Review: Pathways #23
By Thilo Graf
The latest installment of Rite Publishing’s FREE e-zine Pathways is 31 pages long, 1 page front cover, 10 pages advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
David Paul’s editorial column this time is about curses and what they can do in your game, as well as serving as something that whets your taste-buds for the 101 Legendary Curses-pdf Rite has just released.
Steven D. Russell, lord-protector of Rite Publishing this time provides us with a template that adds +2 to the base-CR: The Dark Tapestry-creature. Suffice to say that mental contact with such a creature is a bad idea in any circumstance, these beings also can bend space, making you miss. Worse for your PCs – mere contact may result in contacting types of madness and there actually is a new madness-affliction included: Psychospecies Disorder may result in you believing to be another species like constructs/undead etc. – with all consequences! Nice! Can we get more madness-effects? I need more… Also, the dark tapestry cloaker (CR 7) rendered in beautiful full-color by Gennifer Bone is a great illustration that make we want to see more of her work in future supplements.
Mastermind of Raging Swan Press Creighton Broadhurst also has an article in this installment, with the promising title of “Blood and Muck”. The ready-to-go EL 8 encounter pits the PCs versus a shambling mound, giant leeches and leech swarms in the confines of an inhospitable marsh. neat!
Will Myers of Adventureaweek.com provides a direct sequel to Pathways #18’s article on the mad lich Mek’Madius – The tunnels through which the PCs track the mad arcanist are guarded by Fighters of the Scorched Mind, the result of Mek’Madius also included signature spell “Curse of the Scorched Mind”. While said spell only has a range of touch, it is rules-wise problematic: It is no curse per se (why? continuous fire-damage every couple of hours, upon death transformation. Sounds cool…) and instead works like a save-or-die spell that animates those killed and turns them into advanced versions of burning skeletons. I’d scream and froth at the spell being unbalanced, were it not for the material component Sun Shard (which should be “focus” unless the shard is consumed by the casting) and the 10 minute-casting time that clearly denotes this as a ritual-spell that won’t see use in combat situations. That’s also why I don’t complain about the save-or-die nature (PFRPG usually handles that with massive damage instead) or the low level (7) for the relative power of the spell, which would with a faster casting time be on the upper end of level 9.
Mike Welham also contributes to this issue by providing us with (unless I miscounted) 20 new qualities to add to magical branding irons: by branding magical beasts or animals, owners can thus scry their livestock, harden them, calm them, make the riders of e.g. branded horses benefit from feats they otherwise wouldn’t have, enhance jumps etc. A great article and it’s only one step to remove those type-restrictions and make those brands tools of malevolent slavers that brand their property and enhance their slave-soldiers for hire via the signs of their subjugation. At least that’s what I’ll develop from the basic idea.
Now if you don’t want to read through my whole catalogue of reviews, this issue will also be interesting for you since it features my personal (and highly subjective) best-of-2012-list, so if you want to check whether you’ve missed some of the coolest files for PFRPG, here’s a good place to look.
The pdf also features an interview, this time with Jaye Sonia, mastermind of Storm Bunny Studios and their evocative blend of Norse-myth and electricity-based technology called stormpunk in their setting Rhûne and should offer some interesting tidbits of information. Also, if you’re like me and look forward to Black Star Games Shadowlands-setting, Jaye is involved with that one as well.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches this time around. The streamlined full-color, 2-column layout by Elton J. Robb makes the magazine feel professional and the artwork-selection this time around is better than usual for Pathways, providing each article with a nice piece that captures perfectly the style of the article. Kudos! The magazine also comes fully bookmarked, which is nice.
All in all, we get a nice issue of the e-zine with interesting, versatile content and cool pieces of information – all for free! So yes, this pdf is worth your bandwidth and space on your HD and worth my 5 stars + seal of approval for high-quality, free content.
Pathways #23 is available from: