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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
von Johnnie W. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/12/2015 07:18:28

Looks good and overall seems ok.


But. This is an 3e OGL product with 5e slapped on it. Essentially a bait-n-switch.


It is well done. But the deception is not appreciated.



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Tales of the Old Margreve Web Compilation
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 08/09/2015 10:32:21

Gleanings from the company website, this contains a wealth of snippets to add in to adventures set in the Old Margreve forest and round about. To start with there are 20 beautifully-described NPCs, provided to help you bring the place to life. They aren't intended for combat-fodder, if you do want to involve them in a brawl you'll have to provide your own stat-block... but as part of life's rich tapestry, people living and working in the area who might interact with the party, they're excellent. Watch out for Shadow, a black dog belonging to Tsarin the Dirgist. This hound has an uncanny nose for when someone is about to die, and leads his master to the spot so that he can perform a funeral dirge and eulogy for the just-departed. Some say that Shadow's appearance heralds (or even causes) the death... or is it just that he has impeccable timing?


Next up, 25 'reskinned' creatures, that is, the specifically Margreve versions of monsters from the Pathfinder Bestiary and Bonus Bestiary. These just come with descriptions again, but there's an indication as to which monster from the Bestiary you should reference. It's a neat way to put a twist on the creatures you encounter without much effort, and helps make the locale more distinctive.


Along the same theme, there are 15 reskinned spells, which can be used in different ways as you please. It may be that locals use these distinctive variants of spells that the party is used to, or - and this could cause some surprises - it may be that the spells act this way when cast in the Margreve, be it a native or visiting magic-user that casts them! If you decide they are local variants, others may learn them in the usual way... but may find that once they've left the Margreve they don't work as they need local components. Following on from that, there's a Margreve Bloodline that lets sorcerers tap into the ancient powers of the old forest and even become a part of it. If the Margreve is part of your campaign world, a sorcerer may have it - he doesn't even need to be local as long as he's descended from someone who was.


There's also an incantation, a few fascinating local items, and a selection of traits available to anyone who grew up in the area. It's all added flavour, and well worth picking up if you're using the Margreve. The illustrations are rather good - and evocative - too.



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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
von Seth W. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/07/2015 13:52:45

With the new updates, this book is a lot better. I was already fairly happy with it, and looking forward to adding it to my table. The new character options for nonstandard races are great. The new updates fixed much of the complaints I had about the book.


I'd still rather see the racial variants treated as subraces and feats rather than using a mechanic similar to Pathfinder archetypes, but that complaint aside, I think this is a flawless book. Great content, amazing art, and now I'm happier with the 5e rules adjustments. I'd probably buy this book for the $15 cover price, but at the $5 sale it's a no-brainer.



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Southlands Bestiary
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 08/07/2015 08:10:17

Early explorers of distant and far-off lands often define them by the creatures to be found there, so here is a collection of diverse and fascinating beasts to populate the Southlands and terrorise incautious visitors. These creatures are at home, the party are the interlopers, having to deal with the rigors of the setting as well as the actual monsters themselves. A new land with new monsters provides a challenge to players as well as to their characters as both are venturing someplace new. It's also a way to get over the obstacle of a character knowing more about his surroundings (including the monsters) than his player does!


There's a wealth of opportunity for the GM as well. Treat the monsters not as mere cannon-fodder but as a living, breathing part of the world that they inhabit. The ultimate challenge for the characters may well be to engage in combat with the monsters, but what of learning about them first? Observations can be made, legends learned, and so on, enabling the characters to know something about these new creatures before having to fight them... or such observations can be made after the first stunning shock of a combat encounter as the characters regroup, figure out what attacked them and how they can detect and deal with it in the future.


Even if you don't want to use the Southlands in your game, or the plot does not call for the party to go there right now, the odd creature might have strayed elsewhere. You may have a suitable ecological niche for it where your game is currently set, or it may have strayed - perhaps as an exhibit in a menagerie - far from its natural habitat. There's always scope for new monsters....


The Introduction touches on these concepts and then we're off with an array of monsters presented in alphabetic order. Each comes with all the details we have come to expect: a description, complete stat block, notes on lifestyle, habitat and behaviour and a glorious full-colour illustration. Most entries fill a single page, else they fill two, so users of the PDF will be able to print out the pages that they need without extraneous material. There's almost an hundred of them to feast your eyes upon and build adventures around; and there's a table listing them by CR at the back to help you in setting up encounters appropriate to your characters.


Many of the monsters are uniquely suited to the Southlands, both ecologically and in terms of the overall style of the campaign setting. Perhaps a gentle stroll across the desert will be interrupted as two speckled, wickedly pointed legs erupt from the sand, plunging forward with murderous speed, followed by a spider the size of a rhino... the evocative description provided for the sand spider. Another beast, the subek, is a humanoid crocodile which retains many of the fighting techniques of the animal that is its inspiration such as the 'death roll' of a crocodile dragging its prey underwater to drown, adapting the technique to a land-based grappling manoeuvere.


The giant white apes reflect legends about super-intelligent gorillas found in the depths of Congo rain forests, twisted to suit the Southlands setting yet evoking the same awe and curiousity. The monsters range from pure animal to sentient, from desert dwellers to jungle inhabitants - whatever your needs there is likely something that will suit. Beautifully presented and well-considered, if you are using the Southlands Campaign Setting or have another area occupying the ecological niche of Africa in your world, these creatures will help to bring it to life.



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Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 08/06/2015 03:20:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This module clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


This module was moved up on my review-queue at the request of my players. The following being an adventure-review, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, still here? Even the shadow fey can love, in their own, alien way - and so, a scáthesidhe, exiled from the winter court and hence known as the dusk queen, retreated to the dark woods and ruled as one would expect from a lady with her moniker. Against all possibility, a man from a far off land of eternal sun and scorching heat found his path into the dusk queen's dominion, where the two promptly fell in love - and here, the story might have ended, were it not for the construction of a dark mirror, which fueled the latent paranoia of the queen. The traveler, then known as sun king, tried to overlook his lover's continuing descent into amorality and evil, but when he noticed her plans to invade his home, he acted - weaving mighty magics, he imprisoned the queen and sundered her mirror; tales of tragic love being what they are, his solution did not prove to be permanent - and thus, the PCs happen upon a foreboding, dark forest, where the wind itself carries the words "She has returned" to their ears.


