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Inkantations: A Sourcebook of Tattoo Magic & Body Art (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 4 ratings)
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"You Are the Canvas"

A new magic—the arcane art of Inkantation, creating tattoos that are much more than mere decoration—brings all-new options. Now, heroes can adorn themselves with symbols and images infusing power into their very flesh, tattoos containing magic both familiar and unique...

The enthralling Painted Lady prestige class, the Tattooed Wizard wizard archetype—whose entire body is a spellbook—and the Inked sorcerer bloodline all await you inside. Also included are rules and guidelines for crafting tattoos, feat and skills for Inkantationists and mundane artists alike, and feats for the decorated adventurer allow you to customize your character like never before!

Inkantations: A Sourcebook of Tattoo Magic & Body Art is a 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming publication, in conjunction with Heyoka Studios.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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A Pun in Your Title is Not a Good Start

**( )( )( )

Okay, so I finally got around to checking out all of the PDFs I got for backing Pathfinder Online, so let's dive in and look at the very first one I saw, Inkantations!

Crunch
This book and I did not get off to a good start. The first chapter is 100% in the flavor department, and so our first piece of crunch strolls by 8 pages into this 52 page behemoth. And the very first thing I see is half a dozen new Craft and Knowledge skills. Why? Why on earth would you take tattooing and split it up into a billion different skills? Folks, if you are going to create new skills and subskills, that's fine with me. But if you do, you better make sure that those skills are actually needed. Why do I need four different Craft skills, three different Knowledge skills, AND a Profession skill for this? Looking at the rules, Craft skills are used when something is actually created, so I would have said no to the Profession skill and lumped everything together into Craft (Tattoo) and Knowledge (Tattoos). Or better yet, merge tattoos into Knowledge (local). Why? Because Knowledge (local) is all about discerning the cultures and customs of the area, and Chapter One flat-out states that Tattoos are all about Culture and Custom. And then it goes on to say that you need one skill to mix the ink and another to actually apply it! Really? Why? In my opinion, this page is wasted.

Getting into the new feats, most of them are garbage. Why would I waste a feat on an ability that gives me a +3 bonus to Intimidate AND a –2 penalty to Diplomacy? I could use that feat slot on Skill Focus (Intimidate), which improves with my level AND doesn't penalize me. Most of the feats are like this; they either have very unimaginative effects, downright poor effects, or they penalize you. If you're going to penalize someone with a feat, it needs to be like Power Attack. That feat is worth the penalty. Grotesque Tattoo is not. The best feats in this chapter are the ones that interact with the actual Tattoo Inkantations, which I'll get to in a minute, but there are just so many tattoo feats that aren't worth it, its easy to skip over them by mistake.

When you finally get to the tattoos, the rules themselves are very weird. I get the feeling that 4 Winds sat down, maybe even talked to a tattoo artist or had some done themselves, and said, "How can we translate this exact process over to Pathfinder?" I'm sorry, but when you tell me that using colored ink has the SAME increase as making the tattoo masterwork, then that's the point where I say, "This is too much detail." If I am increasing my DC, I want real, tangible benefits. Not shiny colors. But of course, as I say that I find out that BRANDING people, as in touching someone with a blazing-hot iron rod, requires a skill check. What's worse is that this book came out in 2011, after brand was created by Paizo. A cantrip that does exactly what you're telling me I need a relatively difficult skill check to accomplish. Clearly all inquisitors are part-time tattoo artists.

When you actually reach the point of the book that you're reading the magic item tattoos, then the book becomes pretty cool. These items are pretty well thought out, are decently priced, and they're well-balanced too. There are a few neat tattoos scattered throughout the section, but most of them appear to mimic existing magic items. One that I especially like is one called arcane bonds Its a very neat tattoo that allows the tattoo's crafter to enforce a hold person effect on the person with the tattoo. That's the sort of neat, inventive stuff that I like! Sadly, there are just as many tattoos that don't make much sense, like this one that lets you scribe an animal tattoo on your face, granting you that animal's exact natural armor bonus to AC. See the problem? Considering the cost of the tattoo doesn't scale, how do you justify the natural armor of a Tyrannasaurus to the natural armor of a tiger? Both are pretty awesome tattoos to have on your face; one is clearly better than the other with no increase in cost.

