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Do You Want To Be A DragonMark Knights —
Have you ever wanted to play a Dragon? Perhaps you already have in the old 2nd Edition Council of Wyrms campaign. Maybe you are a GM that really wants to offer up some surprising modifications to a Dragon and do not know where to start. Well, let me tell you, I have a product that you will be interested in come 1 August 2014. Written by Wendall Roy this book adds to the In the Company of series that Rite Publishing offers for players to take on the roles more traditionally considered monsters. The book is geared for Pathfinder and/or 3.5 and there would be some work converting to other systems.
I have always been a fan of Dragons and yet have had trouble getting the tone and approach right in game. I have bought several supplements that take an in depth look at the Dragon type but I have never really been truly satisfied that I get the motivation or approach right. I was suitably sceptical when I heard that this book was on its way and it offered me some private amusement at the thought of PC’s trying to fill the role of these marvellous menacing creatures.
I now have to apologize for that presumption because from the moment I started reading this book it got me. The tone of the source book for much of it is from the point of view of Thunders in Defiance a Dragon who is seeking the help of us ephemerals to educate his wards in the ways of the material plane. I’ll not go into too much detail here but the background given to the formation of the dragons and their current situations and habitats is compelling and brilliant. The story captivated me, made me laugh and made me intensely curious. Take for example my favourite paragraph;
In the material plane, dragons are seen as forces of destruction and hoarders of wealth by most ephemerals. I will not disagree with this assessment, but it is a very narrow view of our kind. There are exceptions to the rule, but as a whole ephemeral societies avoid rousing the anger of dragonkind and we have little to do with your settlements unless they encroach upon our territory (or possess something we covet).
The tone that is included in this is fantastic. It tells me of the nature and the superiority complex that Dragons have as well as their duplicitous nature. The back-story here is top notch and scary. Hidden here is the idea of an area completely populated by dragons and a fantastic notion of the Well of Oblivion the home of those that follow the Undragon. Great stuff that can be woven into existing campaigns or introduced with the idea of playing a dragon.
The presentation of the book is also top notch. Some great artwork is included and nearly every page has something new and intriguing for you to look at. The layout is exceptional and it all combines into a nice mini book that is really easy to read on an iPad, tablet or computer.
Rules for Dragons
The rules for playing a dragon offer up the rules as a racial template for a character much like any other. They then talk about some alternative racial traits and some archetypes for existing classes. the one thing that I was disappointed with here is the lack of dragon breath. It is not gone completely, but only one class archetype takes it on (a variant of the Sorcerer). To me a dragon needs a breath weapon but apart from the archetypes of the sorcerer and the new class included in the book this is not a staple. Moving away from the archetypes though they offer up a Racial class called the Draconic Exemplar. That is a class that basically increases you to be like a dragon as opposed to focussing on a class (though you can multi-class). It gives breath weapon and modifications to that breath weapon as a possibility and offers a heap of different paths for you to take as a dragon.
You are treated as a taninim (the name the dragons call themselves) and start as a Small creature, likely being a young dragon. There are some archetypes that have you increase in size over your levels including the Draconic Exemplar and your character may end up a Gargantuan beast by the end of their career which is pretty cool when you come to think about it. A nice unique race the dragon is actually very well balanced in the long run and I can not think of a single reason why I would say no to having one in my game.
Dragons and the GM
Largely being a GM though I am more excited about the idea of using this book as a tool kit. A tool kit in which I can create a multitude of alternatives for dragons. Think of this little 39 paged book as a gold mine of ways to surprise your character with one of the most feared and sought after foes! From mirrored scales to complex essences you will find this booklet invaluable if you want to mix things up. In fact it sets my evil GM mind to thinking there are so many possibilities in this little book I do not know where to start…
I wholeheartedly suggest you consider getting this book if you are a GM and dragons figure prominently in your games. If you are a player and want to play as a dragon grab it and thrust it under your GM’s nose. then start whining if they say no. Then if they still say no, tell them to come see me and I will slap them for their stubbornness. It is dragons for dragon’s sake!
Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny (Skull & Shackles 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Out of print
Reading it is Brilliant, Playing it is a Different StoryMark Knights —
I read this module and it immediately hooked me as a GM. This is an excellent, nay brilliant adventure that has much going for it. I put in massive amounts of work to encourage the players to get excited to play this and they were.
