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One of the best recent PF 3PP Spell Tome Products!Crai —
While I'd like to write-up a full-bodied review of 101 Spells for the Common Man ... this short one will have to do for now.
This is a 5-Star PDF, folks. As a huge fan of Pathfinder & 3.5 (Paizo, WotC & all reputable 3PPs) spellbook tomes, this is one of the most creative & mechanically-sound 3PP spellbooks I've seen over the years. Ranking right up there with Dave Paul's recent terrain-centric spellbook series over at Rite Publishing.
My players have been diving into this PDF with glee. We currently have a little over 20 of these spells that have already been cast (or written to character spellbooks) at our gaming tables over the last 2 weeks. As a DM, I love how info-packed yet streamlined/concise design of many of the spells. Clever, thoughtful titles, too. Props to Jeff Gomez for bringing all of these talented game designers together into a PDF that's easy to navigate and a lot of fun to read. For you demiurgic types, many of these spells can be subtly optimized for innovative application, too.
Gosh, I wish I had time to list my Top 10 Favorites. But I will definitely say that Pleasing Facade brought me a whiplash smile and totally stroked my inner gothic sensibilities. I've never seen anyone capture The Picture of Dorian Gray in an RPG game mechnanic as elegantly this spell. Bravo!
A necessary supplement for fans of Wererat PC's & NPC's!Crai —
This 19 page supplement for players and GMs who are interested in running-&-playing Wererat PCs and NPCs ... is pretty much the cream of the crop reference source for said gameplay ambitions. That includes Paizo as well as PF 3PP sources.
As with the other Bite Me! supplements in the Misfit Studios line, the balance between new crunch and evocative fluff is about ideal for a supplement of its size and price range. The Table of Contents in conjunction with the book's formatting, coloration, design layout and art made for an nice,easy read on the eyes and quickly-navigable referencing.
The initial few pages of the book give a helpful recap of the Pathfinder game mechanics of the Wererat race for PC referencing ... as well as a handy ARG point breakdown for the race. The new ART's & FCO's were numerous and ran the quality spectrum from 'Above Average' to 'Excellent'. Lots of Wererat theme characters can be accentuated with these 2 character options alone. Plus, they all made conceptual sense and none of them looked unbalanced.
Amongst the 3 Racial Archetypes, I found all 3 to be fairly well balanced. The Sewer Druid to be a bit super-specialized ... the Lightning Rager to moderately interesting in its DEX-emphasizing rage mechanic ... and the Bully Slayer to be just outright awesome with its clever thematic bonuses that lend itselfs well to Wererat social behavior.
The new Wererat equipment emphasizes sewer-environment combat - and are all quite cool. The new feats were all themed towards stealth, dexterity, senses and size diminution. I would've liked to have seen a slight uptick in power level for most of the feats, but I liked the overall thematic cohesiveness of the bunch. The Magic Items were probably my favorite component of the book! All 5 of them will find happy homes in my urban campaign that I GM. I agree with N. Jolly in his review though, that the 'Hiding' WSA needs a +X boost ... perhaps to around +3 IMHO.
The Wererat Magic section is terrific! I love the Gnaw Anything, Close Quarters, Swarm Growth and Crowd Stride spell. Which are strong thematically with Wererat casters ... and have rock solid spell balancing mechanics. I might tweak them a little to allow those of the Wererat race to gain a slight-to-small additional benefit from them over those of other-racial spellcasters.
The 2 fleshed-out, multiple-level-perspective NPCs were creatively-written ... and their stat-blocks look clean and accurate. I'm definitely going to nab that Druid for use in my campaign world.
All in all, this book will get serious table-play with my one Pathfinder group that is currently involved in a long-term urban campaign. Besides their proclivity to prosper in urban settings, Wererats are probably the most adaptable of all the lycanthropes in regards to living in all types of environmentally harsh areas. So don't think of this book as being purely urban-centric.
