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Valeros

Golden-Esque's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 764 posts (3,118 including aliases). 29 reviews. 1 list. No wishlists. 3 aliases.



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Aptly Named; Mythic is Minimum

**( )( )( )

Legendary Games has an excellent reputation and a great line of designers behind it, so let's look and see what this product has to offer!

Crunch:
So, I was really looking forward to diving into this product. At one page, I was immediately reminded of Rogue Genius Games' bullet point line. Short, sweet, and inexpensive.

That said, the path abilities in this product are underwhelming. Sitting at eight abilities in all, there is nothing here that feels mythic, and there are a couple that appear to be in direct violation of the inherent 'balance' of Mythic Adventures. I'm going to specifically call out Combat Feat Mastery, which lets you spend Mythic Power to gain a handful of Mythic Abilities whenever you want. It is essentially a Mythic version of the Martial Maneuvers core class feature of the recent Advanced Class Guide playest's Brawler class. For what you get, this Path ability quickly grows to outshine the Versatility universal path ability by 10th tier.

Smashmouth, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. I like the concept of this Path ability, but it is too specific; it essentially causes your attacks against the target to penalize an opponent's bite attack. Why wasn't this expanded to allow you weaken any type of natural attack and called "Limbwrecker" or something along those lines instead? Reaping the Chaff is a very confusing read and has a very limiting focus; it can only be used against opponents whose Hit Dice do not exceed your Tier. That means my Legendary Hero can't use it on anything about 10th Level.

Overall, these Path abilities are uninteresting at best and cheesy at their worst. 1 / 5 Stars.

Flavor:
Taken from the product's introduction:

Mythic Minis wrote:
Mythic Minis are not about exposition, philosophy, and campaign-building; they are just flat-out fantastic ideas and great mechanics for GMs and players alike, written by the same designers that helped create the official mythic rules.

That about sums it up, except I didn't find these path abilities all that fantastic, as you just read. Star rating isn't applicable.

Layout:
After saying all of the above, I will comment that the layout on this product is *gorgeous. The only other Legendary Games product that I own is Ultimate Rulership, and this product's layout and design is much better than the aforementioned product's layout. The text is TINY, however, and I was straining to read it. They also reused the cover art on the interior page too; I'm sure it wasn't intended to fill up space, but that's the first thing I thought after I did a double take. Its cool to reuse art across multiple products, but twice in the same product? Not cool. 4 / 5 Stars.

Final Score & Thoughts:
Crunch: 1 / 5
Flavor: N/A
Texture: 4 / 5
Final Score: 2/5

I wasn't a fan of this product. The path abilities mostly revolve around granting the champion temporary bonus feats, which doesn't fit into Mythic Adventures. There is a precedent for this sort of power that clearly wasn't followed and it is clear that the author didn't follow Paizo's Advanced Class Guide playtest when designing this product; even if the Brawler doesn't exist as a class now, as-written this would be like making a better version of Smite Evil a Champion path ability that anyone could select. The focus on feats and the lack of ingenuity was noticeable and I won't be showing this product to my players, if only because these path abilities can't stand up with the existing ones in terms of coolness. If it comes between any of these path abilities and Aerial Assault, you can bet that I'm going to pick the path ability that lets me charge my opponent through the sky and send them spiraling into the dirt face-first. Every. Time.

—Alexander "Alex" Augunas


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Required for Every GM's Shelf

*****

I don’t usually review Paizo books because they don’t require the same coverage as 3PP products do, but I’m making an exception for this book. I am going to come right out and say that this is a 5-Star product; perhaps the most useful, inventive product that I have ever seen in Paizo’s Player Companion line. Go ahead, place Blood of the Moon into your sidecart before scrolling down to see why I’m making this robust claim before I’ve even started my review. I’ll wait.

Crunch
Player Companions traditionally have more crunch in them than their companion product line, the Campaign Setting line, so it should be no surprise when I say that this product delivers an array of quality crunch. The product focuses much of its attention on a brand-new race, the skinwalker. Believe me when I say that this book goes into excruciating detail on the skinwalkers; the race itself has two pages of content, plus eight skinwalker heritages that each have two additional pages. You read right, 20 of this book’s 32 pages are allotted to the skinwalker race. If you’ve ever wanted to play a lycanthropic character in Pathfinder, you can’t do better than the skinwalker. Skinwalkers are the descendants of lycanthropes and retain a fraction of their ancestor’s transformative powers. The system itself is reminiscent of the kitsune’s shape change; the change has benefits and lasts indefinitely, but it comes with a small downside (a –4 penalty on Charisma-based skill checks against humanoids who aren’t shapechangers) and can only be invoked a limited number of times each day. If you have Blood of Fiends or Blood of Angels, the presentation of the new heritages for the skinwalker will not surprise you; each heritage modifies the standard skinwalker’s abilities slightly, for better or for worse. Overall, it’s a very familiar set-up for the Player Companion, so why the praises? Unlike previous installments in the Blood of … line, Blood of the Moon goes out of its way to make sure its new options are available to ALL characters, not just skinwalkers or lycanthropes. There are suggestions of course, but nothing in the prerequisites bars your humans and elves and kitsune from taking the choices presented in Blood of the Moon, meaning this book is crunchy goodness for virtually any PC. 5 / 5 Stars.

