We are proud to present our third product in our Little Red Presents line (first two were Medjay & Fencer)- Tome of Twisted Things!
We try to showcase up and coming designers, giving them a chance to cut their teeth on a book. This time we've got wonderfully twisted classes that blur the lines between good and evil!
Darkborn (prestige class): By welcoming demonic energies into their soul, darkborn are a weapon good uses to combat evil in its own home. Using a unique bargaining/betting mechanic darkborn fight back against the darkness at the cost of their own immortal soul. But beware, this path of power is seductive and more than one darkborn has fallen to the power they wield...
Avenger (paladin alternate class): You are not good nor evil, all you care about is revenge. By making a deal with a god of vengeance, avengers are given the power they need to seek the revenge they so desire but must help others!
Ruiner (antipaladin archetype): Charged with bringing about the destruction of the world, ruiners are not interested in petty things like demons or selfishness. They seek to destroy—plain and simple. They revel in the pain they inflict and serve no lord...
Tyrant (prestige class): It is fair to say that all men desire power. Often the world descends into chaos as men squabble and bicker over who deserves power, as each tries to gain more power than the rest. Few are the men who seeks to wield this power with a sense of purpose. The tyrant stands among these privileged few, assured on his right to rule over lesser beings. Whether a despot or duke, benign or barbaric, all tyrants seek to rule over the land and impose their will to end chaos they see around them by whatever means necessary.
Warped (new race): Born from an unnatural union of humanoid and eidolon, the warped are forever marked by their planar heritage. While it is not as uncommon as some wish for a summoner to be intimate with their eidolon, any children resulting from the union are usually put down if found out. Nearly universally feared or despised by most cultures, the warped tend to see life as a struggle.
Bloodborn Warped Summoner, and Monk of the Flowing Form archetypes.
Over 20 New Feats, including story feats for evil outsiders seeking redemption, warped racial feats, and metamagic feats!
This book is great for evil campaigns or even in campaign settings where things are a little darker.
Bookmarked, hyperlinked, and PDF Optimized
Page Count: 34 (28 content, 3 art 1 credits, 1 cover, 1 OGL)
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Disclaimer: moments of 3.x D&D reminiscence in this one.
I got this one for the avenger.
I liked the concept of non-casting, non-aligned paladin. Also it reminded me of FR vengeance knight (a prestige class I never got to play). It delivered very much although I would have liked more if it had kept some of the self curing of conditions through his reparations. Allowing for bane property in his Instrument of Vendetta could be considered a bit on the OP side (the similar abilities never allow for bane because it the best +1 property if you can choose for what it is a couple times per day).
The weapon proficiencies are still bungled as far as I know (paragraph wasn't properly copy-pasted) and he is still missing class skills. Although author(s) have claimed that since it's a paladin variant it should have his class skills, but I believe that Intimidate should replace Diplomacy, Spellcraft should be nixed (no spells, after all), and maybe re-arrange Knowledge skills.
All that said, I very much love this class, and even if you don't need something vengence-themed, it is far easier to rework into a holy warrior than a paladin ('cause of no aligment focus).
The rest of the book is a very nice crunch toolbox for evil characters (much better than say 3.5 Exemplars of Evil, IMO), and even for relative short page count has descriptive moments and ideas that remind of Book of Vile Darkness (a great praise from me).
This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?
