In these closing days of 2010 I thought I'd post some reviews for your perusal - without further ado: Enjoy!
This pdf is 42 pages long, 1 page front cover/editorial/ToC, 4 pages SRD and 1 page of thanks for the feedback. That leaves 36 pages of content for $3.00! That is an awesome bang-for-buck-ratio. Now let’s take a look at whether the content suffers from the low price.
The pdf kicks off with a one-page introduction on how legendary weapons work and adds a variant optional rule for weapon jealousy. Nice.
The weapons follow a two-page format including b/w-artwork, requirements of the weapon, all the abilities and a table listing the weapon’s progression. The weapons are:
-Alieywishia, Orc Scourge: A bane curved scimitar-like weapon that helps slay and track Orcs.
-Asterion’s Soul: A brutal sword inhabited by the sould of a minotaur.
-Counter: A cool main-gauche for duelants.
-Crusader’s Sword: A holy consecrated blade for clerics, paladins and Inquisitors to kill evil outsiders.
-Diamond’s Edge: An incredibly sharp blade that is said to be connected to the mythic diamond dragons
-Ebon Whispers: A lethal Assassin’s Throwing Dagger
-Endless Winter: Ice-cold blade of a barbarian legend.
-Gladiator’s Response: A showman’s blade to kill beasts etc.
-Guardian: The sword of a heroic last defender.
-Lion of Iskander: A holy sword for the leaders of men.
-Mitra’s Blade: Undead-slaying sun-themed falchion
-Moon’s Vengeance: Anti-Lycanthrope side-sword
-The Red King’s Judgment: A fiery greatsword worthy of a villain (or an anti-hero)
-Sandman’s Blade: Rapier with time-abilities for bards and arcane casters.
-Sorrow: A creepy, tragic sword. One of my favorites.
-Summoner’s Tool: A Summoner’s tool to make his Eidolons stronger.
After that, we get one page with two alignment templates and a new combat maneuver: Parry. We also get another two pages containing three new feats and three new spells.
Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any typos or the like. The writing and prose are concise and do a great job of making the blades interesting in spite of the limitations in space and the setting-neutral background.
For the very low price, you get excellent blades and a HUGE amount of content. While the abilities could have been a bit more on the far-out side of things for me, I can’t help but like what Mark Gedak and Stefen Styrsky have done here. I love leveling weapons and this file provides them for an extremely fair price. I have high hopes for the sequel. (Which has just been released!) And a file for leveling armors. For now, I’ll rate this a very good 4.5 Rudii due to the fact that I would have loved to see some rather far-out abilities. (Like the Fiery Discorporation of “The Red King’s Judgment…)
This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/Editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 page SRD. That leaves 17 1/3 pages of gaming content.
You know, I was rather disappointed when I bought and played 4th edition. I don’t say it’s a bad system because it simply isn’t – it works awesome for the thousands of people who enjoy it, it’s just not made for me. However, I absolutely loved the idea of skill-encounters and had been using a similar concept in my home campaign for years. This pdf brings skill-encounters to PFRPG.
The pdf kicks off with three pages that explain how to read a skill-encounter and how to write them.
The first skill challenge presented is the all-time classic, the chase (3 pages). The encounter includes information on how spells affect the encounter, with several complications like quick changes, escapes to sewers and rooftops and the like and results for failures. We also get a sidebar for combat during the chase.
I enjoyed reading this one.
The second skill-challenge is gathering information (4 pages). This one also has a huge one page box detailing contacts (barkeeper, wenches, etc.) for the PCs to ask. I’ve been looking for a pre-made encounter for this as I always hated the generic “One-roll-you get the-info-approach”. Well-made piece.
The third skill-challenge is haggling (2 pages). Due to the nature of the challenge, this one is rather timid and not too suspense-laden, but well done nevertheless.
The fourth skill-challenge is research (3 pages). This is probably one of the coolest skill-challenges within this book – at least for me. If you happen to have an investigation-heavy campaign, this section alone is worth the price. The complications like other scholars, library holidays and the like are both generic and cool. Nice work.
The fifth and final skill-challenge is wilderness travel (2 1/3 pages). While the default is a forest here, we get a sidebar on other terrains and how to implement the complications presented. Another great skill-encounter.
Conclusion:I really love skill-encounters, if only because they give PCs a chance to roll the bones and build suspense without resorting to bashing. Thus, this pdf has a rather easy standing with me. Especially the gather information, research and chase encounters are gold for my campaign. The pdf itself is beautiful and full-color, the artwork is okay and presentation is concise and precise in its wording. I didn’t notice any editing glitches. However, there are also some drawbacks that I feel I have to mention: While the pdf is beautiful, the page are yellow and there is no printer-friendly version out there.
