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Eric Hinkle's page

2,086 posts. 59 reviews. 2 lists. 1 wishlist.

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New Tricks for Slayers

****( )

This PDF is the first in a hoped-for series of releases to bring more options to the new classes from the ACG. This one covers the Slayer, and it comes in at twelve pages long, with one for the cover, one-half for the credits, one and a half for the OGL and copyright notices, and a full-page ad for the Veranthea Codex kickstarter. That leaves eight for the new material, and some rather fine work is found herein..

The first section is new Talents, which can be taken at the same time as any other Slayer Talent or in place of the track, stalker, swift tracker, quarry and improved quarry class features, if you want to customize your character even more.

There are some cool and flavorful ideas here, like the Death Drinker talent which allows your Slayer to heal themselves after making a kill (nice and creepy!), to the Elemental Grave talent that turns sneak attack damage into energy damage, to Studied Defense that grants an AC bonus against studied targets.

My personal favorites, though are the Face Stealer chain that allows you to take the appearance of an enemy reduced to negative hit points, a talent that can get stronger as you take more advanced versions of it, and the Shank chain, which allows the Slayer to take a light melee weapon they have proficiency in and use a better die of damage and have a better chance at inflicting critical hit.

Then we get the Advanced Talents. These include such nasty treats as the Sanction chain, which makes it harder and harder to return to life anyone the Slayer killed. Relentless lets the Slayer heal themselves if their studied target is still moving and they get killed or knocked out. Aching Strike makes it harder for a wounded by the Slayer enemy spellcaster to concentrate on their spells. The Shank and Face Stealer chains get advanced and more powerful versions as well. It's a good collection here.

Next come Lethalities, abilities that can be taken in place of studied target and sneak attack. You can replace every advance in those abilities or only some of them. Your Slayer can rage like a barbarian or cast necromancy spells from the cleric and witch classes, though most of these will have to be selected several times to be more than a minor ability. There are Death Blows that make your attacks able to inflict temporary conditions or reduce an enemy's speed. My favorite is 'Death From Above': your Slayer drops on an enemy and inflicts half their dice of falling damage on them! I wish the PDF mentioned whether this means that the Slayer only takes half damage from the fall, or just hurts the target half as much as themselves.

The Strangler chain of Lethalities allows you to use a flail group weapon as a means of grappling, and Steal Power, allowing you to temporarily use a feat or ability depending on the victim's type. This one has a nice creepy feel to it. Perfect for those murderous death cultists!

The PDF is rounded out with a few archetypes. One is the Headsman, who gets fewer studied targets per day, unless they're dealing with someone who was sentenced to death by a legal authority. They also get Weapon Focus for free in all two-handed slashing weapons and their sneak attack deals more damage against studied targets and inflicts max damage when used as a Coup de Grace.

The trouble-making Seditionist replaces sneak attack with alchemist's bombs and spell resistance against spells that read thoughts or detect alignment, as well as a bonus on Bluff checks to tell lies. They can also make traps as the Trapper archetype from Ultimate Magic.

Lastly is the Warhound, who gets an animal companion they can share their Studied Target bonuses with. It seems like every class is getting animal companions these days.

So you get a multitude of good new talents, new toys in place of sneak attack and studied target for those interested, and three archetypes of which two are pretty good to me. It's only of use to Slayer characters but wow is it ever of use to them. I am so very glad I got a copy. I'll give this one a solid four stars.

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Assemble the horde

****( )

#30 Mercenary Companies is a collection from Rite Publishing of, well, exactly what it says. One note that should be made for the sake of completeness is that you will need the mass combat rules from Ultimate Canpaign to get the best use of this PDF

It's 23 pages long, with one for the cover, one for credits, one advertising their '101 Forest Kingdom Encounters' PDF, one for the OGL and one advertising for Cafe Press, leaving eighteen for the companies proper.

The individual companies all have a 'hook', something done to differentiate them from each other, which work rather well. They also have short sections going into their background, listing their alignment, their headquarters and leader, their resources (I.e., ships, buildings, ruled towns...), structure and leadership (very useful for would-be infiltrators or as a quick idea on how to present them in roleplay), uniform and banner, and an overview with different amounts of information available depending on how good your skill roll is. One quibble is that the skill needed is not described: I would assume either Knowledge (local) or Profession (soldier) would do.

