Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Primus Gearheart, the Clockwork King (PFRPG) PDF

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Do golems dream of clockwork sheep? 

If any being might know what hopes and aspirations arise from the odd sleep of the multiverse’s monolithic constructs and key-wound creatures, it would be the Clockwork King. Crafting brilliant magical items and a vast menagerie of clockwork creations is merely the day job for Primus Gearheart, an enigmatic ironborn sorcerer who has established himself as a reliable fixture in that most bizarre of bazaars, the Tarnished Souk. Equip your party, commission the creation of an impossible magical device, or pray that he can prescribe something for that pesky rust eating away at your undercarriage - just don’t pester the mechanical help. 

This product provides Game Masters with details on an evocative and intriguing character found amongst the Faces of the Tarnished Souk, ready for immediate use in any campaign - but especially for use within the Coliseum Morpheuon. Each entry features ingenious stat-blocks from multiple OGL sources, history, motivation, secrets, and insight into the NPC’s most carefully guarded dreams, along with complete game statistics for low, middle, and high levels of play. Within you will find:

  • Primus Gearheart, the Clockwork King: the compassionate all-father of construct life.
  • CR 21 Male ironborn battle sorcerer 22
  • CR 14 Male ironborn battle sorcerer 15
  • CR 7 Male ironborn battle sorcerer 8
  • Secundus, his right-hand mechanoid
  • Clockwork Creature Template

 

Authors: Matt Banach and Justin Sluder; Cover Art: Toby Gregory; Pages: 7

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4.00/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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Useful addition to a high level campaign

4/5

Note: some spoilers exist in this review and should be read only by those GMs who intend to run a high level campaign.

Primus Gearheart is yet another denizen of the Tarnished Souk and a traveler in the Plane of Dreams. Role play opportunities abound with Primus and he has a number of tasks for PCs and enemies to defeat. Should the PCs impress him with their ingenuity, he also has some unique rewards for them as well. He provides ample opportunity for a Game Master to introduce his players to the complexities of the Plane of Dreams and find adventure in the Coliseum Morpheon beyond that which has been provided in the original supplement. This along with the multiple CR stat blocks and the section on creating a Clockwork Creature make Primus an essential addition to the Tarnished Souk.

Of course there is also the possibility that Primus can help the PCs in turn. Primus sells goods from the mundane to the magical and even clockwork constructs, if the PCs promise to treat them well. It is possible that Primus can craft Ironborn technologies onto the PCs themselves, though a separate supplement by Rite Publishing would need to be purchased for this “template” should a GM not wish to design his or her own.

What didn’t really interest me as much was some of Primus’s back story, particularly the often overdone trope of unrequited robot love. This is very minor though and can be ignored quite easily as there are plenty of other tasks. Some may find his more “human” side makes Primus even more interesting. I did like Primus’s other motivations particularly with regards to freeing other clockworks and constructs from slavery imposed upon them by the organic. Depending upon the make-up and possessions of your PCs, this could either place the PCs at odds with Primus or make them instant allies.

I rate Primus Gearheart at 4 of 5 stars due to some back story elements and for the fact that a separate supplement is needed to make full use of Primus’s benefits. Primus makes an essential part of the Tarnished Souk, so I would not want to exclude him when bring my PCs to this place. So far I have been very impressed with the denizens of the Tarnished Souk. Each one adds interest, complexity and excitement to a high level campaign. I hope to see many more clever ideas from the folks at Rite Publishing.


A solid high level NPC.

4/5

Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Primus Gearheart, the Clockwork King by Rite Publishing

This product is 12 pages long. It starts with a cover and Credits. (2 pages)

Primus Gearheart, the Clockwork King (7 pages)
This is another NPC made for Coliseum Morpheuon. It starts with a bit about how he fits into the Coliseum Morpheuon with some history and then dives into the three statblocks. They offer this NPC in 3 version the CR 21, 14 and 7. There is also 5 magic items and a new creature template. Clockwork Creature template.

