Category Archives: Pathfinder

Review: Midgard Bestiary (Pathfinder Edition)

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The cover of the Midgard BestiaryAs you may know from my review of Kobold Quarterly #21, I am out of the loop when it comes to Open Design. I’ve been asked to review the Pathfinder edition of the Midgard Bestiary, developed by Adam Daigle, which counts as my first exposure to the setting. That puts a great deal of responsibility on the book.

Gazing Into the Abyss

What do you do when you find yourself confronted with a book of monsters? I imagine, like me, your first reaction is to flip through it and see if anything catches your eye. If art is important in any RPG book, it is most important in a bestiary.

Immediately the alseid grabs my attention. It is like a centaur, but instead of human and horse, the combination is elf and stag. Springing up out of his long hair are a pair of antlers. Baba Yaga’s horsemen are the first “monsters” in color I encounter. Most of the bestiary is sepia pages and black-and-white artwork. The splashes of full-color artwork are nice.

I dislike the blood hag and broodiken. Their appearance does not inspire me and I know I will give them a pass. Fortunately there are many other monsters whose appearance delights me: Bone collector, cavelight moss, dire weasel, salt golem. The list goes on. The Bestiary passes the first trial.

One thing I wish were present in the book, and all monster books in general, is an artist credit for each entry written along the side margin or some other unobtrusive place. This makes it easier to look up a particular artist’s other work when you like what you see. The pieces aren’t always signed, initialed, or otherwise marked.

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Catching up with the Kobold…

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Real life has really taken a chunk of my blogging time, so my posts have been infrequent at best. I love sharing my thoughts on games and gaming with the wonderful readers of this blog, as well as being able to review products. It’s a wonderful feeling discovering an awesome book and sharing it with others. That said I have taken FOREVER on some reviews, and Michael knows which one I’m talking about. I’ve had some review copies from Open Design for a while and I have been remiss in sharing my thoughts on a pair products. So let’s get on with it!

What about The Expanded Spell-Less Ranger? A review…

In a recent discussion online the subject of rangers popped up and a longtime friend who like me is a fan of Pathfinder, mentioned he doesn’t play a RAW Ranger when he plays. I have never gotten the knee jerk reaction to the dual wielding spell casting ranger. I understand the love for Aragorn, but I was a teen when the Icewind Dale Trilogy came out and gave us the “quintessential” D&D ranger Drizzt Do’Urden. I am NOT a fan of the dark elf and the novels I loved as a teen did not age well in my opinion. But by the same token, I am not a Tolkien fanboy. I recognize his importance and enjoyed The Lord of the Rings but they are not my favorite novels. So I have no pony on this race! Let’s look at the book…

The Expanded Spell-Less Ranger is a 15 page PDF with 10 pages of actual content and two pages of sheets for the class, available for $3.99 the Kobold Quarterly store. It is an expanded version of the same class originally presented in Kobold Quarterly #11. The original version was almost 3 pages and I thought it was a terrific alternative for the Ranger. After reading the expanded version, I like the idea and execution even more.

The Spell-Less Ranger is now an Alternate Class for the regular Ranger (which means once you’ve taken classes in the Spell Lass Ranger Class you can’t take any regular Ranger levels). As an aside, I realize calling it the Spell-Less Ranger is functional, it tells you just what the class is, and characters don’t have to identify themselves by their class name in-game, but after reading the book I wished the class had an alternate name, but I digress!

Continue reading Catching up with the Kobold…

Review: Kobold Quarterly #21

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Kobold Quarterly #21 I’m a bit late to the game, but I had a chance to read my very first issue of Kobold Quarterly, which provides content for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, Pathfinder by Paizo, and Green Ronin’s AGE System.

The magazine is reminiscent of Dragon back when you could still get it in print. Much of the material has a similar bent: new classes, in-depth monster articles, scads of new magical items, and it looks like Skip Williams is still answering your rules questions! There is also a letters section, which I have always enjoyed in my magazines.

Let’s touch on some of the articles, shall we?

The Shaman by Mark Radle, art by Rick Hershey

Any class that lets you examine the entrails of animals for a bonus to saving throws is pretty decent in my book! Overall I enjoy this Pathfinder take on a shaman character, though I feel it steps too heavily on the druid in a lot of ways. Is it necessary for every nature-based class to have Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Wild Shape, and an animal companion? I do see it a lot. The shaman seeks to spice it up a bit, at least, by making the companion a spirit rather than a normal woodland creature. Also, the class’s use of spontaneous casting seems odd given its otherwise ritualistic nature (with many of its abilities taking rounds or minutes to complete).

I enjoy playing druids, though, and would happily play this in lieu of one. The abilities that do distinguish it from the druid (Blood Divination, Commune with Spirits, Whispers of the Spirits, etc.) are superb. I would just like to see more of them!

Daughters of Lilith by Sersa Victory, art by Claudio Pozas

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this article on the ecology of the succubus. Sometimes, when something mysterious is laid bare (no pun intended), it loses its allure. Sersa’s article is an earnest effort at a detached, scholarly interpretation of the life and times of a sex demon in all its unpleasant detail. I’d say it succeeds, yet for that very reason it fails to grab me.

One truly cool thing, though: the Infernal Conspiracy gambit. Once per tier, your character can basically say, hey, that person over there is a succubus who is friendly to my cause. That’s really damn neat. Are gambits a thing? If so, I’ve completely missed them.

It’s a Mystery by Zeb Cook, art by Emile Denis and Jeremy Mohler

These are the kinds of articles I live for, and it is without a doubt my favorite in the whole magazine. I’ve been working on a few off-kilter religions in my own campaign world(s), trying to distinguish them from being "just another pantheon," and this piece is full of invaluable advice. Secret religious and philosophical societies are awesome. Zeb discusses what some underlying motivations for these cults might be, how to join, and the implications of being in one.

I’ll be putting most of the advice in this article to use very soon, I imagine!

Of course, there are several other articles in the issue, including a look at why monotheism isn’t prevalent in fantasy games, and spellcasting backgrounds for the AGE system. Despite a few personal quibbles here and there (nothing is perfect, after all), I  enjoyed this issue and would recommend it to anyone playing one of the three games covered. I look forward to seeing more AGE material within the pages of Kobold Quarterly, and might even break out my Dragon Age box set once more!

Note from the Editor: You can buy this issue of Kobold Quarterly directly from the KQ store for $5.99 (PDF only) or $8.99 (Print+PDF).