Showing posts with label pathfinder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pathfinder. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: P is for Pathfinder (and Paizo)

 A bit of a divergence today for, well, a bit of divergence.  Let me set the stage a bit. It is 2007, and Wizards of the Coast has decided to end the publication of the wildly successful Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition line and will now produce Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition.  D&D 3e was the edition that brought many back to the game. It was the edition that rekindled my enjoyment of the game after so many years. The idea that this would end only after 7 years (10 years per edition had been the average) seemed a bit odd.

In any case, 4th edition was released, and ... well, I'll talk about that on Sunday. But people were not ready to give up their 3rd Edition rules. Enter Paizo and Pathfinder!

Pathfinder Core Rules

Back when 3rd Edition was popular, Wizards of the Coast had licensed out the RPG Hobby's flagship gaming Magazines, Dragon and Dungeon, to Paizo, Inc. Here they helmed both magazines for many years and built a few 3rd Edition compatible products thanks to the Open Gaming Licence. In 2007 Wizards of the Coast announced 4th edition they did not renew the contract with Paizo to produce material. So Paizo went on to produce their own Pathfinder periodical, a set of publications similar to the Dungeon magazine. 

In 2008 D&D 4e started out with good sales, but soon they began to fall. Fall faster than expected. Paizo saw there was still a market for 3rd-edition compatible material, but they also wanted to make some changes. Thus, in 2009 the Pathfinder RPG rules were born.

So in 2009, we both did D&D 4e, which was not compatible with D&D 3x or any other D&D rules set. And Pathfinder, which was 95% compatible with D&D 3.x.  That last 5% is for the differences in the D&D 3 and 3.5 rules and the extras Pathfinder added in. But honestly, you could take your D&D 3.0 characters, fight D&D 3.5 monsters while the Game Master ran Pathfinder rules, and everyone would be fine.

Sadly, Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro has a very bad habit of firing people. The good news here though is that some of those people would go on to be hired by Paizo to work on Pathfinder. I mentioned before that Pathfinder is often thought of as being "Dungeons & Dragons 3.75" and there is a lot of truth to that. There is a lot here that feels like D&D 3.x perfected. They certainly had the advantage of 9 more years of playing and writing to help them out. 

Pathfinder then did the impossible, it dethroned D&D as the best selling Fantasy RPG. They beat D&D at their own game. If the OGL was one of the reasons 4e got made, it was 4e's failures that got 5e made. In the meantime, Pathfinder just kept moving along and doing its thing.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition came along in 2019. It was different. While the rules were still very much tied to the OGL and the system first created for D&D 3, these rules had more divergence. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition rules were created to go after the D&D 5th edition, which by this time had reclaimed its market superiority. 

This would change again in 2023 when Wizards announced they were going to "revoke" the OGL (something they actually could not do legally). Pathfinder relied on the safe harbor of the OGL (as do many publishers) so in April of 2023 they announced their Pathfinder 2e Remastered. This would be their 2e ruleset, rewritten to avoid using the OGL and instead their own ORC license. While this did not deal the blow to D&D 5e that Pathfinder did to 4e, it was enough to have some people (myself included) move from D&D 5e to Pathfinder 2eR. 

Pathfinder 2e and 2eR
Pathfinder 2e and 2eR. I am still a sucker for a ribbon in my book.

I can find no significant differences between the Pathfinder 2e rules and the Pathfinder 2eR ones. I know Paizo is no longer selling the 2e rules in favor of the 2eR, which is as it should be. Pathfinder 2e is a fine game in its own right, and I like it better as long as I am not trying to compare it to either D&D 3e or 5e. And then only because they can all do the same sorts of games, just in different ways.

Tomorrow is Q Day, and I am going with a tried and true one. I will talk about the various Queens of Dungeons & Dragons.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.


Sunday, April 14, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, D&D 3rd Edition

This is another Sunday special to talk about another edition of D&D. Today, we are going to visit the year 2000 and the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

Ok, let's get caught up. By 1997 I was married, had a new house, a new job and we were planning on starting a new family. I was also really, really burned out on D&D. I was tired of the nonsense that TSR kept pulling on their fans, I was tired of the infighting between the fans of different settings, and the power creep in the books was getting to be way too much. 

In April of 1997, TSR was not just in dire straits; they were failing life support and hemorrhaging money. In comes Wizards of the Coast, flush with cash from the success of Magic the Gathering. They buy TSR, and Dungeons & Dragons, and wipe out all of TSR's debt. 

For a while, things seemed, well, weird. Wizards ran TSR as an extension, and books were still produced using the TSR trade dress.  However, in late 1999, I got an email. I want to say it was December since that roughly corresponds to my 20th anniversary of playing. This email, which I was told was ultra-confidential, was the play test documents for the new Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.

Then 2000 rolled around. On September 11, 2000 (not *that* 9/11) I went into my Favorite Local Game Store and bought a copy of the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook. 

This edition was new. So new that unlike the past editions this one was not very backward compatible. This was fine since Wizards of the Coast (now dropping the TSR logo) had provided a conversion guide. The books were solid. All full color and the rules had expanded to fix some of the issues of previous versions of D&D. Armor class number got larger as the armor got stronger, as opposed to lower numbers being better. Charts for combat were largely eliminated, the number on the sheet was what you had to roll against. Everyone could multiclass, all the species (races) could be any class without restrictions, though some were better at it than others, and everyone had skills. 

