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Pathfinder Society Scenario #3–25: Storming the Diamond Gate (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Seemed to drag on a lot. I read up on it a bit online before running it, and honestly I kind of expected more. It wasn't terrible, and I don't think anyone really disliked it, but it was pretty clear by the time we got to the second map that they just wanted to push through and get to the end, and all in all ran about 6+ hours.
The fact that it's not only not printer friendly, but looks like it's going to waste even more ink than the previous one is not good.
Personally, while I do like some aspects of the theme, I'm not digging the art at all, especially in regards to how disappointing Season 6 play has been so far.
Like the other Season 6 products so far, the layering and graphics look like they are messed up somehow, which makes the loading time on my tablet wonky and take too long for some reason. Granted, it's free, but still, I just don't think the quality is there.
So far, the only real improvement I do like is the added line that states a group can decide to play up or down if they fall exactly in the middle of two sub-tiers. But other than that, not really impressed.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–02: The Silver Mount Collection (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Sometimes you just can't go home againBeckett —
I've run and loved all of the previous Blakros Museum scenarios, and that was my primary reason for going for this one. As I ran it, I tried to subtly add in bits of flavor for those who had played the others, something I felt was a bit lacking. It's there, but more for DM's only, I guess.
All but my wife had experience with at least 2 of the previous Blakros Museum scenarios, and amongst every (not including me), they had played them all. Throughout the game, it seemed that they all enjoyed it, but after the game, as I tend to do, I listen to the players views, answer questions, and see what they thought, both of my DMing and of the scenario itself.
It was pretty universal that they did not like all the robots or lasers, and commented that if this is what Season 6 is going to be, they will sit it out. From outside, DMing, I can easily see some classes (Clerics, Rangers, etc. . .) being peeved with the sorts of encounters in this. It could really use a lot more variety in creature types.
I didn't have this issue, but having read through the PFS GMing thread, the writer and the PFS staff should really take another look at the monsters they used. It's pretty ridiculous. Particularly the one that happens as you first enter the museum. Low Tier, this is just stupidly brutal, and my guess is that every group that survived and made it past this point probably only did so because the DM didn't know or hand-waved them through.
As a DM, I was a bit peeved that it relied so much on the Numeria book and the Tech Guide without really giving us much in the way of fluff and quick notes on some of the things that sort of matter in the scenario. We do get the stats for gear, but it would have been nice to know what the deal with a few individuals and groups was.
The last thing I really wanted to comment in is just how unlike the other Blakros Museum scenarios. It's got Nigel. It takes place in the (a) museum. It's got a big dinosaur on the map. (Now THAT would have been a badass final, a non-swarm nano dino skeleton. . ., but sadly, no). It just didn't feel like a Blakros Museum scenario. It felt like it was really just pushing the sci-fi side of Season 6, but it really wasn't a Blakros scenario. It just doesn't have the same feel. It's got a new map, (DM sadface), which is nice, but an absolute pain in the ass to draw out (and twice at that).
It was funnish, but not one I'll probably rerun. I highly suggest that players avoid playing the lower tier unless they are well prepped, something the scenario really doesn't give any hints at until after you've already enter. (Tip Adamantine and Electricity Resistance is good). I loved, and probably the best part of the scenario in my eyes was the intro. I have no idea why DD has been gone, (and that might have been nice to include as it seems like it was going to be pertinent before <crash>.
With that all out of the way, I do think the writing was good. It looks nice, and I do like that there was a lot of extra little tidbits in there. I loved the way the encounter with GG turned out, as in terror, she latterly leapt off the spaceship without Acrobatics and nearly knocked herself out, as the Monk straight up spotted her and climbed up in one turn, then disarmed every weapon she had (intending to show her the party didn't want to fight and the +12 Diplomacy Cleric got herself Blinded and stunned by the grenade). I think it might have worked a lot better if this had not been a Blakros Museum scenario, or focused much more on horror/oddities than sci-fi, and had some more traditional monster types in the encounters, (undead, monstrous humanoids, etc. . .) Too much sci-fi, not enough fantasy/Blakros Museum.
If you do survive it, you are rewarded with a nice RP boon (though this one seems the least likely to actually grant it, feels a bit off), though the actual mechanics side is a bit "meh" and the true reward of the ability to now be immune to magical Darkness, including the Deeper variety for about 650 gp. And you can do it twice. . .
A few other things I noticed I wasn't thrilled with. I was not happy with the way that the Darkive was presented in this one, and I kind of questioned why this was a Darkive scenario at all. Also didn't like the way that it paint Nigel. I can see the expectation of the Darkive, (which itself seems completely contrary to the write up in the guide or the blogs), running into some issues with other Faction members, particularly Liberty's Edge and easily leading to the bad kind of party conflict. I also found it kind of annoying that it sort of allows one faction to corrupt/intimidate/enslave Nigel, when in every other gam I've run, he has been a well liked reoccurring NPC, and such faction missions would not have gone over well with other players or characters.
I really hope that that is re-examined by the PFS staff. With this as one of the only few Season 6 example so far, we, the party that played or I the DM, are NOT liking what we see of Season 6, and I strongly suspect that those groups that did survive without much trouble either had their DM get by things the shouldn't have or didn't know themselves.
