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In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:06:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the amazing "In the Company..."-series, my go-to-series for playable monsters, clocks in at a mighty 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin with a gorgeous image of a letter, representing the correspondence of Pers Veilborn with Qwilion of Questhaven, contextualizing the pdf within the context of the series in an awesome hint of a frame-narrative. Speaking of which - in case you are not familiar with the series, let it be known that you're in for a treat: The installment thankfully follows in the tradition of the pdfs, as it depicts the introduction to the race herein, at least partially, from the in-character perspective of its members, making the pdf actually nice to read. (So not kidding you - I read a lot of racial pdfs and most are DRY. This is not. This is actually something you want to read.) While the narrator this time around is less opinionated and more laid back and neutral in his descriptions, the sections still deserve being called prose and represent more than just an accumulation of game data.

Beyond the vivid prose, the introduction, the recap of the culture and peculiarities of the genie-mindset serves another crucial task, namely to contextualize and elaborate the very mindset of the race in question. In this instance, it is not any being that narrates this pdf, but the very last lord of the janni - and thus we learn of the proxy wars that have almost undone the equilibrium that our world requires to prosper; and indeed, the lord seems to have closed the pass in a final act of preserving our world; has left agents to help us withstand the elemental onslaught of the genie, if push comes to shove.

The jann are made of the stuff of this plane, yet distinct from it and the origin myth for their race - it is also via this origin myth that the concept of the trapped janni is explained in a metaphysically concise manner that makes sense within the context of the game. Similarly, their behavior and role on both elemental and material planes is elaborated upon and helps picture the race within the realm of the game world's cosmology. The level of detail we expect extends to the janni and their interactions with adventurers, faith and society, allowing for a pretty detailed starting point for any players electing to play a janni - which is amazing and something that should frankly be standard: Races are more than just an accumulation of dry stats and have so much more potential, need so much more to feel distinct. From all of these to nomenclature, the fluff presented is nice and evocative indeed.

But what about the crunch? Janni receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, are Medium native outsiders, get low-light vision and choose a dominant element at character creation. Their diversity is represented in an array of racial traits, two of which are chosen at character creation. These sometimes interact with the dominant element chosen and include bonuses to atk and Knowledge versus the efreet, superb adaptation that makes it easier to blend into larger communities, element-dependant bonuses to skills, elemental-dependant caster level bonus, natural armor, darkvision 60 ft., skill-check-bonuses while near large bodies of water and the like - and yes, even RP-based scavenging of other race abilities - though in a limited capacity. The base race, in short, is perfectly balanced and can work in any high- or low-fantasy context without any snags. Big kudos! Also: Age, height and weight table is included in the deal. The favored class options presented include core and APG-races, magus, bloodrager, kineticist and vigilante, tie in well with the race's themes and do not sport any problems.

All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the racial archetypes contained herein, the first of which would be the Jann Fury bloodrager, who is locked into either the destined or elemental bloodline, but also gets to choose a jann path from the list available to the jann racial paragon class - said path must correspond to the element chosen or be the true jann path, gaining the listed class skills.

Let's make a quick detour here to talk about these paths. The racial paragon class chooses one such path at 1st level; these paths each add two class skills to their list and determine the type of points contained in another class feature, the elemental pool: The path of Djinn, for example, adds air empathy points. These elemental paths behave somewhat akin to bloodlines in that they provide a so-called path inheritance at 2nd level and every even level thereafter up until 10th level. To retain the example of the path of the djinn, we begin with +2 to initiative at 2nd, + class level acid resistance at 4th level and 6th level allows for the option to concentrate and remain motionless for 3 rounds - if the character does, he can pinpoint hidden corporeal creatures and may extend this sense even around blockages, provides she could bypass them. 8th level allows for 5-foot-steps in difficult terrain and 10th level provides the limited ability to assume a whirlwind form for a scaling number of rounds per level. You're no doubt noticing that the abilities actually provide some cool tactical tricks and this indeed extends to the other oaths: Fire damage for AoOs, ignoring limited amounts of fire resistance, vortex form and a combo of bull rush and grapple can be found...oh, and what about bull rushing foes into the earth? The janni choice is the most flexible of them, obvious, but also has the least raw power, with high-level options allowing for prolonged existence on the elemental planes. How? Well, they get to choose their resistance. Pretty cool.

However, the path is further entwines with the racial paragon class - you see, starting at 10th level, the jann paragon may cast plane shift 1/day as a SP and is furthermore considered to be a noble specimen of the respective race. At this point, the chosen path further determines the ability unlocked - which, in this case, would be the ability to assume an alternate form while on the corresponding elemental plane; in some cases, the ability also bestows passive always-on benefits like a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. At this halfway point, the benefits of the chosen path also change: From here on out, at 12th level and every 2 additional levels thereafter, the jann gets to choose a so-called noble inheritance from a list provided by the respective path. In short - these behave more like talents. The noble inheritances include the respective energy immunities, select SPs to conform with the noble genies and upgrades, like a better vortex form, but also sport e.g. fire-to-fire teleportation, causing tremors and the like. As a minor complaint - some abilities build upon other noble inheritances or elemental powers and don't require their prerequisites to take, which can leave an inexperienced player with a dud-choice if they don't read the pdf properly. That being said, since they are unlocked at 12th level, a player at this point is not inexperienced, hence this gets a pass.

All right, got that all? Great, let's get back to the jann fury for now. Instead of the bloodline power of 1st level, the jann fury receives an elemental pool with the corresponding affinity and also learns one elemental power from a limited list - more on those concepts later in the racial paragon discussion. 3rd level yields the 2nd level path inheritance of the chosen path, with 7th level providing the 6th level path inheritance and 10th level providing the 8th level path inheritance. Starting at 13th level, the bloodrager receives a noble inheritance, plus an additional one every 3 levels thereafter. This does eliminate blood sanctuary and DR. 4th level yields the 1st level bloodline power and the 4th level path inheritance, but eliminates the 4th level bloodline power. Bloodrage is gained at 4th level and at -3 class levels. 13th level yields the noble janni benefits instead of 13th level's bloodline spells and 16th level's bloodline power and 20th level replaces the bloodline capstone with that of the racial paragon class.

The second archetype contained herein would be the primal weaver kineticist. These guys gain the same diluted path ability as the bloodrager archetype, modifying class skill selection. Elemental focus must correspond to the choice made here and at 7th and 15th level, the primary element must be chosen as expanded element. At the lower, even levels that would yield path inheritances, we receive those instead of the utility wild talents. Instead of metakinesis (quicken), the character receives the noble janni ability. 17th level replaces metakinesis (double) with a noble inheritance and 20th level replaces the omnikinesis capstone with that of the racial paragon class. The archetypes, while flavorful and tied in well with the base class, did not absolutely blow me away, so let's take a look at the racial paragon class now.

The jann class' framework is powerful: Full BAB-progression, 6 +Int skills per level, d10 HD and good Ref- and Will-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons...but not with armors or shields. Now, I already mentioned the elemental pool: Gained at 1st level. This pool contains 3 + Class level elemental affinity points. While the jann paragon has at least one elemental affinity point, he can, as a swift action, use detect magic or conjure forth images and shapes from nearby elements...which is a nice, flavorful ability.

Beyond the aforementioned path and its benefits, the class also gains elemental powers - the first is chosen at 1st level and another is unlocked at every 2 levels after 1st. Elemental powers represent active abilities that are supernatural or spell-like abilities, with a save DC equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier, if applicable. These abilities require the expenditure of the respective elemental affinity points: In order to use elemental powers that require fire empathy, you need to, obviously, be able to use fire empathy points, with costs ranging from 1 - 3 points. Elemental powers with a cost of 1 point can be activated as a move action, while more costly tricks require a standard action to activate. Thus, the choice of path also influences the choices available here. However, quite a few of the abilities featured in this selection are available for multiple paths, allowing the janni to pay the cost in one of multiple affinities. These choices generally make sense: Control water requires the use of water affinity points, for example, while control weather can be paid for with either air or water affinity points. Beyond the obvious, offensive fire burst and similar options, you'll also find some unique options - like the ability to control the density of water to keep people afloat or make them sink, so depending on your priorities/build, you can actually provide some unique utility options. At range combat maneuvers via earthen hands or bursts of air also allow the character to engage in some soft battlefield control. Conjuring forth elemental shields or turning into scaling elemental body shapes. Choking others, dealing minor damage or adding a debuff can also provide some hard controlling actions, while creating clouds of elemental energy or mounts allow for further modifications and interesting options - and yes, elemental walls are similarly included, should you require hard battlefield control. Basically, these limited resources allow you to engage in pretty potent tricks, yes, but they do feel balanced within the context of the class. The capstone lets you assume the noble form of the noble janni feature for an indefinite amount of time as well as plane shift at-will.

The pdf also includes 5 feats: +2 elemental pool points, an extra elemental power and a 1/day reroll versus charm, possession, etc. can be found. Another feat yields a kineticist's basic utility talent of the chosen element and a final feat yields a latent elemental power than that may be used at -4 class levels, a total of 4 - elemental power point costs in an interesting twist on the formula of such feats. Basically, it lets you gain an elemental power sans point costs, but with a hard cap of daily uses.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's nice and easy to read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks and all. The pdf is full of really nice full-color images I haven't seen before, making it aesthetically pleasing as well.

