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Pathfinder Adventure Path #134: It Came from Hollow Mountain (Return of the Runelords 2 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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Dungeon Escape RoomGreatKhanArtist —
As a note, I haven't read the first segment of the AP. I liked the beginning of the AP and enjoyed the voyage and the encounters there. Unlike the previous reviewer, I thought the NPCs were memorable, especially Barsilla and her underling and the NPC the PCs meet on the island. This was where I think the author shines; he would do very well with a hex map of random encounters or one of those multi-city in an AP volume adventures Paizo seems so fond of. Dungeon crawls, not so much.
The dungeon has the feel of an escape room for the most part. There are lots of puzzles. However, I did not like how many of these were executed. As a player, I would be frustrated at guessing at so many of these requiring passwords without obvious clues or solutions. A big detriment in my book. Yes, you can bash your way through them, and I understand this is the dungeon devoted to wrath, but this is a lame solution. It's actually required in a few spots. I felt the author could've benefited from a day of visiting escape rooms before writing this one.
As a plus, many of the encounters have different directions they can go, based on the PCs actions. All in all, underwhelming and potentially frustrating. Unless you are dying to resolve the Runelords Trilogy, I'd skip this one, or pick it up on sale for the voyage to include in a homebrew.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Darklands Revisited (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Darklands Done WellGreatKhanArtist —
Another entry in the "Revisited" series, "Darklands Revisited" deals with all the dark, scary things that live underground in the depths. "Revisited" gives a nice sampling of each race, but doesn't go as in depth as the ecology articles. The series is a great read for players and GMs, giving a nice intro to the featured entries especially for new players. There are entries for a number of humanoids, and some creatures less/more than human, so let's take a look at the entries.
Drow: Who can have an underground book without the drow? As a species done and redone, how does Golarion's take on the dark elves measure up? The drow of Golarion have a new and intriguing history involving their departure from classic elves, which strikes a great balance between the familiar FR drow history and new material. This history also explains in flavour the reason for their mechanical stat changes from surface elves and works very well. The drow are also given demonic patrons, which is an interesting development, as the race is LE and demons are CE. The drow of Golarion practice a new and terrifying science, fleshwarping, which is an interesting blend of science and magic which supports both CE and LE and magic alchemy. No mention of the divine is made in fleshwarping, which I feel is a lost opportunity to tie the race to its unusual demonic patrons. The drow stat block shows a new dual classed character, although it would've been cool to have a matron statted up. The campaign role gives excellent suggestions for low to high level parties and each level shows off a different aspect of the versatile drow.
Duergar: dark dwarves, these guys feed off Paizo's unique spin on dwarven history. Like drow, they are blessed by an evil god, and they really feel like a race beholden to Droskar with his worship and priesthood showing up in many of their cultural aspects. Although drow and duergar are both slavers, slavery in both cultures is very different. The duergar are suggested for low to mid level parties due to their location in the darklands. A great, flavourful entry.
Gugs present as a mixture of humanoid and monster culture and physiology. Despite their interesting alien origin, the rest of this entry was rather uninteresting.
Intellect devourers are Paizo's answer to mind flayers. And they are an excellent retort. They are very much a horror trope that fans of the Mythos will love. This is a race with a unique and full background, which makes them at home in both PF and SF. Again an enslaving race, slavery is very different in intellect devourer culture than it is from other darklands species. Treasures consider the unique physiology of the species. Ilvarandin is only briefly mentioned as are locations in space.
Morlocks are yet another race that fled into the underground to escape Earthfall, but their original race was human. The locations section was interesting, but otherwise this was another underwhelming entry.
Finally, the only good race to dwell underground, the new and exciting Munavris. Introducing psychic powers to the darklands, the Munavris were only recently introduced before the printing of "Darklands Revisited", making them a blank canvas. The entry for this race doesn't disappoint its new fans, and they are a much more interesting evolution of humans than the morlocks.
All in all, most of the races have excellent entries, which more than make up for the few underwhelming entries. None of the entries are terrible, and even the underwhelming races have some nuggets of awesome in their entries. If you want a nice read or some inspiration for your next campaign, you could do worse than this.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Horror Realms (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Mixed bag of horrorGreatKhanArtist —
Much of my sentiment about Horror Realms echoes what Marco said first. This is just really an expanded review of the sections.
This volume opens with 2 pages of useless fiction. I know fiction is getting the runaround these days, but it doesn't belong here.
Next, we head into the rules section. Quirks are a flavourful way to increase the horror factor. These would've made great campaign traits if rules were added. I don't use the arcanist in my games, but the exploits look good mechanically and flavour-wise. These would also be great to build NPCs around. Bards gain new sanity reducing performances and the mute musician archetype. I'm not sure how good the mute musician is, but it seems especially geared toward Horror Adventures with a strong prevention and infliction of mind affecting abilities. Accursed animal companions seem like a great way to add horror and consequence to treating loyal companions as meat shields. The scarred monks has a variety of thematic powers to choose from, each adding a variety of effects to a character. The face collector in particular creates interesting RP potential. Eidolons can now gain extra aberrant traits and spells from the psychic list. The biggest drawback about the rules section is that so many rules books are required to get the most out of it. Haunts close out the rules section at the end of the book and seem mechanically good as well as flavourful.
