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Ssalarn's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 6,610 posts. 21 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters.



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An Amazing Adventure With Merchants, Lacedons, and Shady Insurance Reps

*****

I have to say, this adventure is amazing! I've written a couple blog articles about my group's playthrough (find them here and here) they'll illustrate some of what I like about this adventure, but big spoiler alert - I give away a lot of the adventure.

The premise of the adventure is that the party arrives in the town of Svest as a huge celebration is underway in anticipation of the annual trading caravel the town relies on as the backbone of their economy. Things quickly turn south when news arrives that the caravel is lost at sea. A pair of rival merchants vies for the party's services, and soon the race is on to blaze an overland route to the town of Cherr's Landing and return with a caravan of replacement goods.

So that's the story, but what makes this adventure so good is the organization. It's got the smooth transitions and easy steps of a choose your own adventure book, married to handy flow charts, easily referenced maps, and cool handouts. The adventure itself manages to provide exactly the right combination of open options and a critical sense of urgency, spelling out the various consequences of the party's choices in the broader context of the story. This is what all modules should like. I mean it so much I'll say it again: this is what all modules should look like.


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Awesome, balanced spellcasting

*****

I feel like the best way to review this is to just post a reply I made to another gamer about my take on this system:

"It's ridiculously good. It's much better balanced than Vancian casting, uses a point-based mechanic that should feel comfortable and familiar to people who like psionics or mana casting, and instead of cantrips you get scaling at-will abilities. An example of one of the scaling at-wills would be the Life sphere's Invigorate ability, that lets you give an ally your level in temp hp.

The way the system works is that you've got spheres like Life, Conjuration, Destruction, Darkness, Light, Illusion, Mind, Nature, etc.

Full casters get 1 magic talent per level, which can either be used to buy a new sphere and its base ability (or abilities), or purchase additional talents from a sphere you've already gained access to. 2/3 casters, like the Bard or Inquisitor get 15 points over the course of 20 levels, and 1/2 casters get 10. Since spheres use a completely new system all together, they avoid almost all of the issues inherent to the legacy Vancian casters; you're generally going to see Tier 1 level power nixed completely, Tier 2 much more limited, and a lot of stuff falling solidly into Tier 3.

In addition to the system being set up so you can automatically use it with any Vancian casting class, there's also 12 new base classes:

The Armorist - Full BAB, 1/2 caster progression equivalent. Can create special bonded weapons and armor with preset enchantments and swap between them in combat. Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail.

The Elementalist - 3/4 BAB, 2/3 caster equivalent. Gets Destruction for free with boosted power, mixes elemental spells and abilities with martial combat. Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The Eliciter - 3/4 BAB, 2/3 caster equivalent. Messes with peoples emotions in various ways. Kind of like the Mesmerist from the Occult Adventures playtest.

The Fey Adept - 1/2 BAB, full caster equivalent. Specializes in shadow and nature themed abilities. Think the Leanansidhe from Dresden Files.

The Hedgewitch - 3/4 BAB, 2/3 caster equivalent. Does a good job of emulating the various witch concepts out there with Casting Traditions that provide a set of thematic abilities.

The Incanter - 1/2 BAB, full caster equivalent. This basically your build-a-caster. In addition to full casting progression, you get a set of points at character creation that you can spend on things like specializing in a particular sphere, gaining channel energy, gaining a sorcerer bloodline (sans spells and arcana), or picking up bonus feats. Really well executed for a grab-bag class.

The Mageknight - Full BAB, 1/2 caster equivalent. This is your custom built Ranger, Paladin, or Bloodrager equivalent. Gains resistance to magical harm, Arcane Strike using level as caster level, and a selection of other abilities. This is a little light on its own identity, but you can build a paladin equivalent of any alignment and combine the Life Sphere with Destruction for a knight of a vengeful deity, or Darkness with Illusion for a warrior of Mask, god of thieves, or whatever else you really want to do. Picks their casting stat from the 3 mental stats at 1st level.

