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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 5,086 posts (5,383 including aliases). 424 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.



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An RPG Resource review

*****

The most hardy pirate has to come ashore occasionally - even the Flying Dutchman got ashore once every ten years! - and here's a suitably scruffy and dangerous place for them to visit. Most parties should feel right at home!

The work starts with a description of the town's location: in a valley on the shore of a big bay, with a good deep anchorage and harbour protected by a rather ramshackle breakwater. The population is mostly human, but there is a sizable minority of orc and goblin residents.

Town lore and notable locations come next with a clear map - hand-drawn sketch in style - that shows where everything is. There's a thriving marketplace, with items useful to pirate or adventurer alike, and loads of rumours.... complete with a note that it's up to the GM which of them is true and which a complete fabrication! Many, if you decide there is a grain of truth in them, might spawn a side-adventure or even a complete plotline of their own.

A description of the hinterland around the town follows, for those who wish to venture further afield, and then we move on to the history of the place. Everyday life is covered in some detail, with little in the way of festivals - unless you count public executions - and a typically brutal approach to justice that means that unless you annoy a powerful pirate it's actually quite a safe town to visit! There's a table of sights and sounds to use to create atmosphere, and a collection of events that again could spawn a whole adventure if you wish (and the party takes an interest).

Then we get to more detail on the buildings and businesses of the town, plenty for those who just have to know what's going on where. Thirsty visitors will relish several well-detailed taverns, and there are other places to visit and in which to do various business.

This section is followed by an extensive one on the people you'll find there - from individuals to various generics, all with detailed stat blocks. Plenty here to put the teeth into any action....

This may not be the best place for that summer week in the sun, but it should prove interesting to visit.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

This Campaign Guide for the Plight of the Tuatha Adventure Path presents a wealth of information about the setting as well as background to the AP itself, and is well worth getting if you want to run this campaign. Even if you are not, it presents a rich setting ripe for conflict, a place in which adventurers will thrive, the world called Aeliode.

It's all based around the expansionist Avitian Empire. Sometimes they are after rich pickings, but they have been heard to claim that they believe it is their mission, obligation even, to spread the light of civilisation to other lands. And sometimes they just grumble about how wild and untamed the lands beyond their borders are, and want to do something about it.

The first chapter looks at the peoples found here, with four main groups: the Avitians of course, the Ceravossian Republic, an ancient bunch from Tir Ydrail and the Ostmen who live on remote islands in the northern seas. For each there is useful information on favoured professions, how different races fare and the like, background that will be useful to those who come from there or should adventuring take the party into each group's territory. Languages, society, arts, history, physiology - all laid out in concise yet copious detail. There's a lot of variety here, such that an elf, say, from one region, might be quite different from an elf from somewhere else - and yet distinct from a dwarf, gnome of human even from the same region. This creates a feeling of a vibrant community with a rich spread of distinctive groups - much like the real world - which helps to add an air of realism.

Chapter 2: The Gods of Aeliode deals with the deities venerated by all these different peoples. The Ostmen and those in Tir Ydrail each have their own pantheon, whilst the Avitians and Ceravossians both worship two pantheons (the same two, I mean). Then it gets a bit complicated. There are Multi-Planar Religions and the lesser Prime Plane ones. The Multi-Planar gods are more powerful, and tend to pop up in more than one pantheon maybe under different names or worshipped in different ways; the Prime Plane ones are tied to specific locations. And then there are the Natural Religions, which venerate spirits inhabiting the world rather than 'gods'... theologians' heads must hurt! Mechanically, however, clerics gain their spells in the same way as other Pathfinder clerics - this is more deep flavour for those who wish to dig into what is going on behind it all.

Within the Empire, there are gods and saints, and a strong tradition of ancestor worship - not to mention the odd emperor who has proclaimed himself a god as well as specifying which other gods are worthy of worship. This has led to a split between the Orthodox Church and the New Church who both, quite naturally, declare that their belief is the one and only true one. Then there's the True Church, which accepts the emperor as a deity... and has wangled its way into being the state religion. If you enjoy religious conflict or debate, there is plenty of resource material here. Each of the major deities is described in detail, including symbols, beliefs, practices and everything else a regular worshipper or a priest of that deity would be expected to know.

Chapter 3 looks at the Lore of Aeliode. An ancient tale, the Mysteries of Eshu, is recounted. Like many such myths and legends, it is an attempt to explain the world and people's place in it in terms of powers beyond their control. It's quite fascinating, and probably something that any well-educated person will be familiar with.

Chapter 4 is a bit more mechanical, it's a look at Player Options. Things like languages, details of different races, traits (campaign, racial and regional), prestige classes and a few new feats, spells and even a skill - that of interrogation. This covers any kind of questioning from friendly questions and subtle inquires to aggressive questioning under torchlight, or even more aggressive means of questioning (which, I'm glad to say, are left to your imagination. I know what my players would come up with, they can be a nasty lot sometimes!).

