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Vimanda

Eric Hinkle's page

2,274 posts. 77 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist.



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Everyman Unchained Monk Archetypes

****( )

While the monk has been a Pathfinder class from the start and has a large number of archetypes available, it was recently reworked in Pathfinder Unchained. There are several differences between the old class and the new, some small (a few class abilities are now available at different levels) and some big, like the new ki powers and the reworked flurry of blows. All very fine unless you were using one of the old monk archetypes and trying to figure out how to handle your character now. This PDF by Everyman Games founder Alexander Augunas tries to rework them, and let's see how they work.

The PDF itself is nineteen [ages long with one for a gorgeous full-color cover, one for the title page, one for contents, and one for the OGL, leaving fifteen pages of content. They also mention that they don't cover everything -- only archetypes from the Advanced Player's Guide. the Advanced Race Guide, Ultimate Combat, and Ultimate Magic[i] are included (so much for my personal favorite, the [i]Ranged Tactics Toolbox's Far Strike monk). However, Mister Augunas also lists how he wet about making the changes here which makes it rather easy to use them yourself on non-listed archetypes. Thank you for that, sir.

The archetypes themselves still have the feel of the originals, with a few exceptions due to changes such as flurry of blows. The Martial Artist, for example, now gains over time and levels immunities to things like fatigue, exhaustion, and energy drain, as well as decreased effects from ability damage and drain, The Master of Many Styles uses their style strikes differently than the normal monk, using them whenever he makes a full attack while having one of more style stances (from the Style feats introduced in Ultimate Combat) active.

The Sensei archetype gets a fun idea, they can use something like bardic inspiration on their allies, allowing them to inspire courage, competence, and greatness, and eventually to let their lessons linger in the minds of their students for a few rounds extra. They also get bardic masterpieces rather than style strikes and allow their allies to use the Sensei's class abilities while they call encouragement. Do you understand, Grasshopper?

The wrestling Tetori becomes even better at grappling. Much, much better; they can eventually make their grips imitate the effects of dimensional anchor, ghost touch, and even negate polymorph effects by touch! Let's see those incorporeal undead, angry outsiders, and showoff shapeshifters get away now!

The brawling Wildcat gets even better at using dirty tricks and improvised weapons in a fight, and can use their knockout ability earlier and more often as well.

The Zen Archer is the last of the archetypes with major changes. Their big one is that they can only use flurry of blows with bows, and that at 5th level they replace style strikes with the ability to do certain combat maneuvers at range. This feels like a good trade-off, as the Zen Archer loses something they could only use in melee combat but gains something useful but not too powerful for ranged combat.

This PDF doesn't cover every monk archetype but it covers the lion's share of them. And the author includes the information for the reader to rework other archetypes to keep them in line with the ones included here. This is a very good PDF for anyone who wants to convert an old monk archetype to the new class listed in Unchained. That said, if you don't use it they're not going to be very helpful, unless of course you decide to pick up the book after reading the PDF.

I'm going with four stars, mostly because it's only going to be useful to some fans, but to those fans it will be a five-star necessity.


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Kitsune come into their own

*****

This is one of those 3rd party PDFs that justifies the very idea of the OGL with incredible ease. It covers the kitsune race, vulpine shapeshifters who can assume human form and who have a talent for trickery and enchantment magic. This PDF answers the 'and what else' questions, and does an amazing job of it.

Once again, this has been covered in grand style by the other reviewers, so I'll just touch on some high points. We get a history and origin of the race, along with the god Inari and how kitsune interact with humans and other races. Along with the fluff we get crunch that shows how all of this affects them in-game, like new bardic masterpieces and different kitsune 'ethnicities' and subraces.

There are several different paths on how kitsune can become nine-tailed and what they mean in game terms for a character. We get new martial archetypes and class features. There's information on kitsune witchcraft, sorcery both benevolent and baleful, and even a kitsune bloodrager bloodline that allows you to turn into a giant heart-ripping fox. That last one is really original!

It also lists alternate favored class options for every Pathfinder class that wasn't originally covered, as well as a few third party ones. And of course feats and traits.

All I can say is that if you want to play a kitsune in Pathfinder you won't find anything better than this.


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Leadership for everyone

*****

That's the solution given to the 'Leadership problem' in this amazing PDF. It's been covered far more extensively by far more capable reviewers, but I'll still add a few words of my own here.

This PDF turns Leadership into a sort of 'seventh characteristic', making it something that everyone can have and profit by, even if they don't want to be leading a horde of followers around. That said they also make it useful for people who do want to be leading a large group of people.

Mostly it's been made to work with the downtime/kingdom building/army leadership rules in Ultimate Campaign. This is done with the addition of 'perks' available very second level, that can affect things like how well known you are, what boons you can give a unit of soldiers, or even if you want to be left alone. They're very clever and add lots of flavor to Leadership.

