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The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2—Red Jack (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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What do you get when you cross a fox with Jack the Ripper?

Meet Red Jack, a kitsune who clawed his way back from death just to get revenge. He’s the new avatar of death. Well, avatar in training at least.

Red Jack is one of the fey lords in The Faerie Ring. He came back from the dead for a specific purpose—to kill his betrayer. But he’s still here and anxious to bring death to the world! The tale of this epic-level threat is given in detail along with that of his sentient extradimensional demesne Strangle Grove, his dead wife who’s now a deadly artifact, his runaway fox-blooded daughter, and more.

This chapter of The Faerie Ring also brings you new fey, including the kitsune. These supernatural foxes are updated and expanded for use as a PC race for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. A new system of fox magic, using feats, is fleshed out to give characters fun new magic options.

In this book, you’ll find...

  • Red Jack, an epic-level fey psychopath with two statblocks (CR 23 and CR 27)
  • Kitsune PC race and fox magic feats
  • New fey creatures, those that serve Red Jack and those that don’t: kitsune, ghost fox, and pipe fox
  • Details of the sentient fey demesne Strangle Grove
  • New magic, new artifacts, new fey subtypes
  • Insights into the powerful fey quiddities
  • And more of the craziness that can only come from the fey (including hints at other fey lords and things to come)

The Faerie Ring brings you the worlds of the fey. From the fey lords to those that serve them. Their lands, their magics, their machinations. Everything a GM needs to bring a fresh dose of fey to a game. And for players, there are playable fey races, feats, incantations, and more. The Faerie Ring: Red Jack is the next step of the journey.

The Faerie Ring: Red Jack (Along the Twisting Way 2 of 6) is a high quality, full-color, web-optimized, 24-page pdf from Zombie Sky Press bundled with a stripped-down, printer-friendly version. It uses the Open Game License and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License. It is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and standard 3.5E fantasy RPGs.

Design by Scott Gable; Illustration by Julie Dillon; Editing by John Rateliff and Micheal McArtor.

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 4 ratings)

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This guy will fox your PCs up

*****

I should admit straight-up that I was a bit biased in regards to this product. As a student of Japanese culture, I was naturally intrigued when the Prelude to the Faerie Ring products noted that kitsune and yokai were among the fey it’d be covering. And when the next in that series, Along the Twisting Way #2: Red Jack, came out, that turned into full-blown eagerness. But what sort of presentation did the book make? Let’s find out.

Two-dozen pages in length, Along the Twisting Way #2 makes a strong showing of itself in terms of technical presentation. Presented with full, nested bookmarks and with the copy-and-paste on, the book hits all of the high-water marks. Much more notable, however, is the imagery. Presented on a light bluish background, the book only had four illustrations, but they were spectacular. I say this even with one of those being the cover illustration again, and another being reused from Along the Twisting Way Prelude. Julie Dillon’s artwork is just that vibrant.

Turning to the book itself, I was surprised by just how much Zombie Sky Press was able to squeeze into twenty-four pages. The book opens with Red Jack’s background and current sketch, before talking about his domain (with a sidebar noting its planar traits) and its major features (which also has a sidebar on a new major artifact, the Murder Stone).

Following this is an unexpectedly lengthy discussion about kitsune, and some subtypes of kitsune, before talking about Red Jack’s daughter, Ren. At this point we’re just over halfway through the book and it’s been almost entirely flavor text with little in the way of game stats. While I’m usually a bit of a curmudgeon about that, here I confess that I was captivated by the writing. There’s a style in this book that seems to suggest that it’s presenting only a piece of a larger whole, but feels no need to give additional details (though in several places it does make reference to where further information may be found).

It also helps that the second half of the book (noted as appendices I and II) is where the game stats come out in full force. In appendix one we get the stat block for Red Jack, who is a walloping CR 27, making him one of the highest-CR’d creatures for the Pathfinder RPG to date (notwithstanding v.3.5 material).

Following this is a sidebar discussing how fey lords of Jack’s type have a singular item, a memento mori, that gives them greater power. After this is the stat block for Red Jack if his memento mori is lost or destroyed, busting him down to CR 23. This part of the book made me frown a bit, simply because the jump from CR 27 to 23 is comparatively small, as are the tweaks to his stat block that make up this drop in power. While I can certainly understand the utility of having fully-formed stat blocks for each version of Jack, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been more economical to just list the changes made if his memento mori is lost (or have his power be reduced to a point where an alternate stat block was more necessary, like CR 21), since there was a lot of repeated text. Of course, this is a PDF, so space isn’t really a concern anyway.

After a listing for Jack’s personal major artifact (something to which I tip my hat to the author; it’s been too long since writers remembered that unique, powerful individuals should have unique, powerful artifacts) we move on to stats for kitsune.

The three types of kitsune – the normal kitsune, the ghost fox, and the pipe fox – are all presented here. Except, not really. Rather, we’re given a ghost fox NPC (since ghost fox is a kitsune-specific template given immediately after this), a kitsune NPC (since they’re a playable race), and generic stats for the pipe fox (which, to my delight, can be taken as improved familiars) and their elder variant. A sidebar discussing several new subtypes that kitsune have closes out appendix one.

Appendix two is PC-related information, in regards to the kitsune. After basic PC race stats (which include the method whereby the gain more tails), we’re presented with a series of feats that allow for different uses of fox magic. I liked this section, but it was too short by half (and it noted that these weren’t all the fox magic that there were); mostly absent were fox magic feats designed for having multiple tails (that is, being higher level). Hopefully there’ll be more in a future supplement of web enhancement.

Some discussion is given to a uniquely kitsune magic item, the star ball. It’s interesting that the star ball is designed to allow kitsune (which in their natural form have no opposable thumbs) to utilize magic items they otherwise couldn’t, since they can imbue their star ball with those items (using a new spell presented here). However, the basic construction information for how a star ball is made wasn’t presented here. A minor oversight, to be sure, but it would have been useful. The book closes out with an incantation that allows a kitsune to, upon a success, possess someone for a short while (something I’d keep out of the hands of a PC, even despite its built-in limitations).

Overall though, I greatly enjoyed this product. The references to Japanese mythology alone (particularly the story of Tamamo-no-Mae, which the author acknowledges and gives a surprising twist on) were enough to win me over. But even had they not been, the engaging writing and excellent new mechanics would have. Red Jack is a powerful foe who has long arms thanks to those kitsune who serve him, and with his wily daughter out there, there’s a built-in campaign waiting to happen, especially if you have PCs who want to play a kitsune.

The only real complaint I have about the book was that it was much too short. The section on new material for PCs could easily have been twice as long (more fox magic feats, stats for human-kitsune children, etc). And though I thought Red Jack’s two forms could have used more distinction, the character himself was truly epic (pun intended). If you’re looking for a method to add fey foxes to your game, look no further. The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2 – Red Jack gives you a fox-faced foe you won’t soon forget, and all that he en-tails.


Psychotic, very cool Kitsune-lord

****( )

This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page credits, ½ page SRD, leaving 21 1/6 pages of content, so let’s check out the fey!

The second installment of ZSP’s Fey-line threads an unconventional terrain in its first installment, offering us Red Jack, a tragic kitsune, i.e. a fox spirit who unjustly was murdered and clawed his way back from the dead to exact terrible vengeance on his tormentors. Infiltrating a village, the kitsune that one day would become dread Jack managed to marry and impregnate a girl and live will her as a human husband, only to be found out on his daughter’s birth and promptly be burnt alive. After transcending death and a vicious spree of rage he has now become the lord of his own demesne and convinced that there is one being worthy of his love and devotion: Lady Death, to whom he pledged his service. But before I go on to elaborate on Jack, let’s briefly discuss his demi-plane-like demesne, the semi-sentient Strngle Grove that can create deadly carnivorous plants along and e.g features a gallows-like grove of vines as well as the monument to death and revenge Jack made of his erstwhile wife, the major artifact murder stone.

Having once been a kitsune, Jack’s pdf also includes a lot of fox-related fey-like creatures, beginning with Kitsune, who get both their own stats as well as information on how to use them as a player race. The Kitsune get -4 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Cha, small, 40 ft. movement, low-light vision, are quadruped, get scent, a bite attack, can substitute the power of their tails for spell components, get an alternate form and can take fox magic feats, but more on them later.

Next up are the ghost foxes, Red Jack’s twisted kitsune, trapped somewhere in between life and death. Ghost foxes come with their own one page +2CR template to enable you to create your own. Formatting-wise there’s a rather strange decision, though: The template separates the entry of the pipe-fox into two parts, making this particular statblock harder to read than it necessarily should be.

Wait, wait, wait…pipe-foxes? Yep, the iconic secret-mongers are represented in here as well and even get 2 statblocks, one CR 2 and a CR 13.
Red Jack’s daughter, the one link that makes the difference between the contemplative, calculating schemer and the bestial, red-hot angry killer he was after his transcendence, also gets her own fluff-section and artwork, though her stats will have to wait for a future publication.

Red Jack’s primary statblock is a dread beauty to behold: CR 27 and deadly beyond belief. Even his bloodthirsty alternate statblock (when losing the connection to Ren), at CR 23 still will challenge all but the most powerful of groups. Befitting a creature of its power, the quasi-undead kitsune fey-lord of course has a unique weapon, an oversized starball called death bloom, which makes both for a cool signature weapon and an awesome major artifact.

3 new fey subtypes are introduced, the kitsune, the quiddity and the yokai, making for more diversity in your home game. Especially the quiddity is a very, very cool concept.
9 Fox magic feats are presented to enhance the flair of the kitsune and related creatures, their availability depending on the level of the respective foxes via the count of their tails. From the ability to create extradimensional spaces, enhancing attacks, summoning foxfire (ranged fire/electricity touch attack sans save) to changing planes and creating illusory duplicates.

The Kitsune’s star balls are also given their paragraph of information and a new spell deals with a convergence of these items with other wondrous items. Finally, there is something I greatly enjoyed and that is a new incantation for Kitsune to leave their bodies and possess them.

Conclusion:
The pdf comes in two versions, one b/w printer-friendly version and one gorgeous full-color version that will test the mettle of any color-printer. Layout in the full color version is just ravishingly beautiful, blue background and fine lines complement the stunning artworks that can be seen in most ZSP-books. The numerous illustrations just rock and both fluff and crunch are top quality. Editing is also top-notch, I didn’t notice a single mistake. The full-color version comes with full bookmarks, the b/w-version has none. Which brings me to the one weak point of this pdf, the formatting: The bookmarks are littered with unnecessary typos: there are 7 blank spaces in the middle of words too much and 2 closing brackets are missing. Furthermore, the last lines of the incantation seem to be in another font as the rest of the file. While these are only cosmetic blemishes, they did upset me a bit due to them being a) unnecessary and b) tarnishing an otherwise excellent book. On the content-side, I’m not entirely convinced whether the shapechanging Kitsune really should be a player race, alternate shape often being something I’m rather wary of, as is being quadruped or not bipedal. For those of you who always wanted to play a kitsune, this book has a lot to offer and DMs will cackle with glee at the sight of this malevolent, yet very striking take on a completely different kind of fey lord. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


A nice follow up book to the first.

*****

The Faerie Ring Along the Twisting Way: Red Jack by Zombie Sky Press

This product is 24 pages long. It starts with a cover and credits. (1 ½ pages)

Once upon a time... (3 ½ pages)
This chapter is the history, personality, reactions to others, tactics and such for Red Jack. The history was very well written and interesting.

Strangle Grove (6 pages)
This starts off talking about Red Jacks fey Realm. This includes a brief overview of all the major spots in the realm and stats for a major artifact. It then goes on to give general information about three types of fey foxes.

Mokuren “Ren” Kamura (2 pages)
This is the history and general information about Red Jacks daughter.

Appendix 1 (7 pages)
There is full stat blocks in this section. There is two stat blocks for Red Jack a CR 27 and CR 23. There is also information about his artifact weapon Death Bloom. There is also stat blocks for the three fey foxes discussed earlier, CR ½, 2, 9, and 13(for a elder version of a pipe fox). One page is devoted to how to create different types of ghostly foxes. A page with three new types of fey fox subtypes are also included, which can be applied to other creatures.

Appendix 2 (3 ½ pages)
This section has rules for making kitsune as a PC race. There is a full race write up for them. There is 9 new racial feats, a new spell, one incantation and a new type of magic item.

It ends with a OGL. (½ pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is color and pretty good, all in the style of the cover art. Layout and editing was well done. It is a pretty PDF with a light blue background, it also comes with a plain white and black print friendly version as well. The history and story of Red Jack was very well done and very interesting. I will admit having all the stat blocks in the back of the book instead of where they creature in question was talked about was a little odd. It works just fine I just thought it was a bit odd of a choice.

I do have three fairly minor complaints though. One is I wish there had been another 2-4 more pages about the Strangle Grove and the second is I really wish there had been a map for the realm, even a vague one would have been very helpful. My third complaint is very minor but I wish there had been a little side bar for advice for what would happen if Red Jack ever finds his daughter. Though perhaps they are saving that for a follow up product, since this one hints at a future adventure. So what's my rating? Well I thought this was very well done and interesting, but I do think to be outstanding it needed just a bit more. Especially in regards to my first two critics. So I am going to settle on a 4.5 review.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.


An RPG Resource Review

****( )

The work opens with a sad tale of a fox who so loved a human being that he learned to shift into human form... but everything ended tragically, and a spirit of pure vengeance was born. Thus did Red Jack come into being, a fey being that brings death, and fills children's ears with tales of terror.

A backstory rich and strange, portraying Red Jack to the full, equips you with the groundwork to weave his presence into your campaign world, replete with the myths and legends associated with his name and deeds. His magical demesne is also detailed, perhaps your characters come across it in their travels, and enter unawares. Or, having heard the tales, or even encountered those on whom his vengeance has fallen, seek it out deliberately. Chief amongst its dangers is a major artefact, the Murder Stone. Created at the culmination of Red Jack's vengeance, it is death to merely touch the thing... but can also confer knowledge to those courageous enough to try and lucky enough to survive.

Three groups of fey creatures, all fox-related, come next: the kitsune (or gloom fox), the ghost fox and the pipe fox. Plenty of details are provided for incorporating them into your game, even - should you so wish - as player-characters. They are quite fascinating, not necessarily evil but by no means good either, often damaged psychologically with... interesting results. Magical, fascinating, there are many reasons why your characters might want to seek one out, and you have all the tools to make them come to life when that happens.

Finally, there's another major character, one bound up in Red Jack's tragic story, for she is his long-lost daughter. She too could be an interesting, if dangerous, acquaitance for your characters - a passing person of interest or a pivotal individual in an adventure or whole campaign. The book winds up with detailed stat blocks for all individuals and races described herein.

There's a lot of potential here, if you like the mystical aspect that including the fey in your game can bring. It's ambiguous, no evil to fight or good to aid, each fey seems to be a bit of both. Whilst ideas a-plenty may spawn as you read through, there is nothing that you can just pick up and run; but if you like the concepts, there is plenty to make use of as you craft your own stories.




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