But the most amazing thing about 3rd Edition D&D was that aside from a few protected monsters and names, Wizard of the Coast gave the whole thing away for free! Yes the books with art cost money. But the rules, just a text dump, were free for everyone to download. It was called the System Reference Document or SRD. It was all the rules so that 3rd-party publishers could produce their own D&D compatible material. With these rules you could play D&D without the books. There was no art and no "fluff" text, but everything was there.

Eventually the system was updated to a 3.5 with various levels of compatibility with 3.0. It was I still say 98% compatible, except for where it wasn't.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition - Special covers

The books were larger, and had some new art, but they were still largely the same. They were close enough that originally I did not feel the need to buy them. But when the "Special Edition" leather-bound covers came out, I had to have them. Plus I am a sucker for a book with a ribbon. 

D&D 3rd edition had a very solid run from 2000 to about 2008. 

The rumor I have heard was that the higher-ups at Hasbro (who now owned WotC) demanded a 4th edition because they could not believe that WotC was just giving away the game in the SRD. The way the license was written though they just could not pull it. They tried this back in December 2022/January 2023 and the fans and the publishers revolted. Hasbro's stock fell and subscriptions to their online tool, DnDBeyond, tanked so bad that Hasbro not only backtracked, they dumped the whole 5th Edition SRD into the Creative Commons.  I might to cover that in detail someday.

D&D 3rd Edition, though, still lives on. The Pathfinder RPG was created by people who worked with WotC on D&D 3.x and is often called "D&D 3.75." Pathfinder 1st Edition was published in 2009 and directly competed with D&D 4. By many measures, it out-sold and outperformed D&D 4. Pathfinder 2nd Edition was published in 2019. While not as backward compatible as the 1st edition, we are now at a point where the D&D 3.x (also known as d20) rules are approaching 25 years old.  That is some longevity. 

I still enjoy 3rd Edition. I played it a lot with my kids and had a great time. It rekindled my love for D&D, and that was no small achievement.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.x Edition was also the edition which Wizards really embraced PDF format. So to my knowledge nearly everything is available at DriverThruRPG.

Tomorrow, we will be back to regular A to Z posting. It is M day and Monday, so you know I am going to talk about Monsters!

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Mail Call: Gary's Other Grandkids

 Maybe "stepchildren" might be a better moniker. We are coming up on the first anniversary of WotC's attempt to murder the OGL 1.0. This sent many publishers (myself included) on various paths of re-discovery on what to do about it. Some looked for new licenses. Others stuck with the OGL 1.0 to show it can't be removed.

Myself? Well, it knocked the wind out of my sails, to be honest, and I have spent the better part of 2023 figuring out where I want to go next. But while I am over here contemplating the various Gods, others have moved on.  So here are a couple of recent purchases that embrace the two paths of the OGL.

Pathfinder and OSRIC

Pathfinder and OSRIC

Undoubtedly two of the biggest success stories of the OGL and 3e era has been Pathfinder and OSRIC. Both gambled on the OGL and spent a long time enjoying the fruits of that gamble.

OSRIC of course used it to go back to "1st Edition style" play and Pathfinder to extend and enhance their own flavor of "3rd Edition style" play.

The OSRIC Players Book covers everything the Player needs to know. It is a great resource and a good replacement for your Player's Handbooks and Unearthed Arcana books that might be showing their wear.

OSRIC

This one embraces the OGL 1.0 and keeps it alive.

OSRIC Players Guide

Pathfinder has taken a different path (sorry) and taken their own 2nd Edition and revised it into two new books for Players and GMs.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

This uses the new OGL-free version of Pathfinder. I have not spotted many differences yet, but I am still working through the game. The new books combine the older OGL Corebook and some of the Advanced Player's Guide.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

These are supposed to be the same system, Pathfinder 2nd Ed, so there are far more similarities than differences.

Bard vs. BardWitch vs. Witch

I am looking forward to delving deeper into both games.

 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Reviews: I'm Going to Hell!

666: The Number of the Beast
 It's October, and my thoughts turn to scary things. And honestly, what could be scarier than a trip to Hell? There are a lot of great adventures to take your characters through. I can't review them all, but here are a few.

I DO still want to do my "A Barbarian in Hell" adventure sometime. These will help me out. 

So come with me. Let's go to Hell!

666: The Number of the Beast

PDF, 20 Pages, DMsGuild. $6.66

This one is fun. It's 20 pages long, and it takes its inspiration from both Dante's Inferno and Heavy Metal music. Sounds like my kind of mix, to be honest! This one also takes cues from a few different video games. This works if you imagine that your characters are already dead and in Hell and not traveling there as a "Soujurn in Hell."

This PDF sets up seven "boss battles" for characters in Hell. It can be used as described or as a supplement to an ongoing campaign in Hell, which is what I am using it for.

This is obviously for D&D 5e via the DMsGuild.

Nine Hells Adult Coloring Book

PDF, 48 Pages. B&W art (by design). $6.95 PDF / $8.98 Print

This is overtly a coloring book, but it is also a great resource for the Pathfinder version of Hell and stat blocks for the rulers of each level. Again this could be in the form of a "boss battle" or as a resource. Buy it for the coloring book, but stay for the backgrounds, lore, and stat-blocks.

The art from Jacob E. Blackmon is excellent as well, and there are some pieces here that would be a lot of fun to color. Now, where did my kids leave their crayons?