But I had not realised the effect this module would have. This module basically is about kidnapping the players, grind them down and subject them to a harsh ship experience. Sure, in the end they rise up and get a ship of their own and escape the yoke of the evil Captain and his minions but the lead up can be very depressing for players that get seriously into character.
This module nearly broke my group. The players in my group got tied up in their characters and it was not pleasurable to see how they attempted to balance who would get the beating and who would not. I felt for them as they felt the helplessness of their characters. In the long run it ended in a massive argument and the group nearly broke up for good. I had to spend a good amount of time rebuilding burnt bridges and assuring them that they were moments away from a great resolution to the module.
In the end I loved how this module read, hated how it played. So this review puts it right in the middle of the ratings. Consider running it (and the AP as a whole is awesome) but be aware of the dangers that lie in it.
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow by Rite PublishingMark Knights —
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is the new diceless RPG from Rite Publishing. I was a backer of this game via Kickstarter and it has now come to fruition after being released on the 1st of December 2013.
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is essentially Amber with a new setting. It has been called the "spiritual" successor to Amber which is something I can't really comment on. As much as I have wanted to play Amber I never actually got around to it. I can say that the new Rite Publishing game is right on the money though. I have often wondered how a dice-less system worked and I have to say that it works well!
The characters are made in a group setting and an attribute auction is held with every player having a set number of points to spend on these attributes. In game play the actuality is all actions are referred back to the attributes and in essence the highest wins (of course tactics and circumstance have a role to play). In essence, the system is elegant and streamlined. It is quick and painless and allows for a focus on story.
This game is a story tellers wet dream. For both the GM and the player it offers an open set of realms to play around with. This game is GURPS except you play with one character across as many settings as you want to! It is a version of Rifts or the TV series Sliders with much, much more powerful lead characters! The setting of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow is that of the Grand Stair which in essence is a realm that exists between realms! It is a stairwell that alters its appearance and structure throughout its entire length (not that anyone has found a top or a bottom to it) and the Lords and Ladies of Gossamer and Shadow travel its paths to enter realities that are connected by doorways.
A Lord/Lady of Gossamer is what the players are. They are beings capable of finding, and opening, the doors to different realities on the Grand Stair. They may only be new to the stair or have had the ability to traverse it for some time. They are an elite few among all of the realities and they see the forms of power that create the realities in the form of the Eidolon (structure and form in magic) or the Umbra (Chaos, destruction and wildness in magic). Players can draw from either aspect but generally a Lady of Gossamer is a follower of the Eidolon or Umbra whilst a Lady of Shadow would be something more sinister altogether.
The lords and ladies of shadow are a race of creatures known as the Dwimmerlaik who use a power separate to that of the Eidolon and Umbra. They war with the Lords as they see the Grand Stair as theirs and theirs alone. They had recently been thought but a myth by the travellers of the Grand Stair but have made attacks that cannot be explained away recently.
So, you have a meta-plot (the Lords of Gossamer vs. the Dwimmerlaik or Lords of Shadow) and you have a Grand Stair that has doors to an infinite number of realities. Realities with any setting and any genre to play with. Same characters for the players and an infinite number of realities. I can see why I love this game so much. I wander the internet and see so much good stuff going on and right here is a system I could use to represent it all, in one game! The book is beautifully written and is a great system for those of us who are story tellers at heart. It talks more about the way to weave a good story and tackles some big topics in its pages.
It is a game that focusses on players and their wants and needs. It seeks to generate conflict and drama for the players and may often even pit them against one another with crossing one players goals with another. The attribute auction from the very get go points to the possibility of this as the players compete against one another to develop their character. So although they may align and travel the Grand Stair together it is quite possible that they will end up at odds with one another in the long run.
The illustrated PDF that I have is lush and filled with full coloured gorgeous artwork with lead artist Jason Rainville . Most of these images focus on one individual giving a feel for them and the world they may come from. You feel like you know these characters immediately and the images help you overcome the initial shock of "so many genre choices" as they are laid out across many genre fields. You may laugh but when I read the rules as a straight pdf I was a little numb to how I would GM this game because of the immense scope of the realities! The artwork really helps me factor all this in to the game as a whole. The small game I did run all occurred on the Grand Stair so I could avoid putting it in a setting! The art is not on every page though and you will get runs of up to six or seven pages at a time where you will see no art at all.
This game will of course not be for everyone. I have had some very strong reactions when I have talked about the dice-less nature of the system and how it works. There are a large number of people that believe that what happens is purely up to the GM which is simply not true. I have had people say that you might as well have no character sheets at all and sit around a circle and tell a combined story. Again not true. I really wish that this game would appeal to everyone but if you are a player that must hold on to the random element or loves the tactile nature of dice and will feel lonely without them then perhaps this is not the game for you.
