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Ssalarn's page

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 5,427 posts. 15 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters.



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Devilishly Good Times

*****

I'm going to open up by saying that after reading this I immediately started putting together a campaign to utilize the goodies presented. It was that good.

This expansive issue of Wayfinder offers everything you could possibly want related to the nation of Cheliax, including prestige classes, archetypes, specialized wizard schools, cavalier orders, NPCs, stories, the list goes on.

The cavalier orders and wizard schools were my particular favorites. The cavalier orders are designed for cavaliers looking to join the ranks of one of the Hellknight organizations, and there's an order for each, complete with specialized codes, unique abilities, and even some cool SLA's (Order of the Pyre gains fireball as a 1/day SLA with a caster level equal to character level, which is just.... explosive). We literally sat down the moment we got home from PaizoCon and created an entire party out of this book, including an Ossifuer Wizard who transforms into a Bone Devil, two cavaliers, one who specializes in obtaining information and wiping his enemies minds clean of secrets and another who's a master of disguise, and a Summoner diabolist with a fiendish Eidolon who doubled as a somewhat terrifying healer.
If you have any interest in Cheliax or its many fiendish (or otherwise) residents, check this out. It's just good stuff.


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1/2 Druid, 1/2 Paladin, Entirely Excellent

****( )

I wrote a huge breakdown of this supplement only to have it devoured by the internet gremlins that lurk in the Paizo servers, so I may make this a little more succinct than I would otherwise.

The Forsworn is a Paladin archetype that is really more of an advanced class trying to save on page count. While it uses the base Paladin chassis, several of the changes are very noticeable and make a huge difference in playstyle-

*The class uses a 3/4 BAB progression instead of the traditional Paladin full BAB.

*The class gains 6 level spellcasting off the druid spell list starting at level 1 instead of the normal delayed 4 level spellcasting.

*The class does not gain Lay on Hands or Mercies.

*You gain the services of a loyal unicorn or pegasus mount starting from 1st level.

*You have an extremely strict and expanded Code of Conduct

A lot of these features are cool, some of them are a little more questionable, not in whether they're thematic, but more as to whether they were completely necessary. One of the biggest items is the fact that you lose both Lay on Hands and your Paladin code prohibits you from receiving touch spells from allies. In the case of the unicorn riding Forsworn this also creates a small amount of confusion, as technically, according to their code, they cannot even receive the benefits of the unicorn's Cure spell SLA's, which I'm fairly certain were intended to help compensate for the loss of Lay on Hands.

Still, the class makes a great addition to a group of true heroes, drawing on Arthurian inspirations and providing unique and flavorful options both in and out of combat. In some ways the class is uniquely "complete", in that from levels 1-20 you really feel like you're playing the exact character concept you signed up for.

For a free supplement, this is an incredible deal.


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Not quite enough of the right... Elements

**( )( )( )

I'm going to start with the good things I have to say about this product, because that'll go quickly.

The art and background do a good job of hearkening to the arabian themes you might expect of a document which draws so strongly on the ideas of genie-kin, and every race contains some descriptive filler and a regional trait to help tie them more firmly in to the world of Golarion.
... I also liked that the Undine got a Sorcerer Bloodline that helped them heal with water.

That being said, I was generally disappointed by this book. Each of the races (what I really was hoping to see some good cruch and options for) received 2 dedicated pages, typically enough for some fluff and 1 new class mechanic, like the ifrit's cavalier order (Order of the Flame, which fails the bag of rats test in a fairly spectacular fashion), the undine's sorcerer bloodlines, and some new elemental totems for suli barbarians. You'll notice I didn't mention the oread or the sylph. The oread received the "Oread Gem Magic" alternate racial trait, which allows you to stack some additional capabilities onto a very small and specific list of spells by expending precious gems. While the spells are fairly thematic, they're drawn from multiple spell lists so the overall result is fairly... Underwhelming. It basically is going to give you a handful of thematically appropriate "signature" spells that work a little bit better for you than other casters if you burn the cash for the gems. The sylph was even less impressive as their contribution was 2 spells and 2 race traits.

This book probably should have been released as an "Elemental Gazeteer" or something more along those lines, as fully half the book was devoted to talking about the elemental planes and key elemental locations like the City of Brass. Even that would probably have been a bit of a disappointment though, as the planes and locations are also given only 2 pages each.

Maybe, as others have noted, I'm "spoiled" by the high standards set by books like Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends, or Blood of the Moon, which introduced an entire new race with half a dozen racial variants and robust and meaningful supporting options for each. This book just felt lacking, and screamed "filler"; it almost didn't seem like they were trying terribly hard and this was just a collection of snippets and descriptions that were laying around but didn't make it into other products.

The art and beautiful design of this product keep it from being a complete bust in my opinion, but I think that people who were looking for cool new options for elemental characters are going to find themselves disappointed by what this book has to offer.


