This magazine from fans, for fans, clocks in at 84 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 78 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Well, first, before we do…let me ask you why you’re still reading this instead of downloading this right now. The Wayfinder magazine is FREE, costs absolutely ZILCH and contains evocative, unique material. Even if you don’t play Pathfinder, the excellent artwork tends to make the magazine a great download to just print out and use the art as handouts. So yes, I do believe that you should download all of them right now.
That being said, while I usually don’t do (much) reviews of FREE products, I was asked by my patreons to review this – so there you go, ladies and gentlemen, prioritized on your behalf.
We begin this pdf after an introduction with 3 archetypes crafted by Jeff Lee: The Seelie Proctor arcanist, the Seelie River Pilot ranger and the Troll Hunter slayer. The seelie proctor gets a modified spell list and replaces a spellbook with a familiar and instead of 3rd level’s exploit, teh archetype gains +2 to saves vs. enchantment as well as scaling DR/cold iron, with 5th level providing a ward that can fortify against the tricks of the fey. The river pilots also gain a modified skill list and also a modified proficiency list and is locked into the two-handed weapon style. The archetype is particularly adept at spotting things in the water and extends the favored terrain bonuses beyond their usual benefits. 4th level nets the option to use polearms to grapple foes and hold them at bay – this ability’s pretty impressive! The troll hunter can quickly draw and apply alchemist’s fire and acid and preemptively counter-AoO attacks executed via natural reach, with higher levels mitigating the penalties of dealing with larger foes and suppressing regeneration. All in all, cool archetypes – and since Jeff Lee is the author, I’m not that surprised here; he has a track record of quality work!
If that wasn’t ample clue – this issue’s theme would be the River Kingdoms. The next article deals with race-specific poisons, crafted by John Laffan: Here, we have poisons that only affect fey and gnomes…but also a kind of drug that is a blend of halfling pipeweed that can calm the user…per the calm emotions spell. The spell is not properly italicized and the effect lacks a spell level for interaction with magic etc., to nitpick that one. The duality of poison/drug is further explored in orcish war drugs, hellgate sap etc. – all in all, I like this chapter for the idea of drug/poison duality (and we need more of those fantastic battle drugs), but balancing is pretty off: Hymbria’s joy, at only -1d4 Wis and 1 hour duration, allows for d20-rerolls for any such roll during the duration. This means atk, saves, skill-checks…for 420 Gp, that is hardcore underpriced. Oh, and the addition DC at 13 is very low as well. Nice ideas, not sold on the execution.
In the classic weal or woe column, Jacob W. Michaels provides Honit Quaedel, a changeling spiritualist 6 and Chittri Drenchfur, a ratfolk kineticist, both with full stats and artworks that will drop your jaw; we’re talking about 1st-party-quality that could potentially be straight from a Paizo or WotC-book; Tanyaporn Sangsnit’s art knocks it right out of the park for both NPCs and provides great aesthetics for two well-crafted NPCs.
Now, the obeisance mechanics introduced in Inner Sea Gods are pretty intriguing, but haven’t yet seen wide support. The next article, penned by Matt Duval, does provide evangelist, sentinel and exalted boons for adherents of Gyronna and Hanspur – both of which come with more than thematically fitting options. Power-level wise, they similarly are neat – no undue complaints here.
Next up would be a short story by Benjamin Fields, lavishly depicted in Mike Lowe’s signature and very unique style in another aesthetic high-point – both visually and from the craftsmanship of the prose – kudos to the author and artist!
Next up would be an article after my tastes – veteran Thomas LeBlanc delivers an excursion on the fantastic flora and fauna found in the river kingdoms, with mosswater gecko skins, dumb psykoleet birds that can double as soulbound puppets, bog wires – the section is inspired, fun and evocative and bereft of issues. Two thumbs up for perhaps the most easily scavenged article herein!
Jacob W, Michaels’ chosen sovereign paladin archetype don’t have to be good and replace smite and detect evil with a symbol of authority that can be used to duplicate domain powers of the chosen deity a limited number of times per day. On a nitpicky side: The ability implies a duration for the abilities, which is nice for non-instantaneous durations; however, at the same time, speaking of duration for such may be problematic; limiting the ability to non-instantaneous effects from the get-go would have prevented that. At higher level, the archetype gets followers and may apply magic planar traits a limited number of rounds on her surroundings – this is very powerful, considering that we have dead and wild magic here. Additionally, the ability fails to specify whether the changed planar traits apply to the character as well; usually, they probably wouldn’t precedence-case wise, but considering how the effect changes planar traits, I don’t know.
