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Megan Robertson's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 4,950 posts (5,247 including aliases). 417 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 2 aliases.

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An RPG Resource Review


Borderland towns have great potential for adventure in themselves, as well as being a useful jumping-off point for adventure in lands beyond... somewhere to gather rumours and supplies if nothing else.

So, how to make it more interesting than a stop at the supermarket? Try this book for a start.

In the style common to many Raging Swan Press books, this work consists of several tables covering different aspects that might apply to, in this case, a borderland town. Reading through them is recommended, you will find ideas spawning as you do so; but if you are in a hurry rolling dice and using whatever you come up with generally works well too.

The first table is Sights and Sounds, and is good for setting the scene and making the place come alive in your player's minds as you describe it. There's a full hundred sights and sounds... and the odd smell... any of which could lead to a whole side-adventure of their own if you (and the party) choose to follow it up.

Next up is a fine list of Businesses. For many parties, coming into town is for the purpose of conducting business: now it can be a lot more than selling loot and purchasing supplies, new weapons and armour and so on. This is followed by a collection of Folk of Interest. They might be who the party has come to see, they might have a job for them... or they might merely be sitting at the next table in the inn and strike up a casual conversation.

Finally, if you want to make things really interesting for the party, grab a d20 and roll on Hooks, Complications and Opportunities. This is a mixed bag of events that will involve them, like it or not, in the ongoing life of the town. Poisoned wells, invasions of rats or enemies, offers of money and strange events... about the only thing missing is an earthquake!

The party will never forget their next visit to town!

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An RPG Resource Review


Do you want your critical hits not just to do damage to your foes but to do spectactular damage that will have people talking about your mighty blows for weeks, years even? Do you want every 'natural 20' roll to have a significant effect irrespective of what the confirm critical roll comes up as? Look no further...

Ageing gamers may recall the brilliantly cinematic critical hit tables from the Iron Crown Enterprises' game RoleMaster, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who reused them with other rulesets. Here, though, is a system written for use with the Pathfinder ruleset, mechanics honed to work directly with that system. Of course, fumbles are included as well, and the whole is an elegant way to make combat spectacular and exciting.

The core concepts are simple and easy to grasp. To start with, every 'natural 20' does maximum damage and counts as a 'critical hit' rather than merely a 'threat' - subsequent rolls are used to determine the severity of your attack, but the recipient of the blow gets a save against more debilitating effects such as losing limbs or life itself (although at the cost of taking extra hit points of damage).

Throughout, there are numerous examples to show you how everything works and plenty of optional extras that you can bolt on if you wish - or leave out without disrupting the core system. It's not long before you're into the effects tables. These may not have quite as cinematic descriptions as the old RoleMaster ones, but give a better idea of precisely what damage and other effects your luckless foe suffers... and there is enough detail for more bloodthirsty imaginations to run riot as you describe what's going on.

Damage can be bludgeoning, slashing or piercing (depending on the weapon) and the severity of the effects can be light, moderate or severe depending on how well your follow-up rolls went once you'd scored your critical hit, so there is plenty of variety as in each catagory you roll a percentage to get one of fifty options.

Next, there's a collection of Critical Feats. Most of these give a bonus either to your critical severity check or to your save against critical damage, but can be used to build up an idea of how you go about combat - dealing Exacting Strikes perhaps, or having Acrobatic Reflexes... you get the picture. Use them to effect as you describe combat, for what could be a dry treatise on damage dealing provides tremendous scope for making combat come to life as those involved describe their actions and results in epic cinematic style.

These are followed by some fully-developed archetypes. Note that these work best if you are using this rules modification, they won't be as effective or may not work at all in a game played with straight Pathfinder combat rules. There are archetypes for just about every kind of fighter you can imagine, even rogues get a look-in, while some of the monk ones in particular sound rather fun.

Finally come the Fumble rules. Only fair, if your critical hits can have spectacular effects, when things go wrong that can be spectacular as well. If you roll a natural 1 when attacking, there's a chance something terrible will happen... but generally you get a save to mitigate the effects. Most enable the player to come up with an amusing description of the mishap, only adding to the fun. There are separate tables for fumbles in melee, ranged combat and when you are using natural weapons.