Each of the regions presented was also given suggestions for which horror trope it would best fit, which I loved. I think I would've preferred a region for each trope, instead of multiple ideas for a region, however.
I did not find the witch fen particularly creative or innovative. Likewise, Farnvale would've been great if Raging Swan hadn't already done the same theme better. In fact the similarities are so close, how is this not plagiarism? Likewise, Kalva could've used more of a dark fantasy theme. I felt it was too broad of focus to be any good. The mushrooms were a great idea, and maybe this could've been better presented in the Underdark? Uskheart presents interesting druid followers of Zon Kuthon, however the locations are largely uninspiring. It felt to me like just another cliche group of spiteful druids with variant woodland animals.
But there are some gems in this section. The first few pages of Geb are extremely well done. Great writing, evocative locals and a very alien feel to traditional fantasy places make this one of the outstanding entries. Hopefully the new Geb book is this good. Shenmen takes us to Tian Xia, and it is a very atmospheric place of ghosts and spiders with an excellent RP aspect. Satravah was the standout location in this volume with a really thematic and interesting location and background. If this had been fleshed out to the standards of Raging Swan's Village Backdrops, it would've been truly outstanding.
So is it worth getting? Depends what you want out of it. The rules seem pretty good, if that's your main draw. If you want horrific locations, look to Raging Swan's Village Backdrop series and read the summaries and reviews there. You'll find much more to your liking. I wouldn't pay more than half price for this one.
Thematic excursion outside the Beginner's BoxGreatKhanArtist —
Taking place in Isger, this module introduces the town of Saringallows and stuffs it to the brim with theme. All of Isger's major points are touched upon: goblins, demonic Chelax history and wilderness. NPCs add to the atmosphere with quotations and simple but effective backgrounds. The PCs are given lots of opportunities to interact and uncover the themes that pervade the town and its history, and this really is one of the high points of this module. Unfortunately, the PCs are not given the chance to discover the history of the major villain, which really is a low point given his equally interesting background.
This module is somewhat unique in the modules lineup as it advertises 3 smaller adventures that can be used together or seperately. Really, they are best used together, as the module is very thematic and they flow beautifully together. Besides, who would want to miss the opportunity to kill the BBEG? Each subsection has a scaling the adventure section, which is something I really appreciated in "Dungeon", but which has been sorely lacking in the Modules presentation. It is very much orientated for beginners, as the major pretty much spoon feeds the PCs as to what needs to be done in each section.
The first of these is a nice little investigative adventure, and although the section is not groundbreaking (none of the adventures are) it is well written and a standard RPG theme well done. Part 2 allows the PCs to have a mobile battle on the included battle map and to siege a fortress. Agreeing with other reviewers, this is the blandest part of the module. The final part is the encounter with the BBEG at an abandoned mansion, a fun, flavourful and often used adventure theme. Anilda is the highlight of this adventure, though the after death of the BBEG has some great thematic obstacles.
Several new monsters are included and 2 of the NPCs receive detailed backgrounds. Anilda is one such monster and she really gives a creepiness to the module that for me is a highlight of the entire volume. Other monsters include a multi-legged fey thing, the hook fly reprinted, a cool plant and the katroome, a caterpillar version of a pseudodragon. Unfortunately, the detailed backgrounds of the NPCs, extra page on the hook fly and underwhelming fey thing eat up pages that could've been used for a map and gazetteer of Saringallows, a major low point IMHO.
All in all, this module is to be praised for its beautifully thematic introduction into Golarion as a campaign setting. Although the adventure themes aren't new, they are enjoyable. While this module might feel cliche and dumbed down to veterans, I feel it caters well to beginners, as it is intended too. As such, I highly recommend it to groups ready to think outside the (Beginner's) box.
3pp Does it BestGreatKhanArtist —
This is how the Paizo "Races of" should be. Most of the races follow a template, but there's a little bit of difference to each one. A tantilizing bit of fluff and lots of great flavourful crunch. Each race gets items and class variations that are thematic and useful. There's a race for every situation and environment.
Sadly, some of the fluff write-ups are confusing and prior knowledge of Kobold's campaign setting is needed to make sense of them; this is especially true of the Shadow Fae and the Darakhul. There are whole campaign settings that focus on these guys and their origins and empires, but as this is a player's book, I felt this could be improved on.
A lot of work went into balancing the races of this book. Some have feats to advance them, like the tosculi who can become more and more agile in the air and wasp-like. The best example of this is the werelion, who has several balance options. Very well done.
I also really appreciated the new, more balanced option the gearforged present for replacing the warforged. The ravenfolk/tengu take on a very neat alternate flavour, instead of being Asian, they are Norse and are one of my favorites. Their creation story is really fitting with Norse mythology.
The only other downside to this book is that many of the variant classes have to do with the Advanced Classes book. I'm not a fan of that one. Surprisingly, there is one psychic class as well!
Hoping for more of these in the future, especially fan-favorites like grippli and the Asian-inspired wayang and monkey people and changelings. You can cherry pick the races that appeal to you as individual PDFs, but really, the whole thing is great.
