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Magnificent Marvelous Monsters Make Me Masterfully Merry

5/5

If I have one single gripe about the Pathfinder rules, it's that high-CR almost always equals big. I have always enjoyed coming across monsters that are medium or smaller and tougher than your average bear (or level 8 Barbarian, at least).

Enter Malevolent Medium Monsters from Legendary Games. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I saw this, not least because I know that LG can pull it out of the bag.

And then I bought it.

Hooo boy!

Please ignore the fact that this is part of the "Righteous Crusade" AP Plug-ins. This book is great for anyone playing a level 10+ game.

The Good
I could go through everything in here (and I expect Endzeitgeist will when he reaches this product in his schedule), and drool over how utterly awesome everything is, but that's not me, so here we go with some high points:

The Alabaster Beetle. This thing is terrifying. Whatever genius came up with the idea of an underground beetle that can burrow, fly, spray paralytic poison, reproduce asexually, and is invisible to dark vision, is simply... a genius. A sick, twisted, my-kind-of-evil genius. CR 12 and comes in groups of up to 20. Because players need to learn fear, sometimes.

Homonculous Dragon. Oh, hell, yes. It's... well, it's sort of the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) of all dragons. This round it might be breathing a cone of electricity, next round a line of ice. And its aura might be acid this round. Fire the next. Or something else. Because being predictable gets you killed. And being unpredictable tends to kill PCs.

Fiendfused. Okay, I want more of these. A lot more. A whole book more. Preferably with Mythic versions. Because... oh, there is nothing not to love about these: they're people who died while they were possessed by a fiend, and the fiend merged with the mortal body and... awesome fiendish stuff happened. Like the one based on the balor that has an explosion every time it takes a critical hit. Or the marilith-based one that has four arms and infuses its weapons with magic. Or the pit fiend one... you get the idea.

The Bad
Nitpick time! I like all of the monsters in this book, so that leaves me looking for things that are missing, don't make sense, or just seem out of place... and there's so little.

Save vs what? I can calculate a DC as well as the next guy (27, since you're asking), but the Bedlam Breath ability of the homonculous dragon is missing it from the entry.

Free metamagic? Maybe? Weirdly, this is another "issue" with the homonculous dragon (which is one of my favourite creatures in this book!). It has an ability to spend points from a pool to add metamagic feats to its sorcerer spells. It's a free action to spend the points, and it adds the feats on the fly, but... I can't tell if the casting time increases like it would normally for a sorcerer casting a metamagic spell. Part of me wants to say "yes, it does, be consistent", and the rest of me wants to say "CR 16, this thing should be nasty, let it be completely free!" I'd have liked it spelling out in the text.

The Conclusion
If it's not clear, I'm Legendary Games fanboying again. This is wonderful. Thurston Hillman and Jesse Benner have absolutely knocked it out of the park. Other than my minor issues with what I spotted in the homonculous dragon, this is just thoroughly amazing. Clearly it's not perfect, but it's focused on a gap in the market that has been bugging me for years, and that cuts it a huge amount of slack. I'm going to use this book just as soon as I can. This is not something I can leave on my drive and forget about, because if nothing else it gave me fiendfused and I just want more of them (even if I have to make them myself). I can't help it, one day Legendary Games will produce something that I can't just enthuse about from start to finish. 5/5.


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Kingdoms, Fey, Forests, Fantastic!

5/5

The Forest Kingdom Compendium is a compilation and expansion of the various supplements Legendary Games have released which support (in typical Third Party fashion) the Kingmaker Adventure Path. At this point I will immediately say - if you don't have, don't want, and aren't going to play that AP, that should NOT prevent you getting this book. It's generic enough (within the areas it focuses) to be useful. Please note, I backed the Kickstarter for this book, so have had the PDF for a little while.

The Good
There's Everything. Okay, that might be a tiny exageration, but not much of one. It's called The Forest Kingdom Campaign Compendium. And the only one of those words that's even a little bit extraneous is "The". Archetypes, feats, prestige classes, spells, magic items, fey, royal tournaments, countries, characters, heroes, monsters and two adventures to supplement the AP. All of them with a foresty or kingdomy slant.

Subsystems FTW. I'm a fan of subsytems. I've been writing my own since the 2nd Edition D&D days (most of them not very good!), and I love reading new ones, and this book has a few (mostly involving fey and since I've got a possible nymph/paladin relationship of some kind in my kingdom campaign, those are awesome). The single biggest is Royal Tournaments (available as its own book), which is just crammed with amazing rules for running a festival, taking part in events at a festival, or just plain hanging out at a festival.

Beautiful art. I have a distinct fondness for fantasy art. Generally speaking, the more realistic the better. The art in this book is stunning. Yes, lots of it is repeated from other books (no real surprise), but just going to another page and seeing yet another pretty picture that perfectly fits with nearby text.

The Bad
When is a feat not a feat? Okay, this is really nitpicky, but there are two feats in the section that describes faerie bargains with mortals, and they fit there thematically, but 90-something pages earlier are a whole slew of new feats for characters, and it's a bit weird for the feats to be separated.

Prestige classes. I love the idea behind prestige classes. I think the implementation of them in the 3.x/Pathfinder rules sucks. They were overused in 3.x D&D, and Pathfinder has done a lot to make them less of a feature of the system, and I think that overall the game is better for not having many. So the addition of three prestige classes rubs me the wrong way. That's not to say that there's anything actually wrong with the classes themselves (though I do have to question a 6-level class), just that I think I'd have preferred archetypes to fit the niches.

The Conclusion
I love this book. Putting aside my personal dislike of prestige classes and questions of where feats should be in the book, it's an excellent resource for players and GMs, whether you're playing Kingmaker or not, if you're going to spend any amount of time in forests, meeting fey, or at kingdom fairs, then this book has something to offer you.

The things that I think are wrong with this book do not even put a dent in the amazingness that is everything else. I'd be particularly mean to deduct a star for those things, and this book is being integrated into my home campaign (which has nothing to do with Kingmaker except Kingdom building). Got to give it 5/5.


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How Have We Played Without This?

5/5

Everyman Gaming does it again. If you like comprehensive, well-balanced, clean, easy to understand yet allowing for infinite complexity rules systems: BUY THIS NOW. You won't regret it.

This book has brought me out of review hiatus, which might give you something of an idea about how I feel about it overall, but on with the usual...

The Good

Simple statblock. A skill challenge is presented like a monster or trap statblock. It's so intuitive and easy to read - if you can read a monster statblock, you can run a skill challenge with almost no trouble. There are a few new rules terms which it's worth reading up on, and to be honest I'd recommend reading the whole thing through, but it's not hard to grasp, and that's one sign of a brilliant designer.

