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Immerse yourself in a rich world of sword and sorcery three decades in the making. New classes, races, feats, and spells await you here. Become part of the living saga of Avlis, or use the material to enrich your existing campaign.

The World of Avlis campaign setting is a third-party roleplaying game supplement licensed under the Pathfinder RPG and Open Gaming Licenses.

This 254-page book contains 34 races, 11 Prestige classes, 16 new spells, 33 mage feats, and 23 monsters originating from the Avlis campaign setting, but usable in pretty much any world.

Among the nine chapters in the book, four are about world information and five are filled with new game material.

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Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of the PDF.

I understand that there are tens of thousands of people who have enjoyed the on-line version of this campaign setting. But whatever they found didn't make it into this sourcebook for a tabletop game.

The rules are inconsistent with the Pathfinder RPG. The prose for the fluff is amateurish and rife with obvious spelling errors. ("hoard" for "horde", "lightening", etc.) The world as it is described has a great deal of fantastical history but no plot hooks. Everybody kind of gets along.

There's nothing in this book I can recommend.


Excellent product!

*****

I am a long-time gamer. No other RPG settings have given me the same kind of exciting experience like Avlis has.

The creators of Avlis have gone into great depths to provide players with a fantasy world so unique, mysterious, and believable. This source book masterfully presents all the information needed to run an enjoyable pen & paper campaign. From the compelling history to the diverse creatures, from the vast continents to the abundant skill sets, the world of Avlis sets the ground for epic role-playing. Your imagination is the only limit.

If you love RPGs that give you unforgettable memories, this is a must-have.


*****

Avlis is a setting that has enthralled many people, from its humble beginnings as a P&P homebrew to the setting for a compelling and innovative Neverwinter Nights persistent world. It's an epic fantasy setting, full of warriors and mages, high politics and dark rituals, all of which is underpinned by a dynamic whereby no one alignment, cause or race holds sway, and the fate of nations - or reality itself - lies in the hands of the most courageous of its inhabitants.

The book itself is clear and nicely set out, illustrated throughout with funky, characterful artwork. It's absolutely packed with the lore and mechanics that make the setting what it is, with a host of new classes, spells, monsters, organisations, and locations. As well as all the crunchy content, there are hooks galore for a DM on every page, and the richness and depth of the background is evident. There are literally centuries of history to play in, and a great many exotic locales for players to explore.

This is a labour of love, the product of several years work, and the result has been well worth it. Naturally it comes heartily recommended to Avlis afficionados, but also to others who want to try out a fresh, vibrant setting, where the Great Nine Gods carry out their schemes for the world, while nations rise and fall, and courageous individuals vye for power through political intrigue, or foil the machinations of the Demon Lords, or destroy a nation in the name of the hateful God Maleki, or rebuild a community shattered by war... the possibilities are endless. Once you've stepped into the world, you won't look back!


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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Why do I suspect that all the reviewers are company hacks for this product?

Is it because they have no history on the Paizo boards except their heartfelt enthusiasm for this? Or is it because "If you love RPGs that give you unforgettable memories, this is a must-have" sounds like advertising copy?

Neither reviewer offers much in the way of an actual review. The praise of "the abundant skill sets," a strange-sounding mechanic, makes me wonder if this homebrew campaign is even all that compatible with Pathfinder.

I haven't seen the product; maybe it's nice. But the reviews are certainly suspicious.

Liberty's Edge

I would have to confer with the suspicion.

"Years of hard work" or close to that would suggest a person that worked on it or knew somebody that did.

Sean


I was a bit curious myself when I saw this, but I did a little sleuthing and it seems that the world has indeed been around for a long time. They seem to have a forum here and there's a little information page here. I think they've just been encouraging members of their own community to post reviews, so they're coming from people who haven't been here before.

It actually looks rather interesting to me and I'm quite tempted to have a look at the campaign setting. I'm trying to restrict myself though, since I already have a number of pdf books that I am yet to read through...


Not sure why credibiliy is only given to those who have posted extensively on Paizo before. Berik is correct, however. Avlis existed as a homebrew campaign since the late 1970's and as a Neverwinternights persistent world (www.avlis.org) since 2001. Arguably, it has been the most successful PW in the history of NWN at that.

Depending on how you measure success of a sourcebook in this business, I've been told that selling 1,000 copies is considered "good". Essentially that means that at least a couple thousand people have heard of your work and used it. Well, as a NWN server, Avlis was played *actively* by a little over 50,000 people from 2001 thru 2009. It is more well known than the average homebrew campaign, I'd say. However, just not in these Paizo circles, at all. Does that make it less worthy of attention? Your call.

As the author, I did ask for fans of Avlis to write a review for me, as any author trying to market his book would. I will continue to ask for them, although I had no idea how the Paizo community would see that.

Cheers,

--Josh Simon

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Well it would seem strange to suddenly pop up and review something then vanish into the ether.

I'm campaign settinged out so I won't be getting this to review. That being said, the second review reads as 'more honest' than the first.


