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Vimanda

Eric Hinkle's page

2,913 posts. 96 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist.



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The Fighter is Fun Again!

*****

One of the biggest complaints from fans over the years has been how underpowered and unimpressive the Fighter is when compared to all the other martial classes. They lack the power of the Barbarian, the specialized niches of the Paladin and Ranger, the special abilities of the Cavalier, the Brawler, and the Slayer. Along with the baseline Rogue the poor Fighter was all but forgotten. It was hoped that Pathfinder Unchained would rectify this, but while it did introduce the Stamina rules they were made potentially available for all classes, diluting them.

But as the Rogue was made once more amazing by Legendary Games' Legendary Rogues, so has Everyman Games tried their best with the Fighter. In this 46 page PDF – with one page each for the cover, credits, and contents, two and a half for the OGL, two and a half for ads, leaving 38 pages for content --- they did a great job!

It opens with a description of the new Unchained Fighter class. In many ways it resembles the old original fighter, with full BAB and d10 hit dice and full armor and martial weapons proficiencies, so I see no need to go into that here. They also still get a new combat feat at first, second, and every even level afterwards. You do get an extra 2 skill points per level, which I like. Armor training still comes at third and seventh, Armor Mastery at 19th and Weapon Mastery at 20th, it's all mostly the same. But the new stuff is something else again.

First of all the unchained fighter gets Weapon Training starting at 1st level. They can choose an entire weapon group and become proficient with every martial and exotic weapon in it from the very start. They still gain bonuses to hit and on damage at 5th level and every four levels after that, but can't gain any new weapon groups unless they choose them with advanced weapon training. More later on that.

The unchained fighter also gains the Stamina pool rules from Pathfinder Unchained. The rules for it here seem to be the same as in 'Unchained', though now some uses are limited to your weapon group. Like using Stamina points to get a competence bonus on attack rolls. I will also add here that Stamina allows the Fighter to get something like the Brawler's rule that permits them to get certain feats even if their stats are too low, which I enjoy.

Starting at 3rd level the Fighter now gets Second Wind, permitting them to get temporary hit points when injured with Stamina points for 1 minute. This scales over levels, making for a decent boost to keep you in the fight without having to drop out for healing. This reminds me of all those Howard-esque Conan stories where the hero is able to stay on their feet through sheer determination no matter how badly hurt.

At 4th level we get Martial Spontaneity, permitting the fighter to spend Stamina to get a new combat feat. This is like but not as good as the Brawler's ability; then again the Fighter gets so many more feats than the Brawler does. After this comes the new and improved, very improved, Advanced Weapon Training that was originally introduced in Weapon Masters Handbook. But oh my gosh has it been expanded here. You can add your Bravery bonus to Will saves. You can enter a trance and increase your weapon training bonus. Want to overcome negative conditions, get new Weapon Groups, expand single-weapon feats to cover more of your weapon group, gain an improved damage bonus when using light or single-handed weapons, get a mount, use improved combat maneuvers at range, or even improve your Psychology DC (from Everyman's Ultimate Charisma), or share teamwork feats? And much, much more? They've got you covered. You'll need to spend Stamina points and to be using a weapon from one of your weapon groups for most of these, but not all. This feels like an amazing improvement to the base fighter, providing lots of room for individual customization.

And that's not all! The new Unchained Fighter also provides Advanced Armor Training from the Armor Master's Handbook starting at 7th level. You can use Armored Confidence and Dutiful Guard to become an amazingly aware and intimidating guard. Armor Specialization and Armored Juggernaut can make you an untouchable or invincible opponent. Buckler Training and Shield Training improve your use of those defenses. And quite a bit more. The base Fighter has become quite the attractive character choice again!

The PDF then helpfully lists all weapons currently described in the game in a section for weapons and weapon groups. It include weapons from sources like the Player Companions, giving them full stats as well. I did notice a few minor discrepancies. The Boarding Pike doesn't get a description along the other weapons, and neither does the Flambard. And is it intentional that the Sharpened Combat Scabbard is much more expensive yet far less useful than the regular Combat Scabbard? I'd consider these all to be minor flaws though given just how much information we do get here. There's a tremendous list of odd weapons for those looking for that special something for their fighter.

We also get a redone listing of nearly every single fighter archetype, updated to work with the new class. They all look to me like they add up properly. It seems like the PDF covers archetypes from the Advanced Player Guide, Ultimate Combat, Occult Adventures, the Advanced Racial Guide, and more. There doesn't seem to be any specific to Golarion, but that won't be a problem for everyone. You've got a great selection to choose from.