Flavor
Blood of the Moon has spectacular crunch, far beyond what I’ve come to expect for the Player Companion line, but what about its flavor? The Player Companions are traditionally stronger in Golarion flavor than crunch, and I’m thrilled to say that Blood of the Moon’s flavor is excellent as well. Reading through the text is like reading through the notes of a seasoned lycanthrope hunter intermingled with the personal diaries of a skinwalker; it is not only informative, it is enlightening. The product excels at giving small bursts of information between its delicious crunchy chunks, making this book an enjoyable read all-around. 5 / 5 Stars.

Texture
This is a Paizo product. Of course its Texture score is 5 / 5 Stars, so I want to take the time to highlight some of the better layouts in the book. At the book’s center is a lovely two-page spread detailing the physical changes of lycanthropy complete with an in-progress lycanthropic transformation. Each skinwalker heritage includes a small sidebar that talks about the trueblood lycanthrope associated with the heritage in question as well as an extra feat, rogue talent, or a similar, small bit of crunch. Those were some of my favorite bits of formatting: areas where it was clear that the formatting was added to use space intelligently rather than cover up unused space. 5 / 5 Stars

Final Score & Thoughts
Crunch: 5 / 5
Flavor: 5 / 5
Texture: 5 / 5

Blood of the Moon is a paragon of what Paizo’s Player Companion could, and should, be. It is a book that is useful to virtually anyone; whether you play in Golarion, on the far-off world of Eox, in Greyhawk, or in a world comprised completely of your imagination. If this book isn’t on your gaming shelf, it should be. End of discussion.

— Alexander Augunas


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This Ain't No Nautical Nonsense!

*****

Whoa, Nelly! I think this is the absolute LARGEST dungeon I've ever seen from Raging Swan. I agreed to review this, like, months ago after I had playtested it in my home game. Yeah, word to the wise: don't make that promise for a behemoth of an adventure. Just write the review. :)

Crunch:
Although this is an adventure, this product has some very excellent rules behind it. It introduces two new monsters, the dangerous sharkjaw skeleton and the deadly Devourer of Souls. Both of these monsters work well in the adventure and are downright creative. I especially love the illustration of the sharkjaw skeleton that is hiding in the product.

Where this product really shines, however, is magic items. The Sunken Pyramid comes equipped with a surprising number of custom magic items, a whopping three items! These range from the creative and plot relevant sharktooth amulet to the very fun, very memorable Obsidian Trident. I especially love the fact that this product goes the extra mile and includes an intelligent item from among its trove (no spoilers on where you'll find it, though!"

Looking over the stat blocks, the author did an excellent job incorporating a wide variety of Pathfinder rules from an even wider list of sources. You'll find sahugin variants from the Skulls and Shackles adventure path and a treasure trove of memorable characters with well-known archetypes. As an experienced player and designer, it was pretty easy to note where the various rules came from, but if The Sunken Pyramid has one flaw, its that it doesn't cite its sources very well in terms of character options. The product sort of assumes that you know where to find the Free Hand Fighter archetype or the Magus base class. I would have liked to see that made a bit clearer for newer GMs within the stat blocks themselves. All around, this product left me very impressed, however. 5 /5 Stars

Flavor:
I can't give away too much on the Flavor department, but The Sunken Pyramid is absolutely amazing for it. The product works very hard to establish its theme and tone, and it pays off well in the end. Every setting in the adventure is meticulously crafted, from Grift, the one-armed former paladin to the charming named "Cyclops" lighthouse. But above all else, what really impressed me with this Adventure is the depths the author dove to give both the GM and the players an idea of what sahugin culture is like. Many of the encounters within The Sunken Pyramid are optional encounters with sahugin young and their caretakers. And even though those child/adolescent sahugin don't hesitate to try and kill you, there's an opponent who tries to parley with you in order to spare the younglings. That, my friends, is excellent storytelling and planning. 5 / 5 Stars

