Wayfinder #15 (PFRPG)

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Wayfinder #15 (PFRPG)

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Created for Pathfinder fans by Pathfinder fans, this fifteenth issue of the ENnie Award-winning Wayfinder fanzine heads to the frontiers of the River Kingdoms! This free fanzine includes dozens of articles, including original fiction, new monsters, adventures, classes and options, magic items, and even PFACG scenarios—this is just a small portion of what awaits you!

Contributing Authors: Charlie Bell, Landon Bellavia, Charlie Brooks, Russ Brown, Dixon Cohee, Chuck DiTusa, Matt Duval, Robert Feather, Benjamin Fields, Aaron Filipowich, Nikolai Geier, Spencer Giffin, Amy Goodenough, Garrett Guillotte, Bran Hagger, Kiel Howell, Dana Huber, Joe Kondrak, John Laffan, Thomas LeBlanc, Jeff Lee, John Leising, James McTeague, Jacob W. Michaels, Brian Minhinnick, Tim Nightengale, Mark Nordheim, Kelly Pawlik, Matt Roth, Jeff Sexton, Elliot Smith, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Jeffrey Swank, Ian Turner, Brendan Ward, Steven Lloyd Wilson, Alexander Wreschnig, and Scott Young.

Contributing Artists: Becky Barnes, Catherine Batka, Darran Caldemeyer, Snow Conrad, Jeremy Corff, Liz Courts, Andrew DeFelice, Jess Door, Lynnette Fetters, Silvia Gonzalez, Michael Jaecks, James Keegan, Chris L. Kimball, Adam Koča, Danny Hedager Krog, Alberto Ortiz Leon, Mike Lowe, Dio Mahesa, Dave Mallon, Jesse Mohn, Dionisis Milonas, Alex Moore, Beatrice Pelagatti, dodeqaa Polyhedra, Basil Arnould Price, Tanyaporn Sangsnit, Kristiina Seppä, Carlos Torreblanca, and Todd Westcot.

Cartography by Liz Courts and Alex Moore
Front Cover Art by Dionisis Milonas and Carlos Torreblanca
Foreword by Neil Spicer

Wayfinder #15 is a 80-page full-color PDF suitable for printing or viewing on your computer. It is released under the Paizo Inc Community Use Policy.

This fanzine uses trademarks and/or copyrights owned by Paizo Inc, which are used under Paizo's Community Use Policy. We are expressly prohibited from charging you to use or access this content. This fanzine is not published, endorsed, or specifically approved by Paizo Publishing. For more information about Paizo's Community Use Policy, please visit paizo.com/communityuse. For more information about Paizo Publishing and Paizo products, please visit paizo.com.

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*****


An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This magazine from fans, for fans, clocks in at 84 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 78 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, first, before we do...let me ask you why you're still reading this instead of downloading this right now. The Wayfinder magazine is FREE, costs absolutely ZILCH and contains evocative, unique material. Even if you don't play Pathfinder, the excellent artwork tends to make the magazine a great download to just print out and use the art as handouts. So yes, I do believe that you should download all of them right now.

That being said, while I usually don't do (much) reviews of FREE products, I was asked by my patreons to review this - so there you go, ladies and gentlemen, prioritized on your behalf.

We begin this pdf after an introduction with 3 archetypes crafted by Jeff Lee: The Seelie Proctor arcanist, the Seelie River Pilot ranger and the Troll Hunter slayer. The seelie proctor gets a modified spell list and replaces a spellbook with a familiar and instead of 3rd level's exploit, teh archetype gains +2 to saves vs. enchantment as well as scaling DR/cold iron, with 5th level providing a ward that can fortify against the tricks of the fey. The river pilots also gain a modified skill list and also a modified proficiency list and is locked into the two-handed weapon style. The archetype is particularly adept at spotting things in the water and extends the favored terrain bonuses beyond their usual benefits. 4th level nets the option to use polearms to grapple foes and hold them at bay - this ability's pretty impressive! The troll hunter can quickly draw and apply alchemist's fire and acid and preemptively counter-AoO attacks executed via natural reach, with higher levels mitigating the penalties of dealing with larger foes and suppressing regeneration. All in all, cool archetypes - and since Jeff Lee is the author, I'm not that surprised here; he has a track record of quality work!

If that wasn't ample clue - this issue's theme would be the River Kingdoms. The next article deals with race-specific poisons, crafted by John Laffan: Here, we have poisons that only affect fey and gnomes...but also a kind of drug that is a blend of halfling pipeweed that can calm the user...per the calm emotions spell. The spell is not properly italicized and the effect lacks a spell level for interaction with magic etc., to nitpick that one. The duality of poison/drug is further explored in orcish war drugs, hellgate sap etc. - all in all, I like this chapter for the idea of drug/poison duality (and we need more of those fantastic battle drugs), but balancing is pretty off: Hymbria's joy, at only -1d4 Wis and 1 hour duration, allows for d20-rerolls for any such roll during the duration. This means atk, saves, skill-checks...for 420 Gp, that is hardcore underpriced. Oh, and the addition DC at 13 is very low as well. Nice ideas, not sold on the execution.

In the classic weal or woe column, Jacob W. Michaels provides Honit Quaedel, a changeling spiritualist 6 and Chittri Drenchfur, a ratfolk kineticist, both with full stats and artworks that will drop your jaw; we're talking about 1st-party-quality that could potentially be straight from a Paizo or WotC-book; Tanyaporn Sangsnit's art knocks it right out of the park for both NPCs and provides great aesthetics for two well-crafted NPCs.

Now, the obeisance mechanics introduced in Inner Sea Gods are pretty intriguing, but haven't yet seen wide support. The next article, penned by Matt Duval, does provide evangelist, sentinel and exalted boons for adherents of Gyronna and Hanspur - both of which come with more than thematically fitting options. Power-level wise, they similarly are neat - no undue complaints here.

Next up would be a short story by Benjamin Fields, lavishly depicted in Mike Lowe's signature and very unique style in another aesthetic high-point - both visually and from the craftsmanship of the prose - kudos to the author and artist!

Next up would be an article after my tastes - veteran Thomas LeBlanc delivers an excursion on the fantastic flora and fauna found in the river kingdoms, with mosswater gecko skins, dumb psykoleet birds that can double as soulbound puppets, bog wires - the section is inspired, fun and evocative and bereft of issues. Two thumbs up for perhaps the most easily scavenged article herein!

Jacob W, Michaels' chosen sovereign paladin archetype don't have to be good and replace smite and detect evil with a symbol of authority that can be used to duplicate domain powers of the chosen deity a limited number of times per day. On a nitpicky side: The ability implies a duration for the abilities, which is nice for non-instantaneous durations; however, at the same time, speaking of duration for such may be problematic; limiting the ability to non-instantaneous effects from the get-go would have prevented that. At higher level, the archetype gets followers and may apply magic planar traits a limited number of rounds on her surroundings - this is very powerful, considering that we have dead and wild magic here. Additionally, the ability fails to specify whether the changed planar traits apply to the character as well; usually, they probably wouldn't precedence-case wise, but considering how the effect changes planar traits, I don't know.

The next chapter deals with an alchemical substance, bonesteel brine, that can render bone, chitin, etc. hard as steel as well as a permanent, wondrous version. Bone weapons usually cost half as much as their steel equivalents, with the permanent unguent clocking in at 2, 500 gp. GMs should do the math here, for while this does not necessarily cause issues in most games, it very well may cause problems in some games...particularly considering the ramifications beyond the immediately obvious - siege weapons, ships, etc. And yes, I actually like the visuals, but still, as a reviewer, I need to mention that.

Robert Feather provides to river kingdoms anthems (sung to "Pastures of Plenty" and "This Land is Your Land" -and particularly the latter really cracked me up! Two thumbs up here! Kendra Leigh Speedling introduces is to the everbloom monastery, mapped in full color by Alex Moore, featuring places of interest and notable persons as well as a proper settlement statblock - kudos! Were this a commercial publication, I'd ask for nomenclature, local clothing, rumors and sample events, but as far as free is concerned, I really enjoyed this nice drag and drop environment.

Landon Bellavia goes on to provide 4 scaling magic items (using the Pathfinder Unchained rules) that include a guild dagger, a palette that somewhat hearkens back to the classic 3.X Gallery of Evil module in aesthetics, if not in effects, eel-armor and a belt that enhances your physical prowess. The art provided by Carlos Torreblanca and Snow Conrad for 2 of the items is excellent - particularly the palette is gorgeous. As for the rules - I generally like the intent of the items, but I wished they were a bit bolder: The benefits granted are pretty conservative. More unique effects would have been nice to see here.

