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How do you not own this yet?Jeff Lee —
Seriously. This is seven years of Wayfinder magazine bestiary entries collected into one volume. 181 pages of new, original monsters. They range from the CR 1/4 creamfoot fennec (a cute little animal and new familiar option) to the massive CR 30 mawagetebab'dly (try saying that five times fast) which is a kaiju version of a hydra (!!!). There are monsters included here that are perfect for all terrains, various lands in Golarion, and suitable as encounters for various Paizo adventure paths. This is a resource a good GM should not pass up. Best of all, it's produced under the community use rules and therefore--FREE! Why would you not get this?
An Odd, but Intriguing RaceJeff Lee —
This product features a racial write-up of the mantaur, a new playable race that is half human and, well, half nearly a whole other human. It's odd. It's also based on an Internet meme that's been floating around for a bit after an image appeared on Reddit. That said, it offers a strange yet interesting new race compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The PDF is 8 pages, including the cover, title page, four pages of content, and two pages of required OGL info.
Physically, the mantaur is the torso, arms, and head of a human attached to a whole other humanoid body, minus the head. This unique configuration allows them to move either as a quadruped, with increased movement rate, or as a biped, with an extra pair of arms at their disposal. The breakdown of their racial traits puts them at an 11-point creature, with the lion's share of that going to the extra arms. One of their racial traits is androgyny, described “as being of both genders simultaneously.” As far as mechanics goes, this doesn't mean much. I can't think of any in-game mechanics that deal with it, aside from the elixir of sex shifting and possibly the Charming social trait. This seems like a missed opportunity to me to have added some new mechanics that might allow for this trait to be a racial advantage. Also, I should point out that in this reference, the term is being used to describe physiological traits, which may be problematic for some, especially since there is a section titled “Gender” that also uses the term to describe social roles. In the mantaur race, if the upper human portion of mantaur has physical male traits, its lower portion will have female traits, and vice versa. Socially, the mantaurs only focus on biological differences when mating, so there is little difference in social roles or fashion based on physiological makeup. Reproduction isn't explicitly tied to romantic partnerships either, which is a novel approach for societal norms and helps to define the mantaur as a distinct species, despite its very human features.
The book covers the other standard race write-up categories (society, relations with other races, alignment and religion, adventurers, and naming conventions) and provides height/weight and starting age charts, as well as favored class options for five Pathfinder core classes (barbarian, bard, druid, fighter, and monk) as well as the athlete, lover, and nomad classes from Little Red Goblin Games. Missing from the lineup are any new mechanics tied to the class. No new mantaur-specific spells, magic items, weapons, or equipment are offered, and that's disappointing. An offering of that type would have gone a long way towards helping to further solidify the idea of the mantaur race, as well as providing a little extra bang for the buck where the pdf is concerned. I'd personally be interested in seeing what sorts of equipment or magic would be developed by a race that has the advantages of quadrupedal movement and four arms, though not simultaneously.
One person comments on the original mantaur posting on Reddit: “I HATE THIS. I hate this so much and I want everyone to see it.” I was originally inclined to agree. Kudos to Scott Gladstein, Ian Sisson, and Christos Gurd for using it to develop a playable race that I don't hate and find intriguing. I only wish the race had received the full APG-style write-up. All in all it is a solid offering for the price range, and I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
A Must-have for Any GMJeff Lee —
Note to Rite Publishing: The cover image here at Paizo has Steven's name spelled correctly, but the copy I downloaded from DrivethruRPG still has it misspelled on the cover.
One of my favorite 3.5 products is Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary. The templates there have been instrumental in creating memorable monsters for my Wounded Earth campaign. Being able to breathe new life into old monsters, turning them into something different, is a great tool for GMs.
That said, I'm embarrassed to say that this book went under the radar for me until recently. I'm glad it was pointed out to me, because it will take its place as an invaluable tool at my gaming table.
