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Kaiju, Mogaru

doc the grey's page

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber. FullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 2,799 posts (2,824 including aliases). 14 reviews. 1 list. 1 wishlist. 11 Pathfinder Society characters. 5 aliases.



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The second best option for injecting more Undead toys into your game

****( )

So if you are like me and have been playing Pathfinder for even a short amount of time there's a good chance 2 things have crossed through your mind. First, is how cool and exciting the chance to raise and lead a horde of undead with your own hands can be and second is how difficult that is by the standard rules. Being a necromancer can get really expensive and on top of the obvious in game social issues of looking at a potters field as a recruiting station the mechanics of doing so can be both exceedingly cumbersome and a bit uninspiring. The only way to interact with undead is to either spend money and make them or get lucky and flip them to your cause with spells or a single ability if you have the luck of running into one. This is only exacerbated at low levels when you're at that also stuck being too low level to create undead and yet your other abilities don't really hold up to making you feel like the undead connected necromancer you are trying to play. Enter Summon Undead, a book that tries to correct this through introducing a new mechanism for giving you undead early while not overshadowing the options that already exist.

To start, summon undead takes a page from the summon monster spells in core, giving you a set of spells that summon undead to your side from a list of options presented in the book. This list ranges from moaning heads and feeble ghouls on the lowest end to Banshees and demiliches on the highest levels. This gives players and GMs wonderful options that allow players at low levels to really start making those squads of undead and getting used to that power and play style at the earliest level. At the same time it also keeps balance with the system since, like summons all these options are limited to only a few rounds of service before they return to wherever they came from, allowing your necromancers to burst into hordes of dead but keep them from being able to command and strategize in ways that those with more permanent necrotic flunkies could manage.

Things get even more interesting once you start looking at some of the other spells that managed to make it in here. Summon Minor Undead is a really cool 0 level spell that lets you create a minor undead flunky to help you out after a 1 hour ritual. Thing takes forever and the corpse isn't exactly a combat machine, but like prestidigitation and other utility level 0 spells the options it opens up are really nice. Summon a floating head to spy around corners, a skeleton to help port goods, or even a zombie king crab to tank a room while you get away. The options are many and the idea of 12 hours with an undead sycophant are exciting. Also really love the Summon undead Legion, Horde, and Army spells as a great way to just instantly summon these huge swaths of shambling corpses like every would be necromancers dreams about.

Now on top of all that we get a new summoner alternate class called the undead summoner and 9 new archetypes, 2 of which are for the new aforementioned class. Also of note is that we even manage to get an archetype for the new classes presented in the ACG which in this case is the hunter. All of the classes are pretty cool with most of them taking some advantage of the new eidolon type that the undead summoner gets (referred to as a fetch) and all of them having some sort of connection to undead. Most of them are pretty cool and though the fetch isn't always the most interesting option for some of these (I would have preferred something like a negative energy affinity for those classes that already have animal companions) the replace for them is pretty simple and the rest of their kits are usually evocative enough in the mechanics department to carry them through.

Now again though the biggest draw here though are the spells which again, feel amazing but have just one big problem. That problem in short, is Deep Magic by Kobold press. Another 3rd party source that offered up their own take on this same niche and though it lacks the more diverse list of options that Summon Undead does it presents a system MUCH more uniquely undead than this book does.

Now that might sound pretty damning and on some levels it was, this books system though cool was just not as original or outstanding as the one leveled against them by Kobold but you know what? I still enjoy it. The work is solid, the archetypes cool, and the spells that are in here are still solid. In my home games I know I've done some conversions on certain spells to bring them more in line with Kobold's Animate Undead line of spells and I've loved what comes out of it and with this books tables of pre built undead I've still got mounds of options for when my players decide to use that spell to try and convert X monster into a zombie without having to worry about stopping game to have to do a stat block. On top of all that too at a price point of only $5 usd it's still a 5th of the price you would be spending on that book just to get at that spell.