Entering the forest, a lavishly-illustrated treant weeping acid tears tasks the PCs in cryptic hints to track down the shards of the dusk queen's mirror - and escape is no option. From hampered teleportation to swarms of shadow stirges, the forest does its best to foil the PCs and yes, there is a table of wandering monsters, of which I encourage you to make ample use. The shadow forest's overview map (which is no less beautiful than the artwork) does provide several obvious paths that can be tackled in different sequences.


The locations themselves can be considered a veritable who's who of dark forest locations - from a pool of shadow nymphs to a bog most foul hiding an ancient monument and a spirit naga to a strike-force of bugbears under the command of a half umbral-dragon leader to a massive hangman's tree, the task of collecting the shards is a quick and interesting succession of iconic locales - and yes, of course, the PCs also get a chance to duke it out with a shadow drake.


Once they have finally assembled all the shards, it's time to face the dusk queen's tower, wherein she tries to cajole them into using the shards to repair her mirror and restore her to full power - hopefully barring that, she will attempt to use force - by means of her own theurge-magics as well as a graveknight antipaladin and his companion. Besting the two deadly adversaries (significantly easier if a strong-willed PC uses the powerful shards to blast them!) will see the end of the adventure and the tower's collapse - for now, for a sequel is in the making. Oh, and yes, there is a powerful, intelligent spellbook to be found here.


Now this pdf has GLORIOUS artworks and cartography all around - and you can actually use both: The module provides an art & map section that reproduces the Paizo-level gorgeous artwork (one provided for most major antagonists!) as one-page hand-outs to show to your players. Furthermore, the glorious full-color cartography of the dark wood is provided in a player-friendly version and to trump that, we also get the dusk queen's ruined throne room as a player-friendly, overview with a grid AND in battle-map-style size to print out - now THIS is going one step beyond! Two thumbs up!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, 2-column full-color standard and the artworks by Bryan Syme are staggering -see the cover? The copious amount of interior artwork is JUST AS GOOD. Yes. This is one of the most beautiful modules I've read in ages, with cartography also ranking in the top-tier echelon, especially due to the copious support regarding battle-map, player-friendly versions etc. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


My players still talk fondly of Marc Radle's first module published by Raging Swan Press, The Sunken Pyramid, so when I brought this module to the table, they were keen on playing it. The dark wood has a superb atmosphere that thankfully stands on its own and does not provide overlap with AAW Games' superb Snow White duology (Part I and Part II), instead creating its very own atmosphere and mood - which is a good thing. This module is all about atmosphere that is captured in great detail and enhanced by what could be considered to be some of the most stunning pieces of artwork I have ever seen in a 3pp module. Especially at the low price point, this is stunning.


Now I playtested this one twice, for a reason - my players were insanely lucky and had 14 natural 20s in the run of this module - and since it is pretty much a brief one that focuses on atmosphere, this meant they pretty much curb-stomped the opposition. When I ran it for a second time for a significantly less experienced and optimized group, there was one unlucky PC death, though that is to be attributed to abysmal luck. This module is not a meat-grinder and neither is it particularly challenging - the final fight in particular was very easy on my PCs in the first run.


Difficulty-wise, this is not a particularly challenging module, but it is a very much worthwhile adventure that feels completely like a Kobold Press adventure, breathing a sense of ancient fairy tales gone wrong. In direct comparison, the fights themselves do feel like they could have benefited from more environmental peculiarities and hazards - but that may just be me being spoiled. Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a premium quality module with a unique mood that very much manages to depict a compelling, short trip into a dark forest that actually deserves the moniker. My aforementioned nitpicks can mostly be attributed to me being a spoiled bastard and are offset by the quality of both production-values and mood. I do advise GMs running this for an experienced group to increase the difficulty-levels, though. In the end, I am happy with this module - its story resonates, its production values are superb, its builds are non-standard and interesting - and while it may be brief and none too hard, it was a great experience to run. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Now can we have more modules of that caliber? After all, that's what made me a fan of Kobold Pres back in the day when it still was Open Design...


Endzeitgeist out.



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Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
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Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
von Ben B. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/05/2015 17:36:44

Disclaimer 1: I believe RPG supplements can only be properly evaluated in hindsight. Hence, I normally only review supplements which are at least one year old. As of this writing, this adventure is more recent, so my rating is tentative.
Disclaimer 2: I received a free copy of this adventure in exchange for a review. I was not involved in its development, nor did I receive any other compensation.
This PDF comes in at 36 pages, including 31 pages of content. Being an adventure review, this review [b]will contain spoilers[/b].
The adventure background is fairly generic: long ago, the eponymous queen got a magic mirror which turned her evil. Her husband defeated her, sealed her away, and broke the mirror. She just recently broke her seal, but is weakened. The fragments of the mirror are powerful magic items in their own right, and if all are brought to the proper location the Dusk Queen will return to full power.


Next we are introduced to the Shadow Forest, the area in which the entire adventure takes place. There are eight locations identified and detailed in the Forest, and the PCs can essentially move between them as desired. Some of the locations, such the Shadow Nymph’s Pool, contain NPCs sympathetic to the PCs who provide useful information and a piece of the Mirror.

A random encounter table for the space between the detailed locations of the Forest is also provided.
Eventually, the PCs collect all the pieces of the Mirror, and head to the Dusk Queen’s Tower. The Dusk Queen informs the PCs that they have been misled about her true nature, that she is actually good, and that she is eternally grateful to the PCs for collecting her shards. She instructs the PCs to place the shards on her throne in exchange for a reward. At this point, we get the most inexplicable part of this book:
“The Dusk Queen focuses all of her charisma and powers
of persuasion to cajole the shards from the PCs. If
unsuccessful….”
If the PCs (correctly) believe the Dusk Queen to be the villain of this adventure, she will likely be unable to convince them to give her the shards. In that case, the Dusk Queen summons her dread knight guardian and attacks.