Nikolai Geier, Aaron Filipowich, Brian Hagger, Chuck DiTusa, Dixon Cohee and Scott Young provide adventure seeds for your perusal in the next article - and honestly, a GM can never have enough of those. Spencer Griffon provides 6 new regional traits for the river kingdoms (with proper bonus type in all cases but one) as well as 3 feats: One is a pretty bland +2-type of feat, but the other two are more interesting and help you by providing 1/day freedom of movement tied to your oaths and code and the other allows you to add numeric benefits to ONE spell with verbal components for a kind of specialization. The traits are more intriguing than the feats here, but they are worth being checked out.

Garrett Guillotte, also no stranger to the tender ministrations of my reviewer's pen, has 3 archetypes for us: The repossessor brawler is particularly adept at tracking down objects once owned by other persons and may smack those attempting to Bluff/intimidate them for a significant bonus on counter Intimidation as well as nonlethal damage, with 5th level improving disarm and allowing for the removal of e.g. hand or wrist slot items via disarm a limited amount of times per day - basically the thug-way as opposed to the stealing way. Makes sense. The road judge cavalier represents the traveling, who may 1/day daze those in hearing range with a shout and a blending of challenge and confess. Beyond that, we also get a new order for the archetype that can counter silence (not properly italicized here), traverse difficult terrain and later severely punish oathbreakers. I *really* love this archetype - it would work just as well in a historic or rare/no-magic setting regarding its flavor. Two thumbs up! The low roads gunslinger gets a modified deed-list that emphasizes defensive shooting, ranged sunder and a means to generate a standoff at higher levels, with mechanically feasible rules to supplement the concept - and yes, this is design-wise more difficult than it sounds. All in all, a solid, nice array of archetypes. Speaking of gunslingers, Elliot Smith has another, nice short story for us here.

The next article provides us with Lazlo's Ferry, another settlement with notable NPCs, sites of interest and settlement statblock - and much like aforementioned monastery, it is an evocative piece, though this one does not have a map of its own, which constitutes a slight detriment. Chuck Di Tusa's prose is neat, though, and Tanyaporn Sangsnit's artwork once again is STUNNING. James McTeague provides a short ACG adventure next...and I honestly can't judge it. I never got into the card game. Sorry.

Jeff Lee is up next with a selection of magic items to be found within the river kingdoms - 3 to be precise: We get the cursed water of Gyronna that can taint the water supply of whole kingdoms; there is the halberd nakar's fang that can grow barbs, trading accuracy for bleeding damage and there would be the artifact, lavishly rendered by Carlos Torreblanca, the scepter of the river kingdoms - this powerful item can not only help the wielder with various SPs, it also can ensure that contracts are heeded...something more than desirable in the tumultuous political landscape of the river kingdoms. Kudos!!

Jeff Sexton and Ian Turner introduce the alchemedic, who may dilute and share mutagens ...and gains bonus extract slots for conjuration (healing) extracts and the archetype may also increase the mundane healing tricks. A whole array of healing supplementing discoveries that build on healing bombs and the like can be found in this article as well - and generally, I like the idea and much of its components, though there are some minor hiccups in the rules here and there. Still, considering the breadth covered, not a bad job!

Unique little cultural vista: Amy C. Goodenough and Brandon Ward provide a lore-only look at the ratfolk of Canboulon in an all too brief article before Jeffrey Swank has 4 more items for us: The first of these would be a crone's hat that can be used every 1d4 +1 rounds to emit a cackle that deals AoE Str-damage (OUCH!) -this is imho underpriced at 12K considering its additional properties and probably should have a 24-hour-caveat akin to hexes. The disguise self referenced in the item is not italicized, as a nitpick. There is also a button that can emit bad luck, a trident that can impale on critical hits and a jack-o'-lantern that can animate particularly nasty undead. All in all, a solid article.

Dixon Cohee takes us on a brief echo wood exploration log before Thomas LeBlanc provides a small side-trek encounter with kingdom boons for the resolution. Kendra Lee Speedling has a taldan fighter(swordlord)/aldori swordlord and a river rat rogue NPC for us in another neat weal or woe NPC-array.

Music suffuses Matt Roth's article: It deals with bardic masterpieces - 7, to be precise: A Dance Through the Fishponds allows for dueling dodges, AoE ferocity, allowing water breathing creatures to remain on land, better poison use - the masterpieces here generally feel like they are worth the exchange and feature the sense of the evocative I like to see in them. Nice work!

Charlie Bell's article may not be the most flashy - but I am pretty certain it will be among the first I use. Why? Two words: Sample armies. There is a veritable dearth regarding armies and army stats in PFRPG and from Daggermark elite assassins to scrags, this delivers. Thank you! And yes, if you're playing kingmaker: Aligned with places like Uringen etc. NICE. Oh, and it does have a new army tactic, a new resource (keelboat) and new special abilities. So yeah - neat indeed!

Slightly spooky: Spencer Griffin's Dicide and Conquer article features a nasty CR 5 haunt as well as a magic item in two variants that interacts with the kingdom building rules. Cool article. Kelly Pawlik of dire rugrat publishing provides a brief tavern sketch here as well, with the cozy Hut, a tavern situated near the Sellen river - including 8 nice rumors. (And if you like Kelly's style, check out her very affordable pdfs!)

Next, Dana Huber provides a neat piece of lore with her "Song of the Sellen", a traditional tune, before Kiel Howell introduces us to the personal srcivener's guild, in a fluff-centric look at an interesting organization - one that I wished was longer. After that, Charlie Brooks takes us on a horrific little short story with "Matters of Faith" , before Garrett Guillotte's 10-level reformer PrC is next.

The reformer must worship a deity and have at least 5 levels, gaining 3/4 BAB-progression as well as 1/2 Will-save progression and 6+Int skills per level. The class needs to maintain deific obedience on a daily basis, but does gain better skills and may even generate deviations from established doctrine and progressively higher boons, culminating in a gnostic schism - think about the PRC as basically the secret agent version of Martin Luther. Interesting, though I wished it was less focused on the sometimes clunky deific obedience mechanics...that's not the PrC's fault, though.

Of course, such a massive book needs spells, right? Well, Alexander Wersching and Brian Minhinnick are here to oblige with 8 new spells - they are neat, though I have an issue: I have read at least 3000 third party spells; probably more, but 3K are what I can definitely state; I've seen the concepts before. That doesn't make these bad, mind you - it just means I'm a spoiled rotten bastard reviewer. ;)

Steven Lloyd Wilson has a nice lore article for us next, namely one that deals with cuisine magic - I enjoyed it as one of the often overlooked aspects of fantasy roleplaying, though I wished it used cuisine magic (see Flaming Crab Games' pdf) to supplement specific, unique dishes.

Spencer Griffin is not yet done - not by a long shot - in another collection of magic items, we get 14 magic items, though their focus is novel in that they specifically are designed to interact with the kingdom building rules - and I love them for that. Can we have more of them, please? Two thumbs up!

The pdf does contain even more NPCs - a tiefling bard/ranger and an aasimar rogue/assassin in a nice twist of the clichés, supplemented by neat artwork by Beatrice Pelagatti. After another short story, this time penned by Matt Roth, we come to a sidetrek adventure penned by none other than Tim Nightengale, intended for 5th level. Within the Embeth forest, there seem to have been some disappearances and the PCs are sent forth to investigate, pitching the PCs against a neat blend of fey, plant creatures and something rarely encountered...what? I'm not spoiling that!

Part II of my review can be found in the product discussion here. See you there!


Time for TemplateFu to Review!

*****

Time for another in depth review methinks. I tend to blow the review box limit as I do review in depth each article, so expect this review to overflow to the comments.

The review is posted as I work through the issue, so you may have to come back every few days to catch the next posting.

One thing I did notice straight away is a lot of new talent in this issue, lots of new names and contributors. I wondered if this is because a lot of the prior contributors are now working as formal freelancers – which is a great tribute to a community magazine that is successfully opening the doors to writing and art provision for so many. Well done Wayfinder!

To reviewing I guess… off we go then...