It's been too long since I had a book by T.H. Gulliver in my hands and it's nice to see that some things don't change: For one, the flavor of the janni-race herein is awesome; and while I wasn't too blowna way by the racial archetypes, at least they did tie in with the unique options available for the race. The racial paragon class, the heart of this pdf, is flavorful, evocative and fun and has a nice selection of unique tricks that allow you to play it in widely different ways: You could play these guys as dangerous skirmishers, utility warriors, martial battlefield controllers...and so much more. The base chassis looks incredibly strong, but thanks to the structure and nature of the talents, the class plays in a fun, yet not overpowering manner. Oh, and I have seen A LOT of elemental -themed books. To the point where I'm frankly, at least for the most part, very sick of them. This does not hold true here - the class actually manages to cover some new ground in this well-tread field - so yeah, what more can you ask of a pdf? This is a well-presented, well-written, fun way to actually play a genie - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
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10 Rakshasa Magic Items
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2017 09:16:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so what is this?

Well, these would be items for the, in my opinion, most awesome "In The Company of..."-installment released so far, the amazing book on playable rakshasa. I assume that you're familiar with it in this review...and if you aren't, be sure to check it out.

So, what do the items do? Blazing Spectacles net you burning gaze and if the wearer has a predation pool, hungerfire eyes as well - increased in duration, if you already have that predation. The circlet of crawling consumption outlines the prey of rarefied taste in silver, allowing for the tracking of the path of sin of a target through a population. Those with addictive feeding can enjoy synergy here. Leaping Hare is a powerful club, but alas, sports several glitches - the weapon's not italicized and the write up sports several confusing notes, probably remnants from pricing it: "4.5K, 4K," etc. - those should have been caught.

Links of Binding impose penalties on saves vs. abjurations on those hit and decreases, if present the cost of defense of the hunting grounds. The perfume of courtly nibbling can be nice for more discreet yaksha indulging in rarefied taste - instead of killing the prey, it receives 3 days to shake off the negative level and avoid death...which can also make tracking the predator harder. The Meat Hood of the Frugal Gourmet can indefinitely preserve humanoid corpses and support weight when pressed to a surface. Less utility-based would be the Rajaadharma staff, but in an AMAZING surprise, it not only enhances compulsions versus specific targets and sports some spells, it is also particularly potent in the hands of a vizier - yep, this is actually an item that is more potent in the hands of the amazing Akashic Mysteries-class. Nice!

Ravenous tongue of Meghanada is a powerful urumi (not properly italicized) is a raksaha-only, very hard to use whip-sword that bestows negative levels on those hit, heals its wielder and can even provide nourishment for the wielder...which, generally, is damn cool. Oh, and it can't be kitten'd effectively. Nice job! The expensive smoking jacket of deceptive light allows for move action maintenance of illusions as well, as, predation pool provided, enforced rerolls of saves...and some spells in a can.

The pdf also includes an item-class, the broken spirit bag, which comes in 5 iterations - they are basically gris-gris bags that can be used by yaksha with rarefied taste that kill humanoids to not gain sustenance, instead channeling the life-force in the bag, storing predation points, which can then be used to power predation abilities. Cool: They don't necessarily occupy an item slot, but if they do, they're less expensive. See, and that's how you make a mechanically boring item amazing via great fluff and cool tweaks...kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good on both a formal and rules-level, though the aforementioned glitches could have been avoided. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this length doesn't need them.

Wendall Roy delivers here - the items are universally reasonably priced for what they offer and flavor-wise, are FRICKIN' AMAZING. That being said, unlike most installments in the series, we don't get a quasi-artifact legacy weapon this time around, which is a bit of a pity. The series' items also tended to have various iterations in potency that you won't find here - so this is, as far as the series is concerned, more conservative than other installments. At the same time, the content oozes flair and panache and made me grin from ear to ear. While the glitches make it impossible for me to bestow my highest accolades, this still is a great purchase for a more than fair price, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Rakshasa Magic Items
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Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to being prioritized by my patreons. Additionally, I received an early access iteration, which allowed me to complete actually testing these modules prior to release - one of the reasons you're seeing this review so relatively close to AQ #8's release, in spite of the issues that have haunted real life for me in the last couple of weeks.

We begin this installment, as always, with an editorial by Robert N. Emerson - and it is here, I'd like to echo his sentiment: The former commander of Rite Publishing, a great friend of mine and a visionary author, Steven D. Russell was taken from us this summer. It is his wife, Miranda Russell, who has taken the reins of Rite Publishing and done so with an aplomb and grace that is, frankly, extremely amazing. It is my firm conviction that Steve would be proud of the "Rite way" of gaming not being lost.

Anyways, you know the drill - this book contains modules and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with Haakon Sullivan's "Race for the Cage", intended for characters of 4th level. The small village of Kingsden was terrorized in the past: A strange entity was killing people - then, a witch came and the murders stopped, her endeavors obviously successful. Thus, this unpleasantness sank into history's obscurity. Now, as the PCs happen to travel through town, the murders seem to have resumed - the first victim being a poor dwarf, but why him? Well, there is a good reason for that and the PCs will soon be pointed towards the truth, an abandoned wizard's lab, which may, according to a local poem, contain the dread beast. After this brief intro (which took about 30 minutes of asking questions and the like), the module proceeds to...well, take no prisoners: Two paths lead towards the goal within the complex: And one is collapsed by the death cultists, who are on a sacred mission to once again unleash the beast that stalks these realms.

From here on out, the module becomes a race: The PCs have 6 minutes to reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, puzzles and challenges - plus 1 minute of out of game discussion per room, at least that's the suggestion. If you enforce this hard time-limit, then rest assured that the sequence of interesting obstacles will push the PCs hard: In one room, for example, a flesh golem remains - a foe beyond the capabilities of the PCs to defeat...but it is still connected to tubes and wires...perhaps the PCs can use those funny-looking levers to defeat it...If the PCs do lose the race, they'll have a hard time - a vampiric spider would be the insane beast the cultists seek to free, but once again astute observation can help the PCs prevail against this overwhelming boss. Success in the race (surprisingly difficult, mind you!) renders the finale pretty simple, obviously...but frankly, if you're a bastard-GM like moi, you may well choose to spring free this boss still...

A highlight since the inception of Adventure Quarterly, at least for me, would be the post-modern mega-dungeon-crawl Ruins Perilous: This complex was created by Questhaven, city ruled by adventurers, and progress within this dungeon can actually enhance your status and increase your standing within the city's strata. As such, the complex has a very unique feeling, both one of a supremely dangerous obstacle course and one of a constructed dungeon that is a dungeon for a dungeon's sake -and still retains the feasibility and internal consistency you'd associate with such an artificially created dungeoneering environment. #7 sported one of the best levels in the whole run, so let's see whether Mike Welham's 6th level of the complex, the Test Lab, can maintain this level of quality!

I was speaking of internal consistency - and indeed, there is more to the adventuring life than murder hobo-ing through scores of hapless dungeon dwellers; as such the Dungeon Dragon in charge of this complex has made this level a proving ground for adventurers that focuses on more than just "I hit it with my weapon of choice" - the theme here is the solution of problems with both brain and brawn. With passwords, pure strength, skill or willpower, the PCs can enter the first section of the level: And, indeed, there are 4 wings that lead to the final challenge: Each wing requires a different skill set to complete: One for physical exertions, one for stealthy tricks, one requiring willpower and one that rewards keen wits.

The respective challenges in each wing are intriguing and creative...and slightly more deadly than you'd expect, for a cadre of disgruntled ratfolk of the groundskeepers ultimately made the level even less pleasant. Now, if your players are REALLY good and if you are similarly an experienced GM, I'd suggest making each wing only available to the respective, fitting characters. While this eliminates the otherwise really pronounced replay value of the dungeon, it also lets you experience the totality of the level...and frankly, it's so damn good it's worth it. Beyond the potential to use the disgruntled ratfolk as combat encounters, the place, as a whole, is simply an inspiring experience to play through. Taking the leitmotif one step further, actually activating the guild forge requires the use of a complex, evocative machinery. Frankly, I could rattle off the challenges the PCs will face, but that would do the genius of this glorious level no justice.

The third module herein would be the Vault of Shaju, crafted by Craig Campbell and none other than Ben McFarland, is intended for 9th level characters and the chronicle of the love of an unlikely pair: The necromancer Viuslethiem and the rogue Shajuyumil - who found true love. To thwart death, Shayumil would place his soul within the confines of a sword of transcendent quality, thus allowing him to stay with his love even after she ad ascended to lichdom. The PCs, then,a re assumed to have been hired by lore master Pickwendy to guard his expedition - but upon arrival, they happen upon giants that have decimated the camp - Pickwendy only wants the artifact, the aforementioned rapier - and yes, the module actually has notes for GMs who do not want such a powerful tool in their game. Alas, as mentioned before, Pickwendy and his ilk have met their fate - it is thus sans competition of the like that the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the complex, where an ephemeral voice accompanies their exploration, pronouncing, surprisingly, not death, gloom and doom, but rather sensible challenges. Indeed, this whole complex, this whole gauntlet, proves to be a test of both mettle and character, which leads ultimately to the powerful rapier Shajuyumil, who only asks to be reunited with his love - this vow alone is required to claim the powerful item once the PCs have reached it...though reaching it is anything but simple: Both the unique combat challenges and the obstacles presented, including an intriguing moral dilemma, can test PCs in creative and intriguing manners.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports several nice, original pieces of artwork. Deserving of a special shout out would be Tommi Salama's absolutely stunning full-color cartography and the fact that this comes with player-friendly maps...including high-res versions.