We kick this pdf off with the Darkborn-PrC - essentially a character who opts to take the wickedness into him/herself, slowly becoming the monster they ought to destroy - in the words of "The Dark knight" -either die a hero or become a monster. The PrC spans 10 levels and ofefrs d10, 4+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 7 levels of spell progression and medium ref-saves. Unlike many other PrC, this class comes with a fighter/melee-centric alternative that offers full BAB-progression, but no spell-progression. Rules-wise, darkborn get a wickedness-pool of 3 x HD. Which brings me to two concepts - wickedness and purity: When the Darkborn uses his/her Darkweaving ability, a non AoO, non-touch SU with range, both s/he and the victim wager purity versus wickedness-points and the creature that wagered less is afflicted with the darkweaving. While said points do regenerate, they don't do so particularly fast, so a poker-face is helpful indeed. From exiled outsiders to walking on spiritual shards of glass to damage bonuses and negative energy damage, the 8 different effects truly are intriguing and fit thematically well with the PrC. On the downside of the doomed hero-angle, the PrC exudes a seductive draw - every level may see the hero slide closer towards the evil they seek to combat and an alternate rule may even make taking class-levels in other classes harder... Darkborn also learn to suppress darkweave effects that affect them, detect evil and undergo at later levels essentially an evil outsider apotheosis. Oh...and the capstone...you better quit before the capstone, for it has you transform into a truly vile monster, consumed by the darkness - of course, the lure may prove to be too great and still see you become an NPCs, perhaps even the final villain of the campaign? (And yes, there is an optional rule to avoid this depressing fate - but honestly, I think I'd omit that one - I'm into bleak, dark endings. Still, its presence is awesome!)This PrC does a great job at handling the doomed antihero-concept very well and while the purity-score determination may be a bit extra work for the DM, the formula is easy enough to do it on the fly - so all in all: One superb PrC!
The next class we get herein would be the Avenger, an alternate take on the Paladin that is not restricted in their alignment, gets no spellcasting and channel negative energy. Being all about revenge, they learn to place marks on designated prey and deal more damage (cha-mod) versus foes that have injured him/her. Foes designated as targets of this retribution also heal the avenger by cha-mod whenever he manages a crit versus the target. The avengers also learn so-called reparations - effects in addition to retribution, which come from a wide variety of selections that scale up over the levels and the class also nets auras that extend powers to the avenger's allies, allowing them to provide bonus damage to allies helping them with their revenge. They also learn to imbue their weapons with weapon qualities and finally, as a capstone, their get a kind of semi-apotheosis with DR and max negative energy channeling and all and their prey becomes almost impossible to resurrect. Again, a quite awesome class- the avenger makes for a flavorful, cool, alternate class!
Third among the offerings herein would be the Ruiner, who replaces touch of corruption with the option to supplement the damage dealing spells he casts with additional damage and may also thus increase the damage dealt via channel energy as soon as s/he gain it. At 3rd level and every 3 after that, the Ruiner may choose a Ruin, their replacement for cruelties. - essentially, being all about pain, they are focused on dealing painful and bleeding wounds, penalizing foes' saves against pain and yes, they may even negate morale benefits with their dread auras. A deadly, cool concept for an avatar of the blackest, most destructive nihilism. Neat!
The Tyrant PrC offers d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB, medium fort- and will-saves and essentially is a non-good, extremely lawful and honorable, but potentially twisted individual, fuelling his power with conviction (of which he gets 2+cha-mod +2 per class level): Tyrants are specialists of demoralization and may even demoralize the mindless and later even use conviction to prevent foes with a readied action to attack them - this is AWESOME! Stacking dominate person effects on the demoralized and smiting chaos to finally become a larger than life sovereign of his/her own domain, this PrC could have easily been a lame anti-chaos-borefest and instead proves to be a rather cool little PrC, albeit one that could have used a tad bit more versatility.
We also get a new race with the warped -offspring of mortals and eidolons, these folks replace the attribute modifiers of their base-race by +2 Con, +2 Wis and -4 Cha, get darkvision 6o feet, are treated as aberrations for effects and spells (but don't gain the benefits of the type) and get an evolution pool of 1 + 1 for every 5 character levels. Said evolutions follow their own distinct rules, preventing e.g. the skilled evolution from becoming overbearing. Only 1 and 2 point evolution are eligible and transforming costs a full-round action that provokes AoOs and leaves the Warped sickened - and is limited to the amount of times per day it can be used."We should wait before returning to the city, gotta get rid of that claws...wait, the paladins are around the corner?? Oh damn, better scram..." While they may Disgusie self as if not having any evolutions, still - quite some roleplaying potential there! They also get +4 to saves versus polymorph and +2 to Knowledge (planes) and Intimidate. A strong race, yes, but their social stigma should make sure that they remain a balanced and cool option. Two thumbs up!