It ends with a OGL and 2 ads. (3 pages)

Closing thoughts. The artwork is nice black and white art. Layout and editing where good but not great. I did notice a few editing errors but not many. While this npc is made to be used with the Coliseum Morpheuon book and if you don't have it, I recommend picking that up. It can be used in any game. This one I don't think is as well written or as interesting as the first one. This one only uses a single template unlike the last one in the series. It is still good, but felt like a bit of a let down from the last one. I did really like the template though. If you are looking for a NPC or already use or plan to use Coliseum Morpheuon then I recommend picking this up. So whats my review? Well it gives what it claims and does it well. With the few flaws and over all impression I am giving it a 4 star review.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.


I'll admit my bias right up front: I love this series!

5/5

The evocative and modular 'Faces of the Tarnished Souk' series serves as a stellar companion to the Coliseum Morpheuon setting, adding character, intrigue and mysterious flesh to a high-level universe already bursting with possibilities.

More than anything, I appreciate the tie-in of Primus Gearheart to the incredible Ironborn rules available from Rite Publishing - this book is perfect for games set within or outside of ColMorph as background for Ironborn PCs and NPCs alike.

Well done, and I hope to see this series grow!


Three Incarnations of the Clockwork Sorceror (CR 21, 14,7)

3/5

This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 7 pages for the 3 incarnations of Primus Gearheart.
The first page gives us an introduction to Primus Gearheart, how he fits in with the Souk as well as providing dreams to use with Coliseum Morpheuon's Dreamburning rules as well as an extensive sidebox as advice on how to use him.
His first Incarnation (A Ironborn battle sorceror with the constructed bloodline at CR 21) takes up 4 pages and also features statblocks for his CR 4 duplicates (Clockwork human rogues). The best part about this incarnation, though, is that he gets 5 quite cool, new magical items.
The second incarnation takes up one page. (CR 14 Ironborn battle sorceror)
The third Incarnation is a CR 7 lvl 8 Battle Sorceror.
The last page features the "Clockwork Creature" template to create a vast array of minions for Primus.

Conclusion:
Both the interior and the front cover artworks of this b/w-pdf are once again beautiful. Formatting is the usual two-column-standard. I did notice some minor editing problems, though: In the feat lists of all Incarnations the feats "Craft Construct", "Craft Ironborn" and "Eschew Materials", if present, suffer from a capital "B" as a relic behind them. Fluff and crunch-wise, I wasn't as impressed by this installment as I was with Ahnkar-Kosh. I think Primus would have worked better as either a Wizard or a Summoner and, quite frankly, while his statblocks are neat, they are nowhere near the extraordinaire standard Rite Publishing has set for itself: No Templates have been applied to Primus and where all three Incarnations of Ahnkar-Kosh were quite different takes on the recognizably same creature, Primus felt "only" like a continuation of himself, a normal progression. There is nothing wrong per se with him and his motivation and background as well as the rivalry with the Jack-of-Diamonds are nice ideas, but in direct comparison with Ahnkar, he feels kind of bland. Don't get me wrong, Primus is still a cool, unique character - he's just not as superbly creative, complex and far-out as Ahnkar-Kosh and I could have created (bad pun, I know) him myself with some effort. Thus, due to the minor glitches and lack of templates, I'll settle for 3.5 stars. A good addition to the series, but not an outstanding one.



I wanted to thank Vic for getting this up.


Bonus point for Philip K. Dick reference.

The questions I have here are:

1. What are the ironborn? It is my understanding that they are pathfinderized counterpart of the warforged, but that's just what I heard.

2. Since I know not the ironborn race, is the supplement usable? I.e. are all the ironborns-specific abilities covered in this product?

3. What is the CR adjustment for Clockwork Creature Template? What creatures can be the template applied to? Is there a simple version of the template included?

4. A final (and somewhat loaded) question (it may come out quite negative, I'll cover it a little to soften the impact - kindly ignore it if you deem it too brutal):

Spoiler:
is the editing on the par with Book of Templates or Coliseum Morpheuon?
The reason I ask is that while I enjoyed both books, there were certain issues which made me almost drop the books in frustration.

Reference to classic and very recommended reading: The Complete Manual of Typography.