Hi Josh, sorry if I came off sucpicious at all. I try not to think ill of people without cause and personally the reviews just made me interested about the idea of a rich long-standing setting out there that I'd never even heard of before. It's quite neat that there are so many interesting things out there. :)

Out of interest, would you be able to give me an idea of the split between fluff and crunch in the pdf? While new rules are interesting in their own right I'd be much more interested in reading the information about the rules itself. So I'd be keen to know approximately how much of the book is new rules and how much is world background.

Cheers!


I think a lot of it chalks up to cynicism over being burned in the past when purchasing a product that you thought was good sight unseen and then when you peruse the PDF you felt like your wallet was lifted out of your pocket. Sometimes there's a disadvantage with PDFs when you don't have a physical book to compare to review the contents.

In defense of Chris, I would have reacted the same way when someone posts a 5 star review -- that being their only review, and accounts appearing rather new. You see it all the time on Amazon when someone needs their books shilled.

To me, the reviews were rather generic. I could have replaced the setting name with World of Schadenfreude as the setting and it wouldn't tell me anything different.

If the price was at least half of that and there was more context to the review, I could be tempted. But alas, it isn't to be. Good luck to the authors, nonetheless!

/soapbox


Matthew Morris wrote:

Well it would seem strange to suddenly pop up and review something then vanish into the ether.

I'm campaign settinged out so I won't be getting this to review. That being said, the second review reads as 'more honest' than the first.

I see what you are saying now, and given the nature of this community what I would really like is to have someone from here do a review.

I will give out a free copy of the PDF to two selected people for that purpose.

Anyone interested should email me at joshua.simon@gmail.com. Include your boards username so I can check out your posts and see that you exist here and are considered part of the community, and if I pick you, I will get you the PDF so you can write a review.

Fair?


Josh,

I'll send you an e-mail from my work account, but I'd prefer to have communique sent to my home account for this nature. Thanks!


Berik wrote:


Out of interest, would you be able to give me an idea of the split between fluff and crunch in the pdf? While new rules are interesting in their own right I'd be much more interested in reading the information about the rules itself. So I'd be keen to know approximately how much of the book is new rules and how much is world background.

Cheers!

Hi Berik,

The book contains 34 races, 11 Prestige classes, 16 new spells, 33 mage feats, and 23 monsters originating from the Avlis campaign setting, but usable in pretty much any world.

There are no new mechanics, per se. Out of the 254 pages (9 chapters), there are 4 that contain only world information, and 5 that contain some form of crunch.


Josh Simon wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:

Well it would seem strange to suddenly pop up and review something then vanish into the ether.

I'm campaign settinged out so I won't be getting this to review. That being said, the second review reads as 'more honest' than the first.

I see what you are saying now, and given the nature of this community what I would really like is to have someone from here do a review.

I will give out a free copy of the PDF to two selected people for that purpose.

Anyone interested should email me at joshua.simon@gmail.com. Include your boards username so I can check out your posts and see that you exist here and are considered part of the community, and if I pick you, I will get you the PDF so you can write a review.

Fair?

Whoa! More than fair, I shot you an email, put even if you've already given them out, I'm impressed by that!


PDF's are on their way to Urizen and Chris Mortika. Thanks very much. Enjoy, and I welcome any honest review. Avlis has been around for years and has been both criticized and praised, so I'm used to it, whatever the case. Gods know there are more things than you can read about folks' opinions on the world between avlis.org, avlis2.org, The Avlis Wiki, Wikipedia, and the NWN and NWN2 message boards. So fire away!


Josh Simon wrote:
PDF's are on their way to Urizen and Chris Mortika. Thanks very much. Enjoy, and I welcome any honest review. Avlis has been around for years and has been both criticized and praised, so I'm used to it, whatever the case. Gods know there are more things than you can read about folks' opinions on the world between avlis.org, avlis2.org, The Avlis Wiki, Wikipedia, and the NWN and NWN2 message boards. So fire away!

Thanks, Josh! I'll review it when I get home over the weekend. I'll also try to follow suit and check out the other sites you've mentioned. If I have any additional questions while reviewing its contents, I'll follow as a courtesy.

I appreciate the customer service move on your behalf!


Josh Simon is a stand-up guy. I've talked with him before concerning this project, and the Avlis community has as many fervent followers as this one does. A lot of hard work has gone into this PDF over the years, and I think it's fascinating to see almost a reversal of the trend - the video game side of the world first, then the tabletop version.

Great work Josh & Avlis crew!


Josh,

Just to clear the air, I accept the reviews as sincere and genuine. I believe this campaign setting has been around a long time.

Because of the buzz created by this thread, I decided to check your campaign setting out. Which is a good thing from a sales perspective! But everything I'm finding pertains to Never Winter Nights... which is where I'm to understand it originated.

Do you have a website that shows your product, without all the NWN stuff? Maybe with a bit of art, and some paragraphs about the setting itself? What makes it cool, fun, and different from other products?

I do see these wiki sites and wikipedia entries. I guess I'm hoping for something that grabs my attention. A more commercial website, with a longer description of the setting and product description than what is available here?