Texture:
The Layout in this Adventure is better than any other Raging Swan product that I've seen so far. A nice touch is that new encounters start on new pages, unlike previous adventures where one room's description might bleed into another room's description. This makes traversing the adventure quick and easy, although sometimes important stat blocks are spaced far apart from one another, meaning that you need to do some awkward page flipping. A nice touch is that commonly-used stat blocks are reprinted several times as they're needed to try and avoid page flipping too frequently. Spelling and grammatical errors are at a minimum in this one, which is extra impressive given all of the strange words and titles you'll find in here. Overall, Raging Swan has a nice layout and The Sunken Pyramid doesn't disappoint!

Final Score & Thoughts:

Crunch: 5 / 5
Flavor: 5 / 5
Texture: 5 / 5
Final Score: 5 / 5

This is a stellar adventure and is a perfect fit if you want to get your players' feet wet a little bit. It isn't particularly long; my players were able to finish in a couple of sessions, but everything is so well crafted that between the mermaid they saved, the sahugin they spared, and the people they met in White Moon Cove, running this adventure will have an impact on my game for a long time!

— Alexander "Alex" Augunas


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Every Good Mounted Combatant Needs a Running Start

***( )( )

Another month, another Class joins the Talented Line! I was really looking forward to this one, as the product's tagline basically strikes every single issue that I have with the cavalier / samurai class. I also love the idea that the theme for the cavalier is, "warrior of the noble caste." Very great theme and appropriate in my opinion. Let's see how SGG did with this product.

Crunch
I could be mistaken, but I'm fairly certain that the Talented Cavalier is the largest product in the Talented Classes line so far, weighing in at a hefty 30 pages. Like most of the "modern" Talented Classes, this product sticks to the edge / talent formula. Diving in a little bit deeper, you'll note several interesting things that this product does.

First, it breaks apart all of the Cavalier orders in the game into talents. This means that if you choose, you can have a cavalier who belongs to several different orders. Considering that this was fairly common in the real world, its a nice touch. Second, all of the archetypes and other abilities are available to play with here as far as I can tell. Finally, it ends with a neat section on how to incorporate Fighter talents with the Cavalier abilities. One thing I really loved about this product was the addition of a ranged-only challenge ability, called Mark. If you want to play a cavalier focused on fighting with ranged weapons, this product is the only way to do it well.

That said, while this product is large it does not feel as modular as the other ones do, mostly because over half of the abilities have prerequisites. Everything is tied to other abilities (especially order abilities, as the product itself notes) and while other Talented Line classes have really expanded their classes into a wide array of cool builds and abilities, this product's crowning achievement is the ability to essentially multi-order your cavalier. Perhaps the weirdest thing, in my opinion, is the utter lack of weapon proficiencies in this product. For example, there is no way to grab a samurai's proficiency with eastern weapons. It was especially jarring with the Weapon Expertise edge (originally a Samurai ability) noting that a GM should choose what weapons categories are appropriate for the cavalier. Ultimately I wasn't very impressed with the class. It has solid foundation, but a lack of customization aside from taking multiple orders and a lack of overall "noble" feel aside from what Paizo has already published really pulled me out of this one. 3 / 5 Stars.

Flavor
The Genius Guide to the Cavalier disappointed me flavor-wise. I got really excited when I read the description. Basing the Cavalier on the Noble Caste of Warriors from different civilizations the world over is an awesome idea and it was the sole reason I bought this product. I don't think the class delivered on this regard. Whereas the Samurai and the Cavalier separately felt very flavorful for their home inspirations, the Talented Cavalier feels like someone let a drop of chocolate mix into the vaniala ice cream. Its enough to be noticeable but not enough to be a savory twist flavor. While the trend thus far has been to have the first product in the series focus on adapting the 1PP class and then add more talents later, the cavalier needed more new material then it got, and I feel it shows in this product. 3 / 5 Stars.

Texture
The layout for this product is typical SGG style, although the one thing that I find very confusing is that the Orders are all chopped up. Parts of them are found under a unified Order talent which includes skill bonuses and Challenge/Mark bonuses, but all of the order abilities are mixed in with the rest of the talents. I've heard that this was to make it easier to look up those abilities during play, but in terms of character creation it is extremely awkward not being able to quickly figure out what abilities a specific order qualifies you for. Yes, I am aware that I could go check my Paizo books (the order abilities are unchanged), but if something is being reprinted, I feel like it should be kept in an easy-to-reference format, and this is not easy-to-reference. 4 / 5 Stars.

