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GameMastery Item Cards: Shattered Star Adventure PathPaizo Inc.
Cardboard shards of the Shattered StarLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Physical reminders for artifacts in a campaign about artifacts.
Every campaign has items, but Shattered Star really revolves around them. It's by far the best place for an aid like this, but still isn't really vital.
The biggest problem is that the shards, like most items, end up sitting in one players inventory. In our game, that literally took that form of the cards riding around in player folio's pockets. Which is actually kind of cool, but "kind of cool" only gets you so far.
If I were rerunning Shattered Star, I would actually buy a fresh deck of these. But I'd also probably add some mechanics to reward moving around the shards. The more dynamic items are and the more personality they have, the more useful these cards will be.
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Curse of the Crimson Throne (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $41.99
Good value, but some reservationsLandon Winkler —
Short Version: A smart buy but held back by structural issues.
It's hard to get better adventure value for your dollar than this or the Rise of the Runelords collected edition. If I were reviewing on that alone, this would be 5 stars and then some. But there's more to an adventure than that.
The AP's hook is quite good, but almost immediately discarded in favor of saving the city. This can be helped a good session 0, but still feels artificial.
Even looking at the new plot, many elements feel shoehorned in. People point to volumes 4 and 5 for this, but there are sections in 2 that exist only to kill time as the plot advances and an entire dungeon in 3 that is cool but can seem forced if the players don't kick in the door right away. Any of these alone would be fine, but each makes the next more obvious.
That being said, there's a lot of cool stuff going on here, it just takes at least a star's worth of work to stitch it together.
Treasure Trove for GMsLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Unless you use an alternate way to build NPCs, grab this.
Building NPCs in Pathfinder can be one of the most time-consuming types of preparation. No book can contain all the NPCs you could ever want, but this one takes care of a broad swathe of them.
This is one of the first books I'd suggest for a new GM, up there with the Bestiary. Particularly for groups that wander off the rails, and frankly that's almost all of them, having a slate of prebuilt NPCs to pull from can be a lifesaver.
Cornerstone Gaming AidLandon Winkler —
Short Version: If you use maps in your game, this gives a great foundation of enemies for a fraction of the price of minis.
The pawn boxes, particularly this one containing so many oft-used monsters, each replace hundreds (let's be honest, thousands) of dollars in minis in an easier-to-store solution.
There are a few problems that aren't enough to bump the score down, but are worth mentioning. I often find I don't have enough copies of common monsters, although the Monster Codex box helps a great deal there. The lack of gargantuan and colossal pawns is understandable (they'd be a giant pain to fit on sheets), but still felt. And, after years of weekly use, these pawns don't return snugly to the sheets anymore, necessitating different storage.
Fun Introduction to the StarsLandon Winkler —
Ran this twice at GenCon. It was a lot of fun both times, with an interesting starship combat and some good tactical combats.
I also really appreciated that it was paced a little shorter, being able to introduce everyone to the rules and their characters without going over time.
But the real star, in my opinion, was the roleplaying. There were some really fun NPCs here and interactions you might not expect.
I ran it twice and would happily run it again, so definite 5/5.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Familiar Folio (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $8.99
Useful, but not inspiringLandon Winkler —
I think this book does what it sets out to do: make familiars more useful, engaging, and tied into character flavor.
But it doesn't make me want to run out and create any characters (although the Chosen One is pretty sweet). Mostly, it'll wait until one of my players says "ooooo, can I have a familiar?"
I have a more in-depth review posted here.
Never really grabbed meLandon Winkler —
This feels like two books: an absurd introduction in the style of Vance and then a serious story for the follow through. There are some good ideas in the second half, but I never really got over the shift in tone.
Aside from a few name drops, this also doesn't really feel like Golarion. It really read more like an unrelated fantasy novel, which is fine in itself, but sort of weird for a Pathfinder Tales novel.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #86: Lords of Rust (Iron Gods 2 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Let me try the Universal GreetingLandon Winkler —
Short Version: An open adventure in a hostile settlement with a lot of conflicting factions.