But what if the PCs are persuaded of her honesty? Some of the Dusk Queen’s enemies in the adventure so far have been less than friendly to the PCs, so that is a distinct possibility. What happens if they give her the mirror shards? There is no indication of what happens in the book.
Once the Dusk Queen is killed, the tower collapses, and the PCs have to enact a daring escape.


The supplement closes with 13 pages of full-color maps and illustrations of characters and locations in the adventure.


Short Term Use: While the plot of this adventure is simple, it is presented clearly enough to run with minimal preparation. The setting is also sufficiently generic to work into the flow of your existing campaign. The NPCs are given full, detailed stat-blocks with top-notch editing, making them easy to use right away. The maps also make setting up encounters quick. Aside from the one glaring omission noted earlier, Marc Radle has written a fun, solid adventure at a level range with a dearth of published adventures, making for a Short Term Rating of 4.5/5.
Long Term Rating: Almost everything in the Forest revolves around the Dusk Queen and the Mirror fragments. Unfortunately, that fact means you are unlikely to get much use out of the locations after the adventure is completed. Some of the NPCs are interesting in their own right, but as they are almost all tied to the forest, you likely won’t use any of them again. The unoriginality of the plot means it is unlikely to inspire stories of your own. The only part I can imagine using after the adventure is done are the encounter maps. Hence, this supplement clocks in at a Long Term Rating of 2.5/5, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform.



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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
von Jeremy E. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/01/2015 14:39:26

I realize after some other reviews here and on other sites that I'm in the minority with my opinion but I liked what was done. Now part of the value is based on the current price but to get four new races (plus the modified aasimar and minotaur), new backgrounds, and I think some interesting racial substitutions for less than 5 bucks is worth it. Now 14.99 is a completely different story...and would not be able to recommend it for that price simply due to the lack of enough content.



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Southlands Heroes for 5th Edition
von calvin h. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/01/2015 13:11:41

Its nice to see some 5e player options, but this PDF just isn't a good example of what they should look like. The art is really nice and the truly new elements are cool but there are even more problems overall. A lot of the formatting follows pathfinder conventions rather than 5e conventions, the subraces are more in line with pathfinder ability replacement than 5e sub-race packages, and the Aasimar (and to some degree Minotaur) is taken word for word from the WotC books but with added variant abilities at the end, again ignoring the sub-race standard set out by 5e. Not all of the sub-classes they present are particularly new either, the Rogue-Ambush Predator is more like a compination of other already published archtypes not something new.


At the end of the day this entire document really reads like it was made by someone with only a working familiarity with 5e who just wanted to make another Pathfinder book.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
von Carl C. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/01/2015 01:51:12

Southlands is massive. It's "face" is made out of two well-known tropes, both in a unique "Midgard" version - Arabian Nights and Pharaonic Egypt. These are the places an explorer from the north are likely to encounter first, and they are reasonably familiar to most gamers - except that these takes are special, not just the standard rehashed. Further south are even more exotic places, likely less well known to most gamers - jungle and desert lands. Each country is detailed as a homeland, there are rules for Traits and sometimes whole races typical to the origin. The feel of these places is more sword-and-sorcery than medieval romance. Few places are good or bad, it is very much a patchwork of greys.


On one hand, this is the GM's secret world book detailing new and exotic places. On the other hand, it is the player's handbook for a new continent, with loads and loads of new character opportunities. And perhaps this is the problem with the book; it doesn't quite know who it is for.


This review is based on the PDF from the kickstarter; I've not seen the physical book yer, but it looks like it will be gorgeous. Layout is open with the right amount of space, art is gorgeous, and the maps look wonderful. It feels like the PDF format doesn't quite do them justice.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
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Southlands Campaign Setting Map
von Dustin H. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 07/21/2015 21:37:19

This map is absolutely beautiful! Anna Meyer continues to amaze me with her cartographic creations.


The map is huge and wonderfully detailed. It bears a passing resemblance to Africa, and is comforting in its familiarity, but isn't a blatant carbon copy of the continent.


I'm extremely happy I backed this project. Great job Kobolds!



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Dwarves of the Ironcrags
von JK R. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 07/18/2015 09:57:48

A somewhat different take on dwarven culture, here describing a society based on a combination of democracy and slave-ownership (with more of a nod to Ancient Greece than to, say, the Antebellum South). I doubt it would be useful as a description of a 'default' dwarven society in many games, but it could work as an isolated nation in some corner of a campaign world.


The society itself is mostly well-described, although there are a few holes here and there. The sections on history and culture are followed by a sort of dwarven version of freemasonry, complete with a prestige class based around mystical abilities, and a second prestige class for the NPC leadership of the group. This is generally well thought out and atmospheric, and one could see it being useful in other campaigns with the right sort of background.


Finally, there are some monsters suitable for an area dominated by dwarves, and, somewhat incongruously, a chapter on what are essentially human gypsies. In general, it's a good book, albeit with a few gaps and oddities, and not suitable for every campaign.



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Dwarves of the Ironcrags
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Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition D&D
von Darren P. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 07/08/2015 13:08:13

Pretty good if you are stuck for new monsters, ok presentation



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Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
von Megan R. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 07/06/2015 08:10:20

A mysterious forest, legends about an evil soceress who vanished completely but might now be coming back... is this enough to get your party to go and investigate? If not, perhaps they just happen to be travelling through the forest or have been hired to check the place out - a few hooks such as these are provided but in essence the adventure begins when the party enters the forest, no matter how they got there. Just where the forest might be located is left to you as well - it may even not be in Midgard if you are not using that setting.


A brief Adventure Background lets you know a little about what is going on, and then we're off, beginning with an encounter with a treant with obscure motives, but who could be quite helpful if handled the right way. If the party are there by chance, however, this encounter might prove rather baffling as the treant assumes they know what's going on! Fortunately, if the characters are too puzzled, other forest denizens have been provided who have a good understanding of the situation and are prepared to help out - indeed it's suggested that you use them to keep the plot flowing if it stalls due to the party being unsure about what they ought to be doing.