My final rating for this book is a rock-solid 4 stars. It presents a sizeable amount of game mechanic options for Wererats that aren't in Paizo products but are definitely needed ... and options that make a lot of sociocultural-thematic sense too. I would've considered a higher rating if there were a few more knock-my-sock-off creative options.
To note, I now own 8 PDFs in the Misfit Studios 'Bite Me!' line for Pathfinder. This book and one other were comped to me in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. The other 6 I purchased on my own. I was originally drawn to the Bite Me! line because I knew the illustrious Christina Stiles was heading the project. So far, all 8 of these books have impressed me and are now in heavy rotation in both my PF groups as either the primary ruleset for lycanthrope PC's/NPC's ... or in a hybridized system with core-Paizo rules. I also just now looked at the authors of this specific book (Hudson & Welham). And now it all makes sense. Lol. I'm a huge fan of Mike Welham Pathfinder goods ... and once again, he doesn't disappoint.
Into the Breach: The Forgotten Classes (PFRPG) PDFFlying Pincushion Games
Our Price: $5.99Add to Cart
A quality, creative expansion of options to the capabilities of the 5 DMG NPCs!Crai —
Being a GM who runs one of his Pathfinder groups in a campaign that emphasizes significant downtime/off-camera play and NPC interaction (due to it being in a heavily populated urban-forest environment), this book by Flying Pincushion Games has been found to be extremely useful. I've used the 5 core NPC classes quite heavily in the prior 2 years to help propel the campaign narratives as well as facilitating the PCs interaction with crucial monster, puzzle & social encounters. This "Forgotten Classes" book has been a huge boon to me in providing some very interesting options and variants for these lower-powered yet story-critical luminaries. And more importantly, I'm getting positive "shock factor" from my players over their unique class abilities that they bring into the game. That's important to me because most of my players are GMs as well - and are intimately familiar with the DMG's 5 NPC classes. So from a conceptual-fluff standpoint, this is terrific, creative stuff.
As far as game mechanics go, the majority of it is good-to-great. There's some minor typos and missing description text in the Archetypes ... but they're of the kind that do not require GM headscratching to figure out. It's easy to patch it up with intuitive fixes. Like 137ben stated in his earlier review, the power level of the archetypes are notably up, but not enough to significantly change the Power Tier of the original 5 classes. I especially love the entirety of the Aristocrat archetype offerings - they are truly shining gems of the book.
The new Mundane Items and Random Object lists are also helpful because of their thematic sociocultural-appropriateness for their associated classes and archetypes.
This is a terrific book by Flying Pincushion Games. As I'm a stickler for micro-analyzing the bang-for-the-buck costs of PF 3PP PDFs, I strongly approve of the 34 pages of actual content for $5.99. Especially considering the formatting, art, coloration & ease-of-navigation are also a strong compliment to the competent and compelling content.
I give this book 4.5 stars. Rounded down to 4 because of the minor quirks and the lack of a powerhouse showcase concept/mechanic. Still, I really like this book and it will get notable and consistent use for the NPC contingents in my GMing endeavours. And I hope Flying Pincushion considers additional expansions to this unique class niche.
Disclosure: I was comped a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I'll qualify that statement by saying the reason I asked to participate in Flying Pincushion's offer is due to the fact that of their 7 books I own, I tend to view the majority of their offerings as ranging from above-average to spectacular in quality. Plus, based on the chronological order of their published works, I feel the company is growing significantly better at publishing both fluff and crunch material in their Pathfinder gaming supplements.
Four Horsemen Present: Character Options—Gods in the Void (PFRPG) PDFRogue Genius Games
Our Price: $3.95Add to Cart
A tremendously fun & thematically-rich Slice of Lovecraftiana!Crai —
9 of the 12 pages of this PDF are loaded with some truly inspiring Lovecraft-themed mechanics for players and DMs. A handful of options for each of the following play mechanics are presented:
1. Gods of Space
A prevailing theme of alien worlds, madness-inducing cult worship and conspiratorial awe-of-the-Void thoroughly saturates every single entry in this book . The balance of mechanical crunch to storytelling fluff is about ideal. The Archetype section is probably the largest in size. And as a result, is probably the most evocatively immersive. Although my favorites were the character traits and magic spells. The Naive Cultist trait, especially ... as it grants a +1 CL to cast Phantasm & Compulsion subschool spells for the price of a 1 damage to your Wisdom. The Space Madness spell has a very creative solution/explanation to working-around certain mind-affecting spell immunities.