I do implore anyone though that has a slight interest in this system to give it a go. I love this game and its possibilities. I will eventually run a campaign with this game. It will not be immediately but it will happen. The beauty of the setting combined with the elegance of the rules is just fantastic. I am keen to build a story in this world that centres around the characters and their abilities. The book is beautifully presented and I can not wait to get my game provided by one of the developers that is on offer as part of my Kickstarter backer level.
This game is for me (and see above about dice-less systems that will cause some to turn away from this) a five out of five star game. It ticks every box for me and is written in a readable and interesting format. Once you get your head around the rules and the setting you will see the infinite possibilities that this game brings to your table. No more rolling!
Pathfinder Adventure Path #37: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv (Serpent's Skull 1 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Out of print
Simply brilliantMark Knights —
This is my first adventure path and I am running a group of new characters through this module now. It has seriously bought the gaming table alive and I am getting requests to fit multiple gaming sessions in a week. The way this module takes a seemingly random shipwreck and builds up a campaign the players feel they have a stake in is genius. I cannot wait to get into the next module :)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Dungeons of Golarion (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Unavailable
Gallowspire...Mark Knights —
My home grown campaign is going to culminate in a quick jaunt through Gallowspire. While that is a long way off I still thought I would pick this up for a bit of light reading. This is a great book and sure to inspire anyone designing the great dungeon crawl...
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Unavailable
Undead with feeling...Mark Knights —
Loved this book. I have a tendency toward the macabre in my self designed campaigns and this book is well worn by now. I love it and has bought a dark light to my home campaign that brings realism to my players in spades. Great work.
What a brilliant bookMark Knights —
Rival adventuring parties set to be recurring thorns in your players sides time and time again. From the downright evil to those that feel like they are helping everyone when really all they are doing is stirring up trouble. A group of rivals for nearly any campaign level :)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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A setting for everyoneMark Knights —
No matter what style fantasy RPG you like, you will find a country that matches in this book. I love this book with a passion and I normally create my own worlds. Two big thumbs up :)
Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Print Edition Out of print
Things that go bump in the nightMark Knights —
These books are brilliant. They give you the flavour that you wish they could fit into the one page creature descriptions which you just know they cannot.
Buy these books, as I have never struck a bad one yet :)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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This one annoyed me...Mark Knights —
This book, apart from the gunslinger annoyed me. The Ninja is a rogue with an eastern flavour that should have been handled as an archetype build and a samurai is essentially identical to a cavalier. I do really like the gunslinger though my players do not...
I really had high expectations of this book but it failed utterly. A huge amount of this book is dedicated to spells. Um Ultimate Combat = spells? That is what I bought Ultimate Magic for right? The mastering combat section tried to introduce a whole heap of complexity right where it is not needed and the options for classes felt thin. To quote bilbo, like trying to spread too little butter across a piece of toast.
Called shot rules are cool! About four books too late though. Nearly every campaign has their own house rules by now and they actually contain some stuff in it that has to do with hitting items, not just body parts...
So, what I think happened is someone in the Paizo Pathfinder team went "Hey, wouldn't an Ultimate Magic book be cool? We could put stylised duels in, some nifty class builds and some cool spells!" Then someone else went "Well if we do that lets have an Ultimate Combat book too! Not sure what we could do in it but we will figure it out as we go..." This is one book (with the notable exception of the artwork and the Gunslinger) that I wish I had never bought. In fact it is still laying precisely where I put it after finishing reading it and trying to convince my players the gunslinger was cool. It has not been touched since then...
Some good stuff in here...Mark Knights —
This book appears to have taken a bad rap. I for one quite like this, from the Magus class, through all the options for any class that is even slightly magical. I actually really liked the words of power idea, though I will never use them in any serious way (perhaps a shamanic npc) and I enjoyed the feats and discussion on magic use.
Really gives magic a good feel in the campaign. Mind you, the book is not an essential addition at all. If you want a fully fleshed out magical campaign though it is a great book.
Something does not add up...Mark Knights —
Not as extensive as the first, yet the same price...
I do not mind the creatures in this book, but it does get less use than my other bestiary. However it still has the same problem as the first also. The use of generic rules for a creature type. For an actual hardcover book to be useful in a game (for creatures) you MUST be able to have all rules for the creature on the one page. The use of rules based on a type of creature that you need to leave the creatures page to reference is irritating and a waste of in game time.
