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Cerulean Seas: Indigo Ice (PFRPG) PDF

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The lands of eternal ice and snow have always held a special place in our minds. We know these frosted realms for their amazingly resilient wildlife, including adorable seals, titanic walruses and playful penguins. When we consider this realm, our imaginations take us to a spectacular setting filled with exotic danger and heroic survival. Indigo Ice is the first gaming sourcebook that attempts to capture the entirety of this realm, above and especially below the ice. This book expands on the material presented in the Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting, bringing you to a new realm of aquatic adventure!

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***** (based on 2 ratings)

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An RPG Resource Review

*****

Opening with a tale of horrific bloodshed and hostility between different peoples, Chapter 1: The Frozen Sea looks at the fascination and fear generated by lands of eternal ice and snow. Although inhospitable at first glance, they boast hardy lifeforms adapted to the conditions on the surface, and teeming multitudes of creatures thriving in the waters below. With limited resources, conflict and hostility towards outsiders are key to survival. The stated intention of this work is to go beyond merely providing an arctic expansion to the Cerulean Seas campaign setting but to go beyond that to present a sourcebook for adventuring in fridgid climes, above or below water, for anyone playing with the Pathfinder ruleset. It's a mix of ancient and modern, fantastic technology swirled in with history and peoples old when the world was young.

Following this introductory material, the chapter goes on to look at the arctic environment and the perils that it poses for anyone wishing to travel or live there. It's not just the cold... there are high winds, uncertain footing from slush to crevasses in ice, deep snowfields and thin ice to contend with.

Next, Chapter 2: Aquatic Polar Races looks at sentient - and playable - races of the arctic regions, both the low-temperature variants of races already provided in the Cerulean Seas product line and wholly-new ones created specifically for this environment. Races not adapted to the environment are rarely found here, certainly not making their homes in arctic regions as the conditions are just too harsh for them. The adapted races are the seafolk, the karkanaks, the selkies, the pisceans, the sea elves and the nommo. The history of how come they have reached the frigid areas of the oceans is covered for each race along with specific anatomical and physiological modifications they have gone through over the ages since their migration. New races include two new species of merfolk, some feykith, ice elves (who appear to be made of ice, they are so transparent) and two quite unique races - the squawk, who are ferocious warlike sentient penguins, and the thanor, chivalric sentient walruses who combine a strict code of honour with a decidedly bloodthirsty streak. Each race is given a full write-up in sufficient detail for creating player-characters or NPCs.

Chapter 3: Aquatic Polar Classes - introduced with a particularly noteworthy picture of a noble squawk warrior - discusses the range of character classes found in arctic regions. Virtually all those that exist in the Cerulean Seas setting are found here as well, although due to the savage nature of many inhabitants the martial classes are predominent. There is also a new class, the angakkuq. This specialises in harnessing spirits - from the world around them and from the one beyond - both to gain information and to power constructs created from inanimate materials found around them, which become familiars. Some prestige classes are also presented here.

Then Chapter 4: Frostcraft looks at life in arctic regions through the resources and equipment available. Aglooliks, a native feykith race introduced earlier, are resourceful tinkerers, producing a range of items often known as aglootech based on their rigorous study of everything from magic to alchemy, engineering and materials science. Naturally a range of weapons have been developed by the arctic races, including - if you use them in your campaign - some firearms (agloolik-made, of course) called fizzlepops. Bizarre indeed, and full details are given on how they function should you wish to allow them. This chapter also contains new feats and spells for the icy seas, as well as details of a new substance called ancient crystal and a selection of magic items.

Next, Chapter 5: Indigo Ice Setting gets specific with the arctic regions for the Cerulean Sea setting itself. Expanded racial histories, notable NPCs and notes on other races which are presented in the following chapter are included here, ready to help you develop the colder parts of your undersea campaign world. Languages and religions are also discussed as well as the nations and political alliances to be found here. Whilst ideas here as well as those throughout the whole book can be used in any frigid underwater realm, this chapter in particular is linked to the Cerulean Sea setting and works best if that's what you are using.

