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Items both magical and mundane have a long and storied history in adventuring. Everything from the humble steel mirror to great and terrible mystical artifacts have been used on the fields of battle and in deadly dungeons. With Steelforge, Dreamscarred Press brings a new arsenal of useful tools and wondrous treasures, to add greater variety to your choices of items as a player and to your campaign world as a GM.

Steelforge, Book 1 is a 16-page supplement that includes:

  • New magic and psionic items.
  • New versions of common magic items, allowing for greater flexibility when outfitting a character.
  • The unique Endeca's gregarious gravity slimes and an associated prestige class that tames them, the Gravity Slime master.
  • A variant ruleset for handling items in your campaign, designed to help alleviate the Christmas Tree Effect.

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Product Reviews (2)

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***** (based on 2 ratings)

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

The first installment of Steelforge clocks in at 16 pages,. 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief foreword by the authors, we dive right into the respective items contained herein and the first item-class already makes pretty much clear that this is NOT a standard magic item book - we begin with 3 inexpensive types of auto-loader magazines for crossbows. What do they do? Well, they make crossbows on par with bows. Thank you. That being said, I am a more than a bit weary of the ability to copy enchanted bolts in an infinite capacity - once you insert a bolt, the magazine copies the bolt's properties on other bolts contained herein - insert mundane bolt, add one powerful magic bolt, get infinite copies of the powerful bolt. This would be utterly broken, were it not for the VERY smart caveat of it being impossible to taking any bolts out of this magazine sans destroying them, putting a hard cap on the number of bolts you can copy. This catapults the item class immediately from problematic to all awesome. Chest-slot-assigned natural armor enhancers, corsets that enhance your saves, girdles of protection and the like can also be found here.

In case you need that spelled out: The items here utilize other slots than e.g. the standardized slots - which may be a blessing or curse, depending on your take: While I really like the fact that now cloaks and rings aren't necessarily occupied to make the high-level math work, this also allows for some optimization tricks that weren't possible before. Since this issue is pretty much system-immanent, I will not penalize the pdf for it. That being said, I did notice an uncharacteristic glitch: The construction prices of the aforementioned corset are equal to the market prices, which is an obvious error. (As an aside: I do believe that prices could have been used to account for the value of the respective slots and some balancing here, somewhat offsetting the gained flexibility, but I digress.)

This is not all, though - hate seeds allow you to utilize the dread's paranoia terror (cool!) and ironbody cloaks contain temporary hit points, which help in particular to offset the squishiness of some characters at high levels...or in high damage output games like those employing Path of War or similarly optimized characters. Headset-style earrings are damn cool and tie in well with collective rules and dimensional anchor nets have been a staple in my games for a while - nice to see them represented here as well! Seriously underpriced at 12K, Steelwalker's Boots may add to the flexibility and flow of combat by allowing 1/2 movement in conjunction with full attacks, but they also cheapen all skirmishing builds I know. I'd hate this item like crazy, were it not for the fact that, unless you actually hit, you are staggered, making this a high-risk/reward item I actually ended up liking!

There is also a nice take on transferring magic enchantments from items to items (somewhat akin to Interjection games' glyph wrappings).

More important would be the highly versatile charming trinket-systems: There is a bracelet and necklace that can each hold charms, with a ton of them provided in two groups, included upgrades for Claim-limits, ki points, etc. Nice customization array, though its flexibility and low price point, while cool, may not be what every GM is looking for, they do sport some serious value.

This is not all, though: We are introduced to the 3rd-level flightbreaker spell and the absolutely glorious endeca's gregarious gravity slime: Somewhere between intelligent slime and item, you rub these slimes on weapons, attack foes and watch them do their magic. The slime is AWESOME and evocative and comes with a rather cute artwork. No complaints.

The pdf also feature the gravity slime master PrC, which covers 5 levels and adds a total of +3 BAB and Ref/Will-saves as well as two levels of class feature progression, d8 HD, 4 +Int skills per level. As a minor nitpick, Dreamscarred Press has established a time-frame in concrete time for per-encounter abilities that is not reprinted here, in spite of the PrC using such mechanics. The PrC can launch damaging, DR/resistance-ignoring untyped damage dealing gravity slimes at foes - while I have no balance concerns here, I still wished it wasn't untyped. The gravity slime master also receives a gravity slime guardian at first level, basically a kind of variant eidolon that gains a series of free evolution, but no pool of its own or magic item-sharing with the master. And yes, at higher levels, it gains more evolutions and can act as a mount. The gravity slime master's launched gravity slimes get additional, hampering effects at higher levels and starting at 3rd level, this impact ability extends to gravity slimes added to weapons. Really evocative little PrC.

