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Decapus

doc the grey's page

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. FullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 2,095 posts (2,119 including aliases). 12 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 6 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.



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Everything it says in the name

*****

A solid addition to the player companion line this book gives you everything you would expect with the title. More alchemical items to make, more weapons, new remedies, and drugs to add to your parties budding alchemist's cookbook. On top of that though you get tons of new item options you weren't even prepared for like Ooze crafting, herbalism crafting, mythic alchemical items, fungal grafts, and homunculus modifications everyone is in for a whole lot of new fun items to play with. On top of all that you get the spontaneous alchemy system, allowing players to throw together alchemical items potentially in instants but with bigger surprises in case of failure and slightly higher costs. Honestly the best part of the whole spontaneous alchemy system though is how they sought to replicate the historical system of alchemy, giving special symbols to each ingredient type and alchemical process. Right now I'm just starting to hand out some of these symbols to my party alchemist and I literally cannot wait to watch him start fiddling with different reagents and processes trying to instantly remake other items.

If I had to have one complaint though it's that we only get spontaneous alchemy stats for the poisons and drugs presented in this book (instead of all those in the PFC and GMG) as well as missing a lot of recipes for Ultimate Equipment as well. But they do manage to get all of the basic alchemical items from the Core rulebook and with luck they will manage to get the rest of the items in the PFC and Ultimate equipment stated out for the system soon enough.


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The Best players companion to hit so far this year

*****

After last months Bastards of Golarion I was worried I wasn't in the best of spirits for this books release, worried that it would be another book with weak mechanical offerings and content that is either too focused on small sections of the pathfinder homeworld or just not that interesting all together. I can tell you here that this book is nothing like Bastards, literally everything in this from the thematic elements, the new mechanics, and the discussions on the nuances between the neutral alignments is solid gold.

Inside you will get 32 pages of solid content awesome starting with an excellent discussion of the various nuances of the neutral alignment from how being LN does not mean that you cannot break laws to how CN does not mean you can play it like you are CE. These sections are incredibly well written, providing numerous examples of archetypes that exist within those alignments and some guidelines as to how to play those alignments well and in a fulfilling way. The rest of the book focuses on the various new mechanical offerings along with information on various references to many of the major nations and factions of Golarion and how to incorporate characters into those organization. As for the mechanical options they are all awesome, from the new gun twirling bullet naming death that are the new gunslinger feats to the new Impossible bloodline every piece of mechanics presented in this book is not only well thought out but evocative, leaving you wanting to play with them and build characters that take advantage of their abilities. Special mention must also be given to the 2 new archetypes presented here The Negotiator Bard and Survivor Druid. The former is basically a bard turned into professional lawyer, able to talk himself out of near any situation and convince people of just about anything he says. Meanwhile the Survivor Druid is like a survivalist or primitive hunter variant, trading some of your spellcasting and your wildshape ability for the trap mechanics presented in Ultimate Magic. In all honesty these are both some of my favorite archetypes I've seen all year, the bard fills a perfect niche that I have desperately been looking for in a bard archetype and the Survivor is such a cool option for druids, putting a whole new spin on the usual protectors of nature, setting them up as a magical trapper who supplements his hunting and trapping with more potent magical power. That alone has got my mind whirring on dozens of new druids alone and with the dozens of other options that this book presents in content I know I'm going to have more then enough to play with both as a gm, player, and pathfinder society member for the next year at least!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cavalier of the scales hellknight to design, an impossible sorcerer, and figuring out if I can give my slayer the blood pact ninja trick.


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The perfect addition for any sunken city adventure/dungeonpunk style game

*****

So before I get too deep into this review I want to state that I'm coming at this review from a setting neutral standpoint as someone looking for material that is both mechanically well done and incredibly cool. Any connections this might have to any campaign setting work like Zobeck or kobold's other campaign works and how it integrates into that mythos will not be covered here.

Now with that out of the way lets get on to the review.

In short this might be one of my favorite 3rd party additions of the last 6 months. Seriously if you have any plans to run a game that has anything to do with lost civilizations sunken under the waves ala Atlantis, powerful ancient technology that seems both futuristic and at the same time old (aka archeotech or other past visions of future technology like jules verne, dungeonpunk, steampunk, or industrialpunk), mythos style aquatic abilities linked to some of the oldest cthulhian style monsters in the game (the aboleth), new fighting styles and feats centered around aquatic or semi aquatic campaigns, gear for aquatic or games based largely around, or even a little psychic magic style options or even potential gladiator style fighting options this book is for you. And if you can believe it that's just scratching the surface.