It covers everything. Seriously. Read Endzeitgeist's review for some ideas, but when the first general skill challenge example in the book is Babysitting, and the last is Against the Avalanche, you get an idea how ridiculously flexible this system is.

Specific Challenge Types. So, not only do we have a general system that covers everything, there are also the specific rules for Chases, Contests, Influence, and Verbal Duels. Just in case you wanted more specific detail on those extremely common types of challenges. Which you did.

The Bad

It's not been easy coming up with anything "bad" to say about this product. I'm into the realms of super-nitpicky, here.

Skill Challenge Type. Right after we get a breakdown of skill challenge statblocks, we get a series of example statblocks for General skill challenges (i.e. the ones that aren't chases, contests, influence, or verbal duels). We know that all skill challenges have a type. And that's the one thing missing from skill challenges with the General type. It's there for all the other types (right after XP, where the statblock breakdown tells you it's going to be), and I understand it being omitted, but it just rubs me wrong.

How badly can we suck without penalty? This stood out in the Babysitting skill challenge. I won't bore you with all the mechanics, but there is no difference in reward between succeeding with 2 demerits, succeeding with 3 demerits, or failing with no demerits on this challenge. They all "reward" you in exactly the same way. I don't know if this is intentional, but from the way it reads in the statblock I think it's meant to be different.

The Conclusion

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm 100% in agreement with Endzeitgeist on this one - this should be core. Even if the only other book you own is the Core Rulebook, get this one (well, maybe the Bestiary first). Less than 50% of the art has kitsune in (not counting advertising material), for those of you who find that bothersome (and in my opinion it shouldn't, it's part of Everyman Gaming's charm), and I found the art as beautiful as ever for one of Alex's books.

I can't stress enough, Alex is quite literally a genius when it comes to skill-based rules subsystems (see Ultimate Charisma for another example) that are coherently wrapped together in elegant unity. 5/5.


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Keep Your Friends Close

5/5

Imperial Relationships is the first in a planned series of products focused around the NPCs of the Far East Adventure Path, detailing 4 major characters that the PCs get to interact with throughout the AP, and providing appropriate relationship ranks and boons, as detailed in Ultimate Relationships.

The Good
Everything.

You want more than that? Okay. Each of the four NPCs described herein gives you detailed (and I mean detailed) instructions on how to use them with the Ultimate Relationship rules, including, but not limited to: What their likely relationships are going to be about, what types of gifts and interactions they like, what types of characters they are particularly drawn towards, when they're prepared to actually adventure with the party, what relationship rank needs to be reached before they can enter a romantic relationship, and the absolute pinnacle of the product: fully detailed ranking up situations and interactions, including what the NPC is looking for, how they approach it, the DC of the necessary check(s) and what happens if the check to rank up fails.

The Bad
I literally cannot find anything wrong with this product. And since I refuse to write one of these reviews without saying something that's a negative, the "bad" is that this product is almost essential to get the most out of Ultimate Relationships.

The Conclusion
Do I really need to say much? This is excellent, a tour de force in how to build meaningful relationships with NPCs, detailed to perfection, with great insight into the minds of the NPCs in question, their goals, dreams and desires, and how you can weave them into the lives of the PCs.


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Don't Mess With The Lawful Good Guys.

5/5

Heavenly Hosts is another Mythic Monster book from Legendary Games, presenting "mythiced up" versions of existing creatures from the Bestiaries, as well as some extra goodies suitable for players.

The Good
As usual, this Mythic Monsters book presents 13 monsters with Mythic Rank, suitable for plugging into any game where the GM wants to use them. 12 of them (6 Agathions and 6 Angels) are versions of "standard" monsters (I'm not sure I'll ever consider a Solar to be "standard") with Mythic Tiers and abilities added, and one (the new Rhampholeal Agathion) is presented in this book for the first time. As usual, the mythic abilities added are inspired and simply brilliant additions or extensions to the abilities the base creature has. Take the Cetaceal Agathion, for example, which adds the ability to push other creatures out of the area of its protective aura, and an ice-based version of black tentacles, and can gift its regeneration to good creatures (granting water breathing at the same time), and turns the cetaceal's standard +1 shocking burst shortspear into a truly harsh area of effect weapon that zaps everything around the target. I could go on in a similar vein on all of the other monsters, but want to touch on the Mythic Solar (because who doesn't like insane "monsters"?). The Solar is one of my all-time favourite creatures (I have a thing for powerful monsters), and this version is just... brilliant. To start with, giving it a suit of celestial plate armour and the ability to give all weapons it weilds the holy property is just perfect. Then there's a gaze attack from the sheer brilliance of its eyes, plus simply looking at the shiny metallic skin can make you go blind (in addition to giving it some nifty defences against some types of attacks), some utterly ridiculous tracking skills, uber-DR which even a smite can't overcome, a big "screw you" to many debuffs, and some truly harsh abilities it can add to the slaying arrows it shoots from its bow. Every single ability says "I am a true paragon of heaven and if I turn my wrath upon you, you will die". Beautiful.

Having raved on about the monsters, there's some really lovely art in this book (perhaps not as much as I'd like, in general, but what's there is eye-catching), my personal favourite being the Vulpinal.

The Bad
There's not much bad about this book, but the one thing that jumped out at me on reading it is actually in the Gifts of Heaven section (a number of "sacred" feats which provide some great benefits to characters who take them, all barriered by the Sanctified Servant feat presented first). I'm guessing there was a 'late in the day' change to Sanctified Servant, since of the 8 feats which have it as a prerequisite, 4 of them refer to it as "Sacred Servant".

Oh, and the Planetar and Solar are missing their deflection bonus to AC against evil opponents in their statblocks from their protective aura. Oh noes. (I'll admit, on the Solar, that extra +4 when the normal AC is 56 might be overkill. But that's what the mythic Solar is all about.)

The Conclusion
I refuse to mark this book down for my ongoing problem with high-CR equals huge statblock, because I love these monsters so much, and the one which is most likely to make that problem apparent (the Solar) is so delightfully crafted that I can't fault it.

The problem with Sanctified Servant is so minor that I only point it out because if I didn't find something negative to say this review would be way too gushing with praise for the authors (kudos, but no great surprise, to Jason Nelson, Jonathan H Keith, and Sean K Reynolds).

These are truly fantastic creatures, and I'd love to see some of them pop up in adventures, but at least I can use them in my own in the meantime (already plotting something involving a mythic solar...). 5/5, no question.


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Huh. What is it good for? (Absolutely Nothing, unlike this book)

4/5

I'm a big fan of the Kingdom building rules from Ultimate Campaign, and this book presents another way of handling mass combats (I have several books on mass combat already).

