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Good premise ruined by poor design decisionsCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
The scenario presents an intriguing mystery in a series of encounters involving the protection of a wagon. While some of the encounters are creative, the interesting premise is marred by:
1) Lack of variety of encounters. The entire scenario is just a linear sequence of combats that gets tiring very quickly.
2) The mystery neither develops nor provides ways for PCs to interact with it. Even characters with special abilities relevant to the mystery and the encounters will find their expertise completely useless as the scenario does nothing to let such characters use their background and skills to solve the mystery.
3) The plot is nonexistent with the "answer" coming out of nowhere because of points #1 and #2 above.
4) The final encounter is a boring, unfair slog. One of the worst I've seen in society.
On the first round of combat, the big bad uses chain lightning to blow up the wagon (despite the spell not being able to target objects) in order to create an 8th level weather spell effect that absolutely cripples mobility and outright disables ranged attacks. Meanwhile, the bad guy is free to cast spells on you that aren't hindered by this while he sits far away on the other side of the map. There's no way to stop the enemy from doing this, and there's no way to resolve the encounter other than killing the bad guy.
It's an unfun situation that shuts down every type of character. The weather completely stops ranged fighters from attacking. Melee fighters can do nothing but hope they succeed at enough Acrobatics checks to move 1 square per action. The encounter provides no way for skill characters to help the situation with skill checks. Almost all spellcasters and alchemists would be out of spells and resources by this point because the scenario has many encounters with flying enemies and swarms and has punishing consequences if you sleep to regain resources. Player choice is meaningless.
My group took two hours to complete this encounter because we wasted 5-6 rounds doing nothing but moving 1 or 2 squares.
A huge disappointment.
Insufferably boring and unfairCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
This would be a middling adventure if not for the fact you're shoehorned into playing poorly designed pregens against threats that directly counter your character's main contribution to fight. Most of the encounters have enemies that leave half the party useless. This results in encounters that take forever to resolve. I literally fell asleep at the table because it took 10 minutes for my turn to come up only for me to just Step into flanking and end my turn since my character had no chance to hurt any enemies. The plot is also fairly uninteresting and disjointed.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–13: Captive in Crystal (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Great adventure from Monica Marlowe.Cyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
An interesting adventure with decent lore and combat encounters involving situations and creatures with unusual tactics. My only complaint is that it's very easy for players to miss important details.
Look forward to see more from RPG Superstar Monica Marlowe!
Solid adventure with a variety of encounters.Cyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Debt to the Quah has an interesting premise where your fellow Pathfinder has done the stereotypical Pathfinder action of raiding a tomb that the local tribes considered sacred. It's a fun deconstruction of the society that every character will probably have a different reaction to. The scenario is split into two parts. The first section requires the PCs to convince a council of Shoanti to let them fix the rogue Pathfinder's mistakes. This uses an abridged version of the influence rules from Ultimate Intrigue (thankfully provided at the end of the scenario). If you played/ran Solistice Scar, then you know what to expect here. The second part of the scenario involves a dungeoncrawl where the PCs have to restore (instead of plunder) a tomb.
The scenario's greatest strength lies with variety and quality of encounters. There are social encounters. There are puzzles. There are traps. There is combat with unique monsters possessing rather interesting special abilities. The players particularly enjoyed the last fight despite it becoming a slog for a 4-man party. The scenario also has the best designed haunts I've ever seen in a module. Other authors should take note from this scenario on how to write fun and interesting haunts, instead of haunts that are merely hazards that cannot be interacted with unless you're a cleric or a psychic class.
Unfortunately, the scenario is not without its flaws. I encountered the following issues when running this scenario.
1) The four-player adjustment for influencing the council feels incredibly insufficient. A four-player party will only have 20 turns to influence the council. Mainwhile, a five-player party will have the benefit of greater variety of skills while a six-player party will get a total of 24 turns. When I ran this, the party would have lost if not for a lucky string of rolls in the final round.
