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What the hex is a malefexAdam B. 135 —
Disclaimer: I work with Dreamscarred Press and have worked with Jade Ripley multiple times in the past. I was not involved in the design of this book however.
Unfettered Dreams: Malefex opens up with statements from the author Jade Ripley and from Ehn Jolly, a contributing author, adding a personal touch. Up next are a table of contents, a small section on "using this book" summarizing each chapter, and a list of books needed and suggested to use Unfettered Dreams: Malefex to the fullest.
First is the desctriptor for the malefex, painting them as scrappy folk magic users that utiliize their curses and hard earned skills to win their fights. What strikes me about the fluff is that malefex feels like it fits into most fantasy settings. It feels like a concept that should exist. It can even be used to emulate some comic book characters like Black Cat or Jinx. When it comes to class features matching fluff, the malefex defintitely earns an A.
Up next is the actual class. The malefex sits at d8 HD with medium BAB and good reflex and will saves. They also have an abundance of class skills and the skill points to use them. Finally, malefexes are proficient in martial weapons and light armor. No shield proficiency.
Class feature wise, the malefex's main tool are their malefactions. Malefactions are swift action curse effects that tend to debuff their foes or provide a buff to the malefex when abusing their enemies. As the malefex levels up they learn progressively stronger malefactions, capstoning with one of three very strong maledictions. These malefactions cover a variety of effects, from gluing a foe in place to giving the foe spell resistance that only blocks harmless effects and effects from their allies. Malefactions have an infinite duration as long as the foe remains in the malefex's line of site. Otherwise, the malefaction expires one minute later. There is even a side bar explaining how malefactions interact with the curse condition from Path of War Expanded.
Up next are knocks from the malefex's School of Hard Knocks ability. In stucture these are like talents from other classes, though they tend to be quite strong on their own and do not rely on taking chains of knacks in order to have significant effects to the character. These knacks offer a great degree of customization to the malefex. Between malefaction and knack choices, there can be a lot of variation between two malefexes.
Besides the two staples of maledictions and knocks, malefexes gain a variety of other features such as combat bonuses against cursed targets (malefactions are curses, but so are spells such as Bestow Curse), trapfinding, or the aptly named Schadenfreude which grants the malefex temporary hitpoints when nearby creatures suffer misfortune (curses). Malefexes also gain a variety of features augmenting their malefactions and fluffy features such as the ability to sniff out merchants and bargains, or break enchantment a few times a day.
There is more to the book than just the malefex class however. Presented after the class are a wide variety of favored class bonuses that cover a solid variety of races. There is also the rustpicker malefex archetype that gains and upgrades the Brilliant Planner feat from Ultimate Intrigue in a variety of interesting ways.
The feats are mostly the feats you would expect such as Extra X or Improved X feats. Honed Maliciousness however is a very strong feat that allows the malefex to pierce curse immunity, though at the cost of granting the foe a huge bonus on saves against curses. Wrack and Ruin is another cool feat, allowing more combat focused malefexes to deal some extra damage.
Rogues, slayers and vigilantes all gain talents that grant them access to knocks and maledictions. I am annoyed that the vigilante talent for malediction use gains more daily uses of maledictions thant he rogues and slayers. To cap off the book, some reference feats were printed. Sadly, the Brilliant Planner feat the rustpicker malefex is based around has not been reprinted here.
Overall, this is a excellent release. The malefex covers excellent thematic ground and backs up the strong themes with good mechanics. I feel like some of the later malefactions are overly strong; though not enough to make this class overpowered. Even with these shortcomings, Unfettered Dreams: Malefex is an awesome book! If you love curses or magical scrappers, this book is for you. If you want a class that focuses on a rarely used mechanic, this book is for you. I rate it a 4.5 out of 5 (so a 5 here on Paizo).
Magic Items and Magic Item Accessories.Adam B. 135 —
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.
Pick a Winner!Adam B. 135 —
Call to Arms: Axes and Picks was a supplement I could not resist picking up. I am a big fan of axes and picks, though the Pathfinder system often leaves them in the dust compared to swords. I wanted to see some good non-sword options to use in my games, and this book delivered.
This book starts off with a short introduction, explaining the purpose of the Call to Arms line, along with explaining what will be found in this book. After that there is a short piece of fiction that showcases items found in this book. Before getting to the crunch, there is a brief history of axes and picks, along with how they were used to fight. This use of fiction and history really got me hyped up for the remaining contents of the book.
We are introduced first to the double-headed weapon quality, which is contributes greatly to the versatility of the weapons in this book. It is a weapon quality that effectively lets each head of a weapon have different qualities that can be switched between as a free action. As an example, the cutter mattock has one head that works as a greataxe, dealing 1d12 slashing damage, which the mattock side deals 2d4 piercing damage and has a x4 critical modifier! Enhancing the weapon enhances both heads at the same time. The only time that both sides would not be enhanced would be if you construct one side from a different material than the other, such as having an adamantine mattock side and cold iron axe side. I personally disliked that detail since paying for both adamantine and cold iron on the weapon and enhancing it would cost a fortune. Similarly, even small modifications such as silvering one side for pocket change will suddenly make the other side have to be enhanced separately. Altogether this is a very desirable weapon quality since it allows the character to bring multiple damage types to an encounter with no time wasted drawing a new weapon.
Up next here is rules for a new special material to build weapons and armor from; flint. Flint weapons are very cheap, have halved hardness compared to their base weapon, and the Fragile quality. When flint weapons strike hard materials such as iron, sparks are produced. Thankfully, these sparks have a low chance of starting fires.
After this, many new simple, martial, and exotic weapons are introduced. Many of the simple weapons are actually trade tools, such as butcher’s cleavers. As such, none of them are double-headed.
The exotic weapons are a bit different on the other hand. The only double-headed weapon is the dwarven pickaxe, which is essentially a dwarven war axe with a pick on the other side of its head. Just like the dwarven war axe, it is treated as a martial weapon by dwarves. The most peculiar exotic weapon in this section is the dhampir maul, which is a large hammer than can have a stake positioned in a slot in the head. This allows for powerful and easy vampire staking! Very cool. The executioner’s axe is another exotic weapon that earns its title, as it’s a 1d12 axe with a 19-20 critical range and a x3 critical modifier. I was quite happy to see that out of all these new weapons, only the executioner’s axe was numerically better than the axes and picks from the core line. Every other weapon was equal in power, though usually more versatile. Because of this, power creep was minimal, though unavoidable. Axes and picks are in a bad spot in pathfinder, so even a small versatility boost will strengthen them. Because of this, I find this slight power creep acceptable and even desirable.
New sheaths for protecting the blade of your axes and picks are available as well. These sheaths also provide interesting combat benefits, as when they are covering your weapons you can deal nonlethal damage at only a -2 penalty. Very nice attention to detail!
Old King Harold, the resident intelligent weapon of the book, is a highly magical greataxe labrys, in which each side of its head is enchanted differently. One side is goblin-bane, and the other orc-bane. Old King Harold wants its owner to think that he is the soul of a dethroned king murdered by orcs, and will use every trick he knows of to convince his wielder this. He will use his knowledge of local genealogy to create a cover story that always meshes with the region and time period that he is found in. He will speak whatever language would make sense, and pretend to be whatever races makes sense for the area. Elves? Dwarves? Doesn’t matter. Old King Harold wants to have his wielder hunt down and fight goblins and orcs, and provides excellent support as long as the wielder does so. As an intelligent magic item, Old King Harold is a hilarious concept, and thankfully does not have campaign derailing power. In fact, he feels like he has great roleplay opportunity written all over him.
