Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dungeon Brew Reviews: Undeafetable

When perusing your Pathfinder Core Book for feats there may be something you notice is missing:

Class Feats

That's right, for the most part the book is devoid of feats that alter, enhance, or play off of Class Features. Back when WotC supported 3.5 some of my favorite books were the Complete series. So I was a little sad that the book didn't have any neat little feats I could take that would make me say...a more unique cleric.

Enter LPJ Design's new line of products Undeafetable, short 2-4 page pdfs chock full of interesting and for the most part out of the box balanced feats for your class. Each product contains a plethora of feats for a single core class.

The Good
Most of the feats are balanced nicely, and add extra utility to a classes' defining features rather than replacing them or adding their own. The layout is simple and friendly, with feats laid out alphabetically on two collumn rows, and the black typeset is easily readable against the white background, which I find to be extremely important in pdf products.

The Evil
Remember what I said I said earlier about these feats enhancing abilities classes already have? Well, not all of them follow the formula. For instance there is a cleric feat that tramples over the schtick of the barbarian, allowing a cleric to rage. As if rekindling the 3.5 cleric's ability to steal the spotlight away from other classes wasn't enough, the ability isn't written in a concise manner, and raises some issues about how often you can use it.

Bang For Your Buck
Most of the Undeafetables are .99 cents, with three of them (for no known reason) being $1.25. However, if you get the bundles, you can get six beautiful pdfs for $5, a great deal considering that each pdf contains about 20 feats. These feats run the gamut, and you will find use in them no matter what level you play at.

The Final Verdict
All in all, I am very pleased with the product. I am looking forward to the rest of them. If they do well enough, I'm hoping they will do a series of racial feats. So cross your fingers and show your support for this great line of products.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

4th Edition Dnd Races of Zelda: Hylian

Over the following weeks I will be posting descriptions and racial traits for the most famous and best loved races in the Zelda Universe. I'll start today with the most obvious and famous: the Hylians, a race that is distinctive and apart from humans. More races will follow (including Gorons, Zora, Shiekah, Gerudo and many others!) as well as sample characters to match various campaigns in the Zelda Timeline. For now, you can simply insert these races to flavor your current 4th edition campaign and add more options for your players without buying additional supplements. Enjoy!


Average Height: 5'8" - 6'4"
Average Weight: 135-220 lb

Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom, + 2 Charisma
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 Squares
Vision: Normal

Languages: Hylian [Common]
Skill Bonuses: +2 Insight, +2 Religion
Goddesses' Protection: You have resistance radiant equal to 5 + 1/2 your level
Chosen People: You gain a +2 bonus to death saving throws
Alleviating Strike: You can use alleviating strike as an encounter power

Hylians are known as "the chosen people" of Hyrule. With their divine gifts, they excel at magic and leadership. This tends to make them very proud and many believe that humans are jealous of their favored status.

Play a Hylian if you want...
  • To have a proud heritage and strong connection with the gods
  • To have a burning ambition and strong belief in your own destiny
  • To be a member of a race that favors the cleric, paladin, invoker and avenger classes
Physical Qualities:
Hylians look very much like Humans except that they have protruding pointed ears as their main identifying feature. It is said they have longer ears so that they can hear the voices of the gods. Hylians tend to be taller and slimmer than the average human, with well defined bone structure and exceptional grace. Hylians also tend towards fair skin, blonde or red hair and blue eyes but can have any of the colors of the Human spectrum in addition to some rare members having unnatural shades such as purple or blue hair.

Hylians wear simple clothing with bright elaborate embroidery often displaying sacred and historically significant images. Regal blues, purples and pinks are common. Females wear an abundance of intricate gold jewelry with the triforce, the symbol of their godessess being most prominent.

Playing a Hylian:
Hylians tend to live in cities near the centers of power and are often in charge of local affairs or at the very least involved. They live simply and practically but that does not mean that they don't enjoy the finer things in life without being gaudy. Hylians can have a wide variety of professions but they excel at artistry and crafting. Due to their natural affinity with handling animals they also tend to raise and breed them and horses are an especially important part of their lives.

