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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 4,672 posts (4,969 including aliases). 401 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.



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An RPG Resource Review

*****

OK, how many times have your players, once the party has defeated the opposition, stated that they want to search the bodies and steal their stuff? Probably more times than you've had hot dinners. Now, cash is always useful, and so are items that will further the plot - a map, perhaps, or the key to a chamber or a chest that they want to get into... but think about your own pockets for a moment. What's in there? (All that's in mine is a set of Greek worry beads, as it happens...)

This product is designed to get around the insatiable desire of the average player-character for pilfering from the dead, by giving you a ready selection of pocket contents for them to sift through. The first table invites you to roll a d10 to find out what sort of thing is in those pockets, then on to more extensive tables that give loads of examples of each category. Naturally, it doesn't just have to be goblins, nor does it have to be pockets - belt pouches and backpacks and whatever portable container the recently deceased was using are also fair game.

The first main table (roll a percentage) is full of 'utterly worthless' items. Real junk. Much of it is the sort of things small kids collect and treasure - or did when I was one - things that no adult can comprehend the importance of, but which are absolutely vital to the kid.

Next up is a table of the 'broken and battered' which are, of course, almost as worthless as their predecessors. This is followed by a selection of 'yummy nibbles' - at least, they are yummy if you are a goblin! After all, some members of the party might object to "A small jar of pickled elf ears, plus a toe from some enormous humanoid."

Then of course, finally we have a table of 'shiny treasures' - mostly still of little value, but some may be of mild interest as curiousities. Perhaps someone might be interested in "A pewter medal awarded to veteran soldiers of a neighbouring kingdom"...

All these bits and bobs make plundering the dead a little more interesting than just counting the cash, without giving away items of great value.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

In the beginning was the Word - and a truename studies that word, and all the others that came after, using the power inherent in such words to manipulate reality. Most outsiders think he's just another wizard, but he knows he's not: his power is derived in a completely different manner. A truenamer's source of power is his encyclopedic, or rather dictionarylike, knowledge of the First Language, also known as Truespeech, or so we are told here.

So what is this Truespeech? Basically it describes everything that is, was, and shall be - items and concepts alike. If you knew it all, you'd have complete control over, well, everything. It is impossible for any sentient mind to manage that, of course, but even limited knowledge confers great power. Philosophy aside, the game mechanics create a spell-like mode of operation, with the truenamer using 'recitations' to cause desired effects by articulating the change he wants to take place.

As the truenamer rises in level, he understands more and more and has access to a wider range of recitations, and the ability to cause more complex effects. To increase the range of effects, there's a sort of meta-recitation called inflexion - it's all in the way you say it, as well as what you say... however the universe itself is more resistant to some things than others, so some of these variants are harder to cause.

As well as the core character class, several archetypes are given: the orator, the truescribe and the verminspeaker. These explore different aspects of truespeech, and introduce greater variety as to what you can do with it. Feats that enhance your use of truespeech and (of course) a whole bunch of recitations themselves are also provided. Finally, there are some prestige classes for those that progress that far.

It's a whole new area of study, opening up new horizons, and yet working mechanically within established patterns so it is not so hard or unbalancing to introduce it into your game. A nice concept to add to the wealth of magical theory.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

City adventures are always a delight, and here is a brand-new city setting replete with opportunity... a group that gets really embedded into the life of Parsantium could see out their entire adventuring careers without leaving the city limits. Whether it is home, or a place a bunch of country boys and girls arrive at in search of adventure, there is ample opportunity to be found here. Should you be in any doubt, plot hooks are liberally strewn over every chapter bar the first (which is designed to be player-friendly, a good introduction to the city for new arrivals or would-be players of residents.

The idea of a 'city at the crossroads' merely enhances the potential. Think of Istanbul/Constantinople in the real world: different cultures mixing, trading routes crossing and so on. Whether you want to pursue profit, diplomacy or intrigue, there's plenty to do here... and a huge map to help you get it all into context (provided as both a double spread in the PDF and as a whopping JPEG image). The city is located on the border between two continents and no less than five major trade routes meet here. Parsantium itself is build on both continents, which are joined by massive stone bridges, and there are plenty of docks for those who prefer to travel by water, with two oceans and the lands beyond to beckon them away.

More detailed information follows thick and fast. History, Races, and Character Backgrounds - all you need to prepare a character who will fit in and thrive here. Most of the backgrounds, set up so as to allow for suitable traits if it's Pathfinder that you are playing, rely on the character having grown up in or around Parsantium. You may or may not choose to run your campaign this way, as the characters will know more about the city than their players, which can get a bit awkward. Generally, I find it more fun to play new arrivals, thus player and character can both enjoy exploring their new home. Neatly, although the city itself is laid out in glorious detail, the world beyond is painted quite vaguely, thus making it a trivial matter to fit Parasntium into an existing campaign world - or indeed to detail it later once the party shows some signs of wishing to venture outwith the city walls.

Chapter 2: Life in the City explores every angle of what it is like to live, work and play in Parsantium. Government and politics - even if you are not so much a fan of intrigue, the city is home to a massive bureaucracy with which characters will have to interact frequently... and intrigue can be so much fun, whether characters are mixing with the movers and shakers of the city, or just get hired to perform mysterious tasks the significance of which only appear in hindsight! A list of crimes and punishments are included - a mix of appaling barbarity and lenience, depending on what you did. Best not to get caught! A section on Culture and Customs includes all-important information on local cuisine - think Eastern Meditteranean with lots of fish, curries and spice added in - as the locals are united in a love of good food. Clothing, festivals, entertainments - even if not adventuring, there is plenty to keep you busy here!

Now you know the city, Chapter 3: Running a Campaign is jam-packed with ideas to help you organise an enjoyable campaign set in and around Parsantium. Themes can range from intrigue or gang warfare to gladiators or charioteers, delving into the past or trying to effect religious changes... not to mention trading, opening a tavern, joining a guild or working for the government or military. Mixing more than one is often better as it allows for a mix of adventures to suit all tastes. There's a wonderful section on 'the Living City' - how to interweave random and non-plot-related events and the things that pertain to ongoing adventures into a mix that gives the city a life of its own independent of the characters. Many of the events, depending on how the party reacts to them, have the potential to spring into the ongoing plot regardless.

Chapter 4 presents a detailed Gazetteer, and needs to be read in conjunction with the map. Notable locations in each Ward of the city are described, along with hidden places and some of the most important ones outside but near to the city limits. There's also a Hidden Quarter, the underbelly of the city, mostly literally underground. This is followed by Chapter 5: Organisations which introduces the most powerful groups - and naturally, plenty of plot ideas involving them.

The final chapter deals with Religion, providing details of the vast array of deities worshipped in Parsantium. Many are drawn from the surrounding area and the two continents beyond: if your campaign world is already established you may wish to swap in your own faiths to replace these. Or it may be that the ones given here are the names by which your existing deities are known within the city.

Overall, it's a magnificent city and I think I want to visit... see you there!


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Bizarre yet somehow weirdly plausible... what if bears were even bigger, fiercer and more intelligent than they are? Smart enough to organise a civilisation, use weapons, even attack those pesky humans. Maybe these are alien bears, or perhaps those grizzlies paid just too much attention to what hunters and rangers were getting up to.

So here are all the details, under the FATE ruleset, for you to run these intelligent bears - Ursanauts, perhaps, coming from far away in giant spaceships. Is it a hunting trip, to chase humans for sport? Or is it a scientific mission, to tag and study them? Or a miliary one, to take over some bear-friendly real estate?

Are you going to stop a drop bear and ask him his business? Or will you be too busy running away?

The stats and various stunts available for bears work well and are consistent with the postulated extension from what real bears can do. While the core idea is to introduce them into a contemporary game as alien invaders, several suggestions are made as to how to make use of them in other genres.

The only thing is, I've always been led to believe that drop bears hide up trees (from which, of course) they drop onto you. These ones are just too darn big to hide up trees! Otherwise, they have loads of potential for mayhem.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Whether or not you have been collecting the 'New Paths' series, if the idea of being something just that little bit different appeals this is well worth a look... and there is new content as well as an efficient reorganisation of the material to make this a very useful reference, be you a player looking for a novel character or the GM who has to handle him in play.

The first chapter looks at the new base classes introduced in this series: Battle Scion, Elven Archer, Savant, Shaman, Spell-less Ranger, Theurge and White Necromancer. Each comes with a dramatic full-page illustration of a member of that class and extensive game mechanical and flavour details about what it is like to follow this profession and all the rules you need to do so. As well as the Class Features and necessary tables, there are also notes on how best to play one, role-playing ideas to help you bring the character to life, and a sample character - use it straight off if you are in a hurry, or as a template to build your own.

The next section provides a whole bunch of archetypes for each of the new classes as well as for the existing ones. Excellent for those of you who like to plot each and every element of your advancement - and if some of my players are anything to go by, this is something that is growing in popularity. So even if you are not looking to play one of the new base classes, there are still plenty of ideas for new and fascinating directions in which to take your Gunslinger or Monk or... and of course, if you are willing to take levels in more than one class it can get even more interesting.

This is followed by a mammoth collection of new Feats and Traits - put it this way, the one-line summary chart runs to 3 pages before you even get to the detailed write-ups. Again, this is well worth looking over whatever class you play, there's bound to be something that will give that tailor-made twist to your character.

The next chapter has a selection of new spells. Many are referenced in the spell lists available to the new classes, but most can be used by anyone with the necessary casting abilities. Finally, there is a catalogue of new magic items and magic gear for anyone who has the shopping (or crafting) urge. The highest level group of my players has just started to get into magical item crafting big style - they even asked that I held off the next adventure for a couple of weeks game-time so that they could finish making what they wanted! - and this can be an exciting angle to develop as characters get to sufficiently high levels. Even if you are not so much into the magic, there are some new weapons and other items of equipment to consider.

OK, you now have all these exciting abilities at your disposal, so you may find the bunch of Tracking Sheets provided of use to, well, keep track of them - everything from tracking your arrow use to keeping a tab on what your summoned creatures are up to.

If you like pushing the limits and trying out new character concepts and ideas, this is recommended.


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