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Eh, I liked the book.CorvusMask —
The book is mostly collection of gods from old god books from 1e with few new ones in appendix and it does have bit feeling of "Man, would have been nice if this was 300 pages book, you can tell they cut out things bit awkwardly to fit few more deities in appendix", but I like the upgrades to 2e, I think newbies get lot of useful stuff out of it(even though you kinda need to get old 1e deity books to get full picture on some of them) and new player content has some really cool stuff among it. Pantheons are cool too, now if paizo.com would learn polytheism and pantheism are different thing for good...
Pathfinder Adventure Path #149: Against the Scarlet Triad (Age of Ashes 5 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Trying to be short againCorvusMask —
So let's see if I succeed at being short: I like the adventure a lot, it has return of many cool things(such as variant monsters like dust wendigos!), it has lots of different things PCs can do to convince guilds to vote agaisnt scarlet tried(like a heist and for example finding a magic camel) and provides a lot of roleplaying opportunities. Did I mentioned that vast majority of art in Age of Ashes is super great? Well if I didn't, I did now. I do feel like red pyramid's first and second floor map somehow feels less fancy than other maps(even when compared to basement) in the book or ap but can't figure out why.
I like the AP's overall "here is which ancestry you help in this book!" theme, but gnome ancestry comes least through in all of those books. Like sure, you help gnomes in Finderplain from super powerful monster(btw, it is cool to show case how powerful monster could wipe out entire settlement if they wanted to without powerful heroes to rescue! Also I like in general this book show cases lot of sidequest like tasks that high level characters get up to) and first guild leader you can help and ally with is gnome, but otherwise adventure isn't really tied thematically with gnome stuff. Though book does high light the weirdness of high level guard npcs, it still did good job with establishing that even high level characters wouldn't wipe out capital of nation by themselves.
But yeah, cool stuff, but still have to dock one star for kinda noticiable editing weirdness and because I think book could have been even better.
So what random stuff I did like... Well besides heist(and alternate solutions during it and obstacles and random steel falcon cameos), student loan! Lobbying!(I think I mentioned that already, but had to mention me liking downtime/exploration/similar stuff a lot) Bird in a box! Possibility to become guild leader! Speak with plants being taken in account! Not gonna say any more in detail!
Oh yeah and bonus articles on witchwyrd and aiudara were great. Also huh, we got the backstory curse reveal of that fay from reign of winter, its always neat when "mysterious curse from so long ago nobody remembers why" stuff gets answered :D
Pathfinder Adventure Path #148: Fires of the Haunted City (Age of Ashes 4 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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So I try to be short this timeCorvusMask —
I have gotten late with this review so trying to get it done this time, I'm putting all of this into spoiler tag because I'm too tired to split non spoilery stuff from spoilery stuff::
So sort story short yay dorf fortre- I mean I don't actually am into dwarfs that much but I feel its really refreshing perspective because of how often Paizo avoids doing dwarf themed adventures(probably because D&D did lot of stuff with ancient dwarf ruins in their adventures). So while previous book is also about investigation and fighting scarlet tried, I happen to find "fighting slavers, conspiracy and dragons in a mountain around dwarf city filled with undead" much more interesting hook than "rescuing kidnapped halflings from slavers in emancipated city".
So what I loved? Council of Regents and appealing to dwarven tradition(I really love any form of meeting new cultures and respecting them whenever they come up in adventures :D), Dwarf CSI (I think I might just be really into adventures about investigating for city guard. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I think I know which AP I want to play in), that a bad guy thought it was good idea to silence their political rivals by putting them in secret prison because they didn't want to go as far as to kill them all(Its nice amount of "not completely evil" evil character) and finding about the hidden forge, alliance with honorable undead king, that stuff :D I also like Veshumirix's fragile ego
Droskar(he has really cool bad guy design, didn't realize he is THAT buff. And his hair is made out of smoke!) article and Kovlar article were great and I liked there was dwarf romance option finally!
Any nitpicks... Well still worried about lack of dragon abilities in bestiary until great wyrm stage, mostly because when paizo decides to introduce new true dragons, how do we know what abilities the oldest age versions have?
Pathfinder Adventure Path #150: Broken Promises (Age of Ashes 6 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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One of the best AP parts finalesCorvusMask —
So uh, I managed to skip my reviews for books 4 and 5 I still intend to do but haven't because of being busy and tired, but this book was too much in my alley to not review right away.
So long story short without spoilers: Book contains intriging investigation, a deception and chance to redeem someone who thinks they are good while they are doing evil. And AP actually gives good reason for PCs to do latter besides just being goody good guys(I like being good good person, but pragmatic people need options too!) and not least of all being "this edition's rules mean they would actually be tough to defeat" :D Book does give good job of giving characters chances to learn their backstory and feel empathy for them.
There are great roleplaying moments through all the book until finale(yes even in part 3, its not just warming up to final boss fight at level 20) and mechanical options for level 20 by hermean training are also cool and actually really great. I also like idea of rare backgrounds unlocked by beating APs so we'll see if paizo does more of those :D
Interestingly, I think I noticed that Paizo has taken notice of conversations on forum about bad guy redemption, because beyond the campaign option raises the possibility that even if villain is redeemed, some people might want to punish them for their wrong doings and future for the villain seeking redemption is uncertain.
Promise article has some really chilling stuff to it.
And best if all, even in this AP Dahak is petty overgrown child capable of destroying worlds :D
Do I have any bad things to say? Eh there is picture of random pit fiend with new design for them, I much prefer 1e reptilian pit fiend design to one that gives them more human like face. Reptiles are cool! Stereotypical red devils with pitchforks not so much.