Nine Hells Adult Coloring Book Emirikol's Guide to Devils

Emirikol's Guide to Devils

PDF, 246 Pages. Color art. $15.00

From Sean McGovern, of The Power Score RPG blog.  So right away I knew this was going to be a well-researched product. Sean has been one of the best at deep lore D&D research in the blogging scene for years. He is meticulous and encompassing on any topic he tackles.

This is a massive volume at 246 pages and covers the Hells and its inhabitants. It takes D&D lore from as far back 1st/2nd Edition (I noticed that details from "Politics of Hell" are not really included though, but everything else is) and tries to bring them all together. It leans heavily into the 5th edition versions of Hells (naturally), and the book is presented like many of the newer 5e books, with notes from Emirikol the Chaotic and Natasha the Dark. 

The information makes for a great read, and there are some details I really enjoy. I like how the author explains the shift from Demon to Devil to Fiend for Succubi. There are plenty of stat blocks, which is good if you don't have all the devils and Archdevils. And there are plenty of new devils and backgrounds on playing characters associated with devils and the Hells.

The art is a mixed bag, as with any DMsGuild product, and I am not 100% on board with all the lore choices made here.  But there is enough text and information here to keep me busy. Plus any choice I don't like I can simply say "well, Emirikol got it wrong" or even "This was from Natasha when she was younger and not yet Iggwilv."

In any case, it is good to have multiple points of view on something as complex as the Nine Hells.

I do wish there was a printer-friendly version. This would be nice in my big red binder of devil information.

Dalor's Guide to Devils & Demons
Dalor's Guide to Devils & Demons

PDF, 127 pages, Color art. PDF $19.99 / Print $34.99

Now this one was a bit of a pleasant surprise to me.  It is for 5e so I was expecting something akin to the DMsGuild products I had been reviewing. But this one reminds me of the best of the OSR in terms of look and feel, with solid 5e design and layout. Really the best of both worlds. The vibe I get from it is like the old Mayfair Demons series.

This book gives you a ton of new demons and devils and plenty of background and lore for them. There is even a fiendish language and alphabet. I am a little surprised this one doesn't have more sales because it is just a treasure trove of great stuff.

There are new demon lords, new arch-devils, cults and contracts, and even a new class. A little bit of everything really. 

--

See you in Hell!

Friday, September 15, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: Cottages & Cerberus

Last year my family and I were playing a D&D 5e game, and we got to talking about our other 5e game. I had asked them what they wanted for their characters "after level 20."  My youngest wants to take over a town and fill it with artificers and build a community of "makers." My oldest wants his Dragonborn to build a mighty temple to the Platinum Dragon in his role as the "Sword of Bahamut."  When they turned around and asked me what I wanted for my NPC/GMPC witch character I said I wanted her to retire with her cat, have a garden of about 1000 different herbs, drink tea, and live that 100% Cottage-core life.  I had done all the "big endings" before.

Well it turns out that you can do that as well.

Cottages & Cerberus

Cottages & Cerberus

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cottagesandcerberus/cottages-and-cerberus-new-system-pf2e-5e-support?ref=theotherside

This game is described as "A new monster hunting cottage core TTRPG system with PF2 & 5E compatible bestiary."

Sounds fun for the right groups really. 

Honestly I am happy that game designers are taking leaps and doing new things with their RPGs. This won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for someone out there this is the perfect game.

Given the number of pledges it has so far it seems like there is a pretty good market for this. 

The art looks great and there are all sorts of add-ons to enrich your current game. I am considering both the D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e digital versions.  It might be worth it just for the stats of the "Leviathanus Rex." Imagine a Godzilla-sized narwhal. 

Leviathanus Rex

There is a 63-page preview and a character sheet.  I rather like the idea of "spoons" as a personal resource.

They are doing great so far and I wish them the utmost success.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: Pathfinder 2nd Edition Bestiaries

I have a few projects to wrap up then I will be getting back into my own Basic Bestiary, but until then I am enjoying some non-5e options as well.

In particular, the new(er) Pathfinder 2nd Edition Bestiaries.

Pathfinder Bestiaries

I ordered the Bestiary 2 from Paizo's website just before the OGL news broke last month and right before they became slammed with orders.  It took it a little bit, but this past weekend I got new box in the mail.

Gift from the Golem

I enjoyed it so much I ran to my FLGS to grab the Bestiary 3!

The art, layout and presentation are all fantastic. There are plenty of new monsters and old favorites here. The old favorites even get a few new twists to make them all feel like new.

Monster Layout


They all look great next to each other, and I am a sucker for a ribbon in a book.

Pathfinder Bestiaries

Looking forward to giving my "Second Campaign" a spin with some Pathfinder rules.


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Converting D&D 5 to Pathfinder 2: Character Conversion

This isn't going to be about a full conversion. Mostly because I feel the best conversions are done in situ by the GM. 

Today I want to talk about converting one of my D&D 5e campaigns, "Into the Nentir Vale."

D&D 5e to Pathfinder 2e

A bit of background.  Into the Nentir Vale began as, obviously enough, a D&D 4e game.  I ran the intro adventures for it with a group, and the reactions were mixed. I tried again with some Pathfinder, a one-shot, but it never quite jelled the way I wanted it to.  Fast forward a few years, and D&D 5 was released. I did a series of posts on sunk cost analysis/bias and conversions leading up to it:

Once these were all done, the adventures went on under 5e.  Well...we know how this will turn out.

