The latest installment of the free Pathways e-zine by Rite Publishing clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 11 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving a whopping 28 pages of free content, so let's check this out!
After David Paul's editorial, we immediately jump into this issue's template by Steven D. Russell, the CR+2 envious creature template, which can not only magically steal objects, but also curse all forms of social interactions of characters and a character's attributes, but also comes with a rather cool, narrative-driven DR. The sample creature, this time drawn in beautiful full color by Juan Diego Dianderas, is Mortal Envy, a CR 2 envious sprite.
Will McCardell, one of the in my humble opinion currently up and coming people with the potential to become true gurus of cool crunch design, provides us with 6 new feats to support allies and teamwork, in the true spirit of his "Secrets of Tactical Archetypes"-books - all of them centered on setting foes up or making "aid another" finally a course of action that doesn't suck that much.
If you're following my reviews, you might know about several of the great NPC-books put out by Raging Swan Press - currently, the compilation "Scions of Evil" provides us with more than 135 of these expertly crafted adversaries. Better yet, the compilation also features bonus material and Gahlgax Attarith, a vampire balor and his marilith graveknights belong to the new high-level adversaries also contained in this stellar compilation. If you've by some twist have passed on the individual books, now is the time to strike and even if you already have them, the new content of this quality makes the compilation an absolute steal. (Also check out my review for imho one of the coolest critters in the tome...)
Ron Lundeen of Run Amok Games, who has so far offered us stellar investigations with a nice, twisted humor (again, check these out - both of his Run Amok Games releases got 5 stars seal of approval...), provides us with the second installment of the Scattered Sheaves-series of mini-adventures/sidetreks to track down pages from a manual of bodily health.
The trail leads the PCs to an unusual brothel, the once high-class establishment called the "Golden Slipper". The Pcs will quickly realize, though, that something is very wrong here - when the former, dead, madame comes down and tells the girls to work LESS and becomes aggressive, the heat is on. So, what has happened? Kokelia, a night hag has taken over the place and the madame has indeed died - the PCs have essentially fought a nightmare manifest. Exploring the brothel and putting an end to the threat of the heartstone-crafting Night Hag will prove to be quite a challenge, with dreams manifest running around, a ghostly tarantella -haunt and stained glass golems. It should be noted that this installment of the trilogy gives you a much better example of Ron's imaginative potential than the first one and brims with his quirky creativity. Two beautiful, full-color maps of the brothel, made with dundjinni, are also part of the deal and though I would have loved for numberless versions of them as well, I won't complain about a free sidetrek.
The next chapter is a novum in the tradition of Pathways and sees Adventureaweek.com joining the fray of publishers providing free content in this e-zine - Mek'Madius is a strange lich - once devoted to bringing potential annihilation down via a fragment of the sun, he is now bound to a piece of said destructive force as a dread lich. Thankfully, the Cr 17-threat is no ordinary lich, though, and instead comes with specific unique abilities granted by his uncommon transformation, including soul-searing rays and a burning aura. His full statblock is provided alongside a whole page of beautiful, pencil-drawn cartography by Todd Gamble of the lich's hideout - not only from the top-down, but also from an isometric perspective -NEAT! I look forward to seeing AaW providing more to the fray - perhaps a fully depicted description of the lich's hideout to complement the map in the next installment?
We don't speak anymore of "Legacy Weapons" in PFRPG, but of "Legendary Weapons" and this is in large chunks thanks to Mark Gedak, who took a cool, albeit flawed, basic concept and refined it to make it actually work. Purple Duck Games has since went on to make some of the coolest, affordable little pdfs out there and the interview with him is nice to read - oh, and if you're looking for some interesting mini-dungeons or even a consistent, old-school dungeon, his Purple Mountain might just fit the bill!
As always, Pathways closes with reviews of great, 5-star books, this time provided by yours truly as well as Joshua "KTFish7" Gullion.
Editing and formatting are at the best I've seen them in an installment of Pathways so far - I didn't notice any significant glitches! Kudos! Layout adheres to the 2-column, full-color standard and the artworks are nice and in fact, the full-color artworks, cartography etc. of this installment are stellar indeed. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a bit of a pity.
Wow! From the cool template, to the neat feats, the awesome urban sidetrek and the new lich, we have a virtual potpourri of quality content this time - in fact, this is one of my, if not the new favorite installment of Pathways so far and I'm hard-pressed to judge which components I enjoyed most - surprisingly, all contents more or less tie in their coolness on a neat, high level. From the neat feats to the awesome side-trek and cool high-CR-critters herein, this issue is absolutely all killer, no filler and features less advertisements than many issues to boot! Being free, of top-notch quality and leaving not much to be desired, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars Endzeitgeist seal of approval. Kudos to everyone involved!