The Good
This book presents a very well-thought-out extension to the normal Pathfinder combat rules for larger engagements, with 20'x20' squares occupied by "cohorts" (which have variable numbers of creatures in them), and multiple cohorts group together to form "units", which fight as a whole, using what is effectively a modified set of the normal combat rules.

Morale is covered in enough depth, with a nice, simple mechanic, that it's easy to include its effects on units without getting bogged down in detail. The book makes good use of existing conditions to show the effects of morale (which is exactly how it should be).

Commanders are characters who attach themselves to units, and provide benefits to them. They may also take specific actions of their own, which can have some interesting effects on the unit's ability to deal with the enemy. In addition, if the commander is a PC, they can earn Valor Points, which can be used for one-off bonuses to die rolls or, if saved after a battle, can provide bonuses to the character's Leadership score.

The Bad
This is a good book. I do have a few problems with it, though.

Firstly, it's less about war, and more about battle. While the rules do cover recruitment and upkeep of units, and a little bit about strategic movement, these sections aren't as deeply involved as the main mechanics in the book, which is something of a failing.

Big Creatures. The standard cohort rules in this book only cover cohorts from Small to Huge size, which is fine for the vast majority of engagements, but every now and then you want to throw a dragon (or trained house cats) into a major battle, and this possibility doesn't even get mentioned. It's probably a fairly easy matter to just say that the dragon fights as its own unit, but it would be nice to see the possibility covered in these rules.

Scale. Now, I'll admit that I've not taken much time to game out this system, and a nod is given to "faking" larger units by just saying "well, in this fight medium cohorts are actually 50-strong, not 10", the detailed tactical nature of these rules means that it suffers from the "big fight" problem that the core Pathfinder rules so - once you're dealing with more than about 20 combatants/units, the game gets bogged down. Which means that the maximum realistic size of fight that these rules can comfortably handle is (by my estimate) around 300. Which is a very fine number of people to be involved in a fight, but I think I'd have preferred to see a way to scale cohorts up in a way that lets them interact with normal scale ones.

The Conclusion
Even with the flaws, this is an extremely good take on mid-scale skirmishes, and it can be adapted to any scale you want (even if it can't handle multiple scales). If you want to be able to have big (and I do mean big) fights using a set of rules that you already know the basics of, then this is probably the best resource I've seen.


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You'll NEVER want to dump Charisma again...

5/5

Ultimate Charisma is a combination of Everyman Gaming's Leadership Handbook and Psychological Combat, with a healthy addition of extra content above and beyond the combined content of those books.

The Good
Take a look at my review of the Leadership Handbook if you want to see what I think of that element - the only thing I'd add is that the author has corrected the typographical errors I pointed out.

Consolidated social rules. Alex Augunas knows his stuff, there's no doubt about that. He's pulled together all the rules for followers, cohorts, reputation, relationships, explained them, expanded them, and made them work together, as well as adding dozens of perks (they're sort of like micro-feats) to expand on all of them, plus linking all of these things in to the Downtime and Kingdom rules.

Psychological Maneuvers. Oh, this is just gorgeous. Consolidating feinting with Bluff, demoralising with Intimidate, and adding the ability to antagonise your foes (basically, pissing them off), this section links them all mechanically, making them work a lot like combat maneuvers. And then there's the (glorious) hilarity that is "affronts of opportunity", which are the psychological equivalent of (no surprise here) attacks of opportunity, and certain things that happen in an encounter let you make an AfoO (bless you) to make a free psychological maneuver against an enemy. Using it counts against your attacks of opportunity for the round, which is what makes it balanced. The things that trigger it can basically be described as "things which scare the enemy", like scoring a critical hit on one of the enemy's allies, or doing half or more of the target's hit points in damage in a single turn. And then there's the (optional) psychological slights rules, which are basically a way to gain a bonus on a psychological maneuver by telling the target "yo momma so fat...". I love all of this.

The Bad

It's really hard to find anything to criticise in this book. It's so amazing that the only thing I could even remotely say is a "negative" is the sheer amount of kitsune art. 12 out of 25 pieces of art in the book have a kitsune (I'm not counting the back-cover art twice) in. Personally I'm prepared to let Alex get away with it, both because I know he loves kitsune, but also because the art is actually really good.

The Conclusion

This should be Core. Simple as that. It's absolutely brilliant, and I really hope that the Paizo design team take a good hard look at this book for the purposes of improving Ultimate Intrigue. This is how rules should be written, and it should come as no surprise that I'm giving this a solid, thoroughly well-deserved 5 stars. This book is in use at my table, and I can't get enough of it.


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The Monk. With added Monk.

5/5

The Monk Unfettered offers a pre-Pathfinder Unchained revision of the Monk class, intended to overcome the monk's Core Rulebook shortcomings (such as low hit rate, MAD, and the movement/full attack conundrum, to name a few).

The Good
Careful design. The author take a lot of time explaining exactly why he made the design choices that he did, in a section at the end of the book: you can tell that he's put a lot of thought and number-crunching into this class, and worked hard to make this monk at least as interesting as the Core monk at all times, and also offer greater flexibility.

Insights. This is probably the biggest single departure from the Core monk. Insights are gained at 1st and 2nd level, and at every even level after that. They range from a number of Core monk abilites (which got pulled out of the main class features), to completely new abilites, with a broad range of applicability (that insight you pick up at 10th level is almost always going to be as powerful as any other 10th level insight, regardless of which one it is).

Stunning(ish) Fist. This was something that made me sit up and take notice. One of the main things I've always liked about the various iterations of the monk is stunning fist. It's just a shame that it's less useful than I'd like, most of the time. The Unfettered Monk takes Stunning Fist and shifts it into overdrive, in the coolest possible way. Yes, it suffers from the old "must choose before the attack" problem, but being able to actually paralyse the target for 1d6+1 rounds at 20th level? That's awesome.

The Bad
There's not really a lot of bad to mention in this book. Having seen the Unchained monk, this one does suffer slightly from design inertia, as plenty of the Core monk abilities have been left in as automatic, but it feels much more versatile thanks to the Insights.

Everything is the same, but different. As a GM, looking at this class, my initial thoughts are pretty simple: I like it. Quite a lot. Except... the damage progression has changed, some of the abilites are worked differently, and there's dozens and dozens of insights to work through. As a long-time player, I can mentally work out a Core monk's flurry attack progression with a few simple pieces of information. Learning a new way of calculating it is... irritating. Not bad, as such, but it leaves me with the feeling that my players (who, let's face it, can be a bit lazy at times) might look it over and say "looks nice, too much like hard work, stick with the original". Now, this particular point really is me being quite nitpicky, I know ("waah, don't wanna learn a new class, waaaaaah"), but it does factor in to me deciding whether to offer this class as an option to my players. (I am doing so, by the way. Not that any of them want to play a monk right now...)

