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#30 Evocative Vehicles (PFRPG) PDF

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"Because sometimes you want more than just a cool horse."

No action scene is as iconic to action-adventure as the Chase scene. And you should rush in and out of your chase scene in style with one of these fantastic conveyances!

Within you will find the Battlecord, a dwarven-designed chariot that sounds the drums of war; The Dancing Phoenix, a ship that lets you travel the planes, Ironrage the Hunter a massive alchemical engine that looks like a medusa's head that walks across the battlefield, and other even more evocative vehicles.

Author: Liz Smith
Pages: 14

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1.5 stars - we need vehicles WITH abilities, SANS facepalm-fluff

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This pdf is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content so let's check this out!

Kicking off with an aptly-written in-character prose, this pdf begins with a good start and it is here I'd like to mention something: This is the kind of topic that needs imho to be addressed by 3pps. Seriously. We already have more spells and feats than anyone can probably use and while there are still releases out there that blow me away (Advanced Arcana I +II, 1001 Spells and e.g. Grimore Mutamateria come to mind regarding spells), on the whole I am baffled why vehicular combat has mostly been left unaddressed. The rules are there and honestly, who can't remember e.g. the awesome chariot battle in Ben Hur? Many of the most evocative battle scenes on the big screen are a mix of vehicular and personal combat and both regarding supplements and adventures, that area has been left mostly untapped. Thus: Kudos to Rite Publishing for releasing this little supplement.

That being said, how fare the vehicles? The first one we get is a dwarven chariot that sings when led into combat - I thought "Ride of the Valkyries" would be appropriate. Ok idea. And then, we get Cinderflash. I'm loathe to say it. I facepalmed. Cinderflash is essentially a surfboard with retractable wheels that confers fire resistance 15 to the user and s supposed to be used for surfing on wildfires, ash and magma. Now I don't object to wonky ideas and humorous items, but this one is neither particularly funny, nor useful. Any group of people coming up with this as a kind of sports is eligible to a collective Darwin Award in my opinion - and not in a funny tinker gnome kind of way. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I stopped considering things like this a good idea when I turned 13 and my games got more "serious". Unfortunately, that does not remain the only instance where wonky humor of homages get in the way of more interesting designs. Take a bed that can fly, taken from a recent blockbuster...

There is a highly subjective line between what can be considered awesome and what wonky, a line peculiar for every individual. Need an example? There's a boat that can spawn duck feet to paddle in the water or waddle over land. It also heals damage as a living creature, but that is rather problematic rules-wise. Does Duckfeet sleep? Can it be targeted by cure spells? From the crunch, we unfortunately don't know, regardless of whether we like the fluff. Worse, "Flappy" and "Hoofhauler", the first with bat-wings, the second with horse-legs instead of wheels) follow a similar format. On the side of peculiar to the point of being unusable is Ebon Claw - a travois with a harness fitting for a bear or a humanoid, allegedly created by a werebear-paladin (In my games, no such thing would exist). Now apart from wildshaping druids and similar shapeshifters or characters with ursine companions, who would use this vehicle?

Why am I harping on these things as much as I do? Because there are cool ideas in here - take Flameheart, essentially a collection of copper rods that can be put together and, sun provided may turn into a kind of balloon-swing that is propelled forward by th magically-grown fuel-vegetation. Cool in a weird, suicidal tinker-gnome kind-of way, as the fuel lasts only for 2 hours, after which the things plummets - hard. There are some problems here, though: A) Can the fuel plants be harvested to be e.g. taken underground or sold? B) It is mentioned that wind and rain may hasten the burning o the fuel, but not by how much.

There are also carts that can be drawn over water (with a cool smuggler's story associated) - my players would love that one! Infinity Thief is another vessel I'd consider well-made: A ship cursed by immortality, it is allegedly forced to join every battle its name is invoked in - though it might also be a final resting place for heroes, awaiting the time when they are needed. Unfortunately, the ship's statblock omits any rules-representation of the ship's unsinkable, legendary nature - self-repair, a kind of regeneration - something like that would not only have been advisable, but practically a requirement.

On the cool-side, we get an animated mine-car, a roved boat with perfect rhythm that can't go to shore (again, lacking rules to enforce the restriction). I mentioned more facepalm-worthy candidates, though and to provide some examples - a metal vehicle shaped like a medusa head that moves on its coils (but has no powers associated with medusae - why the needlessly wonky description, then?) and an alchemical chimerical construct (Per se VERY cool) now kept hostage by a love-sick wyvern. Come on. It's fluff like that that ruins cool concepts.

On the ok, but nothing too special side, we get a sleigh that protects its riders (but not the draft animals) from unpleasant climates and moves across all kinds of terrain, a sheet of cloth that can turn solid. On the problematic side, we have essentially a hamster-ball with retractable rods that can be driven into a gelatinous cube to maneuver the slime around via the sent-emitting rods. In this vehicle, again, problems coagulate - Is the hamsterball airtight? Since the cube would invade the ball, it must be. How long does the air supply last? How does one retract the rows and extend them? What kind of action is it? How good an incentive is the food-scent of the rods when compared to other food sources like fellow adventurers? Unusable as written. There's also a supposedly intelligent ship that helps the crew and is choosy regarding its mates, bullying undesirables with accidents - again, though: No stats for the accidents, no intelligence-score etc. On the cooler side, we get howdahs for giant turtles and bullettes (which supposedly were made to ride the tarrasque - again, facepalm-fluff) and a ghostly carriage with a headless horseman - lacking stats for the horsemen, special abilities etc. - if you want a superior execution (though as a monster), go buy Legendary Games' benchmark elite monster pdf Construct Codex. We also get an unsteerable airballon and a kite with a rudimentary sentience (again, lacking intelligence scores or skills to represent it "Finding its way") as well as an air-elemental-driven balloon. Be nice to the elemental, though -it suffocated one of its former crews and there are no rules to negotiate with it, so you're left to the whims of the DM. And the DM has no idea on what annoys the elemental.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: I noticed some minor glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's streamlined full-color 2-column standard as introduced in recent Pathways and the statblocks are easy to read. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, but not with individual bookmarks for the vessels, instead opting for bookmarks by letters - less efficient than e.g. gouping the vessels by categories or providing individual bookmarks that denote whether a vessel is airborn, waterborne, etc., but that's a minor glitch.