Additionally, here are links to free, open source and high quality fonts, usable in publications:
Gentium: http://scripts.sil.org/gentium
TeX Gyre: [url=http://www.gust.org.pl/projects/e-foundry/tex-gyre/]http://www.gust.org.pl/projects/e-foundry/tex-gyre/

Font previewer: http://www.nowacki.strefa.pl/wzornik/ - just replace "Napisz i zobacz" with any test text and select font from the list below.

Regards,
Ruemere

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

ruemere wrote:
1. What are the ironborn?

All you ever wanted to know about ironborn can be learned in Ironborn of Questhaven, a great new PDF recently available from Rite Publishing.

ruemere wrote:
2. Since I know not the ironborn race, is the supplement usable? I.e. are all the ironborns-specific abilities covered in this product?

All the rules information necessary to run the NPCs is contained within the stat blocks. There should be no unexplained abilities or rules-requiring concepts, and you'll be able to use him in a campaign no problem without additional purchase. The only exception to that is if you want to use Primus' "Craft Ironborn" feat to make a new ironborn - if you want to do that, you really should pick up the source book for ironborn. We couldn't reprint the entire Ironborn book within this product.

ruemere wrote:
3. What is the CR adjustment for Clockwork Creature Template? What creatures can be the template applied to? Is there a simple version of the template included?

That is all included on page 7 of this PDF.

ruemere wrote:
4. A final (and somewhat loaded) question (regarding editing)

All I can say is that 1) the editing "staff" for Faces of the Tarnished Souk is a little different than the staff for the other products you mentioned, 2) I think FACES is well-edited (full disclosure: I'm biased since I am one of the editors), and 3) nobody's perfect. I leave it to you to judge how good we are and how Faces compares to other stuff out there. All truthful reviews are welcome, so by all means please give us feedback on how we're doing, be it awesome or erroneous.


First Ahnkar-Kosh, and now Primus Gearhart... this may be too much temptation for me to resist. (And it's not like these are pricey PDFs, I'll likely pick these up very soon).

Yay Rite Publishing!


@Ruemere

Are we talking about editing or are we talking about layout? Those are different stages of development and involved different people.

I am not a typographer, or a layout artist, I did the layout for Book of Monster Templates and Hans Cummings did the interior layout for Coliseum Morpheuon.

I have been learning more and more about layout as I go, but knowing I am not an expert, I don't do anything fancy, I tend to keep it simple and I spend my time focused on the design of BoMT. I have often left the design choices of Coliseum Morpheuon to Hans. My big mistake was not forcing tighter word count controls on additional design for BoMT because I can see where the layout suffered to keep within the strict format I used, especially when I was not the author.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk uses Georgia 9 and BlackChancery bold for title fonts, so its style is closer to BoMT, however what Matt does with great skill is write a single page of text so it makes layout much cleaner IMHO but again I am not a Typographer or a true layout artist.

We continue to grow, I continue to learn and one day I hope we can afford a staff layout artist who is a typographer.

Also anytime you feel the need to send me feedback to help me improve you can reach me via Steve (at) RitePublishing (dot) com

Thanks again

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I have to second some of Ruemere's comments, unfortunately, and I'll spoil mine as well as they're on the harsh side.

Spoiler:
My biggest reason for not buying more Rite Publishing PDFs is, to be honest, their comparative ugliness to ones from, say, Super Genius or 4 Winds. Nothing to do with the degree of quality of the content, but the fact that they're so darn hard to read. I almost have to go the the trouble of copying and pasting the text into a Word doc just so I can actually read the dang things. Colosseum Morpheon is the only Rite release I don't flat out hate the look of. Get rid of the grey runes border/background, PLEASE. Not that I want you to go all the way to the sparse look of your printer-friendly versions, but there's a lot you could do in between the two approaches. Maybe along the lines of the Dreamscarred Press PDFs, with black line art borders on white pages along with the text.

I'm reading on both a 17" laptop and a 24" desktop monitor, for what it's worth.