Haakon Sullivan delivers the best module I have read from his pen herein, finally making the leap from very good/good to awesome. Mike Welham is one of the best 3pp-authors out there, so it should come as no surprise that his module frankly is phenomenal - he should write more of these! Finally, Craig Campbell and Ben McFarland's third module falls in no way behind the quality of the first two: In short, this installment of AQ is all killer, no filler. There is not a single module herein that is content with just spamming combats; there is not a single dungeon herein that does not have its copious sparks of brilliance, its unique challenges. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a module here that frankly transcends the generally exceedingly high quality the series features anyway.

So yes, this installment is worth its more than fair asking price; I'd even go so far as to claim that the modules herein are good enough to warrant conversion if you're playing a different system! Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
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Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 17:49:55

Pretty good set. Makes nice-looking pieces and isn't what I'd call "difficult." I would also not call it "quick to build" or "so easy a child could do it." I've done a fair amount of papercraft in my day and this is about average as far as time investment for the quality of finished product (which really is quite good). From the description, I expected to finish a piece in about ten minutes. In reality, smallish tabs make it take a lottle longer. Also: some of the lines (particularly the score lines) are quite faint. To be fair, I printed the kit on fast mode in greyscale. To be equally fair, I printed my Fat Dragon DM Screen 2 the same way and had no such trouble seeing the lines. So not disappointed with the purchase in general but a little annoyed at the sometimes-hard-to-see lines. Would definitely recommend. Probably won't buy more but not even a little remorseful that I bought what I bought. I will use it over and over through the ages.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
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5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2016 10:02:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This revised edition of this module for 5e clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Wait, Fire and Ice? Sounds familiar, right? And indeed, this module has previously been released as part of Adventure Quarterly #6 for PFRPG, so let's check how well it translates to 5e, shall we?

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. ... .. . All right, only GMs left? Great! This adventure begins with the annihilation of an adventuring party. No, not the PCs. A company of competing adventurers has been all but wiped out while trying to thwart an evil organization's plan to harvest divine essences - this organization, the Godling Cabal, is NOT fooling around. The sole survivor of the adventuring party, as it happens, is on the same longship as the PCs, the Brightstar - which, strangely, seems to be making a detour, as PCs with the appropriate background can determine. The tranquility of the journey is interrupted rather harshly, as an icy finger of an iceberg-vessel (!!) hits the ship and the vessel is boarded by magelings and a being called Malkin, who doubles as the primary antagonist. In the first encounter. How does that work? Well, turns out that Malkin is frickin' immortal.

In the original iteration, this was represented with a variety of unique rules-operations and they have been translated here -and it is here that the revised edition does the RITE thing: Where before, we had serious issues, now the revision sports lavish, detailed NPCs with unique abilities and tactical options, with the statblock-formatting and general integrity improved by more than just a bit. Kudos for going the extra mile here!

Upon temporarily defeating the threat, the poor survivor comes clean and asks the PCs for aid and so they're off to the island of pleasure, Mibre - including a gorgeous map, mind you. This place is a small paradise, where an order of enigmatic monks poses an interesting puzzle (including trouble-shooting advice and means t brute-force it) - here, the conversion is working as intended. The strange order of monks living here will prove to be pretty important, for without their help, the PCs will have a hard time bringing the magical crystal to the plane of fire to sunder it and thwart the plans of the evil cabal. Only by understanding the monks and participating in their tests (sans being killed by the cabal's forces!) do they have a solid chance to destroy the crystal in the plane of fire. The whole structure of the module and its use of 5e-mechanics has improved dramatically. The pdf does feature notes on the iceberg vessel, but don't expect a write-up as a full vehicle; the maps are functional, but not high-res version of player-friendly iterations are provided...which is puzzling, considering that the AQ-issue that featured the module had high-res jpgs of the maps included!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting have improved significantly on a formal level, but more importantly, are now up to the task on a rules-level as well! Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The artworks featured are solid full-color and the cartography by Tommi Salama is nice, though the absence of the existing high-res map-versions feels odd; indeed, since they act as handouts/ready to go, the rather small depictions of the maps in this iteration of the module is odd - in the Mibre map, you can barely make out the places!

The original 5e of Bret Boyd & Keith Byers' "Fire and Ice" was a horrid mess...and Rite Publishing did the RITE thing here and got the 5e-specialist of the Four Horsemen, Dan Dillon, on board - and Dan delivers. In spades. He has basically taken a bad conversion and improved it to the point where the book now really works, where it is a fun, challenging high-concept 5e-module...just goes to show what a good dev can do. Anyways, the revised edition, superior in every way to the original, receives an updated rating of 4.5 stars, though I do still have to round down; this should not, however, keep you from checking this out - now 5e players may quake and shake before the Terminator-level assassin as well!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:33:24

An Endzeitgeist.com combo-review of this deck and the Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:32:36

An Endzeitgeict.com combo-review of this deck and the NPC Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
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101 1st Level Spells (5E)
by Gaetan V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2016 17:38:51

Lacks professional editing and polish. For a $6 PDF book, I expect a lot more.

Polish issues

  • Text Splitting. Text is regularly split across pages. On page 12 the description of Escape Grapple is on the next page, on page 13, the last line of Glamour runs on the next page. This isn't a print book, so I'm not sure why we're trying to conserve space over readability here.
  • There's a "Summary" section at the front, but it's split across two columns in a way that makes it really awkward to read.
  • The Borrow Skill and Glamour spells both have text alignment problems.

Professional Editing

  • Terminolgy layout. In 5e, the wording on things like saves and checks are very standard. The Pass without Trace spell has the following: "...has a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks...". In this book, the spell Keen Senses has the line: "...advantage on Wisdom(perception)..."
  • More Terminology. There's a spell called Gloomlight that is a Light spell that adds color to Darkvision. It's a cool idea, but I would expect the wording to look a lot like the Light spell. Instead it fails to copy the structure and becomes unusable as a result.
  • There are lots and lots of awkward sentences and just outright typos. Here's a sample from Avert Attack: "You're quick spells keep your friends save."
  • There are spells with range touch that say you instead of touched creature/object. This is clearly a spell that cannot be used as written.

Lack of rules knowledge

  • Some spells reference "Low-light vision" or object Hardness or "full-round action". None of these are things in 5e. I would expect a professional editor to catch this stuff on the first pass.
  • Lack of correct terminolgy affects all kinds of things. The spell Guilt not only has some typos, it doesn't really work. It says the target "is denied any action except to protect itself". "Protect Yourself" is not an Action in 5e. This spell should be very specific, something like "cannot take any Actions, Reactions or Bonus Actions". It also has clause to "shake off" the effect, but wording on the clause is completely different from the otherwise similar Hold Person spell.
  • Spells like Energy Weapon and Energy Missile are very powerful and frankly a little bland.

Overall This is a book filled with good ideas. There are lots of ideas here that could become staple spells for a campaign.

But the spells are simply not ready "as written". Most of them need some type of editing to come in line with the 5e style.

For $3 you can get great stuff from Kobold Press that doesn't have this problem.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
101 1st Level Spells (5E)
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Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/13/2016 06:23:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 7th installment of Rite Publishing's quarterly magazine, their spiritual heir to Dungeon, if you will, clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 57 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As always, this installment begins with a brief editorial by Robert N- Emerson before diving into the modules, but let's take a look at the supplemental material first. Why? Because it is extremely useful: Steven D. Russell provides an article that helps structuring PC subplots in your campaign...and he has a 100-entry-strong table of Pre-Butt Kicking One Liners. This table is incredibly awesome: "We haven't been introduced, so I'll call you 'prey'." or "The only one who can save you now is Orcus...and since I can't bring him here, I'm going to send you to him!" - perhaps it's just me being a big fan of AHHHHNLD's one-liners, but I've been using that table quite a bit.

Anyways, let's talk about what's really important, namely the modules in here. As such the text that follows will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

The first adventure belongs to a woefully underrepresented type of module in PFRPG - namely, the hexcrawl. Bret Boyd's "Shattered Dreams in Winter" makes use of Ultimate Campaign's exploration rules and has a synergy tie-in with the excellent 101 Not So Random Encounters: Winter, though neither book is required to run the module. SDiW is intended for 1st level PCs and covers a surprising breadth of places - a total of 69 hexes await exploration of a truly gorgeous full-color map that depicts the snow-capped mountains, glaciers and stable permafrost. In this frigid land, remnants and obelisks of the old Nee'Qan culture, lost to the sand of time, stand as monuments to other days, while the freezing cold and copious amount of snowstorms render survival a challenge - even before strange, lethal gasses and magical effects enter the fray. Temperature, random encounters and hazards are provided for your convenience to drive home that this place is not particularly cuddly.

The whole region, from the frontier's towns that provide ample hooks and statblocks, to the mysterious amber scepters one can find and the massive monoliths, the whole hexcrawl is an excellent exercise in indirect, sandboxy storytelling and atmosphere - as a whole, I was reminded of the classic Savage Sword of Conan issue featuring a monolith and an infamous Khitan duke named Leng, crossed with the atmosphere of Dark Soul II's Frozen Eleum Loyce - and honestly, I was truly intrigued by Bret Boyd's offering here - including an uncommon, corrupted outsider from the higher planes as a dread hunter in the snow and the exploration of these strange places, the first module blows me already away and makes for one of the most atmospheric first level modules I know - if anything, the module left me wanting more...this atmosphere can carry a module of thrice the size allotted.