This adventure reminds me of the classic Temple of Elemental Evil in all the best ways. There are a lot of factions at work that can clearly be played against each other, some called out explicitly and others that might take a bit more work.
I agree with some of the other reviewers that reputation is handled well here. It's easy to track and the way that the PCs can directly see the effects feels really good.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #87: The Choking Tower (Iron Gods 3 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Neat DungeonLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Really cool, flavorful dungeon that doesn't feel tied into the plot.
Taking the major adventure sites separately, this is a solid adventure. There's lots of cool, weird stuff going on in the main dungeon here and some of the surrounding areas give great roleplaying opportunities.
But the transitions into and out of this book don't quite sit right with me. It feels a little too much like "hey, there's this cool place with a dungeon, let's figure out why we need to go there" rather than a natural continuation of the plot.
That said, I'm sure my players would go and enjoy the dungeon. I would just want to put a little extra work into those connections to make things a bit more cohesive.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #88: Valley of the Brain Collectors (Iron Gods 4 of 6)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Hold onto your brainsLandon Winkler —
Short Version: If you like Giger, you'll probably like this. And I like Giger.
This adventure really showcases the Dominion of the Black. Even if it weren't for the excellent back matter, the Dominion would be the star of the show.
But the way the adventure is structured, I never really felt any Dominion threat. They're hella creepy and super dangerous, but they really just sort of happen to be in the PCs way.
That said, I think this is one of those adventures that can easily slide from merely average to one of the best adventures your group has ever had. It all depends on the GM's ability to pull the players into the atmosphere of the adventure.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #89: Palace of Fallen Stars (Iron Gods 5 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Pure Elemental NumeriaLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Fight the Technic League at its source.
There's something magical about AP issues that tackle major elements of the setting. The Black Sovereign, the Technic League, and the city of Starfall are things we've known about for a long time, so including them in this playground is really cool.
As someone who cares less about Golarion, this might slip to a 4, but it's still an interesting open adventure with a lot of ways to reach your goals and some great opportunities for roleplaying to take the front seat.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #90: The Divinity Drive (Iron Gods 6 of 6)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Great Final InstallmentLandon Winkler —
Short Version: The payoff for Iron Gods.
There's a lot of stuff to like about this adventure. You get the appropriately epic final showdown, enemies that know at least a little of what they're doing, some interesting non-combat encounters, and a chance meddle with the power of the gods themselves.
But it really gives you the payoff of the ideas in its AP more than most final installments. You get to stop the bad guy and save the world from a fate worse than death, but you also get to tackle some of the themes in the AP directly and make some really cool choices that can have a positive impact... or a negative one.
Easy five stars, moves the AP from "undecided" to "should run" for me.
Pathfinder Pawns: Shattered Star Adventure Path Pawn CollectionPaizo Inc.
Add Print Edition $19.99
Add PDF $13.99
Pawns are greatLandon Winkler —
Short Version: If you're running Shattered Star and use a grid, I'd suggest picking these up.
One of my players picked this up and it's proven very nice. The pawns look good and are sturdy enough for repeated use.
I do have two caveats:
All in all, I'm still very glad we picked them up, but it's not a pure no-brainer.
Pathfinder #7—Curse of the Crimson Throne Chapter 1: "Edge of Anarchy" (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $13.99
Print Edition Out of print
Still A Solid StartLandon Winkler —
Short Version: This adventure is too linear, but has aged surprisingly well.
I'd definitely still run this adventure, although I'm a little concerned about the amount of adjustments needed. The early sections feel like they need a little more meat, both foreshadowing future occurrences and grounding the players in Korvosa. The latter parts should probably be loosened up a bit, structure wise.
Even with that work, and the lesser concern of conversion from 3.5, this still seems like a fun adventure. I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the Curse of the Crimson Throne.
Posted more thoughts on tumblr.
Pathfinder Adventure Path: Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add Hardcover $59.99
Add PDF $41.99
The ValueLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Good adventure path, even better value per dollar.
