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Kineticists of Porphyra IV
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2017 04:37:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Kineticists of Porphyra-books clocks in at 68 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 64 pages of content, though it should be noted that they're formatted for a%-size (6'' by 9''); this means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of A4 paper if your eye-sight's good enough. It should also be noted that we have a bit of overlap for convenience's sake in the respective chapters, though personally, I enjoy having not to skip books as much - even with that taken away, the pdf still presents a bunch of material.

The pdf begins with a short list of handy considerations for GMs regarding the prominent inclusion of kineticists in a given world, before moving on to the new archetypes herein, the first of which would be the aberrant kineticist, who gains Knowledge (Dungeoneering) as a class skill and a good Will-save, but a bad Fort-save. Instead of a basic utility talent, these guys change kinetic blast and make it instead manifest as a "Wysp" a physical representation (5 types provided) of the kineticist's patrons power, also known as a malign manifestation, which is also the origin of the respective kinetic blast and the malign manifestation may not employ infusions in conjunction with blasts, if they require use in conjunction with other actions; these may also use living battery 1/day sans dying, but at the cost of temporary loss of the resonance ability. If killed, these malign manifestations may be recalled for accepting 3 kin. As a balancing mechanic, this manifestation may not move far away from the master and is generally not pleasant, trying to tempt the respective character. As you may have already surmised, as a Wisdom-based build emphasizing the mind, we have an archetype here that uses Wisdom as a basis for Burn instead of Constitution. The mechanic is rather interestingly tied to the influence-mechanics employed in Occult Archetypes...and you do NOT want to fall under the control of your malignant manifestation...You can reduce this influence by accepting lethal damage as a kind of burn, though.

In lieu of losing control to the influence of this thing, the aberrant kineticist replaces gather energy and supercharge with a voluntary union: This union is maintained for 1 minute and may be extended via burn...which is a bit different than the way in which the actual burn-replacing ability tends to word things, which renders that aspect a bit harder to grasp than it should be. While thus fused, the burn cost is generally reduced, with 11th level increasing that reduction to 2 points of burn. Additionally, the regular elemental overflow bonus is instead applied as a bonus to Intimidate checks.

The energy roper replaces the basic utility wild talent and infusion gained at 1st level with the option of gaining a form infusion of an energy whip that increases its range up to 25 ft. - while this weapon reduced its damage die, but on the plus side, you get to use properly codified grappling with these and the wild talents are enhanced with a massive list of grappling-related feats. These guys do not gain bonuses to ignore the effects of crits/etc., and instead gain bonuses to grappling and penalties to even out their grappling chances. 5th level yields Kinetic Clutches and also provides the option to use gather energy and kinetic blast while grappling, replacing 5th level's infusion and infusion specialization 1. Instead of the metakinesis, the archetype may select one of a massive array of associated talents that sport grappling hook like utility-uses, yanking foes around...and threatening all squares within reach, which is really powerful and theoretically can yield a bit of cheesing. Gaining the benefits of grappling weaponry with threats, as opposed to confirmed crits in conjunction with the tendril also make for interesting tricks. The higher level upgrades and abilities further increase the respective grappling tricks. All in all, an interesting one, though I'd personally require a gentleman's agreement here - the tendril can make some cheesy lockdown tricks work really well.

The entropist cannot be lawful and gets a modified class skill list (depends on the element) ad chooses a so-called planar array, which consists of 4 elements, with 3 such arrays provided. The archetype does gain a heirloom that contains up to Con-mod 1st level wild talents. Now, if I were to replicate the base engine of this archetype, It'd probably take up the better part of 2 or 3 pages. Basically, the heirloom acts as a kind of wild talent spellbook, but it also doubles as a chaos magic-style basic, as the entropist does not actually gain control over which array of wild talents s/he receives - in short: The focus shuffles and generates a rather versatile, if not particularly reliable array; still, this is perfect for players who tend to get bored doing the same thing over and over. Some constancy is gained over the levels and the talents not learned via the heirloom make for a degree of control and favored focus of an element as well as upgrades are available. At higher levels, the character does gain a degree of control there and the capstone finally yields full control. There also would be a 4-element array blast that replaces omnikinesis, which I'm, surprise, not the biggest fan of. The entropist is clearly one of the "stars" of this pdf, in case you were wondering - the sheer complexity and unique nature of the engine of the archetype make this an intriguing player-experience.

Speaking of which: Fans of old-school Final fantasy will most certainly celebrate the kinetic lancer, reducing the burn cost of kinetic blades and gaining Kinetic Leap from the get-go. I do like how the vital blade synergy, the exceeding of mortal caps for leaping etc. combine to represent the classic trope...but at the same time, I am weary of this guy. For one, he has an option that stacks crits with keen and Improved Critical, which is ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. Secondly, my games tend to place a rather high value on fluid combat and dynamic frontlines, which makes vital blade etc. even more potent...and 8th level yields the equivalent of pounce with these, which is...well. Ouch. Full attacks after dragoon dives may replicate the devastating nature of FF's dragoon jumps...but in combination, I will not allow this archetype anywhere near my games, particularly considering splash-like AoE-damage and foe impaling. The archetype, at higher levels, further escalates damage and allows for bonus attacks with such assault, further exacerbating that issue. Conceptually, I like this, but it may, depending on your game's power-level, require some serious nerfing.

After these, we get two new elemental saturations, one for void and one for wood, both of which are truly intriguing, evocative and fun, though the wood's enhanced natural healing should have some GM-scrutiny - it fits most games, but makes the recharging of kineticists and drain easier. We also are introduced to a rather significant array of composite blasts, which are actually really creative: Afterburn blasts, at burn 3, ignore Dex-mod to AC (being part time, part fire) and leave a trail of burning terrain, which is pretty nasty, I am not a fan of chlorophyll blast, as it allows for the ignoring of immunities - only that of plant creatures, granted, but still - ignoring immunities is a slippery slope and, in the long run, generates confusion in the interaction with other options. More interesting would be blasts that include blacklight and dark-light-style effects. A blast that uses the target's 1/3 normal HD for a color spray like assault is similarly intriguing. A tri-elemental blast of earth, viscera and wood - quite a few cool options to be found here.

Fans of viscera will particularly enjoy the new infusion chapter, with a follow-up of bloody infusion. And there are options...that need to die in a fiery hell. Colorburst infusion. Minimum level 8, burn 4. Adds prismatic spray to all creatures hit with the infusion. I so would love to say that I'm kidding. Similarly, the improved and greater flurry of blasts fall into the category that we certainly did not need, at least as far as I'm concerned. The kineticist, particularly if you allow the whole KOP-series sans banning anything, can godmode pretty hardcore and most certainly did not require the option to execute even more attacks. That being said, adding acidic spores to fungal infestations for mushrooms? Interesting! Ripping bone shards as caltrops out of a foe's body is rather visceral and pretty cool.

On the side of utility wild talents, we have a nice defensive armor, poaching domain abilities related to the respective element's utility wild talents, applying air's reach to projectile and thrown weapons etc. - cool. I also really like the concept of stacking up sonic damage in a limited manner, building up destructive reverberations, though it does seriously stack up the damage potential and allows you to invalidate defenses even easier than you already can with the right build. Complete Circuit would be one of the damage-centric tricks that I consider to be interesting: It builds on chain infusion and, if you manage to generate a final hit after subsequent targets, closing the circuit, you inflict damage within the frame defined by your targets - which makes for an interesting strategy. Using corpomancy for Prognostication as a skill unlock is smart - it adds a bit of versatility to the class. Using one's own entrails for divination (italicization missing), the witch's gruesome gobbler feature or the like...pretty cool. Now, personally, I do think that a contingency-duplicating wild talent, namely failsafe, would have warranted at burn cost.

At the same time, implanting blasts as though via Implant Bombs? AMAZING. I also appreciate the secure shelter etc. duplicating options here. Fans of RE will appreciate a licker-style tongue-tentacle. Making acid behave as bludgeoning slime instead is also a rather cool one that deserves a two thumbs up. The damage-loops via time are pretty potent - once again, that's one tree I'd have to talk with my players about prior to allowing it. The combo wild talents are versatile indeed: Making a companion, eidolon etc. devolve into a more atavistic version is cool. Prismatic Wall for 1 burn is nasty...though it's somewhat balanced by anti-spam caveats...still, I'd take a very close look at that one...Using roiling flesh and shroud of water to disperse damage between the affected...is amazing. Powerful, yes, but of so cool. If you wanted access to illusion [shadow] spells, there's a tree for that and while not necessarily broken, I'd wholeheartedly recommend checking this one in detail -depending on the amount of books you use with that subject, this can become very potent very fast.

There are also new elemental mutations: While an arrow mutation does not deal full damage to swarms and reduces damage, it increases threat range by 1. And...yep, once again, it stacks, which is a bad, bad idea. The avatar mutation is amazing, however, as it is basically an elemental avatar archetype option that uses the entropist arrays. Furyshapers are an interesting sub-type of blood kineticists. Utilitarian kineticsts are better suited regarding utility wild talent use, but less capable regarding raw damage output...at least pertaining the use of both via gather power.

The new feats contained herein include, obviously, new options for the archetypes within this book and tweaks for narrower or wider entropist arrays; there also are options for the limited cross-pollination of options. I am not a big fan of the option to freely split damage, as long as both types of damage inflict at least 1 damage per die. At the same time, Time Bomb is amazing - yes, it does what you expect. The pressuring quality is intriguing, increasing the resources required for the use of limited use resources à la grit, etc. The disc of rainbow tears is a rebounding buckler that can hold teardrop ioun stones and thus enhance the respective blasts. Rings of condensing explosions exist in both alchemy and kinetic versions and allow for the addition of Concentrated Splash to bombs. Interesting!

