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Villains of Porphyra
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 07/13/18 13:48:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 8 pages of SRD, leaving us with 42 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, pamphlet-style, which theoretically allows you to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, should you choose to print this supplement.

So, what do we get here? Well, basically what it says on the tin – this is no NPC Codex-style supplement that presents nameless adversaries and mook-fodder, but instead should be considered to be a collection of named and framed villains, ready to wreak havoc on your PCs. This obviously means that they all get their own piece of aptly-written prose, as well as statblocks, with the latter making use of Porphyra’s impressive cadre of creatures, races and content in general. Note that you do not need to own Porphyran books to use this, though! There is also a pretty neat Porphyra wiki, just fyi!

A total of 16 dastardly villains are provided within, so let’s take a look, shall we? For brevity’s sake, I am going to assume a degree of familiarity with Porphyra’s lore and races – should you be intrigued by the unique Patchwork plant, click on the “Porphyra”-tab of my review on my homepage, and you’ll have a list of files (and reviews) depicting more in terms of both crunch and lore.

We begin this supplement with Lady Daivona Scovalyx, a CR 17 inveigler erkunae investigator (mastermind) of the amazing erkunae race, still one of my all-time favorites of the setting for the cool, old-school non-Tolkien-ish vibe they have (Vance,Moorcock); anyways, she comes, as befitting of her stature, with her own pact creature (think: racial kinda-familiar), and is followed by Vsehnian, the Betrayer – a CR 11 dhosari rook; dhosari are btw. the servant race of the erkunae, but this clever individual, though aligned with Daivona, can make for a potent foe on his lonesome, clocking in at CR 10.

Brin is more straightforward, and is a CR 10 hobgoblin assassin (amking use of the Porphyran take of the class). Khorg the invincible would be a CR 19/MR 2 invincible half-ogre runereaper, and his damage output potential…well, let’s just say it’s nothing to sneeze at! Abil Copperborn would be a half-human (one further instance where Porphyra’s pretty cool…) skirmisher ranger at CR 15 – loyal and professional, he is actually LN and one of the most potent and skillful contract killers you’re bound to find. His writeup also features the scarf of camouflage item. Qippal Rillkeeper is a grippli hunter (primal companion) at CR 8, bonded to a dinosaur and victim of brutal and ruthless human “safaris” slaughtering all the once innocent frogfolk knew. Bad idea, humans. Bad idea…

Fhemish Darggun is a half-cyclops archaeologist bard at CR 16 – the most ruthless weapon’s fence and dealer of Giant’s Retreat – who, ironically, really likes civilization, even though his trade could potentially be considered to be contrasting with its establishment, or, more importantly, maintenance.

Fulgra the hungry would be a CR 10 wolf-shifter and we also learn about Bonebreaker Essrass, a CR 17 nagaji martial artist monk that can strike as a serpent… Ouch, all right, totally deserved that. ;)

Anyways, we also get to meet Kresta, a tengu unchained ninja seeking for the means to create conflagrations to starve and annihilate the land in favor to her divine master…Lady Gloam of Bhaal-aak made me smile, for here, Justin Sluder pulled out his skills: She is a stealthy creature plumekith assimar warpriest (CR 19), kidnapped and then raised and indoctrinated in the city of shadowy demon-worshipers…and yes, she sometimes visits her parents. Conversations are bound to be awkward, but that’d make for an interesting scene to roleplay…

Ursk the defiler would be a CR 9 skulk oracle, who champions, in a twisted way, freedom. Freedom from fear. Dignity. Reason. Life. With darkness-themed abilities and vampiric tricks, this fellow is twisted in a cool way. At CR 16, master Gyro is a boggle spell specialist arcanist, comes with notes of the uncommon elf lord’s battle armor spell from Kobold Press’ Deep Magic, as well as with bracers of defense item-class. I did grin when seeing the CR 10 augmented half-giant telekinesis/force specialist Brutus Half-forged and the CR 8 aberrant aegis/fighter multiclass from duergar stock Rosca Hatemonger. We end the supplement on a definite high note, with Ibuel the Frightlover, a fey creature xeph dread with 15 levels and CR 16.

The pdf comes with a bonus file depicting the Agropelter, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, a CR 3 fearsome critter magical beast, a wiry apelike thing whose arms have no middle joints, capable of quick bursts of speed. Solid creature that makes for a nasty artillery at low levels.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no excessive accumulation of grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard, is pretty printer-friendly and sports the classic purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and ease of navigation, though the bookmarks don’t note the CRs, which, since the villains are listed in no order I could glean, represents a slight usability detriment when in a pinch.

Justin P. Sluder and Aaron Hollingsworth make for a good team, at least judging by this pdf. Justin has crafted some of my favorite NPCs/villains ever for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, and his talents at making complex NPCs shows in quite a few of these villains, though not all of them. Still, the means by which this book employs Porphyra’s rich canon of options is nice to see indeed. The villain-motivations also are surprisingly diverse, the brief flavor texts lending depth to them. If anything, I did wish more than once that we had a tad bit more space per villain to further add to their myths. That being said, the use of diverse and interesting material herein and the obvious joy in some of the combinations does render this collection worthwhile – the enemies herein will be challenging for your group.

And hey, you can’t ever have enough adversary-statblocks, right? Right! In short: Totally worthwhile if you’re looking for some tough foes to throw at your players! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Ultimate Covenant Magic
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 07/09/18 12:38:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 160 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 155 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, long, long before, back in 2013, before we even could conceive of Occult Adventures becoming such a great Paizo book, there was a humble pdf that fluttered on my digital shelves. It came with an unpretentious cover that read: Legendary Classes: Covenant Magic. It included a base class, then called “medium”, which proceeded to blow my mind, earning the supplement a spot among my Top Ten PFRPG products. Then, there were expansions, and these actually managed to retain the quality and imaginary vision of covenant magic.

In a way, this was an occult class, before “occult class” was a thing; you know, a class with a complex and rewarding action economy and player agency that does not simply escalate numbers, but instead has unobtrusive and rewarding ROLEplaying angles baked right into its very design. This may just be me, but with the release of Occult Adventures, I never stopped thinking of Covenant Magic as pretty much one of the origins of this rewarding school of class- and RPG- design.

Now, it should be noted that Ultimate Covenant Magic is NOT simply a rehash of the previously released material; Purple Duck Games have gone the extra mile here, which should be obvious from the get-go when simply comparing pagecount; moreover, the ducks have went through Covenant Magic with a finetooth-comb and reassessed all components herein, ironing out the very few rough patches the original files offered, while heaping new content galore on top – this is how compilations should be!

Fast forward to today and the issue of nomenclature: We get this – the ginormous, ultimate iteration of an already stellar system. With Occult Adventures’ release, this book renames its first class covenant mage. The covenant mage gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, ¾ BAB-progression and Charisma-governed spellcasting of up to 6th level – however, in a radical and daring departure from most classes, these are actually spell-like abilities, with all that entails. It is testament to the robustness of the engine and the skill of the designers involved that this never breaks the game. Covenant mages may not learn aligned spells, unless the covenant mage matches the alignment…OR has a covenant with a creature of that alignment! Yes, you can actually cast evil spells as the good guy here…with all that entails.

Now, as the name makes abundantly clear, the focus here are covenants. But wait, sounds familiar? Isn’t there the phenomenal “Grimoire of Lost Souls” already out there? Well, yes, but Purple Duck Games’ system has a radically different focus – covenants are themed around general themes, not necessarily individual spirits – you could have a covenant with a sidhe court, with qlippoths and the like, as opposed to pacts with singular entities. The focus sounds similar on paper, but in practice and roleplaying, actually is radically different. It should also be noted that the systems work remarkably smoothly and distinctly when used in the same game, and could allow for a covenant/pact-only game without much hassle. One of these days, that’s just the campaign I’m going to run!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was talking about player agency before, and the class, from level one onward, and again at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th level, gets a spirit boon – basically the talent-list of the covenant mage: These are not simple “You get class feature xyz”-tricks, btw. Wanted to sap speed with a touch attack? You can do that. Conjure forth a shield of roiling spirits? Once more, you can do that! Of course, a better, detective-style speak with dead can be found here, and the basic themes you’d expect have representations, but the list brims with enthusiasm and design-glee – one that is based in the scaling guidance imparted on the covenant mage by virtue of their spirit guide; and yes, while intangible (so no phantom-like pet), this lone, humble ability can engender great roleplaying all on its own…and changes the system in exciting ways, for some abilities require that the spirit guide be sent away/used in a specific manner. If you’re familiar with shadow-usage in shadow magic-based systems, you’ll get what I’m talking about. This could have just been, mechanically, a cool-down timer. Instead, it has this nifty little narrative angle that you can take or leave. It should be noted that the already pretty impressive list of spirit boons is expanded on later levels – multiple times. These alone provide more options than many classes have.

Now, a central component of the covenant mage’s engine and perhaps one of the most impressive and concise rules-operations for a caster I know, would be their trance: 4 + Charisma modifier rounds, +2 rounds per class level after 1st; this trance may be entered as a move action, nets you rage-like bonuses to Constitution and Charisma as you channel entities, and allows the spirits to speak through you – which is a GREAT idea to explain why you can’t use spell completion/trigger items in a trance. It’s these little components, where even the tiniest thing makes sense from a narrative point of view, that set this apart…of, and then, there would be the covenants. Oh, and being knocked unconscious nets you +1 free, final round of trance. No, you can’t abuse it, but it does allow the respective entities to deliver threats etc. and corresponds with the classic and evocative tropes.

Now, a covenant mage selects an influence – these can, for example, be angelic choirs, abyssal hordes, draconic, the occult, the unity, etc. Here, we have a bloodline-ish ability suite that nets a bonus language and determines the capstone of the class. However, they ALSO govern special spell-like abilities while in trance (scaling with levels) and trance covenants, which also scale. Sounds a bit bland for you? Nothing could be further from the truth! Just take the qlippothic redeemer. Some qlippoths argue that extinction of mortal life may not be the way to go to reclaim the abyss – you just have to ensure that no more chaotic evil souls go down there! Hence, there is a qlippoth-sponsored influence with the goal of redeeming everyone! I ADORE this. Doing the right things, for horrifically wrong reasons can make for a fantastic character concept and interaction with an influence that is malign and alien and just wants everyone to get along. That’s the yarn great tales are spun from.

Covenants are grouped in 5 groups, which are progressively granted by the respective influence chosen: Least (1st level), minor (5th level), major (9th level), greater (13th level) and superior (17th level), just fyi. It should be noted that each influence notes a variety of creatures associated with the influence in question, and that such creatures may be called by the covenant mage with their séance ability. Did I mention that these fellows can deal with haunts (You really should take one along next time you go into that haunted mansion/ancient, haunted battlefield…), that the trance engine scales and that item activation etc. also follows a concise progression? The covenant mage is a class you have to play to truly appreciate, but oh boy. Ähem. Sorry. Did it sound like I might that class a wee bit? ;)

Anyways, this is NOT where the book stops; where, previously, we had but this one covenant-devoted class, we now get two: The book introduces the dervish, who gets d10 HD, 4+ Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weaponry and light armor and light shields, as well as fast movement, full BAB-progression and a good Ref-save 4th level nets the SPs of the covenant mage style, once more governed by Charisma, scaling up to 4th spell level. You may have deduced as much from the presence of fast movement, but uncanny dodge at 2nd level would be another good indicator what we have here – a hybrid class of covenant mage and barbarian.

And, I know what you’re thinking: “Now Endy will whip out the uninspired hybrid-bat.” Well, frankly, that’s not required. Quite the contrary, in fact. The class employs the trance engine; it has paths, which are the equivalent of influences (and yes, we get a ton of them, though not one for every single influence, only for those that make sense in the frame provided); it gets trance powers (kinda akin to rage powers and paths come with suggested trance powers) – oh, and the class is actually a solid skirmisher! I kid you not! Heck, path chosen influences, at high levels, the DR, with 8 different DRs noted, to account for thematic differences! This level of care is impressive; indeed, I’d like to state that the warrior-mystic angle has rarely been done this well; while the parent classes are obvious from the design choices made, the dervish manages to feel and play unique and exciting, rendering it one of the very rare examples of a hybrid class that deserves its name, that deserves being included in the game, that has its own identity and soul.

Now, here begin the 28 pages of archetypes – and while both covenant mage and dervish get AMPLE of choices here, it is my pleasure to mention that they are not alone: Wanted a covenant-using summoner? You can find that here. Inner Eye Fighters represent a rewarding covenant fighter option…oh, and did I mention that the book comes with full occult support, providing a means for Paizo’s often maligned medium class to become cooler via covenants? Or the death negotiator spiritualist? Does haggling with spirits for power sounds like a story that reminds you a cherished villain/hero in a comic book? Well, guess what: We even get a vigilante archetype here, with the spirit-chosen! Oh, and what about covenant-related hexes for both witch and shaman?? Want a covenant magic with anti-tech guide tricks? An engine-tweak by donning masks? Covenant mages with hexes, revelations or bloodlines? Yep, you’re covered. Similarly, if you want a divine dervish, unarmed mendicants or mounted dervishes, you’ll find what you’re looking for inside.

