Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Enemies of NeoExodus: Folding Circle


 

So the first of the two products Louis Porter Jr sent for me to review, both are Enemies of NeoExodus products. So far, I've only encountered these two products and the FreeRPGDay adventure. Now during FreeRPGDay I ran into a few issues with one of the characters for the adventure, I ended up having to download the Karissa character on my phone to be able to play her, which was not a good situation for the first encounter with one of Louis Porter's products. The Karissa character sheet in the adventure has another character's skills and equipment, which completely doesn't match what she is. Folding Circle counters that initial reaction, and actually makes me want to find out more about NeoExodus.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I WILL BE DISCUSSING THIS IN ENOUGH DETAIL TO SPOIL THIS FOR YOU IF YOU'RE A PLAYER IN A NEOEXODUS GAME. IF YOU'RE A SNEAKY GIT WHO IT LOOKING FOR SAID INFORMATION, ROLL A KNOWLEDGE (LOCAL) CHECK DC 46 PLZ.

In the world of Exodus, there are none that are more dangerous than the five person lead terrorist and criminal organization known as the Folding Circle. The Folding Circle rarely concerns itself with large-scale military style movements – The Folding Circle prefers to work with pinpoint strikes, sending a small group of powerful individuals to achieve some aim or another. Usually, one of the leaders will travel out to wherever a problem or opportunity has arisen and deal with it accordingly. The Folding circle doesn’t control territory in the sense that a nation does. The members of this organization are highly mobile and powerful, capable of traveling to an area spied through the Star Fountain, dealing with the “problem”, and returning. This travel capability means that a member of the Folding Circle can appear anywhere, at any time, with basically no warning. This supplement includes:

History of the Folding Circle
The Folding Circle – Goals and Agenda
The History of the Leader of the Folding Circle: Makesh the Undying (CR 4, 10, 14, 20 & 24), Nysska (CR 3, 7, 11, 15 & 19), The Destoyer (CR 5, 9, 13, 17 & 21), Emok Zenyaka (CR 2, 6, 10, 14 & 19), and Haru Anon (CR 5, 10, 15, 20 & 25)
Relations with the World of Exodus
Four all new Protégé Feats
Allies of the Folding Circle: Seeker-in-Flame (CR 10), Axo the Wildstorm (CR 14) and The eight members of the Brotherhood (CR 10 – 15)
Initiative and Monster Cards
NeoExodus: A House Divided Character Sheet
Combat & Initiative Tracker


This 80 page PDF is just the sort of thing needed for DMs to get started playing in the fantasy world of NeoExodus. 



What you get: I'm reviewing the PDF version of the Pathfinder compatible NeoExodus Campaign setting supplement Enemies of NeoExodus: Folding Circle. 80 pages, including cover, the OGL License and the final 5 pages are fillable initiative cards, 2 page character sheet, and a combat tracker. Full color artwork graces the pages. The layout is 2 column and easy on the printers. You effectively get 73 pages of game supplement.

Main Review: This book's main focus is to present an adversarial group, and boy does it. The first pages of fluff are an interesting story of Makesh. The history of how he came to lead the Folding Circle is presented in the first 7 pages, the writing was excellent, and compelling to read. It tells how each of 5 leaders came to power. The group is presented as a hit and run organization that uses its power to punish those it disagrees with.

The main 5 of the group are presented with multiple Stat blocks providing challenges for all levels, Makesh himself ends up as a 22nd level cleric, I wonder if he's just using the Epic Rules for 3.5 for that.
Here's the header for the stat blocks:
"The Leaders
The five leaders of the Folding Circle are more or less equivalent to supervillains – they can really put the hurt on a party. They are built using core (partially), but are intended to challenge slightly munchkiny parties with access to a variety of books. Their CRs are technically
linked to their class level, however each also has unique powers that almost certainly put them over the top – CRs may be adjusted from +0 (for the lowest level versions) up to +4 (for the highest level versions), depending on GM judgment and the party they’re up against. Note
that all leaders are given full character wealth, and maximum hit points – although hit points can be normalized if you wish. Keep in mind that without some degree of party planning and research, these NPCs can quite easily pull a complete party killing."