The second module herein brings us back to the wonderful institution for the series, the legendary Ruins Perilous, Questhaven's post-modern dungeon, which acts as a proving ground and means to climb the social ladder in the adventurer-run legendary city. While before, we had themed regions, Mike Welham actually managed to do something truly unique - for this level of the dungeon, intended for fifth level PCs, has a very strong leitmotif I usually don't like - elements. As often, random encounters can be found within, but here's the thing: The level has an outer ring - from said ring, elemental-themed room-sequences exist, allowing access to the center of the level.

The absolutely unique aspect here is that the module manages to depict a sense of fantastic realism - each of the environment-themed gauntlets actually also has a room that features related materials to pass the respective trials and tribulations...which may actually double as traps in the hands of the unwary: A tissue-regeneration trap can, for example, be rather lethal when applied to creatures aligned with the energy type. So, what's the deal? Beyond mephits, the dungeon is all about the powerful living storm bound within the complex and gathering the missing faces of the cube of elemental harmony, which can ultimately be used to bring reason back to the powerful elemental entity. The fantastic realism utilized here is compelling and well-made.

The third module, penned by Nicholas Milasich for 7th level is darker - the House of Butchered Manflesh, which is a dark module with an intriguing twist: The PCs will investigate a mysterious and sullen captain and a trail of pigs into the sewers, where the tragedies of a flesh-themed dungeon, complete with mite kitchens loom; beyond deadly slaughtering machines and the powerful derro butcher, the dungeon seems to have a straightforward "man are meat"-theme, with an evil mistress at the helm - but there is a twist to all of it: You see, the lady of the house is actually a deadly hag who uses wagers and her considerable polymorphing powers to keep their servants in line...and keep a twisted control over the people under her "employ" (read: slavery). Now before you expect something grimdark...turns out that the mistress is screwing over the cannibals to which her meat is delivered: She polymorphs pigs into humans and sells them to the creatures below - her operation must be stopped, sure...but the consequences may well provide even more issues for the PCs in the future. Different in tone and with an interesting twist, this module, while the most conventional of the three in structure, its creative themes make this yet another winner.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: Apart from minor formatting hiccups, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the magazine sports a significant array of drop-dead gorgeous, original pieces of full color artwork and the cartography by none other than Tommi Salama, is glorious, though I wished we got the usual high-res jpgs and player-friendly versions.

This installment of Adventure Quarterly is all killer, no filler - from the atmospheric offering of Bret Boyd to Mike Welham's awesome Ruins Perilous and Nicholas Milasich's uncommon twist on a horror-theme through the glasses of high fantasy, not one of the modules in this magazine disappointed me - all of them have a creative component, something interesting and evocative that sets them apart. In the end, I am left with no serious complaints, with only the lack of player-friendly maps that were present for all the older AQs being a serious downside that costs this my seal of approval. Still, the excellent modules are very much worth 5 stars and seal material, so yes, I do believe that this is well worth the asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
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10 Barbarian Magic Items (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2016 03:09:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's 10-X-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with two new special qualities: Armor and shields may benefit from the +2 bonus equivalent adversity's bulwark enchantment, which allows for the immediate action-based expenditure of 6 rounds of rage to reroll a save against a debilitating condition (excluding death), affliction, charm or compulsion. The barbarian must take the second result. If the barbarian also has the eater of magic rage power, he gains temporary hit points equal to the originating creature's CR that stack with the rage's temporary hit points. Weapons can be enchanted to gain the felling storm special weapon ability, which allows the barbarian to add a combat maneuver as a swift action 1/round to a successful attack while raging, providing, just fyi, synergy with the maneuvers introduced in Secrets of Adventuring. This enchantment should, for balance's sake, be limited to melee weapons or at last have a price that exceeds +1 for ranged weapons.

So that would be the general enchantments, now let's move on to the items: As has become the tradition with these pdfs, we actually get more than ten items: 5 of the items in this book come in 3 degrees of power: Lesser, standard and greater, and these higher power-levels do not just simply feature a numerical escalation. The Ring of Spiritual Spite allows wearers to expend rage as immediate actions to reduce damage incurred, but only if said damage is drawn from spell, supernatural or spell-like abilities, as well, as the example illustrates, from bonus damage caused by e.g. the flaming special quality. While rules language could have been slightly more precise, the example clears up all gripes I could field here. Higher power levels equal a higher amount of daily activations. Mantles of thorns provide minor natural armor bonuses and reflexive damage for those foolish enough to target the character with unarmed or natural attacks, with higher iterations allowing for more activations per day.

Boots of the Wild Rush would be a better example to illustrate aforementioned differences in power-levels: The lesser variant allows for the expenditure of a swift action to increase base land speed by 10 ft., with each step above that increasing this by a further +10 ft. Standard versions allow for the expenditure of 3 rounds of rage to ignore natural difficult terrain and the greater version allows for rage-powered short range flight!

Bracers of Epic Deeds provide synergy with Surge of Strength and allow for all those fun over-the-top Conan-esque capers via significant Strength-check, CMB or CMD enhancements, but only 1/day. Standard bracers have synergy with the unexpected strike rage power and allow for 1/day AoOs versus foes that move into a threatened square and the greater version allows barbarians to disable temporarily, via a special combat maneuver, special monster abilities like gaze attacks and the like - thankfully with a GM-caveat, but oh boy, how cool is THAT?

Similar to that, the lesser version of gauntlets of the breaker allow a barbarian to temporarily disable natural attacks. The standard version makes the barbarian better at wrecking objects and the greater iteration allows the barbarian to seriously impede armor, even natural armor, for a while and limited amounts of time per day. Unlike the bracers, here the progressively better iterations do increase the daily uses of the lesser versions.

Not all items herein feature such a 3-step-version: The Baldric of Restraint nets Quick Draw and lets the barbarian, as a swift action, expend rounds of rage to heal 1 hp per round expended. The helm of the nomad lets the barbarian expend a swift action to perform a smattering of skills that round reliably, counting as having taken 10. Additionally, 1/day, the item allows the barbarian to treat a skill check of the skills in question as a natural 20. As a nitpick: The helm is erroneously referred to as a belt once. That's a cosmetic glitch, though.

If you've been following the series, you'll know the star of the pdf is still coming: Made out of the new material Primal Iron, which counts as cold iron: The Fell Hammer, a massive earth breaker forged by legendary Kahrvass Fleymbrow (see Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series) that begins as a +1 primal iron earth breaker that provides a serious Intimidate bonus. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the massive weapon may be enhanced, gaining first a bonus while the wielder is raging, then an upgrade to +2 (and bonus damage while raging!), shaken added to crits (with a 24-hour-caveat to avoid shaken-locks), teleportation-hampering (missing an italicization for a spell) and finally, the option, via Hammerfall (puts good ole' "Templars of Steel" in the playlist) to generate a frickin' storm blast that deals serious damage (damage type would have been nice) and blows foes away, extinguishes flames, etc. EPIC.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the pdf's weak spot: While the rules-language is exceedingly precise and manages to deal with even complex concepts, there are a couple of minor formatting glitches and punctuation hiccups, though none of them impede the rules themselves to a significant degree. The one missing damage type is the only one of the glitches that is rules-relevant, and it is a minor one. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf has gorgeous full color artwork I haven't seen before - particularly impressive, considering the low asking price. In spite of its brevity, the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - kudos!

Steven D. Russell, may he rest in peace, has written barbarian items here that exemplify exceedingly well what made me a Rite Publishing fan back in the day; there is not a single cookie cutter, bland item in this pdf. Each piece of content you get is evocative, fun and has a serious justification for existing...in fact, reading the pdf will probably make any barbarian player salivate over at least one item; quite frankly, a lot of them. With the equipment herein, the feats of Strength and daring we came to love from the Conan comics become possible. And unlike in some of Steve's previous installments in the series, I have no complaints pertaining balance and pricing this time around.

...

Indulge me for a second, will you? This was hard for me to write. I was literally afraid of the pdf, since it was the last stand-alone pdf Steven wrote that he published. I really didn't want to bash the pdf, knowing how recently, I had to criticize some of his writing. I shouldn't have worried. As always, when someone observed valid gripes, Steven didn't grumble (for long) - he fixed it. He improved. In short - this pdf is bereft of anything I'd consider problematic. Furthermore, it has this signature quality, this design-voice I will sorely miss; the voice that speaks with flavor and has the crunch to back it up, that lets you do the cinematic, iconic things you wanted to do; that makes roleplaying supplements, even when they're just accumulations of crunchy items, fun to read.

Oh, and that they are mechanically innovative. Did you know that Steve was the first designer to use barbarian rage or bardic performance as a resource to power unrelated effects, feats, etc.? That I encountered magic items with scaling save DCs first in his writing? These are so normal right now, it seems odd...but yeah. So yes, we have significantly more than the promised 10 items on the cover; we have items that directly interact with class abilities and resources of the class. And they do all that while being items you really want to have. This is the antithesis of slapping just a plus and some qualities together. This is fun, evocative and innovative. And I, personally, am grateful for this pdf and what it brings to my table. The hiccups in editing pale before this creativity and with the low price, I can still rate this 5 stars + seal of approval, even when I turn off my emotions and just become review-bot 9000. This is a must-have for barbarian-fans.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Barbarian Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Addendum: Shape Shifting (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2016 04:04:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Addendum-series for DICELESS roleplaying clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Shape shifting is contextualized as a power that is neither wholly of the Eidolon, nor of the Umbra; instead, it is an oscillating power of change in between and for this reason, mastery of either and shape shifting are a volatile combination, but more on that later.

Structure-wise, shape shifting is tiered in 4 levels: Lesser Shape Shifting (15 pts.), Shape Shifting (35 pts.), Advanced Shape Shifting (65 pts.) and Exalted Shape Shifting (85 pts.). Generally, shape shifting has limits - characters must assume shapes of at least animal intelligence - no rocks, grass or the like and the form needs to be substantial for all but exalted shape shifters - no ethereal, smoky, cloudy or the like forms for all but the masters of this ability. One crucial point pertaining shapeshifting would be the respective limits imposed by the Gossamer Reality: A dragon's form in one world may easily be airborne and breathe fire, whereas in another, dragons would be unable to fly and perhaps emit acid. External anatomy like wings, generally can be reproduced via shapeshifting sans hassle, but internal structures like poison sacks, levitation organs or the like may well pose insurmountable tasks for the shape shifter. Similarly, the abilities potentially gained may well turn out to be rather taxing on Endurance of Psyche. Clothes and items worn when shifting are usually dropped or destroyed, though artifacts may be designed to accommodate shape shifter. Speaking of items - the pdf does cover the interaction of items with the respective shape shifting power.

Lesser changes can be done quickly in a few seconds, while musculoskeletal rearrangement and profound physiological or psychological changes may require a couple of minutes. One form is designated as the favored form - reversal to this form takes less than a minute.

Shape shifting, as mentioned, is exhausting - an endurance rank of average means that one change is exhausting, while paragons can shape change sans limits. A shape changer also usually keeps a distinguishing mark that sets the creature apart as the shape changer - basically a tell like a streak of white hair, a birthmark or the like. The more powerful a creature whose shape is assumed, the more risky the process becomes, for shape shifting always may affect the core identity of the character - turning into a Mythos-monstrosity, for example, may change the psychology so radically, that the new assumed identity tries to subvert the dominant personality of the shape shifter. Similarly, intense physical trauma may lock a character in a given shape and require tools like the True Name or similar tricks to allow the character to regain his form...and abilities. Finally, overuse may result, particularly when combined with the forces of Eidolon and Umbra in power rejection, which can have rather unpleasant consequences.

Now, what type of shape shifting do the respective tiers of the power convey? Well, more precise timeframes and ramifications for the respective concepts mentioned are depicted in the respective entries for the shape shifting powers and the pdf does mention the limits - lesser shape shifters already may assume hybrid forms, though generally, they are locked into one alternate form; real shape shifters may instead learn a plethora of forms, disguising and impromptu shape shifting, providing a significant upgrade in flexibility - think of that step up a akin to the comparison between a werewolf and a full-blown doppelgänger, including limited control over healing, instinctual shape shifting.

Advanced shape shifters may use their power to become something more than they were; a quasi-avatar of Eidolon or Umbra...or a living icon of themselves, becoming a kind of avatar of the idealized self. It should be noted that brief suggestions for the potential of use with blessings/curses and similar variant powers are provided and deemed appropriate at this power-level. Aura change, internal reconfiguration and size-change are cool, but beyond that, blood may be formed into tiny creatures to be commanded like spiders or birds and severed limbs may move autonomously from the shape shifter.

At the level of the exalted shape shifter, endurance and psyche retain their dominance, but the other attributes become more important as well - this level of mastery allows for the transformation in whole flocks of beings, regeneration, assuming a composition of an element or state of matter (like fluids or gasses) and better shape change as well as permanent transformation is very much possible here.

The pdf does mention the interaction of shape shifting with other powers like being a warden of the grand stair, wrighting or invocations and does note 4 canonical characters that are assumed to have shapeshifting when these rules are used.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed an odd line-break and minor hiccups, nothing grievous in the glitch section. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard used for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf has several pieces of absolutely gorgeous artworks - the cover artwork, just fyi, is weaker than several pieces of interior artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Durall's addendum on shape shifting takes one of the big blank spots in Amber's old array and fills it in with a concisely codified take on shape shifting that thankfully does not enter the territory of being restrictive. Instead, this pdf can be imagined as a kind of enabler, as it should be for the context of the high-imagination LoGaS framework. If there is anything to complain about, then that would be that the shape shifting herein does not necessarily explain the slightly related abilities Umbra practitioners could use and should be considered to supersede those fringe-cases. Still, this is just me grasping for straws to critique something. Overall, this expansion is precise, lacks any glaring glitches or holes I could find and represents a neat expansion for the LoGaS-multiverse. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Addendum: Shape Shifting (Diceless)
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101 Hill & Mountain Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2016 12:11:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of spells clocks in at a massive 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a massive 47 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so, as has become the tradition with these books, we begin with a general introduction before we get the spell-lists; as always in Dave Paul's spell-books, the respective environment has a significant impact on the respective mechanics, potentially changing the effects of the spell in question. In this installment, a leitmotif suffusing the spells would be the hybrid nature of hills, serving as a bridge between the wilderness and the civilized realms; as a whole, this duality and focus on the environment is pronounced.

Spell-list-wise, the classic classes, including the APG classes and magus are covered and bloodrager and shaman receive their own spell-lists as well. At least for now, the pdf does not directly provide support for the occult classes.

Now, let us take a look at the spells, all right? We begin with interesting spells, as they take a mechanically relevant stab at depicting altitude sickness and the means to counter it; beyond their mechanical ramifications, the spells have interesting operations done. The save DC for aforementioned spell is increased if the material component is taken from a sufficiently high mountain...which is simple, elegant and just awesome.

The series has been pushing the boundaries of spellcasting and what you can do with it - and so it should come as no surprise that there are spells in this pdf that are hard to judge in terms of their potency: Amphisbaenic caster, to name one prominent example: As a level 7 spell, it allows you to split into your own self and a shadowy duplicate. Yes, we've seen the like before, but bear with me: The duplicate actually has a significant array of options - it's not just an image, it acts like you do; spells are evenly distributed among the two and while the duplicate's effects cause less damage than the real caster's powers, the doubling of actions this entails is impressive and very powerful. It should be noted that the spell features several peculiarities that render it exceptional in the level of precision, but also make it slightly uncommon. The damage-decrease of the duplicate is, for example, an inverse take on usual shadow-themed spells: Where usually, such spells are only 20% real, here, the reduction of damage caused is subject to percentile effects. I am not against such effects, though it is slightly uncommon to employ such mechanics. Beyond that, the spell actually works better for casters with certain patrons or bloodlines, which is something I most definitely appreciate. The dual action mechanic is similarly precisely codified...and still, I'd call OP on this spell, were it not for significant risks involved with perished doubles, making this spell an option casters won't want to spam all the time. This balancing mechanism makes it actually work out - sure, it's a spell that requires some preparation by the player, but when employed, it is impressive indeed.

Speaking of balancing - the pdf is interesting in that spells like argentine's grace are variants of an already existing spell, increased in potency and balanced via unique, potentially story-hook worthy material components...in this spell's case, just fyi, a silver dragon's scale...

Of course, such variants tend to end up as the rather rare exception to the rule considering the spells otherwise found herein: Want to make your foes magnets for big boulders/avalanches or just conjure them forth to throw at foes or characters? Possible. (cough Giantslayer GMs, get this one /cough)

These would, however, not even be close to the spells you actually will keep in mind when reading this book. For example, which spellcaster than reaches lofty 9th level with actually resist the temptation of smashing enemies by literally letting a mountain top fall on them? Suddenly, "rocks fall, all die" has taken on a whole new dimension. A similar trope that just about every group will probably encounter at one point or another, the spell catapult ally is simply GLORIOUS. Why? Because it actually manages to codify the complex issues pertaining action economy implied by the action, one that is VERY hard to represent in the turn-based combat system, in a compelling and airtight rules-language. And yes, it takes weight and sizes into account.

If the mechanical aspects or high-level awesomeness are not what you're looking for, what about a low-level spell that lets you walk on clouds (long overdue!), the option to make cloud bridges or blasting cones of ash? It should be mentioned that the latter can be taken as a nice example for spell balancing and the value of secondary effects when compared to similar magic effects of the same level.

Not all of the spells are 100% perfect, though - if you look for nitpicks, tehre are a precious few to be found herein - a curse that unleashes an inner beast and devolves the target grants you bite and claw attacks - while the variable, size-based damage-values are accounted for, the spell does not specify whether the attacks are treated as primary or secondary natural attacks. Established conventions exist to make this omission a non-issue, sure, but it still would have been nice to see that specifically mentioned. An entrancing dance that compels those that succumb to it to accompany you conjures up images of Hekate-rites or the pied piper and cantrip-based infliction of light sensitivity on the target similarly makes sense.

Those of us who are into philosophy will enjoy a spell where the author's expertise show through - the illusion deep in the cave, based on the famous allegory of the cave in Plato's work, is genius - not only are the effects well codified, it actually manages to illustrate a complex concept easily, teaching a slightly simplified experience by the mechanics of the system. I LOVE THIS. Considering the fact that many a spellcaster in fantasy worlds is supposed to be hyper-smart, the absence of spells that illustrate complex and intriguing concepts by means of game-mechanics is something that has always galled me...so kudos...not only for the educational aspect this spell contains. While we're at it - what about a spell that eliminates your face and renders your whole body a sensory organ...albeit a deeply unsettling one? You'll get two cookie points from me if you can tell me the theory that one is based on!