Lastly are some new feats with combat tricks included for use with the Stamina pool. Many of them require you to possess either Armor Training or Weapon Training. Like Charging Momentum, which allows you to make a single Vital Strike enhanced attack at the end of a charge. Cheat Death permits you to use Stamina to save yourself at the last minute by turning all the damage to nonlethal; once again, this reminds me of many an old Howard tale where the hero is saved by being hit with the flat of the blade at the last moment. Leaping Assault allows the classic samurai-style kiai-and-leap, adding your Acrobatics score to your damage roll at the end of a charge. Recuperation permits for those rapidly-healing heroes who are ready to charge out for more after resting an hour or so. Others permit you to temporarily ignore ability damage or recover quickly negative conditions via a second saving throw. Masterful Grace is for everyone who wants a finesse-fighter that isn't a swashbuckler, allowing for dextrous use of weapons ranging from daggers to greatswords.

I will admit the feats section has some very minor typos. Some of the text for Elven Weapon Training is repeated under Gnome Weapon Training. But really, that's it, and anyone can tell what the feat is supposed to do.

This is an AMAZING product. The fighter badly needed an overhaul for a long time and here it got one that seems impossible to improve on. If you are a fighter fan like me, you needed this long ago. If not, you still seriously need to think about getting a copy. It is just that darned good. My old favorite class has retaken pride of place in my heart thanks to this. The only problem might be if you don't use the Stamina rules but you'll be missing out on a lot without them. Five stars and my sincerest recommendation to every lover of the fighter.

EDIT as of 11/21/16: The missing information for the Boarding Pike and Flambard has been added in, and the discrepancies about the Sharpened Combat Scabbard and Combat Scabbard have been cleared up.

Also, the Crossbowman and Polearm Master have both had some minor adjustments, mainly centering on their namesake weapons getting Advanced Weapon Training bonuses unique to these archetypes.

Lastly, the Unchained Fighter got something else new, Fighter Training Options. They can be taken in place of Advanced Armor Options, Advanced Weapon Options, and Fighter bonus feats. Some of them were originally one or another of the old Advanced options, like Master Craftsman which now can be used in place of either the old Master Armorer and Master Weaponsmith. Mount is here too but can now be taken twice if the Fighter wants a more potent steed. Old save bonuses to Reflex and Will are now under Fighter's Reflexes and Tenacity; and the improvements to Martial Spontaneity and Determination.

We also get a few new options like Dutiful Guard, Establish Perimeter, and Fortify Perimeter for people who want their Fighters to be even better defenders.

Th wording of some feats, like the various racial Combat Training ones, has been clarified. Great work all around making an already great product even better!


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Power Corrupts

*****

And it does so in stranger ways than ever in this PDF.

We get four brand spanking new corruptions here:

Devolution: Embrace your inner ape-man as you slowly turn into a feral savage. Feels great for anyone who wants to homage all those 40's B-movies where the mad scientists were always turning guys into gorillas. On a darker note, this also works with the evil devolutionist druid from Horror Adventures and/or weird time travel related accidents. Or even weird magical drugs -- read Machen's "Novel of the White Powder" for more.

Fungal: Pathfinder meets Matango:Fungus of Terror. If you ever wanted to roleplay someone slowly becoming a mere host body for some malevolent fungus, this is for you. Heck, you even get to make your own fungal minions after a while.

Kaiju: Yes, this one turns you into a giant monster. It will help mightily to have a copy of Everyman Games' Microsized Adventures for this one, but it's not necessary. Really this is sucha great idea you have to wonder why no one ever thought of it before now. And the art of sample kaiju corruption victim Danshi the kitsune is amazing!

Voidspawn: If you ever wanted to slowly become Wilbur "Dunwich Horror" Whateley, now your wish has been granted. You have become the host form for some... thing from realms far beyond our own. And of course it erodes your sanity and weak fleshly form as it turns you into something more suitable.

Each of the aforementioned corruptions also has a sample low-level character suffering the affliction at a manifestation level of 9, many of whom have been written up elsewhere by Everyman Games. This is great, as it shows you how the corruption actually does change people into something that's not-people any more.

We also get some feats, including two new types, Corrupt and Salvation. Corrupt feats are for those who want to give in to their new monstrous power; they make your new 'gifts' stronger and grant extra uses per day, and 'Embrace Corruption' can even allow you to stay a PC if you hit stage 3. Well, for a little while, anyway. Unfortunately these feats also make it much harder for you to resist becoming a monster.

Salvation feats grant resistance to the mental and physical damage inflicted by corruptions. They cause ability damage, but in return lowers the corruption DC or allow re-rolls with a bonus.

Next come simple templates for the four new corruptions in case you want any devolved savages or city-wrecking kaiju of your own running around. The new Voidspawn drone monster gets a full write-up as well. Magic items are included that aid in the fight to keep your soul and mind. Best of all is a magic diamond that removes the corruption by turning it into your physical duplicate. Corruption all gone! Of course you now suffer negative levels since you've been split in half, and your new 'sibling' is eager to kill you so it can reclaim the parts of themself that you have.

The last part is a list of the character options used in creating the corrupted characters included in this PDF.

A great piece of work, and I hope we see more like this.


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Who is that masked man?

*****

In Legendary Vigilantes, you'll find out! This 40-page PDF covers a number of new archetypes, social and vigilante talents, feats, magic items, a prestige class and even a sample character.

The archetypes cover a number of classic hero types. The Arsenal Summoner can call on a unique magic weapon that improves as they level up, as well as a suit of armor that they can conjure whenever they take on their vigilante identity. They can choose arsenal talents as they rise in level, allowing them to change the form of their anima, combine it with their bonded armor, and select fighter abilities like armor and weapon training. They eventually can stick their anima and armor into a pocket dimension for safe-keeping and can magically enhance their anima. Very nice!

Beast Born get an animal companion they can turn into a Tiny animal with a touch, and gain both wild shape and the ability to turn themselves into a Tiny animal as well. Their capstone is the ability to use animal growth on themselves when in wild shape. Pretty good for people who want to be martial shapeshifters.

Dynamic Strikers are pugilists supreme, either as a close-in brawler or the more scientific technician, who gains the investigator's studied combat as well. Dynamic Strikers also get their own list of vigilante talents to improve their bare-handed strikes and fighting.

The Exposed Vigilante is for everyone who has no time to waste on this 'I must hide my real identity' stuff. They lose dual identity and seamless guise but gain extra skill points per level and an additional social talent at first level. They're also forbidden from choosing any social talents that require a dual identity, but that aside can always use their social identity. This is one of the simplest archetypes in the PDF, but it may be one of the most valuable for non-intrigue campaigns and adventures. It allows one to make a martial or stealth character who is also a social wonder and highly skilled, and is far and away my favorite archetype in the whole thing! Plus, the way everything is done here, you can use it with every vigilante archetype in the PDF! It's absolutely brilliant!

Focused Hunters get familiar terrain like the ranger's favored terrain, and can hide in plain sight and even eventually gain total concealment that they lose upon attacking, so long as they're in one of their familiar terrains.

The Masked Grappler is for everyone who wants to embrace their inner luchador, allowing you to play, well, a masked grappler. They're great with the grapple maneuver and unarmed combat. They get a number of locks, submissions, and techniques to use on their hapless opponents, with names familiar to the wrestling fans. They can declare one maneuver a Signature Move and make it even more effective, and eventually make ti even more damaging to a foe as well. Really, if you want to be El Santo, this is the archetype for you.

The Noble Soul allows you to be a vigilante paladin. You can either be a crusader and smite evil, or a healer and lay on hands. Again there are unique talents for the archetype. You can do things like eventually treat every evil opponent as an evil outsider for your smite, or gain paladin mercies and even a few life oracle revelations. You get paladin spells too. I like how good it does at some of the things paladins specialize in, but not everything. It's definitely an option for paladin fans, but not one that makes its inspiration obsolete.

The Outrageous Lyricist gets bard spells, a magic girl style transformation that can leave opponents fascinated, and limited bardic performances. Certain talents can add even more performances, and oh heavens the names -- black metal medley for the dirge of doom, mosh pit for improved flanking, and more. Hilarious.

Last comes Ultraman, I mean the Sentai Soldier. They gain the Kineticist's kinetic blast and some of their other abilities as vigilante talents. They also have a special morphing device that allows them to take on their vigilante identity. With their limited ability to take Burn or improve their kinetic blasts, they'll never threaten the kineticist, but they feel like a heck of a lot of fun for tokusatu fans.

New talents follow. You can now take on Signature Skill feat, or gain a Specialty Skill like the Legendary Rogue. I love the absurd accusation, which allows the vigilante to make a Bluff versus Diplomacy opposed skill check. Win and anyone who accuses them of being a vigilante looks like such a fool it briefly damages their use of diplomacy!