If you want to do better at running your business, or leading your kingdom, or handling troops, you WILL want this PDF.


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The Dragon Disciple

****( )

This PDF has already been covered to the usual high standard by Endzeitgeist, so I'll limit myself to a few comments here in praise.

This class is basically taking the Dragon Disciple PrC from the Pathfinder rulebook and turning it into a Charisma-based version of the magus from Ultimate Magic, with the big difference being that in this class you slowly transform into a sorta-dragon. I.e., you get scales, claws, fangs, a breath weapon, wings (at 15th level) all combined with a very decent BAB and saves. You also get spellcasting u to 6th level spells.

Really, this is for everyone who wants to start scaling up (sorry) from 1st level rather than take five levels of a spontaneous spellcaster class first.

I like it mostly because I've always been big on 'monstrous' PCs. I like alchemists with their mutagens, inhuman looking tieflings, and other oddities -- like dragon-people PCs. That said the math of the class works out well and I'd call it balanced for the sort of games I like to play, though it may be a bit tough for lower-powered ones.

You also get a sample character statted out at 1st, 10th, and 15th levels if you want to get an idea of one way to make the character.

I'd say this class and PDF is definitely worth the price.


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Get your dragons here!

*****

The Dragon Companion Handbook is one of the best PDFs I've seen in a long time. The intent of it is to allow PCs to get dragons as cohorts/companions or even as PCs if they want. They do point out that these rather powerful dragons are meant more for use as cohorts and companions, and list Rite Publishing's In the Company of Dragons as am alternative source for draconic PCs. That said I'd say they do a good job of it!

The PDF proper is 36 pages lone, with one page for the cover, one for credits, one for the contents and preface, and one for the OGL. This leaves 32 pages for the dragons themselves, and they are pages well used.

The first section briefly covers the dragon 'race', both the crunch elements of stats and abilities and the fluff of how their society works as well as why a dragon would work with puny mortals anyway. The answer is, because that way they can try to develop their powers and abilities much more swiftly then if they took the more common route of 'a year active, ten years snoring on the hoard'. It allows younger and more ambitious dragons to try and outmaneuver the older and more potent dragons. A good reason and one that opens the way for many roleplaying opportunities -- what do you do when a group of angry elder wyrms comes after your cohort to teach them a lesson in respect for 'degrading the race' by associating with noxious bipeds (not to mention, trying to get one up on them)? I feel that cohorts and intelligent companions should have reasons for working with PCs beyond 'I just like you', and that reason is a doozy.

The dragons also get differing racial traits depending on which sept they belong to. This can be any of the main 'types' like red, black, silver, gold, etc., or any of the dragon kinds found in other Bestiaries. There is a total of 25 different septs, covering every breed of true dragon in the game, so you should be able to find something you like here. They also provide favored class options for every class in the game and some 3rd party ones as well like the Occultist and Technician. You can't say that you don't get options here.

We also get brief sections covering how to use these dragons as PCs if you must and how to balance them out with other starting PCs of more mundane races. We also get guidelines on how to use them as cohorts, both with the usual Pathfinder leadership feat and the versions given in the also-excellent Leadership Handbook.

The following section covers the new base class of Dragon Paragon, a class for dragons -- and kobolds, if you want to give the 'little dragons' something new. Be warned, this is a potent class -- you get d12 for hit points, full BAB, stat bonuses, limited spellcasting, and other special powers as you or your dragon rise in level. Then again, it's meant for dragons only. You've been warned.

You also get powers and bonus spells depending on your heritage -- black dragons get ones that revolves around acid, their swampy homes, control of reptiles, etc. It's the same for the other two dozen heritages/septs included.

The next section covers draconic companions. You need to take feats for this. One for the basic scaly buddy, and another for 'mastery' that makes your draconic ally bigger, stronger, grants new movement types, and gives some ability like frightful presence. Again, these are strong companions to have, but it seems to scale in such a way that they won't be stronger than the rest of the group.

Oh, and there's also a list of how your dragon companion improves for all 20 levels, which is appreciated.

At the end is a list of new draconic feats. Two of them (Draconic Companion and Draconic Companion Mastery) are meant for non-dragons who want to use the rules listed in part three. The rest are for dragons who want to improve their racial abilities, expand their arsenal with wing buffets, or gain some of the unique traits of their sept. They seem to cover it all here, and provide an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

It has to be stated, this isn't a PDF for anyone who wants to make a dragon their PC, that's the Rite Games PDF listed above, or start playing with one as a sidekick. That's Genius Guide to the Dragonrider from Rogue Genius Games, also mentioned in the PDF. This is for making some VERY powerful allies for your players, and it might not be for everyone. That said if you don't mind high-powered gaming (though these dragons will by no means make PC victories certain) and if you just have to have a dragon for a cohort or companion, you could do a lot worse than to use this PDF.


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