(also since there was conversation on forum about dcs being too high for calming down citizens and putting off fires compared to first book... I think its justified because of the apocalyptic storm going on you know :P)
What else... Jonivar was really cool character for me for some reason even if he was mostly for explanation of ritual and Inizra's love interest(I like Inizra a lot too!) and I'm glad Kyrion finally came back! Though if eel like we need whole NPC article for him because seriously, I want full write up detail on what makes Kyrion tick, sure we know his backstory and personality but I like that dragon :D There were also cool 1e AP callbacks, such as Mengkare hiring brine dragon twins to help with security once they heard of Karzoug coming back in Promise article and other stuff in adventure itself. I also liked the payoff to castle building downtime hobby of PCs.
Run this at tier 7-8 for three players and pregenCorvusMask —
Its great action heavy scenario with good atmosphere, intriguing foreshadowing for future scenarios, cute alien pet to be rescued and difficult boss fight :D Whats not to like?
Starfinder Adventure Path #21: Huskworld (Attack of the Swarm! 3 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Adventuring inside a bugCorvusMask —
Sooo previous part I didn't review because there wasn't too much to talk about adventure content wise. Here its kinda same deal, adventure itself is mostly combat, but there are some really cool locales! Like besides whole survival horror element of adventuring in abandoned buildings with bug monsters in them, the whole extractor imago part is really cool.
My only actual criticism(without having played or runned the adventure) is this: So out of three illustrated NPCs, which one you think has most extensive personality and backstory? a) the soldier shirren who first you meet on planet and who helps you with the imago mission b) company leader bolida who works as mission control and accompanies party to university c) shirren member of company who remembers facts about university because he was student there.
Its C. A and B are more important to overall adventure, but C is only one who we get to learn about as person. Starfinder APs could really use few more pages to dedicate to the NPCs, its hard to get attached to Etchiax or Hescamu when even the GM doesn't know anything about them. I understand that Starfinder doesn't have any sort of cohort rules(and neither of two would even have reason to leave planet), but currently only way NPCs get developed in Starfinder is that if they are reccurring npc that shows up through whole ap, happen to show up in role play heavy book in ap or they get tell funny facts about them to PCs like choice C did. Like big issue I think is that we barely learn anything about Jadvata in first place, but I have much stronger impression of them than I have of Party's commanding officer from Book 2 onwards. Though next book in ap does have the most developed NPC of the whole AP so far.
So now to the real things I wanted to review! Articles!
Relics of Chuuva article is really nice expansion of system the planet you adventure in takes place. The other planets and locales are cool enough plothooks for their own campaigns and new items are cool too. I'm kinda sad that Vessel of Hylax artifact isn't in adventure's loot since it is mentioned to be located in Ilemchuuva as well.
Survivors of the Swarm article is like Deep Cultures article from Dawn of Flame except even cooler since it comes with racial stats for some of the new races!(so unlike deep culture article, we don't need to wait to learn more about some of the new races introduced here) Kinda sad vathori didn't get pictured though, but the two that did are pretty cool.
Amrantah are pretty cool, but my major nitpick with them is that art of them features one with humanoid face while description of race says majority of them have either draconic/bestial face customization or just blank featureless robot face. As fan of both reptiles and blank mask like faces, that just makes me sad that first picture of them has human like face because it means most of new art afterwards might also have humanoid like faces..
At first I didn't get Ramiyel since I was like "...Wait, isn't that just space lamia? What is the point of this race?" until I realized "Oh wait, they are LITERALLY the space lamia" as ramiyel are descended from lamyros. Which I guess suggests that lamia don't exist in same form as they did in pathfinder in starfinder anymore since ramiyel are mostly good aligned(while still having taboo vs worshipping and trusting gods) and community oriented. Though it does accidentally create further AU continuity feeling to starfinder since 2e established that male lamia now exists while ramiyel are all female.
Bestiary also has cool stuff. One of them is tied up with codex of worlds article in book, though sadly codex article doesn't mention existence of the bestiary creature while it does hint something sinister going on. It is kind of cool plot hook though :D Wouldn't mind seeing more about that. (its oddly type of plot I think would actually fit in star trek episode or doctor who. Not sure why though)
Oh and troop rules! Nice.
Wanted to give 3 stars initially, but that'd be dishonest...CorvusMask —
...I like three new classes, starship role options being expanded and new downtime actions too much to give book 3 stars just because I don't think its flavorful enough :P
Yeah, thats my main issue with book. Its mostly crunch without much flavor, even starfinder armory had lot of flavor sprinkled in random items. I think its partially because starfinder hardcover books(besides core rulebook) are shorter than pf1e's core rule books. Which actually does cause another issue:
I think options feels weirdly... Crammed? Like some of racial options include options for classes while others don't. Some of them have feats besides alternate racial features, some of them have just alternate racial features. I didn't count all class options for all classes, so I don't know if all core classes got equal amount of class options, just spread around weirdly. But yeah, my main issue is that that none of new options are particularly flavorful, like ones presented as "common with this race" don't really feel specific to the race. Like how come on ambusher soldier style represents human versatility?
(I did like that lot of feats are applicable to multiple races. Like new feats for kasatha work for any four armed race... Then the gnomes got feats that work only for gnomes. So yeah, like I said, you can tell that different things are done by different devs, but it makes stuff feel disconnected in design philosophy)
I do like the alternate class features overall(like having envoy's expertise dice on different stuff than sense motive or mechanic with custom power armor), but I'm slightly worried if they will end up as power creep in future or if they will essentially replace archetype's "here is flavorful options relate to specific theme" role. Like Envoy getting alternate class feature that replaces most of their class features in exchange for becoming shapechanger is just... Weird.
Alternate racial stat adjustments were good but they had weird inconsistency with legacy races having different format. Like here is vesk and dwarf example:
"These vesk have unique ability score adjustments instead of the standard adjustments of +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, and –2 Intelligence found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook."
