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Pathfinder Adventure Path: Wrath of the Righteous Player's Guide (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
Our Price: FREEAdd to Cart
UnderwhelmingTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
I know you get what you pay for in the players guides, but this one is just... underwhelming on many fronts. The history is so-so, the "redemption rules" feel like a reprint (can't say from where), and are not very good. The traits, which are the main rule many come to the Player Guides, are standard-fare. Shoehorning each mythic path to one trait, however, is one of the most asine decisions I've seen paizo make.
Its not godawful, but its an extremely far cry from the quality I've come to expect from paizo.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #71: Rasputin Must Die! (Reign of Winter 5 of 6) (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Print Edition Unavailable
It really is that good!TerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
This book manages something truly rare: It take an entirely left-field idea, runs with it, and by doing so redefines what Pathfinder can do. Very rarely have I seen an adventure that so radically changed the way I view Pathfinder.
The premise is... gulp-worthy. There are just so many pitfalls and so many ways this could have gone wrong. In truth, I doubted this could be pulled off. But pull it off they did.
It works reasonably well with history. It lets the PCs glimpse of war as they did not know it. It has a very "russian" feeling without laying on too much of the tired cliches. In short, Brandon Hodge proves himself to be a magnificent bastard here. Even tired old Rasputin (of dubious WoD fame) is getting a makeover that makes him interesting once again.
To top off one of the best Pathfinders to date, the Szuriel article does not gloss over or candy-coat the Horsemen of war. Let me be honest, it is depressing stuff, but it is something you will love to hate. Not much player potential here - but that is easily forgiven.
Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers (PFRPG) Print EditionPaizo Inc.
Print Edition Unavailable
Strange PleasuresTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
City of Strangers offers a hodgepodge of seemingly disparate elements, servicing the cliche of the "City of Anarchy", reminding me of 7th Sea's Freiburg and Exalted's Nexus.
Paizo pulls it off with more panache and style than most other offerings, though. The city is kept just on the very brink of believability, and for all its oddness and quirks remains a charming vista (though by no means pleasant place to live.)
Secrets of the city are revealed every other line, though usually the promise made in the opening section holds true - for every curtain pulled back, you are less content with what you know, asking even more questions. The background mysteries just keep coming, but keep tight enough to not overburden the reader.
All in all, an excellent "location book". Not too limiting, but sparking all the right ideas.
Pathfinder Chronicles: Classic Horrors Revisited (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
Print Edition Out of print
Solid, but lacks daringTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
Classic Horrors Revisited does not disappoint by any stretch. The usual Paizo values of sound mechanics, style and art are all there. So it's a good monster book.
Still, four stars is generous, while three would have been miserly. What's not to like? Well, although each monster revisit is interesting and well-rounded, it lacks the genuinely new. The mummy and gargoyles come closest to a new take on the old monsters I enjoyed with the Goblins and Ogres in Classic Monsters, but mostly the authors stay close to the classical interpretation of the monsters (or, in the case of the Derro, the Paizo-established one).
The sidebars explaining the sources of horror for each creature are insightful, and elevate this from three to four star status.
Wonderful bookTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
I only own this mighty tome in PDF form, so my review necessarily limits itself to that. So no flowery praise for production values, or other aspects limited to the physical product.
The content is good, however. It carries over the best innovations of the Beta editions, while cutting the dross and improving compatibility. In fact, most of the rule messes in 3.5 seem to have been cleared up without violating the "core concepts" and making the game drastically different from what I have grown to love.
For the PDF only, I had to knock off a star for problems with the bookmark navigation. A true pity, given that Paizo worked very hard to produce a great PDF. Hopefully, an update will become available soon, allowing its full glory to be restored.
Addicting Gameplay, but some small quibblesTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
Let me start this review off by saying I nearly would have missed new years because of me going against the final boss of the game. Yes, it is that addicting.
The main campaign is relatively short, but features a huge number of twists on the already-varied gameplay. Usually, one or two "terrain cards" are added, which affect the battle rules in a significant way, or additional objectives are added to either win or lose the battle.
Duels against the computer allow for a quick fix, and a number of "achievements" is available for you to rabidly collect. All three play modes (Storyline, Duel and Online) are covered.
What knocked off a star then? I had hoped for a somewhat larger number of cards, truth be told. The arbitrary selection of cards for each duel can result in selections that are much harder than others. And a special stinker for me: The game crashes unless launched with administrator privilege.
Dungeons & Dragons RPG—4th Edition: Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide HardcoverWizards of the Coast
Our Price: $39.95
Poor showing with some redeeming qualitiesTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
This book, like any book redefining a well-loved and followed product is torn between keeping the good of old, and finding its own voice.
It absolutely found its own voice. The merits of that voice are, to say the least, questionable. The redefined realms could just as well be any of a huge number of more or less indistinguishable homebrew worlds.
As for keeping the old, the Spellplague might as well have been called Armageddon. Some of the names remain the same, and you might even run into a few "familiar faces", but the entire setting has changed so much that these seem to be anachronistic throwbacks, rather than reminders of old.