Cover
The cover art leaves no doubt to the theme of this issue, welcome to the River Kingdoms where river banditry and piracy run rampant. The background image is totally on theme and made me wonder if Wayfinder should adopt the old dragon/dungeon provision of the cover image inside the magazine as a full page art without all of the offending overlays and texts. This image is one I would have liked like that. The iconic character pose could be a river warden or a bandit and is very much depicted in the now standard Paizo cover themes.
Art: 9/10

Forward
Neil Spicer, Superstar Champion, and Designer, Developer, and Contributor to many products for both Paizo and Legendary Games provides us an insight into the content ahead. He shows a great love for, and knowledge of the River Kingdoms. The forward forms an excellent breakdown of the issue content, so much so that writing this review will be aided greatly. The artwork, a goblin taking a bath with bath time toys is amusing and sets a nice light tone for the introduction to the issue.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Of Magic and Mettle: Archetypes of the River Kingdoms
Our first article of the issue introduces a selection of archetypes to us...

Of Magic and Mettle: Seelie Proctor (Arcanist Archetype)
From the name, I deduce that it is likely fey related.

The term Seelie means happy, lucky or blessed when referring to fairies, the opposite, Unseelie, refers to vengeful, spiteful, misfortunate or unholy fairies.

The term Proctor refers to an officer or invigilator at universities and institutions of higher learning. So… I expect a happy professor who leads fairy-dom . Did I get it? Kind of, it had more to do with protection than leadership so the name for me is a little off base but not wildly so.

One kind of neat and unusual aspect that caught my eye as a GM and as a player is replacing the spellbook with a familiar. This left unanswered important questions though - if the familiar dies, have you lost all the spells it stored? And if the familiar replaces your spellbook, is the intent that you cannot use a spellbook at all?

The archetype also suffers from a common problem in archetype design - it is replacing abilities that make an arcanist an arcanist, effectively losing arcane exploits in the trade off.

This archetype has no representative art piece.
Archetype: 7/10, Art: n/a

Of Magic and Mettle: Sellen River Pilot (Ranger Archetype)
Well, the name is pretty clear on this one and we all know what to expect. I probably wouldn’t have included the Sellen as part of the name as that is indicative of an implied restriction - river pilots could be found on any river, and so for wider appeal, I would not name a river in the archetype name.

The archetype trade off makes sense, in the most part, removing dungeoneering related skills and replacing them with riverside and boatmanship skills. I didn't like replacing wild empathy though - for me, this is one of the ranger defining skills and is useful even in river environments.

This archetype is represented by a monochrome art of a female river pilot. (Aside: I didn't understand why the bird in the picture is shouting "Corn!" in "common"). I didn’t like the monotone shade filling the line art and would have preferred plain white and black line art to allow me to color it with my pencils myself.
Archetype: 8/10, Art: 7/10

Of Magic and Mettle: Troll Hunter (Slayer Archetype)
Again, a simple but effective archetype name – we all know what to expect here.

This archetype also suffers slightly from the feeling that those things that make a slayer a slayer are being lost. It didn’t “feel right” that the slayer received a reduction on their sneak attack die pool, or that they lose their ability to stalk prey. This concerned me a little more when one of the higher powers was based on sneak attack die, the pool of which was reduced by an earlier power.

This archetype has no representative art piece.
Archetype: 7/10, Art: n/a

Of the three archetypes, the river pilot was by far the most versatile and interesting archetype of the bunch, but each is eminently suitable for River Kingdoms play.
Article: 8/10, Art: 7/10

Pick Your Poison: Race-Specific Poisons from Daggermark
A nice short article providing seven new poisons that can be used in your campaigns, each with a very distinct River Kingdoms flavor.

I did wonder about the durations on some of the poisons, because when you multiply the maximum duration with the effect, some of the poisons become real PC killers. As an example, 1 d4 has an average of 2.5 statistically. So six rounds means an average impact against the affected statistic of 15!

So you only have die rolls slightly above average and target Constitution to have a real PC munching poison. Also consider affects that are deadly in the normal game tend to have daily saves rather than per round to allow an affected PC a chance to seek help as they grow weaker and weaker.

The poisons are all very flavorful, but I strongly encourage each GM to review the duration and save DC of each in relation to the power level of their game.

The artwork is that of an inanely grinning goblin – I think it has sampled one or more of these poisons.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Weal or Woe: River Kingdom Gods
My initial impression from the title was to expect some minor deity ying-yang at war sort of action. This wasn’t exactly what I got, but what I did get, I really liked.

The weal NPC, a worshipper of Hanspur, provides a varied roleplay encounter for the PCs perhaps even a romantic interest should one of the PCs convince the spirit of her half-orc husband that they are worthy of her.

The artwork supporting this NPC is quite simply stunning – I love artwork that implies grace and a lot of movement, swirling capes, and swashbuckling overtones and this does that in spades.

The woe NPC, a kineticist ratfolk, was also intriguing with a plot hook of fighting natural disasters rather than the NPC themselves. Should the PCs end up in combat against this ratfolk, the clever selection of powers and abilities should catch them by surprise indeed.

A found the artwork for this NPC amusing, reminding me of when my hamster would tell me off – sad I know, but it is just “cross hamster” through and through. I think it’s the facial expression that does it – I love it.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Gods of the River Kingdoms: Obediences to Gyronna and Hanspur
This article should definitely be partnered by GMs with the weal and woe just reviewed. This article fleshes out the lesser deities Gyronna and Hanspur, specific River Kingdom deities. It provides evangelist, exalted and sentinel boons for followers and how they should demonstrate their obedience to each diety. The Hanspur obedience is one of those grey areas of role-playing games where you often have to detail uncomfortable subject matter in order to remain true to good vs evil.

The accompanying artwork is dark, moody and disturbing, showing the act of obedience for Hanspur, the act of drowning a living being. This made me a little uncomfortable knowing that Wayfinder does get into the hands of the younger audience. I think I find it worrysome as it is not an act against the forces of evil but is an inherently premeditated act of evil itself.

I think on reflection I would have preferred the art to have been weal based rather than drawing attention to this less comfortable aspect of the content. But that’s just me. The art itself is well done and makes excellent use of lighting to promote the right mood.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10 – This does not include my personal reaction, that would be unfair.

The Peerless Karel Horvoska
As a GM of some many years standing, I have often wondered about how gods of beer should be portrayed, and I have probably committed about every trope and meme out there in the process. For this reason, I was absolutely delighted and surprised by how cleverly Cayden Cailean, the Drunken Hero, was interwoven into the devious plans of a desperate hero to reclaim a lost love from a rival who had stolen that love away through unfair and foul means.

I won’t spoil the plot any more than that other than to say the ending was satisfying and the whole was well written and superbly paced. This is going to be my very first 10/10 for a short story. Well done Benjamin – write more please.

The artwork, oh my gosh, Cayden’s rendering immediately made me think of Porthos and the Three Musketeers and the hero of the story might just as well be D’Artagnan albeit with an almost Eastern flavor to his dress. I am so putting this onto my printer, enlarging it and coloring this one in. It is truly detailed and delightful. Yes, it has happened, both article and art scoring maximum points together!
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

River Kingdoms: Fauna and Flora
This next article looks at typical vegetation and small animal life found in the River Kingdoms. I particularly liked the Parsuria Vine and the role play and devious uses it promotes. For the small creatures, I think my favorite is the small bird called a Psylokeet. This was also chosen for the accompanying art, but the art has is dominated by a female human and not the bird itself. I would have preferred a more detailed close up of the bird, maybe perched on a hand (so that scale can still be determined), but no more distraction from the focus of the piece than that.
Article: 9/10, Art: 7/10

Chosen Sovereign: A Paladin Archetype
Now we have a paladin archetype. It is nice to see the ideal of a paladin being stretched from the atypical lawful good into the realms of a holy warrior supreme of any alignment following the tenets and decrees of their chosen deity. The general theme of this archetype is very much enthralling those nearby into their beliefs, and at higher levels are extremely good enforcements of a right to rule. This archetype screams to be used by the GM for those leading a local community. The artwork is almost stained glass window in feeling, but something felt a little off. I eventually realized that it was the almost suspicious sideways glance that feels at odds with the kneeling pose of obedience or submission.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Bonesteel Brine and Unguent
Next up are a couple of items, one wondrous and one alchemical. Let is start with the alchemical one, the bonesteel brine. It is an alchemical substance that when applied to a weapon or suit of armor, imbues that item with greater resilience than it would normally have. My only real issue with this item is describing it as a liquid – liquids are runny and so it conjures the wrong image of a salve to be applied to a weapon or armor. Maybe it should have been referred to as viscous oil or even as a salve. The wondrous item, bonesteel unguent, offers the same benefits as the alchemical item, it just allows it to be created by arcane means rather than alchemy.

This duplication felt too much on the same page, and I think personally, I would have had just the one item, preferring the magical item name and the use of unguent rather than liquid. The magical item could have allowed an alchemist to create it without needing to be an arcane caster simply by specifying this in the construction section.