If giant form is too generic for your tastes (and/or you need more variety for giant-themed campaigns...), variants for fire/frost giants in this book will have you covered. Transforming into nightgaunts or wyverns may be cool - but not half as cool as making floating hills or mountains. Yes. Floating mountains. Awesome. Using the pun-tastic Grimm Resistance, you can get a powerful buff versus the fey creatures. Generating a magic-powered movement to compel large amounts of people to dig for you may sound specific...but the spell is basically at least one adventure practically spelled out for you.

Tapping into the characteristics of the savage humanoids living in the hills via an array of spells would be another component of the book. Very unique: Phase runner lets you oscillate between the material and ethereal plane, becoming ethereal while moving and substantial while standing still/attacking - this sports a LOT of unique applications for tactics - and, interestingly, the spell takes mounts and vehicles and the like into account. Perhaps, you, as a high-level druid, are just fed up with the encroachment of civilization...if you are, just Raise Mountain Range. 2 square miles per level. The summon spells herein are nothing to sneeze at either - they contain actual simple templates to add at your convenience.

Oh, and to make that reference...since I'm from Germany, I need to mention this, in spite of not being the biggest fan of the whole volkstümliche Musik concept - there is a spell in here called yodel. Yes, you can reskin this one to work via smoke signs. Yes, it is kinda funny, but works. Yes, I will probably use it and require my players to actually yodel when trying to use it. Because that's how I roll. ;)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two column full color standard and features some neat artworks I haven't seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dave Paul's spells are the most anticipated spell books for Pathfinder for me; let's not kid anyone. They're pretty much the only spell books I truly look forward to reviewing right now. I'm mostly burned out on spells and the significant majority of spells either is a variant on something or doesn't feel magical enough for me. Dave Paul's spells, on the other hand, either do something mechanically interesting, breathe a sense of the wondrous, stitch shut gaps in what spells let you do, provide unique tactical options...it may sound weird, but I actually prefer his spells and variants of other spells over many an "original" spell. Why? Because even his spell variants stand out with unique rules-operations or concepts that breathe the spirit of the fantastic to an extent unrivalled by just about every comparable book. It is a boon for a lot of authors that he got into the spell-writing gig only relatively recently; otherwise many a book of magic would have received less praises from yours truly. The terrain-based 101-spell-series raises the roof for the whole concept of spells and this is no different. Evocative and unique, this is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, with an explicit extra recommendation for fans of giants, dwarves and humanoids and classic Against the Giants/Borderlands/Giantslayer-style gameplay.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Hill & Mountain Spells (PFRPG)
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#30 Haunts for Battlefields (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2016 09:27:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's #30-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this little pdf with a summary of the nature of haunts and how they operate, making the use of this pdf as painless and book-flipping-less as possible. After this brief explanation, persistent and minor haunts are explained and then we're right in the subject matter - haunts for battlefields.

This book pretty much offers exactly what it says on the tin, with haunts in the pages ranging in CR from CR 1 to CR 12. The effects of the haunts themselves, are diverse: From an overwhelming sense of battle-weariness to visions of burning barracks that may boil your blood to the haunting choir of prisoners sacrificed or executed, there is a lot to be found in this pdf.

The selection of haunt covers both the common (e.g. ear-piercing screams) to remnants of contagion that can be abated by planting a red spider-lily (all Japanese culture buffs out there, rejoice!). From the unsettling experience of watching dead birds emit unnerving cackles to the very earth growing acidic, detonating pustules, the pdf strikes a lot of tones - and it does so well: Both the somber aftermath and experience between the fighting and the pure chaos of warfare have their haunted representations amid these offerings, with destruction often pointing to and underlining the respective truth beyond the creation of the haunt.

In fact, the variance between modes and themes of haunts can be easily evoked by using haunts as transitionary elements - there are some that feature the dins of battle, which could conceivably used as great out- and in-game audio-cues to signify a transition from the somber to the chaotic and lethal aspect of warfare. The very earth grasping for the living, being carried away against one's will by a phantom horde, carpenter's tools used creatively by a torturer, the nascent greed of traumatic pillaging echoing through an area, phantoms of the dying projectile-vomiting acidic blood, rapid decomposition of the fallen and the very earth's mouth trying to swallow those whole that thread upon it - the diversity of the haunts herein is more than sufficient, and they may actually all be stringed together to form a truly nightmarish hell-hole of a battleground, often with means of combining the haunts already included:

When two haunts refer to barracks burning and work potentially well together, the GM simply has his work cut out for himself...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's classic two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a blend of full-color art I haven't seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

It feels almost like another life since I last reviewed a haunt book by T.H. Gulliver. The haunts books for the #30-series, universally remain my go-to default address for haunts: Precise, deadly, evocative and yet easy to plug into a given context, the books are classics...and so is this one. For a more than fair price, you get an evocative array of fun haunts that enriches the game...or an adventure. I firmly believe that a good GM can string these together as a great adventure locale or even as a mid-level adventure that requires exactly no combat encounters...just this eerie, forlorn battlefield, where the earth itself keens and loathes those that have savaged it. A great and evocative pdf, this is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
#30 Haunts for Battlefields (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Treants (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/29/2016 09:02:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest installment of Rite Publishing's massive "In the Company"-series for playable monster races clocks in at a massive 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 43 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!

This was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Unlike most of these books, we do not begin with the in-character prose that guides us through the book itself - instead, we start with author Jonathan McAnulty noting taking us a long on a short trip through his mind and past, explaining why this book exists in the first place - and personally, I like that. It makes the book feel...well, more direct and establishes a context and theme against which one may process the following information.

After this, we dive right into what has by now become a crucial part of the identity of this series, namely the fact that it reads very well: The introduction to the playable treants featured in this book is narrated by a member of the race, structured alongside a song of the treants, as the narrator explains the mythology, the role of shepherds of trees and then proceeds to detail the life-cycles of treants, misconceptions of other races, the unique society, ethics and relationships with other races. This whole section is provided in stunning, captivating prose and extends its level of detail to nomenclature to the finer details as well, resulting in a truly captivating experience as far as reading material is concerned.

Now, an important component of the treant as depicted here is that the treants are plants, yes...but the plant traits, very powerful as a default, have been modified for balance's sake, which is a pretty big (and smart) decision right then and there. Unlike previous installments of the series, the treants provided herein actually are not simply one race: There are multiple options to choose from, the first of which would be the birchwalker.

Birchwalkers gain immunity to humanoid-targeting effects, paralysis, stunning and sleep effects as well as +1 + 1/2 HD to saves versus charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, phantasms and polymorph effects - these would be the modified plant traits mentioned above. They get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wis, low-light vision and are always awake, though their spell preparation etc. work via a meditation, though this does not include penalties to Perception for sleeping. Birchwalkers gain +2 natural armor and are resilient versus starvation, suffocation etc. - they get +4 to Con-checks to avoid the like and gain +2 to Diplomacy, Appraise and Craft. (Here, a cosmetic formatting glitch has crept in, with the artisan racial trait not beginning in a new line; cosmetic, though and not a reason to harp on the pdf. Birchwalkers get +4 to Knowledge (Nature) pertaining trees and armor made for them costs twice as much. They also take +50% fire damage. Alternate racial trait-wise, they can have a slightly faster speed (and minor bonuses versus trip and bull-rush), +2 to Knowledge (nature), +4 to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local) or +4 to Profession (orcharist), increasing a region's plant productivity 1/year via plant growth-y tricks.

The second version of treant we get is the oakheart, who gets the same modified plant traits as well as +2 Str and Wis, -2 Dex, only 20 ft. movement rate (that is never diminished), cannot run, is always awake, gains low-light vision, +2 natural armor, the same photosynthesis-bonus versus starvation/suffocation/etc. (and yes, they still require sustenance!), speak with plants at will, +2 to saves versus spells, SPs and poisons, +2 to CMD vs. bull-rush and trip and the same Knowledge (nature) bonus to deal with trees. They also share the requirements for more expensive armor and being flammable. Alternate racial trait-wise, they can get +2 to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local), 1/day wood shape, +2 to saves versus electricity, cold and heat-based saves or an increased natural AC at the cost of further reducing movement rate, down to 15 ft.

Pretty cool and a nice showcase of 3pp-camraderie - instead of simply replicating another author's work or generating redundancy, there is also the seedlings included. First written by Marie Small and then published by Jon Brazer Enterprises, these characters would be the option to use if you wanted less powerful base race stats and are the version you'll take for the low-fantasy campaigns. While seedling-material is obviously included herein, the original book is by no means redundant and can be pictured as a nice companion-pdf to this book. It's great to see Rite Publishing giving credit where credit is due.

That's still not all, though - there is a FOURTH race of treants in this book, the Willowkin. These fellows also get the modified plant-traits, +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con, darkvision 30 ft, low-light vision, +1 natural armor, photosynthesis, they can speak with plants at will, gain +2 to CMB when making trips and +1 initiative, +2 to Spellcraft checks as well as +1 DC when casting SPs and enchantment spells (not that big a fan of the SP-caveat since I know a couple of classes that cast exclusively SPs...) and 3/day daze, I assume as an SP - the trait doesn't specify, which makes figuring out the DC slightly more opaque than it should be. They also suffer from the more expensive armor and flammable drawbacks like their brethren. While their write-up, like those before, sports some of the cosmetic glitches, I noticed no formal ones. Alternate trait wise, they can get keen senses, +2 to Acrobatics (which should be capitalized, not lower-case) at the cost of natural armor, tremorsense 5 ft. instead of darkvision and 1/day healing by putting his feet/roots into water - which is a damn cool image.

