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Interesting but flawed class.

2/5

Note: as of 1/28/14, this is an out of date review. Please read Endz' for an up-to-date review.

Getting this out of the way: I received a review copy of this product, so keep that in mind. As with all reviews, I try to limit by biases though. A favorite saying of mine when it comes to PFRPG is that while praise is nice, criticism is useful and this review is in as many ways an attempt to help the author grow as it is to help you, the reader, decide if it’s the right class for you.

The Saint is a hybrid class, combining aspects of the cleric, the gunslinger (namely, a Grit-like ability), and the monk (namely Flurry of Blows) to create a class that allows for holy warriors that aren’t just Paladins. For this reason, it occupies the same design space as Super Genius Games’ Templar does. They’re d8 HD, 4 base skills per level, 3/4ths BAB, and a 6th level caster. They’re a bit like the old Favored Soul from 3.5 as well, focusing on their deity’s favored weapon.

According to the product’s Role section the Saint prefers a diplomatic solution to conflict, and she does receive an ability to help out with this aspect: namely her level to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks against those of another faith. But as far as set-in-stone class abilities go, that’s it. That’s all they get to help out with their preferred solution to a problem. This is a bit jarring to see, as from the name of the class, you expect to see a more diplomatic class. One that focuses more on the divine miracles they can do than on the blade.

What we instead find is a fighter with a number of deity-approved tricks up their sleeve. But more on this later.

As to be expected, the saint receives a single domain, and acts as a cleric of the saint’s level. Interestingly, they get the bonus spells not as spells to fill a bonus spell slot, but instead as Spell-Like Abilities. She receives a pool of uses-per-day, and different spell levels use up a different amount of uses-per-day. For example, a 9th level domain SLA is going to cost you 3 uses of your uses-per-day. This is kind of an interesting mechanic, albeit a bit clunky. Slightly concerning however, is that they get to ignore up to 100 gp / level of expensive material components. For one, spell-like abilities already ignore the material components of spells. This snafu is strange because in other sections of the product, author Tyler Beck shows deep rules knowledge. If the ability is intended to work on the spells that the domain grants but not necessarily to the spell-like abilities, it’s badly laid out as the rest of the paragraph is exclusively about the spell-like abilities. But the very fact that they’re spell-like abilities is worrying, as the domains weren’t written with this in mind. The ability to easily cast 7 miracles, with no material component, per day is a bit worrisome, to say the least.

Their main class feature is that of Favor. Favor points work a lot like a gunslinger’s Grit works, in that you get a certain number of points to start the day, and you can use abilities to spend them, and you regain the favor points by doing certain actions. As written, the base method to get more favor points is to ‘vanquish’ a foe. By this, they mean that you need to reduce the enemy to negative hit points. There is the caveat that nonlethal damage can accomplish this, but this is another one of the paradoxical gaps in rules knowledge. Consider how this would work. To bring a creature to negative hit points as a fighter who fights non-lethally, say of a god of peace, or one strong on redemption, you’ll have to do enough non-lethal damage for their hit points to equal their non-lethal damage. If no one else is fighting your opponent, this means you’ll need to deal the enemy’s full HP in non-lethal damage. But this doesn’t knock them to negative hit points. It merely means that any additional non-lethal damage becomes lethal damage. So you need to go through their hit points twice to get them to negative HP, and thus regain a favor point.

And keep in mind that this is the only set-in-stone way to get favor back, even for deities that aren’t up on violence. This harkens back to the Turn Undead ability in 3.5, where no matter what your Deity did or was about, you had the ability to scare undead. This is a bit weird, to say the least. To the author’s credit, they do provide a number of other examples that all require GM arbitration. These methods involve converting others to your faith, proving your loyalty to a deity by doing some ritual, or doing specific feats related to your deity’s portfolio. There are a few other ways to regain favor, but more on that later. What's odd here is that one of these alternative methods are granted at 1st level as well, but it's hidden away in Graces.

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike Grit, there’s no limit on the number of favor points you can have, but every morning your favor is reset. Apparently your Deity doesn’t want you to be too rewarded for your good deeds the previous day, so they take a little bit of your excess divine energy.

Now, the saint receives some abilities called Graces. Graces work much like a magus’ arcana in that some require points to power, and others just work. While I believe oceanshieldwolf covered most of them, I’ll talk about a few of them. The Favored Bodyguard grace grants you the Bodyguard feat, and lets you use it more often than normal if you have the Combat Reflexes feat. This is a bit strange since this extra pool of Bodyguard uses doesn’t use the same language as Combat Reflexes, where it’s additional AoOs on top of your 1. Instead, it’s just a use of Bodyguard per point of Dexterity modifier. There’s another issue with this. Namely that if you have 8 Dex and Combat Reflexes, you’ll have 1 AoO per round. With Favored Bodyguard? You’ll have -1 uses, as it’s based off of the Dexterity modifier, not bonus. I highly doubt anyone would actually take CR with 8 Dex, but it does a rookie mistake.

Now, the nifty thing about Favored Bodyguard is that if you prevent an attack to an ally using it, you regain a favor point. This provides a method that doesn’t involve inflicting violence to regain favor, which is nice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything to address any of the issues that these sort of abilities have. Who is to say that the reason the enemy missed the saint’s ally was the bodyguard bonus? Why wasn’t it the armor of the ally? Or their ring of deflection? Obviously, sometimes it’ll be the Bodyguard bonus, but it doesn’t make sense that it’s always that.

But here’s another problem with the ability. It can be trivially gamed by using allies to attack each other, just to get more favor points. And unlike the ‘vanquish` method of regaining favor, this one doesn’t need to be against a ‘worthy opponent’. It can be any attack, from any CR creature. Is this something that a sane GM will ever allow? No. But it still means that the saint fails the all-important Bag-O’-Rats Test. Using a bag of rats, there is a way to get a ton of favor, whether the bag of rats is literal or metaphorical. This is made worse by the lack of a limit on favor.

And then we get to Favored Onslaught. This ability is basically flurry of blows, but with the deity’s favored weapon. It grants you an extra attack, and sets your BAB to be your level for one round. And then we have the really weird sentence “this ability does not grant additional extra attacks at higher levels”. But we just read a sentence saying it does, specifically from a higher BAB. [Kudos on getting the language right for extra attacks for a high BAB though.] What this meant to say is that unlike flurry of blows, the extra attacks from TWF aren’t built in. But at the same time, the ability says that you can use Two-Weapon Fighting to add attacks. This isn’t the most clear, owing in part due to the monk’s flurry of blows fiasco, but it sounds like you can use TWF to just straight up get extra attacks. Confusingly, it doesn’t cover what ‘hand’ would be used if you’re using TWF to get extra attacks. This isn’t an issue with Flurry of Blows as you are always using the same set of rules and can’t mix it in with TWF. But with this ability, you can mix it in with TWF. Which penalty do you apply if you’re just attacking with one weapon? The main-hand or the off-hand? Even if this is resolved, there are some balance issues with the ability. For example, a level 1 Saint with a deity whose favored weapon is a greatsword that has TWF, you could spend a favor point to get 3 attacks. Just getting three natural attacks is awesome at 1st level, but the ability to do 3 attacks with a two-handed weapon? That’s really, really strong. As a saving grace (hah!), this ability does require favor to use, which helps quite a bit. I don’t think it’s enough.

Favored Sacrifice is another ability that can be used to regain favor. In this case, you receive the ‘in harms way’ feat. If you take an attack meant for an adjacent ally, you get a favor point back. This is even easier to ‘farm’ favor points with. Just have an ally use non-lethal damage against another ally, and ‘take the pain’ for your ally. This one could actually work in-game, especially for gods all about self-pain. This one really fails the bag of rats test.

Silver Tongue is a grace that actually helps out the diplomatic aspects of the saint. Namely, granting you the ability to add +4 to the DC of charm person type effects (or denounce type of effects). This bonus is absolutely huge, and also could be exploited by charming someone and just having your new best friend ‘convert’ to your religion. This would negate the cost of the favor point for +4, and would net you all the benefits of charm person.

Silent Prayer is, I think, indicative of the whole class. This grace is simple. Spend a favor point, and the spell or spell-like ability you’re casting is cast as if the silent spell metamagic was applied. One problem with this though. Spell-like abilities are already silent. This ability was so close to being right, but off by a little bit. We see the same sort of issue with the commune grace, where you can use commune to talk to your Deity once per day as a spell-like ability. It doesn’t require material components though, which is good, because SLAs already do not require them.

Rich of Spirit is particularly worrisome. It lets you spend a favor point to ignore up to 500 gp of an expensive material component, stacking with the reduced cost of the domain SLAs (which are already free). Combined with the ability to have a large amount of favor, you can get around just about any material component, removing a very-so-much-real balancing factor on a number of spells.

Protective Aura is also a strange grace. It requires you to be level 15, and grants a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus to saving throws. They max out at +4 at 20th level, and it basically acts as a magic circle against evil (or good) as well as a lesser globe of invulnerability. For one, this ability doesn’t just affect spells of alignments other than your own. Yes, you’re immune to cure light wounds cast by someone trying to get you back above negative HP. And this globe of invulnerability is always up. Hope you didn’t plan on casting any long-lasting low level buffs! It also has the issue that it doesn’t work as magic circle against law / chaos. A bit of an oddity, as there are gods who focus more on those aspects than good versus evil.

Many of the other graces are all about combat. Some let you bypass some DR. Others pump you up when you vanquish a foe or prevent an attack.

There’s a small issue in the Favored Dodge grace where it calls the grace a ‘deed’.

As an extremely minor quibble, the class uses the female pronoun when necessary, but the front cover shows a male, and there’s only one third of the images are females. Just a little oddity.

The spell list has a large number of spells that only work with a reflavoring. Unfortunately, this reflavoring is not explicitly called out, so this leaves oddities like gallant inspiration, which grants a competence bonus to a roll, on the spell list. Clearly, it’s meant to be something like the deity saying ‘time to tip the scales in my favor’, but that doesn’t quite work with the mechanics, and bumping the spell to grant a sacred or profane bonus would probably make the spell a higher level.

This also touches upon another issue the spell list has. The Saint’s spell list is full of some of the best (formerly unique to certain classes) spells. In many cases, it makes some sense, but it’s still robbing the classes these come from of one of their stand-out features. Spells like good hope, the Litany family of spells, gallant inspiration, glibness, etc were all previously very exclusive, and now the Saint gets them too. While my disappointment is tempered by the fact that they do roughly make sense, I wish they had gotten new spells in their place. And these spells are exclusive because they are very, very good.

Which brings me to the third point about the spell list. All the spells are very good. Many of them are some of the best spells for their levels. It’s as if a highly optimized wizard took all of the spells he wanted, and created a spell list with them in it. It’s a little too good, and it doesn’t really have the ‘not-so-good’ choices that all spell lists possess.

That said, there is some very real praise to be given about the spell list. It doesn’t affect the magic item economy quite as much as classes like the Summoner does. The spells aren’t made available too early, and there is even a discussion on the effect earlier access to spells will have on the price of wands and scrolls. This is very smart, and they offer ways to mitigate the problem posed by it.

Summing this all up, the class feels very amateur. When I talked about it with some friends of mine, this was the main comment. There are a lot of good ideas in here, but the issues that are raised with the abilities are things that should’ve been caught in development. As I mentioned above, exacerbating this is that in some instances, the class shows a deep level of knowledge of the rules, but then flubs on very basic aspects.

The class is called the Saint. The first thing brought to mind by this is some sort of ‘cleric of the cloth’. A cleric without armor proficiency, and not as war-like as a cleric usually is. What is not brought to mind is a class that strongly focuses on combat. When the flavor of the class says that saints prefer diplomatic solutions, and then gives about 2 abilities to help this aspect out as opposed to a myriad combat abilities, we get a dissonance that leaves a sour taste in our mouths. I wish there was the ability to focus on one aspect or the other though.

Still, I think this class does have potential. I think it needs a rename and a serious scrubbing, but beneath all the issues I’ve enumerated is a class that does seem pretty interesting. I think that with a good GM who can curtail some of the issues, this would make a pretty good holy warrior. Better than SGG’s Templar? I’m not sure. But to me it’s definitely more interesting than the Templar.

Due to the issues raised above, I will rate this 2.5 stars, rounded down for this platform.


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Interested in Game Design?

5/5

If you have any interest in game design, you owe it to yourself to get this book. It's been an invaluable aide in many a starting freelancer's toolkit.


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An interesting class

3/5

I have a post here explaining the class a bit more in-depth, but I thought I'd throw up a review too. I didn't come into this class expecting much, but I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it seems to have been done. I've only given it a quick read through, so I haven't playtested or checked the mechanics extremely closely, but from what I gather it's fairly well done, if a bit chaotic in its balance.

In short, it's a class with the cleric spell list (and spells per day) that obliterates the 15 minute work day. It's not possible to blow through all of your powerful spells, as they all take a while to make (1 minute per level of the spell), so planning ahead is very important for this class. Due to this, there are easily situations where you could be worse off than a cleric due to not being able to use the spell the situation needs right now. While it's possible to stockpile runes, they'll continue to count against your prepared limit. This does, however, have the potential to allow you to stack up a ton of runes to go off at once for some massive spell-splosion.

They also receive a glyph feature that lets them place small explosive runes style runes that explode and do untyped damage. You can't create a glyph in a square that a creature is in though, so it's again a bit strong of an ability that requires some foresight and has a potential to be wasted.

My post goes a bit more into the other features, although there are a number of features I haven't touched upon. All-in-all, it seems like a fine class that does have some issues in that some situations they could be very strong, and in others they could be weak. Basing off of what I know, it seems like the 'weak' situation may pop up more often, especially for a player who isn't too good about planning ahead, which takes the edge off of the strong aspects quite a bit.

I'll place it at 3.5 stars, but round down for now because I haven't fully thought through every aspect of it, and it was just a quick read thru.


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Wonderfully evocative

4/5

I came into this book with very few expectations. All I knew was the list of authors and that somewhere within this tome there were golems. That's all I needed, really, as I've been a huge fan of the artificer character archetype for a long time and have held a special fascination for golems.

And golems there were. After reading the section on the Jistka Imperium, my mind was full of wonderfully evocative character, monster, and encounter ideas. Reforging the golem controlling rod to control a massive beast, entire towns on the backs of roaming monsters...And thankfully, this would be a theme oft repeated in this book. The chapters were wonderful for inspiring campaigns, archetypes, and character concepts.

After reading about the Jistka Imperium, I dove into the Sodden Lands to learn about Lirgen and Yamasa. Lirgen in particular was highly interesting. Any nation whose entire deal was the use of astrology and prophecy to tell the future, directly before the death of Aroden, is bound to be fascinating just for the mysteries it raises. And mysteries it raises in spades. Why couldn't they fortell this? What exactly is that otherworldly thing that saved the last 'surviving' astrologer, now holed up in her own observatory fortress? I never thought I'd want to play a character based on astrology, but after reading this chapter I immediately had to make one.

The bloodied past of Ancient Osirion is laid out for us as well. Again, I wasn't expecting Egypt, The Fantasy Land to catch my attention as much as it did. But there were many great sections here as well. The revelation of everyone's favorite drug of choice was both revolting and intriguing at the same time. One almost hopes that there were alchemist discoveries associated with this article, if only to see the twisted things that alchemists could do with a little ground up mummy.

For now, I definitely think the book is worth the price. I honestly did not expect to see so many evocative ideas in here, and I was very pleased with how it turned out. I'll give it 4 stars for now, as I haven't fully read the book. But this review will hopefully be a place holder for a more in-depth review at a later date. And if such an event occurs, I'll be sure to revise the score if necessary.


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Stellar

5/5

Construct Codex Review

Constructs have always been one of my favorite aspects of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as its predecessors. The idea of taking inanimate objects and gifting unto them life has always fascinated me, partially due to the foreignness inherent in constructs. And does this product ever live up to my expectations. To start, the prose is phenomenal. The editing is top notch. The artwork is wonderfully evocative. Mechanically, I found very few, if any, issues with the product. There were a few times where I thought I found a mistake, only to figure out that there was no mistake at all. This is the kind of book that I gift to people to show them the wonderful possibilities that 3rd party products can represent, and to show them that Pathfinder 3rd party material has for the most part been absolved of the sins of its 3rd edition father.

