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GreatKhanArtist's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 288 posts. 28 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 2 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.

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3pp Does it Best

****( )

This is how the Paizo "Races of" should be. Most of the races follow a template, but there's a little bit of difference to each one. A tantilizing bit of fluff and lots of great flavourful crunch. Each race gets items and class variations that are thematic and useful. There's a race for every situation and environment.

Sadly, some of the fluff write-ups are confusing and prior knowledge of Kobold's campaign setting is needed to make sense of them; this is especially true of the Shadow Fae and the Darakhul. There are whole campaign settings that focus on these guys and their origins and empires, but as this is a player's book, I felt this could be improved on.

A lot of work went into balancing the races of this book. Some have feats to advance them, like the tosculi who can become more and more agile in the air and wasp-like. The best example of this is the werelion, who has several balance options. Very well done.

I also really appreciated the new, more balanced option the gearforged present for replacing the warforged. The ravenfolk/tengu take on a very neat alternate flavour, instead of being Asian, they are Norse and are one of my favorites. Their creation story is really fitting with Norse mythology.

The only other downside to this book is that many of the variant classes have to do with the Advanced Classes book. I'm not a fan of that one. Surprisingly, there is one psychic class as well!

Hoping for more of these in the future, especially fan-favorites like grippli and the Asian-inspired wayang and monkey people and changelings. You can cherry pick the races that appeal to you as individual PDFs, but really, the whole thing is great.

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The Sinking Rises with Mystery


Ascension of the Prophet is part 5 of the Sinking serial, a collection of adventures tied to a mysterious sinkhole that suddenly appeared in the Great City. This chapter deals with a prophet who claims to have gone into the sinkhole and returned with divine powers. Regardless of whether or not he's a fraud, he's attracted quite a following. His most prominent follower is also planning to assassinate him and to frame the PCs as the marksman.

Unlike some of the earlier offerings in the Sinking serial, the sinkhole itself features in the story. Although it isn't really part of the environment of the adventure, it does add flavour. (Particularly inclined DMs could add the hole to the final encounter, allowing bull rushes into the pit.) There are many considerations for how the PCs may act during their investigation and each of these are given appropriate checks. NPCs are given appropriate dialogue. The only ones that are missing are concerning the intention of the Mouth when he gives the PCs the job. Detecting an evil aura can be easily dismissed as the Mouth saying he's trying to reform himself by following Lazarus's teachings, but what about an initial sense motive?

There is a lot going on in this little adventure. The PCs must find out who the assassin is, and upon discovering he is a red herring, gather enough information to prove who the true criminal is and exonerate themselves when the prophet is publicly killed. Oh, and there's the little matter of the angry crowd and the witness the PCs may be trying to protect--death of the witness or the crowd won't sway the judge towards a verdict of innocence. There's also the potential for a recurring villain in the Mouth.

Ascension of the Prophet is a gem in the series. Although it ties in with the Sinking, it could easily be reworked. Highly recommended as a single session adventure with the potential to lead into other events in your urban campaign.

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A Golden Change of Pace

Denhearth is a bit of a different offering in the Village Backdrops line. Unlike most of the villages in the product line, this one isn't full of creepy evil things the PCs must defeat. Instead, it seems like a place the PCs would want to go to for reasons other than to gain XP. Denhearth is home to a sorcerer academy, created after the resident ruling gold dragon defeated an evil red dragon and routed his army. Much of the rest of the village is based around serving the academy.

There are some interesting denizens who are statted up, a half-dragon chupacabra and a dragon disciple/sorcerer. However, the stats are the most interesting part of these characters. Granted one is just a glorified guard dog, but the humanoid doesn't feel unique. Not much is mentioned about his personality other than that he is a cliche disgruntled professor. Likewise, the village exists to support the academy, but other than the dragon's den and the academy the rest of the locations feel like they could exist anywhere. I would've liked more dragon or academy theme.