After running it a second time, much of the things earlier I had to say that where just are not there. The RP and storyline are actually pretty flat. I'd say predictable, but rereading just how misleading, and I'm 99% sure that was NOT INTENTIONALLY done so, but something the author just didn't consider. As others have mentioned, the Wand, the Box, and various different portions of the background and story very much imply very different things than what the scenario tells the DM it turns out to be. To the point I'm beginning to really wonder if this was originally two different scenarios that someone last minute decided to just smush together and then throw in the Blakros Museum to boot, just because.
The second group managed to get through it, but a large part of this is because I took it pretty easy on them to do so. I do not recommend this scenario EXCEPT that it be retired. I'm a big fan of the Blakros Museum series, but this sort of steps all over the things that made those great. I'm also a bit irked that one Faction was allowed the opportunity to basically hijack a popular reoccurring NPC. Not cool.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Not a 1, but no where near a 5 star.Beckett —
I'm having a lot of trouble settling on an opinion of this book so far. There is a lot of good, but also a lot of bad.
I love the sheer number of options and the level of crunch in this book, I and really hope that Paizo continues with this and less fluff/setting. Art is generally good, and to a point it has a little for everyone.
But it's also got a lot of issues. It's abundantly clear that the writers loved some of the new classes and not others. Some are amazing and have a much larger chunk of extra options designed for them (gear, new spells, feats, etc. . .) while others are, well not great, and it's perfectly obvious that no one was particularly interested in writing more options for them. The divine side sort of all around is particularly lacking. Worst, it's also abundantly clear that some themes/classes where loved that those that where not tend to be extremely bland and, well boring.
My largest complaint is that (and this seems to directly contribute to the above complaint), is it also seems very clear that the various designers and writers for the different sections had little to no communication. Things are all over the place, and there is absolutely no effort made at any sort of balance. It also seems in many ways to have a handful of purposes. One is to focus on the 10 new classes, (some more than others), but it also seems the intent of the book is to "fix" some of the most commonly seen complaints on the boards, (true or not), such as equalizing Caster/Martial disparity, give Monks good things, or whatever the many personal beefs are. Which is fine, but sort of splits the focus. (Not against people for having them, I do too, just this was totally not the place). The other seems to be to absolutely throw out any sort of game balance. Another seems to be to throw out so many class features as feats like candy, (but still has the same problem that some are obviously favored, others not). There also just seems to be an inordinate amount of arbitrariness in here. Another focus seems to be to attempt to make the game a sort of classless system without actually making it one.
We already saw this clearly in the actual playtest, particularly around the second phase, but we had very little impact on a lot of things. And I want to say that the book really could have used an extra 2 or 3 months to polish, but the truth is I seriously doubt any of these issues would have been addressed and we would just have seen them expanded even more.
In the end, this book has honestly left me undecided on if I like it enough to call it "ok" or hate it enough to want my money back. It really is one of those books that so often a step forward, two steps back, but occasionally you land on something that's 10 steps forward. There are just so many dropped balls like the entire Warpriest, (others might say the Swashbu, whatever, who cares, or the Hunter, or the Shaman), but there are also some interesting nuggets. The PDF price is good. I wouldn't, now knowing what's in the book buy the $40 US book. Some classes just need scrapped and started over with writers that want to write about them and make cool possibilities along their line and theme. Others have plenty of options. Both the 10 new classes and all the other classes base/core classes that have come before.
After thinking about this, I really feel that this should have been split into two completely different books. One that focuses mostly on the 10 new classes, the class building rules, new gear, spells, feats, and archtypes designed for those classes, with a few nuggests for each spread out evenly amongst all of the base classes that made up the hybrid classes, and another that was focused on everyone else trying to offer them more options to branch out. This is in addition to the Adv Class Origins book scheduled for later. There is just too much everything going all over the place, too many Feats, for example that are clearly designed for one class, but they can't actually qualify for it or don't actually benefit from them, too much of this, which means far too little of that.
<Edit>The more I delve into the book, the less pleased I am with it, and I've dropped it from a 3 star to a 2 star. This really needs to go back to the writing block and redone. It promises much, but delivers little. Far too much just really needs to go back and get some work done. Far to many things that seem like they should work or be able to be taken by a given class, but turns out it either doesn't actually work, or they can, just can't use it. Seems like somewhere between the first and second playtesting, Paizo just stopped caring about this product's contents, and from there any sense of game balance.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–22: Scars of the Third Crusade (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Another Season 5 one. . .Beckett —
That is, if you hate combat and love high skill check rp/investigation, this is for you. If not. . .
I had pretty high hopes for this, (finally an actual Mendev Crusade sort of scenario), but really it's none of that. It could basically take place anywhere, and actually kind of seems more like anywhere but Mendev.
From a DM's perspective, it's needlessly complicated. It tries to capture something from Before the Dawn part 1 in the Town Sentiment track and mesh that with The Stolen Heir and other almost exclusively investigation scenario it leaves a lot of things unanswered.
It really needs something to spice it up, and probably 4 or 5 random combat encounters (Season 5, you are failing me).