The next chapter deals with an alchemical substance, bonesteel brine, that can render bone, chitin, etc. hard as steel as well as a permanent, wondrous version. Bone weapons usually cost half as much as their steel equivalents, with the permanent unguent clocking in at 2, 500 gp. GMs should do the math here, for while this does not necessarily cause issues in most games, it very well may cause problems in some games…particularly considering the ramifications beyond the immediately obvious – siege weapons, ships, etc. And yes, I actually like the visuals, but still, as a reviewer, I need to mention that.
Robert Feather provides to river kingdoms anthems (sung to “Pastures of Plenty” and “This Land is Your Land” -and particularly the latter really cracked me up! Two thumbs up here! Kendra Leigh Speedling introduces is to the everbloom monastery, mapped in full color by Alex Moore, featuring places of interest and notable persons as well as a proper settlement statblock – kudos! Were this a commercial publication, I’d ask for nomenclature, local clothing, rumors and sample events, but as far as free is concerned, I really enjoyed this nice drag and drop environment.
Landon Bellavia goes on to provide 4 scaling magic items (using the Pathfinder Unchained rules) that include a guild dagger, a palette that somewhat hearkens back to the classic 3.X Gallery of Evil module in aesthetics, if not in effects, eel-armor and a belt that enhances your physical prowess. The art provided by Carlos Torreblanca and Snow Conrad for 2 of the items is excellent – particularly the palette is gorgeous. As for the rules – I generally like the intent of the items, but I wished they were a bit bolder: The benefits granted are pretty conservative. More unique effects would have been nice to see here.
Nikolai Geier, Aaron Filipowich, Brian Hagger, Chuck DiTusa, Dixon Cohee and Scott Young provide adventure seeds for your perusal in the next article – and honestly, a GM can never have enough of those. Spencer Griffon provides 6 new regional traits for the river kingdoms (with proper bonus type in all cases but one) as well as 3 feats: One is a pretty bland +2-type of feat, but the other two are more interesting and help you by providing 1/day freedom of movement tied to your oaths and code and the other allows you to add numeric benefits to ONE spell with verbal components for a kind of specialization. The traits are more intriguing than the feats here, but they are worth being checked out.
Garrett Guillotte, also no stranger to the tender ministrations of my reviewer’s pen, has 3 archetypes for us: The repossessor brawler is particularly adept at tracking down objects once owned by other persons and may smack those attempting to Bluff/intimidate them for a significant bonus on counter Intimidation as well as nonlethal damage, with 5th level improving disarm and allowing for the removal of e.g. hand or wrist slot items via disarm a limited amount of times per day – basically the thug-way as opposed to the stealing way. Makes sense. The road judge cavalier represents the traveling, who may 1/day daze those in hearing range with a shout and a blending of challenge and confess. Beyond that, we also get a new order for the archetype that can counter silence (not properly italicized here), traverse difficult terrain and later severely punish oathbreakers. I *really* love this archetype – it would work just as well in a historic or rare/no-magic setting regarding its flavor. Two thumbs up! The low roads gunslinger gets a modified deed-list that emphasizes defensive shooting, ranged sunder and a means to generate a standoff at higher levels, with mechanically feasible rules to supplement the concept – and yes, this is design-wise more difficult than it sounds. All in all, a solid, nice array of archetypes. Speaking of gunslingers, Elliot Smith has another, nice short story for us here.
The next article provides us with Lazlo’s Ferry, another settlement with notable NPCs, sites of interest and settlement statblock – and much like aforementioned monastery, it is an evocative piece, though this one does not have a map of its own, which constitutes a slight detriment. Chuck Di Tusa’s prose is neat, though, and Tanyaporn Sangsnit’s artwork once again is STUNNING. James McTeague provides a short ACG adventure next…and I honestly can’t judge it. I never got into the card game. Sorry.
Jeff Lee is up next with a selection of magic items to be found within the river kingdoms – 3 to be precise: We get the cursed water of Gyronna that can taint the water supply of whole kingdoms; there is the halberd nakar’s fang that can grow barbs, trading accuracy for bleeding damage and there would be the artifact, lavishly rendered by Carlos Torreblanca, the scepter of the river kingdoms – this powerful item can not only help the wielder with various SPs, it also can ensure that contracts are heeded…something more than desirable in the tumultuous political landscape of the river kingdoms. Kudos!!
Jeff Sexton and Ian Turner introduce the alchemedic, who may dilute and share mutagens …and gains bonus extract slots for conjuration (healing) extracts and the archetype may also increase the mundane healing tricks. A whole array of healing supplementing discoveries that build on healing bombs and the like can be found in this article as well – and generally, I like the idea and much of its components, though there are some minor hiccups in the rules here and there. Still, considering the breadth covered, not a bad job!