This is a location-based quest adventure. Each location is described and the events or encounteres associated with them given in detail, along with applicable monster stats. Interestingly, many enounters are with creatures subtly modified from 'book standard' to suit the shadow fey feel, stirges that can hide in shadow and the like. There are some nice illustrations embedded in the text and, in a neat move, they are provided in an 'Art and Maps' appendix if you like to show your players what their characters see.


The assumption is made that the characters will seek to prevent the Dusk Queen (as the evil sorceress terms herself) from making a return to her former power: in this case there's a fine cinematic end-battle to be had. The 'Art and Maps' section not only provides a one-page floor plan of the setting, there's also a full sectional battlemap for those who want to use miniatures or pawns for the climactic brawl. And there's a little hint about things to come in the promise of a sequel to this adventure...


This is a well-presented scenario, a little forced in the assumptions made about what the characters will do perhaps, but enjoyable nevertheless - and if the threat posed is presented well and the eerie menace of the setting played up, successful characters should have a feeling of real accomplishment, of having prevented a genuine menance developing in the area.



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Deep Magic (Pathfinder RPG)
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 07/03/2015 01:00:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive, huge tome clocks in at 378 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages backer-list, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 367 pages of content, so let's...


...wait. I can't really convey the illusion of spontaneity here. Why? Because I have written and deleted this review 3 times as I'm writing these lines. This is quite literally one of the hardest reviews I have ever written, mainly because conveying my stance on Deep Magic is pretty ambiguous and prone to misinterpretation.


But let's start at the beginning. This book is beautiful. Thanks to one particularly helpful gentleman, I managed to pledge by proxy over him (didn't have the bucks when the KS ran...) and when this book's physical copy arrived in the mail, I was utterly blown away. Not only did I receive a massive, gorgeous stitch-bound hardcover, it was in gorgeous full color and sported some of the very best pieces of artwork I've EVER SEEN. The matte paper helps create an illusion of an "old" tome and the superb, copious artworks render this book so beautiful, it even mops the floor with quite a few Paizo-books. Yes, that gorgeous. The layout, with its parchment-look, its subdued, unobtrusive glyphs further enhances this. Deep Magic is one of the most mind-staggeringly gorgeous books I've ever had the pleasure to read and both artists and layout-artists have been up to their A+++-game. Kudos!


Then, I went on and started reading beyond the forewords and the introductory short story by Ed Greenwood and after them, yes, I was utterly blown away and totally in the mind-set for the things to come:


The first we see would be the respective magical traditions. Old time fans of Kobold Quarterly and Kobold Press will see quite an array of old favorites herein again - from blood magic to fool's summonings, quite a bunch of conceptual goldies can be found herein. At their very best, these new traditions are ridiculously inspired - new ioun stones and ley lines would be two such examples. The latter, for examples, can be tapped by casters with concise rules to tap into their powers - while very powerful, these ley-lines can not only make for interesting tools that can turn the tide of battle and e.g. prevent a TPK or provide unique, cool ways to execute narratives. The transient nature of ley lines and the option to burn them out/change their course places control firmly within the hands of the DM, preventing abuse. That being said, as a DM, I have to decidedly advise against making the numerous ley line feats available for PCs - their balancing is odd/non-existent, with no-save, no-SR 1-round blinding effects and the like not necessarily constituting good resources to place in player hands.


The fool's summoning tricks go a different way - beyond interesting, more risky, but also more powerful summoning tricks, a copious amount of spells receive flavorful modifications and reskins - which brings me to another point. These traditions sport unique effects, and the same holds true for chaos/wonder magic, with distinct, odd effects and abilities rendering the experience of playing the respective schools pretty interesting. Alas, not all of the traditions herein receive such interesting rules - in fact, quite a few of the traditions adhere to the following presentation: We receive a short fluff-text, spell-lists by caster/level and then, a sample spellbook, including preparation ritual. (And yes, rules for intelligent, living spellbooks can be found herein as well - they are pretty sinister and narrative gold.)Now don't get me wrong, I love the inclusion of these books, but all in all, the respective "schools"/traditions, at least partially, feel too rudimentary - there is not enough to set the spells themselves apart, no guidance to develop additional spells for such a school and some classes receive e.g. one exclusive spell for such a tradition - not much reason to pick a tradition. By providing a tighter focus, the traditions could have been infinitely more compelling, more specific...but...on the other hand, we for example receive a complete, new full-blown mythic path with the living saint.


What are living saints? Well, for one, they are chosen of god(s) - what I mean by this is that, like many a mythological leader of religious prowess, these guys experience a highly interesting phase of tribulations, wherein they are severed from their gods and besieged by the whole pantheon - essentially, all gods can tempt the saint towards their ideology and sphere of influence, proposing different spells etc. for obeisance and quests. This can also be used for interesting foreshadowing and over all, the mythic path, intended for divine casters, is pretty much a cool choice with plenty of narrative potential ingrained into the very fabric of the thing, especially due to the numerous spells sporting names of the saints, adding a cool narrative dimension and unobtrusive fluff to these miraculous powers. This mythic path is the first that actually feels like it could have originated in fiction, like it not only provides a rules-escalation, but an actually defining, narrative tool. I adore this path and the resonance of our own world's myths, with obvious references to Christian (sans the ideology, mind you - you can't be offended by this guy) narrative structures that are very ingrained into how we perceive certain myths, this path is a thing of beauty.


Vril, the unique pseudo-atlantean power-source introduced in Sunken Empires (inspired by Bulwer-Lytton's writing) also receives new specialists, both archetype, feat and spell-wise. Converting spells into vril-blasts, for example, is pretty interesting. That being said, careful looks into this system also shows us a couple of somewhat odd choices - the archetypes, for example, are separated and relegated to their own chapter - so instead of looking up e.g. vril magic, you have to know where what can be found. Yes, organization is neatly organized by crunch-type, but in a book this focused on awesome concepts, I think another solution would have been appropriate. Also odd - Ink Magic, in depiction pretty much a tradition, can be found in the chapter on rune-magic. Strange.