We also get 2 new archetypes - the Bloodborn Summoner , a racial archetype of the Warped, who prepares spells as a witch, substituting his/her eidolon for a familiar and uses the magus' spell-list as well as Int as governing attribute. However, the eidolon is also changed: d8, -2 Wis, Int and Cha and 1/2 str and dex-bonuses over the levels. In order to unleash the eidolon, the summoner has to cut himself and let the beast gush forth from his/her wounds - interesting concept, especially since the archetype allows the warped to slowly partially ignore the restrictions imposed on their own mutable forms. We btw. also get 4 favored class options for the Warped.
The second racial archetype for the Warped herein would be the Monk of the Flowing Form - these monks blend their own shifting powers and natural weapons with the training of the basic monk-class. Again, a compelling, neat little archetype!
Finally, we get 20 feats, one of which is a story feat and one campaign trait - the feats per se are cool, offering e.g. synergy for avenger and rogue-builds, cavalier/avengers, more options for darkborn and even more tools for the warped. Whether by evoking the Lex Talionis ("An Eye for an Eye"), adding judgments to retributions, swearing dwarven blood oaths or fueling your meta-magic with wickedness - the feats one and all work rather well and even a feat the offers synergy between noble and Tyrant-classes is provided - overall: Kudos!
Editing and formatting has traditionally not been Little Red Goblin Games' strongest suit. Since their imaginative, intriguing campaign setting Necropunk was the first indicator on what they can do, I'm happy to report that the team of editors Dayton Johnson, Christina Johnson and Jeremiah Zerby have done a great job here - apart from the fluff-text in a couple of feats not being italicized and similar inconsequential nitpicks like "immediate reaction" instead of "reacting with an immediate action", I have the pleasure to report that LRGG have not stepped down from the level they've reached with Necropunk, instead applying the vastly increased standards to "regular" publications like this. Tl;dr: Editing and formatting very good, though not yet perfect.
The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Layout. OMG. With a slight purplish tint, black borders and SUPERB, original and copious b/w-interior art by Tamas Baranya and Nathan Winburn, this book is a beauty to behold and ranks simply among the finest examples of b/w-art out there - aficionados of dark fantasy tones and artworks will love these evocative pieces.
Ian Sisson, Caleb Aylsworth, Christos Gurd and Scott Gladstein have created herein the BY FAR best book in their "Tome"-series I've read so far - while the purity-mechanic may be a little bit clunky in the beginning and not for everyone, it is a daring design - and one that does not extend to the other classes. The variant classes capture their respective topics well, their rules-language is rather polished and oftentimes simply INTERESTING. Imaginative, daring even. The avenger especially is a cool character and probably my new go-to class to recreate Guts from Berserk. By the way: If you haven't read this milestone of dark fantasy manga, go out there and get it NOW. (The anime is essentially btw. ONLY the extensive flashback!) Where was I? Oh yes, Tome of Wicked Things. Sorry there - this book just felt like it would seamlessly fit in one of the darkest and coolest sagas I've read so far and its content is overall...well, just awesome.
The new race is working surprisingly well, its restrictions preventing the "overpowered-omg-eidolon-evolutions" aspect I dreaded, while providing a great way to play a character that looks normal, but has a monster waiting just below the surface. Thematically, content fits seamlessly with presentation - from conan-style headers (with swords through letters) to the artworks to the content and we get one crunch-book aficionados of dark fantasy should not let slip through their fingers. While I could complain about the aforementioned minor glitches, that would by hypocrisy at its finest and simply not do this awesome pdf justice - The innovative ideas herein are more than enough to let one see past the exceedingly minor, almost non-existent little issues and hence, my final verdict will clock in at a heartfelt recommendation of 5 stars + seal of approval.