The Conclusion
If this had been the Core monk, I think we'd have far fewer complaints about the monk. It's a good, solid take on the theme, and the added extras in the book (advice on existing archetypes; the design choices secion; favored class option from here to infinity and back; and a slew of new magic items) make it a worthwhile read. I don't think anyone who chooses to use the Unfettered Monk instead of the Core monk will be disappointed. Full 5-stars because I'm using this book, and the class is awesome enough to make me want to point people at it and say "here, look at this!"


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Carried Away by a Moonlight Shadow

5/5

I was sent a review copy of this book, having already seen some of the other reviews, which promises a new base class, the Nightblade, for use in your games.

The Good
I try to only cover a limited amount of "good" things in these reviews, picking the best that jump out at me, and that's actually really hard with this book. In a good way. There is just so much to like. Well, here goes...

Shadow stuff! An absolute metric tonne of shadow-related feats, spells, items, archetypes. I can't even begin to scratch the surface of these, there's so much, it's all good stuff, well-written, well-balanced, and on-theme. Oh, okay, a nice 5th level Nightblade, Sor/Wiz spell called Shadow Field catches my eye when I look through the spells: a 20-ft high, 20-ft radius spread (perhaps it should be a cylinder?) which sets the light level to darkness, and does Str damage to creatures in it. For 1 minute per level. What's not to like?

The Nightblade. Really the entire purpose of this book, this class is a sort of combination Rogue, Shadowdancer, Magus-esque Sorcerer mashup, with not less than 5 archetypes presented in the book as well as the base class. All of the class abilities are very shadow-related, fit in nicely with existing classes, and are not overpowering. See in Darkness at 14th level is a brilliant touch (there are so few ways for PCs to get this!), and the class has a veritable plethora of selectable options as it levels up (called Nightblade Arts, these are functionally similar to rogue talents, but very shadow-based, and include the utterly wicked Dusk Strike which lets the Nightblade make a weapon or natural weapon attack against touch AC by partially shifting the weapon in the Plane of Shadow). Oh, yes, I mentioned Magus-esque Sorcerer: the class is a 6th level spontaneous caster with a restricted (shadow-themed - I know you're surprised) spell list.

The Bad
Advanced-plus Class! Now, this may well be me, but I think this class has to be one of the most (if not the single most) complex classes I've ever seen. You pick a Path, you pick spells, you pick Nightblade Arts, and as you level up you get Path Powers, Path Techniques, Nightblade Arts, new spells, and a smattering of other automatic abilities, and you have Shadow Surges to spend on the Surge Ability your Path gives you and on the Nightblade Arts you selected. My head was swimming as I was trying to work my way through it. I managed it, eventually, but no other class I've read has had quite the same effect. (Disclaimer: now that I've worked out how it all fits together, OMG it's awesome!)

Cover/Iconic Art. Okay, this is definitely me being super-nitpicky, and I know it, but I find the image on the cover and the class iconic image in the book to be a little too "comicy" for my taste. Don't get me wrong - they're truly beautiful pieces of work, the colouring in particular is stunning, and I'd love to own the originals, but I favour realism on the front of books.

The Conclusion
This book is top-notch quality-wise, the material presented is well-written, nicely balanced, and is very much what the Shadowdancer Prestige Class should have been. I absolutely love it and the options it presents.

I know I mentioned that I don't like the comicy feel to the cover and the iconic, but I really, really, really like the pictures, and I want to know more about this grey-haired woman in black with the "don't mess with me" eyes. She's a brilliant representation of the class and the concepts in this book - all credit to Danielle Sands for the imagery.

I almost want to overstate the issues I have with the complexity of the Nightblade class, so that this doesn't turn into a 5-star love-fest, but honesty compels me to admit that I overcame those issues on carefully reading through the class with one of my players, and "it doesn't say it's an advanced class" along with my art preferences are not a good enough reason to knock a star off an otherwise utterly perfect product.

And just a final point - this is Ascension Games' first book. Someone forgot to tell Chris Moore that first products are usually less than stellar.


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Bring a 10-foot pole. And be prepared.

4/5

The Firebringer is an adventure for 1st level characters, providing enough treasure and XP to bring a party of 4 characters to 2nd level by the conclusion. It is based around an old abandoned dwarven mithral mine, since overrun by goblinoids (amongst other things), set near the village of Pig's Trotter (heh).

I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy for 4DD, and was warned that it is a) their weakest work, and b) quite tough.

If this is their weakest work, I'm looking forward to seeing more, and this thing is deadly as all hell.

When playing this module, I had to take some liberties with the setting - I'd already run an introductory session for my players and was hemming and hawing about how to move a plotline along, when the review copy of this module fell into my possession, and it was a godsend. I needed goblins. It has goblins. I needed the goblins to have a home. They have a home. I needed them to have a reason to be out raiding. They have a reason to be out raiding. So far, so good.

On the downside, I have only 3 players (plus a plucky half-elf teenager NPC), and the intro session was set in the wilderness, some miles from any settlement.

So, I set about making the few minor adapatations I needed to this adventure to squeeze it in to my setup, and set my players loose.

The Good
A complete adventure, with an extraordinary amount of detail, background, and flavour. Every creature has a reason for being their, and different relationships with the other creatures present. Every room has a reason to exist, and the little touches like statues of the individual dwarves who founded the mine being scattered around the 4-level complex were delightful (and yes, my players did pick up on the keyhole/hidden key thing).

XP/Treasure table. This addition was perhaps my favourite part (and I really liked a lot of things in this adventure): near the beginning is a room-by-room breakdown of the dungeon, with the XP award for defeating the challenge, and the treasure awarded, with values, so you can easily see what there is. There's also guidance on the table for increasing the treasure if you have a larger party.

Zombie dragon! My favourite creature in this whole thing, which my players avoided like the plague (they made good stealth checks, it sucks at perception) is the zombie white dragon. I was really looking forward to describing it drunkenly flopping down in front of them, gobs of flesh hanging from its bones, as it lazily shambles towards them. But they ran away. Ah, well. Other notable creatures include the half-wit half-ogre with mommy issues, the mommy ogre with everyone issues, and the insanely arrogant ifrit sorcerer. Love them all, love the little touches that make them incredibly easy to play and turn them all into real characters. Bang-up job writing engaging NPCs for the GM, even if the players learn nothing at all about them.