The mythic Axe of Perun is a very cool idea indeed. It is an axe formed from powerful magic lightning striking soil. Through the use of mythic points, a character may manipulate weapon and even drop lightning bolts on people! There is even a sidebar explaining who Perun is in Slavic mythology. This was a very nice and thoughtful touch to the book.
For character options, this book provides a rogue talent that allows sneak attack dice to be traded for reductions in enemy AC, as their weapon penetrates their armor. There is also the feat Hook Shield, which allows a character to push someone’s shield out of their way, or even rip it off their arms. Whirling Defense is a feat with hefty prerequisites, though it has a powerful effect. When fighting defensively, and two-weapon fighting with axes or picks, anyone who attacks you provokes an attack of opportunity. To top it all off, there is a new Craft skill introduced. Craft (Knapping) is the shaping of stones like obsidian or flint into usable weapons, arrows, and tools.
Call to Arms: Axes and Picks is an excellent book. I came into this book hoping to find some good choppy weapons. Instead, I got a lot of good choppy weapons, excellent weapon properties, comedic writing, character options and a collection of cool magical items I can’t wait to put in a campaign. For such a small supplement, I got a lot of good content. This book more than delivers, and deserves a 5 out of 5.
This review of the Shadow of the Dusk Queen is from the perspective of the player, so I am only privy to hidden details that the GM let the players know afterwards. I do know that the GM ran everything out of the book with no modifications though. With that out of the way, here is my review from the player’s side. There will be some spoilers here, though they shouldn’t be a big deal if you are a GM. Players might want to skip the second to last paragraph.
Shadows of the Dusk Queen has gorgeous art that is all in color. Every piece in the book is of the same high quality previewed on its Paizo store page. It sounds silly to say this, but even the page borders are gorgeous. Every bit of love and care that could have gone into this books presentation was put in. Additionally, all of the art is compiled at the back of the book to be easily printed out. The provided maps were similarly gorgeous, and have pages at the back of the book that can be printed out for tabletop use.
Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a very engaging adventure that can be completed in one session. One of the biggest things that stuck out to me was the encounters. There were multiple encounters that you could talk your way out of, and a good mix between easy encounters and challenging ones. The challenging ones in particular awed me, since they relied on battlefield awareness just as much as character power. The creatures you fight have abilities and tactics that complement the terrains you face them in, so that even if they are “weak” for the player’s level, they still provide a challenge that may require thinking outside the box. The final battle of this adventure was everything that the dialogue in the adventure hyped up to be. There were multiple times that we, the party, though a TPK was imminent, but we managed to pull through with one near death, and a dead animal companion. We were told afterwards that we fought the final encounter at its highest difficulty setting, which really made us feel proud. I am impressed that there were difficulty settings for this final battle as it makes the adventure more accessible to players of all styles right out of the box.
My only problem with the adventure was its beginning. There were no friendly NPCs to pull the player characters into the adventure. There is a sidebar explaining that introducing the adventure would be left the GM so that it could fit in with whatever campaign they are running so this is forgivable, but against my liking.
Up next is the player rewards, of which there are many. There are many consumables to be found and earned that help with challenges in the adventure, though they are not necessary to complete the challenges. Most parties should benefit from the gear found as well, though the greatest reward is the Dusk Queen’s spell book, which is an intelligent spell book with an entire page and a half dedicated to it. The book is a little quirky, like any intelligent magic item should be, but quite manageable. It can be used to easily provide future quest hooks, and is bound to make any spell book using class happy. The item is so cool that I plan to bring this adventure into future campaigns to give them a challenge, while also giving out some of the coolest loot.
Overall, Shadows of the Dusk Queen earns a 4.5 out of 5 from me. The good points of this adventure outweigh my dislike for its introduction. This was a very fun experience for my friends and I, and I plan on running it on my own at some point.
5 out of 5, would adventure withAdam B. 135 —
The Daevic is the third release of the Akashic Mysteries series. The first being the Vizier whom I will be using as a point of reference many times in this review. For those just tuning in, Akashic Mysteries is a Dreamscarred press product that can be described as a reimagining and streamlining of Magic of Incarnum. However that is selling it short. It uses 3 new classes instead of porting the old ones over, and drastically increases the playability of the system. Veils in this system do not take up your magic item slots (unlike soulmelds), and in some cases enhance the magic item in the slot.
The Class: The Daevic is most definitely fulfills the martial roll that has been missing in Akashic Mysteries. However, this class has more to offer than broken bones and the shattered remains of its enemies. Daevics are highly versatile thanks to their veilweaving. They can get powerful skill buffs, charm people, and generally overcome challenges that most martials can only apply a sword to. This is not to say that it cannot be ran as a pure martial (and exceed in that role), but that it can be more than just a thug.
The Daevic is a d10 hit die class with full BAB, 4+ skill points per level, and good fortitude and reflex saves. Daevics use charisma as their veilweaving ability score. They gain proficiency with all martial weapons, and even all armors and shields except tower shields.
One of the most interesting parts of the Daevic is its fluff, and how that ties to its mechanics. Daevics are symbiotically bonded to a nascent Daeva, which is an akashic being with no body. Each Daeva has strong ties to a particular emotion, and is attracted to beings experiencing that emotion strongly and often. The soon-to-be Daevic attracts a Daeva, bonding with it and feeding it his own akashic essence. In return, the Daeva grants immense power in the form of veils. This explains the Daevic’s unique way of veilweaving; Passion.
The Daevic’s veilweaving could be considered the weakest of the 3 akashic classes, but in some ways it can be the strongest, or at least the most efficient.
Their core mechanic is their Passion, which functions as an essence receptacle and represents the feeding of the Daeva. About half of a Daevic’s veils shaped are part of their Passion, coming from a list of veils specific to each passion, and gain the full amount of essence invested in the Daevic’s passion. For example, if the Daevic had 2 veils shaped as passion veils, and invested 3 essence into their passion, both veils would count as having 3 essence invested in them. Basically, whatever power is given to your Daeva is returned multiple times over. Of course, they also gain veils unrelated to their passion. Those veils must have essence invested in them separately.
There is more to Passions than that however. First of all, you choose what your Passion is. Desire, Dominion and Wrath are your options, and represent the intense emotion that the Daevic experienced to attract their particular Daeva. Each Passion grants new class skills, a list of veils, and determines your 3rd and 6th level class abilities
The Desire Passion grants appraise, sleight of hand, and stealth as class skills. The veils associated with this passion are mostly strong mind-affecting veils, healing veils, and some utility veils. At 3rd level, it grants two bonus feats that enable the Daevic to work a thrown weapon build without suffering from many issues present in that fighting style. At 6th level, they are given the choice between getting a relatively powerful follower and enhancing their ability to fight with thrown weapons. This cannot be a full-caster, or any class similar to a full caster. If they choose to strengthen their thrown weapon expertise, then any weapon they hold onto for 24 hours gains the benefits of both the Returning and Called weapon properties, and later gain improved functionality of these properties. To spice up the thrown weapon boons, eventually creatures struck by your thrown weapons become affected by the Unnatural Lust spell with an improved DC. Oh my.
The Dominion Passion grants diplomacy, handle animal, and knowledge (nobility). The veils that Dominion focuses on increase durability, and help out with social situations. Their 3rd level ability deviates from the standard, granting a bonus feat at levels 3, 5 and 8. These bonus feats being Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Shield Bash, and Shield Master and they ignore all prerequisites. This is a great deal, and provides strong support for an underused fighting style. At 6th level, this passion gets two choices as well. They can choose to gain bonus teamwork feats every few levels, sharing them with their allies as a move action (later a swift). If Teamwork is not their thing, a Dominion Daevic may choose to gain a large scaling bonus to intimidate checks, and can choose to intimidate a creature as a swift action.