Somehow it seems fitting that I am converting it again to Pathfinder, this time 2e.

The adventures themselves are the HPE adventures from D&D 4e. Essentially I am removing about 1/3 of the content to make it play a bit faster.  I am scaling the monsters and encounters to fit a 20th level maximum (vs. a 30th-level one), but in many ways, the conversion between 4e and Pathfinder 2e is easier than converting between D&D 4e and D&D 5e.

The Character: Rowan McGowan

Rowan is my test character here. She is a reoccurring NPC and one I used as my internal tests of various combat situations.

Rowan McGowan, Witch Knight

Like the campaign itself, Rowan has seen some history and conversions. She began life as a witch for D&D 3.5. Her concept is a "Witch Knight" or "Witch Guardian."  This is a witch that takes up the sword to protect others, typically of their faith and/or other witches. Rowan is a protector of the "Old Faith." Some of her exploits found a home in my Pagan Witch book, for example. 

In D&D 5, Rowan was a multi-classed Warlock (Hexblade)/Paladin. Her background was an acolyte to cover her growing up in a religious order of witches. She picked up the blade when she saw others of her kind being killed.  Her devotion is like a Paladin, just to a different cause. Multi-classing her was pretty easy to do since Charisma is the prime ability of both Warlocks and Paladins.

When converting her to Pathfinder there were a number of key differences.

First, while warlock was a compromise in D&D 5 (I wanted a core book class) I can do a proper witch in Pathfinder.  But witch's main ability is Intelligence in Pathfinder (though I will argue with some authority that it should be Charisma). Also Pathfinder 2e does multiclassing VERY differently than what D&D 3.x/Pathfinder and D&D 5e do it. Interestingly enough, it is more similar to how D&D 4 did it.

In 5e Rowan's first level was Warlock (Witch) and then she took a level in Paladin. I have been leapfroging the classes. She is level 4 now with 2 levels in both Warlock and Paladin.

In Pathfinder Her class is Witch. I had her take Weapon Proficiency at level 1 so she could use simple weapons.  At level 2 she is still a witch but I had her take the Champion Dedication feat. This "multi-classes" her into Champion, the Pathfinder version of a Paladin. This is similar to the Multi-class feats of 4e.

Here she continues to 4th level.

The progression is more straightforward in Pathfinder with fewer options in the beginning.  The progression in 5e is less straightforward with lots of options. 5e Rowan has more spells for example, but her maximum casting choices will be limited at higher levels. Pathfinder Rowan will have access to much more powerful witch spells, even if she has fewer right now.

Rowan McGowanWitch 4


Chaotic Good
Medium
Human
Versatile Heritage
Humanoid

Perception +7;
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven
Skills Acrobatics +1, Arcana +9, Athletics +4, Diplomacy +10, Intimidation +10, Lore: Scribing +7, Occultism +7, Religion +7, Society +7, Survival +7
Str +4, Dex +1, Con +0, Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +4
Items Half Plate


AC 22; Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +9
HP 32


Speed 20 feet
Melee Greatsword +10 (Versatile P), Damage 1d12+4 S
Devoted Guardian Requirements Your last action was to Raise a Shield. You adopt a wide stance, ready to defend both yourself and your chosen ward. Select one adjacent creature. As long as your shield is raised and the creature remains adjacent to you, the creature gains a +1 circumstance bonus to their AC, or a +2 circumstance bonus if the shield you raised was a tower shield.
Occult Prepared Spells DC 17, attack +7; 2nd ; 1st CommandMage ArmorCantrips Chill TouchDazeMage HandRead AuraProtect Companion
Arcane Innate Spells DC 20, attack +10; Cantrips Detect Magic
Arcane Innate Spells DC 20, attack +10; Cantrips Shield
Focus Spells (1 points) Pact Broker Range 30 feet; Targets 1 creature Saving Throw Will; Duration sustained up to 1 minute You offer to broker a pact of peace. If the target accepts and doesn't take hostile actions against you and your allies, you take a –1 status penalty to Deception checks to Lie to them. If they refuse and take a hostile action against you or an ally, they must attempt a Will save. If they accepted the offer and then take a hostile action against you or an ally, they must attempt a Will save and treat the result as one category worse. Regardless of the outcome, the target is then temporarily immune for 1 minute. Success The target is unaffected. Failure The target takes a –1 status penalty to attack and damage rolls against you and your allies. Critical Failure The target takes a –2 status penalty to attack and damage rolls against you and your allies.
Phase Familiar Range 60 feet; Targets your familiar You draw upon your patron's power to momentarily shift your familiar from its solid, physical form into an ephemeral version of itself shaped of mist. Your familiar gains resistance 5 to all damage and is immune to precision damage. These apply only against the triggering damage. Heightened (+1) Increase the resistance by 2.
Additional Feats Arcane SenseArcane TattoosChampion DedicationRoot MagicStudent of the Canon
Additional Specials Arcane Tattoo (Shield)Champion Archetype Cause (Liberator Cause)FamiliarHexesPatron (Pacts)Tenets of GoodWitch Spellcasting

--

Rowan's Character Sheets

Thankfully I still had her PDF from D&D Beyond. 

There are subtle differences to be sure. Pathfinder Rowan has better AC and HP compared to her D&D 5 counterpart on paper. I am not sure if those will make much of a difference though in play. 