The book starts off with a nice foreword about the creation of the Aboleth, a nice addition and an interesting look at the creation of one of the oldest and most long standing monsters in the table top world. Next there is a wonderful section on ancient sunken civilizations of history including Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu along with ways to incorporate them or their feel into your own home world from talks about the technology associated with that particular fabled city to discussions on the writers and their associated styles that made those cities stand out from one another, along with various questions meant to get your mind churning on how to create your own great lost city lost to time.

After that we get a nice section of new feats and character options ranging from things like a net & fighter build for fighters to a sea monster domain for clerics and a few awesome new bloodlines up to and including a bloodline that gives you psychic powers that can not only shield you from attacks but let you fling people across rooms and read their minds! That last one has me jonesing for a chance to get into a game that lets me deflect attacks with my mind or have one of my players want to throw down a sorcerer who plays like something akin to a classic telekinetic telepath in a world of magic. This section has even more than this, with options for every core class ranging from rogue talent like options for base classes to whole new archetypes that help acclimate those classes to a campaign more focused on the sea/lost civilizations. On top of that you also have tons of feats to help further that motif with many that would work just as well in campaigns near the ocean as far away (with the trident & net fighting feats really springing to mind).


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The guide to running madness and Cthulian horror in your game

*****

So to start a string of reviews that don't have a title involving the word fantastic here is one of the first, Tomes of Ancient Knowledge. To start this book strives to accomplish 3 things in my mind. Number 1, to create a new and thematically appropriate system for sanity & madness mechanics for the pathfinder system, present the concept of mythos themed spells, creatures, and spellcasting in an interesting and thematically sound way, and presenting us with some thematic and compelling examples of these vile tomes.

First up is the sanity system and I have to say that they hands down hit it out of the park. For those of you who like me have a passion for a certain pulp author themed high mortality horror game you've all had that fantasy at least once of being able to run some of those madness rules inside your pathfinder game. The problem I've always found though is the dissonance between the two mediums with Call of Cthulhu's sanity mechanic being very well built to help promote that horror through it's disempowerment while simultaneously being ill suited to the power fantasy that pathfinder is built to help promote. In short, the big problem with the sanity mechanic is that it's built to increase the fun by taking away a characters power which is the exact opposite of what pathfinder is built to do. Now with all that stacked against them Legendary has somehow managed to pull it off. To start the system doesn't lock itself to your wisdom stat(the classic choice for most sanity ports) but instead is built around your lowest mental stat. This does two things, one it allows players to build the character they want and not have to pump a certain stat specifically, second it manages to somehow leave no one class truly safe from the madness of the mythos. Now you get to watch as your paladin becomes more forgetful, your wizard become unhinged, and your monk slowly become more and more distant and despondent until they start shouting Tekelili! at the top of their lungs. Next even though accruing madness does bring about some penalties to your stats it also grants boons including incite into the mythos and bonuses on rolls against it. Top this off with ways to handle the penalties including temporary and permanent solution and you have what might be the best system I've seen to handle insanity to date.

Next up we kind of have to talk about the tomes which make up the bulk of this book. Now I have to say that pretty much everything else in this book from after the sanity system on is pretty much GM's eyes only until your players get their hands on one of these dark and terrible tomes so if you are a player I suggest you stop reading to avoid spoiling the surprise. For the rest of you though carry on.

Tomes:
Each tome is not only well written but just oozes style with any one of the 4 tomes presented within being able to fit into nearly any game regardless of setting. From the bloody crystal shards of cannibal cults to the time warping hundred pound tablets of a Babylonian chrono cult you will find something awful to throw at your players and tempt them to play with. My personal favorites thus far are the crystal shards of Sarkulis shards, the aforementioned crystals carved with the dark teaching of a bloody druid cannibal cult and allows those who read its contents to crystallize their own blood and hurl it as a deadly weapon along or compel their enemies to try and feast on the still living flesh of their allies. The other one that really begs mentioning is the last tome of the book, All Flesh & Form by Flame Made Ash. A divine tome full of funerary rite and divine opining over the eventual heat death of the universe. Now it doesn't add any new spells in its pages but instead presents two new metamagic spells that either leave behind choking and revealing cinder clouds or mix in heavy doses of lethal radiation, forcing those who are hit by the spells to make saves or basically get cancer and begin to slowly waste away.