Maps! Maps, maps, maps, maps, maps. I love maps. They're one of my biggest weaknesses (or at least one of the things that makes my bank account go "ah, there are maps, so that's why I'm empty again") as an RP collector. Give me a good map to purchase, and I will devour. This adventure comes not only with the maps in the adventure pdf (which are beautiful), but blown up image files of each of those maps (in all their delightfully attractive cartographed glory) and simplified versions (without all the cool drop-shadows and shading, and whatnot), and unlabelled versions of each of those, too! Utterly perfect for the GM running the adventure online a VTT - upload, fit, line up the squares, and bosh, you're ready. Brilliant.

The Bad
Hot DAMN this thing is tough! My players aren't really old-school, so never struggled through The Saga of the Shadow Lord in BECMI like I did back in the day, and some of the design concepts in this adventure are... problematic for players whose GM has been a bit hand-holdy. First, while there's guidance on making this adventure scale to groups larger than 4 PCs, there's nothing in it about how to adjust for smaller groups. Second (and I know this is going to seem a bit weird at first) the lowest encounter CR in the whole thing is 1. In fact, of the thirteen encounters, exactly 4 of them are CR 1. All the rest are 2 or higher, topping out at a whopping CR 4 in one case. In case that didn't sink in: less than 33% of the encounters presented in this adventure are CR-appropriate, the rest are higher. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, in itself, since the PCs can typically roll all over anything you put them up against, but I had an under-sized party to begin with, and this exacerbated the deadliness of those encounters a fair bit. I even went so far as judiciously modifying a few bits and pieces here and there to make it less deadly (like that pit trap. I love that pit trap. It's hilarious. And way too deadly, even if it practically hits the players over the head with the obvious stick. Players will screw up and fall down it. Trust me. They will).

Room number which, what, where, huh? Nitpick time! The room numbering on the maps goes haywire at level 3. The text has a room with no number right at the start of the level, and then the next room picks up the numbering again with no break, but the maps are numbered in full, so you have to subtract 1 from the map's room number to make sure you're reading the right room in the text. Phew! That one threw me for a loop for a bit.

Read-alou-ooh-adventure-details. I'm not a fan of read-aloud text most of the time, because it's almost always too much. "This ancient room is designed in the Targorn period of architecture, with buttressed ceilings of sandstone run-through with so-called bloodstains - red streaks of iron-rich silt. The walls are covered in tapestries depicting historical battles from ages past, and your eye is caught by a particularly attractive needlework scene on a stand of the star-crossed lovers Wandero and Julia from a famous stage tragedy. On the floor is..." Bleurgh. This adventure manages to go to the other extreme by not including any read-aloud text at all, but falls down because the GM-details are mixed in with the room descriptions. Several times I found myself reading a small passage verbatim because the description was actually what I want from read-aloud text, only to have to catch myself before I revealed some secret that only the GM should know. I'd love to see those frankly elegant and perfect room descriptions cordoned off as read-aloud, with the GM-guidance text swiftly following on.

The Conclusion
I got this adventure with mere days to spare before my game session, and I was able to read it through, upload what I needed, change what I needed to fit into my existing plot, and other than a few concessions to make it a bit less deadly, run it as written. It was tough for the party, but this adventure is an excellent piece of pick-up-n-play work. It's by no means perfect, but for the harried GM in need of a quick adventure to kick off a party, this is really good.

I've been arguing with myself about what rating to give The Firemaker, and I've settled on 4-stars: The extras such as the maps; the XP/Treasure table; the brilliant room descriptions; the wonderful creatures and their relationships, hopes, and dreams. All those things push this above just average. It's a total beast to your party, but this adventure is a good one to have in your repertoire.


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Where can I buy one of... everything?

5/5

Mythic Monsters: Mounts is another installment from Legendary Games in their ongoing quest to provide everyone with the Mythic creatures you didn't know you wanted in your game, provided to me as a review copy.

Mounts have always been a bit of a weird thing for me, as a player and a GM. By the time you can afford to buy one that's not going to just die underneath you when the nearest enemy wizard sneezes, you're probably of a level where... the mount you buy is going to just die underneath you when the nearest enemy wizard sneezes because it just doesn't have enough hit points.

Sure, if you get the mount class feature, or an animal companion that's big enough to ride, your situation is a bit different, but average Joe fighter has better things to spend his starting gold on than a horse (hint: armour and weapons) that's going to panic at the aforementioned sneeze, and potions of healing are more valuable for the first couple of levels than forking out for a 19 hp target. So, when I play, mounts really don't feature very much except as a sort of "huh, we need to get to Big City quick, let's buy horses and sell them when we get there" experience.

The Good
Okay, so mounts don't really do it for me, in general, but here we have a selection of 20 critters that hopefully won't mind you strapping on a saddle and taking them for a ride into the wildlands, and that will either react to the sneezing wizard with "bless you", or just laugh (bray, neigh, squawk, grunt, or roar).

There's some really nice suggestions on how to use a Mythic Mount as a cohort if you have the Leadership feat, ideas on mythic templates to add to give the mounts an even bigger boost, how to train mythic mounts, a couple of mythic feats (admitedly, I'd probably only ever take one of them, considering how short the supply of mythic feats is, though being able to awaken animals you train is kind of a cool idea), and some nifty path abilities that characters who are going down the mounted route will want to take a serious look at.

I've been torn trying to decide what my final good point would be - should I mention the mythic riding dog's ability to whine like a kicked puppy and prevent it and its master getting attacked? Or the mythic giant eagle's ability to spend mythic power and just ignore total concealment for a round? Perhaps the mythic hippogriff's ability to catch you if you fall off midair? How about the mythic light horse which can blitz around the battlefield at insane speeds and gain improved evasion and total concealment (only for itself, not its rider) while it does so? Special mention must be made of the mythic pegasus champion which really dislikes things bigger than itself and can smite such foes. And it's basically against the law to discuss this book and not point out the mythic advanced pony and its ability to cheat death. But the cream of the crop, the absolute bee's knees, the dog's proverbials, has got to be the mythic triceratops. I can just picture thundering into battle atop one of these things and I just giggle at the thought of what happens to the foes it decides to trample, impale, and generally just smash into a pulp. Yep, it's a thing of beauty. A thing of beauty with Deflect Arrows.

The Bad
Okay, got to get really picky here. It's a pdf, and there's no bookmarking (though the comprehensive hyperlinking to the PRD is always welcome), and having to either page through or page select instead of internally linking from the contents page is a mild niggle, because, let's face it, you want to look at that particular creature, not the others. Fortunately the page counting matches up to the pdf's page numbers (a problem I have encountered in other books by other publishers who shall remain nameless in this review), so it's not a big deal.

