Monthly Archives: April 2012

Review – Shadowrun : Parabotany

    As I mentioned in an earlier article, Catalyst Game Labs recently released the Parabotany supplement for the Shadowrun roleplaying-game. Now that I was able to take a look, it’s time to decide if it’s as useful and interesting as I thought.

   The book contains several sections, and while most of them is acting like as a catalog of awakened plants – divided into paranormal, blighted, mutated and engineered – but also features new rules, drugs, beverages and other plant-related things.

   I think that the book is nicely structured and designed (as it’s quite regular from Catalyst Game Labs), and that they included one or more pictures for every plant is a great plus.

   I have to say that there is really a great range of plants are featured in the book, and it’s not only include parabotanical security systems, drugs and magical components – the three most common use – but even stranger things like metal collecting plants, walking banana trees, highly acidic weeds and wild man-eating plants. and if that’s not enough, in the end of the book you could find rules to create your own awakened flora. Even these parts of the book would worth it’s cost.

 But, as I mentioned there is even more.

    A short chapter in Shadowrun: Parabotany is dealing with Parabotanical Advances, which not only includes scientific breakthroughs, but also deals with those common questions as “why alcoholic beverages are so expensive ?” and the rebirth of chocolate. A very extensive list of the availability and prices of drinks from simple beer to the extremely expensive Tír Tairngire beverages is also included.

   The last chapter of the book is dealing with game rules, from the physical attributes of plans to awakened properties and magical compounds. While these thing are not cheap (most often thousands of nuyens) they are quite useful.

   Considering everything Shadowrun : Parabotany has few limitations and problems. Themost glaring limitation is maybe that many of the plants have effects or a source of drugs and other things which is not included in the book, nor in the core rules. From the other books, maybe the Shadowrun : Arsenal is the most referenced. Also, while an alphabetical index is presented, I think a reference by “theme” – used for security, drugs, weed, magical uses etc. – would be quite helpful.

Final words

   I have to admit that I really like Shadowrun : Parabotany, and I think it’s not only a well-made supplement, but I guess it’s much more useful than one more book about weapons or corporations (which is also useful, but we have many of them). So in the end I give 5/5 points for this book.

If you are interested in Shadowrun : Parabotany you may take a look at the preview or get the whole supplement at DriveThruRPG, here.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Dungeons & Dragons: Halls of Undermountain

   In the middle of the month Wizards of the Coast released a new adventure book for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, titled Halls of Undermountain. Based on the book the doors open to hours upon hours of adventuring in the biggest dungeon (and mass grave) of the Forgotten Realms, the Undermountain.

   It’s proposed as an adventure for 1-5 level characters, but it’s really is three different adventures which could be tied together if you would like. They are connected to the same background story, and possible aftermath, and I recommend to use all of them if your players don’t mind a lot of dungeon-crawling gaming sessions.

Thankfully, the book contains much more than the otherwise excellent dungeon-crawling part.

The content

   Halls of Undermountain opens with those informations which could be usefull for all 3 adventures, or even if you wrote your own Undermountain story. This includes a short recap on the dungeon’s history, a list of possible ways in and out, as well as multiple finely detailed NPC-s the players could meet and interact with. This part in itself could provide inspiration and adventure hooks for multiple different story-lines.

   The next several pages deals with storytelling, with the Undermountain as a focus. The authors provide a few ideas to run your own stories, and a random dungeon room generator is also provided. Of course, the later could lead to very strange encounter areas in some cases, but otherwise I guess it could prove useful. The background and adventure hook to tie the three smaller adventures together is also provided here.

   Speaking about adventures, while the background (the dungeon) is similar, but the stories still feels distinct from each other. If a Game Master would like to use all tree of them I recommend to do this in the order they are presented, as the later ones feel a little bit bigger threats than the first one. All of the stories feature several interesting locations and/or non-combat encounters you should not miss. On the other hand, many of the combat encounters feels bland, but this is where DM inspiration comes in.

   In the first adventure (Zarr’s Invincible Army) the players fight mostly goblinoids, kobolds and their crazed leader. In the second (Tombs of Dayan) they face a quickly growing undead menace, while in the third (Scaly Doom) they could even defend Waterdeep itself from a growing lizardfolk army and it’s demonic ally. If they solved all three, they may follow a lead to the fate of a missing young noble.