It's a pretty big Red Flag to me when a Scenario has a GM sidebar noting that they have gone out of their way to make a lot of class features and character abilities not work or purposefully not give info just so the precious story can. That's just bad storytelling, and not only does it not equal fun, it usually just leads to frustration.
Another issue I have is that it suggests that the party split up, (sort of) and gives penalties for them not doing so. However, that's like Rule 1 in PFS, (you don't split the party). That this aspect was even included is beyond me, and what's worse, why would any players even think to do this, ever.
I'm really not sure what the goal for this one was either. While it offers a few different locations to find clues and evidence, for the most part a single character with a decent Diplomacy can solo this (and might actually do a better job without anyone else honestly with the penalty for others tagging along). Each gives suggested skill checks (with a lot of them being Diplomacy) but also suggests to let players use other skills with a good reasoning, and well Diplomacy kind of goes hand in hand with talking to folks, so that's really the only skill check you need to make in this one. Maybe Perception.
It also talks about how you can redeem <someone> at the end, but they are still listed as LG throughout and still have all their abilities to the max, so how exactly do they need to be "redeemed"? A smack on the head, sure. Shown that it's not ok to just murder those you hate. Certainly. Seems pretty hard to pin down what her actual alignment should be (you know outside of PLOT). There is one alignment that uses the law to enforce their will and harm others. There is also this one alignment that doesn't really care about what's real or right or ethical as log as you get what you want. Neither of them are LG, though.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–12: Destiny of the Sands—Part 1: A Bitter Bargain (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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It was fun to run, and I did so for the Free RPG Day.
A few issues I noticed is that the combats where very fast, simple, and kind of unfulfilling. I don't think anything lasted past 2 rounds at all, and the entire table was disappointed at the lack of final encounter. People kind of expect that now.
The entire table was low Cha/low Social skills, but one player consistently rolled high which made for some entertaining rp moments, but also lead the party to believe some falsities (even after I tried to push them in another direction). Not a single player was interested in screwing over <an individual>, some of which had played through previous scenarios involving him, which kind of left this scenario flat. But, Season 5.
What I think would have been fantastic is for the scenario to allow for individuals to both try to mess up and also for others to attempt to refix things, each side sort of behind the others back.
The other major issue is that the party really blasted through this one. I think it was under or right at 3 hours. While it was fun and they enjoyed the overall story, it just wasn't challenging at all, (one character literally jumping down the well so he can say he took damage this scenario).
No Sczarni or Qadiran PCs, and I (DM) was the only Osirion, but they in a lot of ways completed even those extra bits. They are looking forward to part 2, but really want better combats.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Undead Slayer’s Handbook (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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On first flipping through, my initial impression left me feeling good. On closer inspection, I noticed a few things.
Art is good, and I really like that it covered and focused on classes that where NOT Bard, Rogue, Monk, or Magus.
It seems there are a lot of very cool idea in her, but the mechanics just kind of ruin them, in my opinion. Bless Equipment for example, sounds great, but costs multiple Channel Energy uses, (in addition to Feat the investments), and lasts a only a few rounds. It's just not worth it. Well not before the last few levels of the game, anyway.
None of the items really stand out. All kind of forgettable, or just placing a few other items from other books into "kits". What's kind of worse is they are broken up into three separate sections, each intended to deal with different types of Undead, (Self-Created, Hungry Undead, Incorporeal, and Mindless). A very common theme is that it's really important to find out the details about the undead before they died, but it's never really shown, just told, "hey it's important or fighting Undead".
Haunts are ignored except for the centerfold. mazing picture that is ruined by the little captions (whose intent was to give a breakdown on Haunts). But just like the original rules for Haunts, it seems only about half complete. Still, an amazing picture.
I wanted to like the Archtypes, but on reading through, I just can't. Especially the Roaming Exorcist. It kind of feels like they went back the 3.5 Complete Divine and where not entirely sure on what to do with "spirits", so it's kind of all over the place. The Corpse Hunter (Ranger) is pretty amazing though, trading in a bit of usefulness in the wild for tactical advantage in graveyards and tombs. I like it.
Undecided on my feelings on the Soul Warden PC. D8, 1/2 BaB, 2+Int with very limited Class Skills (but at this point doesn't matter, but lacks Know Religion?), Full Caster that adds a limited Channel Energy (and HEAL). Everything about it's description kind of screams Cleric or Inquisitor type, but to even think about this option for most divine classes is an enormous stp downwards.
Bygone products of an ancient war, soul wardens are an enigma of themselves. The original soul wardens were a specially trained cadre of anti-necromantic commandos in the Nexian army during the Age of Destiny. They rose to prominence during the height of Nex’s war against the undead kingdom of Geb. The wizards’ conflict came to a close during the Age of Enthronement with the undeath of Geb and the disappearance of Nex, and soul wardens fell into obscurity as those armies effectively dissolved. Now, the only soul wardens who tread Golarion are those individuals who unofficially claim the title by mastering the millennia-old secrets of these forgotten warriors.
It looks like a massive boost for most arcane casters, or an excuse to give Wizards some healing abilities. I don't know if I like that.
All in all, the book kind of feels like a very basic primer for players new to fantasy rather than a Guide for battling Undead. That being said, if you loved the other _________ Slayer's Guides, you will probably love this one. If you did not, you will probably likewise not lie this one.
Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the Sands (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Less a players guide to the people of the sands and more of a primer for a handful of locations with little but their general climate in common. Particularly Rahadoum kind of felt out of place (and again. . .?), but with little new ground. It also seems to paint a different picture of Rahadoum than other sources?
I really hate the format (still) and especially in this book those dang Roles. And while it is not a copy/paste, there is little here outside of what has already been presented (multiple times at that) in other books such as the Inner Sea World Guide. There are two Prestige Classes, the reprinted/updated Living Monolith, (meh in my opinion) and the Thuvian Alchemist, (sort of a healer alchemist). Yet another Sorcerer Bloodline (looks like it could make a nasty NPC) and Oracle Archtype (just kind of seems thrown in here). Something I would have liked instead would be options for "desert-based" clerics, cavaliers, paladins, and other classes that are normally more Western European themed. Archtypes to help allow divine casters to be able to play in Rahadoum, or more things along those lines and usefulness.
There are a few items presented, and I'm pretty happy with those, and very surprisingly, the majority of it is actually in the price range that it might be used before Epic Level, too. The highest priced item in the book is the Flying Carpet/Tent @ 90,000 which is actually pretty dang cool, the +5 version of the Ring of the Meh coming in at 50,000, and otherwise the next highest priced gear is the oddly cool signpost at 10,000. Armor Vents are great, as is the little personal heater (burner).
A small selection of spells (mostly reprints I think, but not sure). The centerfold map is kind of cool, but at the same time, I was kind of hoping for something similar to the People of the North, with tis for surviving and playing in that climate. Something this book sadly lacks pretty entirely, and was a large part of what I was hoping for from such a book. All in all, I liked it better than People of the North, but it shares many of the same flaws.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Magical Marketplace (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Interesting, but not very play friendlyBeckett —
I'm not sure how to rate this. I like reading through it, so in that aspect more like a 4 star. Some of the material I'm not sure about, so in that aspect I'm thinking like a 2 star. I like some of the items and ideas, so maybe a 3 star, but then (with the stuff that follows), I'm finding it hard to go above 3, and that's kind of pushing it. Not because its a poor book, just one I am not sure I will ever really use, (to the point of needing a book for it).
The book mostly focuses on shops that are one of two things mainly; A.) a place to buy things of a certain theme or B.) a place to go that can teach some classes things like Feats or Bard Masterpieces. They are generally both Class and Concept specific, so the Mendev Sarenrae shop is pretty much focused on Inquisitors (and the proprietor, a Cleric, can teach Inquisitors new Inquisitions, . . . wait, what?), and will have basic stuff for divine classes, but no more than any other random shop. Some of them work, some are kind of odd.
All in all, it's one of those sorts of books that I'll probably never ever use, (possibly an item or two later on), but if it ever did come up in a game, it's probably only going to be a single time. It's a bit too specific (for me) to actually use for play, and so in the end was kind of a waste of money. I don't mean that to be harsh, and it is an interesting book, but I just don't use or want a bunch of mini magic marts in game, and I'm thinking that even on the rare occasion where I might use it, much of the fluff and flavor will be wasted on the players.
I was hoping for a little bit more of an Adventure's Armory than an NPC book about magical shops. Some of the material is, (and this greatly depends on what you like in your game), along the same lines as the elephant in the room Gunslingers and the like. Not really for me, but I'm not against others liking it, so I'm mostly neutral on that for this review. One think I would have liked is a lot more 1,000 - 5,000 gp prices gear, both magic and nonmagical. So, so much of the gear in here is more at the 20,000+ range that again it's just never going to be used, and if so, not often enough to warrant buying the book for it. That's how it feels anyway, that could change.
I am really not sure why this is a Player's Companion, and would really have been best placed as a small aside or chapter in a DM related product, (Ult Campaign for example) more than anything, possibly splitting up the gear into something else. It really suffers for being a small book of a bunch of mostly unrelated concepts, and really needs to be bigger and have included more. Another Adventure's Armory or mini Ult Equipment I would have found many times more useful, and much more in line of being a Player's Companion. More shops offering spells (only one does and they, well kind of suck) would have been fantastic. Great concept, but the two included are meh. Would be a great way to implement how to include spells from other similar products though, rather than just throwing them in wholesale.
One last thing I kind of hated about this book (and the more recent Companions) is the set up. It's annoying as all get out that everything is listed all over the place. It makes sense that Alchemists shop would have related gear, but at the same time I would have been so much better to just place everything together in one are. All magic weapons ere, all magic armor there, all feats back there, etc. . . and the individual shops indicating which they have access to. It would both look so much better and also be much more convenient. Visually, the way it is now is kind of tacky/ugly.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–04: The Stolen Heir (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Was okBeckett —
I played a combat focused class, and the vast majority of the time I felt like I had absolutely no effect on things whatsoever. Combats where basically pointless, with the meat of the scenario being all about skills and railroaded around a bit.
The end choice also left the party basically split and nearly led to PvP over what we would do with <redacted>. I've heard some good things from others, but all in all I was not terribly impressed. I pretty much sat there like a 5th wheel the majority of the time, unable to really contribute and generally rolling poorly even to just Aid Another. Meh.
PLEASE STOP GIVING US THESE 90% INVESTIGSTIONS WITH TRIVIAL COMBATS.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–19: The Night March of Kalkamedes (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Easily one of my top 3Beckett —
<I must apologize I forgot to review it after playing and just now getting to it.>
Amazing scenario, and one that I really hope that all future scenarios try to learn form. The basic story is great, and can honestly be run in a lot of ways, from a basic dungeon delve, to a sort of psychological mystery, to a babysitting expedition similar to the Frostfur Captives, but over a shorter time period. It has two interesting twists, both in your captive and in why they are the way they are, with plenty of promise of reoccurring NPC's, enemies and allies, the promise of a truly epic quest to be completed down the road, access to a truly unique and worthy item, and something very different than the norm. Oh, and after maybe 10 or more scenarios, it is honestly the first I didn't want to do the world a favor and murder Sheila Hiedmarch. Or any VC stooge for that matter. Best part is, it is actually not even a job for Pathfinders, but leads pretty strongly into Season 5. If I could, I would say 6 out of 5 stars, as it truly is a league above, best of the best.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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I'm not sure I get itBeckett —
As much as it does seem to hit the mark, it likewise seems to not just as often. Perhaps Philosophies of the Unfaithful might have been a more appropriate name, as that's what it mostly seems to hit up on.
I see that Paizo also couldn't resisted focusing on the Bard as one of the big four classes covered, but this time I really just don't get it. Why would they focus on Bards, or Monks for that matter, in a book specifically about religions (and anti-religions) and philosophical/spiritual orders?
Typical of many of the Player's Guides, it tends me leave me feeling "that's it?", wishing that certain areas where expanded more, particularly beyond the already published material or flavor, but just not going far enough into the subject. Less Player's Guide material and more almost a brief summary of multiple topics. F&P goes along the same route, retreading Razmiran and Rahadoum without going too much further into other "atheists". I kind of felt the Feats in the particular section are pretty heavy handed. Not entirely sure it's a good idea to undermine some classes main features so strongly. SR 11+ Level for 2 Feats, even if only against Divine and most Outsiders is kind of ridiculous, A feat that can make a Cleric or Paladin doubt themselves and maybe force them to actively Save from even spells they cast on themselves, likewise not cool. Back to Evil getting the good toys.
We have a PFS legal Juju thing, but it's pretty watered down, kind of a Oracle flavored to be a druid/shaman, or a Voodoo analogue.
I'm curious about the point or intent of the centerfold portion. It seems to me an attempt to mock some real world sorts of things, except well in game, it's pretty much entirely correct. Bubblers and Liespinners (Razmiran, most non-divine healing and "cures", and similar things are generally very evil, or at best neutral). There's exceptions, but they generally ARE uncommon exceptions. Atheists and Deniers pretty much are ignorant and blind, but also notably intentionally "bad guys" in the setting (Rahadoum and Razmiran obviously, but the Whispering Way and the River Kingdoms as well).
Spells and Items, in my opinion where kind of "meh". I wished for some more info on Pantheonism, especially the much needed mechanics for it for non-Oracles divine characters, as well as a look at some new, not rehashed Faiths and Philosophies, and religious schisms.
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Wrath of the Righteous Player's Guide (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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I kind of like it. Especially the history of the Crusades. It sounds like a perfect AP for Ragathiel rather than Pulura, and I question why Abadar, Desna, and Shelyn are mentioned as important. They don't seem to fit so much as maybe Paizo felt if they where not mentioned fans might go crazy, but I don't know, I could be wrong.
All in all, I liked the visual theme a lot more than I did with the newer PFS Guide.
I would have liked if some time had been dedicated to non-Paladin characters, particularly Cavaliers, Clerics, and Fighters who also seem ideal for a Crusader/Abyss focused AP. But still looks nice. A little more info on Mythic rules (intentions) would have been nice as well, less a sneak peak and more of a quick introduction, possibly replacing the portions on redemption. Don't get me wrong, I like the focus on allowing the possibility of Redemption (and rules), just not sure that this was the place to go into it at.
As for the railroad/Traits, this is absolutely normal for the various AP's players guides. They are suggestive, not the only possible options. Not really sure what the complaint is for this one in particular, but generally the advice is to ignore the "must take a campaign trait" idea, and do what you normally do.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–23: Rivalry's End (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Ultimately DisappointingBeckett —
The scenario is not terrible, per se. It is full of some ridiculousness, and DM Fait. It seems more than once that they went out of their way to make this one involve a lot of things to specifically not let player's stuff work, in the exact way that most good DM advice topics point out as what not to do, (if your players get the ability to teleport, let them use it, don't make every adventure block teleportation because it messes up your little story).
Sadly, this was also the end of a great Faction, but is handled terribly. Worthy of 0 stars terrible, which is enough to have absolutely ruined it if everything else had been perfect. It makes no sense, is completely forced, and really just serves to piss off players, (not their characters, the players). It fails to come up with any solutions to the important things if the players still manage to derail the railroad, or get around it, (raise dead, ok, I saw that coming and I'm still on his side), or to answer various important questions (like what if the players do prevent things from going down, what was the actual info or so, why I am not Shadow Lodge anymore? Um, no, I am not going back to "rejoin" the Society, thanks). All in all, this is the worst type of DMing, leaving the players just feeling like their characters are there to watch things happen, so that some very weak metagame plot thing can happen, but in the end has absolutely no baring at all on that actual metaplot thing.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Pathfinder Society Primer (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Less inspiring than I'd hopedBeckett —
Not terrible, but not fantastic either. It sort of reminds me of the GMG, where a lot of the time I felt like I was left wanting more, not because it was great, but more because it just felt incomplete, like lacking the good stuff.
The flavor really doesn't improve much on the other two books on the same material, and sort of lacks, in my opinion, one of the bigger aspects I had wanted: Why would someone actually want to join the Society, but particularly those (classes) that have other more important allegiances, like divine characters?
As a player's guide, it also seems that a great deal of the material is much more DM orientated. It's pretty hit or miss, more on the miss side, I think, but not a terrible book.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–13: Fortress of the Nail (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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While I did enjoy this much more than I did the Disappeared, I would rate this a solid three out of five stars, in a good way. It had some RP, though it didn't seem nearly as much, or as great as others have implied. It is extremely railroad, essentially forcing the characters to rescue an individual that they have every reason, in and out of game not to want to ever have found.
The combats are fairly strong, with a lot of info being questionable, (one or two breath weapons, lava pits, why are we being attacked and why are the individuals we are doing a huge favor for not willing to help us at all help them against their own problems).
A lot of the plot and set up is based on some pretty shaky concepts, and in a lot of ways, the end rewards are not really worth what you have to go through to succeed. The Boon is more of a punishment than a prestigious award, can not be sold off to make up for it, and comes straight from an individual a lot of people wouldn't want a gift from.
Removing the super railroad, and allowing a way to succeed WITHOUT rescuing Zarta, as well as adding some more convincing and realistic evidence, as well as some explanation for it would make this a solid 4, possibly even a 5 star scenario, as well as let the players feel like they are actually affecting the game and world. It would also be great to give players a believable reason and motive to actually want to do this at all, and a choice that seriously goes beyond "Do I really want 1XP and 2PP that much or not", which is kind of what it comes down to. Redesigning the scenario so that it focuses, or at least has the option to allow the players to find something a lot more meaningful as actual evidence would go a long way, too.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Champions of PurityPaizo Inc.
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I agree with almost everything that the previous poster mentioned (except the 3E material). There are areas I wish they had gone more in depth or expanded upon a topic, but over all, a very good book. Unlike many of the other player's guide books, this one does seem to offer options for basically everyone, rather than focus on a handfull of classes. The amount of mechanics in this book is great, and shows that it doesn't detract from the fluff material. Not too much of it is terribly etting specific, either.
The art is pretty good, particularly the cover and the center fold, while most of the other art is generally just various iconics is some sort of pose, but not really relvant to the topics.
The magic items are ok, not great. Nothing really jumps out, with a lot of it at the higher GP end.
The spells mostly look nice. I'm not really sure, (yes I know that Alchemists are their new baby and all) that the Alchemist's materail either needed to be in this book or was really thought out that well. Even at 12th+ level, a single save that can rob some clases of all class features (and can argueably require an Atonement even if it's a temp thing) probably needs to be errata'd a lot or out.
I'm very happy that Roles where not included in this book. Don't care for them. The Virtues look good, though I wish there there where more, or perhaps some of them would be switched out. I'm sad to see that they require a Feat to utilize, as I'm not sure most of them really are worth a Feat, and what's worse the main classes that the flavor really fits are generally the ones that are totally Feat-starved. About the same power level as the Knightly Traits in Knights of the Inner Sea, except in general even more situational, that I'm not really sure they are really worth a Trait. Other than that, they are great and look interesting.
All in all, a great and fun book. I would love to see more books like this, both in the amount of material presented as well as focusing on Good, heroic characters and play. I'd definetly buy a Champions of Purity 2 and 3, or a similar book that is not setting specific, but along the same lines.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–14: My Enemy's Enemy (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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I'd say a solid 4 stars, (I'm very picky about giving a 5 star). It was pretty good, and I enjoyed it almost the entire time. Of all the more RP investigatin scenario's I've played in, I think this one did it right, (with the exception of the door).
The Door <includes partial answer>:
This was really our only big hang up, where the entire party was sitting there about 10 mins straight and just not knowing what to do. Essentually its in the basement of an abandon temple of the wind and wave, sort of a burial temple chapel for sailers. The door has an inscription (in ancient varisian that apparently no one in the entire gang up above can translate, which gives the only clue. (Our DM missed that you can try to uMD it, too), but otherwise you essentually have to figure out that the potion of rage you found earlier is required to be drunk, (assuming you didn't drink it in a previous fight or turn it in as some evidence or something), AND also be able to remove an Arcane Lock on the same door. That's it, if you don't get all of that, and misng any one part is the issue, means you simply can not proceed. Period. If my character had been a level lower, we simply could not have made it, as I just happened to have Dispel Magic'd the Arcane Lock, but I bombed the Linguistics roll, and no one else had the tained only skill. We literally spent about 10+ minutes trying to find a solution (after all that), even going as far as to try to 5th Element the door with wind and water.