Final score & Thoughts
Crunch: 3 / 5
Flavor 3 / 5
Texture: 4 /5
Final Score: 3.5 / 5 Stars

I really wanted to like this product going in. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I really wanted to LOVE this product going in, at least, in the same way that I LOVE the Talented Rogue or the Talented Monk. I think that more than anything, this product shows how poorly designed the standard cavalier is. The standard cavalier is so linear and uncustomizable that even the Geniuses couldn't save what's already been published for it. While its not perfect, I have high hopes that the Cavalier and Samurai will find new life in the Talented Line. My score might not be a perfect one, but I think that this product lays down the roots to make something truly great here. Now all Mr. Owens needs to do is design a bunch of new abilities that really drive home the fact that this class is supposed to be, dare I say it, a Noble Knight.

— Alexander "Alex" Augunas


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I Will Only Say it Once ... Buy This

*****

Buy this. Buy this product NOW. Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll explain why you should put this PDF in your cart if you JUST PUT IT INTO YOUR CART ALREADY!

Crunch
If you’re familiar with Super Genius Games and their Talented line, you know what to expect from this. Basically, this product takes every monk archetype as well as the standard class, breaks everything down into talents that are roughly as powerful as a feat, and allows you to custom build your very own version of the monk class. The system resembles the one designed for the Rogue class; possessing edges and talents that you get as your level improves. Generally speaking, a monk edge is less powerful than a rogue edge, but monks get a heck of a lot more of them early on, and talents interact more with them too.

How do I begin talking about how amazing this design is when translated to the monk? Everything, literally everything you could have ever wanted from the Monk class is here. I would literally be copy/pasting the entire book if I were to stop and talk about every little thing that makes this class great, so instead I will pick a few big notes. First, the monk’s “Flurry of Blows” attack bonus has been expanded upon greatly; basically, its now called a “Special Attack Bonus” and as you gain talents you select special abilities to use with this attack bonus. Flurry of Blows is only one such ability; one of the amazingly awesome new ideas to come out of this book is called Fighting Style, where the Monk chooses one Fighter Weapon Group and gains proficiency with all of its weapons and can use those weapons to perform most monk abilities (except Siege Weapons; as the book says, no matter how good you are you can’t use Stunning Fist with a catapult!) This leads to amazing character builds, including the “Samurai Jack” for all of you fellow 90s kids. Another great change is special talents that modify what alignments your monk can be, from the ki-less martial artist to the Drunken Master, who may now adopt a Chaotic Alignment.

Ultimately, the crunch in this book is well pieced together and is character gold; you can easily look through this book and piece the abilities together into creative, unique character builds. 5 / 5 Stars.

Flavor
SGG Products aren’t well-known for their flavor, especially ones in the Talented Classes line. That said, there is a distinct theme in this class, and that is disciplined specialization. This becomes especially noticeable when you compare the Talented Monk to the Talented Fighter; almost all of the Talented Fighter talents work across multiple weapons and abilities, while the Talented Monk has abilities that function for weapons that the Monk chooses to devote themselves to. The product ultimately comes off with a vibe that the Fighter’s methodology is about how to excel at a given way of combat, regardless of weapon, while the Monk focuses on adapting a specific weapon to their personal fighting style. It’s very cool, very flavorful, and it’s a great feeling to be able to say that the Monk has a niche in terms of how they act in combat. 5 /5 Stars.

Texture
Super Genius Games products always look beautiful, but I want to call out this one especially because the art is some of the best that I’ve ever seen in a Super Genius Games product. Maybe it’s because gaming culture has a very strong collective identity for what it means to be a monk, but the art ties itself together very well from page to page; there are a couple of places where you wonder if a few of pieces show the same monk in different situations. Very nice, high-quality stuff here! 5 /5 Stars.

Final Score & Thoughts
Crunch: 5 / 5
Flavor: 5 / 5
Texture: 5 / 5
Final Score: 5 / 5 Stars

This product is absolutely essential to a player who wants to create a Monk. Of all the Talented Classes, I would say that the Talented Monk is probably the most powerful. But honestly, that is for a good reason. The standard monk isn’t very fun or imaginative, and most of the best Monk builds involve drastically changing the standard monk with archetypes. This product takes that one step further and truly creates a character class that says, “Yes, I can hold my own in this game. I am fun to play. I am filled with story ideas. I am a character who you will remember and cherish.” This might very well be one of the best designed monk-type classes of all time.

— Alexander "Alex" Augunas


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