  This is really apparent with the "CR4" Makesh, who can hit for a whopping 3d8+8 dmg with his maul, which criticals for x3. This is 33-96 dmg on a crit, he's also large so that 10ft reach is going to play a major role in combat.   He only becomes more insane as the CR increases, he gains the Necroregeneration power which grants him equal regeneration to damage inflicted. Destruction, disintegration as spells can easily tip an already painful battle toward a TPK of irrecoverable magnitude, as they can't even be resurrected, as the souls become part of Makesh's retinue. This entire enemy unit conjures the image of Epic play, ultra powerful bad guys, on par with Rune Lords, Melnibonean Lords and Sauron himself. I doubt I would ever use the lower CR incarnations, this would be end game material for me. Let them encounter the peons of the folding circle, let them find the smoking ruins of entire cities, marked for death by the symbol of Makesh. Nysska is the Exodite (looks like a dark elf, but they're more shade-like, having the ability to Shadow Jump as a racial ability.) The character is an assassin built around those racial abilities. At CR 19 she's a monstrous assassin with greater invis, shadow jump, and the ability to single shot characters who are unprepared, plus the silent death ability, those around the victim might not realize it happened til she's already gone. The destroyer is as scary as he sounds. I think his form was chosen not by Peter Venkman as the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, but as a furry, snarling, leap the gap between two buildings, and cut your face off, kind of destroyer with an AC of 40 and over 500 HP!!!! Also, he can fully regenerate after death...unless his body is destroyed...isn't that fun? Emok is a demon in a pyrmidian body, that at CR21 is a 20th level Conjurer wizard. Haru at the CR25 apex of its power is not so dangerous in physical combat as it is in its Area effect ranged attacks and its deadly aura, those killed within 60ft of it are automatically drawn into the maelstrom of spirits. This particular monstrosity is perfect in any game, easily liftable in any of its CRs to provide a challenge outside of this group.

I really like the section on how the group interacts with the various regions and governments, this really makes the group more fleshed out as it has a place in the world.

More NPCs fill the pages of the book as well, many having full color illustrations. These lower ranked NPCs  range from a CR4 Mephit rogue to the CR15 Brotherhood leader Lo-Dora. The most common CR is 10, which is a good CR for decent challenges in my opinion. Especially for the sweet spot of 6-8, where characters are beginning to have personality without having rule-bloat.

Artwork: LPJ uses full color pieces that are around the same level as Paizo. The big fellow on the cover is Makesh. Lots of unique looking characters grace the page, what's lacking is an abundance of normal looking characters, I don't know if this is common for the setting, or if this is what you get for

Crunchtime! Crunchtime is where I talk about the crunchy bits of the book, mechanics, magic items, new feats, etc. To become one ask one, or something like that, to be a member of the Folding Circle, you must possess a protege feat. Each of the four villains has a protege feat, which grants bonuses and allows interaction with the circle. These are good for lower level enemies for characters, or as feats for use in an evil campaign that is Folding Circle centric. Scattered throughout the book in sidebards, are magic items, feats, a new sorcerer bloodline and even an Artifact. I particularly like the Scythe of Wood's Heart, which not only uses the new 'calling' item feature, but is able to be planted, and become a CR8 treant until killed or commanded to return to scythe form. The calling item ability is a +1 ability that allows the item to be summoned to the users grasp from anywhere on the same plane of existence. I think this might be too good for a +1 ability, but since it uses a swift action it can't be abused as a cheap 'returning' purchase. The other weapon is prodigious, which bumps up the damage for an existing elemental weapon by 1d6. Major NPCs all have a unique weapon, from Makesh's maul to Lo-Dora's arctic spear, which uses the prodigious ability.

The new sorcerer bloodline, the Muted bloodline is headlined by the 'Silence' NPC. Silence also showcases a second artifact, which works with the Muted bloodline to allow special attacks (a clever way to make an NPC be unique without allowing PCs to easily access those abilities, while still allowing the possibility, which I like.) Silence also uses has the new feats, Stifling Miasma and Silent Caster.

Value: All in all it's a pretty decent book, if you're RUNNING a NeoExodus game it could prove an invaluable resource and it's probably worth the $6.99. If you have some extra cash to spend and are looking for a lot of CR10+ stat blocks, this is a good purchase also.

Rating:  18 of 20 
This is a solid supplement, without a lot of obvious editing errors, I'm sure there are some but I didn't notice them, I also didn't look at every stat block with a fine tooth comb. I enjoyed reading the fluff, and it provides lots of fluff and crunch.