The pdf closes with Rebekkha the Swift, a CR 12 entropist 12 sample character, and a surprisingly complex and fun sample character - kudos for going with the most complex base engine here! The NPC does btw. come with a boon - big kudos!

The pdf also contains a rather cool bonus file: The Contemplative Angel, a monster penned by Mark Gedak - At CR 12 these guys treat their HD as monk levels.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, I did not notice an undue amount of issues and, considering the complexity of the rules material employed, this is really impressive. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' one-column standard with purple highlights and full-color artworks. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks -kudos!!

Main authors N. Jolly and Onyx Tanuki, with additional material by Blue Maculagh, Jacob McCoy and Blake Morton, deliver one massive supplement here. I have to digress for a second here: The Kineticists of Porphyra-supplements are near and dear to my heart. I adore them and I'd never want to play a kineticist without them. They unlocked the whole concept for me, freed it from its narrow thematic focus. I adore this series. At the same time, it is a series of books, as mentioned before, that can be used by powergamers in a rather nasty manner, generating a metric ton of damage. This supplement partially does something right there: There is a ton of material that focuses more on utility, on terrain control, on doing intriguing things with the engine. That being said, there also are some cheesable tricks herein that are imho not really required at this point. If the kineticist didn't need one thing, it was more damage and there are some options that are tailor-made to inflict brutal attacks, to the point where my conservative preferences would not allow them. That being said, at the same time, this pdf offers truly amazing options for the discerning kineticist connoisseur, some of which are purely amazing - all depending on the type of game you want to play. The best example for what I'm trying to enunciate here would be the dragoon - for most tables, this will result in cheers and triumphant high-fives...while others will shake their heads and pull out the ban-hammer.

Not all content herein is suitable for all tables, and much like the amazing ripper in Vol. III, I'd strongly suggest GMs and players enter into gentlemen's agreements regarding some combos in the book. At the same time, I do strongly advise getting this book: The entropist is worth the price on its own and is absolutely amazing and there are A LOT of options that feature master Jolly's trademark style and panache.

Personally, I must confess that I expected more design into the breadth of available options, less in depth, but no matter how you look at this supplement, it ultimately is worth getting for the low and fair price point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra IV
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The Red King
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2017 07:53:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The red king is the dictator of the North in the amazing patchwork planet of Porphyra, an ogre-mage half-dragon with a single, purple eye that seems to be too large for his head - and yes, there is an amazing hand-out-style 1-page version of the glorious artwork depicting him within this pdf.

Ahem. Sorry. I can't do that neutral routine. LOOK AT THOSE STATS! I am drooling here!!

CR 22. AC 48 almost 450 hit points. Yes, please! His class-line reads "Male unique half-dragon ogre mage cavalier (longshanks/warlord) 6/inquisitor 5. And his average damage output is a beauty to behold! While his cohort and followers (an army in its own right) don't get stats, he is a beauty!! He actually killed his father and implanted his eye in his own face, wearing his sire's scales!

His armor employs the grace ability, which increases the maximum Dex-bonus and aforementioned eye can pierce illusions...oh, but that's not all!! You see, unlike many comparable supplements, we do receive a gloriously detailed background for this villain - beyond the detailed and lavish story, which has ventured into the realm of legend, the red king also sports a rather intriguing array of tactics - and yes, he has actually strategies to escape death.

Beyond these lavishly detailed aspects of the pdf, we also get specific adventure hooks and a new legendary weapon, namely the Red King's Judgment. In case you're new to the concept of legendary weapons: These were introduced by Purple Duck Games as an alternative to the concept of Legacy Weapons - but unlike those, they don't impose unnecessary penalties. The respective items have prerequisites and increase in power over the course of the wielder's levels, with the weapon featured herein increasing in potency in 10 steps. I love these items, as they help combat the Christmas-Tree-syndrome and makes magic matter more.

Anyways, beyond gaining multiple straight upgrades, we gain increasing, scaling invulnerability to fire, minions via Vile Leadership, nets Proficiencies/Focus and provides e.g. flame strike with 1/2 unholy damage...which does not exist. I get what it tries to do, but still -an obvious and unnecessary glitch. It also can bypass fire resistances and allow the wielder to discorporate and weather the storm, emerging once again from the flames...

It should also be noted that material uses and special weapon properties featured in the build - kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no serious hiccups and rules-language is similarly concise, with the minor exclusion of the aforementioned unholy damage glitch. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard, which is printer-friendly with purple highlights. The artwork of the king is GLORIOUS. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't necessarily require them at this length.

Derek Blakely has made a little dream of mine come true. I don't know about you, my readers, but I know that my players crave challenges and many a published module doesn't really live up to that aspect: If I threw a vanilla AP final boss at my group, then chances are in many (not all!) cases that they'd utterly annihilate the foe. I am a huge fan of really challenging, deadly villain-builds and when both the amazing Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series and Enemies of NeoExodus ran their course, I sighed and got back to making builds.

I expected not that much from this humble pdf and I got so much more: The red king is a glorious foe - lavishly illustrated, detailed and deadly, he makes for an amazing BBEG in the tradition of these two superb series. I adore this NPC and his tricks and the addition of the legendary weapon is a nice plus as well. For the low and fair price-point, this provides a great, deadly villain that should really challenge even powerful groups. What more can you ask for? Exactly! The one aesthetic glitch I found wasn't enough to rate this down - this is a great, amazing little pdf, well worth the asking price and deserving of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Red King
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Adventure Avenue: Fallen Dawn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2017 15:36:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 3/4 of a page blank, leaving us with 42 1/4th pages of content, though it should be noted that the pdf is formatted for A5 (6'' by 9'') size, which means, that if your sight's good enough, you can fit up to 4 pages of text on one sheet of paper.

Fallen Dawn is a location-based exploration adventure for 5th level characters, taking place in the Lotus Blossom Steppes of Porphyra, to be more precise, on the Lung Plateau. These steppes (fully mapped in full color, just fyi!) are the home of many struggling clan of powerful nomads, awaiting a Khan to unite them into a coherent force, but that won't happen, at least for now, for the dread half-rakshasa Khan Tiikeri is keeping things pretty deliberately as they are. However, sealed away after the NewGod wars, there are tools to be found within the steppes - tools that may change all of that...

...and this is about as far as I can go without diving deep into SPOILER-territory. Potentialy players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs left? Great! So, the adventure features several different hooks that can be used to point the PCs towards the adventure locale, as the default origin would be the sleepy village called "The Nest", which has recently seen some business...impeded...by a traveling scholar of Paletius, deity of knowledge, looking for a lost and sacred site on the plateau. Well, turns out that this scholar is actually an agent of the eventual Katek, seeking to dissuade potentially dangerous individuals by tales of boring details...though, PCs being PCs, that will obviously backfire quite spectacularly.

Further observation via clockwork spies and said being may tip off the PCs regarding strange machinations afoot - and on the halfway point between the nest and the tower of the setting sun, a bhorloth, a gigantic, green-furred bison-like thing and its mounted archer master may try to dissuade the PCs further. Personally, I would have liked the journey to be slightly more detailed, but oh well.

What the pdf lacks in details regarding the journey, it makes up for in the approaches to the tower, for no less than three angles (East, West and North) are covered in the pdf, all with their own read-aloud text - kudos! The forlorn tower's broken top, leaning against the plateau's stone for a support lost ages ago, certainly makes for an evocative visual impression.

The exploration of this tower, once a sanctuary and repository of forbidden knowledge, can make for a compelling narrative and provides the brunt of the module's content - you see, the tower has by no means been thoroughly explored and Paletius being a benevolent deity, it can actually yield some interesting pieces of loot for the PCs. It also features two distinct, well-blended themes: On one hand, we have the sense of antiquity of the place, evoked rather well with prose etc. - on the other hand, we have the current, organized inhabitants of the tower, the expedition of the eventual Katek, who seeks to unearth the knowledge herein to challenge Khan Tiikeri. His intentions were once pure and arguably still are - but in his quest for truth, the eventual has begun a slide down the alignment scale - should he prevail with his less than scrupulous allies, he could become a truly fearsome iron-handed tyrant. This knowledge is not necessarily dumped on the PCs per se, but e.g. reactivated constructs and the choice of creatures (which include shiko-me, unique variant clockwork creatures, advanced shadow drakes and komori-ninjas in a cool selection of less common critters) and their notes can actually have the PCs unearth this knowledge - in short, a nice example of how indirect, less obtrusive storytelling can be used.

Now beyond those aspects, the exploration also manages to depict the leitmotifs of Paletius' iconography well - and PCs may well find out that the knowledge locked in the so far undisturbed sanctum was deemed forbidden. In fact, they may actually succeed where Katek failed and open the sanctum - but only if the GM desires, for the puzzle/riddle-based mechanism to open the gates to this vault hinge, even if you know how to use them, on an aspect that is completely under the GM's control - which is pretty nice. The artifact Katek is looking for is btw. depicted (and "just" a 35K ring), but it's still nice to a) have such a well-wrought puzzle in the pdf and b) retain full GM-control over the treasure and how this aspect pans out.

Speaking of panning out: The pdf provides full stats for all foes faced (though e.g. the Students of Order lack their cleric level noted in an aesthetic glitch) and also includes notes on further adventuring possibilities - from redeeming Katek to uncovering the secrets of Paletius. It should also be mentioned that the book contains a nice break-down of XP and treasure by locale, which is really helpful, allows for easy XP and WBL-tweaking and should be industry standard, as far as I'm concerned.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and the pdf features some nice pieces of full-color artwork of foes faced within. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is in color for the region, b/w for the adventure locale, and pretty nice indeed. The tower itself has sideviews for Western/Eastern approach, respectively, which is a nice touch. BIG PLUS: Purple Duck Games added a player-friendly map to the deal!!

