in this anthology would be that a module is just "good". But how is the ratio? 7 of these modules, on their own, would have me gush, grin and heap superlatives on them. 7.
That's more than 50% A++-modules, of which, I guarantee that much, you won't be disappointed. Add to that that the other modules all occupy slots at the higher echelons, never dipping to mediocrity, and we have an anthology that succeeds at its lofty goal of proving modules that players WILL talk about. That, ladies and gentlemen, is superb density regarding quality and sheer narrative potential. Have I mentioned that most modules herein coincidentally also make simply good reading material? To cut a long ramble short:
This anthology is well worth its place on my Top Ten of last year and 5 stars + seal of approval.
Finally got this done. Reviewed here on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.
I believe in giving credit where credit is due. My primary goal in criticizing pdfs is to improve them, to help make sure the wording is precise etc. Books like this, where my automatic "try to tear it asunder"-reflex finds next to nothing to latch on to, and that also have compelling fluff to entertain...yeah. Believe it or not, being able to once in a time write a review like this is a blessing and soothes the soul. So...thanks for making such a great book! Also for the fun it brings to my table!
Thanks, OSW. Didn't notice it, probably due to sighing too much.
Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting are no longer okay - while not as bad as it could have been, especially rules-editing is simply not precise enough - there are a lot of issues and ambiguities herein. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks herein are nice b/w-pieces.
As (almost) always with Kobold Press, the fluff is superb - this book presents cool ideas galore in that department and the nomenclature-table is simply glorious, as are some of the smaller pieces of crunch herein, though ardent fans of the Midgard-setting will experience severe déjà-vu here and there, with several pieces already known from various other sources.
All right, I'll cut right to it: I so HOPED that Kobold Press would take a very close look at the book that details the titular humanoids. Well, seems like some of the tasked kobolds celebrated "We no work day." (Midgard-fans like yours truly hopefully got a chuckle out of this one...) Authors Nicholas Milasisch and Matt Blackie have crafted a supplement full of glorious ideas - the items, the sobriquet traits, the damn cool fluff - there is a lot to like, love even, herein. Unfortunately, a lot of this supplement is also very deeply flawed, to the point where some glitches/oversights render parts of the content utterly op or unusable. Which sucks. This is one of those sad reviews, where I look at a pdf of glorious potential and just shake my head. I won't complain about the reused content, since it's great, but I wish that e.g. the traps has been modified for player-use instead of just cut-copy-pasting them. In the end, though I do love so many ideas herein, I can't even rate this as average anymore - the flaws are too pronounced and thus, I will settle on a final verdict of 2 stars - the good ideas herein don't deserve being rated down to one.
Well, light armor spell failure chance can be gotten rid off, if one really wants an armor-wearing ethermancer. I don't see a contradiction between having the proficiency and still incurring spell failure chance. I think both are there as intended - if you want, you can make light armor wearing work, but it'll take a bit of an investment.
That being said, the one currently in my group doesn't need armor to be rather awesome. :)
18 pages, full color. 2 ethnicities (human + dwarf), short primer on underworld races/classes to expect, gazetteer of Rybalka (starting village), survival equipment for sale, primer on spelunking, rumors.
Hope that helps, though I will also review this as soon as real life stops kicking me in the shins.
@ Erevos Cs: I did not wish to imply that your adventures would be that simple.
I wanted to suggest that keeping 200-250 personalized adventures for different groups would be something I'd consider next to impossible to accomplish, unless either the stable of authors is huge or the amount of customizations somehow automatized, like the MMORPG-quest-structures I quoted.
So yeah, definitely intrigued, but not convinced so far.
Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting are good - though not as tight as I'm used to by Interjection Games: For once, the header spells "Gadgeeer"[sic!], missing a "t" on each and every page's central box - which made me exceedingly neurotic during the reading of this. Beyond that, quite a few entries read "Gadget points" instead of "Structure Points", which was the beta's terminology and could result in some confusion. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and artwork is thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks - but not truly extensive ones. Individual accessories, for example, get no individual bookmark, which makes navigation slightly less comfortable than I would have liked.
Ahhh, Interjection Games classes - there are none quite like them out there. With the notable exception of Morgan Boehringer's superb Direlock, none take me as long to review as mastermind Bradley Crouch's beasts (looking especially at you, Ethermancer and Mechgineer!), and there's a reason for that - they have a lot of customization-options, are complex and never simple in their math. That being said, my primary gripes with them tend to be minor instances where things are handled slightly differently than in comparable spells/maneuvers etc. Then I started looking in-depth at this one...and was honestly surprised.
Why? Well, most classes are centered on combat. This one is not. Yes, it has combat capabilities, yes, fiddling with one's customized weapons is fun. But honestly, the class is simply not that awesome in combat and after Tinker, Herbalist and especially Ethermancer, I somewhat expected another class with such a focus. Still, the spark did not really ignite me - the weapon customizations are nice, yes, but the gadgeteer is generally is decidedly not about inflicting max damage.
It's not intended to. Its only restrictions to what it can do are the skill ranks/levels required, which means each gadgeteer has an incredible amount of things to do/jury-rig - and these, especially the accessories, can be summed up as "Batman's Rogue's Gallery's Gadgets - the Class" - which honestly hits a VERY soft spot of mine. I'm a total Batman fanboy and from cigar-parabols to buzzers, the gadgeteer makes for a superb gimmick-based agent-type character. Will the gadgeteer shine in every campaign/environment? No. While not a bad choice in dungeon-crawls, the class is simply not that geared towards hacking and slashing everything apart, instead providing ample thoroughly unique options that have been lacking in the game so far. In short, it does something defiantly new in its focus on the ROLEplaying, with multiple options requiring smarts of not only the character, but also the player. If you're into espionage/investigation-modules, this should be considered a required purchase. The gadgeteer makes for a great support character that has its best moments to shine beyond the tawdry concerns of combat - and it is, at least in my opinion, that is what makes it great.
That being said, I also think that the gadgeteer, more so than other Interjection Games base classes, would benefit extremely from expansions, so here's to hoping we'll see some - the agent's toolbox still has quite a few options the class could emulate beyond its already impressive arsenal and an Innovator-like monster-weapon with even further enhancements to weapons might turn out to make the class also more interesting in combat. What about customizing armor? Bluffing magical means of detection/discerning truth? Expansion potential galore that unfortunately also shows that teh base-class, while good, could use some further fuel to widen its focus.
That being said, there are some minor glitches here as well - take e.g. the custom weapon modifications: Do e.g. penalties also apply when not wielding the weapon? Why can certain acids not be applied against constructs? There are a few of these instances, and while not enough to drag this class down, they remain minor blemishes.
The gadgeteer is not a min-maxer's class, but it's a great class for anyone who wants to go secret agent/MacGuyver and aforementioned complaints should not deter you from taking a look. As written, due to the glitches and minor oversights, though, I have to rate this down to 4 stars - in spite of really, really loving what the class does.
Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.
Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here on OBs and d20pfsrd.com's shop.
Also note that designer Owen K.C. Stephens has written a reply concerning some of my criticisms on Endzeitgeist.com - read it for further information whether this is for you. He *does* have valid points.
Thanks for your attention, Endzeitgeist out.