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Super Genius Presents: A Brace of Pistols (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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Welcome to A Brace of Pistols, the first firearms-based product in the new Super Genius Presents line of books. Each of the products in this line is the strong vision of a single game designer, bypassing the normal planning, development, and revision process used for most Super Genius Games products. While we consider those processes to be a major part of maintaining a high level of compatibility, quality, and balance in our main product lines, we also know that sometimes a writer has a strong vision that doesn’t exactly match the style of our company, or that the designer doesn’t want to be diluted through normal development processes. In those cases, if we believe in the skill and vision of the designer, we now have the option of presenting their work without laying claim to it as part of one of our standard product lines.

While most Super Genius Games products are the carefully developed work of a team (even when there's only one designer, the input of the whole Super Genius staff is likely to have affected the product), Super Genius Presents are the editorial pages, the solo rants, and the soapboxes. As a company we're giving individual creators a chance to present their ideas more directly to the consumer. As commercial works we'll try to ensure such products are professionally produced and edited, but the tone, content, and voice are largely under the control of the authors.

The Author
Louis Agresta is a well-known freelance game designer, a respected member of the game writer's guild known as the Werecabbages, and a spokesman for the Iron GM gamemastering competition.

Flintlocks in Fantasy
Swashbuckling rings incomplete without the fiery retort of the pistol: the shower of sparks, the flash of powder, the reek of sulfur. No self-respecting pirate captain boards her enemy's ship without a rapier at her belt and a brace of flintlocks in her sash. The genteel highwayman halts the coach with his firearms out. Nobles, sleeves rolled up, turn at ten paces. Weapons crack, and they vanish behind simultaneous plumes of white smoke, their fates momentarily obscured.

A Brace of Pistols contains rules to expand the options for black-powder flintlocks in fantasy campaigns that allow them, supporting the uniquely dramatic flavor of the pistol – the arresting jab of a gun in the back, the standoff, highway holdups, and the ferocious chaos of ship-to-ship boarding battles – as well as some unusual real-world firearm variants, and some new fantasy-based rules that mix muskets and magic.

Overview: Flintlocks in Your Game
Despite their cost, black powder flintlock pistols were frequently fired just once and then tossed away. They were prone to misfires and highly inaccurate (except at dangerously short range) as well as increasingly less dangerous over distance; up close, they were devastating.

To carry multiple flintlocks, characters must wear holsters. Medium and heavy armor prevents you from wearing certain holsters, as the armor leaves the holstered flintlock difficult or impossible to reach, while rendering the armor awkward or unbalanced. A mounted character in light or no armor has the option to carry up to five pairs (also called a "brace") of flintlocks ready to be drawn as weapons: one in each hand, two in a chest holster, two through a belt, two in leg holsters, and two in mount holsters. Ten total. Any additional flintlocks must be stored and retrieved as items.

All the rules in A Brace of Pistols work with the early firearm rules found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat.

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

***** (based on 2 ratings)

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*****

A Brace of Pistols, weighing in at 15 pages, brings to the table some of that old black powder goodness. Now, the debate over whether firearms (at any point in their development) belong in your campaign is one for you and your to decide, as there are players on both sides of this particular camp. For the record, I'm willing to bet Louis Agresta is good with the flintlock being used at his table, as he is the author who put this material together. Following a dual column format, with embedded artwork of both B&W and color, the editing all appeared to be above the board, with nothing jumping out as being an issue.

The book opens with a piece of fiction, a small story opener detailing a slight marital dispute, lol. From there we go into an explanation of the series, and the fact that the SGG Presents line is more focused on the authors vision then the companies direction, a quick (and I do mean quick) bio paragraph on the author. A brief write up regarding flintlocks throughout fantasy, followed by a short history lesson on both the real world facts behind flintlocks and the machinations of said firearms. Top all that off with a full weapons table for the firearms introduced here, and we're ready to take a look at the new bang bangs...so, without further ado..

We open with the Boarding Gun, a 7 barrel monstrosity, typically used from a crow's nest upon an attacking ship. Firing all 7 barrels at once, this thing gets a separate attack roll for each barrel, but then must be completely reloaded before being able to be re-fired. Going from there to the multi-barrel Duckfoot with its 4, 6, and 8 barrel options. The Derringer, Jezail (long-barreled musket with a curved stock for ease of firing while mounted), and Muskatoon, a short barrel musket, balancing easier handling with less power.

