The Cinderlander

Cole Deschain's page

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber. 2,730 posts (3,311 including aliases). 24 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 17 aliases.



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Glad we got this before the edition change...

*****

It's a format Paizo has some experience with by now- the three volumes of the Book of the Damned, then the hardcover, the Chronicle of the Righteous- all the fingerprints of those books are on this one- but it's a more refined product than those earlier ones, benefiting from both greater experience- and more oddball subject matter.

The "monitors" (Monitor is to neutral outsider as Celestial is to good and Fiend is to evil) get codified a bit, and there, of course, some new faces, but the real meat of this sucker is in the various neutral-aligned Monitor demigod writeups.

Full disclosure: I'm a sucker for Psychopomps, so I found their Ushers the most engaging, but just about every category has something cool to run with.

It was also nice to see a bunch of demigods NOT saddled with Alignment domains for Clerics...


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Bang For Your Buck

*****

So, snagged a copy of the PDF (and will get a hard copy from my FLGS).

I love it. I love it so very many ways.

The art is killer, the writing is engaging.

The character options are just weird enough to be awesome (As someone with little love for Spiritualists and mad love for Psychopomps, running a Spiritualist who traded their Phantom in for a Nosoi Psychopomp familiar is a thing I didn't know I needed until I saw it).

The deity sections aren't so much long on new information as concisely informative about the general state of a deity's business, which is something I appreciate.

The sections on each plane are informative and enjoyable.

The section on alternate cosmologies, while understandably brief, is also a nifty little sideline.

Highly recommended.


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The hits just keep coming!

*****

This issue is spent almost entirely in the Boneyard (apart from a flashback to Valeros’ childhood, in which we learn that the guy has something akin to dyslexia), with Valeros bouncing off of a night hag, a devil, an angel, a marut, and, to my not-inconsiderable delight, multiple Psychopomps as it turns out everyone thinks his soul is... someone else’s.

A bit more action in this one than in the previous issue, but the focus on Valeros and the confusion surrounding his situation still makes for a pretty intimate read, and a genuinely funny look at Val’s first brush with the afterlife.


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A hoot and a half

*****

An issue that’s mostly set-up but still kicks butt-

We join our heroes in Kaer Maga, wherein Valeros throws down with a troll on the opening page- things get a little more sedate from there, but we get to meet Imrijka, have some genuinely funny conversation involving her, Merisel, and the latter’s annoyance that someone got laid without inviting her.

What really stands out for me is that this issue was more about who our protagonists are than about what they’re doing- which I greatly enjoyed.


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At long last...

*****

... all the bits and pieces of information we've had coming out piecemeal over the years coalesce into a quite enjoyable write-up of Nidal, arguably the most screwed-up nation-state in Avistan.

The sense of just how oppressive the place is really comes across in the art and the writing, and the historical bits are quite well fleshed-out.

While not quite as outré as it maybe could have been, it's still pretty grim going in places. At the same time, you get a taste of what Nidal was before it knuckled under to a god of pain and darkness, and a sense of what the place has to offer.


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What is Says on the Tin

****( )

First and foremost, if you have the three prior Pathfinder Campaign Setting volumes of the Book of the Damned, there is indeed a lot of reprinted material here.

With that said, there's enough new content that I find some of the griping in other reviews a bit shortsighted.

Especially since, given the subject matter, it stood to reason that we'd see some reprints- although in many cases, the old data has been expanded upon greatly. The book also collects a few odds and ends from relatively far-flung sources into a single volume, which satisfies.

The art is Not The Same As When Another Artist Did It. Personally, I think it works just fine. Several of the pieces in this book are among the best I've seen in a Pathfinder product- the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse get a pretty metal chapter-opening splash page, for example.

Mechanically, it gives me more or less what I wanted, although I could have done with a little more detail on the lesser fiendish demigods... but then again, I could always do with more detail on less-significant deities in the setting, so...

Solid, very solid. The Queens of the Night (formerly the "Whore Queens") in particular get a nifty treatment, including fully fleshed-out backstories, the Qlippoth seem even scarier than they were before, and Kyton Demagogues let you get your Clive Barker on with a vengeance.