The Sinking Rises with MysteryGreatKhanArtist —
Ascension of the Prophet is part 5 of the Sinking serial, a collection of adventures tied to a mysterious sinkhole that suddenly appeared in the Great City. This chapter deals with a prophet who claims to have gone into the sinkhole and returned with divine powers. Regardless of whether or not he's a fraud, he's attracted quite a following. His most prominent follower is also planning to assassinate him and to frame the PCs as the marksman.
Unlike some of the earlier offerings in the Sinking serial, the sinkhole itself features in the story. Although it isn't really part of the environment of the adventure, it does add flavour. (Particularly inclined DMs could add the hole to the final encounter, allowing bull rushes into the pit.) There are many considerations for how the PCs may act during their investigation and each of these are given appropriate checks. NPCs are given appropriate dialogue. The only ones that are missing are concerning the intention of the Mouth when he gives the PCs the job. Detecting an evil aura can be easily dismissed as the Mouth saying he's trying to reform himself by following Lazarus's teachings, but what about an initial sense motive?
There is a lot going on in this little adventure. The PCs must find out who the assassin is, and upon discovering he is a red herring, gather enough information to prove who the true criminal is and exonerate themselves when the prophet is publicly killed. Oh, and there's the little matter of the angry crowd and the witness the PCs may be trying to protect--death of the witness or the crowd won't sway the judge towards a verdict of innocence. There's also the potential for a recurring villain in the Mouth.
Ascension of the Prophet is a gem in the series. Although it ties in with the Sinking, it could easily be reworked. Highly recommended as a single session adventure with the potential to lead into other events in your urban campaign.
A Golden Change of PaceGreatKhanArtist —
Denhearth is a bit of a different offering in the Village Backdrops line. Unlike most of the villages in the product line, this one isn't full of creepy evil things the PCs must defeat. Instead, it seems like a place the PCs would want to go to for reasons other than to gain XP. Denhearth is home to a sorcerer academy, created after the resident ruling gold dragon defeated an evil red dragon and routed his army. Much of the rest of the village is based around serving the academy.
There are some interesting denizens who are statted up, a half-dragon chupacabra and a dragon disciple/sorcerer. However, the stats are the most interesting part of these characters. Granted one is just a glorified guard dog, but the humanoid doesn't feel unique. Not much is mentioned about his personality other than that he is a cliche disgruntled professor. Likewise, the village exists to support the academy, but other than the dragon's den and the academy the rest of the locations feel like they could exist anywhere. I would've liked more dragon or academy theme.
I really liked the key idea of a village ruled by a just dragon who has suddenly become a recluse. The idea of a sorcerer academy seemed like an interesting prospect as well. However, I don't feel that this Village Backdrop is as well developed as the other offerings in the line. The villagers seem flat. Whereas the product description states that those in positions of power are trying to keep word of their patron's withdrawl secret, nothing much is said about this in the body of the supplement, let alone how the characters are dealing with it. I found the adventure hooks to be uninspiring. What ails the gold dragon is left up to the DM, a common trend in Village Backdrops. However, other offerings in the series have given a chart of suggestions, this one does not. The magic academy is an interesting concept but is also underdeveloped and would really have more potential to shine as a Place of Power in that series.
Denhearth is a decent offering in the series. Because of its presentation and design it could easily be used in a youth game. There is no overarching apparent evil here. A magic academy would easily appeal to fans of the Harry Potter series. Although I find the threats to be rather traditional and done, young adventurers would probably enjoy encountering the kobolds in the nearby area and helping a sick dragon.
I chose not to give Denhearth a star rating. I do not feel that I am the target audience for this supplement and that my rating would be biased toward my love of the grittier offerings in the series. For youth, highly recommended. For more adult players, this may seem cliche or underwhelming.
Harvest of HorrorGreatKhanArtist —
Edgewood is Village Backdrop from Raging Swan Press situated on the edge of the forest with farming as a vocation and horror as a theme. While these keywords may be a recurring theme in the product line, Edgewood is fresh with dark mystery and a malevolence all its own.
Edgewood appears to be a successful frontier village, however lurking under the veneer of prosperity is a population who live in perpetual fear of a random yearly event known as the Culling. The event itself can be quite terrifying in a horror themed game, but it is the background material that really makes this Village Backdrop shine. The NPCs get the usual Raging Swan treatment; each has his/her own opinions, motives and unique personality to make them memorable. As in keeping with the best of Raging Swan's products, the NPCs and the location are both wonderful on their own, but combine with each other to make the sum more than its parts.
NPCs this time include a muttering conspiracy theorist, a less-than-welcoming innkeeper, a fallen paladin and the village bailiff who may/not know more than he lets on but is certainly in over his head. Each of these NPCs can be used to build up to the moment of the Culling, emphasizing the strangeness of the village. What will the party think when a storm rages overhead, they are soaked and a paranoid innkeeper refuses to grant them lodging?
