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Do You Want To Be A DragonMark Knights —
Have you ever wanted to play a Dragon? Perhaps you already have in the old 2nd Edition Council of Wyrms campaign. Maybe you are a GM that really wants to offer up some surprising modifications to a Dragon and do not know where to start. Well, let me tell you, I have a product that you will be interested in come 1 August 2014. Written by Wendall Roy this book adds to the In the Company of series that Rite Publishing offers for players to take on the roles more traditionally considered monsters. The book is geared for Pathfinder and/or 3.5 and there would be some work converting to other systems.
I have always been a fan of Dragons and yet have had trouble getting the tone and approach right in game. I have bought several supplements that take an in depth look at the Dragon type but I have never really been truly satisfied that I get the motivation or approach right. I was suitably sceptical when I heard that this book was on its way and it offered me some private amusement at the thought of PC’s trying to fill the role of these marvellous menacing creatures.
I now have to apologize for that presumption because from the moment I started reading this book it got me. The tone of the source book for much of it is from the point of view of Thunders in Defiance a Dragon who is seeking the help of us ephemerals to educate his wards in the ways of the material plane. I’ll not go into too much detail here but the background given to the formation of the dragons and their current situations and habitats is compelling and brilliant. The story captivated me, made me laugh and made me intensely curious. Take for example my favourite paragraph;
In the material plane, dragons are seen as forces of destruction and hoarders of wealth by most ephemerals. I will not disagree with this assessment, but it is a very narrow view of our kind. There are exceptions to the rule, but as a whole ephemeral societies avoid rousing the anger of dragonkind and we have little to do with your settlements unless they encroach upon our territory (or possess something we covet).
The tone that is included in this is fantastic. It tells me of the nature and the superiority complex that Dragons have as well as their duplicitous nature. The back-story here is top notch and scary. Hidden here is the idea of an area completely populated by dragons and a fantastic notion of the Well of Oblivion the home of those that follow the Undragon. Great stuff that can be woven into existing campaigns or introduced with the idea of playing a dragon.
The presentation of the book is also top notch. Some great artwork is included and nearly every page has something new and intriguing for you to look at. The layout is exceptional and it all combines into a nice mini book that is really easy to read on an iPad, tablet or computer.
Rules for Dragons
The rules for playing a dragon offer up the rules as a racial template for a character much like any other. They then talk about some alternative racial traits and some archetypes for existing classes. the one thing that I was disappointed with here is the lack of dragon breath. It is not gone completely, but only one class archetype takes it on (a variant of the Sorcerer). To me a dragon needs a breath weapon but apart from the archetypes of the sorcerer and the new class included in the book this is not a staple. Moving away from the archetypes though they offer up a Racial class called the Draconic Exemplar. That is a class that basically increases you to be like a dragon as opposed to focussing on a class (though you can multi-class). It gives breath weapon and modifications to that breath weapon as a possibility and offers a heap of different paths for you to take as a dragon.
You are treated as a taninim (the name the dragons call themselves) and start as a Small creature, likely being a young dragon. There are some archetypes that have you increase in size over your levels including the Draconic Exemplar and your character may end up a Gargantuan beast by the end of their career which is pretty cool when you come to think about it. A nice unique race the dragon is actually very well balanced in the long run and I can not think of a single reason why I would say no to having one in my game.
Dragons and the GM
Largely being a GM though I am more excited about the idea of using this book as a tool kit. A tool kit in which I can create a multitude of alternatives for dragons. Think of this little 39 paged book as a gold mine of ways to surprise your character with one of the most feared and sought after foes! From mirrored scales to complex essences you will find this booklet invaluable if you want to mix things up. In fact it sets my evil GM mind to thinking there are so many possibilities in this little book I do not know where to start…
I wholeheartedly suggest you consider getting this book if you are a GM and dragons figure prominently in your games. If you are a player and want to play as a dragon grab it and thrust it under your GM’s nose. then start whining if they say no. Then if they still say no, tell them to come see me and I will slap them for their stubbornness. It is dragons for dragon’s sake!
Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny (Skull & Shackles 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Out of print
Reading it is Brilliant, Playing it is a Different StoryMark Knights —
I read this module and it immediately hooked me as a GM. This is an excellent, nay brilliant adventure that has much going for it. I put in massive amounts of work to encourage the players to get excited to play this and they were.
But I had not realised the effect this module would have. This module basically is about kidnapping the players, grind them down and subject them to a harsh ship experience. Sure, in the end they rise up and get a ship of their own and escape the yoke of the evil Captain and his minions but the lead up can be very depressing for players that get seriously into character.
This module nearly broke my group. The players in my group got tied up in their characters and it was not pleasurable to see how they attempted to balance who would get the beating and who would not. I felt for them as they felt the helplessness of their characters. In the long run it ended in a massive argument and the group nearly broke up for good. I had to spend a good amount of time rebuilding burnt bridges and assuring them that they were moments away from a great resolution to the module.
In the end I loved how this module read, hated how it played. So this review puts it right in the middle of the ratings. Consider running it (and the AP as a whole is awesome) but be aware of the dangers that lie in it.
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow by Rite PublishingMark Knights —
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is the new diceless RPG from Rite Publishing. I was a backer of this game via Kickstarter and it has now come to fruition after being released on the 1st of December 2013.