Hylians believe that they were particularly created by the three Goddesses which they worship: Din, Farore and Nayru. Each chooses one of the three Goddesses and the virtue she embodies (Power, Courage and Wisdom respectively) from a young age as a paragon to guide them. Hylians who venerate Din seek power in different forms whether it be physical, magical or political. They are very driven and will constantly try to increase their power for good or ill. Strong willed Hylians tend to choose Farore and try to live their lives without fear. They will charge into battle and refuse to yield no matter the odds and believe that with Courage they can accomplish their goals. Scholarly and intelligent Hylians honor Nayru as well as nobles, guards and leaders because she is said to have created the rule of law and reason. These individuals use their wisdom to lead, explore magical arts, heal the sick, and adventure to discover truth. Nothing will stop them in their quest for greater knowledge and they constantly seek to educate those around them.

Because of their belief in themselves as a chosen race of the Gods, Hylians tend to think lesser of the other races but that does not necessarily mean that they hate or subjugate them. Few Hylians take to outright xenophobia and most of them behave friendly and charitably to others, if perhaps too self-important. They live and work most often with Humans, being the closest to them physically, but they will adventure with most any of the traditionally benevolent races happily (Eladrin, Elves, Halflings, Dwarves, Gorons etc.) and are suspicious of the more violent and rare species (Dragonborn, Tieflings, Gerudo, Orcs, Moblins etc.)

Hylian Characteristics: proud, diplomatic, devout, valorous, charismatic, intuitive, idealist

Example Hylian Names
Hylians use simple one or two syllable names which are often passed down or significant in meaning
Auru, Fyer, Grog, Kafei, Mesa, Orca, Sakon, Shad
Agitha, Aryll, Astrid, Marin, Telma, Tetra

Examples of Hylians in the Legend of Zelda: Link, Zelda, Malon, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, Anju

Background and History in the Points of Light Campaign Setting:
Around the campfires of the world and the hearths of city taverns stories are told of the magical kingdom of Hyrule. The land of Hyrule was both beautiful and bountiful, and blessed with peace. But of course, that peace would one day be shattered. A powerful villain arose and against his power the Hyrulian kingdom could not stand. Finally the Goddesses had to intervene, and buried the villain underneath a torrent of water, so much that the great kingdom of Hyrule sank beneath the waves.

Few Hylians alive truly remember what it was like to live in Hyrule, having had so many generations pass since the nation fell, but they do remember the glory of it. Filled with pride over their history, there is a saying that Hyrule will always exist in the hearts of her people.

Hylian Lands in Points of Light Campaign Setting:
Hylians have no land in the Points of Light, and are a rare sight in the vales. They often share lands with humans, although there exists the rare Hylian village or city district. These Hylian areas are filled with majestic architecture and fine craftsmanship in an attempt to pay homage to their glorious past, but they are an exception rather than the norm.

For more information about Hylians check out:
For more information about the Goddesses:

The Legend of Zelda and all official images are property of Nintendo

Darus; Imperial Spy and Dark Side Adept

*Photography by JD Hancock, be sure to check out his great Stormtrooper pictures.

[Below you'll find a fully realized NPC for Star Wars Saga Edition. Although he was made for Rebellion or Dark Times campaigns, I've included some tips for running him in both the Legacy and Knights of the Old Republic eras as well.]

The Protective Brother

Born in the undercity on the planet of Coruscant shortly before the Clone Wars Darus Boon lived the life of a scavenger with his younger sister Lilat. Darus and his sister lived in the polluted and dangerous undercity as orphans, scurrying about in the dark, desperately trying to survive and fervently dreaming of life on the surface.

This all changed when a group of stormtrooper cadets wandered into the undercity looking for sport. What they found was a ten year old Lilat and her teenaged brother. Comments were issued and refused, and taunts were thrown at the children. Finally a stormtrooper went too far and attempted to strike the girl.

Darus erupted with fury, literally.Pouring from his body came a bombardment of force lightning, slamming into the stormtroopers and killing all but two before they could escape the twisting tunnels of the undercity.

Their report made its way directly to the Emperor, who ordered a new group into the undercity, to find the boy and deliver a message.

A Golden Ticket

When the soldiers found the boy he was ready for them, dropping from the shadowed pipes behind them and killing two with his new found Force powers. The commander of the unit quickly called for repreive, and delivered his message.

"The emperor would like to raise you, care for you and your sister, and teach you the depths of your abilities." Thus Darus threw in his lot with the Empire, and began his path as a Dark Side Adept and spy.

With the knowledge that his sister was safe on the surface of Coruscant, Darus was free to ive into the total abandon of the Dark Side of the Force. He endured rigorous tests and though he would never ascend to the leve of a Sith Warrior his path was still valuable to the Emperor. As a force empowered spy Darus is capable of uncovering and relaying information to the Empire that a normal being would never be able to attain. And with the Bothans firmly aligned with the Rebel scum the Empire needs spies now more than ever.

Using Darus in Your Campaign

As written Darus makes a great spy for the Galactic Empire. If the heroes play as Rebels, Smugglers, or other "undesirables" Darus can come in with a helpful hand and secretly relay any intel he gathers on the PCs back to the Empire. In fact, it isn't too far out of the scope of possibilty for Darus to set the PCs up, just so he can come in looking like the hero. Alternatively, Darus can easily use his imperial connections to get rare items for the party, earning their trust, all the while never discovering just how he gets his goods.

Obviously this assumes that you are running a game in either the Force Unleashed or Rebellion eras, but with only a few minor changes he can easily work in a Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) or Legacy of the Force campaign.

In KOTOR his home planet is Taris, and he reports to the Sith stationed on Korriban, possibly even serving under Darth Malak or one of the three Sith Lords who procede him. In a Legacy of the Force campaign he works under the new sith Empire, and could be spying on the Alliance or even the Emperor in exile Roan Fel.

Medium Human scout 1/noble 3
Destiny 1; Force 5; Dark Side 10
Init +2; Senses Perception +10
Languages Basic

Defenses Ref 16 (flat-footed 16), Fort 14, Will 16
hp 40; Threshold 14

Speed 6 squares
Ranged blaster pistol +2 (3d4+2) or
Ranged blaster carbine +2 (3d8+2)
Base Atk +2; Grp +1
Special Actions Shake It Off
Force Powers Known (Use the Force +10); Force grip, Force lightning, mind trick, negate energy

Abilities Str 8, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 16
Talents Connections, Improved Stealth, Spontaneous Skill
Feats Force Sensitivity, Force Training, Skill Training (Deception), Skill Training (Persuasion), Weapon Proficiency (pistols, rifles, simple weapons)
Skills Deception +10, Endurance +8, Perception +10, Persuasion +10, Stealth +7, Survival +10, Use the Force +10
Possessions hold-out blaster pistol, blaster carbine encrypted comlink, personal holoprojector, utility belt

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dungeon Brew Reviews: Martial Flavor

[The following article is part of the Small Press Week blog carnival being run by RPG Blog II. Many bloggers are coming together for this event to check out some of the great things about, and coming out of smaller rpg publishers. If you'd like to see what the other bloggers have covered this week, drop by Moebius Adventures for a complete list of links.]

Chaotic Shiny Productions
was nice enough to send me an advance copy of their upcoming title Martial Flavor, and I'd be remiss if I didn't share what I've learned about the book. Keep in mind while reading this that the book still has sometime before publication and is still undergoing some revisions and enhancements.

The Good Vs Evil Axis

Martial Flavor is a unique book detailing five martial traditions for use in your 4th edition D&D campaign. Each Chapter details a martial tradition, complete with backstory, feats, and new powers.