   What I feels really a missing opportunity, is that after three adventures of build-up there is no grand revelation – while all lines leads to the missing noble, his fate is entirely left to the Game Master. OK, they provided three different possible ideas for “what happened”, but it’s only a half page, and I really felt underwhelmed.

   After this the book contains even more resources to running a campaign in the Undermountains, including the description of various places of interest, as well as multiple monsters.

   Overall I think that Halls of Undermountain is a well-constructed book, with a clear layout and filled with a great quantity and variety of information the Game Master could use. There are really few errors (like one or two traps/effects don’t have a DC or other part of their effect defined), but otherwise you get everything to use this stories.

Final words

   After reading through the book I have to say I really like Halls of Undermountain, but somehow I also have some mixed feelings. Maybe it’s the anti-climatic ending or that some of the fights seems really “flat” (while there are few which is quite memorable), but I feel that this book is not perfect. In the end I give it 4,5/5 points.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Take a look at Magic the Gathering: Avacyn Restored!

   The world of Innistrad is changed, and humanity now has a chance of survival as Avacyn, Angel of Hope emerges from the Helvault in Avacyn Restored. But the fight is far from over, as you may experience on prerelease and release event all around the world. The forces of darkness are still powerful.

   As the prerelease date is next week and really a lots of information is already available about the set, it’s time to take a look at the set ourselves. What new mechanics it offers, and what common tactics could you face (or employ) during an upcoming event ? Let’s see…

New and returning mechanics

Miracle – this new mechanic enables you to play some sorceries and instants for a much lower cost, if that’s the first card you draw that turn and you play it instantly. This inflated cost make this card highly dangerous, as there are removals, direct damage, and +6/+6 trample for 1 green mana are all possible with this effect.  Thankfully the most powerful effects are from high rarity, but even then, this mechanic will win games here and there.

Soulbond – This is a very interesting mechanic, which enables to a creature to use an ability and share it with another one if they get “paired”. Two creature could get paired if one of them (the one of the soulbond ability or the other one) enters play, and they are not paired already with someone else.

   There are many interesting and powerful effects there, including flying, double strike, deathtouch, and +2/+2 boost among others. While most of the Soulbond creatures are small, what makes them dangerous is that they can share their ability with a hand-picked ally, and providing a boost or double strike to something evasive your opponent can’t block, or giving deathtouch to a first strike creature is evil. Of course, you may Soulbond two “donor” creatures with each other, but I think it’s not always a wise decision.

Returning mechanics – First, this include Undying, which is still present but less prevalent than before. In this set only 6 creatures have this ability, and one of them returns into play to help the opponent, so it’s definitely not the same as before. Another returning thing is “flickering” : you exile something from the game, and it’s return to the battlefield later. I think it’s a very useful and versatile mechanics, which interacts with undying, soulbond, “comes into play” abilities, targeted spells (including enchantments) and combat.

Other things to look at

   If you going to an Avacyn Restored event there are many things to get ready. Maybe the most important : be able to deal with big flyers as I predict that many matches will be decided by the new (often very powerful) angels and the removals targeted at them. And if “normal” angels are not enough :  a common enchantment and an uncommon artifact could turn any creature into a flying angel (and of course, don’t forget about the Wingcrafter above)

   Red and black has some direct damage (and loss of life, which is the same for this regard) which could be surprisingly effective in the right build. Of course, is somebody is lucky enough to get the cards in the limited environment. Thankfully (or not, if you play against them) many of these cards are effective without a dedicated direct damage deck, and there are two red sorceries which could mean instant win in many cases.

   Overall I could say that there are many “bombs” in this set : between Avacyn, the trifecta of mythic-rare multicolor angels, multiple mass removals and the not-yet mentioned Craterhoof Behemoth (5/5 haste with a built-in overrun effect) among others many games will be decided by your pulls and those lucky top-decks. I really recommend to not overextend yourself, and keep some backup creatures and/or instant removals at hand if possible. Ok, I know it’s a good idea for every set, but now it’s really important.

   For deck-building don’t overlook the Soulbond creatures, as they could turn mediocre creatures into good ones, and your already strong monsters into even more dangerous. Vigilance, hexproof, first strike, flying, reach, trample, +1/+1 boost and deathtouch all could be provided by common cards ! I think all decks will feature at least some of these “donor” creatures.

Well, this is all I can say for no about the new set. For further information you may check the product info on Wizards own homepage, here.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Barroom Brawls (PFRPG)

   On this week Raging Swan Press released another great GM supplement for the Pathfinder roleplaying game : Barroom Brawls. This new 15-page publication is really a great help if you want to run a good brawl.