Rather than give an overview of all the constructs, I’ll focus on just the constructs that gave the most visceral responses. The dirge organ is a CR 14 construct that, as improbable as it sounds, makes for a compelling encounter with an opponent that cannot move. The organ acts as a bard that can affect other constructs, and gets a number of abilities that perfectly capture the role of organs in gothic and horror works of art. Phantom ballets, the haunting sounds it produces that lead those that hear it throughout the winding passages of the castle, creating ghostly hallucinations in the form of at-will minor image...it’s all there. Perhaps most amazingly, due to only having a few offensive capabilities, it would be easy to insert this in even a low level adventure just by lowering the DCs and not using as many offensive abilities.

Endzeitgeist claimed that words failed to describe how much he loved the Living Crematory. I can only completely agree with this statement. This is one awesomely twisted creation. With its long reaching chains, it grapples hapless enemies and and brings them into its fiery heart where they take a lot of damage each round. I haven’t read such a horrifically jaw-dropping monster in a long time, and I doubt I’ll ever forget this one.

As a big fan of Numeria in the Golarion setting, I was quite intrigued by the description of the morgechs. Nothing quite says fantasy mad scientists like “sadistic beings wrought by the admixture of science and magic”. The executor is a creature adept at both melee and ranged combat, using the alchemists’ bombs for ranged weaponry and a flail that is wielded two-handedly even though it’s attached-literally-to only one hand. The griever is a nasty creation that relies on four keen rapiers to attack (or 4 hand crossbows with keen bolts), and sickening, staggering, and stunning critical to really bring the hurt. Oh, and he has critical mastery as well. And he counts as a level 20 two-weapon warrior fighter (another of Jasons’ creations). And dear god get him away from me. The creation process is suitably horrific, requiring a living being to be modified for the whole creation process. The final morgech is the relatively tame Ravager wolf who, when combined with another ravager, turns into a veritable meatgrinder of PCs thanks to their possession of the Outflank, Paired Opportunist, and Precise Strike teamwork feats. This creature contains the first mistake I’ve seen: it lists pack attack as a special attack, with no explanation for it. This isn’t a universal monster rule, but there is a teamwork feat of the same name, which isn’t mentioned in the Feats section. I assume it’s the teamwork feat, as it quite fits, but this is the small blemish on this otherwise great product.

I can’t recommend this enough, and if it weren’t for the grisly nature of it, it would definitely be the product I recommend to people interested in 3pp but not sure where to start. And I still might do that anyways.

Well done.


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An Excellent Story

5/5

Itchy's review says everything I wanted to say about the story itself. I was thoroughly entranced by the story, and was almost grateful that I only came upon it well after its release so I didn't have to wait 3 agonizing weeks to get the whole story. I don't recall how I came upon it, but I believe it was the first Web Fiction story I had ever read and it's what turned me onto the web fiction segments of the blog in general, as well as the story that persuaded me to pick up 4 or 5 of the Pathfinder novels to read.

I truly look forward to more adventures with Norren as well as the future writings of Kevin.


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A great resource

5/5

This is primarily a review for players and mostly lists those new items that I think work very well, as well as those I think do not.

Ultimate Equipment set out to be a compilation of every item published in the core rules, and was able to pick up a few of the items published in the Golarion line as well. It offers a new way of presenting the items that helps each item stand out more, as well be more clear. This new format works wonderfully. Another very appreciated feature is that wondrous items are now broken out by slot. For example, all belts are in the same area, and there are charts that just list the names and prices of belts to make it infinitely easier to find a belt that fits your price range.

Ultimate Equipment is comprised of 7 main sections:

  • Arms and Armor
  • Gear
  • Magic Arms and Armor
  • Rings, Rods, and Staves
  • Wondrous Items
  • Artifacts and Other Items
  • Appendices

    While most of the names are self-explanatory, the last two aren't so clear. Artifacts and Other Items encompasses Artifacts, Cursed Items, and Intelligent Items. The Appendices composed of Treasure Generator, Gems and Jewelry, and Art Objects.

    Editing-wise, I've found no more errors than is usual for a book of this size. In fact, I’m tempted to say there are fewer errors than what I would have expected. They hired extra editors, and it shows.

    Regarding new and old content, I saw that the goal was originally about 50% / 50% new and old material, and I've also seen reports that it's about 45% new material and 55% old material. I haven't confirmed that myself as it's a huge book and half the reason I wanted it was as a compendium of the old stuff, but I highly doubt that there's a smaller percentage of newer stuff than that. There are many pages where I can go and see nothing but new material, and some wondrous item slots have 25 new items in them. Out of 28 total.

    For previously printed material, I've found a few instances where the items were further developed to clarify them. For example, the sword cane is now finessable, and the butterfly swords are now 100% clear that they are enchanted separately. Some weapons were attempted to be made more clear, but in my opinion didn't help as much as other tune-ups. An example would be the kusarigama.

    But let's get to the new stuff.

    There are a number of new special materials for weapons and armor, including steel that has "radiation", elemental-forged steel, living wood, and the armor made from the manes of lion-esque magical beasts.

    There are the absurdly useful "Class Kits", which have all the items a character of a class needs to start out, at a discount in price and weight. These are basically codifications of the popular "pay X gp for adventuring gear" houserule that many GMs have adopted.

    There are also a ton of new mundane items, including one of my personal favorites: the Flask Holy Symbol.

    There are many new alchemical items too, and alchemical items are split up into three categories: Remedies, Tools, and Weapons. For example, Liquid Blade is an alchemical weapon that is normally a tube that can be shaken to create a fragile short sword. And one of the best part of the alchemical items is that they have added the craft DCs necessary to make them, which used to be missing for new ones.

    There are a lot of new magic armor abilities too. Thankfully, many of them are flat gp costs, making them easier to add on to armor. Standout abilities include Hosteling (allows you to store your bonded animal in your armor), warding (ability to end all challenge, judgment, or smite abilities targeting you), and clangorous (every time you’re hit, thunderstone!). For unique shields, the Tempest & Maelstrom shields stand out. A common complaint about shield users is that some of the best shield feats require extremely high Dexterity, and these shields help such players out considerably by granting them some of the abilities of those feats (for example, free bull rush).

    There are about 14 pages of weapon special abilities here. A fair number of the new abilities help martial characters in situations where previously they couldn’t do much. For example, some abilities cause those hit to be affected by faerie fire (to help with magical concealment) or abilities to dimensional anchor opponents. There’s a wonderful ability called Courageous that helps those who use morale bonuses, and lots of (probably unintentional) fun can be had with an amulet of mighty fists (Anchoring). There are a few areas where more clarity could be used, such as the Designating line of abilities that grant allies bonuses to hit the enemy, but it seems that the user of the weapon shouldn’t count as their own ally for this.

    As far as specific magic weapons, there is the wonderfully evocative blade of the sword-saint which is a katana that’s very useful for monks, the dagger of doubling which makes characters focusing on thrown knives much easier, the size-altering fighter’s fork, or the ricochet hammer.

    Ring-wise there are now many close contenders for the ring of protection’s spot on your character’s ring fingers, which can only be a good thing. The ring of Tactical Precision is my personal favorite.

    There appear to be only a few new rods, but there are still some really cool ones, such as the Trap-Stealer’s Rod.

    Rather than being premade spells-in-a-can, a fair number of the new staves in this book also provide additional powers above and beyond their spells. Such as a staff that turns into a lance or one that curses the enemies you strike in melee, allowing the spells on the staff to affect the enemy more easily.

    And now...the wondrous items. All 120 pages of them. As mentioned above, these are grouped by item type. Further, they are grouped, in their tables, in multiple groups based on their price. Whereas before there was simply Minor, Medium, and Major magic items, these tables are now broken out into a lesser and greater version of each category. Another thing that is now more apparent is that the wondrous item pages have tabs on the left side listing all wondrous item types and highlighting the one the page deals with. This makes flipping through the book looking for a section far easier, and is a great use of the margins.

