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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 5,297 posts (5,594 including aliases). 465 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.



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An RPG Resource Review

*****

This adventure is the second part of The Apostasy Gambit trilogy, which pits Acolytes against a conspiracy buried deep within the Imperial Church. If you have already played the first part, The Black Sepulcher, the Acolytes should have discovered that the next stage in uncovering this conspiracy is to investigate a very senior churchman, but if you haven't and do not intend to other ways of presenting them with the information that they need are provided. The adventure will take them to some fascinating (and, of course, dangerous) places, and involves both investigation and combat aplenty. They'll need to poke around a cathedral (another cathedral if you've already played The Black Sepulcher!), an underground complex and a spaceship out in the black before everything comes to a climax in a tomb...

The adventure breaks down into three phases. The first seems straightforwards enough, checking up on that senior clergyman by visiting his cathedral, ostensibly to look at relics. This bit is quite free-form, with the Acolytes able to explore the place as they see fit and hopefully gaining the information that they need.

Things then get a bit more hairy, as their investigations lead them to an underhive swarming with rival gangs. Bloodshed will be inevitable as they seek the person they need to speak with, although again this part of the adventure is free-form, letting the Acolytes handle the situation as they see fit as they roam the subterranean setting.

Once they have gleaned the final piece of information that they need, the final part of the adventure involves a space voyage to visit the tomb of a saint... and that's when all hell really breaks loose. The adventure is quite dangerous, so notes are provided on how to work replacement characters into the story at various points.

Throughout, evocative and atmospheric descriptions are provided for the places to be visited and the people to be encountered there, with many individuals receiving detailed write-ups so that you can play them convincingly as they interact with the Acolytes. The vivid richness of it all makes locations and inhabitants really come alive. There are also trouble-shooting notes to help you keep things on track - there's a lot for the Acolytes to find out including several crucial clues along the way that they need to discover to reach the next stage of the adventure, so hints as to how to deal with them missing them are useful! Likewise, events in the underhive culminate in a massive pitched battle and there is good guidance on how to control this and deal with all possible outcomes.

Overall, this is another exciting adventure that should grab your players' imaginations, thrusting their characters deep into the intrigues and violence that hover around the Imperial Church and the work of the Inquisition.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

This adventure is the first part of The Apostasy Gambit trilogy, but it works quite well as a stand-alone adventure, although you might want to tweak the final revelations to suit whatever you will be doing next, as they lead into the next part, The Church of the Damned. As you can imagine from the names, it centres about evil lurking at the heart of religious institutions which the Acolytes will have to uncover and thwart if peace and order are to be maintained.

There's a good backstory to help the GM understand what is going on, suffice to say that like so many things, it all began with well-meaning but misguided individuals who wanted to save, rather than destroy, the Calixis Sector. The adventure itself breaks down into four major sections.

The first part sees the Acolytes involved in regular Inquisition activity, sent to raid the estate of a noble who has gone to the bad and amassed a whole load of dangerous texts and artefacts... one of which should lead them to realise that they need to visit a place called the Haematite Cathedral, where an even greater evil lurks and must be eradicated. It starts almost in media res, with little time for more than a quick visit to the armoury to gear up before the party finds itself leaping out of a Valkyrie transport with grav-chutes, crashing through a glass roof as the raid begins. Notes for scaling combat encounters are provided to accomodate various levels of characters, and other advice is provided as appropriate to help you keep things on track.

The rest of the adventure, which is fairly free-form in nature, covers the exploration of the Haematite Cathedral and investigation of what's actually happening there. It's set up so that the Acolytes can choose their own approach and route through the place, with plenty of activity, events and discoveries awaiting them whichever way they turn. Eventually, climactic events will ensue leading them to discover terrible dark secrets... secrets that leave death and destruction in their wake.

The adventure mixes investigation and combat well, with plenty of activity to keep the Acolytes on their toes. As well as the central theme of secrets to be discovered, it also deals with moral corruption, ill-advised alliances and sheer desperation. The discoveries to be made are spectacular and awe-inspiring if well-handled, and the resources provided should enable you to describe them appropriately.

There's an impressive Appendix of hand-outs and maps, although some are a bit jumbled and the page borders remain - these rather spoil the illusion and you may want to cut the various documents and maps out (if you are using print-outs from the PDF - just what you do with a print version is left up to you, most people don't like ripping pages out of a book).