The new vigilante talents allow thing like making a vital strike at the end of a charge, eventually improving both their reach and their damage with it. Defy Pain allows you to treat lethal damage as non-lethal for a limited number of rounds -- "No one could have survived that!" Really, it's best to say that most of these allow you to make an insanely good fighter. Then there's Spell Master. IT allows you to use magic trigger items from the spell list of a specific class, eventually adding your Charisma to the DCs of the item and even exchanging your class level for the caster level.

I did notice one small error. The Swooping Dragon talent says it works with the Rising Dragon strike talent. There is no Rising Dragon strike -- but they do have a Leaping Dragon strike, which I assume is what was meant. Some clarification would be appreciated.

In Feats we get things like Martial Bond, allowing you to use enhancements on a melee weapon with your unarmed strikes. The Masked Identity chain allows non-vigilantes to create their very own secret identity, and with the teamwork feat Shared Identity you can share your secret and vigilante IDs with others. Vigilante Casting Savant allows spellcasting vigilantes to pick a few more vigilante talents, which is helpful.

There is a small selection of magical items. Gloves of paired weapons allow you to share enhancement bonuses between twin weapons. Mundane glasses allow you to make like that Clark Kent guy.

You also get a fine pair of items for barehanded fighters of any sort. {i]Pugilists' robes[/i] improve your unarmed damage and make your strikes function as magical -- or silver, cold iron, or even adamantine depending on the set. The no-slot Martial wraps grant enhancement bonuses on unarmed strikes, and can grant them melee weapon special abilities as well.

The Scion of the City PrC makes your vigilante the master of their home city for better or worse. You gain bonuses on certain skills and improved social and vigilante talents. You also eventually gain a group of supporters who will be able to masquerade as you to help hide your secret ID. As the capstone ability you can change your city's settlement modifiers, alignment, or its advantages and disadvantages, but only one a month.

The PDF ends with a sample character, Rashid Zill the tiefling Sentai Soldier Dark Star, who's searching for the fiend who murdered his old master and kidnapped her daughter. The PDF actually provides a boon for gaining his trust, too.

So there you have it. I consider this an amazing piece of work, allowing for both normal vigilantes and non-intrigue and urban based ones depending on the archetype. It's an amazing collection of goodies for fans of the class. Best of all, the author is also working on Legendary Villains: Vigilantes, so we'll be getting even more of this from them soon!


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Hitler's Esoteric War

*****

Kenneth Hite is well-known in gaming circles for his use of what can be called either modern mythology or 'alternative reality' theories along with pop culture in his gaming write-ups. That is, he uses things like real world conspiracy theories, ideas about magic, UFO's, lost civilizations, superhero comics, the works of Lovecraft, and the like to create some very bizarre ideas.

Here in this book from Osprey Adventures Mister Hite takes on the multitude of myths that have developed around World War 2 and Nazi Germany to write a fictional history of the Esoteric War Hitler and the Nazis fought against the world.

Hite knows his stuff. It starts off with a section describing some of the Nazis' real-world occultist forerunners like Guido von List's Armanen Rune Society, Lanz von Liebenfel's Order of the New Templars, and the Reichshammerbund and Germananorden. Of course as this is fiction, rather than being drifty neo-pagan cranks or Jew-hating ex-monks obsessed with bestiality, they were recipients of occult wisdom from the Runes and Theosophy-influenced visions by the 'Aryan racial spirit'. Next comes a section describing the Thule Gesellschaft and its founder, astrological drifter turned self-declared noble Rudolf von Sebottendorff, and how the 1919 Munich Revolt played into the occult forces swirling around Germany. The creepy part is, the occult stuff beside, everything Hite describes here happened precisely as he describes it

We get a section on the hidden energies of vril and zero-point energy and Nazi efforts at creating a 'Yaktavian Bell' to power all the Reich. There's a lengthy section describing the real and fictional researches of the Ahnenerbe, the SS Ancestral Research Division, looking for everything from lost civilizations in the Hollow Earth to creating Nazi zombies, to archaeological digs, to investigations of 16th and 17th century German witch hunts. Hite has the Ahnenerbe training Hexensoldaten, 'witch-soldiers' and lists some of the investigations and expeditions that happened in his history. The scant few details we get leave you wishing that longer stories could be told -- an investigation of Howard's Black Stone at Stregoicavar; searching in Kafiristan for a lost Aryan vimana (basically a Vedic Hindu flying saucer); and trying to find evidence for the Welteislehre ('World Ice Theory') in the lost South American city of Tiwanaku. Why can't the SyFy Channel pick up on some of this?