Please fix this problem. I understand that constructs all have similarities but I need the rules on each constructs page to reference. Not have to skip to the end of the book to see if they have something relevant when they need it.
Monsters galore!Mark Knights —
This book is excellent. It has a wide variety of creatures to suit all level campaigns and excellent artwork. The only criticism I have of this book is one that is common across all RPG's these days and that is the use of the generic ruling for types of creatures. For example, a creature listed as having Undead Traits FORCES you to look at a separate page for further rules on how to run the creature. To be a perfect creature catalogue you really need all the rules on the one page to save the time. I know this means repetitive printing and information and cost, but I would prefer it that way.
Otherwise, brilliant book :)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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Hmmmmmm...Mark Knights —
This book is brilliantly presented (which is not all that surprising considering Paizo's track record) and full of great information.
However, this is the book I reach for the absolute least. I am absolutely certain that this book would be invaluable to novice and intermediary GM's but the content in it is stuff that I have been dealing with for years.
I have to admit that some of the advanced topics were good to read through and it is these that I find the most useful in the book, but the whole designing focus is a bit lost on me. So I looked at the review for this book through the eyes of a novice and find that this book would be very useful when you are first embarking on designing some game content. It is full of tips and tricks on how to breathe life into a game.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's Guide (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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My favourite class is in here...Mark Knights —
I normally cringe at books that add heaps of options to a class. When I flicked through this book I think I did cringe a little at the thought of having to familiarise myself with hundreds of different permutations of various classes. But lo and behold this is now one of my favourite (and my players) books.
For me it is the Alchemist (and in no small part the Master Chymist) class that makes this book amongst my favourites. The versatility and flavour that class brings to this game is invaluable. I like many of the other classes but if I ever get to play in a pathfinder game (I am always GM) I will be a doddering alchemist with a side personality called Lasher who is crazy as a scorned Incubus...
The options aforementioned have been used extensively by some of my players and with the proviso that they do the hard work in ensuring they keep me informed of how they work and give it some thought as to why their character is different they work well. Lots of feats (including teamwork feats) new spells, equipment and treasure make this a great book to have.
It is not essential to the main game which is good for those on a limited budget but for me a must have :) It is beautifully presented and meticulously made as per Paizo products through and through that I have dealt with so far.
Now, where did I put that beaker... I have been working on an extract to cause my players to want to GM...
I love this screen...Mark Knights —
I so love this screen. It is solid, with four panels and visually appealing to the players with good information on the GM side. I cannot tell you how many times I have spent in game looking up how a skill works etc. (because other screens seem to include the least useful information to a GM on them) and then looked at the screen straight after finding the info to see it was staring at me in the face all that time.
Great work on this. Best screen ever :)
The best fantasy modern day RPG system?Mark Knights —
To start with, I would have preferred to give this 4.5 stars but the option does not exist. I can not give this game a perfect rating but the drawbacks are very minor...
I had heard nothing of Pathfinder until a friend of mine (who had never played the game) referred me to it after my overwhelming disappointment with DnD 4e. I am a long time gamer (over 25 years) and I generally tend to fringe games rather than core systems. I did play a good deal of AD&D in my time though so I tried DnD at 3e as well and was sorely disappointed then too. I skipped 3.5 as it seemed a money making venture and tried again at 4e to be totally gutted that this is the core system the industry is based on.
So I had just bought a load of 4e stuff when I bought this book and after 6 months those purchases were sold, unread and unopened on ebay after buying Pathfinder Core Rules. This system is SO usable, intuitive and well presented. At its heart is a focus on roleplaying rather than tabletop gaming and it is presented so beautifully.
The system is familiar, improved and well balanced. Information is presented in a cohesive format although the tome is a daunting task with many, many pages of rules.
This book covers the basics and largely all you need to play is one of the bestiary books for a true monster hunt!
The problems are minor but will have an effect on novice players. Firstly, there needs to be a detailed process on building a character. In this book it is spread out and you really need some experience to bring a character to fruition. Many games these days drop the character building tutorial and that sucks for newbies. Secondly, a lot of the important game affecting rules appear in appendices. Things like the way conditions effect, poisons and diseases are all shunted into the appendix. It makes them hard to find when using the index, or even when you make a logical guess at what chapter they should be in.
Love this game though. It is the best fantasy game on the market so GO AND BUY IT!