There are 32 templates presented in this book, each with one or more sample creatures created with it. Even better, there is plenty of flavor provided to make each creature its own unique being, not just a monster with mechanical adjustments. Each also comes with ideas on how to insert such a creature into an ongoing campaign. There are also new feats, both monstrous and general, presented with the entries here.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
Aware arcana: constructs created by spellcasters that are essentially living spells used as guardians. Living spells were some of my favorite creatures from the latter days of 3.5. Turning them into purposely made constructs rather than accidentally created oozes is genius.
Body Jumper: A creature that has transcended the flesh, and become a possessing spirit. The sample creature here (a dragon) is beyond creepy. Can't wait to use him.
Hatemonger: A template caused by a parasitic infection that makes the host creature succumb easily to darker emotions. This thing isn't just a template, it's the seed for an entire adventure.
Phalanx Creatures: Ever wanted to create twins with that special soul-bond? How about the ultimate army that fight as if they were simply parts of a greater whole? This template will do that for you.
While there are templates in here that didn't thrill me as much as others, nothing seems out of place or sub-par in comparison to the rest of the material. Formatting and layout are good. The artwork ranged from okay to outstanding.
The negatives here are few and outweighed by the overall goodness of the book. I noticed some minor proofing errors here and there. The creature stat block for the distorting creature template does not mention that the base creature is a krenshar; I had to figure that out from the illustration and the monster's abilities. The worst offender was the sample creature for the Betrayer template, which is alternately called "Iudas," "Iodus," and "Iuduas" within its stat block and description.
The Book of Templates uses some base creatures that may not be readily recognizable to some Pathfinder players, as they are from 3.5 books from Mongoose Publishing and Necromancer Games. I'm always pleased to have new (well, new to me anyway) monsters available, but I would have appreciated a notation in the stat block of what book they were originally in.
All told, this book is a great find and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for this format.
The Paizo Fans Hit Another One Out of the ParkJeff Lee —
One of the best things about the even-numbered issues of Wayfinder is that, as a pdf-only offering, they can provide more content. This issue has over 90 pages of quality content based on Qadira and Katapesh and should not be missed. (Why would you? It's free!)
Here are several of the many highlights of the issue:
The Censer Alchemist Archetype, by John Leising: A new archetype for the alchemist based on turning the alchemist's extracts into inhalants. An expanded formulae list adds plenty of offensive punch to this archetype, and when the chips are down you can even use your censer as a weapon.
Kirnoth's Bounty, by Frank Gori: A powerful artifact made more powerful by the addition of five scarabs that can be added to it, themselves useful magic items. This would be a great centerpiece for a desert exploration/tomb-robbing adventure.
Daeza's Abode, by Anthony Adam: What starts as as rescuing an old man from his attackers turns into a more complex mission involving mephits, a thieving wizard, and a genie's life in the balance. An excellent side trek adventure easily dropped into an ongoing campaign.
Katapesh: Birthplace of Gnolls, by Thomas LeBlanc: Gnolls presented as a playable race, complete with background generation tables, as well as new racial and regional traits.
Al-Bashir: The Golden Cage, by Shaun Hocking: An excellent write-up of the harpy-infested Qadiran ruin, full of details and background information that could be fleshed out into a full campaign for an interested GM with a party of players ready to clear the evil of the ruins so the Satrap can raise the city to its former glory.
Ships of the Inner Deserts, by Dain Nielsen: Hovering sand ships! Elemental engines! Need I say more? Grab one, capture your enemies, and take them to the deep desert. Then throw them in the Pit of the Sarlacc. (Sarlacc not included in this article, but seriously who needs it. Dune ships!)
A Visit to the Market, by Eric Hindley: 8 different stalls for your players to visit in the markets of Katapesh. A great way to roleplay some shopping before or after an adventure and expose the PCs to the local flavor of the city, and perhaps provide a seed or two for an adventure in the city itself.