"Such dwarves have ability score adjustments of +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, and −2 Strength rather than the adjustments found in the Starfinder Core Rulebook."
I guess logic is that since legacy race has just one alternate stat adjustment while all core races have multiple ones, but I'm not sure why they couldn't have just said "have these adjustments instead of ones in core rulebook" for all of them.
One more thing which I found bizarrely inconsistent is free trader archetype. All other archetypes replace class features in exchange for archetype's abilities but this one... Replaces level 2 feature and gives stacking one in exchange? Like, I'd assume if it was supposed to replace higher level features that it wouldn't have been written as single upgrading ability. Either way, I guess logic is "This ability is mostly good out of combat" as its mostly related to doing "merchant stuff", but... Doesn't that open up possibilities for future power creep if there are more "archetypes that replace single ability in exchange for multiple levels worth of upgrades to single ability"?
Any other things I want to nitpick? Well I'm annoyed about kasatha becoming increasingly human like facial feature wise newer art is made of them(now the iconic having both nose and white sclera means new art for random members will feature both even more...) but I forgive that because there is astrazoan in bar picture :P Sure its in same picture as the one kasatha who really looks like conehead from coneheads movie, but FRICKING ASTRAZOANS WOO. Ahem
Starfinder Adventure Path #16: The Blind City (Dawn of Flame 4 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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This is Eshtayiv reviewCorvusMask —
So I succumbed under encouragement to review the single thing I liked most about this adventure :P But I will still attempt to summarize stuff I liked about adventure even though I don't know if its mechanically fun without playing it.
So I liked Otlo. And Ezorod itself is really cool dungeon, the whole "dark place without light where main enemy type is on fire and darkness is deadly" is cool :D I also liked that text took in account the super unlikely scenario that PCs somehow rescue two characters from their horrible fate.
I do have one thing about it that I'm kinda confused about
on Ilvatri:I think its kinda the issue with Starfinder APs in general, because they have shorter page count, they don't have time to delve into motivations of characters too much, which in this AP would really have helped in certain books(like the final one). Starfinder APs do have cool NPCs with interesting motivations, but not enough pages to delve into depth of the character or what makes them tick.
So he is the only sapient pyric creature in Ezorod as a pyric healicus and that means he isn't one of Ezorod's original guardians by outer god cultists, but one of creatures turned by Esthayiv's touch. He is also the biggest obstacle Colour out of Space has in freeing Esthayiv because he doesn't want his home and domain to disappear. Well that clearly implies that Esthayiv doesn't have control over its servitors, but book kinda glosses over irony of this.
So now onto the "main" review :P
Its evil consuming light that apparently hunts Outer Gods and Great Old ones :D That is awesome. I know its probably some sort of lovecraftian blasphemy to like idea of separate being from outer gods that is capable of threatening them, but Nodens was also creation of Lovecraft.(also if both Esthayiv and Outer Gods are beings from outside of multiverse, that makes things very interesting) And this one winning wouldn't be good for rest of universe either(its title is Incandescent Doom, what'd you expect?), I just like that it means Outer Gods aren't just straight up invincible so that all other evil gods can't do anything about them. I don't mind it if like Asmodeus couldn't do anything about Esthayiv or Outer Gods, I just like that Outer Gods have competition in first place.
Besides liking that concept, one more specific thing I like is the pyric creatures :D Because evil light that creates firey undead creature that over time burn more and change forms is cool too. Makes every GM's inner pyromaniac weep tears of joy. Especially when its the tentacle monsters burning.
But yeah, they should bring Esthayiv back in future too :D
ALSO: We need Pyric Corruption. Please make it happen devs :D You know it'd be perfect thing for starfinder original Corruptions
...Anyway, Cults article is great. The ones that I remembered most without reading article again were Forgiven for being smug and Scales of the Conqueror for the whole "Our LE faith isn't aggressive and LE ENOUGH" aspect :D Still yeah, I hope to see more of all of these cults in future.
Strange Gear article is great, and thanks for mad geniuses behind Flushbuster and Harmonic Reassembler specifically :p Replenigel Megavitamin is also hilarious(its gummy skittermanders made by abadarcorp that was originally meant as soldier food, but once wars with vesk ended they started selling surplus by shaping it into candy :p It has side effect of if you eat it too much, your skin smells like it and is waxy) I'd really love to discuss all items in article, but that would take too long also probably too much information.
Bestiary is great, kinda already gushed about it in spoilers :p But magmins, magma oozes and dimensional shamblers out of the old creatures are cool of course. Well hot for two of them I guess.
Oh and Codex of the World with Astevint the "lantern planet" aka planet with petrified glowing trees :D That is obviously cool
Pathfinder Adventure Path #143: Borne by the Sun's Grace (Tyrant's Grasp 5 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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First adventure in Arcadia!CorvusMask —
...Wait, how come on nobody has reviewed this yet? Arcadia is pretty popular on this forum.
...Anyway, so lots of things again to love :D Maps firstly. Still love the maps in the final 1e aps. And I do like how book's adventure takes high level magic in account. Miraina casts tongues if conversation is going nowhere and if PCs ask her where they are, she responds with country, planet and plane in case they are from somewhere else in multiverse :D
So the book starts with PCs looking around in new city while parade is going on and has fun moments were they can take break from apocalyptic undead events happening and let loose. Then when things get serious again, its followed up by location where if PCs are sneaky, they can talk every human being into peacefully leaving including the baddie of the place :D My inner pacifist is happy! Even in the final dungeon with mostly monstrous foes, there is one surprising case of evil being that can be reasoned with.
Sooo yeah, I love when adventures that allow for sneaking and diplomancying so of course I'm gonna rate this highly.