All in all, I found this PDF did a great job at doing what one of its page-count and size should do ... it kept my eyeballs glued to its entire content and it spurred a flurry of excited collaboration ideas amongst my players and I (2 of my players read this PDF, too). I'm a big fan of Steven Helt's prior work - and this one was even a tick above his other 4 Horseman products that he's been involved in. Props to Stephen Rowe who developed it and to Jacob Blackmon for his Lovecraftastic art.
I'm giving this one 4.5 stars - rounded up to 5. I'll be praying to Azathoth that more 4 Horseman goodies of this theme will be coming down the pipeline.
Note: I bought this PDF as well as some other 4 Horseman PDFs. While I loved those others as well, this one really spoke to me the most in its enriched quality.
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Wheel of the Year (PFRPG) PDFFlaming Crab Games
Our Price: $2.99Add to Cart
Awesome Seasonal Holidays ... for any PF Campaign Setting!Crai —
Being a GM for 2 different Pathfinder groups in 2 different campaign settings (Golarion and the Forgotten Realms), I have access to both worlds' proprietary seasonal event calendars. That all said, to achieve truly evocative immersion into each of these settings, I do like to provide my players with opportunities to fully engage with these worlds' unique climatic, seasonal & cultural characteristics. So upon reading the details of the this book's focused campaign enhancements, I was thrilled to get my hands on it! And after a few deep reads of Wheel of the Year, I was *not* disappointed. Not only did I intend on integrating at least 80%+ of WotY in both my current groups ... but reading it also sparked inspiration to further flesh-out the other unique holidays in my campaign worlds to better utilize the accurately-representative crunch mechanic templates.
The Fluff-to-Crunch ratio of the book is weighted heavy to the Fluff side (and beautifully written, I might add). With just enough crunch to allow a GM to rapidly integrate the concepts into a game with minimal effort. The crunch components (ritual/spells and mystic resonance effects) are all well-balanced and thematically-intriguing to potential PC spellcasters. Back to the Fluff stuff .... the book achieved a distinct effect that I rarely encounter in products of this genre. That being, it helped conjure creative gamemastering concepts that I could introduce into my other seasonal events/occurrences in both my game worlds. Yes folks, this is truly an inspirational book for world-building GMs. Simple enough to read quickly ... yet detailed enough to help enlighten and motivate a GM to enhance his PCs sociocultural interaction with NPCs.
My only complaint is that this didn't get published before October 31 of this year. Because it really would've made my worlds' harvest festivals a helluva lot more interesting for my players. Otherwise, the design layout, font types, embedded art and additional flavor components (like the intro letter) are all eyeball-friendly and easy to navigate.
In summation, this is a 5.5 Star release from Flaming Crab. And it's in my Top 5 3PP releases for Pathfinder this year. I'll be using it a lot as seasons change in Golarion and Faerun .... helping my PCs to better experience the weather changes and to better see/smell/feel the dynamic cycles of the local flora, fauna and people demographic.
P.S. Props to Flaming Crab Games for awarding this complimentary PDF to me via Mike Welham's 2015 Santa Giveaway Thread. Flaming Crab didn't ask for a review from me in turn - but I wanted to give them one anyway due to their very generous & philanthropic community contribution. My review is honest and not tainted with any preferential bias.
GMs and Players will really dig these items and abilities!Crai —
Disclosure: This review is truthful and non-biased. Even though I received a comp copy of the PDF.
