Mor Aldenn: Gaiants Discovered (PFRPG) PDF

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GAIANTS DISCOVERED!
A race supplement for the Mor Aldenn setting, or for any other setting...

So, you might be asking yourself... what is a gaiant? Well..

Gaiants are reclusive forest dwellers, tree-like in appearance, at once both fey-like and giant-like in demeanor, with eyes that sparkle like gems, deep with faceted wisdom. Throughout Ossindrillon, the nomadic gaiants are friends to those who live within the forested wilderness, and enemy to those who seek to disrupt the natural order.

Within these pages you'll find alternate racial traits, racial feats, new magical items and even a couple of named NPCs and a couple of generic ones.

Gaiants Discovered was written by Thomas Baumbach, K. Axel Carlsson and Dean Siemsen. Cover by Bruno Balixa.

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***½( ) (based on 2 ratings)

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****( )

Weighing in at 16 pages with a full color cover, and B&W interior artwork, I noticed no horrible grammatical errors. The page breakdown is as follows, cover/OGL/credits & Intro – 3 pages total, leaving 13 pages to the presentation of this race and it's magics. So let's see what we've got, shall we?

Following the dual column format, Gaiants Discovered is a racial book for the Mor Aldenn setting, and introduces us to a race of Fey Giants. Looking very much like a hill giant and a treant got lonely one long cold Saturday night years ago, The Gaiants take on the look of the dominate trees of the woods they reside within, and look very much like a more humanoid treant would be imagined to appear. Amusingly, as you will find within this PDF, they go out of their way to look this way, taking advantage of the belief that they are in fact lesser treants.

Dedicating themselves to the Estoic Circle, and the concept of welcome and unwelcome, the gaiants act as defenders of balance in life, helping to defend against those who would abuse the woods like sport hunters or lumber companies. Having no issues with those who hunt for food and clothes, or fell trees for fire and homes, gaiants can be found living outside of humanoid communities, looking over them, befriending them.

Looking through the racial traits and perks we have such things as Large size (9 ft. 900 lbs), Slow & Steady (20ft., but never adjusted by encumbrance or armor), Giant subtype as well as Fey Blood. It is the last that I stopped on, as it grants the Gaiant the ability to use their Charisma instead of Intelligence or Wisdom for any spell casting class they take. Am not really sure I'm feeling that. Having the Giant subtype gave them no racial HD, only the subtype, so to let them uber max a character by taking a wizard/cleric who only has to worry about one ability score instead of two feels more than just a little unbalanced to me. Of course, this might be due to years of dealing with power mongering players who look for every loophole they can find also.

We are given a a mass variety for Tree Shape as well as a small collection of new Druid spells;
Bladeleaf Gyre: Form a whirlwind of leaves to use for both protection and attack (also usable by a Ranger)
Camp of Trees: Literally hide camp by becoming a stand of trees
Hibernation: Take on the form of a tree for a span of years to heal.
Wooden Edge: Turn a lethal weapon into a nonlethal for x amount of rounds per level.
We are also given Patron spell lists for Seasonal Witch classes, as Gaiants are prone towards either Druid or Witch.

Spells are followed with new magical items that are themed towards the woods.
Bag of Roots: Quite literally what it claims to be, once thrown the roots cause vegetation to entangle anything caught within a radius of where the root lands.
Mantle of Leaves: A garment crafted entirely of leaves that allows its wearer to take on the form of a tree a certain amount of times per day.
Staff of the Greensong: An oaken staff bearing the faces of ancient gaiants, holds charges for three different spells.
Staff of Winter: Holding charges for four spells, more cold themed this time.
Treeman's Mantle: When worn, it allows the wearer to be treated as a larger creature for purposes pertaining to CMB and CMD.

New feats presented here are geared towards the gaiant character. The interesting recommendation is made to make a new feat available to a gaiant character when they rest. For clarification, gaiants only sleep one day a month. New Feats include:
Greensong Adept: Gain a bonus 2nd level bardic spell, as well as a skill bonus
Hedge Sage Magic: When casting nature-related spells, your effective caster level is regarded as higher than it actually is, as well as the DC increasing. There is also an Improved version of this feat.
Improved Bark hide: Think Improved Natural Armor...for trees.
Improved Gaiant Magic: Improves upon one of the spell like abilities granted by the race as well as adding your choice of another spell like abilities.
Initiate of the Greensong: Serenading the plants with your bardic tongue can either call or dispell an entangle effect.
Master of the Greensong: Another bonus bardic spell, this time to your 5th level spells.
Nature's Fury: Extend your barbarian rage while in contact with the ground.
Shed Bark: Sacrifice bark/skin to absorb damage, much like a tree's bark tends to chip and fall away as a tree is hit long before there are signs of true damage to the actual trunk.

