The latest release by Sabaton can best be described as more of the same. Of course, if you liked what they've done in the past, you will probably find little to fault in Coat of Arms. It has the same staccato guitar riffs we've come to expect as well as the usual collection of war-themed songs. This most recent release includes songs dealing with such topics as the Holocaust, the Battle of Thermopylae and Simo Häyhä, famed Finnish sniper from WWII. Solid cuts from the album include "Midway" (about the WWII battle of the same name) and "Wehrmacht" (about the Nazi war machine and the toll of war upon individual soldiers). Sabaton has also returned to the habit of releasing a heavy metal tribute song (called "Metal Ripper"), a tradition they started with Primo Victoria (2005) and Attero Dominatus (2006), but which they abandoned with The Art of War (2008).
Paizo has revealed its first playtest for the upcoming Ultimate Magic book expected next year. The new playtest unleashes a new base class, the Magus, an arcane spellcaster/fighter combination. Of course, the proof is in the play, but my first thought upon looking at it was that the Eldritch Knight prestige class has just been rendered obsolete. Heck, they even use a new version of the Eldritch Knight iconic art to illustrate the pdf (although I'm sure a new iconic will be commissioned for the final product).
Update: Upon further perusal, the Spell Combat class feature of the Magus looks awesome, maybe too awesome. I wouldn't be surprised to see it nerfed in the final product. The ability to make a full attack and cast a spell in the same round, even with the penalties on both the attacks and the concentration check (which are reduced to zero at higher levels anyway) is a potential gamebreaker.
Zack and Steve have gone in a different direction this time, presenting the best of the fan-created, erotic D&D monster art they requested a few weeks ago. I cannot begin to describe all that is wrong with this, but there is some nice Erol Otus parody in there. Just check it out.
I know that most of my readers mainly play some incarnation of Dungeons and Dragons, be it D&D 3.x/Pathfinder, some form of "old-school" D&D or, dare I speak the name, D&D 4e. I'm guessing most of you play your edition of D&D because it is your favourite tabletop rpg, although the availability of players may also be a factor. I am curious, though, what is your second favourite role-playing game or do you even have one? I know it may be difficult to decide. I have gone through periods when Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Star Frontiers, GURPS and various Star Wars-based rpgs have held that vaunted second spot. I think the recent Mongoose reboot of Traveller and the subsequent expansion of the game to other settings may make that game my no.2 right now. What about you guys?
Over the last few weeks, I have had an opportunity to assess the new base classes in the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide. My favourite is without doubt, the Alchemist. It offers interesting new capabilities to the game instead of simply repackaging options that already exist from other classes. I am also intrigued by the Summoner class, but I will reserve judgement until I see one in play. The Witch seems to be a fairly effective choice. The hex abilities are decent and the spell selection is nice, but I can't get past the feeling that the Witch is just a slightly different version of the Sorcerer with a bit of healing ability thrown in. A playable class, but not one that inspires me. The Oracle has a similar problem, it's a Sorcerer except it uses divine magic rather than arcane. Again, playable, but not especially interesting. The Cavalier is simpy boring, a fighter who rides a horse. The class features of the Cavalier are nowhere near as useful as the bonus feats of the actual Fighter class.
That leaves the Inquisitor class. This one has a lot to recommend it. The Judgment class feature is excellent and useful in a lot of different situations. There are lots of skills and lots of nice utilitarian capabilities like Track and Monster Lore. The true killer ability of the class, however, is Bane. The inquisitor can, as a swift action, imbue his weapon with the bane special ability, selecting whatever creature type he wants. Damn! He can even change the creature type as a swift action. The only restriction is that the ability can only be used for a number of rounds per day equal to the inquisitor's level. Still, that's awesome and at 12th level, the Greater Bane class feature doubles the bonus damage. The Inquisitor even has a unique feature called Stalwart. It's sort of like Evasion, but it applies to spells that require a Fort or Will save instead. A spell like disintegrate, which still causes damage with a successful Fort save, would instead do no damage if the saving throw was made. Yet, despite all this juicy goodness, I had one of those "aw hell!" moments when I noticed the Inquisitor gets a bunch of teamwork feats. I hate teamwork feats. In my experience, most gamers are lone wolf types. Sure, they can work together if the situation demands it, but they sure as heck aren't going to design their characters with cooperation as the central theme. After all, your teamwork feats are useless if you can't get some other guys in the group to commit to taking them as well. Happily, I noticed the Solo Tactics class feature of the Inquisitor, which allows him to derive benefit from his teamwork feats even if his fellow party members don't have them, as long as the other requirements are met. Since the other requirements are situational and not hardwired into the character design, they are easy to meet. So, with that poison pill thoroughly neutralized, I am happy to put the Inquisitor class near the top of my list of base classes. I still like the Alchemist a bit more, but the Inquisitor rocks. I might even start multiclassing my current cleric character.
It is with growing anticipation that I await the arrival of Chthonian Stars by Mongoose, due for release next month. Much to my delight, there has been a recent upsurge in interest in the space horror genre in the table-top rpg community. Two companies in particular, Wildfire and Posthuman Studios, have led the way with CthulhuTech and Eclipse Phase respectively. Both games have much to recommend them, in terms of game setting. The former embraces the supernatural, in the form of the Cthulhu mythos, while the latter takes a more hard sci-fi approach, with malevolent AIs and aliens serving as the main antagonists. Still, both games have features which dissuade me from embracing them wholeheartedly. In the case of CthulhuTech, the inclusion of anime stylings and a gimmicky game engine have turned me off. Eclipse Phase is somewhat more promising, but the complexity of the game is a bit much for my middle-aged brain to fully master. The d100 game engine is simple enough, but the chargen process is byzantine and the sheer volume of options would leave me at the mercy of my younger and more intellectually-agile gaming buddies were I to attempt to run a campaign.
Enter Chthonian Stars. First off, it employs the venerable Traveller engine. Nice, no surprises there. The setting seems to be nothing short of awesome. It is the 22nd century. Humanity has reached new heights. Technology has made it possible to populate the solar system. The ecological destruction of the industrial age has begun to heal. War has been rendered obsolete and the future holds the promise of even greater success for the human race. Time to put a stop to all that.
Something primeval and malevolent approaches from the interstellar void and long-dormant horrors have heard its call. Random acts of brutal violence are reported. Ships and people disappear. Strange celestial occurrences are observed. The very edge of the solar system, once seen as the new frontier, is increasingly viewed with dread, a place of nightmares and monsters from the void. And out there, ever vigilant in the Kuiper Belt is Warden 4, the Lighthouse, humanity's most distant outpost, where the Wardens, the Unified World Council's most elite agents, observe and prepare for the arrival of the Chthonian star. How much cool can you stand?
To the guys at Wildfire and Mongoose, please don't mess this up.
I'm back in Cowtown and catching up with all my regularly-scheduled activities, including blogging. Let's start off with the latest offering from Zack and Steve as they once again lay a smack down on TSR's Marvel Super Heroes game, this time, the first module, MH-1: The Breeder Bombs.
Tropical storm Earl has seen fit to keep me back east for another day. I'm watching the trees sway right now and hoping the power stays on, all the while keeping a couple of fidgety preschoolers occupied. See you all in a couple of days.
In every Pathfinder Adventure path book since the very beginning there has been a serialized fiction section. In the newer APs the fiction only spans the adventure path but the original story spanned the first 3 APs. They usually give you a feel for the setting of AP and are a decent read. Since I tend to hand off the books as fast as they come in I don't get a chance to read it until after we've played through it and by that point I often forget.
I was digging through my old issues and found that I had never finished reading the first story. I finished the first 6 parts but had never read the next 12. Well I went through them yesterday and was shocked. It totally sets up the Serpents Skull adventure path (the current one). I wonder if this was all part of the plan 4 years ago. Anyway after reading the fiction I now completely understand the opening illustration for the first part of Serpent's skull. It shows the final scene from the fiction.
I found this very cool and it makes me look forward to Serpent's Skull even more.