Overall it is an exciting adventure from start to finish, one that should give the Acolytes a real sense of discovery, of making progress as they investigate... and a good lead-in to the next events you have in store for them.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

If your objective is the prevention of heresy, it's worth while being sure about the truths you seek to protect. This work looks at the core faith of the Imperium: belief in the immortal God-Emperor. This is led by the Adeptus Ministorum, or Ecclesiarchy - the priests who minister to the faithful and spread the word across the galaxy. Whether you intend for the characters to interact with the faithful and their religious leaders or want to run a game in which they take on such positions themselves, there's a wealth of information here to get you started.

The first chapter, A Million Worlds, One Emperor, sets the scene. Starting with the basics, it discusses the Imperial Creed, looking at how it developed and how the faith operates today in the 41st century with particular attention to how it is organised in the Calixis Sector. In essence, it's quite reminiscent of the role played in mediaeval Europe by the Catholic church, not just providing a belief system but serving as a controlling force establishing order.

Next, Chapter 2: Paths of the Righteous provides the game mechanical information you'll need to run characters who are part of the Ecclesiarchy - everything from new homeworlds and backgrounds to new ranks to reflect the specialist careers available. There's more too, the different slants that various people take on the common faith and how they have formed factions and cults that each put their own spin on commonly-held beliefs.

Then Chapter 3: Brides of the Emperor presents the Adepta Sororitas, or Sisters of Battle. Some may have felt a lack of good opportunities for female characters so far in this game, here is a chance for them to come into their own. Here you can read about what they do, and find all the rules necessary to create a Sister character.

In Chapter 4: Faith and Fury there are rules and game mechanics aplenty to moderate how faith works within the game. For some people, you see, faith is so strong that it manifests itself in physical effects - in game terms, these individuals have the Pure Faith Talent and can access specific faith powers. There's overlap with material in other supplements, particularly The Inquisitor's Handbook, and if you are already using those you'll have to decide if you want to mix and match them with these rules, which have been designed as a stand-alone system. If you want both, don't worry, they willl work together.

Next, Chapter 5: Reliquary provides loads of weapons, armour and gear for Ecclesiarcy members... after all, they do say that when you go to preach, take a big cudgel! It's not just weapons, though there are some quite nasty ones, this section also has devotional books, religious trinkets and much more. Or perhaps a character wants his armour decorated with religious symbols? Then there are strange servitors and somewhat more normal retainers, and services that you may wish to purchase - such as a baptism or a blessing for a weapon or person. The chapter ends with a discussion of relics and their uses.

Finally, Chapter 6: Ecclesiarcy Campaigns has a wealth of information and ideas about how to weave Ecclesiarcy themes through your campaign, as well as several senior Ecclesiarcy figures in the Calixis Sector to use as allies or enemies to your party. Learn how to make faith an integral part of your game and devise encounters and adventures with a religious theme. Despite the game's name, there's more to it than chasing down heretics and beating off aliens!

A thought-provoking book that really brings home how pervasive faith is throughout the Imperium, it makes for good reading to understand the setting further, even if you do not choose to use the rules herein, preferring to stick to 'straight' Acolytes and Inquisitors.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Describing itself as a book about power, it is really a book about ambition - and how to empower your characters to reach even more dizzying heights than even they might have dreamed about. For this book contains the tools you need to play full Inquisitors and sets the scene in which they operate: unbridled power and freedom to act, full of politics and intrigue... and the consequences that such responsibility brings. It's a mix of solid game mechanics and insights into how to play (and game master) characters at such exalted levels.

It starts off by presenting the necessary mechanics to take characters beyond the eighth rank in their chosen career and introduces a new system of Influence to model how characters at this level wield their authority. From here it moves through various other aspects covering the transition from Acolyte to Throne Agent and beyond - skills, new career paths, psychic powers and even a visit to the armoury. These chapters give you all the information you need to make this transition happen.

The second part of the book looks more at the 'what' of the transition to power, this ascension, than the 'why' that has already been covered. Key here is a chapter on 'Serving the Inquisition' that explores the very nature of the body in which characters are aspiring to take a leading role, and the ways in which such senior individuals can exert an influence.

As Acolytes, characters serve best by following orders (however much latitude they may have in interpreting those orders and figuring out just how to accomplish the tasks they've been given). As Throne Agents they are far more independent, empowered to initiate their own missions and give rather than receive orders, working alongside (and perhaps becoming) Inquisitors rather than serving them. The whole dynamic changes. In essence, the power now available to a Throne Agent is boundless, once a situation is assessed it is up to the individuals concerned how they deal with it... and you can forget any ideas of the rule of law or due process, even though some Inquisitors like to dress up their operations with a veneer of legality. Technically, they answer only to the High Lords of Terra and the Emperor Himself, but there are many whose rank in other branches of the administration place them at a similar level, and it may be politic or expedient to treat them with respect.

Ensuing chapters focus on the Game Master, with one on how to GM at this level and the sorts of games you can run, a good collection of appropriate adversaries and finally a complete adventure, The Red Wake, to test ascended characters' mettle.

This book marks a significant advancement, both as a vehicle for characters to progress further than hitherto possible and in developing further the exposition of the setting and in particular the operation of the Inquisition. Game Masters are advised to study it well in advance of their players being ready to elevate their characters to this level, it will provide potent opportunities for them to become true movers and shakers of the 41st century.


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An RPG Resource Review

*****

So, what's this? The Radical's Handbook is billed as being a sourcebook for both GMs and players, although the wise GM will make sure that he's read it first and has a chance to decide what, if any, parts the players will be allowed to read. (Ideally, that is: in the real world players can go to bookshops and may also be GMs themselves anyway!) Still, you will have to decide what is valid for your game. But I digress. Here is a wealth of character options - new origins, alternate career paths and all manner of goodies - to widen the choices available. The 'Radical' bit comes in because in fighting the evils that beset the Imperium, many Acolytes, however well-meaning, become corrupted by them or at least adopt the principle of 'fighting fire with fire' and stray somewhat from the straight and narrow path of pure devotion. There are plenty of options here for those who would model such heretical ideas in the development of their characters... and ideas, too, for the GM in laying snares for the unwary, devising NPCs and creating plots around such corruption. The road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions, after all.

A brief Introduction is followed by a collection of flavour text pieces describing some of the dreadful things that can happen to Acolytes and others in the service of the Imperium. Perhaps this will inspire the GM, or maybe it's something the Acolytes will stumble across in some dusty archive... mysteries and discord where none should be, surely?

Next is Chapter 2: Falling From Grace. Here we find how Radicals are forged and twisted, the routes into such heresy and a whole collection of origins, background packages, alternate career ranks and elite advances for those who would follow such paths. For some it is a falling from grace, for others a gentle drift and some have always been this way, they've just proven adept at keeping their real opinions to themselves!

Chapter 3: Factions provides an array of different groups with a wealth of detail about what they believe and how they behave, whilst Chapter 4: The Shadow War is a primer on the tools and methodologies available to those who'd walk these shadowy paths and use the concepts of the enemy against them. Delve deep into the history of ideas, see how the factions evolved and decide which, if any, your character might choose. The process could provide for many an adventure in itself, so GMs may choose to limit access to this material until a given character has been seduced by a faction, then let them read more about what they have got themselves into...

Then Chapter 5: The Dark Arts provides information on sorcery and daemon weaponry - great powers indeed if you are prepared to risk your very soul by investigating and using them. All manner of dark technology here, discussed and provided with the necessary rule mechanics for those who dare to wield them. Again this is something that GMs may find useful, to use against the party or as lures to draw them astray. If that's not enough Chapter 6: The Lure of the Alien looks at the strange items and ideas that alien races bring, perhaps fledgling Radicals will find allies there even if it is just a little against the Imperial Creed to have dealings with them.

In the last part of the book, Chapter 7: The Radical Campaign looks at bringing Radical ideas into the game - perhaps the radicalisation process is one of the themes, or a bunch of Acolytes may find themselves serving a Radical Inquisitor - there's a whole host of ideas here that should set a GM's creative juices flowing. Finally, Chapter 8: Calixian Radicals presents some ready-made allies and adversaries, dangerous folk all who have crossed the line into heresy in some manner.

For the GM, Chapter 7 is essential reading if you have any thoughts about tempting your Acolytes into straying from the paths of righteousness. After all, in a game that is all about the evil that abounds in the setting, all characters should at least be at risk of being led astray - and some will want to stray without need of leading. An interesting read, plenty of food for thought as campaigns are devised - and providing the tools that you will need to put such machinations into action.


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