I'm just barely scratching the surface here. In addition to these there are additional side treks, adventure seeds and plot hooks, the Hakima prestige class, genie bloodline traits, new environmental hazards, regional songs, the Spiderhawk magus archetype, the Safiir base class, a detailed guide to the Lightning Stones in Katapesh, new magic items, new animal companions, new rogue talents, new witch hexes, new monsters, rules for a game of chance complete with game board and pieces, weal and woe articles featuring detailed NPCs to aid or hinder PCs, and a complete Beginner Box adventure. Add to that wonderful fiction by Neil Spicer, Aaron Motta, Todd Stewart & Tanith Tyrr, John C. Rock, Jason Keeley, beautiful color and black-and-white artwork, and amazing maps, and you've got a hell of a magazine here. What are you waiting for? Download!
Spend part of my limited budget at Paizocon on this. So worth it!Jeff Lee —
Okay, I can finally get around to writing a review of this book. This is a good thing, because it's great. 123 pages of space-themed goodness for Pathfinder players and GMs alike. There are five new races, two new classes, and two archetypes available for players. If you're a fan of the Guyver, then you have to play a symbiote-synthesist, the summoner archetype. It's very obviously inspired by the manga/anime and renders it beautifully in Pathfinder stats. There are also new spells and magic items, and vehicles offered to enhance your game.
For GMs, there is plenty of help in taking your campaign to the stars. 29 different planetary environments are described in the first part of this section. If doing a Pathfinder version of Spelljammer isn't your thing, these could easily be adapted as traits for alternate planes in a plane-hopping campaign. Add to this new hazards, disasters. (Meteor strike, anyone? I'm planning on meshing things from here with Monte Cook's When the Sky Falls for some truly epic gaming.) The bestiary would have been satisfactory to me with just the elder ooze and star beasts alone. The other creatures are icing on the awesome cake. Round this out with three, count 'em, THREE full adventures by Colin McComb, Richard Pett, and John Pingo, not to mention adventure hooks for starting your own adventures, this book is well worth the price.
A Fine Little TidbitJeff Lee —
So this is is a fine way to get a taste of the stuff that Minotaur Games is putting out in its Monster Focus line. Monster Focus: Gravelings is a 4 page pdf: Cover, two pages of what you came for, and the OGL page. It introduces a new minor undead, the graveling, and plenty of mechanics and flavor to introduce it into your Pathfinder game and make the graveling your necromancer's new best friend. Most of the contents of the pdf come in pairs, with the exception of the graveling itself.
First are two feats, one to allow your spellcaster to take a graveling as a familiar, the second to allow for a gaggle of the things! (The text of the pdf says "swarm" not to be confused with the type of swarm seen in the Bestiaries. Besides, I think "gaggle" is the correct word to use when referring to a group of gravelings.)
Then there are two alchemical items, the first able to enhance your graveling if used during its creation, the other to heal it. Two spells are provided, one to animate a graveling, the other for a whole gaggle. A pair of minor wondrous items facilitate greater ease of graveling use. Finally, after the graveling stat block, a pair of clever adventure ideas to introduce the graveling into an existing campaign. All in all, this is top-grade content any GM should be glad to have to enhance a game involving necromancy, or for a necromancer PC to add a little extra panache. Judging this piece on content alone, it would be a five-star product. Alas, the aesthetics won't allow for that.
The cover is the least offender. Yellow on blue provides a bold scheme (though I could do without the shadow effect behind the text). The pencil sketch of the graveling on the cover harkens back to the old 1st edition Monster Manual, and a little old-school is always fine with me. However, the text of the product itself is...well, muddy would be a way to describe it. It's like watching a reel to reel film that's nearly, but not quite, in focus. (Ironic, considering the title of the product line.) If this had any more than two pages of content, it would be maddening. I prefer paper over electronic product and enjoy pdfs best when they're short and easy to read on the screen; this one is the former but sadly not the latter. The penciled labyrinth border at the bottom of each page doesn't help either. Seems like an afterthought and does nothing to pretty up the page. So regretfully I have to give this one 4 stars, hopeful that the other products in the line have the same quality content, and hoping they were made with a cleaner production.
Old school feel and a nice bit of dungeon dressingJeff Lee —
This product harkens back to the days of 1st edition AD&D, where the Dungeon Master's Guide had appendices full of random tables providing details for the DM making up a dungeon on the fly.
