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Part II of my review:
The final codex, the codex of the realized vision, is the one closest to regular spells, with just about every recitation featuring its own formal properties like individual ranges (e.g. 60 ft., personal, touch...) etc. Animating up to gargantuan animated objects, afflict targets with crushing ennui (save or do nothing -for 5 rounds! Ouch!), creating non-weaponized spheres that can dig tunnels for you. Also interesting: Cover the floor with material that deals +3d6 damage upon falling, including being tripped! Cool for its tactical options! Asking questions to the multiverse, fabricating objects ex nihilo - quite a few options here. Oh, and there is also a recitation that erases creatures from the multiverse - but instead of save-or-suck, it requires consecutive saves over the duration. Once the target has failed 3, s/he/it's gone - cool take on the mechanic - Think about players scrambling to take down the truenamer to prevent their comrade being erased! When mechanics in themselves make for more fun/excitement, then that's a good indicator for good design! (Preventing falls with huge spongy discs can also be achieved, should you be so inclined!)
Have I mentioned e.g. the truespeech "Lament of the Platypus" or the "Ode to the Porcupine," hinting at a slight embarrassment of certain cosmic forces? Yes, much like the best of Interjection Games-releases, a subtle, unobtrusive humor permeates some of the pieces of content herein. What about making the dying explode, Diablo II-style or generating a sphere that can burrow through the earth?
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. layout adheres to a nice, custom 2-column b/w-standard with cool b/w-artworks blended with runes and the like. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Even before this revision, the base system was a glorious, beautiful, even, piece of math - the original system took the most infamously broken magic subsystem of 3rd edition and actually made it work - superbly so. Now the additions made by both Bradley Crouch and Jason Linker alone imho would have made this a legendary supplement.
Now, I ask you to indulge me for a second - I am VERY proud of the Scion of Discordia - I know of no other class out there that has a customizable, mobile and flexible debuff zone that does not focus on hampering melee et al., but on locking down hostile casters - whatever the nasty caster combo your players use, the scion can probably throw a wrench into it, all without devaluing other casters. Oh, and its zone has some VERY unique effects that no other debuffing class can execute.
I consider this class, alongside the etherslinger, the best pieces of crunch I've written so far. That completely aside, though, the base system, even without its refinements, even without the additional work by Jason Linker and myself, was a thing of beauty and awesomeness - you can still check my review of it on my site.
Said review praised the base system as "Truenaming that ACTUALLY works!" - and I stand by that.
Now with the vastly increased content, all those additional bits and pieces, I definitely consider this to be one of the coolest subsystems out there - well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and I also nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.
(Also, thanks @OSW regarding the catch!)
This Map-pack not only is pay-what you want, it comes in a zip-file that sports two folders: One containing high-res jpegs, one that sports pdfs.
Let's start with the jpegs - these come with full-color and b/w-versions - both come in two versions: One sports labels that denote which buildings are which, whereas the others come without them for maximum immersion. (Nice if you're like me and HATE handing out maps with numbers detailing the hotspots...
The pdfs clock in at 23 pages each - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, leaving a total of 20 pages for the maps. The pdf first provides aforementioned maps that also are included as high-res jpegs - so if you require an overview of the village, these would be what you want. Thereafter, we get 4 blown-up versions of the map - each iteration is provided in a version, wherein the map spreads across a total of 4 pages, thus allowing you to print out a big map. If you're like me a European, you will be very much in luck, for one pdf provides the maps in letterpack format, whereas the second delivers the maps optimized for the A4-format.
What about the town - well, we get essentially a village of the most idyllic type, with a single (mage's) tower a bit off to the south and a small bridge crossing the meandering river. North of said small bridge, a mill and a few buildings loom, while the sparse trees show that this place probably lies in pretty civilized fields.
Tad Davis delivers a professionally-made, beautiful map-pack of a nice, picturesque village that could well be the starting point of a new campaign - as far as maps are concerned, this is a neat job and the drawing style is fine. While I caught myself wishing there was a version with a grid further blown up for your perusal with miniatures, at any price you're willing to pay, this is indeed a great offering of a professional, nice map.
My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.
Posted first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.
Sethvir & Malwing - from what I can glean, you folks know your crunch. So yeah, I'm not surprised you like this book. PoS is very impressive as far as freshman offerings are concerned.
I've been homebrewing ToM-shadow magic for a long time and this book really made me wish for more content in that vein.
Part II of my review:
Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not perfect - while generally, both the formal criteria and rules-language are functional, especially the rules-language could have used some polishing to get rid of the numerous none-standard wordings herein. While this would usually elicit my usual complaint-tirades, this supplement is pretty much unique in the fact that apart from the very scarce exception, the language still retains full functionality, in spite of its liberal handling of rules-semantics. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports both nice full-color artworks and full-color cartography. the pdf also comes with excessive bookmarks for your convenience.
So, this is pretty much the best player's guide I've read in quite a while. Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak have a storyteller's gift and his talent of making believable, organic settings and cultures bespeaks a mind basking in possibilities. While this region of Porphyra is relatively "normal", conservative even, it sports all the tidbits that make such a region come alive and feel distinct - in fact, when compared to just about any quasi-medieval chivalry/religion-themed examples I've read in alternate history settings etc., this guide blows its competition out of the water. I've read MANY such supplements and none managed to elicit this level of immersion. The crunch, with its high-concept emphasis on supplementing a realistic, believable society also enforces this. At the same time, the crunch, though, does sport an array of deviations from rules-language defaults - almost never to the extent of being problematic, but still - the impression I got was one of a supplement that "sweats the small stuff" - to the point where, would this be only a crunch-centric book, this would have crashed down to 3 stars, perhaps lower.