Last but not least is the Wrath passion. Wrath grants survival, heal, and knowledge (martial) from Dreamscarred Press’s Path of War line. This passion’s veils focus on offense and combat utility. If anyone missed the Totemist from Incarnum, this passion is for you. Many of the passion’s veils provide natural weapons, or other monstrous forms of attack (can you say breath weapons?). At 3rd level the Wrath Daevic gains the ability to make an attack of opportunity the first time each round that they successfully bull rush or overrun, before moving them of course. Additionally, they get a scaling bonus to CMB when performing these maneuvers, and a scaling bonus to CMD to resist them. Once they reach 6th level, they get 2 choices. One allows them to make a full attack with only natural weapons in place of the attack of opportunity their 3rd level ability granted. Their other choice grants them the entire Vital Strike feat chain and allows them to Vital Strike in place of the attack of opportunity their 3rd level ability grants.
The Daevic is more than just passions however. They also get scaling bonuses against enchantment effects, as all Daeva’s want to hold on to their Daevics. They also unlock chakra binds, getting a special “blood” slot with powerful veils reserved for it. Additionally, they gain the ability to put extra essence into their passion slot as they level up, getting past the normal limit of 4 essence per essence receptacle. As a capstone, they perfectly merge with their Daeva, becoming a native outsider, and pick up a few veilweaving buffs.
Feats: There are many strong options for multiclassing and gestalt in the feats presented here. I personally wanted to see a few feats tailored to the Daevic, but the "standard" Akashic feats are still very powerful. In particular, Extra Essence is very strong and increases your versatility. This is rare for an “extra class feature” feat. There are feats to grant minor veilweaving to any interested class, feats to improve veilweaving for anyone, and feats that count as essence receptacles, granting bonuses as essence is invested into them. For instance, such as Will of the Daeva, which grants a bonus to will saves equal to the essence invested in this feat.
Two particularly interesting feats included are huge boons to thrown weapon builds. The first of which is Powerful Throw, which allows the thrower to use their strength modifier in place of their dexterity modifier for thrown attack rolls, and allows the thrower to use Power Attack on thrown damage rolls in place of Deadly Aim. The second is Willful Throw, which is an essence receptacle and one of the feats granted by the Desire Passion’s 3rd level ability. It allows the thrown weapon attacks to use charisma in place of dexterity for attack rolls, and for every essence point placed into the feat, thrown weapon damage is increased by 1, and the target of your attack’s cover bonus is reduced by 1. The feat also grants 1 additional essence. Pretty nifty!
Veilweaving: Just like the Daevic’s Vizier and Guru predecessors, the Daevic can veil weave. This is where a lot of the Daevic’s customization comes from, as half their list of veils is decided for them by their Passion. In general, veils are balanced options. They can vary in power, but this is reined in by chakra binding. You only unlock certain chakra binds at certain levels, so you will not have access to your very strongest effects at 1st level. Daevics has many veils that only they can access, that are often combat oriented.
For instance, Armory of the Conqueror increases the damage dice of a held weapon by 1 size category for the first essence invested into it, then another size category for every 2 more essence invested. Suddenly, the Vital Strike option for Wrath Daevics got a lot more appealing. Of course, there are many veils that grant natural weapons, including rake attacks for a grappler.
There are also excellent utility options such as the Crusader’s Shield veil, which allows you to create a wall of akashic power that blocks attacks, movement, breath weapons, and any targeted spells or effects that would pass through it. This does not block vision based effects, as you can see through this wall. Later on, when you can bind this veil, it gains the ability to be used as an immediate action a number of times per day equal to the character’s veilweaving modifier (Charisma for Daevics). Dominion Daevics may enjoy this veil as one of their passion veils.
Lover’s Tread is a particularly interesting veil, as it is both a veil designed to empower tripping an to mentally manipulate your foes (or possible friends. You’ll see.). You see, it gives the Daevic a scaling bonus to trip attempts, and allows the Daevic to make a bluff check against the target creature’s CMD to avoid the attack of opportunity incoming in case the Daevic has not gained Improved Trip yet. When this veil is binded, Charm Person (Charm Monster if you have 3 essence invested) is also cast upon the tripped foe. If you succeeded on the bluff check, they take a -2 to the save against it. In essence, you make a creature fall for you. As one might guess, Desire Daevics can take this veil as a passion veil.
Conclusion: If you are looking for a balanced, interesting release you should look no further. Fans of Incarnum, along with people who desire a customizable, mystic themed martial, should definitely check this release out. I give the Daevic a 5 out of 5. Also, the art included in this book is top notch, as an added touch.
Psionics Unleashed AgainAdam B. 135 —
This book begins with fantastic cover art by Joe Shawcross, and continues to impress with gorgeous layout and art throughout the book.
Chapter 1 – Races:There are 10 psionic races presented in this book. Included in each race are information on their society, psychology, and other details to help create a fully-developed character. These aren’t just stat blocks, but actual races.
Chapter 2 – Classes: Psionics work very similarly to magic, but they use a completely different resource mechanic and are called manifesters. They use power points, which can be likened to a mana bar if compared to video games. Where power points differ from a mana bar is that you can choose how many power points go into a psionic power, making it as strong or weak as you want. Of course, there are sane limits placed. You cannot put more power points into a power than your level, and you cannot put less power points into a power than the power’s level. Additionally, your character gains additional power points depending on their key mental ability score.
The first psionic class introduced is the Psion. The Psion would be what psionics considers a full-caster; a full-manifester and is the most like the wizard if compared to core rulebook classes. There are six psionic disciplines, and the Psion can choose to specialize in one, or to become a generalist. Each discipline grants additional class features and the option to select a few strong psionic powers that are unique to their discipline. Through the use of feats, characters who are not members of that discipline can select some discipline powers. For instance, the best psionic blasting powers are locked into the Psychokinesis discipline. If anyone wants these powers, they must spend a feat and get it levels later. This presents a more balanced way of selecting powers, instead of letting all psionic characters cherry pick the best powers of each level. All together, the Psion is a very powerful and versatile class, and definitely deserves the name Psion in a book about Psionics. You could easily run multiple Psions and have a different experience every time.
Up next is the Psychic Warrior, which has no resemblance to the fighter. It is d8 hit die, medium BAB, and gets 6/9 levels of manifesting. These warriors gain martial weapon proficiencies, and all armors and shields except tower shields. Psionic Warriors gain a warrior’s path, which gives them scaling benefits to a combat style, and psionic powers that benefit that combat style. For instance, the Feral Warrior Path can grow natural weapons using its psionic powers, gets a scaling bonus to attack rolls with natural weapons, and can even expend its psionic focus for a pseudo-pounce ability. Aside from this, they can get bonus feats, and eventually a second warrior’s path. As a martial/caster gish, this class succeeds in every area. It definitely measures up to other gish classes like the Magus and Inquisitor, while bringing its own unique playstyle to the party.
Soul Knifes have gotten a big revamp since 3.5. In here, they are a d10 hit die, full BAB, and 4 skill points per level. Unlike the other classes in this book, the Soulknife is not a manifester. It does have a mind blade however. This mind blade is basically a transforming, scaling, magic weapon (Gets up to +9 without talents). They can even throw their mind blade as a ranged option. If so desired, they can form 2 smaller mind blades for dual wielding purposes. They also can charge up their mind blade to use Psychic Strike, which provides a scaling damage bonus to one mind blade attack. Charging up a psychic strike is a move action, but they stick around until expended. This means you can always start combat with one at least. This class also gets blade skills, which are very similar to talents on other classes. Blade skills offer a wide variety options, new blade forms, and ways to manipulate psychic strke. A lot of these blade skills are strong, but they only put the Soul Knife on the edge of being an amazing class. Blade skills in later psionic books push this class over that edge magnificently, but they are not included in this book.
The Wilder is the final class introduced in this book. In a way, the Wilder is like the sorcerer to the Psion’s Wizard. However, their execution is quite different. Wilders are full-manifesters, but have a d8 hit dice, medium BAB, and 4+ skill points. Despite this, the Wilder is quite balanced, and possibly a little weaker than the Psion. Wilders have significantly less powers known than Psions, but the same number of power points. Their main class feature however gets to break that golden rule on expending more power points than their character level on a power. This is through their wild surge feature. As part of manifesting a psionic power, they may add free extra power points to their power, but at a risk. Every time they wild surge, they have a 15% chance of suffering psychic enervation; losing their character level in power points and being inflicted with a debuff associated with their surge type. Surge types you ask? Each Wilder may select a surge type at level 1. This surge type grants them additional benefits, and determines the status effect they take when their wild surge goes wrong. For instance, the leader’s surge grants the Wilder the surging aura bonus feat, which allows nearby allies to gain an attack roll bonus when you wild surge, and shakes the Wilder when they suffer psychic enervation. Additionally at 5th level, the range of the aura begins to increase, and also to share the benefits of your surging euphoria class feature. Surging Euphoria grants the Wilder a scaling bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws for a short time. Altogether, the Wilder is a very cool and powerful addition to the psionic line up.
Chapter 3 – Skills and Feats: Psionics Unleashed brings two new skills to Pathfinder. First is Autohypnosis, which allows the player a limited amount of “mind of matter.” For instance, they can use autohypnosis to focus hard enough to ignore the pain caused by caltrops, still taking the damage but ignoring the movement penalties associated. They can also use autohypnosis to memorize things, stabilize themselves, get additional saves against fear, and even to ignore the hit point damage from standard actions when disabled (0 hit points).
Knowledge (Psionics) can be used to identify psionic monsters, ancient mysteries, recognize psionic traditions, psychic symbols, cryptic phrases, astral constructs, and psionic races. It’s basically what you would expect from a Psionic knowledge skill.
The last part of the skill section includes a modification to Spellcraft and Use Magic Device to allow them to interact with psionic content.
Feats are numerous, granting a variety of interesting benefits. Here is where metapsionic feats are found. Metapsionic feats require the character to expend additional power points for their effects and expend psionic focus. Additionally, these additional power points count towards the total amount of power points you can invest into a power. These 2 factors cause metapsionic feats to be significantly more balanced than metamagic builds.
Besides metapsionic feats, there are a variety of feats that grant a small benefit, but grant a significantly larger benefit when psionic focus is expended. For instance, Speed of Thought grants your character a +10 insight bonus to movement speed, but increases this bonus to +30 for one round when psionic focus is expended.
There are other fun feats such as Mind Over Body, which allows you to heal ability damage at a rate of 1+constitution modifier per day naturally, instead of the normal 1.
The most interesting feat is the iconic Psicrystal Affinity. Psicrystals are very similar to familiars, but instead of being animals or magical creatures, they are crystals with a fragment of your personality powering them. They grant everything a familiar grants, but instead deliver touch powers. Additionally, they grant +3 to a skill or +2 to save, depending on which part of your personality they sprang from. There are other feats to upgrade your psicrystal, such as Psicrystal Containment. This feat allows your psicrystal to hold a second psionic focus for you, but you must still use your own actions to charge it up.
Chapter 4 – Psionics: This chapter explains in detail the entire psionic power manifesting system that I briefly summarized earlier. Powers vary about as much as spells do, and with manifesting, you can generate a variety of similar effects. Additionally, the authors include some suggestions, such as the psionic-magic transparency, where psionic powers and magical effects are treated as the same things for the purposes of dispel magic or the barbarian’s superstition rage power.
Chapter 5 – Powers: Psionic Powers are basically the magical spells of base Pathfinder, but for psionics. Where Psionics differentiate the most from spells is that most basic effects are actually low level powers. By putting more power points into a power, its save DC will increase, and often its effect becomes stronger. For example, Entangling Ectoplasm is an unassuming 1st level power. For 1 power point, our character makes a ranged touch attack that entangles a medium or smaller creature and dissipates in 5 rounds. The strength check/escape artist check to break out is 11+your key mental ability modifier. However, for every 2 power points you expend on this power, this DC increases by 1 and this power may affect a target one size category larger. Seems pretty cool right? All of the blasting options work the same way, where every power point spent increases damage by 1d6 and every 2 power points spent increases the power’s save DC.
Powers in this book are very balanced, and quite a few of the powers that are similar to spells have actually had their targeting limited, becoming personal buffs.
Chapter 6 – Prestige Classes: This chapter begins with a few ground rules that psionic prestige classes follow. They always advance your psicrystal. For Soulknifes, any prestige class level with “+1 level of existing manifesting class” improves their mind blade class feature, so that they do not fall behind. Meanwhile the Wilder’s Wild Surge is advanced in any prestige class level where power points are gained. This little detail makes a huge impact on a playability of these classes, providing incentives to actually leave their own class.
The first prestige class presented is the Cerebremancer. They combine arcane spellcasting and manifesting not unlike a Mystic Theurge, allowing them to spend power points to strengthen spells, and expend spell slots to boost their power’s effectiveness.
The Elocator is a highly mobile prestige class that never even has to touch the ground. They are always floating, and all of their class features focus on movement in some way. Additionally, they gain 7 levels of manifesting.
The Metamind is interesting in that it focuses on making your power points last, as opposed to making your powers stronger. It advances your power point pool at every level, but advances your powers known and maximum power level at 7 of its 10 levels. For a Wilder, this would mean that every one of its levels advances Wild Surge however. In return, this prestige class can store power points into a psicrystal to be used any time in the future, and can temporarily forget powers to gain extra power points. If your goal is to be a living battery, never running out of power points, this is the perfect prestige class for it. You sacrifice power for durability.
The Phrenic Slayer is a slayer of psionic creatures. They advance manifesting at 9/10 levels, gain one favored enemy that must be psionic in some way, and gains special mental defenses against her favored enemy.
The Psion Uncarnate is a prestige class focused on becoming disembodied psionic might. They gain 6/10 manifesting can become incorporeal for a very limited amount of time. As they advance in level, they become more adept as becoming incorporeal, and can affect the corporeality of nearby things and creatures. Finally, as their capstone, they become permanently incorporeal, and gain massive bonuses to their manifesting. They can return to being corporeal for a limited amount of time per day as well.
The Psionic Fist is basically a gish prestige class. It advances major monk class features and grants 8/10 manifester levels. They get a few other toys, such as DR/- as long as they maintain psionic focus, or the ability to spend 2 ki points to make an autohypnosis check to ignore damage taken (DC being twice the damage. OUCH).
Pyrokineticists can generate a flaming whip, gaining additional benefit if the character previously had soulknife levels. The class is unfocused, with almost every class feature having either no synergy with their other class features, or being unable to interact with their other class features. They can manipulate existing fire as to heal, create blinding fireworks, or create smoke clouds. Heck, they can even shoot fire for minimal damage.They can gain bonuses to unarmed attacks, and eventually being able to set themselves on fire once a day for a charisma buff and to gain a touch attack. This touch attack not having the strength, or range of their own touch attack whip, not able to be empowered by their unarmed attack bonuses. Eventually, they gain the ability to explode into flames, dealing a very good amount of damage and has a fairly easy to save against save-or-die attached. With no manifester levels and disjointed features, the Pyrokineticist is not a good prestige class.