So in closing I guess what I have to say is this, Summon Undead may not have the greatest version of this summon monster/undead fusion I've seen put to page in pathfinder but it is still leaps and bound ahead of the options Paizo has given us thus far in the niche and for the price is a fine replacement or even supplement to both those rules and the options presented in the titular Deep Magic.


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Probably one of the best supplements to the class

*****

In case the title to this review seems a bit hyperbolic let me be clear. I love the cavalier class, I've loved it since it dropped in Advanced Players Guide and since I got to finally play my first character that wasn't one I ran from behind the screen. I've loved the whole concept of this more classic knight designed around the idea of a noble who is trained to lead his men as part of his education in becoming a king, queen, duke or what have you and finally I've loved how things like the tactician abilities and especially the orders help me as the player not only feel like a tactical commander (as opposed to the solo trained fighter or barbarian) and through the orders have a way to build a huge variety of cavaliers that supports this huge brevity of characters. From bastards of the Cockatrice order to nobly striving Blue Rose men who want to try to fix the world they live in. All that being said, the cavalier has had its problems and one of them is order options. Sure we have a lot, nearly 3 different hardbacks and likely over a half dozen softcovers all take a stab at adding new orders to the list for the wayward master of the mount and field but the overall quality we get amongst them can be middling in narrative uniqueness. We exist in a world where the diplomacy focused but hard trained diplomats of the Blue Rose exist beside the at least 2 different orders that focus on protecting peasants specifically and though that is cool we all know there is a lot more ground we can cover here and I'm happy to say this book does it in spades. Giving us 12 new orders and an archetype on the side, flaming crab games has managed to squeeze out what might be some of my favorite orders yet on page along with some great support for each.

To start we get the Order of The Black Rose or as it has come to be called amongst my peers the death knight order. Ever wanted to play that cavalier of Ugathoa who lauds the power of undead and seeks to slowly become one? You got it. The Black Rose gives it to you, focusing on improving your abilities to understand undead and even granting you the ability to command them with your raw magnetism a la the grave knight at 2nd level with command undead and from their it only gets worse. Your challenges flay peoples AC with a challenge and eventually your capstone power lets you smack the divinity out of your clerical foes, severing their ability to channel positive energy against you if they fail to fend off your might. On top of that the feat option they give you allows your mount to slowly become necrotic with you, gaining the ability to heal off negative energy as you do and best of all the feat can be picked up as one of your cavalier bonus feats (a pattern that gets repeated throughout the book).

Next we get the the order of the Claymore, these rough and tumble cavaliers who are all about physical prowess, never backing down from a challenge, and kicking the ever loving s$+! out whomever is dumb enough to challenge them with big two-handed weapons. At first sounding a bit redundant what makes these guys really stand out is not only their stellar abilities (including getting to treat a greatsword like a lance for damage when charging, boosting challenge damage vs. really tough opponents, and literally being able do a mounted cleaving charge like some demented set of battlefield hedge clippers) but the story that ends up getting told through both the art and the support feats they get access to. You see the Claymore cavalier presented in the art here isn't this young barbarian conan type you might expect but this old, weathered vet. The dude looks like Don Quixote in his mid 50's but he's still clutching this greatsword and riding off into combat, ready to take on any fool who's thinks they can unseat the old man. To top it off you get the feats Grizzled and Rugged, the former letting you add double your age bonuses to Sense Motive and Intimidate to mirror your decades of service and the latter allowing you have one of your physical stats IGNORE AGE PENALTIES. That's huge and what's better is as a Claymore Cavalier you can take it up to 3 times! Basically letting you play a 65+ year old vet martial character without worrying about having your Str, Dex, and Con be total crap. It turns the class into this haven of grizzled veterans in my mind, this group of cavaliers who've lived so long they've formed this fraternity of the best and baddest brawlers to ever trot the earth. They've managed to jokingly become known as the Liam Neeson order at my table but they are still so good that anyone interested in either combat focused 2 weapon cavaliers or playing that aged swordsman who's come back to fight that one last time should really take a look.