You then get an in-character description which gives more ideas on just how the group sees itself and others, as well as adventure hooks, and statblocks listing all the needed information for use in mass combat.

The mercenary units themselves are well done, with alliances, rivalries, and hatreds between each other. Suffice to say that not all the money in the world can get some of these groups to work together! They also cover a range of classes from the usual warriors, fighters, and rangers to monks, magi, and rogues. They even have units of summoners and alchemists here, who are listed s specialists for things like sabotage and the like, which I do like. Some of them seem a bit too powerful (mercenary units of several hundred 11th-13th level fighters and rogues?), but that's probably just a personal quirk.

I will admit that one other minor quibble is that almost all of the units are the races from the Player's Handbook. Which makes sense, but I wouldn't have minded seeing a few more units like Wings Over Water (giant eagles and griffins, based out of a network of farming and fishing villages) and the Wolflings, who are werewolves and who work with the Wings against cavalry -- the Wings eat the horses and the Wolflings eat the riders! They also probably inevitably have a company of paladins who are being secretly manipulated by evil but they're too honorable, pigheaded, and stupid to notice. Sigh. Maybe one of these days we'll get a group of evil mercenaries being tricked into fighting for good causes by a clever good guy?

This PDF promises you 30 mercenary companies with plot hooks and that's exactly what you get, with some very good ideas included. The problem is that it's of limited use to someone not intending to use the mass combat rules from either the Campaign Guide or Legendary Games' Ultimate Battle. However, if you DO use them this can be a great guide to setting your own units up as well as a source of plot ideas for any player. I'll go with 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for me because mass combat really appeals to me.

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Deeper into the woods

****( )

Faerie Mysteries is the latest PDF for Legendary Games Kingdom Building line of supplements. It functions as a kind-of sequel to the earlier release Faerie Passions, though the focus here is more on information that will be of use to GMs rather than players.

It mainly offers up a new idea for Pathfinder based on the by now familiar haunt, the Fey Impulse. These are basically minor or major eruptions of the fey realm into the mundane world with results that can range from the hauntingly beautiful to the utterly terrifying. They come in three types: rumors which are basically harmless illusions, though they can be a lot less harmless if they occur in the middle of a battle; ripples that can affect your emotions and thoughts as well as your senses; and ruptures that actually transpose the environment (as well as anything or one in it) from one realm to the other.

And if that wasn't enough, all three enhance an empower fey creatures within them. mildly so for the rumors, more for the ripples, and most of all for ruptures. Fey creatures know all about this, of course, which gives them all the more reason to confront PCs while making a stand in one.

The sample impulses listed cover the gamut from harmless yet lovely to images and experiences that feel like they were lifted from a Machen horror story. Like a tree that fills you with the emotions experienced by its dead dryad when she was hung from it, to facing the spectral charge of elven knights, to sating the hungers of savage redcaps!

The PDF also contains some very weird and wonderful fey-influenced events that can serve as anything from a bizarre roleplay encounter to an adventure location such as a mansion that vanished decades ago and has only just now returned. Any or all can serve either as is or as inspiration for encounters in lands haunted by the fey.

Lastly are three new monsters, all fey-influenced. First is the sadistic blackthorn dryad, descended from dryads that ended up in the Plane of Shadows and who were mated to kytons. They combine some of the magical talents of their mothers with the cruel chains of their fathers to lethal effect. Next is the murderous harionna hag with her array of hexes and lethal barbed hair. And lastly is a variant nixie, the stromkarl, using their beguiling song to lure either partners or prey to them.

All in all it's a fine new idea for the game, with plenty of good examples how to use it, as well as some new fey creatures to use it with. I'm giving it 4 stars and the recommendation for use in any fey-heavy campaign.

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Presenting the Lamia PC race

****( )

Slithering from the shadows, here is what must be one of the more unique releases in the Advanced Races line, the lamia PC race. It's 17 pages long, with one for the cover, one for the table of contents, one back cover with other products from the Midgard line, and one for the OGL, leaving 13 pages for the contents.