   While such encounters are a well known staple of fantasy stories, and as the publisher states, it’s often avoided in adventures.  You may ask why, since  it’s essential for every tavern or pub ?

   The answer is, that the rules for unarmed combat, nonlethal damage and improvised weapons are quite complicated and in an average brawl there are much more participants than a Game Master could finely manage within a “normal” combat encounter. Well, Barroom Brawls nicely mitigates all these problems, and really help to create and manage memorable and chaotic brawls, without bogging down the players with overcomplicated rules.

So what is in this short supplement ?

   The supplement opens with a foreword, containing a nice overview on the content from the brawl trigger to the possible aftermath, and also includes several suggestions for the Game Master.

   The first table in the book contains 19 detailed possible reasons because the for the fighting, from “someone accused of cheating” to “fight for women” and many other good reasons to get started.

   Of course, for a memorable barroom brawl it’s more interesting that what happens during the encounter than before or even after, so the maybe most interesting table is about those random events that happens during the fight : maybe a thief thinks it’s a good time to get a little extra, the city watch may arrive, or somebody hurl a chair at one of the players.

  A page about the possible aftermath nicely round out the random tables, as the player actions (or random luck) could have a much more lasting ffect than some bruises and hangover.

  After dealing with these things Barroom Brawls deals with the most quintessential component for a good fight : the brawlers themselves. We receive some pregenerated characters (city watch, barkeep, common brawlers etc.) as well as different conditions for the several levels of drunkenness. Of course, an average villager (or even a city watch) won’t be a challenge for high level characters, but I guess that’s no surprise.

    The last few pages are dealing with things like special features  and the environment (cover, fighting atop a small table or a barrel etc) as well as improvised weapons and combat rules from thrown chairs to turning over tables and making balance checks if a lot of drink were spilled.

Final words

  I really like this little supplement, and its really contains everything you need about the topic. I guess it’s no surprise, that I give 5/5 points.

  For those who are interested, Barrom Brawls is available on RPGNow on this link.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Shadowrun : Parabotany released

  On this week Catalyst Game Labs released an interesting new expansion to the Shadowrun Twentieth Anniversary Edition titled Shadowrun : Parabotany. It’s our time to get know the various awakened plants of the game!

   Plants is an often overlooked part of many roleplaying games, and Shadowrun is no different in this regard. Who cares about trees when there are dragons, trolls and even stranger beings, and many of them actively trying to rip your head off ? Well, Shadowrun : Parabotany proves that even trees and bushes could be interesting.

   Even the cover image is a good example of this – a tumbleweed trashing a sports car is really awesome ! But of course, many of the plants has much more practical use than that.

   Parabotanical plants are a source of drugs, poisons, medicine, magical foci and even stranger things, and a lots of corporate research focused on these areas. Other awakened plants are extremely dangerous and could surprise unprepared runners. Both of these things make them possible interesting additions to Shadowrun adventures and to the player characters income.

   From taking armed expeditions into war-torn Amazonia for the Brazilian Kiwi to help research based on Dunkelzahn’s Will to stealing valuable data and samples from corporate installations or to grow your own magical foci in your own backyard the possibilities are endless. Shadowrun : Parabotany is a great well of adventure hooks.

   For every plant we receive a detailed description of it’s history and the known facts, while a short table of summary contains information like habitat, rarity, physical description, availability and known usage. Good quality full-color artworks help to imagine the plants.

   I think Shadowrun : Parabotany is an interesting and somewhat surprising addition to the game which definitely seems to worth a look. So if you interested in more then 50 pages on awakened plants you may go to DriveThruRPG to check out the preview and possibly purchase the book.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Shadowrun Mission : Free Taiwan

   Free Taiwan is a 19 pages long free adventure, for the Shadowrun Twentieth Anniversary Edition. If you would just try the Shadowrun 4th edition, here is the Quick Starter from the publisher’s website : link

You can download freely the adventure from DriveThruRPG here.

   The first 3 pages are for the DM’s technical support, advices, and notes. It’s enough to read at once. After that, begins the real adventure. The Adventure has 6 scenes, from the job interview, to returning to Seattle for the payment. The main goal is to occupy a stolen ship, namely the “Free Taiwan”, and then return to Seattle. I don’t want to spoil the story, so for more information see the adventure.

