This installment of RiP's free e-zine is 49 pages long, 1 page front cover, 17 pages of ads and 1 page SRD, leaving a total of 20 pages roleplaying goodness, so what has this issue in stall for us?
After Editor David Paul shares with us some of his experiences with spell-design over the editions, we're introduced to this issue's template (by Steven D. Russell) - The Blood Magic Creature. The template clocks in at CR +2 and gain spell-like abilities, caustic blood...and a blood pool! With the latter, they can power abilities in a variety of different ways. The blood pool alone is a great idea and in fact how I tend to handle vampires in my home-game (different bloodlines, different abilities...), thus I welcome this template. The sample creature is also featured on the cover, a Blood Magic Erinyes illustrated by Gordon Napier and boy, this devil could drag me to hell any time... My favorite cover so far! It should also be noted that 3 new spells are part of the deal, including a bloodstone-based compulsion and the ability to turn blood to sap or gold! OUCH!
Will McCardell and Benjamin Rombeaut, who brought us the ambitious and smart "Secrets of Tactical Archetypes II" have more inside their bag of wonders and provide some insight into the design-decisions behind said archetypes before providing more for us - The Knife Thrower can be considered an archetype-archetype or variation, that builds on the vicious opportunist to make a ranged version of the class with a focus on the often overlooked knives. We also get two new rogue talents. The second archetype, the Plaguebringer, is a variant of the alchemist with improved spellcasting via corrupted extracts and an expanded spell-lists in exchange for their bombs and "throw anything". Mixed Alchemy, a new discovery is sure to find some fans out there - essentially, you can make cheap potions part of your extracts - very cool!
Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press has another encounter for us in store - the Old Hermit! In this encounter, the PCs meet a rather smart and strange hermit...who is also a goblin-exterminating hill giant! Potential fun galore and a nice angle for a "Who is the true monster"-plot.
Thomas LeBlanc provides some tools of the trade for barbarians, to be specific, 2 armor and shield qualities, 1 weapon quality and two wondrous items - a flagstaff that enables you to have creatures get claw attacks and a magical peace banner. The true winners here, though, are the mundane items, which include stats for giant's needles as weapons,a clump of caltrops that bursts and a barbed ball that increases the armor check penalty of those hit. Especially the latter is genius and I quite frankly would love to see more weapons that do uncommon things like that. Powder to get into and come out of rages is also introduced. The final item, skinning a foes face and nailing it to a shield completes the article. While I'm not 100% sure about the bestial flagstaff (Can everything grow claws? Even unwilling targets? What about oozes?), the rest of the items felt rather interesting and enjoyable and especially the mundane ones will find their way into my game.
Next is an interview with the man who labors like crazy to bring you this (and a lot of other supplements), Steven D. Russell, mastermind of Rite Publishing and author of quite a bunch of their stuff. The interview is, as I've come to expect from Pathways, interesting and informative.
After that, you can read a lot of reviews of excellent products from yours truly.
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice a glitch that truly impeded my excitement of this issue. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column color-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks. The cover-artwork is STUNNING and the content herein is, as always, up to a high standard. My personal favorites of this issue were the Blood Magic Creature-template and the mixed alchemy-discovery. It should also be noted that this issue only clocks in at 17 mb, which is significantly less cumbersome on small HDs than the predecessors. Oh. And it's free. Free is hard to beat and this installment is worth the dl-time for the cover-artwork alone, with neat content to boot. I was missing an archetype for a renegade-class, though. My final verdict nevertheless will be 5 stars.