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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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“He'll give you a pounding headache, one way or another.”

Music soothes the savage beast, and there are a lot of beasts in the wilds of the Coliseum Morpheuon. And an intense audience demands an intense performer—and there is no artist more intense than Balduros Thundrsen, the musical avalanche and drummer to destiny. But where strange rhythms infuse the hearts of dreamers, we must ask who beats the drum, and what kind of man is he.

This product provides Game Masters with details on a drum-pounding dwarf found amongst the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, ready for immediate use in any campaign—but especially for use within the Coliseum Morpheuon. Each entry features ingenious stat-blocks from multiple OGL sources, history, motivation, secrets, and insight into the NPC’s most carefully guarded dreams, along with complete game statistics for low, middle, and high levels of play.

Within you will find: Balduros Thundrsen, a booming bard with hammers so hard

  • Male advanced charming dwarf bard (thunder dancer) 16
  • Male charming dwarf bard (thunder dancer) 11
  • Male dwarf bard (thunder dancer) 6
  • Using feats for hammer-throwers and devilish dancers
  • Using bardic masterpieces, shaping reality through music and dance as sure as any magic
  • Introducing dust of sobriety—because damn, otherwise we are gonna hurt tomorrow

Authors: Matt Banach and Justin Sluder
Cover Artist: Toby Gregory
Pages: 9

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Product Reviews (2)

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****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Balduros Thundrsen, the Roaring Hammer is another addition to the ongoing series of colorful NPC's designed to compliment and populate a campaign utilizing the Coliseum Morpheuon. Weighing in at 14 pages, with 9 of those being dedicated to not only three separate write ups for Balduros but a collection of goodies (that we shall get into) as well. Cover, Credits, OGL and Ads handle the rest of the pages. Format adheres to the standard dual column approach, with a few Toby Gregory pieces of artwork, including the cover piece used internally. The Gordon Napier piece used here looks just as amazing in B&W as it did gracing the cover of a Pathways in full color. In regards to editing and grammar, there is a reason Rite publishing rests near the top of the pile for a lot of consumers, and this PDF is not an exception when it comes to that level we have all come to expect.

So, this being primarily a method of introducing an NPC, who is this Balduros Thundrsen, and what would make you want to use him? I mean, that's the question here, right? Balduros is a dwarven bard, in the easiest answer possible...but that answer fails to even scratch the surface here. Balduros is an thunder dancing, advanced, charming, alcoholic, moody, trapped within his own guilt over friends lost bard...there, I think that gets us a little closer to who Balduros is...a little. OK, the installments in this series are really excellent at doing one thing above all others, and that is giving you a complex character to work with, a truly fleshed out individual with depth and flavor. Far from simply handing over stats and calling it a day, the Faces of the Tarnished Souk line balances fluff and crunch very well.

Three separate write ups (CR 6/12/18) cover various points within Balduros's life and further opens the options for how you might go about using him within your own campaign. Several key points are covered within the Coliseum Morpheuon that Balduros is perfect for as far as story points, if not flat out required. From these fully fleshed out statblocks we go into the bones upon which Balduros has been built, the Archetype Thunder Dancer, and all that comes along with it for special abilities. An interesting archetype, it focuses on dance and percussion, with the bard primarily turning their typical group buffing abilities back in on himself, thereby truly becoming a dangerous adversary to face. The more he performs, the more he gets the capacity to buff his performances...gotta love that kind of tactic.

5 Feats all working very well around the idea of the Thunder Dancer Archetype and a hammer wielding dwarf. OK, perhaps that is not a fair assessment, as only one of the feats actually cares if you wield hammers or not, but that one is really nice...Bounding Hammers lets you throw your hammer so that it rebounds back to your square...oh the things one can do with this so simple of acts.

Next up we're looking at Bardic Masterpieces. Nice thing here is they are presented with everything you'll ever need to know to be able to use them, which is fairly handy in all reality. Along with the explanation of what a Masterpiece is, and how to read one's write-up, we are given a handful of Masterpieces here. Dealing with dancing to lessen falling damage (or enhance one's AC), or causing the very earth to crumble before the awesomeness of your drumming skills, the masterpieces give some interesting options to not only Balduros, but for future usage amongst one's own creations.