Every Scene has a logical structure, which includes :

  • Scan this – Short sentences about the scene. In other hand it’s a summary.

  • Tell it them straight – This is the red coloured sentences in other games: read it loudly to your party. It’s what they have to know.

  • Behind the scenes: Most important part of the episode. Motivations, secrets, and solving options are revealed are here.

  • Pushing the envelope: If you have an expert team, use these instructions to harden the episode. (Not just “one more orc, and +2 hps”, but sudden actions, unsuspected crimes, unprepared attack, secret alliance, etc.) It’s a good part for evil DMs.

  • Debugging: Do you remember, when you had a good story, but the party always wanted to go to the other way? This part is for “the unwanted players’ options”, when they don’t remember, need, or like something. Inspirations for you to motivate your players, and suggest the “right” way.

  In the end of the publishing you can find the list of NPCs, a detailed tactical map, and a Debriefing Log for the DM. In the other pages’ you can find illustrations of water-vehicles, and a whale.

A whale?

Nearly in the whole adventure approximately one page is used per scene. It helps for the DM, to handle the adventure easily.

  The story is twisted from the first page, but simple enough to handle it. There are 2-3 power groups not counting the players, who can react in different ways. It could be a 4-10 hours playing session – depending on the players’ motivations, activities, and experiences. While your players create their characters, you can read the adventure. It’s an easy, short, exciting, and “hitting” story.

I suggest to try Free Taiwan in a silent Saturday night with your friends.

Jeremy A. Wylie

Review – Adventure Quarterly #1 (PFRPG)

   Yesterday Rite Publishing started an entirely new product line for Pathfinder with the release of the Adventure Quarterly Issue #1. It’s a product directed at Game Master’s, featuring what we need the most: help to mastering memorable and interesting adventures to our players.

    To this end Adventure Quarterly Issue #1 is packed with content : in it’s 75 pages it includes three complete adventures for different player levels, a very nice Random Tribal Name Generator (from Creighton Broadhurst at Raging Swan Press) and an extensive description of the Forked Legion organization, which players could meet in one of the adventures.

   As for the electronic release it consist two parts: the book itself and more than 200 MB of maps. The later are presented in a nice color format with clear map legend and available in multiple file formats. The book itself also looks good, features a clear design and has exactly as much interior art as needed.

   As I mentioned the book contain three adventures from three different  ENnie award winning designers, each of them showing their different approach to a common goal : to provide a memorable and unique adventure to the players.

The content

    Too Many Cooks by Adam Dangle is the first adventure in the book, and it’s suitable for a first level adventuring party. In this story the players should stop a local villain, a chef who wants to literally eliminate the opposition. I think it’s a good story with a unique enemy, with only few minor problems. My main complaint that the main villain as presented couldn’t use the wands he possess, as he is not a spellcaster, but I think replacing some of his expert levels with adept levels should do the trick. (my bad, I didn’t recognized his Use Magic Device skill) Other from that, if the players try to solve the mystery too fast and overextend themselves, they could get killed very easily. This is something the Game Master should look out.

    The Book of Promises by Tim Connors is my favorite out of the three adventures. It’s a story for level 5 characters, and as it turns out the players have to find and destroy a minor artifact and save the souls of one thousand people. I really like that the adventure includes many different factions with different agendas and power level, more than one meaningful and hard decision for the players (like the one with the hags) and a really good location. I really like that the NPC-s in this one really feels deep, and they all have they own motivations and plans. The details on the Forked Legion organization in the end of the book is just icing on the cake.

    The last adventure, Soul Siphon by Tim Hitchcock is for four 12th level psionic characters. It’s intended to play with the four pre-generated character included in the book, as they are tied to the background and NPC-s of the story. This means that this adventure is mostly usable as stand alone module, rather than as a part of a campaign which (as tying a story to specific characters) has it’s own up- and downsides. Apart from that it’s really an adventure to those who like D&D 3.5 psionics, as it has a lot of it. I think Soul Siphon is good, but I think it’s theme and that it couldn’t be fitted to most Pathfinder campaign could limit that how many people will play it compared to the others.

   As additional content, the Random Tribal Name Generator is a really helpful and easy to use little gadget, exactly as we used to receive from Creighton Broadhurst and Raging Swan Press. The Orcs of the Ebon Gouged Eye and others are just a few rolls away!

Final words

I have to say that I’m really happy to see Adventure Quarterly as a new product. I think that with the excellent content and reasonable price it’s absolutely deserves 5/5 points and my recommendations.