I also felt a bit let down by the art here, it shows a dagger freshly coated in the unguent but I feel an opportunity was lost to show something more intricate (maybe a crystal dagger, or one that is of ornamental nature) being enhanced for combat use.
Article: 7/10, Art: 6/10

Woodsy’s River Kingdoms Anthems
Next we have some poetry and songs for your bard to perform. I personally don’t know the songs quoted as the inspirations here but really appreciate their mention – this allows me to look them up and maybe listen to a rendition or two on youtube and similar. I also think poems and songs written to the meter of existing real world songs is a great aid to the imagination for both the GM and the players, a very wise move.

The second one, The Land That Sings To Me, is the most amusing and most entertaining of the songs. How often do you encounter a poem using the word miscreant?! The artwork is a very pleasant tavern scene, showing a bard taking applause from his gracious audience after performing these songs. The bard is standing in some sort of light beam, almost spot light like, I am guessing from a skylight in the ceiling based on the light’s angle, which would make this tavern quite unusual indeed.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Golarion Gazetteer: Everbloom Monastery
Now we have a nice article about a monastery and the village that grew around it, the Everbloom Monastery of the title. This is a great example of expanding on a mention in a Paizo product, taking that hook into greater detail. For those interested, the monastery is mentioned in Guide to the River Kingdoms as the hiding place for the rulers of the associated realm – which is expanded upon again in this article but the queen is missing from the notable inhabitants section!

My only issue with the general placement is that it shows the monastery is built on a rise above the approaching road providing it with good defense, however the village is not behind the monastery and protected by it, it is on the lower ground at road level. I personally would move the village, or at least the noble / important houses, to the rear of the monastery benefitting from its protection. I would have lower ground set aside for farming. But that’s just me.

Speaking of the map, it is beautifully drawn and clearly labelled. The monastery is as large as the village if not slightly larger, so in both art and article, it is definitely represented as a major pilgrimage site for the area.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Scaling Magic Items in the River Kingdoms
Now we have some magical items with a difference, items that scale in power with their owners, utilizing the rules from Pathfinder Unchained. The four items are quite diverse, but I think my favorite, purely for visuals, is the Mivon Eelskin. I just love the idea of a slinky shimmering armor molding to the wearer’s movements – for me this is a really strong visual, and instead of large bulky scales, we have the wonderfully minute scales of the eel.

For accompanying art, we have two pieces representing two of the four items. The first is a very nicely rendered dagger with a substantial blade. The second one representing the magical artists palette, with a riot of color representing the paints upon its surface.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Hmmm, 15,339 characters (2,682 words), no room for the next review item without breaking it across posts, so the remaining review items will be found in the comments. As promised, this link takes you to the first post that continues this review in the comments tab.


For Cutthroats and Kings Alike

*****

I submitted an article to Wayfinder #15, but it didn't make it into the final product. I was disappointed at first, but when I read the installment I realized why my entry didn't make the cut: the quality of this issue's content is some of the best I've seen in the series to date.

Although it's difficult to capture the diversity of the River Kingdoms in fewer than 80 pages, Wayfinder #15 avoids falling into the trap of becoming a fanzine focused exclusively on Daggermark, Tymon, or any of the area's noteworthy locales. Most of the material within applies to the entire region, ranging from the flora and fauna of the Sellen River to the Kingdoms' two unique faiths. Low-cost consumables, particularly poisons and alchemical equipment, make up most of the new items available, though PCs will also find archetypes and feats to help them survive in the rough-and-tumble province. Tons of descriptive content provides GMs with tools to make the River Kingdoms come alive, from anthems of the river folk to NPCs and destinations to flesh out the local way of life. The fiction within is engaging and heartbreaking, with many short-stories reminding readers why life in the lawless riverlands tends to be brutal and short.

Perhaps the best material, however, supplements the Kingmaker Adventure Path and other kingdom-building campaigns. One archetype will easily appeal to players hoping to conquer the Stolen Lands, and every side trek and sample encounter provides GMs with ways to freshen up the AP's exploration components. This issue is a must-have for anyone playing Kingmaker with experienced gamers, or for GMs re-running the campaign and hoping to shake things up.

I look forward to every installment of Wayfinder because the quality and ingenuity of Paizo's fan base never ceases to amaze me. Whether you already own issues 1-14 or you're just learning about the fanzine now, Wayfinder #15 will remind you just how much talent and brilliance the Pathfinder community can muster.


Another excellent set of articles!

*****

Finally finished reading Wayfinder #15 (the electronic version, since I couldn't make it to PaizoCon to get a printed copy... :(

Once again, the all-volunteer Wayfinder team has put together an excellent round-up of material. This issue focuses on the River Kingdoms, an area of Golarion so diverse you could run a dozen campaigns there and never have the same setting. It's a rich area, especially for characters and stories that are slightly over the line of the law (vigilante, anyone?). It's also the region where the Kingmaker Adventure Path is set, making it an essential resource for GMs running that campaign.

There are literally too many articles for me to review them all, but here are some highlights.

* Crunch: there are new archetypes, poisons, and a set of obeisances for two very flavorful deities worshiped mostly in the River Kingdoms (Hanspur and Gyronna). Throw these against your players as they pass through the ever-shifting river network for some nasty (yet not overpowered) surprises. Magical items (including some that scale with character level) and even new special materials are to be found as well. Bardic masterpieces, friendly (or not) NPC stat blocks... there's just so much that's ready for a GM to use as-is or as inspiration for their own campaign.

* Lore: (I refuse to use the term "fluff" for something so central to the game's feel!) To me, this is the best aspect of Wayfinder - you get dozens of creative takes on areas of Golarion that can be dropped into your campaign with almost no effort. Often, the Paizo products give an intriguing sentence or a few words of "hook"; in Wayfinder, some great Golorian scholars have fleshed those out into fully-developed encounters, NPCs, stories, or adventures - or created them out of whole cloth to fit seamlessly into the campaign. Here, you'll find tavern songs and anthems of the River Kingdoms, and a fully-designed tavern to sing them in, as well as explorer's journals and gazateers of various locations throughout the Kingdoms. Short fiction pieces help flesh out various areas of the lands, and provide NPC personalities that I've pulled into my games on more than one occasion.

Wayfinder 15 is one of the best ones yet, in my opinion. Some really great work by lots of great contributors, and the core Wayfinde team that puts it all together. Plus... it's free. Seriously. No reason to not download it and immerse yourself in one of Golarion's most varied and soggy regions.


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Scarab Sages

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I've still a long way to go, to catch up with you in general, Jeff.
That's a long list of credits you've got in the 3PP-sphere.

I got a free copy of your recent Heraldry book from Flaming Crab, thanks indirectly to Kalindlara gifting hers to one of the other first responders, making me lucky #10.
I don't know who wrote what in that book, but so far I'm liking the ability chains built on the heraldic beasts.

There may be a chance for me to return the free book favor later in the year, not sure when, as Alex split one proposed book into several smaller parts.

But enough of this non-Paizo distraction!
Back to the scrivening desk!


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Snorter wrote:

I've still a long way to go, to catch up with you in general, Jeff.

<snip>

I feel this pain, I have 5 - I must get back to writing.

On the plus side, when I complete this review, I think I should have the most number of written review words for Wayfinder issues so far! >.<


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Shadowborn wrote:
Snorter wrote:
Anthony Adam wrote:

Ok,

19 credits Lee, Jeff

So...close...must...type...faster...

Can we get a doping test, on Neil and Jeff?

I'm actually surprised. I hadn't realized I'd written that many pieces for Wayfinder, especially since I didn't get anything into an even-numbered issue until...#6, I think? Possibly #8.

Yeah, it was #6 - whoo hoo, my sheet can answer the question!

You also have achieved getting 3/3 submissions in issues #10 and #13 - well done indeedy!

FYI... your credits are...