And we're not done yet, as appendices deal with niceties like called shots, healing, armour and magic as they all impact on dealing out critical effects (or guarding against them). There are some new spells, just in case the wizards among you are feeling left out a bit, and finally there is a piece of fiction which demonstrates how effective good descriptions of the injuries sustained in combat can be, and a final iconic NPC.

Spice up your combat with crunchy rules that facilitate role-playing by providing ways to give cinematic descriptions of what is going on rather than merely delivering large numbers of points of damage.

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If you are planning a desert-based plotline this could be useful to mine for ideas or indeed lift one or more encounters complete for your adventures... or you may even find that reading them inspire further adventures.

Each of the eight encounters presented here, written by a different author (or in one case, a pair of authors), is quite detailed, which allows the GM to expand it readily if the party takes an interest in what they've encountered. Of course, the party might decide to ignore what you present them with... but that, of course, is no guarantee that it will ignore them!

It's difficult to give many details without giving the substance of each encounter away but consider the plight of a gargoyle madly in love with an animated statue or various plantlife that only flourishes when there's a flash flood in the desert and you'll get some idea of the sheer inventiveness within these pages.

Most of the encounters will involve combat, although there are opportunities to interact with what you've encountered in at least some of them. For each, there is plenty of detail to facilitate running the encounter including notes on tactics, game mechanical hints and advice on scaling the encounter if you really fancy one that has a wildly inappropriate CR for the party.

Definitely something to keep to hand if there are desert regions in your campaign world...

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Books are the treasured wealth of all nations, the fit inheritors of our generations and actions... so why are they neglected in fantasy gaming (which is itself inspired by books)? This work sets out to redress this omission, by making ordinary books interesting and useful in gaming terms as well as for themselves.

It starts off by classifying 'mundane' books (those which are not magical in nature) into categories: simple, learned, scholarly or enlightened. Each category can provide a 'research bonus' to relevant skill checks, depending on what the book is about, the size of the bonus or number of skills to which it applies depending on the catergory it's in. This covers anyt hing from a city guide to a bardic epic or a treatise on the mechanics of locks... or indeed any subject you care to consider, and means that any book a character picks up is potentially useful.

Rules are presented to cover the actual studying process: how long it takes and some of the things you can use it for - even gaining new skills/levels, feats and so on; as well as merely finding something out (although that can be useful too if you seek answers to the right questions).

An interesting subset is the Dungeon Guide. As well as generally useful information for any adventurer, some purport to provide information and directions about a specific dungeon. There are rules here for creating guides to dungeons you know, as well as for determining the accuracy (or otherwise) of those you find or are sold...

There's also a section on Crafting Recipes. Not, alas, on tasty eats for the discerning adventurer, this - it's about collections of information on how to make a range of items magical and mundane. You can also find out about writing your own mundane tomes once you have something to share with the world - timescales, costs and so on.

Finally, there's a selection of texts to get you started - leave them lying around where the party can find them and see if they have the wit to start making good use of them!

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Setting the scene for some science fantasy adventuring, the Campaign Guide opens with atmospheric fiction about day-to-day life in the spaceways... which would have been even better if the text had not been printed on a messy background. The Introduction then explains that the characters are cast as bounty hunters on the trail of a near-legendary bandit called Santiago.

And that's where most of you had better stop reading!

The rest of this document is for the GM, with plot overviews and advice on how to make this adventure path come to life for the players. There are also thumb-nail sketches of major characters and outlines of each adventure, to enable appropriate foreshadowing of future events as well as to give you a good idea of where the campaign is going.

The next section looks at the worlds of the far future, an overview of the galaxy in which the adventures are set. Loads of planets, with a brief description of each, which may well be of use for your own adventures as well as in running those of the adventure path.

Section 3 looks at Campaigns in Space, with all manner of advice for running spacefaring games - of general interest and use even if you are not planning on running the Santiago adventure path. This is followed by a brief section on new rules (primarily covering weapons and star ships) and one on Enemies of the Far Future - prinarily the sentient sort rather than 'monsters' although of course those will be present as well. There's certainly enough to keep everyone busy.

If you are intending to run the Santiago adventure path, this is essential reading. It will also be useful if you want to run a Pathfinder game set in a space-faring far future - plenty of ideas to spawn adventures.

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