The book closes out with five NPC's showing off what can be built with a gaiant, including an undead variety with an interesting back story.

All in all, the race is an interesting, and well developed concept. There were a few areas where I would of liked to have seen more, perhaps in the nature of their weaponry, or their art, but as an introduction to the gaiant as a race, this PDF does a fairly good job. One thing I did not like, and found very confusing until I realized what was being done with the formatting was the feel that the “crunch page”, the page containing the racial modifiers and traits, had been inserted into the middle of the spells sections. It also, and I'm not sure why, is a black page with white text. There are several sections like this throughout the book, so if you are planning on printing this, be forewarned. All in all I'm going to have to give this book a 4 star rating, I liked the race, but they felt very middle of the road, I wanted to see more of what they bring to the table I guess.


Unique, cool race with some unfortunately unbalanced options

***( )( )

This pdf is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial (containing the introduction as well, though!) and 1 page SRD, leaving 13 pages to cover the new Gaiant-race, so let's check them out, shall we?

The gaiants are arace of tree-like humanoids, somewhat similar to treants, but more humanoid in both demeanor and culture while remaining very distinct entities - the pdf begins by elaborating their concepts of "welcome" and "unwelcome" with regards to the woods they guard and other humanoids as well as their society and culture, which is interesting: Defined by their extremely long lifespans, their nomadic lifestyle might seem like a settled one to observers and features and interesting take on the circle of life. The section also comes with a lore-section.
On the crunch-side, they get +2 to Con and Cha, -2 to Dex, low-light vision, +2 to heal and knowledge (nature), +4 to CMD against bull rush and the option to spend a move action to gain another +4, +2 natural armor, slow base-speed, large size, belong to the giant-subtype but count as fey (and have no racial hit-dice), can use Cha instead of Wis or Int to determine their spellcasting where applicable and the amaranthine quality. Gaiants casting as a Cha-based class get +1 caster-level with regards to their spells.
The latter is rather interesting, as Gaiants don't need to sleep, but rather stay rooted for one day per lunar month. They also don't suffer from age-penalties, being essentially eternal and thus making for rather interesting perspectives on things.

I already mentioned the Cha-substitution for any spellcasting, with which I have a problem. The attribute-substitution screams "abuse the hell out of me" and potentially makes for some awkward builds - how would e.g. Wizards get their arcane discoveries if not via their intellect? It also blurs the lines between classes, not generally something I'd personally advocate.

I'm missing the age, height & weight tables for the gaiants, especially the weight being something I'd really like to know - after all, lumbering tree-like humanoids are supposed to be heavy and what happens when they try to cross a rope-bridge?

The 4 alternate racial traits are rather on the upper scale of the power-side, enabling them to get a 1d12 natural attack, the ability to disguise themselves as treants and minor spellcasting as well as the ability to draw knowledge from nature. This natural attack means that gaiants deal more unarmed damage than 11th-level monks (who only get d10). This is plain wrong and not something I'd allow in my campaign.

The 5 new spells on the other hand were rather interesting - I especially liked bladewind gyre, which gives you minor DR and lets you lower the remaining duration of the spell for the option to attack foes at range via razor-sharp blades. The Hinbernation-spell, though, is weird: It grants you tree-shape and awareness, healing and restoration and has a duration of several years. You can dismiss the spell, but lose the healing properties. If you get damaged, you instead are healed only 2d8. I'm not sure if I get this spell right. I assume that you get to keep healing and restoration if you wait for the duration to naturally expire or whether the benefits end with the spell. Seeing that casting time is 10 minutes, the spell can't really be utilized to save a dying gaiant, but since I like the idea and its narrative potential (lumberjacks awakening ancient, angry gaiants anyone?), I'd really enjoy some clarification there in a possible product update.

A list for new witch patron spells for all the seasons is included as well as 5 neat magic items, one of which is the tanglefoot bag's big brother. I liked all of the items, none seemed op.

Gaiants also get access to 9 racial feats - Bards get some nice love and can slightly expand their spell-lists via feats and use their songs to affect plants and the gaiants magic can be increased in spell-levels and DCs, but WITHOUT stacking with other increasing factors, ensuring that they have another access to magic but without unbalancing the whole system. My favorite feat, though, would be "Shed Bark" - this feat ROCKS. It lets you sacrifice your natural armor bonus to subtract lvlx2 points of damage from an attack. The bark only returns after your next monthly rest. This feat is awesome, oozes flavor and just rocks - well done!

The pdf closes by providing some gaiant NPCs - a sorceress 7, a barbarian 6, an undying skeletal champion gaiant sorcerer 8 and two generic gaiants. The NPCs are surprisingly well-written and especially the undead gaiant just begs to be used (or rather inflicted upon) your PCs.