Unique little cultural vista: Amy C. Goodenough and Brandon Ward provide a lore-only look at the ratfolk of Canboulon in an all too brief article before Jeffrey Swank has 4 more items for us: The first of these would be a crone’s hat that can be used every 1d4 +1 rounds to emit a cackle that deals AoE Str-damage (OUCH!) -this is imho underpriced at 12K considering its additional properties and probably should have a 24-hour-caveat akin to hexes. The disguise self referenced in the item is not italicized, as a nitpick. There is also a button that can emit bad luck, a trident that can impale on critical hits and a jack-o’-lantern that can animate particularly nasty undead. All in all, a solid article.
Dixon Cohee takes us on a brief echo wood exploration log before Thomas LeBlanc provides a small side-trek encounter with kingdom boons for the resolution. Kendra Lee Speedling has a taldan fighter(swordlord)/aldori swordlord and a river rat rogue NPC for us in another neat weal or woe NPC-array.
Music suffuses Matt Roth’s article: It deals with bardic masterpieces – 7, to be precise: A Dance Through the Fishponds allows for dueling dodges, AoE ferocity, allowing water breathing creatures to remain on land, better poison use – the masterpieces here generally feel like they are worth the exchange and feature the sense of the evocative I like to see in them. Nice work!
Charlie Bell’s article may not be the most flashy – but I am pretty certain it will be among the first I use. Why? Two words: Sample armies. There is a veritable dearth regarding armies and army stats in PFRPG and from Daggermark elite assassins to scrags, this delivers. Thank you! And yes, if you’re playing kingmaker: Aligned with places like Uringen etc. NICE. Oh, and it does have a new army tactic, a new resource (keelboat) and new special abilities. So yeah – neat indeed!
Slightly spooky: Spencer Griffin’s Dicide and Conquer article features a nasty CR 5 haunt as well as a magic item in two variants that interacts with the kingdom building rules. Cool article. Kelly Pawlik of dire rugrat publishing provides a brief tavern sketch here as well, with the cozy Hut, a tavern situated near the Sellen river – including 8 nice rumors. (And if you like Kelly’s style, check out her very affordable pdfs!)
Next, Dana Huber provides a neat piece of lore with her “Song of the Sellen”, a traditional tune, before Kiel Howell introduces us to the personal srcivener’s guild, in a fluff-centric look at an interesting organization – one that I wished was longer. After that, Charlie Brooks takes us on a horrific little short story with “Matters of Faith” , before Garrett Guillotte’s 10-level reformer PrC is next.
The reformer must worship a deity and have at least 5 levels, gaining 3/4 BAB-progression as well as 1/2 Will-save progression and 6+Int skills per level. The class needs to maintain deific obedience on a daily basis, but does gain better skills and may even generate deviations from established doctrine and progressively higher boons, culminating in a gnostic schism – think about the PRC as basically the secret agent version of Martin Luther. Interesting, though I wished it was less focused on the sometimes clunky deific obedience mechanics…that’s not the PrC’s fault, though.
Of course, such a massive book needs spells, right? Well, Alexander Wersching and Brian Minhinnick are here to oblige with 8 new spells – they are neat, though I have an issue: I have read at least 3000 third party spells; probably more, but 3K are what I can definitely state; I’ve seen the concepts before. That doesn’t make these bad, mind you – it just means I’m a spoiled rotten bastard reviewer. 😉
Steven Lloyd Wilson has a nice lore article for us next, namely one that deals with cuisine magic – I enjoyed it as one of the often overlooked aspects of fantasy roleplaying, though I wished it used cuisine magic (see Flaming Crab Games’ pdf) to supplement specific, unique dishes.
Spencer Griffin is not yet done – not by a long shot – in another collection of magic items, we get 14 magic items, though their focus is novel in that they specifically are designed to interact with the kingdom building rules – and I love them for that. Can we have more of them, please? Two thumbs up!
The pdf does contain even more NPCs – a tiefling bard/ranger and an aasimar rogue/assassin in a nice twist of the clichés, supplemented by neat artwork by Beatrice Pelagatti. After another short story, this time penned by Matt Roth, we come to a sidetrek adventure penned by none other than Tim Nightengale, intended for 5th level. Within the Embeth forest, there seem to have been some disappearances and the PCs are sent forth to investigate, pitching the PCs against a neat blend of fey, plant creatures and something rarely encountered…what? I’m not spoiling that!