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is essentially Amber with a new setting. It has been called the "spiritual" successor to Amber which is something I can't really comment on. As much as I have wanted to play Amber I never actually got around to it. I can say that the new Rite Publishing game is right on the money though. I have often wondered how a dice-less system worked and I have to say that it works well!
The characters are made in a group setting and an attribute auction is held with every player having a set number of points to spend on these attributes. In game play the actuality is all actions are referred back to the attributes and in essence the highest wins (of course tactics and circumstance have a role to play). In essence, the system is elegant and streamlined. It is quick and painless and allows for a focus on story.
This game is a story tellers wet dream. For both the GM and the player it offers an open set of realms to play around with. This game is GURPS except you play with one character across as many settings as you want to! It is a version of Rifts or the TV series Sliders with much, much more powerful lead characters! The setting of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is that of the Grand Stair which in essence is a realm that exists between realms! It is a stairwell that alters its appearance and structure throughout its entire length (not that anyone has found a top or a bottom to it) and the Lords and Ladies of Gossamer and Shadow travel its paths to enter realities that are connected by doorways.
A Lord/Lady of Gossamer is what the players are. They are beings capable of finding, and opening, the doors to different realities on the Grand Stair. They may only be new to the stair or have had the ability to traverse it for some time. They are an elite few among all of the realities and they see the forms of power that create the realities in the form of the Eidolon (structure and form in magic) or the Umbra (Chaos, destruction and wildness in magic). Players can draw from either aspect but generally a Lady of Gossamer is a follower of the Eidolon or Umbra whilst a Lady of Shadow would be something more sinister altogether.
The lords and ladies of shadow are a race of creatures known as the Dwimmerlaik who use a power separate to that of the Eidolon and Umbra. They war with the Lords as they see the Grand Stair as theirs and theirs alone. They had recently been thought but a myth by the travellers of the Grand Stair but have made attacks that cannot be explained away recently.
So, you have a meta-plot (the Lords of Gossamer vs. the Dwimmerlaik or Lords of Shadow) and you have a Grand Stair that has doors to an infinite number of realities. Realities with any setting and any genre to play with. Same characters for the players and an infinite number of realities. I can see why I love this game so much. I wander the internet and see so much good stuff going on and right here is a system I could use to represent it all, in one game! The book is beautifully written and is a great system for those of us who are story tellers at heart. It talks more about the way to weave a good story and tackles some big topics in its pages.
It is a game that focusses on players and their wants and needs. It seeks to generate conflict and drama for the players and may often even pit them against one another with crossing one players goals with another. The attribute auction from the very get go points to the possibility of this as the players compete against one another to develop their character. So although they may align and travel the Grand Stair together it is quite possible that they will end up at odds with one another in the long run.
The illustrated PDF that I have is lush and filled with full coloured gorgeous artwork with lead artist Jason Rainville . Most of these images focus on one individual giving a feel for them and the world they may come from. You feel like you know these characters immediately and the images help you overcome the initial shock of "so many genre choices" as they are laid out across many genre fields. You may laugh but when I read the rules as a straight pdf I was a little numb to how I would GM this game because of the immense scope of the realities! The artwork really helps me factor all this in to the game as a whole. The small game I did run all occurred on the Grand Stair so I could avoid putting it in a setting! The art is not on every page though and you will get runs of up to six or seven pages at a time where you will see no art at all.
This game will of course not be for everyone. I have had some very strong reactions when I have talked about the dice-less nature of the system and how it works. There are a large number of people that believe that what happens is purely up to the GM which is simply not true. I have had people say that you might as well have no character sheets at all and sit around a circle and tell a combined story. Again not true. I really wish that this game would appeal to everyone but if you are a player that must hold on to the random element or loves the tactile nature of dice and will feel lonely without them then perhaps this is not the game for you.
I do implore anyone though that has a slight interest in this system to give it a go. I love this game and its possibilities. I will eventually run a campaign with this game. It will not be immediately but it will happen. The beauty of the setting combined with the elegance of the rules is just fantastic. I am keen to build a story in this world that centres around the characters and their abilities. The book is beautifully presented and I can not wait to get my game provided by one of the developers that is on offer as part of my Kickstarter backer level.
This game is for me (and see above about dice-less systems that will cause some to turn away from this) a five out of five star game. It ticks every box for me and is written in a readable and interesting format. Once you get your head around the rules and the setting you will see the infinite possibilities that this game brings to your table. No more rolling!
Pathfinder Adventure Path #37: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (Serpent's Skull 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Out of print
Simply brilliantMark Knights —
This is my first adventure path and I am running a group of new characters through this module now. It has seriously bought the gaming table alive and I am getting requests to fit multiple gaming sessions in a week. The way this module takes a seemingly random shipwreck and builds up a campaign the players feel they have a stake in is genius. I cannot wait to get into the next module :)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Dungeons of Golarion (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Unavailable
Gallowspire...Mark Knights —
My home grown campaign is going to culminate in a quick jaunt through Gallowspire. While that is a long way off I still thought I would pick this up for a bit of light reading. This is a great book and sure to inspire anyone designing the great dungeon crawl...