For those who want to take a look at Adventure Quarterly Issue #1, it’s available at DriveThruRPG on this link, or you may take a four issue subscription for Adventure Quarterly here.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Shadowrun: Damage Control

  About 2 weeks ago I mentioned that Catalyst Game Labs released a new adventure for Shadowrun Twentieth Anniversary Edition titled Damage Control. Thankfully, now I had the chance to take a look, and write a review about it.

   For those who missed the previous article here are the basics : Damage Control is a Shadowrun adventure which is starting a new product-line of adventure modules called Boardroom Backstabs. As the name implies, the main topic for the series is top-level corporate machinations and politics.

    In this first adventure the story starts with a very important event : Hestaby the great dragon leveled Saeder-Krupp‘s archology in Dubai. Many corporations big and small thinks that it’s an opportunity to snatch clients and information from the giant corporation. It’s the player’s job to prove that they are wrong.

    Damage Control is a well-constructed 58-page long adventure, featuring information gathering, sabotage, assassination and even more tasks, often involving opposition far below the power of the runners.

The adventure itself (with spoilers !)

   In Damage Control it’s the players job to stabilize Saeder-Krupps position in the region after the devastating attack by the rival dragon. As you may guess, that means conflict with several different factions including megacorporations and maybe even worse.

   I think the adventure is mainly for experienced players and characters, as at the end at least 2 or 3 factions want to eliminate them. Honestly, I think if the Game Master want to play things realistically the player group will be wiped out in a seemingly endless stream of attacks. Do you think it’s an exaggeration ? Well, enemies include : two AAA corporations, fundamentalist groups with connection to a great dragon, smaller but locally strong corporations like the Desert Sandstorm, and maybe even the local police and army (based on the players actions). And all of this on unfamiliar ground with possibly no well-established local contacts.

   Regardless, I really like that the adventure offers a great variety of tasks. First the players have to gather information, then they have to make some wetwork (assassination and sabotage), capture terrorist leaders, and covertly disrupt a business meeting between Israel and Ares. As you may guess the two later is the most dangerous, as both could rise the anger of many powerful factions. This includes Saeder-Krupp, if the shadowrunners are making some big mistake (like they enable Ares to take the 750 million Nujen contract with Israel), or they decide the players know to much. (they DO know much)

   In the aftermath the runners have to find their own way out of Dubai, with multiple bounties (up to 1 million Nujen !) on their heads, with many local enemies, any maybe with a blown up cover.

Final words

  I think Damage Control is a good Shadowrun adventure with many pros : interesting locations, scenes and challenges all around. A good start for the new series! On the other hand a total party kill is a very real possibility if the Game Master plays out all opposition the players could face, and some parts seems underdeveloped. All in all I give it 4/5 points.

If you are interested in Damage Control is available for purchase on DriveThruRPG on this link.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: A Game of Thrones Edition is available!

   With the debut of the second season of the TV show arrived the much awaited A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying : A Games of Thrones Edition from Green Ronin Publishing. Announced back in January, I think it’s one of the most waited titles of the year, thanks to it’s theme.

    Featuring Michael Komarck‘s epic artwork about the Battle of the Trident the book is already available as a pdf product, or you may place pre-orders on a print copy.

    I’m always happy to see if an RPG is based on a well-known brand, be it comics (like Marvel or DC), films or books (just think about the many games inspired by Tolkien or Lovecraft), even if I don’t like the particular source or theme. I think titles like these could rise the interest for roleplaying-games, as there are many who would like to try themselves  in their favorite imaginative universe. The hobby in general really needs new players.

   SIFRP: A Game of Thrones Edition features an easy to learn system, based on the epic fantasy of George R.R. Martin to bring on the same atmospere as the novels and the TV show, and based on the publisher, it contains everything a player group needs to start playing. (I guess everything except gaming dice and the players themselves)

   In this roleplaying game the players take the key roles of their very own noble house to participate in all short of challenges from politics and intrigue to combat. If their house rise or fall is just depends on their own actions and decisions.

   The 320 page long book also contains a complete full size adventure, the Peril at King’s Landing, so players could start to raise in power at the instant.

For those who are interested in SIFRP: A Game of Thrones Edition, it’s already available for pre-order at the Green Ronin Online Store (here) as a physical copy or physical+pdf bundle, or as a pdf copy at DriveThruRPG (here).