But this line of reasoning brings me to the first issue of this book, though it is admittedly one of preference. The traditions as such, as has always been the strong forte of Kobold Press, just BRIM with imagination. They provide iconic, well--crafted concepts that set the imagination ablaze. I know a couple of them from their original books and the fluff, usually, did in some way limit the respective traditions - whether it's the lost magic of vril, the blood magic of some limited tribes/traditions or the lost magic used to slow the progress of the Wasted West's Old Ones...there always was this implied scarcity, this alignment of crunch with philosophies, ethnicities and accomplishments. So the PCs have this powerful spell xyz, BECAUSE they have taken on caster zxy, because they have braved the ruins of Gru'tharkrr...


This book collects all of these traditions and breaks their spells into a massive, huge chapter, dissolving the lines between them and implying by its very organization a general availability not implied in singular presentations - essentially, we have a disjunction of fluff from crunch to a certain extent. Now this means that you have to search the spells in the lists if you want to make a specialist, but have an easier time when just browsing through the book, looking for spells generally available - hence, the implication is that these spells are available freely, akin to how spell presentation works in Paizo's big books. Now don't get me wrong, one could argue that THIS is exactly what this book tries to do, analogue to the big Paizo-books, where you essentially slap down the book and have a general extension of the arsenal. My contention, ultimately, is that this is balance-wise one of the decisions that shoot the book in its metaphorical foot.


In my first iteration of this review, I went through all of the crunch here in these traditions step-by-step - alas, this bloated the review to the point where it wasn't helpful anymore. (And if I'm saying that, with my tendency towards verbose reviews, you'll have an inkling of what a monstrosity this would have become - my guess was 20+ pages - and let's be honest, no one would read that...)


So, Deep Magic does sport, a HUGE chapter of spells, both new and old - all collated and organized by handy spell-levels. This chapter is where my first and second review-attempts broke apart. The first one due to my so far pretty jubilant review receiving a harsh dose of reality, the second because I realized that step-by-step analysis makes no sense, bloating the review. If that was not ample clue - not all is well here. It is only understandable that a vast array of authors will have diverging voices and different mastery of the system and yes, this does show herein. Now before you get the pitchforks, let me state one thing explicitly and clearly - the concepts of these spells are WONDROUS. Gorgeous. Superb. They are iconic. They feel like magic, not like some energy-colored damage-dealing vehicles. They manage to capture the elusive spirit of what magic ought to be and bring the "magic" back into a game often lost and sorely missed. I'd take the concepts of this book over those in Ultimate Magic and Combat combined any day.


The concepts.


For there is no way around the following statement, no way to sugar-coat it without outright lying. There are a lot of cool, functional spells herein. However, there also is a vast array of spells that would have desperately required the hands of an editor who truly knows rules-language and/or a capable developer. Name the issue and you have a very good chance of finding a representative of the issue herein, quite possibly in a spell that you absolutely love concept-wise.


This chapter almost broke my heart.


Any closer analysis shows ample problems, often to the point of rendering a spell highly ambiguous, unbalanced or downright inoperable - there are examples of authors obviously mixing up flat-footed and touch attack AC. Mechanics more closely related to 3.X-design. Spells that do not allow for saves which should. SR that is ignored when comparable spells allow for it. Contradictions between spell-block and its text. Faulty AoEs/ranges/targets. False spell-block formatting. Wrong save. Damage-escalation. You name it. Damage + no-save stagger at a level where it's ridiculous. Non-sense descriptor-placement. Balance is not even crying in the corner anymore, it is utterly GONE, evaporated into some nebulous dimension. Some author(s) seem to not get the distinction between material components, foci and divine foci. Unspecified bleed damage à la inflict " receives bleed 3" - bleed 3 WHAT? Hp? Attribute? What about a spell generating an AoE geyser-like effect that gets just about everything wrong you can possibly get wrong regarding AoEs? Racial spells that could have simply used focus as a limiting component instead of wonky wording-crutches that try (badly) to cut out other races? Sentences that peter off. Wording so convoluted I can't tell you how exactly a spell works. You name the glitch, it's here - and right next to it, you may see one of the coolest spells ever.


This massive chapter was one of the most heart-rending experiences of my reviewer-career. My first skip through it saw me exhilarated. Closer scrutiny brought disappointment, actual in-depth analysis...well, there's no way around it...pain. Now beyond the glitches, the balance-concerns herein may partially stem from bad design-choices and lack of rules-language development...but at least partially, they also have their origin in the simple fact that the book took the "soft" restrictions that served as a balancing factor before and took them away by smashing all spells into one big chapter. Where before, spells may have been "broken", but rare, the implication here is that they are freely available, exacerbating what might before have been a reward into power-escalation. Now yes, in face of the vast army of issues that plague this chapter, even a change in presentation in the proposed way would be a drop of water in a vast desert of issues and would do nothing to render the formal issues void...but yeah, that would be one exacerbating factor.


And one that extends, alas, to the next chapter. I am a huge fan of runic/glyph magic. Allowing non-casters to learn the powers of rues is one of the most-beloved tropes for me - whether clad in a pseudo-Scandinavian guise or via lovecraftian alignment with aboleths et al.; The very concepts of the runes are powerful, and intentionally so. But once again, stripping these of their fluff, of their direct place within the world, of the achievements required to learn them, renders them problematic. When you have to mimic the deeds of the gods to learn the rune Uruz and then, finally have it, it becomes okay if you can paint it on your shield for a 1/day +20 bonus to overrun/bull rush - chances are, your DM knew what was coming and planned accordingly. If the fluff context is taken away, a ridiculously powerful rune, accessible for 1 feat, remains - and suddenly, we see the system stumble under the weight of one of its foundations being eroded.


I'm not going to analyze the word of power-subchapter, mainly because I consider the base-system introduced in Ultimate Magic just not well-designed. On the plus-side, the awesome incantations pioneered by Zombie Sky Press back in the day receive a significant array of new ones and these tend to be pretty awesome narrative devices.