001 Fiction: Short The Sweetest Fruit Lee, Jeff

003 Fiction: Short Running Rivalry Lee, Jeff

005 Setting: Pathfinder Journal Terror at Churlwood’s Edge Lee, Jeff

006 Bestiary: Creatures Bestiary Cartin, Craig; Crotty, Rich; Doss, Danielle; Feather, Robert; Fox, Guy; Herold, Nick; Lee, Jeff; Little, Robert; Murphy, Kevin Andrew; Putnam, Alex

006 Fiction: Short Champion of the People Lee, Jeff

007 Fiction: Short Just Deserts: Return to Old Korvosa Lee, Jeff

008 Bestiary: Creatures Bestiary Crotty, Rich; Filipowich, Aaron; Fox, Guy; Garrett, Jason; Gimmler, Christoph; Gruchala, Wojciech; Lee, Jeff; Welham, Mike

008 Rules: Archetypes A Crew to Defend Her Lee, Jeff; Leising, John; Zamora-Soon, Sheldon

009 Bestiary: Creatures Bestiary Boehringer, Morgan; Crowe, Chris; Floyd, Nick; Garrett, Jason; Gimmler, Christoph; Gori, Frank; Gruchala, Wojciech; Lee, Jeff; Fraser, Nelund; Welham, Mike

009 Rules: Crafting Secrets of the Lord of Change Lee, Jeff

010 Bestiary: Creatures Bestiary Barnes, Becky; Cooper, Will; Fox, Guy; Gimmler, Christoph; Medley, Joe; Lee, Jeff; Moore, Alex J.; Ortiz Jr., Ed; Rupprecht, Matt; Turner, Ian;

010 Setting: Organisations The Price of Decadence Lee, Jeff

010 Setting: Weal or Woe Shirin Kazemi and Yellowman Lee, Jeff

012 Rules: Items Servile Shabti Fischer, Dawn; Lee, Jeff

013 Encounters: Side Treks Despair in Darkwell Lee, Jeff

013 Rules: Haunts Haunts of Ustalav Moore, Alex J.; Lee, Jeff; Sheppard, Laura

013 Rules: Items Professor Nicodemus’ Emporium of Wonders Gimmler, Christoph; Keeley, Jason; Kondrak, Joe; LeBlanc, Thomas; Lee, Jeff; Umphrey, Andrew;

015 Rules: Archetypes Of Magic and Mettle: Archetypes of the River Kingdoms Lee, Jeff

015 Rules: Items Notable Items of the River Kingdoms Lee, Jeff


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Actually, if we ignore the Foreword from Neil Spicer, you have written THE SAME article count as Neil and could overtake him in the forthcoming issues! Challenge made :P

Oh, and you are beating Neil on the 3/3, you have done that twice to his once in #7.

Is now wondering if Neil is going to let that stand or allow you to take the lead! :P

For those interested, Neil's were...

001 Setting: Pathfinder Journal The Greenhorns, Part 1 Gulliver, Trevor; McAnulty, Jonathan; Spicer, Neil

002 Rules: Bloodlines A Matter of Blood Crenshaw, Paris E.; Morton, Eric; Spicer, Neil; Wilhelm, Larry

002 Setting: Pathfinder Journal The Greenhorns, Part 2 Gulliver, Trevor; McAnulty, Jonathan; Spicer, Neil

003 Setting: Pathfinder Journal The Greenhorns, Part 3 Gulliver, Trevor; McAnulty, Jonathan; Spicer, Neil

004 Fiction: Short Rain of Redemption Spicer, Neil

004 Setting: Pathfinder Journal The Greenhorns, Part 4 Gulliver, Trevor; McAnulty, Jonathan; Spicer, Neil

005 Encounters: Side Treks The Fall After Pride Spicer, Neil

005 Setting: Weal or Woe Monstrous Pride Spicer, Neil

007 Encounters: Side Treks The Lure of Greed Spicer, Neil

007 Setting: NPCs The Lure of Greed Spicer, Neil

007 Setting: Weal or Woe Lore Seekers Spicer, Neil

009 Encounters: Side Treks The Foehammer Promise Spicer, Neil

009 Setting: Weal or Woe Dark Harvest Spicer, Neil

010 Fiction: Short The Sting of Betrayal Spicer, Neil

011 Encounters: Side Treks The Bookbound Herald Spicer, Neil

011 Setting: Weal or Woe Social Contracts Spicer, Neil

012 Fiction: Short The Wasp and the Mantis Spicer, Neil

013 Encounters: Side Treks Blood Drawn Reunion Spicer, Neil

013 Setting: Weal or Woe Wizardry and Witchcraft Spicer, Neil

015 Issue: Foreword Foreword Spicer, Neil

Seems Neil does like his Weal or Woe...

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Snorter wrote:

I've still a long way to go, to catch up with you in general, Jeff.

That's a long list of credits you've got in the 3PP-sphere.

I got a free copy of your recent Heraldry book from Flaming Crab, thanks indirectly to Kalindlara gifting hers to one of the other first responders, making me lucky #10.
I don't know who wrote what in that book, but so far I'm liking the ability chains built on the heraldic beasts.

There may be a chance for me to return the free book favor later in the year, not sure when, as Alex split one proposed book into several smaller parts.

But enough of this non-Paizo distraction!
Back to the scrivening desk!

I don't recall exactly, except that we split the beasties evenly and developed the feats and items focused on our particular heraldic creatures. I had the allocamelus, the yale, and the murder bunnies (lepus hostili).

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Anthony Adam wrote:

Actually, if we ignore the Foreword from Neil Spicer, you have written THE SAME article count as Neil and could overtake him in the forthcoming issues! Challenge made :P

Oh, and you are beating Neil on the 3/3, you have done that twice to his once in #7.

Is now wondering if Neil is going to let that stand or allow you to take the lead! :P

I wouldn't ignore it. Being asked to do the foreword counts as a pretty big deal to me.

I'm sure Neil could blow me out of the water, if he had a mind to. I'm just going to focus on getting some new magic, tech, and magitech items finished before the deadline for #16.


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Uringen Advancements in Alchemy
Now we have an alchemist archetype with oodles of Uringen flavor, and a healing chemist vibe. It provides an interesting supportive healing to magical healing. The only power that struck me as odd was replacing poison use with avoiding attacks of opportunity when performing heal checks in combat. The reason it struck me as odd is that many medicines, and some healing techniques are based on the poisons they counter, so taking that away from the healer to simply avoid an attack felt out of place and a little out of balance.

When designing archetypes, one of the hardest things to do is swap powers at equitable level of utility and power. I think this poison swap is possibly detrimental to the aim of the archetype, but that is just my gut feel.

There is also a collection of new discoveries suitable for all alchemists, and not just the archetype presented, each making sense and giving more diversity and flavor to an alchemist character.

The artwork clearly represents the archetype in the process of ministering to a patient, almost mixing the unguents at the moment of application. I loved the dressing style of the alchemist in the art, a mix of swashbuckler and gunslinger replacing blades and guns with vials, potions and chemical pouches.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

The Rats of Canboulon
This next article was quite fascinating, taking ratfolk in an interesting spin – to that of river gypsies, plying trade and mischief along the waterways of the River Kingdoms. Considering the word count limits, the article provides a surprising amount of detail including the vessels they sail in, their society and government, their culture and the antics they get up to. I enjoyed this article immensely and will definitely be introducing these creatures to my players.

The art accompanying the article took me back to my childhood Peter Rabbit books days, it felt like something I would find in those illustrated children’s books. I found this added to the article by depicting how innocent they might look to a newcomer, perhaps aiding them in their acts of mischief or trade.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Magic Items: Heirlooms of Fallen Kingdoms
And now some river kingdoms inspired magical items for treasure piles and arming up the NPCs with – hey, my NPCs use the treasures! So we have three wondrous items and a magical weapon.

The first wondrous item is a magical hat inspired by a witch’s black pointed hat. I licked this one as it was also on theme with the cackling of our legendary witches.

The second item messes with luck, something very difficult to do and get right. I think for the effect, 1 minute duration is a bit short and limits the use of the item to moments of combat – it could quite safely have been increased to a more useful and impactful duration beyond combat by making it an hour.

The third item I felt would have been more fitting for an Ustalav / Horror themed issue as it was based on carved pumpkin lanterns – especially as the effect is decidedly creepy.

The weapon is a trident that can pin targets, causing bleed every round the target is pinned. The amount of bleed is quite small and as the wielder has to maintain the pin, I am unsure if being “taken out of combat” each round is worth the bleed – I tend to use pinning for capturing opponents alive, so this just didn’t feel right for me.

The accompanying art is of the trident – beautifully rendered from the description, I particularly liked the shaft of twisted steel. I also liked the dried blood effect, almost rust like, on the trident tines.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Review running total so far: 29,978 characters, or 5,200 words. 23 articles have now been reviewed in depth. Still plenty of the issue left so more review to follow shortly.


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Hendric’s Journal: The Echo Wood Expedition
The next article falls fully into Pathfinder Journals territory, detailing a selection of entries found in a travelers diary. Set in Echo Wood, near Deadbridge, the presentation is a traditional gothic horror mystery that is very evocative of childhood fears. One of the shorter fiction pieces in the magazine, but dripping with atmosphere, I wouldn’t read it by candlelight if I were you.