It starts with a brief section covering a non-decadent and evil lamia's realization that she doesn't belong among her cheerily vile kin, and then some information on lamia society, psychology, and more to help establish how these creatures differ from the normal Pathfinder lamia (who these ones despise). We get all the stats needed for the race, also including ones for age and height and weight. Very oddly for a potential PC race they get spell resistance, which may be a problem for some groups and campaigns. As a bonus we also get some information on favored class options and alternative racial traits.

Then comes a small yet flavorful list of racial feats. A few enhance the magic of the lamia. Others make their serpentine traits more obvious and useful in battle. We also get a new Oracle mystery for the Moon (central to lamia culture as shown in the fluff here), and a new spell. Last comes a pair of prestige classes, with one focusing upon the Moon-based mysticism of the lamia and the other a warlike one focusing on their love of using twin scimitars in battle.

All in all it's a well-done if somewhat bizarre addition to a line that has already given some odd new races. I'd say four stars, and a definite buy if you like serpent-folk as a PC race.

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Get your freak on


Mutant Manifesto is a PDF from Legendary Games in their Adventure Path Plug-In line covering mutations that twist the mind and flesh. It runs 21 pages, with one for the cover, one for credits, one for the table of contents, two explaining what the line/product is as well as some words on Legendary Games and what can be found in the PDF, two pages showing what else LG offers, and one blank back cover. That leaves 13 pages for the twisted goodness within, so here we go!

After a page-long discussion covering how to use the idea of mutation in gothic horror and dark heroic fantasy, the PDF offers a pair of archetypes. The Deviant is one for wizards who wish to get in on alchemist-style mutagen fun, allowing the character to take the Extra Discovery feat, but only for mutagen-affecting alchemist discoveries. You are also allowed to swap out some of your spells gained per level to get Extra Discovery as a bonus feat. You also eventually gain a familiar with the celestial or fiendish template, as well as the ability to buy summoner evolutions for it by sacrificing one spell slot per spell level you can cast. And your spells are harder to resist when cast on certain alien or mutated creatures. You can really build up one freaky mage and familiar with this archetype.

The second archetype is the Xenocidist for the ranger. Basically a ranger who loses their spell-casting ability in exchange for some inquisitor judgements, favored terrain for the ability to whip up angry mobs like a bard, and a limited number of potential favored enemies as well as resistance to polymorph and transmutation effects. This is a very unusual yet flavorful archetype, and can lend itself to some modifying for people who want to make it an enemy of undead, fiends, or almost any other class of creature.

Then we get several alchemist's discoveries revolving around mutagens that can make you into an aberrant creature briefly, sharing your flesh-bending mutagenic gifts with others, and bombs that are more dangerous to aberrant and (Cthulhu) mythos creatures. And of course lots of tentacles.

Next are a few feats for xenophiles and xenophobes as well as a way to grant the mana-wasted mutant template to summoned monsters. After this we get a list of some new spells that revolve around creating and fighting mutants. Probably the best are Blightburn meltdown, which damages and sickens opponents, interferes with teleportation, and enhances polymorph effects; and Genetic Purification, which can strip the various 'half-' templates from others as well as turn those half-elves, half-orcs, tieflings, etc. into normal humans. You can also transform enemies into mana-wasted mutants (the latter template is thoughtfully reprinted in the PDF), inflict random mutations on them, summon mutant monsters or something called 'hungry flesh'. The latter is listed as being described as Pathfinder Bestiary 4, which seems inconvenient for those who lack the book.

Last of all is a description of the dread Omnia Mutandis spellbook, which basically gives PCs a way to take any of the above spells, feats, etc. for themselves along with a free side order of accidental mutation thanks to the fact that the pages are soaked with the remnants of mutagenic experiments! It also gives advice on how to handle fleshwarping, Moreau-esque vivisection, and other fun topics. Truly a memorable tome and one that comes complete with its own nasty history and plot hooks.

In all, I really do enjoy this PDF. The archetypes, spells, mythos time, and everything else, all have that lovely creeping feeling this sort of a subject should have. My sole major complaint is that it allows you to summon some monsters which haven't even been released as yet, and in a book which may be out of the price range of some buyers. That is however a minor quibble when compared to everything you can use, with the PDF having hotlinks for anything and everything other than the new monster spell and material from the main Pathfinder rulebook. If you want some mutants in your game you'll want this PDF. I'll make it 4.5 stars for the reasons I listed, rounding it off to 5.

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