There are some spells in this book too, as well as some body piercings that function as wondrous items. The spells aren't all that interesting; the spell that makes you super fertile is sort of random in the product. Its obviously there because there is a tattoo that transforms you into a fertility goddess, but overall it just feels strange. The product's crunch ends with a prestige class that basically uses these magic items better than anyone else, making it somewhat boring to read about. It seems solid enough, but honestly the tattoos themselves aren't really cool enough to warrant this prestige class. Ultimately, the crunch of this product had me scratching my head in confusion more than it did exist me. 1 / 5 Stars.

Flavor
This product tries really, really hard to have flavor. It is literally oozing it. The problem is that this product oozes flavor in the same way that a pizza coming from a questionable shop oozes grease. That grease is not why you eat the pizza; it is only pooling on top of the good stuff, taking up space and making you question whether or not you really want a piece of that pie. There is so much flavor in this book that I found myself skipping through it, going, "Okay, okay, I get it. Where's the crunch of the product?" Flavor is forcibly injected everywhere in this product and the flavor overwhelms the rules, to the point where there are many questionable game design choices simply because it fits the flavor. An example is the needless number of tattooing skills that are described in this product. Another example is the five different ways that are listed to remove a tattoo, even though they all have almost the exact same outcome. The flavor really bogs down this product and it probably added on at least 5 unneeded pages. 3 / 5 Stars.

Texture
This product's grammar is decent enough, but the layout is pretty bad. The sections and subsections are not well defined and there are no breaks for chapters in this book; it essentially reads like a giant run-on chapter. As a teacher, I found it incredibly disorienting. 2 / 5 Stars.

Final Score and Thoughts
Crunch: 1 / 5
Flavor: 3 / 5
Texture: 2 / 5
Final Score: 2 / 5

I do not recommend this product. Throughout the entire thing, there was only one tattoo that I thought was remotely interesting. Everything else was rehashed material that I have already seen before placed in an item system that has been done to death. Paizo does tattoos much better in Inner Sea Magic, and there is one page, maybe two devoted to the concept there. This book expands mundane tattoos too far, presumably to fill a page quota, while most of the magic items are existing wondrous items re-flavored as tattoos. I hate to say it, but I'm honestly glad I didn't pay for Inkantations.

— Alexander "Alex" Augunas


Finally, an ingame reason to go under the needle

*****

This PDF weighs in at 52 pages containing the following:
Cover , TOC and Credits 4 pages
Introduction 3 pages: Giving us both an intro to what this book's intent is as far as the material contained within, and a brief look at tattoos by culture, and the relevance each has on another.
The Meat of this meal, 41 pages: Covering everything from the specific skills and DC checks for using them, to new feats affecting both wondrous and mundane tattoos. Types of tattoos are covered, as well as costs, time requirements, and DC checks for the quality of tats. We also cover the parlor, branding, scaring, henna, and piercing. Wondrous Tattoos (well over 50) act as our magical items for this tome, and we're even given new classes centered around this love of ink. All will be discussed more below.
Back Cover, OGL,Ad, and a blank page(?) take up the last 4 pages.

Ok, where do we start here? The concept of ink on skin has been around within fantasy gaming for as long as artists have been illustrating our dreams. Let's face it, inks cool. It adds a level to the characters visual appeal, makes them more interesting, more dangerous, sexier. But what if that same ink could do more than just look cool? What if it was more than just a visual? This is the question this book seeks to answer with the options presented within, options that are fairly well presented, and go along way towards injecting some much needed life into the concept of “Fantasy Tattoos.”

Formatting is the standard dual column approach, with embedded illustrations. Artwork is B&W other than the cover, and ranges from OK to good with Stock Elmore artwork interspersed with originals pieces. I noticed no glaring spelling/grammatical errors that would cause problems.

The Skills covered in this tome are exactly what you might think they would be, the various craft, knowledge and profession skills applied to henna, piercing, scarification and tattooing. Necessary for the body of work, but nothing here really jumping out and screaming “Notice me!”