Besides this, Xopatl gazetteer is great. Its detailed enough that you could run your own campaign in Xopatl if you wanted to and I definitely want to see more adventures in Xopatl :3 And I like how geography is hidden on map by clouds because while I know its fog of war basically, I just find it funny imagine that no its just Xopatl is surrounded by really heavy fogs :p
So besides Xopatl being great, the article also includes two new cool gods, one who is Coatl :D Yay for snake gods!
Barzahk the Passage has article so thats nice. I like crows and psychopomps and while guardian of Dead Roads is god I can't really imagine making cleric for(as first choice at least, I could imagine making one eventually), having statblock for them and more detailed psychopomp usher article is nice :3 And its great to have psychopomp usher traits, especially when kyton demagogue that got statted didn't have kyton demagogue traits...
So yeah, bestiary has demigod in it so thats always great :D I'm only sad we didn't get all demigod types statted before end of 1e. Besides this, more cool coatls, more mortics and very cool new psychopomp in Calaca :3
Pathfinder Adventure Path #140: Eulogy for Roslar's Coffer (Tyrant's Grasp 2 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Mutant animals... Weird plant growth... Yup, its Resi- I mean survival horrorCorvusMask —
Continuing my further episodes of promoting stuff I like, let's start with maps and art. I love dem. I love how many small maps they managed to fit on page 6 and I love details and artstyle of all the maps :D And from character art, my favourite is ones by artist on 61 and 79 :3 Or artists in case I suck and they were by different artists. Anyway, I think its the artist that did lot of art in War for the Crown? Anyway, I love their art so please hire them in future too!
Sooo back to the topic of adventure. I like the whole "no resources, in ruined ghost town with mutants, overgrown plants and undead(yaoguai got great art in the book btw :3 All the art in it is great really as I said earlier), its the whole Fallout thing except at magical ground zero instead. And they managed to fit lots of roleplaying encounters with ghosts too in the mix!(such as the school one or meeting three town trouble makers)
I also like both Valthazar and Jando. First one for being pretty male villain, latter for being handsome ally/potential love interest :D Seriously, both of those have been rare in pathfinder aps for some reason. And double seriously, I like how quirky Valthazar is, he is so smug, the whole encounter with zombies of PCs is great.
Merchants of the road has redclover tribe, so that makes it great article :D Okay rest of the merchant groups are good too, but I like kobolds.
Arazni article is good, art is good too but bit weird in how blue Arazni is. Also surprised that mythic tier deities also have obediences. Anyway, interesting to have god who resents their worshipers. Oh and Red Queen is much better title than the old title was.
Though I'm wondering why it is Paladins of Lastwall who used that old title instead of Geb's citizens considering it makes LG knights seem like jerks again. Its kinda like how Queens of Night's old offensive titles was written to be used by mortals instead of devils.
Machinations of Whispering Way article is nice again :D I wonder if that Harcourt from Galt is related to Harcourt from Andoran who moved to Talmandor's Bounty. I don't have much to comment, but I like these "let's detail plot of this evil group in different locations" articles(War for the Crown had one for rakshasas and ruins of azlant had one for aboleths). It was interesting to learn that Whispering Way predates the Tyrant though :3
And bestiary has great creatures :D Speaking of which, please bring the new coatls back in 2e kay? Mortics too. I love Melacage for how it reminds me of legion from castlevania(and how horrifying it is along with bestiary opening picture)
Starfinder Adventure Path #18: Assault on the Crucible (Dawn of Flame 6 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Adventure is 3.5/5CorvusMask —
So uh, I'm starting to see a pattern with Starfinder AP's final books: They tend to be combat focused books less focused on exploration and more focused on taking on bad guy's stronghold. Yeah yeah I know, "How does that differ from each of Pathfinder AP's having final dungeon and final boss?" and difference is mostly in page count for adventure. Like Rise of the Runelord's final book isn't just the final dungeon, its also traveling to said city where final dungeon is and then navigating the city until you reach the dungeon. Meanwhile Starfinder AP's final books tends to be more of action scenes ramping up to the climax. Its mostly the page count as I said, there isn't much of space in Starfinder AP's for final book to contain much build up to the final dungeon.
That wasn't really much of criticism, it was observation. What IS criticism is that we never really learn much about General Khaim and Malikah that we didn't learn in book 1, General Khaim is loyal servant of Malikah that wants to impress her(I think his side project of trying to become demigod to be worthy of her is the new fact revealed?) while Malikah is ruler of vast empire on plane of fire and jealous of her half-brother.(and a CR 22 creature) Thats pretty much all we learn about them, Malikah is never really featured in adventure at all besides as some faraway distant figure one of higher rank soldiers has met and Khaim doesn't have any presence until final battle(and he doesn't even come with descriptive personality like Dead Sun's final boss did. Though I gotta give it to him, he has style, I mean besides him being badass as hell on the cover, he has two of his dead efreet enemies converted into cybernetic golem bodyguards :D)
It really makes both Khaim and Malikah feel less memorable to have them only being name dropped once a while. I mean even a propaganda speech or taunting over intercoms would have been nice.
Anyway, back from what adventure isn't to what it is: Its assault on skeleton crew of efreetis' base while main force are attacking Burning Archipelago. Aka, there is countdown that decreases when time passes(no long rest for pcs :D) that can be increased with PCs actions until efreeti have successfully conquered the sun. I like the stakes, even if PCs successfully defeat Khaim, if they took too long the sun is under control of Malikah(or good guys' side had horrific losses). There is also that the adventure details what each rank of soldiers knows so its nice for interrogation/detect thoughts parties to learn stuff :D
I also noticed that yeah Dawn of Flame is indeed having lots of inspiration from Legacy of Fire: Besides the whole thing with male efreet wanting to become demigod to impress female divine being from Plane of Fire, it has same thing with wishes. In case of Legacy of Fire it was efreeti gathering wishes to resurrect spawn of Rovagug, in this one its using them to empower a hag cauldron in order to tether the far portal(and hopefully become a demigod).
Speaking of Fivefold Cauldron, its never really mentioned at all in previous adventures. Like I'm not even speaking about it being name dropped, I mean, thematically it has nothing to do with rest of the AP. Its not really related to sun at all, its just witch cauldron powered by efreeti wishes. Even backstory wise, Khaim just somehow learned with City of Brass' intelligence gathering that void hag coven with cauldron powered by wishes could do the trick of tethering the far portal, and then went out of his way to capture three of them. Its... Kinda oddly specific. And its not really explained why specifically void hag coven with wish powered cauldron would do the trick. Is it because they have gravitation related abilities as a coven? Heck, its kinda left up to GM what the cauldron COULD do besides the listed abilities in adventure, so if PCs let the void hag coven go freely with the cauldron, its not really clear what bad things would happen if any besides the hag coven themselves doing bad things I guess.
Anyhoo, back to good stuff, there is lot of variables at Crucible of how players could proceed and what they could do. Heck, they might have accidentally lured a fey with them that acts as third party that attacks both sides :D I could see Crucible being very different for different parties. There is also nice varieties of different personalities there and surprising outcomes for PC perspective.
I think one of best parts of the books are both continue the campaign articles. Both of them feature evil divine being offering PC's chance to help them fight other evil beings :D Gotta say that I hope Eshtayiv related materials come back in future starfinder books. And I like Malikah being CR 22(though again, I feel sad that this ap ended at level 12 or didn't have more than six parts... This feels like AP that would have benefited from going to much higher levels)
Plane of Fire article is nice enough though it didn't teach us much about the good elemental lord of fire to my sadness, but bestiary section is standout once again :D My favourites being neotophet onkushus and rheonnaghans. Oh and we got a really cool new world in codex of the worlds.
But yeah, I give this adventure 3.5 since while I think its fine enough/good, I feel like it could have been much better.
Starfinder Adventure Path #13: Fire Starters (Dawn of Flame 1 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Rebel scum!CorvusMask —
So this is pretty good start to the AP. I had actually forgotten before rereading this that this book has nice mix of different solutions than just besides combat. I mean I knew there were some nice roleplaying moments and/or funny moments(Taeress' and Nib's bickering and "Honorary Officer Mims" for example), but it was pretty easy to forget that the combat parts did provide supports for other methods. Like, its definitely bit bummer that book doesn't give detailed info on getting Nibs out of station with roleplaying, but its enough that its mentioned how you can speak yourself inside there and that lieutenant in charge can be convinced to release her in first place, its just up to players figure out how.
Final part of the book also really note other scenarios than directly assaulting place, but considering its normal building with lots of windows, if players figure out to use sneak around and use a laser microphone to scout behind windows, they could locate the smug bastard behind the rebellion, attack him, take him out or capture him and then have a hostage to talk rest of insurrection into surrendering.(the fact book gives dc for convincing collective members to stand down after taking out their boss is nice :D Along with telling what happens to bosses if they are arrested)
So yeah, besides genuinely funny moments, there are also lots of good moments with unorganized terrorist/rebellion group doing a coup and civilian unrest following that. I think the initial foreshadowing for future books with Tash's message and ship in general is nice too.
Besides the adventure, Asanatown article(gotta love Chaz Bilgart) and Sarenrae article are fine :D Nothing super exciting, but they do good job of briefing on both. Bestiary is mostly old 1e monsters(with rifti protean being new) but its still nice to get genies back :D
Sooo yeah, I give this 5 stars because of how solid it is and for the funny moments sprinkled through the adventure. I think it does great balance with serious and funny moments and its definitely interesting to have Evil aligned foes who don't think they are evil :D
Starfinder Adventure Path #19: Fate of the Fifth (Attack of the Swarm! 1 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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I think I've seen this movie...CorvusMask —
On side note, I think I need to be more flexible on my rule of not reviewing adventures I haven't played or run :P Because I've realized that if I want devs to know when adventures have content I love, I can't really wait several years until i can finally run the adventure. Especially when it turns out nobody has reviewed any of the six parts of Dawn of Flame yet, so I guess I have to do that instead. So I amend my rule to "If I don't know how to feel about book after reading it, or if its pure combat without themes or story elements that interests me especially, I'll wait until I've played or run it before I review it".
...Ah wait, the review yes. So why I'm reviewing this war on bugs adventure that is mostly combat? Because its does fascinating things with PCs being members of military instead of random mercenaries or adventurers and it does some really good moments.
So first thing first: This book is really cliche (and possibly cheesy depending how PCs roleplay it.) scifi bug war movie plot wise. I mean, it uses lots of really common cliches and tropes from these sorts of stories. Major badass who knows you are probably going to lose the war who dies in opening moments of the story(character is introduced on page 7 and dies on page 10), but not before giving a PC their medal and going out singing and shooting at bugs?(I love the Major, but this is definitely cheesy :D I kinda wish they would have given him more time before he dies.) Selfish but not completely heartless thief making profit at refugee zone? Egotistic scientist who thinks they know everything better than everyone else and is trying to convince scared refugees to mutiny? Making extraction mission for character who apparently has vital information on enemy's weakness? Final ground battle being against large group of swarm while getting ship full of evacuates ready for launching(I like touch of the ship being intended for luxury travel and not a military ship, so I guess some evacuates has to go to cargohold because its not that huge ship :D I assume that creates problems at start of next book)
Yeah, this book is that kind of story :D There are also moments like gunship vehicle chase scene, so definitely cool action movie scenes included.
My favourite encounter is surprisingly simple combat encounter against group of escaped convicts. Mostly because I realized how chilling it is that they broke into household, murdered people there and stole their stuff. There is something much more scary about that kind of thing happening in warzone than random cannibal doing same in Pathfinder, probably because it feels like something that could happen in real life. While PCs could just shoot them down in combat, I could see some good roleplaying happening if they take them down non lethally whether take them into custody or not.
Besides that, the book contains first player's guide for Starfinder APs. And while its not as eloborate as Player's Guides tend to be, it does good job of briefing players on SDF, giving them equipment useful agaisnt swarm, and most importantly, how to tie in themes with the adventure. Like, sure, mercenary, battle medic and career trooper are easy to tie in adventure, wilderness warden and icon require bit more thought, but figuring out war journalist or terrain expert being useful in war isn't too hard, but figuring out how Xenoarchaeologist or Dream Prophet themes tie up with adventure? Yeah, I don't think you could do all themes without having to have read the adventure first yourself. So yeah, I think hope Paizo keeps doing these player's guides in future too :D
And then there is the swarm article :D I'll just say that it was good and nice read. Its probably what you'd expect from alien hivemind and not too many surprises, but it was still fascinating to read on swarm biology.
Bestiary is mostly 4 new kind of swarms, but it has 3 other creatures too which are nice :D I like the nanobot mimic very much.
So yeah, looking forward to rest of the AP, even if I still think silly this is also level 12 AP.(the big bad five headed swarm just sounds so cool that I kinda hoped it would be level 16+ at least or something :p) But yeah, giving this 4 stars instead of 5 because while the book doesn't have just pure combat and does have nice roleplaying moments, whether you like it or not depends on whether you hate movie cliches. Like either you love through playing a movie like story or you hoped it would be more original. So your mileage may vary. I personally lean on liking it :D Not really because of the cliches, but despite of them
I had trouble deciding between 4 or 5 stars...CorvusMask —
...But decided finally on 4 star. Not because of the 26 dollars for pdf vs 1e's setting book being 10 dollars, but because I'm not sure how useful this book is for newbie GMs in comparison to the original 1e setting book. More on that later since I will first go through stuff I liked.
So let's start with art: I think this is one of prettiest and most evocative Pathfinder books art wise. My only complaints is that Amiri's spine seems twisted in one pic and I recognize Lion Blade art being recycled character art from War for the Crown.
What this book is great for is for veteran Pathfinder GMs to learn new information about places not detailed(Isle of Kortos is most obvious example of this) as much before and learning 2e's default setting state for APs(and how some APs always affect world). Like learning how Worldwound's closing and Whispering Tyrant's return affected the world is really useful. Its also nice how Mwangi Expanse region is actually written from perspective of people native there.
I don't personally like all changes(nor do I really mind them), for example, I kinda hope Lord-Mayor Grobaras isn't actually dead :D He is such fun jerk to love to hate and humiliate. Maybe there was Lord-Mayor between him and current one? Also I'm bit confused by default state of Kevoth-Kul and "mysterious death of Technic League's captain". Like, it seems default canon party ignored Palace of Fallen Stars and sneaked to Technic League compound and assassinated Ozmyn? That is... Really hard thing to do and not really intuitive. Also, Zernebeth isn't mentioned at all :D Also find it weird that Gorilla King got killed during Serpent's Skull, but they didn't use continue the campaign article where he comes nascent demon lord.(its seems none of them are treated as canon outside of Lord of Runes pathfinder tales book referring to Shattered Star's one :P)
I also find it bit annoying that Hell's Vengeance article on war's effect on politics seems to be ignored in the book.
But yeah, my favourite articles to read were Golden Road, Impossible Lands and Mwangi Expanse :D Maybe its because I haven't read all 1e setting books, but something about these three articles especially resonated with me.
Now onto the thing I mentioned before: I'm not sure this book is as good for newbie GMs because this is more of macroscale politics book than small scale gazetteer book as original one 1e setting book was. Meaning that while you can spot names of settlements on map, newbie gm might still want to buy old 1e setting books to know more about cities and villages and towns and such. So while book is awesome, I don't think its as helpful to newbies as the "main" setting book. Still this is normal scale for lots of different setting books in different systems, so I guess lots of newbies might actually not feel like that.
But yeah, regardless, I love the book and feel hungry for more books and info :3
Pathfinder Adventure Path #146: Cult of Cinders (Age of Ashes 2 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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I don't normally review adventures before I had chance to run or play them...CorvusMask —
...But in this case I don't think that matters. Even if it turns out this adventure has mechanical problems that need fixing that you only notice during playing the thing, the content and design of it is something I absolutely love in adventures. In otherwords, multiple solutions to a problems and having mixture of activities along with combat :D
Besides book having nice amount of downtime(such as castle building) and exploration(hexploration :D) activities PCs can do while adventuring, the book itself doesn't start with combat, but with series of social encounters with Ekujae. I'm not gonna get into full detail, but I just have to say that I liked pretty much each event that is part of it and took liking to Nketiah(and other named Ekujae) just based on conversations with them :D Which is rare since I usually take liking when NPC is unusual(like Greta from Reign of Winter, Laori from Crimson Throne or Isuma from Iron Gods) or during the actual play from roleplaying with them.
So the part 1 which is the social interactions with Ekujae is followed by part 2 which is hex exploration aka another of my favourite things :D
Now I'm not gonna go into full detail on encounters(since that'd be spoilers), but while there are of course lots of combat as well, there is also lots of opportunities for sneaking or conversing/roleplaying with foes. There are three moments of those that really cemented this as my favourites. Buuut I'll think I'll write about those in GM reference thread in case someone reading the review is tempted to check spoiler tags :D (but yeah, for devs, my three favourite moments(after the Ekujae interactions) are related to Hezle, Belmazog and Kyrion)
And finally, I love how final 1e APs and 2e APs have more detailed maps. They aren't as detailed as Starfinder maps and I don't like Age of Ashes' style as much as I liked War for the Crown's, Return of the Runelord's and Tyrant's Grasp cartographer style, but it is still great style and good second place favourite among all Pathfinder APs :3
Wohoo for Starfinder's first CR 25 creature :DCorvusMask —
So the capstone for monster statblocks has been reached and we finally know what sort of creature players could fight on ground, but would
Not sure what capstones are really left. Dead Sun's part 6 had max Tier 20 starship statblock so both combat system's max strength level is now accounted for. I guess only thing missing is Tier 20 Starship Monster maybe?
Anyhoo, this book has tons of cool stuff :3 Most of the new races are bit wackier than in previous two books, but they are all charming as hell. This book also teaches tidbits like Vesk-2 having population of intelligent squids(one of the playable races), having exploding snails AND large bipedal badger like animals that vesk consider a status symbol to have as a mount or pet. I guess even vesk appreacite the honey badgers :D I also liked some of the mechanical gimmicks, like shakalta being always multiclassed and having to take classes in order.
Hard to pick a favourite from the new races since all of them are great. I guess from more serious ones, Shatori have great tragedy to them as immortal but sterile species who have been vassalized by azlanti star empire(and know they can't risk fighting back). Oh yeah, some of the new races are either conquered by azlanti star empire or vesk :D And two of them are from pact worlds. So it was great for expanding the known parts of setting again.
...Anyway back to topic, from more silly races I think my favourite might actually be telia(I find dromada to be funniest though just because they look bit like jar jar so lots of people cringe at the picture little :D). They aren't actually particularly funny, but they are straight up turtles. Anyway, they have great old people dignitity to them as 1000 year old living races of story tellers :D I love their optimistic philosophy on life
Now onto the non player races: I was positively surprised by this having lots of Drift native monsters :D I also love creatures with abstract shapes like Time Eater and Drift Architect. We don't have too many of those yet, only other one I can think of is the one with geometric shapes from Dawn of Flame part 6(that one was great :D The NG Gargantuan one! I should write their name down!) Spektra are pretty cool too and so were Driftdead (especially the amalgam) creepy.
Philosopher Worm(Lawful Good) is one of my favourite creatures in book because I love the trend of Hylax's servitor creatures looking stereotypically evil or scary bugs to human eyes :D Plus who doesn't like philosophers?
I love that Thorgothrels returned from Iron Gods bestiary :D Those things were pretty memorable encounter back in that AP when I run the optional side dungeon.
If I have to be negative about something, there being seven star metal dragons means we only got brief sentence about their personality so they don't have lots of identity yet. Especially since only one was pictured out of seven.
Its nice that trolls returned, but seems like they haven't started to use technology much :D I guess they got brought out of golarion by unethical companies for sapient creature experimenting with their regeneration so thats why they haven't culturally changed much.
I wonder if Tripods still come from Mars :D And I find it cool that they also work as vehicles. Tripods are in general cool.
On rest of the creatures I consider to be high lights of the book, but have to avoid the word limit, I'll just list there: Diaspora Wyrm, Gwahled, Oracle of Oras, Tzitzimitl, Valkyrie(specifically the vesk valkyrie art, more non human traditional outsiders are cool) and Vorthuul.
(I also found Kami, Wollipeds and Yithians returning cool and Equinoxian, Ferrofluid Ooze, Flayer Leech, Giant Space Tardigrade, Paraforans(<3), Neutronium Golemz, Quantum oozes, Stridermancers, new Swarm and Weaponized toys cool as well :'D But there isn't space to talk about ALL creatures in the review and there literally isn't creature in the book that I didn't like. Its kinda 3 tier system, 1 what I consider high lights of the book out of stuff I loved or found cool 2 is stuff I loved or found cool and 3 is rest of the stuff I liked, but were beaten by other two tiers.)
Okay, let's hope I have space for talking about pets before I run out of word count: EMPATHNIDs AND PROOGs ARE CUTESTS THINGS EVER. I love the friend spiders and pet oozes :D
On topic of "What next?", what I personally would like next is aboleths to make a return along with new creatures created/engineered/uplifted/enslaved/breeded/mutated/altered by them :D I would also like more fiends to come back, I'm still missing my qlippoths, rakshasas, asuras and daemons.
Any hypothetical new creatures I would like to see? Hmm... Well, I guess I'd like to see more new takes on old scifi cliches or weird combinations of creatures. Like, Starfinder has decent amount of alien parasites that take control of your body, so having friendly symbiont creature or even friendly parasite would be cool. Also more silicon or non carbon based lifeforms is always cool :D
...Wait this was only about 923 words? Geez, I could have spent more time on gushing about empathnids...(ALSO HAH, this time I saved the review in advance! So you won't win this time the review disappearing bug because I wrote it for too long time!) Edit: Crap, had to edit 5 stars back in because review disappearing bug meant also rating got reset'd :P
Had lot of fun running thisCorvusMask —
So hmm, what to say about the scenario... Well, it handles mental health issues much better than 1e scenarios, did that for sure. This scenario also provided lots of good serious and less serious roleplaying opportunities for the party :D Twist was also fun, though I guess it comes bit out of nowhere... Though it kinda has to do that.
On the twist...:
Plot is essentially about how mental health clinic's patients are being poached by shady illegal scam clinic, except it turns out scam was that scam was run by bodysnatchers. It was really big surprise for the party, in the fun and creepy way, especially the knowledge that the bodysnatchers are still out there...