The final chapter of the pdf covers a topic near and dear to my heart: Combating the Christmas Tree syndrome. This section pretty much is worth getting the pdf on its own. Why? Well, while most of Dreamscarred Press' recent offerings have been geared towards high-powered gameplay, this chapter will provide a ton of benefits for pretty much all groups I can think of: Rare/Low magic campaigns can employ it and its massive table to codify the value of saving throw bonuses, armor class bonuses (by type) or resistances to be added to items, allowing for customization of more unique items and adding their benefits. Since the enhancements are listed in steps, they do take the slot component into account. This section is pretty minimalistic, yes - it basically covers the must-own enhancers to make the math come out right. I absolutely love it. The section is made primarily for GMs and can prove to be extremely helpful when pricing items that feature these options among others - from legendary items to legacy items, these humble two pages will see A LOT of use in my own game. One note, though: In spite of the non-stack caveats and very precise presentation here, I'd suggest GMs keeping a tight control over these rules, since, again, system-immanently, the added variety does allow for combos otherwise impossible. This is very much a feature in 99% of the cases, but it can be a bug, in spite of the section doing everything right.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both rules-language and formal levels - with the one exception regarding prices mentioned above, but that one is pretty obvious as well. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, it comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. Kudos for going the extra mile there!

The authors of this pdf Jacob Karpel, Jade Ripley, Anthony Altovilla and Forrest Heck have crafted an intriguing pdf here: All crunch, steelforge's first book is not a traditional item book; instead, it could be best described as a design-paradigm toolkit that provides item-options and tricks to customize your game. More importantly, several of its items address some gaps in the system; in particular, the temporary HP granting items can be a true blessing for high-powered gameplay. Other aspects of the pdf provide increased flexibility for magic items, interesting variants and options as well as some serious designing help for DMs looking for an easy price-cheat-sheet for the modification/design of legendary/legacy weapons or an end to the Christmas tree syndrome, making this pdf a valuable asset for lower powered games as well. That being said, considering the nature of this pdf, I do believe that some guidance for GMs regarding the ramifications of introducing some contents herein would have been helpful: This is basically a massive engine-tweak, but it does require a bit more understanding of the consequences of adding the content than I consider necessary. While this does mean that the pdf remains very focused on the crunchy aspects, it also makes it a pdf that requires some serious thought on behalf of the GM on which options to employ in the end.

It should be noted, however, that thinking about this is rewarded; Steelforge's Book I has some truly glorious ideas and the gravity slime is a cool concept that can, engine-wise, certainly be expanded in future releases. I consider Steelforge I an excellent book that only misses my seal of approval due to the fact that it, as more of an engine-tweak than a traditional item book, could have used more didactic guidance for less experienced GMs. Still, consider this well worth getting - my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars,. rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.


Magic Items and Magic Item Accessories.

*****

Steelforge is a book about items. It has lots of items, alternate item systems, and even a prestige class about an item.

The book begins with a New Items section, which includes a variety of items intended to increase the flexibility of an adventurer’s magic item slots. For example, the Carapace of Natural Armor is a chest slot magical item that provides an enhancement bonus to natural armor, freeing up your neck slot for more interesting items. This way, Amulets of Mighty Fists, or even Necklace of Many Charms later in this section could see use more often. There are also Corsets of Resistance and Girdles of Protection to go with the Carapace of Natural Armor. However the star of the show for me is the first item listed in this section, the Autoloader Magazine, which takes bigs steps to increase the usability of crossbows by reducing their reload action by one step, generates ammunition (slowly), and allows crossbows to make use of magically enhanced ammunition very efficiently. Bows are still better, but due to the utility of being able to use enhanced crossbow bolts, such as various noun-bane bolts more efficiently, this item will allow crossbows to compete. Additionally there is the Bracelet and Charms and the Necklace of Many Charms, which can be used to hold Refinement and Power Charms detailed later in this book. This section is filled with many more magic items, though I lack the space to talk about every one of them.

