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Unchained options for everyone else

****( )

Following their previous and wonderful release Skills and Options, this is Everyman Games' collection of class and racial options for the new classes and PC races that came out since S&O was published.

It covers the occult classes, the vigilante, and the shifter. Aside from the usual extra spells and improved skills it allows you to improve the various unique aspects of each class. Kineticists can get new wild talents or increase their damage with simple blasts, mediums get better at handling/avoiding possession by haunts and ghosts, more mental focus for occultists and so on. The vigilante can become both more fearless or better at hiding their real identity. And the shifter can improve their wild empathy and minor form shapeshifting among other options.

They also cover literally every single new possible PC race that's been done since the original S&O. The new races can get improvements to the attributes they normally get a racial bonus on. They also all get some fun new options like extra shapeshifting for the rougarou, better shapeshifting for the reptoids and skinwalkers, improved telepathy for the munavri, and more. Really the new race options are the most fun part of it all to me.

Great piece of work and very much worth the price tag.


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A wonderful, wonderful class

*****

The latest entry in Legendary Games 'Legendary Heroes' line, Legendary Shifters is 32 pages long, of which things like the table of contents, back and front covers, and OGL leave twenty-five pages for the actual content. But they are twenty-five well-used pages.

Recently Paizo released their Ultimate Wilderness book. A major selling point to many was the promise of a martial class based around shapeshifting called the shifter. Many people had their own expectations of what the class would be and not quite all were met. In this PDF Legendary Games, which has already created and re-created some amazing classes like the swashbuckler, gunslinger, and kineticist, gives us their re-imagining of the shifter. And a very amazing and delightful re-imagining it is.

The class itself is still a martial class, but things are different from the start. It can wild shape starting at first level, and they are not limited to forms derived from their aspects. It lasts slightly longer than a druid's, as they add their wisdom bonus to hours-per-level duration. They can also shapeshift from one form directly to another wild shape at the cost of some of their per-day duration. The legendary shifter gets faster at shapeshifting as they rise in level, eventually doing it as an immediate action. They are normally limited to animal and magical beast forms with a size range of diminutive to huge, but some archetypes and feats give ways around that.

They still get aspects, and as they rise in level can combine two or even three of them. They can also combine their aspects with their wild shape forms or any polymorph effects, and they get a few more aspects as they level up.

Instead of just claws they can use fangs as well with all these natural weapons being primary attacks that ignore magical DR. If they use weapons, however, their natural attacks become secondary. They get more powerful over time in terms of both what types of DR they can penetrate and how much damage they do, topping out at 2d10 at level 20. Size has no effect on the damage they do: a shifter can become a dire bear or a mouse and they'll still do the same damage. The shifter can apply their natural weapon level benefits to whatever natural weapons they may possess in their wild shaped forms. I like that as it encourages the shifter to wild shape while permitting them to keep the improved natural weapons the class grants. It is unclear, however, if the Improved Natural Attack feat can be applied to the shifter's claws and fangs.

The legendary shifter still gets wild empathy and track, and defensive instinct. It provides an untyped bonus to AC and CMD, full Wisdom bonus if unarmored and without a shield, half the bonus if armored. The bonus increases every fourth level and applies against touch attacks and when the legendary shifter is flat-footed. They get woodland stride and trackless step at later levels.

The legendary shifter now gets bonus combat or wild shape feats starting at fourth level. And unsurprisingly, their keystone ability is the ability to shapeshift at will. They also gain the shapeshifter subtype and are only affected by transmutation affects when they allow it.

The basic class information is followed by an expanded list of aspects. The old ones are all here and the new aspects of Chameleon, Narwhal, Porcupine, and Shark are listed with their full benefits. Chameleon makes you stealthier, Narwhal provides a gore attack, Porcupine inflicts damage on anyone striking you in melee combat, and Shark increases the damage you inflict on wounded opponents.