But within the context of world-building this awesome, I couldn't bring myself to bashing this book for what is functional, in the end. Still, I really, really would have loved this book to go the extra mile and purge the rules-language deviations.
I *love* this supplement. I was grinning from ear to ear while reading this and even as a scavenging box, this supplement is downright inspired and can be used to make one's setting come to life, to add this added level of detail and great concepts. The simple, yet very flavorful archetypes, the way in which conflicts between the divine and arcane, between the law and tradition and the changing times - how all of this is set up is just gorgeous, creative and fun. Were it for only the ideas herein, the world-building, I'd be recommending this in the highest tones. Alas, the small glitches, while not bad on their own, simply kept on accumulating - to the point where I can't recommend this book as highly as I'd like to - if proper rules-language and -syntax is important to you, this book will make you cringe and hence, I can't rate this 5 stars. If not, though, then you'll find inspiration galore within these pages. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars - but this is one is good enough to be one of the rare examples, where I will still slap my seal of approval on this book - the ideas and world-building are simply too good.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop!
Part II of my review:
The supplemental feats for the classes contain the obligatory +x limited resource class ability-array as well as e.g. more control for rock outs, options to stun devils in musical contests or reduce the speed of foes instead of dealing damage via rock out or solo. Pretty solid.
Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. Considering the imaginative, unconventional mechanics herein, the rules-language is also much more concise than what I've seen in "easier" mechanics. Layout adheres to, as mentioned, a 1 or 2-page standard and the pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks are mostly in full color, original and awesome.
Scott Gladstein, Thomas Lee Hornyak Jr, Christos Gurd, Dayton Johnson, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby - gentlemen, the acclaim Gonzo has received is pretty much well deserved. This is, indeed, at least in my book, the most refined Little Red Goblin Game-pdf I've reviewed. The rules-language with its eclectic concepts and innovative twists on the rules does not lazily recombine existing pieces, instead opting for something new with each and every class - and I love it for that.
At the same time, though, some of the classes herein can turn pretty problematic - the Craven in the context of WBL-deviations and the Living Bomb in particular can work superbly for some games, while being utterly broken in others, so careful consideration is in order here. Now at least partially, that's a system-inherent issue, granted, but it does remain one.
Now the surprise of this book would be the Punk-class - I expected to hate it and instead love it to death, with a fitting reskin, this becomes in a fixture in my games and in the context of WuXia et. al, this will work just as well and might constitute a great alternative to monk-gestalting. Indeed, I'd seriously consider this class one of the best gestalt-options I've seen in a while. So yeah, people, I love this!
Now granted, I am biased towards the Rockstar and adore the concept, but kept on wishing its interaction and sequential gameplay reached the level of complexity supported by Interjection Games-composition magic - I will probably make a crossover class at one point. Nothing wrong here, mind you, just me preferring things a bit less straightforward...and the class essentially already has the sequential nature built in, so that shouldn't be too much of an issue.
So all's fine and dandy? No, there are, as mentioned above, several minor issues in the rules-semantics that weigh heavily when used with the more complex of options herein - but then again, I honestly prefer innovation over perfection.
And there is the layout. The font used, a typewriter-style old-school font, makes reading this book harder than it ought to be...and it cheats. The font has no italicization/bolding and while class abilities are red and blocky and easy to distinguish, the lack of italicization for spells etc. has been excruciatingly annoying for me. It makes reading so much slower and required more concentration to read the class abilities - there is a reason for the formatting convention and this flaunts them. Especially when providing complex concepts like this book does, the nonstandard layout and formatting can make understanding some abilities harder than it ought to be.
So yeah, there you have it - the thing is disliked most was the font. The rules-issues, where present, still leave the RAI pretty much obvious. Now that being said, if you want an easy, quick conventional book, then this is not for you - this book is one of the most experimental books I've seen for PFRPG and I applaud its guts!
Do I recommend this? Heck yeah! Even if you just are looking for abilities and ideas to scavenge, this provides both in ample spades. While not every class is for every game, just about all of them could be reskinned to some extent and introduced to most settings and a distinct joy is evident on the pages - plus, I really enjoy the fact that none of the classes took the easy way out. Not one class herein could be mistaken for another class or archetype - they are resoundingly distinct.
No, this is not perfect or for everyone, but it is an exceedingly fun, innovative book - and while its font, glitches and slight balance-concerns here and there prevent me from rating this the full five stars. In fact, were I to rate pdfs only on their formal properties and not also for the benefits of their imagination, this would probably fare less well - Gonzo is pretty much a a diamond that still needs to be polished. I'll still settle for a final verdict of 4 stars - while I firmly believe that the concepts herein deserve my seal of approval, the execution of the complex mechanics sports a tad bit too many hiccups for that and, depending on your personal preferences, you may consider the blemishes that are there to be more serious than I did. When adapting these classes for your game, you will probably need to do some minor tweaking here and there - at least I'd suggest doing so.
Still, in the end, I'll take courage and innovation over retreading anytime and I encourage you to reward the designers for the unmitigated joy that oozes from these pages, for the high-concept ideas, by checking this out...
Now excuse me, I have a certain Devil May Cry-style class to reskin for the upcoming Hell's Rebels AP...
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.