Alas, the sloppy rules-language of the spells also partially (but thankfully, only partially!) extends to the following chapter, detailing bloodlines and mysteries. What about tentacle-attacks that do not specify as what they are treated? Check. Flawed target/reach-nomenclature...check. Sp, Su and Ex, in some cases, seem to have been determined at random, rendering some abilities utterly opaque. You get the idea. Now yes, the problems are much less pronounced than among the spells, but they are still here. As an additional note - the options among these class options do not feel as though they were balanced among themselves, with power-levels ranging from weak to VERY strong. Still, overall, these options feel relatively operable and easily fixed and the concepts provided are often utterly unique and cool. On a footnote, wizards, oddly, have their arcane discoveries/focused schools etc. in the tradition-section in the beginning, ripping the class options associated with the traditions in half. The problems outlined here also extend, alas and much to my chagrin, to the chapter on archetypes. That being said, the archetype's main flaw remains the focus on the spells/traditions - you can't build a house on sand and these, as compelling as they often are, sometimes do just that - which is a pity, for here, much like with aforementioned class options, the imaginative potential is rather impressive..


The following chapters, thankfully, at least for me, redeemed the book, at least partially - a concise and utterly awesome chapter on the creation of homunculi/leastlings and simple rules for undead crafting as well as nice clockwork templates for familiars et al. make provide significant fun, engagement and narrative potential. Speaking of which - portrayed in glorious artworks, a significant array of iconic, cool NPCs - those that are here, are great and flavorful, but I can't help but feel that one per tradition would have been nice to see.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are good. On a rules-level, they are BAD and ironically, deeply flawed. Layout, as mentioned, adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the artworks range among the most stunning I've ever seen in an RPG-book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the dead-tree copy ranks among the most beautiful books in my shelves.


Read this list: Wolfgang Baur, Creighton Broadhurst, Jason Bulmahn, Tim Connors, Adam Daigle, Mike Franke, Ed Greenwood, Frank Gori, Jim Groves, Amanda Hamon Kunz, Brandon Hodge, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Neil Spicer, Mike Welham, Margaret Weis. With this amount of creative potential assembled, does it surprise you that I consider this book the most inspiring spellbook I've ever read? Alas, even these titans can stumble. And they did.


This book could have been the ultimate spellcasting-milestone, a legend, a book that defines the very game we play, a whole new dimension of spellcasting. And it is - on a concept-level.


Instead, at least on a crunch-level, it is pretty much, as much as I'm loathe to say it, a wreck -not one that has sunk, but one that leaks. The lack of a rules-savvy editor/developer is readily apparent - there are plenty of glitches herein that could have been caught by even a cursory inspection.


And no, that's not just me being overly picky. I put this book before one of my less rules-savvy players, opened it on a random page in the spell-section and had him read spells. Inadvertently, he stumbled over an ambiguity, an issue.


Were I to rate this one the crunch alone, I'd smash it to smithereens - the very skeleton of the book is flawed and that radiates outward to almost all chapters, poisoning them as well. Allowing this book flat and without scrutiny at a table is an invitation for rules-discussions and balance-issues - at least if the players are halfway capable at making efficient characters.


Why am I not bashing this further? Because, while deeply flawed, Deep Magic is also deeply inspired - the concepts herein are staggering, setting the mind ablaze with possibilities, conjuring forth ideas for adventures, campaigns even. Quite a bunch of the flaws can be ironed out by a capable DM...and flawed though it may be, Deep Magic has A LOT of passion, heart's blood and soul oozing from its pages. The concepts of this tome, in the end, made it worthwhile, at least for me.


I'm not going to lie. My players will never get their hands on this book. But I will take the concepts, take the spells, fix them and reap the benefits of the exceedingly awesome concepts provided herein. On the one hand, we thus have a terribly flawed book that fails quite spectacularly and depressingly at becoming what it ALMOST achieved - being the best spellbook for any iteration of a d20-based system ever. On the other, the often flawed crunch does provide more great spell-ideas and concepts (as opposed to their execution...) than the APG, ARG, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat combined.


Whether this book is for you depends very much on what you expect - if you want solid crunch, a book to just slap on the table and allow...well, then stay the 11 Midgardian hells away from this book. If, on the other hand, you're willing to work with it, if you're looking for inspiration and are competent regarding the design/balancing of material, then this is a scavenger's mithril-mine and a great resource to have - you literally can't open a single page in this book without stumbling over at least one awesome, iconic concept. The hardcover is also great to show off to non-gamer friends and make them marvel at the glorious artworks, layout and presentation.


How to rate this, then? I hate and love this book. I want to slap my seal of approval on it, in spite of its flaws. But I can't. Deep Magic has too many issues and I can't rate potential, as much as I'd love to. I can only rate what is here and its effects - which oscillate between "utterly awesome and inspiring" and "wtf is this supposed to do?"


Without the superb concepts, the lore-steeped ideas, the downright inspired take on magic and its flavor, I would have gone further down on my scale. But, as a reviewer, I also have to take these into account, as well as the people out there who are like me and still can take a lot from this book. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Advanced Races 4: Dragonkin (Pathfinder RPG)
von David Z. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 06/22/2015 15:26:15

For the sake of full disclosure, I just want to point out that I'm still relatively new to Pathfinder (And somewhat to 3.5.) and that this and the 'Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire' are my first experiences with Kobold Press. However, Rite Publishing's 'In the Company of Dragons' is my first experience with 3rd party material. After going through this and the 'Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire' (PGttDE for short.), I just want to say this...
Why the **** does Kobold Press have such a good reputation?
I'm going to echo a lot of sentiments from Thilo G. simply because they bear repeating. I'm ALSO going to drag the PGttDE into this because despite what Thilo G has said in his review, you'll still need this thing to actually play a Dragonkin because they omitted the tables for starting ages, and height/weight. Yet, you actually need the PGttDE because this book omits a lot of race-specific feats and traits. And I REALLY hate that because I feel that 3rd party material should be able to stand on it's own, while this feels more like a pay-for plug to the PGttDE. My criteria for anything is simple, be it a movie, video game, or book is simple. "Is it worth what I paid for it?" Well, this thing cost me a total of $8.98, and the answer is a pretty hearty "No". I also seriously doubt I will be buying any more Kobold Press material in the future. (This includes their recently kickstarted Advanced Races compendium.) Well, enough of that, let's get into it, shall we?


