20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons (PFRPG) PDF

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Make Red Dragons Rule Anew.

20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons saves you time while instilling a sense of dread and the wonder of the unknown back into the game, even for those jaded players who have memorized the Bestiary. It cover 20 different variants for each CR ranging from 3 to 30, making it useful for Game Masters at all levels of play. 

Encounter crimson tyrants of the crags such as the feral young red dragon the locals name The Beast of Savage Fire; challenge the advanced hellfire old red dragon Omug, The All-Consuming Flame; or end your days fighting  the divine ravener, ancient red dragon, and divine channeler Unja the Undying Fire!

From the lowliest unhinged wyrmling red dragon to an accelerated bipedal dread mummy undead lord very young red dragon diviner 11/loremaster 10, you will find the complex stat blocks you have come to expect from Justin P. Sluder who helped bringing you the statblocks for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series.

Check out the full-sized preview or get your copy today!

Authors: Elaine Betts and Justin P. Sluder
Cover Artist: Henry Toogood
Pages: 42

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4.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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5/5

I am associated with Adventureaweek.com, were I operate as the main PDF monkey. My reviews are written with a desire to remain unbiased as many of the designers, writers, artists and publishers are considered friends to me. Having said that I am first and foremost a reviewer, and in respect to these people and their product I intend to evaluate this product honestly and fairly.

Starting with the incredible cover piece from Henry Toogood 20 Variant Foes: Red Dragons demands to paid attention to. Far to often a list of this type ends up a simple rehash of boring numbers, with not truly enough to make the collection worth the effort. Elaine Betts and Justin P. Sluder present here 20 NPCs in the form of Red Dragons that are far more than just the standard big egotistical lizard. They seek to give you characters for your campaigns that will live in the memories of your players for years, earning the right to become reoccurring villains, possibly even allies if presented properly.

Format is presented in the well known dual column approach, with artwork interspersed throughout the book, varying from truly WOW worthy to decent, with only one piece kind of feeling out of place. Now, there are several pieces in an index at the end of the book dealing with templates that include examples of the templates that are not draconic in nature, so they come off as slightly jarring at first due to the entirety of the remainder of the book being all draconic goodness, but the art pieces here all make sense, and are logical and good pieces. When it comes to the specifics of the statblocks, anyone who knows me and my style of reviewing should by now know that I tend to forgive the occasional slip in statblocks, as any GM worth their salt should be able to adjust the occasional errors. That being said, occasional is the important word in their. The very first dragon presented in this book, a very cool build and character concept, is Seer Hekkush, the Undying Oracle of Ash CR 30. He is an (ready for this?) accelerated bipedal dread mummy undead lord very young red dragon diviner 11/loremaster 10. Get all that? In case you are scratching your nogging right now wondering what half of those templates are, have no fear, as they are all covered in an index at the end of the book (included with several other templates as well), Why am I showing off this mouthful of words making up this character’s list of awesomeness? Because of the fact he is listed as a very young, when the character is presented as extremely old, has a freaking CR 30 and is a freaking mummy…he uses his sarcophagus as armor, there is nothing about the write up or abilities of this dragon that feels like a very young dragon. Having said all of that, I have no doubt that someone could run the numbers fairly quickly and deduce the proper age for this beast, but for the purposes of this review, I am not feeling like doing such at this time, What I will say is that the character is not tarnished by this oddity in the aging, the concept for the character made me want to include him as that venerable beast so past the point of what a playgroup could ever take on with ease. Those beasts that almost instantly force your players to respect them as the forces of nature that dragons are, as opposed to yet another disposable piles of XP and GP.. Now, here was a character that was designed to make you think, both as the GM running it as well as the player navigating interaction with a character living on this level of power.

No, I am not going to go through more than a handful of these dragons, nor am I planning to simply run through them presented in order in the book, but the very second I came to stopped me instantly. The Foul Doctor Feulzik CR 28, mythic rune-carved savant great wyrm red dragon. Reading over his “bio” intro there was the feel of a bit of the benefactor in this, living amongst a peoples while looking over them, caring for their illnesses and poor. Of course, that is until someone goes missing to be used for whatever experiment the good doctor is currently up to. It stands to be brought up at this point that there are two specific “voices” to each entry for the individual dragons, the first of the dragon itself, as well as that of the chronicler compiling this tome to be dispersed amongst the lands to better share the tales of these mighty creatures. So, you receive the “selling” pitch from the dragon as to who they are, and the comments and observations from the writer of this journal. It is from him we learn that the good doctor is dabbling in Fleshgrafting. Experimenting on those he has taken to perfect methods before adding the Troll’s Gland fleshgraft to himself. Yes, it is one of many things in a long list of things (he is a dragon after all), but the idea of seeing fleshgrafting brought to usage brought a smile to my face.