The Good
This book is presented in an easy to read format, with each new chapter detailing one of the five traditions, and taking us from backstory and hierarchy all the way to which 4th edition races interact with the tradition and how. This is followed by example adventurers, and new mechanics for making the organization come alive at the game table. The fluff and the crunch in this book is balanced amazingly well, with plenty of things both GMs and Players can grab onto and spin into interesting plot points and defining features. As I read through the book I couldn't help but think about how great it would be to play a Daikort Mercenary or a Legionnaire. Each chapter brings the tradition to life with in depth background, various examples of members, how they dress, and how their society views both themselves and in many cases the world around them. I was reminded of why I own so many roleplaying books, many of them are just as entertaining a read as a they are a useful resource.

Martial Flavor is a proud addition to that design philosophy. How many times have I looked through my Martial Power book and wished it went into greater detail on what it meant to be a fighter? Well, Martial Flavor offers plenty of material for that. With this book in hand you never have to worry again about your ranger looking like any other ranger. Make the character stand out, make him a Fox in a Daikort Pack, picking his way through a shady marshland with the greatest of skill. Perhaps what is so great about this book is that it not only helps you create unique characters, but it gives you in game mechanics to make those decisions actually mean something. For example if you are an Ellesin fighter, then you are the king of mounted combat, able to take brand new feats and powers to reinforce just how good you are at mounted combat.

The Evil
I know it is a growing trend with RPG book these days, but this book just doesn't have an index. The bookmarks in the pdf are amazing, but I'm one of those weird individuals who likes to print off his pdfs for long perusals in the sunlight. Beyond that, I have one word to share with you: Background. The backgrounds in this book are more akin to those that appeared in Dragon for the Scales of War (SoW) adventure path. As such they are a little more powerful than the streamlined system that is presented in the Player's Handbook 2 and Eberron Player's Guide. That having been said, some of the backgrounds even blow their SoW cousins out of the water. Chief among these is the Ikanoi, which gives you cold resistance equal to either Wisdom bonus or Constitution bonus whichever is lower, and as such is definitely something that could level with you, especially if you are playing a shaman. Compare that feature with the Sijara's background which gives them Bluff and Diplomacy and class skills and +1 to each and you see some variance in background utility even amongst the book itself.

Bang For Your Buck

So you are thinking about picking Martial Flavor up from Chaotic Shiny. Well, it retails for 19.95 so lets take a moment and examine what you get. In this 56 page tome of a gaming pdf you get an astounding 88 feats, which cover both Heroic and Paragon tier, as well as new Multiclass feats. Some of you may be wondering why one would need new multiclass feats, so be amazed because this book has 12 alternative class features to further customize your martial warrior. You also get several new utility powers for your martial classes that really flesh out how your martial warrior is different from your typical Points of Light model. But lets go back to those feats because there is one thing I'd really like to point out. A whole slew of those feats are for characters who excel at Mounted Combat, and some of the new powers and alternative class features help support the concept. If you have EVER wanted to play a mounted character in D&D 4e, then this is the book to buy, even if you don't use the tradition that goes with them. Heck, even if you want to have a mounted character from a different power source, you will find what you need in those feats. Though obviously if that's all you want you may want to look elsewere for your mount fix.

Now, what if you are a GM? Well, then this is still a pretty good resource for you, although admittedly you are missing out on some of the fun by not being able to play any of the neat new character concepts this book helps deliver. But that doesn't keep you from introducing the Legionnaires of Arytis, or throwing your part against a well trained Daikort Pack. You can easily stat out some great NPCs that will ride both sides of the ally/enemy fence. I know I keep talking about them, but I myself will be dropping the Daikort into my home campaign, they are just too great of a DM tool to not use, and the bevy of information on each tradition gives you what you need to not only run adventures featuring these warriors, but entire campaigns built around them.