There's also words on the very real Nazi expedition to Tibet to prove that this was the original homeland of the Aryans. Of course Hite's version is a little more exciting than the real-life anthropological measurements and hamfisted diplomacy. His Nazis, lead by Ernst Schaefer, meet the Tibetan master of black magic, the Man With Green Gloves and his yeti bodyguards, receive the Black Termas and a phurba carved from meteoric iron, used to bind and release demons.

There's more on other less successful quests, such as for the Spear of Destiny, the Ark of the Covenant (you probably know how that one ended), and the very real-life Otto Rahn's search for the Holy Grail, imagined here as the secret of the pure Aryan bloodline. And/or a magic stone from Outer Space used by the Cathars; it's not clear. Hite's Nazis also searched for Zerzura, the City of Birds and dwelling place of the djinn. Unfortunately for them they found it.

The book even goes into detail about Aktion Hess, the Nazi's literal witch hunt for astrologers, mediums, and occultists after some of them advised Rudolf Hess to make his ill-received flight to Scotland. Here (and maybe in real life) it was a plan by British Intelligence to snatch a top Nazi, with the plan orchestrated by Ian "Bond, James Bond" Fleming. There's a description of the Nazi Werwolf project and its snarling successes, as well as the Nazi flying saucer base in Antarctica (aw, come on) and the failure of Operation Highjump to stop the Saucers of Shicklegruber.

The listing above hardly does justice to this bizarre tome. There are dozens of sidebars and descriptions under rarely-seen art that expound on a variety of topics loosely related to the main book. The Welteislehre is described, as are Freikorps militias, some highly odd occult groups in pre-WW2 Europe, the Wewelsburg -- Himmler's "Black Camelot" -- and much, much more. It's amazing just how much oddball information is stuffed into this book, and yet it never feels like too much. Mister Hite is a very skilled author.

And being an Osprey book, there is the art. We get some lovely one and two page spreads. SS men discovering an eldritch tome in a Prague attic and finding out why you shouldn't fool around with Lovecraftian horrors. Werwolf Werewolves making an attack on American troops. Tibetan sorcerers and savage yeti confronting the Nazi Tibetan expedition. Nazis attacking the djinn at Zerzura. And of course Nazi flying saucers in Antarctica!

And there's a bibliography that lists both works on occult weirdness and genuine history for those who wannt to find out for themselves just how much of this stuff really happened.

It's one whacked-out tome, but it's a load of fun if you like High Weirdness in WW2.


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Rogues get their due

*****

Legendary Rogues is one of the very best 3rd party releases for Pathfinder I've ever seen. Done as a way to improve the rather disliked core rulebook rogue and to provide some options for further character optimization and to help make the sort of rogue the individual player wants -- a dashing bravo, a swashbuckling hero, or a coldly sly poisoner, among literally dozens of other ideas.

The new legendary rogue gets Skill Specialties to replace trapfinding. They allow the rogue to develop great ability with one or two skills, as well as to use them in ways they can't normally be used in. Like trapfinding allowing you to find and disable magical traps, poisoner granting the poison use ability, and more. Also, you can get new specialties as you increase in level; a major advantage over the old rogue.

Trap sense gets replaced with Avoidances that advance at a +1 bonus every third level. You can now pick a different avoidance at every increase, or focus on just one. They are done in such a way as to make individualization of your rogue a snap -- swordswomen can choose a different bonus than snipers or acrobats.

Instincts are where we find stuff like uncanny dodge and evasion, as well as new ideas like ambusher, which allows you to take a full action in a surprise round, or celerity, which grants rerolls on initiative. Mainly defensive, these are now granted at 2nd level, 4th, and every fourth level from then on. Once again, both a needed power boost and a great way to customize your rogue.

The rogue Talents list gets updated, with almost 90 new and improved talents to choose from. You also get a table of the talents so you can see how they work together. And, many of them improve as you rise in level. I think this is one of the best parts of the book -- I was getting character ideas just looking through them.

Next comes a section to improve the rogue's combat abilities. The sneak attack gets some incredible improvement; and you get ways to use it albeit in weakened form against even non-flanked/flat-footed enemies as well as ones immune to precision damage. The whole section is so well done and thought out you;re left wondering why Pathfinder didn't do it like this in the first place!

It all comes together with the write-up for the new and vastly improved Legendary Rogue class, showing how all these new ideas can be used to keep the rogue viable and fun. The book ends with the Master Thief prestige class for people who truly want to create a king of thieves for their campaign.

If you like rogues, or if like me you dislike them and think you'd never be willing to play one, you WILL want to read this book.I loathed the class and now I can only wish I could play some of the characters this book inspires me with.


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