The Lord of Fangs CR 24, a freaking ninja….yeah, you read that, lol. Arkaz and Zakra, The Twins CR21…a two headed old red, with a very distinct set of two personalities in those heads of hers. Qux-Nurgesh, Man-Eater, the pygmy….lol…oh man, a pygmy dragon….love it!!!!! However, this dragon handed me the first true area of poor editing, a typo and duplication of a word. Not the worst mistake I have ever seen, but it is there. Tindertwig, a wyrmling rogue, taught by her father to function as a rogue amongst the human world she will have to deal with as well as simply being a dragon. Fell in love with her instantly, as will be introducing her into my campaign world very shortly.

Juerix the Lame CR10 just might be one of the oddest dragon concepts I have ever come across, and mainly for the sheer uniqueness of his circumstances. His egg was broken before he should have hatched, and was felt in the cold away from the warmth needed for the development of a young dragon. When discovered by his mother she intended to eat him as a loss for being flawed and lame but he bite her nose on his way to the maw sending him to his death. A mother’s love after all, and she allowed him to live within her lair, much as a mother with a child who will never fully mentally develop might never leave her home. Yeah, getting this now? He’s not the brightest crayon in the box, along with being physically diminished and wingless, but there is still a great deal of cool personality that makes him excellent for encounters. Am very impressed with the delicateness of handling the idea of a dragon birth with birth defects, this could have been a train wreck offending people easily, but came off instead as a character you can’t help but like, instantly. Well done, well done indeed.

Sparky the Chaos-Touched, and insane dragon….how can you not want to roleplay this???? I mean, seriously????? An INSANE DRAGON!!!!! I think I shall simply allow him to speak for himself, and I quote

"Fire so pretty. Sparky like fire. Sparky like pretty things. Pretty things burn. Then Sparky sad. Sparky hatch in fire. Pretty, pretty fire. Fire burn everything up, but not Sparky. Sparky swallow up the fire. Now it burns in Sparky’s head. Oh it burns! It burns, burns, burns…”

Like I said, how can you not want to unleash this on a playgroup when they need a night of being reminded that sometimes you are supposed to be having fun, lol.

The indexes bring us 7 templates (used throughout the book in the statblocks) as well as 11 feats (with one dealing with fleshgrafting that first appeared in the book #30 Fleshgrafts included here for the sake of those without the book). The spell Flesh Culture also appears here, previously from the #30 Fleshgrafts pdf as well. A simple and dirty breakdown for the rules for Domain Channeling from The Secrets of Divine Channeling/The Secrets of Adventuring are presented here closing out this pdf. Other of course for a few pages of ads and the OGL.

So, what have we got here, a couple of small hiccups in the editing, my personal opinion about the age of a dragon (which, to be true I could be wrong, it happens) and the rest pretty much all being win and confetti rainbows my friends. Yes, this collection will seriously increase your draconic population for your setting without requiring you to write up another handful of “Generic Dragon X” pages. As I stated at the beginning of this review, collections like this can easily end up a list of numbers and boring as watching water dry. Luckily, this is so far from that that this book ends up as one I highly recommend to any dragon loving fan of the mighty reptilian rulers of the food chain.

A well deserved 5 star rating, and well worth the cost of admission!


An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

So this is the first installment of Rite Publishing's new "Variant Foes"-series - content-wise, it clocks in at a more than solid 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a massive 42 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Red dragons...the most iconic apex predators EVER. I have, at length, complained about overusing dragons, forgetting that these majestic creatures are supposed to be the most powerful threats PCs face - and this pdf seeks to bring back the unpredictability back to dragons - and unpredictable they are. In case you didn't know, statblock supremo Justin Sluder, responsible for the deliciously complex characters we know from the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, is also responsible for the statblocks herein - you won't find a single lame dragon/simple build herein. Now in this series, he has teamed up with Elaine Betts -so let's take a look at what this duo delivers, shall we?

Well, first of all, we get Rite Publishing's by now almost trademark frame narrative that cloaks the content herein in a guise that makes the crunch not only more digestible, but actually a pleasure to read. Each entry features an IC-narrative of the respective draconic entity, supplemented by a note from the researcher Leiraleen Amelour. Now CR-wise, the entities herein range from CR 30 (!!!) to CR 3. Now the CR 30 beast would be Seer Hekush - a chronicler of ages not really from this planet and neither a true dragon in the classic sense - this man is actually a LN bipedal accelerated dread mummy undead lord very young red dragon diviner 11/loremaster 10 that wields his sarcopahgus as a kind of armor and who has seen at least two ages come and pass - at AC 56 and more than 400 HP, this eternal chronicler of the ages sets a high standard - one, as I'm happy to report, the other beings herein live up to:

Take the Fould Dcotor Feulzik - CR 28 mythic runecarved savant great wyrm red dragon (OUCH!) who experiments with the very essences of life and death, seeking to probe (and possibly transcend) the limitations of vital essence itself. Or take Unja of the Undying Fire, a divine ravener divine channeler undead dragon that can blast foes to smithereens with fire both black and searing hot, annihilating any opposition and "elevating" adversaries to glorious living death. Need some draconic goodness that is a bit more subtle? What about a bipedal exemplar multiarmed mystic dragon ninja? OUUUUCH!!! Just contemplating the PAIN these beings may mete out makes me chuckle with fiendish glee!

Are you a fan of Warhammer's two-headed chaos dragons? Well, this supplement has got you covered and also features one (or is it two?) of these as well as hellfire dragons, furnace dragons with weapon master levels, stealthy pygmy dragons, a crippled invulnerable rager, a dragon tired of life, yet afraid of death, young (and cowardly dragons) and a (probably) kind of cute wyrmling that has been unhinged by being suffused with chaos magic that infects those around him.

The book also chronicles the tools made to create these magnificent beasts: 7 templates,11 feats, 1 spell, 1 magic item, 2 arcane discoveries, all necessary information for divine channeling as well as the properties of quintessence.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor glitches here and there, no crucial ones, though. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a significant amount of full color artworks, many of which I have not seen before - and some of these artworks are downright awe-inspiring, so kudos indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

OH BOY! What a way to start a series, what a way! The dragons herein run the gamut from cool in character and build and rather common and easily inserted to downright GLORIOUS BEASTS that should more than satisfy even the most discerning of tastes wishing for exceedingly complex builds. Even in Rite's tradition of complex, cool builds, these stand out and mark this pdf as one damn fine example of the art of NPC/monster-craft that has me clamoring for more! If you liked the complex builds of the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, if you hate standard dragons as used in so many modules, give these a go - the beings herein live up to the terror they ought to inspire and definitely are anything but common. Remarkable, complex and a good read to boot - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.


To Devour Adventurers, Inquire Within

4/5

Red Dragons have always been the hard and heavy hitting dragons for parties, capable of taking all players to an early demise if they are not careful and lucky. Evil and without real flaws, reds are a challenge. I am pleased to report that the challenge continues here.

The reds presented over 31 pages, with added pages for templates and additional material, are not all uniform in appearance. These are not just the same dragon with different stats. Some of the art is rather captivating (Inferna and Fadow), and I appreciate that although the dragons start with the CR of 30, they descend until they reach CR 3. So there is a dragon for all parties, and the real possibility that many dragons could be used over the course of a campaign, i.e. a game to hunt the ten red dragons of doom, for instance.

Some of the dragons have levels, granting them different abilities to the norm. I chuckled at the ninja dragon, the CR 10 invulnerable ranger dragon has some really nice damage, and each dragon comes with description, background material, some notes and points on tactics and special abilities.

I give this 4/5. It should be noted the Unja the dragon on the cover, is not actually the best looking dragon inside the product (I vote Inferna). 4/5 because while it is close to 5, the cover isn't the best dragon picture I have seen (my tastes are for more detail and action).

Good hunting!


Webstore Gninja Minion

Now available!


Thanks for getting this up Liz.

Here is a link to the Full-Sized Free Preview


I'm intrigued.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dragons, complex stat blocks, and written by one of the people associated with "Faces of the Tarnished Souk"!

Want, clicked, and in cart.

Dark Archive

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

OK, just the two dragons in preview alone are enough. Madness, sheer madness.

Now to get home and buy it.


I wonder how my party will go against the ninja dragon. Keh keh keh!

:D

Silver Crusade

Not very well, I'm afraid.


They'll be fine. With ketchup.


Thanks for the review Immortal Greed :)


Posted a preview of a different dragon, along with some art, over on the Rite Designs blog

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Thank you very much for the review End.

What glitches did you find?


Minor ones on typo-level, nothing mechanically problematic. :)

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Elaine (my wife) is going to flip when she sees this. Thanks End.


Review here, RPGNow and Thoughts with Broken Dice....and yes, I am finally trying to dig my way out from under the backstocks, lol.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Thank you for the review KTFish7, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

I really should get done with the next group of 20 Variant Foes....


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Nice review, Joshua! You have a point with the age-category - I assumed since the CR 30-beast was humanoid and no dragon in the strict sense, but an immortal, that that would be the reason for the age-category - measured in context to infinity, he'd be very young. I also assumed the low age category was chosen deliberately to maintain the size, but honestly, I could be wrong there.

On another note: Awesome to see you do some reviews! :D


Slowly but surely digging my way back out again Thilo, and yes, it feels really good to be reviewing again :D

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