The Final Verdict
If you have a martial character, or you plan on playing one then this book belongs on your digital bookshelf. The sheer number of new feats and powers and other goodies contained therein means you WILL find something of use even if you never use the martial traditions that are linked to them. As just one example you can easily mine out the entire mounted combat tidbits (like the Mounted Fighter talent and the list of racial rider feats) and use them as is. As for GMs, since the GSL came out I've purchased my fair share of products, and I haven't seen many that come to the level of dedication, balance, and just plain cool things to put in your game. The text is well written and evocative, the sidebars are placed well and are informative. Here's the gist of things, if I was to write about all the great things in this lengthy pdf I would have to go on for pages, because there is so much great material contained within.

All of that having been said, I can understand if the price tag turns you off of the book. In today's market, and especially without having seen for yourself just how much material is packed in here it can be tough to make that kind of commitment. Comparatively though, this is essentially five products at $4 each. Each one containing about 22 feats, plenty of utility powers and other tools and material to boot. Thinking of it that way makes the price make a little more sense. That having been said, if your interested, but just haven't made up your mind yet you can see a few excerpts at this page of Chaotic Shiny's website. In my opinion you should save up some cash and mark November 1st on your calendar so you can be one of the first to spice up your adventuring life with some Martial Flavor.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pick Up PC, Khava: Dragonborn Rogue

[Below you'll find the third of five Pick Up PCs for eleventh level play, each one can be downloaded and opened using the D&D Character Builder program. All five are from the Eberron campaign setting, although they can easily be ported to another campaign world if needed.]

Download Khava for use with the DDI Character Builder
Download Khava in PDF format

Although she spreads a fallacy that she is from Argonnessen, Khava is actually from the jungle regions of Q'barra, a remnant from a shattered and weak dragonborn tribe. The reason she lies is that Khava wants to be something, wants to make a name for herself that will rival the stories of the once proud Dragonorn Empire in her people's fables. By linking herself to the mysterious continent, she can rienvent herself, from jungle native, to street urchin, to legendary warrior.

She met the Ironshield brothers in the city of Stormreach while saving up for passage to Xendrick, where she hoped to start her legend. By helping Eberk to save his brother the two were indebted to Khava, and they have helped her to forge her story ever since.

Glory is Khava's overarching goal. With fame will come a vindication of all the great stories she took pride in as a child. Within her heart rests the fires of a grand dragonborn warrior, part of a tradition that stretches back to time immesuarable for the races of Khorvaire.

Khava also finds herself drawn to discover more about her people, and the dragons and their prophecy. She is always pushing the others in the group to explore more ruins that have a connection to dragons or the dragonmarked houses.

Khava has a tendency to lie. Not to be hurtful or even to get what she wants, Khava lies to make her life feel more important and wonderful than it actually is. In her mind she embellishes details to make them sound more exciting and to spotlight her unique talents.


Crimson Reversal

With this combo Khava gains complete control of any duel.

The Setup
Khava must be adjacent to a bloodied enemy and bloodied herself, and her only remaining encounter attack power must be Imperiling Strike.

The Execution
1st: Khava begins this combo by attacking with Imperiling Strike, decreasing the opponents AC defense by 4.
2nd: Khava uses her minor action to activate Hidden Blade, giving her combat advantage against her opponent for her next attack.
3rd: Khava uses her action point to give herself another standard action. In addition, due to her paragon path, she now has a +4 untyped bonus to attack rolls.
4th: With her extra standard action Khava attacks using Rogue's Recovery (with a +7 to the attack roll, against an AC reduced by 4 points for +55% chance to hit), and since she has combat advantage the attack deals (with all items and bonuses taken into account) 7d8+1d6+17. Needless to say, if the enemy isn't dead, he will be soon.

Using Khava in Your Campaign
Khava can easily be ported to most D&D campaigns, provided the dragonborn race was at some point renowned for their martial prowess. Alternatively, perhaps Khava's tribe made up those stories, and she now struggles against a world that knows nothing of the fables that made her who she is.

Using Khava as an NPC
As an ally Khava makes an interesting friend of dragonborn characters, constantly pushing those PCs to excell and do their race proud. As an opponent, Khava could be working for a sinister dragon, honing her skills as its deadly assassin.