Letters from the Flaming Crab is a monthly series of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game-compatible supplements. Each Letter focuses on exploring a different topic to give gamemasters and players new, exciting options that can be dropped into any campaign.
Here There Be (Tiny) Dragons presents six new Tiny sized dragons to be used as friend, foe, or improved familiar. It also features new archetypes and a new class of scaling wondrous item, dragonstones, that can only be used by a dragon and non-dragon in cooperation.
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This installment of Flaming Crab Games' experimental "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content!
Once again, we begin this supplement with a letter from the planes-and world-hopping vessel, kindly salvaged and expanded upon by the team and made available for public consumption by this channel...so what dragons are introduced here?
The first creature we find in these pages would be the CR 3 coral dragon - aquatic dragons somewhat akin to the poisonous coral fishes, capable of squirting forth jets of poisonous acid. And yes, there is a rather gorgeous full-color artwork for the dragon that helps visualize it! Speaking of aquatic dragons - this pdf also features the koi dragon, capable f emitting blinding, scintillating patterns of light from its gorgeous scales...that should teach the half-orc barbarian to try and eat the daimyo's koi... At the same CR, the packice dragon can attach itself to foes and its breath weapon works differently underwater, which is a nice touch.
At CR 2, the ectoplasmatic pseudodragon can lob globs of entangling, sticky goo at foes and its SPs are pretty cool and thematically appropriate. At the same CR, monarch faerie dragons can emit an euphoria-inducing scent that stuns foes, but also renders them immune versus fear-based effects. Depending on how the cool-down timer is rolled, this one can stunlock foes with sucky Will-saves, which is somewhat problematic, considering that the dragons herein can be taken via Improved Familiar. As a nice service to those playing with the house-rule for Improved Familiars and skill-bonuses, suggestions for those are provided. In case the above has not made that clear, btw. - there are dragons herein that cast psychic spells; both the monarch faerie dragon and the ectoplasmic pseudodragon would fall into this category.
The final new dragon herein would be the rather creative and gorgeous swan dragon at CR 2, who does gain bardic performance instead of the standard array of SPs usually associated with draconic creatures.
The pdf also sports two new archetypes: The bonded oracle gains a mystery familiar, but delays the gaining of the beneficent aspects of her curse by 5 levels. The mystery familiar gained by the bonded oracle gains an additional ability, depending on the mystery chosen - 7 such abilities are provided as samples and they range from gaining the ghost touch special weapon property (not correctly italicized) to the option to 1/day transform into a battle form, becoming Large or granting rerolls versus mind-affecting effects a limited amount of times per day. At 5th level, the character gains Improved Familiar and upgrades her mystery familiar to its dormant potential.
The second archetype would be the tiny dragon tamer witch, who must select a lizard as a familiar, which then proceeds to learn spell-like abilities taken from the witch's list and the lizard receives the same amount of hit points as the witch, regardless of HD, with 5th level unlocking a transformation of the lizard via Improved Familiar into a tiny dragon form. These benefits consume hex uses. Starting at 8th level, the class gets progressively better form of the dragon transformations with additional benefits for the familiar, but this does cost 3 more hexes. The archetype can select a total of 3 archetype exclusive hexes: One makes targets more vulnerable versus natural attacks and another increases breath weapon DCs - both do not have the 24-hour caveat, and as such are pretty strong, though not necessarily broken...just take heed when using the hex in conjunction with claw/claw/bit-pouncers or classes focused on escalating the amount of natural weapons available. The major hex lets the character bestow casting-related tricks like school specializations and the like temporarily on the draconic pet familiar.
The pdf also sports two archetypes for familiars, which is a cool concept: The intermediary not only has a master, but also a ward and shares an empathetic link with it, with high levels allowing the familiar to target the ward with divinations and healings at long range. Scavenger familiars get a modified class skill list and are particularly adept at scrounging for certain objects or creatures. I like this as a concept - as far as I'm concerned, we can use more familiar archetypes!
We also get new magic items - with a caveat, noting that they should not be available for purchase - which I will take into account for the purpose of this review. The items in question are dragonstones and a total of 5 such stones are provided. Dragonstones require the cooperation of a dragon and another, nondragon intelligent being to properly use. They are "unlocked" by the dragon as a standard action and then, the other character can activate it as a standard action. Dragonstones are scaling magical items, but their potency is not based on the power of the wielder, but rather on the HD of the dragon that sung to unlock it. Dragonstones unlock their basic ability at HD 5 and then unlock progressively better ones every 5 levels thereafter. One gripe I have here is that the item-class does not specify for how long a dragonstone remains "unlocked" - does the wielder have to activate it in the same round? Day? Similarly, their slotless nature makes me wonder whether they are supposed to be fitted into a given magic item or held in a free hand. Clarification here would be in order.
That being said, the stones, effects-wise, are delightfully creative: Anglerfish's Lure Dragonstones attract fish and make scavenging for food easier, allowing for the catching of even very exotic fish (catch the legendary king of the stream!). SPs and Bardic Harmony, generating air bubbles or flowing light patterns that can grant SR at the highest levels or making layers of ice - while the item class as such requires some more precision regarding its handling, the effects produced, even in the spell-in-a-can effects, manage to feel magical and fun...a pretty big deal as far as I'm concerned.
Editing and formatting is very good; I noticed not a lot of significant formatting hiccups and the rules-language, for the most part, is precise. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf contains a surprising array of neat original full-color artwork for the low price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
J Gray, Jennifer R. Povey, Margherita Tramontano, CJ Withers - these would be the folk that bring you a cool array of tiny, but definitely not harmless dragons. The very concept implies images of high magics and a certain degree of whimsy and, indeed, the book does manage to instill those concepts. The dragons themselves are solid and the dragonstones, as a concept, similarly are nice. The character archetypes would be this issue's weak part - while certainly not bad, they vary in probably unintentional ways in potency depending on your campaign and the oracle could have used a full complement of mystery-specific abilities beyond the 7 sample provided. On the plus-side, the familiar archetypes are a great idea for further customization, with the intermediary in particular evoking a significant array of tropes that have been used to great effect in fiction...kudos there. I love the dragonstone concept as well, but ultimately found myself wishing that the rules pertaining their handling and activation had been more precise - while functional in a moderately experienced GM's hands (and feeling rather magical!), this does decrease their appeal to me slightly.
All of that out of the way, for the low and fair asking price, this book is very much worth getting - in particular if you're looking to add a taste of the fantastical or whimsical into the gaming world. Younger players in particular will certainly appreciate the inclusion of none-too-threatening/allied dragons as opposed to the armageddon city-leveling engines of destruction my games tend to usually feature. All in all, this is a purchase well worth getting, if one that has a couple of rough edges. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.
As the other posters before me have said, there are 15 total pages, with 11 pages of content. Now, lets get down to actually reviewing the book!
Ok, first off, the (tiny) dragons!
The book has stats for every single dragon (6 in total), along with info about the dragons behavior, habitat, and how to create a spell caster with such an animal as a familiar. Every dragon has unique abilities that serve to make game play with one as a familiar interesting and fun, without making one character all to powerful.
Next, we have the archetypes. One for the Oracle (called the Bonded Oracle) and one for the Witch (called Tiny Dragon Tamer).
The Bonded Oracle gains a familiar with special abilities relating to the Oracles mystery, in return for getting his base curse benefit at 5th level, his 5th level benefit at 10th level, and so on, until 20th level, where he does not gain his 15th level benefit. Lastly, at 5th level, the Oracle gains the improved familiar feat.
The Tiny Dragon Tamer gains a familiar that must be a lizard. Starting at first level, the Witch's familiar can choose cantrips from the witches spell list. The number of cantrips increases as the Tiny Dragon Tamer increases in power. That ability replaces patron spells. At second level, at the cost of the hex usually gained at this level, the witch can increase his/her familiar's hit points, regardless of the actual hit dice, as well as increase natural AC. At fifth level, the Tiny Dragon Tamer gains a Tiny Dragon Familiar, although the character might not meet all the requirements. At 8th level, the familiar gets more powerful, and this ability scales at 12th, and 16th levels. This replaces hexes gained at 8th, 12th, and 16th levels. The tiny dragon tamer also gains access to several hexes, and access to one new major hex.
After these two awesome archetypes, there are two more familiar archetypes, the Intermediary and the Scavenger. The Scavenger focuses on the scavenging of items and other things, while the Intermediary send messages.
Next, we have the Dragonstones! The various dragonstones many different powers, but all of them need both the cooperation of a dragon and a human to unlock them. This is actually a great idea, and will make for interesting game play.
Last but not least, the best part, Copyright Info!!!!!.... Just Kidding :)
Disclaimer:I got this book for free.
This book is part of the Letters from the Flaming Crab series.
This part focuses on pseudo dragons, and includes 6 pseudo dragons, two dragon focused archetypes, two archetypes that familiars can take, and a kewl new magic item, the dragonstone!!!
This book is 15 pages long, 1 page title, 1 credits, and 2 copyright info. So, 11 pages of content.
The pseudo dragons presented here are all different. The packice dragon looks to be made of glacial ice, while the ectoplasmic dragon(my favourite) has been touched by occult forces. Some other examples of the different pseudo dragons are the coral dragon, which lives in coral reefs, and the koi dragon, which has beautiful shining scales which it can use to attack with.