I knew 5e (and 3.5s) Rowan had a tattoo on her shoulder blade but I was not certain of what yet. In Pathfinder I figure it is the symbol of her Goddess Desna.

While putting these sheets in her folder I noticed I had also started AD&D 2nd Ed, Castles & Crusades, and DragonAGE versions of her started as well!

The conversion was pretty fast, to be honest. These systems still share DNA. In many ways, the Pathfinder version is much closer to my original concept of her so I am pretty happy about that. I will need to see how I can convert the other characters now.

Converting monsters will just be a one-for-one swap out. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

More Updates: Home Games

Frantically working on a lot of updates behind the scenes here. But one I want to address that I am looking forward too is what am I doing with the games I run.

The Games I Play

Presently I am still in the middle of three different D&D 5e games. They are all part of my Come Endless Darkness mega-campaign:

All are presently 5e.

My plan is to convert one to Castles & Crusades and the other to Pathfinder 2e.

The obvious choice here is to convert The Second Campaign to Castles & Crusades since it has a lot of old-school 1st material. The next obvious choice is to convert my Into the Nentir Vale to PF2 since it is a broader mix, and I think it is funny that D&D 4 is once again losing out to Pathfinder.

I am not sure how much I'll talk about them online. BUT I do want to talk about how the conversions go.

So in each case, I will grab a PC or NPC from them and see how they convert. I will post that since that is something people will be interested in. In fact, as I am writing this, I am thinking of two PCs in particular that would really make good examples of conversions.

I also might post the Big Bad for each in their new stats. The Second Campaign is overtly about Demogorgon, but I had always thought they would not actually encounter him.  The Nentir Vale is all about Orcus.

In any case, it should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Class Struggles: The Necromancer, Part 2

The Necromancer
I have not done a Class Struggles in a bit. Let's change that today.

The Necromancer is fertile ground for gamers.  I featured the Necromancer as one of the first Class Struggles.  There is still more to be said. Also in the last few months, I have bought at least three new necromancers. So lets see what we have.

Dragon #76 The Death Master
I spoke a lot about this one when I covered Dragon #76 in This Old Dragon and in my original Class Struggles. It really is the model I follow when creating an evil necromancer type though Len's here was a bit of an arcane necromancer with a bit of a death priest of Orcus mixed in. As I became savvier in what I knew about necromancers and the various D&D worlds I decided that Death Masters were unique to the Word of Greyhawk's Oerth. 

The Death Master became a playable class in the 3.x era with the publication of Dragon Compendium Volume 1 (there was never a vol. 2). Here the Death Master got a full 20 levels and was based directly off of Len Lakofka's class. Personally, I think a Prestige Class would have been a better choice. In fact a Prestige Class with just 13 levels like the original. I'd structure the prerequisites to need 3 levels of cleric and four levels of wizard or something like that. Sadly the Dragon Compendium Volume 1 is not just out of print, it is also not available on DriveThruRPG.  But Amazon has a copy and sometimes Noble Knight Games has them too.  

The Genius Guide to the Death Mage
Speaking of the old Death Master by Len Lakofka in Dragon Magazine. Owen K.C. Steven remembers! it! And this 20-level class for Pathfinder "feels" like that class, but it is its own thing.

This class is a stand-alone class (like most of the Pathfinder classes) complete with new powers and spells over 14 pages. In truth, it is a lot of fun. The author compares it to necromancer wizards, death priests, and undead-bloodline sorcerers, and how it is different. A better comparison is to druids. But where the druid is dedicated to life, the Death Mage is dedicated to death and the spirits of the dead.

There are five "Sub-types" of Death Mages presented. Corpse Mages, Ghoul Mages, Tomb Mages, Reaper Mages, and Shadow Mages.

There are 11 new spells. I think an opportunity was missed here to have 13 spells.

One of the newest necromancers on the block and designed specifically for Old School Essentials.  This is designated as "Play Test Material" but it really is ready to go. There have been necromancers for OSE before and there is at least one necromancer for other B/X-Basic games written by Gavin Norman already. Here the Necromancer is a subclass of the Magic-user, as would be expected, and some notes are given about using these new spells for the magic-user.  But thematically they fit with the necromancer much better. The new spells are from 1st to 6th level and there are 12 of each. I see why there are twelve of each; to fit the style and layout of what Gavin does with his OSE games. But I would have been tempted to make it a nice 13 per level myself. 
The spells are good and fit well. Some we have seen in other forms and formats over the past few years, but that does not detract from this book at all. Do you want a great OSE necromancer? Well, here it is.
The format used here could be adopted for all sorts of other magic-user type classes or subclasses like the Illusionist or Enchanter for example.

Castles & Crusades Black Libram of Naratus
I am a huge fan of Castles & Crusades and frankly, I don't think the game gets anywhere near as much love.

So I grabbed this one since it deals with darker magic and was part of the Haunted Highlands campaign (which I also enjoy). There is also the cover which is a call back to the infamous Eldritch Wizardry of OD&D. The first part covers necromancers and necromancer spells. This includes a way for normal spell casters to gain a level of Necromancer. A nice little add-on for any CK really. There is also a great spellbook in here called the "Grimoire of the Witch Queen" that makes the whole book worth it to me all by itself! That's the first half of the book. Later we get into Ritual/Sacrificial magic, magic items, and some new monsters. Given the types of games I run and the magic I like to have this is a "Must Have" book for me. The book is a tight 38 pages.