2) There's a serious typo with the haunt in area A10. The text says that the haunt manifests in the room. However, the haunt's stat block says in multiple places that the effects occur in A8. It seemed weird to me for a haunt in its statblock to specify which room it appeared, so I wasn't entirely sure if it was typo or that the haunt is supposed to manifest in a different room. After rereading the text 5 times while my players patiently waited, I decided to just skip the encounter and say the haunt manifested uselessly in another room.
3) It feels really weird from a story perspective that the party has to destroy the tomb's guardian. The party spends the whole scenario fixing things only to have to break something at the scenario's climax. And if they don't kill the guardian, it counts against their success conditions. It's especially odd given that the party has to clean up a mess caused by the rogue Pathfinder breaking the guardian. Now they have to mess up the room again? I would have expected maybe the party defeating the golem and then restoring it, but by this point in the scenario, most parties will have run out of charges in the scavenger's stone.
Otherwise, this is a pretty solid adventure. I actually hope to see more adventures about this rogue Pathfinder.
A must have for any GM and most players.Cyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
One of the genius things about Starfinder is that it offers systems that make it easy and fun for Game Masters to create customized creatures. Alien Archive gave us the graft system similar (but infinitely simpler) to Pathfinder's template system that allowed the GM to create unique creatures by attaching simple flavorful bundles of abilities to generic stat blocks. Alien Archive 2 continues this by giving us much needed ways to create any animal creature we need using the Herd Animal and Predator Animal creatures and the environment grafts.
Alien Archive 2 also gives many awesome creatures to build stories around, including a Motherbrain-like ooze that controls starships, powerful guardian fey born from a dying planet, the adorable squox (with a feat to have one as a companion) and old favorites such as metallic dragons and Colors out of Space. We also got races, including aasimar and tieflings (now combined into a single race with different statistics). While we don't have catfolk, we do get new races, including bear people, cat people, and a really neat race of space wolf people that can give Resolve Points to allies. I did wish we got kitsune, especially when this book also (finally) introduces polymorph rules.
Speaking of polymorph rules, they were the reason I picked up the volume as shapeshifting is one of my favorite tropes in fantasy and science fiction. The volume did not disappoint. At a glance, the polymorph rules seem complicated, but they're quite easy to understand and remember. The rules are well thought out and give both GMs and players a sense of customization and agency that Pathfinder, 5th Edition D&D, and even the current iteration of Pathfinder Playtest failed to capture. While some may get turned off by the rules, I really appreciate the amount of work that went into them. Especially polymorphing could have easily been glossed over.
Polymorphing gives you a set of rules to create a form, allowing you to select a creature type and abilities. When you learn the polymorph spell (level 1-6 for both mystics and technomancers), you create four forms with limitations based on the spell level. When casting, you select one of the forms to transform your target into.
Baleful polymorph (also a 1-6 spell) works completely different from Pathfinder and instead gives the target cosmetic features, a penalty to many statistics, and possibly changes their size. If cast as a level 2 spell or higher, the penalty gets worse unless they succeed at an additional saving throw each round as the transformation progresses. At 3rd level, the spell becomes permanent if the penalty progresses too far. At 5th level, the spell can transform the target into a helpless critter when the penalty progresses too far. At 6th level, the spell can permanently transform the target into a helpless creature. Overall, I like this. While no longer the classic save-or-die spell, it makes the spell more cinematic. Though, it is a shame you can't change a creature into a new race, such as teaching that ysoki a lesson by turning him into a barathu.
As much as I love the polymorph rules, there are a few issues that hinder the fun. The biggest issue is that a form's natural weapons use a pre-determined attack bonus based on your level that completely ignores your base attack bonus, ability scores, and any buffs. This bonus equals to 1.5 times your level with a maximum equal to 3 times the spell level. While the weapon does scale in damage, the math means that the natural weapon's attack bonus will always be significantly lower than your normal attack bonus, making the natural weapon essentially useless. However, there seems to be an intentional loophole around this. The polymorph spell allows you to select a limited number of racial traits, which can be any trait from a player race that doesn't involve equipment. You can select one of the many natural weapon racial traits (such as the Vesk's). The best part is that you don't necessarily have to make the form look the race to gain their trait. Go nuts turning yourself into the ultimate chimera!