    Due to the daunting number of wondrous items, each section will probably be getting progressively smaller as time goes on. I can only imagine the trials and tribulations the editors of this book had to go through.

    The first section in wondrous items are belts. The very first item, the Anaconda’s Coils, sets the tone for what to expect in belts. It grants the wearer the constrict universal monster ability, and gives a bonus to grapple. Oh, and it gives an enhancement bonus to to Strength. What was done here was very smart. With the importance of ability enhancements, anything else in the belt slot is generally ignored by those who would benefit from a bonus to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. But there are many belts in this section that give an enhancement and a separate ability. This increases great choices considerably, and gives more interesting abilities. Standout belts include the blinkback belt (which lets you throw attached items and have them return after the attack), cord of stubborn resolve (aka: belt of rage-cycling), belt of stoneskin, and the minotaur belt.

    The Sorcerer’s Robe is an excellent way for sorcerers to be able to use their 1st level bloodline abilities while casting spells. At higher levels, your spells are so much more effective than the abilities, so being able to tack them onto spells is a great idea. Plus, it’s dapper. Real dapper. The bodywrap of mighty strikes helps make magically enhanced unarmed strikes and natural attacks a bit easier than using the amulet of mighty fists. It does so by emulating magic weapons, modulo the slight price increase due to the differences in unarmed / natural weapons. This requires a bit of tricky rules to make it work mostly like weapons, but the rules explain it pretty well. It can also overlap with the amulet of mighty fists, meaning you could have a +2 bodywrap of mighty strikes and a flaming amulet of mighty fists.

    The chest slot now has about 25 new additions, bringing the total chest slot items to about 28. These aren’t exact numbers, but you get the point. This is, alas, the section I feel has the most “misses”. While there are many cool ones, (poisoners jacket which single-vestedly solves many problems associated with poison, cackling hag’s blouse, resplendent uniform coat) there are a fair number that make me very uneasy, such as the infamous quick runner’s shirt (swift action extra move action that costs 1k and has no attunement time) and the bane baldric (which gives non-inquisitors their bane ability). Part of the issues I have with these are that they take up slots that until recently were rarely used.

    For those interested in the fairly iconic image of the blindfolded swordmaster, there are items in the Eyes section to help out with that, albeit at a steep cost.

    Of note in the boots section include the caltrop boots (seemingly straight out of a cartoon evil genius’ mind), many horseshoes for your hooved friends, Getaway Boots (soon to be a must-have for the BBEG close to your heart), and verdant boots (portable vegetation! Druids will love this one).

    The hand-slot section might just be my favorite slotted wondrous item section in this book. There are so many cool gloves to buy that my mind is positively boggling. The Apprentice’s Cheating Gloves (mage hand and prestidigitation! my favorite!), engineer’s workgloves, gauntlets to give you an edge with combat maneuvers, gloves of arcane striking (which gives new uses to the feat of the same name. More items that modify feats, please :)), gloves of the commanding conjurer, gloves of shaping, shadow falconer’s glove...and the suspiciously cheap gloves of reconnaissance. A very good section, over all.

    Helms were already well represented in Pathfinder, but there are quite a few cool new items here as well. Magician’s Hat (yes, that hat) makes metamagic easier for wizards in a particularly inspired way.

    Headbands more often than not have an intellectual or magical focus, and while this is mostly preserved, it’s refreshing to see more headbands that are relevant to more martially focused characters. Examples of that include the headband of ninjitsu, which will be a boon to rogues everywhere, if only for effectively granting the Shadow Strike feat. There’s also a headband for rangers with hunter’s bond (companion) class feature, as well as one for barbarians (of all classes!). There are also a number of highly interesting headbands that modify specific aspects of the game. For example, the headband of aerial agility is like a headband of Int, Wis, or Cha, but also makes flying easier. Or the Shifter’s Headband, which is a boon to those who can change form. These are like the belts I mentioned above that merge stat enhancement and interesting abilities, and for that they are awesome.

    Necklaces start out with a bang. The aegis of recovery is similar to Breath of Life, and is priced at an almost expendable level. The Amulet of Hidden Strength is a boon to those who use ki powers, as it can cause the user to regain 2 ki points. And it’s also possible to just swap out the amulet after combat to use it. The collar of the true companion is an interesting item that helps out druids and rangers (and others with animal companions) by making their companion smarter and able to understand a language. Make sure to take it off at least once a week though, lest the creature Awaken. There are also a number of amulets that let unarmed strikes / natural weapon users overcome various types of DR, as well as get flaming / frost on their attacks. A nifty set of items. I can only imagine monks running around with 5 blinged out amulets around their necks, changing the active one as necessary. Even if the rules don’t allow that, it’s a great mental image.

    All manner of cloaks are ignored for that sweet, sweet Resistance bonus to saving throws. Personally, I’m not sure many of these new cloaks are enough to lure people away (well, at least lure the forum-posters away), but there are a number of interesting cloaks here. The Gunfighter’s Poncho lets you negate any ranged touch attack by falling to the ground. The cloak of the hedge wizard, which grants 2 at-will cantrips and two spells once per day, is also pretty useful. There are also cloaks that turn into shields, those that punish enemies who tumble past you,

    The Bracers of Falcon’s Aim have some issues, namely the constant effect aspect of the falcon that grants them a +1 bonus to-hit, +3 bonus to perception, and a keen effect. All for 1k less than the bracers of archery, lesser. Other than this, the wrist slot section is fairly well done. There are cool items like the Burglar’s Bracers (turns into masterwork thieves tools, and other things), longarm bracers, bracers to help casting spells while threatened, and vambraces that help a cavalier’s challenge and his tactician class feature.

    And...the slotless items. All 49 pages of them. Too many to list here, and even the task of picking the ones I enjoy the most is daunting and would blast past the character limit these reviews possess. Of my favorites, there are a few that stand out. These include the Prayer Wheel of Ethical Strength and Singing Bell of Striking, a pair of inspired items that just ooze with flavor that allow monks to change what DRs they overcome from ki strikes. Summon-Slave Crystal, which allows a spellcaster to take over the creature they’ve summoned as if using magic jar. Manual of War, which allows fighters to swap out a bonus feat once per day. The stone familiar that allows witches to store backups of spells, much like a wizard can with an extra spellbook. And my all-time favorite slotless item, the Traveler’s Any-Tool, a highly affordable item that can turn into any tool imaginable. The quintessential adventurer tool, allowing him to do almost any task necessary. These are all wonderful items that solve or mitigate real issues that were facing characters.

    For a book of this size, and taking into consideration the number of times I thought this in Ultimate Combat or Ultimate Magic, I expected to think “What were they thinking?” quite a few times. Especially so, considering the fact that magic items generally take up less space than archetypes. And while I haven’t reviewed every item with scrutiny, I am extremely happy with how few times I’ve had that thought while reading Ultimate Equipment.

    I rate it at 4.5 stars, rounded up for this platform. If you are just buying it for new equipment, it’s probably around 4 stars, or possibly even 3.5. But the whole point of the book is to be the end-all for equipment, and it does this wonderfully.


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    Wonderful

    5/5

    Only three reviews will not do for this. I'm somewhat biased, having done the Dracochymist and the Kobold bloodline, but I shouldn't be biased about the other parts!

    The whole thing is great, and it's free to boot. So for those reasons alone, it's 5 stars.

    There's a lot of material in here, so I plan to simply list and discuss the parts that really caught my eyes. So mostly mechanical things, since that's what I know. This is part review, but will probably end up being more so feedback.

  • The Goblin Magic Items by Dave "Eldritch Mr. Shiny" Mallon

    Pretty interesting, and I'm quite the fan of the naming scheme. One of the items should probably be an alchemical item. The Shiny-Distraction-Bauble in particular is a fun item, causing people to be flat-footed if they're distracted by it. Stolen-Head-Words is onto something though: a way to transfer written words that goblins can "read", without having them actually read it. My main complaint about these are that they go half-way with the in-character goblin speak, but this text isn't really italicized and is far too correctly formed. Plus, there are some words as big as a goblin's head in there!

  • Margherita “Bardess” Tramontano's Desnan subdomains.