I have to give special attention to my other "new" necromancer.  This one does not differ from the previous editions of AS&SH/Hyperborea. At least not that I can tell. The necromancer here is cut from the "evil cultist" mold like their warlock and has a lot of great spells and powers. It is still one of my favorites, but the new OSE one has a lot of great spells to go with their's so a combination might be in order. 

For Pathfinder we have a few choices. 

Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
This book is presented in landscape orientation for easier screen reading. We are given a 20-level base class for Pathfinder with six "Callings" (sub-types). I have to admit this got may attention since my cabal of evil necromancers is called "The Order of Six" so I could restat them as one of each type here. No new spells, but there is a fully...fleshed out...NPC. So it is worth the download really.

New Paths 7: Expanded White Necromancer
This 17-page book gives a new perspective a, GOOD necromancer that protects the dead. I like the idea, to be honest.  It comes with a complete 20-level base class and six new spells. There are also feats and stats for various undead companions. It makes for a great companion piece and counterpoint to the 3.x Death Master from Dragon Compendium Volume 1.

Special Mention: Shadow of the Necromancer

Not a class, but an adventure from friend of the Other Side Mark Taormino. This is a short adventure for 1st to 3rd-level characters. And most importantly (to me) it comes in both Old-School/1st Edition and 5th Edition D&D versions!
The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module itself is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , one page blank).  The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true and it works fine here.  The adventure, as with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run.

Shadow of the Necromancer


I certainly have enough here to do an "Against the Necromancer" sort of campaign. Or even bring back my Order of the Six.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Echelon Reference Series: Witch (3pp+PRD)

Echelon Reference Series: Witch (3pp+PRD)
Back in August, I reviewed the Echelon Reference Series: Witch Spells which covers every witch spell for Pathfinder.  It is a great series that represents a near Sisyphean effort to track all these spells. An effort that is only apparent once you dig into it.  Tonight I thought I might go for their collection of witch class material.  Basically, everything for the witch but the spells.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

Echelon Reference Series: Witch (3pp+PRD)

Again this one comes as two PDFs. One for Pathfinder and one for Pathfinder and all other Third Party material.  The author points out that these are "living" documents as the material will be updated periodically.

Presently the Pathfinder book is 78 pages and the Pathfinder + 3PP book is 196 pages.

Both books follow the same format.  

About the Echelon Reference Series

This give you an overview of not just these two books but the series as a whole. Explains the differences between the PRD (Pathfinder SRD) and PRD+3PP (Pathfinder SRD plus Third Party Publishers) and the multiple versions of various books. 

This section also covers the issue of duplicate names; that is when one publisher calls something "X" and another publisher calls something "X" as well but they do different things.  Also some things may have different names but do remarkably similar things.  In both cases everything is here.

Classes and Archetypes

Covers the basic witch class and the published (and Open) archtypes. The PRD covers just material that is open from Paizo and can be found (for the most part) in the Pathfinder SRD.  The PRD+3PP covers the same but also all of the Open 3PP material.

Class Features

For the witch, this covers all her Patrons and all the various Hexes she can take. This might be one of the more useful chapters in the book. 

Other Options

Here we get favored class options, feats specifically for witches, and spell casting options. No spells since those are covered in multiple other Echelon books.

NPCs

What it says on the tin. The PRD has five and the PRD+3PP has the same five plus five more

Appendices

Not much here yet save for the Index and the OGL.

There is no art, nor is art required. This is a massive data dump designed for people that want only the crunch and none of the fluff.

This does not replace the products it gets its OGC from. The "source" products may have in-world examples or other materials that situate all of this to give proper perspective. This is the RAW OGC as is.  For me? I use Section 15 of the OGL statement here as a shopping list.  I use the original books/sources as my inspiration, but I sue this as my quick reference.

Looking forward to seeing what else is added! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Sisters of Rapture

Sisters of Rapture
We are getting much closer to Halloween now! It is cooler here in Chicago and I am ready for the seasons to change.  Here at the Other Side, I am kicking up the witch topics hitting on products I have had for a while but have not reviewed or talked about.

Tonight is a good case in point.  I have had this particular product in both the OGL and Pathfinder versions for years. I have not found a group that it would work well for, however.  There is a lot of material here that I can use in my witch worlds.  But, well. Let me get into the products and you decide.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

Sisters of Rapture

OGL (d20 3.5) and Pathfinder versions. 

PDFs, both 72 pages of content (76 and 74 total respectively). Color covers and interior art.

For Mature Readers. Let's approach this one upfront. The art featured on the cover is a rather tame example of the art that can be found inside. Point blank, there is a lot of nudity here and lot of sexual situations. The entire idea of the Sisters of Rapture is a class of semi-divine spellcasters centered around love and sacred sex. If this is not your thing then best to back out now.  Again I have struggled with how to use some of these concepts in my games. 

We know that history has had temple prostitutes, sacred sex, and many pagan rituals involving fertility. There are historical examples to fit this book more so than say the martial arts monk side by side with a horse-riding paladin in a quasi-European Medieval setting.  

Plus, and I want to be truthful here, there is a lot a great and well-written material here that begs to be used. So let's get to it.  Also, why am I doing these along with witches?

Unless mentioned the OGL and Pathfinder sections are largely similar. They are not 100% the same, more like 90% but both deal with their source game where they need too.