The Shifter - 3/4 BAB, 2/3 caster equivalent. You turn yourself and/or your allies into nature-themed natural attacking murder beasts.

The Soul Weaver - 1/2 BAB, full caster equivalent. Dichotomous caster who can be healer, necromancer, or both. Gains a Blight/Blessing class feature that determines where your class abilities fall on the life/death spectrum. Super cool.

The Symbiat - 3/4 BAB, 2/3 caster equivalent. Members of this class have a psionic aberration pulled from the Far Realms and fused to their soul, giving them facility with the Mind sphere and aberrant qualities. Think of the Daelkyr half-bloods from Eberron.

The Thaumaturge - 3/4 BAB, full caster equivalent. It's like a cross between a warlock and an oracle. Kind of like an Occultist from the Occult Adventures playtest without the implements.

With this, Ultimate Psionics, Path of War, and Akashic Mysteries, I may not be looking at the class section of the Paizo books for a long time. The Armorist is basically your magical Fighter, Mageknight covers all the other arcane/divine gish concepts, Incanter can be a Wizard, Cloistered Priest, or Mystic Theurge right from level one, and the other classes cover pretty much any other concept I can't find in my DSP books. I'm for real hooked."


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Gotta Train them All!

*****

Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters is a 180 page supplement primarily built around a new class it introduces, the Monster Trainer. Along with the Monster Trainer class, this 180 page .pdf includes archetypes, new spells, and over 150 monsters both new and familiar that the Monster Trainer can capture and tame. Let's dive into the meat of this thing-

The Monster Trainer is a 3/4 BAB, 6 + INT skill, 9 level caster who captures monsters and utilizes them in a symbiotic blending of man and beast. Does 3/4 BAB, good skills, a pet, and 9th level casting seem a bit much? It did to me at first too, but it make a lot more sense as you dig in to the class and mechanics.
The Monster Trainer doesn't have a spell list of his own; instead, he gains knowledge of spells determined by his active monster and casts them as a sorcerer of his level. This generally means your spell list is much more limited than a true 9 level caster's, and is dependent upon the monster you're currently using. The bond between the trainer and his monster is also more limited than that of standard pet classes, since the Trainer must spend his actions to command his monster.

If some of this is starting to sound pretty familiar, that's not a coincidence. The supplement was inspired by Pokemon and that influence can be seen in both art and mechanics. The art in this supplement is beautiful, and tip-toes carefully down a line blending traditional fantasy art styles with more anime-esque art. Truthfully, I was pretty skeptical when I stumbled upon this, saying something to the effect of "Pokemon for Pathfinder? Pffft!" Turns out, I shouldn't have been so dismissive. When I went to see what kind of train-wreck had evolved from that concept, I was stunned to find a mechanically elegant, beautifully illustrated, and excellently fleshed out supplement with all the rules necessary to either graft the subsystem onto your home game's world or to enter the world of the Kingdom as laid out in the supplement.

The monsters are my favorite part, and honestly, I've spent as much time ogling the art and mechanics of the various monsters as actually playing with any of them. There's 150 critters laid out within, with everything from low level "companion" monsters (think starter pokemon) to high level beasts from the Bestiary like the glabrezu, updated with appropriate companion stats and abilities. The large array of low level monsters is excellent, giving the class a huge level or replayability. You could play a melee focused monster trainer, a trainer who focuses on blasting and/or utility with just about any element, a healing focused character, a buffer... If there's a role in the game you want to play, there's probably a class feature and monster combination that will allow you to fill it.

One of my favorite things about this supplement is how well it plays with other classes. The shared action economy and limit of calling one monster per encounter means that you aren't taking up any more table time than any other player, and the game presents several options for advancing your monster, keeping your initial companion relevant through all levels of play. The two main methods of advancing your monster are either through monster "growth" (think evolution), or through spending one of your class features (called Trainer Perks) to allow your companion to advance as a druid's animal companion. This is especially nice for groups where the GM may be inclined to let a player try the class out, but doesn't want to have make extra allowances in his campaign for the player to capture new monsters at every level.