The pdf provides a significant array of favored class options, but class-specific ones and general ones and then proceeds to provide racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Primal Forest Guardian, a treant barbarian that gets a modified skill-list and proficiency-list. Instead of uncanny dodge, improved uncanny dodge and DR, the archetype gains +1 natural AC per level and +1 DR/- per 2 levels, but also pays for this enhanced defense with reduced numbers of rage per day. Instead of fast movement, they become particularly adept at hurling boulders, trees, etc, increasing the damage output of these at higher levels and they begin play with a slam attack that scales in base damage. Pretty cool: At 11th level, the guardian can elect to forego iterative attacks in favor of an additional slam attack at full BAB, which improves the flow of combat. They do, however, gain less rage powers. Unique: The barbarian actually grows in size, up to Gargantuan at 20th level, with minor attribute bonuses and a single Dex-loss accompanying this feature. Bonus damage versus inanimate objects is nice, but more interesting would be that prolonged rages may animate trees in the vicinity of the primal guardian.

If you've read the above, you may have begun already contemplating how treant growth and multiclassing work - for you'd be correct in the assumption that all the archetypes herein indeed do sport such options. Their interaction is handled with a rather nice, explanatory sidebox that provides concise and succinct guidelines for the GM and players. Kudos!

The verdant healer would be the treant cleric and, like the barbarian, the archetype receives a modified list of skills and proficiencies and is locked into the healing domain as well as one domain of the player's choice from a brief list. Verdant Healers cannot channel positive energy to harm undead and gain 1/2 their class level to Heal-checks. They gain a scaling slam attack as well as natural armor bonuses that increase every 2 levels, with high levels also providing a bit of DR. At 3rd level, the archetype gains the option to use channel energy as a touch instead, which heals slightly above the median of rolls for regular beings, 6s for plants and allows the healer to even treat attribute damage and at the highest levels, raise dead. Think of this as a channel powered alternate lay-on-hands/mercy-ish option. They also are experts at brewing potions and gain, as mentioned above, growth, though size-wise, they cap out at Huge at level 20.

The tree master druid takes the tree animation one step further in a bonded forest and would probably be the incarnation of the treant character concept you think of first. This ability is powered by the quickening point pool, here equal to 2 + Charisma modifier, +2 per class level gained. This concept, just fyi, can be found in quite a few of the archetypes herein, with information on pool-behavior when multiclassing being provided as well. Obviously, wild shape is focused on plant shape iterations for a tonal consistency. The fighter archetype provided herein focuses on a combination of tanking akin to the barbarian brother and a focus on hurling devastating stones. The earthborn kineticist is locked into earth (geokinesis) as primary element and gains basic geokinesis as a wild talent and burn gets an interesting modification: Earth-related burn is reduced by 1 to a minimum of 1, while fire-related burn is increased by 1. Burn can also be accepted in order to temporarily increase the kineticist's defensive capabilities and they may infuse the power of earth in their slams.

The serene master would be atreant monk (which is a pretty powerful option, considering the fact that the armor-restriction is null and void for those guys) - and the combo of modified monk-AC-rules and AC-scaling means, ultimately, that these guys end up with better capabilities to survive the rigors of adventuring. While they do not gain stunning fist (thus locking them out of quite a few archetypes and tricks that use Stunning Fist as a resource), their damage-output is increased. Now here is an interesting option: At 4th level, they can deliver attacks by proxy via trees, allowing them to be supremely lethal combatants in forests. I was pretty skeptical about this one, but it ended up being rather cool, so kudos! (And yes, ki-powered, but balanced regeneration is included, though the ability lacks an activation action.) At higher levels, these guys can also swap places with trees. Prophets of the Glades oracles gain the new deep woods mystery, which sports among its revelations true strike-ish benefits alongside rock throwing as well as establishing an effect that lets your survey a tree and share damage with it...which certainly is powerful, but also evocative and in line with the treant mythology established in fiction. As a minor cosmetic nitpick, that one's name isn't italicized. Pretty cool would also be the second mystery, the weather mystery, which grants you bonuses depending on the current weather! You know...I actually really like this idea! Windy day? Your bonus applies to Dex. Cloudy? Wisdom. I think there's a class concept here. Three sample curses for treant oracles, from being hollow to being fire-scarred or stunted can be found as well.

More classic and in line with what you'd expect is the Woodland Stalker, a pretty straightforward ranger with treant-y abilities. The wald walker rogue is interesting in that it may, among other options, flank with trees a limited amount of times per day and has quite an array of nice, unique talents. The skald archetype provided similarly uses the treant-y tricks like slam attacks and hurling stones, but supplements them with unique performances. The arcane classes aren't left out either: Sorcerors can gain two new bloodlines, the ley line and fey woods bloodlines; the first featuring healing capabilities for the sorceror and the second being more closely aligned with classic tricks, including a vanilla quickening directed tree attack. Finally, the verdant scholar wizard gets a bonded tree that can aid him when making magic items and divide damage between him and the tree. Additionally, a selection of unique arcane discoveries are provided for the archetye. This one surprised me. Why? Because the bonded tree is narrative GOLD. "Look, the leaves of our protector's tree are falling...a great calamity is approaching" or "Defend the sacred tree of our guardian!"...damn cool and made me come up with multiple, cool ideas.

The pdf, as has become the tradition with this series, features a racial paragon class, the tree shepherd. Tree shepherds get d8 HD, 4+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with clubs, great clubs, spears, stones and slings. They begin play with the option to supernaturally animate trees with a range of 50 ft + 10 ft. per level, powered by 4 + Cha-mod quickening points, which are expanded by +3 per level thereafter. The animation takes one full round for the tree to uproot itself, though somewhat annoyingly, the ability does not specifically call that it requires the tree shepherd to expend this action, which means that the activation-action component of the ability could be clearer. The number of trees simultaneously animated and their power increases at higher levels. If a tree is left beyond the radius, it roots itself, but you do not need to spend quickening points again to reanimate it while the original duration persists. Charisma governs the number of trees a shepherd can have activated at a given time. The class also features forest stealth (+class level) while in forests as well as the scaling AC and DR-bonuses some archetypes featured as well. Obviously, the iconic slams and stone hurling can be found as well and tree shepherds get the powerful savage growth of treant barbarians, which means they cap out at Gargantuan size at 20th level.

At 1st level and every 2 levels thereafter, the paragon class gains a forest gift, which would be the talent-selection within this build: The talents themselves run a broad gamut of tricks: Moving a whole forest via quickening expenditure at high levels? Yup. Summoning elementals (maximum power based on shepherd size and point expenditure) may be nice, but personally, I really like the option to call forth mist in a 1-mile radius. Sure, only 60 feet visibility...but I know my players will LOVE this one....and visibility can be further reduced via additional points. Now get a character with mist sight and you have a great setup for a brutal infiltration. Conjuring forth an exhaustion-mitigating spring that also heals, gaining greensight or benefits depending on the season (YES!) render this class, alongside the numerous attribute bonuses, versatile and strong, but fitting for just about every campaign. In fact, I'd probably recommend it more for a lower magic environment that emphasizes magic as something mystical rather than as something common.

That's not even close to what this book has to offer, though: Beyond detailed age. height and weight tables, we get information on treant food and unique mundane and magical items: From fire extinguishing chalky powder to living chests or treant brew rations, there is a lot of cultural uniqueness to be found here.

Speaking of which: The new feat-section, featuring the options to animate vines and bushes, increase your photosynthesis as well as multiple styles render this section rather neat. Beyond the significant array of feats, rules for crafting vine traps alongside 8 sample plant traps (CRs range from 1 to 5) complement the well-ingrained ideas we have on treants. Bowls of light that enhance nearby plants, clubs that can be animated via quickening points or enchanted, returning rocks - the magic items are similarly uncommon and fitting. The pdf goes one step beyond, though, and provides a 20-level NPC class at full BAB-progression, good Fort-save, d8 and 2+Int skills for NPC-treants - which reduces the tricky bits of the previous archetypes to the base and may be a nice option for low-powered campaigns that want a manageable, straightforward treant-PC.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; on a formal level and regarding rules-language, there isn't much to complain apart from a few hiccups. Formatting-wise, the pdf similarly sports a couple of minor issues, with in particular line breaks between abilities not being always clear - one more pass in those two disciplines would have made the book a bit more streamlined. Layout adheres to a nice, two-column full-color standard with branchy-graphic elements based on public domain art in the margin, providing a nice, fitting aesthetics here. The full-color artworks in the book seem to be not only original, they also are rather beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Oh boy, this was work. But also a rather joyous occasion, at least for me. Why? Because I'm honestly glad Jonathan McAnulty has once again written a big, whopping book. Then, I started thinking about treants and started shuddering. I mean, seriously? How can you maintain their power and evocative tricks and retain a sense of balance? It seems like a losing game, no matter what you do: Get rid of the plant traits and the high-power games while whine; don't get rid of them and the low-powered games will start yelling "unabalnced!". How does this book solve this conundrum? Simple. In the best way possible. It's all in here. Want a high-powered treant? Go for birchwalker. If you're like me and like races to have powers and drawbacks and a unique flair, go for the oakheart. Want a more agile one? Willowkin. Something in line with the core races? Seedling. Better yet, the racial paragon class and archetypes generally sport the "treant"-feeling. They are not simply general archetypes with a racial coat - they feel and play distinctly unique, they are fitting for the races. The cornucopia of supplement information and fluff further enhance this book and render it, as far as player-agenda, table-variation and the pure imaginative potential is concerned, one of my favorites. The mile-mist...the moving of trees...beyond mathfinder abilities (which are there, fret not, my fellow crunchers!), this pdf offers great storytelling devices that may actually be useful above and beyond the limitations of the system. This book codifies what we know of treants from literature and our cultural unconsciousness and provides the definite book on playing the masters of the woods and, personally, my favorite in the whole line alongside the rakshasa-book. That being said, there are a couple of glitches herein, some of which pertain to ability activation and thus, the rules-language. While one can usually glean what they are supposed to be, that does remain as a minor drawback- Mind you, these glitches are few...but they're there.