This is not the AP if you're looking for something new and different. It is the AP if you're on a budget, looking for a classic feel, or just aren't quite sure where to start.
Like all APs, it's best when tuned to your group, but Rise is close enough to the basic assumptions that you should be close to the mark.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $9.99
Some gems even for non-advanced gamesLandon Winkler —
Short Version: If you want new classes, this is the place!
I wasn't expecting a ton out of this book, because my group intentionally makes their characters as light as possible. Because blending two classes together is probably more complex than their components, I was expecting to not use many of the classes.
I ended up getting more usable ones than I expected. Arcanist stands out as one that's going to get some play, along with the slayer, swashbuckler, investigator, and possibly even hunter.
So, it exceeded expectations there. I'll definitely get more use out of this book than Ultimate Combat or Ultimate Magic.
The reason I've dropped it down to 3 stars is because the book seems rushed. There are some layout issues and much of the art just doesn't feel up to Paizo's normal standards. Neither of these are deal-breakers, but gives the book an "undercooked" feeling.
Note: This review was moved down after further examination of the material. That "undercooked" feeling does extend to some of the rules components, including several archetypes I would have liked to have used.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Technology Guide (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $13.99
Print Edition Unavailable
Technomancy at its finestLandon Winkler —
Short Version: Grab this if you want to run Iron Gods, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Blackmoor, or really anything else involving fantastic technology.
This is a pretty sweet book. It has a lot of rules information for pieces of technology, but the descriptions (particularly the technological artifacts) also bring in a ton of flavor. Even the luddites in our parties can appreciate some of the new spells, feats, and other material.
The rules here work best where technology is a mysterious force, left behind by a previous civilization or fallen from the sky. It's obviously something you want for Iron Gods, but I'd feel comfortable running a Rifts-like setting using the Pathfinder rules as well.
All that said, if you're on a limited budget, note there are plans to add this to the PRD.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #82: Secrets of the Sphinx (Mummy’s Mask 4 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Two Classic Tastes, Better Than EverLandon Winkler —
Short Version: It's a hex crawl you don't want to skip and a dungeon crawl with ample roleplaying.
The first section, finding the sphinx, is handled as a hex crawl. I'm not a big hex crawl fan, but it's handled very well here. In particular, things you find or learn during the hex crawl directly provide more options during the rest of the adventure.
The second part of this adventure reminds me a lot of the best sections of Shattered Star, where the relations of the NPCs in a dungeon are as much the "map" as the physical layout is.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #83: The Slave Trenches of Hakotep (Mummy’s Mask 5 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Not Quite ThereLandon Winkler —
Short Version: A solid adventure that didn't quite gel for me.
This adventure has good encounters, brutal traps, some interesting NPCs, and a solid central conceit that'll keep PCs moving.
But the setting of the adventure never really seemed organic to me. It doesn't come across as anywhere that was intended to be used, which works for the tombs throughout the path but seems much weirder here.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #84: Pyramid of the Sky Pharaoh (Mummy's Mask 6 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Excellent CapstoneLandon Winkler —
Short Version: What I want the 6th installment to be.
This is a good finale to the Mummy's Mask path, with mummies (so many mummies), traps (so... many... traps), and the final showdown with the Sky Pharaoh.
I suspect some of the puzzles will feel videogamey in play, but that's Legend of Zelda or Castlevania videogamey, so whether that's a bad thing is up to the group. I doubt my group would object.
This also has some of the best non-adventure material of any AP I've read. The continuing the campaign is awesome. The finale of Amber E. Scott's Pathfinder Journal really sells the new format. And Wes Schneider's guide to the afterlife is almost worth the price of admission on its own.
Awesome or Awesomest?Landon Winkler —
I've spent the last couple years telling my gaming friends, secular friends, and random people on the internet to read Death's Heretic. And I have an unhealthy fondness for Kaer Maga, so my expectations could be accurately described as "sky high."
