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Vimanda

Eric Hinkle's page

2,145 posts. 63 reviews. 2 lists. 1 wishlist.



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The Turtles Come Out Of Their Shell

****( )

Another entry in the Animal Races series, like the rest this is a short but information packed PDF. It's rather different in several ways, not least for being the first non-mammalian race in the series. We get some wonderful background information about the other non-mammalian Clans and their collective origin.

They differ in another way, too, in that every Turtle (save for the mutant turtles) has their own suit of armor in the form of their shell. They can get it megically enhanced like any set of masterwork scale armor, and they have a natural armor bonus on top of it. The Turtles can also take the Stalwart Defender PrC from first level, as they can ignore the normal prerequisites for it, which feels odd to me. You can also take racial heritage feats that improve the shell and the natural armor bonus even more. The Turtle Clan Mutants get some feats that can change your shell so it still protects but doesn't interfere with class abilities that depend on not wearing armor (monk and ninja abilities). This may all be a bit much for some campaigns.

Then comes the usual well-done folklore about Turtle clan monsters, and a new god who bears an odd resemblance to a certain villain TMNT fans will be familiar with. We also get the Heraldic traits -- which here are not of various animals or the like, but of simple colors painted onto a Turtle's shell. Nice change and a cool bit of differentiation from the other Animal Clans!

Even with minor qualms about the whole shell thing, I'll give this one four stars and a recommendation that it's very worth the price.


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Nanananana, Bat Clan!

****( )

This is another entry in the wonderful Animal Races series that presents new animal-based races for use. This one covers the bats, presenting them with a somewhat Mayan/Aztec feel. It does tend to be vampire heavy, though oddly enough the individual bats are usually good though their society (due to being ruled by vampires; no word on whether these are human or Bat Clan vampires) tends to be very evil. That's rather a unique twist, having mostly good people living in an evil society.

It also contains rules for the Lesser Vampire template (a very weak version of the usual vampire), as well as options for your Bat to be descended from Jiang-shi and Nosferatu as well as the more usual Bats. I confess to some dismay here, as I wish they could have gone for some of the real-world differences between bats (fox-faced fruit bats?), but this will delight anyone who ants to get their bloodsucker mojo on. There are also feats that allow you to make your bat more, well, batty with new racial traits as well as somewhat vampiric, gaining several of the resistances and immunities undead possess. The latter can betaken from first level on, and while they can't be taken every level and the weaker immunities come first, it might be a bit much for some campaigns.

The Bat Clan also has the Dhampir subtype, so feats and traits meant to work with them will go fine with the Bats as well.

We also get the usual heraldic traits along with the Bat God, Camazotz, and differences in the way Bat mythology views some monsters. It's always a delight to read the world-building that goes into these Clan books. It ends with a brief description of the vampiric rulers of at society, and how they differ from their subjects as well as mortals in general. Very nice entry in the series, especially for vampire fans. Folks who wanted non-bloodsucking bats might be a little disappointed, though. Four stars and very worth the price!


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Real orcs have tusks!

****( )

Clan of the Pig is one of the releases in publisher Eric Morton's line of animal-based races. Like most of the rest it consists of eleven pages -- a cover page, title page, back cover, and two for the Open Game License. This leaves six pages to cover the Pig-clan therians, and they are pages well spent.

We get first a short bit of fiction establishing the unsavory reputation of pig therians. They are basically the Orcs of the therian clans, with all the nastiness that implies. That stated it's made obvious in the story that pigs can be something different if they want to be.

Next comes the basic information on their appearance, basics on their society and relations with others, height and weight and aging tables are all included. We also discover that the pigs have two water-going tribes, the hippos and orcas (killer whales). I really don't think I've ever seen anthropomorphized versions of either of those species before. Kudes to Mister Morton for being very original!

Then comes the crunch. Pigs can be both small and medium in size with different modifiers for each. They also get different modifiers based on which kind of pig they are. Orcas and hippos are strong, while boars (meaning feral pigs, I assume?) and warthogs are tough. They also have the Orc subtype and oddly enough given the reputations of both orcs and pigs get a bonus to Charisma.

Like with the other therian clans you get an option to choose more
piggish traits as their characetr develops. The various subraces also have the option to take this feat in place of various bonus feats a particular class would grant them, which I think is a clever idea. You can also take a feat that makes you big and fat and effectively one size larger for the purpose of combat maneuvers based on size. There are also feats that allow you to take on tiefling racial traits as well as one that allows a witch, be they pig therian or orc or half-orc, to take the Infernal sorceror bloodline spells as bonus spells along with the normal patron spells. Sounds like an appropriate gift for a malevolent witch's patron!

We next get some pig racial genealogy, and then some notes on pig folklore and how some monsters will be and look different when seen through their eyes. This includes a brief section on half-orcs (half-hogs?) of human-pig clan descent. Nice to see some of these races be looked at from a PC-playable take on Chaotic Evil.

Next is a section on the pig deity Triath, a vain and savage deity. His links with the Wild Hunt are played up as are his links to other related deities of the other therian clans.

Lastly comes a section with various heraldic symbols that can be taken as traits, providing a feat in exchange for a penalty of some sort to usually either saves or initiative. It's rather a new way to handle traits in-game, and it seems to be a good one.

My sole real criticism of this and the other entries in the series is the lack of racial favored class options, but this PDF gives so much that's a minor flaw at best. I'll go with four stars and definitely a worthwhile purchase at the price.


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Truly An Original Choice

****( )

Clan of the Deer is one of the releases in publisher Eric Morton's line of animal-based races. Like most of the rest it consists of eleven pages -- a cover page, title page, back cover, and two for the Open Game License. This leaves six pages to cover the deer therians, and they are pages well spent.

We get first a short bit of fiction explaining that deer are a part of nature. Real nature, not Disney-animated film nature, which means that deer can be as savage and remorseless as any predator. It's an effective bit of work, showing how the deer are different from humans and other races but can still be understood. This is something rather rare in works like this.

Next comes the basic information on their appearance (anthropomorphic deer, though here even the does have antlers), basics on their society and relations with others (they like salt for candy, nice little touch!), height and weight and aging tables are all included.

Then comes the crunch. Deer can be both small and medium in size with different modifiers for each. They also get different modifiers based on exactly which kind of deer they are. Elk tend to be physical powerhouses, for instance, while reindeer are tough and enduring. It works rather well as a way to differentiate the subraces of deer.

There are also feats that allow the player to, as their character develops, take on more deer-like traits such as increased speed or hard hooves. The various subraces also have the option to take this feat in place of various bonus feats a particular class would grant them, which I think is a clever idea. You can also get a set of evil antlers as weapons, which is definitely original. How many people ever think of diabolic deer?

We get some genealogy explaining how the deer clan developed, and then something rather novel, some notes on deer folklore and how some monsters will be and look different when seen through deer eyes. That is one of the better aspects of this series to me -- why would every single race view monsters the same way or tell the same stories about them?

Next is a section on the deer deity Cernnunos, who is more of a grimly merciless if not evil figure here than in the 'main' Pathfinder setting. His links with the Wild Hunt are played up as are his links to other related deities of the other therian clans.

Lastly comes a section with various heraldic symbols that can be taken as traits, providing a feat in exchange for a penalty of some sort to usually either saves or initiative. It's rather a new way to handle traits in-game, and it seems to be a good one.

My sole real criticism of this and the other entries in the series is the lack of racial favored class options, but this PDF gives so much that's a minor flaw at best. I'll go with four stars and definitely a worthwhile purchase at the price.


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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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