However, I still wish that there was a way to make polymorph last longer. There's currently no way polymorph someone into a form for more than 1 minute per level. You don't even have the option to cast polymorph with a higher duration at the cost of a lower level effect.
Overall, Alien Archive 2 is a great addition to Starfinder. It gives us plenty of fun creatures and the much needed way to create wildlife without having a seperate statblock for every animal in the universe. It introduces or brings back races that will easily attract players. A lot of effort went into the polymorph rules, something needed in a game with magic, science, and gods dedicated to evolution. While the rules feel a tad bloated and a little rough around the edges, it does a great job giving players and GMs a level of agency and creativity not seen in other games. A must have for any GM and most players.
MiserableCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Playing this scenario resulted in one of the most miserable experiences I had in PFS. And because the four-player adjustments felt non-existant, it almost resulted in a TPK twice and someone almost dying in every encounter. The explanation below doesn't reveal anything about the plot but does provide some tactical information about the encounters.
One encounter you can easily lose if you don't have the requisite skill check to understand the situation and could result in someone dying from the very start of the adventure. The stakes felt way too high for such a "ha gotch ya!" encounter.
The roleplay encounters were painfully short and made me feel like we had little to no input. It was basically just one simple Diplomacy check and then the GM reading half a page of box text. I'm sure the scenario had some cool lore. Unfortunately, the scenario runs into the common problem of having tons of cool lore that the scenario provides very few ways for the players to learn about.
A solo enemy encounter had a mixture of powerful abilities to instantly disable a PC and create giant monsters. She also had such a high AC that only the barbarian could reliably hit her. As a result, a 5v1 fight turned into a 1v2 fight. The four-player adjustment (making the enemy sickened) did nothing to help because almost all of the enemy's abilities do not rely on attack rolls with exception for grappling, which she had such a high CMB that the -2 penalty did not matter. This fight almost resulted in a TPK. While this encounter could have been resolved peacefully, that went out the window because we had a barbarian and a rogue with loose lips.
The exploration section was exceptionally dull and just one player rolling Survival checks. We ran out of food despite the player acing most of the rolls. Not sure why we weren't allowed to have a surplus of rations when we had plenty of storage to carry it all.
I took issue with the final encounter the most. "Timed encounters" are becoming a trope that I gradually started to lose patience due to the fact that it's an encounter that punishes you the longer combat lasts but the "timer" doesn't start until the scenario says so. At best, it creates silly situations where the PCs always arrive in the nick of time. At worst, it railroads the adventure in a way that feels extremely unfair, like the scenario controls the flow of time in a way that always leaves the PCs severely disadvantaged unless they metagame.
As soon as our GM told us that our party sees the final area, we immediately took a minute to prepare. However, the GM counted the minute against the "combat timer," which put us at a huge disadvantage as the encounter infinitely spawns enemies and kills NPCs. When I asked the GM why we weren't able to prepare on the way to the location, the GM replied that the scenario railroads us into being unable to respond to the site until we arrive, despite theoretically being able to see the location a mile away AND having the foreknowledge that it would be dangerous.
Having only four players disadvantaged in a large map full of monsters would have been enough to make this a brutal fight. However, it does not end there. Almost the whole map was difficult terrain (which the GM thankfully forgot about until later). The monsters hit like a truck, had tough defenses we couldn't figure out how to bypass, and had the ability to poison and slow. The only reason we were able to beat this was that my companion creature soaked up enough damage to kill it (instead of a party member), I played heal bot for the barbarian, and the GM had to cut the encounter short when we started to have the situation under control.
Overall, it was not a fun scenario. The encounters were poorly balanced for a low tier party of four. The roleplaying seemed shockingly minimal for a scenario that's supposed to have plenty of lore behind it. It has a potentially lethal "gotcha" moment. And the final encounter can easily railroad you into an unwinnable situation. The only reason I don't give this 1-star is because I strongly suspected the GM wasn't effectively bringing out the best in the scenario.
It broke immediately after opening it.Cyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
The glue holding a peg to its head peeled off when I gently wiggled it out of its correct socket, causing the head to pop off with the peg still lodged in the neck socket. While I could fix it with some superglue, this was very disappointing for such an expensive figure and made me worry about using the head-changing feature.
Not usefulCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I purchased a set last Gen Con. After trying to use them, I found them way too clunky to use since you have to pick up all the miniatures to lay down the massive base. On top of that, they have a tendency to tip over, they're not very portable, and they're expensive. The only time they're useful is when the GM has a large flock of flying enemies.
Other times, you're better off using Chessex dice containers or flying miniature standees you can buy off of Amazon.
Cool but hard to paintCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
The miniature looks cool, but it's incredibly hard to paint. Despite being advertised as "ready to paint," paint just bubbles on the surface and looks pretty awful.
Cool but has issuesCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Pretty cool character overall. However, it has issues. The face's details are hard to make out. The sword looks too short and has an awkwardly blunt edge. Despite how it's advertised, Bones material is NOT ready to paint. The paint just bubbles on the surface. You will need to prime it.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Elemental Master's Handbook (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add Print Edition $14.99
Add PDF $10.49
Great options, need more kineticistCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
This book is full of crunchy, interesting options, including options to "cyborg" yourself with elemental matter. Almost all of them are pretty well written and worth considering.
However, I have to remove one star from the lack of kineticist options. The community has a large demand for more kineticist talents. Many elements have a crippling lack of talents at various levels, and people hoped this volume would help solve that. Unfortunately, the book only got two pages of content.
Best of the seriesCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
This is definitely the best Iconic Heroes product in the series. Every figure has lots of detail honoring Wayne Reynolds's design of the iconic characters. The medium's scarf is patterned while his cards have been painted to look like they're a fan of cards. The occultist has tons of painted items all over his person. The spiritualist's translucent phantom looks absolutely amazing. And of course, the kineticist has her owlbear plushie Gom Gom.
I was surprised to see there's no PFACG cards with the set, but not a deal breaker. It's among the best pre-painted miniatures I've seen.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-02: A Case of Missing Persons (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Fun Investigation ScenarioCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Awesome scenario. It gets a little hard to follow, but it had one of the most insane plot twists ever.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-01: The Cost of Enlightenment (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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PretentiousCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
A promising premise marred by...
1. Overly pretentious philosophy running on circular logic and self-created contradictions that makes you feel railroaded into agreeing with a belief that makes no sense
If my GM hadn't soldiered through this like a champ, this would have been miserable. Instead, I just feel neutral with a hint of disappointment.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-00: Assault on Absalom (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Best special I playedCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Mikko Kallio did not disappoint with this awesome multi-table special that really captures the essence of the new season with uniting the factions together to cooperate and help one another. The challenges have a surprising amount of variety, which differs from my experiences with other specials. The challenges were creative and fun!
The scenario debuted at Gen Con with an issue related how boon rewards were granted, but the PFS team has since amended what is otherwise an excellent adventure!
Got this randomlyCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Very cool and striking mini. The cloak has a smooth texture that brings out all the dramatic wrinkles. I love how it doesn't represent any particular monster by name -- it's just called DEATH. Made me want to create a summoner with a psychopomp eidolon that looks like this.
Best class deck I ever boughtCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
This is the first time I bought a class deck where I liked all three characters. Each one had an interesting play style on top of living up to the game mechanics that make the summoner break the mold. I bought this deck with low expectations and was very pleasantly surprised.
However, I have to give this only four-stars because the deck doesn't come with enough blessings and other basic cards to create a full deck for some of the characters. While I'm not crazy about paying money for common duplicates, class decks are a product series marketed as a stand-alone card pool for your character decks -- which is mandatory for organized play. You can't market a product like this and then force me to borrow components from the base set.