Conclusion:
Editing could have been a bit better, I noticed some glitches and in e.g. the hibernate-spell was not sure I got right what the spell is supposed to do. Formatting is nice, though the racial information of the gaiants is on a black page with white ink, which, while nice-looking, makes for more printer-drain than necessary. The pdf has unfortunately no bookmarks. The layout is beautiful, though - as I've come to expect from Headless Hydra games, we get a clear two-column b/w-layout supplemented with BEAUTIFUL b/w-artworks - credit where credit is due.

This is hard to rate. I thought I would not like the gaiant and the opposite is the case - the writing is good enough and the crunch is unique enough to make the race stand out and feel different. Actually, both NPCs, race, spells and feats conspire to make this race feel truly different, which is quite an achievement. On the other hand, though, there are some blemishes that are simply unnecessary: The lack of an age, height and weight table is one of them (I get the absence of age, them being quasi-immortal, but weight and height are important for cramped dungeons, tight ropes, fragile floors etc.) and the ability to substitute Cha for other spellcasting attributes is another one. The minor problems with exact wordings thankfully are rare but serve to further undermine what otherwise would be a stellar racial supplement.

I actually came to really like the unique feel, the old-world fluff of the gaiants, but I fear that aforementioned blemishes make it impossible for me to rate this as high as I'd like to. While generally, the ideas herein are great, a bit of fine-tuning could have made this a full-blown 5 star-file. As written, though, I have to take aforementioned problems into account as well as the low price. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 due to potential balance concerns. If you feel like you can handle them, I'd suggest checking this out - for you, this might be a 4-star file.

Endzeitgeist out.


Contributor

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Dark Archive

Thats pretty cool, lets people play treant like characters it sounds likes.


Yeah, that is not far from the truth... although gaiants do look slightly more human than treants, especially the female gaiants.

The gaiants also allow you to play a spellcaster differently from other races...

Well, buy it and find out! :)

- Axel

Dark Archive

Eventually, July was a rough month for a few reasons. Including RL ones. So hopefully things will be better this month and I can pick this up and the rest of the stuff in my cart up later in August.

Scarab Sages

Has anybody actually purchased this yet? I'm interested in getting opinions on the product and its feasibility being placed in other campaign settings other than the one it was designed for.

Dark Archive

Tarrintino wrote:
Has anybody actually purchased this yet? I'm interested in getting opinions on the product and its feasibility being placed in other campaign settings other than the one it was designed for.

Not yet, it is in my saved shopping cart. I am about to make another round of buys this weekend. Not sure if this will make the cut or not. I got about twice as much stuff saved than I will have the budget for. So will see, I might if I do. I will do a review with in a week or two.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I really, really, really love the gaiants but I have an issue with them. They are large. That's hell to gaiant druids, because the polymorph rules state that large characters have to apply the following stat modifiers before the polymorph effect: -4 str, +2 dex, -2 con; so a 4th level gaiant druid in a medium wild shape would have the net modifiers of -2 str, +2 dex and -2 con; when he can be in a large shape, he gets a net -2 con. And it's the same with whatever polymorph effect they use (for example, a sorcerer with alter self). I'd make them medium and reduce their natural armor bonus to +1

Fey blood lets you use Charisma as a casting stat. Do witch hexes and cleric domain powers use charisma too?


Thank you, thats really really good to hear! :)

Honestly, if it fits better with your game/campaign, just make the gaiants medium sized. I dont see why this couldn't work. Personally, I love that they are large-sized.

Also, Charisma replaces the caster's primary spellcasting ability score, but only related to spells (save DCs, bonus spells etc.).

I hope that helps.

- Axel


Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine. Cheers!

Dark Archive

Nice review End.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hi End,

(I'm Dean Siemsen, one of the authors associated with this PDF)

And I am absolutely jazzed at your review. Thank you very much for it.

I was really pleased you liked the new witch patron spells, the feats (I gave the gaiant bards the "love"), and I am very happy you liked the NPC's ... although I can't take credit for the gaiant skeletal champion... I did provide the others.

Thanks again for your review.

~Dean


Thanks for commenting and @ Dean: Great job, as far as I can tell! I was positively surprised by this one and look forward to doing more Mor Aldenn-stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing more from you!


Reviewed here and on RPGNow. Interesting race, providing an interesting option for a player or GM to shake up the norm in a group.


Thanks KTF! You are right about the layout, when I created the "black" page, I did not think about the people who were going to print the pdf :) I just wanted to separate the information from the rest of the pdf.

However, Gaiants Discovered are on my shortlist for products that need an update, which will definitely mean a layout change as well!

- Axel


Yeah, the black page threw me, lol. It definitely stands out, you succeeded there, but am happy to hear you're looking into updating the PDF, would be interested in seeing it when you are done.

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