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Shalkeshka

Shadowborn's page

RPG Superstar 2013 Marathon Voter, 2014 Marathon Voter. Pathfinder Society Member. 7,950 posts (9,493 including aliases). 10 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 14 aliases.



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A Must-have for Any GM

*****

Note to Rite Publishing: The cover image here at Paizo has Steven's name spelled correctly, but the copy I downloaded from DrivethruRPG still has it misspelled on the cover.

One of my favorite 3.5 products is Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary. The templates there have been instrumental in creating memorable monsters for my Wounded Earth campaign. Being able to breathe new life into old monsters, turning them into something different, is a great tool for GMs.

That said, I'm embarrassed to say that this book went under the radar for me until recently. I'm glad it was pointed out to me, because it will take its place as an invaluable tool at my gaming table.

There are 32 templates presented in this book, each with one or more sample creatures created with it. Even better, there is plenty of flavor provided to make each creature its own unique being, not just a monster with mechanical adjustments. Each also comes with ideas on how to insert such a creature into an ongoing campaign. There are also new feats, both monstrous and general, presented with the entries here.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Aware arcana: constructs created by spellcasters that are essentially living spells used as guardians. Living spells were some of my favorite creatures from the latter days of 3.5. Turning them into purposely made constructs rather than accidentally created oozes is genius.

Body Jumper: A creature that has transcended the flesh, and become a possessing spirit. The sample creature here (a dragon) is beyond creepy. Can't wait to use him.

Hatemonger: A template caused by a parasitic infection that makes the host creature succumb easily to darker emotions. This thing isn't just a template, it's the seed for an entire adventure.

Phalanx Creatures: Ever wanted to create twins with that special soul-bond? How about the ultimate army that fight as if they were simply parts of a greater whole? This template will do that for you.

While there are templates in here that didn't thrill me as much as others, nothing seems out of place or sub-par in comparison to the rest of the material. Formatting and layout are good. The artwork ranged from okay to outstanding.

The negatives here are few and outweighed by the overall goodness of the book. I noticed some minor proofing errors here and there. The creature stat block for the distorting creature template does not mention that the base creature is a krenshar; I had to figure that out from the illustration and the monster's abilities. The worst offender was the sample creature for the Betrayer template, which is alternately called "Iudas," "Iodus," and "Iuduas" within its stat block and description.

The Book of Templates uses some base creatures that may not be readily recognizable to some Pathfinder players, as they are from 3.5 books from Mongoose Publishing and Necromancer Games. I'm always pleased to have new (well, new to me anyway) monsters available, but I would have appreciated a notation in the stat block of what book they were originally in.

All told, this book is a great find and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for this format.


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The Paizo Fans Hit Another One Out of the Park

*****

One of the best things about the even-numbered issues of Wayfinder is that, as a pdf-only offering, they can provide more content. This issue has over 90 pages of quality content based on Qadira and Katapesh and should not be missed. (Why would you? It's free!)

Here are several of the many highlights of the issue:

The Censer Alchemist Archetype, by John Leising: A new archetype for the alchemist based on turning the alchemist's extracts into inhalants. An expanded formulae list adds plenty of offensive punch to this archetype, and when the chips are down you can even use your censer as a weapon.

Kirnoth's Bounty, by Frank Gori: A powerful artifact made more powerful by the addition of five scarabs that can be added to it, themselves useful magic items. This would be a great centerpiece for a desert exploration/tomb-robbing adventure.

Daeza's Abode, by Anthony Adam: What starts as as rescuing an old man from his attackers turns into a more complex mission involving mephits, a thieving wizard, and a genie's life in the balance. An excellent side trek adventure easily dropped into an ongoing campaign.

Katapesh: Birthplace of Gnolls, by Thomas LeBlanc: Gnolls presented as a playable race, complete with background generation tables, as well as new racial and regional traits.

Al-Bashir: The Golden Cage, by Shaun Hocking: An excellent write-up of the harpy-infested Qadiran ruin, full of details and background information that could be fleshed out into a full campaign for an interested GM with a party of players ready to clear the evil of the ruins so the Satrap can raise the city to its former glory.

Ships of the Inner Deserts, by Dain Nielsen: Hovering sand ships! Elemental engines! Need I say more? Grab one, capture your enemies, and take them to the deep desert. Then throw them in the Pit of the Sarlacc. (Sarlacc not included in this article, but seriously who needs it. Dune ships!)

A Visit to the Market, by Eric Hindley: 8 different stalls for your players to visit in the markets of Katapesh. A great way to roleplay some shopping before or after an adventure and expose the PCs to the local flavor of the city, and perhaps provide a seed or two for an adventure in the city itself.