Then comes the new archetypes, and here we get some truly glorious ones. The Bound Beastmaster gains an animal companion. She increases its natural weaponry damage rather than hers, though she still gets the base claw and fang damage, and over time can share both her aspects and her wild shape with her companion. Dragon Touched get a breath weapon in place of claws, improved senses and wings as they level up. They can also wild shape into a small dragon at first level. Their form is limited in several ways at first – not as many attacks and no flight speed. However it improves over time until they can finally become a huge dragon. They start out with one type of dragon they can become but eventually become capable of turning into three different dragons, gaining their breath weapons as well.

The Elemental Kineticist gains some of the kineticist class abilities including kinetic blast, though only when done as a kinetic fist. They can transform into elementals and gain a few wild talents as they grow in power. The Fairy Shifter can wild shape into fey. They can also cast druid and ranger spells up to 6th level at the cost of a reduced hit die and lowered BAB.

The Giant Shifter turns, well, into a giant. Very simple and straightforward but if you have the room and want to crush your enemies underfoot it works wonderfully.

The Lycanthropic Warrior gets fewer aspects and a smaller pool to choose new ones from. They also lose defensive instinct and gain DR/silver equal to half their character level as well as immunity to lycanthropy. They can also use a hybrid form of their base and alternate forms, with legs to walk on, hands to hold with, and they are able to talk. They also keep their gear. I think this archetype is going to be popular.

The Metamorphic Genius has a reduced BAB and hit die, and uses intelligence rather then wisdom for defensive instinct. In exchange they get alchemy and extracts as the alchemist class, together with a reduced level requirement for any transmutation extract the alchemist can normally use and extended duration on them all. And a limited number of times per day they can change the form granted by one extract either to another one permitted by it or to one granted by another extract of equal or lower level. I recall some people wanting a shapeshifting-focused warrior-like alchemist, here they get one.

The Mimickin turns you into a Mimic. No, really. You can secrete glue, turn into objects, and eventually swallow people whole. Plus you get improved Disguise and Stealth skills. The somewhat similar Oozeling turns you into an Ooze, allowing you to resume your normal form whenever you like. You can't become a magical beast but you eventually turn into a Huge ooze. You get other oozy abilities as you level up as well. These two are so bizarre people are going to love them.

Probably the simplest and shortest Pathfinder archetype I've ever seen is the Mystically Trained one. You lose your bonus feats and trackless step in exchange for ranger spells.

The Necromorph is as the name suggests undead-related. You lose your aspects in exchange for getting the ability to cast a few spells to create and control undead. You gain 'undead empathy' that can be used with mindless undead and can transform into vaguely humanoid shaped undead. You can eventually turn into incorporeal undead, though your duration takes a serious and game-balancing bite if you do. Creepily, instead of woodland stride you learn how to preserve the body of anyone you kill with a natural attack for later reanimation. You also can hide in plain sight and eventually become a lich.

Protean Mutants lose aspects but gain evolutions like a summoner's eidolon. He gains a small pool he can use even on his base form and a larger one he can use on his alternate form. The former points can be changed every 24 hours and the latter whenever he changes his form. A bizarre archetype that will be a big hit with everyone who ever loved the summoner.

Last comes the Polymorph Savant prestige class. If the legendary shifter can become animals and magical beasts, this can become just about anything. Vermin, monstrous humanoids, ooze, fey, plant, dragon, you name it. If you truly want to become anything and everything this is for you.

There are some new feats. Animal Spirit allows you to use Charisma rather then Wisdom to determine any shifter class effects. You can also add your Charisma bonus to your Will save instead of Wisdom, up to a limit equal to your shifter level. Basic Alteration allows you to become a Small or Medium humanoid with shifter shape, and to speak in all your forms. I love those two. Bestial Roots permits many of the archetypes to transform into animals like the base legendary shifter. Miniature Reach allows you to treat your natural reach as 5 feet even when size Tiny or smaller. The last three feats – Morphic Berserker, Morphic Lyricist, and Morphic Stalker – all allow you to combine levels in barbarian, bard (and I assume skald), or stalker with your legendary shifter levels to determine things like your defensive instinct bonus and how long you can rage, use bardic performance, or the bonus studied combat provides. Berserker also allows you to use Intimidate to demoralize as a free action when you active both rage and your shifter shape in the same round. Lyricist permits you to speak, spellcast, and use bardic performances while under a polymorph effect. And Stalker lets you use shifter shape as an immediate action whenever a studied target makes an attack roll against you.