Now, beyond influences, covenant magic as a system is NOT hard-baked into classes; or, well, it kinda is in a way, but in theory, pretty much anyone could use it! Why? Well, the 5 different covenant ability strengths are concisely codified for Gm and players alike, with save DCs based on the patron’s Charisma and HD. This may come off as surprising, but the mere existence of this simple and easy to grasp component (with prices, assuring WBL-consistency) helps against the murder-hobo syndrome. Players are less likely to want to slaughter, for example, the fey over there, when coming to diplomatic terms with them could provide cool, unique powers…and from the GM’s perspective, that is a rewarding way to dish out treasure and segue into new adventures. The gp-value table makes this pretty much a no-brainer task – look at a table, done. It doesn’t get more comfortable than this. Now, if all this contract-stuff sounds dry or too wishy-washy for you, rest assured that you’re not left hanging: The details and components are discussed in a concise and helpful manner, including the consequences of breaking covenants, etc.

So, the covenants – the list of covenants included here, you know, the one that handily lists all the covenants alphabetically, ordered by power…is 4+ pages long. We’re talking about over 30 pages of such abilities, which allow you to breach through barriers, gain a kind of truespeech, a literally stunning voice, high level save-rerolls – they make sense! Want, for example, control of the strands of fate? Well, you better find a really potent being with mythic power or hero points…or a norn! Have a new buddy from the elemental plane of earth? Stone fists. Just sayin’! Know a potent undead or outsider with energy drain? Hej, when you get on with them, you may learn the art of the Soul Stealer… There also are a couple here, obviously, that are more limited, but you get the idea – this OOZES flavor. And yes, the classic restoration of youth can be bargained for… This is, in essence, a continuation of the design-paradigm that made the class options stand out – and it’s, in a way, the beating heart of the book; this is where we not only get material that can easily be integrated into any game, we have enough covenants provided and succinct, clear guidelines, that designing new ones should not prove too big a problem for anyone. This may sound dumb coming from me, with my love of fiddly, highly complex systems, but this level of accessibility is amazing. You could hand this to players and have them tinker with it. The system is that accessible. Oh, did I mention the page of mythic covenants that help if you’re playing mythic games? Oh yeah.

Now, I should note that, usually, only covenant mages and dervishes can strike covenants, but the 10-page character-options section provides the feat-basis for universal access, though higher-powered games can ostensibly ignore these; as a whole, this provides the grit and investment decision I love to see, while the aforementioned detailed explanation of the covenants themselves allows the system to be used without prescriptively requiring them. If you’re playing a regular game, use the feats; if you’re going for high-fantasy, go the direct route – simple. Oh, and guess what? Mythic feats AND rewarding Story-feats included! As an example, Spiritual Defiance allows you to enhance the numerical bonuses of trance sans gaining the usual abilities, as you defy your influence. You’re grinning right now, right? I know I am! Really cool: The pdf acknowledges modifying three feats from Pact Magic’s chassis – in the TEXT, not just the SRD. That bespeaks of integrity. Oh, and yes, we also get both traits and drawbacks – and yes, bonus types are TIGHT. There also are a couple of new spells to be found, and we even get two background tables, Ultimate Campaign style, for Covenant Mages and Dervishes. Want advice, and I mean EXTENSIVE advice on running covenants in your campaign, on negotiating contracts, a ton of sample potential patrons for covenant-users? Variant offerings that codify life force, souls and even integrate with Horror Adventure’s corruption-mechanics? This delivers. Heck, we even get two cool sample organizations! Oh, and guess what? Two templates, a ton of NPCs (yep, up to CR 19…), and we even get two ready-made PCs for the new classes, at level 1 and 7.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. From bonus type to rules language integrity, this is an achievement of a tome. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a significant amount of nice full-color artwork, though fans of Purple Duck games may be familiar with the pieces. The pdf comes with extensive, nested and detailed bookmarks, making the use of the material herein super simple. Oh, and this being Purple Duck games, the whole text is open content. Yes. This is too rarely mentioned, but it’s one of the things I adore about Purple Duck Games.

David N. Ross and Julian Neale, with additional writing by Mike Myler, provide a masterpiece. I mean it. This is the OG of the Occult design philosophy, and it is superbly impressive, more so than it ever was before – and that’s saying something!

You see, I am very much cognizant that my love for complex, fiddly systems à la Interjection Games’ tinker or Michael Sayre’s Akasha is no secret; at the same time, complex systems are not for everyone; while a new system may provide a unique playstyle, not every player enjoys trying to wrap their heads around, for example, an engine like the kineticists. This is where covenant magic comes in. The genius of the design employed here is twofold: For one, the book manages to provide a crunchy system that is rich in story and actual roleplaying potential, which is not something many books achieve. But more importantly, it marries this potential with a playing experience that is utterly distinct and different from all Paizo-classes…while not requiring that you learn one bit of new system! This book manages the impossible feat of having the cake and eating it, too – it teases, coaxes and persuades the d20-system underlying Pathfinder in new and exciting shapes and forms.

If you’ve read the Paizo-classes, you can play this. This is the most accessible subsystem I know, at least in this range of excellence; for, while it retains its superb accessibility, it also manages to do utterly unique things with its engine; it manages to carve out its own, distinct and design-as well as flavor-wise, unique identity.

This ranks among my favorite 3pp-crunch books out there. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as “Ultimate Psionics” or the “Grimoire of Lost Souls.” Yes. That good.

Let me put it differently: I have a policy regarding my Top Ten-list: If the components of a compilation have won a spot on my Top Ten, the compilation can’t be featured on it once more. I have never been this tempted to break this rule. I won’t, as that would be unfair. But oh boy, do I want to!

Ultimate Covenant Magic is a masterpiece that oozes passion, care and attention to details; it’s, as noted, the small things that add up, that elevate this book to the lofty place it occupies in my esteem. My final verdict for this masterpiece, unsurprisingly after my glowing review, will be 5 stars + seal of approval. This also gets my EZG-Essentials-tag as a book I wouldn’t want to miss in my games. Why? Think about it: You can use covenants to combat that Christmas Tree syndrome of PCs with too much gear…replace magic item-rewards with boons and blessings that come with obligations and your game will take on a whole new direction.

Anyways, while it can’t feature on this year’s Top Ten list, this does get the candidate for my Top Ten of 2018 tag as well – to mark it as a book that has number 1-contender qualities, in spite of not being eligible to win. Basically, any way to make this show up when browsing for excellence. ;)

One more thing: Purple Duck Games is currently designing their Porphyra RPG – they will carry the torch of Pathfinder’s first edition with their very own spin. Books like this are what this game needs, so if that sounds like something you’d love, support the Purple Ducks!

Endzeitgeist out.



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Stock Art: Bearskarktopus
por Richard W. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/25/18 04:57:37

Cool illustration, I put it to great use in my latest adventure! I was very happy to discover the image has a transparent background, so I didn't have to try and cut it out.



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Unchained Monks of Porphyra
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/22/18 03:55:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 28 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

After a brief one-page introduction, we begin with the archetype section, the first of which would be the descendant. This one represents an engine tweak, gaining a bloodrager bloodline at first level, which is governed by Wisdom instead of Charisma, gaining bloodline powers at 1st and 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. For the purpose of SPs etc. gained thus, class level equals character level. This replace the 1st level bonus feat and the ki powers gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Powers entwined with bloodrage instead work in conjunction with ancestral communion, which may be entered as a free action, which can be maintained for 4 + Wisdom modifier rounds per day, +2 rounds for every subsequent class level attained. Ancestral communion nets a +2 morale bonus to Strength, +4 to Will-saves and +2 to Fort-saves. This replaces flurry of blows. Bloodline feats may be chosen as monk bonus feats. At 6th level, the character can spend a ki point to cast the first bonus spell granted by the bloodline as a SP, noting once more, correctly, how this is governed by class level and Wisdom, with 10th level, 14th and 18th level unlocking further bonus spells at progressively increasing ki costs. This replaces the ki powers gained at these levels. All in all, this is a solid engine-tweak.

Next up would be the Firefall monk, also known as Qunbalati. These monks replace Perform with Disguise as a class skill, and the AC-bonus is reduced to only the Wisdom bonus. Instead of flurry of blows and stunning fist, the archetype gains the throw anything and bomb class features of the alchemist, using class level as alchemist level to determine their potency, and Wisdom modifier as governing attribute. This stacks with other bomb-granting abilities. As a rules-aesthetic complaint, the unchained monk’s chassis does not actually require bombs to be relevant – as a full BAB-class, the bombs hit very reliably, which presents a similar disjoint as the gunslinger. That as an aside, the qunbalati gains ki pool at 7th levl, treating his unchained monk level as 4 lower for the purpose of ki points and ki strike; the archetype also does not gain ki powers of 4th, 6th, 8th and 12th level. At 3rd level, the archetype adds Wisdom modifier to Reflex saves trying to reduce the damage dealt by his own bombs; at 8th level, this applies to all Reflex saves to which evasion applies. Starting at 6th level, as long as the qunbalati has 1 ki point, he does not provoke AoOs with bombs; at 12th level, while having at least 2 points, bombs may be thrown as a move action; at 16th level, while having at least 2 ki points, you can throw a bomb as a swift action – these are relevant in the absence of discoveries, obviously.

Thirdly, we have the flying monk, who is locked into Dodge and Mobility at 1st and 2nd level regarding bonus feats, ignoring prerequisites. The archetype gets the first real signature ability at 5th level – when doing a flurry, the archetype can jump sans provoking an AoO, necessitating a DC 20 Acrobatics check when threatened. On a failure, the flurry stops and larger enemies increase the DC. At 10th level, an additional jump may be attempted per flurry, with at least one attack between them, but this second jump costs ki. The number of ki you can spend per round is capped by Wisdom modifier, and the ability replaces 5th level’s style strike and 10th level’s ki power. At 8th level, the archetype gains acrobatic dodge, which is cool: Once per round when attacked by a melee attack, the character can attempt a DC 25 Acrobatics check – on a success, the character gains +4 dodge bonus to AC versus the incoming attack. This, however, does count as a move action taken in the next round – at least until 15th level, where succeeding the check by 15+ means that it does not consume next round’s option AND allows you to attempt it again. This replaces 8th level’s ki power and 15th level’s style strike. I liked the idea of this ability – I just wished it would become available sooner.

Martial virtuosos may select Style feats as bonus feats, and 6th level allows for Adept of Many Styles (enter a style, use feats based on that style as well as another), 10th level for Master of Many Styles (ditto, for two additional styles, + 1/round style switch as a free action) as bonus feat options. Starting at 4th level, the archetype reduces the number of skill ranks required by a Style feat by Wisdom modifier, with the option to split the reduction between skill prerequisites – this is interesting and replaces still mind. At 6th level, the character gains stance breaker instead of a ki power: Once per round when attacking an enemy that has adopted a style, the archetype can break a style, knocking a hit foe out of it and preventing reassertion of the style for a few rounds – this is particularly interesting if you’re using a system that employs style-like stances and extend the benefits to these. At 10th level the duration of style-lockdown, and at 14th level, two style lockdowns may be executed per round, with additional uses beyond those requiring more ki points.

The naginata master gains proficiency with naginatas, long spears and similarly weaponry and treats weapons with the reach property as monk weapons, which becomes relevant at higher levels. 8th level allows for the use of ki to enhance these weapons as though they were fists. At 12th and 20th level, these weapons are treated as + one size category . The archetype does lose stunning fist and unarmed strike. 4th level yields Favored Weapon for a reach weapon…which is not a feat I am familiar with. I assume this to reference Weapon Focus, though it is possible that it instead references e.g. the marksman’s favored weapon class ability, which isn’t a feat. Unpleasant hiccup. At 16th level, we have the option to expend reach by 5 ft. for one round as a swift action.

The pinyinist comes with some racial restrictions in Porphyra, excluding some of the weirder races sans classic humanoid physiology from taking the archetype. There is a reason for that: At 4th level, the archetype gets ki meridians, which may be activated by spending a ki point as a swift action and last for Wisdom modifier rounds. One is chosen at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, replacing the ki powers that would usually be granted at these levels. 1/day gaining of two ki points, DR, skill or initiative boosts – the benefits are pretty traditional, but the flavor makes them interesting. As a nitpick, I’m not too happy with the bonuses granted being untyped. At 6th level, and again at 10th and 14th, the pinyinist opens a meridian chosen permanently, losing the ability to open them. Kudos: Those that would become really problematic otherwise get unique benefits from being permanently open. 12th level extends the meridian list by a further 6 entries, once more corresponding with organs of the body. Building on that, 18th level provides the means to activate meridians that have been permanently opened for combined boosts, once more featuring a few unique tricks. I love the flavor of this one and the base of the engine, if not necessarily the execution – it could have carried a whole class.

The void monk adds Autohypnosis to the class skills (something that would point towards the Naginata specialist indeed referring to the marksman class feature erroneously as a feat) and has a bad Ref-save, but a good Will-save. Instead of evasion, the monk may substitute an Autohypnosis check for a Will-save, which is mechanically not that smart – as noted time and again before, skill checks are notoriously easy to break. Instead of improved evasion, the void monk gets the means to resist probing into his mind, requiring that any entity attempting to do so succeeds at a massive Sense Motive skill check. Instead of diamond body, the archetype gains no breath. Nice ideas here, though I wished the archetype had a bit more active tricks going on.

Next up would be the Grasshopper 10-level PrC, which requires BAB 5+, 5 ranks Acrobatics as well as evasion and flurry of blows. The PrC gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level (with a paltry 3 class skills), and does not gain new proficiencies. The PrC has full BAB-progression, as well as ½ Fort- and Ref-save progression. The PrC allows for the addition of both Dexterity and Strength modifiers to attack rolls executed with flurry of blows at 1st level, which, from the get-go, is problematic – this would have made sense for non-unchained monks, but not for the already full BAB unchained monk. The PrC has a ki pool of ½ class level + Wisdom modifier, and thankfully, the ability gets interaction with the ki pool class feature granted by other abilities right. Unarmed strike, flurry and stunning fist scale as though the PrC-levels were unchained monk levels. 2nd level nets a +1 deflection bonus per free hand. Nitpick: The deflection bonus is stated as being cumulative, which could be read as pertaining to the ability (which seems very likely) or as pertaining any deflection bonuses. A more elegant variant would have been to state that the bonus equals the number of free hands, or alternatively increases a deflection bonus accordingly. This would aso have made the interaction with the follow-up ability smoother. At 6th level, while getting at least a +1 deflection bonus from a free hand, they also add Strength modifier as a stacking bonus to AC.

Then again, that’s me nitpicking. At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the PrC gets to choose a ki power from a limited list. There are a couple of PrC-exclusive ones here: Better jumping, ignoring gravity changes (cool), double jumping mid air via ki, create shockwaves (and fissures!), ignoring limited DR, a variant one-strike flurry powered by ki (with a minor formatting glitch) , maneuvers, alternate kick-damage type…the tricks are cool, with the exception of one of the powers, which just represents a numerical escalation. 4th level nets the ability to hover via ki, and even temporarily fly. Cool and gets maneuverability etc. right. At 6th level, while getting at least a +1 deflection bonus from a free hand, they also add Strength modifier as a stacking bonus to AC. 8th level adds +1 attack to the flurry of kicks, and at 10th level, a flurry can be combined with standard or move actions when attacking with feet only; the action may not imply movement or use feet, which is an uncommon, interesting limiter. The action may also not be used for combat maneuvers or melee attacks, but ranged attacks, potion drinking, etc. are viable.

There is a second PrC here, the wild master, who requires flurry of blows and wild shape, as well as 5 ranks in the Knowledge (nature) skill. The PrC gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level ½ spellcasting progression for the druid class, full BAB-progression, and half Fort- and Ref-save progression. The PrC nets no new proficiencies. The PrC can use flurry of blows with natural attacks while in animal form (important limit!). At 4th level, natural attacks when flurrying, are treated as +1 size, with 8th level increasing this to +2 sizes.

Class levels stack with unchained monk levels for unarmed strike, stunning fist and flurry of blows. ½ class levels stack with druid levels for the purpose of wild shape. The 3rd level nets favored shape nets a choice of 8, which include bears, felines, etc., but oddly no canine specialization. The bonuses they convey to the respective shapes are concisely presented. 5th level and every 2 further levels yield another such favored shape. At 4th level, while in a form that is not the standard form, the PrC can use wild shape as a swift action. At 8th level, when assuming the form of an animal, all animals of that type in a 60 ft. radius gain +2 to atk and damage, which is a bit rough, considering that “fish” or “raptor” are categories, whereas “bear”…is pretty singular. 10th level nets timeless body and adds Wisdom modifier to AC and CMD (stacking) as well as to some skills. I did not like this PrC. It’s very numbers-focused and not that interesting.

The pdf also contains 7 new ki powers, which include making weapons temporarily count as monk weapons via ki expenditure to sacrifice hit points to regain ki, with a daily cap. Personally, I think the damage should scale, but at least the hard cap prevents total delimiting of the ki-resouce. Still, that’s up to + Wisdom modifier ki, which can be rather brutal. Temporarily seeing via ki is interesting, though I think that just referring to all-around vision would have been more elegant here. Pinyinist-support for more meridians, wall running and allowing the monk to train weapons, using them as monk weapons on a semi-permanent basis complement this section.

The final chapter deals with new feats: I already mentioned the Many Styles-feats; beyond these, there is one that fortifies you against massive damage. Very problematic: regaining ki via crits. Ki is not grit; it’s a limited resource and as such, should not be able to be recharged via critical hits. Worse, the feat lacks a caveat to prevent abuse via bags of kittens: Whip out the bag and start beating up your fluffy friends – it’s for the greater good. Enhanced Dodge is a joke. +1 dodge bonus while you have at leats 4 ki. Yeah, let’s waste a feat on that. Faster Flurry of Blows nets you +1 attack at highest BAB against a foe after hitting a single target at least thrice with a flurry. Unstoppable Flurry of Blows builds on that, for 6 attacks. There is also a feat that lets you use ki to enhance channel energy.

The chapter’s main meat, however, would be the 5 imperial styles: In Porphyra, these are considered to be noble arts, and they include Underworld Style (flanking prevention and enhancers), Sovereign Style lets you declare attacks as fake, making them work as Intimidate checks instead. (Erroneously referred to as Intimidation here, but that’s a nitpick.) Combining the style with Everyman Gaming’s psychology rules from Ultimate Charisma makes it even more interesting. Like it. Sky Style focuses on falling/dive bombing on your enemy for potent attacks, unlocking jumps to trigger the benefits. It, like Sea Style focuses on underwater/in water combat, with swim speed and bonus damage in water (which is a pretty nasty numerical escalation). Forest Style is interesting, enhancing attacks versus larger foes (or those higher up) and nets you the means to effectively deal with being prone, etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – the Purple Ducks have made sure that the content is functional and solidly-phrased. There are only a few minor hiccups here. Layout adheres to a 1-column, printer-friendly b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports some really nice full-color artworks. Annoyingly, the pdf lacks bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

Nikolaï Samarine provides a solid expansion for the unchained monk here – it’s somewhat hybrid-concept heavy for my tastes, but mostly handles the task of presenting viable options well. That being said, it’s most interesting when it dares to do something thematically unique – the Pinyinist is, for me, the star here, theme-wise. That being said, the supplement is pretty technical overall – there is a lot of tweaking with numbers, and there is a general tendency towards escalating the numbers, particularly for offense, which isn’t as smart a move in a system already geared towards offense. That being said, while this shows that the author is not yet a veteran, you can see a burgeoning daring here, one that I can see develop into intriguing supplements. As presented, the book is, as a whole, represents a mechanically well-crafted offering that can be somewhat problematic in the hands of min-maxers. The supplement, as a whole, to me represents a mixed bag, and I feel that it’s closer to rounding down than up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Adventure Avenue: A Nightmare Awakening
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/06/18 11:07:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ Adventure Avenue-series clocks in at 59 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 55 pages of content, though these have been laid out for pamphlet-size (6’’ by 9’’, or A5), which means that, provided your eyes can handle small text, you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this.

Now, first things first: On a formal level, the module sports two maps: One full-color regional map of the Burroughs of Dunmark, basically a horror-themed region of Porphyra, and a b/w-map of the dungeon featured herein. Unfortunately, we do not get a player-friendly version of the dungeon-map, which constitutes a comfort-detriment. On the plus-side regarding comfort, the module sports something that more adventures should have – namely, a list of treasure with selling value and rooms, if applicable, noted, and a second table that lists the XP-values of the threats faced within. Kudos for this nice GM-helper!

The pdf does, however, come with a bonus files penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, which depicts the hagiographical drake, a CR 7 critter that breathes poisonous fire and which also gets speed bursts. Nice one!

Back to the module: If the title and cover art were not ample indicator, this is a dark fantasy/horror adventure set against a fantasy backdrop; if you’re not playing in Porphyra, then it should be easy enough to integrate this into most campaigns. As the module makes use of the themes of Dream and some mythos-themes, it should easily fit into, for example, Fat Goblin Games’ Shadows over Vathak-setting, or adventure-sequences with dream- and cosmic horror themes. The encounters and locales sport brief read-aloud text sections, fyi, so yeah, this is very much helpful for GMs that have a problem improvising compelling descriptions.

In order to discuss this module in more detail, however, I will need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. The pdf sports a couple of nice full-color full-page artworks, btw.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The PCs, via one of multiple hooks, are tasked to investigate the strange disappearance of Alra Vyrsmak and thus pick up her trail near the isolated and xenophobic village of Nirun’s Hillock. Already suspicious of outsiders, the climate of the village has not been improved by ill winds and strange dreams. The village gets its own village statblock, and the module here takes an event-driven form, using encounters to generate a growing sense of unease – the local shrine, for example, is creepy and features iconography associated with the Great Old Ones, and watching the strange worship may well show that some villagers are becoming pseudonatural! The night is also haunted by a nightgaunt, and dreams of the mythic kingdom of Iskandar beset those dreaming. Ultimately, the PCs will need to retrace Alra’s footsteps past the many branches of the Little Wander River, where remnant of fight with river folk have attracted leshy to the corpses, witchlights can lead the PCs into the hungry embrace of carnivorous plants, and Alra’s abandoned campsite has been taken over by Zoog. The next of aforementioned nightgaunt, strange and unearthly, would be an odd further place. Nice: these sections allow the GM to slowly establish an atmosphere of ever-growing apprehension, which culminates in the dungeon that makes up the main meat of the module.

You see, the complex that Alra’s trail leads to would be the Dreamer’s enclave, once used to control a vast swath of the region. The arrival of hapless Alra has resulted in the Dreamer awakening, taking a form imitating the sought after shade of Iskandar. The complex itself is rickety and multiple potential partial collapses must be contended with; partial flooding and cool haunts complement this section. The choice of monsters is nice and there even is a small bit of roleplaying interspersed here. Ultimately, the PCs will hopefully find Alra. Whose mind has been subjugated. Subduing the sage can provide a redemption-angle for the PCs to help with, which is a nice touch – but in order to actually triumph here, the PCs will have to collapse basically a kind-of-overlap/transition to the Plane of Dreams, and defeat the dreaded “Shade of Iskandar” – who turns out to be a rather potent nightmare lord mi-go! The pdf comes with all relevant stats; the original layout file was lost, though, so one comment sports a replacement creature – I don’t mind, as the proper replacement is valid and nice, but I figured I should mention that.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no serious accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and is printer-friendly. The full-color full-page artworks of monsters sported herein is Nice. Cartography is solid, though the lack of a player-friendly map is a bit of a bummer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matt Roth’s “A Nightmare Awakening” is an unpretentious, well-crafted swamp-expedition with a mythos-angle; it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is tight in its representation of the tropes and themes we expect from the genre. The convenience of the tables and generally solid use of haunts, traps, etc. mitigates somewhat the absence of player-friendly maps. The star here, what elevates this module above many of its brethren, would be the smart use of unique terrain in conjunction with the previously-mentioned complications. The module does not feel sterile, and the dungeon manages to feel dangerous not by virtue of throwing tons of enemies at the PCs, but by means of its features. That’s a big plus for me. If you want just a dash of cosmic horror/dark fantasy with a mythos bent, then this delivers – it does not swamp you in hopelessness and does not require a plethora of subsystems to generate tension. This is not a brutal purist’s module, and, while not easy, it will not leave the PCs crippled or gibbering. In short: This is a nice piece of genre-writing, and as such, it deserves a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Godsend
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/17/18 12:10:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

This hybrid class is a blend of paladin and porphyran assassin, which remains one of my favorite PFRPG-takes on the assassin. As a righteous killer, they must be good and get d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword as well as light armor. They get an aura of good and may use detect evil at will. They also get full BAB-progression. The class is intended to have good Reflex saves, but the column in the table NOTES THE WRONG VALUES. Unless 18th level is supposed to nerf Ref-save from +10 to +2, the high levels are wrong for the column – an oversight that even a cursory glance should have caught. 4th level yields paladin spellcasting, governed by Charisma.

The class gets a sneak attack variant dubbed secret smite, which applies when a target is denied Dexterity bonus to AC or when flanking a target. This starts as +1d6, and increases by 1d6 every 2 godsend levels thereafter. Sloppy: “If the target of secret smite is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to dam­age on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the godsend possesses.” I kid you not. That’s a downgrade. The godsend is actually WORSE at killing evil things. Also: reference to first attack is weird. OH, and secret smiting good creatures by accident wrecks your spellcasting and supernatural abilities for the day, killing a creature thus does it permanently. 2nd level yields lay on hands and quiet death (Stealth check when killing a creature in the surprise round to prevent notice). 3rd level nets immunity to fear and 4th level provides death attack, governed by Int. Sloppiness continues – we have references to sneak attack that should refer to secret smite.

As an aside: Secret smite is NOT a smite. It is not active. It’s always on. The name’s misleading and the ability just eats wordcount. Make it sneak attack and add a second ability that increases sneak damage versus smite targets. Anyway, 4th level also yields uncanny dodge and 6th level nets divine bond, for a weapon as well as the first mercies; 10th, 14th and 18th level expand the list of mercies available. 8th level nets improved uncanny dodge and an ability that lets you prep a corpse to make the target die once more if returned to life. A spell reference here has not been italicized. 9th level yields immunity to charm spells and SPs, but not effects. 12th level makes weapons behave as though good as well as the option to make a death attack after only one round of study. Detect evil can be sued as a swift action starting at 14th level and 15th level nets + Cha-bonus to secret smite damage versus evil targets and ignores all damage reduction. 18th level provides 1/week atonement. The capstone provides maximum healing as well as “sneak attack the godsend inflicts counts as a death attack, with no study required and regardless of the target’s suspicions.” Which RAW does nothing, since the godsend does not have sneak attack.

The pdf includes a brief code of conduct and 4 feats: One nets limited access to rook-spells. Hold Disguise nets 1/day use of lay on hands for disguise self. Yeah, wouldn’t waste a feat on that either. There’s another one that nets 1/day use of lay on hands as misdirection. Left-Handed Blade nets +2 to Bluff checks made to feint as well as swift action feints. The pdf closes with a HUGE list of favored class options for the vast amount of Porphyran races.

The one good thing here: The Colossus of Dhu, a CR 22 colossal, lion-headed construct that clocks in at CR 22 and makes for a really cool bonus pdf! The monster penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr gets two thumbs up.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good on a formal and rules-language level. Secret smite, the signature ability of the class, has not even been properly CCP’d. Layout adheres to a 1-page standard that is b/w and sports purple highlights. The pdf has no artwork apart from the cover and comes fully bookmarked.

Urgh. I don’t get it. The idea of the sacred killer is amazing and evocative. The godsend, though, is the least interesting incarnation of it. Its basic abilities are not interesting and lose what made the porphyran assassins cool. The class is super-linear and bland, lacking any distinct identity. The rules-language is not good either. I don’t get it, I really don’t. Aaron Hollingsworth can do so much better. He has done so much better. This, though, feels phoned in, uninspired and really, really bland. I can’t recommend this pdf. Unless you want the bonus file. The bonus critter is cool. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Spellbooks of Porphyra
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/14/18 06:27:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different! This installment of the “…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, we take a look at different spellbook styles, a section that, on its own, should already be considered required reading for many GMs. After all, why should all spellbooks be profane paper or vellum? Instead, this section talks about birch bark, jewelry, tiles, runesticks and magic itself acting as the medium to record magic. It may just be a page, but it is a page that can really jumpstart the creation process. Icons and talismans are similarly mentioned, and an important, often overlooked note is provided: Unless specifically enchanted and modified, spellbooks are per se not magical! That is important for hiding them in plain sight, etc. Spellbooks are categorized in 5 general categories: Formula books, spellbooks, occult books, meditation books and prayer books. Meditation books are used by spontaneous arcane casters, occult books by psychic casters and divine books by divine casters. Using another type of book than the intended one requires UMD and, if this differentiation makes no sense to you, an optional rule to ignore that is provided. I would not suggest doing so, though, as it can upset the careful balancing between spell types. Calculating value and the conditions to get the respective preparation ritual’s benefits are covered next, with writing and ritual costs collated in a handy little table.

And then, we begin the massive, main meat of this supplement. Spellbooks. Formula books. Prayer books. A metric, frickin’ ton of them. The respective entries feature a read-aloud description of the respective books, the values notes, price with and without preparation ritual, and the spells, of course. They also note the class and level of the author. Class-wise, all Paizo-classes, including antipaladin and bloodrager are covered, with rook and primordial mystic also getting their entries. The Wizard chapter is divided into sub-chapters for specialist wizards, with a universalist chapter as well. As hinted at before, ACG and Occult Adventures classes are included in the deal.

The nature of these texts varies wildly – Research Report MCMIII, for example, allows you to expend the boon as part of a thrown weapon attack the increase the range increment of the thrown weapon by 5 ft. per highest level “elixir” (should be “extract” – but at least, the glitch is consequent) in the book that you can cast – apart from the minor terminology snafu, a cool scaling mechanism. Pondering an investigation by testing a hypothesis, increasing a poison save DC, increase polymorph duration at an increased counter-vulnerability for the effect…really cool tricks here. The more well-read of GMs will also find quite a few unobtrusive easter-eggs here: The antipaladin prayer-book “Geranine, or the Misfortunes of Sin”, obviously represents a now to the writings of Marquis de Sade. Gnomic proverbs, which encompasses Wisdom such as “what you see is not what you get” made me chuckle. Some of these are really subtle: “Abyssmal,” according to the descriptive text, praises the abyss, and is very confused about what it is, noting devils, angels and armies of elemental siege engines. If you’re like me, you probably couldn’t help but smirk, for, in parts, the title was indeed my response to some chapters of “Paradise Lost”, the book this undoubtedly parodies – the preparation ritual’s boon, planar defiance, fits well with that theme.

There are also books about the world tree, collections of remedies, a heretical text that attempts to unify two faiths..what about collected posters from the walls of temple-inns? Divine records? A truly boredom-inducing snorefest that hides truly potent powers? Lore literally recorded on leaves? An inquisitor tome called “Watchers on the Wall”? (It refers to the Wall of Sleep in Porphyra, fyi) The Hexenhammer can be found, and mediums, with the right book, may ask famous Mr. Blaine, main character of a series of occult books. (In fact, several other books for other classes also reference Mr. Blaine…which was something I rather enjoyed.)

Did I mention the “Fall of the House of Strat” (XD) or the fact that psychics will really like finding the “Horrors of Old Dunmark”? And guess what? Witches will certainly want the account of “Dreams of the House-Witch”, which allows you to anchor an area when preparing spells, becoming nigh impossible to pin down. A clever twist, represented in rules as well. At the highest power levels, we can find the option to make some conjurations last 24 hours…and “Advancement by Fireball” is certainly a book that sounds like fun reading. (It can also enhance your damaging spells.) The illusionist tome “Selling Out” also got a chuckle out of me. The pdf is suffused with great ideas for the respective tomes, varying themes and focuses as well as boons constantly.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, depicting the CR 3 apiary devil, poisonous drones with a hive mind that can construct room of black foam in bewildering speed. I liked this critter, as it provides a rather neat excuse for the Gm to suddenly generate an alien and horrific environment.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, bordering in both cases on true excellence. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard that is mostly b/w with purple highlights. The pdf does not sport much artworks, just one previously used one – yes, this means that it is absolutely CHOCK-FULL with content. The pdf also comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience, making navigation as easy as can be.

Every GM has their pet-peeves regarding the prepping of the game. For me, the one aspect of the game I loathe with a fiery passion, is making spellbooks. I just don’t consider it to be enjoyable. Other folks will hate adding templates to monsters, but for me, it’s the much easier and quicker task of making concise spellbooks.

Because I want them to have a theme. An identity. And I seethe internally, whenever my players miss them, after I have puzzled together so many fitting spells, after I came up with a cool preparation ritual/boon. I talked about this in quite a few reviews; it’s one reason I tend to use more spontaneous casters than prepared ones.

And it’s, honestly, a damn pity. With all my books and pdfs, I can name surprisingly few that provide a decent accumulation of spellbooks with character, and these cases tend to gravitate towards the grimoires/high-powered end of things, where the books almost become their own characters. Now, don’t get me wrong: The most treasured possession of my current gaming group may well be “The Inverse Calculus of Unseen Refraction” by Legendary Games, but you can throw books of this power at the PCs all the time. You need moe subdued, yet relevant books, preferably ones with character.

Enter this pdf. Carl Cramér has done what I wouldn’t be able to do without rage-quitting at least 100 times. This book contains more than 100 (!!!) spellbooks, ready to use. Had-crafted. With unique benefits and character. This humble, unpretentious pdf managed to make reading through this vast amount of spellbooks actually INTERESTING. Heck, its allusions are so subtle and unobtrusive that you may not even get them all and still have a blast with this. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. The book retains its serious angle and concise in-game aesthetics without compromising its raw, undiluted utility.

In a surprising coup, this humble book represents honest, unpretentious design-WORK. Capital letters. This took a ton of effort, and it shows – it’s not something you can put together in a day or two. At the same time, this pdf very clearly emits a sense of playfulness and joy, which is remarkable, considering the very limited space that it has to operate within; each book does not have that much room to make it unique, and it should be seen as testament to the author’s passion that they don’t start to become redundant after half the book.

In short, this is a supplement that oozes passion and care, that genuinely feels like a supplement that was not only made to make the lives of GMs easier, but also to inspire, to spread some joy. This could have been an excellent example of “solid workmanship”, but it doesn’t settle for it, instead adding those little artistic flourishes that elevate a good book to a truly great one. Considering the type of book this is, the success in this endeavor should be considered to be even more impressive.

In short: Do yourself a favor, cut down your prep-time and get this pdf. Heck, even if you like making your own spellbooks, this may well be worth checking out, based on the strengths of the concepts this contains, based on the versatility of the books featured. This is an excellent, super-useful book, and receives 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Partatingi Monster Codex
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/10/18 09:36:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case you were wondering about the cover and haven’t yet checked out the Player’s Guide to the Seven Principalities: The partatingi are indeed hand-less parrotfolk that employ their wings as fingers of sorts. This pdf should be considered to be a spotlight of sorts regarding the race, providing further options for them. The pdf does not include the base racial stats for the partatingi, thus, in order to make most of this booklet, you should own the aforementioned player’s guide.

We begin this supplement with a well-written summary of life as a partatingi and some facts that can help roleplaying them. The first crunchier bits would be new alternate racial traits, 4 to be more precise. The first replaces the wing-hands with feet-hands, allowing you to basically wield weapons in your feet, while using the wings to stay aloft. This replaces, obviously, the wing hands and natural attack “racial characteristics,” as the trait calls them. This does not look like much, but it essentially eliminates the aspect of the partatingi that made them mechanically-distinct, as it gets rid of the light weapon focus. As an aside, this also makes magic item slot interaction slightly weird – could e.g. bracers/gloves still affect the feet-wielded weaponry? Instead of tail balance, we can opt for +2 to Diplomacy and Perception or +4 to Stealth in tropical environments, with bonuses properly codified. The natural attacks may be replaced with a strong beak for 1d8 /x3, which is properly codified as primary.

Weird: The pdf provides a racial variant at the very bottom of the sample NPC-section: Partatingikets are Small, have a slow base speed and replace parroting speech with a +4 racial bonus to Perform (act). No complaints here, other than the fact that it should have been in the section on alternate racial traits.

Okay, so the first archetype is pretty potent, but also absolutely amazing. The grown familiar loses the option to choose a familiar or bonded object. Why? Because he was mistaken for a regular parrot as a chick and served as a wizard’s familiar! That is a HILARIOUS angle and may be used as e.g. a backup character – sure, that time-magic may have killed the party’s wizard, but has also grown his “familiar.” I love this. The downside of this archetype is that it nets the wizard a lot of the abilities gained by familiars, including evasion at 2nd level. Minor wording deviations can also be observed – to quote the 11th level ability: “[…] you add your Intelligence modifier in addition to your Con modifier to Fortitude saves made against spells and spell-like abilities.” That’s a pretty obvious inconsistency here, and while it doesn’t impede the rules per se, I am still pretty positive that the archetype may be a bit too strong. The presentation of the benefits as bullet points is slightly uncommon, but the material is functional. If your game gravitates to higher power-levels, though, it should be fantastic. For grittier games, getting rid of evasion and the 11th level ability should nerf the archetype down.

The resplendent quill magus modifies arcane pool to become arcane quill: We have a pool here as well, one containing ½ class level (minimum 1) + Intelligence modifier points. The pool refreshes 1/day when preparing spells. At 1st level, the magus can expend 1 point as a swift action to transform a feather on the wing-hands into a light, bladed weapon he is proficient with. This weapon may not be disarmed, but can be sundered etc. The feather may be thrown (I assume, it behaves as the mimicked weapon in such a case), returning to feather form after the attack has been resolved. These weapons improve by +1 for every 4 levels beyond 1st, with 5th level providing the option to add weapon properties via these bonuses. Only one quill may remain thus transformed at a given time. Instead of medium and heavy armor proficiency gained at 7th and 13th level, the archetype gets +2 natural armor while he has at least 1 point in his arcane pool, with 13th level further increasing this bonus by +2. The archetype gets an arcane to increase the Spellcraft DC to identify the spells cast. I like the visuals of this one.

The third archetype is the screeching flyer unchained monk, replaces Stealth with bluff as a class skill. The archetype’s unarmed strikes deal all three physical damage types, which is ALWAYS a messy decision; not without precedence, granted, but more rewarding would be a simple means for the character to switch damage types as, for example a free action once per round, which would also emphasize player agenda. The archetype replaces stunning fist “and all abilities that scale with it” (DEFINE! That is a no-go. Replaced abilities are clearly spelled out.) with substituting his Dexterity modifier for the Charisma modifier used with Bluff to feint. At 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter, the archetype is intended to inflict +1d8 damage with unarmed attacks versus targets who “fail against the screeching flyer’s feint checks.” Oh boy, where do I even start? For how long? Additionally, this is not even close to how verbiage like this works in PFRPG. There are plenty of feinting options out there to read up on the verbiage. The bonus damage should also be codified.

Instead of 2nd level’s bonus feat, we’re locked into Improved Feint. Interesting: Ki expenditure is tied to requiring a piercing shriek that autofails Stealth. Simple, yet flavorful restriction. Purity of body is replaced with an ability that adds what should be class level instead of level, to Fly checks, as well as the option to spend a swift action and expend 1 point of ki for an untyped +20 bonus to Fly checks made that round. The bonus type should probably be competence or insight here. Instead of 6th level’s bonus feat, we add Wisdmo modifier to Reflex saves while flying. Flawless mind is replaced with the option to spend 3 points of ki as a standard action to duplicate way of the banshee with CL equal to class level, and the limitation of affecting just one target. The archetype gets a ki power for 16th level+ characters that can instantly break open the skull of a target with critical hits, prompting save or die and massive mental ability score damage on a successful save. The ki cost and caveat regarding precision damage retain this as very potent, but not broken per se.

The pdf also includes a new domain, the doubt domain, which allows you to emit bursts that render targets shaken on a failed save – but as an enchantment and NOT as a fear effect. Usable 3 + Wisdom modifier times per day. 6th level provides a couple of condition immunities, 20th immunity to all mind-affecting effects. The domain spells make sense to me.

There are 3 racial feats: Feather Darts is cool: It lets you pluck your own feathers as short-lived darts. If your Constitution exceeds 20, they are treated as masterwork. Minor complaint: How much feathers can you pluck thus per day? Free Fletches lets you reduce the cost of arrows made by 20 %, and also increase the range of such arrows when fired from a bow you made by +20 ft. Pilfering Plumage is lame in comparison: +4 to Sleight of Hands to hide small items? Yeah, let me waste a feat on that. Next up would be 5 racial spells, though one is basically a variant: Zone of Civil Discourse works like zone of truth, save it also affects the area with calm emotions. At 3rd level, that is a well-placed spell. Suspect motives prevents the use of flanking benefits and teamwork feats for its duration. Squawk of doom is odd. When you’re hit in combat by a melee attack, you let out a squawk that renders the attacker shaken for 1 round. The spell refers to “immediate”, which is a bad idea in rules-language, as it points towards immediate actions. The lack of a save to offset the condition is problematic. Tickle feathers is a swift action spell for +4 to Escape Artist/CMB to break free of grapples. Whistling Partatingi is nice, as it generates a light drizzle.

Now, the main meat of this supplement would be, as hinted by the title, the function as an NPC-codex of these parrotfolk. As such, we get unchained rogue 2 (CR off by 1), an investigator 6 (including a formula book), a level 6 storm lord druid, a green faith marshall inquisitor 4, a level 12 swashbuckler, a resplendent quill magus 7 (whose spellbook is called “On Being Awesome”) and more: Partatingi unfortunates, for example, are only born with animal intelligence. The pdf also includes an old unchained monk using the slightly problematic archetype mentioned before and we get a CR 9 sample grown familiar, once more, including spellbook.

The pdf concludes with a series of 4 suggested random encounter constellations that use the statblocks.

The pdf also comes with a bonus file penned by Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak, which depicts the Crimson Horror, a demonic CR 2 footsoldier. The build is solid, if not the most interesting I’ve seen. Still, as a bonus file, a nice added form of value.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are really weird. On the one hand, bonus types etc. tend to be tightly codified, and a majority of the material, on a rules-level, is pretty precise. At the same time, on a formal level, we have inconsistencies within one sentence and a lot of smaller violations regarding these components. Don’t get me wrong, you can usually discern what’s meant, but if you’re like me and that stuff bothers you, then this may feel oddly jarring. Apart from minor snafus, I considered the rules-aspects to be okay. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights – it’s printer-friendly, and the pdfs sport the nice two cover artworks on main and bonus-file. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth and Mark Gedak deliver an interesting expansion for the cool partatingi race here. The majority of material herein has some interesting ideas and really cool visuals. The grown familiar idea, for example, while really potent, is genius. I also enjoyed the blade-feather-magus idea, even though the chassis could have carried more. As a whole, I consider this to be worth getting, though a few of the components inexplicably dip in quality regarding verbiage and rules-integrity. All in all, I consider this to be a somewhat mixed bag of a pdf, though one that is situated on the positive side of things. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Stock Art: Vegetable Mount
por Richard W. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/08/18 07:43:05

I love this illustration! It inspired me to write an adventure about human knights replacing their horses with horseradishes, because the goblin tribes kept eating all their mounts.



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Shibaten of Porphyra
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/25/18 05:41:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, though it should be noted that they have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

We begin with a nice piece of introductory prose, one that is not wanting in “quack”-puns, before we come to the shibaten, or duck-folk, covering nomenclature, their relation with other races and adventuring, etc. Shibaten get +2 Strength and Charisma, -2 Wisdom, are humanoids with the tengu subtype and they are Small. Shibaten have a speed of 30 ft. and get a swim speed of 30 ft. as well, but only on the surface, as their swim speed is based on paddling. Shibaten have a hard time shutting up, and as such take a -4 penalty to Stealth, but do gain +2 to Perform (comedy), -4 to Perform (oratory, sing). They also get +2 to Intimidate and get Perception checks to notice things when within 5 ft. of the respective things. They also get +2 to CMD and CMB related to grapples. Bonus types are properly codified and we get a full age, height and weight table.

Paddling may be exchanged for a climbing speed of 20 ft., and if you accept lowering land speed to 20 ft., shibaten can hold their breath for 6 times Constitution rounds. Instead of the natural comedian angle, there is a variant that nets +2 to Perform (oratory), but nets -4 to Perform (act, sing). The grappling bonuses can be replaced with +2 to Profession (gambler) as well as Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive and Sleight of Hand regarding gambling. The uncanny perceptiveness can be replaced with +2 to Fly and all checks related to the driving of a vehicle. Instead of the Intimidate bonus and the natural comedian angle, shibaten can get +2 to Bluff, Disguise and Perform when mimicking sounds. Some shibaten can elect to not have racial bonuses penalties to Stealth and Intimidate. The Intimidate bonus may be replaced with a Bluff bonus and natural comedian and the Intimidate bonus may also be exchanged for +2 to all Perform checks. The grappling tricks can be replaced with choosing a skill each day, which is then temporarily considered to be a class skill, at +1 rank, up to the maximum. The Perception angle can be replaced with vestigial wings that net +4 to Acrobatics (oddly untyped here, when the rest of the traits do a really good job in codifying that) as well as x5 run-speed on land and water – and no it doesn’t work in heavy armor. The grappling may also be replaced with a perfectly-codified natural slam attack. Cool, btw.: Each alternate trait notes the color of plumage that most shibaten with this trait sport – this adds a sense of flavor to the traits and grounds them.

At this point, I should mention that traits and alternate racial traits are precise and fair in their respective exchanges; the paddle-mechanic is damn cool as well and provides a nice means of differentiation between swim speeds, the absence of which had always irked me. So kudos!

From here, we talk about the role of the race on Porphyra and then move on to a selection of race traits for the Shibaten, which includes the hilarious “Color Coded” one, which nets a +1 trait bonus to Intimidate and Diplomacy, making one of the skills class skill. Explanation: You thrive on stereotypes. Perhaps you’re good at thinking outside the egg – if that’s the case, you can 1/day attempt a skill check untrained that would usually not allow for that. Negating being flat-footed in surprise rounds by falling prone can be funny…and is pretty cool. The traits btw. get their bonus types right and blend tight mechanics with fun concepts.

The shibaten also receive 5 racial feats, the first of which will be Blow Over, which is elegant and smart: You can Intimidate targets, but limit the duration to 1d6+4 minutes. If you do, targets no longer decrease their starting attitude towards you. This…is so simple. Why haven’t I done this before?? Really cool! Break the Ice lets you use Perform (Comedy) to increase the starting attitude of targets, and yes, the feat can’t be cheesed – it can only be used once per target in a 24 hour period. Fear my Power lets you take a move action to Intimidate a target in 30 ft., but ends your turn. This is pretty potent for the right builds and needs to be handled with a bit of care. Grappling Charge lets you end a charge with a grapple, gaining +2 to CMD, -2 to AC. In Your Face makes you behave as +1 size category to determine which creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers.

Now, and this is really cool: Each of the favored class options (which include all of the classic classes, the ACG-classes, Brujo, Chi Warrior, Fencer, Kingpin, occult classes, quartermaster, sacerdote and vigilante) come with a short, flavorful statement that encapsulates the attitude towards the class. That makes the section a nicer reading experience and offers some fun RP-angles – kudos! The effects also are interesting and go in some cases beyond just playing with numbers – to give you an example, the psychic gains the following: “Add 1 to the psychic's level to qualify for and use the detect thoughts, telepathic bond, and telepathy class features. This allows the psychic to gain these abilities at an earlier level. If the psychic's effective level for these abilities exceeds 20, add 10 ft. to the range of the telepathy ability for each effective level after 20.” Meaningful, reigned in, yet flavorful. Really nice.

The pdf also includes racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Angry Quack barbarian (yes, archetype works for unchained barbarian as well!), who gets a modified skill list and 4 + Int skills, treating Intelligence as 13 for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites, replacing fast movement. Uncanny dodge is replaced with evasion. 3rd level yields martial flexibility, which improves at 6th, 12th and 15th level, replacing trap sense/danger sense, respectively. 5th level’s improved uncanny dodge is replaced with being no longer fatigued after a rage. And yes, usually, I’d be screaming bloody murder right now – but the ability has a caveat that explicitly prevents rage-cycling! Huge kudos! 9th level yields improved evasion and 18th level eliminates the action-restrictions in a rage. Cool engine-tweak.

The next one is a complex one, and one I expected to see from another company – the Everyman medium! This medium’s power does not derive from spirits at all! I know, right? Instead, the everyman spends a week embodying a legend (a duration that comes with GM guidance – big plus!) Instead of séances, the everyman can affect allies within 30 ft as though they had participated in a séance. Everymen cannot choose to use a legend at less than maximum power and the legend has no influence on the character, nor does it bestow an influence penalty. Supernatural abilities inherited from the medium become extraordinary. The archetype also gets a Quirk pool equal to the Charisma modifier – when he would take an influence penalty from a legend embodied, he instead loses a quirk point. Once his quirk points are emptied, he can no longer use the abilities. The pool replenishes once per day upon regaining spell slots – in essence, we have a countdown here. Nice. The everyman may choose to accept a taboo or an influence penalty from a legend embodied, which increases his quirk pool by +1. However, breaking this limitation costs him 2 quirk points! At 9th level, the everyman can spend 2 hours practicing the legend embodied, regaining 1 quirk point. This upgrades to 1 point per hour at 14th, 1 point per 10 minutes at 19th level. This replaces propitiation, astral journey and spirit mastery.

Instead of shared séance, everymen get a further +2 when receiving the Aid Another benefits, but only for the first person aiding him in a given task. Starting at 3rd level, we replace haunt channeler with abilities contingent on the legend embodied. +2 spells per spell level from sorc/wiz, fast movement, cavalier abilities – cool spirit powers! 13th level provides an expansion of spirit powers, btw.

Instead of spacious soul and location channeler, we get 2 skills to be treated as class skills, and in these skills, he is treated as if having ½ class level ranks; this upgrades to 6 skills at 18th level. Instead of connection channel, we get temporary Knowledge skills with at least ½ class level ranks, depending on legend. And yes, these rank-abilities do sport a cap to avoid abuse. The capstone nets +5 quirk points and lets him channel all 5 legends not chosen for 1 round granting access to intermediate, greater and supreme spirit powers. This probably should have a quirk point cost to activate or other limit…but then again, there’s a chance it’s intended to be this potent – it’s the capstone, after all. Really cool archetype!

Fighting Quacks are brawlers that gain proficiency with all simple and martial melee weapons as well as light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Instead of martial training, the character may use martial flexibility as part of using Bluff to feint or Intimidate to demoralize. Big kudos: Verbiage takes e.g. Dazzling Display etc. into account!!

The flurry of the class is modified for +1 additional attack at 2nd, +1 at 11th level. 4th level provides generic weapon focus, which applies to all unarmed attacks and melee weapons, but only for the purpose of feat-prerequisites. Weapon Focus, if known, applies its benefits universally in conjunction with this ability. This replaces knockout. The additional knockout uses are replaced with the option to use martial flexibility, save it may now grant a style strike that may be used in conjunction with flurries, including the style strike of another archetype herein. At 16th level, two style strikes may be gained simultaneously. Actually…another winner. Meaningful, interesting engine tweaks.

The Quack-fu monk is a Way of Life practitioner, i.e. a Charisma-governed monk (Unarmed & Dangerous introduced this way of thinking about martials and is a great, recommended homebrewing toolkit, but not required to use this pdf). The archetype replaces still mind with being treated as progressively larger to determine what kind of creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers, size-category-wise. Yes, you will suplex that dinosaur! The style strike noted before comes from sumotori and is a grabbing slap. And yes, I like it.

The last component here would be the Feather bloodline, a version of which is presented for bloodrager and sorcerer, with bonus spells properly adjusted for both. We get PERFECTLY codified talons for the bloodrager (and they are treated as both manufactured and natural weapons for purposes of special abilities) that scale regarding damage and threat range. They get types and damage types right. Perfect! 4th level yields plummeting wings that can’t ascend yet, which is upgraded to fly speed 60 ft. with average maneuverability at 8th level – but only in bloodrage. At 16th level, this becomes always available – and in bloodrage, you fly faster! 12th level is really clever, modifying the downward vertical distance for the purpose of spell range, ranged attacks and Perception checks. This is so simple, yet so cool! The capstone yields constant freedom of movement that can be reestablished sans action on your turn. Neat bloodline!

The sorcerer version nets Perception as skill and the arcana doubles the range of all divinations cast, as well as the range of detection and Perception abilities granted by such a spell. The talons of the sorcerer are not always on and instead can be maintained 3 + Cha-mod rounds; however, the vertical distance reduction is more potent here. 9th level provides +30 ft. for any fly speed, but does not per se grant it. 15th level yields a constant phantom limb (phantom wings), with new wings deployable as an immediate action. The capstone allows for the application of a list of metamagic feats sans spell slot increase, as well as one of them as a bonus feat. And yes, these also are on the bonus feat list, obviously.

The pdf comes with a bonus file penned by Mark Gedak – it showcases the Deigenae, represented as a CR ½ rook. The pdf also contains the base racial stats, though! These folks have +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, are humanoids with the extraplanar subtype and have a cleric’s aura, as governed by lineage. They get +2 to initiative as well as +2 to Knowledge (religion/planes) and Deigeneae with Cha 10+ can cast 3 cleric orisons 1/day as a SP, using Charisma as governing attribute. They use Charisma instead of Wisdom to govern their Will-save or get Iron Will as a bonus feat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, top-notch on a rules-language level. While I noticed a minor plural glitch etc., the rules are tight and manage to convey complex and innovative concepts. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ no-frills one-column standard with purple highlights. The interior artwork are nice full-color artworks that I have not seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér dove deep into the fringes of mythology, but when he found the shibaten spirit (really obscure!), we got this – and it’s awesome. I expected a ton of duck puns, and I got them. This made me chuckle a lot. However, this is NOT a useless comedy product; quite the contrary, in fact! The tie-in to pseudo-Japanese myth makes the shibaten as depicted actually work in the context of “serious” fantasy, Sure, they are a bit goofy, but you should NOT underestimate them! And yes, we get a ton of nods towards the much-beloved Duck Tales, obviously – but the book manages to actually transcend its niche! The class options focus on engine tweaks, which are traditionally not my favorites – here, however, we get quite an impressive array. Each of the options here does something innovative and interesting. Heck, even traditionally bland components have a narrative tie-in that adds to them, making them more than the sum of their parts and duck jokes.

In short, this is a really, really good racial supplement! It’s not perfect, but it contains a ton of actually interesting tricks and shows a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t, of what’s interesting, etc. This is a fun supplement, yes, but it also is a really damn good one! Even if your kneejerk response is to cringe and move on, do yourself a favor and check out these fellows – the rules manage to be actually innovative in some cases! The shibaten are worth having. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Heroes of the Seven Principalities
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/09/18 01:09:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the neat Porphyran Player’s Guides clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 69 (!!) pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first of all, we begin with a well-written little piece of prose that introduces us to the Seven Principalities and life there – these 7 islands (+one below the waves) are a pretty unique environment and the roles assumed by the races within the respective contexts are explained in each of the racial write-ups, which also make up the first chapter of the book.

We begin with the Erkunae, traditionally one of my favorite Porphyran races. These near-humans are treated as humans for the purpose of abilities and the like and gain +2 Strength and Intelligence, -2 Constitution. They gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (nobility) as well as Knowledge (engineering) and (dungeoneering) as well as to Stealth while inside a building or construction of some sort. Additionally, they gain +1 to atk when facing down a single opponent, who must be armed with a weapon – so no bonuses versus monks and similar martial artists! This is interesting to me, but as a minor complaint, the bonuses have not been properly codified as racial. The erkunae are distinguished by their pacts with elder powers, 6 of which are provided to choose from. These duplicate a limited form of summon monster as a SP (not italicized properly) and allow for the calling of elementals, skeletons as well as calling forth a familiar or animal companion – to nitpick here, the ability should specify that the called creature uses character level to determine the potency of the respective companion. Also, the called companion/familiar should specify that it can’t be stacked on top of an already existing companion. So yeah, these two need a bit of clarification. The other pacts include getting a masterwork brineblade or using guidance via conch shells. I liked the latter 2, but they make it quite evident that the companion/familiar summon should be nerfed. Erkunae are obsessed with blades and inflict -1 damage with piercing and bludgeoning weapons, but get proficiency with all slashing weapons – I assume this includes weapons capable of dealing more than one damage type. There are three race traits (erroneously called “Racial traits”, which can be confusing at first – that’s something else! Annoyingly, this guffaw extends to the other races as well.) that are interesting – for example, there is one that nets a 1 in 6 chance of having the first two rounds of rage or bloodrage a day as free! Cool! That being said, the traits don’t use the proper bonus type.

Humans in the 7 principalities get 6 additional choices to choose from, each one representing a different focus – here, bonus types are tight and I found no issues. Kudos! The three race traits provided are solid, though we once more lack the proper bonus type. Now the next race is interesting: We are introduced to the Kanseeran, the crabfolk! Yes, crabfolk! They are medium creatures with a slow speed and a swim speed of 20 ft., are amphibious and get +2 Str, +4 Con, -2 Cha and Int. This makes them lopsidedly geared towards martial pursuits and the high Constitution score bonus makes them a bit more min-maxy in that regard than what I personally enjoy. They are amphibious and get a +2 natural AC. They have darkvision and the dwarf subtype and get two pincer claws that inflict 1d4 damage that is treated as all three physical damage types. These claws net them a +4 racial bonus versus disarm attempts when wielding two-handed weapons, but also prevent them from using light or one-handed melee weapons. The claws are not codified as primary or secondary natural weapons and its somewhat hard to default here, considering that they share characteristics with bites. Anyway, they get a +2 dodge bonus versus sahratan natural attacks and +4 racial bonus to saves versus their lure ability. They also get +2 to Appraise and Profession, which is oddly not typed, but oh well. They can charge sideways, providing a +1 racial bonus to atk and damage when charging. The traits are nice, but lack the type once more. As an aside: The race gets one frickin’ AMAZING full-color artwork!

The lizardfolk of the principalities get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, are reptilian humanoids with a swim speed of 30 ft. They get hold breath and a 1d3 bite and two 1d4 claws – here, the natural attacks are properly codified. They get +4 to Acrobatics when balancing, courtesy of their tail and +2 natural armor bonus. The traits are nice, but, bingo, miss their bonus types once more.

The second thoroughly unique race featured herein would be the Partatingi, or parrotfolk. These fellows are Medium, get +2 Int and Dex, -2 Con and gain a +4 racial bonus to Linguistics and learn 2 languages per point invested in the skill. They get one bite and two talon natural attacks, all of which clock in at 1d4s, and they are properly codified. Kudos. They may use ventriloquism as a non-magic ability for 1 minute per character level per day and get a +1 natural AC as well as +4 racial bonus to Acrobatics to balance. Here’s the thing, as the tea-cup holding Partatingi-artwork perfectly illustrates: They have wing hands. Yes, they get a fly speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability. However, when holding anything, that drops by 10 ft. They can’t hold tools or manufactured weapons while flying. This does somewhat limit this ability. Still, a more elegant solution would have been to impose a hard cap on unassisted flight at low levels and then delimiting it around 5th level, when PFRPG assumes unassisted flight to be available. I am not complaining too loud here, since the feathery wing-hands mean that they can only wield light melee weapons effectively, taking a -2 penalty to attack with all other weapons. They do get a +2 bonus to atk with light melee weapons, though – oddly, this one is not classified as a racial bonus. The race traits once more are interesting. Okay, I liked this race. It’s not for everyone, but the wing-hands with finger-feathers? I can get behind that inspired weirdness.

Okay, form this section, we move on to the history of the seven principalities, which once had been the luxurious Eight Delights of the erkunae, basically colonies/vacation spots until the empire collapsed; thereafter, war ravaged the lands until Romos the Beguiler, prince of now sunken Torl, made the erkuane lords wage their wars on tabletops instead. This was all fine and good, but then, Asterion came. The mighty minotaur mage took control of the island of Huq, and when the council met to decide on his claim, he promptly used a potent artifact to sink the whole island, drowning everyone. He rules with an iron fist until adventurers managed to deduce that his artifact had but one use and then managed to assassinate the mighty beast. Still, only two of the group survived, and they took the mantles of rulership for two of the new 7 remaining islands. In the defeat of the dread despot, trade is picking up and alchemy flourishes. Really cool: We get global modifications for item category prices – metal is, for example, more expensive and carved seashell (called “Simbi”) or milled obsidian (called “Black”) are commonly used as coinage. These are small aspects, mind you, but reading how these are carried and used makes the area come alive for me. From here, we move to the neat full-color map and then proceed to cover the respective settlements that can be found within the principalities, all of which btw. come with flavorful introductory text and a proper settlement statblock as well as hooks galore for the enterprising GM to develop.

Speaking of “for the GM to develop” – Asterion was a minotaur. As such, he had a famous mega-dungeon-labyrinth of sorts, one of stacked demiplanes which PCs can now explore. In a nice take on the subject matter, the pdf recommends an online labyrinth creator and mechanics. We also get a nice sample labyrinth map. The pdf then proceeds to cover the notable personages of the islands, providing inspiring fluff-only entries for the islands of the principalities, with 3 such NPCs provided per principality. These characters also note remarkable possessions, alignment and suggested class levels, adding a bit of guidance for the GM. One of my favorite chapters in the book, as the NPCs are interesting.

Now, this being a player’s guide, we also get a ton of class options: Alchemists can opt to become brine bakers, who replace Brew Potion with the option to create weaponry from sea water. These brineblades inflict bonus non-lethal damage on critical hits, which is further increased over the levels, replacing the poison resistance/immunity ability tree. The archetype’s discoveries allow for the creation of abjurant salt or grave salt. I actually like this one. It’s an interesting, flavorful ability modification. Now, Asterion may be vanquished, but his shadow still looms – one of the class options that represent this would be the bullman antipaladin, who replaces detect good with a horned, crimson helmet that acts as an unholy symbol, can inflict 1d8 damage (type missing) and nets Improved Bull Rush. Okay, what if it goes missing/is sundered? No idea. Does it occupy the helmet slot? This is an item, confused as a class ability, and as such sports some serious issues in the finer rules-interactions. The archetype gets a smite-variant and replaces plaguebringer with immunity to being flat-footed. Unholy champion is replaced with 1/day create demiplane, usable only in subterranean environments. The Gray Blades swashbuckler, former navy turned pirates, replace Profession with Stealth. They get limited per day uses of better stealing instead of charmed life and replace swashbuckler training with Improved Steal and baked in bonuses.

The high beast unchained barbarian replaces danger sense with a bonus to CMD to avoid being swallowed whole and a bonus to AC versus natural weapons and to Perception to avoid being surprised. They get +4 to saves versus poisons when raging, replacing indomitable will. They get a rage power that nets bonuses to damage versus targets with natural attacks and save-less stunning crits versus animals and magical beasts. The order of the bear is interesting in that they represent somewhat swashbuckly rebels who can cancel their charges and the like with a bonus 5-foot step, which can be rather interesting. The unchained rogue rigger gets a modified proficiency list as well as specialized Equipment Trick rope tricks. These are cool, interesting and make sense. Storydancer bards get a specialized sign language that allows them to convey concepts to intelligent species. They also eliminate the language-dependent descriptor for spells and replaces well-versed with a bonus to concentration checks with somatic spells. Here’s the issue: RAW, the spells still have verbal components and I’m pretty sure that spells that lose the language descriptor should not be potentially be made Still as well – otherwise, we’d have spells sans any components, and the theme of dance-based casting would be lost. The tribal surfer ranger gets access to tower shields and is a specialist of the paddleboat style, perfectly navigating the waves. Nice one. The volcanic bloodline presented labors under the misconception that eliminating the arcana suffices to make it viable or mechanically consistent for bloodragers as well. That is not the case. No, I am not going to bother listing the myriad of reasons why. They are evident enough.

The pdf also contains two 5-level prestige classes, the first of which would be the pirate hunter, who gets good Fort-saves, full BAB-progression, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. Prerequisite-wise, it requires a lawful alignment and 3 different skills at 5 ranks and Leadership. Proficiency-wise, the PrC nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and a firearm as well as light and medium armor. The archetype builds on Leadership, granting a commissioned ship and may 1/day cancel a steal, sneak attack or critical hit, 2/day at 5th level. Third level nets a gold/item-bonus and 2nd, 3rd and 4th level net a prince’s edict. These include gaining cannons or Amateur Gunslinger and the like. Okay, but nothing mind-blowing.

The second PrC is the royal messenger, who needs 3 skills at 5 ranks and the Noble Neutraility feat as well as the lore master class feature. The PrC nets 6 + Int skills per level, d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression and slightly non-standard Ref- and Will-save progressions, scaling up to +4. The PrC nets spellcasting progression on 4 of its levels and grants proficiency with simple weapons as well as longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword and shortbow. They are also proficient in light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and don’t incur arcane spell failure when using these. They also get immunity: “Any being with an intelligence of 6 or better must make a roll of 10 + the messengers Charisma bonus + his royal messenger bonus to make a melee attack against him.” What’s this ominous “royal messenger bonus”? I have no idea. Next ability isn’t better: “When performing any verbal-based action, such a starting a bardic performance or casting a spell with a Verbal component, a royal mes­senger also treats his initiative roll as a 20, if he chooses.” WHAT THE F***. Seriously?? This is SUPER-OP. Also: I have no idea how in the infinite layers of the abyss this is supposed to work. You decide when you act on your turn, not at the start of the round. Can the messenger retroactively increase initiative? Total mess of an ability. Added spells known, evasion, money “a free masterpiece” (should be bardic masterpiece)…yeah, I like the idea here, but the execution is messy.

The pdf also includes a pretty massive feat chapter. One nets +6 to saves versus fear effects. … Yeah, not impressed either. We get the xth feat that nets bonuses when outnumbered, increases to favored terrain bonuses. We get a limited daily use option to expend prepared spells to increase Dodge’s bonus, which is neat and one of the feats I liked. I like the notion of a muffled gunshot as well, but “add +2 to critical damage, if achieved.“ is painfully non-standard verbiage. It also fails to specify whether the bonus damage is multiplied or not. Swim speed for monks of 3rd level and Con 13 is a flavorful option. This is a feat text: “You may ignore the effects of any one of the following, once per day: successful Intimidate check, unsuccessful Sense Motive check (reroll), unsuccessful Will saving throw (reroll).” So, can I reroll a Will save or Sense Motive check, or can I ignore a failed reroll? That’s just sloppy. As a whole, the feat chapter is the weakest in the history of Porphyran player’s guides. The rules are weak and the benefits are not interesting for the most part.

The spell-chapter is an improvement in quality overall, featuring a 3rd level combined protection from evil/chaos that also affects undead vreated by evil effects. The spellcaster debuff aphasia is nice and the spell that requires water to execute a line-shaped (I assume 5-ft.-width) brinestrike is similarly a cool visual. A chaos-themes spell is interesting in its oscillation between buff and debuff, though I wished bonuses were properly codified. Sacrificing targets to elementals, fantasy islands (lavishly illustrated), getting temporarily the no breath quality – the chapter is not necessarily perfect, but nice. Cool: The magic item chapter includes the legendary weapon Asterion’s Soul – a blade that increases in potency with the wielder’s levels. We get partatingi/bird-folk blades (with serviceable, if non-standard verbiage benefits), opaline helmets and gemstone blades. Not all items are perfect, though – there is a trident that is missing the activation action from its active, secondary use. On the cool side, there is a vest that can produce magical pistols and Asterion’s island-disintegrating artifact can be found here. All in all, rules-wise my favorite chapter herein; not perfect, but has some nice components.

The mundane equipment contains pipes that can be turned into blowguns (heck yes!) and paddleboats and the pdf provides a ginormous list of available items, grouped by types and the like. This should seriously be standard for ANY player’s guide. Big plus, as the section is super-handy for GM and players alike, taking the annoying and time-consuming minutia back and forth of “You can’t get that here.” “Can I have XYZ?” “Yes, but it costs…” off your hands. Big kudos.

The pdf concludes with an NPC codex of sorts, providing a CR 8 erkunae brine baker, a CR 17 half-elf bullsman, a CR 4 human gray blade, a CR 3 kanseeran high beast, a CR 11 human cavalier, a CR 10 kanseeran pala/pirate hunter (including his ship!), a CR 4 lizardfolk rigger, a CR 10 paratatingi bard/royal messenger, a CR 8 partatingi storydancer, a CR 7 erkuane tribal surfer and a CR 14 lizardfolk sorcerer with the volcanic bloodline. All of these come with brief stories, adding a touch of character to them.

The pdf comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the Leiopleurodon, a CR 5 prehistoric aquatic animal that is a potent ambush predator and which can accelerate in brutal bursts. Nice one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are weaker than usual for Porphyran player’s guides – there are a couple of formal hiccups, but more importantly, the rules this time around are much more inconsistent in quality and precision than usual for the series. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and nice, full-color artworks, some of which are downright amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Huh. Weird. Aaron Hollingsworth and Perry Fehr’s last collaboration was much stronger than this one from a rules-perspective. And indeed, this is rather painful for me to say, but this Porphyran player#s guide is perhaps more contingent than any of its brethren before it on why you’re interested in it. You see, theme-wise, this is EASILY one of my favorite player’s guides ever. Yes, I kid you not. I mean, a weird Caribbean-like environment, with sprinkles of Krete and ancient Greece strewn in? Alchemists that make weapons from brine? What’s not to like. I adored the flavor and theme of the region, and while I do not subscribe to all design decisions made regarding the new races, I really LOVE the notion of crab-dwarves and parrot-folk. Come on, that is damn cool, different and creative! The fluff herein and the setting per se are fantastic and inspiring.

At the same time, the mechanics underlying them oscillate rather significantly in quality – while some of the components are very precise, to the point and well-made, there also are plenty of hiccups in the details, some of which seriously affect the functionality of some components. There also is a bit more filler material in the rules-relevant options here. Compared to the series’ previous installments, the crunchy components fall somewhat flat, which is a damn pity. The lack of occult adventures-support is somewhat sad, considering how cool a crabfolk mesmerist would have been. Speaking of which: Where are the eye stalks as a alternate racial trait? Where is the partatingi option that lets them parrot messages and later spells in a limited manner? The concepts herein are amazing, but the execution of the supplemental rules-material left me rather unimpressed. I would have loved to see more here; the themes and amazing flavor deserve more. So…how to rate this. See, this is where it gets tough. Regarding glitches and issues and rules, this falls into the mixed bag territory. Regarding flavor and ideas, this is fantastic and worthy of the highest accolades. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If you’re in it for the lore, then round up and check this out – it in inspiring! Otherwise, though, I sadly have to recommend rounding down. Now, I try to take the type of book into account when reviewing, and while I would not recommend this on the merits of its rules, I can recommend it, with reservations, on the strength of its concepts as a player's guide/region sourcebook. As such, my final verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Stock Art: Evil Tree
por Florian B. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/05/18 06:50:55

Awesome artwork as all by Gary Dupuis and Purple Duck!

Thanks!!



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Hybrid Class: The Hermit
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/04/18 05:45:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

The hermit is a hybrid of witch and druid. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are divine spellcasters that draw their spells from the druid and witch spell lists and uses Wisdom as governing attribute for spellcasting. They may not cast spells opposed to their alignment and they learn a few spells when leveling up; the hermit may also learn spells from other hermits and their spellcasting is intricately entwined with their lantern. This must be a source of illumination, though the precise form varies from hermit to hermit. The lantern can shine light like a bull’s eye lantern or hooded lantern and may be lit or extinguished as a swift action. It is not affected by environmental effects and requires no fuel. The lantern may be enhanced via item creation feats. Damaged lanterns regain full hit points next time the hermit rests and destroyed lanterns may be replaced. It has hardness 8 and ½ the hermit’s hit points. Lanterns act as divine focus and the hand holding it counts as unoccupied for the purpose of somatic components.

Okay, so far, so cool. Once a lantern is created, you choose one of 4 rune powers. The first expands the area of circular spell effects (cones, cylinders, etc.) as a swift/immediate action 3 + Wis-mod times per day, upgrading to +10 ft. at 10th level. I per se like this, but since RAW, the area of effect increase is total, not based on radius, it is a bit awkward - +2.5 feet radius makes for some off shapes. Making the increase based on radius would have been much more elegant. The second rune makes the lantern behave as a masterwork “light flail”, which can be temporarily enchanted with scaling bonuses, but no unique special weapon qualities. RAW, this bonus can also exceed the +5 cap, which is not how this type of thing usually works. This has a couple of issues. One: There is no “light flail” – it’s either “flail” or “heavy flail”. Or dire flail. Or flailpole. But not “light flail.” Two: RAW, the “light” flail (i.e. the non-heavy one) is a martial weapon, for which the hermit has no proficiency. The next rune grants an untyped, scaling bonus to all saves for allies in the light. It lacks an activation action. The final rune is the inverse, debuff version – but it’s missing its activation action as well.

2nd level nets endurance, 3rd level nets “withdraw” (not the smartest choice for the ability, considering the withdraw action), which acts as 3 + Wis-mod sanctuary per day, with ½ CL added to the DC (WUT??) It also nets + Wisdom mod AC when using the ability. 9th level nets commune as a supernatural variant, with 13th and 17th level increasing the number of questions he can answer per day. At 1st and 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the hermit gets to choose an illumination, which are governed by Int, and which include a +4 Disguise and Bluff bonus to pass off as older, a thousand faces starting at 14th level. There is an illumination that adds the Wisdom modifier a second time to AC when using withdraw. Cool: Getting a bonus to saves versus breathable hazards via filtering, unkempt hair. Weird: The internal balance of these can come off as strange. There is one illumination that nets +1/2 class level to Sense Motive, Diplomacy and Knowledge check DC to learn about the hermit; there also is one that nets +2 to two skills. Another illumination nets new spells or a metamagic bonus feat or a limited array of witch hexes. Immunities are properly situated behind sufficient levels. Weird: Adding 1d4 piercing damage to touch attacks. That’s not how fingernails or the like usually work in PFRPG. All in all, some cool visuals, but also some guffaws. The selection could be longer as well, considering the amount of illuminations the class gets.

The capstone allows the class to expend a spellslot as a swift or immediate action to grant herself a bonus equal to the spell’s level to a Wisdom-based check. The capstone also nets permanent true seeing and sight in perfect darkness. The pdf includes 4 class feats: Additional illumination does what it says on the tin. Become the Dim World nets 50% concealment when using the withdraw class feature, further adding to the vast power of that trick. Born on a Monday nets +2 to social interactions with fey and increases starting attitude to indifferent or better. Legacy of Diogenes sounds cool, but, alas, does not really represent one of the famous exploits of the man, but jus represents a numeric escalation.

Nice: We get a list of magical illumination sources as well as a magic lantern that nets detect illusion once per day and once per night. It also is utterly broken: The limited spellcasting of the class regarding availability is removed here – this one makes the WHOLE spell-lists of druid and witch available. For less than 10K price. Either stick to the limit, or don’t. An item should not be practically required/so good it MUST be taken by every hermit. The pdf closes with a massive list of favored class options, which cover the core races, less common ones and Porphyran races. There is some overlap between the individual FCOs and they vary in usefulness – more spells or withdraw-duration, for example, are more potent than other tricks here.

The pdf comes with a bonus file that includes the CR 5 Chingatrüll, which was also featured in Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the class has some issues in the design. Not to the extent where it becomes unusable, but to an extent where it becomes problematic. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artworks apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingworth’s Hermit has the makings of a cool class. The idea here is strong – the old hermit, with ragged hair and lantern illuminating, quite literally, the dark in the world….or luring it. I like the theme here. While the withdraw-DC-increase is overkill, it’s limited in its uses, so that’s a plus of sorts. That being said, the hermit could have really used more unique illuminations. Similarly, the lantern BEGS to be used to modify the area of effect of spells and hexes and abilities – instead, it amounts to an object-familiar-substitute. Speaking of objects – the magic lantern that delimits the balancing factor for the spell-list flexibility of the class should die in a blaze. This one is frustrating, fr it has the potential to become outstanding – the spell-engine is interesting and the lantern-idea, half-implemented though it may be, could carry so much more. I can’t rate that potential, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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CE 9 - Both Foul and Deep
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 03/29/18 09:45:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This DCC-toolkit clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with a massive 50 pages of content, though these are formatted for 6’’ by 9’’ digest size (A5), which means you can fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first, in case you’re new to the series: The Campaign Elements-series is basically a collection of set-pieces supplemented with rules, intended to be dropped as is into an ongoing campaign…or to be used as a scavenging ground. As such, this sits squarely on the line between modules and setting supplements – while it can be used as written, it is just as useful as a file to supplement other modules; take e.g. “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” – the module assumes that the smartest way for the PCs to enter the locale would be via the sewers, but there isn’t much going on there. This is where an enterprising judge can employ this supplement, as we get a ton of material for sewers.

Wait. I know. Sewer levels/environments have a bad reputation. I can name, at the top of my head, a ton of modules that take place in sewers. Among these, 10%, at most, are worthwhile. But what if you want/need to run such a module? Well, this pdf pretty much helps dealing with that issue. We begin with a summary of different hooks to get the PCs down into the sewers. From there, we move on to general terrain features, the first thing a lot of modules in sewers fail to properly take into account. So yes, falling into sewage is a BAD idea – 6 different diseases can be found herein, ranging from mites and parasitic worms and scarlet rash. The second component many sewer-scenarios get wrong is that they depict, ironically, I might add, sewers as a mechanically sterile environment – this pdf does help here quite a bit: We get a d30 random encounter table, which brings me to one of the main components of this pdf.

You see, we not only get the usual people of the sewers (including secret taverns, cultists, etc.), but also a bunch of components we usually don’t see: Filthlarks, for example, the scavengers of the filthy places, gentlemen clubbers going to a clandestine meeting…and there are resurrection men; basically grave robbers in the name of science. Beyond those, we also get what amounts to a pretty massive bestiary section: We get albino alligators, aliens rats from another world, blood slugs, centipedes that seek to burrow into your flesh, carrion moths that spread hallucinogenic powder via their wings…even cooler: What about the cessceada? These swarming insects can cause the skin of those infected to slough off. There are beetles that can be sold to the dyer’s guild for profit, particularly agile drain runner foes, disgusting oozes, filth elementals… Have I mentioned the globlins that split by fission? Hellspore fungi and lamprey swarms are cool, and in the dark recesses, there also is the terrifying loathly one; there are phantom gentlemen…and more. This bestiary section is really cool, with each of the entries breathing some form of truly intriguing and captivating idea, in spite of the sometimes down to earth theme.

The pdf also provides the patron Squallas, mistress of the night soil rivers, but we only get the invoke patron table here – no custom spells, patron taint or spellburn, but all right. This would btw. be as well a place as any, there are quite a few really nice full-color illustrations throughout the pdf – particularly the sewer troll image is nice.

At this point, it should be noted that judges with an extensive library of books may find some nice easter eggs here and there – in the case of the troll, for example, a nod to the upcoming, Angels, Daemons and Beings Between II by Shinobi 27 Press. These nods are unobtrusive enough to not impede your enjoyment of the content, but certainly should be fun for quite a few judges…and they provide obscure and potentially easily ignored links you can further develop…but I digress.

Now, so far, I have mainly commented on the toolbox-y aspects of this pdf, but it is also an adventure locale. We get a solid b/w-map of the sewer-area depicted AND a player-friendly iteration, which is a huge plus, as far as I’m concerned. Now, the keyed encounter areas provided for the judge come with well-written read-aloud text (we have come to expect nothing less from Daniel J. Bishop!), but also feature unique hazards and creatures beyond the ones already mentioned – some are obviously intended as plot-threads for the judge to further develop, while others are just amazing; the image of a massive spider that carries its brood on its back is great, and just let it be known that just because corpses move doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily undead…which can result in a rather cool scene. Oh, and the line from the core book? Yes, there is a means to learn a spell from the mouth of a dead man…and how that phrase is twisted is really cool. I could explain all of the 9 keyed encounters here, but I’d frankly do the book a disservice.

You see, the series has traditionally a “squeezing it dry”-section, wherein you can find further suggestions to get the maximum amount of mileage out of the book – considering how strongly the toolbox/bestiary aspect is emphasized here, I can most definitely see judges employ this pdf’s contents far beyond the exploration of the sewers presented here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The full-color artworks are captivating, cool and deserve a big shout-out. The cartography featuring a player-friendly map is really cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable.

Daniel J. Bishop’s name on a book is, for the most part, a great indicator that it will rock – in fact, even if you do not play DCC, both new school and old school games can get something out of his offerings. There is a crisp quality to his prose, an overarching vision that not only gets the peculiarities of DCC, but, more importantly, really understands the tone and what makes it stand out. There is always an aspect of the weird here, one that feels like it was drawn straight from the greats. In fact, much like Leiber or Howard, he is adept at using precious few words to inspire; his fantasy, infused with a little dose of gonzo and the soul of sword & sorcery, has a distinct tone that is both grounded and wondrous, that retains this strange, captivating sense of plausibility. This booklet brings this aesthetic to sewers, perhaps the most maligned of adventuring locales, and elevates them. In short, this little booklet is one of the very few supplements/modules dealing with sewers that I’d consider superb – the monsters are so cool and interesting that quite a few may well warrant conversion. DCC judges, the primary audience of this book, should consider this a must-purchase anyway. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Desert Classes of Porphyra
por Thilo G. [Crítico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 03/09/18 05:13:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out – provided your eyes are good enough, obviously.

Okay, so this pdf contains a total of no less than 5 different classes, so let’s take a look at the details, shall we?

The first of these would be the ascetic, who can be envisioned as a variant class of the unchained monk. These folks must be lawful, has d10 HD, 4 + Int mod skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger, javelin, quarterstaff, scimitar, shortspear, siangham, sling, and spear. They don’t get access to monk weapons per se and get a scaling AC bonus, but lose it when using shield or armor. Interesting: The pdf uses the great toolkit Unarmed and Dangerous’ Way of the Body ability to tie the AC-bonus to Con. And no, you don’t need that pdf, but it shows a nice, applied use here. The class gets full BAB-progression, all good saves and 3rd level yields fast movement +10 ft., which improved by +10 ft every 3 levels thereafter. The class begins play with Endurance and flurry of blows as well as stunning fist. At 4th level, stunning fist can be sued to calm emotions, 8th can be used as a targeted dispel magic; 12th level nets staggered for 1d6+1 rounds and 20th level provides euphoric tranquility for 2d6+1 rounds and durations of subsequent uses stack. The class gets monk unarmed damage progression and Improved Unarmed Strike etc., with the table for Small and Large ascetics provided as well.

At 2nd level, ascetics gain Diehard and can subsist on ¼ food and water etc. They also gain evasion. 3rd level nets a Wis-governed ki pool, with 7th, 10th and 16th level providing the DR-bypassing scaling. Being ascetics can make them feel brash – as such, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide penalties to social graces, but also subsequent environmental adaptation. (Here, an endure elements has a minor formatting hiccup – the (i) for italicization has not been closed); this progresses to make them seem monstrous at 12th level, but also yields hide in plain sight at 16th level.

4th level and every 2 levels thereafter yield a ki power, with abundant step, diamond mind, empty body, etc. all codified as such and e.g. the option to use ki to treat rolled Acrobatics checks as natural 20s for 1 minute, emphasizing reliable skirmishing. Combining movement with flurries via ki and rerolls for allies, divination and longer holding breath etc. – the selection loses cobra breath, diamond body, elemental fury, elemental blast, ki guardian, ki blocker, ki mount, ki range and quivering palm, but gains empty body as an etherealness option. The decreased flexibility makes sense here, considering the upgrade in power of the base chassis.

4th level yields still mind, 5th purity of body and 5th level, style strike, with 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding another style strike, with 15th level allowing for a second style strike per round. The list replaces elbow smash with rock throw. 6th level makes the attacks executed behave as though they were ghost touch and 9th level yields improved evasion. 10th levels provides immunity to poisons, lets the character function in a vacuum and eliminates the need for sleep, food, etc. – ki points are automatically regenerated at dawn. 13th level yields tongue of the sun and moon, 14th DR, 17th timeless body and 18th level a ki-powered aura that can calm targets as well as negate penalties and bonuses to mental attributes, curing damage and drain to them, with a 24-hour hex-like caveat to avoid spamming. The capstone yields an outsider apotheosis. We get an array of favored class options for various porpyhran races here – and yes, this holds true for all of the classes herein; I’m not going to repeat myself in that regard for all of them.

Okay, this class should have highlighted the design paradigm employed herein: Basically, we have variant classes that exceed in modifications what you’d usually see from a standard archetype, but which are very clearly akin to more widespread class options. As such, they can be considered to be the local color iterations of a specific trope. In order to maintain the integrity of the review and its usefulness and to avoid boring you to tears by rehashing basics, I will proceed to now highlight the differences of the remainder of classes.

The defender of the city-state is very interesting, in that the class per se is very much akin to the paladin, with smite, spells, two good saves, etc. However, in a twist that I very much welcome, it makes use of the subjectivity of morals: While all such beings consider themselves to be both Lawful and Good, that need not be the case: Both patron, to whom fealty is sworn, and individual can deviate from this, and indeed, the class abilities reflect these variables, focusing not on the destruction of a monolithic evil as a concept, but rather on the enemy of the city/state/nation…you get the idea. The code of honor is provided and the class also gets some differentiation fighting tricks and home-turf-based options, generally making for a less angelic and monolithic, but more down-to-earth type of warrior that should fit rather well into games that prefer a more nuanced approach to matters of morals.

The next class would be the sand caster, a wizard variant who can fire blasts of slashing sands and substitute sands as focus and components of inexpensive components, which is btw. properly codified. Damage substitution, limited domain tricks…this one is really evocative and something I enjoy. The high-level (level 19) option nets limited fast healing after sandcasting, but consumes sand in the vicinity, preventing abuse.

The sand scarab would be another unchained monk-based variant, but, unlike the ascetic, does not gain good Will-saves. Focusing less on mysticism, their ki strikes don’t get the same supernatural tricks, but they can exert control over the base damage type caused, their bonus feats represent their more martial bent and ki power and style strike lists are modified in different ways, including a verminous hybrid shape as a ki power. Higher levels yield further vermin-themed abilities, like deciphering patterns from the behavior of different vermin they can observe, gaining divination-y abilities thus.

Now, while all of the options herein tie in rather neatly with Porphyra, the sharif provides a basic premise of sample city states by region, for, like the defender of the city, it is basically a variant take on the cleric that focuses instead on upholding the integrity of the city state in question. This ties in once more with the patronage idea and the modifications of the class emphasize player agenda: A city with a strong martial tradition may, for example, bestow a ranger style as part of its traditions and communion with legends from the city’s past may enhance summoning as an alternate choice here. All in all, once more a flavorful alternative.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf, the sin spider attractor by Perry Fehr, who clocks in at CR 5 – basically a flabby spider that generates a lure as a twisted ambush predator. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it before, but yeah – like the critter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are very good. On a formal level, I noticed a couple of minor snafus. The pdf provides really nice full-color pieces for all classes and otherwise adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. In a strange decision, the pdf sports no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment at this length.

Carl Cramér’s writing, based on those of C.A. Suleiman, is rather nice here: This pdf can be seen as a good way to illustrate how the design paradigms introduced in Unarmed and Dangerous may be applied in a seamless manner; beyond that, the variant classes fit within the themes we’d expect: The topics of Arabian nights or quasi-Egyptian contexts and Porphyra’s own, diverse regions all make for fitting origins for these variant classes. Rules-wise, the respective variants all make meaningful incisions into the base classes they’re derived from, providing a distinct feeling for all the tricks we’d associate with their concepts. In short, this is, as a whole, a well-crafted, inexpensive supplement that nets you a whole cadre of classes to set apart desert-dwelling heroes and villains from those hailing from more temperate climates. This pdf does not reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to – at the low and fair price point, we arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars, in spite of the lack of bookmarks and minor snafus – this is worth checking out if you want to add some local color to your desert-themed adventuring.

Endzeitgeist out.



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