Rhune—The Gun Priest: The Blessed of Velash (PFRPG) PDFStorm Bunny Studios
Our Price: $3.00Add to Cart
A bit of a misfireCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I was disappointed in the class. I love the lore and flavor. The production values are awesome with a beautiful PDF filled with cool illustrations. However, the class just feels really bland. It's basically just a warpriest with a gun. Honestly, I think it would have worked better as an archetype since the class seems to lack unique class features. I'm not a fan of the feats. Most feel too way too strong or have abuse cases. For some reason, the PDF includes a revised version of Gunsmithing that requires you to have to make Craft checks for ammunition.
That being said, it is a solid class that's cleanly written (other than ordering the class features wrong). And as I said, the PDF looks absolutely stunning and the illustrations of cool fantasy guns almost makes the product worth checking out. Though, with all the cool illustrations of gunblades, it does feel disappointing there's no option for gunblade-wielding priest.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Legacy of Dragons (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $10.49
Like Dragons - There is very good and very badCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I feel rather conflicted. I absolutely love the good parts of Legacy of Dragons. For the bad parts, I absolutely hate to the point of feeling insulted.
Legacy of Dragons has a great premise that deserves a larger book and possesses plenty of awesome options like variant draconic heritages and a feat that lets you get dragon-themed powers without having to be a sorcerer. The new Form of the Dragon spells were something we really needed, and the other spells are really cool.
However, Legacy of Dragons has some content that absolutely infuriates me. The drake companion rules and some of the archetypes are absolutely poorly designed. This isn't just the case of content missing the mark - there's major flaws here that render the archetypes totally worthless and unplayable. There's a fighter archetype that replaces bonus feats at levels the fighter doesn't get any feats. This archetype also gives Arcane Strike, but forgets to indicate the fighter's effective caster level.
The alchemist archetype is also particularly baffling in that I honestly don't see any reason to ever take this archetype. It severely weakens your mutagen without giving you anything in return. It takes away your 2nd level level discovery and gives you a worst version of feral mutagen. It restricts you to using breath weapon bomb for all bombs AND takes away Throw Anything, the class feature vital to an alchemist's damage. All but one ability this archetype gives are literally just worst versions of discoveries you can take as a vanilla alchemist -- except the ability granted by the archetype all come at a hefty cost of other class features for no explicable reason.
I absolutely cringe whenever I see flaws like this, and I don't know why it happens. Does Paizo hire inexperienced freelancers? Do they not have anyone checking for errors like this? Are their deadlines so tight that designers can't QA their work sufficiently? Whatever the reason, it leaves me feeling like Pathfinder RPG products are created by a company that fails to understand how its own game works. This is the main reason I only sparingly buy Player Companions. More often than not, I can get higher quality work from reputable 3rd Party Publishers and get it cheaper.
The real question is: Do I condemn the book for a few pages of terrible work? I don't know. But overall, I do feel positive about the purchase. I honestly wouldn't feel so bad about the bad content if we got a larger volume. With only 32 pages, a few pages of poor quality content can become a massive stain on an otherwise good product.
Exceeds ExpectationsCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I expected to get a book that adds some extra crunch and maybe a little fluff to the kitsune. What I didn't expect was a book full of interesting, creative options. The archetypes, feats, and other content utilize rather creative design. Surprisingly, the content actually expands -- not invalidates -- the content of the Advanced Race Guide. A good example involves some interesting archetypes and uses for kitsune star gems, largely considered rather boring in the official Paizo hardcover, but now made interesting in this volume.
If I have one issue with the kitsune compendium, it's that there's surprisingly not a lot of flavor for the race beyond a few pages describing the typical kitsune's personality and physiology.
