This installment of the free Pathways e-zine is 51 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page of editorial/ToC, 18 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, leaving 30 pages of content, so what exactly do we get?
The editorial of this issue talks about the inevitable end of things: Gaming groups, passions, heroes - a touching little essay on paying the ferryman - memento mori. While all things must end one day, we still have our memory and the capability to honor those who paved our way and brought us into this world.
Master of creative templates Steven D. Russell offers us the dread revenant this month, a +2 CR template that makes it possible to create the immortal (at least rejuvenating) undead hunter with the iron grip that has been a staple of monsters in previous editions of the game. Reverend Father Kal'fa, a dread revenant intelligent roper (CR 14) gives us a glimpse of his mindset, coming with a nice tie-in to the exciting upcoming Questhaven-setting and 3 monster feats that enable him to absorb spells, drain more energy and emit a painful wail. Joe Calkin's one-page illustration of the father is also nice.
After that, we go for something completely different (unless you're into tentacles) with Jonathan McAnulty taking a look at love and lust, offering 3 new holy tomes, 4 new feats (mostly centering on social skills, but also with one that is gold, as it represents your love for a person and grants bonus to your attacks when your love is threatened) and two new domain-write-ups for the divine channeling as written in the excellent "Secrets of the Divine Channeler".
But wait, Jonathan McAnulty has more to offer - 3 new, ice-themed monsters of oriental flavor are ready to be sprung upon your PCs - from the brutish Cr 5-Koori no Oni to the CR 2 Mukurokoori (Frozen Corpse) and the cruel snow women called Yuki-onna (CR 7), winter in Kaidan (or any other weather) has just become a whole lot more dangerous.
A first for Pathways, Matt Banach offers us an aptly and compellingly-written ecology of the invisible stalker, expounding upon a cool idea of magic, the enslavement of unseen servants and the traumatic implications of a single spell upon a whole race of sentient beings, essentially rewriting the stalkers as mutated, traumatized evolutions of the hapless creatures forced into slavery by the unseen servant spell. Some of the creatures, shellshocked by the abominable tasks they had to perform, evolved and 4 new special qualities come with the article just as some neat adventure hooks, a lore-section, a new lvl 7 spell to master them and a statblock for an advanced CR 11 stalker. This article was smart, well-written and offered some nice food for thought/adventure seeds, qualifying this ecology as one on par with the excellent content in KQ.
This Issue's interview is with Dean Siemsen was informative and an interesting read - definitely an author to watch!
Next up is the review section, offering you a smattering of some of the best 3pp-products out there by reviewers like Dark mistress, yours truly, Megan Robertson and Shane O'Connor.
The interview with excellent artist Joe Calkins is the final bit you'll get from this issue.
Editing and formatting are very good and layout adheres to the beautiful full-color two-column layout used in most recent RiP-publications. Unfortunately, in contrast to earlier issues of Pathways the pdf is not bookmarked. The content, though, is stellar - the excellent ecology alone is worth the bandwidth, the only investment you'll have to make to enjoy this, as it's free. Being free content, easy on the printer and providing quality content, rating this magazine is a no-brainer. For the quality free content, my final verdict will be 5 stars.