Chapter 5 covers Gamemaster Options. You may want to share at least selected bits of the earlier parts of the book with your players, but keep this bit to yourself. It provides all manner of ideas to develop the world further and make it integral to your adventures rather than a backdrop, however fascinating, to adventures that you could run in any campaign world you have to hand. There are some really neat ideas here, well worth studying especially when you are planning your campaign. Many are linked to game mechanics, so giving you a way to administer and adjudicate what is going on as well as spin ever more interesting tales in the shared alternate reality that makes up your game. This includes the War of Words, a way to mix game mechanics with what the characters actually say to make diplomacy and debate something more than mere die rolling yet not leaving it purely down to player eloquence either. There's a whole bunch of well-developed NPCs all ready for use as well.

Finally, Chapter 6 provides some recipes. Described as some of the typical dishes you'd find on Aeliode, these are recipes that you could knock up yourself and eat around the gaming table - perhaps not during the game, but as a social activity before, after or during a break in play. Well, some of them. The one involving the consumption of a whole Ortelan, a bird native to Aeliode, might be a bit hard to arrange, although it's based on a known French recipe in which diners hide under covers to divert the gods' wrath as they consume an entire ortolan bunting, bones and all...

If you are after a rich and well developed world in which to adventure, try this one!


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Have you ever wanted to swash your buckle, breeze through adventure with wild abandon, living for the moment? Perhaps the new base character class of the bravo is for you.

Presented in the main as if one such bravo had paused for a moment to recount to you the details of his chosen career, no doubt over an ale you have had to buy him, this work presents a coherent and exciting review of all the material you need to know if you want to create and play a bravo character. This includes a lot of the material that is normally covered in more prosaic terms, things like alignment and religion and which classes a bravo character gets on best with, which races do best in this class, and even what the perceived 'role' of a bravo might be. This last involves skill in melee combat and social interactions, with wit and flair - and sheer luck - to get out of tight corners.

Only then do we get down to game mechanics, with progression table, starting wealth, class skill list and - of course - the special abilities that make this class unique. The most interesting one is 'fighting technique' which enables the bravo to develop his own distinctive fighting style. He may have come up with it for himself, or perhaps he has travelled far and wide studying with masters of the sword (or whatever he's decided to specialise in) to blend together something that will become his trademark style. Other abilities are designed to reinforce and expand that style, it all hangs together rather well.

There are a couple of new feats and a whole raft of fighting styles, conjuring up images of a party-full of bravos vying with each other as they develop their personal styles!

Well worth a look if the swashbuckling style appeals.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

What images are summoned up if someone says 'ranger' to you?

Most of us think of a good hunter who is a good fighter as well, at home in the wilderness without being a barbarian... and the more perceptive (or those who've played loads of them) will understand their affinity with nature that can reach magical levels. The introduction to this work discusses the nature and role of the ranger in considerable detail, showing how a ranger not only understands his environment but can become one with it; and this leads in to the system of edges and talents developed for rangers that are the core of this book.

The necessary lists and tables are provided to generate and progress a ranger character. Class skills are modified a little to allow the ranger to choose some that are best suited to the build in mind, and a whole framework of talents and edges is introduced.

The edges are based around the concept of a ranger being drawn towards a specific area of primal force which he will be increasingly able to access as he rises in level. They can be bound in with other things, such as the 'adaptation' edge which allows him to take on some of the characteristics of whichever creature he has chosen as his favoured enemy. A range of combat and other options are also available, it is easy with this system to build a unique ranger who operates with a distinctive style.

The talents are the knacks and knowledge that the ranger has picked up during his life. They may enhance his understanding of the powers that he draws upon or they can relate to what he has learned about surviving in the wild places to which his profession takes him. If all that isn't enough, high-level rangers also have access to advanced talents and even, at 20th level, very powerful grand talents.

There are a couple of appendices. The first details a number of specialised traps that rangers can learn to make and set - you often hear about their ability to set traps but it's good to have more about the actual mechanics of the traps they can make (without having to draw on my own fieldcraft... not every player had a country upbringing!) and the second is rather amusingly called 'Save Vs Wall of Text' and is more of an index or reference, sorting all the abilities covered in the book into thematic categories, making coherent selections easier.

Rangers will never be quite the same!


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Sometimes the party will come into town in search of information, sometimes there are questions to be answered... and one often-neglected resource is the sage. Too often characters wander aimlessly around whilst their players make 'Gather Information' checks and just assume that the information they seek will pop out at them. Now let their inquiries lead them to the source of some quality information: a sage with appropriate knowledge.

The first table has suggestions for suitable housing/offices for local sages, with separate sections for the exterior appearance - to use as the party arrives - and the interior, for once they get inside. This is all flavour, window-dressing, but it all helps make your sages sound like they are a integral part of the community rather than something you've just thought up when the party suggested visiting a sage.

The next table is quite interesting - rumours that the party might pick up about the sage as they roam the town seeking information or perhaps looking for where the local sage lives. Many of these suggest possible side-adventures to embroil them in...

The final table is one of hooks, complications and opportunities - all further grist to your adventure-devising mill - and there's a subtable to see if the sage is busy, out or has time to consult with the party.

But there's more, a collection of fully-developed sample NPC sages all ready for you to use.

Overall, a treat is here, a way to make information gathering an integral part of the game rather than a few die rolls followed by an info-dump from behind the GM's screen.


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