Sunday, March 4, 2012

Heroes of the Elemental Chaos

Sorry that Ive been gone for a while, Ive just been at a loss for things to talk about lately. Heres a review of the newest release for 4th edition. Heroes of elemental chaos

Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
Player's Option D&D Game Supplement
RPG Staff
Masters of fire and earth. Lords of air and water. This tome is the definitive sourcebook for creating and playing characters with ties to the Elemental Chaos and the primordial beings that dwell there. It shows how the elements can influence heroes of the natural world and presents elemental-themed character options for players.
In addition to discussing elemental power and presenting new character themes with strong story hooks, this book includes new class builds -- including the elementalist and the sha'ir -- and new feats and paragon paths designed to tie existing characters more closely to the Elemental Chaos.
Item Details 
Item Code: 356170000 Release Date: February 21, 2012 Series: Player's Option D&D Game Supplement Format: Hardcover Page Count: 160 Price: $29.95 ISBN: 978-0-7869-5981-5
Given the player focus of this book, I wasn't exactly expecting much in the way of DM elements beyond, perhaps, Hero of the Feywild's interjections. While it doesn't quite have the same charm as the Feywild supplement had, I thoroughly enjoyed what flavor was offered. The comprehensive list of primordials and choice explanations provide me with quite a lot in a small package: a headless titan wandering the chaos seeking to reunite with his severed head, which is entombed by the gods and jibbers all sorts of blasphemy and primeval magic for anyone to steal. Or how about the progenitor hydra who was utterly smashed to smithereens by Kord and whose entrails have slowly been collected by his remaining followers over the last age and fed in hopes of him regenerating. Great stuff, in my opinion. I also very much like the elemental companion rules in here, which have a symbiotic bend, actually housing inside a PC and offering two kinds of benefits. That has a TON of potential for reflavoring.

Character option wise, I was most interested in the Elementalist, which gives us an Essentials sorcerer; the elemental Monk options, which give us Benders ala Avatar (and a creative player could easily take it the rest of the way through his descriptions); and the Sha'ir, which I still wish was another sorcerer build, but like it or not Wizards are the go to for all magic, and their wealth of spells is the only reason I'm not completely sore over the topic. They use elemental familiars to great affect. There's also options for barbarians, warlocks, druids, but nothing really leaped out at me as brilliant. I thought the magic items and boons were pretty nice, as well.

Overall, I think this book is good in so far as being a player supplement, but many of us want more information on the Primordials. This book would have been great as a year 2 supplement in 4e's sadly shrinking life, not a year 3.5 product. I also believe this book should have been released in tandem with something juicy for DMs. Plane Below was nice, but more of an overview of everything in the maelstrom. Give me the specifics of the primordials and their prisons, cults and loyal servants, plots and secrets, give me all sorts of material I can work with and thus better integrate the player material.

I give Heroes of the Elemental Chaos a 4/5, because I do see plenty of material I and others will be using, I am a sucker for the primordials to begin with.

Friday, February 10, 2012

So want a free look at pathfinder?

Pathfinder is released under an open game license so that makes it completely legal to repackage and edit their content and release it. A project called d20pfsrd has done just this. These documents are the text only with relevant charts reworked. The artwork is all copyrighted by various artists and presumably pizzo. These documents are free to download not not illegal in anyway. They include the full text of the rules for the game and can be used as a great reference on a computer when your planing or playing games.

The first is the core book
This is the monster guide

If you want a dynamic reference the site has a wiki of all the rules and content in a very easy to use format.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pathfinder vs. 3.5: Races

When you look at the books the first thing you notice is how thick the pathfinder book is in comparison to the 3.5 book. 3.5 D&D is 316 pages long, Pathfinder however is 574 pages. The main reason for this is pathfinder does not separate its player and GM

So The first thing you do in either pathfinder or 3.5 is choose your race. The base races in both games are Human, Halfling, Gnome, Half Orc, Dwarf, Half elf, and Elf. In pathfinder the races are much more powerful. However even though they are more powerful in comparison with their 3.5 counterparts they are closer in power level in comparison with each other. From a strictly power gamer viewpoint there was little reason to play some races in 3.5. Halflings and Half elves in particular got the shaft in power level.