Review Continued in comments Here
Dreamscarred Press has let the right one inAdam B. 135 —
Lords of the Night is a campaign supplement made to support those who wish to play as vampires. Actually, scratch that. This book does more! Almost every player option in this book does not require the user to be a vampire, or even undead. Also, it provides an alert system that can be used for any group of creatures that desires to remain hidden, not just vampires. It gives players tools to play as vampires, and gives GMs interesting rules for running vampires as NPCs.
Chapter 1 is the “fluff” chapter. In here you will find a believable representation of what vampires in an urban setting could be like, ranging from their societal rules to what kind of lairs they like. It details their feeding habits, which is expected from a vampire book. However it does delve deeper bringing up unexpected topics such as how a vampire interacts with their previous mortal faith.
Chapter 2 covers vampiric PC creation, and details the mechanics behind feeding and city/village alertness. This chapter also contains a section on running a vampiric campaign, along with playing in one. It provides a new vampire template that is tied into the feeding mechanics detailed in this chapter, as opposed to having a vague “you drink blood or die.” This template is also a CR+1 template, so it is much less crazy to manage as a GM.
The Alert system is also introduced in this chapter. It is a section detailing how a GM can track a settlement's alertness to their hidden threats, vampiric or not. This Alert system is filled with examples, suggestions, and contains simple rules to keep track of for any GM. It breaks down settlement alertness into two tracks. Alert Levels and Provocations. Alert levels describe how alert the society is, with a 0 and 1 being "Peaceful" and a 10 being "Manhunt." Provocations on the other hand, change the Alert Level as they build up. Provocations are rarely permanent, and clever players can actually get rid of some Provocations rather quickly. The section lists multiple scenarios in which Provocation can increase and decrease, providing easy reference for any situations that don't occur in the examples. This section also details how official settlement rules affect the alert system, such as how settlements with a Crime rating can make it harder for people to notice vampiric activity. This chapter concludes with examples of how different settlement types and sizes might behave when at different Alert Levels. I really like this attention to detail.
Chapter 3 is very focused on player options. It contains 2 archetypes, 3 prestige classes, feats, a Martial Discipline and Martial Tradition (Path of War line), Spells, and Powers (Psionics line). It is important to note that this section is not vampire specific (Except 1 prestige class). Yes, the content benefits vampires and is purposefully written to be compatible with undead-ness, but any human, dwarf, or elf could use this chapter.
The first archetype is the Nightguard (Paladin). These paladins don’t require Good alignment, and are based around defending civilization from monsters. While losing Lay On Hands, they retain Smite Evil. Additionally, in place of mercies, they get Nemeses which act like talents. This is a very cool archetype for anyone looking for a Lawful but not necessarily good paladin.
The Frenzied Slayer is a barbarian archetype that modifies rage extensively. Instead of improving your strength, constitution, and will saves, their rage increases your strength, armor class, and reflex save, in addition to granting an extra attack. Basically, your rage make you faster instead of tougher.
Greater Vampire, the only part of this chapter that requires you to be undead, is a 5 level prestige class that also advances your original class features 2 levels. You also gain additional ability scores, mist form, and strengthen abilities gained from the vampire template presented in chapter 2.
The Lethe Adept is a psionic prestige class that advances your manifester level by 7 over its 10 level run. They target a creature's mind, dealing damage to mental ability scores. Lethe Adepts make up for their manifester level loss with powerful class abilities, such as gaining temporary hit points from dealing mental ability damage and increasing the save DC of their telepathy powers. Eventually, they can brainjack anyone who has a mental ability score reduced to 0 by their powers. This is the vampire that hypnotizes victims from the window.
Sussurratori is the initiating prestige class, and probably my favorite prestige class in this book. It makes use of Unquiet Grave, a discipline introduced in this book. Fluffwise, most Sussurratori are living and often work with Vampires. They can stealthily take out problem targets, gaining a very nifty ability to increase the perception check DC to hear the sounds of combats they take part in. Additionally, they can teleport themselves, a nearby helpless creature, or a nearby willing creature to a specially prepared coffin. This allows the Sussurratori to easily transport captured food to their vampiric allies, save a dying ally, or to escape danger themselves! Very cool. They also can deal nonlethal damage with no penalty, allowing them to more easily capture people. As they level up, they become increasingly better at stealthily capturing or disabling targets, inflicting silence, dimensional anchor, and even a 1/day force cage. I just love how versatile and fun this prestige class is. The Sussurratori can easily be a vampire’s ally, but can just as easily be played as a supernatural bounty hunter, or many other concepts.
Black Templar are the veilweaving prestige class, bringing in Dreamscarred Press’ final subsystem. These veilweavers drain living essence from their victims, gaining temporary essence and hit points in the process. As the Black Templar advances in levels, they gain stronger necromantic abilities. Creatures killed by their draining turn into zombies, and as a capstone they can actually use Create Undead on creatures they drain to death.
Feats from this book are very versatile. They can allow vampires to appear more alive, becoming harder to detect in the process, or allow bards to affect undead with their performances. They even have a feat to turn your animal companion, familiar, or dark messenger (from a Harbinger archetype) into an undead animal companion.
Alongside the new discipline, Unquiet Grave, there is a new martial tradition. Interestingly enough, this tradition, The Scales of Mourning, is about the balance of the living, positive energy, the dead, and negative energy. The discipline, Unquiet Grave, on the other hand feels strongly undead. Just as most of the content in this section, it does not require you to be undead to use. Instead, its strikes and boosts add necromantic effects, or emulate undead monster abilities. As an example, Wight’s Blow deals a negative level that lasts for the duration of combat, while Howling Banshee Strike deals additional damage temporary deafen attached. This discipline feels quite balanced, and focuses on both offense and debuffing. As an added bonus, harbingers, mystics, stalkers, and warlords all can freely trade one known discipline to gain access to Unquiet Grave, allowing a player to easily gain access to it if so desired.
The spells section is quite interesting. It brings a lot of vampire themed spells to the table, such a Hungering Blade, which allows your weapons to deal a small amount of constitution damage on each hit or Sanguine Eruption which causes someone to explode into blood (difficult terrain). Swarming Bat Surge is a personal favorite, allowing the caster to explode into bats as a swift action to escape combat. There are also anti-vampire spells, such as False Dawn, which blinds targets and causes intense damage to the undead.
The Powers section, just like the spells section, is composed of many vampire themed abilities. Myra’s Occultation is a real gem as it makes people’s memories of you very hazy or outright absent for 1 hour per level. Perfect for any psychic sleuth or vampire on the run.
The item section, unlike the rest of chapter 4, is most useful in a vampire campaign. This section contains nifty items, such as a vault for your blood, alchemical liquid that helps detect spilled blood, and even a magical black parasol that protects you from sunlight.
Chapter 4, offers many NPCs. The town guards presented are quite different from your average town guards. The basic guard is a level 2 ranger, while their captains are bards or ranger/rogues. There are veteran guards whom are rangers with dog animal companions as well. For campaigns with a lot of time spent in town, these can be highly useful, especially considering the level range on them. Also included are military NPCs, such as a 9th level paladin and adventurer PCs who seem quite competent at hunting down an undead threat. Of course, militiamen are included too, for when you need lower level threats.
Chapter 5, the final chapter, introduces the Leatherworkers’ Guild, a complete vampiric society ready to be implemented into any sufficiently large city. This chapter includes the founding of this society, backstory on its key players, and multiple plothooks and ways to have your players interact with this society. The NPCs here are all given backstories, motivations, an even what sides they take on the power struggle that seems to grip most members of the group.
It is obvious that a lot of love and care went into this book, and that the content was heavily researched. Additionally, the book manages to not come off as vampire fanservice, but as a serious attempt to integrate a new gameplay type into Pathfinder. This product earns a 5 out of 5 due to its excellent execution, balanced rules, and open-ended player options. This book is a must buy for any group wishing to play as vampires, or any GM interested in bringing vampires into a campaign as more than just monsters to be crushed.
A Harbinger for things to comeAdam B. 135 —
The first release of Path of War: Expanded has been released, and it serves as an excellent harbinger of what is to come.
With the Harbinger, we get a highly mobile and debuff specialized martial initiator. About half of their class features focus on movement in some way such as additional movement speed, additional movement types, and immediate action movement. They also have something to help them debuff, which is called Dark Focus. Basically, they choose a discipline to become more accurate and gain higher DCs. They also get more deadly when facing cornered or dying foes.
Tenebrous Reach, a class feature that allows the Harbinger to use strikes at Close range for basically an entire 13th level encounter, every encounter, feels like it doesn’t belong. It allows the Harbinger to stay out of danger without utilizing almost all of its mobility class features. While not overpowering, I fail to see why it was necessary to include.
Harbingers also bring two new disciplines to the fray: Cursed Razor and Shattered Mirror.
Cursed Razor is an excellent match for the Harbinger’s enhanced maneuver DCs since it is filled with delicious debuffs.
Shattered Mirror, on the other hand, has amazing utility. It contains debuffs, defensive measures, and even ally buffs.
The archetype section of this book is particularly well done. Here you have archetypes that change the playstyle in significant ways, while still being recognizable as Harbingers. Crimson Countess is still a debuffer, but inflicts more damage, is less mobile, and has slightly lower DCs. The Ravenlord on the other hand is a debuffing station. They lose all of their mobility class features, and some utility abilities in order to get a bird animal companion. They can use strikes through this animal companion, but when they do, they cannot initiate strikes that same round.
Feats in this book are very good. Each and every one of them is useful to a Harbinger without being overpowering. They mostly interact with the Harbinger’s maneuver recovery mechanic, Claim, allowing them to debuff, become more durable, or even become more mobile when Claim is used.
Overall, the Harbinger nets a 4.5 out of 5. It is more than solid as a class and as an initiator. It has a clear role, and is mostly balanced. Tenebrous Reach is my only complaint. If the rest of Path of War: Expanded meets the standards the Harbinger meets, it will be a great addition to any collection, and a must buy for anyone who loved the original Path of War.
For the more refined fighterAdam B. 135 —
Fighter: Nuances is an excellent and short book that provides effective options for the fighter class. This book does not increase damage output, as the fighter is already good at that. Instead, it provides the Nuance system, which is introduced as basically "fighter talents" that only the fighter can take in place of bonus combat feats.
These nuances provide a lot of utility to the fighter. They help them use skills, lead others, work well with their teammates, and even use a little "magic." Additionally, there are talents to increase combat mobility, or craft magic items effectively. For anyone afraid of making fighter numbers bigger, this book will mostly just increase save numbers, but not fighting numbers. Some talents affect weapon training, but only to provide bonuses to additional weapons, and never to increase the highest weapon training bonus.
Some of the nuances are a little weak, or are level gated at too high of a level to be relevant. However, these nuances are quite few and most nuances are appropriately powerful for their level.
Also included in Fighter Nuances is a fighter archetype that is a bit more magical. It trades the ability to take certain nuances to gain unique nuances for the archetype, granting it a magical fighter theme.
Additionally, the author includes suggestions for how to give fighter nuances to other classes if desired, how to more conservatively give fighters nuances, and how to give them away less conservatively. He also includes informative tips on creating your own nuances. Nice touch!
Fighter: Nuances earns a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks the fighter needs a little push. It provides good options without rewriting the class.
New Paths to FindAdam B. 135 —
I want to open this up by saying: I recommend this book to anyone who is just trying out 3rd party products. It is an excellent example of what people should expect from 3rd party companies. Balanced rules, classes, feats, and spells that easily fit into any Pathfinder game. This is not to say that experienced 3rd party product users shouldn’t use this book. Quite the opposite. Everyone should give this book a shot. New Paths Compendium does not bring any subsystems with it, so it will be very easy to plug and play.
New Paths Compendium was my first Kobold Press product, and I am entirely impressed. The cover art is fantastic, and the art inside the book manages to keep a very high quality as well. The layout is the standard layout you have all come to expect from Pathfinder products, allowing easy and familiar navigation.
I will start with the classes. First is the Battle Scion, a full BAB class that can cast up to 4th level spells from the sorcerer and wizard list. They are very solid, but to save space I will have to refer you to Endzeitgeist’s review of them: 4.5 out of 5 from Endzeitgeist.
Up next is the Elven Archer, which comes set with 3 variant classes. These variants are the Halfling Slinger, Dwarven Crossbowyer, and the Mystic Archer. This set of classes is interesting. They use d8 HD, full BAB, and get a little bit of spellcasting. Very much all-rounders. These classes get ranged combat feats like crazy, along with other bonuses, depending on the class. For instance, Halfling Slingers get sling talents, Dwarven Crossbowyer can ignore a small amount of armor and natural armor with their attacks, and Mystic Archers can choose from a variety of strong mystic abilities. They all gain the precision rule, which is very much like sneak attack dice with a few notable exceptions: these classes can flank with ranged weapons. Later on, they don’t provoke attacks of opportunity while using ranged weapons. Dwarven Crossbowyer and Halfling Slinger give much needed support for their combat styles and feel quite fantastic, but the Elven Archer and Mystic Archer feel too similar to Rangers. There is nothing wrong with them balance wise, as all 4 are quite solid classes.
The Savant is a really fun, and unique class. Unlike any I have ever seen. Basically, Savants are such great storytellers, that they can make their stories real. They are such great actors that they become their characters. This means that they can change from being a mighty knight, to being a healing wise man, all in the same day. Obviously they won’t be beating a Barbarian at combat, or a wizard at spellcasting, but they certainly can do a lot. Through their storytelling, they can summon characters too using their Avatar of Legend class feature. These avatars are created using the cohort rules of leadership. Normally, I’d be skeptical when I see the word “Leadership,” however, the Savant must concentrate using a standard action for every round they wish their Avatar of Legend to be around. Included are also some fun tips for playing a Savant, and some sample Avatars of Legend.
The Shaman is definitely a favorite class of mine from this book, though I have to refer you to the Endzeitgeist review, as he basically covered it all to a much higher degree than I could have. Another 4.5 out of 5 by Endzeitgeist
Aha! The Spell-Less Ranger. The class is exactly as the name implies. Thankfully, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a Ranger variant that actually feels like it fairly traded away spellcasting. That is not often done. And again, Endzeitgeist has written a great review of them. A perfect 5 out of 5 rating by Endzeitgeist. There is one new thing about the Spell-Less Ranger, or rather its alternate class that I have a problem with. The Skin Changer alternate class trades away favored enemy for an ever increasing bonus to natural weapon attack and damage rolls. This bonus greatly exceeds any bonus that other classes get to attack and damage rolls. For reference, it is +8, whereas the Barbarian’s rage only grants +4, and the fighter +4. I understand that this bonus is based off favored enemy, but they should have went the Slayer’s route and halved the bonuses. Besides this one issue, the Skin Changer is top tier fun, and the best spell-less shape shifter you can play.
