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RPG Superstar 2015

#30 Variant Dragons (PFRPG) PDF

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"Our Dragons Are Different."

No creature is so iconic to fantasy roleplaying as the dragon. The dragon is to fantasy Rpgs as the space ship is to science fiction, as the vampire is to horror, as the quick-draw stranger is to the western. There is a reason why its on the cover of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Only a dragon has that kind of impact, and they can again by making dragons more than just the sum of the color of their scales.

Within you will find the Metropolitan Dragon from the City of Brass, the Orichalcum Dragon who drowns whole civilizations beneath the waves, Shakudo Dragons who develop draconic martial arts, and many more evocative new takes on the ten standard true dragon types.

About the Author: Eric "Epic Meepo" Morton has been playing RPGs longer than he cares to admit, and writes novels in his spare time. His professional freelance credits include: "The Master Astrologer", "Psychic Boxing: Psions of the Orient", "Tag Team Terrors", "101 Wondrous Whereabouts", "101 Evil Schemes", and Out for Blood: A Guide to Vampires and those that Hunt Them.

Cover Illustration: Arthur Rackham
Pages: 17

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Product Reviews (2)

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****( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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Nice selection of easily applied draconic variants

****( )

This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so what kind of dragons do we actually get?

The pdf kicks off with a short IC-introduction and a list that lists the new variants according to the base draconic race they modify -variant dragons for all the basic chromatic and metallic dragons are provided. Essentially, the variant dragons are presented as archetypes or a kind of mini-template - essentially, they replace standard abilities of their base draconic race with a new abilities and modifications. Better yet, each entry provides its introduction written in-character and often is a plot-hook on its own. As a bonus, we also get spelled out plot hooks to craft adventures from.

Now, if you think these dragons are simple "replace x with y", you'll be positively surprised - I know I was: From the very first dragon on, the Bell Metal Dragon, a variant of the Bronze - attuned to the very vibrations of the multiverse and its infinite cadence, these beings are immune to sound, reverberate with deadly resonances when hit with melee weapons and can also emit deadly thunderous roars. The majestic golden crown dragons, exalted even by the standards of their noble kin, can declare a being to be a vassal, possessing the being and temporarily granting the being the half-dragon template. The Blue wingless Dune Dragons are perfect desert hunters, swimming through the sands, while red furnace dragon may not be able to breathe fire, but have a devastating, all-destroying swallow whole attack.

There also are rather cool and unique ones among these mini draconic templates, first and foremost for example the Hydra-dragon, a variant black dragon with multiple regenerating heads that come at the expense of the powerful natural attacks such dragons usually have. Another favorite of mine would be the bronze variant orichalcum dragon, which can use its breath to enhance its electricity aura and later even add the cold iron and lawful qualities to its attacks. Also neat, the Petrified green dragons with their breath that may turn their foes to stone, while the chaotic neutral Pyrite Gold Dragon may make for some unpleasant surprises for those too trusting in the purity of these paragons of dragonkind, while the root-gnawing dragon would be especially appropriate for norse-tinged campaign, being able to gnaw a Yggdrasil's roots, i.e. tearing gates into the fabric of reality. And then there are the Void dragons - whites that thrive in the airless, cold void between stars and can act as emissaries between cultists and their masters from the Dark Tapestry. And that's just to give you a glimpse of what to expect herein.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though I did notice some glitches, none seriously impeded my enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column full color standard and the full color depictions of some of the dragons are nice, even though you might already be familiar with some. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks.

I was honestly surprised by this pdf - I mean, come on, what can you expect in such scant few pages? I was sincerely dreading boring "exchange element a for element b" and similar changes. Instead, author Eric Morton has created a cool gamut of draconic abilities that not only come with well-written prose and are mechanically sound, but also serve their respective niches in a campaign and feel like they do organically belong - whether as mutations or full-fledged species, these beings will enhance the draconic glory in your campaign, enrich the concept of dragons and enable you to pull off new plots - reading the Pyrite dragon and the Void Dragon, for example, made me smile and cackle with glee. However, the editing glitches, while not crucial, are a slight deterrent when reading this book and thus my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
Endzeitgeist out.


****( )

So, into my greedy little hands came a copy of the newest addition to the #30 series from Rite publishing, #30 Variant Dragons....let's just get something out of the way right up front, I love Dragons...period. I have loved them since childhood, and can accredit them as one of the themes that drew me to roleplaying, so there was no small amount of happiness on my part when I saw this PDF. Now, that we have that out of the way, and we all realize the pressure this innocent PDF is under to impress me and not destroy my faith in a certain breed of reptilian awesomeness...let us see what's going on with the latest #30 offering shall we?