All right, and here’s the final section of the book – the bestiary. These critters were penned by Russ Brown (of Rusted Iron Games), Matt Duval, Joe Kondrak, Thomas LeBlanc, John Lessing, Mark Nordheim, Kendra Leigh Speedling and Jeffrey Swank, illustrated by Becky Barnes, Lynette Fetters, Michael Jaecks, Chris L- Kimball, Adam Koča, Danny Hedager Krog and Dionisis Milonas.
We begin with the CR 1 blood sapling – grown from a corpse buried to the head in soil, this twisted plant creature feasts on nearby bleeding and dying creatures and may spray a blinding sap at foes. The beautifully rendered gaint knifewing dragonfly at CR 3 is a surprisingly cool vermin, with functionality and “realism” suffusing the flavor as their wings cut foes to ribbons. The Ferrywight can dip its oars in the water, making it enervating, which is kinda cool – though I’ve seen the undead ferryman too often by now…for me as a person, I’ll stick to big bad Charron. Similarly, the CR 6 Hearth Wraith is a trope I am pretty familiar with at this point – while by no means a bad build, it falls short of the CR 12 river raken that can run vessels aground and even move on land – much like real krakens can. A heartfelt kudos to the artist that provided the artwork for the CR 12 predatory sandbar – what could have been a solid ooze is rendered significantly more captivating by a glorious artwork. Now yes, I know I have bashed the aforementioned wraiths a bit – but there are some concepts that work for me: The Cr +2 river wraith with its unique ability array may also be a familiar trope, but I feel like it does its job slightly better. The Tsemauis at CR 6 look like a log with protusion from the top – below the surface, though, they are basically a magical variant of a particularly nasty orca, hell-bent on eating PCs. Oh, and though they only are CR 6 – one failed save after their gore and they have bisected you. Game over. Yes. I know. Massive damage would make more sense. Unfair. Yadda-yadda. I’m a killer-GM. I don’t care. I like that they actually are lethal as all hell. Their artwork is also pretty impressive an thus, we end this book on a definite high note!
Editing and formatting, both on a formal and rules-language level, is significantly better than in many a commercial publication I have reviewed – that is to say: Very good. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard that is easy to read. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and features a TON or gorgeous original artwork by: Becky Barnes, Catherine Batka, Darran Caldemeyer, Snow Conrad, Jeremy Corff, Liz Courts, Andrew DeFelice, Jess Door, Lynnette Fetters, Silvia Gonzalez, Michael Jaecks, James Keegan, Chris L. Kimball, Adam Koča, Danny Hedager Krog, Alberto Ortiz Leon, Mike Lowe, Dio Mahesa, Dave Mallon, Jesse Mohn, Dionisis Milonas, Alex Moore, Beatrice Pelagatti, dodeqaa Polyhedra, Basil Arnould Price, Tanyaporn Sangsnit, Kristiina Seppä, Carlos Torreblanca, and Todd Westcot.
Beyond these artists, the following authors have contributed to this issue: Charlie Bell, Landon Bellavia, Charlie Brooks, Russ Brown, Dixon Cohee, Chuck DiTusa, Matt Duval, Robert Feather, Benjamin Fields, Aaron Filipowich, Nikolai Geier, Spencer Giffin, Amy Goodenough, Garrett Guillotte, Bran Hagger, Kiel Howell, Dana Huber, Joe Kondrak, John Laffan, Thomas LeBlanc, Jeff Lee, John Leising, James McTeague, Jacob W. Michaels, Brian Minhinnick, Tim Nightengale, Mark Nordheim, Kelly Pawlik, Matt Roth, Jeff Sexton, Elliot Smith, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Jeffrey Swank, Ian Turner, Brendan Ward, Steven Lloyd Wilson, Alexander Wreschnig, and Scott Young. Cartography was provided by none other than Liz Courts and Alex Moore.
There is a lot of love that has gone into this magazine and it shows everywhere – from superb artworks to great ideas, there are some true gems to be found here. While not all pieces of content may be perfectly polished gems, there is an exceedingly high chance you will find something astounding and useful herein…and if you’re playing Kingmaker (or in the River Kingdoms or a similar environment) this suddenly becomes pretty much a must-own, non-optional supplement to your game. Even if this was a commercial enterprise, it would rate highly in my scale; considering that this very much is a labor of love and FREE is staggering and humbling; to the point where I’d honestly recommend getting the print for this one, provided you can afford it. And if you’re not sure…well, you can just download it.
This is a labor of love and a testament to the health and commitment of the community I love. It is my utmost pleasure to rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. Download this ASAP; now. It is worth every KB, ever MB on your hard drive.
You can (and should) download Wayfinder #15 here on Paizo!