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Ice Troll

Itchy's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Tales Subscriber. 1,140 posts (1,326 including aliases). 32 reviews. No lists. 2 wishlists. 1 alias.



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A Very Useful GM Resource

*****

Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for review purposes. I strive to review thoroughly and fairly.

This book is over 300 pages of delightful tricks and tools for GM’s to use when building an adventure, or just trying to spice up their descriptions. The book is divided into 4 major sections: Dungeon Design, Dungeon Dressing, Riddles, and Treasure Hoards. There are tables in this book. LOTS of tables. Please note, this book is written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but much of it is system neutral and could be used in ANY roleplaying game that has dungeon type features.

Dungeon Design is 9 pages long and contains entirely system neutral tips for building dungeons. This is VERY useful information for a GM designing their first dungeon, and good reminders for an older GM. Everything in this chapter is good info, it all is “take what you need and leave the rest,” type of information.

Dungeon Dressing is about 250 pages long. If you have purchased ANY of Raging Swan Press’ “Dressing” products, the format here will be very familiar to you. Each section contains a brief page of information about the dungeon feature you are putting in your dungeon, a table of different versions of that item, a table of characteristics, a table of dressing and features, and a few examples of trapped versions of that dungeon feature. For example: the section on arches starts with a page describing what arches are, different types of arches (inflexed, lancet, etc), and different materials you could make your arch out of (bone, glass, stone, etc). The next page is a percentile table that describes interesting characteristics for your archways (two statues facing one another support the archway). The next two pages are a table describing dressing and Features for your archway (a slight draft flows up from the tiles within the archway). The next two pages describe a few trapped archways. The traps are designed for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The idea is that you can either roll on the tables to generate random archways, or read through the tables for inspiration to build your own archways. This pattern is more or less repeated for the majority of this section and describes a multitude of dungeon features. The first major deviation is in the “Fiendish Traps” section. These are all designed for the PFRPG and they are amazing and challenging traps that far surpass a “roll a disable device check, you pass or fail” trap mechanic. Of note, the Illumination section starts with the most concise rendering of Pathfinder’s Light rules that I have ever seen.

Riddles is about 20 pages long and starts with two pages about designing riddles and using riddles in a RPG. This was interesting reading! The use of riddles essentially depends upon your group. You want to challenge them. You don’t want to frustrate them with riddles that they can’t figure out. You don’t want to give them riddles that are too easy and present no challenge either. The rest of the section consists of different riddles that you could use or use as examples to help you write your own.

Treasure Hoards is the last 40 pages or so and consists of 12 treasure hoards for each character level (assuming levels 1 through 20). This is the sort of thing that you could pull out if your players get a random encounter with an owlbear, then decide to go hunt down its lair for the loot (that you didn’t think to prepare ahead of time for a random encounter!). You can pull up one of these and just hand over an appropriate amount of loot.

Overall, this is a highly useful product for a GM that would use it. The evil GM in me loves the Fiendish Traps and the Riddles sections. Format is 2 column standard in Black and White. Are is black and white stock art and is good. There were very few editing errors at all in the whole document, which is impressive for a book this size from a small publisher. I’ll admit that this is a hard book to sit down and read cover to cover, but each section makes for interesting reading. I found myself either chuckling or commenting, “that’s a neat idea,” or, “Cool!” as I was reading individual tables. I cannot think of any justifiable reasons to take stars away from this stellar product. It’s a niche GM book, but for GM’s who could use it, it’s a very valuable resource. 5/5 stars.


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Two Monsters!

****( )

There are two "Faithful Servants" in this story: Salim and Connell. One unwillingly serves a (presumably) deserving mistress. The other willingly serves an undeserving master.

Connell is deliberately made likeable. He is compared to a puppy. Who doesn't like puppies? He obviously cares deeply about his master. Can eidolons love? The title of Chapter 4: The Greatest Gift, puts in mind John 15:6 - "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.NLT" I would say, yes, in James Sutter's view, an eidolon is capable of love. This is further supported by the two outsiders in the Clever Endeavor who are engaged in a relationship that is somewhere on the spectrum of lust to love.

Salim is initially made somewhat unlikeable. He is violent, gruff and rather unsympathetic. He gets somewhat more likeable over the course of the story.

Overall the story is good. We get a fun romp through Axis and Ustalav. We get to see some of the stranger outsiders engaging in somewhat illicit behavior. We also get to see the common folk of Ustalav. This story is also the first with an eidolon as a main character! I give it 4 stars!


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Interlude

****( )

This little four-chapter tale, is less of a single story and more of a pair of interludes between two Tales novels. The story shows how both of the "boys" are dealing with all the events that they went through in Master of Devils.

The four chapters alternate between Count Varian Jeggare and Radovan's point of view.

Count Varian Jeggare is frustrated with the Pathfinder Society. During his yearlong absence, the Decemvirate has reassigned all of his agents to other Venture Captains. They are not addressing him as "Venture Captain," or by any other honorifics he is due. While he concerns himself with the slight to his honor, he takes advantage of the Grand Lodge's librarys to increase his repertoire of spells. While engaged in that activity, he meets and old acquaintance.

Radovan has also just gone through a very difficult year. Somewhat against his will, he killed some people. Some of them were very good people. He feels guilty about what he has done. This story shows the beginnings of that guilt. Radovan is tired of killing, so how will he react when someone asks him to kill again?

I appreciate the pun of the title. This short story shows how the boys are "Killing Time" in between books. It is also about how Radovan deals with being asked to kill another person with whom he has no connections. It is Killing Time again for Radovan, but he's tired of killing, he'd rather incapacitate someone and walk away. We get a humorous account of this in his first chapter (Monkey Plucks the Peaches). However, in his second chapter we get to see how Radovan is really a nice guy who wants people to treat each other nicely, but sometimes life takes you the other way.

It's also "Killing Time" for Count Varian Jeggare as an old aquaintance with a grudge has decided that now is the time to enact his revenge upon the Count. Varian uses all the resources at his disposal to avoid death, but at some cost. His already strained relationship with the Pathfinder Society seems to be even more strained. As he leaves The Grand Lodge, he leads us into the opening of Dave Gross' next novel, Queen of Thorns.


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A really fun module!

*****

This is a review by a GM who used the module as intended during the first book of the Carrion Crown adventure path. Spoilers for both the module and the first book of the AP are contained below. You are warned!!

I am currently GMin'g a Carrion Crown game and I decided to use this plug in to keep things interesting for my group. I had noticed that they were starting to get a little tired of all the "investigation" as they were trying to win the hearts of the townspeople (trust points) and complete all the research prior to entering the prison. In order to spice things up, I dropped this module on them.

In order to prepare them for it, I have had caravans of wanderers come through town and play fiddle music early in the morning. That way my players were not on high alert as soon as I introduced something "new" in the form of morning fiddle music.

One of the hardest things for me as the GM was waiting for them to WANT to go shopping at the store so that I could open the module as intended. Once things got started though, my group had an absolute BLAST. We took two sessions to play through the module, though I could see more efficient groups getting through it in just a single session.

A testament to how well this module was written is that my group started out completely rested. After the battle with the zombies, the shadow, the hands and the Skeletons at the posting pole, they were running very low on HP. At that point, however, they met the cleric who helped them out in that department. By the end of the module, everyone was nearly out of resources but having a great time!

At the end, they were shocked to learn that this was NOT actually a part of the AP as written, but that it was a 3PP plug in adventure. We had a great time, Greg vaughn NAILED the feeling of the town. 5 stars.


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Back to the Basics

****( )

***Warning!: This review contains minor spoilers from preceding Tales!
I remember hearing an interview where Dave Gross described his elevator pitch for Hell’s Pawns as, “A fantasy Sherlock Holmes story where Holmes is a half-elven noble and Watson is a Teifling.” This story brings the boys back to their roots.

While travelling from Ustalav back to Absalom to bring the Lacuna Codex back to the Decemvirate, the Codex is stolen. While Radovan and the Count investigate, murder strikes on the boat. Everyone has motive and Count Jeggare and Radovan must sort through the clues.

The mystery is fun, the clues and misdirections are believeable and not transparent. Count Jeggare’s explanation of all the loose ends is very entertaining. Overall, this is a highly entertaining mystery story.


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