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Starfinder Adventure Path #3: Splintered Worlds (Dead Suns 3 of 6)Paizo Inc.
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100% Eoxian FlavorPerpdepog —
This is a pretty great adventure, especially if you, like me, were curious about the planet Eox. The undead-ruled planet is, to my mind, one of the more original worlds that Paizo has come up with and I was super glad to see it fleshed out, so to speak, in this AP. The blerb about it in the back of the book is fun and engaging with plenty of ideas for plot hooks and characters, and some of the in-adventure locations mix senses of the amusing amd the macabre, which is loads of fun. Necrografts are a bit different than most augments, and I'm hoping that their inclusion in the game means we'll be seeing more exotic augmentation options down the line, perhaps also cribbed from Pathfinder products, like demonic implants, fleshcrafting, elemental implants, or nanotech.
The adventure's one real weakness is its beginning. It feels like the beginning section, which I won't go into too much detail about, was sort of tacked on with no real reason. Honestly I think it would have made this particular adventure stronger to simply have the entire thing take place on Eox to let the players get a more in-depth feel for the culture.
That being said though, this is another awesome adventure. As always my biggest regret is that these things aren't longer so we get more goodies to read. A solid four stars, easily edged to five.
Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the Wastes (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Sweet Taste of SpacePerpdepog —
So this is, I think, my third or fourth time trying to write this review now because it kept getting lost. At the risk of having to do it again, I'll keep it brief.
The flavor in this book is top-knotch. Each monster gets a two-page spread and this really lets all of them shine way more than they otherwise might. The inclusion of stuff like items inspired from the creature's abilities, body parts, or their culture is also great and serves to elevate this book above and beyond the realm of simple smaller-than-Pathfinder bestiary. Oh, and the player races. There, are, a lot. It's great, even if they don't always quite match their flavor or NPC statblocks the sheer variety is exciting. The monster creation system takes a little getting used to, but it's grown on me a little bit since I first tried using it and now I feel it's much more of an asset to the book than I once thought.
The not quite so good points include the fact that there is real discrepancy between a player and nonplayer version of a race. Case and point, both contemplatives and grays are described as either being mostly or entirely telepathic, and neither gets telepathy. The book, while coming with a nifty-keen monster creation system, seems to expect you to be building all your monsters because it itself has very few, probably because of the awesome two-page spreads I was just talking up a moment ago. Were it to be like a Pathfinder bestiary this thing would have easily clocked in at over four hundred pages. Finally, summoning. Summoning is now handled by simply slapping grafts onto a preexisting statblock and calling it good, which results in absolutely no difference in the various levels of your summons other than ... they get bigger.
Still though, slight gripes aside, I absolutely love Alien Archive. Definitely worth the ten bucks for the PDF version, and it makes a great case for the new format Starfinder is trying with their releases as opposed to Pathfinder where, rather than monster or equipment or magic-centric books, we get a little bit of everything.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Book of the Damned (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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A Compelling Compilation of CorruptionPerpdepog —
As many other reviewers have said, this book is largely reprinted material from the "Book of the Damned" line of Campaign Setting books that came out a while back. As someone who has, and loves all of those three books, I have to say...
This book is great. I was a fan of the concept of the Book of the Damned, and it being compiled together like this fills me with dark joy. It does what it says as well, and the staff were up front about the reprinted material, so I enjoy it for what it is, which is a gathering up of their fiend-related material from the earlier books and some other far-flung sources, such as the devil contract mechanics from the Hell's Rebels adventure path and the more in-depth description of the Book of the Damned itself from Hell Unleashed. Having all of these things together in one place is handy, though it does appear some subjects, such as the demonic grafts, didn't make it into this book. Regardless, it's good for that reason alone.
This book isn't perfect, however. While it may not be of much concern to someone being exposed to this material for the first time, I personally found some of the changes and minor tweeks to the existing material a bit jarring. The diabolist prestige class was a notable example, with its new alignment restrictions and curtailing of spellcasting levels feeling more like a hurried effort to make it fit the formula of the other two fiend-inspired prestige classes than any effort to help modernize it. For one thing, I think that this means that the diabolist is no longer available for PFS play, for those who participate in that. Likewise, I would have liked to see a bit more space devoted to some fiends other than the three big 'D's. Some new fiendish archetypes would have been fun as well, and the missed opportunity bums me out just slightly.