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Shadowrun 2050 turns back time (to the future) in 2012

     I know the title seems strange, but it’s pretty much what is it about. Catalyst Game Labs announced the release of Shadowrun 2050, which turns back the time of the Shadowrun universe to its beginning years. This is the timeframe which made this game a legend for the first time, filled with decks, cyberware and big guns.

   The new Shadowrun 2050 release use the current Twentieth Anniversary Edition rules, and contain all information a player or gamemaster would need. This includes rules on how to adapt the magic,  Matrix and other rules to the 2050 setting, and many more.

   Of course, the book wouldn’t be complete without extensive in-game information on the world and it’s leading powers. The setting comes back to life with great artwork and many named characters : Captain Chaos, Maria Mercurial, The Laughing Man and Dirk Montgomery are only few examples from the list. The publisher also mentioned that it will be a new twist on the setting, whatever that means. (I hope that won’t mean major changes)

I guess we don’t have to wait forever to know, as Shadowrun 2050 will be released in 2012 !

  I think there are many things to look at if you are a Shadowrun fan.  Shadowrun Online is in the works (supposedly coming at early 2013, if you want to know), and the KickStarter for the Shadowrun Returns computer game is quite a success. I think this is great.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Enemies of NeoExodus : Folding Cicle (PFRPG)

   In the series of the Enemies of NeoExodus, this product is the second what I read. It was hard to read at first, but it I felt that it is a good source of role-playing, and world-imagination. So, the book is cca. 80 page, and most of it a colossal NPC character-sheets enlist. In the very beginning we are already in the middle of things. I had a feeling of lack something about the book, and a resume of the folding circle (ie. an information card, like in the Core book).

   So, what is this, the so called Folding Circle? It’s a covenant of extraordinary people. But, these people are so evil, so cruel, and violent. They have a unique history, what you can read in the book.

The Circle has five leaders:

Makesh: he is the glue of the Circle. He was once a barbarian in the Scythian lands, but now he is something else. He is an 8 feet tall man and stone. He looks like Bane (in the Forgotten Realms), but stronger, more violent, and more stony. He found an ancient temple and the altar of Gods. His power sources from there, and their residence is here too. He has a big stone hammer, whit the symbol of Khayne. He’s a strong minded, cruel and law-maker person. He’s a barbarian judge of the world.

Nysska: A natural born assassin from the race of the Khayne-lover exodites. She’s the first captain of Makesh, she thinks that Makesh is a chosen of the Blood-god. She’s the leader of the assassin group, called “the brotherhood”.

The Destroyer is an Enuka, a magic-made fury. He’s a barbarian, a rager. A mystical being, what made by the shamans from the spirits of young Enukas.

Emok-Zenyaka is a daemon in a body of prymidian mummy. She’s the magician, who transformed Makesh dead body to his recent form.  She made Haru Anon, and she have her own goals.

Haru Anon is another magic-made creature. It’s an undead with a spiritual body, and with many souls in his mind, but without consciousness now. In other words it’s a spectral machine.

   The book contains the favourite tactics of the Circle, and the short description of their headquarters. Mostly, you can find a Non Player Character description and statistics. In my opinion it’s good for DMs, because there is about 4-5 alternative level/CR of the leaders. If you like to mastering a low-level campaign then you can easily pick up the 4th level leaders. And so, if you like the super-heroic challenges, the writers created them above 20th level villains too.

   You find a too short description about the relations with other powers (i.e. kingdoms). New feats, if you want to be a Circle member. So, and the biggest part is the minions, or lieutenants of the Brotherhood, what is the hand of the Circle. It’s an organization under an organization. (It’s almost forty pages!)

   It’s a better part too, with many NPC-s, connected to the world of NeoExodus, with many exotic taste. F.e. my favourite is Tak’ra Veruk, a Sasori monk, who is like a phoenix, and he can resurrect in a proper place in the desert, once in every year, if he killed. The other favourite is the little-rat: Silence, the cavian sorcerer. He is in the bloodline of the muted, he cannot speak, but he can cast silent spells.

At last I had only three questions what are important to Me (in a Campaign):

• I didn’t know, what was the origin of the “Folding Circle” name? (I didn’t find. Why circle? Or the outsiders know only the Brotherhood?)
• I didn’t know the time-line of the Circle. Is it a week old covenant, or hundred years old? (I hate the time-lines, what was in the old Adnd 2nd, but a few date would be useful. For example: what was the date of the Circle’s first activity?)
• I didn’t know the common persons role in a common day in the Circle. (Between two ambush, and justice-making there is a lot of time to spend common things: eat, sleep, weapon repair, learn etc.)