This tome of custom magic arms/armor/shields and related special properties comprises approximately 13 pages of crunch and 60+ individual entries. For the asking price of $4.99 ... and the quality level of the goods presented ... I consider this to a fair price valuation for what you get in return.
My 2 Pathfinder groups were able to do discuss, analyze and playtest (minor, nothing comprehensive) the contents of this PDF in approximately 4 gaming sessions over 2 weeks. Our final aggregate verdict was a rating of around 4.25 stars, rounded down to 4 stars. For those interested, one of the best aspects of this PDF was the font formatting, layout and coloration. It was a real treat for the eyes to see how all these magic items and properties were displayed and separated. Even without the supplied bookmarks, it was an extremely easy PDF to navigate. The content per page ratio is perfect. Not too jam-packed, yet not loaded with any dead space.
The 60+ entries were authored by a wide variety of new and established PF 3PP crunch writers. Sometimes such a project can result in an all-over-the-place game balance mess - but not in this Dragon's Hoard. The editors did a terrific job at making sure the crunch numbers and design parameters were in-synch and balanced. Some math checks by my players on reverse-engineering item costs showed to be a fairly impressive bell curve of game balance ... with very few overpowered or underpowered entries (and the ones that were didn't warrant any notable hue-&-cries).
We considered these items & properties to be strong in creative design and successful in filling niches not filled by existing Paizo books. Our biggest complaint was perhaps a skew towards more higher-level, expensive items. Since most Pathfinder games (in our experiences) top out around 12th level, many of these expensive (yet awesome) items are unlikely to see any table play.
I've allowed and integrated approximately 38 of the 60+ items and properties into my current campaign. That's a high percentage for a 3PP treasure book - and evidence of this PDF's inherent overall quality. Of particular popularity to our group were the actual arms/armor/shield special abilities. More so than the specific custom items. In fact, I was hoping for more special abilities and less custom items. But that's a minor nitpick. We also didn't have any issues with the low amount or lack of fluff descriptions for the custom items. We found the sentence or two of flavor writing that each item got was spot-on and sufficient ... especially since we tend to customize that stuff ourselves to fit the proprietary flavor of our own unique campaign parameters.
The artwork of each custom magic item was notable. While not huge or in color, it pulled the descriptive text of the item together quite nicely. In summation, I realize I may be writing-up a rather dry and technical overview of the book. But let it be known, I found the entries (especially the more easily-accessible cheaper items) to be inspiring and easily-integratable into pre-existing campaigns. While most treasure books I have list a ton of items that will never, ever get used, I can see a good majority of these getting some solid table play and player-generated "gimme that!" talk. I'm definitely looking forward to the next 2 PDFs in this series - that being Rings/Rods/Staves and Wondrous Items.
Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (PFRPG) PDFDire Rugrat Publishing
Our Price: $2.25Add to Cart
On your next tavern crawl or bar hop - head to Tuffy's!Crai —
As a preface, 1 of my 2 Pathfinder groups has a preferential "thing" for adventuring & roleplaying in tavern, pub & inn backdrops. As a result, we've played in a lot of these environments - both in homebrew and purchased thematic modules. As 1 of the 2 GM's of this group, we've both converted a lot of 2E and 3.5 tavern/pub/inn adventures into Pathfinder versions. And we also use lots and lots of 3PP goodies to boot. So we all have a lot of experience in evaluating the merits of a given tavern/pub/inn adventure.
As for our final review of Tuffy's Good Time Palace ... we really enjoyed our gaming experience with this tavern! To break from tradition, I'm going to give my rating for it up top of this review - and explain why at the bottom. Our final rating (that was unanimously agreed upon by the entire group) is 4 Stars! **** From a price context perspective, I thought the 17 or so pages of actual gaming content is a good value for the price of the PDF. Especially considering the decent quality of the writing - both flavor prose and crunch mechanics.
