Introducing an exciting new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible PDF book from Magic Skull Games!
Grimoire Viperian adds new flavor and excitement to any game, for both players and GMs alike!
160+ pages of Pathfinder and OGL compatible content (PDF only available at this time)
Intriguing backstory designed to fit in with any campaign
Exciting and unusual new base classes: the Shapeshifter and the Pyro
22 unique prestige classes, including many specifically designed for multi-class characters, and many with a serpentine, barbaric, elemental, knightly, assassin or weapon specialist theme. Just a few examples include the Serpent Warlock, Wolf Clan Warchief, Earth Lord, Storm Knight, Knight Heretic, Knight of the Death Angel, Silent Adder, Dread Crusher, Master of the Razor Scourge, and many more!
Supernatural Signs of Good and Evil, designed to add customizable powers to any character, villain, or monster, and unique flavor to any campaign or adventure.
New “Eldritch Path” feats provide a way for spellcasters to “specialize” in a unique path of themed spells, such as the Secrets of the Grimoire, Secrets of the Fiend, Secrets of the Netherdark, Secrets of the Mist, The Secret of Blades, and more!
New spells of all kinds, including many designed with a serpentine theme in mind
New magic items, weapons and armor, such as the Sorcerous Helm, Razor Scourge, Angelic Breastplate, Cobra Scale Armor, Black Mamba Scale Armor, Hellreaver Battle Axe, and more!
New monsters and monster templates, such as creatures of Entropy, sentient serpents, deadlier variants of classic venomous snakes, serpentine undead, trog trolls, viperian dragons, and more!
Grabbed the sample, and I got to say, am impressed with what I am seeing, its a pretty hefty preview sample, and it showcases some pretty spot on editing from what I am seeing, as well as some pretty decent artwork. As soon as I can free up some funding I will be picking this up and getting you a more indepth review.
Checked out the preview, seems pretty interesting. Seems somebody has a thing for snakes. :)
You are correct, madame! Let there be serpents, lots of slithering, scary, venomous, hissing, nasty beasties to bring back the "Yikes!" to any game.
There's much more than just serpent themed monsters, prestige classes, spells and what-not, as well. Without giving away too much:
The two new base classes, the Shapeshifter and the Pyro are not serpent-centric, although the Shapeshifter can certainly assume snake form if desired.
The Shapeshifter is, for the most part, a melee combat oriented class, with the ability to alter self and assume animal form like a druid, though not plant or elemental forms. At later levels he can assume the form of mythical beasts of legend and gets more of their special powers than would normally be possible with the standard polymorph or beast shape spells. No two Shapeshifters are alike thanks to the ability to select "favored forms" and special "form powers." There's more, but I won't elaborate further -- you can get a few more glimpses from the free sample PDF.
The Pyro is something like a rogue/alchemist class, but he doesn't make bombs - he is adept at using his torch as a fighting weapon in his off hand and can ignite targets with it. His dabbling in alchemy allows him to make special torches with alchemical or magical effects, such as especially hot and bright torches that do more damage, the ability to create a liquid mixture which he ignites when breathing out, and much more. Like the Shapeshifter, no two Pyros are the same thanks to the ability so select from numerous different special torch attack abilities and pyro talents (many of which are similar to rogue talents, and many which are totally new and unique to the Pyro).
The Supernatural Signs of Good and Evil are customizable templates that add a lot of flavor to any villain, monster, or even a character (GM allowing). Each sign follows a theme that grants spell-like powers and/or special abilities to the sign bearer. So, imagine a wicked sorcerer or dragon with the Sign of the Netherworld, who has been gifted with additional powers related to extra-dimensional travel and distant alien realms by some terrible, inhuman power. The sorcerer or dragon bears the Sign of the Netherworld as his insignia, and leads a legion of black knights whose standard is the same sign. Lots of flavor there to turn a mundane foe into something special, and with fun crunchy bits to give them unexpected powers.