And this was everything I wanted and a few things I really should have remembered to ask for. There's a good mystery, interesting characters, and a central philosophical question that actually makes you think.
One thing that still took me by surprise was the quality of the planar scenes. There are seriously things about the planes that have been bugging me since TSR was running the show... and get neatly tied up here like it was the plan all along.
I could pick nits, but my only real regret is that the central question of Death's Heretic speaks to me more than the central question here. I don't think it's actually a weightier issue, just one that's more important to me.
Short Version: If you've read Death's Heretic, read this. If you haven't, go read Death's Heretic, then read this.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #80: Empty Graves (Mummy’s Mask 2 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
The dead rise for a solid urban adventureLandon Winkler —
Short Version: The rare well-implemented urban adventure with equally solid back matter.
This adventure hits some high points: ample chances for roleplaying, an extended investigation with thorough guidelines for managing the pace, and an interesting smattering of battles.
What bumps it to five stars for me, though, is that it keeps the PCs firmly in center stage and does not let up on the urgency. Those are the two biggest weaknesses in most urban adventures and this one does a good job addressing them.
Aside from the adventure itself, you get a Pathfinder Journal in the new handout-ready style, a very appropriate selection of monsters, and a hefty article on the gods of Ancient Osirion/Egypt.
If I were running a game in Osirion, Thuvia, or Egypt, I'd consider picking this up in PDF just for the back matter.
Hexes!Landon Winkler —
Short Version: Great supplementary mapping tool for anyone that uses hexes.
For free-drawing maps, I'd consider the basic solution to be a dry/wet erase surface. You can use gaming paper for that, and I do like that it doesn't smear on me, but you end up paying more in the long run than a reusable surface.
But gaming paper shines in two areas: reusability and preparation.
Gaming Paper is amazing there's an area the party is going to visit several times, if you run the same adventure for multiple groups, or you're somehow organized enough to build up a library.
The big selling point for the singles packs to me is drawing out maps in advance. I can prep a night's maps or even an entire book of an Adventure Path and stash them for when I need them. With paper tokens, I can even get the tokens cut out and paper clip them to the appropriate map.
That isn't to say I never draw maps during a session, but predrawing means I can have the battle set up by the time everyone's figured out their initiative.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City (Mummy’s Mask 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Add PDF $15.99
Print Edition Unavailable
Simple Hook, Good AdventureLandon Winkler —
Short Version: If your players build characters who are interested in exploring tombs, this'll be great. But don't expect the adventure to steer them there.
I prefer APs to start with a bit of a bang to get everyone emotionally invested along with getting the path moving. This takes a different approach, basically assuming that you have a party of adventurers looking to explore some tombs and... hey, there are tombs here.
It's kind of old-school that way and complements the tone of the path well, but isn't to my taste.
The tombs themselves are exactly what they should be: a nice mix of traps and combat encounters. The adventure is also structured very well to allow some roleplaying with Pharasmins and rival explorers.
The back matter is mostly taken up by a description of Wati (the setting of this and the next installment). The bestiary is thematically appropriate and features several new monsters that surprise the players in the adventure itself.
The story is in a new format that focuses on a location featuring in the adventure and features several handout-quality images and maps. The entire thing could also serve as a spoiler-free handout, which is actually really cool.
You probably know if you need thisLandon Winkler —
This is a good Bestiary. I'd personally put it up with Bestiary 3, with both having a good mix of classic, mythological, and completely new monsters.
There's a bit of a horror them and a bit of a mythic theme, but neither is overwhelming. If you're looking for a whole book of mythic monsters, this isn't it. If you're worried the whole book is mythic monsters, there aren't that many in practice.
For me, the evocative flavor on the high CR creatures pushes it over the top. The demon lords, empyreals, and great old ones really feel like epic creatures.
If you're sure you don't need any more monsters... don't buy this book. That said, I wasn't sure if I needed any more monsters and was definitely impressed by this.
Short Version: These are sweet monsters, but only you know whether you want more monsters.