Introduction

Here we are introduced to the central concept of this book. That of the power of love. We learn of the Sisters of Rapture, a "close-knit organization of warrior-priestesses, dedicated to preserving and protecting the ideals of the various goddesses of love, beauty, sex, passion and other related concepts."  

In terms of RPG applications the author (and artist) T. Catt, points to the various artists of fantasy art.

Chapter One: Love's Blessed

Here we are introduced to the Sisters of Rapture base class, also known as the Rapturous. They are a bit of a fighter, a bit of divine spellcaster, and maybe some rogue added in. They are dedicated to the various goddess of love.  Their raison d'ĂȘtre is to spread pleasure and love around their worlds. 

Here we also get our first look at the art of T. Catt; mostly nude women. Now I just finished watching HBO's hits Rome and Game of Thrones, so this fits that aesthetic, but like I said it is not going to be for everyone.

In terms of 3.x OGL/Pathfinder classes, they have somewhat medium combat abilities, good Fort and Will saves, with low Reflex saves. They can cast spells up to the 9th level, same as all full casters. They also get a power every other level. Their spells are known as "Carnal Domain" Divine spells. They get d8 HD and can only be women of any species.

There is a limit on the number of spells they know like sorcerers. Their powers largely focus on and around their sex and sexuality. There are several "kiss" powers for example. I actually rather like the Kiss powers, I have used something similar and lets be honest history is repleat with various sorts of powerful or significant kisses. 

Depending on the Goddess they follow they can gain different powers. So Aphrodite grants her Rapturous different powers than Freya.  Freya in particular grants her Rapturous a "Righteous Rage" ability to Rage like a barbarian of half her level. 

What does this sound like? Yeah. Witches and their patrons. 

Chapter Two: Love's Chosen

This covers the various Prestige Classes. I mentioned before that I like Prestige Classes, I always have. These classes work well with this base class. Though I will point out that other classes should be able to qualify for these to be within the spirit of the d20 rules; these don't really do that.

The Inamorare is something like a muse. They get some Bard-like abilities (mostly inspiration) and of the five levels they advance in spell casting in three of them.  The Patron Mother takes on the role of training the next generation by taking on a Rapturous apprentice. In this respect, she more similar to a cleric. The Spellswinger (and I admit I like that name) swings both ways, Divine and Arcane magic. NOW this Prestige Class does require that character be able to cast Rapturous and Arcane spells.Yes, they are all about sex magic. My favorite though might be the Stormsister. These Rapturous are the strong arm of the Sisters and they punish anyone that harms women or stops love. 

The Pathfinder version also includes various archetypes for the base class. These include the Abbess (closer to her Goddess and church), Divine Virgin (celebrates the pure divine love and refrain from sex), and the Sacred Prostitute (think of the Epic of Gilgamesh), 

Chapter Three: Love's Method

This covers skills and feats.  For skills there is Knowledge (Carnal). I can't help but wonder if the author was familiar with the old AD&D Netbook Book of Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. No, don't go dig it up, it's not worth it. There is also Perform (Sexual Techniques) and various Professions.

Feats are an interesting lot and could have a lot of interesting applications.  Blown Kiss, for example,  allows the Rapturous to "blow a kiss" or deliver a touch spell/power attack at range. 

The Pathfinder also covers various traits.

The next portion of this chapter covers the Carnal Domain Spells. There are only nine, but since the publication of this book there have been plenty of others that would work.

There are some magic items. The Rings of Faithfulness are certainly interesting. 

Chapter Four: Love's Divinity

This chapter covers the various goddess of love, beauty, and sex. These include the expected Aphrodite/Venus, Isis, and Freya. Others are briefly mentioned. Shout outs to my favorites Astarte and Brigit. Additionally, we are presented with a "new" Goddess, Parvati. 

The Pathfinder version is largely the same but I think a mention of the Goddess of Love Shelyn and her lovers Desna and Sarenrae should be in order here. I feel that their combined faiths would be perfect for the Sisters of Rapture. (I know these goddesses are not "open" in terms of the OGL so they could not be included in this book).

Chapter Five: Love's Order

This details the society and church organization of the Sisters of Rapture.  This includes the religious practices of the Sisters and the roles they are play within the church organizations. 

Chapter Six Love's Relations

It seems odd to call these creatures monsters, but they are creatures/people that are associated with or related too the Sisters of Rapture. There are the Theliel, the Archons (Angels) of Passion. The Beloved, undead victims of the Succubus. The Congress of the Wolf, an all-male group in opposition to the Sisters. We just call them the Patriarchy.  There is Lileetha the Queen of the Succubi. The Half-Nymph and Huldra. The Pleasure Ooze looks like a woman but is really an ooze that wants to eat you.  As does the Venus Mantrap. 

I will say this for Pathfinder. The "Evolved" monster stat block makes it a lot easier to read than the base D&D 3.x one.

Appendix 1: Who's Who

This covers various Raprurous NPCs. Theophania Leandros the current Overmother, Althea Acarides a half-nymph Sister of  Aphrodite, Saereid an elven Sister of Freya, Ninythys a human Sister of Isis, and Kamala Siddah a humanSister of Parvati.

Appendix 2: Modern Rapturous (OGL)

Here the books differ quite a bit. The OGL version covers the Modern d20 book and how the Sisters of Rapture exist in the modern age. 

The OGL book ends with one of the most attractive-looking character sheets I have ever seen. 