Let's talk art. The Mythic Monsters line hasn't generally had much in the way of art, trusting that you have a handy Bestiary with the attendant pretty pictures, and I am very well aware that art is a HUGE chunk of a product's budget, and that stock art is a good way to stretch your art budget, so I don't want to do Legendary Games a disservice by inflicting my own perspective on individual pieces, so I'll just say that some of the art isn't really necessary, and could probably have been left out because in my opinion it doesn't add to the product. It's not horrible, it's not jarring, it's just not anything worth looking at. Except the hippogriff. That is an awesome picture that I would hang on my wall. It's gorgeous. (If you want to see it, it's the cover of Mythic Minis 3: Feats of Flight.)

The Conclusion
I love this book. As a player, I want my next character to have one of these. And I probably don't care which one (it had better be the triceratops, though). As a GM I'm busy trying to think of ways to get some of these into the hands of my current crop of PCs in a campaign where I wasn't actually planning to include any mythic elements at all. I'm mildly disappointed that the introduction makes it very clear you shouldn't ever be able to just buy any of these mounts (I understand why, but it would be pretty cool), but the abilities these creatures get are, as I've come to expect from this line of books, perfectly suited to the creature in question, and have just the right amount of oomph to make you want one. Or all of them.

So, I'm giving this one five stars. The problems are more than outweighed by the good stuff, and even though it's not perfect, it absolutely delivers what it promises, and does it extremely well. Art and a QoL issue aren't enough for these fine animals to lose a star.


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What would Grue be without his minions?

5/5

(If your first reaction to anything I say below is "but, hang on, it's...", I know.)

There are many things to like about many d20 derivative games, and one thing that several of them have done is some form of "minions" rules, to represent the hordes of cannon fodder that every Machiavellian Master of Manipulation surrounds himself with.

With four bestiaries, the Monster Codex, the NPC Codex, and more monsters than you can shake a stick at in Adventure Paths, Pathfinder is still lacking a way to have those "trash mobs" represented in the game. And then along comes this one-man-band Third Party Publisher called Minotaur Games showing that they have the design chops to play with the big boys and show them how it's done.

The Good
Normally I shy away from describing rules in reviews, but for this product it's pretty much unavoidable. For the low low price of four "underlings" equals one full creature of a given CR, you get to add lots of the easiest to manage creatures ever. No tracking hit points (they're either fine, hurt, or toast, depending on how much damage your attack does), no worrying that the damage modifier might have been calculated incorrectly (just roll these dice here), and no hassles with "damn, what's this guy's AC again?". Modify the base underling stats for your chosen CR with a lovely array of common racial types (angel underling, check), or throw on a class template for suitable bad guys. Watch as your players squeak in fear as you plonk 15 miniatures on the table with a sly grin, then cheer twenty minutes later after the fight of their lives, because damnit that was epic.

The Bad
I've decided something while writing this review. Endzeitgeist has his Seal of Approval, and I have something I once said about another product I love: This should be core. Honestly, that's the worst thing about this product. It's easy to read, well balanced, simple to implement, and you can see the class templates in a more sophisticated form in the Monster Codex. If I want hordes of goblins, this is the book I open up. Ditto a pack of ghouls. I even once used it at CR 20 with some epically nasty beasties for a high-level game. It will generally work best at lower levels (why have 3 Orc warrior 2 when you can have 12 underling Orc warrior 2?), but can really sway the action economy back in favour of the bad guys with no real added risk to the PCs.

The Conclusion
Absolutely top-notch, brilliantly designed, and an excellent way to implement minion rules into Pathfinder without having to either write another 4+ bestiaries or borrow rules from some other game.


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Things that go bump in the night...

4/5

Legendary Games very kindly sent me a review PDF copy of this instalment of the mythic monsters series, which I picked from their selection with malice aforethought. Let me be straight with you: I don't like undead. As a player or as a GM. They just bug me with their insane slew of immunities, nasty special attacks, and all-too-common damage reduction. I tend avoid them like the plague, or only use them if there's a logical reason for their presence in an adventure.

So, you may well ask, why the heck did I ask for a copy of a book about creatures that I don't like? Two reasons, really. First, because my natural enmity towards undead means this review isn't just going to be an automatic five-star love-fest for what Legendary Games put out, and secondly to see if the authors can do something to make me want to use their creations.

Guess what? It worked.

The Good
As with all of the Mythic Monsters series, here we get common bestiary creatures mythiced up, with new thematic abilities to put the willies into your players. As usual, Legendary Games doesn't disappoint, presenting such noteworthies as ghouls and ghasts, the demilich, and my personal favourite the spectre (if incorporeal blitz doesn't scare the bejesus out of a party, nothing will), getting just the right amount of extra oomph to really make them worthy of the word "mythic".

Special mention has to be made of the new undead nasty in this book: the jigsaw man. I love this thing! An undead serial killer that can transform into a swarm? The flavour text is evocative, creepy, and downright scary, and I can see one of these as the subject of an investigative adventure, and at CR 12 it's no pushover (and it really wants your PCs to bleed).

The Bad
Okay, layout error in the introduction where demilich is the only non-bolded monster name on the page, and it's a book full of undead (with all of their attendant problems). This product doesn't thrill me (unlike Mythic Monsters: Dragons, for example), and it's not a page-turner, making me desperate to see what's next. In that regard it's almost humdrum.

The Conclusion
I came to this book with at best neutral feelings. And I leave this book ready to throw some really scary, nasty, frightening beasties at my players. Yes, it's "just another" mythic monster book, but the contents are by no means "just another" group of undead monsters. Played right, these can be the terrifying, scary, nightmarish undead you never wanted to meet, and leave your players wondering what the heck they just faced.

I know I'm going to use the jigsaw man as soon as my players get up a few levels, even if I have to rewrite my plot to fit it in.

I can't separate my feelings about undead enough to give a completely unbiased, objective review rating: I've been wavering between four-stars because I simply don't like undead, and five because this book absolutely delivers what it promises. On balance I'm settling on four because heck, it's my review, but if you like undead nasties, this is a five-star book.


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Now THESE are DRAGONS!

5/5

Dragons. The name spawns images in my mind of massive beasts with wings flared, facing off against tiny-looking adventurers who quake in terror at their absolutely evident awesome power. One of my favourite-ever pieces of roleplaying art was the cover of the old D&D Companion Set, which had an armoured warrior with a massive magical sword, on a clifftop, facing a rearing dragon that just looked ready to rip him to pieces. Hell yeah.

The Good
Mythic feats for dragons. Want to have your red dragon no longer vulnerable to cold? Done. Have a black dragon bypass foe immunity to acid damage? We can do that. Extra bite damage (and plenty of it) because adventurers are crunchy and taste good with ketchup? Yum.