Congratulations to the crew of LRGG - if this is what we can expect from them now, then start saving and keep an eye on them, ladies and gentlemen!
(Disclaimer - I received my copy of Tome of Twisted Things for review purposes.)
So Little Red Goblin Games are an eclectic bunch of dabblers in design, their Necropunk Campaign Setting showed off plenty of unique and innovative concepts well matched in design and mechanics, their recent mini-campaign settings are chock full of ideas and new options for players as well as land and mind-scapes for GMs and players alike.
So - the Tome of Twisted Things. Let's get into the basics!
The ToTT is 32 pages, one OGL, one Cover, one Credits - 29 pages of pure creativity!
Art/Graphics/Layout - 5 stars.
A simply dark and dread cover gives way to an interesting pink page-background with dread and moody black borders - now I'm not generally a fan of pink as a page background, but married with the black backgrounds I was pleasantly surprised by the effect. Needless to sat, the art is top notch throughout, artists Nathan Winburn (Cover/interiors) and Tamas Barany (interiors) do a fantastic job of bringing to life the concepts herein.
Grammar/Typos/Errors - 5 stars
Few if any exist throughout the 29 pages, and it is a pleasure to see LRGG lift its quality to this level. I detect typos as an SLA so it's good to get a rest from that particular OCD.
Concepts - 5 stars
Okay, so let's see what we have here - the Darkborn, a PrC that plays on "wickedness", the Avenger an Alternate Paladin Class; the Ruiner, an Antipaladin archetype; the Tyrant, a Lawful, non-good PrC and a new race, the Warped.
The Darkborn is a very intriguing mechanical take on what happens when you tray to play around with concepts like Wickedness and Purity. With a d10 HD, PrC-style "adds to existing spell casting", way kewl powarz and some crazy easy prereqs (Good Alignment and Knowledge (religion) 5 ranks) I'm tempted to say this is a very powerful add to any character. I guess taking on wickedness as a good character requires some pretty damned.... good backstory and plot developments, so that kind of creates an RP check and balance to the slim prereqs.
A special shoutout goes to the designer of the Darkborn who thought it would be a good idea to add an option for those casters following the Darkborn path that want a little more BAB (or those non-spellcasting characters on the Darkborn path) there is a "melee option Darkborn" progression table.
So how does Wickedness work in-game for the Darkborn? Basically, the Ritual of Shade ability at 1st level grants the Drakborn a pool of Wickedness equal to 3 x his HD. In contrast, other, mere mortals receive a pool of purity depending on their alignment (Good - 2 x HD; Neutral 1 x HD; Evil - 1/2 x HD) while Outsider get something else again (Good outsiders - 5 x HD; Neutral 1 x HD and Evil - zero purity whatsoever). And this is where the mechanic gets interesting - dark weaving. Essentially dark weaving involves a wager between the two parties - they who wager more from their pool win and the weave takes effect, and both parties lose the expended points from their pool. This involves the dark born taking the heat if his weave is trumped by the "victim".
Weaves include the Road of Trials (reduces speed and inflicts damage for 1 round +1 round/point wagered) Fire of Retribution (victim takes extra damage if hit by the creature they lost the wager to for 1 round +1 round/point wagered) and others - Wrath of the Wicked, Chains of Damnation, Sword of Punishment, Pit of Despair etc - in total 8 weaves are presented with a range of interesting mechanics.
At 2nd level the Darkborn can suppress darkweaves on themselves through pool point expenditure; other abilities include negative energy resistance equal to 5/level from 1st level; an increasing evil aura (3rd lvl); a per level Will check to avoid alignment step away from good/towards evil; extra damage against evil outsiders (4th lvl/8th lvl); a detect evil (4th level/8th lvl). And then a Darkform, kinda a natural-attack beast-transformation (climb/fly speed/swim speed) replete with natural attack mayhem (two claws/bite) that feels just a little OP - all natural attacks gain a 1d4 negative energy damage buff! - and some dark and low-light vision, natural AC. It costs 1 point of wickedness to attain, and 1 point per round. So at this level (5th) without any dark weaving, 15 rounds.
