The latest installment of Rite Publishing's free e-zine is 52 pages long, 1 page front cover, 13 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD and 1 page ToC, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's check this out!
As all installments of Pathways, David Paul provides us with a nice editorial, this time commenting on society, philosophy and the humors of medieval medicine - There was a great set of spells dealing with them in KQ and I'd love to see the idea expanded in the future as well!
Steven D. Russell has created a new template for this pdf, the Cr+3 Witchfire template, including a CR 14 sample creature to which the template has been applied. Rather cool: The font has changed and the overall layout of the e-zine feels more crisp, easier to read than before, with the template even sporting a nice table for the scaling spell-like abilities the base-creature gets depending on its hit dice.
Adventureaweek.com's contribution to this issue's e-zineby Will Myers and Jonathan Nelson is the Black Shuck, the legendary terrible CR 9 incorporeal, undead black hound that can never truly be slain. A rather interesting, cool creature that is right up my alley! I would have loved for a module to center around the inevitable beast in the future.
Mastermind of Raging Swan Press Creighton Broadhurst has something rather useful up his sleeve for GMs this time around: Sages! A total of 4 different sages are presented with abbreviated statblocks including only the relevant skills, but also coming with extensive character notes like hooks and mannerisms that should help a DM portray them. Neat!
Mike Welham also has some nice things for us, more Vorawurms! Cr 9 Stonewurms and CR 14 Runewurms now may consume runes and stone. While there is a part of the Word Stealer ability that should be in bold and isn't, the new presentation really makes the statblocks much easier to read - kudos! (Also for the cool creatures!)
Will Myers of adventureaweek.com has also a rather fun section of "Black" Magic - literally dealing with the color black and coming studded with rather neat references: From a goth's best friend (I may make these jokes) "Paint it black" that not only gets rid of red doors, but also of the pesky other colors to minor teleportations in darkened areas (Back in black) to a communion with crystals called "Black Sabbath", these spells are a nice tongue-in-cheek article that has some use, but could lead to some giggling if your group is as versed in metal/rock music as mine.
Will McCardell also has some metagaming artifacts for us that may be right up your alley: The birthmark of perfect normalcy, for example, lets you play a weird race and still be treated normally by everyone. If you're into weird races and don't like racial prejudices/problems in your games, an ok idea, I guess, but one that runs completely contrary to my own tastes, as I consider exactly adversities like that the spice of playing the weird and exotic. Generally, I'm rather an opponent of bringing metagming concepts into the world and while I see the use of an artificer's friend (drop value in, get raw materials for crafting), in my homegame, I expect my players to actually get the ingredients like ores, manticore darts, lich dust etc. - so I guess these artifcats could be a godsend for you, but for me personally, they don't do anything.
Thomas LeBlanc has also a couple of nice variant crossbows with Bullet Crossbows, Chu Ko Nus (repeating crossbows), disc crossbows and even massive belted repeating crossbows. Beyond that, the article also provides us with the new compound quality for crossbows and two new feats, one essentially giving you two new attack options with the Cho Ku Nu: Concentrated fire and spreading your fire between different targets. The other new feat allows you to use oversized crossbows.
This issue's interview is with Ryan Costello, Jr - creator not only of the nice Strategists and Tacticians-book, but also of the monsters of sin-series for open design.
The issue closes, as always, with a couple of reviews by yours truly and also one by fellow reviewer KTFish7.
Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are very good. Layout adheres to RiP's full color 2-column standard and the changes in font and presentation really make the issue feel much more professional and easier to read - kudos! The pdf has no bookmarks and the cover artwork is neat. As so often with Pathways, I feel myself in the duty of recommending this nice collection of perfectly free material. The content is neat, varied and should provide something for every taste. While personally, I'm not too big a fan of the black magic-spells and the metagaming artifacts, this pdf still has plenty of useful content to provide and my distaste of both articles does not stem from mechanical problems, but rather personal preference. The Black Shuck, Vorawurms, templates and sages, though, at least for me, all were neat pieces of content that made this pdf very worthwhile for me. Since it's free and I really love the enhanced presentation, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars - this is worth the space on your HD.