I really liked the key idea of a village ruled by a just dragon who has suddenly become a recluse. The idea of a sorcerer academy seemed like an interesting prospect as well. However, I don't feel that this Village Backdrop is as well developed as the other offerings in the line. The villagers seem flat. Whereas the product description states that those in positions of power are trying to keep word of their patron's withdrawl secret, nothing much is said about this in the body of the supplement, let alone how the characters are dealing with it. I found the adventure hooks to be uninspiring. What ails the gold dragon is left up to the DM, a common trend in Village Backdrops. However, other offerings in the series have given a chart of suggestions, this one does not. The magic academy is an interesting concept but is also underdeveloped and would really have more potential to shine as a Place of Power in that series.

Denhearth is a decent offering in the series. Because of its presentation and design it could easily be used in a youth game. There is no overarching apparent evil here. A magic academy would easily appeal to fans of the Harry Potter series. Although I find the threats to be rather traditional and done, young adventurers would probably enjoy encountering the kobolds in the nearby area and helping a sick dragon.

I chose not to give Denhearth a star rating. I do not feel that I am the target audience for this supplement and that my rating would be biased toward my love of the grittier offerings in the series. For youth, highly recommended. For more adult players, this may seem cliche or underwhelming.

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Harvest of Horror


Edgewood is Village Backdrop from Raging Swan Press situated on the edge of the forest with farming as a vocation and horror as a theme. While these keywords may be a recurring theme in the product line, Edgewood is fresh with dark mystery and a malevolence all its own.

Edgewood appears to be a successful frontier village, however lurking under the veneer of prosperity is a population who live in perpetual fear of a random yearly event known as the Culling. The event itself can be quite terrifying in a horror themed game, but it is the background material that really makes this Village Backdrop shine. The NPCs get the usual Raging Swan treatment; each has his/her own opinions, motives and unique personality to make them memorable. As in keeping with the best of Raging Swan's products, the NPCs and the location are both wonderful on their own, but combine with each other to make the sum more than its parts.

NPCs this time include a muttering conspiracy theorist, a less-than-welcoming innkeeper, a fallen paladin and the village bailiff who may/not know more than he lets on but is certainly in over his head. Each of these NPCs can be used to build up to the moment of the Culling, emphasizing the strangeness of the village. What will the party think when a storm rages overhead, they are soaked and a paranoid innkeeper refuses to grant them lodging?

There is also a wonderfully rich backstory, detailing the villagers' attempt to prevent the Culling many years ago and how their attempt twisted the event into an even more horrific occurance. While good backstories are not uncommon in the Village Backdrops series, this one is amazing. DMs are given some suggestions of what the force behind the yearly Culling is, but like most Raging Swan products, the DM can ultimately choose whatever reason he likes without losing any of the content.

If you are expecting that the tried and true farming village on the edge of the forest is tired and cliche, it is not. Edgewood is a horror module that could be spun multiple ways by the clever DM. With the Culling having elements of a slasher horror, suggestions sprinkled throughout also contain elements of cosmic or dark fantasy. Edgewood is a horror module with threads for the DM to develop in a number of ways in all the right places. I would highly recommend it, especially for the group who really want to roleplay in the horror genre.

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Hauntingly Evocative


Elves come to Raging Swan's product line in this evocative, original offering. In the primal regions of an ancient world exists a canyon rent by warring gods, its tranquility maintained by ghostly elf druids. This offering in the Places of Power series is very similarly laid out to a standard Village Backdrop. There are the wonderfully evocative tables of events and rumours Raging Swan is famous for, and key NPCs are presented. The major locations are described and some suggested history is given.

The major locations are detailed with prose that makes them come alive. DMs are left to their own to decide what the importance of many of these locations are, especially the giant statues that make this valley unique. Fortunately, there are several great hooks sprinkled throughout the product to get the creativity flowing. There are 4 beings of importance that reside here and each is given the celebrity treatment with a biography including motives and personality. Two of them are fully statted out. And yes, like Village Backdrops all is not well; the tranquility of the valley hides a villain of sinister intent. Like the other personalities, the villain is given a personality and motive. My only fault is that his background doesn't detail why he hates the other denizens.

The NPCs and the location are both superb and unique. Both are richly developed, but together they serve to make Valley of the Rocks a treat. For the DM who sees higher level PCs tromping through the wilderness, a foray into a forgotten, haunted canyon is certainly in order. Highly recommended.

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