We end this collection of Bardic intrigue with a few items, both mundane and magical, and the rules for the Advanced and Charming templates. Of the items we are given rules for Balduros's Donkey Boots (do not get kicked by these things), and Dust of Sobriety (take the alcohol right out of any drink...just downright not right, lol).

Wrapping up, this addition to the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series presents us with an interesting and solidly built character. Balduros is more than worth picking up and adding to any campaign, be it based with the Coliseum or not. As a bard he brings a great deal of flair to the table, and come on, what GM doesn't want to play a wanna be rockstar drummer? Hmm?

Alright, totaling up the fact I can't find anything to complain about, and everything from cover to cover is total win....I am thinking this is another 5 star for Rite publishing. Well done!

4.5 stars - complex bard archetype + character = NEAT

****( )

The latest installment of the FoTS-series is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's check this out!

Following my format of FoTS-reviews, I'll start by talking about the supplemental material contained herein:
Template-wise, we get the two advanced creature and charming creature simple templates, both of which clock in at CR +1. Among the new items, we get the stats for the new armored kilt armor and on the magical side, we get 3 new magical items: Donkey Boots (coming in 3 versions) enable the wearer to deal force damage via his/her kicks and a touch attack, potentially pushing foes away. And before you ask: they have a limit on how often they can be used per day. The Dust of Sobriety makes people that consume beverages laced with it actually become sober, while the dwarven brewing barrel is essentially a magical cool keg, which also makes alcohol stored inside more intoxicating.

We also get a new racial trait that reflects dwarven magic resistance as well as a new archetype the Thunder Dancer - thunder dancing is a subtype of bardic performance that does not benefit from the lingering performance feat, works only when the bard is not wearing armor or light armor and changing a performance is a move action. Thunder dancers may also emit hurtful soundwaves, hasten themselves etc., being essentially a battle-centric bard focused on mobility, ending in a capstone that enables the dancer to essentially move and make a whirlwind attack against any foe in range during the move. The pdf also includes 5 new feats: The feats cover the ability to throw hammers at foes, rebounding the hammer to your square or even your hand. Other feats enhance the new archetype's abilities and the final one enable you to add your Cha-modifier to all attack by expending 3 rounds of performance. We also get 2 new traits and 6 new bardic masterpieces and boy, they are neat:

The Cat-step allows you to decrease falling distance after completing the steps, while the defensive dance of 23 steps makes you harder to hit at the cost of attack efficiency and the need to succeed concentration checks to cast spells. The Depths of the Mountain essentially lets you duplicate the effects of a resonance catastrophe, doubling as an earthquake effect. Minuet of Midnight Ivy is perhaps my favorite among them: The masterpiece enables you to gain a climb speed as long as you move laterally, making this a smart version of the wall-walking trope. The Quickening Pulse damages foes by forcing them to literally sweat blood, while Triple Time allows you to increase the movement of your allies.

Now to Balduros' 3 incarnations: At CR 6, he is simply a Thunder Dancer 6, while in his mid-level incarnation he gets the charming template and amps up his levels to 11, clocking in at CR 12. His high-level incarnation is CR 18 and adds the advanced creature template as well as even more Thunder Dancer levels, clocking in at 16 levels.

What about his background story, then? Extremely charismatic, Balduros is the rising (rock) star in the Tarnished Souk, rumored to even know a tune that forces the Khan to dance - good-looking, charming and swooned over by countless admirers, he also hides a shameful past: His drunken stupor resulted in his former adventuring party partially losing their lives, the rest abandoning him to his fate in disgust. Prone to mood-swings between mania in depression, he suffers from borderline in all but name, trying to use alcohol to quench the worst lows and highs. The write-up also includes information for the DM to insert Balduros in his/her game as well as dreamburning information.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's old, rune-covered b/w-2-column standard and the artworks are mostly stock, but that's ok. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Balduros is an interesting character, hitting a bit close to home for me - I've had enough experiences with people like Balduros and suffered for it, so a slight tingle of being uncomfortable remains with me. But isn't that what a good character is about? The dwarf is a tragic figure hiding behind a joyful facade and crunch-wise, I really liked the new bardic archetype and what was done with the new rules as well as his magical items and unique combat style. That being said, I still feel that his overall build is simpler than most comparable FoTS-installments, offering only two simple templates in addition to the complex archetype. In the end, that remains my only minor gripe against the dwarf, though, and thus my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

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