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Vimanda

Eric Hinkle's page

2,810 posts. 94 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist.



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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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Another Killer Product From Legendary Games

*****

Assassins. Everyone knows what they are, right? Evil, slink around alleys, use poison, try knifing your PCs in the back after they've meddled in the schemes of Ogrek the Awful for the umpty-eleventh time... They have their uses in game, but they seem to be rather limited. And what if you have a PC who wants to be a heroic or anti-heroic assassin? You were kind of stuck.

Not any more. Legendary Assassins is the latest in the Legendary Heroes line from Legendary Games. The other releases expanded on full 20-level character classes. This is the first focused on a prestige class; twenty-six pages long, fourteen of juicy content, and now let us see how well it does.

It opens with a section on historical and fictional assassins, and how the class can be more than an evil hired killer. For starters, they remove the alignment restrictions, and they change the requirements to a BAB of +3 and at least three skills at rank 5 out of a decent list.

The class also gets talents like those of the rogue that allow for considerable customization. There are ones for spell-casting assassins, for martials, gunslingers and swashbucklers, even ones to allow druids to improve their wild shape and Thousand Faces class feature. There are talents that aid clerical assassins, barbarian assassins, even monk or brawler assassins. You get a lot to choose from here! The talents really do a great job of opening the assassin up for other classes.

Sneak attack is also changed. In lieu of taking another +1d6 sneak attack damage, you can do thing like increase your spellcasting level or choose a new combat feat if you have a levels in any class with a full BAB. Very nice and another great chance at customization.

The Death Attack is still there, but now it becomes quicker to use as you increase in level. And one of the new talents allows you to base it off Strength rather than Intelligence if you like. Given the number of thuggish assassins I've seen in games that's a great idea. And at 9th level she can make one such attack a day without studying the foe. I do like what they did with the Death Attack, now it feels like it actually improves at every new level instead of just getting a higher DC.

Their normal save bonus versus poisons can now be applied to any one particular effect, ranging from poisons to mind-affecting effects to supernatural abilities.

We get one assassin archetype, the Many-Faced Killer. They specialize in disguise and slipping into a new persona, eventually gaining minor shapeshifting abilities. They even learn how to disguise their aura and alignment, defending them against alignment-based effects.

Last are some new assassin feats. One allows a summoner assassin to share their assassin class features with their eidolon. Another allows an assassin with a familiar to let it use sneak attacks when it delivers a touch spell. They have feats for an improved death attack, and one that allows monk assassins to expend ki on their death attack. There's one for poison-loving alchemist assassins, and a pair for members of the Red Mantis, referred to here as 'Crimson Assassins'. I'd call it a pretty good list.

The PDF ends with three sample assassins -- a monk who deals with unruly people who refuse to negotiate with her abbot; a necromantic cult slayer; and the Handmaiden, a Many-Faced Killer who can be used as either an ally or enemy to PCs.

This PDF is short and sweet, and it does a great job of expanding on the options for both PCs and NPCs who will either confront or want to become assassins. It makes me wonder about playing one for what could be the first time ever. Great work, five stars, and definitely worth the cost for anyone who even thinks they might use assassins in their game.


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Takes mass conflict in a whole new direction

*****

Several of them, actually. Into the air, the water, against the castle, greater unit detail, and much more.

Really, Endzeitgeist covered just about everything that could possibly be said about this wonderful product, so I'll keep it short. It has short sections on new command boons and combined arms, allowing you to put different troops types together in one unit. So if you want a pike/shot/sword unit like the Spanish tercios or the like, you're covered.

The main parts of the book cover three new types of warfare.

First is war in the sky, involving everything from flying creatures to msgical/steampunk-ish airships for those of you who want to scratch your Jules Verne itch. There are several different types of airship offered, as well as just what sort of resources your kingdom needs to build them. You also get rules on how to combine airships into squadrons for fleet actions.

War in the water follows. It allows for both simple and complex ships, including what's needed to make them. You get the squadron rules here too, as well as how to handle warfare beneath the waves. Ever wanted to have a horde of sahuagin fight a fleet of ironclads with diving bells? Now you can!

Both sections also have lists and explanations of available tactics in aerial or naval warfare, which is helpful.

The last part covers siege warfare, and it does so very thoroughly. It lists weapons ranging from catapults and mantlets to bombards, firedrakes, and cannon. It also lists tactics and options for both defender and besieger, as well as just what it costs in consumption to engage in a siege. Suffice to say that you'll want to end them quickly.

The book ends with some magical siege weapons and siege shot. Why hurl plain old stone at a wall when you can fling zombie apocalypse siege shot or use a thunderbolt cannon instead?

It is a great book for fans of military conflict and mass combat in Pathfinder. Five stars and worth every penny.


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