4 stars instead of 5 because:
- Good as the material is, a great deal of it is, after all, reprinted.
- Several of the fiendish demigod sections feel a bit rushed in detail- overall they satisfy, but there are places here and there where you can feel the deadline looming over the writing staff.

But it's a damn fine book, and I heartily recommend it.


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Early days yet...

*****

... but a damned solid offering from the folks at Fat Goblin Games.

The caveat, of course, is that this is a niche subject- largely a means of securing non-combat mechanical assistants without having a Mechanic who selected a drone housing for their AI*- not universally required, but a nice bit of background, especially since robotic butlers and the like are a genre staple.

Bonus points for giving the Perceptionist wing of the Android liberation organization from Starfinder some real obvious causes to champion.

If your goal is maximizing damage output for your characters with little regard to background texture, then this book will be of limited value to you.

If, on the other hand, the idea of a walking cooler that dispenses beer from an installed spigot and carries a big tub of pretzels around during downtime is something that it sounds like your character would invest in, this kicks serious butt. If the idea of the walking beer cooler going on the fritz, forcing you to bang on it with a wrench while cursing the Ysoki scumbag who sold it to you for convincing you that the company's reputation for unreliability was overinflated has appeal, then you pretty much need to buy this.

Also included are several service robot manufacturing companies, ranging from the mildly humorous to the outright hilarious (among the quirks various companies bestow upon their products include little features like the robot not recognizing the user for 1d4 minutes, or their attached mechanisms not functioning, and so forth)

So... 4 stars instead of five, because:

1. The art, while in full color and vastly superior to anything I could come up with, is not always to my taste.
2. The modular construction of the bots, while deeply thought out and balanced fairly well against the economic system as presented in the Starfinder Core rulebook, is a bit more involved than people not all that interested in flavor are going to want to get.

But it's really more of a 4.5-4.75. My quibbles are minor, and my satisfaction is high. Simply having some companies to name-drop is going to let my game seem more immersive, and I look forward to my players learning to curse (or praise) various manufacturers for their design quirks.

EDIT: You know what? Five stars. This book is a hoot.

* Not that this offers nothing to mechanics- "The mechanic class possesses the artificial intelligence class ability that can take the form of a drone or an exocortex. An SB can be integrated into this class feature using either of those distinctions. If integrating with a mechanic’s drone, simply add a free add-on slot as a place to slot each drone mod and the SB takes on the statistics of the base chassis and drone base statistics. If integrating with an exocortex, your SB is considered to be remotely and telepathically (range of 15 feet per
level) controlled by your exocortex as well as being able to bestow your consciousness (with full access to your class abilities and skills) onto your SB by loading your exocortex into it. Your normal body becomes inert at this point, still ages normally, and still maintains all of its normal processes." Need I express how friggin' cool THAT is?


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Fun in Korvosa!

*****

Without getting too much into the plot details of this issue...

I loved it.

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Valeros continues to be the universe's punching bag, we get a Greay Maiden facing down a Hellknight with neither one prepared to budge... Kyra, however, steals the show in resolving a specific encounter in the sewers.

More please.


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Now we're cooking

*****

Despite the fact that this is basically an expository issue, I enjoyed it thoroughly- the art is killer, and while last issue saw Valeros getting into the swing of things, this one focuses on Seoni who is a great deal more thoughtful in her approach to the world.

We get a little insight into what the Worldscape is, how it works, and also inklings of a power play by the bad guys.

Spoiler:
Ruthazek and Kulan Gath- two tastes of evil that go GREAT together!

The supplemental information of Green Martians is hard for me to be objective about- I'm pretty much incapable of not just geeking out over having Pathfinder stats for them!


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Superb purchase

*****

Cheaper, lighter weight, and smaller, while still having all of the same art and information as the full-size hardcover... this is some of the best bang for my buck in ages.

When the pocket editions were announced, I confess my reaction was something akin to a shrug- but having clapped eyes on both of them so far,I think it's an excellent idea,and one I want to see Paizo continue to pursue for heavily-use books like the core rulebook and the bestiaries.


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A good flavorful fill for a peculiar vacancy

*****

As the prior review states, this class addresses a gap in the lineup of playable classes one can blink and miss. While Paizo has given us botht he Cardinal and Cloistered Cleric archetypes to cut down on armored weapon-swinging clerics as the go-to, both of those sacrifice some of their connection to their deity.