After skills we tackle the new Feats presented. Right off the bat we are told that not every Feat is intended for the person getting the tattoo, as much as the person doing the tattoo, this makes sense as the book tries to appeal to both sides of the fence, those with, and those doing. Rather than give you a full list of them (27), I've picked out a few to discuss
Augmented Tattoo: by adding special material to your ink, when making weapon are armor tattoos, you infuse the tattoo with the effects of that substance...once you apply this to a few of the magical tattoos from Chapter 2, this get's nice, fast.
Holy tattoo: Perfect for those times when lugging around those gaudy holy symbols just isn't an option.
Master Tattoo Artist:You can create magically enhanced tattoos
Quick Healer: Recover from lethal and non-lethal damage faster. (this would be the oddball feat, as it's generic enough to have nothing to do with tattoos)
Tattoo Mastery: This is the one that Wizard players will want...Can prepare a certain number of spell without studying your caudex.
In Memory Of The Fallen: Have to say, I would have been disappointed if this had not been covered somewhere within this book, as so many people's reason behind their ink is a lost friend or loved one. Fantastic feat giving you either bonuses to skill checks based upon the skills of the person memorialized, or a combat bonus against the race of beastie who did you friend in. Excellent feat.

The next section of the book goes into descriptions of the various types of tattoos
Textual: Being quite literally text, I'm amused that both examples given within the text are merely arm/leg bands, when the ribcage text blocks have become quite popular over the last several years within mainstream culture.
Abstract: Here you'll find the most common stylized patterns, your “tribals” if you will.
Symbolic: Defining the majority of all ink, the “picture” tattoo. And no, I don't just mean a picture of your late Aunt Ruth, I mean any imagery that is a stylized interpretation of what one asks the artist to ink into their skin.
Enhanced Tattoos:With four subsections under this one, we begin to see our first “magical” tats

Animated: flags actually wave, trees rustle with the breeze, animals caper, etc.
Luminous: produce roughly the equivalent of candle light, in the colors of the tattoo
Shapechanging: tattoos that will survive, recognizably, throughout shapechanging
Long-Lasting: exactly what they sound like, lasting twice as long without touch-up work

Spell Tattoos: Think along the lines of a single use rune, or scroll, contained within a tattoo
Wondrous Tattoo: More powerful version of the Spell Tattoo, but now mimicking the effects of an item, not just a spell.
Punitive Tattoo: Not every tattoo is asked for. Similar in nature to cursed magic items, they are detrimental to the character bearing one.

The next section deals with the game mechanics behind design and application of getting a tattoo, what checks are required by whom, and time/size constraints. Also covered are game mechanics for branding, henna, scarification, and piercing. We're also giving the equipment list to fully stock our new found profession for both PC's and NPC alike, and are introduced to the Gnomish Tattoo Machine, a magical device mimicking the modern day tattoo gun. We're also given some fairly old school methods for removal of body art (ouch) as well as a few magical ones.

Chapter 2 is all about the Magical Tattoos themselves, introducing us to 57 different ones. Here we are given the breakdown for which tattoos will take up a magic item slot, and which will not, and why.
Arcane Bonds: Our first punitive tattoo. A cuff of runes around both wrists, this tattoo essentially keeps one a slave, as they are unable to leave their master, nor hide from them.
Augustov's Magic Pocket: Tired of being pick pocketed? Afraid of dropping your bag of holding? Worry no more, come on down to Krazy Katfish's and we'll tattoo a magic pocket right on you, that's right, store your valuables in your tattoo.
Cantrell Ovin's Crown: A palm tattoo that will conjure a gold coin...with limitations of course.
Dragon's Power: Granting the bearer not only the energy resistance of whichever color dragon they have tattooed, but also a plus to strength or constitution,
Gouzong's Exigent Arrows: An inner arm tattoo of an arrow upon the non dominant arm. When the character draws a bow, the tattoo conjures an arrow for so many per level/day.
Rolling Bones: A tattoo of a pair of 6 sided dice, either in the palm or upon the wrist, that conjures a set of dice with a simple gesture.

I'm going to stop there, as I said, there are 57 of these, and I was only looking to give you a taste of what's in store with this chapter. They are all presented with very well balanced mechanics, and a flavor that will make them welcome in most game settings. Several tattoos are presented such that a good GM could turn the quest to receive one into a full adventure hook very easily, or even the removal of an unwanted tattoo, in the case of the punitive markings.