Finally, Chapter 6: Polar Sea Bestiary introduces a wide range of creatures that may be encountered, ranging from savage monsters which will eat you as soon as look at you to minor races which, truth be told, probably are little more friendly. Even looking at the pictures is quite scary!

This is a fascinating presentation of an alien environment, hostile enough in its own right even before you meet the inhabitants who appear unwelcoming to strangers and violent amongst themselves. Yet for the true explorer this could make for some memorable adventures... and the illustrations are wonderful, encapsulating the whole feel of frigid seas!


Superbly-produced, smart sourcebook full of great ideas

*****

The second expansion-supplement for Alluria Publishing's critically acclaimed, stellar underseas-campaign-setting Cerulean Seas is 114 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/Kickstarter-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page list of KS-contributors, 1 page back cover, leaving us with107 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The introduction makes one thing clear: You have not read a book like this before. Ever. This sourcebook is about the arctic clime, yes, but not on humano-centric cultures, though it lends somewhat from Icelandic, Norse, Inuit etc. traditions), but on recent realizations of how much the world beneath the waves shapes the polar regions. Combine that with the fact that in Cerulean Seas, there is not much dry land and we have an interesting base assumption. More interesting yet, at least imho, would be the fact that logical assumptions have been taken: In order for any culture to thrive in a land of few resources and extremes, the resulting culture developing from it would require a sense of progressive-mindedness and war-like aspirations. Against this backdrop merging progress and tradition, arcane and technological and the struggle for survival, we are introduced to this book's core concepts.

A special mention deserve here the artworks - the "City that never thaws" and most of the other artworks herein follow a cohesive, extremely high quality style that is not only consistent in itself, but also with the high quality artworks Alluria Publishing has featured in their other Cerulean Seas-products. In fact, some of them may even surpass them due to feeling more iconic, but more on that later in the conclusion. The pdfs begins with environmental undersea environments, glaciers and slush swamps as well as hazards for the respective areas, which include e.g. acidic slushes, catabatic winds, wind chills and cohesive rules for breaking through ice. All in all, a cool chapter that is useful for any cold climate, not just those in the Cerulean Seas-setting.

The second chapter is all about races and kicks off with a revisit to the classic races of the Cerulean Seas setting as well as Waves of Thought before including new races - which, of course, all come with the trademark pieces of information on buoyancy, types etc. The first new race would be the Aglooik, small feykith (only two and a half page) and they get +2 to Dex, Int, -2 to Con, 30 ft. speed, get +1 to ref saves versus electricity, steam and acid, +2 to Knowledge (engineering), Profession (engineering), Craft or disable device as well as proficiency with any aglootech-weapon, but more on that later. The second new race would be the arctic, cold, charming and professional Crystolix, who get +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str, must take skill focus (diplomacy), +2 to appraisal, cold resistance 10 as well as +2 to saves against spells and effects that would result in negative conditions. Interesting race that can be played as creepily friendly. The transparent Ice Elves get +2 to Dex and Wis, immunity to cold and fire vulnerability, +1 to AC when touching water and at a depth of 300 ft. or less as well as a spell-like ability to use ice water-jet and +1 DC to saving throws against cold spells they can cast.

The Talilajuk Ningen are special fishfolk: Based on Belugawhales, they can breathe air and get +4 Str, -2 Str, are fast, must take Skill Focus (Stealth) as their merfolk-bonus-feat and gain blindsense while in water. The coolest new race, perhaps would be the Squawk - mechanically, these beings get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Int, are small at a fast movement rate of 30 ft., get +1 dodge bonus to AC and CMD, +2 to saves versus poisons, spells and spell-like abilities and always count as wearing cold weather outfits and proficiency with skiths. What are they? They are a race of deadly warriors living in a martial society of penguin-like humanoids. And yes, the artworks actually manage to make that work - squawks are bad@ss! The Thanor are a race of walrus-like humanoids who get +4 to Con + 2 to Str, -2 to Dex, -2 to Wis, are large and have lungs, +1 natural AC, only a speed of 30 ft., always count as wearing cold weather outfits and natural attacks with their tusks.