Afterwards the darkborn is fatigued on a round-for-round basis, and he can't manifest it if already fatigued.
I dunno, I think this concept is grand, but it may need a couple of rethinks - the negative energy resistance is way high - 25 at 5th level (so effectively 10th level), and the dark form natural attack mayhem also seems a little too good. But it may be fine - essentially this is a really cool class with an interesting mechanical approach to the Wickedness/Purity battle. Choose your wager, and hope your victim doesn't trump you!!! I guess I'd actually like to see this whole mechanic expanded and explored further!!! Kudos to the designer!
Next up is the Avenger - "Agents of the Gods of Vengeance" - basically a non-alignment-restricted hunter and stalker - is able to track down quarries using a divine (Su) Prey Stalker ability; Retribution - a self explanatory bonus damage mechanic on attackers; Recompense - heal when you make a critical hit, and then at 3rd level, a bunch of Reparations that trigger on Retributions - inquisitoresque buffs (accutally quite varied and interesting) that progress and expand at 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th level.
They get channeling at 4th level (I feel this could have been swapped for something more exciting, but it is a utilitarian ability - just felt out of theme); a tweaked paladin holy weapon buff at 5th level; and some interesting new auras.
Look I'm not a real fan of paladins, but this is flavorful and a creative diversion from the holy warrior that fills a nice niche between the inquisitor and paladin. Nice
Next is the Ruiner, a flavorfully ruinous Antipal archetype - Touch of Agony, Aura of Suffering, Pain Bringer, and a bunch of great Ruins - all nice tweaks to the Antipals cruelties - I like the Wrecker ruin that smashes objects and the caster-hating Painbringer ruin!! Some thematically grim Auras (Nihilism, Sacrilege, Woe) round out this successful addition to the Antipaladin stable. Nihilism is easily my favorite here, negating any creatures morale bonuses within 10' until their next turn.
The Tyrant is up next - another PrC with the following Prereqs: Alignment Lawful, Non-good; BAB +5, Iron WIll feat, Knowledge (nobility) 5 ranks and Intimidate 5 ranks. This bombastic character follows his own twisted code of conduct of might makes right and the heavy hand rules the meek - some really great abilities that utilize a Conviction pool - an over bloated sense of self and self-righteousness then Tyrant uses to overpower and abuse those around him. Abiiltes like Overpower the Meek (demoralizes those within 30 ft); Sway the Unthinking (demoralize the undemoraliseable); Command to Flee (a special aura shout Intimidate); Grandeur Overwhelming (interrupt opponents attack); Position of Power (added DC difficulty Intimidate to dominate victim) etc etc. This is a rally strongly themed and flavorful PrC, and would suit those wanting a less beneficial Commander type. A Deleterious Commander? Another really nice concept.
Finally we have the Warped, an EIdolon-blooded, evolution able race with some interesting racial archetypes - the Bloodborn (Summoner archetype) that has an Aberrant EIdolon and shares some evolution points (aspect) at 1st level; and the Monk of the Flowing FOrm (Monk archetype) that increases the evolution potential of their Warped racial heritage. A really... Twisted thing, and a tribute to the imagination of designer Christos Gurd. The Warped is a suitably strange and twisted addition to this Tome, and kudos to LRGG for bringing in some fledgling designers!!!
TO round of the PDF we get 21 (count 'em) new feats that run the gamut from racial (drow) to Darkborn-conversant to feats for Tyrants, Avengers, and Warped, and even an evil-themed Campaign trait.
Overall I'm supremely impressed by the variety and execution of ideas in this PDF. Two PrCs, some archetypes, racial archetypes and a new Race showing LRGG know how to work to a theme, and provide great value and volume!!!
Despite some concerns about the Darkborn's power level, I'm very impressed with the entire PDF. Nice one Little Red Goblin Games and well done designers Ian Sisson, Caleb Aylsworth, Scott Gladstein and Christos Gurd.