Over all, this book is a pretty solid four stars. The reprinted material is very helpful for first-timers who haven't gotten the three previous Campaign Setting books, though I don't think I could recommend the hardcopy version to someone who already has them. It's got lots of info on evil deities and rituals, a few nifty items, a few new foes, and enough flavor to keep readers entertained through it's two-hundred ot pages. What it doesn't have is a ridiculous amount of new material, or a ton, or really any, PC-friendly options outside of a very evil campaign. But then again, it'd be a poor look out if a curse'd tome of vile lore helped look out for the good guys.
The Best Bestiary of Big, Bad, Bad GuysPerpdepog —
Each Pathfinder bestiary seems to follow a certain theme, and Bestiary 6's theme is really big, really powerful, and really scary enemies. For this reason alone I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who, like me, just gets a kick out of seeing creatures who you don't expect to be fighting until after campaigning for a year with the same character. Some of the highlights include the Archdevils (all eight of them, not simply two or three), all four of The Horsemen, as well as stats for their mounts, some more Great Old Ones (including one who may as well be an actual Outer God), some more powerful goodly outsiders, loads of nature-protecting spirits both good and bad, and Qlippoth Lords who I've been waiting to get some love, any at all, since they were mentioned way back in I believe Inner Sea Gods.
Apart from that this book gives love to a couple other kinds of monster that haven't really received the attention they deserved until now. Things like vermin, oozes, and plants are finally pants-wettingly terrifying, ranging from moss men who can raise forests against puny civilized settlements, to people who transform into were-insects, to what amounts to an animate Sphere of Annihilation. Constructs also get some attention, particularly in the form of the Charnal God, which is the embittered essence of a now-dead deity who lashes out through its statues at its worshippers, or enemies of the faith, or really, anyone at all. Incidentally, that entry has a great bit of lore for those familiar with The Books of the Damned.
And speaking of the books, this bestiary also fulfils another function that I feel like a lot of these main product line bestiaries should, namely cherry-picking fun creatures from the other product lines and making them more accessible. We get lots of that here. I recognized monsters from a few different adventure paths such as Wrath of the Righteous and Hell's Rebels, as well as The Books of the Damned and some of the more original creatures from The Inner Sea Bestiary and Occult Bestiary.
To top it all, this book placed emphasis on some enemy types I am just a fan of, clockworks and qlippoth, primarily. I'm already planning new characters around the clockwork hound alone.
If there are any flaws in this book they are two-fold. Firstly, because we have so many powerful monsters with two-page spreads we get fewer monsters overall. Secondly, I don't really feel like we got much more in the way of PC races in this book. 0HD races certainly, but they all have the distinct feel of NPC-only stuff to me, though it was still cool to see races of the fey and aberration types.
All in all, flaws aside, this is a very solid edition to an already solid product line, and it's well worth the asking price. Ia' Ia' Tawil at'Umr!
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lands of Conflict (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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This Book Made Me Care About MolthunePerpdepog —
By and large, I'm much more of a fan of the fantastical in my tabletop roleplaying. The backdrops of wars and uprisings don't interest me over much when it's also possible to travel to Hell and punch devils in the face with enchanted gauntlets.
There are one or two sticking points, however. Namely, there isn't enough space. There are two nations detailed here, not just one, and because of that we have a lot more background to read through and nowhere near as many fun player goodies like magic items, spells, or class archetypes. Actually, there are none of those in the book at all. We don't even have a bestiary apart from six troops which, if you're like me and love the concept of troops, isn't really that much of a downside. Nevertheless, the fact that there are no new items or anything to play with was something of a letdown. The militia system is also somewhat confusing, and it's equally confusing why this system wasn't placed into the Player's Guide or in the adventure path itself. Does that mean that this book will be a required extra purchase if that system is going to be used?