While the pdf is not large, I think it would have benefited from a printer-friendly version, as b/w print-out it just doesn’t look as great. I also would have loved to see bookmarks, as there are none. In the haggling section, I missed a complication for another bidder for the item. The pdf is priced $5.00, which is ok for the quality, but not too cheap.
It’s quite hard for me to rate this pdf: On the one hand, I LOVE skill-encounters and that they have been brought to PFRPG and the utility of this product. On the other hand, I have these minor criticisms and thus can’t rate it 5 Rudii. I’ll shoot for a very good 4.5 Rudii instead, with the notice that, if you don’t care about the yellow pages or the lack of a competing haggler, this is a must-buy for you. These rules should be part of the standard Pathfinder canon. Here’s to hoping Paizo will implement them.
This pdf is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and one page advertisement. That leaves 20 pages of content.
The pdf starts with a short chapter explaining skill encounters and how to run them. (5 pages)
After that, we get the first encounter/trap. Before I get into reviewing this product, I have to admit something: I love traps and I hate how they are treated most of the time: The rogue goes ahead, tries to disarm it and there we go – one roll while the rest of the PCs waits for the rogue to do his job or die trying. This little pdf introduces traps that have something for the whole group to do and can’t be overcome with one single roll.
That being said, let’s delve into the first encounter, the classic vicious spike pit. (3 pages) The skill-encounter features two complex sets of checks to deal with the trap: Escape & Disable. Both are fractured in the encounter, spells are dealt with, etc. However, one of the complications e.g. mentioned churning blades, which aren’t factored into the stats of the trap, somewhat rendering them a bit strange. The same goes for exploding spikes. I know that the DM is supposed to scale them, but I nevertheless would have liked that being done for me.
The next trap is the poisonous gas chamber. (4 pages) This encounter features a sample map of the room, including grids and the like. Once again, two ways to solve this are presented, “smash it” and “plug it” – both are interesting, but I personally preferred the complications for plugging it.
The next trap is the sucking vortex. (3 pages) This skill encounter is interesting due to being both individual skill encounters and a group encounter to shut down the vortex as well as a sample map with a grid for the corridor with the vortex. While being an iconic and simple idea, I really loved the presentations and complications of this one. Nothing to gripe about here.
The next challenge is the flooding room. (3 pages) I really did like the encounter, the complications and so on. However, I’d have loved to see a twofold variation here: One mechanical trap and one magical flooding room – they also would have made a great combination trap.
The final trap derived from a tried and true statement in gaming, the classic “Rocks fall, all die.” – The last skill encounter is the collapsing dungeon! (3 pages) This skill encounter is by far my favorite among the ones presented – not only because it is iconic and cool, but also because it is lethal, it’s mechanics are simple, yet interesting and due to an added “Buried!”-mini skill encounter.
As I’ve already admitted in my first skill encounters review, I’m a sucker for them: I e.g. immensely enjoyed the collapsing dungeon and the vortex. However, there are still some minor problems with this pdf: While the artwork is ok and the whole file is full color, I would have loved to see a printer-friendly version without the yellow background and with less pictures and more mechanics – both with the poisonous gas chamber and the flood chamber, I think that we could have had more complications/ideas instead of pieces of artwork. Editing and formatting is concise and makes running the encounters easy. I’d really like to give this a full five Rudii, but some of the skill encounters made me want more out of them or just didn’t strike me as too interesting. Combine that with the lack of a printer-friendly version and I’ll settle for a good 4 Rudii rating. I really hope to one day see a massive tome of skill encounter traps, with more exotic and far-out traps intermixed with the new take on classics. If you’re a DM who is sick and tired of the one-die-roll-trap, be sure to give this a try, you probably won’t regret it.
Alright, as in the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, "That's it, folks!" - at least for 2010. I hope to be of assistance in 2011 again and wish you all the best for the new year! Thanks for reading my reviews, talking to me online, your feedback, etc.pp. - I'm doing this for you guys and without you, I would have never written so much. A special thanks to all the great people I've met during the last couple of months, to the nice designers, to Dark_Mistress for encouraging me to picking "serious" reviewing up and to Lou for offering me this blog to post my reviews as well as for encouraging me to write reviews in the first place. My thoughts go out to all of you, wherever on this blue globe of ours you may be located - Here's to a great 2011!
As always, Endzeitgeist out.
P.S.: Next year: Some big reviews that took FOREVER to write. :)