Going straight from the new firearms into new options for modifications, Mr. Agresta introduces such intriguing crunch mechanics as the Gun Trap, or Melee Flintlock (sword/gun anyone?). Or, perhaps my favorite from this section, the Trick Coat Pistol, with the suggestion of utilizing these mechanics to craft a wooden cod piece gun.

And of course, no book of this nature is going to be complete without new equipment. The Cleaning Kit will help you keep a flintlock properly cleaned, while the Chest Holster allows you to carry two pistols across your chest, with a character being able to wear up to three holsters. Leg Holsters operate in much the same way as the chest variety, only with a single pistol limit. Mount Holsters take the concept to your mount's tack. Now, for those not aware, the entire reason to use a holster is so that one may draw their gun as a weapon as opposed to retrieving it as an item, kind of the same reason you keep your sword in a sheath. From there we go to the Shot Belt (for storing prepared powder and lead balls, a Silk Patch, for flintlock wadding, and Slow matches, alchemical matches that burn for a significant amount of time, mainly used as a great way to pull off the burning beard technique beloved by hollywood piratical types. Introduced within this section are also alternate rules for why one would want to keep their gun clean, the effects of not doing so, inclement weather, and the serious threat of fire to a character loaded down with black powder and flintlocks.

Four new feats make up the next section of this PDF, with such treasures as Get The Drop, giving you a bonus to Initiative as long as your action is to draw and fire. Pistols at Dawn gives crunch mechanics to those characters who have dueled a time or two. And last, but not least, Powder burns and the improved variety, allowing you to utilize the muzzle flash and debris as an attack all its own.
A mini game of sorts is introduced in the form of Mahga-Mahga, with full rules for playing, and the necessary crunch to manage it. The game (primarily played by pirates) consists of a lazy susan, a swinging chandelier, a prisoner, and a lot of drinking, gambling and shooting...its just the type of thing to liven up a naval game session with time to kill in between encounters.

PDF closes with a nod to the arcane, with 2 new spells, 3 new magical qualities, and 2 specific magical weapons. OK, that last is not exactly accurate, as one of the weapons is actually ammunition, Branding Bullets deliver an arcane mark upon a successful hit, whilst the Axe Musket of the Long Hunt is a nasty little toy when it comes to dealing with lycanthropes. Spell wise we're looking at imbue spell, and the greater version, which allows you to imbue an already loaded ammunition round with a spell of specific level or lower. Magical Qualities give us Auto Loading, never waste time again, Everdry negates any worries of your weapon ever getting wet, period.

And Nevermiss, looking through the game mechanics for this one, I can say out of the entire book, this one weapon quality is the only thing I find fault with. It seems, in every attempt I made to play out an encounter with it, to either go horribly wrong, or overpoweringly right.

Final thoughts, save for one weapon quality that I simply can not get behind, this is a pretty decent collection for information regarding flintlocks, their quirks, and how to incorporate then into your fantasy setting easily enough. So, if black powder is something that intrigues you, or the flash of muzzles are already a constant in your setting, this book would be a good fit for your library, and a purchase well made.

I want to give this a 4.5 star rating, as I would have liked to have seen more done with an actual fantasy firearm, as opposed to all historically accurate firearms with tack on spells and qualities. Still a solid piece of design, but if one is going to offer firearms for a fantasy setting, I want to see fantasy firearms. It does in fact give some truly cool options and rules, with plenty of room to create some neat toys though, i guess I just wanted my cake with extra icing, lol...OK, I'll give it the 5 star it deserves, but I'm still gonna be grumpy till this gets support in the form of a Bullet Point.


Crunch like a hail of bullets - and they hit!

*****

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 13 pages of content, so let's check it out!

After an aptly-written piece of in-character prose, we are introduced to a bried historic introduction of flintlock muskets and pistols, including an artwork as well as a step-by-step description on how they actually work - don't fret, though: While interesting to read, the pdf loses no time to introduce us to a series of new early firearms: From 4-to 8-barreled Duckfoot-pistols (spreading out shots) to derringers, Jezails (long-barreled muskets with a curved stock that can be tucked under the shoulder) and short-barreled muskets (called musketoons), we get a neat selection of them - coolest among them, at least in my humble opinion, being the boarding gun - massive, made to be used as a stationary weapon, it takes a lot of time to reload and when not braced against a solid wall or something like that, damages the wielder with its massive recoil - the damage and spread, though, make this usually stationary weapon an interesting choice for adventurers nevertheless.

After introducing these new types of flintlocks, we are introduced to a selection of new firearm options: If you wanted to have a cane, a codpiece or a similar inconspicuous pistol concealed in a regular piece of clothing or jewelry, rejoice, for now rules are provided to do so. Creating gun traps for doors, chests etc. as well as adding spring-loaded bayonets and even axes/maces and all other kinds of melee weapons to flintlocks is also covered in this section, as is the option to add a second trigger (for sniping). My favorite, though, would be the mortar cup, which enables one to shoot bombs and similar alchemical items - very cool!

Of course, flintlocks are not only weapons and modifications - they also cover supplemental equipment: 3 new types of holster and belts that hold lead balls and prepared shots are covered, as well as silk patches and slow matches (which burn longer and can be woven into one's beard for a bonus to intimidate) as well as cleaning kits. Cleaning kits? Yes, for two optional rules I personally enjoy are part of the deal: Catching fire with flintlocks as well as the influence of bad weather, dirt etc. - the upkeep of a flintlock, cleaning it etc. after all was a significant factor in their effectiveness and thus, these rules make for a cool, albeit wholly optional addition to one's game. Speaking of additional rules: Another optional one is the one to allow rogues and similar characters to perform ranged disable device checks to shoot open locks.

And then there are 4 new feats: "Pistols at Dawn" makes you a master of formal dueling, "Get the Drop" enables you to get a bonus to initiative and make a single attack against an opponent instead of your regular actions and then there is "Powder Burns" and its "Improved" variant and damn are these two cool: If you shoot an opponent, you may make a secondary attack against an adjacent opponent, dealing fire damage and temporary blinding said foe. Cool tactical options that come with interesting rules and feel balanced. There are also two new spells, "Imbue shot" (lvl 5) and "Greater Imbue Shot" (lvl 7) that enable you to imbue spells into bullets and in the greater version, even have your shots deal no damage, instead delivering beneficial effects to the person hit. The tactical options these spells provide are rather interesting indeed. The pdf also contains two new magic weapon properties: Auto-loading, you guessed it, eliminates the reloading action, enabling you to make full attacks, while the Everdry-enchantment keeps powder-weapons, again, you guessed it, dry.

That's a lot of cool crunch, but there's also stellar fluff to go with it: The pirate game of Mahga-mahga, a brutal game of intimidation, torture and potentially death that involves a captive, a chandelier, a lot of grog, a cabin boy/girl, a charcoal stick, a lazy susan, rope, dice and an optional cleric. I'll give you a hint: The captive gets some marks that indicate areas that are hard to hit and assign point values to them. The chandelier will be spinning. Powder burns and greedy grabbing for gold are also expected, as is the wanton consumption of grog. Better yet, the game utilizes the new powder burn feats to maximum capabilities and comes with rock-solid rules to handle this sadistic pastime in-game. Want to know how it works? Buy this pdf. ;)

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: I noticed two minor typos. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and provides nice full-color illustrations of most of the new weapons and pieces of equipment to further illustrate them. The pdf is fully bookmarked, which is a big plus in my book. First of all: Yes, I'm a sucker for firearms and deeply entrenched in the pro-gunslinger camp. However, if you take a look at e.g. my review of NNW's take on the Gunslinger, you'll realize that I'm anything but forgiving when it comes to faulty rules.
"A Brace of Pistols" is an interesting pdf - in just a couple of pages it gives a concise presentations on how the weapons worked, adds a slew of new ones to the mix (including rather innovative rules) and delivers stellar customization options for your gunslingers and scurvy pirates. It is said customization options that are, on my opinion, the star of this pdf - don't get me wrong, I enjoy the optional rules as well, leaning more to a simulationalist style of gaming myself, but they can be easily ignored if you don't like them. The spells are neat and especially the powder burn feats are awesome as well, but along the cool game, it is the option to finally have a codpiece (or even eye-patch)-pistol that made me grin like a shark. Louis Agresta has created an awesome little pdf that could just as well be used to depict steamwork-crossbows and steampunkish weaponry and succeeds in delivering a variety of new tactics that are guaranteed to enhance your enjoyment of flintlocks in your game. For fans of the gunslinger this is a must-buy and for everyone remotely into swashbuckling and some of its not yet covered aspects, this pdf is gold as well. If what I told you about even remotely intrigues you, take a look. My final verdict for this humble, yet incredibly useful little pdf will be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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