Overall, this is a fun book about a pair of nations which, until now, haven't really gotten the attention or love they probably deserve, and that's good. It is trying to talk about both of them at once, as well as introduce a new subsystem at the expense of other, more immediately useful or fun content, and that's less good. Still, if you're running Ironfang or drool over history and good settings to have a war-themed campaign, this is definitely worth picking up.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Villain Codex (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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A Fun Toybox With a Few FlawsPerpdepog —
And make no mistake, this, like many of the "Codex" line of RPG books, is a big ol' toybox. It seriously feels like dumping out a massive bin of old-school mix-and-match action figures onto the floor and playing Knights vs. Spacemen, or Cops & Cowboys. This is one of the best possible reasons to buy this book.
That having been said, the book isn't perfect. There are two main issues with the book, though I admit that one of them is simply a matter of taste and may not be an issue at all. Firstly, whoever contributed to this book really, really, really loves rangers. Seriously they're everywhere. I understand that they are a fairly easy class to adapt to many villainous roles such as slavor, merc, cultist, tracker, assassin, etc, but it would have been nice to see more variety. Secondly, the book is missing some essential information when it comes to the goodies you can take from it. As an example, the book presents a very fun and flavorful new oracle mystery, but totally misses writing in the final revelation for that mystery, which will hopefully be fixed with the book's second printing.
Over all, aside from some small gripes and editing issues this book is great. At least half the fun of these sorts of books is reading about the plot hooks and suggestions for the various villains, and Villain Codex does not disappoint in this regard. As always, the ten dollar price tag for the PDF makes it an even more attractive option as well. This is a definite must-buy for those who like compilation books, are like me and get slightly lazy when it comes to building NPCs, or just want some springboards for generating minor and major story arcs.
Pathfinder Player Companion: Legacy of Dragons (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Half a Hoard's Worth of DragonPerpdepog —
Firstly, let me say something. I am not actually the biggest fan of dragons. When it comes to powerful fantasy foes I'm much more likely to look to some raving demon or something chthonic with lots of eyes and mouths rather than a big fire-spitting lizard with wings.
That having been said, this is still a pretty solid book. One of its biggest selling points is that it lets sorcerers and bloodragers finally have official rulings on how to handle all the bloodlines that might come from all the new dragon types that have been presented in Bestiaries 2 through 5. Likewise, it's also got a few fun archetypes, such as a Cha-based monk and a dragonborn-ish fighter, which is something I personally have been interested in for a while, fan in dragons or no. Add in a smattering of spells, including two new Form of the Dragon varients which feel different enough from the base version to be interesting, as well as some rather nifty style feats and a feat for fluffing out your draconic heritage, and you have a pretty solid book with a fair number of options to pick through.
However, like the title suggests, it's also got some drawbacks that stop the book from being four or even five stars. That nifty fighter archetype above? It's written so that its big ability, free Arcane Strike, doesn't scale with your level, and it misprinted powers replacing bonus feats at levels when the fighter does not, in fact, get them. Some of the other archetypes are, strictly speaking, worse than the base class' options (I'm looking at you, dragonblood chymist). Finally, the biggest draw to this book, at least for me, turned out to be something of a letdown. The drake companion seems much too restrictive to be worth taking, and its progression turns the cavalier archetype, the dragonrider, into something more akin to a dragonwalker or dragongroomer until ninth or thirteenth level depending on your size, which was seriously disappointing when you consider you can get other mounts, such as a griffon, for much less effort and much more reward.
Is this book an amazing resource? No, honestly I'd say it isn't. It doesn't have me coming back again and again like some other Player Companions do. It does, however, bring a bunch of new draconic items, spells, and feats into the game though, and while I may not be the biggest fan of scales, blistering breath, and sleeping on gold, I also recognize that they are iconic as Hell and having options devoted to them is not a bad thing.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Path of the Hellknight (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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A Mercilessly Good ReadPerpdepog —
Hellknights are probably the Golarion-specific organization I've been most looking forward to reading about, and so I was really looking forward to release when this book was announced.