Raging Swan has taken one particular feature, the portcullis, and provided the mechanics (in game features of the portcullis, variances for construction materials and the conditions they're in, as well as lifting mechanisms) along with two mechanical traps (the falling and toppling portcullises) and a nasty magical trap in the wailing portcullis (every evil necromancer on the block will want one for his inner sanctum).
And, of course, the flavor. The bulk of the pdf is a random table with a hundred different details that can be ascribed to a dungeon portcullis. These could leave PCs scratching their heads, or inspire a GM to produce an encounter to await them beyond the barrier. All in all, very good stuff.
If I have any complaints about the product at all, it would be the wish for a bit more art. If nothing else, there's a lot of white space on the title page that was begging for something to be placed in it. Even a simple portcullis design centered above the title would have been sufficient. Still, for the price tag, this can't be beat.
Cue Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song"Jeff Lee —
This latest issue of Wayfinder focuses on one of the coolest locations (excuse the pun) in Golarion: The Land of the Linnorm Kings. As usual, the issue features great articles, stories, and artwork packed with a lot of Viking flair. Some highlights of this issue:
All this and more fantastic stories, poems, articles, and artwork. And it's free!
A great read and a great source of Pathfinder goodness!Jeff Lee —
No one should pass up downloading any and all issues of Wayfinder, ever. Devout fans of the Pathfinder system and its accompanying game world work hard to produce a slick, professional product chock full of excellent writing: fiction, poetry, NPCs, monsters, scenarios; you name it, it's in here.
Some highlights from an overall outstanding issue:
These are just a few of the great pieces in issue #5. I'm always just a little more excited for the odd numbered issues, as their release coincides with Paizocon, which means printed copies. There's something satisfying about getting your hands on one at the 'con, and passing the time on the flight home reading some good fiction. Want a print copy but can't attend Paizocon? A monetary contribution to Wayfinder towards publication costs gets you a copy. Are you a third party publisher of Pathfinder compatible products? Take out an ad in Wayfinder and expand your customer base. Do you have a piece of Pathfinder fiction, an article, or creation to share? Send it in to Wayfinder. If your piece is selected for a print issue, you get a copy.
Wayfinder is just good stuff from good folks. Period.
Pathfinder Module J5: Beyond the Vault of Souls (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $9.99
Great module and well worth the buy.Jeff Lee —
I've written up a review on my Examiner page, so rather than repeat myself, go ahead and read it here.
Great shirt, but why did you squash it?Jeff Lee —
Having just joined the Pathfinder Society and created my first character, I decided to buy a shirt to represent his faction: Qadira.
The shirt itself is great. I love the color; the faction logo is a quality print and looks like it will stand up well to the standard wear and tear of washing; the shirt itself is 100% cotton and should be light and comfortable for summer wear.
The shipping, however, has me a bit puzzled. It arrived in three days (not surprising, since I'm only on the other side of the state) by standard mail. I was surprised at the size of the package; it looked like it contained a coffee cup rather than a t-shirt. When I opened the box, I found a plastic bundle the size and shape of an apple turnover. Much to my surprise, the shirt had been...compressed, for lack of a better word, into this shape for packaging. I understand this is probably convenient for storage and shipping. However, the shirt came out of the package so wrinkled that it looks like it has a ruffled hem and sleeves. I've never had to iron a newly bought t-shirt before wearing it, but I may have to with this.
So, all in all, very satisfied with the product...not so much with the packaging.
Chomping at the bit to run a campaign in KorvosaJeff Lee —
I just received my Guide to Korvosa today and am very impressed with the level of detail here. The way the whole book is written "in game" makes for an excellent presentation. So long as I can keep my players' prying eyes out of chapter 5, this will ensure their ability to immerse themselves in the game world once I run my Crimson throne campaign.
Only down note I've found thus far: The inadvertent binding of the map into the book. Still, follow the directions above and it will come out just fine.
This is classic!Jeff Lee —
As an English major, I must have this shirt...even if I have to follow someone down a dark alley, knock them over and go through their pockets for the dough to afford it. ;-)