(warning: I'm out of time so please accept my apologies for errors)

First of all, apologies for not proofing properly my own message. Working reference links to free, open source and good-looking fonts:

Gentium: http://scripts.sil.org/gentium
TeX Gyre: http://www.gust.org.pl/projects/e-foundry/tex-gyre/

Note that the latter link leads to Polish society of typographers and scientists. These fonts are likely to have most of science-related glyphs in addition to standard Latin and Polish fonts.
Additionally, the fonts are offered in TTF, OTF and LaTeX-compatible formats.

Secondly, to address specific comments:

Ezekiel Shanoax, the Stormchild:
"That is all included on page 7 of this PDF."
"3) nobody's perfect."

That's fine, I do not mind occasional problems. I've purchased the PDF and here are initial impressions:

Spoiler:
- p.1 - front - great
- p.2 - credits - 7 different fonts, grey kill-your-printer background, every parapgraph uses different style - very bad
- p.3 - 1st page of content - three different fonts (headers, default and paragraph opening), double-indent for paragraphs, no register-true, no ligatures, strong ragged right... uhhh
- p.4 - 2nd page of content - statblock, Paizo format, readable, two fonts only, weird header positioning, no register-true - decent

I'll stop reviewing for now. It's better than both previously mentioned books, it still needs more work.
Will continue later.

Regards,
Ruemere


Initial impressions, continued:

Spoiler:

Note: page numbers refer to actual positioning of pages in the file, i.e.
page 4 (reviewed below) bears number 2.

- p.4 (continued) - 2nd page of content - there is a picture of clockwork king here. It's a black-on-white sketch, the background of the picture was not removed, feathered or made semitransparent. It looks pretty ugly against grayish clouds of background - bad
- p.5 - see page 4 and 5 - the illustration here hasn't got white background so it looks fine - decent
- p.6 - see page 4 and 5 - another picture with white background - bad
- p.7 to p.9 - see above

Recommendations:
1. The reasonable limit is two fonts per page.
2. PDF should be more printer friendly. Possible options: two different versions, remove backgrounds and strips around pages or build layers into pdf and put decorative stuff on a layer separate from text.
3. Page 3 of PDF (1st of content) is laid out in a different way from the rest of the product (different paragraphs, use of different fonts, horrible grey box). Should be made simpler and made to fit the look of the rest of the book.
4. Headers are not positioned properly. Usually, the header is put between elements of layout so that distance from preceding element is twice as big as distance from element following the header:

I'm a paragraph.
<Empty>
<Empty>
I'M THE HEADER
<Empty>
I'm a paragraph.

5. As a general rule, text should be justified. And in this case the register-true for adjacent columns of text should be upheld. This is not iron-clade rule, but it really, really goes a long way toward creation of well-laid out magazines.
6. Pictures with white backgrounds should be corrected.
7. The lines of text should not end with "of", "and", "in" (adverbs, prepositions). Use of non-breaking spaces is heartily recommended.

I'm sure that a professional could have made more recommendations. For now, I'd suggest getting just a decent book on typography and read general do's and don'ts. There are quite a lot of great tutorials and blogs out there, too, if you don't mind googling.
Finally, an example goes a long way... within the industry, I have only but praise for the Sue Weinlein Cook - she dares to take risks, breaks rules and she still emerges victorious. Buy just about any book from Monte Cook Publishing to feast your eyes.
Necromancer Games products, White Wolf books - most of them are pretty well laid out, too.
Of Paizo guys, check Pathfinder modules (like Godsmouth Heresy) - these guys perfectly align stablocks and greyboxes with standard columns of text. If you'd like to appreciate their art, Godsmouth Heresy, 7th page of content gets right all the little bits mentioned here.

The reason for my review: I like the content of your books. I really do. That's probably the reason I spent so much time writing these posts. And since there are noticeable improvements over Coliseum, I just hope that you will continue the trend.

Still, I bought the Primus book, didn't I?

Regards,
Ruemere


So it seems all of the issues are with Typography and layout, rather than with the writing, editing, or artwork.

@Kvantum I won't get rid of the grey runes border, we have had too many positive responses for that. I will however get rid of the gray on the page text.

Quote:
1. The reasonable limit is two fonts per page.

And its a very reasonable request, I think the only place we use more than two different fonts is the credits page. But that can easily be corrected for the future.