People long wanted a Pathfinder Player Companion for the kitsune race. If one did get published, it would have a hard time competing against the Kitsune Compendium in terms of quality and clever design.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #6–10: The Wounded Wisp (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Confusing StoryCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I had the chance to play this scenario. The encounters are great and allows for really fun roleplaying. However, the story didn't make any sense to me. I never understood why we were doing what we were supposed to do. I never really knew what our objective was other than the vague notion of solving some kind of riddle.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $9.99
Sloppy but accomplishes its goalsCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
Pathfinder tries to reinforce the idea that the game should give you the tools to fully realize your character concepts. Pathfinder establishes classes as more of a starting point, rather than a straight-jacket, to build the character you want to play. In the past, it did accomplished this through archetypes, traits, and class features that work like rogue talents. The Advanced Class Guide now truly blurs the line between classes by introducing 10 new "hybrid" classes that combine the theme of two existing classes to create unique features in their own right.
The arcanist is a 9-level spellcaster that does not need to prepare multiples of the same spell to cast it and gains a talent pool to do a variety of neat things.
The bloodrager is a 4-level spellcasting full BAB martial that gain the benefits of a sorcerer-like bloodline while raging.
The brawler is a full BAB fighter/monk that can temporarily gain the benefit of a combat feat to adapt to any situation.
The hunter is a 6-level gish class that uses druid and ranger spells, and gains an animal companion that benefits from teamwork feats.
The investigator is a delightful skill monkey class that can use alchemist extracts, buff their skill checks and attacks with a resource pool, and make a special attack against a target they studied.
The shaman communes with a spirit and gains special abilities from it, which makes me think of the pactbinders from Pact Magic Unbound.
The skald is a barbarian that performs as he rages, giving benefits to his allies.
The slayer is an assassin class meant to act as a "patch" for the rogue, except it focuses mostly on combat and singling out a single target.
The swashbuckler, my most anticipated class, is an agile fighter that can perform stunts using a resource pool like a gunslinger's grit.
The warpriest is a 6-level divine gish class that have the ability to cast spells on themselves as a swift action and a weapon whose damage dice scales like a monk's unarmed strikes.
The book also introduces a some ambitious archetypes and feats that I applaud. These include a Charisma magus archetype, multiple multiclass archetypes, a gunslinger archetype that specializes in crossbows instead of firearms, feats that trigger off of Arcane Strike, multiple alternates to Stunning Fist that do other conditions, and a whole line of feats that add bonus effects to Vital Strike. I am, however, very sad there's few options for the magus, my favorite class. The bard and the barbarian got two hybrid classes. I would have loved to see a monk/magus, but alas.
However, the book really drops the ball with the archetypes and feats section. While I praise the ambition shown in some of these entries, most of them are really sloppy. Typos are all over the place. Some archetypes refer to abilities that don't exist. Some break existing class features and don't replace them.
The worst issue is that the class designers obviously wrote the class descriptions with the assumption certain feats would exist to support the class. The swashbuckler is the worst offender as the heavily advertised "Dexterity to damage" feature came as a poorly designed last minute addition tacked onto an existing feat. That class really got the short end of the stick, and I hope Paizo will aggressively remedy the problem.
The Class Design Guide at the end of the book left me wanting more. While I wasn't expecting something as thorough as the Race Builder in Advanced Race Guide, I wished this section flowed more like the spell creation guide in Ultimate Magic or perhaps a "behind the scenes" look at how the designers create classes and archetypes. Ultimate Magic's spell guide gave a lot of insight in how spells are designed, provided a list of benchmarks for each spell level, gave examples of both good and bad spells, explained damage metrics for arcane and divine spellcasting. By contrast, Advanced Class Guide merely shows the differences between classes of different BAB and that abilities are either "secondary" or "primary." I cannot even call it a "dev blog" as I've read way better blog articles on class design than this.
Why four stars with all these problems? While Paizo obviously rushed additional options to get the book out the door to GenCon, much care was taken into the creation of the 10 new classes. 9 out of the 10 classes look rather well done. This book brought us a new standard for full BAB classes, all of which look fun to play. It gave us the slayer, a "patch" for the rogue until Pathfinder Unchained. Despite each class being a hybrid, nearly all of them have unique game mechanics never seen in a Paizo product. Even if you turn your nose up at adding more bloat to the game, I still recommend the book if only to cannibalize the new classes to patch/houserule the classes in the Core Rulebook.