Not just dragons. While the primary focus of the book is on the chromatic dragons, there's a decent sprinkling of other creatures with the dragon type (mostly drakes, but the pseudodragon and tor linnorm get a going over, too).

The dragons. Sorry, I'm about to have a nerdgasm. The dragons are amazing. Full-blown, no-holds-barred, mythiced up to the nines, and there's some judicious use of the giant simple template to really beef things up. Every power, every ability, I get butterflies in my stomach at how amazing they are. When I can read a statblock (oh, mythic great red wyrm, where have you been all my life?) and cringe in sympathy for any characters unfortunate enough to meet one, I know I've found something special.

The Bad
If you've read any of my previous reviews, you're probably expecting me to start ranting about creatures with large numbers of abilities at high level being more complex than they need to be... and while that's still true, we're looking at dragons here, and they should be awe-inspiring.

So my one gripe? Only one of each chromatic dragon colour. Yep, that's it: I want more. These dragons are such... brilliant, wonderful, beautiful dragons that I want more variety of each dragon type.

The Conclusion
I imagine you can see why I've given this the rating I have. The non-true dragons are a nice to have, but the chromatic dragons are everything I want to see when I think of a dragon: terrifying, powerful, and I can picture any of them, wings flared, facing off against tiny-looking adventurers who quake in terror at their absolutely evident awesome power. Yep. Repeating that for emphasis.


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Demons... turned up to Eleven

5/5

I needed demons. Lots and lots of demons. I was running an adventure involving a demon lord, the PCs were mythic characters, and I needed... demons. And this book released at exactly the right time. And... it's (very almost) perfect.

The Good
Every demon from the first Bestiary that wasn't already covered in Mythic Adventures gets the full-on, custom mythic treatment, with every one of them gaining new powers that complement and expand upon their existing abilities, and the resulting collection ranges from CR 2 to CR 25, giving the GM an excellent range of opportunity to use them. If you liked how mythic monsters were presented in Mythic Adventures, you can expect more of the same here.

There's also a set of new mechanics presented which allow, amongst other things, mythic demons to punch through magical barriers that normally prevent teleportation, and demonic possession of mortals.

On top of all that, there's a new creature given a full write-up, the Gulgerak demon, a colossal monstrosity at CR 22 which will deservedly wreak havoc on those who face it.

The Bad
This book has no interior artwork (except another copy of the cover image, which is actually one of my favourite pieces ever, so I really don't mind seeing it again in the middle of the book, sandwiched by the statblock for the Mythic Succubus, no less), and is (with the exception of the gulgerak) utterly devoid of flavour text - everything is statblock and ability write-ups. However, that's explained in the introduction, and the reasons make perfect sense, so it's not much of an issue. If you're like me, you might get inspiration from the images of monsters as you're looking at them in the bestiary, but this really does get outweighed by what the book delivers.

As usual for me, powerful creatures with a huge suite of abilities are a bit of a turn-off, and at the tougher end (like the balor and glabrezu), the reader is presented with more abilities than the demon will reasonably be able to use in a fight. On the other hand, quite a lot of the time the new abilities are overlays on the base demon's existing abilities, so you're not overwhelmed.

The Conclusion
No art, explained away in the book. (And if you know anything about publishing, you know that artwork is expensive, so the lack is a good thing, because it drives the price down.) No flavour text, explained away in the book (is a mythic babau really all that different from a normal one? Nope). Powerful creatures with lots of abilities. Those are the worst things I can think of, and I'm comparing that to a truly excellent selection of demons given the mythic treatment, with each one getting just what it needs to be an awe-inspiring version. There's no contest.

If you like to be able to throw powered-up curveballs at your party, and you want to use demons, this book needs to be in your collection.


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Legendary, memorable, awesome.

4/5

I love high level play. In fact just a couple of weeks ago, I finished a campaign that had been running for two years and the characters were 23rd level with 6 mythic tiers (and man it was a lot of fun). I grabbed this book as soon as it came out, because I knew I would need some high-CR beasties to even approach being able to challenge my group.

The Good
Monsters! NPCs! Traps! Demigods! And lots of them. Even skimming through the book, you get good visuals and well-named abilities that suit each creature, and most of them provide a very good feel for how you can squeeze them into an existing campaign without throwing verisimilitude out the window.
These ain't your grandpappy's high-CR monsters. Everything is new, and powerful. Sure, there are some creatures that will be a snap for a party, but there are also creatures that will make them recall being 3rd level and fighting a shadow for the first time. And just wait until they fight a CR 15 Dragon Stirge and realise that running for the hills might be a good idea.

The Bad
The creatures in this book fall afoul of my two biggest gripes with high-CR foes:

More. Abilities. More. More. While every ability the creatures are given fit their theme nicely, they sure have a lot of them. It's almost unavoidable in the d20 game engine, I suppose, but one day I'd really like to see a CR 20+ creature that has just one or two powers which are amazing enough to put the fear of God into a party.

Bigger = Power. Yes, there are some handy-dandy tiny creatures included in this product, but the majority are large or bigger, which puts some serious constraints on use. There are never enough small or medium high-CR monsters, which are where I like to peg foes for my players (it can really throw them off balance), and after my third encounter in a row with huge creatures, I want something that looks like it might scale nicely to the PCs, but that's actually fantastic.

The Conclusion
A brilliant mix of exceptional creatures. If you like high-CR encounters, these will give you plenty to work with, and of course have the added advantage that your players haven't memorised the statblocks. Yes, there's room for improvement, and there's some design space that hasn't been fully explored, but if you want a greater variety in your monsters and challenges for powerful parties, this is well worth it.


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If you like Kingdom Building... you want this.

5/5

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm a huge fan of the Ultimate Campaign Kingdom rules, as well as Legendary Games, so when a complementary product is released, I'm quick off the mark to buy it (but not too quick to review, it seems).

This book is the perfect expansion for people who want more depth and options for their kingdoms, written by the maestro of kingdom crunch, Jason Nelson.

The Good
If the introduction didn't sell it well enough, here's some broad details:
New edicts, covering things like festivals, espionage, and military recruitment.
New buildings, offering greater variety in benefits (and building tiles for your settlement sheets).
Population revised, which gives a more detailed approach to the size of your settlements.
Events revised, accounting for the kingdom's danger level.
Titles. Lots and lots of titles, drawn from the real world, you can find the perfect noble title for your ruler (and rules for how proclaiming yourself Emperor if you only rule a single hex makes you look like an idiot).
And lots more... (and I don't mean "just one more bit", this book is packed with options and rules.)