Quote:
2. PDF should be more printer friendly. Possible options: two different versions, remove backgrounds and strips around pages or build layers into pdf and put decorative stuff on a layer separate from text.

I used to do a printer friendly version of every product, but have stopped since we moved to a print partnership with Cubicle Seven, and in 7 months since doing so this is the first request I have had for one.

Layered pdfs cause all kinds of problems for Vendors unfortunately.

Quote:
3. Page 3 of PDF (1st of content) is laid out in a different way from the rest of the product (different paragraphs, use of different fonts, horrible grey box). Should be made simpler and made to fit the rest of the book.

Yes it uses a different layout its a sidebar, that is not unusual.

It uses bullet points again its a sidebar.
It DOES NOT use different fonts Georgia 9 for the body and BlackChancery Bolded for the Header.
Boxing text is the usual format for Sidebars.
If you have a suggestion I am sure to listen to it.

Quote:

4. Headers a not positioned properly. Usually, the header is put between elements of layout so that distance from preceding element is twice as big as distance from element following the header:

5. As a general rule, text should be justified. And in this case the register-true for adjacent columns of text should be upheld. This is not iron-clade rule, but it really, really goes a long way toward creation of well-laid out magazines.

I will endeavor to follow these guideliens in the future.

Quote:
6. Pictures with white backgrounds should be corrected.

Sorry there is no correction this is the limitation of not being a trained layout artist, and using stock art vs. commissioning an original PNG with a transparent background and paying a professional layout artist.

I can however start using a white background for the page.

Quote:
7. The lines of text should not end with "of", "and", "in" (adverbs, prepositions). Use of non-breaking spaces is heartily recommended.

I will endeavor to follow this guideline in the future.

Thanks for the feedback
Steve.


As the thread grows beyond my intention, I have mailed you with a simple mock-up of the essence of my recommendations.

(I hate criticizing hard work of other people without being properly constructive)

Thank you for your time and patience,
Ruemere

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

REQUEST FOR REVIEWS / COMMENT

Hi Everybody! We here at the Faces of the Tarnished Souk workshop would love to know what you think about this product. Please take a few seconds to comment here - we'd be interested in knowing:

How did you find out about this Primus Gearheart PDF?

How do you plan to use this product? In an existing game? In a new planned game? Picking him up as a just-in-case?

Once you get a peek at his storyline and his stats, what do you think?

Thanks, Enjoy, and Game On!


A suggestion on how to solve the "pictures with white background" problem.

Add a simple black border... but really, it's quite easy to remove the white background (should only be done with greyscale illustrations, in my oppinion)

Use the magic wand to mark all the white, then use the background eraser to make the white background transparent. Just make sure to save the image as a .png file, otherwise, the white background returns!

I learned this stuff the hard way... while working on Forgotten foes! :)

- Axel

Dark Archive

Nice review end.


Thanks for taking the time to review the product end

I passed on your concerns to Justin about the statblocks being more complex.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

Endzeitgeist, thank you for the review. This is valuable feedback that we will definitely take to heart for the NPCs that are not yet in post-production. This is exactly what we need to know.


Thanks for your kind words and being as open to feedback as you are!


Thanks boomer!

To cover Boomer's bias this is a product supplmement to Coliseum Morpheuon which was his original concept and co-author of.

Dark Archive

Reviewed.


Nice review, D_M! You're a kind-hearted demon with this one, aren't you? ;)


Its good feedback, I hope some of our later ones (around #6 will start reflecting this input).

Dark Archive

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Nice review, D_M! You're a kind-hearted demon with this one, aren't you? ;)

I only gave it a half star higher review that you. Basically our views where pretty similar. I was more forgiving cause the main part of giving you a 3 tier NPC was accomplished fairly well.


Reviewed.

Thumbs way up to whomever made the reference to the Phillip K Dick story that was turned into the movie "Blade Runner"!

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16

Dark Sasha wrote:

Reviewed.

Thumbs way up to whomever made the reference to the Phillip K Dick story that was turned into the movie "Blade Runner"!

You're welcome. Glad it was caught and appreciated. ;)

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