Appendix 2: The Nefer-Sefet (Pathfinder)

This is a special sect of Isis-worshiping Sisters of Rapture that attach themselves to an Arcane spell caster and bolster their powers. Essentially they are a living Meta-magic battery for these arcane spell casters. 

Both the required OGL pages.

So. What to make of all of this.

Well, there is a  lot of great mechanics here. The class is solid and even if you toned down the sexual aspect of it there is a lot her that is good to play.  You have to ask though what is here that a cleric could not do or even should be able to do. This is a divine spellcaster. There are some powers, but I think a cleric could cover similar ground.  I guess at some level the differences are the same between a cleric and this class and a wizard and a witch. 

I also can't but help but admire the complete level of detail the creator has gone in on this. While others might scratching their head about where to use this class you know that T. Catt has thought about all of these things and more. It's obvious from the level of detail here.

Among other things, the half-nymph is a great idea, the various feats have some wonderful uses, and the creature section has some surprise hits.

For me there is a lot here that could be used with my various witches. I have reviewed Swine Witches and Worm Witches already in the last week. I have Green, Winter, Pagan, Hedge, evil and more witches in my own catalog, a sex(y) witch is not too far from any of those. Hell. Some of the material here would have worked just fine in my Pumpkin Spice Witch book. 

I guess each Game Master has to decide on their own how to best use this sort of book. 

 


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Paragon Hags and Occult Covens

Paragon Hags and Occult Covens
More hags and more Pathfinder tonight!  Really getting in the mood for some witchy hijinks this Halloween!

In Pathfinder (much like AD&D 2nd Ed) there is a deeper connection between hags and witches. I have looked at a few products here that explore that. This one looks promising as well.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

Paragon Hags and Occult Covens

PDF. 28 pages. Color cover. Black & White interior art. 1 cover, table of contents, 1 OGL page, rest content.

We start off with some history and the in game assumption that all hags are the daughters of hags and mortal men. These offspring are known as changelings, and will eventually become hags once they reach 15 years of age.

We get a new race, Hag, for player characters, and a new class, the Paragon Hag. 

Paragon Hags get a number of powers above and beyond that of just what the Hag race gets. Among these is the ability to cast Witch spells up to the 6th level. 

Different Hag families are detailed. Many of these are familiar. They are the Annis, Blood, Bone, Green, Hearth, Moon, Night, Sea, Storm, and Winter.

We get new archetypes to go along with the new class. There is the Cauldron Hag, Coven Mother, Focused Hag, and Mother of Steel.   So by choosing different archetypes and different hag families you can get a wide variety of hag types. 

New races and new classes mean new feats, and we have them here. Pretty good mix really. Mostly "Coven" feats, which could be used by witches as well. 

There are new Rituals and new Spells. 

Finally, we get monster stats for the Bone Hag, Hearth Hag, and another take on the Moon Hag.

I have to admit I rather like it all and will add to my growing pile of Pathfinder material to use.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Monday, September 19, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Pathfinder Bestiary 4

Still working my way through a bunch of different monster books. Been spending the month of September on Pathfinder, but today is something a little different.  Let's get to it!

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 and Box

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 and Box

Today I am going to cover the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 and the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box.  We grabbed these back in 2015 or so I believe.  My oldest was running his D&D 5e game and wanted to add more Mythos monsters to it.  We grabbed the Bestiary 4, which has quite a lot of them, and then got the box of monster pawns to go with it.  By then we had also discovered the Cthulhu Wars game at GenCon and bought a bunch of those minis for him to use. So the box has been sorely underused.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4
Pathfinder Bestiary 4

PDF and Hardcover book. 320 pages. Full-color cover and interior art. For this review, I am considering the hardcover I bought in 2014 and the PDF I got from Paizo's webstore.

We grabbed this book for the mythos monsters. There are over 250 monsters in this book, so there were plenty of reasons to grab it.

This Bestiary gives us Kaiju. This book introduces them and there are more in the Pathfinder Mythic Realms books. There are 11 kaiju mentioned and three are detailed here.  They are all mostly Chaotic Neutral, with some suspected at Chaotic Evil. All are CR 26 and higher. 

Among the Mythos creatures, which are known as Elder Mythos here, are the bhole, colour out of space, elder thing, flying polyp, mi-go, nightgaunt, ratling, Spawn of Yog-Sothoth, Star-spawn of Cthulhu, and an whole collection of "Great Old Ones" that include Bokrug, Cthulhu, Hastur, and even Dagon as a Demon prince.

I can finally do my big "Godzilla vs. Cthulhu" idea!

There are even some old favorites here like the Leanan Sidhe, Nosferatu and Swan Maidens. Even really old ones like the Lurker Above and the Trapper (Monster Manual 1 AD&D) favorites get an update here. Spoiler: They are from the same family of creatures, no shock there. 

So yeah, for a "4" in the series, this one still has great monsters to give us.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box

The Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box is filled with cardboard cut-outs of *most* of the monsters listed in the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 book.  

They are study and work fine in places where you don't have a dedicated mini.  Also, the price of the box is much more economical than getting all of these minis. 

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box
Pawns and mini comparison.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box


Pathfinder Bestiary 4 Box

There are no minis for the Kaiju or Great Old Ones. Which is one of the reasons we grabbed it.

Should have checked the back of the box I guess.

Bestiary Box contents

Still, this is great to have to fill out the places where I don't have the right mini.

Demons. Undead. Kaiju and Old Ones? Yeah, no wonder my oldest loves this one.