First off, I can confirm what Thilo said is accurate. Whoever wrote this couldn't even bother to look up the Paizo-established OGL game terms. (And it's not like there's a FREE WEBSITE that contains that information and such an issue could be resolved in about a minute.) For example, under the Dragonkin Racial Traits section, "Armor" properly uses "Natural armor bonus" while JUST UNDER IT, the "Dragon Skin" feat adds a stacking +1 "to your natural armor rating". (This mistake is also repeated in "Improved Dragon Skin".) I know it's a minor nitpick, but it really does set the tone for the amount of effort used on this book. What ISN'T as minor is the fact that, in both this and the PGttDE, there is NO MENTION of what racial type Dragonkin actually ARE. I'm assuming Humanoid (Reptillian), but this is still a major oversight and it shouldn't take long for experienced players to figure out why. In fact, let's go over the racial traits, shall we? Dragonkin clock in at 9 RP, but there's a few weaknesses I'd like to address. I've already mentioned the lack of racial type, and I have no issues with the Slow Speed. (Although I WOULD like a racial feat that increases their base speed to 30ft, but that's more of a personal preference.) What does annoy me is that this race is meant to be a martial type and takes a penalty to Dex. Seriously? Dex? You're shooting this martial race in the foot here, guys. Dex is vital for ranged attacks (Especially since martials lack spells that hit Touch AC.) as well as Initiative and dodge-based AC. In fact, in the PGttDE, KP mentions a fighter archetype that uses SPEARS, a versatile weapon that's well known for being THROWABLE. (So, just run away from any Dragonkin troops. They can't run all that fast, and they can't hit with ranged weapons.) If it were me, they'd take a hit to Wis because even if their reputation is deserved, they're still a bit arrogant. At languages, this is where not having anything for a non-Midgard campaign rears it's ugly head because they can have "Dwarvish, Darakhul (Ghoulish/Undercommon), Elemental, Elvish, Infernal, Kobold, Minotaur, or Nuri" as bonus languages. Well, "Elemental" is made up of four different languages in core, kobolds use Draconic, (The Dragonkin's natural language.) Minotaurs use Giant, and I have no idea what the heck "Nurian" is. As for the Energy Resistance, it's actually underpowered by Paizo's custom race rules. While it's a choice of what element you want, Paizo's elemental-based races have a minimum of Energy Resistance 5 to their corresponding element. I'd bump this up to 5 because it's still not all that powerful. The last problem I have is 'Presence'. It's a +2 bonus to Diplomacy AND Intimidate, which is 4 RP and matches up with Skill Bonus. I'm not as fond of this as most players are only going to use one or the other. (Although, the thought of having Intimidate as a backup in case Diplomacy doesn't work IS pretty funny...) It also makes Fly a class skill, which matches up with Skill Training, but that allows for TWO skills, not one. Again, feels underpowered. I'd just tack on Perception because that's just how useful it is, and you're descended from freaking DRAGONS. Unobservant, they aren't.


Now, Alternate Racial Traits. Look, I get the idea that you wanted these to be thematic. However, the choices are limited and the elemental ones just suck. They replace Armor (2 RP) for an at-will cantrip (Paizo allows a 1x a day 1st level as a 1 RP ability under 'Spell-Like Ability, Lesser', so I can see a 3x a day cantrip as being 1 RP, maybe unlimited as 2 RP.) But, not all cantrips are created equal. At-will Prestidigation is obviously much better than most other at-will cantrips, depending on how clever the player is. 'Child of Flame' gives at-will Dancing Lights (Cantrip), but the race ALREADY HAS darkvision, and you can just use a torch if you need to read something. 'Child of Stone' gives at-will Virtue, which is a standard action to give 1 temp HP, which is a crappy deal in terms of action economy. (Really, keep the +1 Nat. AC.) 'Child of Storms' gives at-will Spark which... Sets Fine-sized items on fire. Okay, kinda useful, but it's a fire spell (Which means it'd be better suited for Child of Flames) and NOT worth losing the Nat. Armor over. 'Child of Water' gives at-will Create Water, and while very useful if the DM insists on tracking supplies like food and water and nobody is putting ranks in Survival, still isn't worth losing a +1 Natural armor AC. 'Elemental Master' trades the underpowered Energy Resistance and the natural armor bonus for... An even more underpowered Energy Resistance 4 instead of 2. Really guys? Really? 'Reptillian Cunning' trades the natural armor bonus (Are you sensing a theme yet?) for a 3x a day Speak with Animals, but limited to reptiles. Okay, it's kinda thematic, but dragons are to reptiles what humans are to primates. Instead of begging the alligator to not eat you, you could instead be hacking it apart and grilling it over an open flame because you kept your natural armor bonus AND because you're clearly the superior reptile. 'Scaled Strength' trades that +2 Cha bonus to give you a total of +3 Str. First, nothing Paizo does works with odd bonuses. Second, this is closest to Paragon (+1 RP) and Greater Paragon (+2 RP). Paragon gives a +4 to one physical/mental ability score for -2 to all of the opposite ability scores. (IE +4 Str would mean -2 Int, Wis, AND Cha.) while Greater Paragon gives +4 to one score, and -2 to a physical AND mental ability score. (IE +4 Str for -2 Dex AND -2 Wis.) Congratulations Kobold Press! Here I thought everything in here was going to be underpowered, but you've certainly surprised me! Really, I and pretty much anybody that wanted to play Dragonkin would've been MUCH happier if you had just made alternate stat bonuses so we could make good use of that Wizard Elementalist archetype you made. Something that boosts Dex and Int, but maybe loses some Str or something. Plus, the race as a whole wouldn't be pidgeonholed into a martial class. 'Unblinking Glare' has another odd-numbered bonus. In addition to being a cheap rip-off of Elven Immunities, I'd rather see an Immunity to Sleep effects and a +2 bonus to saving throws to resist Paralysis, like the dragons Dragonkin are supposedly related to.