The product is written in a setting-neutral environment. So it was very easy for me to port it over into my Forgotten Realms campaign setting (using PF rules). In fact, the tavern's setup and content descriptions don't really go outside the walls the walls (with the possible minor exception of mentioning Alistair's "home"). Which was a big plus for me in regards to plug-&-play. The PDF formatting & design content is well done and printer-friendly (except for the cover & end page). The 20 or so stat-blocks are easy to read and accurate (I randomly checked 7 of them). All in all, it's a well "put together" gaming supplement. Although I realize that's a subjective evaluation that will vary from eyeball to eyeball.
As for the flavor and vibe of the tavern ... this is really where it shined. The interconnectivity of the tavern's owner (Tuffy), her various employees (dancers & bouncer), the sizable street gang contingent (the Crimson Cloaks) and the powerfully manipulative "healer/herbalist" (the most detailed NPC in the PDF) are clearly networked and defined. Although I would've loved to have seen even more detail on how each NPC felt about each of the others. Besides those 4 primary entities listed above, there's also an all-woman merc group provided - the Stunning Blades. The write-ups and stat blocks are all awesome - I especially love how diverse they are and everybody has a different primary class. Unfortunately, there's very little describing how they interact with the 4 other primary entities of this tavern. That's the biggest reason why I had to knock 1 star off the final rating of Tuffy's.
My player's and I got to run a full 5 hour gaming session using just this PDF ... with considerable interaction of all the main NPCs. The fact that my player's didn't get bored or move onto other non-related encounters indicated that we certainly got great return for investing time in this product. We had a lot of fun! Especially with Tuffy herself and the healer/herbalist (who I knocked down in levels a bit - his initially-assigned level assignment was a bit high in the event he had to enter combat).
Props to Dire Rugrat for writing some creative characters with intriguing and easily-playable personalities (for the GM, that is). The setting description for Tuffy's environment and menu fare were quite evocative. Player's love hearing that kind of stuff to help them differentiate one tavern from the next (seeing as how most PCs get bored of them pretty quick). I would suggest that Dire Rugrat add custom menus as handouts for the players. Besides the typical fare, add some provincial and local-yokel food & drink oddities with fun, colloquial names assigned to them.
In summation, Tuffy's Good Time Palace is now permanently ensconced in Dagger Falls, Daggerdale ... within my homebrew Forgotten Realms campaign. My players have made some interesting contacts - and enemies - in a venue that will continue to feature prominently in their future adventuring endeavours. I'll also put Dire Rugrat's future publications on my potential purchasing radar as I'm a big fan of quality 3PPs.
(Please note: I received a copy of this PDF from Dire Rugrat in return for an honest written review)
More fun than min/maxed combat, puzzles and politicking!Crai —
Due to the unique demographic make-up of my 2nd PF tabletop group, I decided it was an ideal time and moment in my Forgotten Realms campaign to run a Masquerade Ball. You see, in this group of mine, I have 3 folks who (in real life) have actually participated *professionally* in vintage masquerade balls of this sort. One is a caterer to high-end formal events (we're all in NYC). One has a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons. And the other once provided planning & logistics for two masquerade balls while in the S.C.A. So I certainly had my work cut out for me if I was going to impress my players by running an entertainment event they clearly knew more about than I!
All this came to fruition about 2 weeks after Creighton posted this GM Resource on his Patreon Project. So all in all ... excellent timing!
That all said, my intention of running a "1/2 session" side-event masquerade ball turned into a "3 session" major campaign arc due to the overly-enthusiastic response of my players not wanting this event to end! Props to Kat Evans for giving me a DM resource tool that was truly inspirational and truly transcendent. After a high number of sessions of grueling combat, byzantine puzzles and stressful court intrigue ... our group's masquerade ball gave us all an opportunity to have both uproarious thespianic fun and some insouciant, zany socializing.
In both casual namedropping and in detailed drill-down, I literally used a vast multitude of Kat's very descriptive masks, costumes, hooks, complications, opportunities and 'Folks of Interest'. All listed in an easily-navigable and eye-scan friendly table format that is typical of the Raging Swan style that I'm so fond of. The 'Folks of Interest' section is my favorite in this resource. Especially the exotic Half-Orc contingent. Lol.