The Bonded Oracle (Oracle Archetype)
Bonded Oracles gain familiars with special abilities, in return for getting curse benefits at higher levels than normal.
Tiny dragon tamer(Witch archetype)
The Tiny dragon tamer gets a lizard familiar, that can be improved by adding spells as spell-casting abilities. Later, the familiar turns into a tiny dragon.
The intermediary(familiar archetype)
Intermediary familiars gain a ward that they can communicate with(via speak to master and emphatic link).
The scavenger(familiar archetype)
The scavenger can track people and find objects.
The Dragonstone is a magic stone that can do a lot of useful things, like purifying water to creating light. Before it can do this, it must be unlocked by a dragon (this could create cool plot hooks or side quests(get the dragon something in order for it to unlock the dragon stone)). The powers of the stone depends on the HD of the dragon and the type of stone.
Editing and formatting is good, with only a few mistakes.
If you are looking for a flavorful dragon as a familiar, then this book is great!
This happens to be my first "Letters from the Flaming Crab" product, and I must say this is a pretty cool one to start it off with.
NEW DRAGONS: All of them are Tiny size, but that is about the only similarity between them.
The Coral Dragon loves to hoard pearls and due to their fickle nature are not easy to befriend, and usually try to poison unwary and probably unknowing trespassers.
The Ectoplasmic Pseudodragon is a wingless dragon with a psychic touch. This little dragon looks and sounds closer to a frog and likes to live in swamps. They eat the common fish and insects but also like to steal sweets. They have also been known to hunt down malicious spiritual presences.
The Koi Dragon more closely resembles an Imperial Dragon. As you would think, these dragons like to inhabit ponds and generally feed off the plants. They will occasionally snag a small fish or rodent though. They are somewhat vain though and will live in cultivated ponds to be admired.
Three more dragons are detailed; the Monarch Faerie Dragon, the Packice Dragon, and Swandragon.
The Bonded Oracle - Oracle Archetype delays the benefits of the curse, but you start with a familiar that has a different appearance and an additional ability. The ability and appearance is modified based on the mystery you choose. Additionally, at 5th level you gain the Improved Familiar feat.
The Tiny Dragon Tamer - Witch Archetype limits the witch to choose a lizard familiar and replaces patron spells and quite a few hexes. This familiar gains access to some of the witch's spells, increased durability, an improved familiar at level 5, the ability for the dragon to buff up, and some exclusives hexes.
Two familiar archetypes are also included; the Intermediary and Scavenger.
NEW MAGIC ITEM TYPE:
Dragonstones are interesting magic items that require the cooperation of a dragon and another intelligent being.
The stones scale in power, based on the dragon's HD, vary in uses from luring unintelligent fish to producing ice or light. It requires both the wielder and dragon to use standard actions to unlock and use.
CONCLUSION: All in all, it seems like a pretty interesting book, the stat blocks for the dragons are laid out perfectly, and the 2-column layout looks wonderful.
Oh yes please a copy for me - your last Letter i could grab was so much fun, will buy the rest of the Letters when my wallet will allow for it
$35 over at the Kickstarter gets you every Letter we've produced and will produce until the end if the year, plus lots of other free goodies! Twenty Letters plus gifts from other publishers equals awesome!
If anyone gets themselves a free copy of Tiny Dragons and reviews it here, please let me know and I'll arrange for you to get a review copy over on OBS (DriveThru/RPGNow) so you can review it there, too. The same holds true for all the Letters from the Flaming Crab.
Free copies are given out by the Paizo store/site staff. Liz, amazing retail ninja that she is, has an amazing amount of stuff on her plate. Especially since the humble bundle did so well, I imagine. Please be patient.
It should have appeared in your downloads. Did folks not get this? If so, let us know and we'll arrange for it to happen. Sometimes the retail ninja here gets backed up. It isn't an easy job and this is a bonus service she provides.
ARRGHHH! I made a complete review and it swallowed the post!!! :(
Oh no! :(
I always recommend that any lengthy post, be it review or otherwise, is best done in a word processor or notepad and then pasted into the forum just for that reason. Just in case. Otherwise, selecting all and then copying it before hitting submit post works well, too.
And whether or not you get a chance to rewrite the review, thank you for taking the time to do so the first time.
Huh. Tiny dragons have become a signature with me the last few characters, from Lily the overly masculine pseudodragon who helped tame The Slumbering Tsar to Pervenche the playful faerie dragon who is now the Herald of Iomedae since our Wrath of the Righteous campaign. Heck, I have three Tiny "psyche dragons" in my development folder for psionics.