As for the book itself: Quite gutsy, starting off with an adventure. Very time-oriented, very much in what seems to be 4th Editions "ready to go right now" philosophy. Kudos for seeing it through with such consequence. If only the adventure had felt less like generic filler, this might have been easily another star. Production values are good, too. All in all not the best deal, but there is worse in the RPG market.
Dungeons & Dragons—4th Edition: Player's Handbook HardcoverWizards of the Coast
Our Price: $31.46Add to Cart
This is not your parent's D&DTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
Sadly, am one of these metaphorical parents. While maybe not with as impressive credentials as some members of the community, i actually liked the look and feel of the previous editions.
For the sake of the review, i decided to not look at this game as "how does it hold up to 3.5", but rather as a game of its own merit. I have to say, it went beyond my expectations. Good, very clean and lean layout, succinct and easily understood rules, everything is there. I fully expect this system to achieve many of the stated goals, with quicker gameplay, better balance, and less contrived character builds.
But it just does not have the feeling. If you are looking for a good fantasy RPG with a cool paintjob, use this.
If you look for your parent's D&D... not here, friend.
Excellent Ideas, somewhat lacking executionTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
Let me begin by stating that the basic premises rock! The adventure takes the party by a pseudo-steamboat up a tropical river, and forces them to content with all manner of unpleasantness on the way. The "feeling" is there, and a few surprises as well.
Why only three stars, then? Because it is not a very good adventure, truth be told. The encounters are disjoined, and do not neatly flow into a single narrative. The motivation for taking the "boat trip" is not as good as i would have hoped ("do it for greed, or have the DM come up with a better reason"). Likewise, the conclusion feels disjoined, and while i like the fact that there is no overdone happy ending, the options do not quite cut it.
This module is by no means all bad - but it is not on par with some of Paizos other offerings.
Great material, but could have used some more polishingTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
Once again, Nicolas Logue delivers. Hangman's Noose is a wonderful little gem for getting a party started, with each character forced to walk in the boots of one of their relatives, and taking their place in a horrible retrial of an unjustly hanged man.
The NPCs in this locked room / survival horror scenario are believable and well-thought out - and while you may still cheer when the first villain bites the dust, you probably will become queasy once the roster shrinks, and ever fewer victims you have not grown fond of are left.
What cut off one star in this case are a few somewhat "cutscene" type events ("You realize X is gone, then hear a scream behind the locked door"). This could have been done with more interaction potential. Also, while its not so hard to figure out who the true villain is, actually getting him to the gallows is left pretty much open.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #4: Fortress of the Stone Giants (Rise of the Runelords 4 of 6) (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Print Edition Unavailable
Great addition to Rise of the RunelordsTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
This adventure has it all. It starts off with a very nicely-designed encounter scenario, which features believable events that present a challenging, but very winnable "defense" task. The assaulting force is neither completely without tactics, nor unwinnably wiley. In short, it captures how i would imagine a giant raid to the t.
Following that is a short wilderness travel bit (in terms of play time), before the adventure proceeds with a classic counterattack, including a chance to do a bit of politicing for parties so inclined. There really is not much to complain about - it all fits neatly.
The support material is solid as usual, and the ecology of the Stone Giant is spot-on. The only nitpick i can find that in places the dragon expose can be seen as a bit too shameless a plug for a certain gamemastery adventure.
All in all, it is a very worthwhile read and purchase.
Pathfinder Adventure Path #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast (Rise of the Runelords 6 of 6) (OGL)Paizo Inc.
Print Edition Out of print
So very close...TerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
First off, lets make one thing clear. This four star rating is not given because the adventure limps in at about 75% satisfaction, but because it comes in at just short of 100% - and loses quite a bit due to (i would imagine) space constraints.
The city of Xin-Shalast is lovingly crafted, and even though i don't buy "10000 years abandoned", it feels like an ancient ruin. The new monsters are interesting enough (even though Leng is straining my Lovecraft tolerance to the limit).
What breaks off one star is, sadly, Karzoug himself. While he is beautifully characterized, and a foe you love to hate - he is mechanically uninteresting. Worse still, he feels as if he came right out of the SRD. I would have hoped to see a little more uniqueness to this ancient menace. Some personal spells, maybe. Some more interaction with him throughout the city. He feels a lot like an "end boss" in a CRPG in the early days.
Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards Presents—Races and ClassesWizards of the Coast
Our Price: $19.95
Better than i thought - though not by muchTerraNova (RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32) —
When i got my hands on this book, i fully expected to walk away with even bleaker expectations for the forth edition.
Surprisingly, i did not. While there are many questions left open, and i really would have appreciated a bit less shameless bragging and self-congratulation, the information is sound, and actually makes me believe some thought went into making the design choices they made.
All in all a worthwhile purchase for any would-be RPG designer out there, or any 4th edition enthusiast. Run-of-the-mill DMs or Players would probably consider it a waste of money, though.