In summation, I'm giving this DM Resource a *5* Star Rating. I honestly haven't had such a unique and entertaining tabletop event as this Masquerade Ball ... in at least a decade. I'm thankful for play-aids like this that help take me outside of my DM'ing Comfort Zone and help enable me to experience more alternative ways of thrilling & challenging both my players and myself. Thanks again to Kat and Creighton!
A Visionary, Ambitious & Fun Adventure!Crai —
As I promised in the Product Discussion section ... here is my official review of Dance Macabre. I'll start off by saying that my Pathfinder group (the 5 PCs that I took through this adventure) collectively and unanimously gave this module a rating of 5 Stars. As the GM, I concurred - and also granted it a 5 Star rating. To put it succinctly, we had a whoooooole lotta cerebral fun in the 4 gaming sessions we took to complete all the objectives. So much fun in fact, that my players demanded to stay in the outré & peculiar town of Twisted Bridge at the end ... and to use the town as the base HQ for their next adventure. As a GM, I have nothing but glowing commentary for the way this adventure was written, designed, formatted and structured. For any budding PF-3PP adventure authors out there, please note the inventive template that Richard Develyn used to make Dance Macabre. The entirety of the GM info-points were extremely easy to access - it was like being in a well-designed cockpit. When stat-blocks, maps, PC handouts and clue flowcharts are so ingeniously placed in a PDF like this, it can't help but make the GMs job 10 times easier. Which allows for GMs to manage time and resources 10 times better ... and to feel more attuned to enhancing the roleplay experience of this adventures bizarre and intriguing set of NPCs.
The Balance Level of Dance Macabre was just about ideal. I usually judge a module's game mechanic balance on how much I have to tweak adversary builds and CR levels to accommodate the optimized battle prowess of my PCs. Which in my case, very little tweaking was needed. Another aspect of solid design balance was the plethora of RPG challenges. My players vocally noted that they needed a very wide-array of skills, gear and class features to feel fully engaged in the module due to the even distribution of social interactions, puzzles/mysteries and fights.
In essence, Dance Macabre is a wonderfully weird combination of Gothic Exotica and Terry Gilliam-style Magic Realism.
Of the last 14 short modules our PF group has gone through in the past years, we rated this one anywhere from #4 all the way up to #2 in our list of favorites. That's heady praise from my group - as they are quite critical of adventures of this archetype. Panataxia and Horn of Geryon (2 more adventures in the 4 Dollar Dungeon stable) were also picked up ... and a quick read of them also shows similar synergetic attunement to my GMing style. I really can't wait to run these 2 adventures!
Finally, a quick shout-out and kudos to Endzeitgeist for spotlighting this outstanding new PF publisher.
Bite Me! makes playing Lycanthropes fun & immersive!Crai —
My one gaming group has always had an uncomfortable issue with the way lycanthropes have been portrayed (both fluff & crunch-wise) in 3.5 and PF. The dissatisfaction with PF's Blood of the Moon Player Companion further cemented that dislike. So my suggestion to try and playtest the Bite Me! series was met with some trepidation. I was able to gently persuade two of my players (both of whom are excellent judges of balanced game mechanics) to try lycanthrope PCs. One player chose an Afflicted Wereviper, the other chose to play a Natural Weregorilla. I also introduced a "runt of the litter" Werecrow Wizard into the campaign as an NPC.
Using just the Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes PDF for the majority of our lycanthrope gameplay needs (Core Rules were still used for baseline needs), we've had a lot of fun reintroducing ourselves to lycanthrope-immersion in PF. There's a tremendous amount of both PC and GM advice (especially in the PDF preface) on getting lycanthropes properly integrated and played in a given campaign setting. This was useful to help scrub my players negative predispositions and start fresh. For me as a GM, it's an extremely valuable resource due to its detailed depth, meta-psychology and pragmatically helpful tone (I'm not fond of harsh preachiness in advice pieces).