There is also a wonderfully rich backstory, detailing the villagers' attempt to prevent the Culling many years ago and how their attempt twisted the event into an even more horrific occurance. While good backstories are not uncommon in the Village Backdrops series, this one is amazing. DMs are given some suggestions of what the force behind the yearly Culling is, but like most Raging Swan products, the DM can ultimately choose whatever reason he likes without losing any of the content.
If you are expecting that the tried and true farming village on the edge of the forest is tired and cliche, it is not. Edgewood is a horror module that could be spun multiple ways by the clever DM. With the Culling having elements of a slasher horror, suggestions sprinkled throughout also contain elements of cosmic or dark fantasy. Edgewood is a horror module with threads for the DM to develop in a number of ways in all the right places. I would highly recommend it, especially for the group who really want to roleplay in the horror genre.
Hauntingly EvocativeGreatKhanArtist —
Elves come to Raging Swan's product line in this evocative, original offering. In the primal regions of an ancient world exists a canyon rent by warring gods, its tranquility maintained by ghostly elf druids. This offering in the Places of Power series is very similarly laid out to a standard Village Backdrop. There are the wonderfully evocative tables of events and rumours Raging Swan is famous for, and key NPCs are presented. The major locations are described and some suggested history is given.
The major locations are detailed with prose that makes them come alive. DMs are left to their own to decide what the importance of many of these locations are, especially the giant statues that make this valley unique. Fortunately, there are several great hooks sprinkled throughout the product to get the creativity flowing. There are 4 beings of importance that reside here and each is given the celebrity treatment with a biography including motives and personality. Two of them are fully statted out. And yes, like Village Backdrops all is not well; the tranquility of the valley hides a villain of sinister intent. Like the other personalities, the villain is given a personality and motive. My only fault is that his background doesn't detail why he hates the other denizens.
The NPCs and the location are both superb and unique. Both are richly developed, but together they serve to make Valley of the Rocks a treat. For the DM who sees higher level PCs tromping through the wilderness, a foray into a forgotten, haunted canyon is certainly in order. Highly recommended.
This is where is all goes downGreatKhanArtist —
This is the first part of "The Sinking", a serial adventure from 0one Games. Many of the rest of the adventures can be played out of sequence according to party level, but this is the start of the story.
And it gets off to a decent start. There are several hooks to choose from, depending on what area of the city the PCs originate from. While these hooks are decent if the original Great City series is any indication the PCs will be exploring other parts of the city in time. I would rather have seen only a few hooks and more space saved for the chase scene later in the adventure. The PCs are encouraged to investigate a cheese shop and its involvement in a smuggling ring. The roleplaying opportunities with the proprietor make for one of the best parts of this adventure.
Soon the PCs are off and running through the sewers after their villain in what shapes up to be a pretty cool little chase scene, complete with map. The chase concludes with the potential for a 3 way battle between the smuggler, PCs and a monster. Finally, the PCs track down the head of the smuggling ring and kill him.
The sewers offer disease, environmental challenges, traps and the ever present tremors heralding the Sinking, a very thematic challenge below the city. The battle with the BBEG feels tacked on and unnecessary. I understand its purpose is to make the scenario playable as a one-of, but I feel the adventure would've been just as good if the point was only to stop a thief.
There are maps for the cheese shop and the sewer chase. I will forgo the sewer map for the chase rules presented in "Game Mastery", but the inclusion allows for it to be run simply using standard rules. This mini adventure gives a chance for social, martial and thieves a chance to use their talents. With the danger of the tremors front and center, it is also a very thematic way to begin the new series. "Epicenter Rising" presents itself well while also allowing room for DM invention. All in all, it looks like an excellent start to a new series!
Mud, mud, glorious mud, there's nothing quite like itGreatKhanArtist —
Welcome to the Mudded Manse, a bathhouse specializing in glorious healing mud. Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous two offerings in this series, I purchased this one with the hopes to add it to a mountainous region, in particular Diamond Lake in the Age of Worms AP.
I found this installment to be a bit dry, however. The NPCs are a very interesting blend of abnormal races and skill sets, and that for me was the most interesting part of this supplement. In previous offerings in this series, new and interesting products and services were available for purchase by the PCs. It is suggested that the PCs would come to such a place to remedy one of their own, but there are no new items to purchase, and the fees for a stay at the Mudded Manse are not listed. There is also a massage therapist here: I would have loved having some mechanics for his services.
Likewise, the part about adding spells to the mud was a highlight of this product, but there wasn't enough about it to cool my blood. What if the PCs wanted to enchant the mud with new spells after getting/stealing a sample? Some really inspirational ideas were missed here.
There is also no conflict among the members of the staff, really. This is something that comes standard in Village Backdrops, but I understand if it isn't the purpose of Places of Power.
All in all, I found the Mudded Manse to be simply okay. Raging Swan has perhaps spoiled me with its earlier offerings in this series, which were simply amazing. I have to say I wouldn't really recommend this product, as it doesn't have much that I feel makes it unique that the average DM couldn't invent himself.
Great idea, poor developmentGreatKhanArtist —
Once again we return to the Great City with 0one's Sinking series. This adventure begins with an adventure summary that promises plenty of roleplaying opportunities and paths the PCs can choose based on their alignment. I was extremely interested to see how this would pan out.
The summary of this adventure is that the PCs are in a feasthall when a maid is kidnapped by kitchen raiders who take her out of fear of being found out. The kidnappers are escaped slaves being hunted by their captors after the sinkhole allowed them to escape into new tunnels it created. After rescuing the maid, the PCs are tasked by the slaves to destroy the ship the slavers use in the harbour.
Unfortunately, the adventure fails to develop most of these interesting leads. The PCs are to be given the opportunity to choose to work with the slavers or the slaves, but in the adventure, the slavers attack them without a word otherwise. PCs are left with no choice other than a mundane battle. The PCs of course find the escaped slaves and the damsel in distress. Here there is a character alluded to in one of the 3 adventure hooks who has the potential to be an interesting and valuable addition to your campaign. Except that if you didn't follow that plotline, the PCs in the adventure are not told who he is. As a DM, all the good roleplaying between the slaves and the PCs is up to you to create and you will have to role play his back story and tell them who he is. If your players don't have some history about him, his appearance can feel artificial, as in "oh, by the way, look who else is down here!" If the PCs don't help the slaves, the slavers are supposed to target them as troublemakers anyway. Using usual DM intuition, it would mean that the villains harry the PCs until the PCs destroy them. You would just run part 2 anyway, but it would be nice to have a paragraph about that as an alternate encounter in the body of the adventure. Interestingly for a band of villains that don't want to draw attention to themselves, these guys use thunderstones.
The slaves tell the PCs about the boat the slavers use and suggest they destroy it. Here again, unfortunately, we run into a question of motives. Why destroy such a nice boat when you can have it for your very own? Well, apparently this pleasure craft is owned by investors and piracy is death. PCs are encouraged to kill the BBEG on board when the guard isn't looking, a fact that some LG characters would balk at. There is no suggestion as to what happens to the boat in the end, nothing about scuttling it or what the penalties might be. Any responsible party wouldn't want to let it return to harbour for the villains to reclaim. Finally, the final villain is a unique class from 0one Games that does not have all its rules in its stats, essentially forcing you to buy another book or make alterations.
Rest assured, there is some gold in this adventure. There are some great environmental hazards and some traps and the slavers act like slavers and try to capture the PCs. The maps and B&W art are of high standard. The adventure summary has amazing potential. I think this adventure suffers from too low of word count to get all its ideas fleshed out properly, which is a shame, because it could be something great instead of mediocre.
I would recommend this module, but to DMs who have time to create all the missed roleplaying potential. Additionally, the guttermage will need reworking unless you buy the book that details the class. For the right DM, this has the chance to be a diamond in the rough.
Little Stop of HorrorsGreatKhanArtist —
Raging Swan's St. Fiacre offering in the Village Backdrops series does not disappoint. Only about a dozen pages, each piece is packed with flavour and ideas. This village in particular is one you will want to explore with your Horror-themed adventurers, as That What Should Not Be, unfortunately, is.
For those unfamiliar with RS Village Backdrops, this one has the customary locations of interest as well as VIPs around town. The locations are a bit vanilla, but the series title is a bit misleading, and this really isn't about the places in town, but the evil that transpires there. And boy do you get a wealth of inspirational evil. The BBEG, named Jr., is from Beyond the Stars, but you also get a coven of hags who have a bone to pick with Jr. There is also the plot thread of the orphanage with its director having a shady enough past to warrant a visit from a travelling inquisitor and an outcast kitsune who calls said orphanage home. If the evil lurking within is not enough of a plot seed, there is the hook involving the empty summer houses, which are attracting the entirely wrong crowd.
There are also several interesting NPC locals all with their own motives and moods. There's the aforementioned orphanage director and the inquisitor, the latter of which included a stat block; the kitsune youth who has made friends with Jr.; the paranoid and reclusive cleric (who unfortunately is not otherwise mentioned); and the madwoman survivor who thinks there is more to the other villagers than meets the eye and is determined to weed them out.
The potential for all these parties to come together to the creative GM is where this product really shines. The author doesn't spell out how the plotline will use the NPCs to evolve, but leaves the DM to follow the breadcrumbs to their creative end. Will the inquisitor be too preoccupied to notice the true evil at hand? or will he forgive the fugitive long enough to form a bond? What about the kitsune's ties to both the orphanage and Jr.? Will the PCs convince the coven and/or the inquisitor to work with them to end the hidden evil? These are just a few of the hooks I sunk into.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this supplement. The only caveat is that it is more about the plot hook than any creative and unique buildings and NPCs, which is a little different from other Village Backdrops, as they tend to be about 50/50 location and adventure hook. Where the locations and NPCs shine is to build off the plot hook, and not as much on their own. But if you want a little diversion into a village off the beaten trail, this is your product.
What "Ecology of" should beGreatKhanArtist —
Are you also disappointed with the few "Ecology" articles in the Pathfinder APs? Look no further.
This fantastic little number has all the crunch and fluff a great resource should, and is packed full of useful bits. This book really feels like an anthropological take on lizardfolk. Their communal den is unique and believable, considering the biological factors lizardfolk would have. Their politics and religion are also considered. Like any other people, the lizardfolk have aspects unique to their culture. Since they are a warlike people, they are given new tactics [feats] and weapons. They also have three detailed unique heirloom weapons with stats and lore.