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Absolutely Awesome

*****

So I'm going to start this by saying that when I first discovered Story Feats in Ultimate Campaign, I was so impressed and excited by the idea of them that I started making them mandatory for my players, who were initially reluctant but ultimately became very enamored of this added tool for influencing and integrating with the story. I may be slightly biased in favor of a product that does them well, but by that same token, we're more inclined to hate something when it messes up a thing we love (I'm looking at you Star Wars), so maybe that's a wash.

Right off the bat, I saw the feat "Armchair General" in this document and knew that I was going to like it. You see, probably the only thing I like more than a feat with a good story that helps progress the campaign is a good teamwork feat and a mechanic for making it work, and this one story feat provided that mechanic in an excellently executed way. This may be a staple feat for every military-oriented character I create going forward.

With close to 40 new Story feats this supplement expands the territory laid out by Paizo and reinforces it with options for almost any character background or goal you could hope for in a standard fantasy game (maybe even a slightly non-standard one full of Dragonriders, Death Mages, Mosaic Mages, and the like!). If you were a fan of Ultimate Campaign and the Story Feats, I'm certain you'll love this supplement. If you liked the idea but were having trouble finding that right story feat that actually fit your character, odds are good you'll find it in here.


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Ultimate Awesome

*****

I feel a certain need to preface the following review by saying that I am currently employed as a freelance writer by Dreamscarred Press working on their Akashic Mysteries project, a re-imagining of the 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons subsystem introduced in the book Magic of Incarnum.

That being said...

I recently acquired my very own hardcover copy of Dreamscarred Press' new book, Ultimate Psionics.
The culmination of a wildly successful Kickstarter and years of writing and development on the psionics subsystem of mental magics first introduced in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 (technically psionics has been around a lot longer than that, but the incarnation we're talking about is the one aligned with the aforementioned edition), Ultimate Psionics presents a wide array of races, classes, feats, powers, prestige classes, and expanded rules for adding psionics to your Pathfinder game. Some of these are refined materials from earlier Dreamscarred Press products, and much of the material is entirely new, created specifically as part of the recent Kickstarter that funded the production of this hardcover.

The cover is, of course, the "first impression", and it makes a good one. Wayne Reynolds, whose art graces the cover and or pages of virtually every Pathfinder core book, did the cover of this sourcebook as well, featuring a team of psionic heroes battling a crystal monstrosity. It practically oozes awesome, and has the added benefit of showcasing several of the weapons, classes, and races you'll find within the book's pages.

Andreas Ronnqvist and Jeremy Smith, the founders, publishers, and primary writers for Dreamscarred Press, uphold their usual standards of excellence with superb editing, though with one unfortunate typo. If there's ever any question in your mind after purchasing a copy of this book as to whether you got one of the first editions or a later run, check the spine. You'll notice an extra "s" at the end of the publishing accreditation. Don't let this throw you off though, thus far that's the only editing error I've seen in the 451 page tome.

There's a little to much material for me to discuss at length, so instead I'll just go over a quick "highlight reel" of my favorite pieces.

The new psionic class, the Marksman, is an archery focused psionic character who uses the powers of their mind to sense and manipulate the wind and their ammunition to supplement their skill with the bow. They gain Combat Styles and Mantras that allow the character to explore different types of battlefield specializations, like the Finesse Style which focuses more on thrown blades, or the Sniper Style for characters that want to specialize in single, long range, devastating bow attacks. It may be my personal penchant for archer type characters, but this is one of my favorite classes.

The prestige class, the Dark Tempest, presents the mechanics for the Sith-like character on the cover wielding a double-bladed purple crystal sword somewhat reminiscent of a lightsaber. Designed to supplement and support characters who want to combine the Soulknife class, who specializes in creating his own weapons, and classes like the Psion or Wilder who utilize the more advanced mental powers, the Dark Tempest is basically your gateway into playing a fantasy version of a dark Jedi. The class is a kind of martial/caster psionic theurge, amplifying combat capabilities while also advancing the manifesting level of one of your entry classes (basically you gain more powers and power points as though you were a psion or whichever manifesting class you use to meet the prereqs while simultaneously advancing your combat capabilities).

This leads me into the last item I'll touch on. The book presents a series of Legendary Items, items designed to progress along with their wielder. As the character levels up, the items gain in power as well, allowing you to have a kind of "signature" weapon or item. One of these items, the Tempest's Blade, is a double-bladed crystal weapon designed to amplify the wielder's facility for creating psionic weapons. It's a solid and thematic weapon that meshes well with pretty much any variant of the Soulknife class, as well as a limited selection of the psychic warrior's options.

Anyways, I could go on about all of the cool stuff in this book, but instead I'm just going to wrap up by saying this is an amazing publication from a company with a history of amazing publications. Check it out.


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