Matt Roth's "Fallen Dawn" is a well-crafted location-based module; it breathes a sense of the exotic and antiquity, making ample use of its unique backdrop - surprisingly while still maintaining the means to be dropped in most environments with relative ease - you just need a chaotic tyrant somewhere and that's it. The most impressive aspects of the module, to me, did lie in the smart choices regarding adversaries faced and the sense of authenticity this managed to evoke. It's a tenuous, hard task to evoke such a sense of cohesion, especially in a dungeon that features two different leitmotifs (abandoned/inhabited). Furthermore, the challenges and foes faced throughout the module allow a capable GM to tell the story of the antagonist in an unobtrusive manner, which is another plus. Finally, I'm a BIG fan of the puzzle to open the sealed chambers - it makes sense, perfectly mirrors the iconography of the deity, retains GM-control AND it feels MAGICAL in a sense of the word that's usually only found in old-school modules. It also doesn't make the antagonist look like an idiot for not having breached it, which is just the final nice thing to comment upon here.

Now, the module is not perfect - the lead-in feels a bit rudimentary and so does the journey - it is pretty evident that both only act as an extended preamble for the main meat of the module, when they could have used a bit more meat on their bones. The espionage angle in the beginning also could have yielded a bit more consequences regarding payoff, but I'm nitpicking here. That being said, once you reach tower, the adventure locale, the module becomes an excellent example of a nice, unpretentious, but thematically very concise dungeon: With fitting traps and foes, nice NPCs and well-executed indirect storytelling. Now, Purple Duck Games actually added a player-friendly map - which catapults this to the echelon of a true steal: You get a great module for a fair price! Well worth 5 stars!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Avenue: Fallen Dawn
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Zif of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/17/2017 05:18:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 37 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are formatted for A5 (about 6'' by 9'') paper and as such, you can fit about 4 of them on one sheet of A4 or letterpack paper, so let's take a look!

The Zif-race was originally introduced by Alluria Publishing in their Remarkable Races-series, but in this book, we do get a significant expansion of the material as well as modifications that make the material herein work differently...so what are the Zif?

In short, they're playable slug-people that gain +2 Int and Wis, -2 Str (making them a bit lopsided). Zif are Small aberrations with a speed of 20 ft. Zif have no feet and as such, don't have a slot there, but they receive a second belt slot to make up for that. As a standard action, a zif may retreat in its shell, gaining DR 5/-, but while in it, the Zif may explicitly not make any other action. Upon maturing, Zif are assigned a caste in Porphyra, which translates to a constant SP: One may choose detect magic, detect poison, detect secret doors or detect undead. The sucker foot of the Zif nets them a +4 racial bonus to Climb, -4 to Acrobatics made to jump and +4 to CMD to resist trip and bull rush. Finally, a zif is born with Knowledge - they gain one such skill and an additional skill rank each level, which must be applied to said skill. As a whole, a potent race and I'm not the biggest fan of the constant SPs, but craftsmanship-wise, I have nothing to complain.

Now, let's look at the alternate racial traits included in this pdf: Here, we have racial proficiency with all bows and zif weapons, replacing the inborn knowledge. The zif know the flail-snails as the Flavalum and some of them replace their protective shell with elements of their brethren - such zif have a 30% chance that a targeted spell aimed at them fails and a 10% chance that a spell is sent back to the sender. However, they also suffer a 30% spell failure chance for both arcane and divine magic, which stacks with armor penalties, if any. Instead of the shell-caste's inherent magic, some zif gain +2 to AC versus humans and to grapple checks made against humans. Zif not born to their society gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (local) instead of their inborn knowledge. Some zif get +2 to concentration to cast arcane spells defensively and a bonus language - however, the racial trait this replaces is not included in the write-up. Instead of the caste-SP, some zif have a 1/day psychic leech and caste-less zif with better skills (+2 to Appraise and Perception) can also be played. Also interesting: Some zif may move through natural difficult terrain at their normal speed while within 30 ft. of water, though magic difficult terrain affects them normally - this also replaces the inborn knowledge.

The pdf also provides a selection of race traits, which include gaining a kazif armor made from your parents, gaining Perception as a class skill due to modified antennae, better ranged attacks versus foes far away (as a nitpick - should be a trait bonus) and some weird ones as well: Like 1/day regaining a use of a school or domain power upon making a save versus a spell or SP. Control over a class skill (losing an old one for a new one) and we have a nice idea, a trait that reduces one flanker's attack bonus to +1. As has become the expected norm for Purple Duck Games' racial supplements, we receive a surprising array of favored class options - we not only get core classes + gunslinger and magus, we also cover the occult classes and a whole bunch of classes from Purple Duck Games' oeuvre - from the illuminati to the infinyte and the brujo. Kudos for going the extra mile!

Now, while the zif's writing clearly depicts them as somewhat quirky and yes, funny even, they also have the potential to be really, really creepy, as their racial deity...well. Is Yig. And yes, the great old one is depicted as a deity in the appendix, including two religion traits - though one does not specify the bonus type. Yig, as understood by the zif, is the epitome of bravery and cunning in battle and the zif believe that the ghosts of Great Old Ones he consumed will return one day in an apocalypse called Void-War - the warpriests that call themselves Disciples of Yig thus study from the get-go to be ready - this archetype is locked into the War and Void domains, but instead of the War blessings, a disciple if Yig may use the Tactics domain ability instead, drawing from the pool of uses of blessings. Very potent: When you and your allies roll initiative, an ally within 30 feet may roll twice and take the better result. Instead of focus weapon, these folks get a pre-emption pool that contains class level + Wisdom modifier points - these may be spent as a free action to increase initiative modifier before rolling, which can all but guarantee being first in at least one combat - it would have been more elegant and less prone to nova-ing and 5-minute adventure days if that ability had a scaling cap per roll that improved with the levels.

Instead of the 3rd level bonus feats, these guys learn the battle-shell burble-narble: they may chant a hymn to grant all allies within 30 ft. +1 to atk and saves against fear, which may be increased by 1 by foregoing the bonus feats gained at 6th level and every 3rd level thereafter. This bonus is maintained until the warpriest fails a save or takes any action other than move. Oddly, this is a SP and the bonus granted is untyped.

The shellrune wizard, member of the darble-caste, has a caveat to prevent summoner multiclass abuse - they gain Handle Animal and Fly as class skills. Instead of Scribe Scroll, they use their shell as a spell book and learn 3 spells upon a level-up, which eliminates the biggest Achilles Heel of the class. They also are locked into a vermin familiar, but at +1 level. Instead of 5th level's bonus feat, they may 1/day cast a spell on their book-shell sans expending a spell-slot, though it must be from the divination, enchantment or conjuration schools. I assume that learning spells and inscribing them on the shell still takes gold etc. - or is the archetype limited to the spells gained by level-ups? That would explain the power of some options here, but it should be spelled out more clearly.

The shellsinger bard is only proficient with simple weapons: Competent trademaster replaces inspire courage and nets an ally within 30 feet +2 to a skill check while the performance persists, increasing that bonus every 4 levels beyond 1st by +1, modifying inspire competence. As a nitpick, the ability-text reference's "zif's performance" instead of "competent tradesmaster." These guys also gain class level as a bonus to Appraise and Sense Motive and replace countersong with an array of analysis-themed spells. 7th level yields Leadership. At 8th level, breaking free of fascination takes a -4 penalty to the save and requires a save even in the presence of obvious threats, replacing dirge of doom. 20th level and 20th level yields a magnificent mansion instead of deadly performance.

Stoneshell fighters gain proficiency with zif guu-slings and zifbats and, cool, classify these properly in weapon groups. They may also take Goo-Crafter and Master of Guu as though they were combat feats. Goo-Crafter lets you secrete guu, zif construction-mucus, and assemble it into the shape of mundane weapons and a limited array of weapons. Issues here: The feat lacks a note to prevent the creation of specific keys. Additionally, you cannot secrete "more than 1/2 your Constitution in guu per day" - so, how much guu does a given creation take? Is that based on weight? No idea. Master of Guu thankfully specifies that further- yes, it's pounds and this feat nets you quicker guu-secretion and the option to make masterwork items via guu...and unlocks more. Still, the original feat should have specified that...it's bad when you have to look at a follow-up feat to get how the base feat is supposed to work.

Anyway, back to the archetype: At 3rd level, these guys replace armor training and bravery with shell-fu and, while flavorful, the ability is a mess from a rules-language perspective. It mentions identifying via a crimson headband - so does the archetype lose the headband slot? Also, I kid you not, that's directly taken from rules-language: "Shell-fu has five circles of skill, achieved like so: 3rd level DR 1/- vs. ranged attacks, one attack per turn; 7th level DR 1/adamantine vs. 1 melee attack per turn;..." So, do we get to choose? Is this passive or predicated upon activation? Does it stack with the zif's shell? Beyond inconsistency even in the wording of the ability, it is basically non-operational.