Similar to other RS offerings, there are all kinds of hooks to introduce this tribe to your players. Of course alot are conflict, but in Raging Swan's signature style, all is not well within the clan, and there are plenty of hooks imbedded in the character descriptions for social characters to take advantage of. Each major character is detailed, with the chief having a unique weapon. They are given personalities, stats and motives, as well as their attitude towards other major players and their schemes. Stats for the tribal goons are also included and they are of many levels for instant use.
Like some of the other RS products, relevant rules are also reprinted here: this time it's swamp hazards. Although it is a reprint, it's something I enjoy having, as it is very concise and I feel it adds to the product, rather than deterring from it.
Raging Swan blends old school and new style into a wonderfully comprehensive mix all their own, and it works. The tribe feels familiar, fresh and believable. In conclusion: Highly recommend.
What Goes Bump in the Night?GreatKhanArtist —
For fans of the Village Backdrop series, essentially this is another offering in the lineup, only taken deep below ground. An earthquake has sealed off a deep gnome fishing village from the sea, and that is only the beginning of the troubles Deephearth faces. Its people are missing and there are a number of potential suspects...
Like the other Village Backdrops, Deephearth is a small locale, but it is richly detailed with buildings and descriptions of village elders and local industries. It also has a plot hook worth investigating, because life on paper is never dull. The plots and rumours section returns with some excellent plot hooks encouraging NPC interaction. The major NPCs and the suspects in the disappearances are well-fleshed out and each has nuances of personality that makes for delightful roleplaying.
Deephearth itself features some very interesting buildings. There is a temple inside a hollowed out giant mushroom, a scrimshawed house amid an ancient carcass, and a tiny tavern serving up mushroom ale. The mushroom theme is strong in Deephearth, which is something I enjoy seeing in products detailing the deep dark.
Deephearth's problems can be made out to be quite creepy if elaborated upon. Because the deep gnomes have darkvision, there is no light, as the potential to attract unwanted attention is just too great. Paranoid villagers may attempt to extinguish any light source the PCs have, and whispers in the deep may or may not be only in one's head.
Although the villain behind the disappearances is somewhat cliché, the personalities of the suspects and villagers create an interesting side trek. My only major fault with this product is that the deep gnomes didn't feel any different from any other race. That's kind of sad, but consider the product is really meant to detail the location, and it's quite memorable.
This product really got my creative juices flowing, which is what I look for in any supplement. Therefore, definitely recommended for the price, and I hope a deep gnome "Tribes" offering will follow.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
And Madness FollowedGreatKhanArtist —
As the title suggests, this is a sourcebook of critters for the new Occult Adventures source material. Most of them use psychic magic or rules or variant class skills, so if you don't intend on buying the master volume, leave this one on the shelf. There are however, a handful of psychic-flavoured adversaries that don't use these rules. The creatures presented have a scale of OA knowledge, so DMs can jump right in with some of the less complicated offerings. Tychilarius the BBEG is actually free of psychic rules, strangely enough.
The creatures presented are of all CRs and most, if not all, major creature types have something added to them. This book is packed cover to cover with usefulness, the inside cover having the standard bestiary breakdown of CR, type and role. I wish Paizo would release this page as a preview for perspective buyers.
Flavour-wise, we have denizens of any place dark, mysterious or dark and mysterious place. The Dominion of the Black gets a major nod in Tychilarius; the underdark has many new hazards; Vudra and Tian Xia get foes to fit with their exotic feel; and many of these critters have ties to the shadow plane, astral plane or dreamscape.
Players have complained that some of the more recent creature offerings feel uninspired. I do not feel this way about this book. There are variants for some creature types, but mostly the creatures feel exotic and fresh. My favorite so far is the tattoo guardian, a construct with a wonderful flavor appeal. There are also lots of templates.
My only major complaint is that the book seems to have a disproportionate number of undead. Woe betide the psychic spell caster who dies any sort of death! All in all, a book I'm excited about. I really have to commend the designers on having a variety of creatures of all types, CRs and with varying amounts of OA rules.
Rated PGGreatKhanArtist —
...For Pretty Good and Player's Guide suggested.
There were some really good ideas in this module, but a lot of the content was confusing or lost to me because I don't own the Great City Player's Guide. Yes, the guttermage is statted up, but his motives are sort of lost on me. Is he some kind of urban druid? Why is this shrine so important to him? It was also not mentioned who Burlstaff was until the encounter, although he is alluded to in other areas earlier in the text. I also had no really clue what the dandymen do. I guess they're bodyguards for the nobles?
That said, this really is a good adventure. It doesn't have much of anything to do with the actual sinking, however. The location is just an abandoned bathhouse and can easily be used in any campaign. (Positive and negative for me.) I really liked all the hooks, all were plausible and appropriate. There is lots of opportunity for roleplaying with the nobles, with the potential for even more depending on the hook you used to get them there. These can be solved with diplomacy checks, if that's your style. The villain is not what it seems, which is a nice twist, and the "treasure" in the idol follows suit. Both pretty cool. There is a nice balance of combat as well.