     In my opinion, if you want to make a great adventure in NeoExodus, – against a secret society, with a great variations of enemies – then you can do with the help of that publishing. But – I think – the book much more appropriate to play with players in the Circle, as a Circle members. If your players want to be a member of a secret society of assassins, evil diplomats, and shock-troops then they can do it. The information is many in the book, the social and personal conflicts are given with the help of the description of the NPC-s. It’s better than a new monster book. It’s a book of superheroes, or super-anti-heroes. They’re strange enough, and they’re living parts of NeoExodus. The book has good ideas, exotic things, very good illustrations, but it’s just a little bit more than character sheets in a paper folder with notes. The intrinsic value is very good, but the orientation and the searching are hard. (Oh, c’mon guys, the Core book is so good, so organized.) I give only – sigh – 3/5.

Jeremy A. Wylie

Mike Welham has won Paizo’s RPG Superstar 2012

   After five rounds of competition and weeks of hard work Mike Welham has won Paizo‘s annual RPG Superstar competition. Congratulations to him !

   This means, that his  adventure, Doom Comes to Dustpawn, was chosen by the gamer community to be produced as a full Pathfinder adventure. Most likely it will be released by Paizo in 2013 January.

   Mike Welham was already an amateur game designer on his own, and I’m sure that his experience helped him with his designs. While I think his last turn submission (the adventure proposal itself) was weak (article here), his earlier work like his fourth round encounter was much more promising.

   So for now I wish great success for his future work as a game designer, and I’m sure that his designs will improve further with the help of the Paizo staff.

If you would like to see Mike Welham‘s submissions for the five rounds you may take a look here.

Also, congratulations to the other great contestants who reached to the Top 4 : Steve Miller, James Olchak, and Tom Phillips. I’m pretty sure that this is not the last time we hear of them.

RPG Superstar will return in 2013, with new challenges and brand new ideas.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros

Review – Enemies of NeoExodus : First Ones (PFRPG)

   Uruk-Hais and Spectres were the great evil minions of Middle Earth, the drows and yuan-tis are the most feared in Faerun, the Daelkyrs of Xoriat and the dream-worldly Quoris are Eberron villains, the goat-men in the Old World, the skavens of their Underworld are the worst in the Warhammer fantasy world, etc. They are the most significant evils, they are the worst nightmares of the common folks, and they are the most valued trophies of the adventurers. It is the same in the world of NeoExodus. In a different world there are different evils, as the Core book mentioned them, they are the First Ones.

   In this book you will explore many of them. But beware, and remember the first sentence of the book: “everything here is a lie” (This is a paradox, or isn’t it? Ehh..) If you want to know more about the History of the Old Ones, and the civilization before mankind, here you can, but only 4 pages of History. It’s short and mythical. It’s all right, because they are the mythical races of the past, the legendary evils. In the shadows of the camp-fires, you can always find a man who whispers their tales. Yes, tales, they’re only tales in NeoExodus. They don’t knows, that the Old Ones are in the world of Exodus, hidden and silent. They have enclaves, and plans to destroy their old world. You will learn more about the infiltration in the book.

   Four (or five, see below) main races are described here. The Aneishi is a spider like humanoid, they’re savage, intolerant and solitary. (Do you remember the cockroach in the M.I.B.?) They’re slavers, and spider-friends, hunters and druids.

   The Exodite is a humanoid, almost a human. They dedicate themselves to perfection. They’re the captains, and tyrants of the Old Ones. Khayne, the bloody and evil god, was one of them. You can know more if you read the proper pages.

   The hedonistic Khaynite is a humanoid too, but the strongest among the First Ones. They’re the sons of Khayne, they’re the creator of the races, the explorer
of secrets, the masters of magic.

   The reptilian Sobeka have two sub-races. They were the soldiers of the First Ones armies. And they’re the “First Ones” for the common people. The two sub-
races are: the snake Kobura and the alligator Kroca. The Koburas are small and sly, they’re the scouts, and the Kroca is a brutal shock-troop. (The races have very good illustrations in the book, but only a few.)