    Desna is one of my favorite deities in Golarion, so I especially was interested in this one. The Paradox domain has an interesting ability, but it's not the most clear. It uses the phrase "magical attack", but then uses Channeling positive energy to heal as an example. Doing that isn't an attack :) It also says that the damage's "entity is unchanged, only its type is reversed." The use of the word entity is a bit weird in this context. Still, a nifty power.

    I'm a bit concerned about the power of the Intuition domain, as it lets you know the truth about a bit of information as it relates to a creature. This would be extremely strong for investigative campaigns. Also, for future abilities like this, it should probably be a (Su).

    Harmony of the Opposites is a very cool feat, allowing you to, for example, change fireball to deal Acid and Electricity damage.

    Synergy of the Opposites does fail the "rat in a bag test", although in this case it's more "hirelings intentionally failing to counterspell...in a bag". But that's far more obscure than the rat in the bag, so it should be fine.

    Wield the Strands of Fate: A cool idea, although I don't like it for the simple reason that it reveals stuff about the monster that the players shouldn't really know. Plus, it's a lot of book keeping.

  • New Oracle Curses by Dylan "SteelDraco" Brooks.

    Foresaken: This gives a bonus to saving throws at the cost of gaining SR to beneficial spells. The bonus to saves is +6 at 20th level, compared to the SR 30 you have against beneficial spells. I don't feel this was too well thought out. If the bonus to saves got larger, I could see it being alright, but I shudder at the thought of using this.

    Mistrusted: Oh hey there Cassandra. Basically, can't use Diplomacy to make people above Indifferent, and people think you're lying. A lot. You get some spells in return, although ones already on your list, it looks like. I think this makes an amazing dip for barbarians going for rage prophets, or really anyone needing a level of oracle.

    Stigmata: Really cool fluff here. The wounds take on aspects of your mystery. You take 2 points of non-lethal damage per level of the spell, which cna't be reduced but can be helaed. In return, you get +1 to the caster level of your spells, bonuses to saves versus [pain] spells/abilities and eventually immunity, and finally damage reduction. A really interesting curse. My main concern is how it holds up over the day. A level 10 oracle, without taking into consideration bonus spells per day, will be taking 142 non-lethal damage just to cast all their spells (assuming no orisons are cast).

    Unnatural is interesting, taking cues for the Unnatural Aura of eidolons (and other beasts, I think). The actual curse part seems much worse than what you get back, as all animals not only are hostile to you, but actively seek you out, like the blight upon nature that you are. In return, those that bite you might be sickened or gain another condition. But...this is awesome if only for the use with Oracle's Burden. The ability to focus all animals on an enemy? Not too shabby :)

    My main issue with this was that it seemed to imply that oracles need deities, when they actually don't. But there are a lot of really cool nuggets of ideas in here. I look forward to seeing what SteelDraco puts forward in future issues.

  • DracoChymist & Kobold Bloodline: Despite being biased, these are perfection beyond perfection. Absolutely no issues whatsoever. Clearly.

  • The Fili by Joseph "Guy Humual" Scott. Disregarding the issues mentioned in the discussion thread, this seems like a well-done PrC, but doesn't particularly "wow" me. It's a PrC that combines bards and druids, kind of as a throwback to 1e bards. It takes on the aspects of mystic theurge too, where it advances the spellcasting of both. Somewhat of concern, you can get in with just 1 level of bard, meaning your druid can lose 1 CL to eventually get some minor bardic performances, including inspire courage. With just 1 level of bard, they'll eventually end up with bardic performance of an 8th level bard. At 10th level, they can start bardic performances and cast a divine spell as a single standard action. This allows interesting things like using a move action to start dirge of doom, casting a spell to affect an enemy with the -2 from Dirge of Doom, and then change back to inspire courage. Interesting usage, to say the least. Personally, I think it could've used some lose of spell levels and gain some more class features, but I can definitely see how some people would love this one as is. Plus the art is adorable.

  • Bone Witch archetype by Morgan “Oceanshieldwolf” Boehringer and Jim
    “Elghinn Lightbringer” Wettstein.

    Slowly turns into undead, but replaces 6 hexes. They get a skeleton familiar too. I think they lose 1 or 2 too manyhexes for what they get back, as it's generally minor passive stuff and losing a ton of their primary class features is a bit lame :) Still, there are a lot of small bonuses. They get their first hex at 6th level, so they can't even take Extra Hex until then. Still, it accomplishes the goal it set out to meet admirably, and it isn't overpowered at all.

  • PYROMANIA: FEATS FOR FIRE STARTERS by Ryan Costello Jr.

    Quite possibly the coolest set of feats I've ever seen in Pathfinder. And I've seen a lot! These feats allow you to use fire in combat. Sounds simple, but you can do a ton of very cool things with these feats.

    The article also adds a new condition for objects to the game: enflamed.

    What's so cool about them? They scale with the number of pyromania feats you have, so if you have 3 (pyromania) feats, you'll be doing +3 extra damage when using an enflamed weapon. There are feats to make it easier to hit enemies when using a weapon that does fire damage (including rays), cause your weapon to be engulfed and destroyed in a blaze of glory as it seriously hurts your enemy, feats to burn the ground to create difficult terrain and deal damage.

    When I read that last feat, I had to stop reading for a minute just to think of all the awesome possibilities of that.

    There are feats to make it so if you charge or run while holding an enflamed weapon, the squares you run through have concealment...there are just so many truly awesome feats in here that it boggles my mind. It's well worth it to download the issue just to read these feats.

    Plus, the artwork is amazing.

  • Of Magic and Mettle by Sarah "Ambrosia Slaad" Counts.

    These are a set up magi arcana and an archetype for those who believe knowledge is meant to be free.

    Philosopher's Alloy lets you spend more poitns from the arcane pool to overcome DR. This basically means you can overcome DR earlier than you'd normally be able to with the arcane pool. A bit wasted if you get to higher levels, but useful for lower level campaigns :)

    Rending the Shroud allows you to lower the DR of enemies you hit by spending an arcane point. A pretty cool ability!

    The archetype uses Charisma to cast, and is a spontaneous caster. Unfortunately, a lot of text is "wasted" with the standard language of a spontaneous spellcaster, and I would've loved to have seen more instead of that. Perhaps a simple "they cast as a bard does, using the magus spell list" would work in the future. This is actually a pretty well done Spontaneous Magi, but I don't think it buffs them enough for changing them to spontaneous. Granted, since everyone just uses shocking grasp, perhaps the versatility of preparedness isn't worth so much for magi!

  • Rune Magic by Thomas "Kilrex" LeBlanc

    This far too short article offers 4 new options revolving around runes: Tattoo Magic (a variant of varisian tattoo), rune weapons (draw a rune on a weapon to give it slight bonuses. You can change the rune when you prepare spells), calligraphy (bonuses to feinting and making magic items. It makes sense in context!), and the rune-carved construct options (a rune that does something similar to mirror image. I feel that the calligraphy option could've been dropped to focus more on the rune weapons feat, as that one is particularly interesting. Or next time, have it be a longer article :)

    ...and finally...

  • Hellrider by Robert "Snorter" Feather

    Essentially the mounted version of the Hellknight PrC. It's a mix of Paladin-like abilities with the cavalier. Seems well done, although I felt that I knew what I was going to get before even reading it. I guess that just means it does its job well! They do get both a discipline and a cavalier Order, which could be slightly worrisome.

    Overall, I really enjoyed it!


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    4/5

    As a special note, I did receive review copies of this series of products.

    Cool Parts:

  • There's a list of the subdomains with their associated domain, granted power, which level that power replaces, and the deific portfolios associated with the subdomain. The inclusion of the deific portfolios is a really small but great touch in my opinion, as it helps figure out not only what variant channels (from UM) work with it, but can also help GMs figure out where to slot these into gods.
  • Some of the powers are in my opinion really innovative. The Fellowship subdomain's ability is really interesting, although perhaps very situational. The Mist subdomain's ability is really cool too.
  • I really enjoy the Starlight domain, as it gives access to a very nifty feat. And? The bonus spells are very well chosen. It's absolutely perfect for Desnan clerics.
  • The stone subdomain is very cool as well.
  • Chance subdomain has a pretty interesting mechanic associated with it.