So...let me reiterate that: As a person, I absolutely adore this book, particularly the extensive means to customize treants to make them viable for just about any campaign. As a reviewer, however, I can't let the glitches that are here slide...and thus, I'd arrive at a final verdict of 4.5 stars. I do know, however, that quite a few of you out there tend to share my opinions and prefer evocative, unique options that emphasize a cohesive theme over formal perfection of bland content. Hence, I will round up for the purpose of all the platforms - this pdf has its heart at the right spot and is a fun, great read that will make you want to call forth the shambling, ponderous masters of the forests deep.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Treants (PFRPG)
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The Secrets of the Taskshaper (13th Age Compatible)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2016 10:54:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adaptation of the taskshaper class to the 13th Age rule-set clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is the taskshaper? In case you are not familiar with the exceedingly awesome background of the class - it is one of the most challenging classes to GM for in PFRPG, defined by the option to basically shapechange and poach abilities from monsters, a class suffused with great background info: You see, as the in-character prose that guides you through this pdf makes amply clear, the taskshaper is a creature changed by the fey, with themes of changelings and the mythological lord Auberyon being part of the deal. As such, after the well-written introductory prose, we dive into the particulars of the class.

The taskshaper has an original form - basically the race you had prior to becoming a taskshaper. They can choose either +2 Dex or Cha, provided they have not already increased said ability score, A smattering of sample backgrounds are provided for your convenience. You begin play with the gear of the latest person you impersonated, up to 50 gp worth and are wanted for a minor misdeed...or you halve starting gold and are not wanted and get decent clothes as well as light armor. And a simple weapon. Armor follows the 11 -> 13 -> 15 progression, shields netting +1.

The taskshaper being a unique creature regarding its flavor, thus proceeds to classify natural weapons by type - tables align these with one-handed or two-handed weapon equivalents and, from different bites to stings and special attacks, this classification is simple, to the point and easy to grasp. Ranged weapons gain a similar classification, just fyi. The taskshaper receives (8+Con-mod) x3 starting hit points, scaling up to x24 at 10th level. Each level nets a feat and 4th, 7th and 10th level provide ability upgrades, as noted. Damage bonus from ability score increases to x2 at 5th level and x3 at 8th level. The Form pool (more on that later) begins at 1st level and upgrades at 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th level. Ini is Dex + level. AC is 11 + middle mod of Con/Dex/Wis +level; PD is 11 + middle mod of Str/Con/Dex +level; MD is 12 + middle mod of Int/Wis/Cha + level. The taskshaper gets 8 recoveries, recovery rate of 1d8 x level + Con-mod, 8 background points (max 5 in one), 3 icon relationships and 3 talents. When transformed, their basic attacks can govern hit damage with Cha instead of Str or Dex, both in melee and ranged combat.

The first class feature of the taskshaper would be perfect imitator, which allows you to assist allies with tasks or repeat a task you have observed. At champion-tier, you can use a feat to learn a wizard spell and cast it 1/day. You cast this via Cha and may replace the spell with another, provided you can learn it from a spellbook. The Epic tier feat can even uncover repressed memories via this copying, provided you beat the MD of the creature. The second class feature would be Moment of Change, which allows you to 1/battle gain minor bonuses as a free action by reshaping your body. You may also use this ability as a quick action to shapechange into one of your forms known or the combination of forms known. Additionally, you can expend this moment to modify an assumed form. Adventurer feat nets +1 such moment, Champion-tier's feat increases the aforementioned bonus and nets another moment, while the epic feat provides +2 moments of change per battle. Additionally, 1/encounter, you regain all moments upon becoming staggered. Here, presentation is a tad bit confusing - the dev's note mentions 10 moments for a scenario of two epic-tier taskshapers duking it off, which is, obviously correct -it's 5 per character. The dev's note does make that sound like it's 10 per character, so a bit of confusion there. Moments of change are regained upon a short rest. Reverting to your original form, just fyi, does not require moment o change expenditure.

The taskshaper class also receives some talents, the first of which allows you to mimic an object - which becomes particularly unique at epic tier, when you can assume full properties of objects, including magical bonuses and special abilities, but the special abilities do require the expenditure of moment of change uses and size-requirements and restrictions still apply, but may be overcome with your shapechanging. Slightly odd from a wording point of view: The epic-tier feat also nets the option to conduct a ritual to make a functional non-combat utility copy lasting for 1 hour per moment of change used - this looks like you create the object, while the reversal clause does imply that reverting to your original form takes longer. Basically, I think the taskshaper turns into this item, but the wording is simply a bit opaque here.

Shift Condition is intriguing - it allows you to expend recoveries to delay/temporarily halt conditions, ongoing damage and last gasp saves, with epic tier allowing you to transfer these to adversaries...thankfully, this does reset the counters. Troll Blood improves your healing capacity, making the save easy to use full effect recoveries, with the epic feat granting you 10 hp of healing for 5 minutes. This is a bit odd, since even a regular troll's regeneration is tied to uses in battle, not a time-frame. Protean Touch makes your face and body malleable, allowing you to freely assume other guises and grants you a free 5-point background, with champion-tier weaponizing this to allow you to prevent touched foes from taking move or quick actions, while the epic-tier feat lets you grant limited shapechanging to your allies...and gain a touch that can pulverize foes.

So, what exactly do the forms do and how do they work? Well, you begin play knowing 4 forms, learning new forms requires a first-hand experience. Thereafter, provided you can learn a new form, one day of experimentation does the trick. You retain your size unless specifically noted and can speak in forms. Unless specifically noted, items do not change with you. Upon becoming disabled or dying, you revert to your original form and while forms have no duration, you only regain moments of change when resting in your original form. You may also use moments of change to only partially transform parts of your body - these never cause damage to yourself. You retain a certain recognizable quality when changed and forms assumed come with a 20-entry table that sports unique distinctive marks.

Now here is the cool thing regarding the forms - the respective transformations offer some non-combat utility, modifications of defense-stats, natural attacks and provide you with a selection of diverse abilities - you choose multiple such tricks when you assume a form. Beast Form, for example, would allow you to gain +2 to AC and PD in addition to the base form's modifications and make you venomous. Or, you could be venomous and constrict. Or increase damage die of your attacks and gain a 16+-triggered secondary attack. Some suggestions for e.g. which of these traits would be appropriate for e.g. bears, etc. are a welcome bonus. Starting at level 3, aquatic beast forms, ooze and plant bodies are unlocked, while level 5 unlocks the avian beast form, elemental body (air, earth and water). Level 7 nets you access to diminutive and large size, Elemental Body (Fire) and level 9, finally, lets you take the forms of dragons and, yes...even swarms! The forms themselves are varied and unique, their fluff being pretty awesome and they actually also feature quite a few interesting things to consider: Fire Elemental Body, for example, nets you a cool vs. PD attack with ongoing fire damage...but also makes you susceptible to non-flammable liquid and weakened if you have no material to burn.

That being said, personally, I'm a bit of a stickler for precision and partial change and its interaction with the forms could have used a bit of clarification -when I take e.g. the fire elemental's body, does this mean I get aforementioned weaknesses? The ability for the PD-attack mentions that it replaces the regular attacks - but what if one only assumed parts of this form? I assume that's not possible since it and a bunch of the other forms have the "body"-caveat, which looks like it means that it is only available for total change...but I am not sure. A bit of clarification for such cases would be nice, even though GMs can probably handle these decisions.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard, is nice regarding art-direction and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Patryk Adamski's adaptation of Steven D. Russell's cool taskshaper class works exceedingly well for the most part. While I consider the relatively few moments of change a bit too restrictive, (Boys, I need to take a short break...again.), that is a relatively easily changed component that can be attuned to a given campaign. The unique and complex options of the taskshaper are somewhat simpler in 13th Age than in Pathfinder, but that does make sense and actually does the class some good - the acquisition of forms and their limits ultimately requires no GM-book-keeping in this version, which is pretty awesome. At the same time, there are a couple of instances where the otherwise precise rules-language could have imho used some further clarifications regarding specific interaction with shapechanging objects, partial changes, etc. While these issues are not glaring, they do mean that the GM is required to make some judgment class when the class is used. Still, this does manage to convey the unique nature of the taskshaper to 13th Age - and that is a great thing.

How to rate this, then? Well, while not perfect, this is an inexpensive, evocative addition to 13th Age, one that particularly should be interesting for more experienced 13th Age-players. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Taskshaper (13th Age Compatible)
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