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Vimanda

Eric Hinkle's page

2,713 posts. 92 reviews. 3 lists. 1 wishlist.



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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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Never Too Young To Start Adventuring

*****

Kid heroes have always been around, but for some reason options for playing one have been few and far between. You'd think someone out there would want to do Harry Potter, the last Airbender, or even Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper, but if they did their choices were limited. Until now, anyway.

Young Character Options is a 15 page PDF from the Four Horsemen and Rogue Genius that offers some character ideas, archetypes, feats, and traits for playing child characters. Let's see how they do, shall we?

The PDF proper is fifteen pages long, with one for the cover, one for the credits, and one for the OGL, giving us twelve pages of content. And very fine content it is. It starts with some general information on what a childhood in a mostly-Medieval fantasy world would be like. Basically, you're going to be put into more 'adult' roles and work very early on, and even childhood games will be as much about teaching you adult skills like hunting or crafting. Basically, no one can afford to coddle their children, as the world about them is too dangerous. There are sub-sections that go into detail about the age range for children from the main races, as well as what upbringings among them are like.

Let me say that I really love this part. Far too many game writers seem to assume that life in the usual fantasy setting would be more or less like modern life. These writers know it wouldn't and make sure we get that.

Also, there are cultural differences between the various races that feel right. Gnomes give their kids their head but keep a wary eye on them; halflings have large families, dwarves grow up in communal clan nurseries, half-orcs grow up fast and hard, etc. Very nice background information.

Next comes some words on just why kids would run off to become adventurers. Is the child a reincarnated hero? Some older person subjected to an overly potent youth spell? Or just an orphan or precocious child?

A section follows that explains just how and why child characters should be freed of the limits given in Ultimate Campaign, as well as a trait if you need to justify it in gamespeak. Some traits follow, and we get some rather clever original ideas here. One really good one is 'Innocence'. You basically look and have the air of being such an innocent cherub that even divination spells will be confused. Even evil kids 'look' harmless to the spells. Budding Rhoda Penmarks may wish to take note! 'Pass for Smallfolk' enables you to trick people into thinking you're a halfling or gnome. And 'Scrapper' is for kids who had their share of brawls and know how something about self-defense as a result. Rather a good selection here.

The 'Prodigy' family of feats follows. These are feats that give your character a few extra edges when they use magic, or fight, or perform, etc. Not just the same old '+2 on two skills feats', these provide bonuses that adult heroes would enjoy but that feel right for kids. Like the Martial Prodigy, who can use certain combat maneuvers without an AoO, but they take a whole round. Or the Magical Prodigy, who can use a metamagic feat with a spell without increasing the casting time at the price of losing another spell slot equal to the level increase of the normal metamagic feat. There are more for budding bards, rogues, and more.

The archetypes follow, starting with the Ageless oracle. This is an oracle with a unique curse. They can't grow any older. At all. Not so bad? Ah, but they're stuck as preteen children for all eternity. True, magical aging has no affect on you, and you slowly increase your mental characteristics, but who wants to be carded every time they try entering the tavern? It comes with a nasty alternate bonus spell list, heavy on the necromancy, and a pair of revelations that permit you to either retard aging in others or force them to age faster. Both are neat ideas.

Next is the Destined Blade magus, for a child who discovers a destined blade that increases in power alongside the wielder. You also get a much weaker arcane pool that can't be used to enhance your weapon, and it also contains your spells. And you can't put new spells into it by any means other than level advancement -- so scrolls, spellbooks, etc. I'd say this all balances out rather well given the potency of the destined blade itself. Something else I like is that at levels 5, 11, or 17, instead of a new feat you can reach adulthood. That provides you with a much better arcane pool as well as bonuses to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Pretty good way of handling it in game.

The Reincarnated Master is for a master monk who awakens to his past lives a little early. They use the damage dice for a Small monk as well as gaining some of the Prodigy feats as bonus monk feats. Starting at 6th level the reincarnated master can use a bonus feat slot to achieve adulthood with much the same effect as the destined blade. Their past lives also play a role, with the reincarnated master gaining new Knowledge skills, eventually figuring out how to explore past lives as a divination, and at his capstone spending Ki gain temporary style feats. This one sounds like it would work great for Samsaran characters.

The Street Rat rogue is your basic orphan turned thief, with them gaining some extra feats to represent their hard-earned lessons in survival and self-defense at first level at the price of a penalty on Strength or Dexterity to represent their half-starved upbringing. They can also use the Steal combat maneuver without provoking AoO, with the normal Small size penalties becoming bonuses. If they learn Improved Steal they can do even better at it. Also, when in any community larger than a small town they get a bonus on initiative, Knowledge (local), and Survival. And at any point from 4th level on they can replace a rogue talent with adulthood, which also removes the penalty from half-starved. Sweet and simple but a very well done archetype!