The bathhouse is not the most interesting locale, as there is no more steam or water to complicate matters, but based on the price of the module, that's okay. Enterprising DMs can certainly add these features to be reactivated to aid heroes or enemies in combat.
All in all, recommended. The price is amazing and there are some neat twists and an excellent balance of social and swordplay.
Deadly Delve 1: Fane of the Undying Sleeper (PFRPG) PDFRaging Swan Press
Our Price: $4.99Add to Cart
Woe Be-Tide TheeGreatKhanArtist —
Like all RS products, this one has amazingly flavourful descriptions. These are on a chart that you can roll for, or cherry pick your favorites. Much of the history can be obtained by perception checks, and, as mentioned by other reviewers, much of it is in abyssal. This adventure is scalable and instructions are included. Like the other DM offerings, this one has many tantalizing hooks for DMs to develop into a campaign. It even has a mini "continuing the adventure" section with future adversaries statted out. Section 6 [no spoilers!] is really the best part, upping the ante on the flood factor for PCs. I absolutely love the simple and effective manner the flooding works in this product. It allows a DM to scale ahead and back the flooding at his discretion for parties, but also gives tables affecting water levels. A great mechanism to be reused for other dungeons. There is also an emergency escape route built in, but it has its own challenges.
What makes this adventure really great is not only that the adventure itself looks like lots of fun, but that there is so much that can be re-used elsewhere for your money. The descriptions tables can be reused for all kinds of seashores, The spell fragment puzzle can be reworked with the details given in the side box by a clever DM, there are the statted cultists and acolyte for later adventures and a new template. The pre-gens can be reused for PCs or NPCs and I love the ammo check boxes.
This is also extremely new DM-friendly. All the templates are included, as are the rules for drowning and how to use the adventure for very fresh DMs.
For 5$, a perfect offering.
Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures—Icons of the Realms, Set 1WizKids/NECA
Pretty DisappointedGreatKhanArtist —
These are uninspiring and with bad paint jobs. PF minis are often washed and drybrushed, but only one of the four was washed. The sculpts are humanoids standing in place. The minis look about the same as the heroes collection. I was also disappointed that there were only 4 minis. Go buy some Pathfinder minis instead.
Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures—Icons of the Realms, Set 1: Brass DragonWizKids/NECA
Our Price: $26.99
BackorderAdd to Cart
Brass BeautyGreatKhanArtist —
Actually, pretty cool. The dragon looks even better outside the box and sits on a transparent flying base. It is quite detailed and the only qualm I have is the gaps in the limbs that are attached later, some of these are 0.5-1cm! I would definitely recommend for a fan of pre-painted minis.
Only you can save humanityGreatKhanArtist —
My sister and I love this game! The only game she loves more is Settlers. We bought this game for the cooperative factor, since our family likes to gang up in competitive games, which inevitably leaves someone whining that it is unfair.
We like that the board is very similar to Risk and is easy to read and that the tokens are clearly visible and obvious colours and fit in the countries well. We like the role cards and the challenge that having so many varied roles makes sure that you never have the same team or same strategy twice. We like the option of adding or removing pandemic cards to the virus deck to change the difficulty. The time it takes is 45-60 min, and this is perfect. It is also a very beautiful game and the art inside is as nice as on the box.
Mechanically, the game does have a bit of a learning curve and some of the rules are a bit unclear. Some of our family just can't grasp the major concepts. The "explosion" of a disease when a city is already at full capacity is confusing, especially when nearby cities have alot of tokens on them already. We still haven't figured out what happens when all the tokens of a given tile are on the board--we assume that we have lost. However, the rulebook is nicely laid out and if you follow along, you can figure out most of the concepts with in a couple of turns.
Pandemic is a very cooperative game and without everyone knowing and playing their roles to maximum efficiancy, your team won't stand a chance. The game frequently wins.
I would say it is akin to Risk, but cooperative instead of competitive. If you like a good challenge and want to work together, pick this one. I'd also reccomend it for your board game group. 4.5 stars, simply because of the confusing mechanics listed above. Go out and support this awesome Canadian company!
Fun inside!GreatKhanArtist —
I bought Stonehenge and Nocturne as part of the Anniversary Sale, so I got a wicked deal on both. That said, I would pay the list price of 10$.
You get 4 new games and 2 new colours (orange and black) of player pieces, allowing you to bring the player count up to 7. This is great, because with my big family, we are always looking for games that will add extra players. However, I have not tested the original Stonehenge games with the extra players, so my concern is balance. There is also no write-up in the expansion on balance and extra players in the original game. I played the solitare game, and I enjoyed it. I also liked the simplicity of the instructions and that you could set up and play while following along in the rulebook. The rules were also written quick reference back--easy to find key points. I added 1d20 to the box for a turn counter. This was missing, but also easily obtainable for 0.25$.
The box is enormous for the contents. You can fit these pieces and rules easily in the Stonehenge box. That said, when you have condensed the pieces, you have a box that is almost perfect for Pathfinder add-ons. The GameMastery Tile maps fit perfectly lengthwise and the width leaves just enough room for several decks of item cards. And yes, the box is durable enough to handle all this goodness.