Oh and I hope enough parties left Bargai alive, I think that npc has potential since deaf recurring npcs are really rare. Either way, Hurondo is definitely great npc, love his introduction scene when PCs finally meet him :D
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Curse of the Crimson Throne (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Frick it my review got deletedCorvusMask —
I wrote fricking long review about great time I had with running the whole campaign(and post campaign) and then it got deleted by the fricking "too much backtracking" page dagnabbit
I'm not gonna write the entire thing again, so here is in short: This campaign has great recurring NPC cast(most of later APs have problem with introducing cool NPCs and then rest of books never mentioning them again), great themes, great villains, Kazavon's awesome hair, allows multiple approaches to different situations(such as infiltrating with sneaking or talking through places instead of just fighting through them. Kinda reminds me of Deux Ex computer games in a way), awesome locations, awesome post campaign potential and is one of my favourite APs ever.
Starfinder Adventure Path #8: Escape from the Prison Moon (Against the Aeon Throne 2 of 3)Paizo Inc.
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So more 3 part aps pleaseCorvusMask —
So I was player in this ap :D This is only one out of three parts I own since I bought it for the azlanti star empire races, but I do definitely want to own rest of it and run it.
Sooo yeah, this was fun adventure, I do love how starfinder aps have detailed cool looking maps and I liked the whole "rescue your friend from space imperialists!" thing along with chance to free other prisoners. Though one running thing through this ap that I noticed is that Azlanti architecture kinda sucks, they have habit of putting their generators or security camera rooms in easy places for invaders to find accidentally. (its always one of the two, in this case it was security camera room being near the entrance, in 3rd one it was generator being near the entrance) Though putting out lights doesn't do much when all of them do have infared sensors in their armor..
Anyway, yeah, I had fun playing these and the shorter aps are nice change of pace. And I find all of new races cool too :D
Pathfinder Adventure Path #141: Last Watch (Tyrant's Grasp 3 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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I'm actually rating this for articles...CorvusMask —
Sooo thing with me is that I try to avoid rating adventures or modules until I have played or run them(or both), but in this case I felt real need to rate this just because I love articles in it.
Adventure itself seems fine and has great art(one thing I love about this ap is quality and details of maps), but I haven't played or run it so I don't know how it feels in practice. I do agree with one poster from forum threads about how certain LN character's motivations would make more sense if their family was priding themselves on how Tyrant is sealed for good rather than "We should have destroyed tyrant when we had chance!" since you'd think they would take PC's message as "Hah, I told you so" rather than "You are trying to steal my spotlight!"
So why I love the articles? First article details adventuring in the "Void"(which seems to be what in universe characters call negative energy plane :D I always thought negative energy plane was kind of mouthful) threats there and such. Thats cool because even with planar adventures I had no real idea on how characters might even go about on trying that. And article makes the Void seem as horrifying as it should be.
Second article turns Seal-Breaker archetype into its own organization seperate from Whispering Way and it does so in real cool manner :D I'm looking forward to seeing more from the organization in 2e
Third article(well the middle one iirc) is more relics, this time Shining Crusade themed. Bit pity it seems they don't appear in adventure themselves, but I love relics and it good to have more of them.
And finally, bestiary monsters are great :D I mean Clacking Skull Swarm? Who wouldn't love that! I want to see all of these in 2e as well
So this book is great bestiary and construct gm tool :DCorvusMask —
I really love Automatons. Hopefully they won't disappear after this book, I want to see those in 2e! Not just flavor wise, they are also mechanically pretty tough. I also really like all the customization options and templates for constructs. I'm not good with words, but I've gotten great use out of this book
So more books like this please :DCorvusMask —
So all of the locations in this book are great. Its great to have a city info for Heaven and Hell since it makes it easier to grasp what it is like to adventure there. I got great use out of Heaven's Shore and Dis in my Crimson Throne post campaign! Basrakal is also great thing to be detailed since its interesting and useful to learn what happens to some of the outsiders with unusual alignments.
Shadow Absalom is also a location that really needed to be detailed better and finally we have dem good details :D Maybe we get more Shadow Absalom content in PFS eventually.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the AncientsPaizo Inc.
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So hmm not sure how to feel about thisCorvusMask —
On other hand, I love Blood of books for giving more material for non core races, on other hand I love they are including more content related to ancient cultures...
It is also kinda sad how this book high lights that only humans seem to have lot of different cultures.
But yeah, I think I overally still like the book, plus it did include paladin codes for Osiris and Wadjet so that is great :D
Realized I forgot to review one of my favourite books...CorvusMask —
...Well, all books with new deities or more details on older ones are my favourite books really :p But this one is especially great since it features lot of deiteis outside the Inner Sea region.
There is some wonky art on this one (Chaldira's article for example, her art feels uncanny in same way as Charon's art from Book of the Damned does for me. Those gnolls have really weird faces as well, they look almost monkey like instead of hyena like). In case of Grandmother Spider I'm confused if they accidentally got the worshipper and deity picture wrong way around since if they are in correct order, there is cute spider worshipper of her and then she appears in human like form. I'd have thought the human with multiple arms was the worshipper and cute spider picture was her.
But yeah, Grandmother Spider and Hei Feng are my favourite articles in this book :D Though they are all great yeah.
So player companion book line went out with a bang...CorvusMask —
Seriously, tons of cool stuff in this, alternate(or new in case of wizard and cleric) capstones are cool, legacy items are cool, two new prestige classes, lots of class specific abilities(even ninjas :D), magic tricks and item set bonuses are cool too. And there aren't even archetypes in this, but still so much cool stuff on both mechanical and flavor wise!
Its kinda making me feel sad since it really kinda feels like ending for 1e considering amount of cool stuff put into this and how inside cover page tells of some of past PFS events :'D