The accompanying art is a greyscale rendition, not so heavy with lines as to prevent coloring it in if you enjoy such activities. The image portrays something trying to get into the inn room, but just like the story, your imagination gets to fill in the gaps.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Side Trek: Encounters at the Creek Crossing
Next we have a couple of small encounters of low CR level, helping making journeys between locations a little more planned and interesting for your players. Both encounters take place at bridge crossings, to spice it up, you can swap out the rivers or roads being spanned and instead have the bridge over a nice chasm with a nightmare drop – these offer high utility and a great ease to just drop into ongoing campaigns.

The first encounter is heavy on roleplay, dealing with problems for those living around the locale of the bridge whereas the second encounter deals with what lies below the bridge.

The accompanying art draws from the second encounter, full page and full color, it’s a nice piece that could be shown to the players while running that encounter. I tell you now, that is no ordinary hungry toll-demanding troll under that bridge… that’s down right creepy.
Article: 8/10, Art: 9/10

Weal or Woe: A Matter of Honor
Next we have a weal or woe, presenting two more NPCs for your players to interact with. These particularly fire up the latent swashbuckler in me. I love the stories of the musketeers and the legends of dueling at dawn, and these draw heavily from those. Both NPCs presented are excellent combatants, excelling in swordplay and having enough detail to present their personal ethos and beliefs very well. Running them will be fairly straightforward and easy to incorporate into an ongoing game.

Each NPC receives its own accompanying art, and everything is there that you would expect to see of the swashbuckling flamboyant sword masters. Both are full body drawings, both in full color and both of similar style and execution that I couldn’t decide which of the two I preferred. Suffice to say, I liked them both.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Songs of the River Kingdoms: New Bardic Masterpieces
Some bard love is now available for the bardists amongst us. Only those who use the PRD or have their own copy of Ultimate Magic will use Bardic Masterpieces, but that say, there is enough detail in each of the seven for GMs to be able to use them off the cuff.

I think my favorite is the Dagger River Shanty, which I can see me using with my river pirates against my players, and my least favorite was Melancholy of the Landlocked Sea. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that one didn’t inspire me so much as the rest, but one thing that contributed was that the name didn’t hint at the duality of the effect for me.

The art renders a full body, pixie like and very mischievous looking bard playing a stringed instrument. I think it might be a rendering of the Dagger River Shanty due to the goodies rendered at her feet. I wasn’t so keen on the mono color background as with the theme of the magazine, I would have preferred to see some sort of water/river based backing to the character.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

Armies of the River Kingdoms
The bulk of the next article provides ready-made army stat blocks for the major regions of the river kingdoms. There are some gems in here and the occasional oddity – for example, Tymon’s entry, drawing from a pool of gladiators who have won in the arena - I personally wouldn’t have gone for a gargantuan army. The life of a gladiator is normally short and intense, so I wouldn’t expect so many to still be living.

A new army tactic is also detailed, the art of assassination of an army’s leadership, and new army resources for moving upon the waters of the river kingdoms are also presented. On the whole, the article provides enough ready-made army material for any GM to have their river kingdoms explode into war on many fronts.

The artwork is one of my favorite pieces of the issue, a shark riding sahuagin/lizardfolk. It just oozes fun and nasty at the same time, full color and just cool, really cool.
Article: 8/10, Art: 10/10

Review running total so far: 34,595 characters, or 6,002 words. 28 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 13 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow along shortly.


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Sound of a Thousand Whispers
I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize this next piece. It comprises three linked parts consisting of a background short, a new haunt and a magic items section. The whole article centers on a nymph who defended the wilderness of the Thousand Voices. I think here that too much was being attempted in one single article as the background felt too short, I wanted more of the history of the nymph and maybe some of the things she did to protect the wilderness. The haunts and magical items dovetail nicely into what background there is.

I think if the magic items had been separated out into a separate, we could have had a good background for a nice haunt and separately, a supporting article of items (with maybe a couple more items added for good measure). This would have needed prior agreement with the editors though, so I suspect the single submission word wall hit this article hard.

The art is very dark and moody, and so very fitting for the background of the article. My only concern with it is that there are two competing light focuses in the composition. This drew my eyes alternately between the hand and the moon and was quite distracting – I think had the moonlight been more subdued, the desired effect would have been achieved.
Article: 7/10, Art: 8/10

The Hut: A Tavern by the Sellen River
Next we have a very nicely detailed riverside stop-over. The Hut of the article is unusual for most taverns as there is more focus on providing good food and a family like company to visitors. In addition to detailing the proprietress in detail (albeit without a stat block), the thing I found to be missing was a map of the hut. I desperately wanted to see the layout, how many tables and chairs, how big the kitchen, how many berths and rooms available for overnight stay, and so on. With the rich tapestry painted with the words, the lack of map feels like a missed opportunity.

The article ends with a goodly selection of rumors, a collection of tiny plot seeds for the GM to pick up and run with. They all seamlessly integrate into the lore and legend of the Hut of the article.

The art piece is a rendition of what you would see as you are welcomed in through the main entrance. Looking through the doors and windows of the art, the expected volumes of trinkets and decorations seemed to have been missed – this is a shame as the description of the inner decorations was really flavorful in the article itself. Man, why wasn’t there a map…
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

“Steady As You Sail”: A Song of the Sellen
Next up we have a song/poem about travelling the river Sellen. I really liked the consistent metre of the stanzas, and the short but catch chorus between stanzas. What was also impressive was that by following the song, you can with map follow the journey of the song along the river. Very nicely done indeed. As is usual with a well-constructed piece, you are left wanting more, and with only the one song of the article, I felt like I needed another one or two at least.

The accompanying art is a wonderful water color style piece of life rafting along the Sellen. It represents the beauty and peace of life on the water and none of the hazards. I liked it, it may not be to everyone’s taste in style, but for me, it fit the article perfectly.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Review running total so far: 37,946 characters, or 6,606 words. 31 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 10 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow in shortly.


Personal Scrivener’s Guild
Next we have a new organization for Golarion. The services provided allow the game master to provide yet another avenue for PCs wishing to hide identities, hide from their hunters or enemies, and so on. The provision of false identity, not always reliant on magical transformation it seems is a booming business in the River Kingdoms, and this organization is one of those where you do think “why isn’t this in the core setting for this region?”

The article presents all the relevant sections needed to detail an organization and the 3 npc’s detailed provide a wonderful look into the hierarchy and internal workings of the organization. I also love one of the names – but beware, I am king of making bad names, I really loved the name Quickfinger – so stealing that for my next rogue.

The artwork is a nice color panel that really conveys the “legitimate and innocent” cover portrayed by the organization. I particularly liked all the settings around the central image, the pots of varying hues, the wall shelves festooned with different materials. This piece is a great accompaniment for the article.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Matters of Faith
A quite grisly story greets us now, full of the darker side of life in the River Kingdoms. I really liked the pacing of this one, that you come to care about the main character and understand and feel what they feel, that the creeping horror is revealed layer by layer. There is a real slow burn leading up to a wonderful twisted ending that is quite enthralling.

This is a very good example of telling a horror themed story and is wonderfully entwined with the setting of the River Kingdoms. I can’t say much more without revealing the plot, so go read this one, you will enjoy it immensely if you like dark and sinister tales.

The art is quite surreal, another almost water color piece with very dark tones and grisly scene. It fits the story absolutely perfectly, evoking the imagery of the tail of the tale. I liked this one because it has so aptly been designed to illicit the feelings and imagery of the story itself. Very well done.
Article: 10/10, Art: 9/10

Reformer: A Religious Prestige Class
A religious prestige class – one which doesn’t tie you down to being one of the divine classes – any class could take this prestige class once the requirements are met. This has universal appeal for that reason and is a strong selling point for the prestige class. It made me want to look deeper, so I did.

Reformed Obedience has one little thing that scares me a little, no cap on the increasing bonus., starting at +3 for 1st level, then +1 for every two levels from second, so another +10 by level 20 netting a bonus of +13 – I probably would have restricted this to a maximum of some sort, maybe +10, most likely +5 as by the time you get to level 20, you don’t really need +13 skill bonuses as your skills will already be pretty good. A simple fix would be to increase every 4 levels, giving us a maximum of +8.

A lot of the powers are very heavy on the role play rather than the roll play – so depending on how immersive your role play is at your table, this prestige class could provide many moments of role play fun. Three npc’s are detailed towards the end of the article, providing a good insight into how this class can be applied to both divine and non-divine characters, the third being rogue based.