It's interesting to see how much my 2 were-PCs use this PDF as a frequent go-to reference for advice on RP and campaign integration (especially since both players have around 18 years combined RPG experience). That's a sign of a useful game supplement. It's refreshing to see some of player's actually enjoy "properly" playing traditional were-creatures.
As for the crunch part of the PDF, it's mechanically solid and thoroughly covers the primary bases of playing either an Afflicted or Natural were-creature. We found that just about any kind of feat, archetype. magic item or gear piece that a were-PC would want - is in this book. I would love to see an expansion of the spells ... and even more options for non-martial lycanthropes (i.e. primary spellcasters), personally - but perhaps the other Bite Me! supplements will cover that territory.
While writing this review, I found myself pretty-much echoing Endzeitgeist's remarks *way* too often. Lol. Albeit in a less-refined fashion. So I do reference you to his more comprehensive review for the drilldown on the book's minutaie ... as I'm pretty much in lockstep with 95% of what he wrote about this terrific book. Finally, since this review is really an amalgam of 3 people's opinions (mine and my 2 were-PCs), please note that our final rating of 4.5 stars is allocated thusly .... GM (Me) = 4.5, Afflicted Wereviper = 4.0, Natural Weregorilla = 5.0.
In closing, we're happy to include Bite Me! Playing Lycanthropes into our PF Campaign's allowable library of quality 3PP supplements. And that's saying something. I highly recommend it and I look forward to checking out the rest of the Bite Me! line as well (I bought the WereMantis book - but haven't playtested it enough yet to comment on it).
A refreshingly alternate Magic Shoppe venue for your players ...Crai —
The Fragrant Tower is the title of the first edition of a new gaming supplement series, Places of Power, being offered by Raging Swan Press.
And it's a *winner*.
This 11 page PDF (approx. 7 pages of actual content) details an extremely intriguing wizard's tower that is easy to place within any campaign setting. The intriguing part comes not from its rather subtle appearance, but from its outré & peculiar occupants. All 4 of which have an unusual interweave of why they are living in the tower ... and what they are trying to accomplish.
The beauty for me, in this delightful setting, is an opportunity to provide a very cool and alluring "Ye Olde Magic Shoppe" for my PCs to visit in their headquartered village of their current campaign. Not only does this supplement provide this shoppe with an array of unique magic items for sale (you'll chuckle when you finally draw a line between the theme of these items and the "current state" of the Tower's wizard), but also how you can integrate the Tower as the party's primary go-to for the purchase, trade-in and analysis of magic items.
Typically, Ye Olde Magic Shoppes are kinda flat in their visiting value for PCs. The Fragrant Tower offers both a venue to "get magic business done" and a venue for some fun, investigative adventuring! The story behind the whole tableau is delightful and quirky. Already 2 of my players want to investigate this weird little tower and the nervous, secretive weirdos inside of it. In our next session, we will do just that.
As with all my Raging Swan PDF purchases, this one follows suit in its impeccable and easily-navigable design layout and section structuring. The Tower's map layouts are intuitive and architecturally sound. There's no waste on each page of this PDF - the whole thing is chock full of succintly useful information. I *love* the use of Raging Swan's tables to offer variety, options and quick ease-of-eye-access to info you really need. No other 3PP or Paizo does it this way - and I wish they would.
The page dedicated to the fluff-&-crunch-&-art of Tasil is a delightful read! His stat-block is accurate and his build is sensibly structured. I liked his write-up so much that I'm going to keep him as an ongoing NPC in my campaign. Regardless of what happens to him ... or how he might transform. ;-)
A colossal tome of epic urban, Lovecraftian, & nautical adventure!Crai —
Having happily played in bits & pieces of Freeport modules back in the 3.5 days, I was glad to finally purchase this gargantuan PDF in order to have a detailed, comprehensive scope of Freeport in its full Pathfinder glory. And in that regard, this Green Ronin publishing endeavour delivers ... HARDCORE. As it stands, there are a number of Green Ronin Freeport products for sale at Paizo and places like RPGNow that are edition-neutral, 3.X-only or PF-rules. This book supercedes all of them, I believe. And gives a good starting-point core rulebook for new Pathfinder Freeport supplements (like the excellent Dark Deeds in Freeport).