I can't recall when I ever complained about that component that heavily but this pdf's problem is its fluff. It's wonky, destroys atmospheric concepts and feels more at home in a kid's childish (i.e. not gargoyles or animated batman) television show than in a rolelaying product. I don't mind goofy ideas, but this pdf feels more like a joke-product than a serious take on unusual vehicles. Have I mentioned that there actually is a yellow submarine? -.- Now while to me this a massive detrimental factor it alone wouldn't be enough for me to arrive at my final verdict - what is, though, is the fact that just about every vehicle lacks a crunchy representation of the abilities that make the respective vehicle unique - curses, intelligence-scores, attacks vs. crew-members, curses - all are mentioned, none are executed. This pdf feels like the work of two people - one who crunched out solid statblocks for basic vehicles and one person who wrote unfortunately often slightly childish prose with "OMG, That's a KEWL Idea 1111!!!!!!" after wards without integrating the unique, distinguishing elements that elevate the cool concepts that can also be found herein into the statblocks.

I had superbly high hopes for this one, rejoiced when I downloaded it and had my hopes torn asunder. Both on the fluff-side and on the crunch-side, this pdf has its significant flaws which conspire to make this, at least for me, a colossal disappointment and a 1-star product. If you can live with the immature concepts and the lack of rules-representations of the vessel's unique properties, this might be a 3-star-product for you. Since the flaws outweigh by far the positive sides and since later audience is probably limited, I'll settle on a final verdict of 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1 - as much as it pains me to do so. I sincerely hope that we'll see more, better executed vehicle books in the future. Authors, please take heed and give your vessels the abilities they deserve.

Endzeitgeist out.


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#30 Evocative Vehicles brings us another installment in the #30 series from Rite publishing. Liz Smith is at the reins this time around, and has presented us with an interesting collection of vehicular oddities. Each presented with a Statblock to handle the game mechanics side of things, along with a brief history and explanation of the vehicle's abilities. Formatting and editing stand up to the standard set by Rite publishing, with Steven doing his typical excellent job in that regard. Layout adheres to the dual column approach, with embedded B&W artwork from that treasure chest of classic artwork Mr. Russell has a knack for plumbing. Bookmarks are present, but unfortunately are handled with an alphabetical subsection (B-C, D, E, F-H....) instead of linking to the actual items. Not a huge problem, but a slight disappointment.

Being that we are looking at thirty items, and to detail them all for you would negate the entire reason to purchase said product, I am going to instead touch on a few that caught my eye. The Dancing Phoenix would be the first up, an aasimar wizard's ship, built to catch the planar winds this vessel was designed to travel the various planes in search of fellow aasimar. Something about the idea of sailing the planar seas always appeals. Dreamstead shows an obvious nod to a certain classic movie from yesteryear. A four-poster bed that will animate to gain the capacity to walk and fly with the manipulation of carving upon a bedpost. Not the most original of ideas true, but the way it is presented here did get a smile out of me.

The Infinity Thief introduces us to a ship upon which no-one can die, no matter what. Regardless of damage you stabilize right before the point of death. Now that sounds all well and good until you realize that nowhere in there did I say no damage, or no pain...this is more a curse than a benefit folks, and makes for one seriously demented crew to unleash upon a campaign world sailing the seas in their twisted curse of a vessel. And, in case you're wondering, yes, the minute you leave the vessel you regain mortality. Kekette brings me around again to an homage piece, this one being a bright yellow colored submersible...I think we'll just leave this one alone at that.

Pelte strikes me as one of the oddest, and yet cool vehicle ideas in this collection. A copper sphere large enough for 1-2 (depending upon size) the basic idea here is you catch a ride inside a gelatinous cube, using a system of rods you can extend from the sphere out past the cube's mass that extrude the scent of food to steer the creature where you want it to go. Now, idea wise, interesting. As presented however, serious issues. First off, I'm thinking if you have to open anything on this sphere to extend these rods, you're allowing the cube in, as it is a semisolid, and will ooze through openings. Second, how does one stop? How do you get out of the cube's mass once in it? Intriguing idea and all, and one I could see making for an odd encounter with an NPC for a dungeon crawl, but there are a few details I would have liked to have seen covered in its entry.

All in all, this is exactly what it states, a collection of vehicles of various ideas. Some of these vehicles are of the common enough type that they will feel instantly familiar, carriages, ships, etc. Others are a little more odd, like the steam driven medusa head warmachine (simply a walking style machine with built in siege weapons, not equipped with a gaze attack). The author approached the source material with a great deal of humor, and admittedly there are several points I feel that detracts from the over all product. Not just in the nature of how the vehicles are designed so much, or even what the vehicles are, but in reading through their descriptions and histories. An alchemical mechanical dragon comes to mind, as its history suggests that it was last known to be in the possession of a love sick wyvern who is still trying to get it to speak and return its affection.

All in all, if your either OK with the humor, or can look past it, the vehicles here range from flat out weird and niche to interesting and usable. This one fell towards the middle for me, not really wowing me enough, but at the same time not failing to deliver on what the title suggests either. In the end I am settling on a rating of 3 stars.


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