The Theurge! Oh my! Basically, this is a normal class version of the Mystic Theurge. You get both divine and arcane spellcasting progression, with both sides having halved spells per day. Additionally, each set of spellcasting uses a different ability score for save DCs. The divine side uses a prayer book, which works just like a spellbook. You do not know every divine spell, and must write them down. Anyone who misses the Archivist will be happy to see this kind of feature return. Eventually, you can use both a divine and arcane spell in the same turn though only a very very limited number of times per day. Also, you can gain bonus feats and the ability to cast some lower level spells as spell-like abilities. It goes without saying that while strong like most full-casters, the Wizard might still be more powerful. Though this Theurge has a lot of versatility, and can bring a lot of tools to any party.
Last but certainly not least, is the White Necromancer. The White Necromancer is quite the class, turning established fluff on necromancy on its head. These guys treat the dead with respect, cannot be evil-aligned, and even provide some healing power. They have received a 4.5 our of 5 review by Endzeitgeist, and are really quite marvelous.
The archetypes are quite well done, granting many fun tools to the included classes. If you are a fan of firearms, there is most likely an archetype included to grant a core class them in some way (Cleric, Witch etc.). There is some archetype support for Kobold Press races, such as the Gearforged who get the truly awesome Clockwork Monk. In fact, Monks get a lot of support out of this book in general, getting many fantastic archetypes such as the Six Talisman Monk, who quickly creates paper talismans with a variety of effects. Ninjas got some love too, gaining some new archetypes.
The feat section is quite strong. There are “extra class feature” and “improved class feature” feats included for all of the new classes introduced, and even for some archetypes. Additionally, there is a sizeable number of unarmed combat styles that are very fun, though still well balanced. My favorite being Death Butterfly Style, which makes judicious use of Elemental Fist (acid) to turn your foes inside out. There is also Thundering God Style, to provide strong firearms support to monks. Besides this, there is a lot of animal companion support, bonded item support, and even a few more feats to be added to old feat chains, such as Greater Iron Will. This is definitely a good resource for feats, even if you are using a core Pathfinder class.
Up next is a set of firearm traits for use with the trait system found in the advanced players guide. These traits provide a bunch of funny or interesting roleplay opportunities. A lot of them seem to be written for non-gunslingers that want to use guns. It fits very well with the archetypes presented in this book!
Now for spells! Included in New Paths Compendium are a variety of spells, all compatible with core Pathfinder classes as well (Mostly Druids, Rangers, and Sorcerer/Wizards). Elven Archers and their derivatives get many of the spells in here that are for rangers at one spell level lower than the ranger, providing them an edge. Many of the spells in here are strong, but balanced against spells of their level. Conjure Energy Arrows in particular is quite cool, allowing your bow or crossbow to generate its own ammo for 1 round/level that deals energy damage. Many of the spells involve necromancy, tracking, or archery in some way. Considering the classes provided in New Paths Compendium, I am not surprised. I was a little disappointed that the bone-themed evocation spells were not necromancy spells, but that is a minor gripe.
Last, but not least, we have gear. There are a bunch of new monk weapons, sling bullets and arrows included within. The ammunition is expensive, but understandably so. Many of them combine an alchemical item (thunderstone, tanglefoot bag, ect.) with an arrow/stone, allowing simultaneous damage and debuffing. There are not many magic items, but they are very well balanced. There is a nifty necklace that provides animals and magical beasts an armor bonus, a quiver of infinite arrows, and even an arrow that catches orcs! The last part is a small section detailing Legendary Magical Items. These items start off as humble +1 pieces of equipment, but get stronger if you meet their requirements. Honestly, this section could have been expanded upon more. There are three examples, and the explanation of the system is very short.
Despite my rare complaint, this book is of incredibly high quality. I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5. If the Skin Changer got an errata, and the Legendary Magical Items section were expanded, it would earn a 5 out of 5.
Take a walk on the wilder sideAdam B. 135 —
The book begins with a quirky note from the author and an introduction to the Wilder class. Not crunch, but fun and informative. The introduction in particular helps to understand the Wilder. The layout is nice too, and contains plenty of art in color.
Archetypes come up first. These archetypes are both strong, with the Surging Muse focusing on buffing (very good synergy with the Leader’s Surge) and the Voidheart focusing on a unique brand of debuffs. The Surging Muse improves the Surging Aura feat’s power and range, can expend their psionic focus to further buff their ally’s damage, and even grant AC bonuses. Altogether, a very fun way of making your party feel strong without losing any of your potency. The Voidheart on the other hand trades their wild surge for an AOE caster level and manifester level debuff. I’ve never seen an ability like this anywhere else, but I love it. This is the kind of mold breaking I like to see in a third party product. The Voidheart is an expansive archetype, replacing almost every Wilder ability. This is not a complaint, and these abilities are strong, but situational and flavorful.
Now for the prestige classes. The Cross Discipline Master is an interesting one, being a 6 level prestige class. It is the only prestige class that specifically claims that it does not improve the effects of wild surge (note: in Ultimate Psionics there is text stating that all prestige classes that boost manifester level improve wild surge). So, for a prestige class to not boost wild surge, it must get a lot of fun tools, right? Right. This prestige class learns 1 power every level. This power does not need to come off the psion/wilder list, but must come from a different discipline every level. They can also use their wild surge to temporarily gain access to an unlearned power a few times a day. Noticing a theme here? The Cross Discipline Master is very versatile.
The Surge Adept on the other hand is all about wild surge. This 5 level prestige class has a lower psychic enervation chance, and can even share wild surge with allies! With bonus feats and a strong mini capstone, this prestige class rounds out to be a solid choice.
Last but not least is my favorite of the three prestige classes in the book, the Volcanic Mind. Weighing in at 5 levels, every level gains some strong feature. While most of the time, your Wilder is about wild surging, this prestige class is about psychic enervation. They build up mountains of psychic pressure and release it in devastating enervations that pain those around them. They also can use Cleaving Power (a metapsionic feat from this book) without expending having to spend additional power points (they still lose that psionic focus though!). This is a highly recommended prestige class for anyone who wants to make a psionic blaster.
Feats make up the penultimate entry of Psionics Augmented: Wilders. There is plenty in this section for any psionic character class to use. The Biokinetic Adept line gets you lots of temporary hit points, self-healing, and even some natural armor. Later feats in the Biokinetic Adept line require wild surge, and can be quite strong as well. Some of the feats benefit multiclassing, such as the Surge Blade feat, that allows wild surge to strengthen a mind blade. Cleaving Power is a strong metapsionic feat that allows you to use a power on a nearby foe if the augmented power brought a foe to 0 or fewer HP. There is even a feat that allows a wilder to overchannel and wild surge at the same time, at the cost of a 20% increase in enervation chance.
As for the new powers, every one of them is strong. And I mean strong, not overpowered. These powers use a new mechanic called the Surge Augmentation. Basically, if you manifest this power while using wild surge, it is augmented in a unique way at no cost. Most of these powers are not exclusive to the wilder, and are quite good without their surge augmentations. However, with their surge augmentations, these powers are truly awesome.
This book is a must have for anyone who wants to play a Wilder. The options presented are varied, strong, and interesting. Jade Ripley definitely brought this class to life.
Build your own class, Incarnum styleAdam B. 135 —
This is the first release of the Akashic Mysteries series. For those just tuning in, Akashic Mysteries is a Dreamscarred press product that is basically a reimagining and fine-tuning of Magic of Incarnum. It uses 3 new classes instead of porting the old ones over. Veils in this system do not take up your magic item slots (unlike soulmelds), and in some cases enhance the magic item in the slot.
There are many ways to describe the Vizier because this class can take on all sorts of different roles. Basically, depending on your feat and veil choice, Viziers can act wildly different from each other. Despite the d6 hit die, they can be durable melee combatants, deadly "archers", or take on more standard "caster" roles such as area blasting, debuffing, and buffing.
There is not much to say after Endzeitgeist's review, though I do have my piece to say about the Vizier's veils, and the feats presented in the document.
The Vizier's veils have a variety of uses. Basically, there is a veil for most situations. Because of this (in conjunction with Veilshifting, which allows the Vizier to change out which veils he has) you are going to want to know what most of your veils do. I personally recommend keeping notecards labeled with different kinds of adventuring days like "downtime," "high probability of undead," or "definitely humans today" that contain different veil layouts, for when you know how the adventuring day will go. While there are many veils that are good no matter what, some excel when you are prepared.
I do wish there were more alignment veils, but that is a small complaint on my end. It is more important to have functional and fun veils before worrying about alignment.
The feats are excellent. There are many strong options for multiclassing and gestalt in the feats presented here. I personally wanted to see a few feats tailored to the Vizier, but the "standard" Akashic feats are still very powerful. In particular, Extra Essence is very strong and increases your versatility. This is rare for an “extra class feature” feat. There are feats to grant minor veilweaving to any interested class, feats to improve veilweaving for anyone, and feats that count as essence receptacles, granting bonuses as essence is invested into them. For instance, such as Will of the Daeva, which grants a bonus to will saves equal to the essence invested in this feat.
If you are looking for a balanced, interesting release you should look no further. Fans of Incarnum, or people who want a customizable magic system that mostly lacks daily limits, should definitely check this release out too.
A really solid releaseAdam B. 135 —
This is the second release of the Akashic Mysteries series. The first being the Vizier whom I will be using as a point of reference many times in this review. For those just tuning in, Akashic Mysteries is a Dreamscarred press product that is basically a reimagining and streamlining of Magic of Incarnum. It uses 3 new classes instead of porting the old ones over. Veils in this system do not take up your magic item slots (unlike soulmelds), and in some cases enhance the magic item in the slot.
The Guru is as solid as the dwarf on the cover. This class can be assigned a few interesting roles. It normally acts (not including its veils) as a "monk", with a good damage dealing class feature, self healing, high mobility, and debuffs (can even dispel magic!).
Where the Guru separates itself from most other classes is that it focuses on non-lethal damage, an area rarely covered. The Guru has text that allows it to use its bonus nonlethal damage against undead and constructs, so that complaint is rendered inert.
As for Veilweaving, the Guru is a star at it. While the Guru's veilweaving is not as strong as the Vizier, it has quite a few interesting Veils that the Vizier does not.
Essence burn is introduced in this book. A class feature the Vizier does not have. Basically, the Guru can temporarily render its own essence inert in return for powerful effects.
The class is differentiated into 3 philosophies, which are basically its bloodlines, focus schools, or cavalier orders. Each one grants extra weapon proficiencies in a variety of strong weapons, and gives the Guru a different way to work with the essence burn mechanic.
As for Veilweaving, they are very similar to the Viziers. The guru does get a few unique ones, and also has improved essence capacity like a vizier. They just have less essence to throw around. The guru is less build your own class than the Vizier, focusing more towards the martial end than the Vizier did. In general, veils are balanced options. They can vary in power, but this is reined in by chakra binding. You only unlock certain chakra binds at certain levels, so you will not have access to your very strongest effects at 1st level.
The feats are the same as the feats in the Vizier release. There are many strong options for multiclassing and gestalt in the feats presented here. I personally wanted to see a few feats tailored to the Guru, but the "standard" Akashic feats are still very powerful. In particular, Extra Essence is very strong and increases your versatility. This is rare for an “extra class feature” feat. There are feats to grant minor veilweaving to any interested class, feats to improve veilweaving for anyone, and feats that count as essence receptacles, granting bonuses as essence is invested into them. For instance, such as Will of the Daeva, which grants a bonus to will saves equal to the essence invested in this feat.
If you are looking for a balanced, interesting release you should look no further. Fans of Incarnum, or people who want to try a different take on a sagacious warrior, should definitely check this release out too.
Influencing my future charactersAdam B. 135 —
This book has it all. It has classes for players, and environmental effects for GMs. There are 14 classes with varying roles and play styles, and multiple environmental effects in this book.
Each class in this book is a breath of fresh air. They each open up a new possibility for character conceptualization, or make a currently available (but barely supported)concept have some solid ground to stand on.
Among these unique classes are the Conduit, Demiurge, and Mnemonic. Conduits basically take magic from their foes to power their class features, Demiurges create constructs, and Mnemonics manipulate memories. They each bring new and interesting mechanics to Pathfinder never before seen.
That is enough about the classes though. This book also contains feats! You won't find gamebreaking feats in this book, but you will find many strong feats that either support a class in this book, or can provide some fun to any character. The two fighting style feat chains in this book for instance are really quite fun for any unarmed type character.
Up next are archetypes. The archetypes are quite fun. They allow that extra little bit of customization that anyone craves. These range from allowing the Mystic to play a little bit more like a ninja, or granting entirely new mechanics to classes, such as the Hungry Mind archetype of the Mnemonic that gains nourishment from its foes memories.
The last sections of the book is devoted to mostly non-player options for the most part.
First up is haunts. Haunts are those things that show up mostly in the Pathfinder GM's guide, but rarely show up in adventure paths. For the most part, they are a fun but ignored game mechanic. I find this regrettable. It seems that Amora Games felt the same way, so there is a haunt section. The haunts presented are all fairly balanced, easy to understand and implement on the fly, and except for a few, can be solved by observant players instead of forcing the players to channel positive energy at the problem until it goes away. Completely solid. Warloghes can interact with and create haunts, so this section is awesome for them.
The hazard section is very fun. It includes non-monster hazards for adventuring parties. Kind of like natural traps and haunts. A very solid addition to the book. Your player's will be surprised when they realize that some fat rats around the campsite have been eating their gunpowder. They will be even more surprised when said rats explode when punted.
Up last is magical contamination. It is very similar to radiation, except it also has wonky effects on magic. The backstory behind it makes sense, and its effects are actually pretty cool. Basically, it inflicts a spell failure chance. If you succeed, then your spell goes off and you roll on a random table. Almost everything on the table is good, with a few neutral things. You either harness the excess magic in the air, or your magic gets swept up in its ethereal gales.
Now that this book is complete, I give it a perfect 5 out of 5 rating. Thank you Amora Games, for making this fun, balanced, and creative book.
The Conduit channels my happinessAdam B. 135 —
As both a player and as a DM, the conduit truly makes me giddy.
As a DM, it is the perfect class to surprise players with. Nobody expects what this class is capable of. Not to say that it isn't balanced though. It just has certain strengths that I've never seen in another class.
As a player, it definitely would feel empowering to get Curse casted upon you, and instead get stronger! Well written rules, and very well balanced.
I feel that the class's only flaw is that in a campaign with minimal magic, the conduit loses access to a lot of what makes it cool. Definitely not a problem with certain paizo adventure paths, but mileage may vary.
Victory goes to those with courageAdam B. 135 —
While the feats in this book are strong, they are not disruptive to gameplay. Definitely worth picking up, especially for anyone who wants their fighter to be a capable leader. If being a leader is not your thing, how about feats that give your fighter a real risk/reward mechanic? No matter what kind of fighter you like, it is supported somewhere in this book.
Also do not think that you must have the bravery class feature to use these feats as a fighter. The writer already thought of that and included a simple work-around in the book. Nothing can stop your fighter from using these feats!