All in all, I was beyond pleasantly surprised at the quality and execution of this supplement. The class is well balanced and very interesting, the concept is fun, the mini bestiary is surprisingly extensive, and everythign about the supplement serves to bring it to life in a way that is extremely fun and serves to enhance any game without getting in the way or intruding on the established parameters of a current campaign. I have to highly recommend this to anyone who's interested in running a pet-based class that is better balanced than the Summoner and has more variety than the traditional animal companion classes. It's also a great source of possible inspiration for GMs looking for something a little different for their next home game.


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Are you ready to rumble?

****( )

I almost threw my keyboard at the wall just a minute ago. I wrote up a nice long 4 star review going in to great detail about this supplement and all of the awesome materials in it over the course of about 30-40 minutes, clicked submit.... and was redirected to the Paizo homepage. Everything was lost.

So, hopefully when I have time I can revisit this and add all that lost material back in, but let me just sum up by saying that this is a solid 4 stars bordering on 5, and anyone who's a fan of wrestling or adventures that are just a bit zany and doesn't have this, should really get it.


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Sexy, Stabby, Sweet

****( )

For anyone familiar with Book of Nine Swords in 3.5, this is that, but better.

For everyone else - Path fo War introduces three new classes and a plethora of feats, prestige classes, and archetypes that introduce a unique martial combat system to Pathfinder. Characters who use this discipline are called "initiators" and the basic premise is:
1) Get a cool ability or suite of abilities that can be used 1/encounter, typically adding some kind of rider effect onto your attack.
2) In a pinch, use a class specific ability or full round action to recover part or all of your suite of techniques.
3) Rinse and repeat.

Path of War allows you to play a martial character who enjoys the action economy normally reserved for spellcasters, letting you move and strike with one of your techniques and creating a more dynamic combat experience.

The classes are each wonderful and fulfill roles traditionally under-supported in Pathfinder:

The Warlord is a battlefield leader, a charismatic warrior who can lead on and off the field. He has a great leadership mechanic for sharing teamwork feats that works much more smoothly and reliably than the sadly flawed Tactician ability of the cavalier (closer to the Vanguard archetype from the Advanced Class Guide if you're familiar with that), and recovers his maneuvers by performing daring acts of bravery called Gambits.

The Stalker is a stealthy slayer, with techniques for unarmed combat, poison use, and hard swift strikes. He's lightly armored but highly mobile, with a unique damage boosting mechanic whose preferred use varies somewhat depending on the critical properties of your weapon.

The Warder is my personal favorite. He's a solid tank who specializes in defending other party members. He gains a unique marking mechanic that allows him to encourage enemies to focus on him or suffer consequences, and has the added perk of a being an intelligent warrior who relies on his INT stat for several of his abilities.

This book did a lot of great things for my group, not the least of which was encouraging my players to actually use combat maneuvers (the traditional kind), a subsystem of the game that they had traditionally ignored because of its unreliability.

I'm giving Path of War a 4 out of 5 not because I don't love it 5 stars worth, but because there are a few options scattered here and there in the document that I worry are just a bit more powerful than they should be. In a group of experienced gamers, these shouldn't be an issue as there are numerous exploits in the core rules that can be much more powerful, but in a group of more casual or inexperienced players these abilities may cause some power disparity at the table. The Path of War classes are very accessible and easy to use; where a monk or fighter can have a very large gap in performance dependant on system mastery, the Path of War classes are harder to make poor choices for and are very forgiving in that regard. To put it another way, imagine that the monk's effectiveness could be measured on a scale of 1-5, with an unoptimized core rulebook only monk being a 1, and a highly optimized Qinggong/Zen Archer using the full array of Paizo materials locking in at 5. The Path of War classes start at 3, optimization takes them to 4, and a small number of very specific builds will press against the upper reaches 5 peaking at 6. Because the initiators start at a 3, groups with players who are still making characters in the 1-2 range are going to feel like these materials are very strong.


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