Eldritch Path Feats allow casters with knowledge of a certain "path" of spells to discover rare arcane secrets which allow them to do more with those spells than other casters. They effectively unlock hidden and unexpected powers within those spells, at the cost of more limited spell duration.
And there's still more! Tons of spells and tons of unique prestige classes, and some (I hope) very memorable and fun monsters and monster templates.
Grabbed the sample, and I got to say, am impressed with what I am seeing, its a pretty hefty preview sample, and it showcases some pretty spot on editing from what I am seeing, as well as some pretty decent artwork. As soon as I can free up some funding I will be picking this up and getting you a more indepth review.
Just wrote my review, overall I'm impressed. I couldn't take the time to review every PrC in depth, but the one thing that really needs fixed is the PrC prerequisites. Read my review for more details.
Thanks for the review, cartmanbeck, as well as the 4 out of 5 star rating!
Regarding your point about the PrC prerequisites, yes I knew it was going down a little different path to require levels of certain classes rather than straight "BAB +x", though as you pointed out a GM could certainly tweak this for his or her campaign, and I think that would be fine. The reason for the different approach was actually to provide more options specifically aimed at some of the core classes, which are near and dear to my heart. I love the new classes in the Advanced Player's Guide and other books, as well, but wanted to give something to keep the core classes attractive and fresh, and encourage those who stick with one class. Of course, there's plenty of PrCs in the book for multi-classers, as well. So it basically tries to cover both sides of the coin.
Thanks again for your honest and insightful review, and I'm glad you're happy with the overall book!
Hey all! Just thought I would add some clarification about the Knight Inexorable PrC! The Knight Inexorable is clearly not just a cavalier. Mechanically they are different, and the PrC is not mount-focused, having only two mount-related abilities - Spur Mount and Inexorable Lance. Other than that, it suits a "foot knight" type of character well, especially if you're going to be in dungeons or other areas where a cavalier's mount can't go. At the same time, the two mount-related abilities give the PrC a little edge in the saddle, as befits a proper knight.
The Knight Inexorable isn't designed around teamwork feats or challenges, either. That being said, the PrC is definitely modeled after the classic knights of legend, and that may be where the some might get the impression it's just a cavalier comes from, since the cavalier is now seen by many as the class to take if you want a knight-themed character. But it shouldn't be the only option.
The Knight Inexorable PrC was intended primarily for paladins as an alternative path to another type of "knightly" character theme, though it can also be obtained by fighters who have a higher than normal Wisdom or Charisma, or melee oriented fighter/clerics. You could even take the class as a cavalier instead of paladin, for some nice variation.
The PrC is also named "Inexorable" for a reason - it stresses mitigating some of the weaknesses that fighter type characters possess: low Will saves and the vulnerability to control/manipulation spells that comes with it, low Reflex saves, and avoiding impeding effects such as stunning and hold person spells. With the right insignia, the knight can even triumph over magical barriers and effects using his Dispel Magic ability, something that's very unique for a melee class. Again, this represents the Knight Inexorable's heroic will and destiny to succeed where others might fail.
The Knight Inexorable's bonus feats are designed primarily around the idea of defense and further mitigating weaknesses, making the knight harder to stop, and making use of shields as weapons. The bonus shield feats also help make the Knight Inexorable a more viable "sword and board" character, using a one-handed weapon and a shield.
The Knight Inexorable PrC is also not just for players, it makes for some great NPCs, both heroic or villainous.
But why not just make a cavalier instead of going the Knight Inexorable PrC route, you ask? You certainly could - the cavalier is a great knightly class and one of my favorites, too. The Knight Inexorable is a different take on the classic knight, with different abilities and mechanics. It's one more cool new alternative option to spice up the game.
That's what I love about Pathfinder -- all the possibilities and twists you can do for your character or your NPCs, and that's a big part of what the Grimoire Viperian was designed to provide. Cheers!!