I really really liked the alleyway "encounter", as it is a great way for the more good and heroic characters to show, as well as a way to build up the PFS I loved that it shows to most people, Pathfinders are not heroes at all, and generally not well liked by the common man, (appropriately). The traps in the later parts sound amazing, really adding to the fluff, and really incorporating the map lagistically. I'm kind of sad that we completely bypassed one in particular, as seeing it actually go off would have been worth it. Masterfully done.
Other than that, the combats where fun, the story was interesting, and although I really don't care much for the AC/PFS/rogue SL main plot for this season, it was interesting in spite of that. In my opinion it gave the area a much better sense of ambient flavor throught the various NPCs and set up than basically any there scenario set there so far. This one, in my opinion, stands out as a good one for season 4, from a player perspective. It actually reminds me a lot of some of the earlier scenario's, in a good way, so if your a fan of those, you'll likely like this one. If your a fan of season 4, there is still a lot in this one for you, too. If your looking for a combat heavy/brutal scenario, it's probably not for you.
@ Jason S, I'm sorry you had a poor time with this one. I don't mean to argue or put down, but it sounds more like the issue was your DM than the scenario itself. Most of the time, scenarios do not include all the possible ways that could work, but rather hint r guide the GM to what should not, and leave it up to them to decide. With the spoiled portion above, I had nearly the opposite experience.
Amazing storyBeckett —
I try to reserve a 5 star ratng for truely outstanding products, and this might be the first one I would rate that high. Absolutely excellent story, very well written. Very likable and believable characters, and the author sows you more than tells you. I loved that both faith and religion where shows in very relivant and meaningful ways. By far the best pathfinder fictio, including the full novels. Well Done.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Dungeoneer's Handbook (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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A lot of the player material is very focused and exclusive, which in my mind is a bad thing. However, in this case the book does come out and say early on that it is mostly for Rangers, Rogues, and Alchemists. It has minima material for everyone else, but like I said, to be fair, the book does mention that.
The artwork is amazing, and moreso than most other books, it really seems to be designed to illistrate what the book is talking about rather than just being placed there as a halfway related nice picture.
The material is a bit monotinous, and is really questionable as a "Players Guide". A great deal of the material is either strictly for DM's/GM's, or intended for both, but more so on the GM side who has the option to use it than for player's who may never really even have the chance, (from an out-of-character point of view).
A few kits are included, a few spells, and a few feats, but they don't really come across as must haves, and in some spell cases I really wonder why they are that high level. For example, Nature's Ravages is a 4th level Cleric, 3rd Level Witch spell that essentually does the opposite of Gentle Repose, causing things to age by 1 day per 2 CL, (max of 10 days). Seems like a good 0 level spell, (unless I'm missing something), a weaker 1st level spell, but not at all worthy of 3rd or 4th level slots. Create Holds alows you to make basically a ladder on a solid rock for 1/level, and is a 4th level Druid/Wizard, 3 level Ranger spell. Stone Shape is a 3rd level Cleric/Druid, 4th level Wizard spell that allows some really similar thing, but has lot of other uses. Shouldn't Ceate Holds then be a level or 2 lower for being less useful in general, and not as open to other classes? It itself kind of seems like at best 1st level spell material.
The good. It gives a lot of good, useful ideas and suggestions for running dungeons, particularly for a DM that likes to use a lot of flavor and create their own material. It is not really setting specific. The art is really good, including some things that can be used as either hand outs or used as examples to create your own hand outs. Guidlines on making "traps" that are not traps, and just a lot of little things like that. The new NPC/hireling material is cool, but see below. I do not remember seeing any Roles, so that is amazing.
The Bad. One thing I don't like about a lot of Paizo's books about topics is that they take some of the most obvious choices in related to the subject and continue to elevate those rather than try to give options for everyone. It creates a divide rather than allowing for more inclusive games. It boosts Alchemists, Rangers, Rogues (and Wizards I guess), but doesn't offer any ways for other classes to really fit into a campaign that is dungeon exploration/survival heavy. Nothing really for the Cavalier, Cleric/Oracle, Fighter, Paladin, Monk, Sorcerer, etc. . . that brings them in line for the playstyle the book is about. Normally this would net around a 1 or 2 stars for the review, but as I've mentioned a few times, the book does say this up front, so to be fair, what it does say it will bring it does bring. The new hirelings material is very cool, but it seems that like with the Knights book, Leadership and being able to have cohorts and hirelings is usually either banned outright or otherwise not allowed, both in home games and in PFS. Needs to be more player focused, though really to be fair this probably should have been in a more DM centric line with a small player's section.
All in all, for what it is and says it does, it's a pretty good book. If your looking either for ideas to use in building a dungeon or to be able to top of your very dungeon-explory Alchemist, Ranger, or Rogue, it's probably a good buy. If you not doing those things, you should probably skip it, though the PDF is is chap enough that it's hard to complain.
Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the North (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Ok, not great.Beckett —
Basically what you exect as common info for a book about cold regions. Tends to focus on a few player options and leave a lot of others in the cold (pun intended). Very light on the crunch side, especially for non-Barbarians or non-Druids, which arguably needed the most help of any sort of focus from this sort of book.
Undecided on the Winter Oracle or the Viking, (ok, but again basic, not really intriguing or innovative), while the Witchguard seems only suitible for NPC's in most games.
Fluff is nice, if short. Even more Roles than before (yuk), and they do seem very similar, kind of defeating the purpose. If kept, please start moving them to the DM books. The book follows the format of Knights of the Inner Sea and Blood of the Night, so if you liked those two, you will likely love this one. Similar to Varisia, in some ways. If you are looking for a Frostburn-like book, you will not like this one.
Value as a Players Guide: moderate to fairly low
Value as a generic book: decent
Value as a DM Primer (to specific subject matter): fairly high
Fluff Value: good
In my opinion, the biggest three weak points are:
2.) Again, tries to focus on too much flavor, leaving each underwhelming. (note, unlike other books that did this, this one's different focal points are very similar and have decent crossover)
3.) Lack of options for non-Barbarians and non-Druids. A few classes get an option or two, but that's kind of it. Why would you want more Barbarian/Druid material (classes that are already optimized for the "north" frm the CRB, and ignor classes that need help fitting in, (Cleric, Paladin, Cavalier, Monk, Wiz/Sor), particularly in suggestiongs or mechanics that help them function there?
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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While I do not think that either this or Ultimate Combat deserve to be called "Ultimate" anything books (maybe Ultimate Monk), I do think that Ultimate Magic does better cover it's proported theme. In my opinion, Inner Sea Magic did a better job overall, but is sadly setting specific.
On th Divine Side (minus Paladin) this book is extremely, extremely limited. There are a few gems, but most are either placed really far out of reach, or just not worth what you give up for them, and might as well not have been there at all rather than tease.
On the Arcane side, this book is full of material, but severely lacking as well. There is an assortment of random material that just seems like it was left over from other books and tossed in here. The only magical items in this book (exceptionally noticable on the Divine Magic side) are Wizard's Spellbooks, (which of the top of my head, only 3 Classes in the entire game will actually have any use for beyond the sell price).
There are a lot of (would be) nice Feats, except they are specific to a Class, or build, or whose names imply it would be great for somone else besides who it is actually intended. Over all, there are a lot of options, but actually very slim pickings. Overall, it leaves a lot of classes and build out in the cold.
Whereas Ultimate Combat is at best Ultimate Monk, Ultimate Magic is closest to being more appropriate as Ultimate Wizard/Inquisitor, (arguably Classes that did not need more).
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Neither of the words in the title really apply to this book. Ultimate Monk or Piecemail Combat fit much better. Overall, this book is about as good as Ultimate Magic. A lot of material that is useless (or unfinished/untested) that only applies to a class or two, and there is a lot of material that seems artificially injected to fill space, but really only further highlights the Ultimate Combat material that is not present.
All Classes will find something in this book, mostly poor, but there are a few gems. Sadly, I think that the writers forgot that this was suppossed to be a Combat themed book. Monk gets about 500% more than everyone else (combined?) Many of the Archtypes are pretty good, solid options, but still some classes get a lot and some get a few, and it tends to be the same Classes that get few and the same Classes that get many.
A lot of good spells, (that makes Ultimate Magic even more worthless), but I' starting to really question Paizo's ideas of balance and understanding the lines between Arcane/Divine, amongst other things. A lot of Magus and Paladin love, as well as Monks (yes Monks), but not too much for Combat focused Clerics, Wizards, Sorcerers, and Oracles.
If there where a 0 Stars option, I would pick that, simply because this is the absolute wrong way to go with a Hardcover "core" book. If they would drop the Asian themed stuff, and maybe the Monk-Onlyish Feats, this would have been a nice little softcover book, and maybe worth the price.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #4–07: Severing Ties (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Player Review (low tier)
I find it odd that this scenario beat my ther most hated play experience (Empyreal Enlightenment) is by the same writer. Honestly, if you can help it, avoid this scenario.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-09: The Quest for Perfection—Part I: The Edge of Heaven (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Player Review (mid-low tier, playe multiple times)
Significantly better than it's sequel, but still kind of meh overall. In my first play through, a snowcat dropped (and nearly outright killed) a (not level 1) player right at the start, before anyone could act. DM allowed us to rush to him and cast a spell which woud have been far out of range, but that seemed a little odd right off the bat. The next encounter is absolutely dreadful, every time I have played. It takes forever before the player's can actually do anything. The monsters are essentually out of reach for even spells and long distance ranged attacks, and the party basically waits their turn to climb (40 or 50ft) up while being attacked.
Nothing about this scenario really says Tian Xia to me it could really take place anywhere, and really would probably be much better to be placed anywhere else to draw the characters in rather than the fairly obvious railroad. Not terrible, and in my opinion better than it's later sequel scenarios. A good DM can add a lot of flavor and some extra RP. One thing I really liked was how the final BBEG is so played up and given such a mystic.