Next we get order of Cold Iron, likely the most metal order in the book. These guys are like paladins, dedicated to the complete destruction of demons and their friends but don't have to worry about being L or G to do it. They are unyielding and unwavering in their quest to put down every succubus, baubau, and cultist that allies with them and they are going to take a page out of the titular metal's play book to do it. To start they get flat bonuses against the spells and spell-like abilities of their challenge and bonuses at id'ing their favored foes but eventually they gain the power to dispel the DR of cold iron weak creatures they crit for a short time and eventually outright banish them back to the abyss with a swat. Heck the class is so metal their first ability lets their mounts natural attacks treat as cold iron for overcoming DR! and it only gets better once you start looking at the feat selection including Strike the Weakness, which allows you to add a monsters DR to your critical hit if you pulled off said crit with a weapon that overcomes that reduction.

And this level of cool and detail continues on with nearly each other order moving through this book. The order of the Flagon are a bunch of beer swilling partyers who get better in combat the more intoxicated they become. The order of Fortune are a bunch of mercenaries who focus on adopting wildly diverse tactics from other orders in order to win, going so far as being able to outright copy other order abilities as they go along, allowing you to create insane odd ball combos of powers and techniques you could never do otherwise. The order of Luck gives up all their tough decisions to random chance, trading in sure thing answers for big crazy boosts in combat. They aren't for the faint of heart but encourage this level of interesting and inspired play that is just unique, like being able to say I'm going to either attack this guy with my longsword or tumble around this other guy to give my buddy flanking, flip a coin, and now whichever one I got gets a nice bonus but if I choose to do something else I take a penalty (but am not forced to take the chosen option). It balances the risk of building a character around such chaos with a reward system and rules good enough to keep a player engaged. Order of the Road is this group of old souls who are tasked with roaming all that they can see and more, never staying in one place for long and helping weary travelers find their way. Not focused on combat for sure this option really shines in something like kingmaker where wilderness travel, survival, and the harsh realities of weather and season really matter. What's even cooler is one of their feats gives you an aurochs for free as a mount and (if you are like me and run games with more open mount options) also treats its Str as 10 higher for the purposes of carrying capacity. That might not sound as cool up front but as a GM who runs an open world survival game where roughing it is the norm that boon has lead more than one player to flirt with the idea of a buffalo riding nomad. Order of the Scorpion lets you live out your fantasy as a Medjai from the Mummy, protecting your chosen place with your horse and stinging whip and eventually letting you effectively wield the thing at no penalty alongside your other weapons. Being able to whip trip someone as a swift action and then charge them down with my lance sounds so good it hurts and I love that this gives me that option I never knew I wanted.

The final one I really want to gush about though is the order of the White Rose. Focused on the classic idea of chivalrous love, the White Rose cavalier devotes themselves to a singular individual and the protection of that person, going so far as to risk life and limb to make sure they are okay. Now this might sound like a recipe for trouble but the class executes it with such grace you just want to play one and makes it a joy to run. Your challenge grants passive AC to your charge, your 2nd level ability lets you share a square with your charge (even while mounted), give them cover while sharing it, and lets me charge through their square. Effectively I can select my monk, rogue, or other melee focused teammate as my charge (this bond doesn't have to be romantic but does represent a deep connection with this person), let them get into a fight, and just charge right to them. Now all of a sudden my partner has gained a free +4 AC bonus minimum just by having me gun in to save them and I'm still feeling like I get to be that protector character without hindering their ability to play the character they want. From their White Rose only gets better, giving you Saving Shield for free (with boosted effects on your charge), shield other 1/day on charge, and finally the ability to magically transpose an effect onto your cavalier that your charge has failed to save against, taking the full force of the spell but letting them walk out unscathed. I wait for a day I can get to roll up one of these guys.

Now not all of these orders are this spectacular. The order of the Sea is really niche and doesn't sing like the rest do and the order of Truth is really cool thematically but in execution falls a little flat of the judge dredd styled Inevitable of truth it's aiming for but on the whole are small misses when compared to the sheer awesomeness that is the rest of this book. In short, if you are into cavaliers and are looking for more order options that give you great options both mechanically and thematically to tell interesting stories this book is for you. Go out, get it, it's totally worth the $5 USD is asking for it.


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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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