This 544 page rulebook has absolutely jawdropping eye-candy in regards to fonts, coloration, layout & art. I love books like this that with pure aesthetics alone, gives a GM electric inspiration right off the bat. Coupled with the flavorful fluff and storytelling, I'm fairly hard-pressed to find a sourcebook that has immersed me this fast and this deep upon first read.
I love how every single district and "location of interest" in Freeport has delightfully wonderful drill-down minutiae. Because this is a city not meant to briefly carouse through for your characters ... it's meant as a destination city where PCs can't wait to get out of bed and see who's behind each door and lurking deep in the bowels of the sewers.
Besides all the tasty fluff, there's about 130 pages dedicated to Freeport's proprietary crunch. New races, tweaked races, new classes, new feats/traits/skill-uses and a very cool Insanity/Madness system all populate this section. And they all do a great job at melding the playing atmosphere into one where Lovecraft, piracy, urban intrigue and port culture are all thematically interweaved into one extremely riveting campaign setting where you can simultaneously smell salt and blood wafting through air.
I'm a big fan of new spells and magical items in my 3PP PDF products. And this 32 page section also gets 5 stars from me - especially for the creativity and theme-appropriateness. The stat blocks and game balance components of all the spells and goodies look well-crafted and error-free.
As for the Ironjack Legacy adventure in the tail end of the book, I'll have to figure out a way to shoe-horn this into my current Forgotten Realms campaign. But it looks easy enough and I love how it emphasizes the PCs having to tour Freeport to get a good overall strategic assessment of the city's cartography. Very nice.
As with all 500+ page books, I'm gonna need a few more sit-down sessions in order to get full absorption of all the little things I missed in the first few reads (and there's a metric ton of minutiae in this book). It's one of the few RPG sourcebooks I feel comfortable with just reading as a leisure/entertainment book outside of its campaign setting utility.
Excellent resource to populate an Orog Tribe ...Crai —
Having to quickly write-up an Orog battle tribe for my upcoming PF Forgotten Realms campaign session, I recalled that Raging Swan had a crunch resource available that specifically addressed this. And I'm certainly glad I purchased this PDF! (Note: It was via RPGNow).
This is my first purchase of their 100% Crunch line - and it won't be my last as I'm also looking at their Orcs PDF to supplement the Orcs of the Eternal Zenith tribe I'm using from Raging Swan's Tribes Anthology III. The intent is to build a very outré & lushly complex Orc/Orog mercenary village that greatly contrasts from your typical Orc settlement.
Author Julian Neale certainly delivered. There's a ton of variety, class types and tribal roles amongst these 27 stat blocks. I was very impressed with how you could visualize each of these unique builds fitting appropriately within a dangerously organized Orog battle tribe. The author could definitely see the forest for the trees in how he assembled this stat block collection. You have bestial Orogs, cultured Orogs, Were-Orogs, cavalry Orogs ... and an overall excellent use of templates for differentiation and role-specialization. My favorite is the Direboar-mounted Dragon Cavalier.
The best part about this PDF was that it successfully accomplished what all Raging Swan products are notorious for ... quick, effective setup & implementation of a specialized campaign component with no headaches and a satisfied sigh of GM relief. :-)
Plus, I found the brief stat-block flavor text to be descriptive enough to help inspire some other ideas for additional custom Orogs that I'll create down the road. For now though, my players have a very cool & flavorful Orog & Orc merc village to interact with (that's right, they aren't going to fight them - yet). Props to Raging Swan, Julian Neale and Creighton Broadhurst for the quality assist!