The second part of this book is the Charming Trinkets section. Here, the rules of Refinement and Power Charms are detailed. These charms must be placed onto a Bracelet of Charms or Necklace of Many Charms in order to take effect, and those items can only hold a limited number of charms. Refinement Charms are 500 gold and confer minor benefits to class features. The Charm of Anger gives 1 additional rage round per day, while the Charm of Spirits gives 1 additional ki point. I do believe that these Refinement Charms vary in power, but at 500 gold plus the additional cost of a Bracelet or Necklace to hold them, I don’t feel that these items are undercosted. Power Charms are stronger than Refinement Charms, costing 2000 gold each and taking up the room 3 Refinement Charms would. They provide powerful effects such as making your Mind Blade count as Adamantine, or extending the radius of the Aura of Fear ability for Dreads.

Up next we have a whimsical section called The Gravity Slime which, as you guessed, is devoted to the gravity slime. Introduced first in this section is a new spell called Flightbreaker that is used a construction requirement for Gravity Slime. It is a 3rd level spell that removes a creature’s ability to fly for 1 minute per level, causing them to slowly fall to the ground as if effected by Featherfall. A very cool spell. Up next is Endeca’s Gregarious Gravity Slime, which is a very cost effective magical item (priced at 500, 2500, and 5000). You can scoop the slime out of its container at throw it at something that needs to leave the sky. If they fail their save, they are infliced with the same effects as Flightbreaker, causing them to slowly drift earthward. What makes this item interesting is that instead of being one time use, the slime will replenish itself over the course of a few days as long as you leave some left. The more expensive versions have more possible daily uses and a higher save DC. This is already a cool item since it provides a prepared party a solution to flying foes at lower levels. What put it over the edge on coolness is it's fun flavor text. The slime quivers, coos, and sighs contently when it brings a foe to their knees. I mean to the ground.

Following this is a 5 level prestige class based around the use of Gravity Slimes by the name of the Gravity Slime Master. This prestige class requires you to use a gravity slime 10 times and take the Craft Wondrous Item feat in order to take it. Pretty light prerequisites, though they fit just right. At every even Gravity Slime Master level, the character may advance a previous class’s features as if they had taken another level in the class, gaining spell slots, power points, maneuvers, or anything else an actual level in the class would get you. They also gain a powerful ability called Launch Gravity Slime. The Gravity Slime Master can once per encounter per class level instantly create a gravity slime to launch at a foe. Encounters are defined in Path of War. However I could find no definition of encounters in this book, so thats a negative mark. Unlike the item, this gravity slime deals damage and if it misses the target gets a second try the next turn as it whips around mid air. As the class is advanced, more slimes are launched simultaneously. Instead of the normal effects of a gravity slime, these slimes inflict a variety of conditions listed under their Impact class feature. At first they drag things from the sky like the item does, but with a scaling save DC. As the prestige class is advanced, they gain more utility, gaining the ability to entangle, inflict dex penalties, remove the ability to make attacks of opportunity, inflict Slow, and even Stun a creature for a brief period of time at 5th level. If you thought this class couldn’t be any cooler, than you probably didn’t expect it to gain the companionship of a massive (medium sized) gravity slime! Thats right. They can grow the little goop that they keep in bottles into an intelligence 7 pile of dangerous goop that advances its HD, saves, and ability scores based off the Eidolon advancement table. Funnily enough, the Gravity Slime Guardian becomes large size at 3rd level, gaining the effects of the Mount evolution in the process. How is it ridden? Leave that to your player’s imagination.

The final section is titled GM Tools. It first presents a set of variant rules to combat something called “Christmas Tree Effect.” This is an alternate item system that allows all the standard numerical bonuses to be all applied to one magic item. That way, singular magical items can be more special, and so that players don’t light up like a Christmas Tree under Detect Magic covered in various magic auras from head to toe. In fact, there is even art included showing just that. A wizard being viewed under detect magic, glowing from nearly every part of her body inside the spell’s view. I couldn’t help but laugh. This section provides all the necessary text for “what if” scenarios, such as throwing your magic sword that also provides your enhancement bonus to natural armor. A very neat system, and one that can help make magic items feel more special. There is also given that provides the gold costs for all the bonuses covered by this variant.

Overall, this book is a solid addition to any collection. It has fun items in it, great art, and what I consider my favorite prestige class of all time. There is something for every character in this book, and I appreciate that. The alternate rules system is also refreshing, in case you want to reduce the amount of magic items on a given character and make the magic items meaningful instead of “just another +1 longsword.” Besides a few textual errors, a missing definition of encounters, and charms varying in power this is a perfect book. It deserves 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on Paizo's rating system.


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