    Issues with the product:

  • Some subdomains have fairly boring abilities. One lets you use Survival to forage for food in urban areas, but doesn't grant Survival as a class skill. Others replace powers with much, much weaker abilities.
  • The Mortality subdomain's ability is pretty cool, although I'm not sure if it works well as written. It lifts some immunities of a creature type for only one round, but following that round, they return, eliminating everything that would still be affecting them otherwise. For example, if you use this ability and then a teammate takes advantage of the lack of immunities to cast an enchantment spell, the enchantment spell will end right before your next turn.

    Overall, there are a lot of cool ideas in here. Some of them are pretty situational (such as the Stone domain's ability), but even then they're very interesting abilities. As I mentioned above, there are 4-5 subdomains that are boring, and one or two that I suspect might have been filler. All totaled, there are 18 domains.

    Editing wise, I didn't notice a single error, although I didn't go out of my way looking for errors.

    Balance wise, there was only one power that had me concerned, and truth be told, it's probably fine. (The Ruin subdomain's power, for those interested.) My main concern was that some were too weak. There are a few subdomains that deal with more obscure aspects of the game, like finding food, saves for forced marches, or some extra bonuses to Sense Motive.

    All told, I thought this was a fine supplement. It wowed me in a few places with the innovative ideas, and it's clear that the author Daron Woodson knows the rules very well. But at the same time, many of those ideas where underwhelming from a "Is this useful? Is it a good trade off?" standpoint, such as the aforementioned Fellowship subdomain ability.

    For those reasons, I'll rate this three and a half stars, rounded up for this platform due to the lack of errors.


  • Really cool concept, not the best implementation

    4/5

    This class has a very cool idea behind it. The basic concept is that the bokor has a soul ward. This is akin to a "floating" amount of hit points. If they get knocked to <1 HP, the remaining damage hits the soul ward first. At first level, the soulward has a value of 1 point, not a whole lot. It scales up to be 15 at 5th level, 63 at 10th level, 135 at 15th, and eventually 270 at level 20. Each level increases the amount in the ward, but those are just examples to give you an idea of where things are.

    Alright, so cool enough by itself. Tough to kill.

    But the bokor is also a spontaneous spellcaster, using the sorcerer / wiz spell list. And they don't have spell slots.

    Instead, they cast spells using their soul ward. Casting a spell requires a number of HP to be subtracted from the soul ward equal to the spell's level. 1 for 1st level spells, 9 for 9th. "But wait!", you say, "they only have one point in the soul ward at level 1, does that mean they only have one spell per day?"

    Nope. And that's where the coolness of this class comes from. The bokor gets an ability called Soul Drain. This is an at-will ranged touch attack that does 1d4 damage per 2 levels. This is a (Su) ability so is not subject to SR, and it's unholy damage (which I think may as well be untyped, as there are all of 2 or 3 places in the game that mention it, and I think those are mistakes), so nothing will resist it. If a creature is hit by it, they must make a save or take a negative level. If the creature takes the negative level, the bokor adds HP to the soul ward equal to the creature's HD.

    And that's how they can keep on casting.

    The rest of the abilities tend to deal with undead. They can animate undead and eventually (greater) create undead, and at 20th level they can become a Juju Zombie.

    They also get an ability that let's them "consume the soul" of a creature that's fallen to <0 HP to regain some soul ward points.

    That's basically the class. As I mentioned, it's a really cool idea. And it's free! However, there are a number of issues both balance-wise and editing-wise. The Animate Dead ability really ought to be (Sp), and personally I think Soul Drain should be as well, although I can see some reasons otherwise. Consume Soul is level 4 ability that's an immediate action with no daily limit, and it requires miracle, true resurrection, or wish to to bring back someone whose soul was consumed. A bit much for an ability that can be used every round with no expensive investment. The negative level is a deathwish at low levels too, as creatures with 1 HD will just flat out die from it, and everything else will take the damage from the ability, and then take -5 HP from the negative level. There's an issue where Soul Ward says they can prepare spells when they make their soul ward each day, but later it's stated that they're spontaneous casters. And of course the issue of unlimited spellcasting, but that's inherent in the concept, I think. Originally the saves for their abilities used their full bokor level or caster level, rather than half of that. That was recently fixed.

    But as I said, this is free and that does provide some leeway when it comes to balance and editing. Were this a paid product, I'd probably rate it 2 stars due to the implementation. But since it's free and it's a really cool and interesting idea, I'm placing it at 3.5 stars, rounded up.


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    Disregard naysayers, this is one of the best supplements of all time.

    5/5

    It's elegance cannot be understated.


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    If you're a fan of the spiritual weapon spells, just buy it.

    5/5

    ...and everyone's a fan of those spells.

    While due to the format of these bullet points, I can't go into much more detail than what's listed in the product description, I will note that most of these feats have highly thematic feat prerequisites that make combining these feats with each other fairly difficult, or at least requiring supreme specialization in the spells.

    Definitely worth the money.


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    4/5

    While I cannot comment on the rest of the book at this time, I would like to say that the archetypes in this book are things I consistently find myself returning to for ideas.


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    An amusing story that sets the imagination going

    4/5

    I'm no fine critic of literature, but I greatly enjoyed this short story by Ed Greenwood. The idea of umbral kobolds tickles my fancy, especially one that still has a shop exclusively because people are too afraid of his bombs to run him out of town. After reading the story, I immediately tried to figure out how to make this into a possible encounter for my players.

    That said, there were some oddities in the text, such as areas where it was clear the kobold was speaking outloud, but the text wasn't in quotation marks.

    Plus, it's an awesome introduction to the Shadowfall setting!


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    A solid book with a few issues.

    4/5

    Just to preface my review, I'd like to say that the clockwork creator is one of my favorite fantastical archetypes, so I may be a bit biased here.

    As the product description says, this class is all about golemcraft, and other clockwork contraptions. It is based off of the Summoner, but is its own class. It has what is essentially an Eidolon (but which is actually a machine), and "drones" that they can quickly create. They also get abilities like Shield Ally, and Status Link.

    Your "servitor" can have a number of cool upgrades to it. Ever wanted a creature that has a ballista for a weapon? You got it. Want a tank? Go ahead, you can make it with the Wheeled base form, the Siege Mount (to get a ballista), and Guard Plates (to give you a bonus to AC when riding it). How about a mechanical man that rushes your enemies away from you, allowing you to pepper them with bolts from afar? Sure thing!

    The art in this book is black and white, and wonderful. There are all sorts of crazy clockwork contraptions, from a floating lantern, to a wheeled crossbow wielding death-bot, to a tea cup with legs. My only problem with it is that I'm not quite sure what's going on in the cover.

    Balance-wise, it seems fine. I haven't thought long and hard about it, but only 1 thing jumps out of me as unbalanced, and that's "Status Link". If the clockworker withdraws the status link from his servitor, the servitor is immediately destroyed. A charm'd Clockworker could soon stand to have to spend a while putting it back together after his enemy tells him to withdraw the link!

    Design decisions I take issue with:

  • The spell list is a bit too offensive for my tastes. Flaming Sphere, Scorching Ray, freezing sphere, etc, don't really fit my idea of a clockworker. Flame Arrows seems to fit wonderfully, due to the focus on crossbows. I do see how they could be a master of the manipulation of energy, in which case these do make sense.
  • The drones only seem to get useful at 5th level, when a drone with a crossbow attack can be deployed. Before then, they are mostly useful for carrying things around, manipulating objects, and using Disable Device. I do not feel that short-lived creatures doing 1d4 points of damage at level 1 is unreasonable, especially since it takes a full-round action to make them. In fact, that's still really weak.

    Issues I have with the PDF:

  • The PDF mentions how the creations of the clockworker tend to use crossbows, but to even use those, the servitor needs to invest a bit in Innovation points. For a non-Biped base form, the clockworker needs to spend 4 Innovation points for his servitor to be able to shoot a crossbow. Only 2 (on Limbs(Arms)) if they spend a feat. This seems...off.

  • Some text is a bit unclear.