   In the rest of the book there are new feats, two new spells, and new items (including a few new weapons). It’s important, because the First Ones aren’t monsters, mostly they’re evil NPC-s. And the DM has to create her/his own puppies. The “Relations” chapter should be bigger, because it’s interesting. Who are their enemies, and who are their friends? After this short chapter you can find a few sentences about the famous First Ones.

   And in the end of the book there are monsters. Here is the statistics of the Locari and it’s minions. The Locari is a man-sized insect-like creature, between an Alien and the Reavers of David Farland. It’s something what you have to hack and slash.

   The book is short, and many things are absent. For example: we get the statistics of the Old Ones, but I don’t know, what about their lifetime? How old is a young Sobeka (f.e.)? I don’t know, what was the main goal of the book? Is it a monster book, or a DM guide, or just an inspiring publication? Sometimes we get the statistics for the Old Ones, but sometimes we get the modifiers too. It’s easy to read, but I don’t know how to use it in a session. So many things are here, what would be easily incorporated into a fantasy novel. Yes, I feel that the world of NeoExodus needs (deserves?) a fantasy novel, a comic or even both of them.

Jeremy A. Wylie

Enemies of NeoExodus : First Ones is available currently on DriveThruRPG on this link.

Review – 101 Magus Feats (PFRPG)

   On 1st of April Rite Publishing released another nice addition to the Pathfinder roleplaying-game : 101 Magus Feats. Counting Secrets of the Magus it’s the second of their supplements about this excellent class, and they add even more options to those players who like to play this already adaptable class.

   So what we receive now ? This 31-page long supplement contain 101 feats for the Magus class, to enchant many of the already publisher archetypes (both Paizo and third party like Super Genius Games) as well as the core class. It’s an interesting twist that many of these could be used as a Magus Arcana too, and if I’m not mistaken this became a new norm for Rite Publishing’s class-based products for the last few releases.

   Overall I like the great number of options presented in this new book, but I think there are few problems here and there regarding game balance.

The good

   As I already mentioned there are a great number of new and interesting options between our new 101 feats. For example the Kensai could wound enemies from 30 feet in the first round of combat with his mystical strike, and the Hexcrafter gains some nice curses. Among the curse-feats you could find one of my favorites from the book : Sinister Harbringer, which i a mobile curse, lookong like an illusionary sinister creature of shadow and decreasing your opponents AC while stay near.

   Or I can mention the Myrmidach ability to hit multiple opponents with a ranged spellstrike, or the Skirnir‘s multiple defensive options. Or I could talk about the nice stuff the archetypes from Super Genius Games own – Ultimate Options: New Magus Arcana receive.

   Of course, there are many feats available for all members of the Magus class, including the ability to petrify foes, or bestow some profane bonuses to allies, Odin Sleep (I don’t spoil this one for you) and two feats dealing with the True Name of other beings. Overall there are many interesting and powerful options here!

The Bad

   As I sad at the beginning, I think there are some game balance issues in the book. For example the ability to potentially shut down an opposing spellcaster with a single strike and 1 point from the Arcane Pool is too much for me, even if it’s limited to 17th+ level magi. Of course, on that level they could use Disintegration to “simply” slay their foe, but that’s only 2/day (if they memorized that spell) and not 10+/day.

   Speaking about the Arcane Pool, I think that now it’s too easy to regain points of it with the new feats. I think it’s a limited resource for a reason, and regaining 3-4 or even more points to it multiple times a day is too much. I think maybe Alchemical Arcana the worst in this regard, enabling to neutralize the Bomb (very essential) class ability of the Alchemist class for multiple turns AND regain points of Arcane Pool as an immediate action and without any saving throw for the Alchemist. Honestly, I think neutralizing a very essential and iconic class ability without any chance from the opponent to overcome is not a good thing to do. With Alchemical Arcana you may also gain Arcane Pool points from magic potions, but I think that’s OK.

   Also, there are some feats with unclear mechanics, like the Weapon/Staff Assimiliation, where I’m not sure what happens with the assimilated items. I think they get destroyed in the process (in that case these are very interesting and useful feats), but I’m not entirely sure.

Final Words

   After reading through the book I feel that we again received a lots of interesting character options and iconic abilities to improve upon our gaming experience. I’m pretty sure that most people who like the Magus class will enjoy this book too. It’s only the balance issues and the few unclear things which keeps me from giving it maximum points, so I give it 4/5 in the end.

For those who are interested in 101 Magus Feats (PFRPG) it’s available on DriveThruRPG on this link.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros