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Animal Lords of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/13/2019 06:18:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content. These pages have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you could theoretically fit up to 4 on a given sheet of paper, provided your eyesight’s good enough.

As always for Porphyra RPG-supplements, this one is fully compatible with PF 1e; the Porphyra RPG is currently still in playtest, but power-level wise seems to aim a bit higher than core PF 1e, aiming more for the level of power we associate with the newer iterations of the game, i.e. including the changes introduced over the course of the system’s lifetime.

We start off this pdf with a brief flavor-centric introduction before diving into the animal lord class, who gets 6 + Int skills per level, full BAB progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The class does not gain armor proficiency, but adds Wisdom bonus to AC when unencumbered and unarmored and not using a shield, with 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter increasing this bonus by a further +1. This bonus represents basically a variant from the underappreciated and intriguing codification of thinking about martial arts rules chassis baselines as introduced in Purple Duck Games’ “Unarmed and Dangerous.” Notice something? Yep, alas, the HD-rating is missing. I assume from context that d8 or d10 was intended, with my personal guess gravitating towards d8, mainly because of being close to the shifter in the 1st level key concept, the animal family. This choice determines the senses associated with the animal family.

We need to speak about these, in that they all provide default sizes for the respective sizes, senses, and natural attacks. Here, an optional rule allows for taking of sizes beyond the usual for PCs, and the natural attack routines noted do specify their damage die sizes, which is a plus. Each family also yields skill bonuses, usually a pretty significant (as in: +8) bonus to a specific skill use, like Survival to track, Perception vs. adjacent foes, etc. Minor nitpick: Damage types for the natural are not noted, but type, thankfully, is, as the base class provides a concise default here. Since Porphyra RPG is still in playtest, I will not hold the damage type omission against the pdf, but it’s something to bear in mind. When applicable, the families note special attacks like grabbing and the respective speed ratings, which, somewhat oddly, seem to be not in a direct correlation between sizes and animal. A minor inconsistency would be that e.g. a bear family’s grab does not note its extraordinary quality, while the bear hug ability does specify being (Ex).

Now, beyond the bear family’s tricks, there are a couple that are rather interesting: The boar family, for example, allows us to overrun multiple targets. Capra charges allow for better gore attacks; cats get pounce and rake. (Minor nitpick: The animal special quality “Leap” of the cat family hasn’t been italicized.) Beyond these, cattle, constrictor, crocodile, deer, dinosaur, dolphins, elephants, fowl, frogs, horses, ostrichs, raptors, rats, seals, sharks and vipers are provided. Sharks get e.g. swim-by-attacks, and electroreception based blindsense. Interesting here: In spite of the massive discrepancies between the families, they generally come out approximately on par with one another. While mechanically, when just looking at damage per round and combat capabilities, there are a couple of families that are superior, these generally suffer in the versatility department, like movement rates, immunity to diseases and the like, so yeah – as a whole, this section was genuinely better than I expected. Maneuverability rating, while generally still here, is missing from the raptor’s fly speed. It should be noted that the animal natural attacks are gained at 2nd level, not first, and that this level also nets a combat style. 3rd level nets a new terrain type, reproduced here for convenience. The animal lord gets +2 to initiative, atk, damage, Perception, Stealth, Survival in this terrain, which improves to +4 at 8th level. 13th level and every 5 levels thereafter yield an additional terrain, also at 4th level. Interesting: This explicitly works as a favored enemy and favored terrain and can be used in conjunction with it.

3rd level nets the ability to assume the animal family’s forms as 3 + Wisdom bonus (min 0) times per day, for class level hours animal form per use of the ability. This ability is based on scaling beast shape as guidance, with higher levels also influencing the action economy, and higher levels increase the sizes available. The ability and its interaction with wild shape-based abilities is once more properly codified. 4th level yields the dominion ability, which translates to speak with animals as a constant effect, and the animal lords gets to deal nonlethal damage versus the family sans penalty. More interesting: When pummeling an animal into submission thus, the animal lord may use their at-will charm animal SP versus the target – and have the unconscious target auto-fail. This is a great representation of the concept of besting a potent animal to assert dominance. Kudos! Aforementioned animal skill bonuses granted by the family are gained at 5th level alongside previously mentioned special attacks.

7th level nets the shapeshifter subtype as well as Dr 5/magic or silver. 9th level nets the movement rates associated with the animal families, and 10th level makes the animal lord’s natural attacks count as silver and cold iron, and either Improved Natural Attack or an upgrade of secondary natural attacks to primary. 19th level provides the further upgrade to this ability. 11th level ntes the special qualities of the animal family in humanoid and animal form. 12th level yields camouflage and 15th level an apotheosis to outsider. 16th level allows the animal lord to bestow animal shapes to other creatures, granting the animal family’s skill bonus. 17th level nets Hide in Plain Sight.

A pretty big plus: We get favored class options for a TON of different Porphyra races, many of which are actually interesting – additional cat’s luck uses, better Strength checks and carrying capacity (but not any other forms of Str-based tricks)…and so on. The list covers all the exotics of core Pathfinder as well as a couple of my favorite Porphyran races like Avoodim or Zendiqi.

The pdf also features 2 different archetypes, the first of which is for the animal lord class: The beast king loses the charm angle, as well as 4 native terrains and hide in plain sight, but replaces that by a supernatural, scaling version of summon nature’s ally to call forth critters like animals and vermin. Basically, you get massive summoning tricks, and don’t have to pay that much for it – I’d be very weary of this one, but for a solo game, it may be a nice one. The second archetype, the Serker, can be summed up as a variant of the barbarian who gets a Way of the Body-based natural armor, and who loses rage powers in favor of animal family-based tricks. Minor note here: I am not a big fan of the animal families being presented after the favored class options and archetypes – I think it tears the presentation sequence of the animal lord apart more than it should be.

If you are particularly familiar with animals statted so far, you’ll note that there’ll be some blind spots: Thankfully, the pdf does contain 9 animals, including dwarf elephants, roadrunners, sea lions, etc., providing a neat conclusion here.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting on a rules-language level are hard to rate, since Porphyra RPG is not yet done. That being said, using PF 1 as a benchmark, I’d consider it to be pretty good. There are some aesthetic inconsistencies, but for the most part, this is really solid. That being said, the HD value missing is a big glitch. The pdf features nice interior artwork, and comes with super-detailed bookmarks that help navigate the file.

Carl Cramér’s animal lords were a pleasant surprise for me. When I saw the title and realized that is was a class and not a reference to the potent outsider lords, I expected a shifter hybrid, and at this point it’s no surprise that I REALLY dislike Paizo’s shifter. For shifters, Legendary Games’ Legendary Shifter and Everyman Gaming’s shifter in the Paranormal Adventures book do excellent work regarding that trope.

The animal lord does something else. In the 60s and 70s, there were a couple of comics particularly popular in Germany. They were kinda old-school and had heroes with Tarzan-like abilities; while I could rattle off their respective names, they’d mean next to nothing to most folks. Heck, I only know them because I found them in attic-stored boxes as a kid. The most commonly known character in the US that may hit best how these guys feel, is the Phantom, created, unless I’m sorely mistaken, sometime in the 30s by Lee Falk. The animal lord is a master of animals, with a bit of shapeshifting thrown in for the fantastic angle…and the class does that job well. While the lack of HD-ratings and a couple of minor aesthetic hiccups drag this down a bit, I found myself actually enjoying this fellow. It has its own identity, and as such, I consider this to be worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Lords of Porphyra
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Anpur of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2019 10:14:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, in case you didn’t know: Porphyra RPG is a continuation of Pathfinder’s first edition, with slight tweaks to formatting conventions, some rules-stream-lining and the like. As per the writing of this review, the RPG is still in the playtest phase, so how/whether formal criteria change is still up in the air – as such, I will de-emphasize these aspects in my discussion of Porphyra’s Anpur. That being said, rules-wise, this is pretty much 100% compatible with Pathfinder 1e.

As for the patchwork planet as a setting, the respective races tend to have a slightly higher power-level than core races; compared to many settings and supplements out there, they are still rather conservative, and I rarely find myself considering a race in the setting to be overbearing/too strong, particularly in view of how Pathfinder 1e’s power-curve has increased over the years.

As far as the anpur are concerned, we begin with a brief piece of flavor text before diving into the racial stats: Anpur receive +2 Strength and Wisdom, are humanoids with the gnoll subtype and get darkvision 60 ft. They are Medium, with a base speed of 30 feet, and courtesy of their practice of ancestror worship, they are treated as one level higher with regards to divination school spells, the benefits granted by the Ancestor subdomain, the Destined bloodline or the Ancestor mystery. Capitalizing the respective class feature names is a peculiarity of Porphyra RPG, and serves pretty well to differentiate the respective class features, so as far as I’m concerned, that’s a plus. Anpur are skilled travelers of the deserts, and as such receive a +4 racial bonus on Constitution checks and Fortitude-saves to avoid exhaustion and fatigue, as well as to resist the effects of harsh environments, forced marches, etc. They also get a +2 racial bonus on saves vs. fear-effects, and treat exotic flails as martial weapons, and may use heavy flails one-handed. Additionally, they may use the flail weapon group as a blanket choice when choosing a fear or ability that focuses on one weapon.

This is a very interesting design choice that will, in the long run, positively influence weapon diversification among races: You’re not locked into a single weapon for many of the feats you choose, and weapon training matters more. I like this choice. The anpur also are proficient with khopehses, longbows, shortbows, temple swords, flails and heavy flails. So, that’s the base racial write-up…and it is pretty cool – certainly more compelling than many a gnoll write-up I’ve read!

As far as alternate racial traits are concerned, we have 6 of those: One replaces the divination et al.-improvement with an increased duration for elemental summoning. An alternate choice to replace ancestor worship instead nets a +1 natural AC. One limits starting languages, but nets the anpur 1/day speak with animals. Fearless may be replaces with 1/day deathwatch. The increased resiliency versus harsh environments may be replaced with a 20 ft. climb speed, and finally, the flail specialization may be replaced with taking no negative effects from negative levels (though they still can kill you).

We follow this with something absent from many racial books: An ecology that discusses their temperament and societies. Dubbed “city gnolls” by outsiders, the anpur, the children of Anubis, are a proud and religious warrior race that, while exhibiting a kind of inborn aggression, temper this with restraint, creating an interesting racial psychology here. Speaking of interesting aspects: The primary food source of the race are flightless birds, like chukks, krakka or kochok – dodos, emus and megafauna moa. This is just a line, granted, but it added something to the race and made it stand out to me. The association with Anubis obviously conjured forth images of quasi-Egyptian cultures, or of the Sibeccai from Monte Cook’s Arcana Evolved, but this humble line made me think about dodo breeders, moa-cavalry and the like, and I honestly couldn’t help but smile. But I digress.

There is some quasi-Egyptian notion here – as a race with Anubis as patron deity, the Anpur obviously have a structured day that focuses on plenty of religious rites, with a special emphasis given for funerary rites, and the concept of having a building-debt to the deities makes for a great impetus for civilizing efforts and expansion on a scale beyond the personal realm. Age, height and weight tables are btw. provided. The pdf sports an assortment of race traits, 5 to be specific. However, the application of bonus types is inconsistent here – 2 of the traits lack the “trait bonus” moniker, while the other 3 do properly codify the bonus type.

As far as racial feats are concerned, anpur may take Keen Scent and Improved Natural Armor sans making the prerequisites. Two of the racial feats, Desert Warrior and Desert Defense, are assigned to a variety of races, and allow for improvement of offensive and defensive capabilities, though the offense feat also nets you a Persuasion penalty versus the chosen races against which you apply your offense training. Eyes of Death requires aforementioned deathwatch alternate racial trait and nets at-will deathwatch, and +4 to saves versus effects that cause the shaken condition. Eyes of Endless Death builds on that and is locked behind 10th level, providing 1/day death ward and a +4 bonus to effects that cause the panicked condition. Fate-Servant of Anubis. Nets you one additional hero point – I assume this to pertain the maximum of hero points and not a one time gain, but I’m not sure. The feat also lets you reroll 1 Fortitude save per day. Pack-Hunter Block’s a combat feat that…honestly, is kinda cool, but until Porphyra RPG is done, I can’t judge it. It lets you sacrifice an iterative attack to cancel an AoO against an ally or yourself. Does the iterative attack vanish next round? Do you have to hold it? I like the notion here, and frankly, it’s one that could speed up gameplay if built into the core combat mechanics, but as a feat, I’m currently puzzled as to how precisely it’s supposed to work. Servant of the Gods nets you a specialized familiar if you don’t already have one – the choices are pretty intriguing.

The equipment section introduced crescent axes and ternion flails, both of which are interesting. The latter is exotic and has a dual physical damage type – which is something that Porphyra’s rules have a chance to precisely classify. It always irked me that PF 1e didn’t exactly do a great job there, so here’s to hoping that Porphyra will do better. One glance at the magic items will note something interesting – the DC-rating is included in the header for your convenience. 3 are provided: The finis crossbowis pretty cool: It doubles as a melee weapon (counts as a dagger +1) and comes with a extra-dimensional storage container that allows the wielder to reload it with specific bolts stored inside; otherwise, the reloading sequence is a bit faster and more linear. Minor complaint: It imho wouldn’t have hurt to explicitly specify that the bolts are not conjured ex nihilo. The crossbow may also 1/day turn a bolt fired into a slaying bolt. The ranseur of conviction counts as a divine focus and may, in a 1-hour ritual at the start of the day, be attuned to exhibit one of several special weapon properties. Additionally, the ranseur can temporarily suppress fire resistance. The scarab armor is per se cool: It is lighter than usual, protects against swarms and lets the wearer call forth a scarab swarm. However, while such a swarm is called forth, the armor loses its light fortification quality, which is mislabeled as light fortitude once. Formatting is also not 100% consistent here.

On the REALLY interesting side, the spell-section here introduces new descriptors – one for Anubis, one for psychopomp ushers and one for Shankil. These ultimately mean that only followers of said entities may cast the respective spells, allowing for more meaningful differentiation between magical traditions. As an aside – spells also note e.g. (Exotic) or (Complex) behind the spell level to denote how common they are. I really enjoy this direction! An immediate/swift action instant pyramid-low level protection, or a buff versus soul imprisonment and the like make for some compelling options here.

Of course, the pdf also contains archetypes and class options. Black dog slayers get a modified skill list and replace studied target with a variant that provides skill bonuses and damage boosts versus targets of the sacred mission. Tracking is replaced with more swift application of oils and weapon blanches, and later holy water etc. 2nd level’s talent is replaced with Endurance and Diehard. Instead of the 2nd studied target and the 8th level’s talent, 5th level provides the means to blend in crowds, while 7th level replaces stalker and swift tracker with an inquisitor’s judgment at -6 levels, with 11th level adding an additional use. 10th level and later provide an assassin’s death attack, with 13th level, 15th, 17th and 20th level improving the ability. Nitpick: The 20th level ability refers to angel of death: “a black dog becomes an angel of death” – this should probably note that the character gets the ability, not “becomes” it.

Stalwart dredge fighters get a modified skill and proficiency list, focusing on mobility over heavy armor. The archetype gains brawler’s cunning, can fight better while squeezing and focuses on weapon training with a given group, gaining Weapon Specialization, as well as Weapon Finesse synergy. 6th level nets a counterattack that does not rely on annoying opposed rolls, instead focusing on retaliating, and at higher levels, we get halved duration of stunning or enchanting effects.

The pdf also features a the sand elemental subschool of earth: Acid cloud is replaced with the ability to make sand traps, and 8th level nets the ability to blast searing sand at foes – via caster checks. This is, obviously, an interesting angle, though once more an aspect where we’ll have to wait for the final RPG. For use in conjunction with PFRPG 1e, this should probably be a ranged touch attack, using casting attribute as a substitute governing key attribute.

The pdf also includes the Ahmutou – a crocodile with a lion’s mane around head and neck, as well as a golden crook under each eye. The critter clocks in at CR 2 and is an option for Monstrous Companion.

Next up, the pdf discusses how the anpur race views a metric TON of different classes, allowing you to think about the respective role in their society, and the pdf comes with a ton of favored class options that cover all Paizo classes, as well as a best of chosen from Purple Duck Games’ classes, including e.g. illuminates, living monolith, etc. The pdf concludes with a sample CR ½ PC, a cleric of Shankil.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, and just as well-executed on a rules-language level, at least as far as I’m able to determine that by now. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly one-column b/w-standard with purple highlights that PDG favors, and the pdf has a few really nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Derek Blakely’s anpur are an interesting and rather compelling take on the concept o jackal-folk, one that goes beyond the defaults of what one would expect. In another supplement, we’d probably just have seen an inversion – replace the barabaric tendencies of gnolls with being rigid and civilized. Here, it’s particularly in the small touches that the anpur come into their own, start feeling distinct. The items and notes on their culture and how the respective classes behave in a societal context all are interesting and deserve being lauded. The archetypes, alas, are slightly less interesting and didn’t blow me away – they’re not bad, mind you, but in comparison, they are not as well-wrought as the rest of the pdf, which includes the rules-language here.

That being said, many of the changes of Porphyra RPG shown here actually are aspects that do make one excited, and the race itself as well as its overall presentation is generally nice and has some inspiring tidbits. All in all, a solid offering, definitely on the positive side of things. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up, since the pdf is definitely closer to 4 than to 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Anpur of Porphyra
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AL 9: Danger in the Deep! (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2019 10:59:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure-location/dungeon-module clock in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 44 pages of content, which are laid out in booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue…because I really wanted to review it.

All righty, so the first thing you’ll notice upon opening the booklet would be the delightfully old-school-y map with its hand-drawn vibe – the PLAYER’S map! Yep, this booklet actually has a proper, player-friendly version of the map. And yes, obviously, there also is a judge’s version. One quick glance at the map also shows you a big plus: Unlike many modules, it actually is pretty non-linear – there are always choices, forks, etc. – I’m a big fan of this type of design.

This is an adventure location that depicts a cavern complex that can be used to link multiple modules together, or to act as a destination if the PCs “Quest for it!” right now – which, this being DCC, they most likely are!´

The challenges presented within are intended for a group of 4 – 8 level 2 DCC-characters. A significant plus, as far as I’m concerned, is that, while murder-hoboing through the adventure’s locations very much possible, clever PCs and players will have a MUCH easier time in the scenario if they, you know, actually roleplay and talk to some creatures. Don’t fret – there is plenty of action to go around, and this is very much a DCC-scenario in its aesthetics.

The two most likely candidates for the “Quest for it!”-angles here, which also prominently feature among the introductory hooks, would be the perpetually-wet grimoires Running Water, and the legendary club Cold Stone – both of these items come with tables of lore for PCs that do their legwork (or that consulted an oracle, etc.), that have the appropriate backgrounds…you get the idea. They both have really cool angles, and the pdf also comes with a new patron, including a full-blown write-up that includes Invoke Patron, spellburn and patron taint tables. It should also be noted that this patron write-up does include a new monster associated with the patron, which itself has a d7-table of visceral and really cool effects for its attacks.

Beyond aforementioned adventure-hooks, we do get a d5 random encounter table for the complex, with all critters properly statted for your convenience.

The descriptions of the respective adventure locations include read-aloud text for GMs less apt at improvising the like. It should also be noted that the adventure telegraphs its challenges properly – there is no save or suck, and when the PCs encounter hostile or detrimental terrain, they do so after incurring risks – in short, this is challenging, but FAIR. It should also be noted that mundane and roleplaying-based solutions to challenges are very much welcomed and accounted for – in short, this has the “right” kind of old-school spirit.

All right, and this is as far as I can go without diving into serious SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only judges around? Great! So, the module begins with a narrow entrance tunnel that is slick with guano and rather difficult to traverse: PCs failing low DC Agility checks risk falling/sliding, and while crawling is an option, it carries its own risk, namely infection with vermin, which can temporarily reduce Agility. This is a great example of the design paradigm mentioned above – the module allows for a means to offset dice-rolling here, but it carries risk that is obvious, namely that crawling through guano-laden muck crawling with odd bugs…well, isn’t a pleasant experience.

Beyond this introductory passage, we get even more coolness – the PCs can happen upon a land bat swarm, and trigger a variety of delightfully odd spores – a d7-table of spore effects is provided here…and guess what? The module accounts for clever PCs weaponizing the spores, providing rules to do so! This goes one step beyond what’s asked of it in its terrain features, and even mundane challenges are codified in a manner that is this precise, this detailed, showing an attention to detail and care that is a pleasure to see.

The cover, btw., depicts one of the intelligent denizens and potential “bosses” herein – it’s no mere spider, it’s the intelligent Spinwoman, and her webs are strong, as she drags targets in her chimney, wrapping them up in her shawls…being intelligent, smart PCs can potentially try to reason with her…though she is indeed intended as an adversary. Plaghorn the giant intelligent snail, is very much intended to be interacted with – the giant snail gets its own artwork, has hallucinogenic slime, and actually only attacks targets to defend itself. The slime, btw., has serious value for its interactions with the spellburn mechanics! Did I mention that snailtaurs that trade with Plaghorn? They really add a level to what they can deliver, content-wise: The snailtaur potion-masters come with a table of stuff they want, and a d14 generator of potions, names, effects, how they look, and their prices. These potent potions add some seriously cool tools to the arsenal of the PCs, and they make for an amazing reason for them to return to these caves time and again. Oh, and the full-page full-color artwork of the snailtaur potion-masters is just delightful.

Stone bushes and stalactite galleries paint a beautiful picture of subterranean wonders, with strange, blue flowers and similar wonders painting a picture of caverns most wondrous. Speaking of wonders – if you do happen to own a couple of the other rather excellent DCC-supplements released by Purple Duck Games, then you’ll get even more out of this. Where applicable, the module does acknowledge connections you could develop, though these d remain subdued enough: The module is not impeded by a lack of them among your files. Personally, I did very much enjoy these cross-references.

Anyhow, did I mention the conch-shell of psychedelic doom?

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column b/w-standard, with a couple of nice one-page hand-out-style full-color artworks thrown in. The cartography for the supplement is charming in its full-color hand-drawn aesthetics, is precise and features a grid…and it comes with a player-friendly version! The one downside I can field against the supplement would be the lack of bookmarks. I’d strongly suggest getting print here…or printing it yourself.

Daniel J. Bishop’s name on a module tends to be an indicator of quality. The trip into this cavern section oozes care and attention to detail from every pore. Many a DCC-module has high-concept “star”-encounters, sure – but it’s in the smaller details that one can see true artistry. Does the attention to detail afforded to the bosses, the “cool” scenes, also extend to the smaller encounters? In the case of Daniel’s writing, the answer tends to be a resounding “Yes!”, and this pdf shows well why that’s the case. Beyond having terrain et al. matter, the adventure succeeds in making even small decisions, small hazards matter, feel plausible, feel real. It has plenty of weirdness and Appendix N-style, sure – but to me, the impressive aspect here was how the module hits the more subdued notes, how care extends to all the small components that are so easy to overlook.

While the lack of bookmarks costs this half a star, the inclusion of player-friendly maps makes up for this as far as I’m concerned. For the print version, I’ll definitely rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. If you want to run this pdf-only, detract half a star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 9: Danger in the Deep! (DCC)
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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator
by keith m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/05/2019 08:11:44

A delightfully deadly funnel adventure for DCC. Every time I run this the players all enjoy it immensely. The familiarity of ther fairy tale is something most people can cling to, but there are some many little twists included that make it enjoyable to play and to run.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator
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[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards
by William K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2018 00:11:47

It is a good idea and was probably good when it first came out. It is now out of date, however, and should be updated if it is going to continue to be offered for sale. As soon as I looked at level 1 summons I saw that 'Dog' is missing, while 'Riding Dog' which was removed from this list by Paizo long ago still appears on the cards.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards
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Lands of Adventure
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2018 11:45:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first things first: This is a supplement for the Porphyra RPG, the continuation of Pathfinder 1’s rules that is currently being designed by Purple Duck Games. The Porphyra RPG seeks to streamline a few aspects, but otherwise has the ambition of being 100% PFRPG 1 compatible. Thus, while I will designate Porphyra RPG books as such, you should have no problems whatsoever using them in conjunction with PFRPG. That being said, a couple of formatting conventions are different. As per the writing of this review, magic items are, for example, no longer italicized. I am not the biggest fan of these formatting decisions, but since the game as of now is WIP, I will not penalize the book for that.

All righty, that out of the way, let’s take a look! We begin this supplement with the lay of the vagrant, a semi-divine traveler, a mystical figure that travels the lands – more of a plot-device than a creature. Here, this acts as a framing device of sorts, and after this, we get a massive list of settlement qualities and disadvantages. Settlement types by population are codified properly, and statistics are similarly tightly-presented in their own table – one glance, and you’ll see that a small city will have 4 qualities, and base limit/purchase limit, magic items and spellcasting available – all in one table. The disadvantages include, just fyi, asylums staffed by clerics with the Madness domain, which may cause odd lore to be present. Famed breeders may mean that e.g. hippogriffs or the like are available – you get the idea. The presentation here is tight and succinct.

After presenting these collated rules, we are introduced to unique sites across Porphyra, which as a whole could easily be plugged into most fantasy campaigns: We can visit, for example, Calim, the city of coins. These settlements btw. not only come with full statblocks and a brief description, as well as notable NPCs mentioned – each of the settlements is designed with immediate usefulness in mind. To take aforementioned Calim and quote from the text: “The party has signed up for the biggest economic makeover of the decade, as the city of Calim, in the economic battleground of the Trade Consortium of Blix is hiring “Associates at Large” to get the city up to code for the chance to become City of Capital among the Floating Syndicate Holds.[…] At least that’s what the Administrators hope. In your bright red shirts (Redshirts?) your party will put out fires real and metaphorical in the showdown to earn credits and prestige in the City of Coins!”

Literally being Redshirts? That’s foreboding, and indeed, the quests noted are nothing to sneeze at. You see, these settlements come with suggested quests, basically detailed adventure hooks, for low, mid and high levels. In the latter case, we’d have, for example, an infiltration into a black site political prison!!

These angles go far beyond what you’d usually see, and indeed, could be taken as campaign seeds. The second settlement’s angle would be that the PCs have been cursed with light blindness or rather fatal sunlight allergy, and thus banned to Creeper’s Rift below the mining city of Argentum! Now if that isn’t a cool misfits-hero angle, what is?

Treadwell, the city of traitors, has the PCs start with an innovative item in a land of high sorcery and magitech, seeking their fortune; and yes, 6 different such traits are presented. Bonus types are not codified here; not sure if that will remain so in the final version. A perfectly functional construct-shutdown gauntlet is also included here. Looking for fantasy wild west? Check out Dupressix! (And if you need a couple of modules with such a theme, take a look at SagaRPG’s offerings…one minor reskin, and you’ll have them combined.)

Another cool baseline/campaign seed would be exemplified by Thunder Keep – this city is actually a barbaric lizardfolk settlement, as the PCs kick off this campaign as folks stranded on an isle in the Rainbow Islands archipelago! Really amazing would be the Steaming Isle hook: Porphyra, the patchwork planet, has regions and climates separated by seams of porphyrite borders, which carry mystical and magical significance. Well, one place is the border between a tropical and arctic climate! Come on, that is really unique and something I have never seen done before! I’d totally play in a campaign where those and their cultures clash! This section is btw. supplemented by the black ice material.

Prefer a gritty, borderlands/swampy-type of scenario? Then check out Camp Sowmoor! Oh, and of course, good ole’ Freeport if part of Porphyra, so yeah – the classic city of pirates does get its own, distinctly Porphyran version here…so if you never had a chance to run the classic modules, it’s time to dust them off. Just steer clear of “Black Sails over Freeport.” That one was really, really atrocious.

But perhaps you’re in the mood for some good old ruin-looting? Then, you’ll want to explore the Ghadab Plateau and its ruined cities, setting forth on your expeditions from the dwarven colony named Shankil’s Pleasure…get rich or die trying, right?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are hard to judge as of now, at least regarding their rules-conventions and adherence to them; pertaining the formal integrity, there is nothing to complain. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights, rendering the book pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports some rather nice full-color artworks, and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr knows how to write amazing cultures and environments, and indeed, not one of the campaign hooks and settlements left me bored; not one of them is a been-there-done-that option. Instead, we get surprisingly interesting campaign seeds herein, and while all classic genres are covered, the supplement manages to add unique twists to them, which makes them feel unique, fresh and interesting. If anything, more than one of these places actually succeeded in making me crave an adventure or series of fully fleshed out adventures in the regions. Porphyra has vast potential as a setting to accommodate a wide variety of playstyles and outré themes, and this book embraces them wholeheartedly. Now, while I would have loved to see a bit more supplemental material or fully fleshed-out stats, I get why this elected to focus on the themes. Still, if anything, this book and its focus on ideas, rather than just a ton of crunch made me actually really excited about the future of Porphyra. The angles presented within certainly all would make for cool campaigns! Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Adventure
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Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/15/2018 05:36:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure/environment clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 56 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue…because I wanted to. Post-apocalypse is a genre that is not employed as often, and Goodman Games’ Mutant Crawl Classics provides a unique twist on the subject matter…and, unless I am sorely mistaken, this may well be the very first MCC 3rd part adventure released!

Structurally, this funnel is a combination of a sandbox that allows for a wide variety of different outcomes, and a more story-driven experience. It can be run as a straight fire and forget module, but arguably can provide more playtime by virtue of its free-form set-up. The module does include read-aloud text for the regions visited, and provides guidance with sample answers to likely questions posed in NPC interactions, making free-forming these conversations easy for judges usually not that well-versed in portraying such interactions.

Now, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Okay, only judges around? Great! So, after the Great Disaster, Sammy Squirrel’s Smart Toys went dark, as the AI running the place went into power conservation mode to weather the centuries. When Servitors of a bored Star Child found the store, it reactivated – and combat ensued. In the centuries since the Great Disaster, the neural consciousness had been severed, allowing the Smart Toys to gain consciousness. Pilgrims, in the meanwhile, followed the “Star” of the Servitors, encountered the toys and promptly began worshiping them as gods. Not all sentient Smart Toys liked that, and thus, further fragmentation and shenanigans ensued…but that’s not all. Amoral and bound to the program, the Sammy Squirrel began substituting organic components in the creation of new toys, giving rise to Toy-Borgs and abominations. It is into this chaos that the PCs stumble.

That is a recipe for delightful chaos, and the AI acting as it does makes sense; plus, the Freddy Fazbear-like style of Sammy on the cover immediately gave me the creeps, big time. Now, if all of this seems like it’s a pretty large amount of things to decide and room required to make the factions work, then you’d be correct. However, the module does not leave you alone as a judge; instead, and this is a big plus regarding replay value and unique adversaries: Each faction comes with an at-one-glance summary of goals, leaders, noting leaders, allies and the like at one glance before providing details regarding the faction in question. Moreover, these do include, for example sample stats for members. These stats, however, do not just come with the basics, oh no! Each of the factions comes with tables to customize the aesthetics of the adversaries and NPCs encountered, and in some cases also provide more detailed customizations with MV values included, to give you just one example.

Beyond the factions I noted, there also are the Dollies, who want to make the store presentable once more; there are the Furries, which are led, no surprise there, by a bear. I’m having 5 Nights at Freddy’s flashbacks right now. In an adorable and really cool twist, these guys do have a weakness – hugging them makes them hug back! This can really generate some bizarrely-hilarious “AWWWW”-moments. Unique abilities of e.g. the Servitors, Sammy’s holograms and mechanically-relevant Toyborg modifications to customize them… all of these details are bizarre, weird, and oftentimes hilarious in a way…plain and simple, really cool. Oh, and guess what: The module does account for the means of using a Toyborg as a replacement PC! (A similar option is noted for toy worshipers, fyi!)

Now, the module sports a rather significant array of toys, and as such, it uses Artifact Checks, but for toys, these do not require the expenditure of Luck, which adds to the leitmotif of whacky playfulness suffusing this adventure, allowing the PCs and players to experiment with penalizing them for doing so. The sandboxy support goes so far to have tables suggesting two-faction or multi-faction encounters, with the respective tables further making the actual use of the module easier. The module presents its sandboxy aspects thus as comfortable for the judge to implement as you can potentially demand from a module.

This level of customization options also pertains to the amount of hooks that the funnel provides. It is this amount of tweaks that ensures that the module’s factions and environments may remain relevant beyond the scope of this adventure.

That being said, this is nonetheless also a story-driven module, and as such, it begins with an introductory scene, wherein the PCs happen upon mula-a-pedes (with their own mutation table!) and thus happen upon the buried toy store – this choice of location also allows the judge to potentially bury the place sans bigger impact on the setting or seamlessly plug and play it into ongoing campaigns, should such a solution be desired. After all, the extensive customization tricks ultimately do translate to the module being pretty easy to organically scale to higher levels.

Anyhow, the PCs are greeted by the slightly mad Sammy Squirrel, who obviously is an AI hologram in its decidedly unnerving following of programming and inability to process the state of the world of Terra A.D. As the PCs proceed to explore the store, they can find a wide variety of unique toys that come with evocative descriptions and rules-relevant effects, with TLs and CMs noted as appropriate. From smart boomerangs to zeroballs and hoverboards, another man’s toys may be a wasteland survivor’s potent tricks. Encountering the toy worshipers (led by, obviously, Ma-Ma…), finding the seasonal room of the store that can indeed change, med-bay (featuring boo-boo bandages, for example…), fake and real traps…there is a ton of stuff to find and encounter, and indeed, quite a few quests can be unearthed by encountering the diverse factions. Sarge and his toy soldiers, for example, want to secure the store from the invasion that they know will come. Mister Bear, the leader of the Furries-faction has a slight temper, which makes the sample dialogue one of the most hilarious examples of writing I’ve seen in a while – picture it, and then remember that hugging the fellow will make him hug back. Regardless of short fuse and a somewhat less than enthused relationship with regular folks and moderates – damn meat-huggers! XD (For the information of real life furries – this is not fursecution; it is not mean-spirited...unless you want to run it that way!)

This glorious absurdity encapsulates and captures a tone that is hard to get right without losing the thrill, without devolving into just fun and giggles. Ultimately, it’s the oscillation between what’s funny and what could be played as downright horrific that makes sections like this so successful within the confines of the adventure. This can also be aptly envisioned by the second level, where a room has Sammy (who makes for a great judge-proxy; bonus points for inhaling helium before speaking as Sammy…): “These pods let your parents make a backup copy of what they value the most: YOU!...” This notion of kids being clones by potentially neglectful parents in a pre-apocalypse dystopia…actually managed to send shivers up my spine, particularly since the system isn’t (and perhaps never was) reliable. Pet-combiner is another such super-science aperture that really creeped me out, and its undone button is broken…

Heck, this tightrope-like oscillation of tones that makes this work so well, combined with the attention to detail, is pretty impressive throughout. Candy with weird effects and notes on using them as nutrition (and the consequences!)…those are just a couple of examples.

Where I frankly started to stare in disbelief at the pages in front of me, was when the module provided the Game Room. Here, the PCs can enter a holo-dungeon (complete with a d7-table of holographic character classes!) and basically roleplay a fantasy roleplaying game within the roleplaying game. Yep, including adversary overlay and obvious further adventuring potential – as Sammy Squirrel, GM, notes, they can always get the full experience! Questing for new levels or simulations could make for some great adventure hooks and may well allow for a combination of MCC and more traditional fantasy games or even the blending of systems! After all, it’s perfectly feasible that the hologram game played may adhere to different rules! Or, well, you can just have that be a brief, if fun encounters wherein the PCs battle illusory adversaries…but why waste this vast potential? I mean, you can roleplay MCC-PCs roleplaying usual characters! That can and will be funny as all heck!

Did I mention that PCs can well become sleeper agents, and that the module can conclude in a truly amazing free-for-all bout of epic proportions?

Conclusions:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a nice and printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple high-lights. The artworks presented throughout are often really neat full-color pieces, but the aesthetic highlight for me personally would be the GORGEOUS b/w-isometric maps, with artworks, details and grids all noted…and even better if you’re, for example, playing via VTTs or the like: In contrast to the (amazingly beautiful) Good man games maps, the maps within actually do come with an unlabeled, key-less version! You could print them out sans SPOILERS, cut them up and hand them out or use them in VTT. That is a huge plus for me, particularly considering the top-notch quality of the maps.

While Keith Garrett has, to my knowledge, contributed to the Gongfarmer’s Almanac community ‘zine before, this is the first of his books that I have read, and it’s his first release as sole author. As such, this would have received a freshman bonus and some leeway from yours truly. However, Mutants in Toyland is a rarity among such books in that it frankly doesn’t need me to be merciful.

Even if I wanted to pick this apart, it would withstand such attempts, as it perfectly encapsulates the outré and outrageous, wild and weird tone of MCC, walking the narrow path between being horrific and hilarious. You could run this for laughs and giggles, as something utterly disturbing or a combination thereof; tonally, this reminded me of the essence of my favorite Fallout-series moments, distilled and expanded upon, and then injected in a concentrated form.

Mutants in toyland is a furious debut of delightfully quirky and quarrelsome factions and places that will stay with you long after the adventure itself has ended; in fact, I can see this acting as a really cool and novel starting settlement or PC homebase of sorts!

If what I mentioned above, if the concept even remotely interested you, then you will want to checks this out; I’d even go so far as to recommend this module beyond the confines of its system, for the unique concepts work just as well in DCC or any other game. This is one amazing book and provides yet another super-impressive entry in Purple Duck games’ DCC/MCC-lines. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval – highly recommended!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
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Rogues of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2018 07:15:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the player-facing „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 30 pages of content – and yes, regular-sized pages!

This book is intended with both the classic and unchained rogue in mind, using brown text to denote content devised for the unchained rogue. The pdf begins by acknowledging the issues the rogue class has, and the ones that the unchained rogue class has. The author does offer some introductory advice for the player, and then begins to present basically fixes for the rogue and unchained rogue class, the first of which would be alternate key abilities, which allow the rogue to choose one of two key ability modifiers to govern their skills, thus reducing the inevitable multi-attribute-dependecy of the class. As an interesting idea, the pdf suggests modified the unchained rogue’s edge to grant virtual skill points in the edge’d skills, which don’t escalate numbers, but instead are taken into account as far as skill unlocks are concerned. I do like this notion. Superior retraining starting at end level and rogue talent replacement make sense. Sneak Attack has an alternative here as well, eliminating precision damage and instead choosing one of the base damage types of the attack for the bonus damage. I assume that this bonus damage still does not multiply, but clarification would have been nice. Interaction with defenses is properly codified, though.

The pdf does suggest a houserule I have been using for years: More skill points for everyone. +2 are suggested; and take it from me, the +2 skills per level will make your roleplaying experience beyond combat much cooler. Speaking of which: This also can be said about the plethora of skill uses codified within the pages of this book – for example, there is a means of analyzing traps, a means of using Disable Device to use demolitions to destroy objects instead of pure Strength, fire starting and extinguishing, making hurdles. Interesting would also be that the pdf champions of only rolling the best Perception check of the observers to counter Stealth. This greatly speeds up the game and is one rule I have been using myself, though I do myself use a variant, where concerted search efforts do accumulate benefits. The write-up does take into account the cases in which it’s important to know who’s observing. Speaking of Stealth: A compounded Stealth modifier table is pretty helpful, and as an optional rule, the unaware condition is suggested as a possible accelerator for faster playing.

There also is a cool section here for avoiding combats: Group and Marathon Stealth can both quicken the process in a nice manner. The pdf also sports no less than 9 cantrips/low-level spells (taking occult classes etc. into account) – these include a weak ray to push objects, conjuring forth ground mist, create a blind spot or tools. One of the spells is there to purge evidence and there is a lower level version of a short-range dimension door. Not the biggest fan of the latter, but that’s a matter of aesthetics. There are 7 new feats that allow for using alternate key ability modifiers, a follow-up for Spring Attack/Shot on the Run, and there is one interesting feats that lets you respond to a charge with an immediate action to retreat. Tower shield use via Pavises is also an interesting one. There also is one feat that lets you add Dex-mod to crossbow/firearm damage – and no, it doesn’t stack with other sources of Dex to damage or Str to damage – kudos and two thumbs up. There also is a Quick Sheathe feat.

The next section is one of the reasons you will want to seriously consider getting this supplement; it’s an example of honest design-work: The rogue talent section has a list of 1st party sources of rogue talents that are suitable for unchained rogues! The pdf goes further, though: It lists talents that should have their daily limits removed, advanced talents that are now available as regular talents and vigilante talents that should be available for rogues. This list is super-handy and keeps the class more relevant. Big kudos! A similar approach was btw. taken for advanced talents, and yes, if you have come to the same conclusions as I did with the progress of the game, then these are very much super-appreciated. The pdf also contains a ton of different rogue talents that offer further options that can become pretty ridiculously potent: Stealth Exploit, for example, lets you maintain Stealth after breaking it until the end of the round, allowing you to reestablish it. I’m super-torn on this one – on one hand, it makes infiltrations for specialists more reliable; on the other hand, a well-prepared group can use this to super-deadly effects and potentially cheese enemies really bad. That is not necessarily an issue of the talent, but rather one of the engine, but yeah. Still, as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this section, and depending on the system mastery levels of your game, this could well be a godsend of a section.

The pdf also contains no less than 10 different archetypes. The first of these would be the arcane adventurer, which is a hybrid of magus and rogue, though here, the sneak spell ability, which is intended to be the centerpiece of what makes this one unique, doesn’t properly work – it fails to designate how it actually works regarding spellcasting and “An arcane adventurer can use sneak spell on an outflanked target even if her spell is not a melee attack.” is just broken. The unchained rogue Brutal loses finesse training and gains a modified proficiency list and Combat Stamina. Solid tweak. Covins are basically mesmerist-versions of the hybrid-y magus/rogue chassis – and it, unfortunately, suffers from the same crucial issue. Everyday heroes get a vast skill list and a limited proficiency list. In a unique change of the engine, the everyday hero gets a scaling confidence pool that can be used to rerolls and skirmishing surges as well as special attacks, so called confident strikes – this pool is btw. easier to refill than even grit or panache, and the pdf does provide pretty extensive guidelines for replenishment. Instead of trapfinding, the everyday hero’s station, and confidence improves later. All in all, this is a well-made engine tweak with a distinct feeling.

Leeches gain good Fort-saves as well as Stalwart at higher levels; the archetype also gets a quite extensive array of unique talents that enhance further the already hastened mundane medicine that the archetype can apply. Using folk remedies to offset negative magical conditions etc. and using either super-quick surgery (or longer ones) for significant Con-damage regaining make this one interesting, particularly for games that make magical healing harder to come by. Mountebanks get a couple of investigator-y tricks and limited spellcasting, focusing on force effects etc. The saint of sinners is an interesting, complex fellow with a bit inquisitor thrown in. The archetype does gain a channel variant that deals damage to living and undead, and while it does note that constructs aren’t affected, the ability states that it’s a blend between positive and negative energy. This is super-problematic, as resistance and immunity interaction of the blended energy is not clear in the slightest, and many beings resistant to one component are also vulnerable to the other. Sneak channel, as a synergy ability, does actually work. The archetype also gains special abilities dubbed hoodoo, and makes for a potent, and interesting. The sapper is an interesting specialist/breach/pavise-user and is pretty neat. Solos are an interesting engine tweak – they sneak attack adjacent foes, but only if they’re not adjacent to any rogue ally. The final archetype is the most complex one – and it is this type of guy many guilds will want: Specialists: Instead of trap sense etc., you get to choose a rogue specialization, with changing later potentially possible.

The pdf comes with the lavishly-illustrated and rather dark crypt mother CR 6 monster, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr. Really dark bonus critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf is, for the most part, remarkably precise, top-tier even. It’s just a precious few instances where the integrity is compromised. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple and brown highlights, and the pdf does feature a couple of nice full-color artworks I haven’t seen before! The pdf comes with EXTENSIVE bookmarks for everything – feats, spells, talents…big kudos in the comfort department.

Carl Cramér’s Rogues of Porphyra is a surprisingly compelling grab bag for everyone that wants to see the rogue upped, power-wise, to the levels we’re seeing right now in PF’s lifecycle. The variant rules allow capable groups to cherry-pick aspects and implement them, and many of these are actually really inspiring, obviously tested and fun. It’s interesting to note that, even as late in the system’s lifecycle as this is, it still does offer novel approaches and some meaningful engine-tweaks. With the exception of a precious few blunders, this represents an excellent book. That being said, these few blunders, alas, do compromise the rules-integrity of a few aspects within, and as such, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to. Considering the amount of interesting options inside, though, I still do consider this to be a pdf bordering on very good. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogues of Porphyra
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AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2018 14:06:12

I ran this adventure for my group last weekend, and it played very well. I did make one major adjustment. The map as presented is very linear. There are very few choices about which direction to take, and I opted to "un-collapse" a few rubble-filled hallways, providing mulitple options for exploration. In spite of this, the party found the dancing horror fairly quickly, and much to my delight one of the PCs had his skeleton extracted, and was subsequently successful (after significant luck-burning) in growing a new one. There is still another session worth of gameplay remaining.

BHotDH captures the DCC spirit quite well. It is strange, horrific, and funny as long as the players are inured to high-risk, high-reward gameplay. I have had this adventure for around 3 years and had been itching to run it. And it did not disappoint. One great aspect is that after the party defeats the "big boss", it reconstitutes itself in a new form and returns, for a second climactic encounter. I can't wait to spring that on them.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
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Changelings of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2018 10:01:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the player-centric „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this.

Really nice: This supplement is framed by a short story, namely “The Pink Flowers of Saint Zenobie”, previously released in a collection of stories the author penned alongside Cassandra Lee Hollingsworth. The story uses the implied Averoigne-setting and does so with permission. Thanks to the patchwork nature of Porphyra, though, that should provide no problems. The story is a nice reading experience and contextualizes the changelings of the patchwork planet rather well.

Now, here is a huge thing that differentiates the changelings of Porphyra from other worlds: We take a step away from the fey-angle. To quote the supplement: “As infants these beings are abducted, adopted, abandoned, sold, and/or traded, and then changed by magic to resemble a member of a different people.” This, of course, can provide ample fuel for nature vs. nurture storylines, for angles on self-determination of one’s race, gender, etc. and, as a whole, adds a rich variety of narrative options to the fray. So yeah, that small change, while perhaps something that most folks would not even notice, is pretty important to me and enhances the narrative angles available for both players and GMs.

Rules-wise, the chassis of Porphyran changelings is pretty much identical to the base changeling, though, and this is a plus, there are actually aspects that are MORE precise herein: The changelings’ claws, for example, get properly codified damage-types, requiring no defaulting to standards. Kudos for not just cut-copy-pasting here. Indeed, the changelings as presented here arguably make for better representatives of their expanded trope than the vanilla race. Porphyra changelings receive the racial emulation feature: You choose two races: the changeling looks like one humanoid race, but is, in fact a member of the other race chosen. This nature may be noticed by those well-versed in Knowledge (nature). The second racial trait unique to Porphyran changelings pertains the varied nature of the race as well: Upon character creation, changelings get 2 RP that are not assigned. These may be used to customize the race with standard traits taken from Defense, Feats and Skills, Magic, Movement, Offense, Senses and Other categories. While I have complained time and again about the exceedingly flawed nature of the RP-guidelines as presented in the ARG, I consider this limited form of customization actually an improvement over the alternate racial traits provided for the non-Porphyran variant of the race. It may be a flawed foundation to build upon, but the heritage/upbringing dichotomy should provide ample guidelines here.

The pdf proceeds to explain in details the diverse takes on adventuring, roles in society and ecologies of changelings and also sports sample names, age, height and weight tables and even non-gendered names. Since Porphyran changelings obviously have a much broader focus, this makes sense and further emphasizes this interesting and cool thematic expansion of the concept. The pdf also includes a total of 5 different race traits, one of which is missing a bonus type; the others are precise and interesting, providing for example a bonus to Concentration checks made to maintain spells with psychic components. Nice. The pdf does sport 5 different alternate racial traits, which includes damage type change for the claws, turning them into slams, being fey-descended, replacing claws with skill boosts or darkvision with a boost to saves versus illusions. I have no complaints here, and bonus types as well as powers of exchanged tricks are generally in line. The race, as a whole, can be very strong in the hands of a capable player, but it doesn’t have to be; the wide open nature is kept in line by the limited RP-wild card array, and the requirements regarding narrative consistency.

The pdf also includes a couple of class options, the first of which would be the Malcontent arcane trickster, based on the Prestige Archetype core class. This archetype loses ranged legerdemain in favor of +1/2 class level to Bluff and qualifying for Feint feats sans Expertise or Intelligence. Additionally, daze loses the HD-limit, which is a surprisingly interesting tweak on the engine here. Instead of Scribe Scroll, we get Deceitful. Instead of arcane bond, we get Signature Skill (Use Magic Device) and add Intelligence bonus to UMD checks as well.

The changeling bloodline nets Disguise as a class skill and focuses on disguise/alter self and polymorph spells, culminating with frightful aspect etc. Interesting: The arcana makes you ignore armor check penalty when wearing glamered armor – this adds the equipment-based angle to the disguising focus. Bloodline Powers net +1 to enchantment DCs and 1/day charm person as a SP at 1st level. 3rd level nets you 3 + Charisma modifier rounds of claws that may be grown as a free action. Damage is properly noted for Small characters as well, but the damage type requires defaulting. At higher levels, the damage increases and the claws become cunning. 9th level nets Cha-mod times Silent Spell sans spell slot increase. At 15th level, you may, as a move action, start an aura that makes it impossible for you to be individually targets by spells and SPs for up to sorcerer level round per day. The capstone nets either transmutation immunity or +4 save DC versus transmutation and +2 Cha and Dex. Solid bloodline.

The pan swashbuckler replaces Ride with Fly and gains the flight hex at first level, but may only use it while panache is greater than zero. Not a fan of this unassisted flight option at first level. At 8th level, instead of the bonus feat, the pan may expend 1 panache for +1 minute of flight per day. I assume this is no action or a free action. 1st level provides an interesting angle: For every rank in Perform (wind instruments), the pan gets to choose one from countersong, fascinate and distraction. The pan may maintain these bardic performances for class level + Charisma modifier rounds. Minor complaint here: Multiclassing interaction would have made for a helpful note here. The pan only gets 2 deeds whenever new deeds are gained.

Really cool: We get two new items: One handy lore book, and one alchemical mop that eliminates quickly traces of blood! Love this one! 3 racial feats are provided: Spell Rend is OP as hell. When you confirm a critical hit, as an immediate action, you can cast a touch spell on the target sans AoO. This should have limitations regarding casting duration, it should specify whether the touch spell still must hit, and flavorwise, it implies it only works with claws, which it RAW doesn’t. This does not work as intended. Spiteful Strike lets you, 1/day, as part of an attack action, declare a spiteful strike with a +1 morale bonus to atk and damage that increases to +2 at 10th level. This is boring. Strange Humor lets you 1/day as an immediate action apply Charisma modifier to a single Fort- or Will-save. This is the only worthwhile feat here.

The new magic items are thankfully a return to form: The queer egg can crack loudly in the presence of shapeshifting beings, forcing them to resume normal shapes. There is a claw-enhancing ring and there are caltrops that become living spider swarms upon damaging targets – cool! The pdf also contains 3 new spells: Create Changeling makes infants changelings; made from scratch is theme-wise cool: the spell targets a living creature or corpse and transforms it into food. Here’s the problem: The level 6 spell is save-or-die and is thus better than finger of death in all but range. OP, needs nerfing. Topsy turvy should probably be a cantrip, not 1st level. It renders a close target prone on a failed save – for 1 round.

The pdf also sports a metric ton of favored class options for diverse classes, including e.g. PDG’s Brujo and gladiator, illuminates and the classic classes + ACG and OA classes. We end the pdf with a sample level 1 bloodrager changeling.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally really good – with a few exceptions, the pdf is precise in both formal and rules-language categories. There are a few broken components among spells and feats that are problematic, though. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights, and the pdf actually sports nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s changelings are REALLY COOL. I did not expect to like these to the extent I ended up enjoying them. The expansion of the changeling trope makes these feel fresh, creative and novel – a huge plus as far as I’m concerned. The rules-operations similarly represent some neat and fun tricks, particularly among the base racial features and the item array. In fact, this was pretty much en route to getting my seal of approval, when the problematic feats and spells, as well as the very dippable and slightly problematic swashbuckler archetype dragged this a bit down. That being said, for the low asking price, you actually get a really fun expansion for the changeling concept, one that actually will find its way into my own game. Considering the more than fair asking price of just $2.99, this is easily worth getting, in spite of its minor blemishes. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Changelings of Porphyra
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Hybrid Class: Lurker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2018 13:24:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Porphyran hybrid class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 23 pages of content. The pdf is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

So, the lurker? Talk about a blast from the past – the lurker could be construed to be one of the OGs regarding hybrid classes. Premiered back in 3.X-days in Complete Psionics, the psionic rogue has been an interesting concept, but one that had some serious issues. Now, one glimpse at this class will show you something unexpected: The lurker as envisioned by Purple Duck Games is actually a hybrid of spiritualist and soulknife! Now that is an interesting combo, so let’s take a look at the execution.

Chassis-wise, the lurker gets d10 HD, 4+ Intelligence modifier skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The lurker is proficient with simple weapons, her own mindblade (regardless of form), light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The class can form mindblades as a move action, and may choose between light, one-handed and two-handed, which is pretty much analogue to the soulknife. A difference would be, though, that the lurker chooses an emotional focus at 1st level. These provide a linear ability progression akin to a bloodline or a cavalier order, providing abilities at 1st level, and then later at 7th, 12th and 17th level. 7 such foci are provided, and most of them net a bonus feat as well as an active ability at first level. To give you an example, Anger nets Power Attack and the powerful strike ability, usable 3 + class level times per day, which increases the damage die size by one step. 7th level provides the swift action aura that nets +2 to melee atk and -2 AC. Okay…so does the aura have a duration? I assume it needs to be maintained with swift actions, but clarification would be nice. Unlike other auras within, it does not state that it can be dismissed, so a maintenance action cost is implied. Enlarge person (with frightful presence added at 18th level) and a 1/day properly codified wail of the banshee can be found here.

Duty nets Iron Will and an atk and damage bonus versus a target attacking allies. Slightly odd – the lurker gets no control over to which enemy these bonuses are applied and only one may be in place at any given time. 7th level yields an aura that nets +2 to AC, CMD and saves in a 10-ft. aura. Here, the dismissal action is noted. 12th level nets immunity to being flat-footed in surprise rounds, as well as Wisdom modifier to initiative. 17th level provides immunity to possession and mind-affecting effects. Minor complaint – a spell reference is not italicized here.

Despair is unique in that it does not net a feat. Instead, the lurker gets +2 to attack and damage rolls versus targets affected by fear or despair-like effects – the latter are concisely codified, though a spell reference is not italicized. The strikes of this emotion impose a fear/emotion-based penalty to targets failing their saves. Activation and deactivation are noted, and these penalties stack with themselves – to make up for this power, the strike is limited in daily uses. Aura of despair and 3/day crushing despair can be found. The highest level ability eliminates the save versus the strike-debuff.

Fear nets Stealthy and a fear-inducing strike with limited uses; the focus nets an aura that can intensify fear effects (nice). Higher levels allow for increases of the fear-condition imposed. The level 17th ability makes allies in range of the aura immune to fear.

The hatred focus nets Weapon Finesse and the ability to designate a target as a hated enemy. Against this target, the lurker gets +2 to atk and + ½ HD (should be class level) (minimum 1) to damage versus the target. The lurker takes a -2 penalty to atk versus other targets. This is activated as a move action, which is upgraded to the option to use it as a swift action at 7th level. 7th level also nets an aura that inflicts the lurker’s Charisma modifier in damage to those hurting lurker or his allies while within 10 ft. The aura is properly codified. Higher levels net +3d6 sneak attack versus the hated enemy, upgrading to +5d6 at 18th level. Starting at 17th level, allies also get +2 to atk and +4 to damage versus the hated enemy.

Jealousy nets Deceitful and makes targets hit take a -2 penalty to attacks made against creatures other than the lurker. Once more, activation and deactivation are properly codified, and the ability can be used 3 + class level times per day. 7th level nets a 20 ft.-aura that can make targets in the aura that attack or cast spells on targets other than the lurker staggered on a failed save. At 12th level, attacks versus the lurker’s allies enrage him, granting +2d8 precision damage versus the target until the end of the next turn.17th level allows for the immediate action swapping of places with allies. These effects are properly codified.

Finally, Zeal nets Improved Initiative, 18 – 20 threat range and x3 critical multiplier at 11th level. Kudos: Gets non-stacking option for critical enhancers right. The 7th level aura nets +2 to atk and saves. The 12th level ability renders immune to sleep – if the lurker already is immune, he instead gains Alertness. 17th level nets 3/day rerolls for attack misses or failed saves.

Regardless of focus chosen, the lurker gets a single 0-level knack to be cast at will, chosen from the spiritualist’s list. Charisma if the governing attribute. The class also obviously begins with shape mind blade. 2nd level and every even level thereafter net a new blade skill. Throw Mind Blade (a soulknife, not a straight lurker ability) has been translated into a blade skill for the lurker. The blade skills btw. are curated – the lurker may take bladestorm or bladewind, but e.g. not alter blade. Combat slide, deadly blow etc. can also be found. Interesting: The Mind Shield bladeskill is here…and, alas, the pdf misunderstood this one and labors under a horrible misconception that breaks this WHOLE DAMN TREE OF BLADESKILLS. And this is what happens when you design for a class you don’t understand properly:

There is a blade skill that suddenly talks about enhancing the mind shield with weapon abilities instead of shield abilities, which is not something you can do with the mind shield bladeskill – the ability behaves like a shield, but RAW is no shield. Now, if you’re actually familiar with psionics, you’ll recognize why. This hybrid class failed to grasp that d20pfsrd.com lumps ALL bladeskills into one list. However, if you actually are proficient in rules language, you’ll know that a shield bonus makes no shield…and if you know psionics, you’ll know these shield enhancing blade skills. They are from the shielded blade soulknife archetype, who gets the base ability to, you guessed it, make a PROPER mindshield. Btw.: In Ultimate Psionics, that prerequisite and separation are VERY clear, meaning that this was built solely on d20pfsrd. Wanna know what’s hilarious? The pdf actually once refers to the form mind shield bladeksill, which does not exist – it’s an archetype ability in the first place, and it’s absent from the pdf. This is just sloppy and can cause massive confusion when you attempt to run this as written.

The lurker may take evasion and its improved version as a blade skill, but not the soulknife bladeskills that build on the energy weapon style skills: Firestorm, for example, is not on the lurker list. Odd: Lightning arc’s here and psionic focus-less. Indeed, the psionic focus rules-component is thoroughly absent from the class. Reaching blade is an exception and has a remnant reference to psionic focus, which is odd and an obvious oversight.

A unique skill lets the lurker get, as a full-round action, the benefits of blur for one minute – sans limit. This should have a minimum level. Another unique skill nets ghost touch for a round as a move action. The lurker can also take rogue talents, trapfinding and a swingy competing attack roll to block bladeskill, but since it is contingent (alongside its improved version) on the shield issue, this one is basically not functional.

The lurker’s mind blade grows in power at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 11th, 15th and 19th level, with the usual +1. In a puzzling display of WTF-level weirdness, the proper caveats of the base soulknife that govern the special ability etc. dispersal and maintain hard caps on enhancement bonuses have been ignored. sigh Cool: At 3rd level, the lurkers may move through solid matter, but this is painful: They take nonlethal damage and 1 point of Strength damage per 5 ft. moved, and the latter can’t be ignored. The lurker must begin and end movement outside of the solid matter…which is cool. But you don’t always know whether there’ll be solid matter on the other side, so what if you’re trapped in the wall? 5th level nets detect undead as an at-will SP. 7th level nets invisibility 1/day, with every 4th level adding another daily use. 9th level nets 1/day see invisibility. The capstone nets immunity to mind-affecting effects and possession. Devotion lurkers instead get immunity to death and poison effects.

The class gets three new feats: Improved Phase Lurch improves the slightly flawed move through walls trick. Incorporeal Flight lets you, for class level round per day, become incorporeal as a swift action, gaining 40 ft. perfect flight. 11th level is a feasible prerequisite here. Lurker Magic can be taken multiple times for further low level spiritualist knacks.

The pdf closes with 9 different types of favored class options, which have been assigned to a wide variety of classic and Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, featuring a few missed formatting components on a formal level. On a rules level, this displays some very unfortunate issues, which is particularly severe, considering how much content was simply cut copy pasted. Layout adheres to the 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights that we’ve come to expect from Purple Duck Games. The pdf has no interior artwork.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s Lurker began really promising. The emotional focus angle provides meaningful differentiation and has a couple of unique angles. That being said, the lurker does suffer from quite a few avoidable issues, some of which, alas, do compromise rules-relevant components in its design. More importantly, the unique bladeksills and shield tricks display an ignorance of how shield bonuses and shields work. This glitch is really, really bad – I mean, when you already have the blade skills pretty much all done and don’t have to, you know, actually write them, then at least curating and tweaking them properly would be the least one could ask for. As much as I tried to like this, we are thus left with a class that could have been amazing, but that really sinks itself due to a lack of care in its design. I am, honestly, quite appalled at the bladeskill glitch.

While this had all the tools to be a 4 or 5-star class, while it could have been unique and evocative, as written I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Lurker
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Ithreians of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/16/2018 14:23:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 35 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content. These pages have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if you print this out.

All right, so we begin this supplement with a deity write-up of Ithreia, also known as “Old Mother Owl” or as the “Queen of the Blinding Wind” – a deity of birds, sea and winter. The deity is Lawful neutral, with 4 domains and subdomains and the pilum as favored weapon. The write-up goes above what you’d expect – it also features an obedience and evangelist, exalted and sentinel boons – the second of the evangelist boons is particularly cool: It lets you tread through difficult terrain, and allies may follow in your footsteps, but only for a round! The boons, as a whole, are intriguing indeed.

As a deity associated with the elements, Ithreia is particularly loathed by the elemental lords, and her legend, realm and divine relations are explained in well-written detail, making full use of Porphyra’s unique cosmology. The write-up also sports notes on her holy texts and holdings and even features cool (get it, because ice….Ouch. Yeah, 2 cents into the bad pun jar…) aphorisms and a fully depicted spell preparation ritual. 2 meaningful and well-written religion traits are included as well, and worshipers of Ithreia can call different creatures – these minor spellcasting option changes add some nice details to the write-up. The pdf also notes divine servants. So far, so amazing!

Now, as far as class options are concerned, we get a variant of the less than impressive Accursed class that exchanged positive/negative energy resistance with cold resistance. (Boring.) The icebreaker is an archetype of the armjack hybrid class, who replaces bardic knowledge with +1/2 class level to Swim, Acrobatics, Survival, Climb profession (sailor) and Knowledge (religion) pertaining to Ithreia. Instead of versed with armor, we get Endurance and scaling cold resistance. At 6th level, the archetype can endure elements via cry to arms. The way in which the duration works here requires a bit of close reading – this could be slightly tighter. At 19th level, the archetype gains the option to use cry to arms to shatter ice/crystalline surfaces.

The pdf also sports quite a few different bardic masterpieces, with Blizzard’s Lament netting you an aura that staggers and blinds nearby targets with a save to negate. There is also one for blindsesne and one that nets allies within 30 ft. +10 (!!!) to initiative. And yes, 5th level bard spell known is hardcore, but considering how rocket launcher-tag-like high level PFRPG gaming can be, this will get nowhere near my game. A crazy prepared effect is also nice, particularly since it actually manages to be uncheesable! Huge kudos there! Fortifying targets versus cold and bleeding at the cost of initiative, Perception and susceptibility versus sleep also is interesting.

The order of the owl for the chronicler (see Prestige Archetypes) replaces well-versed with Endurance. The archetype also replaces mass suggestion with the option to call an Ithreian 11th level cleric. (And yes, statblocks are provided!) via the capstone. The druid archetype Eye of Old Mother Owl replaces nature sense with +2 to Perception and Sense Motive and is locked into a couple of choices regarding animal companions taken via nature’s bond. At 4th level, the archetype gets to cast divination spells while wild shape’d, and retain concentration on them as a move action while in wild shape. Additionally, sense fear and discern lies may be spontaneously cast and discern lies is added to the class list. This replaces resist nature’s lure. Instead of venom immunity, Perception-penalties due to distance are quartered and the druid increases range and area of divinations cast by 50%.

The hermit hybrid class gets a new illumination: +4 to Stealth and Survival in snow, and immunity to cold of up to -50°F and winds of less than hurricane force. The illumination also nets commune with birdsas the spell, may look through the eyes of a bird in long range (what happens with regular sight?), and at 8th level, the hermit knows when population is dangerously depleted or groups are ailing, as if she asked via commune with nature. Okay, does this require concentration? An action? Is it instantaneous? No idea.

There are two hunter foci: Gyrfalcon nets a scaling fly bonus, whale a scaling Survival bonus.

The keener hybrid class gets two laments: One that knocks prone a target and moves it, one that allows targets healed to stand up as a swift action or move 5 ft., even through difficult terrain, sans AoOs. Does the latter count as a 5 ft. step or not?

We also get new kineticist wild talents: Sheltering Snow is a utility wild talent, which lets you make walls of ice and tiny hut, with 1 Burn cost to make it last longer. Squall infusion can be applied to cold blasts and has no burn cost: It dazzles the target on a failed save, regardless if the target was damaged or not. Witheout is another substance infusion is cool: It makes your kinetic blast, the squares it moves through and area of effect provide concealment; at 2 burn cost, this is feasible.

The gyrfalcon of the blinding wind paladin must choose a mount, which must be a roc. Instead of spellcasting, the paladin gets to forage potions, which is damn cool – particularly since this class feature may not be cheesed – only a limited amount may be maintained, and the scaling is sensible. The aura of justice is replaced with…+10 to initiative, +4 for nearby allies. OP as all hell. Kill it with fire. The paladins of Ithreia may remove penalties to ability scores (NOT damage or drain!) with a mercy and fortify allies with a bonus to Fort saves and temporary hit points.

The cool quartermaster class gets the pack tinkerer archetype, who receives Ride as a class skill instead of Linguistics. The archetype gets a cavalier’s mount and may apply inspection only to it. Similarly, trap evasion only applies to it. Unique and cool: Instead of repurpose mechanism, the archetype can teach his animal to activate, ready or deploy items! Love this little engine tweak. The singing Guide ranger must chooses companions as bond and may share ½ favored terrain bonuses and Endurance with allies. The archetype never falls as a result of a botched Climb checks, never falls prone on ice or due to a vessel’s movement. 11th level nets a blindsense granting song that upgrades at higher levels and replaces quarry. There is a share sense based shaman hex with scaling range and we get two shifter aspects: The gyrfalcon one is based on the falcon and replaces the minor form benefit with scaling Fly-bonuses. The Whale aspect does pretty much what you’d expect: Minor form is analogue to the hunter aspect, major provides whale-associated tricks. Nothing spectacular. Finally, storm rider skalds replaces song of strength, dirge of doom and song of the fallen with custom raging songs: The base one if a cold blast; group flight and swimming and storm control make these nice. Well-versed and versatile performance are exchanged for counting as larger for withstanding winds and scaling cold resistance.

The pdf also includes a total of 10 spells that focus on Ithreia’s strong leitmotifs: The cold spells here are nice and do more than just damage, and having a spell that interacts with bardic performance in place is interesting: It nets you early flight as a level 2 spell, but requires maintenance of bardic performance and thus wrecks Stealth. It may also be discharged to reroll an attack roll, which is an interesting tactical angle. Using a spell to prepare a domain/subdomain spell (prepared casters only) is also intriguing. Particularly impressive here would be the spell that manages to preserve other spells – the rules-language here is impressive indeed and it is not cheesable! I really liked this spell section.

The magic item section provides a custom blue bag of chosen tricks, basically the ithreian version of the classic item, as well as three new figurines of wondrous power: opal gyrfalcon, pearl owl and sapphire whale.These are more potent in the hands of Ithreians, which is something I enjoy and a notion I’d very much love to see more of in the final version of the Porphyra RPG, but that as an aside. A glass to see through snow and ice is here, and what really made me smile: Remember that preserve spell trick I mentioned? Well, ithreians get an item class that are LITERALLY spells in preservation jars. Great meta-commentary and a way to make them, well, fun!

We end the pdf with a CR orcam armjack icebreaker and a CR 10 harpy cleric.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ no-frills 1-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf sports a few really nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes with EXCESSIVE bookmarks, making navigation both easy and comfortable.

David N. Ross is a very precise designer; he has created quite a few of my favorite class options and tricks out there, from covenant magic to his illuminates and shadow weaver, there are several neat examples of what he’s capable of. This depiction of the followers of a deity is admirable in the best of ways: Ithreia and her followers come to life in this little pdf: The class options breathe the leitmotifs of their patron deity and establish a sense of cohesion and consistency I love to see. I hope that faiths and how they are presented by Purple Duck Games in the future will adhere to similar principles. Beyond the flavor, the pdf manages to provide quite a bunch of complex rules-operations within its surprisingly extensive collection of engine-tweak archetypes and class options. Now, there are a few instances where the rules are slightly less tight, but that wouldn’t irk me. I’m flabbergasted, though, by the ignorance pertaining the gross power of initiative boosts this has. The massive initiative boosts a few options herein grant are ridiculously potent in the right hands and should be purged with extreme prejudice, marring an otherwise compelling and flavorful tome.

That being said, these components are easy to nerf and should not dissuade you from checking this out. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, but I’m afraid I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ithreians of Porphyra
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Stock Art: Female Witch with Serpent
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2018 09:13:19

Very interesting little witch with snake. Can't wait to find a good home for it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Witch with Serpent
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Hybrid Class: Pundit
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2018 04:00:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21.5 pages of content, all of which are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this one.

The pundit is a hybrid class of cavalier and wizard, gaining d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression and Will-saves as well as simple and martial weapon proficiency and light armor proficiency. The pundit may cast arcane spells drawn from the class in light armor sans chance of spell failure. The hybrid class gets full casting progression of up to 9th level, with Intelligence as the governing spellcasting attribute, spells drawn from the wizard list. They may substitute Draconic for one of their starting languages and employ spellbooks. However, the spell selection is limited by the authority chosen. I’ll return to these in a bit. The class begins play with a combat trained mount with Light Armor Proficiency. This mount may be replaced for free after 1 week, but it only gains link, evasion, devotion, etc. upon the pundit gaining the next level.

The class also begins play with a clout pool equal to 3 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier, replenishing after rests. As a swift action, the pundit may spend a clout point to gain a morale bonus equal to Charisma modifier to all melee attacks, CMBs and damage rolls. Authorities chosen also have uses for clout-based abilities. At 5th level, as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity, the pundit may expend an unused spell slot, gaining clout points equal to that spell’s level, though clout may not exceed the maximum daily allotment. This may be used 1/day, +17day at 10th level. At this level, the ability may be used as a standard action and no longer provokes attacks of opportunity. Also at this level, the pundit may expend 1 clout point as part of casting a spell to enhance the DC by 1. The capstone doubles all skill modifiers to Intelligence and Charisma based skill checks while mounted. Additionally, targets critically hit by a mounted pundit must make a Will-save versus 10 + class level. (so…30.) or become stunned for 1d4 rounds, staggered on a successful save.

Now, I mentioned authorities: 9 different authorities are provided, and they work basically analogue to the cavalier’s orders: 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th level provide a linear array of abilities granted by the authority. An authority expands the class skill list by 2 skills, with one at +1/2 class level bonus. The authority also governs the type of spellcasting the pundit may have: Each authority is assigned two schools, and the pundit may only learn spells from those schools. Arcane buckler nets abjuration and universal, bone axe necromancy and universal…you get the idea. The authority of hidden truths is unique here: Any illusion cast with a duration of concentration retains its effects for ½ class level rounds after ceasing concentration. Additionally, the 20th level pundit with this authority may make such an illusion permanent, with only one such permanent illusion in place at any given time.

These authorities further enhance the uses of clout: The authority of the arcane buckler, for example, nets you an additional morale bonus versus a single target if that target has made an attack against another target…which makes no sense, since clout only works for a round, unlike challenge…so how do you determine whether or not the bonus applies? Weird. The abjuration authority nets scaling resistance to en energy type you can choose each day anew. Energy types available are not listed. A deflective aura and limited damage conversion to non-lethal damage. The 8th level nets a shield versus energy types. ALL OF THEM. This is basically a 3 x class level hit point shield versus energy attacks. Again, all of them. Yes, including RAW sonic, negative energy and force. An improved Stand Still and at 16th level, the option to immediate action move and attack, but at the cost of being staggered in the next round, complement this one.

The necromancy authority nets Command and Turn Undead, with a Cha-governed save, fear-inducing touch, better Intimidate, Critical Focus and lifesight, as well as attacks versus foes attacking allies via AoO and with a +2 bonus. The clout ability is problematic: “Whenever the pundit uses a clout point to successfully attack a creature whose kind she has encountered in the past 24 hours…” What constitutes “encountered” for the purpose of this ability? Defeating a target? Killing it? No idea. What does “kind” mean? Subtype? Nationality? Class? Nonfunctional.

The clout ability of the enchanted rose allows the pundit to offer terms of surrender as a standard action, but nets further benefits if the target then declines these. Okay, cool. For how long? Just for the activation of one clout? Then it does nothing, since clout only lasts a round. Many of these abilities clearly have been designed for duration-based abilities or permanent ones, not for point-based, short-burst boosts, and the design-ambiguities and issues when you prod them, alas, do show that. We also can find designs like high-level competing attack rolls (still consider them wonky). That being said, apart from the clout-hiccups, the rest of the abilities provided by the respective authorities tend to gravitate towards the more interesting angle, and rules language is better than quite a few of these hybrid classes.

The pdf includes an archetype, the sigil rider, who begins play with a more powerful mount that is kept in place by negative levels that may not be removed. Higher levels yield better mounts. Since this only replaces high horse, it’d be stupid not to take it after 2nd level. This one really need to cost the class more. The pdf includes 3 new feats:+2 clout, +2 daily uses of an authority power usable 3 +Int mod per day….and a feat that nets you access to a WHOLE NEW SCHOOL. This is bound to be a must have feat. The pdf comes with 10 types of favored class options, which diverge in presentation from the standards and are all assigned to multiple races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good on a formal level, though there are quite a few issues in the details of the rules-language. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full color artwork is nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s pundit is an interesting class – the combo of wizard and cavalier is interesting, but it also shows a couple of issues in its execution: Beyond the problems with quite a few of the clout abilities not having been properly translated from their challenge-origins, the class is very front heavy, providing a lot at 1st level. It also never addresses the vigorous motion/concentration issue, which makes casting while riding unreliable, to say the least. That being said, with a bit of tweaking I can see this fellow work as intended. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Pundit
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FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2018 17:13:03

Since the DCC RPG’s release, a perception seems to have grown up around its playstyle as best suited for gonzo one-shot dungeon crawls. Daniel J. Bishop’s FT2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid and its companion module FT2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth show that DCC works just as well for open-ended urban adventures that emphasize investigation and social interaction just as much as direct confrontations via sword and spell.

The setting of the town of Portsmouth draws most directly from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dagon” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm with plenty of other references to fairy tales and classic children’s literature as seen through Daniel Bishop’s dark lens. Although there is a main plotline set to track along with the 12 days of Portsmouth’s Yuletide Festival, there are enough factions, secret locations and unique random encounters to reward returning to the town over and over again as an adventure setting. In my campaign we’ve managed to run seven sessions so far just focussing on the main plotline and a couple of the side adventures from Three Nights in Portsmouth, with easily the potential for 3-4 sessions more. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
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