There are also three new polymorph spells, object form I-III. They do what you think and turn you into an object. Sadly they don't let you become a golem or construct but statues count as objects too. The PDF ends with a sample character, Ines, who has a backstory and a fey-like love of mischief that can make her both a useful if fickle ally and a maddening antagonist as required.

In conclusion? I love this one. Good as the original shifter may be this is a wonderful improvement while still keeping with the simplicity of the original class design. Everything that needs to be explained is, and clearly. And it is just plain fun. Want to become an animal, a dragon, an undead, an ooze, a statue? There are options here for all of them and more besides. Legendary Shifter is an amazing improvement on the original class and leaves me hoping we may get a few more archetypes for the class from Legendary Games or someone else. A new Fiendflesh or Verdant shifter, perhaps? Maybe a Hagskin or something else monstrous humanoid focused?

Seriously though this one has you covered if you want martial or arcane or improved druidic/natural shapeshifting. It's like getting half a dozen new classes with the same central theme but all-new angles on it.

If you want shapeshifting action for your character or campaign, if you're just curious, maybe even if you don't think you'd ever need it, GET THIS ONE. Five stars and one of the heartiest recommendations I've ever given.


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Review of Faerie Bargains

*****

The fey are some of my favorite monsters in Pathfinder. The way the game plays with the myths behind various creatures to make something both familiar and strange usually works very well. However, something that seems oddly missing from the Pathfinder game are the deals people once made with the fey. You know – 'I'll give you fine crops if you let me take your child away' and so forth. The bargains that grant a great reward, but demand a terrible price.

Well, now someone did. This PDF consists of 32 pages, with eight pages devoted to material such as the cover, table of contents, GL, etc, and twenty-four for all the let's make a deal goodness. It starts with an explanation of what fey bargains are in both setting and game terms. Basically, they happen when a fey uses its innate magic to offer a little something to a mortal who pleased them, or did them a favor, or sometimes when it's forced on them by a more powerful creature. We get told who can make these bargains – fey, unsurprisingly, as well as beings like hags, linnorms, unicorns, and others with links to the realm of the fey. There are limits on how many bargains a mortal can have or a fey can offer, though we get feats to aid with both of these limits.

Any gift a mortal gets can be used as a spell-like ability, usually. Of course there are a few things your new fey buddy won't tell you, and that some research can uncover. We get DCs and just how many Knowledge Points (as in Ultimate Intrigue's research rules) you need to score before you find out just how to break the bargain, as well as the little surprises that come along with the bargain free of charge. I like the latter idea; it feels so 'mythic'. And when you do research, you find both random encounters getting nastier and random kingdom events becoming less pleasant as the fey display their annoyance at your nosiness. Fey bargains are not to be lightly entered into!

The next section details how fey bargains are written up in game terms, along with their base CR, their value as treasure, and whatever price they demand from you. Oh yes, these aren't free. Some cost simple treasure, some cost life force or health in the form of permanent HP loss or ability score damage or drain, or even memories – and their associated class levels. Still want to deal?

Lastly comes a list of sample bargains and all related game information, ranging in CR from ½ – 21. They cover a wide gamut. You can deal with mites to gain power over vermin at the mere cost of a chunk of your flesh. You can learn to cast spells from cantrips to the mightiest of invocations at the cost of some of your magical power and of making the fey bargainer more powerful. You can enrich your land, learn healing abilities from unicorns, or gain wealth from the fey via the old spin-straw-into-gold bit. So what if it costs your first born? And yes, you break the bargain by learning their true name. Hello there, Rumpelstiltskin!

One thing I especially like about this is the number of bargains that work with kingdom building rules. You can enrich your land, bringing in better harvests at the price of leaving a hex otherwise untouched by civilization. Yes, the Goodman's Croft in Pathfinder! You can defend yourself and your realm against curses or magical manipulations, make your land and people feel youthful (granting increased healing and morale bonuses, improving the bonuses of certain buildings and land developments, etc). And all it costs is your shadow. Which allows the fey to take your form when they want. What trouble could that possibly cause? You can make a bargain that enriches the land, but only as long as the ruler stays healthy. And the fey can make one simple request of you that must be obeyed. Your troops and armies can become mightier in battle but they can't confront or even notice the fey, and more.

One I truly love allows the mortal to bargain away everyone with less than 10 hit dice within twelve miles, sending them all into a state of fugue within the fey realms. This is an odd but definitely useful way to save people from a disaster. Of course, the fey can summon them to serve itself whenever it wants. Until you can trick or convince it to express regret for doing so. Just think of the story possibilities with this one!

You can get personal benefits too. Aside from the ones already mentioned, you can be granted the gift of shapeshifting at the price of your identity. A ruler can gain mythic powers for giving parts of their kingdom away – land, cities, farms, people and all. The more you lose, the more power you get. Until someone kills the fey. Who has now gained as many mythic ranks as the mortal bargainer. What a way to make a mythic villain to oppose the PCs! Or gain a voice fit to sing with the angels at the low price of your sanity. Really, the ideas these give players and GMs alike are amazing.

The last part is a few magic items, some granted in fey bargains. Some aid individuals, like the green girdle of invulnerability. It grants incredible healing powers and allows the wearer to replace severed limbs. Yes, the Green Knight. Or the stone throne of destiny, allowing a ruler seated in it certain luck bonuses. Four particular items are best used by rulers, as they aid the realm or its armies. The cauldron of autumnal bounty, the staff of summer's might, the stone of wintry charm, and the sword of vernal light are all waiting for brave and foolish rulers willing to make the proper sacrifice for them.

This is an amazing piece of work, granting new options for desperate or foolish players, and new toys to GMs who want to see what the PCs will do for a little power boost. The listed bargains and the prices for them all have the tone of real fey mythology, but done in ways that make them workable in the game. And with some tinkering here and there they can also work as new genie wishes, fiendish bargains, and the like. Five stars and my firm recommendation for anyone and everyone!


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Review of Everyman Minis Unchained Fighter Options

****( )

This is a short and sweet PDF covering yet more options for the unchained fighter, who was already covered in two previous PDFs. These seem to be some odds and ends that didn't fit elsewhere, but they work very fine right here.

We get an introduction explaining at what levels the unchained fighter gets advanced armor training, advanced weapon training, and fighter training options, and what they are. Short version, they're new ways to customize your fighter character, granting them enhanced skills, new abilities, new ways to use their armor and weapons, or even ways to improve the fighter for noncombat situations. I personally love them for the options they grant fighters. And we get some very fine new ones here!

Under 'Advanced Armor Training Options', we get things like 'Armored Dash': In medium or heavy armor, the fighter can move through difficult terrain as though it were normal, up to a limit imposed by his strength bonus. 'Guarded Action' lets him deflect attacks of opportunity, provided he has a shield and is willing to spend some stamina points – another new idea from the previous 'Unchained Fighter' PDFs. 'Two-Shield Specialist' allows the fighter to double-wield shields for defensive purposes.

Under 'Advanced Weapon Training Options' we find 'Knockback Blow', permitting the fighter to make a bull rush in place of one attack during a full attack or attack of opportunity. If the bull rush works, the opponent takes damage as well as being driven back. 'Spell Parry' grants you temporary spell resistance against one spell if you have an AoO and some stamina points ready. I like this one, it reminds me of some of old school heroic fantasy stories where the mighty barbarian literally cuts their way through the evil wizard's magic. 'Throwing Mastery' allows the fighter to make a full attack with thrown weapons. And if he's not tossing thrown ammunition, such as darts or shuriken, his weapon returns to his hand. He has a fine set of reflexes there.