I'm just barely scratching the surface here. In addition to these there are additional side treks, adventure seeds and plot hooks, the Hakima prestige class, genie bloodline traits, new environmental hazards, regional songs, the Spiderhawk magus archetype, the Safiir base class, a detailed guide to the Lightning Stones in Katapesh, new magic items, new animal companions, new rogue talents, new witch hexes, new monsters, rules for a game of chance complete with game board and pieces, weal and woe articles featuring detailed NPCs to aid or hinder PCs, and a complete Beginner Box adventure. Add to that wonderful fiction by Neil Spicer, Aaron Motta, Todd Stewart & Tanith Tyrr, John C. Rock, Jason Keeley, beautiful color and black-and-white artwork, and amazing maps, and you've got a hell of a magazine here. What are you waiting for? Download!


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Spend part of my limited budget at Paizocon on this. So worth it!

*****

Okay, I can finally get around to writing a review of this book. This is a good thing, because it's great. 123 pages of space-themed goodness for Pathfinder players and GMs alike. There are five new races, two new classes, and two archetypes available for players. If you're a fan of the Guyver, then you have to play a symbiote-synthesist, the summoner archetype. It's very obviously inspired by the manga/anime and renders it beautifully in Pathfinder stats. There are also new spells and magic items, and vehicles offered to enhance your game.

For GMs, there is plenty of help in taking your campaign to the stars. 29 different planetary environments are described in the first part of this section. If doing a Pathfinder version of Spelljammer isn't your thing, these could easily be adapted as traits for alternate planes in a plane-hopping campaign. Add to this new hazards, disasters. (Meteor strike, anyone? I'm planning on meshing things from here with Monte Cook's When the Sky Falls for some truly epic gaming.) The bestiary would have been satisfactory to me with just the elder ooze and star beasts alone. The other creatures are icing on the awesome cake. Round this out with three, count 'em, THREE full adventures by Colin McComb, Richard Pett, and John Pingo, not to mention adventure hooks for starting your own adventures, this book is well worth the price.


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A Fine Little Tidbit

****( )

So this is is a fine way to get a taste of the stuff that Minotaur Games is putting out in its Monster Focus line. Monster Focus: Gravelings is a 4 page pdf: Cover, two pages of what you came for, and the OGL page. It introduces a new minor undead, the graveling, and plenty of mechanics and flavor to introduce it into your Pathfinder game and make the graveling your necromancer's new best friend. Most of the contents of the pdf come in pairs, with the exception of the graveling itself.

First are two feats, one to allow your spellcaster to take a graveling as a familiar, the second to allow for a gaggle of the things! (The text of the pdf says "swarm" not to be confused with the type of swarm seen in the Bestiaries. Besides, I think "gaggle" is the correct word to use when referring to a group of gravelings.)

Then there are two alchemical items, the first able to enhance your graveling if used during its creation, the other to heal it. Two spells are provided, one to animate a graveling, the other for a whole gaggle. A pair of minor wondrous items facilitate greater ease of graveling use. Finally, after the graveling stat block, a pair of clever adventure ideas to introduce the graveling into an existing campaign. All in all, this is top-grade content any GM should be glad to have to enhance a game involving necromancy, or for a necromancer PC to add a little extra panache. Judging this piece on content alone, it would be a five-star product. Alas, the aesthetics won't allow for that.

The cover is the least offender. Yellow on blue provides a bold scheme (though I could do without the shadow effect behind the text). The pencil sketch of the graveling on the cover harkens back to the old 1st edition Monster Manual, and a little old-school is always fine with me. However, the text of the product itself is...well, muddy would be a way to describe it. It's like watching a reel to reel film that's nearly, but not quite, in focus. (Ironic, considering the title of the product line.) If this had any more than two pages of content, it would be maddening. I prefer paper over electronic product and enjoy pdfs best when they're short and easy to read on the screen; this one is the former but sadly not the latter. The penciled labyrinth border at the bottom of each page doesn't help either. Seems like an afterthought and does nothing to pretty up the page. So regretfully I have to give this one 4 stars, hopeful that the other products in the line have the same quality content, and hoping they were made with a cleaner production.


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Old school feel and a nice bit of dungeon dressing

*****

This product harkens back to the days of 1st edition AD&D, where the Dungeon Master's Guide had appendices full of random tables providing details for the DM making up a dungeon on the fly.

Raging Swan has taken one particular feature, the portcullis, and provided the mechanics (in game features of the portcullis, variances for construction materials and the conditions they're in, as well as lifting mechanisms) along with two mechanical traps (the falling and toppling portcullises) and a nasty magical trap in the wailing portcullis (every evil necromancer on the block will want one for his inner sanctum).

And, of course, the flavor. The bulk of the pdf is a random table with a hundred different details that can be ascribed to a dungeon portcullis. These could leave PCs scratching their heads, or inspire a GM to produce an encounter to await them beyond the barrier. All in all, very good stuff.

If I have any complaints about the product at all, it would be the wish for a bit more art. If nothing else, there's a lot of white space on the title page that was begging for something to be placed in it. Even a simple portcullis design centered above the title would have been sufficient. Still, for the price tag, this can't be beat.


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