This is not a problem the Priest has- while they have a good cross-section of skills (and more skill points per level than a cleric), their primary focus is on wielding divine power to great effect.

Their spellcasting is a nifty Arcanist-esque tweak to the prevailing Vancian paradigm, and they select three domains, rather than the cleric's two. They're not as good at channeling energy as a cleric, but they have additional perks in the form of Divine Gifts, which are generally flexible self-buffing options.

It's a solid, capable and well-focused class- and the production values in the PDF are excellent.

Give this one a whirl.


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An excellent idea-more like this, please

*****

So my old copy of the Core Rulebook is going the way of all gaming books- steadily disintegrating through years of hard use.

I was toying with buying a new copy- and this solved the issue for me, quite handily.

All of the content, the price is lower, and it's easier to haul around when I have to do so.

This is an excellent notion, top value for my gaming dollar. I fully intend to buy the pocket edition of the first Bestiary as well- and will be keeping my eyes open for other pocket edition of heavy-use books.


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Dragon NPCs, ready to roll.

*****

There is something here for just about every power level, and each dragon (or clutch, in one case!) is well-realized in terms of their potential uses in a campaign.

From an Umbral Dragon with pretensions of divinity to a truly vicious Red Dragon Cleric of Dahak, you'll find both useful stats and inspiration to burn in this book. Highly recommended- it's what convinced me to become a subscriber.


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Here we go!

*****

So, having resolved to keep up with these collected editions, let me just say, for the record, that I was as wise as I am awesome.

A lot of the rough edges of the first story arc have been sanded off,and the characterization of the main cast is a bit better nailed down.

Additionally, we are spared gratuitous cameos by other "iconics" in this volume, which lets this feel less like a pilot pitch and more like a butt-kickin' fantasy comic.

This volume feels more cohesive, despite having a plot with a few extra loose ends dangling off of it.

The interior artwork is also more my speed this go-around, and the action sequences are easier to follow.

This is a good 'un.


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Flawed Masterpiece

****( )

Let me get the reason I knocked a star off of this out of the way first: There are a couple of little editorial snarls that ring a little false(LE Antipaladins not explicity mentioning swapping out Anarchic for Axiomatic weapon properties, Vigilantes not having Knowledge: Nobility as a class skill, that sort of thing), and a couple of missed opportunities (such an archetype for letting a Vigilante just use its social persona, rather than having to play dress-up and run around skulking in alleyways)

I love everything else.

I almost passed on this book- the Vigilante's concept didn't ding my trolley, and I have a lot of experience running political scenarios.

But boy would I have missed out- this book is loaded with options, some of them expected (The Cardinal, a politically-oriented Cleric archetype), some of them less so (The Dandy is a Court-centered Ranger with favored Nations rather than Enemies).

All told, easily the best fluff-light book I've picked up-for ANY system-in quite some time.


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Pretty friggin' good!

****( )

So, in my crusty old age, I hold off from buying single issues of comics.

And thus, it took me a while to get around to being aware of Paizo's venture into comic book territory.

The loss has been mine.

While the interior art is not always to my taste, it's not bad by any means, and the writing is actually pretty damn good.

My only real quibble with this first volume is that only the core cast seems really fleshed out in any measurable way- and frankly, given the medium, I'm probably being a bit unfair there.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story as presented, and, moreover, the supplemental gaming material means a lot more bang for my buck.

Congratulations to Paizo and Dynamite-I am onboard with following this series in my "collected editions preferred" fashion.


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Pretty good, but...

***( )( )

... the opening is a bit of a jolt, and also presumes a great deal about the motivation of your collection of scumbag ne'er-do-wells. For a scratch group, I wouldn't mind, but considering the way the campaign traits work, motivating the PCs for

Spoiler:
a grubby little heist that may not even pay as much as trait choices start you with
can involve a fair bit of GM editing.

But if you're fired up to play the bad guys, things rapidly get more nuanced. There's a rebellion to crush for the Evil Empire, and you're just the guys to do it!

However, the conclusion can be a bit jarring if the essentially awful nature of life in Cheliax is glossed over, and some of the NPC interactions feel a mite... forced.