'Fighter Training Options' is the last and longest part. 'Battle Medic' allows a fighter to use their BAB for his ranks in Heal when determining his Heal skill bonus, and they get Heal as a class skill. Oh yes, they can add some of their fighter level to the hit points restored. This feels like another great idea to me – a lot of people seem to want more options for non-spellcasting healers; and given how good fighters are at taking foes apart, why shouldn't they know something about putting them back together again?

'Hack Apart' permits the fighter to make an enhanced sunder attack against an object or structure, ignoring a certain amount of its hardness as well. Great for your classic door-breaker. 'Master Acrobat' permits a fighter to make anime-esque flying leaps, basically a point to point one round fly speed, provided he's taken a fighter training option from one of the earlier PDFs allowing him to make greater leaps. 'Master Climber' and 'Master Swim' both permit fighters with appropriate training options from earlier PDFs to climb or swim at their full speed. 'Master Senses' grants improved version of normal or already-enhanced senses to the fighter if he has the proper training, like skill ranks in Perception. 'Master Perception' allows the fighter to pinpoint unseen creatures within short range in classic Tarzan/Conan fashion. 'Recuperate' allows a fighter to self-heal damage a limited amount of times a day after ten minutes of rest. One small problem here – you have to roll your BAB with a bonus from stamina points if they're spent and the DC isn't given. I believe it's rolled against a DC of 20, as in the description of the Heal skill when treating deadly wounds in the core rulebook, but clarification would have been nice. 'Shrug It Off' allows a fighter to gain fast healing for one minute, with the amount depending on how many stamina points they spend, for a limited number of times per day. Again, I really enjoy those last two. They put me in mind of half a hundred Robert E. Howard stories where the hero survives a savage battle by sheer toughness and willpower, and after taking a few moments to catch his breath he's ready for more mayhem.

So there you have it, a fine and inexpensive PDF with some great ideas for anyone who has the previous 'Unchained Fighter' PDFs. Admittedly if you don't have them this one may be of limited use. Or it may inspire you to purchase them, an idea I wholly support. And if you DO have the previous PDFs, you will want this one.

I give this one 5 stars if you use the unchained fighter, and 3.5 to 4 if you don't. I'll round it off to 4 with a recommendation that you give this one a chance.


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Gain the magic and might of the nine-tails

*****

This PDF covers a new prestige class, the Kyubi Paragon class for players of kitsune characters who want to go for the classic nine-tailed fox character. Normally this is difficult in the name, because the only way to do so is to take the Magical Tail feat. You have to do that once for every new tail, so if you want a full nine tails, your feats are eaten up until level 15 just for that. And since the feat only provides one spell-like ability per time its taken, usable twice a day, it feels like a large investment for very little payoff. Everyman Games and Mister Augunas have come to the rescue with this PrC, designed to work with nearly every character class and concept for kitsune willing to sacrifice to achieve the dizzying heights of power.

The PDF itself consists of seventeen pages, of which ten are devoted to the crunch of the class proper, with the rest given over to the OGL, cover, introduction, and such. The PrC requires that the prospective kitsune must have chosen the Magical Tail feat at least once, as well as Kyubi Awakening (a new feat described within). At first level you choose an 'aligned' class, which means that your levels in kyubi paragon add on to one of your old classes when it comes to determining your level-dependent effects from it. It doesn't grant any new class features or spells per day as you level up, which sounds problematic, but wait.

The kyubi paragon also gets a pool called their Chakra Reservoir. They can use points from this to cast any spell-like abilities gained from either Magical Tail or any kyubi tricks from their class without expending a normal per-day use. As they rise in level the kyubi can also use chakra points to add the effect of certain metamagic feats to their spell-like abilities. The class also grants a new Magical Tail feat starting at 2nd level and every three levels from them on. They also eventually get as many as three uses of the racial paragon vigilante talent. That works like the brawler's martial versatility ability, but it grants use of a feat with a racial prerequisite he meets but doesn't have. (So I guess no using this one for a few more tails when you need them.)