The art is a full body piece showing an elven variant of the prestige class. It didn’t grab me as much as the other art pieces, quite angular and almost manga like – I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about this art piece that is wrong because there isn’t anything obviously wrong, it just feels off and not quite “Golarion”. Sorry, but that’s my gut reaction to it. It is a nice piece, it just didn’t feel right.

Article: 9/10, Art: 7/10

Review running total so far: 41,807 characters, or 7,296 words. 34 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 7 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow in shortly.


Woodlands and Waterways
Next up, new regional spells, from the Wilds we are presented with 1 illusion, 1 divination, 1 abjuration, and 3 transmutation spells, and from the Outsea region, 2 conjuration spells. Cherry picking from these, I liked False Trail – the diametric opposite of Pass Without Trace – my bad guys will be using this one when leading the PCs on a merry chase. Water Sprint is a variant of Lily Pad Stride, and I imagined my PCs fleeing water boatmen style running across lakes and rivers in haphazard fashion. All in all, I liked the mixed bag of spells and what they each offer in variety to adventures in watery wilderness.

The art depicts an adventurer utilising Water Sprint to escape a beastie rather reminiscent of an Otyugh. A full page width color illustration that fits the spell pretty well, my only concern was that it looks like the adventurers feet are submersed rather than running across the water surface as I would have expected.
Article: 8/10, Art: 8/10

The Hundred Cuisines of the Hundred Kingdoms
An unusual gazetteer type of article now, dealing with the regional foods and delicacies found through the river kingdoms. These sorts of article, so often found in Wayfinder, really add depth to a region in so many interesting and diverse ways. Being a bit of a foodie, I really liked the article and wished that some of the things described had been provided as actual recipes – man they sound so tasty. There are so many ways you can use this article – stuck when the PCs ask the barman what foods are on offer – problem solved.

The art shows an almost harvest festival table display of many of the foodstuffs described. I loved the variety of texture and color the artist managed to exhibit through this diverse display of subject matter. This is certainly another favorite piece for me.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Wardrobe of the River Kings
Next up is an interesting collection of magical items leaning towards regal dress and appearance. There are some 14 items in total, ranging from crowns, gloves, rings, mantles, maces, sashes to braziers, and weapons, providing us with a whole assortment of useful dressings for PC and NPC alike. The very last item, a crown, fell into a common trap when dealing with curses. It states that the crown can only be removed by the use of miracles and wishes but intimating that the spell remove curse wouldn’t work, however that spell is specifically designed to deal with curses and cursed item removal. A minor thing, but worth mentioning.

There are three pieces of art accompanying the article, one scene and two item renditions. The scene is line art, allowing those with creativity to color it themselves – it depicts a man paying obeisance to a religious dignitary. The second is a very ornate rendition of the goblet item in the collection – including unicorn motif. And the third is a very nice representation of the tome of the collection – what I like here is that there is no label or title on the tome allowing me to reuse the illustration to my heart’s content!
Article: 8/10, Art: 9/10

Weal or Woe: The Misfits of Wilkesmont
The last of this issues weal or woe articles introduces us to a female tiefling and a female aasimar. The writer plays off of how a tiefling may be feared unjustly by those around them, the worry about smiling at children at play proving a poignant point. The sensitivity shown by the author and promoted through this description is very well done indeed.

Counterpointing this sensitivity is a quite vindictive when provoked aasimar. This one counterpoints the separatism of the tiefling description with an all-inclusive smothering of a child during their formative years and the effect that may have on that child. This counterpoint between the two protagonists of the article I think is the essence of a weal or woe article and this one is a good example of when it is done right.

There are two full body renditions of the two protagonists, both of which tap into this underlying theme of the article. The tiefling seems almost shy and vulnerable, whereas the aasimar cries out worship me, don’t cross me. The art, coupled with the article provides one of the best weal or woes seen in Wayfinder so far and sets the bar very high for forthcoming issues.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Review running total so far: 46,150 characters, or 8,038 words. 38 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There are just 3 articles remaining to be reviewed. These will follow shortly.


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The Shadow of Freedom
Now we have the last of the short stories for this issue, set in the mist enshrouded, cobbled streets of Maashinelle. The location, a tavern, closed, after hours, a meeting, and a betrayal. This story clearly sets out to illustrate the seedy undertones and machinations of the less than savory residents of the river kingdoms. It is dark, moody and atmospheric. There is some good character interaction in this story, and the ending left me wondering what happens next.

The art work, a top third page wide panel, depicts the three main protagonists of the story in the inn at the moment of betrayal and treachery. Although accurately representing a pivotal point of the story, it felt to me a little unfinished...

– the bartenders apron, flat and monotone with no shading to depict the flexibility and undulation of such a garment, it looks like a flat cardboard panel hanging from the trouser belt
– the blue cape on the lady, the inside should have deeper shades the closer the cape is to her body to give that sense of depth
– uniform lighting from a single candle, there should have been deeper shadows and shades the farther out from the candle
– maybe some shadows being cast on the floor by the individual nearest to the light source.

These niggling things gave the impression that time was running out for submitting the piece and that final shading and detailing pass of art didn’t get completed. A shame, it showed real potential to be a magnificent piece.
Article: 8/10, Art: 6/10

The Witch-Tree Sacrifices: A Side Trek Adventure
And now a side trek adventure by one of the magazine’s editors no less! Rolls up sleeves :P

Actually, there is a very great deal to interest players and GMs in this offering – I love the idea of a town clock causing a town to fade in and out of existence, that really grabbed me from paragraph one.

It is very fey based, so those with a love of all things fey will truly get a kick out of this adventure. Time has also been considered in the design, a race against a time limit is a great way to add tension to the party as they race to save the day.

This is a fine example of a well constructed adventure, it has a reason why the adventures would get involved, it has time and elements built into the encounter areas and the adventure as a whole. It introduces some commonly used fey along with those not used so often and uses them in surprising ways.

My only concern, minor though it is, was with the selection of creatures on the ritual sacrifices tables – now, it did use Bestiaries 2, 3, 4 and the Game Mastery Guide and NPC Codex – all of these entries readily available via the on line PRD

But...

One of the creatures was from an Adventure Path – which may not yet have made the PRD bestiary lists. I would expect that most people taking the free magazine might not have access to all the bestiaries, adventure paths, modules, setting supplements etc., so do please try to ensure any creature you use is easily found on the PRD online or detail them enough to run them as part of the adventure.

In this case, the table is more an order of sacrifice / scene setting list, so isn’t quite so important, but do consider your selections and try to satisfy the broadest audience you can.

So we have an excellently constructed adventure, did the art meet the challenge laid down by the words – oh my yes. The maps are gorgeous, beautiful renditions of clearings in wild places, the trees marvellously rendered and all subtly different – no cut and repeat paste on these trees. The attention to detail is quite breathtaking.

I am not going to spoil the adventure for players reading this article, but suffice to say, next time someone asks me how to construct an adventure for Wayfinder, I know which one I shall point to.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Wow, another 10 out of 10 for words and art – this issue is rocking it!

Review running total so far: 49,997 characters, or 8,721 words. 40 articles have now been reviewed in depth. There is just 1 article remaining to be reviewed – the bestiary selection.

For this last article I intend to review each creature in turn rather than as a whole article thus providing some feedback directly to all of the authors whose creatures got selected. I will score the bestiary as a whole as well, purely for my index sheet ;)

There are 8 creatures in this issues bestiary. These reviews will follow shortly.


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Sorry it's been a while, but I am now getting back to finishing the bestiary review. I will start posting those up on Saturday 3rd December.

Once that is done, I am going to gather up all my reviews and reformat them to a single page on my blog site which I will link when they are all up and done - there will be a Reviews section on there, with Wayfinder being the first subsection.

This is to allow you the comfort of reading the whole review without needing to jump around and scroll to different pages/forum posts.

Thanks for your patience.


Bestiary
The final part of the issue is a collection of creatures. I will review each creature independently so that each author receives their own review of their work rather than being part of an overall summary...

Bestiary - Blood Sapling, CR 1
The Bestiary of this issue starts with something very reminiscent of the old school variants of the yellow musk zombies created by a yellow musk creeper. It’s a CR 1 creature, one of the hardest CR creatures to design for without introducing power creep, so how does this design fare?
Everything hangs together really well, and sticks to the plant based theme nicely.
One thing that did seem out of context to me was the Melee entry referring to claws. I loved the Branches extraordinary ability, but this too mentions claws. I think I would have preferred leaving things as whip like branch attacks that tear at the skin creating slashing wounds and thorns that attribute the piercing type as well. Then I would have replaced the wording of claws with branches, tightening the whole design much closer to the plant theme.
The art represents the creature very well, possibly a little cartoon like for my tastes but that’s just my personal preference… speaking of which, I particularly liked the brain flower contained within a bramble like cage – nice and creepy.
Article: 9/10, Art: 8/10

Bestiary - Dragonfly, Giant Knifewing, CR 3
Next up, a low-level airborne threat to player character safety. This is a good choice because at level 3, PCs don’t yet have great access to flight, so this creature does have retreat and harry potential to really vex your players with. One of its abilities is to apply a bleed to the target of its attacks. Bleed effects at CR 3 are particularly deadly, not every party member can easily make a DC15 heal check, and the extra damage applied per round can mount up very quickly. I think my biggest problem with this bleed though is that there is no duration specified. This could be that the intent is to bleed until treated, but I personally would have preferred a quoted duration.
For the organization, I try to avoid the use of the word swarm as a collective as this has in game meaning, so the writer could have gone with plague (like a plague of locusts) or even flight and thus avoiding the swarm inference. It might be the writer intended to have swarm as a swarm, but I suspect not as swarms are usually thousands of smaller / tiny creatures forming the whole and not thousands of wolf sized creatures!
Overall, the creature has definite low level use potential, the artwork representing an all green dragonfly, but without easy reference to the size – a missed opportunity. Maybe instead of having it over a branch emerging from water, it could have been portrayed as clinging to the rib cage of a humanoid skeleton and thus indicating it’s larger than normal size.
Article: 8/10, Art: 7/10

Bestiary - Ferrywight, CR 6
Next up, some undead in that sweet spot of game play levels. There are definite parallels to Charon, the boatman of the river Styx, and being a bit of a sucker for those stories and legends, it struck a good chord with me.
I really loved the image of attacking the pcs with an oar as a main attack option. The imagery is fun and ouch, a meaty amount of damage too. Yeah, this appeals a lot.
The expected spawning ability was present and I love the enervating waters ability, something unique and wonderful to this creature. The players will hate it!
The artwork supports the whole design, my only real concern is it felt more skeletal than wight in representation. That aside, show this picture to your players and they will know it’s rumble time.
Article: 10/10, Art: 9/10

Bestiary - Hearth Wraith, CR 6
The next creature appeals to me in that it so obviously targets the times when the party are at camp. That said, at CR 6, it has a +10 touch attack that deals on average 9 fire damage per hit AND 1d6 Con drain – yes, drain, the permanent one.
Now there is a save involved, a Fortitude save, which benefits from higher Con bonuses. Fail that save and things become very deadly as your Con bonus disappears and your Fortitude save gets lower and lower. Couple that with the physical damage and with just a couple of good rolls, and the cumulative effect of the attack damage, reduced save, and reduced health pool and you can find that in just 2-3 attacks, a PC is well and truly dead. And as they are touch attacks, they will almost invariably hit every time at this point in the game.
For me, 2-3 rounds to dead is too deadly at this game point. I would probably change the drain to damage, allowing natural healing to restore the lost Con over time, and reduce it to 1d3 per hit – the pc is taking damage and reductions in maximum health at the same time, so I think this would be a reasonable fix. Also, I think you need to consider when designing camp monsters that the PCs are en-route away from civilization, so you shouldn’t make things permanently bad for them with camping encounters – if you do, your game might end up ending sooner than you would like.
Alternatively, you could leave things as they are consider raising the CR of this creature to 8 or even 9, so that when encountered, the party has more resources to both deal with the threat and deal with the aftermath.
Love the art, one of my favorite pieces. The shading, the imagery, it’s just so cool and I know if I showed this to my players, they would be quite scared and worried for their characters.
Article: 7/10, Art: 10/10

Bestiary - Kraken, River, CR 12
Now we step up to higher level play with a CR 12 river beast based on the krakens of legend. Unfortunately, I struggled to really like this creature because the description / ecology entry was in the main simply reiterating the special abilities. As designers, we have to credit the players and game masters with the ability to work out tactics and reasoning behind the skills and abilities of the creatures we create. So, for example, in the description, when we describe how humanoids in the vicinity of the creature are dominated, we don’t need to refer to its abilities which have only just been stated above the description.
The other thing I thought might be problematical was the ability to “beach” any ship it attacks without any regard to the size or laden weight of said ship. It’s only a small observation though, just something to bear in mind for the future.
That said, the idea of a smaller river based kraken is a very good idea. It has potential for a unique and interesting encounter, e.g. the players are fleeing by boat from river pirates chasing them along the river. The pirates are of course under control of this creature and are leading the players to a trap. The players find themselves caught between the pirates and this creature in an epic confrontation at this level of play.
The artwork represents the kraken, almost filling the river depicted. Again, the actual size is not well represented by this image – the width of the river is not easily determined, with those few bulrushes, it looks like it may be not more than 15-20 feet wide. Adding a humanoid coiled in a tentacle and part or all of a ship broken across a rock midstream could have provided size context to the imagery.
Article: 7/10, Art: 7/10

Bestiary - Predatory Sandbar, CR 12
Another CR12 follows. Now this one, I like. I like the fact that it takes something non-threatening and common place and breathes into it monstrous life and potential. This creature abounds with natural camouflage and the ability to truly shock and surprise the unwary.
The abilities give that feel of fighting the tide itself and so I found this creature very in theme for the River Kingdoms and would happily use it in the river deltas and slower and deeper running rivers.
The resistances I felt were a bit high at 30, 20 should have been enough at this level of play. I also wondered about having resistance to both fire and cold, usually in creature designs, those diametrically opposed elements result in having one being resisted and the other being vulnerable. I would be tempted to make some sort of cold vulnerability – as the water within the creatures body starts to freeze, it should become sluggish and slow maybe as the small particles of its make-up become less able to freely move around.
I loved the picture – a couple of times I mentioned in this review about size context, this art has done it right. We can all picture a row boat size, so by including that in the creature depiction, we immediately sense the size of the creature and the weight of all that sand about to crash down on that poor boat.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

Bestiary - River Wraith, CR 4
The sample creature provided is of a boar converted into a river wraith – the river wraith of the bestiary entry is a template rather than a creature of its own right, so although the example we have been provided is a CR 4, by applying the template to different beasts, then varying CR levels can be created and encountered.
The template provides some quite unique abilities to a creature so templated, and I loved how the a river wraith is more adept in the river than on dry land. This is a limitation for the creature, but it is a limitation that both makes sense and fits the theme and background history.
I can see many applications of this template being used to surprise, delight and horrify your players. I particularly liked how the sample creature is represented by the artist. Everything fits so well together here, the sample creature, the art, the template. I think this is my favorite of the bestiary section for this issue. The idea of a menagerie of water based creatures bearing downstream like a rolling, broiling, tidal wave stampede is most compelling.
Article: 10/10, Art: 10/10

Bestiary - Tsemaus, CR 6
And the last beast of this issue, a CR 6. Now, I have heard of this creature before, it is found in Canadian folklore, being a creature that entraps the unwary by appearing to be nothing more than floating detritus, or even a fallen tree floating downriver.
The application of the rule set to this legend has provided a very good in game representation of this creature, following very closely to the folklore history.
The art represents the creature equally well, reflecting many of the images you can find by searching for the folklore of this creature.
I love how everything makes sense and it is very well placed for CR. It is the perfect choice for a creature designed for the setting of this issue and I can only applaud the developer for giving us this variant.
Article: 9/10, Art: 9/10

So, that’s this issues Bestiary. I think one of the best themed collection of creatures designed for a specific region so far in this magazines history. So, for the bestiary as a whole…
Articles: 9/10, Artwork: 9/10

Issue Summary
Well, at the time of writing, this issue has scored the most 10 point submissions in a single issue thus far in any review I have written. The editing is top notch as usual and the articles clearly illustrate the diversity found throughout the River Kingdoms region - everything from traditional fantasy fare through to dark and sinister can be found herein. This issue is one of my favorite issues so far, and is also a best in breed example of truly supporting the exploration and adventures of this region. Good job everyone.
Overall: 9.5/10 - Articles: 10/10, Art: 9/10

FYI – This completes the review: 51,184 characters excluding spaces, or 10,818 words over 41 articles making this my largest and most detailed review to date.

I hope you found something useful and interesting during your read of my ramblings.

Oh, and if you find reading the review difficult due to it being split over a number of forum posts, I now host these on my blog site, one review per page. This one can be found in full here. Feel free to look around, it’s a site in progress and might be something you will find useful as I populate it over time. Enjoy.

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