Okay, onto feats! First off LOT of the feats have a BAB requirement instead of a level requirement. This means that if you're not playing an full BAB class, you can only get these MUCH later than a martial class, if at all. I don't like this, especially when they include archetypes for magic-based classes that get a 1/2 BAB progression. Why they didn't use HD or level is beyond me, and either requirement would've worked better. 'Dragonskin' adds +1 to your "natural armor rating', which I'm sure I complained about before. Not too bad, it's on par with a core (monstrous) feat that increases natural armor bonus by +1. 'Gutteral Voice' give you one of three languages as a free language, and that makes me wonder if the person making this was even REMOTELY familiar with the Linguistics skill, which would do THE EXACT SAME THING for a mere skill point. (Yes, Thilo already pointed this out, but it bears repeating.) 'Improved Dragon Skin' requires Dragon Skin and a BAB of +9 and gives you... +2 "natural armor rating" AND "DR 3 to one Energy Type" of acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Again KP, go to D20pfsrd and LOOK UP THE PROPER TERM. And also, hire an actual freaking editor. If you do have one, they need a stern lecture. 'Improved Flight' is a good feat. Like, a REALLY good feat. You need the ability to fly (Obviously.) and a BAB of +9, and "add +2 to your Fly skill ranks" (Do you EVEN know how skill bonuses work, KP?!) and increase your maneuverability rating by one step, up to perfect. Increasing your maneuverability rating lessens your penalty to Fly or gives you a bigger bonus, but either way makes a +4 difference alone. So, with a whopping +6 difference after all is said and done, this feat is as good or better than Skill Focus, and it's effects stack. 'Militant Commander' gives a whopping +10 Intimidate bonus to members of a lesser class and is thematic as all get out, but a +10 boost is MASSIVE and there's feats that make use of Intimidate in Paizo's own stuff. Really, this should be toned down by quite a bit. 'Spiked Tail' gives you a piercing tail attack that does 1d4+3 damage. Why? Why not just allow Dragonkin to use Kobold Tail Attachments as long as they're sized properly without penalty? I'd like that a lot better, really. Plus, it opens the door for some impressive multiweapon fighting. (Or TWF with a 2-handed weapon and a secondary weapon.) 'Sturdy Tail' gives a +3 bonus to CMD vs. Bull Rush, Overrun, and Trip Attempts and can be taken up to 3 times. Okay, do the effects stack? Do I chose one type of combat maneuver per use of the feat? I feel like something is missing in this entry. Finally, the thing that PISSES ME OFF more than anything else in a book, a plug to buy NOT ONE, BUT TWO other KP books! Here, I'll copy it directly "For more feats straight from the Mharoti Empire, including ones that grant a breath weapon and climbing claws, see the 'Player’s Guide to the Dragon Empire' (page 10). At your GM’s discretion, some dragonkin may also have access to feats found in 'The Book of Drakes.'" WHAT. THE. . KOBOLD PRESS?! It wasn't enough that I actually paid good money for this book alone, and NOW you want me to pony up for TWO MORE of these flaw-ridden, incomplete, pieces of garbage because you couldn't bother to cut and paste?! No. Go yourself Kobold Press. I'd rate this thing a 0 if I could.


As for the archetypes, I'm going to skip over most of them save for the Dragonkin Elementalist. First, NO PLAYER is going to make a Dragonkin wizard because of the stat distribution. +2 Str? That's a dump stat. -2 Dex? That's needed for the pittance of AC they get and more importantly, used to aim ray spells. +2 Cha? That's a Sorcerer's casting stat. To be blunt, this whole Archetype SHOULD HAVE been made for a Sorcerer, which dragons are far more like anyway, and started with giving them something like Elemental Substitution for free at the first level. As for the capstone ability? A weak version of Fire Shield in their chosen element makes for a very crappy capstone, especially since a wizard should NEVER be in melee, even if they're trying to make touch attacks. Yes, they have a Dragonkin-specific Bloodline, but that would've made a better Wizard Archetype.


Finally, the thing that pisses me off ALMOST as much as the cheap plugs for other products. The absolute LACK of any kind of non-Midgard campaign setting materials. I can understand tying this into KP's Midgard campaign setting, but this book is SUPPOSED to be able to stand on it's own. Instead, it just falls over. How did Dragonkin come into being? No seriously, are they the result of crossbreeding between humans and dragons, making their own race? Or were they magically created from the lesser humanoid races and infused with draconic essence? (Feel free to make your own "essence" joke here.) Do they crave making their own hoard like dragons? Can they breed with other races? How do they interact with each other? What's their society like when they don't have their draconic masters ruling over them? What alignment are they most like? What gods do they worship, or are the dragons they serve their gods? And last but probably the most important, WHY DO THEY ADVENTURE? It's like they started copying the main points of the core race entries but got distracted halfway through and never went back to that. Some of this stuff may very well have been answered in the PGttDE, but again, this SHOULD be able to stand on it's own without making somebody feel like they NEED to buy another book in case they don't want all the other material that comes with it. And KP, if you're reading this, I'm not upset so much as disappointed. I've heard that you produce some top-notch things and that you have an awesome reputation. Really, I'd be happy if this was revised and rewritten so that the race didn't leave so much to be desired. All I want is to feel like I've gotten my money's worth out of this product, or maybe even made out like a bandit on it. As for anybody thinking about buying this? DON'T. SKip this, AND skip the Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire. You need BOTH books to have a semi-complete race. Instead, skip this entirely and go for "In the Company of Dragons" by Rite Publishing and play a real but surprisingly balanced dragon. Yeah, you have the problem of an adventuring party traveling with a dragon at high levels, but you also have the problems of a high level Cleric, Druid, Wizard, or any other class that things the laws of physics and the universe are only suggestions.



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