Chapter 3 introduces us to the Inkantationists, with three primary types of said spellcaster: the tattooed wizard, the inked bloodline sorcerer, and the painted one. The tattooed wizard being a wizard class archetype, the inked bloodline being exactly that, and the painted one being a prestige class. Within this section, detailing these new class options, we are introduced to the Living Tattoo Familiar, an interesting game concept, and a great way for a wizard to smuggle their familiar along with them. We are also introduced to the Caudex, a collection of spell tattoos operating as an alternative to the standard spellbook. An interesting concept when you consider they still have to read and study every day (creates some rather amusing problems for line of sight depending on where you have all of your tattoos lol). The Painted One prestige class (lvls1-10) has a few abilities worth noting, such as Mark of the Past (gain abilities in a previous class as if you had continued putting levels into it), and Sentient Tattoo (yeah, exactly what you're thinking, grant a sentience and personality to a tattoo).

Eight new spells and 11 new items and 1 device...amongst them I found this hilarious item
Nipple Shield of Stunning: You all remember the Janet Jackson Wardrobe malfunction...well that piece of jewelry has been immortalized.

The book closes out by introducing three new organizations for usage within a campaign setting that all have various reasons to use tattoos within their order. As well presented as they are, I would of liked to have seen an actual guild presented for ink masters, an organization for the various players of this trade to belong to.

In closing, this product dealt with body modification game mechanics fairly well, and several of the spell tattoos and items should be welcome additions to a group. The feats offer many different options for both PC and Gm alike, and overall the concept of giving a reason for your players to ink up beyond “it looks cool” is really nice. I give this product a solid 5 star rating, and recommend it for any play group looking to add a new layer to their characters.


Excellent resource, not only for tatoo-afficionados

*****

This pdf is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 3 pages editorial and ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 blank page inside back cover and 1 page back cover, leaving 45 pages of content, so let's check it out!

First of all, I want to make my position clear: While I always felt a kind of fascination for tatoos and body modifications, I have none myself and never had the inclination to get one. Thus, while I do love the culturally important and imaginative implementations in different media and games, I am not what you'd consider a wholehearted enthusiast for the subject matter, in spite of being aligned with two sub-cultures that heavily rely on tatoos and body-mods. Thus, I'll try to rate this from a skeptic's point of view and mostly in accordance with the contributions to one's game.

The book begins with a comprehensive and very well-informed and informative introduction to several roles tatoos can serve in diverse subsets of culture. After this rather intelligent and nice intro, we are subjected to the relevant skills for tatoos/body-mods in one's game world, i.e. 4 Craft-skills, 1 profession and 3 knowledge skills. We also get 27 new feats that span the range from crafting magical and miniature tatoos to "achievement tatoos", i.e. for example bonding tatoos for lovers and friends, tatoos celebrating that you've slain x creatures of a certain type and even one that kind of touched me and makes for a great RPG-opportunity, a tatoo for a fallen friend. From sexy to intimidating a lot of ground is covered and none of the feats felt superfluous. For those so inclined, we also get feats dealing with e.g. scarification.

What about the process of getting/or removing one's tatoos, though? It's depicted in stunning and imaginative detail and provides a plethora kits and items for said purposes, among them even a gnomish tatoo machine. I actually learned something about the material of the needles from this section, which is always nice.
After the basics have been established, we move on to the truly fantastic and iconic component of the book, magical tatoos. Mechanically, they take up an item-slot and even have an option for spell-tatoos that work as scrolls or a tatoo that can store spells. This section, in contrast to many item-books I've read so far, is actually a good read, thanks to the descriptions provided. Some might even serve as hooks for further adventures, which is always a nice thing for a DM to have. Mechanically, I have nothing to complain about - all of the 57 tatoos are well-balanced and most of them are iconic enough to actually consider using them.

Chapter 3 details so-called Inkantationists, i.e. magically adept tatoo-artists, and provides rules for a new wizard variant, a new sorceror bloodline and a new PrC, the painted one (d8, 4+Int skills, bad BAB (+5 over 10 levels),, medium Ref and Will saves, 8 levels of spell-casting and the ability to advance abilities from their old class). We also get 8 new spells, dealing with tatoos and surprisingly, contraception. I enjoyed them immensely, as I belong to the part of the audience that considers the topic of sexuality and childbirth an integral and fertile ground for adventuring. Pardon the pun. For the people who consider themselves rather adherents to the piercing enthusiasts, 13 new magic items, some of which actually made me smile and one even laugh: The Nipple-shield of Stunning pleasantly reminded me of a certain superbowl scandal whose repercussions swept over even to Europe and were considered somewhat bewildering. But don't fret - the other magical items are quite tame and the book remains mature and non-explicit about the topic. A magical device is also presented.

Finally, we get 3 (more or less) secret organizations centered around the topics of tatoos that are concisely detailed in the limited amount of space granted and might serve both as pro-or antagonists along the PCs. Each also features some short, stat-block-less write-ups of characters to help you flesh out the organization in question and provide potential for conflict, be it internally or externally.

Conclusion:
Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any errors. Formatting and layout are b/w, printer-friendly, clear and I didn't notice a single glitch. The b/w-artwork ranges from cool to rather average and I personally am not a fan of the old-school style of the cover-artwork. I was rather skeptic with regards to balancing issues on whether all the iconic usages of tatoos in fantasy and mythology could be extrapolated to a general, non-setting specific book. Moreover, I wasn't sure whether this book would impress me enough to consider implementing it in my campaign. To cut a long ramble short, the company that brought you THE resource for gear & treasure shops has made magical tatoos not only a cool, but also a rewarding addition to just about any campaign. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to just about anyone. My final verdict will be 5 stars.


Want tattoos in your game? Buy this.

*****

Inkantations by 4 Wind Fantasy Games

This product is 52 pages long. It starts with a cover, ToC, and credits. (4 pages)

Introduction (3 pages)
This section talks about tattoos, by race, by culture, by social standing, talking about what may or may not be popular and why.

Tattoo's and Body Art (11 pages)
This section starts off about the skills and variations for crafting, knowledge etc. Next it gets into new feats, there is 27 new feats. Some of the feats are used to help create tattoo's and others are for exceptional tattoo's that add mods similar in power to other feats. Types of tattoo's, it gets into the different types of tattoo's from text(words), to abstract, symbolic, and enhanced ones which are created with the help of magic.

Crafting tattoo's is the next, using the crafting skill to make them, charts for cost, DC's based on size of tat and the max size a tattoo can be based on the size of the creature getting it. It also has a small section on how to take care of a tattoo. Afterwards it gets into body art, which is branding, piercing, scars etc. After that we get into equipment section. This has all the gear one would need to make tattoo's and the like. The final part of this section gets into removal of tattoo's.

Magical Tattoo's (16 pages)
There is 57 sample wonderious item tattoos. Such items take up a magic item slot. Different magical tattoos take up different slots, just as if the PC had a magic item in that slot. It also gets into spell tattoo's which work basically like a scroll, only they can be images instead of text for the spell and of course they used your flesh instead of paper. I really liked the idea of spell tattoos, anyone can get one and use them with out UMD skill and they don't obviously look like a scroll either. Once used the tat remains but the magic is released. The only thing I didn't like and I felt it really needed, was a mechanic for recharging said spell tattoos. I mean you could just use the same price again, but it would have been nice if they had included a sidebar about it.

Inkantationists (9 pages)
This section is about classes that specialize in tattoos. There is a new wizard specialist, Socr bloodline, and a 10 level PrC. The PrC is d8, 4 skills, low BaB, 2 good saves, +6 spell casting levels, and then a host of special abilities dealing with tattoos. There is 8 new spells, most of them deal with tattoos but a couple do not. There is also 13 new magic items, some of them are very cool magic items.

Organizations and Guilds (5 pages)
This section has 3 sample groups that use tattoos a lot. Each one is about a full page, with history, what they do and key members in the group.

It ends with a OGL, back cover and 1 ad. (4 pages)

Closing thoughts. The artwork is black and white and ranges from pretty good to very good in a couple of cases. The layout and editing was good, I didn't notice any obvious errors. It is pretty print friendly. The feats mostly seem well done and well thought out and for the most part well balanced. There was a couple I was unsure of but would take play testing for me to make up my mind. Same is true of some of the magic items as well. This book pretty heavily covers everything you might want to know or need to know about tattoos and how to add them to your game. It is not perfect there was a few things that should have been added like how to recharge the scroll tattoos.

Also I was very surprised not to see a new domain, this pretty much seemed to scream to me it needed a Tattoo domain. While I know this is about tattoos I would have liked to have seen more on other body art. Like Piercings and magic items for that, another 2-6 pages would have been nice covering that, same with scaring. The book is good, but I felt it could have been better. So whats my rating? I am going to settle on a 4.5 star. It is good, even very good for much of it. It gives you all you need to make tattoos a important part of any campaign, but it also left a few things on the table that could have helped push it up to great.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.


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