    Final verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up. This class is weaker than the base summoner, due to the weak drones. That's more a testament of the Summoner's power than the Clockworker's underpoweredness. Spell Drone is great, as is shield drone. But they are at 9th and 13th level, so they come a little late. There's a lot of promise, but work needs to be done.


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    An awesome buy

    4/5

    This product presents the sublime transmuter, which can be thought of as a transmutation specialist wizard squared. This class is based off of the Oracle (and you can even take some of the Oracle Revelations too!), and presents 5 "paths" (analogous to Mysteries) to travel upon in your journey of self perfection.

    Other than the class, there are two new feats (related to the class), 1 new player race (Daitengu) and 1 subtype, 3 new spells (Lesser Beast Shape, Selective Gravity, Subjective Time), and a new weapon.

    The art work is great, and the cover looks incredible. I really enjoy the art style of the iconic Yamabushi.

    On to the crunch!

    d8, 3/4ths BAB. 9 levels of spells.

    Each path has a set of contemplations (revelations), as well as Privileged Spells. Privileged Spells are spells that are always on. You can choose from the list of spells given in the path (as long as you can cast it), and you can change this every day.

    You get to choose a total of 5 contemplations.

    They get all transmutation spells from all spell lists.

    Some Paths give weapon proficiencies, and all of them modify the class skill list somehow. Each path also has a "Mediation", which are akin to the Sorcerer's Bloodline Arcana. For example, the Path of the Trying Steel gives the Vital Strike feat chain as you progress in levels. These abilities are the cornerstones of your path, and so are generally more powerful than the Bloodline Arcanas.

    Here are the Paths. Not that I'm not listing all the contemplations of a Path:

    Path of the Razor Wind - Mediation gives a Monk's fast movement, as well as being able to take 10 on Acrobatics whenever you want. This is based on mobility and ranged weaponry, specifically thrown weapons. One contemplation gives you Throw Anything and Improvised Weapon Mastery for free which opens up all sorts of character concepts.

    Path of the Starry Eye - This path is hard to explain. It focuses on manipulation, both socially and sensory, and controlling gravity and other things (they get Telekinesis as a Privileged Spell!). They can confuse people with a touch, shoot force bolts, or change how gravity affects a creature. This Path seems a bit unfocused, but perhaps there's a method I'm just not grasping to this madness.

    Path of the Primal Dream - Shapeshifter. This path's abilities focus on the shifting powers of the class. One contemplation allows you to take on the Supernatural abilities of the creatures you shift into, and another gives access to a few Extraordinary abilities too. It's like a limited Druidzilla!

    Path of the Trying Steel - Heavily inspired by the Battle Oracle. This can get Stand Still and Step Up feats for free, can sacrifice spells to get BAB = HD as a free action, reduce an enemy's movement speed to 5', and can move through enemy squares, damaging them 1d4 per class level. Oh, and at level 20 they can get all their Privileged spells up at once, which includes Righteous Might, Giant Form I, and Divine Vessel. Ouch!

    Path of the Maker's Hand - This Path focuses on Elemental powers, crafting, and equipment buffing. You can take a contemplation to not take a penalty for not knowing a spell when crafting an item, can Knock as the spell your charisma modifier number of times per day, and power up the weapon or armor you're using.

    While some of the paths worry me a bit about balance (Primal Dream and Trying Steel specifically. They bring back bad memories of CoDzilla.), I am sure the extreme specialization of only transmutation spells balances these out.

    This is a very interesting class, and I really like the modular aspect of it. All together, I think it's fairly balanced. There are some ways to make them extremely powerful, but they still won't surpass a Wizard at high levels.

    I hope there are more classes based solely on a magic school on the way, as this offering is a great start!


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    An amazing deal

    5/5

    This is a short review until I can go over it in more detail.

    One thing I would like to point out is that the product description is a bit misleading. This is a compilation of SGG's work, and is not limited to the four things listed in the product description.

    This book contains 5 classes: The Archon, the Death Mage, the Magus (SGG's version, which came out before Paizos!), the Shadow Assassin, and the War Master. Classes take up 43 pages.

    It contains feats of Subterfuge, Spellcasting, and Battle. The table of feats spans 2 and 2/3rds pages. Feats take up 22 pages.

    It contains options and spells from Ice and Earth magic as well. Spells / spelllists take up 25 pages.

    New class options (Sorcerer bloodlines, Wizard Specialties, Cleric Domains) deal with Ice and Earth, and take up about 4 pages.

    New templates are Arctic (for animals), Cold-Iron (for Earth Elementals, and gives some SR!), Ice Elemental (turns Earth Elementals into Ice ones), and Ironskinned (slower, but more defensive version of creatures). These take up roughly a page.

    New subtype is Unbreathing, which allows people to have Undead-like creatures. But the creatures are still alive, and aren't obviously evil. They can look like zombies or ghouls, and rarely skeletons (if their skin and flesh are transparent!). This takes up half a page.

    Basically...you get a lot for your money.


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    Quality

    4/5

    First off, I'd like to mention that I *love* the cover image. The way the cloak merges with the shadows is extremely awesome. With that said, on to the arcana!

    Arcane Critical: Upon a critical, gain a temporary arcana point that must be used within a round.

    Arcane Focus: Reduce the penalties from Spell Combat as a swift action. This lasts for 10 rounds.

    Critical Spell: If you get a critical with a spell when not delivering it through a weapon, you get a free whack at the enemy with your weapon.

    Elemental Spell: Imbue yourself with elemental energy.

    Enduring Arcana: Abilities and enhancement bonuses to your weapon last longer.

    Enduring Warding: Bonuses and abilities to armor last longer.

    Enruned Dagger / Great Weapon / Shield: Lets you use light / two-handed weapons and shields with spell combat, respectively. Dagger and shield let you use TWF.

    Force Magic Device: Large bonus to UMD.

    Greater Enduring Arcana / Greater Enduring Warding: Lasts longer than the normal versions.

    Greater Enrune Dagger / Great Weapon / Shield: These last longer now, and can effectively last all day.

    Harmonic Blending: Choose a spell or two from the Bard list!

    Heroic Assault: Swift action Heroism that affects only the Magus.

    Imbue Spell: Let a Magus use a spell slot one level higher than the level of the spell imbued in a weapon to cast it without preparing it in advance. Except you kinda are.

    Invisible Assault: Oh hello there Greater Invisibility.

    Jinx Blending: Same idea as Harmonic Blending, but from the Witch spell list. Hello there Divine spells...

    Mounted Assault: Summons a Phantom Steed.

    Piercing Strike: Bonus to penetrating SR of creatures you hit since the start of your last turn.

    Protected Assault: Basically Protection from X.

    Resistant Assault: Basically Resist Energy.

    Split Arcana: When you use your arcana points to enhance your weapons, you can split it between two weapons.
    Staff Mastery: Magus can apply any arcana that apply to spells to apply to his staff. Also gives bonuses to UMD based on feats that add to the Attack Bonus of the staff, and any feat that adds damage to a staff adds the damage to spells as well.

    Versatile Combatant: Get temporary usage of a feat.

    Wand Lord: Spend 1 or more points of arcana pool to increase CL of wands.

    Warding: Grant bonuses / abilities to armor.

    Weapon Diligence: Gain bonuses to concentration checks when with a specific weapon.

    YuenglingDragon mentions the archetypes, but I must disagree about the Tovenaar. The combination of Inquisitions and Arcana powers lead to a very "Book of Nine Swords" feel for the character. It also allows for great action economy, by allowing you to do a full attack and then things like Hold Monster (from the Imprisonment inquisition) or Feeblemind (from the Oblivion inquisition). Further, they can take the powers from Cleric and/or Druid domains. At level 19, they'll have access to 7 domains or inquisitions, which allow for some very cool combinations. Ferocious Strike from the Ferocity subdomain could be very useful for this kind of character.

    All in all, this offers a lot of new ways for a Magus to be played. Want to play a Magus that uses polearms? Enruned Great Weapon lets you do that. A two weapon Arcana Lord with Arcane Critical and focusing on critical hits could be a ton of fun.

    I would give this a 4.5 if possible.


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    A cool book with lots of interesting options

    4/5

    This PDF is 13 pages long, 8 of which contain "crunch". Two pages are ads, one of which is for another company's product. Artwork doesn't matter too much to me rating-wise, but I enjoyed the art in this book. I can't shake the feeling that I've seen the Magus on page 6 before though.

    Regardless, here are the Arcana:
    Animate Weapon: As the spell says, it allows a Magus to animate a weapon, much like the Dancing weapon property does. If having animated weapons isn't cool enough, on a Disarm attempt the magus can animate an *enemy's* weapon.

    Athame Knowledge: Grants one weapon-related feat for a while. Black Blade magi can use their class level as their BAB for purposes of selecting a feat.

    Athame Surge: Expend a spell slot to gain an enhancement bonus to your weapon equal to half the level of the spell expended. Can spend this on weapon abilities too.

    Augment Physical Prowess: Increase a physical stat by two.

    Black Blade Riposte: Anyone who attacks the Magus is counterattacked by the black blade, using the Magi's AoOs.

    Born to the Black Blade: Bonuses to initiative and DCs of spell combat spells.

    Bounding Step: "Dash" to a location, and be treated as flying for the movement.

    Charge of the Magi: Charge an enemy for extra force damage, and knock him prone. While going towards enemy, you are treated as flying.

    Damage Shield: Fairly obvious.

    Doublefire Wand: Can use two wands or two staves instead of a spell during Spell Combat.

    Eldritch Athame: Change the type and size of a weapon, gaining proficiency with it.

    Energy Burst: It's like Channel Energy, but with one of the five elements instead.

    Energy Web: Enshroud an enemy in a web made of energy that deals damage each round, and gives bonus damage to the attack that places it.

    Flattening Strike: Smash your enemies away from you and to the ground! Thor approves.

    Force Adept: Gain mage hand at-will, and eventually be able to use Telekinesis. Only spellblades can take this!

    Free Step: Run fast and up vertical surfaces!

    Malice: Opponents affected by the Hexcrafter's hexes are hurt extra.

    Maneuvering Strike: Next CM doesn't provoke.

    Necromatic Strike: Either hurt living creatures, or possibly destroy undead.

    Nigh Irresistable Strike: Lower SR, Energy Resistance, or DR for a while.

    Opportune Strike: Cast a spell on someone if you hit them with an AoO.

    Overcome Circumstances: Shrug off or delay conditions.

    Searing Shield: If Spell Shield makes an enemy not hit the Magus, the enemy takes fire damage.

    Serpent-Eyed Strike: Make a target flat-footed by distracting him with a hypnotic pattern.

    Shield Caster: Lets a Magus use a shield, and still be able to do spell combat and magus arcana.

    Slice Through Wardings: Ignore magical protections such as Stoneskin and AC bonuses.

    Song of Arcane Triumph: Add sonic damage based on your level to your attack.

    Song of Death's Herald: The target of this ability takes a penalty to AC and the Magus is treated as having a higher crit range on her weapon, which stacks with Keen-effects.

    Song of the Blade Dance: Gain bonuses to hit and AC.

    Song of Victory: Inspires the Magi's allies and weakens their foes.

    Stalwart: Attacks that provide diminished effects on successful Fort / Will saves instead do nothing. Hexcrafter only.

    Ultimate Eldritch Athame: Permanently alter the bonuses and abilities of your weapon as a free action once per round. It must have the same total as before.

    Vampiric Thirst: Self-explanatory

    Wave of Mutilation: Deal force damage in a cone.

    Archetype: Singer of Blades. This is for Elves or Half-Elves only. This archetype gives bonuses while using a longsword or rapier in one hand, and nothing in the other. These include a dodge bonus to AC, and the ability to take 10 on Concentration checks even in combat. They can also treat one hit as a Critical Hit and further do a single melee attack against all foes within 30'. These last two abilities come at level 19 and 20, so they may not see much use.

    7 new Feats:

    Bladebound Defense: Can't be flanked when holding Black Blade.

    Clinging Touch: Pool Strike does damage the round after.

    Crippling Touch: Pool Strike deals scaling strength damage.

    Dance of Ruin: Use Perform (Dance) to give bonuses to Spring Attack that scale based on your result. Very cool idea!

    Dance of Death: Use Perform (Dance) to give bonuses to hit, damage, and AC when using Whirlwind Attack. Even cooler idea!

    Deny the Afflicted: Creatures affected by your hexes lose one iterative attack against you.

    Improved Reflection: Redirect where the spell you reflected goes.

    Magic items: There are three new ones.

    Crystal of Arcane Assimilation, Gloves of Arcane Gathering, and a minor artifact sword Mournsky.

    Overall, I really enjoy a lot of the options this book offers. The arcana Charge of the Magic and Bounding Step allow for some really cool cinematic-like abilities. Flattening Strike sounds awesome, and could work really well with a Dwarven hammer-using Magus, for thematic reasons alone.

    With a more flexible rating system, I'd rate this a 4.5.


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    Short and sweet, with more hammer and less thunder

    4/5

    This PDF will provide your blunt weapon wielding with quite a few more options, with mostly balanced feats.

    On the cover is a Valkyrie-looking female Dwarf (or gnome), covered in electricity and wielding a badass hammer and shield.

    On to the feats!

    Hammer Block -- Gain a shield bonus to AC as a move action with a blunt weapon, and can help allies too.

    Hammer Charge -- Use your hammer skills to help with charges that require jumps.

    Ranged Crush -- Combat maneuvers with blunt thrown weapons.

    Sacred Hammer -- Channel the energy of your god to gain bonuses to hit and damage with melee blunt weapons. This feat gets better as your levels increase.

    Smashing Smite -- The favorite smite of British Aristocrats everywhere, this smite lets paladins use Combat Maneuvers with a bonus equal to their level.

    Stunning Hammer -- Stuns enemies you hit with your hammer. I have a lot of reservations about this feat, especially since it can be taken after BAB +8. Allows a save though that would be hard for non-divines to raise too high.

    Thrown Slam -- Throw your hammer with the might of Thor to hit targets in a line.

    Thunder clap -- When dealing electricity or sonic damage, deafen your target. Harder for casters to use effectively, since the save allowed is constitution based.

    Thundering Smite -- Smite Evil can have its extra damage be sonic.

    Unbelievable Throw -- Like Thrown Slam, but longer range and you can do a combat maneuver to the last foe in the line.

    Closing Thoughts: There are a bunch of cool ideas in here, and other than Stunning Hammer, I feel that they're quite balanced. I do wish they dealt more with sonic and electricity damage (specifically spells!), but judging by the inspiration for this book, it's perfectly reasonable to have most be based on the hammer aspect.


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    Great buy with with interesting rods

    5/5

    I really enjoyed this PDF, and it was definitely worth the price. Other reviewers mentioned the small number of rods (9) and the artwork as things that are lacking in this PDF but for me, the quality of some of the rods made up for this. Furthermore, the Zombie Reggae Horse Demon on the front cover more than makes up for the lackluster rod art.

    The Rod of Weight, Rod of Bolt Launching, Rod of Many Uses, and Rod of Screaming will definitely be making their ways into my games whenever possible.

    The Rod of Rings is an interesting concept, but I'm not sure if I'd ever use it.

    The only rod that I'm disappointed in is the Rod Of Smashing Doors, which uses Bull's Strength, a level 2 spell, to help open doors. It costs 2500 gp, whereas a Chime of Opening, which uses Knock (another level 2 spell) costs only 500 gp more, and is far more useful.

    Within 2 minutes of reading the Rod of Bolt Launching, I was already placing a variant for alchemical items as loot for a dungeon crawl I am making.

    Overall, I was greatly pleased by this product. Had the system allowed for it, I would give a 4.5 rating. But as stated before, the quality of some of the rods led me to round up instead of down.


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    A great buy


    I bought this one a whim today and was extremely pleased with the content it gives. The spells are interesting and useful, and provide a lot of new options for all spellcasters. One thing I really enjoyed was the number of Antipaladin and Oracle only spells included, something the APG seemed to lack.

    The only oddity can see is that the spell listed in the intro (Pack Tactics) isn't in the actual spell variants!