Worth a go if you want to try your hand at being evil, but be prepared for some extra work on the sidelines.

While marketed as "any kind of evil," in practice, only the more subtle forms of Chaotic Evil seem likely to do terribly well- there's some room for flexing it, but a solid bank of Lawful Evil or a few Neutral Evil opportunists seems the best fit.


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Whoa Nelly!

*****

This one is... a pretty big deal.

The word "Epic" is criminally overused these days, but rest assured: Breaking the Bones of Hell is epic.

You will not only delve into the psyche of your adversary in a very real and immediate sense, you will do it in the very bowels of Hell itself.

Note that this will not be for everyone as written- some of what you learn about the enemy might be a bit R-rated for some groups. Even more than usual, I would suggest a GM using this adventure read over the relevant sections very carefully, keeping their players in mind, and possibly making some edits.

But rest assured, done right, your group will feel like absolute aces for coming out on top. This right here is how you and an AP with a BANG.


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A nice palate cleanser

*****

While by no means less challenging than the previous adventure, The Kintargo Contract shifts gears somewhat.

If your party approaches all of its problems with drawn weapons, well, that's an option, but a decidedly sub-optimal one.

Not that there's no combat- not by a long shot- but this adventure, after a campaign of wheeling and dealing with allies and opposing straightforwardly antagonistic foes, allows some scope for proper diplomacy- trying to win over people who don't necessarily like you very much.

It's also a nice reminder that there is more to rebellion than just toppling the old order- you have to build something to replace it.


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It's not even fair!

*****

In addition to providing a stunning adventure (featuring a highly satisfactory throwdown with the campaign's Big Bad), this volume is packed to the gills with awesome extras.

And why not? As an oversized volume, all the stops were pulled out.

Of note: If you like tying your campaigns off before things like 6th level spells, this offers an acceptable point to conclude an abridged version of the campaign.

In keeping with Hell's Rebels as a whole, this bad boy delivers on all levels.


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Worth it for the Set-Piece Alone

*****

If the entire adventure were not a superbly-written continuation of your efforts to topple Barzillai Thrune's vile reign over Kintargo (it is, for the record) this volume would still be worth it for the party sequence alone.

A wonderful building sense of tension while the Party schmoozes with the high and mighty, culminating in one of my hands-down favorite sequences to date.

Volume three of my new favorite Adventure Path picks up the ball and just RUNS with it.


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Back for more!

*****

I will open by concurring with the prior review- this is 4.5 stars, rounded up- while rock-solid in most respects, the sandboxy parts can be a challenge for a GM less into that sort of thing.

But what a sandbox this is!

The rescue mission is a delight, and a lot of the social encounters have a great deal to offer.


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This is how it's done.

*****

What, only three reviews so far? For shame!

Perhaps because people are satisfied and trusting to that...

But I want to get on record here:

For a very long time, the Adventure Paths have been pretty good to great, but nothing really compared to the excellence I experienced in Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Imagine my surprise when an AP that revisits a very similar idea- rebellion in an urban setting to throw off the shackles of an upstart despot- proved to be the first real contender to unseat CotCT from the top spot.

This first adventure manages to combine challenge, a bit of humor (outlawing mint? REALLY dude?), and a sense that the city of Kintargo is worth fighting for.

The campaign as a whole is brilliant, and this initial adventure does a great deal to lay out that groundwork. If you're not a subscriber, and you're just looking for a starting point to kick off a city-based rebellion campaign, this right here is the go-to option. I cannot recommend this one too highly.


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Solid for Spelunking

*****

A pretty handy volume for anyone intent on using the Darklands of Golarion- the fleshing out of the Munavri is particularly welcome, but in general, just about every creature examined here benefits from the improved going-over. I especially liked the overview of Duergar society, and all of the creatures presented here got at least a little bit of cultural detailing to make them more flavorful.

I'm a fan of the "Revisited" series in general, so this was a nifty thing to find in my FLGS today.

To go with the 5 stars, two caveats-

1. Some of the Drow material felt a bit redundant- although not scrambling from the Advanced Race Guide to Inner Sea Races to old volumes of Second Darkness will be appreciated.

2. I don't think ANYONE can get me fired up about using Urdefhans. However, if you're fond of 'em, there is some excellent material here.