In pathfinder each race has +2 to two different stats and gets a -2 to one they also have a variety of unique abilities. for instance dwarves get bonuses to appraise skill checks, attack bonuses against orcs and goblins, bonuses to poison and spell saves, defense bonuses against bull rushes, perception bonuses in relation to stonework, and automatic proficiency with any weapon with the dwarven keyword and battleaxes, heavy picks and war-hammers.

The exceptions to the +2 to two stats are humans and the half humans, they all get +2 to a stat of their choice.  Just like everything in pathfinder, its very close to 3.5 but slightly more tunned.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


So I bought the pathfinder core book a few days ago. If you have not heard of Pathfinder it’s a split off of the D&D brand. Basically when 4th edition came out some of the main guys behind 3rd and 3.5 switched companies and started the Pathfinder system with Piazo entertainment. My first impressions of Pathfinder is that it is very a very close cousin to 3.5 D&D. Most of the core concepts are exactly the same. In fact without careful examination it’s hard to tell that it is even different than 3.5.  Many of the skills have been changes, feats reworked and concepts tightened but under the hood it’s still basically Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition.
Over the next couple weeks I’m going to go through the book and explain how each chapter is different than its 3.5 counterpart.   I’d like to see some comments especially from anyone who has planned or run any games.

Below you will see some awesome pictures of classes from Pathfinder. They are as follows: Barbarian, Samurai, Paladin, and Monk.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Edition and my thoughts

I guess as a D&D blog I'm required to talk about the news that wizards is planning 5th edition. If you havent heard WoTC is planning to crowd source for ideas on how to proceed with a new edition of D&D. Its only been 5 years since 4th edition launched and its had mixed response from critics. Many myself included feel that 4th edition is too combat oriented. You hear "it feels like a video game" a lot when people first play the game. I agree with these people however I also feel that despite this focus on combat oriented gaming a good GM can work with the rules to create a good story.

One thing I feel is that the Pathfinder RPG has been taking a bite out of wizards RPG pie. Pathfinder if you've not heard of it is a spin-off RPG that Monte Cook and some other big name D&D designers left wizards to produce under the pizzo games label. Pathfinder is like a souped up D&D 3.5 with many of its flaws fixed and less attention on power creep to sell product and more attention on whats good for the game overall. Therein lies the problem with 4th edition.

Wizards of the coast got its success with magic the gathering, its a company whos business model relies on pumping out new product every 6 to 8 months and keeping their consumer base interested with new and even more awesome stuff all the time. D&D was purchased when TSR the former owner was bought out by the company. WoTC in turn is owned by Hasbro. Ever since WoTC bought the D&D brand I've gotten the feeling that they have tried to turn it into another Magic: the gathering type business where they pump out new and better product every few months regardless to the consequences for the power level and balance of the game.

If WoTC wants to get it right with 5th edition they need to take a serious look at their business model. As A player of 15+ years I look for quality in RPG products not quantity. I want the most bang for my gaming dollar. Often Wizards has been producing smaller and smaller books with less and less actual useful content for higher and higher prices. I quit playing Magic about five years ago cause I couldn't afford to keep up at the rate they produced product and stay competitive.

Yes you can make a quick buck with offerings like last months book of vile darkness which was so thin Ive seen pamphlets with more pages yet still cost as much as a book with 3 times its girth. but if you really want to rehabilitate the brand you need to step back and refocus on the core audience that you have seen drift off with the 4th edition crowd. Long time gamers like me that have been buying books since the 90's and before (I know some of you guys have been buying since the 70's... not my point) We look for a quality product. If its not there release after hurried release we naturally are going to drift off.

I sincerely hope that wizards gets it right with 5th edition because If its another failed get rich quick scheme I will probably leave the brand that got me into roleplaying in the first place for greener pastures.