Weighing in at 23 pages (Front cover, credits, intro and 2 Kickstarter ads) with 18 pages dedicated to introducing us to the newest variations on the draconic bloodline to join the family. Format follows the dual column with embedded artwork (all of it pretty decent, always a plus!). Of the 30 Dragons, we are given 17 pieces of art, and yes the beast on the cover is one of them internally...now, yes, there is the initial moment of letdown that all 30 of these variants are not illustrated...but let's be real here folks. We're talking about dragons here, we know what they look like, lol. The fact that we got 17 pieces of art is pretty impressive in all actuality (that is over half after all)...a few pieces you'll recognize from other books, others are still fresh enough they haven't been used often yet, but again, all of the art is good.

Those of who who have been in this hobby long enough to remember there was a D&D before 4e should recognize the author of this collection, Eric Morton. His pieces from Dragon magazine were always an excellent source of new material/rules, and I am delighted to see him releasing new material under the Rite banner.

OK, enough dancing around it, lets discuss dragons.

Our intro opens with a note from the Dragon Sage Salvatorius, a note that sets a tone for the entire book as I quickly realized, as each dragon's description is presented in first person, with the dragon themselves detailing their own description...flat out brilliant! Not only was I presented with 30 new possible variants to the standard dragons my players know so well, each came with a voice all their own, a personality that instantly had my mind forming NPC's around each...I had to stop reading to open a notepad as I found myself designing and naming as I went through the book. Such a simple thing that one wouldn't think would do much for the overall effect, and yet it very much is a powerful tool utilized properly here. Bravo! For all of my table loving friends out there the intro gives us a quick and easy breakdown of the variants, and how they relate to the Dragon Type they belong to. I won't lie, I'm not a huge Table guy, lol, but I do understand their importance, so I was happy to see this included.

With 30 variants, I am not going to go through each...so I shall touch on a handful, starting with the first offering in the book, the Bell Metal Dragon (Bronze). Attuned to the forces of life in ways most would never know, this particular dragon enjoys a symphony of sounds and experiences unlike anything the rest of us could ever hope to know. Replacing some aspects of the bronze dragon's breath weapon with a sonic effect, and an interesting reply to physical attacks in the form of a radius sonic attack (think striking a giant bell, while standing to close, lol). The description is where I fell in love with this beast though, as “listening” to him describe himself he is actually apologetic, in that he realizes in describing how he feels the vibrations of that which lesser beings are unaware he is in effect “describing a symphony to the deaf.” His penchant for impersonating a bard at great festivals only further entrenches this dragon as the type you want your players to meet, to experience. Well done Mr. Morton, and an excellent start to a collection, a great way to wet the appetite.

The Frozen Dragon (White) brings some serious street cred to the white dragon family. Possessing the elemental subtype as well as draconic, this particular nasty customer has a fascination with undead, particularly frozen undead.

From the Bog's ability to animate dead at will, to the Caldera's capacity to start and maintain earthquakes for as long as they choose, there are some seriously wicked dragons here. But fear not, my musically inclined friend was not the only offering of a not quite so violent dragon, oh no...we also have a dragon who lives below the waves simply because he finds amusement in the body shapes of aquatic creatures, and takes delight in playing pranks upon the coastal communities, tricking them into fighting over useless junk. The Feathered Dragon, ancestor to the more recognized couatls, or Electrums playing amongst the electrical storms when not entertaining guests at their floating manors. And then we have the Pyrite (Gold) dragon, an excellent reminder that alignment is far more than a scale color. These golds are far from our grandpa's gold dragon, lol.

The Hydra Dragon (Black) is exactly what you would assume in that it is a multi-headed dragon...but its intro is from the point of view of several of the heads, all talking in a manner that would suggest different personalities for each....and that is freaking awesome!

Or, how about the Petrified Dragon (Green)...so old its hide has turned to an animated stone-like consistency...measuring time on a grander scale this age old being is entwined in manipulations of the world that go way above the pay-scale of most adventurers lol. Still, a very cool concept for a mastermind character behind a massive organization, quietly pulling puppet strings and directing the characters lives through its machinations.

There are the occasional grammatical misshaps, an odd wording in a sentence, things of that nature. Some of these are minor distractions, others are downright clunky to read through.

Now, those dragons I did not touch on are in no way inferior to what I mentioned here, I simply am not going to give them all away in this review...go buy the PDF, trust me, you'll be happy. Are there some editing issues with some wording? Yes, but it is all understandable, and a quick and easy fix if the Rite camp has time on their books (Yeah, I know, time, lol). Do to the sheer awesomeness of several, and by several I mean practically all of them, of these draconic variants I am giving this book a rating of 4.5, as the design far outweighs the editing issues. I am however, rounding down to a four, as there were a lot of editing misshaps, far more than I am used to seeing in a Rite product. So, final rating is a four star for this book, and the recommendation that any lover of the big flying lizards gets their hands on this book


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