SNEAK PREVIEWS - The sneak previews below offer just a small peek at a portion of the new base classes and supernatural signs. Get the full PDF for complete rules for this and other great content!
SNEAK PREVIEW: More info about the new base classes:
Shapeshifter base class: Shapeshifters are born or mysteriously gifted or cursed with the innate magical power to change their form, especially into that of a fearsome animal or beast. Many do not discover their abilities until later in life, when a moment of extreme stress or self preservation triggers their instinct to change, assuming the form of an entirely different person or a savage beast of legend. Role: Shapeshifters’ shape-changing abilities greatly enhance their combat prowess, allowing them to hold their own and contribute in battle. They do well in the role of a secondary melee fighter, and can provide ranged attack support as new forms with unique and sometimes magical ranged abilities become available. As they gain more powerful forms and form powers, their combat prowess greatly increases and they gain access to new and useful magical abilities. Their varied skills and abilities allow them to be highly versatile, and ensure that no two shapeshifters are alike. Their stealth, disguise and shapechanging ability makes shapeshifters excellent scouts and spies, easily able to access hard to reach places and blend in with the local populace as man or beast.
Pryo base class: The pyro is an individual with a talent (and some say perverse penchant) for using fire as a weapon. They are adept at using torches as weapons, typically in their off hand, while using a standard weapon in their main hand. Pyros use their pyrotechnic alchemy skills to enhance their torch attacks. They are often explorers and treasure hunters whose travels lead them into dangerous tombs, dark ruins or underground caves and corridors. As light sources are a necessity to explore such places, pyros have learned to use torches not only to illuminate the way but also as weapons. Evil pyros tend to be arsonists whose depredations terrorize the community. Such heinous criminals are highly wanted men. Role: Like rogues, pyros are highly skilled and versatile and tend to avoid lone hand-to-hand combat. Though they don’t possess the rogue’s ability to strike vital areas or disarm traps, they excel at using their torches as unexpected and dangerous weapons, often catching unsuspecting foes off-guard. Their scouting abilities and broad set of skills also makes them handy to have around in just about any situation.
SNEAK PREVIEW: More about Supernatural Signs of Good and Evil:
Legends tell of rare heroes and villains born with a special destiny, or who have accomplished such great or heinous deeds that they have been noticed by supernatural powers, gods, angels, demons, devils or otherworldly beings, who become their patrons. These individuals are often marked by their patrons in some way, typically by the presence of a birthmark or a sign (though some may be invisible and only revealed in special circumstances), and are gifted with powers above and beyond those of mere mortals. Often they receive a vision or a dream that gives a glimpse of their destiny or patronage, or they may be approached by another individual with the same or similar sign, who offers an explanation. Rarely, they are contacted directly by a supernatural agent of their patron, who cryptically announces their destiny and the meaning of the sign they have acquired. Other individuals who desire the power of these signs frequently invoke the name of the sign while inscribing it in the air, hoping to attract the attention of the sign’s patrons and be gifted with power, or at least a temporary boon.
Supernatural signs are essentially templates that can be applied to a creature. It’s solely up to the game master to decide if a character, non-player character or monster has earned a particular sign based on their great deeds. The GM should be very careful not to upset the balance of power in their game by awarding too many signs to characters, or by awarding a sign that is too powerful for a low-level character. In general, a character should be lucky to gain even a single sign in their career. Villains and monsters, on the other hand, are a different story, and a sign can turn an average foe into a unusual, flavorful force to be reckoned with. The GM should feel free to add signs to noteworthy, unique villains and monsters, keeping in mind that they must still be careful not to make the villain overly powerful. For example, imagine an evil sorcerer or dragon with the Demonic Sign, who has a legion of dark knights under his command. Only the sorcerer or dragon and possibly a few of his chief knight captains should have signs, not the entire legion or otherwise things can get out of hand quickly. However, the entire legion might have adopted the Demonic Sign for their insignia.
Each supernatural sign template follows a theme and grants several powers in line with that theme. Lesser and greater signs exist, and the powers they grant vary.
Examples of signs include the Sign of the Phoenix, Intrepid Lion, Black Goat, Plague, Demonic, Insanity, Evil, Netherworld, Vile Serpent, Slaughter and more.
For example, an evil knight gifted with the Sign of Plague might be a plague carrier, gaining the "Vile Epidemic" ability or the ability to cast Contagion. He might also leave a trail of noxious slime, suffer from necrotic tumors or exhude a horrible stench, just to name a few of the nasty and wickedly fun abilities associated with the Sign of Plague.
This flexibility in template powers lets the GM craft unique and suprising foes that players will never forget! A good character lucky enough to be gifted with a supernatural sign of good (celestial sign) is truly blessed and unique.
Check out the full Grimoire Viperian for access to ALL the wickedly cool stuff!!
SNEAK PREVIEWS - This sneak preview offers just a small peek at a portion of the new Eldritch Path Feats in the Grimoire Viperian.
SNEAK PREVIEW: Eldritch Path Feats
Eldritch Path feats represent the eldritch secrets of magic discovered by a spellcaster as his or her knowledge of a series of themed spells, or “path,” grows. These secrets are closely guarded, and allow the caster to draw forth more power and control over each spell in the path, and in some cases, to tap into hitherto undiscovered abilities locked within the spell magic.
Prerequisites: To qualify for an eldritch path feat, you must meet all the feat prerequisites - these typically require a minimum caster level, a certain Spell Focus feat, and knowledge of at least two of the spells the feat enhances. The full PDF book contains all the prerequisite details.
Benefits: Whenever you cast one of the spells listed in an eldritch path feat, you gain the extra power or ability described. You must already know the spells in order to cast them. If you lose the ability to cast one of the feat’s spell prerequisites, you lose all benefits of the feat.
When a caster has one of the feats below, he gains access to additional abilities when casting the spells listed, provided he knows the spell. These additional abilities expand the capabilities of the spell, allowing the caster to manipulate them in hitherto unseen ways. However, such power comes with a price... We don't go into the full details in this sneak preview -- check out the PDF for that info! ;)
* spells with asterisks indicate brand new spells from the Grimoire Viperian!
Secrets of the Arcane Fortress: spells affected - freezing wall*, wall of ice, wall of iron, wall of fire, wall of stone, wall of thorns. The caster can manipulate these walls or cause them to partially "erupt".
Secret of Blades I: dancing weapon*, ice blade*, flame blade, keen edge, magic weapon, minor dagger swarm*, shillelagh, trident of the Helldukes*, true strike. The caster gains a variety of bonuses making these spells do new things or inflict more damage.
Secret of Blades II: black swords*, lesser dagger swarm*, divine light weapon*, flaming weapon*, python rod*, trident of seafury*. Like Secret of Blades I, the caster can make these spells do very cool new things that casters without the feat cannot do.
Secrets of Terror: bane, cause fear, crushing despair, doom, fear, scare, screaming gate*. These spells are particularly terrifying when cast by a practitioner of the Secrets of Terror, enhancing their fear effects and giving the caster bonuses against those who succumb to them.
Secrets of the Beast: beast shape I, beast shape II, beast shape III, beast shape IV, form of the dragon I, form of the dragon II. Certain ability penalties caused by these spells are reduced for the practitioner of the Secrets of the Beast, and there is a chance the assumed form gains an additional ability or enhancement.
Secrets of the Fiend: align weapon, desecrate, inflict light wounds, deeper darkness, protection from good. These spells are particularly fiendish for the caster, and each gains a new expanded ability and some are more potent against good opponents.
Secrets of the Grimoire: explosive runes, illusory script, secret page, sepia snake sigil. This feat benefits wizards, allowing them to draw power from their spellbooks to make the spells more potent, and to draw forth the power of these spells once they are cast on the spellbook, though at a price...
Secrets of the Heavens: align weapon, bless weapon, daylight, consecrate, cure light wounds, protection from evil, searing light. The celestial counterpart to the Secrets of the Fiend, these spells are particularly hallowed or holy for the caster. Each spell gains a new expanded ability and some are more potent against evil opponents.
Secrets of the Mist: devouring cloud*, fog cloud, gaseous form, ice storm, obscuring mist, sleet storm, solid fog, stinking cloud. The practitioner of this eldritch path gains partial immunity to some of the effects of these spells when he casts them, and can infuse himself with their essence in an unexpected way...
Secrets of the Mystic Seal: arcane lock, floating disc, hold portal, knock, magic mouth. These seemingly innocuous spells gain surprising new uses, some of them offensive, in the hands of those who know their eldritch secrets...
Secrets of the Phantom Darkness: darkness, darkvision, deeper darkness, phantasmal killer, phantom draught horse*, phantom steed, phantom warhorse*, shadow conjuration, shadow evocation. The caster's knowledge of the secrets of phantom and darkness magic allow him to get expanded or more powerful use out of these spells, or shield him from similar effects.
Secrets of the Wind: alter winds, control winds, dread cyclone*, greater numbing wind*, gust of wind, lesser numbing wind*, plague wind*, wall of hurricane winds*, whirlwind, wind wall. The lost secrets of the wind grant boons to the caster, letting him manipulate the winds to levitate himself, knock aside incoming objects or project his voice through the wind.
Regarding the Black Lord PrC, this is a fighter/wizard or fighter/sorcerer "gish" prestige class whose abilities focus on necromancy and most of all, darkness and unique darkness related powers. This is not a class for summoners to go into, because of its focus on casting all arcane necromancy and darkness spells that aren't available to your average summoner. Cartmanbeck made a good point that anti-paladins would probably make a good fit for this PrC, as well, so you could certainly house-rule anti-paladin/wizards or anti-paladin/sorcerers as candidates.
And yes, the spell list is intended to be very flavorful while at the same time allowing flexibility/expandability with the "all sorcerer/wizard Necromancy and [Darkness] spells" caveat! ;) Thanks for the kudos on that one!
Description: The dark nemesis of light, a black lord is both a knight and an eldritch wielder of dark magic and necromancy, wrapped in shadowy armor and cloaked in black robes, lurking in the darkness. They are deadly combatants, steeped in the knowledge of the black arts, striding forth from the shadows to strike without warning. They can conjure and bend the very darkness to their will, summon forth terrible creatures of the void, and tap into the essence of death. Black lords tend to be cold, ruthless, unfeeling, and villainous, always searching to fulfill their own mad designs and lust for power.
After that, we're introduced to 16 sample NPCs using the new classes, but no fluff, mannerisms or the like - in fact, not a single word of crunch is provided for them - lame. Chapter 4 details so-called eldritch Path feats: These feats require a specific caster level as well as access to specific spells. The feats then enable you to modify the spells they apply to in various ways, for example to move walls you have cast, enable walls of thorns to grapple foes or detonate walls of flame. The basic ability the feats provide can usually be used once per round or day, while the more specialized appliances that modify specific spells can only be used 1/week. The eldritch path feats are a truly cool and interesting innovation in my book that a resourceful GM can easily use to enhance the flavor of arcane societies and traditions - while these big brothers of SGG's spell-modifying feats could be considered strong and I would never make them available freely to PCs, if used sparingly, they are a true winner of a concept and an innovation of which I'd love to see more. The new magic items, most of which are serpent-themed, can also be considered well-crafted and include a plethora of Sword & Sorcery style, pulpy items like enchanted warpaint. Nice!
After that, we delve into the massive spell-section with spell-lists by class -lacking spell-lists for all APG classes and the Magus as well as a reprint of the spell-lists for all the new classes, making this section much harder to navigate than it should be. The Omission of the APG and UM-classes is an inexcusable oversight at this point. How are the spells? Does a spell that makes your weapon get the brilliant quality elicit any excitement from you? What about separate spells to call the new amphisbaena monsters? What about a slightly improved chilling grasp that leeches life-force? Oh wait. That already exists. There also are good spells herein, like the blade barrier's mobile little brother, the dagger swarm. There are problems, though: The 3rd level spell explosive meteor deals up to 8d6 bludgeoning damage - less than a fireball, but damage that cannot be countered by magic- making this spell much stronger. Magnetizing spells are cool, yeah, but their rules should enforce this and when compared to others, the one herein just does not feel like it is up to the task. The variations of the phantom horse spells, providing draught or war horses, are nice ideas, though Dire Destiny Press' "The very last book about mounted combat" also does that one better. And honestly, do you consider a sor/wiz spell at 3rd level that shoots a ray of coldness dealing 1d6 damage of cold damage, up to 10d6 innovative? Yeah, me neither. This spell-section is FILLER and has nothing truly ingenious to offer - when compared to Rite Publishing's 101-spell-series, Dreadfox Games' Grimoires or Necromancers of the Northwest's stellar Advanced Arcana-books, this section falls by the wayside -HARD.
Chapter 7 introduces us to another new mechanic, so-called signs: Signs are essentially constellations and marks that represent a being destined for greatness - they can be considered quite powerful, raising the CR by at least +2 and mechanically can be likened to what one would consider templates. Signs can duplicate whole domain-suites, bloodlines and arcane school powers, grant access to a paladin's mercies and aura of courage, among other things. From the Grand Cross to the fleur-de-lis and the phoenix to evil signs like the black goat, the sign of insanity or the sign of slaughter or vile serpents, these new mechanics...are actually really, really cool! Think about how much superstitions of signs and omens have shaped the course of our own societies and still does. Then think about the heavenly constellations and other symbols that represent these beliefs, granting them inherent power. Add the versatile options and the unpredictability-angle these templates provide and we have a great basic stock to create not only bonuses for destined heroes (it's important to keep the players balanced in group, though), but also a neat system of representation by the respective signs. Better yet, we get little b/w-renditions of all of the signs. I honestly would have wished this chapter were longer. This idea could definitely need some expansion, perhaps with neutral and ambivalent signs etc. Kudos!
All right, let's get to the final section of this massive review, the bestiary. Let's face it. Snakes in D&D used to suck. In fact, all poisons SUCK in derivatives of d20. In my home game, I amp up their lethality. Always. And I require caster checks against the DC to cure them via magic. Failure means the particular caster can't cure this poisoning. This bestiary introduces the so-called deadly snakes, which have the design-goal of no longer sucking - do they succeed? Well, first of all, summon nature's ally spells can now also conjure these neat critters. Good. Better: THEIR POISONS DON'T SUCK!!! Heureka, baby! Let me give you an example: The Deadly Dire Black Mamba's poison deals 1d3 Con for 6 rounds, cure 2 consecutive saves. The cool thing here is that if the victim botches a save by 5 or more, he is further impeded by the poison via one of 7 (!!) random effects: From blurry vision (granting concealment to all beyond 50 ft. in daylight or halved viewing distance in dim light), over joint pains and dex damage to swollen tongues that impede casting, these toxins are gold. Seriously. And looking at the deadly dire snake king cobra made me cackle with glee - especially DMs of Serpent Skull should consider checking these out! A total of 12 such snakes are presented and we also get other beings - the serpentine medusa, for example and some minor modifications for existing creatures like the Trog Ettin (yep, smelly) or the vile Xocouatl, a corrupted counterpart to the iconic winged serpents. We also get a total of 10 templates, from the primal chaos creature (what you'd expect - icky mutations and cthulhoid flair) to a lot of serpentine templates. I already commented on the undead serpent templates, which in my opinion are mostly superfluous. Not all belong into this category of lazy templates, though: From the half-serpent to the amphisbaena-template to the hydran-serpent template, most of them are actually rather cool. And the snake-vomiting template for undead s also rather fun. You can even create dragons with poisonous snake-heads now!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a full-color 2-column standard with a yellowish parchment like background. The artworks range from b/w to full color, don't adhere to a unifying style, but have in common that they illustrate nicely the represented concepts and can be considered nice. Not all monsters and templates are illustrated, though. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, but without a printer-friendly b/w-version. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks that allow easy navigation.
Reviewing this pdf has been a dual blast from the past for me: On the one hand, slithering, serpentine monsters have always fascinated me and are closely tied to Conan, my childhood hero and the kind of sword and sorcery fantasy that brought me to the game in the first place. Much like Xoth Publishing's offerings, this pdf contains options that feel steeped in antiquity and a world before the chivalrous age. Mostly. If you've read this far, you can probably glean that there's a big, big catch. And said catch is that this pdf is also steeped in rules-antiquity. The two base-classes feel weak when compared to the core-classes, the Pyro almost superfluous, since its unique torch abilities have no way of keeping up with the usefulness of just about ANY other character in utility and damage. And then there are the PrCs.
I'm not going to mince words here: These 63 pages of PrCs almost universally SUCK. They fail due to multiple reasons: First would be the decision to deviate from Paizo's established standards that makes PrCs open for more than obscure class combos. Secondly, they feature dead levels, uneven skill modifiers per level and similar weird decisions that are odd in PFRPG - from strange save and BAB-progressions to a terribly stunted spell progression for just about ALL CASTING CLASSES, these PRCs manage to contradict efficient and trusted ways of making PrCs not suck. Thirdly, they completely ignore the new classes beyond the core material. Who plays an obscure multiclass gish when we have SGG's excellent Archon AND Vanguard as well as Paizo's own Magus, who has gotten a fair share of cool options? Worse, many of the PrCs have perhaps one good mechanic and recycle all the bland and trite clichés you've seen a dozen of times. Warrior of light with radiant weapon, good against darkness and undead? Check. Etc. Most of these PrCs feel like they hail from the beginning of PrC-writing, when in the 3.0-days the classes were so terribly off it hurt. Also due to their multiclass restrictions and insane attribute requirements. None of these classes felt special to me. None felt like a prestigious class to me. There is no way around it - were it for the PrCs alone, I'd rip this pdf to virtual shreds.
But there is also some good in these pages - while the magic items can be considered ok, I really like the chapters in which the pdf offers NEW RULES like the signs and the eldritch Path feats. Heck, I may even expand these concepts and use them myself. The snakes in the bestiary with their innovative poisons are also sheer awesomeness and the bestiary section is only hampered by some parts like the serpentine undead that feel like someone took an existing template and cut-copy-replaced the word serpentine into them.
What about the spells? Lacking lists for the PrCs and the new Paizo-classes from APG; Um etc., this 31-page strong chapter is PrCs all over again. I've said it once and I'll say it again: We don't need boring bad spells, we need original, creative, smart ones. We already have more than 1500 excellent spells released from companies like RiP, SGG and Dreadfox Games - we need stellar ones that push the envelope, that do unique, new things. These feats feel like SGG's spell variant line - "like fireball only bludgeoning, minus2d6". There. That's one spell. This is not original, it's BORING. And every DM worth his/her salt can make these him/herself. Worse, again, they don't take spells into account that do similar things at the same level, but better. PrCs all over.
This might look unfair, me harping on the PrCs and spells. But they make up over 90 pages of this book. This pdf reminded me of the bad old D&D-days. When you had to comb through crap to find gems in many 3pp publications. You did find gems, sure, but the expense of nerves was immense for me. In PFRPG, the standard of 3pps is VERY HIGH. In fact, I could name some Paizo publications I'd consider worse than comparable 3pp-books, Ultimate Magic and the recent equipment book springing to mind. This pdf has a great bang-for-buck ratio, yes, but at the expense of a lot of obviously unplaytested garbage. There is another thing obvious about this pdf: Either, the content is from a home game or some other rules system, at least in inspiration, for the rules herein feel like they belong rather in a low or rare magic world, not a standard PFRPG-setting. That would be the benevolent interpretation. The more malicious would be the following: It is evident that these PrCs were not balanced against their core counterparts. They are universally weaker, have less options and feel blander than their core versions. They don' get a lot of new powers or talents to choose from. They are very linear. They mention mechanics like "additional rages per day" instead of rage rounds per day. They represent concepts that Paizo archetypes and CLASSES LIKE THE ANTIPALADIN have already covered. Sound familiar? Weaker abilities? Less versatility? Outdated mechanics? These classes were designed for 3.5 (or even 3.0) and hastily and exceedingly sloppily converted and then jammed into this pdf without taking archetypes, solo-tactics, teamwork feats or even new base classes that have become PFRPG-staples into account.
Which makes me doubly angry, since the new mechanics could have used the space: We could have used more snakes, any archetypes, class options for all the existing classes... and for example guidance. As DMs. On awarding eldritch Path feats, since they obviously are much more powerful than regular feats. Or on the signs and how to balance handing out signs to player characters. Or more signs. Some class options for the new Shapeshifter and Pyro-class to enhance their respective capabilities. Especially the Pyro is desperately in need of a windshield and some alchemical tools to stop him from being the group's laughingstock once a gale hits. What about personalities and hooks for the sample NPCs? We know NOTHING about them and they are packed in rather short...wait. *double-checks* Yup. The bestiary adheres to PFRPG's statblocks with neatly separated defense, offense etc.-sections. The NPC-blocks don't. They are the old, crammed, ugly D&D-blocks. Further evidence for my suspicions. Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against conversions, but they have to be done with care - see Misfit Studios' "Superior Fantasy Synergy" for an example of a great conversion.
This pdf feels like some completely unrelated pdfs were hastily cobbled together, thrown in the blender and much like the frog, the result is less tasty than the ingredients would have made it. The pdf also lacks a leitmotif - less than half of the total content is related to snakes and in contrast to e.g. the Sword & Sorcery low magic setting of Xoth, there is no alternate/limited spellcasting system to justify or mitigate the catastrophic powerloss many of these PrCs entail. Which is a pity, for, again, the snakes are awesome and the paths and signs have potential.
This is a prime example why I have started reviewing. To keep blunders like the ones herein from tarnishing otherwise great content - be it in the pages of the same book or in competing publications. In PFRPG, Magic Skull Games will have to do much better than that. And I believe they can. If you're only looking for the signs, path-feats and the snakes, this pdf might be 3 stars for you - unfortunately, they constitute only 39 pages of the pdf in total. The whole package though...ouch. We get a good amount of content for the asking price, it's true, but most of the content- well, just isn't good. As much as it pains me to do so, I have rated down better pdfs for less and I have established a 0-tolerance policy for pdfs with conversion errors and obviously sloppy balance and design-choices. As such, If I want to keep my own frame of reference intact and not become guilty of a double standard in favor of a small margin of ideas I really liked, which still need some guidance and balancing guidelines and thus could also be considered flawed.
I have no choice - my final verdict will be 1 star,
We're also excited to announce that the Grimoire Viperian Web Enhancement and Errata will be out before Christmas! This free PDF supplement will contain Grimoire Viperian new spell lists for base classes such as the summoner, witch, inquisitor, oracle and magus, numerous new feats for both the Shapeshifter and Pyro classes, plus new Pyro talents, Shapeshifter forms of the mythical beast for high level play, "wild" magic items for the Shapeshifter, and guides for optimizing your Pyro and Shapeshifter characters. The errata includes corrections and rule changes for even greater and improved play experience for both the Pyro and Shapeshifter, as well as the various Clan Warchief barbarian prestige classes.