(I actually walked away from those sites interested in NWN as much or more than Avlis.. and then I felt bad about that.)

I realize that Brigand Publishing is a small company, and I'm not trying to hold that against you. On the other hand, having never heard of it before, and most of the information is based on NWN and not as a pen and paper campaign setting.. I feel like this would be a "sight unseen" purchase; i.e. a gamble. Does that make sense?

I'm not writing this as a criticism, because you've actually gotten my attention a little bit with this product. I writing it to explain what would might persaude me to give it a chance.


Hi Watcher :)

You bring up a good point. Unfortunately, no, there is no website solely dedicated to the campaign setting in a non-NWN oriented way. Until now, there has never really been a need.

eh, perhaps I should get something up?

Brigand Publishing is one guy (me) and one book (this one). My co-author and I are working on a second book, but we feel it is years away. This IS a sight-unseen purchase except for two things, I hope:

1) I gave away 2 copies to your community so they can have at it and let you all know.

2) You know there's definitely SOMETHING in the PDF that might be at least a little interesting based on the number of fans Avlis already has.

I could work on a "sourcebook-oriented" site, but in the meantime, I do not know what else I could do except what I am doing. I'm biased, but I think this is a good product. Also, Brigand Publishing (me) will never be cranking out tons of books, because this is my hobby and I am just doing it for the love. {> My doctorate is in Biomedical Engineering, and along with my MBA and two other degrees, there are a bunch of other things I am doing to pay the bills, quite easily, but none of which I really take to at heart like building Avlis.

I understand the risk to you, but stand by my work, for good or ill, and that is all I can offer for now.

Dark Archive

Apparently I missed the boat on this one. If I had the cash I would buy it, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Sczarni

I have bought other paizo products (YAY Kobold King!), and am giving this a try. I played Avlis a long time ago, and have stolen things from the NWN game for a few times when my mind went blank in my PNP campaign. I even had a Lord Derrington.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Josh Simon wrote:
Not sure why credibiliy is only given to those who have posted extensively on Paizo before.

One of the perennial weaknesses of Internet fora is the lack of a convenient way to check who's on the other end of the alias. This was famously exploited by an economist and author named John Lott, who posted glowing reviews of his books under the name Mary Rosh. With such an existence proof of an author who would do that sort of sockpuppetry to advertise/promote their work, it's easy to be suspicious of people who appear in a forum as if out of nowhere, give glowing reviews of a work, and are never seen again on the forum. OTOH, most people who do sockpuppetry don't bother to create a convincing background for their false identity, so someone who's posted at least a few times before writing the glowing review is given the benefit of the doubt.

Asking fans to do what are in essence driveby reviews can thus easily be counterproductive with the audience you're trying to reach here. I have a potential solution for you, though. I don't know about anyone else here, but I'm more inclined to listen to someone who puts a disclaimer up front--"I'm a fan of this, and the author asked me to say something about why I like it."--and then does just that--discusses what they like about the work and gives specifics (like the second reviewer). Just saying it's great tells me nothing. I'm sure there are people out there who think Synnabar or F.A.T.A.L. are great games (not that I'm binning you with them; they were the best examples of horrible games I could come up with to make the point), and if they tell me why they like those games I have the information I need to conclude that 1) I wouldn't want to play them, and 2) I also wouldn't want to meet the reviewers.

Anyway, just some unsolicited advice from someone who may be (but really isn't, honest) a sock puppet. If I came across as condescending I apologize; it was not my intent.


Howdy, aforementioned co-author here.

I understand concerns about sock puppetry. That said there is I think sufficient information about Avlis fluff out there (at least) to give some idea of the setting itself, and let people make a decision on whether or not they want to check out the setting book. We have setting wikis for both incarnations of PW Avlis. I stand by both Josh and my work on the setting as a whole, and I also think there's plenty of it available for free for people to make a judgment.

As for the crunchy bits, I hope that we can get some more concrete reviews from the samples given out by Josh.

I appreciate that people are willing to take the time to chime in on this discussion at all.

-N.A.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

ANy way to post a few pages so we can see what it's like? Maybe one race and one geopgraphic area? ANything to see a bit of the writing for myself?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nob wrote:

Howdy, aforementioned co-author here.

<<snip>>
We have setting wikis for both incarnations of PW Avlis.
<<snip>>
-N.A.

I may have missed them upthread--do you have links for the wikis? (I know, I know, that's what Google is for, but you can't go wrong making it easier for people to find out more about what you're doing.)

And incidentally, thank you to you & Josh for being reasonable about this.


Mosaic and John.

http://wiki.avlis.org and http://wiki.avlis2.org are the two main wikis with world information. The sourcebook is set during around the same time period as the first. The second has the advantage of showcasing more recent writing from me in terms of setting, but the ifnormation won't necessarily match what you'll find in the book given the setting is about 1500 years in the future.


Josh and Nob,

I understand where you're coming from! No ill will was intended. I'll be curious what Chris and Uzrien think of it.. and I'll check out the wiki that Nob posted.

As someone else said, thanks for being reasonable!


I haven't done a review; I created an account here simply to tell the Pathfinder community my feelings. Take it as you will.

I hadn't played a D&D game since high school, briefly. When I met the man who was to become my husband, he was involved with Avlis as a player and raved about it. I also had friends who played other RPGs on-line. After giving a couple of them a brief try, I found myself on Avlis.

The community of people was welcoming, instructive, helpful--teaching me all the things that I needed to know about RPing. The world lore drew me in. I spent a ton of time reading the Avlis Wiki, learning about the world (especially as it related to my PC). I was almost instantly involved (through a complete accident on my part) in a huge world plot. I made on-line friends who wanted to be friends in RL. Groups of us meet for chatting, RPing, PnP games, etc...all throughout the world. I now have 3 major PCs, two of whom are in some way in a leadership position in their respective guilds.

It was through Avlis that I was introduced to Pathfinder. I am now involved in a PnP game that meets as often as we can. I've now spent a ton of time going through the Pathfinder resources, learning about this world, creating a PC and having a ton of fun.

The on-line world of Avlis uses the NWN engine, yes. It's what we have. The people who are writing reviews are just players, like me, who have no actual stake in making money or getting any special perks from writing. They simply want to share their enjoyment with everyone else!

So give the book/PDF a try. I am pretty sure you won't be dissapointed.

Thanks :)

Sovereign Court

34 races? How many are sub-races? (Like wild elf, sun elf, night elf, etc.?)


Zootcat wrote:
34 races? How many are sub-races? (Like wild elf, sun elf, night elf, etc.?)

A lot. Avlis has 9 major races, each with a bunch of subs, and it has what we call "minor" races also, which are more numerous and do not usually have subraces.

That's actually a good segway. There was a request to see part of the book as a sample. I can do that. One part I will partially reveal is the chapter on Races. The other part is the cover/Table of Contents.

For the next 7 days or 100 downloads, whichever comes first, you can get the TOC here:

https://www.yousendit.com/download/MVNkM25PYStwM2wzZUE9PQ

and the partial Races chapter (every odd page) here:

https://www.yousendit.com/download/MVNkM25PYSt3NUozZUE9PQ

For some reason, these files are disproportionately large compared to the book itself. I don't know why. The book, unzipped in hi-res, is about 100 MB, so don't worry about the sizes of these snippets.

Coupled with the reviews, I've done my best to convince this place. I hope you decide to join our little band of several thousand!

I'll be on www.avlis.org if you need me. (Boards name is Orleron.)

Cheers and Game On!

Silver Crusade

No clue how this product is, but I remember Avlis fondly back in the Neverwinter Nights days. I use to play there as well as A Land Far Away. Always good times!

Silver Crusade

Saw Mark Smylie artwork on the cover.

Ordered.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Based upon what I have now seen (toc and partial races) this looks like a good buy for someone who wants a richly drawn campaign setting into which they can place their own characters.

But you can do that with Golarion - what seems to set Avlis apart is an absorbing high-fantasy element.

I'd suggest that either the blurb (currently quite brief) or some reviews go into some detail on what sets this world apart from the crowd (half-fey, for example, is an intriguing notion that doesn't get any mention in the blurb).

I may get this after crimble.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Via, that's more than fair, Josh.

Like I said, I'm campaign settinged out right now, but I do hope that it takes off for you.


Reading the races chapter and confused on a few things:

Odd-number racial ability adjustments are used.
At least one race as an ability score bonus of +5 without anything that look like severe penalties for balance.
Fairies use "wands" but no rules are presented for loosing, breaking, and/or replacing.
A trait called "Nature Sense" is listed, but not given mechanics.
At one point you refer to a "movement rate of 12".

I'm just pointing these out because some people may read the preview and be turned off by these elements for various reasons.


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Reading the races chapter and confused on a few things:

Odd-number racial ability adjustments are used.
At least one race as an ability score bonus of +5 without anything that look like severe penalties for balance.
Fairies use "wands" but no rules are presented for loosing, breaking, and/or replacing.
A trait called "Nature Sense" is listed, but not given mechanics.
At one point you refer to a "movement rate of 12".

I'm just pointing these out because some people may read the preview and be turned off by these elements for various reasons.

Don't forget that none of the races I gave out were complete, AFAIK. That Races chapter only had every other page in it. I have to check out the Nature Sense and movement comment. Feel free to email me more info.


Josh Simon wrote:
Don't forget that none of the races I gave out were complete, AFAIK.

So that was a first draft? Because I only mentioned traits from complete stat listings, not partial ones.


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
Josh Simon wrote:
Don't forget that none of the races I gave out were complete, AFAIK.
So that was a first draft? Because I only mentioned traits from complete stat listings, not partial ones.

Obviously it is not a draft. Was that sarcasm? Isn't it more productive to bring up small errors over email so I can correct them and give people a better product? I found the "movement rate" and 2 "nature sense" errors and confirmed that they are the only appearances in the book. They were holdovers from when I converted this from D&D 3.0.

Fairy wand mechanics are glossed over on purpose and will be covered in later supplements. What's told is that they will die if the wand is lost in any way, and that's enough to play the game for now.

If you find more errors, please definitely tell me, but over email so it does not clog up the thread. I can gather up a wad of them and fix them. Nonetheless, this book was professionally edited, and I have been over it countless times so it should be pretty good.

@Mikaze: You are correct. I will take your advice and modify the book description to say what's unique about the setting.


That wasn't sarcasm: I thought it was entirely possible the preview was from an earlier draft.

Josh Simon wrote:
If you find more errors, please definitely tell me, but over email so it does not clog up the thread. I can gather up a wad of them and fix them. Nonetheless, this book was professionally edited, and I have been over it countless times so it should be pretty good.

Sorry, I had thought they were all deliberate choices and was asking not because I was telling you to correct them but because I believed you'd say something like "mechanical differences are covered in a part of the product you did not see". Didn't mean to imply anything.

Sovereign Court

Any chance of a print or print on demand edition ?


Stereofm wrote:
Any chance of a print or print on demand edition ?

Hi Stereofm,

Yes! This book is out in print. I just did not want to risk advertising a different site other than paizo.

If you search for "Avlis" on lulu.com, you will see the book. :)

Enjoy.


Josh Simon wrote:
PDF's are on their way to Urizen and Chris Mortika. Thanks very much. Enjoy, and I welcome any honest review. Avlis has been around for years and has been both criticized and praised, so I'm used to it, whatever the case. Gods know there are more things than you can read about folks' opinions on the world between avlis.org, avlis2.org, The Avlis Wiki, Wikipedia, and the NWN and NWN2 message boards. So fire away!

Since this isn't something that's a couple of pages in length, it's going to take me a little bit longer to communicate my thoughts on it, but communicate I will. While I enjoy the conveniences of PDFs (and have been carrying this on my USB drive so I can refer to the contents at convenience), I'm probably going to print this out and read it that way (as I have access to MFDs @ work).

Folks are going to ask in the meantime about certain contents. Is it alright to respond in brief to help satisfy curiosities? I just wanted to be certain since you were kind enough to share your product to me (and Chris).

Thanks again, Josh!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Well, I read through this product and posted a short review. Here's a longer description with more details.

I began my review with the statement: "The on-line Avlis campaign may have tens of thousands of enthusiastic, satisfied players. But I can't think that the aspects of the campaign that they enjoy have been translated into this product."

And that's the central take-away for this. I've never seen Neverwinter Nights. (I don't think the game runs on my computer.) So I can't compare that experience with this book. But I'll bet that it has exciting conflicts and lots of entry points for adventure. None of that is obvious from this book, which is a terrible mistake. It would be like Ed Greenwood spending 95% of the first Forgotten Realms book discussing the different architecture of the various races.

The Avlis book is up against such products as the Golarion campaign setting, or the "Scarred Lands" books by SSS, the "Arcanis" setting by Paradigm or the "Wilderlands" setting by Necromancer. It just doesn't measure up.

Races
I'm going to spend a lot of time discussing this section, because Josh has kindly made some of these pages available to everyone, so you can tell if my criticisms are warranted, or if I'm just being picky.

There are a lot of races and subraces. some of them (dubgaldokin and galdokin dwarfs, for example) identical except for their alignments (chaotic neutral and lawful good, respectfully).

More than half of the racial modifications are +1 or -1. It's fine for a 3rd Party product to violate the 3rd Edition / Pathfinder design rule prohibiting odd-valued racial adjustments, but there might be some justification or explanation. As you'll see as we go on, I'm really not sure the authors understand what the Pathfinder design conventions are.

There are lots of little nagging inconsistencies. For example, Stone Dwarves are a cross between dwarves (speed 20) and gnomes (speed 20). They, of course, have speed 30.

The Neutral Good race is the faeries. Here, the designers have to invent new rules "crunch", and they come up with stuff that doesn't make much sense.

  • "On its first birthday, every fairy is given a magical wand by its parent or close relative. This item is personalized to the fairy and can be used by it alone as the source for most of its magical abilities. No one has yet found out how these wands are made, or where they come from." Has anybody thought about asking the fairy parents? Fairies can use their wands to blast lightning or fire spells at will. Fairies without their wands die in a few days. How do people imprison fairies?
  • Fairies can shift sizes at will, from Medium all the way down to Tiny. How does this interface with, say, a Fairy Druid's shapechanging?
  • Half-dryads and half-nymphs "are in tune with nature and receive bonuses when in that environment." That's the entire description of that racial ability. Any natural environment? Do caves count? Bonuses to all die rolls? How much of a bonus (+1 per level, perhaps?)
  • They also get spell resistance of 10 or 15. And Half-nymphs get a +5 racial bonus to Charisma. Those are spectacularly powerful races to play.

Unfortunately, the Elvish god's name sounds like "Drool".

Ghost Elves. Oh dear. "Ghost elves are extremely fragile, with females being much more fragile than the males. This adds much to their beauty, and humans especially are wildly attracted to ghost elves. Interestingly enough, female ghost elves are also wildly attracted to human males. They are consistently curious to know a human male, and to revel in his physical splendor." Unfortunately, sex with human boys is too rough, and it generally kills them. Yep. 15th-Level Barbarian Ghost Elves, "almost always die from injury in the heat of passion."

Ghost Elf skin is described as "transluscent". From the description, I think the writers meant "phosphorescent."

Of course, Ghost Elf girls have it better than sereg’wethrin (the "secret elite black-ops fighting force") elf girls, who "exist for breeding purposes only."

The evil lizardy Dragonari elves breathe fire, but only after 3rd Level. Some of them have wings, though, and can fly at 1st Level.

Some of the races, such as the Lawful Neutral Shaardans and ogres, are massively powerful. Is suggested that these races have "level adjustments", which isn't part of the Pathfinder game system, and that they get bonus feats from their ECL, which isn't the way D&D handles level edjustments. (Racial hit dice, yes; adjustments from huge benefits, no.)

The True Neutral race is humans. "Adomkuro" are humans twisted by being guardians of a nasty demon for generations. (The dwarfs have a similar subrace. The good gods didn't think this through all that well.) This subrace has distinctinve features and skin-tone, diminished stature, and a racial hatred for other humans, but the demon didn't think to bestow darkvision, blndsense, or any other way of navigation on this furtive race of subterranean humans.

The Chaotic Neutral Changelings are another race where the Avlis designers needed to come up with their own crunch.

  • They have the racial benefit of "ambidexterity". This doesn't give them any advantages while wielding two weapons. In what game system is this an advantage?
  • They have "a +1 Dex bonus to their armor class". We know; they get a +2 racial adjustment to Dexterity. Or did the rules mean that Changelings get an additional +1 racial bonus to AC?
  • The rules for copying someone else's form are odd. For example, the DC rises with the "victim's" level. Why the term "victim"? Can't you copy your ally's appearance? And why not a simple bonus to the Changeling's Disguise check?
  • Changelings can imitate inanimate objects at 25th Level. Do tell.

Orcs are the Lawful Evil race, even though orcs in the Pathfinder RPG are chaotic. It's a world law, that's fine, but there should be some mention of the change. Hobgoblins might have been a better choice. (Except that hobgoblins in Avlis are chaotic evil.)

And orcs don't make any sense. They're scheming masters of intrigue,with a +2 bonus to Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate, but they don't get a racial bonus to Charisma, and neither of their favored classes include all of those as class skills. (Half-orcs, on the other hand, have Rogue as their favored class.)

And before you start thinking that bards are the natural class for an orc, know that orcs really hate all arcane spellcasters and hunt them down. "Many small secret orcish mage societies have sprung up over time. Many more have been eliminated." How does that even make sense?

The Neutral Evil Shaahesk racial adjustments: no adjustments, just like humans. Which is it?

Classes
The Psion and Psychic Warrior classes "is as described from the rules given for [them] in the Pathfinder RPG core rules for psionics."
I am struggling against the obvious conclusion that the authors haven't even read the Pathfinder rules.

There are prestige classes for anybody who wants to play a Paladin-like character of another alignment. The rules for these are not well balanced (The Equalizer's "Rule of Three" ability is a supernatural power that deals triple the damage of any attack landing on the Equalizer, to any target within 30'. Free action. No attack roll needed, no miss chance, no spell resistance, no damage reduction. It's a real dragon-killer.)

Some of the prestige classes have lenient requirements. For example, it's simple for a 2nd-Level character to enter the Templar PrC.

Each alignment has its own Prestige Class of arcane casters, called the Mages of the Trust, and these compose most of the arcane casters in Avlis. If your character is an unaligned mage, the Mages of the Trust make life hard for you. Evil-aligned Trust mages feel free to just kill you on the spot. There should be some modifier for how this impacts your ability to buy scrolls or otherwise interact with civilized mages. How do Bards cope? Oh, and your character needs to be 4th Level before she can join.

Each order has its own feats available to its members. I can't imagine a GM letting these rules into her game. Several of them use rules not supported by the Pathfinder system, and some are very, very powerful.

The entry requirements for the White Necromancer Prestige Class require characters to be 10th level. But the example works through the casting powers of a "5th Level Wizard / 4th Level White Necromancer".

Oh, and remember those arcane-hating orcs? The Gold Order of the Sand "continues to recruit into its number ... a large
number of orc mages." Say what? (That's possible, if the book overstates both the orc antipathy toward arcane casters, and the order's recruitment, but it's still jarring on first read.)

Geography
There's an awful lot of history here, but the cool stuff, the plot hooks, are missing. Blandenburg (yep) is pretty stable. So are most of the places.

History of the World
The prose is, in a word, amateurish. It begins: "In the beginning, there was chaos. Reigning over that chaos was a boundless Supreme Being with no name and no form. The crystal sphere containing this chaos was called “Daggerspace,” and for untold millennia the Supreme Being of this place wandered through the chaos without any purpose or aim. At one point (no one knows exactly when), the Supreme of the crystal sphere grew weary of the chaos and decided to restore order to the region once again."

Wait. Stop. The Supreme is not restoring anything. There had never been any order.

When the most powerful weapon in creation, the Black Dagger, is described: "...appears as a normal double-edged fighting knife,
except that the metal composing it is of the deepest black of
night", you might suspect that it's black. Nope. It's dark red.

There's nothing in this book I can recommend. Thanks for the free look, Josh, and I wish I could have seen something I liked.

Sovereign Court

Josh Simon wrote:
Stereofm wrote:
Any chance of a print or print on demand edition ?

Hi Stereofm,

Yes! This book is out in print. I just did not want to risk advertising a different site other than paizo.

If you search for "Avlis" on lulu.com, you will see the book. :)

Enjoy.

In the USA maybe, but the damn lulu automatically detects I am logged in France, and I guarantee that you get every possible result in their search option rather than your book.

For the record, I got :
- A collection of erotic postcard from the early 1900s
- The Three musketteers
- barbarians of Lemuria

...

EDIT : Ah I found it, after changing my settings to International, English, USA ...


Chris Mortika wrote:
Well, I read through this product and posted a short review. Here's a longer description with more details... There's nothing in this book I can recommend. Thanks for the free look, Josh, and I wish I could have seen something I liked.

It just sounds like he's in desperate need of a professional editor. Amateurish prose and glaring inconsistencies is what editors live to correct. A good editor will fix your book without making fundamental changes to the spirit of the text.


Urizen wrote:


Folks are going to ask in the meantime about certain contents. Is it alright to respond in brief to help satisfy curiosities? I just wanted to be certain since you were kind enough to share your product to me (and Chris).

Thanks again, Josh!

Sure that's fine.

Thanks for the review, Chris.


Dr. Swordopolis wrote:


It just sounds like he's in desperate need of a professional editor. Amateurish prose and glaring inconsistencies is what editors live to correct. A good editor will fix your book without making fundamental changes to the spirit of the text.

It HAD a professional editor, btw. Perhaps the stress should be on *good*. I did not catch the homonym misspellings and neither did he.

I disagree with the amateurish prose bit, but c'est la vie.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Josh Simon wrote:


Thanks for the review, Chris.

You're welcome, and I'm sure we both wanted it to have a different result.


I've printed the PDF out in its entirety and spent some time combing through some of the contents. Like Chris, I've never played Neverwinter Nights, so I can't offer a true opinion on whether the game carried over to the pen & paper format successfully. From reading the previous reviews and a couple of comments in this thread, there definitely appears to be a following. But what they seem to be devoid of is a better way to describe the actual crunch and fluff of the product. It would be like if the roles were reversed where Pathfinder was put up on Avlis' site and a description of the experience of the game was drawn from the camaderie experienced from a Paizocon.

You can tell from reading a bit of the history and fluff that there had to be some form of a video game background influencing the contents. World of Warcraft is a good reference point. I've never played World of Warcraft either, but I do own several of the SSS printed books for some crunch and fluff and have been told that it translates.

What I cannot honestly do at this point is to give this an honest review of its own merits. It really does need an editor that is quite familiar of the Pathfinder system. What it seems to me is that there was an edit to upgrade this from 3.5 but a lot of things were overlooked. Races should not have a class designated as a Favored Class anymore. Some of the racial stat offsets does not seem to make sense (half-orcs get +1 Str, +2 Int; goblins get -1 Str, -1 Cha, +1 Dex; ogres get +10 Str, -2 Dex, +4 Con, -4 Int, -4 Cha; gnolls get +4 Str, +2 Con, -2 Int, -2 Cha; kobolds get -1 Str, -1 Wis; etc). Some people may like the fact that there are numerable different races to choose from as player characters and I don't have a problem with that. But are they balanced? For me, it would be game breaking if someone started right out at bat with a +10 modifier to their Str at 1st level. Someone may draw the attention to level adjustments, but as Chris indicated correctly - that was put aside with the Pathfinder release. Some races are not meant to be played as PCs. If these races are integral, there ought to be some sort of a race level that acts like a PrC dip that will allow the PC to increase their racial stats, but at a loss to the advancement they would have gotten staying with their chosen class.

Some of the PrCs that may be arcane related did not get the necessary hit dice boost. Mage of the Trust is still appearing as a d4 Hit Dice. I also question whether some of the entry skill requirements did not get the -3 reduction (i.e. White Necromancer).

Spells: I actually like some of the unique flavor offered (Wall of Dung caught my attention), but some editorial attention needs to be brought to a couple of them. For instance, Wall of Arrows show a Medium Range but they have it listed as 200' + 10'/level, but it should be 100' + 10'/level. Cease and Desist, which is a 1st level spell, has a Long range of 200' + 10'/level; Long range should be 400' + 40'/level, but I'm guessing the spell should have been a Medium range.

Deities: There's a lot to choose from and some folks may very well like the variety made available. Some of the etymology origins threw me in a loop. O'Ma is the creator of fey races and is masculent. It would make more sense if he were feminine as the word means grandmother in German. Or if it must be masculent, maybe he should be O'Pa? A lot of the set-up kind of reminds me of Forgotten Realm's entries of deities - portfolio and symbol, which I don't mind. I like that each entry begins with an excerpt from a tome or an individual's quotation in reference to the deity. The planar realms of origin for these deities follow the 3.5 Great Wheel tradition. Deities that do draw my attention would be Toran, Mikon, Valok, Aarilax, Dra'nar, Fegall -- to name a few. I could see myself borrowing from their portfolios for a homebrewed campaign.

The Bestiary - That's the section that worries me the most as it has not been properly updated to conform to the Pathfinder system. The statblock still reflects a 3.5 origin, but with CMB thrown in. Generic example:

    Creature Type
    Hit Dice
    Initiative
    Speed
    Armor Class
    Base Attack/CMB
    Attack
    Full Attack
    Space/Reach
    Special Attacks
    Special Qualities
    Saves
    Abilities
    Skills
    Feats
    Environment
    Organization
    CR/XP Value
    Treasure
    Alignment
    Advancement
    Level Adjustment

The existence of a Level Adjustment, Advancement, the lack of CMD, and not appending the touch and flat-footed AC entries was noticable. The skills were not upgraded (for example, the Assassin Tree has Listen +8 and Spot +8, which should have been rolled into Perception). Feats missing (the Assassin Tree is listed as a CR 11 opponent and does not have any feats?). Then there's initiative. There's a race called the Mikonator, which have a resemblance to humans, but are translucent, over 7' tall, and have wings. Their Initiative is listed as +3. However, they have Improved Initiative and a Dex of 16. Shouldn't that boost the initiative to +7? There's the Sadik, which are the corpses of dying humanoids who were animated with energy from the Positive Energy Plane with special magic before their moment of death. It is based as template to add onto existing races, but it concerns me when the template does not have any skills or feats (it explicitly says so). There may be a reason behind it that I'm overlooking, but I find it odd. Then there's the Spawn of Alifanitax, which are offsprings of a demon lord by the same name. It has its own template, but when the initiative is listed as +1 along with a Dex of 19 and Improved Initiative as a Feat.... something is not adding up.

Finally, the OGL license on the last page needs to be updated/appended with the publishing reference that's located before the table of contents. Otherwise, I would have thought this was only a OGL product and not Pathfinder related. Also, it does not clarify if any of the content is explicitly open or if some of them are closed. If so, I missed it. For the sake of the author, he ought to update to include that to protect the rights of his world's fluff.

I would like to give an honest review of the campaign world, but I seriously believe that Josh should have someone impartial who has no ties and investment to his campaign world, but is very familiar with the Pathfinder rules crunch, to put on an editorial hat & bring it up to snuff. Otherwise, I would have been very upset if I had actually spent the money for something that's way out of compliance for compatibility. Once that has been done, I would recommend updating / replacing the version online with an updated / corrected version and make aware those who have already obtained it as a purchase to get the updated replacement for free. I would like to review the updated edition to get it a fair shake. I don't want to set up anyone for an automatic failure when their campaign does show potential, but needs a serious editorial polish. I like to think that there's a community spirit over here at Paizo where we want the 3PPs to succeed instead of ripping them to shreds (well, that's a bit too utopian, but hey I can try to be optimistic). Some of the grognards over at EnWorld may not be as kind...

To reiterate in conclusion to what I said in the preceeding paragraphs - I'm going to refrain putting up a review of the product until the revisions have been made to give it a 2nd chance.


Thanks for the review, Urizen. Yes, we are going to be revising the text and putting it out again, giving all those who bought a copy a new version for free. At this time, I think it is only the Avlis fans buying, so we should not have a big problem there.

What I do not know is how long it will take to update/revise this content, as that will probably require some additional layout work as well, which might take time and money that we have yet to set aside.

Thanks also to all who piped up in this thread. See you for the next release.

Dark Archive

Chris Mortika wrote:

Well, I read through this product and posted a short review. Here's a longer description with more details.

snikt

Thanks for the more extensive review, Chris.


Thank you to the reviewers..

Also thaks to Josh Simon for his professional demeanor. I look forward to an updated version.


Josh Simon wrote:


Thanks for the review, Urizen. Yes, we are going to be revising the text and putting it out again, giving all those who bought a copy a new version for free. At this time, I think it is only the Avlis fans buying, so we should not have a big problem there.

What I do not know is how long it will take to update/revise this content, as that will probably require some additional layout work as well, which might take time and money that we have yet to set aside.

Thanks also to all who piped up in this thread. See you for the next release.

Josh,

I understand your dilemma when there are time and budget constraints due to it being a personal project rather than your primary means of employment income. I personally would like to see the revised edition as I do believe that there are definitely some potential in there. I do hope that I did not come across as harsh as it is hard to convey sincerity through this electronic medium.

I am not a 'crunch' guru, but you ought to enlist a couple of eyes from the Paizo boards who would be willing to do so at little to no cost and make the corrections available to you so that less time can be spent in the editorial process to make the updated revision process quicker and smoother.

Good luck!

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