While sloppy and unpolished, Advanced Class Guide accomplished its goals: give us new classes that raise the bar in terms of gameplay and design.
I wish I could get a refund for thisCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I had started a sea voyage campaign when I got the PDF for this, hoping to use its material. Unfortunately, I ended up regretting this. The PDF is so poorly optimized that loading it on my gamer desktop computer lags like crazy. It flat out crashes any PDF reader I use on my tablet. I wish I could say the material is worth the hardcover price, but this is not so. I find the book very difficult to follow and study as a GM. I still haven't figured out what the overall plot of some of the adventure paths are. The setting leaves much to be desired.
The only value I got out of Razor Coast was a two room dungeon that my players ended up bypassing anyway. This felt like $40 down the drain.
Good on paper, disastrous in practiceCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
When I read this module, it looked really awesome, and I couldn't wait to run it. When I actually did run it, my players had the worst experience ever at my table. In fact, this marked one of the few times my players were actually very angry at me. While the encounters, plot, background, and maps are high quality, several issues make the adventure frustrating to play.
1) Because of the structure and order of locations and events, the adventure gives very little exposition until very late in the module. My players were left with almost no information to act on. Every decision they made felt like a shot in the dark.
2) The island's effects misled the players into believing there's a time limit. This put a lot of stress on my players, disabling them from leisurely exploring the island at their own pace. Worse is that it railroaded my players into continuing an adventure they had no fun with. It was so bad that a couple of the PCs preferred they leave and spend another adventure curing themselves than actually finishing out the adventure.
3) Martial characters felt completely useless. Nearly all of the adventure's major challenges require magical expertise. All non-spellcasters in my group spent most of the two 4-hour sessions twiddling their thumbs while the spellcasters solved the mystery.
4) I also noticed that sometimes the text did not match the maps provided. For example, the description said one location was in the west when it was north on the map.
Thankfully, all of these can be avoided with some clever GMing. If you wish to run this adventure, I suggest the following recommendation:
Have the party encounter Sara or the villagers early when they visit the island. My players struggled because they lacked a clear objective other than wander around the island hoping they find something. The module does not let the Sara encounter line doesn't happen until they find the excavation site, which is likely the very last place they'll visit.
Overall, From Shore to Sea has a great story and premise marred by poor sequencing and a frustrating pseudo-time limit mechanic.
Lame Story, Cool MapCyrad (RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16) —
I personally thought the story was rather lame. I don't know, the villain just did nothing for me, even though I did like how they were playing with Pharasma lore with his backstory. The map also has a difficult swarm monster, which even a 2nd level party would have no answer. While running away is a viable option, it feels odd that a swarm of cockroaches is the most dangerous creature in a dungeon full of demons and undead.
The real gem of the module is the map. It's a pretty fantastic map with lots of colorful background flavor surrounding Thassilon lore. This makes the map an excellent adventure for any Varisian campaign or any campaign that plays with Thassilon and the runelords. My players were completely oblivious to Pathfinder lore, but after this module, they wouldn't stop talking about the runelords.
The map, though, does have a few problems of its own. There are several areas my players absolutely refused to explore simply because they smelled like a trap but gave no incentive to look into it. The best example is one pair of rooms that do a neat, terrifying, and yet relatively harmless effect to any that linger in it. However, no sane player would ever go into the room. There's no incentive to enter it and it just screams "THIS IS A TRAP."
There's also several staircases that lead to other areas not featured in the module. It's great if you have the supplements or another dungeon in mind. For me, this module took three or four sessions to finish. Neither I nor my players wanted to use up more time there. It was extra work to make sure every "hole" was plugged in. Even having a collapsed stairway was enough to make my players waste resources getting to an area that wasn't there. It's rather annoying and comes off as a shameless plug for other materials.
Over all, Godsmouth Heresy is decent. It has a good map that touches on Thassilon lore that makes the whole module worth getting. And while I did not like the story, your players may think differently.