Now this book might not be for everyone, but if you have any interest in trying to pull of a pathfinder game with cthulhian elements or that wonderful cosmic horror that games like Call of Cthulhu have then you definitely need to pick this one up, now. There is not a better book for it.


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Arguably the best in the series

*****

I've now read through all 3 of the tribes anthologies and I have to stand by this statement, if you have to buy just one of these books start with this one. First off it's has arguably some of the most common monsters as its focus for each of it's chapters including duergar, orcs, frost giants, and evil cults which makes this one of the easiest books to just drop into about any game your running from frigid artic games to urban sprawl. Now to try and give a quick overview.

Bugbears of The Frozen Tears: Think of it like taking all the new lore we have for bugbears (painting them as these sadistic murder obsessed serial killers in love with terror) and mix in the mystique of the frozen Himalaya's and furry killer yetis who's preferred mode of attack is to separate and terrify mortal travelers till they die of exposure alone in the mountains. And that's just the start of it, combine that with demons, political clan intrigue, new religions, and the potential to start a bug bear civil war and help capture what is arguably one of the most terrifying creatures on the slope and you are just starting to understand the potential this section has.

Cultists of Havra Zhoul: Take the standard idea for an evil cult and then turn it into a vigilante organization bent on pursuing absolute order at any cost. After that throw in some good old political intrigue and some morale ambiguity on the part of the organization itself (many of the members are actually trying to clean up corruption and make their world a better place) and you have the recipe for an organization that can be the center piece of an entire campaign or a prominent side story. To be honest I could totally see this playing out as a side quest during ap's like council of thieves or even kingmaker given the right context. My one complaint with this entry is that the writing can feel a little lacking in some places with a whole lot of side characters and places that are just begging for more information but I feel like it just gives you a lot of room to personalize them to your setting.

Duergar of the Obsidian Citidel: Great piece, mostly because I love the way it uses new mechanics to really represent what this tribe of Duergar are all about. We get a fighter archetype focused on destroying things, feats to help manufacture cursed items, new curse mechanics, wizard schools focused on weapons and armor, and even some mechanics for trading art and beauty for gear with them. I will say that I wish we had gotten more on the culture and society of the obsidian citdel but that complaint is quickly assuaged by the excellent prebuilt characters we get who really steal the show. The princess is an awesome character and sounds like an absolute blast to rp off of the right party and the relationship between her, her half-fey trickster uncle, and the master craftsmen of the citadel have all the makings of a great game of political intrigue to get any rp heavy PC group interested in. On top of that even the minor character blurbs we get for the minor npc's are compelling with character motivations ranging from a need to explore to desperate raids induced by marital stress. The characters in this chapter really give gm's a lot to play with if they are ready for it.

Frost Giant Pirates of Icy Heart: Okay, it's a giant ice berg that is crewed by frost giants, powered by white dragons, and sculpted by a rhemoraz. It is exactly as cool as it sounds. Combine that with some political plays by the creators secret founder, the stories of love gone wrong, and some horrifying tactics for capturing wayward ships and you have the makings of a true nightmare on the high seas. Look I want to show this to my S&S GM just so we can start fearing it appearing on random encounter rolls. This thing fits perfectly in any high seas or even winter based campaign so long as you are near the high seas.

Orcs of the Eternal Zenith: What happens when you take the standard horde of orcs and convert them into misguided followers of a LG sun god? You get a giant horde of orcs focused on stealing religious artifacts and building a giant artifact that channels the raw power of the sun in order to prove they are the true worshipers of their sun god. Its equal parts insane, awesome, charm, and a bit funny. Top this off with a very cool new oracle mystery, awesome feats, interesting npcs (you get wax mask wearing orc rogue heretics that infiltrate churches that spread their twisted faith and have a tendency to light their masks on fire and bite you when they get discovered), and a pretty cool oracle curse that involves having to monologue and laugh maniacally every couple of rounds this whole thing is just awesome. Ohh and that doesn't even factor in the awesome new spells one of which literally gives the target cancer from exposure to ultraviolet light.

Look if all that doesn't sell you I don't know what will. Go out, buy this book, enjoy the shenanigans you will cause to your party. Now I want to find a way to use cancer casting orc oracles in my home game and lava slinging duergar.


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