Last is the Wunderkind wizard, a magical child genius. She begins with less spells in her spellbook and some of the Prodigy feats. She also loses her 1st level arcane school power in exchange for the ability to use any one metamagic feat per day on her spells, even if she doesn't normally have the feat. Also, she can replace any of her bonus feats with adulthood, which in her case also grants the ability to use one of her opposition schools if she's a specialist. If she's a universalist, she instead gains a bonus on Spellcraft checks with any one school.

So there you have it. It's a short PDF but it is jammed full of goodies for anyone who wants to use child characters in their campaign. Several of the options work just as well with adult characters. All in all this is great for anyone who wants to have their character's heroic career start out even sooner than others. Five stars and far and away worth the price.


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Get ready to die laughing

*****

Clowns. For some reason so many people are scared of them in real life, so why not in games? Especially when they're not just clowns, but Killer Clowns from Hell? That is the whole point of this 26-page PDF, and as to how well the six hellish harlequins within do their job, we'll see!

First is the Coulrodaemon, providing the daemonic take on comedy. Formed from the souls of evildoers who suffered humiliating, ridiculous, or darkly ironic deaths, they juggle skulls that they can use as weapons. Being hit by them causes you to take an ever-increasing penalty on attacks, saves, and ability checks. They also negate any luck-based bonuses you have, which is a bad thing -- because the coulrodaemon is surrounded by a 'pratfall aura' that inflicts affects on anyone without a luck bonus akin to those suffered in classic slapstick comedies. Of course, people rarely died horribly in those comedies. The PCs won't be so lucky.

And one fun bit of background we get is: coulrodaemons avoid the soul-processing factories of Abaddon because they creep out the staff.

Next is the demonic Mazzuak. Brutish, cunning, and savage, formed from the souls of the gleefully sadistic, this guy is the living incarnation of every safe, boulder, or other heavy object dropped on the head of some unsuspecting cartoon character. It can conjure illusionary ludicrous objects of vast size and weight and drop them on several PCs at once, pinning them helplessly. Which is when it lines up a shot with that big honkin' hammer it carries. Not subtle at all, but this feels like demonic humor, all right. A great combat brute with some rather clever and original tricks.

The diabolic Paglichino or 'Mockery Devil' is next. They enjoy finding out secrets about good and/or influential people that they use for their comic routines, cruelly mocking and satirizing people. This is humor used to tear others down for self-advancement. It feels nice(?) and devilish. They possess the bardic performance of court bards. More, they can hide themselves as they conjure up a small army of shocking images. They make one of the images sound like the real paglichino, while hopping around the battlefield using their bardic music to drive enemies up the wall. Oh yes, when you destroy the last image, you get hurt even worse than usual.

The Laetitius kyton follows. It can terrify with its appearance and has truly nasty skill with its war razors. Creepiest of all, it attacks you with its face. As in, it tears its face off and slaps it over yours! It shares in all the resistance to damage of the laetitius, and if you don't remove it fast enough, you suffocate. One way or another, the laetitius puts a smile on their audiences' faces.

The qlippothic Lophigogdue is one of the oddest horrors in this set. It's not a clown, it's the whole circus. The big tent, anyway. It disguises itself as an ordinary circus to lure in the crowds. Then it reveals itself and unleashes its zombie performers and roustabouts on the audience. Oh yes, it also spreads a sickness that turns people into more maniacally laughing zombies before it leaves for the next town. In a rather nasty note, it especially enjoys doing this to children. I like it just for the weirdness value. Even in Pathfinder, how often does a tent try eating you?

The newest evil outsiders, the sahkils, get their representation with the Bhozol. Embodying the fear of the uncanny and distorted, bhozols can wrap you up in an embrace that turns you into a twisted horror. They can also hide in places you'd never think such a giant could. Like under the stairs, or in a closet, or under the children's bed... They also enjoy hanging out with the aforementioned laetitius for more fun.

The PDF finishes with some new magic items. The capacious carriage contains its own demiplane, and can produce armies of clowns and others from a safe hiding place. Clown Shoes help on using and resisting various maneuvers like trip, bull rush, or drag. They also make it harder to be stealthy. The puppet theater gives you the ability to do magic puppet shows, and that's about it. However, the cursed puppet theater can make your every word sound like it's coming from one of the puppets, making verbal spellcasting rather difficult.

Best of the lot are the two suits of slapstick armor. The non-cursed one makes every wound you take look catastrophic. And when it does so, you get a bonus on attempts to bluff your attacker. This one can work as well outside of comedy -- the master swordsman thinks he's landed a fatal blow, only to learn that his in truth uninjured opponent is ready to finish him.

The second suit is pretty obviously meant to be cursed, but that's not in the description. It still uses illusions to make your wounds look worse. It also inflicts damage of its own, and when you take ability damage, drain, or bleed, it makes it even worse.

All in all it's a pretty good PDF. The monsters are a fine bunch of horrors and have some really original touches. Even the art and flavor text for them is great. The magic items are okay in themselves.

EDIT: The problems I mentioned in the first version of this review have been cleared up, so I'll say 4.5 stars, put up to 5. It is worth the price if you want some truly bizarre fiends to use in your games.


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