The pdf also features racial feats: Clone Army modifies the Leadership's cohort: Instead of gaining one, 2 levels below your own, you get 2 (!!), but at 3 levels below your own. OUCH. Both must have the same class and ability scores, sure...but ouch. Dreams of the Old Ones is a really, really strong feat for divine casters - you get free scavenging from the wizard spell list. Sure, it has to be 1 level below your highest spell level and failure to make a DC 20 Will-save nets you Wis-damage upon casting and fails casting the spell, but considering the potency of the wizard spell list, that still is strong. Bonuses to atk and skills when dealing with concisely defined eldritch creatures can be found, but Mobile Shell would be more interesting, allowing you to enter the shell as a move action and allowing you to make 5-fot-steps while in the shell. Another feat increases the potency of spells dealing hit point and ability damage and moving the drained points to another target - while the rules-language makes me twitch, it's functional. Partial Withdrawal into the shell can be found and an antennae-based teamwork feat allows for telepathic communication - how to determine the maximum range of the communication, though, is a total mess: 10 feet per character level sounds easy enough, but e.g. 4 2nd level zif could communicate within 80 feet - so, what's the limit? At what range are zif included in the calculation? No idea.

The equipment section contains stats for guu-bolts, aforementioned shell-armors made from deceased zif, poolaboodts (the main sea-vessels of the zif) and aforementioned weapons. Beyond these, we get new magic items - e.g. a cursed rod of wonder that may cause insanity. Goolabalum can be used to alter probability of d% and d20 rolls, but not attacks, saves or skill/ability checks, as an immediate action. Cool! Rod of guu helps with Guu Crafting and may fire guu at short range - the damage it inflicts is not properly codified and a hit imposes a -2 penalty to Dex. At +2, parasitic weapons (only available for melee weapons, thankfully) steal 2 points from a random ability score of the target and confer them to the wielder, lasting 1d8 minutes. While kittenable, it's not a good strategy, so this gets a pass. Prismatic shell-polish is a potent defensive item and generally works, but the rules-language, while understandable, makes me twitch: "Thus, if a being under the effect of prismatic shell polish is hit with a sword, the attacker must make a DC 20 Reflex save to take 1/2 damage (1-4) or have no effect (5-7)." This is further exacerbated by the item having a d6-column with 8 entries that affects the attacker. If the user is affected by a magical attack, he instead gains a similarly random buff for a short duration. I can use this item as presented, but its rules are depicted in the most convoluted way I could imagine. Which is jarring, when one compares that to the precision that e.g. new spells like create goo - which even prevents burying foes under them. Similarly, while parasitic ray is potent and steals ability scores, it...kinda works rather well. I can see myself using this. Moving rapidly along porphyrite borders. At 3rd level, a limited, but potent maze-like variant is a bit under-leveled for my tastes and there even is a spell to summon deep ones.

Now, I already mentioned the zif caste system - and the pdf goes on to classify the extensive array of classes covered in the FCOs in the caste-system - which is an amazing "one step beyond" piece of flavor, as far as I'm concerned. The sample character we get would Gungablug, hermaphroditic zif warpriest (disciple of yig) 6 and the pdf also sports a full stat-block and brief primer on Barbledrum, the Curved City of the Shell.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good - I noticed no serious accumulation of typos. The rules-language, on the other hand, is ODD - you see, it oscillates between being meticulous and precise and being...well, bad. You've seen some quoted material in the review. It's often functional, but it does make my brain hurt a bit. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. It should be noted that the pdf offers neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive bookmarks.

Perry Fehr is an amazing author - he has the elusive artistry-component of design, the aspect you can't learn, down to a T. At the same time, his craftsmanship is not always up to the level of his vision. The zif, as presented here, are evocative, playful and fun and could be played for laughs just as well as you could make them really, really creepy.

I really, really like the zif as depicted herein, in spite of the hiccups that are present. At the same time, I think that both shell and guu, both utterly amazing concepts, could have been emphasized further in the design-choices made. It is also baffling to me, how one book can range from utmost precision to wonky, convoluted and imprecise wordings in some cases. Conceptually, this is at least a 4 or 5 star-file; if, however, you expect precision in the rules-components, you'll be infuriated by some, though by far not all, components herein.

I am honestly torn here - I do believe that a good rules-developer and a bit of additional polish could have made this full-blown amazing, but if I go by what is here, I can't rate this as highly as I'd very much want to. While it hurts my soul, as I like the pdf very much, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down, on this one. If you're looking for flavor and can shrug off the rules-hiccups, then get this - I am positive that you'll enjoy what you find herein!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Zif of Porphyra
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Veiled Illusionist
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2017 05:47:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The standard base class this prestige archetype is built upon would be the wizard; thus, the class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, Int-based prepared spellcasting of up to 9th level and the wizard's armor and weapon proficiencies as well as 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves. The class gets Eschew Materials as a bonus feat at first level.

At first level, the prestige archetype gains a veil pool of 1/2 class level + the highest mental attribute modifier. As a standard action, the veiled illusionist may expend 1 point to duplicate disguise self, with an interesting disbelieve mechanic - DC 15 + points remaining in the pool. I really like this and am glad it was retained from the PrC, since it emulates fatigue and rewards resource management. Changing disguises while already under the effect of the ability, btw., does not necessitate further point expenditure. Starting at 3rd level, the veiled illusionist can also modify the audible (sound) properties of his chosen disguise, with 10th level extending this to olfactory and tactile senses. At 18th level, this extends to extraordinary senses. Action economy-wise, 6th level allows alternatively to use this ability as a swift action, with 14th level unlocking the option to use it as an immediate action. REALLLY, really cool! A definite step up, as far as I'm concerned - the finer distinction (scent is not blindsight) and the expanded action economy help render this feature more rewarding than in the base PrC.

At the same time, I really wished that the goddess's veils class feature had been expanded upon - the same races as in the base PrC (human, halfling, elf, gnome, cyclops, naga) are covered. ON the plus-side, the respective veils, while linear, have been assigned to sensible levels and, big plus, the naga veil's stacking illusion trick has received a bit of a clarification regarding shadow-spells, which is rather appreciated by yours truly. True veil remains the capstone of the prestige archetype.

The pdf also comes with alternate build rules for the arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch classes. The pdf also provides a rather extensive amount of class-specific favored class options for the core races as well as aasimar, avodim (wasn't that "Avoodim"?), catfolk, dhampir, drow, kitsune, kobold, samsaran, sylph, tengu, undine and xesa. As a nitpick: The undine's option has an issue: It increases the range of illusion spells by 5 ft., which is very potent. It tries to eliminate "personal" spells by "with a range", but RAW, range "personal" can still be defined as a range; as is "touch." Nitpicking here, since it's pretty easy to figure out what's meant, but still.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's final caster prestige archetype ends the series on a suitable note: The veiled illusionist has all the makings of a superb prestige archetype, retaining the strengths of the PrC, while making neat modifications to the engine. Now personally, I wished it had more veils or some choice there - the linear progression makes sense, sure, but to me, this aspect could have easily carried more. Similarly, the veil pool mechanic could have carried more class features. It should be noted that I'm complaining on a high level here - the pdf delivers what it promises and going one step beyond certainly is not required. Still, more so than with many of these, I wished it went the extra mile.

Oh well, this should not dissuade you from getting this one, though - it certainly is one of the best examples in the series and thus receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, though it misses rounding up by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Veiled Illusionist
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Tattooed Mystic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2017 04:03:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.75 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 5.25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The prestige archetype this time around uses the wizard as a basis and thus, the prestige archetype receives d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, full spellcasting progression of prepared spellcasting governed by Int and a 1/2 BAB-progression alongside good Will-save progression. However, unlike a regular wizard, the tattooed mystic puts his spells not in a spellbook, but within the drawings on his skin, necessitating a Spellcraft check to identify the like - and yes, rules for removing them are provided. The familiar can similarly become a tattoo to be carried by the mystic. 4th level yields Inscribe Mystic Tattoo (erroneously, but harmlessly incorrectly formatted as (Feat) and 8th level lets the mystic use his own ability score modifier etc. to set the DC of spell tattoos. 12th level halves the time for Craft (tattoos). 16th level increases the CL for spell tattoos by +1 and as a capstone, he may expend a spell slot or prepared spell of the same level or lower to prevent a used spell tattoo from being expended.

Now, the angle where player agenda comes into the fray would be the mystic tattoos, the first of which is gained at 2nd level, with additional ones gained every 4 levels thereafter - these pretty much represent what we know from the prestige class. I kinda wished that the prestige archetype provided more choice to represent the variety that a full class should offer.

The prestige archetype comes with notes for the use of the arcanist, druid, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror, witch classes. Beyond specific favored class bonuses for the core races, catfolk, dhampir, dragonblooded, erkunae, polkan and tieflings are covered regarding class-specific FCOs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's tattooed mystic is a solid prestige archetype - it translates the prestige class well to the context of a full class, is precise and delivers exactly what it says on the tin. I wished it expanded the tattoo choices with new option, but you can't have everything, I guess. In the end, we get a well-made prestige archetype here - well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Tattooed Mystic
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Domain Phylacteries
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/05/2017 03:21:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' little series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, though these have been formatted for A5 (6'' by 9'')-size, allowing you to fit up to 4 of these pages on a sheet of paper when printing out the pdf.

So, domain phylacteries, what are they? In short, they're an item-class, usually depicting a religious item contained in a tiny box, affixed to a leather cord and worn on the brow, occupying the headband slot. They have a CL of 5th and share a faint universalist aura. You craft them via Craft Wondrous Item and need access to the respective domain to do so - subdomains qualify, fyi - nice catch!

Domain phylacteries are activated via the use of channel energy and activation is thus a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, even if the phylactery duplicates a spell effect. Paladins and antipaladins may use phylacteries of good/law and chaos/evil, respectively, powering them via lay on hands/corrupting touch. Druids with domains use wild shape uses to power them instead, while inquisitors use judgment uses. A character needs to worship a deity granting access to the domain associated with the respective phylactery to use it, preventing cherry-picking. Kudos for these concise definitions!