The Bad
As usual, I find it hard to find fault with this product. One thing that springs to mind is that the Windmill is missing from the new building tiles.
Layout-wise, I found having the titles taking up several pages in the middle of the book a bit odd (could have been an appendix).
One thing that might put people off is that there is simply So. Much. Crunch. This is not a negative for me, but if you're not after detail, detail, and more detail, then you might feel overwhelmed.

The Conclusion
If you're looking for more Kingdom rules, this book is a must. It perfectly works alongside the Ultimate Campaign rules, and bits of it can be plugged in (Ultimate Plug-ins, who'd have thought it?) with impunity.


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These should be Core. Seriously.

5/5

Now, I only just bought this book, and I've only read it through twice, but, as with most things I choose to buy from Legendary Games, I love it.

The Good
Mythic Skills gives scaling skill "exploits" that characters can perform, sometimes automatically (within a skill check), sometimes with the expenditure of Mythic Power. Every skill in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is given multiple options, and they're simply fantastic. Some give the ability to use spells suitable for the skill (as supernatural abilities, no less), some provide new ways to use existing skills, some provide new ways to use existing skill options. All are very well written and seem (considering how quickly I'm writing this review) well balanced.

As well as offering these options to mythic characters, there's a full write-up on how these rules can be inserted into a non-mythic game.

The Bad
Well, I did find one typo...
And these aren't Core...

Umm...

Yeah...

The Conclusion
If you want skills to be awesome, this book shows you how, and can be easily inserted into a game. I'm going to start using these straight away.


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Want NPCs to matter to your players? You want this book.

4/5

REVISED - NOW BASED ON UPDATED VERSION

Legendary Games are one of my go-to publishers for quality crunch supplements to enhance my Pathfinder RPG. The Ultimate series takes rules subsystems from Paizo's products that need a bit of love or extra detail, and gives them what they need in spades.

Ultimate Relationships is no exception, taking the Relationship rules (originally from the Jade Regent adventure path, and updated in Ultimate Campaign), and cranking them up to eleven.

Ever had a long-term NPC that the PCs talk to every time they're in town, but who still treats them the same as the first time they met? Or had a love-interest who seems to take forever to actually show any interest? This product gives you the rules to make those relationships develop as the campaign goes on.

The Good
Ultimate Relationships provides a very solid (and extremely well-written) expansion to the development of PC relationships with key NPCs in your adventures. The mechanics allow for a great deal of depth and detail in what PCs learn about the NPCs, and provide a fantastic metric for knowing what the NPCs thinks of each PC.

The basic mechanic is gaining Camaraderie Points. These can be gained passively (by performing actions that the particular NPC appreciates), actively (by the PC going out of their way to have a positive interaction with the NPC), or simply by leveling up. When your character has a certain number of Camaraderie Points with an NPC, you get the opportunity (one or more checks, usually skill checks) to increase your relationship rank with them (ranks range from 1 to 10, with 1 being "I've met them" and 10 being "they are my bestest ever bud/lover/confidant"). Gaining ranks isn't hard, but it is intended to be specifically tailored to the NPC in question, and should involve specific circumstances and interesting skills/abilities/checks where appropriate so that the PC can't just max out Sense Motive and Diplomacy and blast their way up to Rank 10. This system favours multi-dimensional characters with diverse interests and abilites, a well as interesting and deep NPCs.

The Bad
This product suffers quite drastically from a lack of fleshed-out examples to explain some of the new mechanics. Fortunately, Legendary Games also offers Imperial Relationships (for use with the Jade Regent adventure path, but see below), which gives those examples.

There's also a little bit of an issue with new concepts and mechanics not being fully explained. Most of the time it's not a big deal - the detailed rules regarding Camaraderie Points explain what they are, how you obtain them, and what they're for, but there's not quite as much explanation about what exactly a "Milestone" is, though there's plenty of rules about what your character can do in a Milestone, and rules about how often they should occur, but nothing about what they actually are. I'm pretty sure that a Milestone is best described as "an opportunity for the PC to actively engage with the NPC and have a positive interaction with them", so you need Milestones to increase your rank with them, and you can use them to gain Camaraderie Points, but there aren't any examples. Admittedly, that's a difficult thing to manage in a rules-heavy product like this one, so I understand it, but I think I would have liked "such as agreeing to have dinner together, or getting locked in a prison cell together, or watching a sunset together".

What I did
I bought this product, I chatted in the product thread, and I quickly bought Imperial Relationships. I then promptly sat down and fleshed out some of my NPCs using these rules. I haven't had that much fun writing up an NPC in a long time.

The Conclusion
Excellent, solid product, with some shortcomings that are utterly eliminated by purchasing Imperial Relationships (honestly, even if you don't plan to ever run Jade Regent (I don't) or don't own it (I don't), get it if you're buying Ultimate Relationships). If you like some good crunchy rules that allow for enhanced interactions with your NPCs, then this is what you are looking for.


Not perfect, but boy am I going to use this book!

4/5

My first ever review.

I'm a big fan of Leadership. I'm well aware that it has something of a reputation as being broken and overpowered. Yes, it is easily abusable, but it is also an excellent way of integrating your character into the campaign world, making them feel that they can directly influence people, even without pumping ranks in Diplomacy, and that can be a valuable tool for a GM.

The Leadership Handbook is primarily aimed at GMs, giving them the tools to manage how PCs interact with NPCs who look up to them.

It promises to be a significant expansion to the Leadership feat rules presented in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, and it certainly delivers!

The Good
Expansion of the Leadership feat's role in the game, along with well-thought-out integration of other social mechanics as presented in Ultimate Campaign (reputation, contacts, Kingdom Building and Leading An Army) puts this product at the very peak of using game mechanics as a tool to help drive stories about people. The rules are, in the main, cribbed from the core rules and Ultimate Campaign, with a number of added extras to make having Leadership (and this book suggests that all characters should effectively get the feat for free) a benefit to players and GMs alike.

The artwork is good, though I personally feel that the cover is the best piece, and is suggestive of a leader interacting with their follower(s), making it a pleasant break from the relatively rules-dense text.

The rules are presented in a coherent format (see below), and each section of the book guides you through what you need for different levels of Leadership interaction.

The Bad
Ignoring the fact that Leadership in Pathfinder is a divisive topic, because that's a personal preference each player must make for themselves, the sole stand-out problem with this book is the typographical errors. And there are quite a few. This book needed a going over by another proof-reader before being finalised.

Edit: The author has uploaded a properly edited version. I've not yet had a chance to read it through again, so until I do, I'm leaving this review at 4 stars.

The Conclusion
While not perfect, I'm going to be using this book in my home games. It tidies up, expands, and integrates all of the awesome social mechanics around Leadership, into a single, well-executed whole. Well worth the buy if you'd like more crunch to handle how awesome the NPCs in your campaign consider the PCs to be.