The class also eventually grants improved shapeshifting via the shaman's shapeshift hex. This counts as the basic kitsune change shape for the purpose of all effects that interact with it, like quick change spell or the lesser mimicry kyubi trick.

And there's still more. You also can choose what Embodiment you are. This is related to the aligned class ability and comes in three types. The Embodiment of Magic gets new spells per day as they level up, and at 6th and 10th level get other benefits. At 6th they can use their Chakra Reservoir with their aligned class spells as well as their Magical Tail and kyubi trick spell-like abilities to apply metamagic, though it costs far more chakra points to do so. At 10th level the kyubi can apply two such metamagic feats to any spell or spell-like ability as they cast it regardless of source, and when they do its caster level rises by one.

The Embodiment of Might shows us that martial classes are not forgotten. The martial kyubi paragon treats their BAB as equal to their PrC level, and their class hit dice is d10 instead of d8. You also get either improved weapon proficiencies or a bonus combat feat. At 6th level you get another combat feat, and can treat your kyubi paragon level as fighter levels, which they also stack with, for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites. At 10th you get the ability to cast transformation on yourself.

The Embodiment of Skill gets extra skill points as well as the ability to spend chakra points to add their class level to the results of any ability or trained skill check. At 6th they can instead reroll any skill check, and can attempt all skill checks untrained. At 10th, the kyubi paragon can use chakra points to take a 10 on any skill check, or spend a few more to treat the roll as a 20 instead.

I have also mentioned kyubi tricks from time to time. These are a wide variety of special abilities the paragon gets as they rise in level, with the choices depending on how many tails they have. Most of them relate to either the kitsune's magical abilities or their shapechanging. They can also enhance their speed or senses, shapechange their way past bindings and grapples, shapechange to heal or gain prehensile tails, gain wickedly sharp claws, and more. Many of these also grow stronger as the kyubi gains more magical tails, giving you an incentive to keep taking those Magical Tail feats as well.

At five tails you can gain tricks that permit your shapeshifting to allow you to take on draconic forms, or create even more potent illusions and charms. Among the other lofty gifts for those exalted nine-tailed kitsune, they can turn a foe's sanity inside out – literally, or just rewrite reality to better suit themselves (worried GMs relax, that just means they can cast limited wish 1/day, though they still have to pay the material component cost to do so).

There are so many potent and amazing kyubi tricks it seems a shame you can choose only five. So, thankfully. I can report that you can take the Extra Kyubi Trick feat for more. The Kyubi Awakening feat is also described. It grants one kyubi trick, as well as the classic extended kitsune lifespan determining on how many tails you have. It also replaces the standard aging list for determining the bonuses you get on your mental ability scores. This part alone gives me some amazing plot ideas, like having to meet and talk with an ancient nine-tail to learn about some similarly ancient foe or curse the PCs have to face. Of course, their time is valuable, so you have to prove you're worth their time before they speak with some less than a century old child.

At the end we get some new spells, mostly the form of the exotic dragon I-III spells that permit you to transform into either primal or imperial dragons. We also get contagious suggestion, which makes the first person affected pass the suggestion along to other targets. And the secondary target can in turn pass it along to others! This can be one nasty spell in the wrong hands!

So there you have what I find to be one of the best prestige classes I've read in a long time. Admittedly, it is limited to kitsune, but if you play one and ever wanted to be one of the magical nine-tails, you can do so in magnificent style now. The amount of choices you get is amazing, all but guaranteeing that no two members of this class will resemble each other. You could easily have a small party of kyubi paragons and have everyone feeling that their character is 100% unique. If I have to make a complaint, it's that one or two abilities rely on Mister Augunas' Dynastic Races Compendium, but any kitsune fan will probably be getting that one if they don't already have it. After seeing what was done here, I know I will.

I give this one nine tails, er, five stars and a delighted recommendation to everyone who has ever even thought about playing a kitsune!


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