The respective phylacteries usually have a price of 6K, 3K to create, though2K/4K or 4K/8K ones, for example, can also be found. Generally, these often include spells - the phylactery of air, for example, can duplicate fly up to 3/day. The phylactery of art can duplicate either major image or enthrall and does not sport the daily limit. The phylactery of artifice occupies a ring slot and can provide disable construct. beyond that, 5 uses can be used to duplicate soothe construct - and yep, level 7 CL, increased cost...makes sense. The phylactery of chaos can be used to gain a bonus (or a penalty, if you're unlucky and roll a nat 1...) to your next d20-roll...and it does have an anti-stacking caveat!

The phylactery of death grants the wearer a passive +1d6 boost to channeling negative/positive energy to harm the living/undead, respectively. The phylactery of madness allows the wielder to substitute a confusion effect as an immediate action, negating another mind-affecting effect - nice last-second save. For fans of Porphyra - yes, there is a phylactery that allows the wearer to pass through porphyrite borders! I did not even remotely touch upon every item herein, just fyi! There also is a powerful phylactery that may actually make the character meet his god...for weal or woe...

Finally, we get two nice, cursed phylacteries - the domain/lay on hands/touch of corruption-sabotaging phylactery of denial and the even worse phylactery of refusal...cackles with glee

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a no-frills 1-column b/w-.standard with purple highlights. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks - kudos for going the extra mile there!

More than 40 items for less than a buck, many with some cool tricks, that also help differentiate clerics and servants of different deities - what more can you ask for from a little pdf that only costs a buck? Better yet, Perry Fehr has taken the time this time around to make sure that his crunch is actually really solid, crafting a great, inexpensive little offering. If you're looking for more to do with your channeling/judgment/lay on hands/touch of corruption/etc., more versatility - then this delivers. I like the item class, I like the execution and I like this pdf. This is well worth checking out and gets a final verdict of 5 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Domain Phylacteries
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Mystic Savant
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/05/2017 03:19:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1.75 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 4.25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The arcane savant prestige archetype uses the wizard as a base class for its build and thus gains d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger and quarterstaff and 1/2 BAB-progression plus good Will-saves. Spellcasting is, befitting of the base class used, prepared spellcasting of up to 9th level, governed by Int. At 1st level, the savant thus gets Scribe Scroll and the class may take 10 when using the UMD-skill.

Starting at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the mystic savant chooses one spell from any class' spell list and treats it as though it was on the mystic savant's spell-list, allowing the class to cherry-pick the most potent of spells. One issue here: Can a spell be learned for more than one spell-level? If a spell can be found on more than one class' spell list, could it e.g. be learned at 3rd and 2nd level? A further issue: RAW, the spell, as a prepared spell, is added to spellbook, familiar, etc. - which would codify it as a spell of the type the build class would usually cast. This theoretically would allow other characters to learn the spell via these means, even though it's not on their spell-list. An exclusivity caveat would be appropriate here.

2nd level also provides +1/2 class level to Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft and UMD as well as the option to take 10 on the two skills that don't yet have this option. At 3rd level, the savant can find writing-based magical runes as though via trapfinding while using the Spellcraft skill. This has inherited an issue from the base PrC: Trapfinding in PFRPG allows for the disabling of magical traps via Disable Device and +1/2 class level to Perception - RAW, anyone can FIND them. So, does that mean the savant gets +1/2 class level to Spellcraft to look for them? Can he use Spellcraft to disable them as well? Or not?

Starting at 5th level, the mystic savant may use his own CL instead of a scroll's when using it. At 7th level, the savant may duplicate the effects of 3 rounds of concentration via detect magic to determine an item's properties as a swift action. Starting at 9th level, the character gains a +5 bonus to saves versus writing-based traps etc. and on a success, the trap is not triggered. Starting at 11th level, the savant may activate spell completion, spell trigger and command word items silently 3/day as if using a silent metamagic rod, 6/day at 15th level, 9/day at 19th level. Big kudos: The ability specifies a max level per the item class of metamagic rods, with 19th level unlocking the greater rod's array. 12th level provides free action analyze dweomer as an SP; with a total duration of 1 round per class level.

13th level provides the option to spontaneously convert spells to dispel magic, with 17th level unlocking greater dispel magic. When using either spell to make a targeted dispel or counterspell, the class heals hit points equal to the dispelled effect's CL.

The prestige archetype comes with notes for the use of the arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch classes. Beyond specific favored class bonuses for the core races, erkunae, eventuals, ifrit, kitsune, oread, slylph, undine and zendiqi are covered regarding class-specific FCOs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's Mystic Savant has a bit of a handicap, being not exactly based on the best or most interesting of PrC; that being said, the pdf tries to do some interesting things with the theme, which is certainly appreciated. However, the cherry-picking of spells, always somewhat problematic, could have been a bit clearer and personally, I think that the class ends up being a tad bit too strong due to it: The item-use etc. tricks can be situationally really, really strong. So far, my least favorite of the caster prestige archetypes. While not bad by any definition, it does fall a bit short of the generally impressive series. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Mystic Savant
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Riftwarden
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2017 09:18:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2.25 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 4.75 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The base class employed for the default build of this prestige archetype would be the wizard, and as such, the class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons Spellcasting-wise, they get the wizard's 9-level spell-progression, including prepared spellcasting.

The signature ability gained at first level would be planar channeling, which is an untyped energy in a 30 ft.-burst that only can harm creatures, to be more specific, those with the extraplanar subtype, regardless of alignment. It also inflicts its damage on any creature that has emplyoed teleportation effects within the area of effect and within1 round. It increases its damage output by +1d6 every 2 levels thereafter, with daily uses amounting to 3 + cha-mod and standard action as an activation action. Starting at 10th level, extraplanar creatures that fail their saves versus the effect are affected by the riftwarden's choice of either panicked, sickened or staggered for 1d4 rounds.

At 2nd level, summon monster may be used to counter conjuration (summoning) spells or SPs via readying such a spell. 4th level allows for a similar option to ready a counter to teleportation effects. At 8th level, counter-summons may be used as an immediate action, even when surprised. 12th level unlocks this option for teleportation as well. Starting at 14th level, these counter-abilities can be used to reassign summon/teleportation destinations within 100 feet, which also inflicts scaling damage.

Starting at 6th level, the prestige archetype gains a +1 sacred bonus to saves versus SPs, spells and SU as well as Ex abilities of outsiders, which further increases by +1 for every 6 levels thereafter.

At 16th level, extrapalanr creatures that fail the save versus the channel are sent back to their home plane and as a capstone, the riftwarden may, as a standard action, expend two sues of his planar channel ability to forcibly return escaped creatures to his presence - cool!

The prestige archetype comes with notes for the use of the arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror, summoner and witch classes. Riftwardens based on clerics share one channel pool for positive/negative energy and planar channeling, but increase its size to 5 + cha-mod. Personally, I think the cleric may come out of this deal a bit too well compared to the other classes. Beyond specific favored class bonuses for the core races as well as anpur, avoodim, catfolk, kitsune, qit'ar, samsarans, xesa and zendiqi are covered regarding class-specific FCOs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's riftwarden is a cool guardian-style counter-mage class. I like the prestige archetype and its ability dispersal, with my primary complaint remaining that the cleric-alternate may be a bit too well off. This is a minor complaint, however - my final verdict will still clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Riftwarden
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Ren Monolith
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/03/2017 09:00:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2.25 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 4.75 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The ren monolith presented here is based on the living monolith PrC and the wizard's chassis. As such, the prestige archetype receives d6 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger, dart, light mace, sling and quarterstaff. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves as well as the obvious full spellcasting progression, governed as per the base class by Int.

Speaking of build class: In a pretty unique and cool little pieces of flavor, these guys can meld their spellbooks with their forms! The ren monolith is implanted a stone scarab that provides a +2 bonus to saves versus mind-affecting effects, death effects and versus negative levels or those effects generating these. Additionally, 1/day, the ren monolith may cast any spell that can be found on their spell list, provided they'd be capable of casting the spell level-wise. They don't have to know this spell, which is pretty potent from the get-go and may be problematic for some groups. Also at first level, these guys gain Scribe Scroll.

2nd level provides a + 4 AC bonus - and no, it's NOT natural armor. Nice catch there! 3rd level yields "DR 1" (should be DR 1/-.) and "10 % immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks (as if wearing fortification armor)." While functional, this is uncharacteristically clumsy regarding rules-language and sans the example, could be misread. Anyhow, 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter increase DR by +1 and the fortification effect by +10%. To nitpick a theory-craft that's unlikely to happen in actual play: Does the latter stack with fortification armor etc.? (No, this does not affect my verdict...)

Really cool: At 4th level, the ren monolith may 3/day as a standard action reduce person his size, masquerading as a figurine. 5th level yields at-will deathwatch and detect undead while the monolith concentrates (VERY cool: The player gets infinite use, but only when actually using it - nice for the GM!) 6th level yields auto-stabilization when in negative hit points and immunity to continuous bleed damage (wounding not properly italicized). 8th level provides stability and 9th level meld into stone at will. 10th level provides immunity to disease, including magical ones. 12th level provides +4 to Diplomacy when influencing sphinxes and 1/day planar ally to call a sphinx, which is upgraded to its greater brethren at 16th level.

14th level provides tremorsense 30 ft and 1/day stone tell. AT 16th level, the class gets immunity to petrification, as well as statue as a range personal-only spell-like ability - once again, the formatting here is a bit clumsy. While in statue form, any durations of spells or abilities do not elapse, which can be used by smart players to devastating effect. 17th level provides the option to 1/day either speak with dead or mark of justice that activates when listening to the ren monolith for 10 minutes. I am not 100% sure how that works with speak with dead, though 18th level yields contact other plane and 20th level provides immunity to energy drain and death effects and functional immortality.

The prestige archetype comes with notes for the use of the arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch classes. Beyond specific favored class bonuses for the core races as well as anpur, dhampir eventuals, oread, xesa and zendiqi are covered regarding class-specific FCOs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Rules-language is less refined than in other installments of the series - while functional and thankfully not plagued by bad ambiguities, it feels a bit rushed. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's Ren Monolith is cool: Flavorful, strong, with a distinct leitmotif, I love e.g. the figurine trick etc. It is a surprisingly flavorful option. That being said, its rules-language feels a bit more rushed than what I've come to expect from the author - the prestige archetype remains functional, but from a rules-aesthetic perspective, it is slightly weaker than other installments of the series. Still, the strong concept does carry it pretty well. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Ren Monolith
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Diabolist
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2017 07:40:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

The diabolist prestige archetype herein is built with the wizard as a base class, but alternate rules for arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, sacerdote, soceror and witch are included. Diabloists need to be Lawful Evil and get d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and the favored weapon of the patron and 1/2 BAB-progression as well as good Will-save progression. They get full prepared spellcasting, governed by Int, of up to 9th level and receive a cleric's evil aura. Being damned to hell, diabolists are harder to resurrect, requiring a CL check to bring back. At 10th level, the diabolist is potent enough to be exempt from this rule.

The prestige archetype begins play with an infernal, lawful evil familiar and is locked into having that - so not bonded object. The diabloist gains bonus spells, courtesy of his infernal patrons - these, unsurprisingly, would be rather charm/fire-themed.

2nd level yields the ability to channel hellfire when casting fire spells, a number of times per day equal to the highest mental attribute modifier, minimum 1. This is done as a fee action and modifies the standard spell's fire damage to inflict hellfire, which is here defined as 1/2 fire damage and 1/2 damage from an unholy source, which does not affect evil creatures, but doubly affects good targets. Kudos for not falling into the "invent damage type" trap here. Also: creatures affected by protection from evil or law are not affected, which is a cool failsafe, though the pdf forgot to italicize these spell references. Starting at 14th level, this ability may be used in conjunction with all damaging spells. Kudos: Descriptor-changes, if applicable, are covered. Nice catch here!

4th level yields a +2 bonus to Charisma and Charisma-based checks when interacting with devils and fiendish creatures. This bonus is further increased by +2 at 10th and 18th level. 6th level yields free Improved Familiar, but locks the diabolist in the imp choice. 8th level provides a hell-themed 1/day dimension door or plane shift - this is considered to be a lawful and evil act and cannot penetrate areas warded from teleportation. Speaking of which: the diabolist gains an additional daily use at 12th level and every 4 levels thereafter, with each such increase also unlocking a new SP like teleport or, at 20th level, gate, though these uses consume progressively more daily uses of the ability. Diabolists with obediences may trade in daily uses of the ability for obedience boons for an alternate ability progression - which makes surprising sense, as far as I'm concerned.

As a capstone, the diabolist may use the calling spell of planar binding when calling a named devil as a standard action and bargaina s a move action. Damn (haha!) cool!

As mentioned above, we do get alternate build notes for e.g. psychic etc.-based diabolists. The Prestige archetype also has custom favored class options for anpur, avoodim, dhosari, erkunae, kobolds, tengu and tieflings as well as the core races - these generally are pretty interesting and thematically fitting - humans can e.g. be sooner exempt from the no-resurrection drawback.

The pdf also has a brief appendix depicting the Infernal Obedience feat (guess thrice what that one does) - the boons are btw. unlocked at 12, 16 and 20 HD and two sample, generic archdevil obediences are included: Contracts, Pride, Slavery and Tyranny nets darkness, deeper darkness or burning hands as SPs as the first boon, then perfect sight via ember eyes and a thirdly, a 1/day delayed fireball hellfire blast as an SP. The second generic obedience would be Contracts, Devils, Secrets - boon uno provides unseen servant, detect thoughts or glibness as SPs. Boon deux provides the means to infiltrate clergy and pass as one of theirs. Number 3 is cool: Cha-mod times per day, it lets you revoke the healing a creature received from you at your whim. I totally can see that work as a cool narrative device!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's diabolist is a surprisingly cool prestige archetype - it does not try to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't have to. The obedience interactions are cool, the rules-language, for the most part, exceedingly precise. In the few cases where it deviates from standard wording, it is only a cosmetic one "level 12" instead of 12th level, for example. So yeah, as a whole, I really liked this one. Granted, I think that e.g. cleric should have its own dedicated diabolist to make better use of the hellfire theme, but for the arcane folks, this constitutes a nice and well-wrought prestige archetype. Well worth 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Diabolist
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Demoniac
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2017 07:39:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.75 pages of SRD, leaving us with slightly more than 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the demoniac, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons and their patron's favored weapon. They must be chaotic evil.

Demoniacs begin play with a chaotic evil cleric's aura may spend a demonic favor to gain a wizard bonus feat. These guys may lose a prepared spell to lose a prepared spell in favor of summon monster (not properly italicized), and at 2nd level the demoniac gains an obedience - which can be found in the Demon Lords of Porphyra supplement - color me stoked for obediences, but be aware that as per the writing of this review, these had not yet been released, but if the ones from the Inner Sea Guide are emulated, I'm looking forward to seeing them!

The same goes for the demonic boons - the first is gained on 8th level, with 12th and 16th level providing the follow-up second and third boon. These are also governed by the respective demon lord, so not sure yet how they turned out.

4th level yields nets the demoniac a demonic brand that shows his abyssal allegiance while also acting as a divine focus. 1day, this mark may be invoked as part of casting a spell, adding the chaotic and evil descriptors to the spell...and said spell is not expended upon being cast!

At 3rd level, 7th level and every 3 levels after that, the demoniac receives a demonic favor - this ability can provide a bonus feat, a familiar, energy resistance or a saving throw bonus versus one type of effect chosen from a list, allowing for some nice defensive customizations. Starting at 6th level, the demoniac is damned and thus harder to retrieve from the bowels of the abyss, should he perish.

10th level provides the energumen ability, which 1/day, allows a demonic spirit to possess the demoniac for a total number of rounds equal to his class level. This possession yields a +2 profane bonus to an ability score of the demoniac's choice, increasing to +4 at 14th level, while also granting electricity resistance 10 and +4 to saves versus poison, These bonuses further increase to +6 and immunities at 18th level. However, after this burst of demonic power, the demoniac must succeed a Will-save or be confused for a number of rounds...which can end up badly indeed. Kudos: The pdf acknowledges the possession effect as such and properly codifies the rules governing it.

The capstone, how could it be any different, would be a demonic apotheosis; however, even here we get a bit of player agenda, with a component of the form being up to the player to choose from. The pdf also covers demoniacs that stray from their destructive path and their means of atonement.

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a demoniac based on one of those classes, you're in luck. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's demoniac is hard to judge in its general potency due to boons and obediences being not included in this pdf. However, since these would not be part of the pdf anyways, I will judge the prestige archetype for what it is as a chassis and reserve obediences etc. for the file that will contain them. As a class, the demoniac, from what I can see, works pretty well. Now granted, the base PrC could be more interesting as far as I'm concerned, but the pdf does a solid job at translating the class into a proper base class. While it does not reach the universal appeal of some other Prestige Archetypes, it represents a nice installment in the series, well worth a tentative verdict of 4 stars - as mentioned, I still need to pick apart those demon lords, but chassis-wise, I don't see inherent issues in this prestige archetype.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Demoniac
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Mesmerists of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2017 04:29:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD (though one has a spell-line from the previous page), leaving us with 35 pages of content. It should be noted that these sport an A5-style (6'' by 9'') booklet-like layout, which allows you to comfortably fit 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if you print them out.

After a brief introduction, we begin with the massive assortment of archetypes featured within these pages, beginning with the arcane manipulator, who does not receive any armor or shield proficiencies and suffers from spell failure when using the like. The archetype treats the spells gained as prepared arcane spells rather than psychic spells. The psychic components are replaced with arcane ones - while it is pretty evident which components should be used in this substitution, I do think it would have been prudent to explicitly spell it out. Anyways, the governing attribute would be Int here and the mesmerist receives a spellbook. The stare is modified to impose a decreased penalty to account for the gained flexibility, but extends its penalties to Will saves with a custom bold stare. Instead of consummate liar and towering ego, the archetype may employ Intelligence as governing attribute for Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive and also is treated as having Combat Expertise for the purpose of feat prerequisites. Starting at 3rd level, the archetype adds a limited amount of healing-themed spells to spellbook and spell list - cure light wounds, remove disease, cleanse, etc. - this eliminates touch treatment, though. Solid.

The Caretaker must be good and replaces consummate liar with +1/2 class level to Diplomacy checks. These guys can focus their stare on an ally, granting them a "+2 penalty on Will saving throws" - this scales up to +3 at 8th level...and obviously should be a bonus with a proper bonus type. Instead of painful stare, the caretaker can convert damage the target of the stare receives into non-lethal damage. Cool: The ability has a caveat to prevent abuse from those immune to nonlethal damage. Nice! 3rd level provides the addition of healing spells to the spell-list, with every 3 levels thereafter providing a new spell added...and yes, they properly denote their spell-levels. 11th level nets the paladin's detect evil class feature instead of glib lie and 10th level nets 1/day mass heal as an SP instead of rule minds. Weird: The ability is Su when it pretty much is textbook SP, structure-wise. That being said, I love this engine-tweak, in spite of its minor hiccups.

The dazzling flailer gets 4+Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons + flails, including nunchaku, spiked chain, meteor hammer, etc. They start play with Dazzling Display and may use it in conjunction with these weapons. 8th level increases the condition imposed from frightened to shaken....äh...wait. Shaken is more serious than frightened. Something's wrong here. This eliminates hypnotic stare. Instead of painful stare, those affected by his Dazzling Display receive +1/2 class level damage from the flailer's attacks with the weapon group. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the flailer gets display improvements to Dazzling Display, chosen from a list of 5 - these allow the penalty incurred by the target to also apply to different values - initiative, DCs, etc., movement and Ref-saves...you get the drift. It's basically a variant bold stare tied to the Display. There is also a solid, exclusive mesmerist trick allowing for the use of a weapon as a hypnotism locket in conjunction with the occult skill unlock.

The elemental eye replaces Knowledge (religion) with Knowledge (planes), and those affected by his gaze can look forward to receiving more elemental damage (1/2 class level); if the eye uses the ability to increase his own elemental damage output, it's even more (1d6 per 3 class levels). Cool: The ability manages to properly code critical interaction. As a minor complaint: The ability should specify what constitutes elemental damage for its purposes, since sonic damage is sometimes treated as elemental and sometimes not; using Porphyra's other supplements and the stare modifications as reference, I'm pretty sure it should only apply to acid, cold, electricity and fire damage. Speaking of which - 4 bold stares are available for the archetype, allowing the mesmerist to penalize saves versus the respective element. It should be noted that the archetype loses painful stare.

Next up would be the gazer, proficient with handcrossbows and whips as well as simple weapons. "They can wear light and medium armor and carry shields" -is not rules-language, alas. Even non-proficient characters can do that. ;) Kidding aside, the intent is clear here and I'm just complaining to help the authors improve. Instead of knacks, spellcasting and glib lie, the archetype receives the complex psychic gaze ability, which is an SP, with a DC equal to 11 + 1/3rd class level (minimum 0) + Cha-mod, usable 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day, with CL equal to class level. Effects persist even after changing the hypnotic stare's target. At 1st level, the gazer picks one gaze school, with 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter unlocking an additional school.

These correspond to schools of magic. These include basic abilities and improvements at 4th level and every 6 levels after that. Abjuration can impose concentration checks to cast spells or SPs with scaling DCs; at higher levels spellcrashes are added and we even get an antimagic field at high levels. Divination nets increasing AC bonuses and SP-duplications of several information-gleaning tricks; Enchantment provides straightforward charms and compulsions. Evocation lets you set targets ablaze with your gaze. Here, the wording is a bit odd: You see, the damage dice used to calculate the damage increases to d8, but since the gaze can render foes alight, they have a chance to continue to receive damage - 1d6. I am not sure if this is intended to be fixed or if it should scale to d8 as well. Illusion can eliminate the mesmerist within the sight of the target, making him invisible...only better: Not even glitterdust etc. help here. Cool! At higher levels, we have complex and scripted hallucination, including precisely worded trigger option. Nice. Necromancy yields undead control as well as debuffs. Annoying: The archetype references "turning corpses into skeletons or undead" - a) Skeletons ARE undead and b), the spell used as reference by the pdf is raise dead - which does something completely different. This should be animate dead instead, otherwise, we have ridiculous amounts of dead PCs returning to life! Transmutation begins with fatigue and then nets paralysis at 4th level...which is kinda lame. Locking a foe down is nice and dandy, but transmutation most certainly had cooler concepts.

Instead of consummate liar, these guys use the hypnotic Stare's BAB as equal to their class level and 3rd level allows them to affect additional creatures with their stares, +1 per every 3 levels thereafter. Similarly, psychic gaze may be used upon multiple targets, but at an increased daily use cost. 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat and the archetype gets a unique capstone, namely absorbing gaze attacks and potentially unleashing it on foes. Additionally, one school chosen grants a mastery bonus, the exact nature of which is determined by the school in question. I like this archetype's engine very much, but I think its precise execution could be more precise and diverse, considering the loss of spellcasting.

The kytonik would be a high-concept archetype. Instead of hypnotic stare, these guys get an unnerving gaze with a range of 20 feet that imposes a scaling penalty to Will-saves on non-allies, with 8th level extending the range to 30 ft. Whenever a target fails a Will-save versus the kytonik's unnerving gaze, they take 1/2 class level damage, minimum 1. This is codified as precision damage and may only be used once versus a given target per round and while the ability replaces painful stare, it counts as such for abilities and feats. 2nd level replaces towering ego with + Cha-mod to Fort-saves, but only when capable of fulfilling the emotional component of psychic spells. Instead of the standard bold stares, these guys may choose from a wide variety of bold gazes, which allow for the use of combat maneuvers sans provoking AoOs. I like the theme here, but I do believe that it could have used a couple of more abilities to build on its tricks.

The Macaroni, fops and dandies, inflict 1d6 force damage after saving versus a charm effect and living to the end of the spell's duration, replacing consummate liar thus. Instead of mesmerist tricks, these guys can choose vigilante social talents and 3rd level renders them immune to the shaken condition, with 6th and 9th level providing immunity to frightened and panicked, respectively. 11th level provides something extremely potent: The ability to gain two worn item body slots. Of his choice. Here's the issue - the ability makes it sound like you can freely assign these...but "body" is actually a precise slot...so which is it? I assume it's free selection...but seriously, as a replacement to glib lie, that's pretty potent. The archetype does come with a great piece of full color artwork depicting the character, though.

The Master Mesmerist draws his spells from the divination, enchantment and illusion spells of the wizard spell list, including cantrips, and makes them psychic spells. They get spells of up to 9th level and use the druid's spell progression to determine daily spell allotment. Once again, conversion from arcane to psychic would have warranted a note. They use Cha as governing spellcasting attribute and lose mesmerist tricks...and 9th level spellcasting is MUCH too strong for losing just mesmerist tricks, even when restricted to these schools. Not getting near my game.

The mirahoiru add Acrobatics to their list of class skills and gain several eastern weapon proficiencies, from kama to kusarigama to wakizashi, quite a nice list. They can also use light armors. The archetype suffers from diminished spellcasting. Instead of painful stare, mental potency and glib lie, they gain a ninja's full sneak attack progression and they may take ninja tricks instead of mesmerist tricks, using their class level as ninja level for prerequisite purposes. 2nd level nets +Wisdom bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy and Disguise while he can provide the emotional component of his psychic spells. Not the biggest fan of dual attributes to anything, but I can live with it here.

The Panoptes gain +1/2 class level to Perception and qualifies for the Improved and Greater Disarm feats, ignoring some benefits. This replaces consummate liar. Okay, here, things get...disturbing an cool: Instead of painful stare, the panoptes gains all-around vision via hundreds of eyes over the character's whole body, which can seamlessly close, granting a bonus versus petrification, paralysis and gaze attacks - to nitpick, that should be "bonus to saving throws", but the intention is clear. Instead of 1st level's trick, they gain a peacock familiar and 2nd level yields Darkvision or improves it, also granting a reduction of the percentile chance to miss invisible creatures. This replaces towering ego. The capstone yields 1/day SP mass hold monster...which is designated as SU and is textbook SP, but oh well...we do get an AMAZING artwork of the archetype. Brett Neufeld did a great job here!

The siren's mind-affecting spells have thought and verbal components and teh archetype receives a couple of bonus spells, replacing towering ego. They get + class level to Perform (sing) instead of consummate liar. Unique: Instead of hypnotic stare, they use their voices to generate the tricks we expect from the base class. This means she does not require the same line of sight...but to make up for that, she may not eliminate the knowledge of her song from the target's consciousness. Cool. Mental potency only applies to mesmerist spells with verbal components. The Spellbinding saint transforms her spells into divine spells (again, component transition could be explicit for the sake of ease of reference). She also gains two warpriest blessings, using Charisma as governing attribute, with 10th level unlocking major blessings. This replaces mesmerist tricks, manifold tricks and masterful tricks. A bit front-loaded as far as I'm concerned. 4th level, 8th, 16th and 18th level nets a combat or metamagic feat. At 20th level, we get SU miracle once every 3 days, but still requires the component.

The vision is a mesmerist sans spells and has neither caster level, nor spell list. The vision gains an unchained summoner's eidolon, but not life link etc.. Visions use Con as governing attribute for mesmerist abilities. 5th level yields +1 to Fort- and Ref-saves, +1 every 5 levels thereafter, replacing mental potency and glib lie. 20th level provides a native outsider apotheosis.

The pdf also contains 6 new bold stares: Penalty to Acrobatics, Climb and Swim; Bluff and Linguistics, DCs of EX abilities and feats; making the target friendlier; knowing the precise location of the target and penalizing AC can be found here. Nice ones.

A total of 10 tricks are provided for the edification of the reader. These include teamwork lying, triggering a berserker rage, percentile chance of negating sneak/critical hits, a sharing of teamwork feats, adding an Intimidate check after being caught sneaking around, sound-dampening, better healing, slowing poison, uncanny dodge and an AC-bonus can be found here - nice array.

The book contains vile tricks - these can only be implanted willingly or via Subtle Implantation, but they are darker...basically, they hurt the target, making the trick less of a buff and more of a devious debuff. These include becoming confused upon rolling 1s (and allowing the mesmerist to undertake that endeavor immediately at a +2 bonus!), penalizing flanking or causing the target to intercept ranged attacks aimed at the mesmerist. What about delegating ability score damage due to casting spells? Yeah, nasty. These are not all of them, mind you. As a whole, some cool ones here!

The pdf also features 6 master tricks...which include growing temporarily 4 additional arms when using unarmed strikes, including Multiweapon Fighting. Being encased in protective ice when reduced to below 0 hp is also rather cool, particularly since the block does heal and blocks line of effect. Implanting a counterspell similarly is a rather nifty trick - I like these.

We next are introduced to new feats - these range from a bit lame (higher DCs for animals and anthropomorphic creatures) to very interesting: You can lock your gaze on one target for 24 hours; the target is affected, but you're locked out of your own stares...but you can end this as a free action. Considering that this eliminates a central limitation of the class, I'd suggest adding a hard cap of daily uses to this feat. Pure awesome: Mesmerist Implants. This feat is actually 8 in one - you choose one of the 8 implants and gain benefits from cybernetic interface to aura scanner. Have I mentioned the option to shutdown implants etc.? VERY cool. Spellbite Stare is also intriguing, replacing the painful stare's effects, but allowing you to cast a spell that directly targets creatures and requires no atk roll as your painful stare. Casting time modifying effects cannot be used in conjunction with this feat and it does count as inflicting painful stare damage. Big kudos: The complex feat manages to get Lasting Stare interaction right.

Subtle Implantation, mentioned before, is pretty evident from the name - and it is AMAZING and utterly required for mesmerist masterminds. This feat on its own may be enough reason to get this pdf. Vile Misdirection builds further on this and lets others benefit from the vile tricks. Wracking Stare inflicts nonlethal damage via hypnotic stare and Wilting Stare adds a penalty to Painful Stare feat or Will-Saves of targeted mesmerist spells as the aftermath of inflicting painful stare damage.

Equipment-wise, we get masterwork mesmerist kits...and more: The above has hinted at it...more Technology Guide support! Like hypnotic mesmer eyes! Cool. Oh, and treatment magnets. Shields can benefit from the spiraling special ability and weapons from painful, with both interacting nicely with the respective class feature.

Fans of Ravenloft or Horror Adventures will enjoy the new narcissist corruption contained within these pages. Before you're asking: We don't take the clinical angle here, instead focusing more on the mythological one, including a need to Cha-buff and gaze into reflective surfaces. The corruption stages don't 100% follow that theme, though, with the final one making you a sociopath, a completely different diagnosis...I know. I know. It's a complex concept. Positive correlations between psychopathy and narcissisim have been observed, but yeah...as far as I'm concerned, they are apples and oranges. The manifestations allow for arcanist exploits, better illusions, adding Cha-mod to saves and the like - they, unlike the stages, feel better in line with the theme. That being said, the stains, as a whole, make for fitting and cool penalties for the powers gained via the corruption.

The pdf concludes with a brief spell-list, noting PDG spells that should be added to the mesmerist's class spells.

This pdf also comes with Paul Verane, a sample mesmerist 3 in his own little 4-pages pdf - nice bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good. While I noticed quite a few typo-level hiccups and punctuation glitches, for the most part, this is solid. The rules-language, for the most part, is very precise, though there are a couple of hiccups here as well - unfortunately, sometimes influencing the integrity of the rules. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard (in A5, 6'' by 9'') with purple highlights. The artworks provided herein are full-color and rather impressive, considering the low price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with detailed, nested bookmarks.

Aaron Hollingsworth and Blake Morton's take on mesmerists was a weird experience for me. You see, I adore the base class and think that it could and should care significantly more via its chassis. The vile tricks and implantation modifications presented within these pages are a huge, amazing step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. I adore them. Similarly, quite a few of the feats and other options within are cool, evocative and make sense. The archetypes take the base engine and tweak it in various ways - some in a cooler manner than others. As a whole, I felt that quite a few of the archetypes herein could have, concept-wise, carried more than the abilities they received. The panoptes or kytonik, for example, imho practically demand additional, cool options. While there is A LOT to love within these pages, the pdf, as a whole, is also a somewhat flawed book with quite a few small glitches, some cosmetic, some not so cosmetic, making this a bit of a mixed bag for me.

However, in spite of these, there are several options herein (buffing mesmerist, debuffing tricks, etc.) that simply are too cool to designate this as just a mixed bag. While not everything is amazing herein, there are several concepts that fit this description. Formal criteria-wise, I'd probably settle for something around the 3.5 star-range, but I'd rather have a flawed book with brilliant highlights than a perfect accumulation of bland mediocrity and this book does not deserve being called that. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. If you're like me and look for engine-tweaks for the mesmerist and some seriously needed additional options, take a look. Can we have a sequel book, please?

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mesmerists of Porphyra
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
by Patrick G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2017 17:32:48

Always knew i was missing something, Magic Pants! Just added a new slot for magic items in my games that will have fun comming up with uses for it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
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Encounter Pages IV
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/18/2017 09:10:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at an impressive 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a pretty weighty 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf contains a total of 15 detailed encounters to throw at your players and spice up traveling, with every single one of them featuring an impressive, well-done full-color picture of the respective adversaries featured. CR-wise, we have 3 CR 3, 1 CR 4, 2 CR 5, 1 CR 6, 1 CR 7, 2 CR 8 and one encounter each for the CRs ranging from 9 to 13 herein, situating the pdf, level-range-wise, in the low- to medium level-range. The encounters all feature suggested environments and often highlight/showcase some of the amazing creatures that can be found in the seriously underrated Monsters of Porphyra II tome - but fret not: All relevant information for using the encounters, from statblocks to flavor, is included.

Structure-wise, each of the encounters features a brief summary of the area they take place in, the general situation encountered and detailed notes pertaining the treasures to be won from them. Cool: For maximum customization, each of the encounters comes not with one, but with several potential complications you can use to squeeze it dry and make it more intriguing/challenging. For fans of Porphyra, a paragraph each contextualizes the respective encounters within the cosmos of the patchwork planet.

Sooo...that would be the base structure of the material presented herein. In order to talk about the respective encounters in more detail, I need to go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All righty, only GMs around? Great! I'll go sequentially through the respective encounters, in order of presentation and CR. The first would be "Alien Menace", where the PCs are pitted against armadillo-like, technology-dependant aliens called xenarthans; the strange light witnessed by locals was them teleporting in and the laser rifle-wielding creatures may have, if the GM opts to, a cloaking generator that depicts them as...cows! And yes, the generator can be destroyed, potentially causing "2d8 electrical damage" - alas, no range is given for the explosion of the generator and it's "electricity damage", not "electrical damage." Further complications can include being marked as an enemy of the race...which may double as a boon when interacting with the dreaded femanx race.

In the next one, "Shadow of Murder", the PCs can investigate a string of murders in a less than pleasant city quarter, where potentially the mad souls of those slain still roam the streets...only to find that they'll be confronted by an assassin spirit. "Frost in the Sand" takes place in a desert or similarly warm environment...and weirdly, the pumps of the place seem to be frozen - dealing with the ice ooze culprit certainly can make for an interesting diversion or justification for establishing communications. The complications include tunnels so twisted and uneven that they severely hamper the use of ranged weaponry - some players may balk at two common feats (Precse Shot and Point-Blank Shot) not working there, but personally, I think it kinda makes sense and is a cool idea.

The next encounter takes place in a rural environment, where a mawgriff, a carnivorous giraffe griffon, has escaped a traveling circus...but whether and how the PCs resolve this conundrum remains to be seen. And yep, the complications can include actually getting a calf, which is why training options for the creature have been included. Nice!

Speaking of aggressive magical fauna - saving a wagon and several youths that have bumbled into the territory of burrow-mawts, Tiny and deadly critters, can make for a rather fun diversion highlighting the creature. If the PCs are within a dwarven stronhold, springing upon them a scene where a blind and deaf dhosari carries a gift for the dwarves can be the first step towards disaster, as the cube in fact is a metal elemental in disguise, waiting to cause all kinds of havoc. The delightfully grotesque yaramayahu that haunts an oasis can make for a rather unpleasant surprise for the PCs as well, particularly when a sandstorm is rolling in.

Within the deep and green recesses of the jungle, fearless PCs can pit themselves versus deadly ophiduans and, while we're on the topic of wilderness - what about a druid outpost that has mitigated the environmental impact by means of the angel jelly, a unique good ooze that by now has become rather uncontrolled and hungry, providing for an interesting conundrum. What about freeing a village from an eccentric kukkoad masquerading as a human? The deadly facada clown demons haunt an unfortunate casino and currently are in the process of a show - hopefully the PCs use the period of grace to prepare properly...

The feline and powerful ashrakes (flying tiger-humanoids) may be encountered with hobgoblin slaves and obviously try to probe the defenses of the locals...hinting at worse to come... Another encounter deals with a "Festival of Freedom", which just is a front for the agenda of proteans, trying to subvert the local dominance of Law. A desert pass is haunted by a Huge and strange dromopod, a monstrous centaur-like humanoid with serious power. The as of yet unpublished third Monsters of Porphyra book's Urseloct represents the threat in the EL 13. Why would you care? One word: Bearsharktopus. Yes, it looks badass.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good in a formal way, the rules-language is slightly less precise and sports a couple of minor hiccups, though not truly grievous ones. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and we get at least one massive full color artwork for each encounter! Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr has a mind of unbridled creativity and when he manages to get the rules-language done precisely, he delivers excellence. While this encounter-collection has a couple of different glitches, the encounters themselves are creative, diverse and cover a wide variety of themes: From the dark and horrific to sword and sorcery and even the gonzo, we cover a lot of themes and the encounters herein can all be used as a starting point for further adventures; they can be expanded or run on their own and have enough character to act as inspiring adventure seeds. In short - this is a great collection of encounters, but one that is hampered by a couple of minor hiccups. Still, this is definitely worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Pages IV
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