In conclusion, reccomend!
Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of Angels (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $7.99
Print Edition Unavailable
"Races Of" Heads to Higher GroundGreatKhanArtist —
A wonderfully indepth look into the lives of aasimars, "Blood of Angels" gives players a wide variety of characterful choices for those of celestial blood. Not just angels, a variety of goodly beings from the outer planes seem to have taken interest in mortals of all races. Info on non-human aasimars and lots of different varient sub-types give players tons of choices for both mechanics and fluff.
Amber Scott does a fantastically good job of detailing the lives of aasimars, reminding readers that not all aasimars lead a life of purity, and giving insight into the feelings of aasimars and those of the races they associate with, casting them as a race apart and definately distinct. Regions all over Golarion are detailed with motives and likely progenitor type and there is a large section for Tian Xia. Each base class thus far published also has a write-up.
For those who want mechanics, fear not. The 6 different subraces each have varient abilities and traits and there are 100 additional varient abilities to choose from. However, this is largely a fluff book!
In conclusion, a great addition to any player's library. Though largely geared toward PCs, DMs may find the sections on aasimars trying to fit in a useful aid in helping PCs roleplay or use the volume to create a new NPC. A fantastic way to kick off the new monthly offering!
Pathfinder Player Companion: Pirates of the Inner Sea (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $7.99
Print Edition Out of print
Pirates for PlayersGreatKhanArtist —
This book is set up in the typical places style. It begins by listing pirates for the different regions of Golarion. Andoran, Mediogalti, Okeno, Riddleport, River Kingdoms, and Shackles are the main regions with a page of other pirate-frequented nations. There is also a pirate timeline. Each of the major nations has the history, notable captains, ships, hideouts, types of pirating and 4 traits. These sections are 2 pages long, so they just hint at the nations. Amber Scott makes each region feel different from the other, and I was amazed at all the types of piracy in Golarion. This section is kind of odd for players, since it really seems more like background a DM would use, except for the traits. I'm kind of unsure as to the effectiveness of some of the traits, especially in the Shackled Skull AP, which players will want to use this book for.
The second half of this book is by far and away the better half. 4 pages of delicious pirate weapons and accessories, detailed and with charts. Wonderful for players and DMs. I will use the heck out of this section. Next, 2 pages of archetypes. These are varient "paths" for base classes, swapping out standard level abilities for pirate ones. Something I will definetly use on named NPCs. A whole new prestige class, Inner Sea Pirate is next. This class gives rogue skills to anyone who meets the simple pre-reqs. It has a very rogue feel, granting talents with a seafaring taste. Besmara is in the faith section. She is also detailed "The Wormwood Mutiny". Therefore, I'd rather have seen how Golarion's other faiths can be applied to seafarers. Spells has aquatic and necromantic spells for a wide range of classes. Finally, social mentions norms and laws for various ships. Pirate slang is under this heading and will add alot of flavour for campaigns.
My final thoughts are that this book is nice. It has some highly useful sections, and is well done in general. Each region feels distinct. However, I would rather have seen this book combined with the player's guide, especially the weapons and social sections. Although this book is good, if these sections were placed in other products, it would've been unnecessary.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #44: Trial of the Beast (Carrion Crown 2 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $13.99
Print Edition Out of print
Trial of the Beast ThoughtsGreatKhanArtist —
Interesting, but lacks strong hooks. The caravan of freaks felt tacked on and unnecessary. The PCs have no connection to the questgiver other than money. PCs not motivated by a conscience could care less about the Beast. PCs are after the necromancers who upset the prison and there is little connection to the questgiver, Beast and cultists. 2/3 of the adventure is the PCs trying to prove the Beast innocent by collecting evidence at different locals. This is also how the PCs get the majority of their AP--through deductions. Of the locations, the most interesting is Vorstag and Grines. Some variant monsters and unusual environments are the highlight here. Vorstag and Grine's also gives the PCs a chance to stretch their sword arms. The trial is heavily detailed, giving roleplaying parties a fun time, but for parties not into courtroom drama it is simply a series of skill checks. The lead-in to Schloss Caromarc is especially weak, with either the questgiver spoon-feeding it to the PCs or the Beast's "I have to go see my daddy now".
Nevertheless, the Schloss is the best part. Finally, a dungeon for hack 'n slashers! The map is beautiful and could be recycled into a Hidden Falls Dojo for your Tian Xia campaign. Parties without trapfinding may be disadvantaged. The estate is very atmospheric and holds the Frankenstein theme well. I like the final battle, but it steals the PCs thunder with a deus ex machina, where they cannot possibly beat the BBEG and survive.
Again, until Schloss Caromarc this is mostly a roleplaying adventure. There are foes to be fought as part of the investigations. Less detailing of the courthouse and removing the carnies could've given room for more motivation and connection between the PCs, Beast, questgiver and necromancers. Reccommended for a DM who knows his group and can better motivate them than what the AP has laid out, otherwise he may feel that he is railroading the PCs into forcing them to help the Beast.