Pinniparian and Seafolk-crossbreeds are also covered and the vital statistics like age, height and weight tables are part of the deal as well. In chapter 3, the roles of the different classes (including psionic ones) in the cold waters of Isinblare are covered. The chapter also features new classes, the first one being the Angakkuq base-class, who get 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with light and medium armor, prepared divine spellcasting of up to 6th level via Cha as key attribute and get the option to create a Tupilaq: Somewhat similar to eidolons, these creatures are created from either flora, fauna or frost and can share spells with their masters and be enhanced etc, learn tricks à la animal companions etc. - a great alternative to the druid base-class with its fetishistic creature.

The chapter also includes new PrCs: The Conulair is singular among PrCs in that is requires a cool oath as well as is based on an interesting concept - mechanically, the class gets d10, 2+Int skills, full BAB, medium fort-saves and several cold-adaption powers. The cool thing about the PRC, though, is that entry actually bonds the applicant with a semi-conscious symbiote that grants the creature the respective powers and allows them not only to create deadly rimefire powers and may also choose frostboons. An excellent, iconic PrC! The second class is just as awesome and is imho the best rules-take I've seen on the concept: The Cyrokineticist, a psionic class who gets d8, 2+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, medium fort-and ref-saves as well as a variety of abilities that include rimefire weaponry, flash-freezing etc. - analogue to the pyrokinetist a warrior-style class. Nice to see some psionic support beyond the Waves of Thought supplement. There is also the Cryomancer-PrC (d6, 2+Int skills, 9/10th spell-casting progression, 1/2 BAB-progression, medium will-saves),a nm arcane specialist of cold-based magic.

In chapter 4, we are introduced to the art of Frostcraft, but what is that? Well, first of all it's about arctic materials, bartering and how economies work in the polar context, including compressed air, ice rubber etc., which make a whole new class of item possible: So-called Aglootech. Unsurprisingly pioneered by said race, the class of items includes new weapons (by the way, all of which are rendered in gorgeous full color) that use this fizzling to create rifles, pistols etc. that propel nail-like projectiles through the waves, pneumatic blades and spears can be found in this chapter alongside the skitch-battle-scythes of the Squawk, ice blades. Also rather extremely cool regarding artworks: How exactly such rifles work is shown in a neat schematic that also provides enlarged and named components for the respective weapons. When harpoon-like rifles are possible, it should come as no surprise that there also are massive harpoon-cannons based on this technology to be found.
We also get a table for the 24 new feats herein, some of which allow angakkuqs to enhance their tupilaqs, grant squawks natural attacks and improved combat prowess with their signature skith, expand ningen blindsight, allow ice-elves to coat weapons in damaging ice and even pierce cold resistance with your cold resistance. The new class also gets an extensive spell-list and we also get an aquatic magus spell-list, which is neat to have indeed. I applaud one decision by Alluria: Instead of contributing to spell-bloat, we get 10 spells that adhere to the maxim of class instead of mass. From a spell that allows you to partially take on aquatic animal characteristics, one to encapsulate foes in ice or one to use the new entombed quality. Of course, you may also create a rancid murk that carries a plethora of debilitating diseases and unleash it into the waves.
The arctic "lands" of Isinblare are also rich in a material called Ancient Crystal, which can provide an array of interesting qualities to benefit from or be hindered by. 3 new magical items, also with gorgeous, perhaps even above-paizo-level artworks, complete the package of the chapter.

Chapter 5 is where the setting-specific pieces of information for the region of Isinblare in the context of the Cerulean Seas-setting can be found. (And yes, that means until now, the book was all about material just about any campaign could use). In tradition with the Cerulean Seas-setting, we get what amounts to essentially short racial histories of the respective races, each of which comes with a fluff-only write-up of a famous personality of the respective race. Beyond the main playable races, though, we also get pieces of information on the civilization of races from the bestiary. Languages and their speakers are part of what is provided, as are 6 deities and write-ups of the nations and big cities to be found in the realms of indigo ice, though the latter lack city statblocks. The maps provided do their job, though they admittedly fall far behind the quality of the artworks and feel slightly out of place.