Happily, it doesn't disappoint. The overviews of the Hellknight orders are all interesting, and while it is true that they are all meant to be ultimately lawful, the different philosophies of each order are broad and varied enough that making heroes or villains belonging to the Hellknights doesn't require jumping through mental hoops to justify their alignments. Each order also comes with a smattering of options to add to a variety of classes, and serves to broaden the possible character builds that can call themselves Hellknights without necessarily having to take either of the Hellknight-centric prestige classes. My personal favorites are the Godclaw Mystery for oracles and the Faceless Enforcer archetype for the vigilante.
If this book does have a weakness it is the relative poverty of its items section. While there are a few items, and they are interesting and serve to help broaden options for Hellknights who don't feel like being heavily armored wrecking machines, the almost utter lack of any magic items, particularly weapons or armor, is noticeable and slightly disappointing. The magic spells, feats, and traits serve to soothe the sting slightly, but still.
Overall, if you are looking for adventure seeds, encounter ideas, or just background on one of the more iconic organizations in the Inner Sea, then this book is a must-have. If you are looking specifically for ways to be a Hellknight without having to play the armored tank, this book is a must-have. If you are searching for a treasure trove of Hell-themed and Hellknight-themed items this book may not be your first pick, but all in all is still definitely worth getting.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Occult Bestiary (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Worth the WaitPerpdepog —
At first when I heard that the Occult Bestiary was meant to be appended to Occult Adventures I was irritated that we weren't getting the book all in one.
After reading the book, however, I've totally changed my opinion. I loved the flavor of the monsters in this book, and especially the templates, and having to wait a little longer to get just that little bit more out of the first burst of truly weird and wacky baddies now seems totally justified.
There are more than a few occult reskins of traditional monsters, which I am personally a big fan of, a smattering of templates that help bring the monsters they didn't give an eldritch makeover into the fold, and more than a couple brand-new ones that hail from places like The Dimension of Dreams or The Dominion of the Black.
This book has got me all kinds of excited for Bestiary 5!
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Races (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Not the Guide it Could Have BeenPerpdepog —
Sadly, this book doesn't seem to quite measure up to the other Inner Sea [Insert Noun Here] books. While it is a handy sourcebook for reading about, say, a dozen or so different kinds of humans, it really doesn't give anything new when it comes to the less common races, which is a real shame.
The book is divided into four rough chapters. In the first, Common Races, each race (and each ethnicity in the case of the eight or nine human subraces) gets eight pages. In the second chapter, Uncommon Races, each race gets only four. In the third chapter, Rare Races, each race gets a mere two pages of material.
All in all it's not a bad book to have, particularly as it gives a handy all-in-one resource for the races introduced in other books as well as varients in the cases of races with multiple herritages, but the $31.99 price tag for something which gives so little in terms of new material, particularly when compared to similar books like Inner Sea Gods or The Inner Sea World Guide, is a little disappointing.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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The Inner Sea is Good for MePerpdepog —
This is a great resource book. The layout is great and even if you don't feel like using the various nations of The Inner Sea itself it the book gives you tons of ideas on how to build your own fantacy nations. The kinds of civilizations are diverse and all look like great places to have adventures in and make me want to read all of the Campaign Setting product line.
Add to that the feats, prestige classes, items, and the handful of monsters and you've got icing on what is already a great cake of a book.
All in all definitely worth the $9.99 asking price for the PDF!
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures (OGL)Paizo Inc.
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A Spooky Psychic SourcebookPerpdepog —
Occult Adventures is a great read. The classes look interesting and, in the case of a few such as the medium or kineticist, do things that I haven't ever seen before in Pathfinder. The fluff is fun and some of the new rules systems, like psychic duels, sound like a blast ... if you can work a way to fit them into a game in an inclusive way. The archetypes for the pre-existing classes were great too. Some of the ones I particularly enjoyed were the Ghost Rider and Sensate for their flavor.
On the other hand, some areas of the book felt somewhat flat. The items, while interesting, didn't feel like they strayed too far from the very definite themes the book was going for, i.e, ghosts, ectoplasm, and the mind. There were also no major artifacts, which I was somewhat let down by.
All in all though, this is definitely worth picking up if you can. It has lots of things you can use to run a more horror-focused campaign as well as make all kinds of new characters. If I could I'd give this 4.5 stars, but sadly, half stars isn't a thing.