In tradition with other Alluria Publishing-releases, the final chapter provides us with a bestiary-section, which includes fiskheim akhluts, domesticated huge versions of the regular akhluts, aquatic bears, the fish-humanoid Brothers of Frost , a new song dragon, the riding penguins called Kairaku, two new types of ningen, a wicked fey of frozen glaciers, seal variants (both mundane and partially represented as the sunhunter as a deadly glacier-predator and more: Take e.g. living ice-float constructs, ice-breaker whales, AWESOME-looking ice leviathans, ice kraken, orcoths and tizheruks and even ice liches. Alluria books are usually beautiful. These monster-illustrations, though, transcend even some of the offerings I've seen by WotC and paizo - mind-boggling and awesome. Also, each of the creatures gets some kind of interesting (sometimes even multiple) signature abilities. Arctic/Aquatic mounts and war-beasts are also covered, with e.g. animal companion stats.

Beyond even this content, we get an index of aquatic polar monsters by CR(including up to Bestiary 3, Creepy Creatures and all Cerulean Sea-books), pronunciation guidelines, a table that lists all tables, an art-index, 8 card-stock minis and a small poem on the last page.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches - quite a feat at this length. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and its layout adheres to Cerulean Seas' two-column full-color standard and is, still, among the most dazzling out there. The artworks deserve special mentioning: Where Waves of Thought and even Cerulean Seas had an odd one out here and there, Indigo Ice goes above and beyond: These artworks are so beautiful, I honestly can't recall having EVER seen such a beautiful book by any 3pp - this ranks, presentation-wise, among the very best and in fact, at least imho, surpasses even multiple paizo-books. The supplement unfortunately comes sans printer-friendly version and if you can, I suggest you get the full-color print. If the print is half as beautiful as the pdf, you'll still have a drop-dead gorgeous book.

When I read the premise of the book, I was honestly doubting whether this would interest me: Cerulean Seas is a peculiar set of rules/setting and combining them with the frozen north seemed problematic to me at best: Especially with Kobold Press' Northlands already doing a great of Norse-themed fantasy, albeit above the waves. Indigo Ice thankfully takes a different approach: Blending Norse themes with a large dose of Inuit-myth (something seen all too rarely) the setting is something different altogether from the sum of its component parts: Flavor-wise, the vibe that best describes the indigo Ice is imho a pulpy underlying theme of a harsh land of harsh people coated with more than a fair share of original ideas (Spartan penguins actually are much more badass than you'd think!) and mixed up with technology that creates a combination of themes both in line with traditionalist mythologies and a sense of ancientness as well as with the throes of progress and a feeling of being on the dawning of a new age.
The weapons with their details (and especially the extremely detailed schematic that depicts it) make what would otherwise be a ridiculous concept feel believable. In fact, that's pretty much the crowning achievement of Indigo Ice: Many concepts may sound ridiculous when paraphrased in a review such as this, but the unity of stellar artwork, superb rules and excellent writing combine to make them work: To the extent where even usually gun-less campaigns can probably use these weapons sans breaking the suspension of disbelief. Now the fact that neither class, nor feats or any other component of the pdf can be considered broken or unbalanced further serves to boost the overall impression of excellence that withstands even closer scrutiny.
Beyond the usefulness of the book as a whole, I feel obliged to mention that the races, items and ideas herein can enrich campaigns in any northern setting, not necessarily only ones beneath the waves: If your PCs only plan sojourns into the frozen depths, then this pdf will still provide extremely fine critters, feats and intriguing civilizations for you to scavenge and add.
To cut a long ramble that gushes about artworks, monsters and weapons, the potential usability for underwater-steampunk-adventures (if you emphasize Aglootech further) and the quality of the writing short: This book is a truly excellent addition to Alluria's oeuvre and its quality stand up to the highest standards you could demand, the one shortcoming being the maps in the campaign setting-section and the lack of city statblocks, but which in no way would justify rating this superb, surprisingly consistent book down: My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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